Canadian Thoughts On An American Trip

Canamerican Flag

I’ve said that I treated the invitation to visit our D.C. hosts as a Royal Summons, but it was us who got treated like Royalty when we got there.  Here’s a shot of us arriving.

Harry and Meghan

More through coincidence than any planning,, we had three successive, different ethnic-food lunches.  One day it was Greek food at a strip-mall restaurant.  The next day, our kind hosts took us to an upscale Afghan establishment.  On the third day, while trying to find decent coffee, (we never did) we stopped into a Thai restaurant beside a Drunkin DoNuts.

Canada is getting screwed for gasoline, even though we pump more oil than the United States.

After calculating for US gallon/Canadian liters, and US dollar value vs. Canadian dollar….
Exiting Southern Ontario, gas was selling for about $1.30/L.  I bought gas 3 times in the US – 83.8cents/L, 76.7/L and 72.7/L – 1/2 to 2/3 the cost in Ontario.

Usually, the closer to the highway, the higher the price.  Pleasantly, surprisingly, this was not the case on the Pennsylvania and Ohio turnpikes.  All the rest centers sold regular for $2.749 (73.8/L).  When I got off in Toledo, the city stations wanted $2.849.

Gas Cost

When I crossed the bridge back to Windsor, the in-town stations wanted $1.269/L.  Twenty miles down the superhighway, where they’ve got you by the short and curlies, where it’s ‘pay or walk,’ the price was $1.369/L!  And there’s 4 liters per US gallon, so that’s another 40 cents/gal rip-off.

Something else I found, that pissed me off….  We wanted to keep all purchases on this trip on a credit card, so that we could keep track of them.  When I went to buy gas with the credit card, the screen on the pump said, “Enter 5-digit ZIP code.”  I’m from Canada.  I don’t have a ZIP code.  I tried entering our host’s ZIP.    The screen now said, “Does not match billing address.  Please prepay at office.”

Now I have to walk a pilgrimage to Coventry….and back.  Not too bad in the city, but I felt sorry for the guy waiting behind me at the Ohio rest area.  This is like gassing up at the Costco, only there, the prepayment authorization is for $150.  Some pimple-faced kid asks, “How much do you want?”  Enough to fill it up.  “Well, I have to put something in the machine.”  $50! Put in $50!  It only took $38.50 to fill it, instead of $75Cd.

Like the jaunt to find John Erickson a few years ago, we again circumnavigated Lake Erie.  Only, this time the trip wasn’t so much a circle, as a deeper oval.  The total trip, from door, back to door, amounted to 2243 kilometers, or 1402 American miles.

There are 12 houses in BrainRants’ little cul-de-sac.  Four of them, including him, fly American flags.  Only yesterday, a letter to the editor urged Canadians to show patriotism by flying Canadian flags.  No need – we know who we are.

On our hosts’ kitchen wall hangs a repro of an old station clock, with the hands at 8:45.  I assumed that it was just a rustic piece of art…. until one morning I was having orange juice and my morning pills all alone, and – tick, tick, tick.  So it works, it’s just jammed and not going anywhere.  I was reminded of The Mamas And Papas’ song, 12:30, or The Guess Who’s, No Time.

I estimate that Rants’ subdivision was hacked out of the woods about 40 years ago.  The developers left lots of trees, in some cases, too damned many.  Our stay was almost like camping in the piney woods, although most of the trees were cut-leaf Maple, and Oak.  It allowed me to commune with nature.

There were many birds, some of whom, by their calls, aren’t present in Southern Ontario.  Rants isn’t much of a bird person.  When asked about them, he identified them all as grey-breasted, Northern Virginia Shit-birds, so-called because of their ability to put white polka-dots on parked cars, so aggressive that they eat holes in the paint-job.

I love birds.  In my de-forested area, both the bright Blue-Jays and Cardinals are skittish creatures, hiding high in trees, sometimes heard, but seldom seen.  As I watched Rants at his forge in the garage, a Blue-Jay landed on a branch in the Maple in front of the house, barely above the garage door, and sat in plain view for several minutes, while we were disgusted by discussed Trump.

As I went to get a beer, through the back door of the garage, I saw what I first took to be a dried Oak leaf, fluttering in the breeze.  It turned into a bright-red hummingbird, which eventually brightly flitted into the neighbor’s yard, and molested some flowers.  The daughter gets the occasional green hummingbird at a feeder behind her house, but red ones are uncommon here.

Baby Cardinal

Later, as I went for another beer, I thought I saw the hummingbird again, but it magically transformed into a bright red Cardinal, apparently unafraid of humans.  It lingered for a few moments, then it too casually flitted to the neighbor’s yard.  Wow!, three usually unseen birds in the course of an hour – Mother Nature must really like me.

I took a walk, early one morning, while waiting for the wife to arise.  Ambling through the nearby woods, I met a lady walking her dog.  She told me that his name was Giggs, a Welsh name, after a well-known (to her) Welsh football (soccer) player.  Strangely enough, she had met another woman with a dog, also named Giggs, after the same soccer player.  There’s an Ontario transport company named Gigg Express.  Now I don’t have to research that name.

White Lady In The Hood, if you’re still out there and reading this, I still haven’t met a stranger.

The ancient Bob’s Big Boy restaurant that has been in front of our Taylor, MI, Red Roof motel for years, since April of this year, has been turned into a Wahlburgers.  Marky Mark and his two brothers should stick to acting.  I was not impressed – with the concept – or the service.  On a four-item order, one was missing (which I didn’t pay for, but should have noticed its absence), and one was wrong.

To the rest of you who are out there reading this – Thank You!  Let’s do it again, soon.  😀

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The U.S. Is NOT A Christian Nation

Capitol Building

I have heard it said many times that America should support a certain principle (usually conservative) because America was founded as a Christian Nation. When I hear this, I immediately wonder where this notion came from. We know that America is clearly not a “Christian” nation, considering the fact that the Constitution never mentions Christianity or Jesus, and the only mention of religion in the text is in the First Amendment where it seeks to respect the free exercise of any particular religion, I find it interesting where this thought came from.

The answer actually resides in the way America was set up. Contrary to what many Christians today believe, the goal of the Constitution was not to proclaim Christianity as the official religion of America, but actually to disorient any notion of that particular thought. The goal of the founding fathers was to establish a country in which a particular religious system was not collectively in cahoots with the established state.

This was one of the main problems in Europe at the time. The Church and the State were linked, causing a whole array of problems to exist. While there were several founding fathers who were in fact Christian, the reality is that their goal was to keep Christianity, or any other religion, from becoming a functioning part of the state.

Ever since the reign of Roman emperor Constantine the Great in the early 4th Century, Christianity has become an institutionalized religion. Let me rephrase that. Christianity has become (in the western world) the institutionalized religion.

Before Constantine, Christianity was far different than we see it now. In fact, it would be difficult to associate it with the modern title of Christianity, considering the differences between it and today’s established, institutionalized religion. Think of the church of Acts. It was a message of beauty. It was a desire to proclaim the beauty of the gospel to all. Many were persecuted, and it consisted of a small following.

The terror of the Roman Empire created little willingness to follow an outlawed religion. But when Constantine converted to Christianity, and it became a part of the state, it was reformulated. It became the dominant religion, and with this, it became the ordering sheriff of its world.

Christianity was no longer about the beautiful gospel message. It became about getting people to behave. It became about attacking those who didn’t agree. It became about war. It became about nationalism and patriotism. It became law and order. It became about God’s chosen people. It became about how to do all the right things to get to heaven and what everyone else should be doing so they won’t go to hell. It was no longer about bringing heaven to earth. No longer was it about the beauty of the gospel.

To see the attempts of Christians to force their religion into the religion of America, is really not a shock. This is what Christianity has been doing for 17 centuries. And sadly, it is largely what Christianity has become.

Flash Fiction #121

diner

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT

“What are we doing here? If we were any further east, we’d have to trade the car for a rowboat.”

“I told you! To get a little piece of real American Patriotism.  Look at that menu.  They still offer Freedom Fries, and Freedom Toast.  I want to make America great again too, but I think we can do it without building walls, restricting immigration, or Trump’s paranoia.

Trump probably can’t even spell Woonsocket, RI, and thankfully, neither his GPS nor his handlers paraded him through here during his election tour. Order up, and we’ll go talk to some original Patriots.”

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

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Have a Happy/Merry/Drunken Whatever-you-wish-to-celebrate.  😎