Motor City Madness – Part 3

Coming Unscrewed

We were up early Sunday morning, if you can call nine AM early.  It is for us, but we had things to do and money to spend.  I went down to the office to check us out.  It was a peaceful morning, no beer party, no hookers, no trolling queers.  There’s a Denny’s just down the road, so we planned to have breakfast there.

Michigan is catching up with the rest of North America.  No longer is the Denny’s half smoking, and half drifting smoke, hak, hak!  We got a nice table near the back window and a pleasant, mature waitress who came from Ireland years ago.  Prices at this Denny’s are about half of what the captive Denny’s attached to Days Inns in Niagara Falls charge.

I was reminded of my post titled Lazy and Incompetent, when I found that Denny’s now has pancake balls.  They’re like Tim Hortons Timbits, small balls of thick pancake mix, deep-fried.  These are for people too busy or lazy to actually cut up pancakes.  Just stir some butter and syrup into their serving bowl, and spoon them into your mouth.

As we were waiting for our order, we looked out into the parking lot and spied a large young Negro woman getting out of a Jeep.  She was wearing (?) a micro-mini dress which barely covered her assets.  This was like two hundred pounds of potatoes in a hundred pound Spanx bag.  She leaned back into the Jeep to retrieve something and I saw everything but her appendix scar.  Then she tugged the dress down again….in the front.  The entire room watched as she sashayed to the front door.

After breakfast, we went up to the big Meijer store.  The grandson and I sold our rolled coins to Customer Service.  The wife found some correctly sized pullovers, cheap, in four nice colors.  We also brought back some liquid coffee creamers in flavors not yet available locally.  I’m looking forward to hot chocolate with some Crème Brulée added, but, we came for beet sugar.

There were only fifteen four-pound bags of Peninsular brand sugar, the kind we usually buy, on the shelf, so the grandson bought it, for use at his place.  The wife and I took six five-pound bags of the Meijer brand for ourselves.  They would have put out more Peninsular, later in the day, but we didn’t plan on going back.  This means we hauled back a total of ninety pounds of sugar to Canada.  That’s just about the weight of the fiancée who didn’t come with us.  She might have had to walk home.

The grandson discovered that, by using self-checkouts, we could pour in and get rid of most of the rest of our pocketfuls of loose change.  I still need five State quarters to fill my set.  I had hoped to get one or more on the trip, but, by having exact change for almost every purchase, we never got any new coins.

Then we went to the Gibraltar Trade Center, across from the motel.  Over 200 vendors in an arena-sized building, we wandered for a couple of hours, and ended by getting some good quality food at the surprisingly diverse food court.

The first thing we bought was some sandalwood musk-oil to add to my manly bath gel.  Our daughter is fascinated by things Egyptian.  The surprise second item purchased, was a solid gold scarab beetle pendant with semi-precious scales for the head, thorax and wings.  It has an ankh molded on its belly.

A middle-aged female (wo)manned this jewelry sales counter.  The owner must have been desperate.  I wouldn’t have let her supervise a Japanese snake race.  When we decided to buy the item, she didn’t know what the price was.  She phoned the owner, who told her that all the items are sold by weight, at today’s gold price.  She couldn’t figure that out, so he walked her through it.  The price came to $232.45, and we proffered our MasterCard.

She walked over to the desk and pushed the card through the slide-reader, and told us it hadn’t gone through.  I mentioned that it was a chip-card, and chip-cards don’t scan when swiped.  She walked around to the other side of the desk and pulled it through the reader.  Since she’s now facing in the opposite direction, the magnetic strip, which was on the inside, is now on the outside.  It didn’t go through.  She reversed grip on the card, and tried yet another time, and claimed it didn’t go through.

She phoned up and bothered the owner again, who probably said the reader might not work, but she stated it as a certainty.  There was a “white” ATM not twenty feet away.  We walked over and took a $200 advance against the credit card, and paid the balance out-of-pocket.  The ATM fee was $3, and my bank charged another $2, for out-of-country use, plus instant interest on a cash advance.

Two days after we got home, the wife was checking the on-line bank statement, and there was the $232.45 charge.  It did go through, at least one of her many tries.  If it goes through as a chip-card, we have to input a PIN number.  If it goes through as a swipe, we have to sign and authorize the charge, and receive a copy of the machine tape.  Neither of these things occurred.

The wife called the bank’s 800 number and spoke to a nice man in the Anti-Fraud department, even though this was probably just incompetence, not intentional fraud.  She downloaded a complaint form, filled it out, I signed it, and she faxed it, and a copy of the bill-of-sale showing payment in cash, to the bank.  We had the money back in our account within three working days.

If my readership doesn’t drop off drastically from on-line sleeping sickness, I plan to eventually post about our triumphant return.  Now there’s talk of the son and I going back for the spring show.

Oktoberfest Revisited

Many years ago, the son and I developed a bit of a relationship with a young AM station DJ.  This was back when radio stations had live bodies pumping out their over-night broadcast shows.  I was doing midnight security shifts and heard a lot from this up-and-comer.  I called the station one night at 4 AM to show him where Billy Joel left in a small mistake, in a song about learning from our mistakes.

My son stayed up 24 hours one Friday night, to accompany me on my midnight shift.  He also phoned in and *won* a contest to “name the DJ’s lunch.”  We got to go to breakfast with him, on Saturday morning.  He finally got an afternoon shift, and I also got one.  His radio station sponsored a pancake breakfast in the parking lot of a local mall, the first Saturday morning of Oktoberfest.  It started small, with three to five hundred people.  The son and I went to it for years.

Like so many other things, it’s got much bigger, just not necessarily better.  The son surprised me the other day by expressing a wish to attend again.  He just turned 40.  Is this a wish to revisit his youth?  I can barely see mine any more.  He worked his usual Fri. night/ Sat. morning shift, stopped for some items at the Kitchener Market and got home around eight.  I went to bed at my usual 4:00 AM.

When he came home, I was ready for my four-hour washroom break anyway.  When he comes in, the dog rouses and wants to be let out of the bedroom.  I was up, so let’s go!  There’s nothing like sharing an intimate, chilly, outdoor breakfast with ten thousand of your closest friends total strangers.

Before the daughter ruined both knees, she was in the color guard of the Dutch Boy drum and bugle corps.  We had breakfast in the staging area of the big Oktoberfest parade that she got to march in once, long ago.  This year’s estimate puts a hundred and fifty thousand people on the sidewalks, some natives, many tourists, watching the parade live.  Several million more see it on national television

We managed to find parking only a block away, and walked down to join a block-long lineup for food.  When we finally got to the sign that said *Line Up Here*, we found that it snaked another half-block around the seating area and back into the plaza.  We were fortunate to have arrived so early.  As we left, the line had extended another block.

We each got two big pancakes with plenty of syrup, a large sausage and eight ounces of local apple juice.  Tim Hortons had sent a trailer where you could buy coffee or tea.  They had no hot chocolate.  We stood in line behind a young local couple with a baby girl.  I thought I caught her name but asked, to be sure.  She was called Ryla.  My daughter uses Rylah as an on-line name, and LadyRyl as her blog-name.

We sat down beside, and became instant best friends with, a couple even older than me.  At least that’s what the tree-ring count said.  The little old lady had a pair of beautiful knitted mitts on the table, but they were large enough to fit my son.  When I asked, she said that she had knitted them herself, and showed me that the occasional ecru stitches in the Kelly green pattern were actually tufts of un-spun fibre, filling the inside with extra insulation.  She learned this process, called thrumming, from a Newfie lady.  It is also used in hand weaving, and on boat sails.

Trainee chefs from our well-known community college cooked the food for us.  Somehow I expected that Conestoga College Culinary Arts would only provide pictures of food, but it was pretty good.  There was a little three-piece band providing live oompah Oktoberfest music.  One guy played the inevitable accordion, one had an electronic keyboard, and the third played kazoo drums.  They belted out all the old Oktoberfest staples, including The Monkees’, I’m A Believer, Johnny Cash’s, Ring Of Fire, and My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean.  A good time was had by some.

Just north and east of the city, is Ontario’s last/only covered bridge.  It sits about a hundred yards off the arrow-straight highway.  The original road made that jag to reach the narrowest spot on the river.  The old road comes in, makes a 90 degree turn, runs down and across the bridge, makes another ninety, and back up the bank.   There is a little country general store at the first bend which many Mennonites shop at.  Last year, a buggy-horse, perhaps startled by loud traffic, broke loose, galloped across the bridge, and tried to make the sharp left turn.  She slipped on the paving, dumping the wagon and scraping her one side.

There are signs at both ends reading, “No heavy trucks. Three ton load limit.”  Someone can’t read, or doesn’t give a sh*t.  Recent inspection reveals that one of the three main timbers is cracked.  I suspect a grocery delivery truck driver too lazy to turn around.  They can’t afford to dismantle it, but may be able to put a *cast* on the cracked beam.  In the meantime, the bridge is temporarily closed.  Aside from risking truck and limb to the river, some lazy idiot has smashed a chunk of irreplaceable history.  Thanks, doofus!

The good, the bad, and the ugly, the local cultural river slowly flows on.

Cats

No, not the musical, or even the book it was based on.  This blog is about our cats.  If the wife and I can figure out how to download and insert photos, there will be pictures.  If not, you’ll just have to take my words for them.  You might want to break out the No-Doz before proceeding, but you’ve been warned.

The wife and I both love all animals, at least the ones that don’t try to take a piece out of us.  We like dogs.  We had a succession of Scotties, but when the last one died, we accepted a male wheaten/schnauzer/ poodle cross.  He would compare well, mentally, to a buckwheat pancake, if the pancake were terribly insecure and needy.

The daughter had got to know a vendor at the local farmers’ market.  Among other money-making ventures, she sells cutesy plastic signs, most of them referring to breeds of dogs.  Daughter told her how unthrilled we were with this dog, and she wanted to know why we didn’t have a cat, or seven.  We all suffer allergies, and the dog’s coat is hypo-allergenic.  We love cats, and used to have them, till allergies became too strong.  Well, wouldn’t you know it; she had just the solution to our problem.

She used to raise emus, have them butchered and sell the meat and various other parts, but ended up losing money on them.  Now she raises miniature dachshunds and Bengal cats.  Bengals don’t have fur.  They have hair; there is a difference.  These are also non-allergenic.  She just happened to have a male which had been returned.  His owner had some medical problems and didn’t have the strength or money to deal with the cat’s medical problems.  Turns out, the biggest problem was a vet who was taking her to the cleaners.  She had paid $500 for this beautiful cat, but we could have him for free, so the breeder didn’t have to keep feeding and maintaining him.

Bengals were produced by breeding an Asian wildcat with various housecats.  If you’ve seen a Benylin TV commercial with a *tour guide*, at the end of it there are a couple of shots of a slinky, spotted, ocelot-type feline, up on a branch.  I think that’s my cats’ ancestor. Whatever it was, apparently it dealt with lots of water in the wild.  Bengals can be identified by their webbed feet.  Spread their toes, and they can almost walk on water, and water, especially running water, fascinates them.  If I pour a bath and climb in, I’m soon the subject of much supervision, a couple from the tub rim.

It depends on what domestic cat and coloring was used, to produce certain markings.  They come in spots, rosettes, which are spots which have opened to donuts, stripes, and marbled, which is dark stripes against a dark coat.  The next step up is a Savannah, produced by cross-breeding certain Bengals.  Their colors and shaping are even nicer than Bengals.  My daughter has two of them at her house.  These cats are incredibly intelligent.  They’d be easily trainable, if they weren’t so damned independent.

The first one we got would have been the only one we got, except…. they don’t have the domestic strength of a housecat.  The over-busy vet injected him for feline leukemia, and used live culture.  The breed can’t resist live-culture, and he actually got the disease.  Called Cinnabar, which is an ore of mercury, he was one damned fine cat.  He would come when you called.  He could play fetch, and he liked to eat snow.  We found that out one day when we let the dog out and a bit got kicked inside.  From then on, if the dog went in or out, I had to toss a handful of snow on the mat, and he would eat it like a sno-cone.  We had him less than a year.  He was an early generation, and can never be replaced by later models.

All Bengals suffer to some degree with feline hyperesthesia, called ripple skin.  You can watch their coat and see the skin wiggle around.  These cats don’t want to be petted, they want to be scratched, firmly, especially down the spine and at the base of the tail, or smacked there.  The wife thumps one male on his bony ass so hard, she bruises her hand.  If animal welfare saw us pounding on these cats, they’d probably confiscate them, but the cats love it.

We drove 75 miles to a supposedly reliable breeder for our next male.  He was a failed stud.  Beautiful coloring and configuration, but he had to keep telling the lady cats, “This has never happened to me before.”  He cost us $500 and he was/is so hyper that we have to give him amitriptyline twice a day, to keep the yowling down.  When we had him vet checked, we found that he was skinny because of two different stomach parasites.

Besides his nerve pills, we were supposed to give him two different medications each day.  Like a chemotherapy program, the three meds almost killed him.  We had to stop the one, get him cured of the first, and then go back to kill off the second.  The breeder refunded us our money and then shut down her cattery for an antiseptic purge.  This guy we called Mica.  Some of the cats’ hair is hollow, and his hollow hair is the whitish, and it glistens silvery/white in the light, like the mineral mica does.

We have a total of four cats, another two males and an ex-breeder female.  I dote on them all, but your attention span is only so long.  I thank you if you’ve read this far without dozing off.  Perhaps we’ll leave the other three, and maybe the photos for another day.  Dogs have owners.  Cats have staff, and this staff has to go feed one of them.