Capital Idea

House of Parliament

So another year has come and gone, and once again it was time to drive to Ottawa, to visit the grandson and fiancé for a couple of days – a Capital idea.

We hitched up the team, and loaded the buckboard sport-brute.  Grandma and her minions had made another batch of dill pickles.  There were his and hers presents for birthdays that bracket my recent one.  Included were a home-made spelt-flour, chocolate-mayonnaise cake, and special ginger cookies from a local Dutch market.  His always-thinking-ahead mother had even sent Christmas presents, since they won’t be able to get away then.

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Biggest and heaviest among the freight, was a large steel cage for a recently-acquired, white (but not albino) ferret. She is so friendly and playful!!  I took along the digital camera, but the only photos I took were the ferret ones above.  I used it to prove that I had finally mounted on the wall, the rapier that he gave me for Fathers’ Day, two years ago, because I haven’t got around to publishing the Procrastination post yet.  You guys will have to wait another week or two to see that shot.

All in all, a very interesting and satisfying trip. Food of all types, including a Mexican restaurant named ‘Ahora’, where the nachos came with a language lesson.  The word ahora (Spanish a = in/at/to – hora = time) means Now, in English.

We visited two knife shops, and two second-hand bookstores which reminded me of Charles Dickens ‘Old Curiosity Shop’, stuff piled upon stuff in no great amount of order. We went to the Byward Market, a 4-block-square area, right downtown, full of kitschy little shops, eager to separate visitors from their money before the Government got it as taxes.

Just outside, between the Market area and the Houses of Parliament, stands the American Embassy, as big as a Trump hotel, but with all the architectural flair of a shoebox. Just half a block inside the Market, a mere drunken stagger back to the Embassy, is a ‘Gentlemen’s Club.’  Coincidence??  I think not!  Around the corner was a big century-house, turned into another Embassy, not Russian, but with a sign in Cyrillic lettering – Ukraine?  Uzbekistan?  Perhaps the English sign was on another street.

We went back at night to see the Parliament Building all lit up. No-one was passing any stupid legislation, but we saw where they had installed vents to release all the hot air.

I chose a different motel than last year, this one a mile closer to the grandson’s apartment, and $90/night, instead of $130, enabling us to afford to stay two nights instead of one. It was a family-owned independent, and like the Mexican restaurant, came with a lesson, this one a history lesson, rather than language.

Always curious, and looking for blog-fodder, I approached the day-shift male room-clerk. He reminded me of the wife’s ex-doctor. He could throw a pill or a potion or a medical test at a problem, but couldn’t deal with patients.  I believe that the clerk was on the autism spectrum.  He was happy to supply an extra pillow, or an ice-bucket, but not conversation and trivia.  “Qantas. Definitely Qantas.”

I asked, “How old is this place?”
“I don’t know.  I wasn’t here when it was built.”
“Neither was I, but I’m curious.  Have you never asked?”
“It wasn’t on my job application.  I have a customer.  You’ll have to leave.”
“He’s still getting out of his car.  He won’t be here for 5 minutes.  When does the night-shift come on?”
“I have a customer!  Please leave!”

I returned later to talk to the night-clerk, who was both sociable and knowledgeable.

It all started with a mineral hot-spring. The Indians used to soak in it, and believed in its healing properties.  They told the white men, who also used it, and appropriated it.  Around 1900, a white businessman erected a building around it, and turned it into a spa where monied and powerful people came, ‘to take the waters.’

It was quite a way out in the country from little then-Ottawa. In 1928 another businessman built a restaurant nearby, so that the elite had a place to dine after their treatments.  In 1931, when cars were still balky and unreliable, he built a couple of cabins where folks could stay overnight, before returning home in the morning.  Later, he added a couple more, and then another couple.

In 1932 he joined them together into one of the first row motels. In 1956 he added a second, matching row, and in 1973, his son added a third, two-story structure which we stayed in, for a total of 80 units.  The restaurant is still there, although now it’s leased out to chefs whose pretentious menu includes $15 hamburgers and poutine made with French fries cooked in duck fat.

The Federal Government is responsible for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Some are brought to Ottawa for medical treatment.  This now includes tests, drugs, surgery and physiotherapy, but many of them still believe in the healing powers of the Manitou’s hot springs.  When we were there, there were 16 units housing Cree and Inuit from as far away as Nunavut, in the Northwest Territories.

Even including an hour each way in the worst traffic in Canada, in Toronto, it was well worth the trip, which totalled 1200 Km/825 Mi. over three days. The grandson who does not own a car, and his magic smart-phone, skillfully guided us around the town.  I’m sure we’ll go again next fall, if not before.

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Flash Fiction # 24

Patio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss Of Innocence

“It was a long drive, all the way from the prairies, down here to Ottawa. On the last nice day of autumn, it’s nice to be able to sit at an outdoor patio, having a coffee, right across the street from the Parliament Buildings.”

“I wonder what all those Mounties are doing??!”

“They’re chasing that guy!”

“Looks like he’s got a rifle!”

“Don’t be silly. This is Canada – people don’t run around with rifles!”

“DAMN! They’re shooting!  Quick, get inside!”

“Must be a foreign tourist! How would a tourist get a gun?”

“I’m going back to Calgary, where it’s safe!”

 

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

 

Instant Philosophy Degree

The following is the general examination for a Doctor of Philosophy degree:

History

Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious and philosophical impact from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.  Be brief, concise and specific.

Public Speaking

Some 2500 riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom.  Calm them.  You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.  Your performance will be video-recorded.

Biology

Create life.  Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this life had developed 500 million years earlier, giving special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system.  Prove your thesis.

Music

Write a piano concerto.  Orchestrate and perform it with flute and violin.  You will find a piano under your seat.  In the interests of time, you may omit the coda.

Psychology

Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Moses, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Myssa, Hammurabi, Freud, Hitler, Idi Amin.  Support your evaluation with quotations from each man’s work, making appropriate references.  It is not necessary to translate.

Sociology

Estimate the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the world.  Construct an experiment to test your theory.  Use charts if appropriate.

Political Science

There is a red telephone on the desk beside you.  Use it to start the Third World War.  Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

Engineering

The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk.  You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili.  In 10 minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room.  Take whatever action you feel is appropriate.  Be prepared to justify your decision.

Economics

Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the National Debt.  Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light, the automobile industry.  Outline a method for preventing these effects.  Criticize this method from all possible points of view.  Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

Physics

Explain the nature of matter.  Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Mathematics

If X equals Pi times A squared, construct a formula showing how long it would take a fire ant to drill a hole through a dill pickle, if the length-girth ratio of the ant to the pickle were 98.17:1.

Philosophy

Sketch the development of human thought, and estimate its significance.  Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

General Knowledge

Describe in detail.  Be objective and specific.  Abbreviations are permitted.  You will be graded for punctuation and grammar.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why I decided to become a factory worker.  I tried to think….but nothin’ happened.  Mommy, my head hurts.