I Got The Word

Small things amuse small minds; therefore, back when I was doing two crossword puzzles a day, I was intrigued by the number of times that a word would show up in both puzzles on the same day.  Different clues, of course, “He’ll give you a lift.” and, “Elevator guy,” would both yield “Otis.”

When I began also doing an online puzzle, it actually tripled the chances that any two would share a word.  I’ve never had a golden day where all three agreed; when the third clue might have been, “He’ll cause you ups and downs.”  I did have one interesting 3 X 2, silver-medal day, where A and B shared a word, B and C shared a word, and C and A shared a word.

So it was fascinating the other day, in my reading, to encounter, within an hour, in two different books, two different place-names both beginning with “Rh,” Rhyolite, Nevada, and Rhododendron, Oregon.  Rhyolite came from a 2007, Clive Cussler book, and refers to a now-ghost mining town.  “Rhyolite” is a volcanic form of granite, from which they mined gold.

The other was from the 2000, fourth book of Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher series.  Either they’re getting better, or they’re growing on me, and I’m learning to ignore the errors.  “Rhododendron”, of course, is a showy pink/purple flower, and the town of the same name in Oregon is in a region known for flower cultivation.  It’s not far from Puyallup, Washington, where growers used to supply daffodils for Johnny Carson’s Tonight show.

A grade three teacher read her charges a story which contained the word frugal.  I like to use the word frugal to describe myself.  It has a softer, more elegant ring than cheap-ass, tight, or stingy.  When asked, she explained that it meant saving (which it doesn’t) and, to get some alone-teacher time, she suggested that the class all write a little story including the word.

Little Johnny wrote an heroic tale of a brave knight, who frugalled the fair maiden, imprisoned in the castle tower.  He may have a future in porn.

I once asked Dictionary.com’s crossword solver about Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki raft’s construction, and got the following back:

Try these answers for ‘Kon-Tiki material’

ConfidenceMatching Answer

95% BALSA

43% INCAS

19% SUEDE

19% NYLON

19% ADOBE

19% DENIM

19% CORAL

19% SERGE

19% SATIN

19% SLATE

I don’t know how many dead Incas it would take to float across the Pacific.  A raft made out of serge, or denim would be utilitarian.  One made of nylon might be waterproof.  One constructed of satin would be gorgeous, just gorgeous – if you were floating your way to a gay wedding.  Suede would be for the sensible shoes, if it were a lesbian wedding.

I’m not too sure I’d like an ocean-going raft constructed of slate, coral or adobe.  A guy in my hometown constructed a 30 foot sailboat out of concrete, but I’d be afraid of getting an unguided tour of Jim Wheeler’s submarine with the screen doors.

I just got the word about the next knife show in Detroit.  Some conversation I overheard last spring made me check the website.  Apparently there is some conflict with another knife show, and a large show needing the entire hall in March.

After recently publishing the tale of our first trip down, in a blizzard, I find that the spring(?) show has been moved back to Feb. 1 – 2.  Get a little work done on the car, and we should be all set.  Since we need to travel to Detroit on the Friday evening, the son wouldn’t have the car to get to work.  He could bus in and back, but decided to request the night off.

The wife is suffering some internal problems which make her not want to be too far from a washroom, and doesn’t get to see the specialist till June, so she has decided to stay home, and the son and I are going together.  I have already booked a room at a Red Roof motel north of the tunnel, instead of the one south of the bridge, that we’ve been using for years.  Two days after I confirmed the reservation, I got the email word from Red Roof, that, if I’d waited till Jan. 15 to book, they’re having a 30% off sale.  Some times it just doesn’t pay to be prepared.   😦

It’s near a different Trade Center/flea market we’ve never been to, and is closer to the show venue.  I’m already researching where the nearest Meijer store, WalMart, and Outback restaurant is.  I’ve got addresses written down, and this time, Miss Smarty-Pants GPS just might earn her keep.

There’ll be another episode of The Continuing Adventures of Archon (With his trusty sidekick, Shimoniac) when we get back.

Motor City Madness – Part 4

Coming Home

Thank you to those who have had the patience to virtually accompany me on my Detroit trip.  I have a few, hopefully interesting information nuggets to distribute before we load up and head happily, but resignedly home.

In the display of one of the vendors at the knife show, I saw a four-foot *yardstick*.  I have a three-footer at home which is forty years old, from a long extinct local lumber yard.  This one must have been far older than that.  It had an inscription on it that read, “Four feet are better than three” because it was from a small company in Holland, Michigan, which made wooden shoes.  I find no modern reference to the shoe company, although the small city still has a Wooden Shoe Restaurant, a Wooden Shoe Mall, and a Wooden Shoe Greenhouse.  It’s known, of course, as the Tulip City.

It was incorporated in 1867 by a group of Calvinist Dutch, fleeing religious persecution.  What!  Again?!  Do these loving Christians never give it a rest?  This bunch was like our local Mennonites.  These Luddites wanted to keep “The Good Old Days”, and resisted things like vaccinations and fertiliser.  Also known as The Town of Churches, these highly religious folks have 170 of them for a population of 33,500.  Only The Church City, of Charleston, SC has more churches per capita.

As I returned to our room Sunday morning, after checking out, I walked past a cleaner’s cart with a Tim Horton’s cup on it.  Such a common sight in Canada, I almost missed the significance.  I went back to speak to the cleaner, but she was taking a smoke break.  The ladies in the laundry room were only too happy to take a couple of minutes off and talk.  Since we were there, over two years ago, Tim’s has opened at least six new outlets that they knew of.

One is about three miles west on the road in front of the motel, but Tim’s is opening another, just a mile to the east.  It’s supposed to be near the Outback Restaurant we ate at on Friday night, but I wasn’t looking for it then.  It will make it quicker and easier for motel staff to get their daily caffeine ration.  The laundry ladies say that a lot of people are abandoning Drunken Dunkin Donuts.  The buzz is, that both the coffee and the pastries are better.

We used to get our American satellite stations from Buffalo for years.  We got to know the on-air people and had a bit of interest in the closest U.S. city.  Then Shaw Entertainment swallowed my Star Choice, and now our American channels come from Detroit.  We often see ads for Tim’s.

Dunkin Donuts is making a push to get into Canada.  They have 79 outlets in Quebec, but only 2 in Ontario between Montreal and Ottawa, teamed with Burger King and Pizza Hut.  I don’t think Le Clown, in Montreal laps up their slop, but some of the frogs do.

To accommodate the grandson, we took a room with two double beds.  That’s a real crowded comedown for the wife and me, used to a queen-size bed for years.  For the skinny little grandson, he had all the room he needed, and more.  There’s talk of the son and I going back down in the spring.  A bed apiece won’t be bad.  If the GS can come with us, maybe he can bring an air mattress and sleeping bag.  If his gal comes along, they can rent their own room.

Finally, after gassing up, at prices less than Canada, we headed for the border.  The dump off I-75 to the bridge is now smoother also.  We paid our crossing fee, collectible on the American side, no matter which direction you go, and headed over to face Canada Customs.  I pulled into Murphy’s line.  It was the shortest, but, I think a trucker from Georgia drove through in another lane, while we still sat there.  Maybe the guy at the front had had plastic surgery.  Papers got passed out, and back, and more papers out, and back.  Finally it was our turn.  I reported for the wife and me, and let the grandson deal with the woman in the booth on his own.

I told her what we had, including two, one-liter bottles of vodka.  She then asked me what size the bottles were.  If you ask the question, shouldn’t you listen to the answer?  The grandson explained what, and how much he was bringing back, then our queen of security bent down, looked into the back seat, and asked the wife how much she was declaring.  The wife pointed at me, and said, “I’m with him!”

The drive back home along the 401 was quick and smooth.  The grandson got some nice photos, and even a video of the big wind-turbines.  I don’t know if she knows how to embed videos, but perhaps I can persuade the wife to post a story about the trip from her perspective, and include the pictures.

We stopped at the east-bound mate to the west-bound rest area, for a quick pit stop.  There were some heavy clouds overhead, but they were blowing west, faster than the sun was setting.  Suddenly it appeared in a big notch in the clouds, just like a sunrise in a mountain valley.  That shot would rival anything that Edward Hotspur has published.  If she posts, that one will have to be included.

Okay, verbosity has been expended.  Thanks for coming along on the drive with us.  I’ll get on with nattering about something totally different.

Motor City Madness – Pt. 2

Being There

When we checked into our motel, it didn’t take long to find that the shortage of rooms was not caused by college football.  The desk clerk told me that the refinery and storage area ten miles up the highway was having a lot of work done and there were a couple of hundred workers, spread out over the nearby motels.  I knew the refinery.  We pass it every time we come down.  There’s one fifty-foot spherical tank.  It used to be painted white, with stitches on it, to represent Detroit Tigers baseball.  Now it’s brown, with seams, sponsored by the Detroit Pistons basketball team.

The boys had moved in and made themselves at home.  There were five big ten-ton earth mover trucks parked mostly out of the way.  All except for one guy, who managed to neatly back his rig sideways into a little area for five cars.  One room had a barbeque outside on the grass.

When I went down to the office on Saturday morning, there were five of them having bottled beer for breakfast.  Down the balcony, someone, or -ones, had constructed a fairly large web of empty beer cans.  I don’t know how they got them to hang together.  That might have been a Friday night construction.  They weren’t loud and rowdy, and at least they didn’t empty the ice machine.

When I went to the office there was a young female hanging on the balcony rail.  The thought that went through my head was, Sex in a motel room.  But everybody has sex in motel rooms.  Maybe someone was getting small bills to pay her off.  I thought I might get propositioned.  I did!  Just not by her.  As I headed down the stairs I saw a young slender Negro male *wandering*.  It caught my attention.  If motel guests aren’t in their rooms, they’re going somewhere definite.  This kid was loitering.

When I came back up, he was loitering in the opposite direction, away from my room, and said something to me.  Thick lips, he spoke quietly and quickly.  I didn’t catch the question.  The second try I heard him ask me if I was in room 251.  That was the direction he was facing, but not me.  I told him, no!  “Are you sure you’re not in 251?”  “No, my room’s down here.”  As I started to walk away, he sidled closer.  “Can I ask you something?  Are you straight?”  Yes sweetie, and I even brought my wife to prove it.  The next day I told the clerk, and she said, “Oh, that’s why he hangs around.  I thought he was dealing drugs.”  No fuss, no complaints, there’s no reason to call the cops.

These petroleum workers are a specialized bunch, and come from all over the eastern United States. I saw licence plates from Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Florida.  There was also a three-man paramedic crew.  They serve the entire five-mile square city of Taylor.  Like firemen, they’re on duty 24 hours, but don’t have a firehouse to sleep in.  While I was talking to one, the alarm went off and the ambulance and supervisor car quickly disappeared.

The day clerk has worked there for 26 years, and recognized the wife and me, as she does most of her long-time repeat customers.  We went a mile up the road to an Outback restaurant for supper.  They have traded their little flying saucer pagers for rectangular ones like TV remotes.  The booking clerk told me the wait could be as much as an hour, but we got buzzed in, in about twenty minutes.  The grandson liked the Blooming Onion so much, we ordered a second, and he took the leftover home to share….a little bit with his fiancée.  The next morning we made a picnic lunch and headed for the knife show.

The spring knife shows we’ve attended have been in the Rock Financial Center.  Rock recently sold out, and it is now known simply as the Suburban Display Center.  It has five huge halls.  The spring knife show is always in conjunction with a guns and ammo show.  The two groups split the cost, guns at the front, knives in the back.  For one admission, we get two shows.  Even the wife likes to look at some of the old blunderbusses.

The fall show is held by itself in a Knights of Columbus hall, about half the size of the back end at The Rock.  There were 20/25 displays, only one of whom was an actual maker.  The rest were either collectors or purveyors, with one knifemaker’s-supplies vendor thrown in.  Collectors and purveyors are essentially the same.  They both buy knives as cheaply as they can, and hopefully sell them at a profit.  The purveyor does it as a business, to support himself.  The collector only sells when he has reached his monetary investment limit.  He will sell older knives, to be able to afford to buy more, newer knives.

Custom knife makers laughingly call these shows “Rusty jackknife shows”, because of the presence of a lot of cheap factory-made folders.  The grandson saw a good-looking folder and tried to open the blade, only to find it jammed, justifying the epithet.  He did get a new, nice looking, aluminum handled knife for work for $5.  One seller had a box of knives with a hand-printed sign that read:  Any knife in the box for $5 $4 $3 $2 3 for $5.

The wife picked up a tiny cute folder, about two inches long, as a letter opener, for $1.  She also bought a rosewood handled paring knife for $50.  It’s only 6 inches long for good leverage.  The handles are extra thick for better grip with her weak hands.  The blade has a belly, for easy cutting and is made of 52100 type steel.  This is what they make ball bearings from.  It will take and keep a fine edge, but needs to have a slight coating of vegetable oil after each use.

It was a low-stress show, with a low turn-out, and all of the vendors being older folks, willing to take the time to answer all questions and socialize with us.  As usual, I didn’t buy a knife, but, not as usual, I was finished and ready to leave while the wife and grandspawn were still inside, gabbing up a storm.

Tomorrow we go shopping.

P.S.

The ever-busy H E Ellis has a great project going on over at her site.  She’s trying to raise money, and some smiles, for all cancer patients, and one little girl patient in particular.  Drop by her blog at www.heellisgoa.com and sign up to help.