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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Tattoos Get Under Your Skin

Griffin 1

I just had some inspiration installed!  Pat, can I buy an idea??

In my Tattoos And Piercings post, I claimed that I’d often thought of getting a tattoo, but didn’t have enough imagination to decide what to get inked on.  When the wife heard me say that, she reminded me that I had two griffons scrimshawed onto the first handmade knife I ever bought, one with eagle’s wings, and one with dragonfly wings.  Why not a griffon tattoo?

EUREKA!

Kyle's Scrimshaw

Gryphon 2

SDC10410

I was egged on aided and abetted by two people whose names shall forever remain H E Ellis and BrainRants.  They’re a couple of the nicest bloggers on the interwebz to ever have a head-on collision with an inkjet printer.  “C’mon sissy, get a tat.  We’ve all been inked.  Even the cat has a tattoo.

T's Tat

The daughter designed, and had applied, a tattoo which reflects some of her non-Christian spiritual beliefs.  The ink artist who did hers has moved from the city, (a lot of that goes on among the tattoo crowd) but she assures me that she knows of a couple more who are reliable (they don’t smoke crack while they’re applying your ink).

Griffin 3

Having had my great epiphany, I quickly went to Bing images for griffon choices.  I really like the blond example at the top.  I feel it best exemplifies my inner persona and spirit, intelligent, pensive, strong, introspective, and peaceful – until someone pisses me off.  There are two possible problems with it.

First, colored tattoos can fade over time, although, at my age, I’ll probably fade before it does.  Second, it is complex, and would require several sessions to complete, making it more expensive.  I’ll have to have the daughter introduce me to her dealer ink artist for an estimate, to see if it would be too expensive.  In that case, I also picked out two simple black outlines – above and below.

Griffin 2

Now I’m torn!  Do I just pull up my big-boy YSL bikini briefs, go have it put on, and surprise my future hosts when both the new tat….and I, arrive swollen and weeping?  Or do I wait, and give them the opportunity to influence my final decision?

How about my readers??!  Do you want to indulge in an online opinion poll?

Colored, or black?
Which black one?
Do it now, or let the voices of experience guide me later?

Come on!  This is easier than voting for/against Donald Trump (Kathleen Wynne, in Ontario.)    😯   I’d like to hear from you.

Sisterhood Of The Blog

Reapers

This is where we explore the distaff side of this ‘Meet The Blogger Tour.’

TWOFER!  That’s what I got.  Two for the price of one.

I’ve been stumbling around like a constipated rhino, yodeling, “We’re going to Rants’!  We’re going to Rants’!” but there’s another side to it.  BrainRants would like to be a published author, in fact the reason that he originally started his blog, was so that he could practice composing and publishing 500 words a day, for an entire year.  That’s where I first found him.

He attracted the attention of a lovely, lady author, named H. E. Ellis.  Since I was constantly hanging around his blog back door, like a lost puppy hoping for a pat on the head, she noticed me also.  She had already published a coming-of-age novel titled The Gods Of Asphalt.

Using stories solicited from a circle of bloggers, she compiled an eBook titled Fucked-Up Fairy Tales, to which I was allowed to submit a disappointing little ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ story.  She also assembled a Christmas spoof titled Iconic Interviews, in which I was interviewed as a crusty, corpulent Frosty the Snowman.

After Rants’ marriage ended, the online writing seminars graduated to personal visits.  One backyard brainstorming session of two couples produced the story line of the Grim Reaper, overworked by the deaths of Earth’s burgeoning population and subject to Other-Worldly bureaucracy.  H.E. wrote it as a book titled Reapers With Issues and 3 sequels yet to come.

I purchased an eBook version of it, and also a paperback copy for a memento.  With my usual, unthinking arrogance, I asked if I could get an autographed, first-edition copy.  While H. E. did the actual composition, she gave the other three co-writing credits.  Not only did she sign it herself, but she arranged for the other three to sign it also.

The logistics of the care and concern, time and effort, organization and labor, to get three other people together with one book, is awe-inspiring and heart-warming.  All the more so, because a monkey-wrench got thrown into the situation.

By the time the book was written and published, Rants was back on his second 1-year tour of Afghanistan.  After getting the book signed by the other two, she packaged it up, and shipped it half-way around the world to BrainRants.  He autographed it and added a dedication, and shipped it back Stateside.  It still reeks of camel shit, and desert sand sifts out when I hold it – AND I HOLD IT DEAR TO MY HEART!

So, this is the heart-high Yin, of the Yin and Yang creative and caring couple that we’re going to visit.  They’re each younger than our actual children, but maybe I might persuade them to adopt us.   😀  I forwarded photos of the entire clan, and haven’t heard of any vision or psychiatric problems, so here’s hoping.

Fun With One-Liners

Comedy

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….
….It

I began speed reading, and last night I read “The Da Vinci Code” in 15 minutes….
….I know it’s only 4 words, but it’s a start

How do you make headlines?….
….with corduroy pillows

Police arrested two teenagers today. One was drinking battery acid. The other was eating fireworks….
….They charged one, and let the other off.

I was going to start up an Apathy Anonymous support group….
….then I thought, Why bother?

I’m trying to come up with a Theatre pun….
….but it would just be a play on words.

I’m not stubborn….
….my way is just better

What’s the most reactive fish in the ocean….
….2NA

What’s brown and sticky?….
….a stick

As a kid, I was made to walk the plank….
….because we couldn’t afford a dog

I have a pet tree….
….kinda like having a pet dog, but the bark is quieter.

I hate those new parents who do all that baby talk….
….Yes I do! Yes I do!

As a scarecrow, people say I’m outstanding in my field….
….but hay, it’s in my jeans

I went into a pet shop and said I’d like to buy a goldfish. The clerk said, “Do you want an aquarium?”….
….I said I didn’t care what star sign it was

My boss told me that I intimidate my co-workers….
….so I just stared at him until he apologized

I love telling Dad jokes….
….He loves them

There are so many scams on the internet these days….
….For $19.95 I can show you how to avoid them

It’s okay, Password….
….I’m insecure too

I went to a can crushing convention….
…seeing all that metal destroyed was just soda pressing

Christmas always sucked when I was a kid….
….I believed in Santa Claus, but unfortunately, so did my parents

I’ll never forget the last thing my Grandpa said to me….
….are you still holding the ladder?

I saw two blind people fighting. I said, “I’m rooting for the one with the knife.”….
….they both ran away.

I invited my math teacher to my house. I told her to get here at ten past one….
….so she turned up at eleven.

I know it’s you going around stealing enclosures….
….whether I’m right or wrong, please don’t take a fence.

I told my friend that I was selling my car….
….he didn’t buy it.

 

I Have Poor Relatives

Shabby Man

Once upon a time there was a poor little boy from a poor family. His Father was poor.  His Mother was poor.  The maid was poor.  The cook was poor.  The butler was poor.  Even the chauffeur was poor. One day, he went to his father and asked if he could have a pony.  His Father said no, because they were too poor to afford a pony.  The poor little boy went to his piggy-bank, took out enough money to buy himself the pony, and put the rest back….

We are often so busy with our own lives, that without really obvious clues, we think that everyone is pretty much like ourselves. It takes an observant and analytical mind to notice the struggles of those at the bottom of the financial, pissed-on trickle down ladder.  I am distressed that a $180 pair of distressed designer jeans looks just like my four-years-old $24.95 Wal-Mart pair.

This is why politicians, who are already being paid far too much to do a job that their predecessors did without pay, as a Public Service, feel free to waste millions – Billions – of our dollars, and still fraudulently pad their office budgets and expense accounts.  They have no idea, and don’t care, what it’s like at the bottom of the pile, and it’s been this way since long before Marie Antoinette offered to “let them eat cake.”

It is just as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge, as it is for a homeless man to do so.

I recently had a conversation with a friend. It seemed that both of us were keeping an eye on family finances – total income vs. expenses – only I think that he was doing it at a much higher level than I was.  I’ve never asked how much he makes.  It’s none of my business, and doesn’t affect our friendship.

With his experience, training, intelligence and education, I suspect his annual salary is somewhere north of $100,000/year. His talented wife probably makes half of that.

With my learning disabilities, and poor short-term memory adding to my tendency for procrastination, I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have during my life. About 15 years ago, before I retired to live on Government and company pensions – with a bunch of overtime, I grossed $44,000, but the wife had been ‘downsized.’  Earlier, when I made $38,000, she added $19,000.

This is not a whine! I’m still doing better than a lot of people, including the little guy who busks in the cold, outside the local grocery store.  As an engineer, Jim Wheeler says that it is not worth his while to stop and pick up a penny.  I still grab the occasional one or two from the ‘Need A Penny/ Leave A Penny’ tray at the corner store.  People abandon them because the Mint has stopped making them.

I always check the reject chutes of the coin-counting machines in stores. Sometimes I find Canadian coins, as well as foreign ones which I add to my collection.  It’s quick and easy to eyeball the change chutes of vending machines.  I’m not too proud to (discreetly) stick my finger in the few payphone chutes that still exist.  The last time I did, I found $2.  It’s all relative.  $2 to a millionaire is nothing, although Bill Gates (or his minions) cashed a check for 39 cents.  $2 to someone who is eating cat food (We don’t.) means a lot.

Having pets is a wonderful experience. I would not want to get rid of any that we have, but the wife wants even more.  I cannot convince her that, between food, treats, litter, and vet bills, each animal costs us about $1000 a year.  I would sooner have that money to pay down our still-existing mortgage, or use it to take enjoyable trips, while we are still physically capable of doing so.

Some people waste money, too often MY money!  Some people scrimp and save, show restraint and fiscal control, and budget their money to get them the most they can.  I’d be patting myself on the back, but I’m busy crawling around on the floor, trying to find that quarter I dropped.  I’ll be back up at the computer in a couple of days.  Please come back again then.   😉

Flash Fiction #149

Thinking

PHOTO PROMPT © Victor and Sarah Potter

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

He liked to come up here to contemplate. It was nice and quiet, away from the family, the fuss, the TV, the pets and the noise.

He wanted to think about finances, things like total family income, proposed home renovations, future school expenses – possibly even the advisability of changing careers.

He’d just settle back into this big comfortable easy chair, and consider the whichness of the why….

….What’s that, honey?? Bedtime??!  How did that happen?  As his Grandfather used to say –

When I works, I works hard.
When I plays, I plays strong.
But when I thinks, I falls asleep.

***

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

Poppa Attack

poppa attack

Just to show that procrastination isn’t the only reason that I don’t get accomplished, what I should. Like Mary and her lamb, I love (most) animals, and they love me.  When I stop in at the daughter’s place, I don’t usually sit down.  I get in and out quicker.

The above photo, dark and murky though it may be, shows what happens if I sit in the big recliner chair. Daughter is hosting two short-haired female Chihuahuas for a breeder.  One insists on licking my entire face – could be for the perspiration salt – could be because she really likes me.  The other doesn’t lick faces, but will clean out both of my ears.

The grandson’s German Shepherd-cross never believes that the Chihuahua does my face correctly, and insists on re-licking it. With a much larger tongue, it should take her less time, but if I don’t insist on coming up for air, it could go on all afternoon.  She took out my sapphire ear-stud out one day.  I never noticed, and I’ve never replaced it.

The daughter’s younger male cat, who will not be picked up, has picked up on the fact that I’ve been practicing my petting and skritching at home.  He has settled onto the left side of my lap, while the little female loudly stands below him at my knee.

Not seen, on the sofa to my right, is Benny, the big son to my now-gone Contessa. He was battling a two-ear infection, with partial deafness and vertigo, but still loudly insisted that I reach out to him too.

The daughter sometimes babysits the breeder’s little, male, long-haired Chihuahua, when she’s on a business trip. He will let no man near him, but will run to the daughter when I arrive. She is allowed to pick him up, and hand him off to me.  There, he quickly settles into the crook of my left elbow, and closes his eyes as I stroke him.  He’d probably purr, if he were a cat.

The wife insists that I’m the reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi. All this adoration is like high-octane gasoline; it fuels my soul.  It de-stresses me, and lowers my blood pressure, though it doesn’t help my memory or concentration.  “Why did I come in here today??  Shopping??!  What for?  What time is it?  What day is this?”   😕