A To Z Challenge – Q

april-challenge

Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.  I’m stalking shelves.  😯

letter-q

I think, basically, that most of my life could be defined by the word Question.’ not,

Verb (used with object)
1: to ask (someone) a question; ask questions of; interrogate. 
2: to ask or inquire.

although there was a lot of that going on, too. I was a curious child, in more ways than one.

Why is the sky blue? How high is up?  How long is a piece of string?  How far can you run into the forest?  Only half way! After that, you are running out.

I don’t know what made me an unbeliever. I was raising and selling cynicism at a profit, when I was as young as 5 and 6-years-old.  For me, ‘Question’ was always more,

3: to make a question of; doubt:
He questioned her sincerity.

4: to challenge or dispute:
She questioned the judge’s authority in the case.

5: a point at issue
a difficulty or uncertainty 

I ‘questioned’ almost every assertion – parents, preachers, politicians, teachers – usually silently, internally at least, until they’d been verified, but….doubt, doubt, doubt. See above: I am uncertain.  I have difficulty blindly accepting the point at issue. 

“You can’t possibly expect me to believe that without proof! I can’t possibly believe that you believe it.

Once, in the arrogance of my youth, (You know, just after I turned 40, had my mid-life crisis, and bought my first motorcycle) I even thought that I was qualified to teach a course at one of the local Universities on ‘How To Think: 101.’  All I had to do, was train these fresh-faced, gullible impressionable young minds to “Question Everything.”  “Here’s your diploma. Thanx for the tuition.”

As I grew older and grumpier wiser, it wasn’t long before I finally realized that most of the flock of sheeple, refuse to question anything.  They want their lives easy and uncomplicated.  They want to be told what to do, how and when.  They want to be told what to believe, and they don’t want to go to the trouble of thinking about it themselves.  They don’t even want to question the obvious contradictions.

It is the failure of individuals and whole populations to question, which has brought the world the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Khadafy, Hussein and bin Laden.  Now, the only question that the public seems to have is, “How could such a thing have happened?”

My question is, how many more letters are there, and when will this all end?

There are 9 more letters in the alphabet and, if I schedule my posts correctly, the last will be published near the end of April, 2017, just in time to start a new series. Stop back in a couple of weeks to see if I write about Rock And Roll, or Retirement.

😆

Advertisements

Slightly Singed Slacks

Pants on fire

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – about lies.  In an episode of Castle, after interviewing a suspect, Detective Kate Beckett asks Rick Castle what he thinks.  Castle responds, “He’s lying!”  Beckett replies, “Of course he’s lying!  Everybody lies, about everything, all the time!  We have to figure out what he’s lying about.”

I once worked with a young woman. When I was very interested in motorcycles, she owned and rode her own bike.  If I hung around with her, I could hang around with several of her male biking friends and score the occasional ride.

One of the first things she told me was, “I never lie. I have a poor memory, and can’t remember what I’ve lied to who about, so I always tell the truth.  It’s easier to remember.”  It took a while, but I started paying attention, and keeping track.

She had an active social life, but told me, “I’ve never slept with a married man.”  Then she took me to a Country-Western bar for lunch.  The manager was a businesswoman.  She told me that she’d had sex with the woman’s first husband.  She was not named as a respondent, because he had a number of dalliances….Then she told me that she’d slept with this woman’s second husband also.  “I couldn’t help it.  He’s just so cute.”

Riding a motorcycle is a big job!  It requires far more work and attention than auto-piloting a car.  She told me one day that, “I never ride my bike impaired, whether booze or drugs.  You could get hurt, or killed.”

On our afternoon shift, we got a half-hour for supper. One evening she realized that she had no recreational drugs to go home to – no weed, no hash oil.  She said, “Come with me at break.  We’ll ride over to my supplier and score something for me later.”

After a quick, five-minute scoot, she scored a ‘quarter of hash’. I turned to leave, but she broke it in two, and she and the dealer smoked half of it, while I tried to stay near fresh air.  (Cuz it’s only good manners to share, man)

When she was finally ready to return to work (half-baked), I held out my hand for the bike keys. “No way man!  It’s my bike, and nobody rides my bike except me!”  They say there are no Atheists in foxholes.  This Atheist prayed the whole ride back.

I usually took the bus to work, but it wasn’t far out of her way to give me a ride home. One evening, as we were leaving work, one of her active social life’s was waiting it the plant door, to take her out for ‘a couple of drinks’.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  She handed me the keys to the motorcycle that only she could drive, and said, “Could you leave it at my place, and walk the rest of the way home?”

She lied to herself as well as me, about never lying. It’s likely that she even believed the lie.  She lied about sleeping with married men, and probably never noticed.  She lied about always riding sober – but that ‘bad memory’ thing can come from being smoked up.  She lied about never letting anyone else pilot her bike as soon as a delivery service became socially convenient.

She was a nice enough person, if a little(?) wild, but I kept track.  She lied to everybody, about everything, even stuff she didn’t need to lie about – where she’d been, and with who, how much she drank.  She lied about a potential newspaper job, and to herself as well as others about her abilities.

Cynical much??! Even before the Castle show, I developed a finely tuned ability to tell when others are lying.  Their lips are moving.  😯

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, hubby’s new job, kids’ school grades – what do you lie about? Tell the truth now.  I’ll know.

Taken For A Ride

Mafia

I got taken for a ride recently. Fortunately it wasn’t in the trunk, and I got to go home afterwards.  After 35 years of Snap, Crackle and Popping our spines, our erstwhile Chiropractor has decided to hang up his hands.

I recently published a post about being surprised at the number of people who are so nice to me/us, when I don’t feel that we have done enough to warrant it. After handing us off like a football at the Super Bowl, Doc Bones recently contacted me to ask if he could take me (and Shimoniac) out for lunch and a beer.

I hate to admit that I am sufficiently insecure and paranoid to wonder, “What’s he up to? Does he want me to buy his collection of Elvis memorabilia?  Does he have a condo time-share that he wants me to invest in?”

A year or so ago, a group named Everclear had a bit of a hit on the radio, called, “She Likes Me For Me.” I liked the idea, but thought it was a horrible condemnation of society that so many of us are fixated on what others wear, or earn, or drive, or where they live, (Beverly Hills 90210 e.g.) rather than what we are.

The little guy in the bar, trying to pick up the statuesque blond says, “I’m not really this tall. I’m sitting on my wallet.”

Apparently the BoneShaker likes me for me, although I’m not discounting the fact that (he and) his wife babysit a granddaughter three days a week, and he has gone from having a dozen clients per day to talk with, to zero.

He just needed to get out of the house and interact with real people. There’s no sense sitting at home and going crazy with cabin fever, when he can take us to lunch and go crazy with The Bear and me.

Lancaster Smokehouse

He took us to a failed hotel and bar, which has been re-opened as a liquor-licensed Barbecue restaurant. One of several places in town which feature Blues music, its heavy planked floor has old licence plates embedded in it.

Pictures on the wall show the original hotel, when it opened in 1948, with a B/A gasoline station across the road, and a two-woman motorcycle racing team.  Tee-shirts (on the wall, for sale, and on the waitresses) say, among other things, “We have the best butts in town.”

BA Station

A good time, and a great lunch, was had by all. If ever he wants an excuse to get out of the house again, I would be willing to volunteer.  I’d like to return the favor, but, with our finances, I’d only be able to take him out to Costco for some free samples.

Minutia VI

I composed this post way back in the early fall, and tucked it away in a Word file.  Then I got distracted by the shiny 100-word Flash Fictions and failed to publish it.  Just pretend that it is still late October/early November, and you still have a cold, snowy winter ahead of you.  That way, this submission from the late Archon won’t seem as bad.   🙄

***

Everybody’s entitled to an opinion – so I’ll give you one of mine.  I have to get up earlier these days, just to have enough time to spread all of them around.

The voices in my head have decided that I’m imaginary.
I think paranoid people are following me.

My old eyes are still good enough to drive without glasses, but I do miss certain details.  Out driving with daughter LadyRyl the other day, I slowly overtook a motorcycle.  From a quarter-mile back, I knew there were too many wheels.  At first I thought it might be a Spyder motorcycle, which son, Shimoniac is considering buying. They have two widely-spaced wheels at the front, for greater stability.

Spyder

As I got closer, I thought it might be a trike motorcycle, with two wheels at the rear, for carrying an extra passenger, but I could now see a single rear wheel….yet still, more than two.

Trike

Perhaps he’s got a sidecar – but a sidecar would be on the right – and I can see a wheel to his left.

Sidecar

As we finally overtook him, daughter, LadyRyl, snapped this photo.  Here’s a big, tough Harley-Davidson biker – with training wheels!  I’ve never seen anything like this, and can’t think of any possible use for this set-up.  I’m going to stop in at a couple of bike shops and ask.  Any of you have an opinion??

Biker Dude

****

Cardinals (the birds) are almost as cautious and unseen as Blue Jays.  You hear them, but you very seldom see them.  A pair nests in the big pine trees near the daughter’s place.  This spring and summer they hatched and raised a batch of chicks, which are now ready to fly.  They’re not quite as skittish as the adults.  About to leave the daughter’s place recently, I noticed a fledgling in the Rose of Sharon bush right in front of her door.

She quickly grabbed up the camera, but, by the time she got in position, it had fluttered to the concrete.  Slowly, quietly, she edged to the door to get a shot….and just as she clicked the shutter, it took off.  I had hoped to submit it to the local paper, which prints cute wildlife photos each day.  This is more “artistic” than real life.  I hope you enjoy.  What do you think of it?

Baby Cardinal

What I Got For Christmas

SDC10719

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s a bit(?) late, but I wanted to give credit where credit is firmly due.  I took the photos for this post, and thought I’d composed it.  Since I apparently didn’t, there was nothing to remind me, until I started checking photos for a different post.

As my ‘We’re Not Quite Hoarders’ and ‘Autumn Housecleaning’ posts have shown, I/we have been slowly getting rid of no-longer-needed, accumulated stuff.  I am not the most difficult old codger to buy presents for, but, barring a big lottery win by someone who wants to present me with a new house, a new car, and a new motorcycle, I have pretty much everything I need, including a fantastic family.

Almost two years ago, my ingenious grandson, flush with paychecks from his welding apprentice work placement, presented me for my birthday with the ‘En Garde Coupon’ shown above, good for $500 toward any knife I’d like to purchase.

Highly grateful, but ever the pragmatist, I didn’t feel I wanted to bring more stuff into the house at this point in my life.  I can look at beautiful knives, and even handle them, but I had a thought about using a trip through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan to attend a knife show, and meet a couple of fellow-bloggers.  He generously agreed to co-sponsor the trip.

For any who haven’t read them, the antics and adventures of that trip are available in The Fellowship Of The Blog series, beginning with the Prologue.

The trip occurred in October, 2014, but Government bureaucracy stupidity delayed the grant check for his college tuition and texts, forcing him to raid his savings account until it finally arrived.  By Christmas, he still hadn’t said or done anything about the promised amount.  I knew of his problems, didn’t mind about it, and had almost forgotten.

SDC10715

 

 

 

 

 

Then came Christmas!  When it came time to distribute presents, he handed me the above box.  It wasn’t very heavy.  Perhaps it was another of the always-handy, and much-appreciated, Chapters Bookstore gift cards.

SDC10717

 

 

 

 

 

When I opened the box and looked inside, I realized how ingenious and devious he was.  Aided and abetted by his devious and ingenious mother (Can I take any credit for this??), they had carefully rolled up and inserted two new $50 bills, and twenty new $20 bills – the full $500, as promised.

20 Dollars    50 Dollars

 

 

The new Canadian polymer plastic bills do not take kindly to being rolled up – or anything else – quickly flattening back out.  The daughter got out her bag of clip-type clothespins.  They would roll up a bill, clip it to hold it, and insert it in the box.  Clip, insert, clip, insert, until all 22 bills were in, and the box was full(?).  Then they carefully removed the clips.  To a guy whose idea of presentation was to leave some suckers in the paper bag I got them in from an old Mennonite, this just awed me!  (And I’m odd enough.)

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a round of applause and appreciation for ‘Thorn’ Smith!  I already profusely thanked him at Christmas, but feel he deserves a digital acknowledgement and congratulation also.  ‘As the twig is bent, so grows the tree’, and this tree is growing strong and true.

He is a kind and thoughtful young man, who treats his Poppa (and everyone else) well.

Thanx again, Kid!  Feel free to show this off on your smart phone till the battery dies.   😀

Coffee And Doughnuts

CB750K

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cordelia’s Mom recently published a post about inadvertently getting pulled over on her way home from work, in the middle of a SWAT takedown.  She escaped with clean underwear and no bullet holes, and asked if anyone else had had something like this happen.  While not quite that exciting, I’ve had a couple of times that I’ve been pulled over when I was completely innocent.  🙄

For about 20 years, I rode a series of motorcycles 8-10 months a year, from when enough ice melted off Canadian roads to make it safe – to when they iced up again the next winter.  This all stopped when I fell off my bike and broke my wallet.  Being on medical leave for 8 months for reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy at 80% of average wages, followed by a 500% increase in the cost of insurance for a car that wasn’t even involved in the accident will do that to you.

I used to ride the bike to work.  Taking the same route a thousand times, I soon had the traffic lights timed.  A full stop at a red light in a car is irksome, but at least you’re comfortably seated.  A full stop on a bike means supporting the machine.  I learned where to speed up a bit, and where to go a bit slower, so that lights turned green just as I arrived.

One night I left the house at 10:20 PM, for the 5-mile, 10-minute cross-town ride.  Four blocks from the plant my road was crossed by another, hanging on the side of a small hill.  The pavement flattened out to cross, then dipped down the hill again.

As I approached, I could see the orange light on the cross-street, but no headlights from any vehicles enticed to run the orange/red.  As I reached the white stop line, the light went green, and I scooted across at 30 mph.  Just over the rise, coming out of the driveway from a doughnut shop, was – a police car.  How cliché.

I slowed slightly, in case he pulled out broadside, but he slammed his brakes on.  I swerved around his protruding nose and continued, keeping an eye on my mirrors – and he turned out.  Three blocks to the main street, and I made a careful, legal right turn – and he followed.  It’s the main drag, not to worry.  A block up the street to the road my plant was on, and another cautious right turn.

The company offered parking for motorcycles on a concrete pad over an underground tank, at the end of the parking lot.  It was under some trees, away from streetlights, and next to an abandoned house.  Most of the plant’s bikers elected to park on the cement apron beside the stairs to the front entrance, where constant traffic offered a little more security.

I eased across the sidewalk and stopped the bike.  Officer Officious was still following. As I rocked the bike up onto its center stand and started peeling off my riding gloves and leather jacket, he swung onto the other side of the road, pulled a U-turn, and stopped facing the wrong way again, beside me.  Do not try this at home kids.  Only legitimate police officers are authorized to violate traffic regulations that we must obey.

I pulled off my bug-stopping riding glasses and undid my helmet strap as he swaggered his way over.  It is entertaining to see the facial expressions when someone’s preconceptions are dashed.  Perhaps he expected some teen/20s rider that he could intimidate, and seemed confused to be confronted with a 50-year-old man, old enough to be his father – but he fired the first (verbal) shot.

“Are you late for work?”
“Yes!”
“I’ll need to see your driver’s licence, ownership, and proof of insurance.”

I pulled my licence from the wallet and passed it over.  Most bikes have a small, lockable plastic box beneath the seat with a toolkit.  That’s where many bikers carry their paperwork.  I unlocked mine, dug it out and handed it over.  He retired to sit in the cruiser while I leaned on the bike.

I’d had a minor highway speeding ticket about ten years before, but my record – driving and otherwise – is surprisingly clean.  After his computer forgave my few minor sins, he returned my documents.  I put everything back where it belonged and picked up all my junk and headed for the door.  As I passed him, he took one more swing.

“I guess you have to admit that you were going pretty fast over on the other street.”
“No!”

Canada doesn’t have the Fifth Amendment, but we do have laws which prevent self incrimination.  I wasn’t going ‘pretty fast’.  He was just inattentive, and embarrassed, and possibly pissed because he’d spilled his coffee; but even if I was speeding, I don’t have to admit it.

He’d eaten ten minutes of my time, and got two words from me for his trouble.  I walked into the plant, leaving him to clean up the soggy doughnuts, and wondering why I wasn’t awed by the force of his personality.

Autumn Housecleaning

broom

 

 

 

 

 

 

By which I mean, The Autumn of Our Lives.  When I first burst upon the blogging scene, I found a site titled A Hundred Things – A Hundred Days.  It was the tale of a woman trying to make her house neater by getting rid of accumulated, unneeded, unwanted, stuff.

At first, I thought she was writing about one item a day for the 100 days, but soon found that she was jettisoning 100 items, each day for 100 days – for a total of 10,000 pieces.  It could be a bag of screws, or a pile of paper.  It could be no-longer-worn winter boots and socks, but, a hundred things went out every day.

Both the wife and I are a bit OCD.  Children of Depression/ WW-II-raised, just-in-case parents, we have also accumulated far too much stuff in our house.  Wooden mop and snow-shovel handles, bits of metal – I’m like a magpie – odd nuts and bolts, old dog tags, split rings, chunks of leftover, and found, lumber.  We add shelving and storage units till there’s hardly room to walk or work.

I was only semi-joking when I told the son that, when we die, he’ll need to get a dumpster, and spend a week throwing things out.  Something needed to be done.  I started with the garage.  We can’t get a bicycle in, much less a car.  Plastic plant pots – empty, but never thrown away, the boxes from a new humidifier and printer, now broken down and thrown out – repair parts for a motorcycle I haven’t owned for ten years – the broken automobile tail-lights I replaced.

There were three weeks where I put out two full bags of garbage, not just an almost-full one – three weeks of two Blue Box recycling bins instead of one.  We gave the Kidney Foundation two boxes of goodies and, a month later, two more boxes went to Diabetes.  I’ve dropped off unneeded but usable items at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on my way to get my daily newspaper.

I gave the daughter several keys to locks which no longer exist, as well as several short lengths of light chain, which she can use to produce mobiles, wind chimes and other crafts for sale.  I opened a small box about twice as thick as a deck of cards.  From the weight, I expected to find a random collection of fasteners, but instead got 8 feet of chain heavy enough, but not long enough, to tow a car.  Why would I save that??!

I got rid of 20 tee shirts I never wear to the grandson, 14 of them from Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and Billy Joel concerts. I have a box with newspaper clippings, ticket stubs and concert programs.  I plan to ask the second-hand music shop if the programs would be of any value to them.  Included were jokes, cartoons and other items, some of which you’ve seen and others which will be added to future posts.

I gave the coin dealer at the market a margarine tub full of duplicate foreign coins, and received two packs of quarter-sized mounting brackets in return.  The young store manager bought out the lady who owned my second-hand book store for years.  To him, I gave a box of my old science fiction books, and have seven more boxes I plan to take in over time.  Many books are in poor condition, but he should be able to sell at least some of them.

The more things I throw away, the more things I find that I regret either finding, or having to make further decisions about.  I found six half-inch worm-gear hose-clamps – just like the four I bought to hook my rainwater barrels together.  We’ve lived here for 14 years.  We lived at the last place for 13.  I found peg-board tool-hangers and storage containers from my workbench at the house before that.  In one of the little trays was a complete set of 1/16th to ½ inch bits for my electric drill, lost and unused for almost 30 years.

In the same box, which sat on and made using my table-saw in the garage difficult, I found the wife’s portion of the family silver.  She had forgotten that she had it.  It’s actually only silver-plated flatware, produced by Wm. Rodgers & Co.  Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when money was tight, people were enticed to go to the movies with giveaways; attend a show, get a spoon, see a flick, get a fork.  When a bunch were accumulated, you got a free blue velvet tie-pouch to store them in.

I threw out a leather business card holder.  It contained a business card from every job I held where I rated one.  It also had cards from fellow Purchasing Agents, salesmen and technical reps I dealt with for years.  These were guys I ate, drank and partied with.

While much of what is getting tossed is just unlamented junk, things like the card holder delineated our careers and lives.  They are full of nostalgia, meaning, and fond memories.  Sadly, now, in the autumn of our years, they only create and gather dust, and take up space.  The cleanup continues.