’19 A To Z Challenge – Q

AtoZ2019letter-q

 

 

 

 

 

 

I once lived next door to a bootlegger.

Now that I’ve put up the attention-grabbing click-bait for the WordPress reader, this post will be about

QUILTS

and a bunch of other things. Wear your hiking shoes. This will be a longer trek than usual.

Mennonite

I live in the middle of Mennonite territory. With no TV, quilting is a way of life, and financial support. When I first came to town, I lived for about a year and a half, in a boarding house, run by a New Order Mennonite woman. She bought it with, “a settlement from my husband.” Like a lady’s age, I never asked if it was through death or divorce.

It was not unusual, especially in the winter, to come home to find the table pushed over to the edge of the huge, old kitchen, and four tiddly women, – her, her mother, and two friends from up the street – a couple of empty, home-made elderberry wine bottles and four crystal sherry glasses, in front of a quilting frame.

My father used to go out for 2 or 3 hours in the evenings, Monday to Friday. Back before TV, my mother made me a quilt, all by herself, with no frame. It kept me warm in bed, in our old, drafty, hard-to-heat house. How I wish I still had it! She also used to take threadbare clothing and bed sheets, tear them in strips, braid them into a ‘rope,’ and sew it together into an oval floor mat, to keep my feet warm on cold mornings.

The old lady’s house was at the bottom of a steep, block-long hill. There was a stop sign, at a one-way street. With the main street easily visible, a short block ahead, surprising numbers of drivers just didn’t stop. We had an accident a week, and a serious accident every month.

My brother rented parking on a tiny driveway on the uphill side. He left to go home one summer Friday afternoon. He had not been gone an hour, when there was a screech, and a huge crash. I looked out my front window, to see a car parked in his spot – upside-down.

The old lady complained about having to rake, and clean leaves out of the eaves trough, from the two stout Maple trees that stood on either side of the front door. I asked why she didn’t have them taken down. She replied, “Have you seen the scars on those trees??! If they weren’t there, one of those cars would be in your bedroom.”

It was a rough section of town back then – drunks, druggies, hookers. A prospering bootlegger lived the other side of the one-way street. One evening he accompanied a good customer out to the sidewalk – just as there was another terrific car crash, only, this time, the upside-down car was deflected his way, and crushed him.

Recently, with the installation of the LRT street railroad, and urban renewal, that old, brick, century-home has been turned into a Pupuseria, an El Salvadoran restaurant serving meat-and-cheese stuffed corn pancakes. I went in one day, to see if it was worth taking the wife to, and got into a conversation with the owner. (Of course I did!)

I mentioned that I had lived across the street, a half-century before, and told him about the bootlegger and his death. A little light went on. When they were moving in, and had to clean out the basement for their own storage, there had been hundreds of empty beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

Quilt 1

But, back to the quilts. The local Mennonites have organized a Mennonite Relief Committee to raise money for less fortunate Mennonites, especially in South America. They have a second-hand, recycling store, but their biggest money-maker is the annual spring quilt auction.

Quilt 3 (2)

Well-to-do people come from all over the world to bid, both in person, and now, online. These quilts draw fabulous prices, especially the winner of the judging contest, which can go for $10,000 or more.

Quilt 2
This year’s featured quilt at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale, Little Brown Church, has been described as a giant puzzle with more than 3,000 pieces.

Quilting

Flash Fiction #134

Pop Can Tabs

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Sheldon

TANSTAAFLUrban Myth

Save all your pop-can tabs. Someone will donate a power wheelchair.

Mr. Cynicism said, “Who? Why?”

Like a child’s paper-clip necklace, I pulled it apart, one link at a time. Daughter said, “Mom told me.  Didn’t she mention it to you?”  The wife named a sister. That sister blamed an older sister. She said the yenta was a bowling team member.

Bowler identified a man in her trailer park.  “He’s got his; we’re trying for another.”  Wheelchair man nailed them, upside down, to slabs of plywood, and sold them to supplement his meager disability allowance.  “They’re great muddy shoe scrapers.”

***

TANSTAAFL is a term credited to the author, Robert A. Heinlein. It cynically/realistically means, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

The trailer park man’s wheelchair was not donated.  It had been supplied by the government. He was not aware of any group giving away free wheelchairs.  Pop-can tabs are pure aluminum.  There was a group who collected entire aluminum cans, crushed them and turned them in for rebate at the scrap dealer.  The money was added to a fund which aided handicapped people.

BELIEF is when Hope is substituted for Facts.

***

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

April A To Z – By way of G

April Challenge

I’ve gone and got to G.  What shall I gab about?   I’ve got it!

Letter G

GUNS, GOD AND GRAVESTONES

Any of you who may feel that all three of the above are connected, haven’t been paying attention to the filing system inside my head.

Colt 1911

I don’t give a shit what the Nervous-Nellie, conservative, reactionary do-gooders claim. Guns don’t kill people! Guns don’t kill people any more than hammers build houses.  People kill people when the wrong people get ahold of guns.  I know of guns that are older than I am, and the only thing they’ve ever done is put holes in pieces of paper.

The wrong people get hold of guns when gutless Gus thinks he hears a burglar, and hides a rifle under the bed, and his 4-year-old ‘pretends’ to shoot the neighbor kid – when an armed Security Guard is too lazy to store his gun in his house, or at least in his car’s trunk, and lets his girlfriend and her 6-year-old use the car, and it slides out from under the front seat – when a lady shopper leaves a loaded, cocked pistol in her purse, next to her child in a shopping cart.

We don’t need ‘Gun Control.’ We need people control! We need  background checks, waiting periods, licensing, gun handling and storage safety training, and – instead of emotional, hand-wringing histrionics – an ongoing campaign like we have for smoking in public, or drunk driving, to get people to think, (Could happen) and take their guns, and their control of them, seriously.

OH GOD

God is!….And all the rest of you are wrong.

In the beginning, God created Man – and immediately, every Man created the God which best suited his selfish needs and mistaken beliefs.

The Muslim God is different from the Jewish God.   The Jewish God is not the same as the Christian God.  The Roman Catholic God is not the same as the God of the Greek Orthodox Church – and neither is the same as the Russian Orthodox God.

The Catholic God differs from the Protestant God, and the God of each of over 42,000 Protestant sects varies widely and wildly from the Catholics’– and from each other. In every case, at least one of them must be wrong.

‘Your God’ is a mean, vicious, vengeful, violent God, who would torture me for eternity for respecting all humans and their rights, even if some of them are gay, whereas ‘my God’ is loving, forgiving and inclusive.

The God of the insecure egotists, ‘sees every sparrow fall,’ but they fail to notice that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Him actually doing anything about it. If a greater being created the universe, It is not the God of the egotists’ dreams. It regards this little ball of rock called Earth like an ant-farm, mildly interesting at times, but not worth interfering with, no matter how much they vainly pray.

None of us have enough brains to know what an infinite ‘God’ thinks and wants, but too many of us also don’t have enough brains to keep our mouth shut, and prove our ignorance.

ENGRAVED IN STONE

I’m not going to get stoned – even though it sometimes looks like I am, when I write.

My maternal grandparents lie side-by-side in a double plot, in the old section of my home-town cemetery. Someone in the family must have had some money.  A four-foot high white marble obelisk sits on a sandstone plinth at their heads, with all biographical data professionally and artistically carved in.

Ever the prepared planner, my Mother arranged and paid for all funeral details long before she and Dad died. They (which may mean she) opted for cremation.  They purchased a single plot, and had their urns buried at each of the top corners.  There’s room for four more urns – two on the sides, and two at the bottom.

In the new cemetery section, the rule is that all gravestones must be flush with the earth, for ease of groundskeeping. They put two small sandstone slabs (about 8” square) over the urns, with only their names, and the word ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, no dates of birth or death.

Not exactly welcoming the inevitable, but like Mom, knowing that it should be planned for, I recently had a conversation with my younger brother. Since there’s room at Mom and Dad’s plot, did he plan to be cremated and buried with them?

No more religious than I am, he surprised me with a vehement refusal. No cremation for him!  He plans to be buried the old-fashioned way – embalming, body in a coffin, coffin in the ground.  He’s going to buy a single plot, and have a stone about a quarter of the surface area laid over him.

Like my Mother, I am not a believer in physical resurrection. I also want to be cremated.  The whole process, from beginning to end (actually, from my ending, to the delivery of the urn by Amazon drone) is about $2000/$2500.

I see no reason to rob my heirs of what little I can leave them, by purchasing a plot of land I don’t need, and a chunk of stone that, eventually, no-one will visit. I will be given, probably to my daughter, as a bagful of bonemeal fertilizer that she can sprinkle in her garden, and I will be resurrected as a rosebush, or a lilac tree. (Although, with my luck, I’ll come back as crabgrass.)  That’s the true ‘Circle of Life!’

We’re Not QUITE Hoarders

I previously published a post titled Something For Nothing, where I listed several of the things I do to conserve or make a little bit of money, to help us, and others, in our retirement.  This one shows another facet, with some ideas some of you might want to think about, and maybe try, for a couple of reasons.

Less garbage = more money!

Reduce, reuse, recycle — and reap rewards. Really!

Hoarding gets a bad rap from many.  Some are joking, but many are serious.  Some of my behaviour could raise eyebrows among the non-frugal.  I even prefer to use the word frugal, instead of cheap or miserly.

I save or scavenge things like egg cartons, coffee cans, plastic containers, cardboard boxes and large envelopes. The difference between me and a true hoarder is that I use them, instead of letting them pile up — and they save me “a significant amount of money.”  In fact, such tactics save money in several different, interrelated ways.

For example:

  • The less waste  you generate, the fewer garbage bags you have to buy, and the lower your  disposal bills might be.
  • Buying in bulk  to reduce packaging waste means you get a lower cost-per-unit price.
  • Putting  leftovers into a pickle jar or bread bag reduces the need for foil,  plastic wrap or food-storage containers.

Repurposing used to be common. Outgrown clothes were cut down for younger siblings or reborn as quilt patches. Old buildings were torn down to provide lumber for new projects. My mother poured homemade jam into peanut-butter jars (which used to be made of glass) and sealed them with wax.

These tactics work

In a post on the Silent Springs blog, Vincent Smith suggests that “more thoughtful living” could greatly reduce waste. Why do we throw away an old shirt but buy cleaning rags?  Whether your motive is saving money or saving the planet, slashing waste is a giant step in the right direction.  We do things like buying in bulk to eliminate individual packaging, packing a lunch to cut down on fast-food waste, and bringing our own water and coffee containers.  You don’t need to contribute to that trash can outside Starbucks, overflowing with single-use paper cups.

I do many of these things myself and can attest to their cost-effectiveness. A roll of aluminum foil can last us a couple of years.  A used piece is often not “dirty.”  Wipe it with a damp cloth, to clean and flatten it, and fold it, ready to hold the next sandwich, or piece of pizza. Produce and bread bags get re-used until they shred.

We repurpose empty jars for storage, buying things like spaghetti sauce in Mason-mouthed glass jars, which later hold things like bulk cornmeal.  Wide-mouth plastic jars which held cheap crackers when we bought them, now hold bread crumbs and potato flakes, for cooking.  Not that we attend them anymore, but I have found Tupperware in the free-box at yard sales. A pile of reusable shopping bags lives in a plastic shopping basket in the car trunk.

We buy in bulk when we can, and choose large sizes the rest of the time. We make our own jam (sometimes using foraged fruit).  I’ve mentioned about buying condiments like ketchup and mustard in gallon cans or jugs, and repeatedly refilling the small squeeze bottles, for a fraction of the cost.

Adding less to the problem 

Not that I’m a green saint, mind you. For example, we drink a lot of Pepsi, and buy individual yogurts, both for the wife, who has a small eating limit, and for the son to pack in his work lunch. However, we do recycle the cartons and the plastic containers.

The municipal recycling committee recently complained about the cost of sending around a truck to pick up “air.”  I stomp flat, any plastic bottles or other containers.  As three adults, we often put out less than a Blue Box full of recycling.  The two adults, and two small children next door put out three, or even four boxes every week!

Recycling is not mandatory here in Kitchener, but I can feel it coming.  All allowable organic matter goes into our composters, but the Committee is also bitching that residents are not putting out enough in the City-issued Green Bins, to cover the cost of the disposal contract, so I guess I’m not the only cheapo in the city.  Compost includes tea-bags, coffee grounds and filters, citrus rinds and banana peels.

Bananas contain magnesium.  It’s good for you, and good for plants too.  The tea and coffee contain tannic acid, which also feeds plants, and breaks down the paper to produce good, rich loam to be used in the gardens.  We buy unpeeled shrimp (when we can afford a bit), for considerably less than pre-peeled.  The wife peels them and the casings also go into compost.  As the Indians taught the Pilgrims, seafood makes rich plant food.

We use cloth bags where we can, because local cities allow stores to charge five cents each, for plastic bags. We used to use those in the cupboard-door-mounted garbage container, but recently purchased a new model, and the wife prefers to use the ones specifically intended for it.  I save bags from trips to stores and vendors who do not charge, and use them for kitty litter waste, or carrying newspapers to the crazy cat lady for flooring in her kennels.

Clean ones are flattened and folded and given to our bookstore lady, to cut down on the number of new ones she must purchase.  Soiled or torn ones are accumulated and put out with the blue box, so that someone else can melt them down and re-use the plastic to produce new products.  One of our shopping bags has a little sign on it that says, “I used to be a milk jug.”

While I don’t kid myself about saving the planet single-handedly, there is a fair amount of satisfaction in not adding to the problem any more than we must. Also, it’s nice not to have to shell out cash for things like more aluminum foil, or sandwich bags, and reduced retirement income goes a little further.

Laugh, And The World Laughs With You

Snore, and you sleep alone.

A Pilot Joke

A priest dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates.
Ahead of him is a guy dressed in sunglasses and leather jacket. Saint Peter asks him “Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?”  The guy replies, “I’m Captain Knight, retired Air Canada Pilot from Toronto. “
Saint Peter consults his list. He smiles and says to the pilot, “Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom. “
Next up is the priest. He stands erect and booms out, “I am Father Joe, pastor of Saint Mary’s in Winnipeg for the last 43 years.” Saint Peter consults his list. He says to the priest, “Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom. “
“Wait a minute,” says the good father, “that pilot gets a silken robe and golden staff while I get only cotton and wood. How can this be? “
“Up here … We go by results,” says Saint Peter, “when you preached, people slept; when he flew, people prayed.”

***

An Airplane Joke

A Frenchman and an Italian were seated next to a Scotsman on an overseas flight. After a few cocktails, the men began discussing their home lives.

“Last night I made love to my wife four times,” the Frenchman bragged, “and this morning she made me delicious crepes and she told me how much she adored me. “

“Ah, last night I made love to my wife six times,” the Italian responded, “and this morning she made me a wonderful omelet and told me she could never love another man. “

When the Scotsman remained silent, the Frenchman smugly asked, “And how many times did you make love to your wife last night?” “Once,” he replied. “Only once?” the Italian arrogantly snorted. “And what did she say to you this morning? “

“Don’t stop!”

***

A Flight Attendant Joke

It was mealtime on a small airline and the stewardess asked the passenger if he would like dinner.
“What are my choices?” he asked.
She replied, “Yes or No.”

***

A wife, arriving home from a shopping trip, was horrified to find her husband in bed with a lovely young woman. Just as the wife was about to storm out of the house, her husband stopped her with these words:
Before you leave, I want you to hear how this all came about.
Driving along the highway, I saw this young woman looking tired and bedraggled, so I brought her home and made her a meal from the roast beef you had forgotten in refrigerator. She had only some worn sandals on her feet, so I gave her a pair of good shoes you had discarded because they had gone out of style. She was cold so I gave her a sweater I bought you for your birthday that you never wore because the color did not suit you. Her pants were worn out so I gave her a pair of yours that were perfectly good but too small for you now.
Then when she was about to leave the house she paused and asked, “Is there anything else your wife doesn’t use any more?”

***

Two guys are walking down the street when a mugger approaches them and demands their money.
They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash.
Just then one guy turns to the other and hands him a bill.
“Here’s that $20 I owe you,” he says.

***

Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, God said, “THAT’S IT! I have had enough and I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.”

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.
They moused.
They faxed.
They e-mailed
They e-mailed with attachments
They downloaded.
They did spreadsheets.
They wrote reports.
They created labels and cards.
They created charts and graphs.
They did some genealogy reports.
They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell! Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured and, of course, the power went off!

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed!

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted. Satan searching frantically, screaming……. “It’s gone! It’s ALL GONE! “I lost everything when the power went out!

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work. Satan observed this and became irate. “Wait!” he screamed…. “That’s not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don’t have any?”

God just shrugged and said, “Jesus Saves.”

 

Okay, it’s official, sports fans.  Winter has arrived at my place.  I’ve brushed and shoveled a bit of snow a couple of times earlier, but yesterday, the first snowplow went past my house.  No joke!    😦

 

 

 

Dichotomy

Easy!  Easy!  It’s still not an English lesson, just a rant about the differences between the Twin Cities where I live.  I live in Kitchener, Ontario.  I am proud to live in Kitchener.  I tell people I live in Kitchener.  I don’t say K/W.  I don’t say Kitchener/Waterloo, and I don’t say Region of Waterloo, which comprises all of, what used to be the entire Waterloo County.

Sparklebumps lives in the Minnesota twin cities.  I don’t know how much, if any, differences there are between the two.  Here, the differences can be seen from space.  Several name-changes ago, Kitchener and Waterloo were just small villages, five miles apart.  Each has grown until Waterloo now perches like a boil on the northern ass of Kitchener.  Kitchener has better than three times the population of Waterloo.  There are several reasons for Kitchener’s greater growth, but the biggest one is, that’s where the jobs were.

The two cities share the same tourist-trapping cowpaths streets, but almost nothing else.  Things are slowly changing, but Waterloo is white-collar, and Kitchener is blue-collar.  Business owners, managers and supervisors lived in Waterloo.  The serfs and peons resided in Kitchener.  Waterloo has two universities, and has been the birthplace of four large insurance companies.  Until recently, Kitchener has been where the factories are.  We have a world-famous Community College that’s as big as their university, but still….Community College?!

Newcomers often fail to realize the significance of signs at the border, and view them as a single organism.  They ask, confusedly, how streets in common can have four different directions.  These are the least of the differences.  When the wife still worked, I would come home after an 11 PM shift, have a bite to eat, discuss our work-days, and tuck her into bed for an early rise.  If there was nothing interesting on late-night TV, I might take my motorcycle out for a late ride.

In Kitchener, the pizzerias were open, the sub shops were open, the Tim Hortons and other donut shops were open, the bars were open, lights were on, people were walking the streets.  A couple of times, I made the mistake of riding into Waterloo.  The good Seigneurs were all abed, the shops were closed, the lights were out and the sidewalks had all been rolled up and put away for the night.  I got a coupon from a sub shop, recently opened in Waterloo, and thought I’d try it, to see what it was like.  I rode north after an 11 PM quitting time, and found that this place closed at 10 PM.

With its two universities, Waterloo brands itself as “The Intelligent City.”  They contracted out the development of the industrial park where Blackberry-making, RIM Products located.  They received verbal guarantees that the interest rate would be approximately 5%, and the payback term was 20 years.  It took a Kitchener reporter to reveal that the actual rate was over 13%, and payback would take 30 years.

The Berlin Record became the Kitchener Record, became the K/W Record, became the Waterloo Region Record, because Waterloo, with a population of almost a hundred thousand, only puts out a 20-page weekly newspaper, headlined, “Boy loses ball in tall weeds”.  Kitchener Transit provided buses in Waterloo, because they had none of their own.

Waterloo residents used to boast of their low tax-rate, which was achieved by providing almost no public services.  Kitchener Parks and Recreation finally had to pass a rule insisting that all Kitchener minor sports applicants would be served first.  If there were any spaces left, Waterloo residents could apply.  They had almost no arenas, soccer fields, baseball diamonds or swimming pools, but filled the ones in Kitchener.

Kitchener resident, and employee of Kitchener’s, Superior Sanitation, Nyle Ludolf, is credited with starting the Blue Box recycling program.  He received a letter some years ago from the Federal government, thanking him for instituting the program and allowing Waterloo to be the first city in Canada to participate.  He wrote back explaining that Waterloo had turned it down as too expensive, and didn’t jump in until Kitchener, New Hamburg, Cambridge, Guelph and Toronto proved it worked, and they were shamed into it.

It’s chicken-feed in a municipal budget, but a few years back, a provincial agency got an application from the City of Waterloo for a $35,000 grant for having performed various “green” initiatives.  A suspicious clerk did some checking, and found that all the claims were for things that “The Region of Waterloo” had instituted.  The city hadn’t actually got around to most of them.

On average, the residents of Waterloo have a higher level of education and income than the good Burghers of Kitchener.  On average, Waterloonies are also more likely to have a smug, self-satisfied superiority towards Kitchener, and its population.

Kitchener has a business-like “downtown.”  Waterloo has an artsy-fartsy “Uptown.”  Kitchener stores sell boots and pants.  Waterloo stores vend patchouli, beads, and Bubble Tea.  At various street-corners and parks, Kitchener has, cleaned and re-painted presses and rolls from now moribund factories, to remind folks of our manufacturing past.  Waterloo paid some artist (?) over a hundred-thousand dollars to create a metal sculpture which resembles a large rusty bell, “To evoke the Image of Industry”.

One of the few saving graces about Waterloo, for me, is that two of the downtown Oops, Uptown hotels, have in-house micro-breweries which produce some good craft-beer.  Kitchener has a working-man, get-‘er-done attitude.  Waterloo is more, “Have the gardener and chauffeur get it done!”  You can see how simple and down-to-earth I am.  I may be just the slightest bit biased.  Your Waterloo experience may vary….but I doubt it.