’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

WOW #45

Moping Emoji

I was gonna do the post for this word earlier. I really was. It’s not procrastination. I was in a blue funk.  Even though blue is my favorite color, I just couldn’t seem to find a reason to tell you about

MOPERY

All the interesting words that I could come up with, and I managed to find one that means

Noun

The actions or attitude of a person who is sunk in dejection or listless apathy, sulking, brooding, or dejected

I thought that ‘listless’ meant that I wasn’t keeping up with my 2019 A To Z Challenge words, but I found that it just means ‘not interested’ or ‘indifferent.’ I don’t give a damn.

Then I found out that someone had opened a Papa John’s Pizza outlet, right down the hill from me. We really needed one. Within a two-block stretch we only had a Gino’s, Topper’s, Little Caesar’s, Domino’s, and Double-Double. I need a little variety in my life. The Pizza Hut, just up the street, closed some years ago, so I guess it’s karma that the second pizza chain that John started is now here to tingle my taste-buds.

pizza

An all-meat pizza with hot sauce, and I’m out of my funk, and back to Funk and Wagnall’s dictionary for my next WOW. See you there.

One-Line Into Comedy

Comedy

Commit suicide??….
….That’d be the last thing I’d do.

Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon?….
….Great food, no atmosphere

The inventor of AutoCorrect died today….
…. His funfair will be hello on sundial.

I say hooray….
….for speech therapy

Somebody gave me a book on anger management….
….I lost it

People say that I’m egotistical….
….but enough about them

I used to be addicted to eating refrigerated poultry….
….but I quit cold turkey

I asked my wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said, “Nothing would make me happier than a diamond necklace.”….
….so I got her nothing

I have an EpiPen….
….My friend gave it to me when he was dying. It seemed very important that I have it.

What did people do before they had sandpaper?….
….They just roughed it.

Tony

We’re G-r-r-r-eat!

Tony the Tiger for president!….
….Make America Grrrreat again

Why does Peter Pan fly?….
….Because he Neverlands

Disneyland is a people trap, built by a mouse.

Beer is a gateway drug to Aspirin

Drunk is when you feel sophisticated….
….but can’t pronounce it

Resolutions….
….In one year, and out the other

If your fridge was running….
….I’d vote for it

I looked up my family tree….
….and found three dogs using it

Forklift operators hate our puns….
….They find them unpalletable.

Where there’s a will….
….there’s a greedy relative

Only dead fish….
….go with the flow.

I asked a lone wolf for a stick of gum….
….but he didn’t have a pack

Remember, if the world didn’t suck….
….we’d all fall off

I scream. You scream….
….The police come. It’s awkward.

I’m not a fan of the design for the new quarters….
….but then, I hate all change.

Life is short. If you can’t laugh at yourself….
….call me. I’ll do it.

 

Flash Fiction #177

pasta

CHEESE-WHIZ

Young Billy and his best buddy Bob, loved all cheese.  One Saturday, they ate at East Side Mario’s.  They ordered different pastas, so Bobby’s came out first.  The waitress assured Bill that his would arrive soon, but first, would Bob like some parmesan grated on his??

She ground, and ground – and GROUND.  “Say when.”  Bob eventually raised a hand.

Bill said, “I love cheese even more than him.  You’ll need a new block.”

“Don’t challenge me.  I just went to the Gym.”

By the time she grated the new block, you could almost see the fettuccini on his plate.

***

PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

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

Friday Fictioneers

Fun With Travel

Elvis

Travel Jokes

Las Vegas

I phoned up to buy tickets for an Elvis tribute act.
It was an automated phone system which said:
‘Press 1 for the money / 2 for the show’

Hotel Reception

Two men in full armor walk into a hotel lobby.
One says, “A room for two knights please.”

Snow & Skiing

How does a penguin build its house?
Igloos it together.

Hotel Restaurant

The waiter asked me, “Would you like to hear today’s special?”
“Yes please,” I smiled…
“Today is special.” he replied, then sashayed off.

Swimming Pool 

A man climbs the diving board with a fish.
The pool guard says: “What are you doing with that fish?”
The man replies: “Triple somersault with pike.”

Hotel Gym

Exercise bikes get you nowhere.

Cruise Ship

I’ve been watching a documentary about how they build cruise ships.
It was riveting.

Train Journey

If you see someone doing a crossword today, lean over them and say  7 Up is Lemonade!

Holiday Photos

My camera keeps falling off the strap.
It’s a bit of a loose Canon.

Hotel Garden

Just saw the hotel Gardener crying over his lawnmower.
He is just going through a rough patch!

Airline

Cabin Crew said to me, sir, would you like to have dinner?
Me: What are the options?
Cabin crew: Yes or no.

Egypt

My wife just asked me, “Can we go on a camel?”
I said, “No way….it would take ages to get there on a camel!”

USA Burgers

How did the hamburger introduce his girlfriend?
Meat Patty

 

Capital Idea

House of Parliament

So another year has come and gone, and once again it was time to drive to Ottawa, to visit the grandson and fiancé for a couple of days – a Capital idea.

We hitched up the team, and loaded the buckboard sport-brute.  Grandma and her minions had made another batch of dill pickles.  There were his and hers presents for birthdays that bracket my recent one.  Included were a home-made spelt-flour, chocolate-mayonnaise cake, and special ginger cookies from a local Dutch market.  His always-thinking-ahead mother had even sent Christmas presents, since they won’t be able to get away then.

SDC11073

SDC11072

Biggest and heaviest among the freight, was a large steel cage for a recently-acquired, white (but not albino) ferret. She is so friendly and playful!!  I took along the digital camera, but the only photos I took were the ferret ones above.  I used it to prove that I had finally mounted on the wall, the rapier that he gave me for Fathers’ Day, two years ago, because I haven’t got around to publishing the Procrastination post yet.  You guys will have to wait another week or two to see that shot.

All in all, a very interesting and satisfying trip. Food of all types, including a Mexican restaurant named ‘Ahora’, where the nachos came with a language lesson.  The word ahora (Spanish a = in/at/to – hora = time) means Now, in English.

We visited two knife shops, and two second-hand bookstores which reminded me of Charles Dickens ‘Old Curiosity Shop’, stuff piled upon stuff in no great amount of order. We went to the Byward Market, a 4-block-square area, right downtown, full of kitschy little shops, eager to separate visitors from their money before the Government got it as taxes.

Just outside, between the Market area and the Houses of Parliament, stands the American Embassy, as big as a Trump hotel, but with all the architectural flair of a shoebox. Just half a block inside the Market, a mere drunken stagger back to the Embassy, is a ‘Gentlemen’s Club.’  Coincidence??  I think not!  Around the corner was a big century-house, turned into another Embassy, not Russian, but with a sign in Cyrillic lettering – Ukraine?  Uzbekistan?  Perhaps the English sign was on another street.

We went back at night to see the Parliament Building all lit up. No-one was passing any stupid legislation, but we saw where they had installed vents to release all the hot air.

I chose a different motel than last year, this one a mile closer to the grandson’s apartment, and $90/night, instead of $130, enabling us to afford to stay two nights instead of one. It was a family-owned independent, and like the Mexican restaurant, came with a lesson, this one a history lesson, rather than language.

Always curious, and looking for blog-fodder, I approached the day-shift male room-clerk. He reminded me of the wife’s ex-doctor. He could throw a pill or a potion or a medical test at a problem, but couldn’t deal with patients.  I believe that the clerk was on the autism spectrum.  He was happy to supply an extra pillow, or an ice-bucket, but not conversation and trivia.  “Qantas. Definitely Qantas.”

I asked, “How old is this place?”
“I don’t know.  I wasn’t here when it was built.”
“Neither was I, but I’m curious.  Have you never asked?”
“It wasn’t on my job application.  I have a customer.  You’ll have to leave.”
“He’s still getting out of his car.  He won’t be here for 5 minutes.  When does the night-shift come on?”
“I have a customer!  Please leave!”

I returned later to talk to the night-clerk, who was both sociable and knowledgeable.

It all started with a mineral hot-spring. The Indians used to soak in it, and believed in its healing properties.  They told the white men, who also used it, and appropriated it.  Around 1900, a white businessman erected a building around it, and turned it into a spa where monied and powerful people came, ‘to take the waters.’

It was quite a way out in the country from little then-Ottawa. In 1928 another businessman built a restaurant nearby, so that the elite had a place to dine after their treatments.  In 1931, when cars were still balky and unreliable, he built a couple of cabins where folks could stay overnight, before returning home in the morning.  Later, he added a couple more, and then another couple.

In 1932 he joined them together into one of the first row motels. In 1956 he added a second, matching row, and in 1973, his son added a third, two-story structure which we stayed in, for a total of 80 units.  The restaurant is still there, although now it’s leased out to chefs whose pretentious menu includes $15 hamburgers and poutine made with French fries cooked in duck fat.

The Federal Government is responsible for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Some are brought to Ottawa for medical treatment.  This now includes tests, drugs, surgery and physiotherapy, but many of them still believe in the healing powers of the Manitou’s hot springs.  When we were there, there were 16 units housing Cree and Inuit from as far away as Nunavut, in the Northwest Territories.

Even including an hour each way in the worst traffic in Canada, in Toronto, it was well worth the trip, which totalled 1200 Km/825 Mi. over three days. The grandson who does not own a car, and his magic smart-phone, skillfully guided us around the town.  I’m sure we’ll go again next fall, if not before.

Getting The Cold Shoulder

ice

Once upon a long time ago, I overcame my failure to launch, got a job, and moved to a city a hundred miles from home. During the middle of February, a nasty cold snap moved in.  One Friday night, my friend and I went to an early movie.  The place was not crowded.

Afterwards, we went up the street to our favorite restaurant. Besides the proprietor, there were only four of us on that chilly night, the friend and I, and two young ladies.  At least that’s what they told us they were, when we went over to introduce ourselves.

After about an hour, they asked if we would walk them home. ‘Why shor!’ As we left the restaurant, I glanced at the big Coca-Cola thermometer, hanging on the outside wall.  It read -18° F, about -28 of these newfangled Metricated degrees.  The walk home involved only that, not even any hand-holding, although it’s hard to hold hands with snowmobile gloves on.  Snowmobiles might have been invented by then, but snowmobile gloves sure hadn’t.

After leaving the girls, we headed back to the restaurant to warm up again before going on home. I looked at the thermometer again as we stepped in.  It had fallen to -23° F, or -30° C, in the hour we’d been gone.  As we sat cuddling our hot chocolates, my pal said, “Do you know your ears are white?”  Like the joker I am, I said, “No, but if you’ll hum a few bars, I’ll try to sing along.”

“No, no! Your ears look frozen!”  I reached up and found something that felt like Michelangelo had carved from marble.  I wrapped my hands around the mug, and transferred warmth to my ears.  I couldn’t feel a thing.  Within 15 minutes I could feel them again, and was sorry I could.  They stung for hours.

The next day I went to a Men’s Wear store, explained what had happened, and asked if they had a solution. The salesman provided a bright-white as-the-snow, 100% wool, skiers’ ear band, which I wore faithfully.  I later found that, while I had not lost the ears to frostbite, the tiny blood vessels had been damaged.  Now if a cool September breeze stirs the leaves on the Maples, the ears don’t like it.

I left the job, moved back home for a summer, moved out again, went back to school for retraining, got a girlfriend, got a fiancé, got married, and wore that headband every winter. My WIFE looked at the now grey-brown abomination on my head, and said, “That thing’s gotta be washed!”

Most of the wife’s family is allergic to wool. Thank the Catholic God and Monsanto for Nylon, Rayon, Orlon, Banlon, Dacron, and Polyester.  She washed it in nice hot water, and dried it in a nice hot dryer, and I got back a nice, paper-white wrist band.  Oops!

We easily replaced it at K-Mart, before they went extinct, but she always felt badly about destroying the original. Some years later, when her knitting skills had improved to the point that she was arguing with knitting patterns and TV knitting show hostesses, she asked if I would like her to custom-design and make me a replacement, this time in a washable wool/polyester blend.  See above, “Why shor!”

head-band

She started with a tube, a basic sock. Then she steadily increased stitches on one side, while adding a simple pattern.  After achieving a desired length, she stopped the pattern, and reduced stitches till both ends were equal.  Now she carefully sewed the ends together, and I have a double-thickness ear protector.  The protruding edge goes down the nape of the neck, to fend off cold breezes and falling snow.

After letting me be the guinea pig, the son decided that he’d like one also. A neighbor kid, watching me shovel snow with it on one day, asked how I got my hair to grow up through my hat.

I once sliced into an old tennis ball, and pushed it down over the ball of my trailer hitch, to protect it from rusting. This was the same kid who asked me how I got the ball to balance there.  I think he’s got all the way up to manager at his McDonalds location.   😯