Flash Fiction #214

Swag

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

SWAG

Brucie had a very rewarding Christmas. He was old enough to know that there was no Santa, but smart enough not to say so.

“Santa” had finally brought him a basic cell phone. He’d got socks and underwear (Thanx, Mom) books, video games, dark chocolate and Scottish sweets. He’d watched A Christmas Story and asked for a BB gun, but Mom said that Ralphie’s mother was right – maybe later. “Later…. right.” Adults speak a different language.

Mom had warned him not to just throw his wrapping paper everywhere, so he’d carefully placed it all in a neat pile beside him.

***

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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Firearms VS. My Skull

Shotgun

Have you ever had your head blown off with a 12 gauge shotgun?  I have, almost, and it still gives me shivers when I’m reminded of it!  Actually, that’s a silly question.  If you’d had your head blown off, you wouldn’t be here, answering this silly survey.

Children in my small hometown owned weapons. 14, 15, 16-year-old boys possessed rifles and shotguns.  It was not unusual, of a warm, sunny summer Saturday, to see a group of armed youths, ‘going hunting’, if hooting and yelling, and telling jokes while clomping through the near-by woods could be called hunting.  All the animals were hiding behind trees and snickering.  The only things that got shot were trees and fenceposts – or old appliances and food tins, if we reached the city dump.

One well-armed wight once boasted of ‘bumping off a chickadee’, as if he were a mob hit man. From a distance of 20 feet, he blasted away with a 12 gauge shotgun, leaving nothing but a fine pink mist.  He was also the genius who found an arm-thick, wild apple tree amongst the evergreens, and ‘chopped it down’ using three blasts to its base.

The rifles we owned were mostly little .22 caliber plinkers, capable of very little serious damage. Those who carried 12 gauge shotguns though, were far more dangerous.  .22s are only 22/100ths of an inch wide.  Even .45s, a large handgun shell, are less than half an inch.  12 gauge though, is .730 inches in diameter. And the power comes from the ‘squared’ portion of the Pi/R/Squared formula.  See the size comparison below.

Gauge

I had moved away to get a job, and had returned for Christmas. I’d been able to get presents for my Mom and Dad, but admitted to him that I had no idea about what to get my brother.  He told me that my brother wanted to be armed like his friends for ‘hunting season’, and also told me where there was a bolt action shotgun for sale, much like the one at the top, only in far better shape.

Bolt-action, for a shotgun, is quite rare. It cocks, ready for the next shot, when you lift the bolt handle, rotating a wedge-shaped section backward.  After you manually insert another shell and close the bolt, it is fired by pulling the trigger, to release the spring-loaded portion….usually.

After I had presented it to him on Christmas Day, the brother oohed and aahed over it, and took in into his bedroom, ‘to put it away in his closet.’ I had a small repair chore to do for my Dad, and stepped out into a shed, attached to the back of the old, frame house, with a work area in it.

I was standing close to the house outer wall, with a file and screwdriver in my hands. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and my head and shoulders stung from small impacts.  I thought at first that a two-bulb, 4-foot fluorescent light fixture had exploded in the cold….but no, I still had light.

I turned, and there was a head-sized hole in the wall, right beside my head.  I could see my brother inside, with the shotgun in his hands, and a dismayed expression on his face.  By the time I’d left home, I’d acquired almost 300 hours of gun-handling and safety training.  Not so my brother, and his gun-toting friends.

He just HAD to know how the gun operated, and inserted a shotgun shell.  Apparently the gun had a 6-inch split, at the back of the barrel.  Instead of cocking, as the bolt was raised, it allowed the cocking cam to slip out of a groove, machined into the barrel, and hang up on the barrel’s rear edge.  When the bolt was pushed forward, it stretched the firing spring, and when the bolt was cranked down, to lock it, the cam snapped back into its slot, and suddenly flew forward, firing the gun.

A couple of fortuitous degrees of angle, or inches of difference in where he, and I, were standing, were the only things that prevented me from becoming a Wisconsin Swiss-Cheese-Head. The gun’s vendor had not wanted to lose a sale by mentioning the flaw, but had to refund my money, and got a good blast from both me and my Dad.  My brother never did end up owning a gun, and it’s probably just as well.

Do any of you have an almost-died story that you wish to share?  This is not my only one.  My brother also almost drowned the both of us one time.   😯  I’m alive and safe now, and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

 

 

WOW #25

Embarrassment

“Twenty words that will show your age.” – That’s the title of one of Dictionary.com’s articles.  Another is, “Only kids from the 90s know these words.”  I was already feeling old, when I ran into….

BAGATELLE

Definitions for bagatelle

something of little value or importance; a trifle. a game played on a board having holes at one end into which balls are to be struck with a cue. pinball.

Origin of bagatelle Bagatelle came to English from French, from Upper Italian bagat(t)ella, equivalent to bagatt(a) “small possession.” It entered English in the 1630s.

And the bagatelle begat Pong. And Pong begat the video arcade. And the video arcade begat the game console, and people began to ignore each other, even sitting side by side. And the game console passed its mighty power unto the smart phone and the tablet. Mesmerised by the pretty blue screens, people began wandering around, bumping into each other, street signs, and mall fountains.

….I’ve got no finish for this post, just the usual random rant about the speed and scope of social and technological change – seemingly within a fruit-fly’s life-span – from mechanical to electric to electronic to digital, and soon, to quantum, from 6-volt cars to 12-volt, from 120-volt home appliances to 12-volt-transformer units, from incandescent lights, to fluorescent, to LEDs.

I’ve played a variety of pinball machines as a teen. Even younger, my parents gave me a Christmas present of a bagatelle. It was an undersized spring-loaded plastic replica of a 1911A Colt .45 caliber pistol, which fired pea-sized ball-bearings at targets enclosed by plastic dome, 18 inches away. It may have been the cause of my life-long love of the ‘look’ of the venerable, American-designed and made pistol. It was an inexpensive bagatelle game then, but if I’d kept it in good condition, I could have sold it to a collector for enough to finance my retirement now.

In my little hometown in the late 1940s and ‘50s, there were a few intellectuals who actually used the word ‘bagatelle.’ The phrase, “It’s a mere bagatelle.” might have been a requote of actor/comic W. C. Fields. Of course, the illiterate pond-scum that I was forced to hang around with said, “A mere bag o’ shells.” The informational value is almost the same – an inconsequential thing of little value.

Your visits and comments are not a mere bagatelle. What have you got to say about this dated old word?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAINRANTS!

Birthday Cake

I sent BrainRants a birthday present!

From comments on previous years’ posts, I knew that BrainRants’ birthday was some time late in January. Using stalker senses honed by sticking my nose into Cordelia’s Mom’s business, I found a link to the employment consultant who was aiding him in obtaining suitable civilian employment.

She’s a lovely lady. Wanting to surprise Rants, I sent her a package, along with a note, asking if she could discreetly forward it to Mrs. BrainRants.  No black helicopters came winging north over the border, only an email saying, “Can do, and did!”

Rants’ new bride doesn’t know me from Santa Claus.  Inside the shipping envelope I included another note, asking if she could hand him the final package on the fateful day.  She obviously knows of his blogging, and coterie of blog-friends.

Perhaps the arrival of strange bundles, delivered in odd ways, isn’t all that unusual. All I know is that the FBI didn’t ask the RCMP to stop around and ask some pointed questions.

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During my ongoing housecleaning, I realised that I possessed two commemorative medallions, one bronze, the other aluminum, honoring astronauts, and the Apollo 11 and 12, 1960s Moon Missions. Knowing of Rants’ interest in science, NASA and the moon, I wondered if he might have any interest in them.

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I included a shield-shaped Canada shoulder patch which I picked up the day I went to photograph the tank and Spitfire.  I doubt that he has uniforms anymore.  The army made him turn all his stuff in.  He would only wear one for a special occasion, and the Maple Leaf patch would not be allowed because it is non-regulation.

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No cost was spared when I packaged his coins in the Costco box I received my membership-renewal Christmas gift card in.

While not ‘strange’, my plan was unexpected and unannounced. Mrs. Rants was apparently willing to go along with it.  She sneaked out an email to confirm that she had received his gift, and presented it to him.  I received another, from him, thanking me for my little piece of thoughtfulness.

This sending of physical packages and actual printed letters seems almost outdated in today’s electronic society. I couldn’t use a drone, because the DC area is a no-fly zone.  Somebody, perhaps Rants himself, would have shot it down.

If you haven’t already, drop in to his site, wish him a Happy Belated Birthday, and really make him feel old. I had hoped that another gift might be the ability to announce that he has secured gainful and productive employment.  We waited – but none of us as hard as him, and now everyone’s wish has been granted.  He scored a job – cube-drone trainee, working under Dilbert.  Still got the training wheels on. Good Luck, Rants, and thanx.  😎

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The presents, as they sit proudly in Rants’ house, at an undisclosed location in the Eastern USA.   😆

 

Triviana Fore

 

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation
I’m retired!!  It’s ALLLL vacation.

I received my WordPress email outlining my year.  I ignored it.  Last year I displayed my stats.  This year…Pfft!  I’m not disappointed; it’s just that guys like BrainRants and The Byronic Man get year-end notices that include the statement, “The population of the Earth is seven Billion.  Every one of them visited your site last year – twice!”  I think mine mentioned a Mini car….or was it an electric scooter?

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I found some money (what a surprise), and got panhandled for a bit of it – twice in one day.  If Ace is the place for Americans, Canadian Tire is the place for Canucks.  I went there with the wife to buy the grandson presents – tools he’ll need for his welding apprenticeship.

While she was dithering deciding, I ambled up the aisle.  I’m planning a post about written stuff I find on the floor/ground.  Halfway between me and an oncoming woman, there was something on the floor.  Probably just someone’s shopping list – but I hurried a bit, to get there first.  I picked up $15 – a ten and a five.

I went into a non-usual grocery store, and checked out the coin-counter machine, as I always do, and got 45¢ for my Scottish trouble, a quarter and two dimes.  The next day I went to my usual store, and was barely inside the door when some young colored female asked me for a dollar.  She was well dressed in figure-displaying clothing, but had a Muslim modesty scarf over her head.  Oh, that sexy hair.  That’s what guys go crazy for.

She and her friend had come in to purchase a single-use aluminum roast pan.  Probably going to cook up a camel haunch.  They had brought their little change purses, but had both left the big ones with the real money locked in the car.  The roast pan cost more than they’d thought it would.  They didn’t want to have to go all the way back to the car in a snow storm, and would I just give them a dollar.  Uh, NO!

The nerve!!  The absolute gall!!  I was about to tell her what she could do for a dollar, when I realized she already had.  This tale alone was worth more than the dollar.  As I left this store, I checked out their coin counting machine – and picked up another 45¢, this time a nickel and four dimes – including a 1952 silver, King George one to add to my collection.

silver dime

 

 

 

I went a quarter-mile down the road to another supermarket which carries a house brand not available elsewhere.  As I exited, I was accosted by a mid-20s male, slightly scruffy, but warmly dressed.  He politely asked if I could spare any change toward ‘bus fare.’  Yeah, right – but his girlfriend?, seeing that he had a big one hooked, came rushing over – on her power wheelchair.  Oh damn.

I kept the silver dime, but bought some Karma by giving them all the change in my pocket – not a lot, more than a dollar, perhaps less than two.

The wife and I shopped for groceries together one day.  The couple checking out – the guy ahead of us – and we were third in line.  As the first pair bagged up and left, the guy in front of me stepped forward, and onto, and then off, what appeared to be a coin.

I moved forward into the area he’d vacated, and bent forward slightly to see if it was a quarter I might later pick up.  Suddenly he was all in my face!

“What the FUCK are you lookin’ at??!  Just keep your goddamned nose out of my business!  I don’t want you snooping at my shit!  Just stand the FUCK back, asshole, and mind your own fucking business.”

Dear Lord!  Take a chill pill Bill.  Increase the medication dosage, and attend those court-ordered anger management courses.  Nosy??  Snooping??  Your business? – in a grocery store??  All for looking at a dirty spot on the floor?  Does your wife have you picking up panty liners, or are those yours Nasty Nancy?

Even my wife, who is usually judgemental and unsympathetic of my ‘shenanigans’, was amazed at this over-the-top paranoia performance.

General Motors recently sent me a letter, telling me that, if I attach a bowling ball to the keychain for my Chevy Impala, it may cause the jet engines to fail in midflight, and kill more than the AirAsia crashes.  Nice going idiots!  This 54¢ part recall has been going on for years.  I’ve owned this car for almost 11 years, and you finally got around to telling me that my vehicle is one affected.  I feel so cared for.  🙄

I had an awkward moment recently, when I wasn’t sure if I actually had some free time, or if I was just forgetting something again.

 

The Night Before Christmas

Angry Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Xmas and all though the house,
The whole God-damned family was drunk as a souse.
Grandma and Grandpa were singing a song,
And the kid was in bed, pulling his dong.

Ma home from the cat house, and Pa out on bail,
Had just settled down for a nice piece of tail,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter, and fell on my ass.
The moon blushing down on the new-fallen snow
Gave a nice wholesome lustre to the objects below.

When there to my old blood-shot eyes did appear
A rusty old sleigh, and eight mangy reindeer.
With a ruddy old driver, holding his dick,
I knew in a flash the old bastard was ‘Nick.’

Slower than snails his eight reindeer came,
And he swore and he bitched as he called them by name.
“Now Prancer, now Dancer, up on the walls:
Quick damn it, quick, or I’ll cut off your balls!”

Then up on the roof he scrambled and fell,
He came down the chimney like a bat out of Hell.
He staggered and stumbled as he ran out the door,
Tripped over his bag, and fell flat on the floor.

But I heard him exclaim, as he rode out of sight:
“Piss on you all – What a Hell of a night!”

***

A little girl is in line to see Santa. When it’s
her turn, she climbs up on Santa’s lap. Santa
asks, “What would you like Santa to bring you for
Christmas?”

The little girl replies, ” I want a Barbie and
G.I. Joe.”

Santa looks at the little girl for a moment and
says, “I thought Barbie comes with Ken”.

“No”, said the little girl, “She comes with
GI Joe, she fakes it with Ken.”

 

Just a little serving of Holiday Cheer.  Are you getting into the Spirit?  Or just into the spirits??  I’m sitting here, having a few with my big fat neighbor, Round John Virgin.  He has a pair of pet caribou – a male he calls Bruce The Moose, as well as Bruce’s mate, Olive, the other reindeer.  Be sure to take a big bag of ‘Bah, Humbug’ with you.  You’ll need it when you’re wrapping those last presents.  😯

It’s Beginning To Look A lot Like Commerce

Christmas Presents

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, November 11, after I stood quietly, respectfully, for two minutes, I stopped at a Dollar Store, and picked up a box of biscuits for the dog.  With my receipt, the clerk handed me a postcard sized form.  If I filled it in and dropped it off soon enough at a downtown office, I might earn a seat in the reviewing stand for the local Santa Claus parade – being held tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 15th.

I returned home to hear the son announce that he’d picked up his ticket for his firm’s gala Christmas Party – being held next Saturday, Nov. 22.  Dear Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s not even the American Thanksgiving yet, and we’re already hip deep in Christmas.  Welcome to the Festival of Conspicuous Consumption.  The decorations have been out, and the ‘Christmas Sales’ have been on since Halloween.  Even today’s crossword had 3-down – gift-bearing trio = Magi, and – guide for 3-down = star, although, admittedly, those are a little more Spiritual than the rest.

Canada is a bit ahead of The States.  We held our Thanksgiving last month, well before the behemoth that is the Holiday Season was on its tracks and starting to move.  We’ll still be ahead of them in a few years when the commercial season begins about the 4th of July, and we celebrate our independence on July 1.

Be sure to give the ‘Good Christians’ lots of room to ignore Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Kwanzaa and secular atheism, and insist that their single day in the next two months of celebrations, is the only valid reason for The Season.

Allow the more militant among them a little extra swing room for when they U-turn, and insist that no-one should be allowed to have fun, or give presents, or engage in spiritual introspection, without their permission and participation.  Their cold, exclusionary Grinch’s hearts are well attuned to this icy time of year.

Armed with my CDs, I’m ready for the day, just over two weeks away, when the radio begins delivering nothing but all-Christmas songs, all the time.  I got a new keg of Bah Humbug on E-Bay, and will be downing the occasional shot to keep me topped up, as I help the wife assemble and bake Christmas Holiday cake and Christmas Holiday cookies.

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Four

Day 2/Part 1 – Forgetful Follies and Awful Aftermath

Since it was the son, Shimoniac, who was originally to accompany me on the Blogger Safari/Pilgrimage, I had not informed the wife about the lollipops I’d obtained, and forgotten to give to Cordelia’s Mom.  After we were in our motel room, I admitted my senile oversight, and we slept on what to do to correct the problem.

The next morning, the wife said that she felt well enough to drive back across town, to deliver them to CM’s house.  With a little help from Ethel GPS, and the knowledge I had obtained during yesterday’s high-speed chase, we made it safely.  I called her private cell phone because I didn’t have her work number, to tell her what we planned to do, but had to leave a voice-mail.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a guy. Men and women do things differently, as CM noted in a recent post.  I was just going to present the suckers in the plain white paper bag that the Mennonite vendor had put them in.

Walmart

 

 

 

The wife was horrified! Soon, we were in a WalMart, buying a small gift bag, and a Thank You card, and rainbow colored tissue paper.  The wife did all the social stuff, and soon had a pretty little package, almost as nice as the one CM had given us the day before, while I dragged my club around, bopping the occasional sabre-toothed tiger or woolly mammoth.

Judy's Manor

 

 

 

 

Using my Stalker Senses, I soon had us at the front door of CM’s modest little suburban cottage.  The turbo-charged soccer-mom van from yesterday was in the driveway, but I didn’t know how she commuted to work.  I pushed the doorbell, but heard neither a ding-dong, (Oh! – He was outside.) nor any movement.  I carefully placed the package between the doors, and headed for the car.

Suddenly, the front door flew open, and Tasmanian Niceness Devil came swirling out to meet us. She comes home for lunch each day to let new puppy, Cody out.  She’d called the motel, but we’d already left, and she just hoped to be there when we arrived.  The woman makes me tired just watching her.  She gets more done by nine AM, than I procrastinate all day.

We had another lovely get-together, which was sadly cut short because she had to get back to work, and we had a long way to go, and a short time to get there, and needed to be on the road. CM directed us on how to reach the Interstate, by telling us to go down her street for “a couple of blocks, and turn right on Delaware Road.  It’ll take you right to the up-ramp.”

A couple of blocks down the street, it was crossed by another narrow, ordinary, residential street, at an odd 60 degree angle, rather than 90, proving that not just Kitchener has strangely laid out roads. I couldn’t see a street sign, but, it seemed hardly the type of road to feed an Interstate onramp.  A ‘couple of blocks’ further on, I could see a big, six-lane road – that must be the one. Sure enough, I turned right on Delaware Ave, and a half-mile later, I sat at a traffic light at the base of the Throughway ramp – waiting for the traffic coming up Delaware Road, where I could have been, if I’d just paid attention.

We’d had toast and juice for breakfast, but now it was approaching 2 PM, and we needed to shake out the kinks, and consume some protein. We did this at a service center at Angola, a small town west of Buffalo.  Here, deep troughs were dug, about a quarter-mile apart, for the east-bound, and west-bound Interstate traffic.

Buffalo Rest Center

Angola Travel PlazaAngola Travel Plaza 3Angola Travel Plaza 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The single service area perches on the top of the hill in the middle. There are parking areas on either side, and enclosed overhead pedestrian walkways out to the center.  I have encountered only one other such middle-located service center.  It’s on the Florida Turnpike, just north of Miami.  People can pass through the buildings, but barricades keep the toll-paying automobiles moving in the correct directions.

It’s another 4 to 5 hours of driving to our next motel, so I’ll relate the details of that in the next segment.  🙂

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Three

 

Bison

 

 

 

 

Day 1 – Beautiful Buffalo

Okay, I wrote the above, and the computer didn’t explode, so, on with the post.

With five hours of sleep, and adrenalin coursing through my veins, I was awake to greet the son as he got home from work at 7:15 AM. By 8 o’clock, I had much of our supplies loaded in the car, when the alarm woke the wife.

With this head start, and only a little chivvying on my part, the wife was beautiful enough to leave by ten to 10, instead of my feared ten after.  We took along little snippy Miss GPS, who the wife has named Ethel.  We had three choices to cross the Niagara River, to get to Buffalo.  I had decided on the furthest south, at Fort Erie, even though it meant turning back north on the American side.

Ethel said, “Turn here, to cross at Lewiston.” I said no.  RECALCULATING!  She said, “Turn here, to cross at Niagara Falls.”  I said no.  RECALCULATING!  We pulled into the duty-free, and phoned the son, to tell him we had safely reached the border.

We called Cordelia’s Mom, and told her we were about to cross over. She said she would pick up her mother-in-law, and meet us at the restaurant.  It was just past noon.  We crossed the Peace Bridge, and Miss GPS ordered that I “turn left on David Street”, only, I couldn’t see David St.  The impatient guy behind me honked, and the wife insisted that we proceed, even if it was in the wrong direction.  It was!  RECALCULATING!

We went down to the next exit and reversed direction. Now, Ethel was happy.  She quickly got us to the restaurant.  We had just parked when a silver sport-ute came careening in off the street at high speed, on two wheels, one woman driving, and an older lady passenger desperately clinging to the door handle.

Sure enough, it was CM, who came breezing out of her vehicle like a little whirlwind of happy, helpful good humor.  I don’t know where such a small person packs all that personality.  She soon led us astray into a lovely Greek eatery.

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Since the lunch crowd soon emptied out, the staff was happy (enough) to ignore us, while we had an almost two-hour meet and greet. The time just flew by.  She comprises such an enthralling Presence, that it compounded and concentrated my senility.  I’m sure that I forgot at least half of the things I wanted to say, and ask.

Hoping to get some Nestle Italian Sweet Crème Coffee Mate, which is not available in Ontario, I had asked CM to keep an eye out for it as she did her own shopping, to tell me where to go to buy it.

Then I compounded my sins, by asking her to look for the Goya hot sauce that Madame Weebles had been so kind to send. While not yet totally consumed, it won’t last forever.  We can’t find it in the Detroit area but, since it’s bottled just outside NYC, I thought it might be stocked in Buffalo.  It was, YAY!

Then I had the effrontery to ask CM if she would purchase these items, to save me the running around, and I would repay her.  The nerve of some people’s kids!  She did – at two different stores.  It’s not my good looks; it must have been my glib tongue keyboard.

She carried a stuffed Teddy bear, and we had a stuffed Lamb, as identification. She showed us a good time, but nobody took any clothes off.  With what she claims is ‘Buffalo’ hospitality, first she treated us to a lovely lunch.  I got suspicious when she hauled out a gift bag.

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In it were the Coffee Mate and the Ancho Sauce, but she had also added a box of ‘Buffalo’ sponge candy, and a bottle of Buffalo Wing sauce. When I asked her “How much do I owe you?”, she insisted that these were all presents.

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She asked where we were staying, and I told her at a Red Roof Inn, but way out by the airport. She refused to let me rely on Ethel GPS, and insisted that she would lead me, fifteen miles, and most of an hour, there and back, out of her way, across town – if I could keep up.  With her responsible for where I was going, I had a chance to look around and discover where I was.  That will be important, later.

She led me right to our motel, with a quick, unintended stop at the Bob Evans out front, and did everything except book me in. We gabbed for a few more minutes, and I effusively thanked her for her many kindnesses and generosity.  The wife says that she confided that she was somewhat relieved that I had brought her along, instead of son Shimoniac, The Bear.

I shook her tiny hand and, with tears in my eyes, sadly waved goodbye, as she drove away. Still all misty, I turned back to look at my car – and THE LOLLIPOPS, which are the very center of this tale, still in the back seat.  She had told her mother-in-law about the candy, and a couple of blocks away, MIL asked, “But where are the Lollipops??”

What will she do about them?? What will Archon do about them??  Will we return to Ontario –eventually – and mail them to her?  Will I just say to Hell with the diet (again), and eat them?  Tune in next week to find out.

My only complaint is that she says she does not find me as grumpy in person as I seem on my blog site. I don’t know how that can possibly be.  I see that she has started referring to me, the World’s Champion Grumpy Old Dude as G.O.D. – not to be confused with God.  I have more power, authority, and ill temper.

***

I have a poll for my readers.  There are several more of these episodes.  Would you prefer to be bored all at once, sequentially, or would you rather have me insert the occasional rant?

Something’s Cooking

Baking, actually.  It’s a good thing I have a few posts ahead in the drafts file, or I wouldn’t even have been able to put out the desperate few I did, the last week or so.  We’ve been making Christmas cookies.  We two fruitcakes also made two fruitcakes.  I can’t figure out how to Email the second one to KayJai, so I guess we’ll be forced to eat it ourselves.

In the last couple of weeks, the wife and I, with some help from both daughter and son, have made up 80 to 90 dozen cookies.  First we laid in supplies, a flat of 2 ½ dozen fresh eggs, ten pounds of butter, two 10 lb. bags of flour, plus nuts, flavoring, decorations, chocolate, and stuff even I don’t know about.

We made up 11 different types – two different versions of Scottish shortbreads, three flavors of hard meringues, thumbprints, Yule logs, oat delights, several shapes of cookie-pressed spritz, some decorated sugar cookies, and a batch of ginger snaps.  I know ginger snaps don’t seem like a Christmas cookie, but I’ll try to explain later.  Each different batch yielded 6 to 8 dozen little bite-sized gems.

It all started because my wife is the youngest of nine children in a Bad Good Catholic family.   Well into her late twenties and early thirties, she was treated as if she couldn’t cook, despite her next oldest brother, a trained Chef, admitting that she cooked better than him.  For the summer family picnic, she was told to “Just bring chips and dip.”  For the Christmas celebration, it was, “We’ve got the main courses.  You just bring cookies.”  So she learned how to make homemade cookies.

My good Scottish mother taught her how to make real Scottish shortbreads.  The secret is working the dough by hand, so that the skin warmth causes the butter to meld with the flour and sugar, to produce a literal melt-in-your-mouth Ambrosia.  This year, instead of using white sugar, she produced a second batch with Canadian Maple Sugar.  If the Americans ever invade Canada, it will be to get those cookies.

The grandson is allergic to wheat flour, so she found cookies with no flour, not just for him, but he loves them.  Hard meringues are just lots of egg whites and sugar, whipped till they’re stiff.  Three different batches, all with different stuff mixed in, one got shredded dark chocolate and hazelnuts, one had slivered almonds and Skor bits, and the last received finely chopped glazed cherries and coconut.  Dollop on a sheet of parchment and bake low and slow, till firm.

Oat delights are melted chocolate, shortening, rolled oats and coconut, mixed together.  No need for baking.  Form into small globs on a cookie sheet.  When the chocolate solidifies, they’re ready to eat.

Yule logs, thumbprints and spritz cookies all have a shortbread-like base.  Yule logs are rolled to finger-like size and shape, and baked.  The next day they have the tops dipped by hand into chocolate and set aside to harden.  Thumbprints are rolled into ping-pong balls, dipped in egg-white, rolled in chopped walnuts and half a glazed cherry pressed into the tops, then baked.

Spritz cookies are dispensed by a cookie-press, so that they, but not me, are fresh-pressed.  Variously sized and shaped bottom dies give crosses, Christmas trees, and lobed discs.  These have colored sugar balls and other shapes pressed in by hand before baking.

While making cookies for the family gathering years ago, the wife threw out her back.  We had just received a flyer from a new chiropractor, working from the basement of his home, a half a mile away.  I called and he said to bring her over.  It’s 9:30 at night!  You mean, in the morning, right?  No!  No!  Bring her now.  We went over.  He cured the problem, we took along a card-box of cookies as a thank-you, and a tradition was born.

When the wife was forced to give up her family, because they were toxic, en masse, we needed somewhere to put all these cookies.  Each year the number of cookies given to the doctor and his family grew, as his family increased.  Sugar cookies were added to the mix, specifically for the kids, and the Christmas cake recipe was developed for the adults’ more refined tastes.

Sugar cookies, rolled out flat and baked, are bland and uninteresting.  As with so many things worth doing, the wife decided to improve on them.  We began icing them, not just with a sugar glaze, but with a colored, flavored glaze.  Bells are coated with a gold, maple flavor, stars, snowflakes and snowmen get white, almond.  I slather green, mint on holly wreaths.  Stockings get red, cherry, except for a white cuff.  I stripe candy-canes red and white.

The wife makes sure bears and reindeer look natural in brown, gravy?  No. Peanut butter? No!  Sugar beads, bells and bows, along with other shapes, and coarse, colored sugar, are all added to dress them up.  Their stockings all have their names in burnt-sugar coloring on the cuffs.  We cut out boy-shapes and girl-shapes.  The daughter, with the best eye, the steadiest hand, and the most artistic flair, turns these into representations of the kids.  Kids?  Hah!  They were when we started, 25 years ago.  The cookies have grown with them.

Two of the girls are married.  She made one girl-cookie into a young school-marm, with a book on the front of her pretty frock.  Another married daughter is also a teacher, but more of a free-spirit, so her cookie looked more like a hippie in a flow-y skirt.  The third was dressed in a ball-gown, with a string of pearls.  The son, the youngest, and studying to be a pharmacist, got his cookie with a pharmacist’s jacket, and his studious glasses.  One new husband is a painter.  His boy-cookie came with a paint spattered sweatshirt and blue jeans.  The other is a bit of a gamer, so his showed a controller on the tummy.

The kids have loved these personalized presents for years.  Even now, *grown-up*, they and their spouses still want the fun, and the recognition.  Pictures are taken and stories are told to friends and co-workers.  The family has built a Christmas tradition.  First they exchange and open presents, then they all sit down to pots of tea, and our cookies for a family brunch.  While making this mass can be a bit (lot?) of work, it’s also fun, and what we do to release tension.  The joy and appreciation make it all worthwhile….and there’s leftovers till February.

Oops, almost forgot.  We found that the chiropractor’s favorite cookies are Ginger snaps, so we include a canful, for him.  He claims he takes them downstairs to the office, and the rest of the family doesn’t even know about them.