Flash Fiction #180

bonfire-anshu

PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

A CHILLING NOTE

Indian build small fire, sit close, keep warm.

White man build big fire, keep warm chopping firewood.

Damn global warming!
Damn the EPA!
Damn bureaucracy!

This will be the last night we can do this.  Tomorrow, the City’s open fire ban goes into effect.  The kids will be the ones most affected – no more toasted marshmallows, no more charred wieners, no more waving glowing sticks in the air.

We can still sit around and drink beer and tell lies in the dark.  Somehow, I don’t think that an extension cord and a radiant heater are going to bring back nostalgia.

Radiant Heater

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Flash Fiction #165

Nostalgia

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Perhaps the loss and blurring of memories from old age isn’t entirely a bad thing.  We can look back on our lives through the filter of contentment for a life well lived.

We can remember the happy birthdays, the important anniversaries, the great grandkids, and forget the nosy, incompetent co-workers, the uncaring, slave-driver bosses, the crazy neighbors, and the arrogant politicians.

They say that ignorance is bliss, and it can be – in a way.  Just remember that living well is the best revenge.  Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.  Don’t worry.  Be happy!

***

Click above to hear the great Ella Fitzgerald tell you how to do it.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

I Found A Feather Today

Feather

I found a feather today, and along with it, I recovered a piece of the peace of my childhood. I found a sea-gull feather.  I found nostalgia, and I wallowed in it.

I was born and raised in a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. The sand-bar island, half a mile offshore was/is a sea-gull nesting-site protected Provincial Park.  We had sea-gulls!  Lord, we had sea-gulls.

They loved the 4 or 5 fishing boats that went out each day. Swimming at the beach, late in the afternoon, I could watch a fish-boat heading back to the river harbor, towing a 100-yard kite of gulls behind it.  The fishermen gutted the fish on the way home, and dumped the offal in the lake.

Actually, of course, these were ‘lake gulls.’ Few, if any, ever saw salt water.  Their deep squawks were a constant summer background sound-track.  Later in life, I found that the gulls on Lake Erie were the same breed, but for some reason they cried like they had sinus infections – their calls much higher and shriller.

The simple discovery of a feather brought back childhood memories of fun, freedom, warm summer sunshine, tourists, fast-food and nothing to do, but hundreds of things to do.

As innocent children, we found many things to do with a feather. We could wedge it in our hair, or tie it on with a string or an elastic, and be an Indian in the games of Cowboys and Indians….before it became politically incorrect, and an insult to Aboriginal Rights.

I’ve cut the bottom off larger feathers at an angle, and split the longer edge, to create a quill. Sadly, all too often, instead of elegant writing on a sheet of paper, all I produced were ink-blots that would make Rorschach proud…or curious.  There’s a real art to it; one which I never mastered.

As a teen, my friend and I would split several lengthwise, and glue them to a piece of dowel we’d bought at the lumber store, ‘fletching’ it to produce an arrow. For a tip, we’d add a filed-down sliver of split-off railway track.  We could have just bought a target arrow from the hardware store, but what’s the fun in that?

Aside from fish guts, another thing that seagulls clean up is edible human waste. They keep down infections by keeping down the rat population; it’s why they’ve been declared a protected species.  In my warm, fuzzy home-town, they kept the streets cleaned of dropped tourist (and native) hot dogs, French fries, ice cream cones and popcorn.

My current home is, sadly, much closer to Lake Erie than it is to Lake Huron, so the gulls shriek with a nasal twang. There’s a landfill site behind the plaza where I found the feather, and at least 12 eating establishments inside it.  With the help of some sparrows and chickadees, they keep the grounds clean.

When I found the feather, it took me on a lovely flight of retrospective fantasy. I didn’t even pick it up, but left it, hoping that another young Archonoid would jam it in his hair, or take it home to tickle his sister with.  Perhaps even, an adult would see it, and be winged into some pleasant thought or memory.

Remember, sex involving a feather is a fun fantasy. Sex involving an entire bird is perverted.   😉

Feather 2

COOL!

cool

You are no longer “cool” when …

 

  1. You find yourself listening to talk radio.
  2. You daughter says she got pierced and you
    look at her ears.
  3. The pattern on your shorts and couch match.
  4. You fondly remember your powder blue leisure
    suit.
  5. Your wife buys a flannel nightie and you find
    that sexy.
  6. You think Tragically Hip is when a middle-aged
    man gets a new sports car, hair piece and a 20
    year old girlfriend.
  7. You criticize the kids of today for their
    satanic suicide-inducing music, forgetting that
    you rocked to Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath.
  8. You call the police on a noisy party next
    door instead of grabbing beer and joining it.
  9. You turn down free tickets to a rock concert
    because you have to work the next day.
  10. When grass is something that you cut, not
    cultivate.
  11. When jogging is something you do to your
    memory.
  12. Sex becomes “All that foolishness”.
  13. Getting a little action means your prune
    juice is working.
  14. All the cars behind you turn on their
    headlights.
  15. You remember the “Rolling Stones” as a rock
    group not a corporation.
  16. You bought your first car for the same price
    you paid for your son’s new running shoes.
  17. You actually ASK for your father’s advice.
  18. When someone mentions surfing, you picture
    waves and a board.

***

The hipster was out, driving his new car around, with his arm hanging down the side of the car. A truck coming the other way, crossed the line and sideswiped him, crashing him into a ditch.  When a police officer arrived, he was out of the car, walking around it, moaning, “My new Porsche – my beautiful new Porsche!”

The cop said, “You shouldn’t be worrying about your car. You should be worried about your arm.”  The hipster looked down at a bleeding stump that ended at the elbow, and started moaning, “My new Rolex – my beautiful new Rolex!”

 

 

Faded Fads

Rubik's

Fads seemed to have started in the early 20th century, when improved manufacturing processes finally allowed payment of more than starvation wages, and enough spare time to spend it.

(One of) The first was flagpole sitting. I think it started with one nerd without a girlfriend or a date, who couldn’t sit in his mom’s basement with a Gameboy, because they hadn’t been invented yet.  He nailed a big plank to the top of a municipal flag pole, so that he could sit in a snit.

Actually, the fad was watching flagpole sitters, where entire families would get dressed up, pack a picnic lunch, and stare adoringly for hours at some jerk who raised himself above the rest of the population and did nothing constructive.  I believe the record was 33 days – until Trump came along.

Soon after, the fad among fraternity boys became swallowing live goldfish, usually washed down with copious amounts of bathtub gin. Police suspect that alcohol may have been involved. During the 40s, the only fad was saving the free world from The Axis Powers – and drawing ‘Kilroy was here’.

Kilroy

Fads really came into their own in the 50s, when plastic made things light and cheap. First was the Hula Hoop, a barely disguised anti-obesity and fitness program.  We all know how well that worked.  Then along came the Frisbee.  It was possible to fling garbage can lids a considerable distance, but when Wham-O made them smaller and lighter, the number of broken windows, smashed flower gardens, and homes with brightly-colored, orphaned disks on their roofs, really skyrocketed.

There was the Slinky toy, a coiled spring that was smart enough to walk down a flight of stairs all by itself. It was replaced by contestants on The Bachelor.  We had mood rings.  Mine was always black, and in a bad mood, and I think it rubbed off on me.  Rubik’s Cubes showed us how things were always twisted and turned, and presented a different face.

Etch-A-Sketch came along, and it marked the limits of my technology. I could operate one of them, where I can’t run a Smartphone.  Lava lamps showed up.  I think mine sat on a fault line.  There was an underwater avalanche, and it never rose to the occasion again.

Pet rocks were a thing for a while. Mine got lonely, and ran away from home to join a parking garage.  Here in Canada, we had Ookpiks, an excuse to take the hides off baby seals and ship them to a factory in Calgary, where they were cut up and sewn back together to look like a small owl made by an Eskimo.  Sales peaked at 2 or 3 a week and then slowed down, and the tourist industry had to find new ways to separate gullible American tourists from their money.

Tamagotchis were hot with tween girls for a while. They were supposed to show the amount of time and effort necessary to raise a child, and hopefully reduce teen pregnancies.  After a few of them died of malnutrition, most young females just went back to boyfriends, who were lower maintenance.

Many fads have no staying power, and disappear quickly. I figure that the new electronic game, Pokémon Go won’t last more than a couple of weeks, when players do things like find a dead body, or get kicked out of a Holocaust Museum or a cemetery.

Selfies seems to be a fad which could have been devised by Darwin himself.  Hundreds of self-important fools have removed themselves from the gene pool.  Government agencies have had to put up signs that read effectively, “Not Here, Idiot!” and still many are too spaced-out to notice or heed them.  Tennis elbow and golf elbow have morphed into ‘selfie elbow’, caused by holding up a huge ego cell phone at an awkward angle, to take hundreds of meaningless photos.

Sadly, one fad that doesn’t seem to disappear is, The Kardashians.  We have now come full circle.  Here’s a group that’s lightweight and cheap, made mostly of plastic, and they have raised themselves above the common folk, to be gazed at adoringly for hours, without actually doing anything constructive.  😯

There must be some (lots?) that I’ve missed. What do you remember, that I’ve forgotten?

I Do

Wedding rings

I guess I could put this post under ‘Old Stuff ’.  The wife is 65, and I’ve had her for over 47 years but, discretion being the better part of waking up tomorrow without a pillow over my face, I’ll just recount the fateful day.

I was raised as a Christmas/Easter kind of Baptist.  Churches and religion meant little to me.  The wife was raised in a strict Catholic family, but like two older sisters before her, had started ‘questioning’, and soon also left “The Church.”

We had met at an Adult Education retraining course in February, and hit it off right away.  We were thinking of waiting till we both graduated and had jobs.  We spoke of waiting till Sept. 21 the following year – not only my birthday, but also her parents’ anniversary.

I got out, and got a job, and she would soon follow.  We saw no point in waiting.  I told my Mom that we planned to just go to City Hall, but she insisted that we both should have a day to remember.  We talked the Anglican minister in my home town into marrying us.  The guest list was only about 25 people.  All the ‘Good Catholics’ in her family boycotted, although the two ex-Catholic sisters and their husbands showed up.

We chose Dec. 2, 1967, as a mutually agreeable date.  My sister was living directly across the street from Mom and Dad, in the ex-Presbyterian Manse, which had a huge living room/drawing room combo.  She and Mom cooked like crazy, and that’s where the reception was held.

The wedding ceremony was held after the regular 11 AM service, once the minister shooed the parishioners home.  We had bought a wedding license at City Hall, but the church issued another one, so we are twice married.  Perhaps that’s why it’s lasted so long.

The brunch reception started around 1 PM.  We gave the camera to my brother to take a few pictures for posterity.  He quickly got loaded at the open bar.  He remembered to take the shots; it’s just that people have the tops of their heads cut off, or one arm.

Long before the internet, and without phoning ahead, I had hoped to get us to Niagara Falls for a bit of a honeymoon.  About four o’clock, Mom strongly suggested that we get underway.  A freezing rain storm had blown in off Lake Huron.

I checked the car over before we left.  There was some soap on the windows that was easily removed, but no tin cans dragging from strings at the back.  We took the highway south, out of town, and turned off onto the secondary road that headed easterly towards The Falls.  Within a mile we were sliding off the crown of the road on a half-inch of ice.

Do we continue slowly, hugging the gravel shoulder, or take a different route??!  I elected to turn around.  Just as we got back to the main highway, a sander/salter truck rolled past.  Follow Him!!!  He went 30 miles southwest, down the lakeshore, and then turned southeast.

At some point, we began to notice a smell, a definite aroma.  I stopped and raised the hood.  One or more of ‘my friends’ had jammed three small whitefish between the engine block and the exhaust manifold.  Heated up with 30 miles of driving, the hot exhaust was cooking the fish, and burning off the fish-oil.  I managed to remove them with very few burns, but the smell lingered with the car for a week or more.

All plans definitely out the window, the best we could hope for were roads not too icy to prevent us from at least getting back to Kitchener.  Such was not to be.  As the freezing rain abated, it changed to wet, slippery, clingy snow.  The Ontario Works truck ahead stopped seasoning the road, and put his plow blade down and pushed the accumulating white stuff back.

We followed him to the small town of Listowel, which was barely bigger than my stage-coach stop burg.  We hoped that he would continue on through, towards Kitchener, but, just at the outskirts of town, he pulled into his home base, apparently done for the day, or at least his shift.  Now where??!

The town of Listowel was known only for The Blue Barn Inn, a motel with a couple of dozen rooms, an in-house restaurant with food famous for miles, and an entertainment room where B-acts and wannabes played.  Could we get a room?  Since no-one else drove in over the ice, there were rooms to spare.

After settling in the room, we now wondered about supper.  What little we had eaten, was 7 hours ago.  I went downstairs to the dining room and asked if I could get something to take back to the room.  On Sunday nights there was no a la carte – service was only from a giant buffet.

The cooks had worked all day to prepare for the usual huge crowd, and the ice storm had prevented almost all of them from showing up.  When the host found out that we were newly-weds, stranded there, he asked for a couple of dollars, and told me to take as much food and drink as I could carry on a cafeteria tray.  We remembered the place with nostalgic fondness for years, but, about 30 years later, it burned to the ground.

Very little of the day was as we had hoped or planned, and none of it elegant or impressive like a Hawaiian location wedding/honeymoon. It was an adventure, where all eventually turned out well, and set a sort of pattern for the marriage.  If we could survive this, we could survive each other.  We’ve passed 47 years, and are heading for the Golden 50.

Even as a second marriage for my Mom, and a war-delayed first for my Dad, they celebrated their 60th anniversary just before they died.  While we increasingly complain about aches and pains, and various medical problems, I think we’re strong and healthy enough to reach that mark also!     😀

#467

Plastic Surgery

#446

Just over two years ago, I wrote a Coming Home piece about how my old auto-parts plant was being given a cosmetic makeover.  An engineering firm was ready to move in, and an electronics firm was considering renting space.

Google had set up in a nearby, refurbished, gentrified tannery building, steadily increasing their local presence till they occupied the entire top floor, but was looking for still more room, and was considering a move to my old plant.

Google Building  Google’s ultimate dream

‘Considering’ is over, and money is being spent.  Not satisfied with mere lipstick and eye shadow, they are paying for a pair of implants.  On top of the three-storey section where I used to make Jeep parts, they are installing a partial two storey addition, set at a rakish, artistic angle.  They plan to occupy this entire ‘new’ (1956) end, as well as the complete top floor of the older 1906 brick section.

Prehistoric section  front

Indoors  rebuilt inside

SDC10700rear

It fronts on a street named for a German pioneer, Henry Breithaupt (brite-up), so it’s now called the Breithaupt Block, 200 feet wide and a block long.  The tank which was white, and held vinyl chips when I worked there, has been painted Gawdawful Orange, and now probably holds enough Starbucks coffee to fuel all the offices.  Note the gorgeous new (expensive) Thermo-pane windows.

Nothing is too good for Google employees.  They will have a spa, a gym, a nap/rest/reading room, several lunch rooms, c/w microwaves, stoves and refrigerators, and a staff of fulltime cooks in a cafeteria.

I have taken, and lifted, several pictures for those few who are interested, showing then, now, and near future, above.  The second photo below, shows the deteriorating brick facing and cracked windows.  During several really cold spells over the years, we would come in, to a couple of rented, jet-engine-type propane heaters on each floor.  Other photos show the facings stripped off, and the new upper floors, getting ready for a new look, taken from several angles.

SDC10701  New joining old.

Jeep building  Old Girl with her clothes on.

Jeep stripped  Stripping down to essentials.

SDC10698Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Jeep goiing upEnd-on from the main drag.

The strange angle is because the side street doesn’t meet the main one at 90 degrees.  The bus is crossing railroad tracks, and the road is currently being dug up to lay tracks for the new LRT.

This is all located right beside the upcoming bus/train/LRT transit hub, and just at the edge of the Technology Circle, envisioned, promoted and coming to fruition in the core of Kitchener, Ontario.

The old girl looked pretty good when I visited her a couple of years ago.  These new additions and improvements proceed apace.  She’s looking so much better and more functional now, and may be open for Google business by the time I publish this post.