Donkey Hotey

Don Quixote

I read a post by Don Quixote recently. Well….not the real Don Quixote, because the real Don Quixote isn’t really real.  This one was a linguistic and social-engineering donkey.

He had a real hate on for the word, ‘retard.’ He posted the following definitions,
verb (used with object)
to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.
verb (used without object)
to be delayed.
and still managed to call it an adverb.  This one is pronounced ri-tahrd.

The version he actually had a problem with, was
Noun
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
 a contemptuous term used to refer to a person who is cognitively impaired.
a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.  pronounced reetahrd.

He was obviously concerned that someone might get their little feelings hurt by being called a reetahrd. He didn’t advocate school programs, or public awareness drives.  Ignoring the valid noun and verb uses, he went straight to, he wanted to have the word ‘retard’ removed from the English language.

Shades of ‘1984.’ If there is no word, there can be no corresponding sin.  I’ve known people who were egotistical enough to want to get a word in the Dictionary.  This horse’s ass gets one arrogance point for thinking that he can take a word, any word, away from the 50% of the World’s population who speak English.  He also gets the, ‘Dumb As A Sack Of Hammers Award,’ for thinking that, somehow, the American Government has the authority to grant his wish.

He was quite upset that he couldn’t get 5000 people to sign up, so that he could officially petition Washington to outlaw the use of the word.  He’s not attacking windmills, but there’s definitely something tilted about this guy.  Maybe 5000 people know that it wouldn’t happen, even if he petitioned the Queen of England.  I can just hear her reply.  “We are not amused – you retard!”  😆

Queen

 

Time Keeps On Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’,

into the future, or so says Steve Miller’s song, Fly Like an Eagle.  I wish I were like an eagle.  I’m more like an overfed, ground-bound tom-turkey, lucky to have survived two adjacent thanksgivings.  But the time is still dashing past, while I do little more than mourn its passing and grow ever closer to my own.

When you are young, you have not had many experiences to produce memories.  Each memory is separated from the next, and the mental reach to retrieve any given one is so large that time seems to stretch.  I wrote recently that, as a child, summer seemed to last a whole year.

As you grow older, you experience more and more, and the memories begin to pile up, one against the next, and the mental reach to retrieve each reduces, till time seems to fly past.  With so many memories, it’s not unusual for old folks to reach back and mis-remember, by grabbing the wrong one.  Did I feed the cats today??  I remember feeding the cats, but, with 2000 days of cat feeding, did what I remember, happen today?  Or yesterday?? Or last week?

Four things have occurred in my life recently, in, what to me, was the blink of an eye.  First, I had a birthday.  I turned 68 on the autumnal equinox, and temporally hurtled past it so fast, that I didn’t even blog about it for two months.  Next I managed to reach my 100th post, at my frenetic pace of every-three-days.  Then, on Nov. 21st, two months to the day past my birthday, I reached my blogiversary, and got around to mentioning my birthday.  Last, but definitely not least, the wife and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary on December 2nd.

I look at a couple of photos taken that day, which we have mounted in a collage, and wonder, who are those kids?  Where have they gone?  Of three people other than us in the shots, all later married, and all have got divorced.

We were poor as church-mice when we married.  We met while taking educational upgrading at the local Community College, and had both just got jobs, after living for over a year on the equivalent of Unemployment Insurance payments.  We married in my home-town in a compromise church.  She was about to become an ex-Catholic, and I was a non-attending Baptist, so we were wed in an Anglican Church.  I tipped the preacher $5.

My mother and half-sister prepared food, and the tiny reception was held at the sister’s big house, which had once been a Presbyterian manse.  Of the wife’s nine siblings, only the two other failed Catholics attended.  The group numbered only about 30.  The bakery provided a two tiered cake.  Normal wedding cake is heavy and solid, like Christmas-cake, to provide support for the tiers.  Since ours was so small, we convinced the baker to do it in white cake.  He slid a disc of cereal-box-like cardboard under the upper layer.

We wanted to spend a night at Niagara Falls, a two and a half hour drive.  Married at noon on the Saturday, by 4 o’clock my mother mentioned that we should be on our way, but it had just started freezing rain.  We left town and took the county road toward Niagara, but within three miles, we were falling off the crown of the road, and limping along the snowy shoulder.  We decided to turn back for guidance.  Just as we approached the crossroads, a sander/salter truck went by.  He must be going somewhere!  So we followed him.  He went about half the way to Niagara, and, as night fell, he pulled into a works-yard in a small village.  We spent our first married night at the village inn, and didn’t reach Niagara for several years.

I carefully inspected the car before we left, but found no soaped windows or just-married signs.  I disconnected the de rigueur string of tin cans, and off we went.  About five miles after we pulled behind the Roads truck, I found that someone had purchased a smoked fish, and wedged it under the exhaust manifold.  The grease got hot, and I re-cooked it and burned it on.  Getting it off a red-hot manifold without getting burned myself was an adventure.  The smell of overcooked fish dissipated in about two weeks.

Like many other things in our lives, the wife and I are not so much stubborn about being married, as determined.  We’ve been to counselling a couple of times, to file some of the sharper points off.  As we age, and aches and pains multiply, and the number of external idiots seems to stretch to infinity, our patience diminishes, and we irk each other a bit more than we did when we were younger.  I like to think though, that there is still some solid love for each other under the tough crusts.

When you are married for 50 years, you get a congratulatory letter from the Prime Minister.  My Mom and Dad received theirs shortly before they died, but it was Mom’s second marriage and Dad’s late first.  I think it meant more to me then, than it did to them.  Still, I am looking forward to reaching that milestone, for more than just a piece of paper from some politician.

All aches and pains and diminishing strength aside, both of us are healthy enough to last another 15 years.  My Mom was 92, and Dad was 85 when they passed.  I have good genes.  If the family cancer hasn’t even touched the wife before now, there’s a strong chance it never will, and medicine continues to improve.  After 60 years of marriage, you also receive a letter of congratulations from the Queen, in the same way you can now get a personal tweet from the Pope.  I anticipate getting my certificate from a Royal Footman.

A Penny, Lira, Peso, Etc, For Your Thoughts

So, you were asking how it was that I began collecting foreign coins.  You weren’t??!  Well, get with the program here.  I’ve got an ego to support.  Alright, don’t beg.  I will reveal all.

Once upon a time….I like that opening so much more than, “In the beginning”!  My father had a few coins tucked away in a fireproof cashbox.  They included some old Canadian large-pennies, bigger than quarters.  They were fifty years old or more, I’m embarrassed to say I sneaked a few out to buy penny candy.  No wonder the store keeper was so happy to accept them.  In a fit of remorse, I bought a bunch back for him when I was in my forties, at a dollar apiece.

He also had a few foreign coins.  He may have just picked them out of pocket change, or he may have got them from servicemen returning from Europe when he was stationed in Halifax during W.W. II.  However he got them, as a Scottish child, I was always interested in money.  Money maybe, but not always coins.  I worked in a bank for almost a year.  An 18 year-old kid, and I walked seventeen $1000 bills a mile down the street one day, but still had no real interest in coins.

When I worked at the metal-fab plant, I liked to take my breaks and lunches with the guys in the plant.  If I stayed at/near my desk, there was always somebody asking, “Can you check this?  Can you phone this guy?”  As I’ve said, the list of nationalities working there was varied.  The other young guy in my department was born before me, during the Second World War, and was brought to Canada as soon as they could get out, after hostilities ended.  I asked him one day what country, and found that, by the time he emigrated; he had lived in three countries, and never left the house.  They kept re-aligning the borders.  His family was *German*, but he was born in Austria, then his village became part of Hungary, and finally settled in Czechoslovakia.

Especially around vacation time, I would hear guys say, “I’m going home to see my parents.” Or, “I just got back from visiting my grandparents.”  Often I would ask where – Poland, Portugal, Italy, Romania.  One day one of them said, “I’ve still got some coins left from the trip,” and pulled them out.  The first ones were Polish, I believe.  I oohed and aahed, and he asked, “Do you want them?”  I never saw the bus coming.  I said, sure.  Not even knowing what to do with them, I showed them to the wife, and left them on the dresser.

A couple of days later, one of the other guys said, “You took some Polish coins from Potrzebi, would you like my Portuguese pesetas?”  Oh great, can’t insult him.  Sure.  I went back into the office and commented on how I had just acquired coins from two European countries, and a newly hired female clerk piped up, “I just came here from Peru.  Would you like some Peruvian coins?”  Well, the genie’s out of the bottle now, might as well.

Now I started watching for foreign coins, and discovered that there were quite a few floating around, if you kept your eyes open for them.  I also started asking guys in the plant, “Going home to Jamaica at Christmas?  Bring me a few coins back.”

Strangely enough at that time, I could not find a local coin club.  There was one in the smaller city fifteen miles away, so, once a month I would drive over and attend a meeting.  They were concentrated on Canadian coins, with maybe some American, but there were always a couple of dealers with a slush-box which included cheap foreign coinage that I could buy for ten, or twenty-five cents each.  One night, at the club auction, I went wild and spent two dollars for a two-headed coin.  It’s a British, Churchill commemorative Crown, with the Queen on the front, and bull-dog Winston on the back.  It’s the only legal English coin with the face of anyone but a monarch on it.  They say Cromwell doesn’t count.  He was just a usurper.

As people found out about my foreign coins, I got more and more donations from people who got stuck with them in change.  My wife’s twenty-year-older sister was a Catholic nun who was a house-mother to foreign female teen-age students at an English convent boarding school.  It used to be a sign of good luck to place money in the wall of a newly erected building.  The convent decided that they wished the dining hall renovated, and the beautiful, old, dark, oak wainscoting was ripped off the walls.  Out rolled this thin, quarter-sized coin.

Our nun picked it up.  At first she thought it was something from a game, perhaps like Monopoly, something one of the girls had shoved in.  As she looked at it, she realized it was a real coin, worn till it was almost illegible, but real.  She saved it, and when her contract was up and she returned to Canada, she gave it to me.  It turned out to be a silver, Edward II, short-cross sixpence.  It was minted between 1547 and 1552, the years of his reign.  Back then, they didn’t date coins.  It’s badly worn, but still worth about $25.

I have coins from places like Russia, and Cuba, where coins aren’t legally allowed to leave.  Collecting foreign coins is an exercise in both geography and history.  Where’s that coin from?  South Pacific?  Where exactly?  British East Africa?  That’s Mali now.  French West Africa?  That’s Zimbabwe.

I have WW II coins, both from free France, with their Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite motto, and from German-occupied France, where the Nazi-imposed motto was Travail, Famille, Patrie – Work, Family, Homeland.

The best historical run of coins I have starts with the Weimar Republic, soon to be incorporated into the newly organized Germany.  I have pre-war German coins and Nazi-German coins. I have East German coins and West German coins.  I have re-unified German coins, and finally German-minted Euro coins.

I have over 500 coins, from over 100 countries, and still keep an eye out for more.  The Scotsman has found that money isn’t just for saving, or occasionally, grudgingly, for spending.  It can be fun, and educational.