Halcyon Days

Kingfisher

My ears threatened to go on strike.  We almost starved because I couldn’t stand to go into stores.  Within ten minutes, in one shop, I heard the song “Santa On The Sand”, and then “Christmas in Hawaii.”

We have entered the Festival of Conspicuous Consumption – otherwise known as the Christmas Season.  It began in November, right after Black Friday, a vile American ritual which has oozed into Canada like toxic waste.  It has even floated across the Atlantic like an oil spill, to infest the U.K.

This is the time of year when even the Good Christians forget the Christ Child, and enter into the frenzy of Too Much – too much food, drink, cooking, buying, spending, wrapping, visiting, travelling, and stress.

I was researching the word halcyon, when I came upon the term ‘Halcyon Days’.  There once (allegedly) was a minor Greek goddess, Alcidine, whose name has come down to us as Halcyon.  She fell in love with a minor god, and they shacked up together.  They were enjoying immortal life, and having so much fun, that they compared themselves to Zeus and Hera.

Zeus, whose Grumpy-R-Us franchise I inherited, threw a giant snit-fit.  He huffed and he puffed, and he blew up a powerful storm, and a huge wave crashed onto her lover and drowned him.  When she saw his dead body in the surf, she threw herself into the waves and also drowned.

Some of the other gods felt sorry for them.  Zeus’ magic could not be reversed, but it could be modified.  They were brought back as birds – kingfishers.  The modern scientific name for kingfishers is Alcidines.  The ocean kingfisher builds a little raft of a nest, safe from most predators because it floats upon the waters like Moses’ Magical Basket.

Aeolus was the god who controlled the winds and storms – except when Zeus used them to bump somebody off.  Because kingfishers breed and brood about the winter solstice, he promised two weeks of calm waters, so that the eggs would safely have time to hatch – one week before the solstice, and one week after – the Halcyon Days.

Inspired by this tale, I went into my back yard, and found a small nest-building-type stick that my new pair of Scottie Terrier puppies had wrenched off a shrub.  I brought it into the house, and jammed it into a bowl of semi-precious gemstones.  I printed off the photo above, cut out the outline, and hung it from the twig.

I have no giant, overstated Christmas tree that takes me three days to assemble and decorate, and another three days to put away.  It’s just a little tribute to peace and quiet, something which I feel many of us need during this frenetic time.  Give it a try.  You don’t have to believe in, or worship Greek gods – or any God – you just have to believe that you deserve a couple of weeks of tranquility, “while all about you are losing theirs.”  Peace be unto you – and peace on the rest of the idiots, too.  😉

’17 A To Z Challenge – R

Challenge2017

The word ‘Roundhouse’ has two, very different but connected meanings, so, for the letter

letter-r

I’m going to tell you about them.

Roundhouse Slang. A punch in which the arm is typically brought straight out to the side or rear of the body and in which the fist describes an exaggerated circular motion.

This is a type of punch that is usually not thrown until a jab or a hook has stunned an opponent, and his defenses are (slightly) open, because it opens the defense of the fighter who is throwing it. The large circular motion is necessary to accumulate speed and striking power.

At the height of his career, I saw Bruce Lee demonstrate, what he called ‘A One Inch Punch.’ He stood before a sparring partner, tightly clenched his fist and held it 1 inch from his opponent’s chest.  He then wound up his ‘punching muscles’ while holding back, like a dragster revving the engine, but standing on the brakes.

When he had achieved maximum dynamic tension, he suddenly extended his arm, and the victim went stumbling backward. But that was not a punch! That was a push, a powerful push, but a push.  Even a dragster cannot achieve its top speed in its own length.  A punch requires time and distance to amass its total potential

Roundhouse II

a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives, built around a turntable in the form of some part of a circle.

My home town was the end of a railroad line. Another spur on the other side of the peninsula extended all the way to the northern tip.  Train engines can push backward, as well as pull forward, but pulling is more efficient.  Normally, at rails’ ends, and any other place where locomotives have to turn around, roundhouses are used to give them a 180° spin.

My town though, grew up because it was a Great Lakes Port. Besides the river docks, a long stone pier was built out to the offshore island, offering storm protection.  The railroad was used to carry freight from Lake Huron, to Toronto and Lake Ontario, before the building of the Welland Canal, to get past Niagara Falls – grain to flour mills, lumber to the factories, iron ore to the steel mills.

As the railroad came north into town, a spur line branched off, and ran west, out to the end of the dock. The spur line branched back, and joined the main line ending at the station, forming a giant Y, with an empty triangle inside it.  The engines and cars which needed to be reversed, were merely backed up, and run forward around the Y.

We never needed an expensive and maintenance-intensive roundhouse. We did have a big railway building that was large enough to house a couple of locomotives, and cars which needed repair, out of the weather.  We called it ‘the roundhouse,’ but no engines ever got dizzy on a roundabout.

Now, the trains are all long gone, the tracks ripped up, the right-of-way is a hiking trail, and all that’s left are my fond memories. That feels like a roundhouse punch.   😦  😯

Everything Ended Perfectly

Aghast

For any of my readers who might be in the Southern Ontario region – I suggest you take a few steps back for a couple of weeks. If the Karma Balancing Equation is correct, my house should get struck by a medium-sized meteor soon.

All 3 puppies

Daughter LadyRyl recently got to go for her first plane trip. The crazy cat lady also breeds Chihuahuas.   The daughter has been fostering a female for her, and recently oversaw the delivery of four cute little puppies.

She has had a long-distance friend for almost 18 years – almost since before there was an Internet. She Facebooked photos, and Skyped with the friend, showing off the wee dogs.  They’ve often spoken about getting together, but they’re 500 miles apart.

Alug & Tara

Alug (a look), with Tara, new, much older sister

The friend was entranced by one little male, and decided to add him to her menagerie – then her 7 kids would have 7 pets. Ryl decided that the time had come, and offered to deliver him by hand.  The friend lives a 2-hour drive east of Thunder Bay, ON, and offered to pick her up there and house her for five days.

She has blogged about the flight up, and plans to detail her stay. If you haven’t already, you might link over and have a look.  She had a wonderful visit, although, halfway through, the new main bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway,  between her and the airport, popped a rivet and got a bit bent out of shape.  Crews had it at least usable by the time she left.

Nipigon Bridge

She paid for her own flight. Cat-lady offered to drive her to and from the Toronto airport.  It’s the least she could do.  She’d have had to drive down once, and pay to have the dog shipped, whereas, the daughter took the puppy as carry-on luggage.

It’s a two hour flight home, and it’s a two hour drive from the cat-lady’s home. Just as daughter was getting ready to board her plane, cat-lady texted her.  The storm that was blowing down from the north had reached her.  She got to the highway, and visibility was ZERO.

We got a desperate text. Was our weather still clear??  Could we pick her up at the airport??  Of course!  Where and when?

I’ve been past the Toronto Airport, but never actually entered.  We got some things ready and took off.  Obscured lane markings and a bit of blowing snow made the trip a little longer than the usual one hour.  So did the fact that I left the highway one ramp too soon, driving up the airport’s ass-end, across the top, and back down, coming at the entrance from the wrong direction.

Pulling in off the street, I was suddenly on a Disneyworld ride – roads and ramps and bumper cars, oh my. In the dark!  In a snowstorm!  Where’s the signs?  Where’s the parking.  If I’m not careful, I’ll drive to Disneyworld, rather than fly there!

I followed a previous suggestion, made by the son. He describes it as Zen driving.  Find a car that looks like it knows where you’re going, and follow it.  Those two that just cut me off – they look like they’re going to pick someone up.  Sure enough, they both pull up a poorly marked ramp, and lead me into a parking garage.

Soon, I’m in a handicap spot, ten feet from an entrance. This opens to an overhead concourse, where we can look down on (in both senses) the chaos at the main entrance.  The daughter texted that she was landing, and that her plane would be a D-Gate #111.  Her one checked bag would unload at baggage carousel #9.

As we enter, signs say that Gates A – C are waayyy down there.  Gate D is right around this corner, an easy hobble for the wife and her two crutches.  However, carousel 9 is two football fields away.  With no seating on the upper level, we go down the escalator and take seats beside carousel 1.

Another text tells us that daughter’s plane was 10 minutes early, and the plane at ramp #111 is 10 minutes late leaving. They will unload onto the tarmac, and send luggage to carousel 1, since it’s the closest.

Soon, an airport employee delivers daughter and her carry-ons, in a wheelchair. We grab her checked bag and head for the car.  All done in just under an hour, we pay the outrageous $10 parking fee, and quickly hit Highway 401.

A bit more snow on the way home, a bit less wind drifting.  Traffic moves smoothly.  We’re home safely in an hour.  Where’s the snotty GPS?  Where’s the bumper-to-bumper traffic?  Where’s the getting lost and having to stop and ask some rag-head for directions?  Where’s something to rant about?  Karma’s up to something!  I’ll probably get lost going to the supermarket, but, Everything Ended Perfectly!  😀

 

 

Serendipity

Storm Warning

GOD hates Toronto

Through reading Cordelia’s Mom’s submissions, (as well as her other fun and interesting posts) I have been introduced to another entertaining and helpful lady.  Marilyn Armstrong, over at her Serendipity blog site, occasionally posts a photo prompt as an inspiration.

She calls it the Serendipitous Photo Story Prompt.  You can write a short story, or a long one, about her picture.  It can be fact or fiction, or even poetry.  It’s okay if it inspires you to use one of your own photos, or a picture you found on the internet.  It’s even acceptable if you post an interesting picture with just a caption, or a comment.  Hey, if that isn’t Serendipitous, I don’t know what is.

Locally, May was one of the driest on record – no rain for the first 29 days – then we got an entire month’s precipitation in two days.  It wasn’t as bad as Texas, or Germany, but it had its moments.

I got the above picture from the son’s friend, who had to be in Toronto.  We were 75 miles away when this happened, and I’m glad!

#471

I Get The Picture

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About the middle of August, we got two violent windstorms within a week.  Not hurricane   quality like KayJai received, but nasty.  The second, especially, had downdraft winds which snapped branches and trees in LadyRyl’s neighborhood.  These shots are of a 100-year-old willow, beside the creek, in front of her complex.

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A couple of blocks away, this big maple beside the road was snapped off about 8 feet up.  After cutting it up for giveaway firewood, the artistic homeowner turned the remains into an eagle.

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When I went to pick up Granma LadyBug, after her nose surgery, I spotted this sign….Pick her up??  Or have a beer and pizza??  I’d like to claim that I did the honorable thing, but the truth is, I’m too broke to be naughty.

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LadyRyl took a couple of shots of the knapped agate knife she bought at the pow-wow.  Not SDC10469much difference, but one is the front, and the other, of course, is the back.

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At the same pow-wow, the grandson bought a cool smudge fan to be used to move sage-smoke, or incense around – no hemp!  Can’t even spell hemp!

The only Segway owner/rider in the Region, and possibly all of Southern Ontario, apparently lives near enough that he shops at EuroFood, my favorite little deli.  Since he was only going to be inside “for just a couple of minutes”, he left the key in it.  If a Segway key is like the key for the daughter’s power wheelchair, it’s only a stereo-cord plug.  You could ride away with it while listening to music on your headphones.

Didn’t matter!  Apparently two teenage boys just lifted it up and carried it off.  Two words, fool – Bike! Lock!  I was going to scan in the newspaper picture of him in his gay little bicycle helmet, but if you want a photo of a clueless guy looking lost, my gravatar is still available.  He’s 62, and the old-boy genius liked to ride around on his Segway with a clown nose, or Oktoberfest lederhosen, with a bright feather in his helmet.  I don’t want to picture either of those. Ew, ew, ew!

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas, is probably more responsible than any other individual for the government shutdown.  He recently stood and spoke about nothing for 22 hours, (Sorry for the redundancy.) trying to prevent the passage of Obama’s Health Care bill.  Sarah Palin says she supports him.  She’s always liked him since he was in the movie Top Gun.

He’s a member of a political party which has been bitching for years, that Barack shouldn’t be president, because he wasn’t born in the U.S., and now he wants to run for president himself, in 2016.  The biggest problem with that, is that he is a poutine-eating, Maple syrup-sucking Canadian!  Sshh, don’t tell him.  While his mother was a US citizen, his father was from Cuba, and he was born in a hospital in Calgary, while his dad worked in the (Canadian) oil industry.

While the US government may consider him a citizen, his birth certificate makes him a Canadian.  He has thundered to the press that he will renounce his Canadian-ness, and claims, “I’m an American by birth.”  So sad, dad!  Tough luck Chuck!  The boundaries of his egotistical imagination do not match up with reality.

At least Barack eventually provided an American birth certificate.  After this little revelation, I can’t picture him even being allowed to run for president.  I would like a picture of his face when he finds out that, for all his ugly-American jingoism, the rules include him out.

Did you like our pictures?  We’re practicing for some upcoming posts with photos in them.  Kittens anyone??    😀