Once Upon A Time In The Mid-East

Arab

Once upon a time in the mid-east…. things haven’t really changed much, only gotten more so.

Many moons ago, I worked as a security guard.  One of my co-workers was a man even older than me.  As a young man, just after World War II, he had traveled to England to take advantage of the burgeoning British post-war economy, to get a job.  Instead, he enlisted in the British Army, and was attached to the British Palestine Peacekeeping Force.  Their job was to prevent violence, and protect the newly-minted state of Israel.

Many Jews had lived in what became Arab Territory.  Either voluntarily, or under political pressure, they were convinced to leave farms and lands that they had worked and lived on for generations, and move inside the imaginary boundary-line of Israel, into imaginary safety, and start all over again.

He said that, as they patrolled around in Palestine, it was easy to see who had occupied the properties.  Jewish farms were green and lush with fruit, grain and vegetables.  They had bright homes and barns, and greenhouses to get new crops started.  Arab homesteads were dusty and brown, with perhaps a scrawny goat wandering around.

Did the Muslims who were leaving Israel take possession of these ready-made sources of shelter, food and income??  They did not!!  Usually the homes and outbuildings were burned, the greenhouses torn down, all the glass smashed.  The patrol was supposed to be neutral, but he said that it was difficult not to have sympathy, and side with the people who tried to build things up, rather than the hooligans who just wanted to tear things down.

One day they were called out to a problem.  They were trucked to a nearby Arab village near the new border.  They debarked, and marched into the village square/market.  There they came upon a small clot of idlers, with more drifting in.  As in my StOp! Ed post, the local imam or mullah was working the mob up, to march to the nearest Jewish settlement and attack.  Knives, machetes, clubs, slings, rocks, and bottles were in evidence.

My co-worker recounted that, in English, and in his best brash British bluster, the Sergeant-Major commanding the squad, waved his hands as if shooing flies, and told them that ‘You chappies ought to just break this up now, and get on with your business somewhere else.’

He got back the equivalent of, ‘No speakee English, you Tommy Brit invaders.’, so he went to plan B, and literally read them the Riot Act.  For those of you who think that being read the Riot Act is just a euphemism for your Mom coming down on you, think again.  There is an actual British Riot Act.  The solemnity of having it read to potential rioters is supposed to make them think twice about causing trouble.

Our Sovereign Lord The King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies.

God Save The King

The rules state that it must be read three times, before any official violence is unleashed.  The SarMaj read the ponderous paragraph of it once in English.  Then, because some of the miscreants might be Jewish, he read it in Hebrew.  Then he read it in Arabic.  Then he circled around and read it again in all three languages.

All this time, the crowd is growing in size, and the mood is getting nastier.  Knives are waved at them, and small fake sorties are threatened.  Finally, he got the Act read three times in three languages, and ordered them in Arabic to disperse.

Wasn’t gonna happen, so he started giving the squad, orders.  Present arms!  The Arabs watched.  Insert cartridges!  They slapped magazines into their Lee-Enfield rifles. (They’d been unarmed all this time.)  The Arabs waited.  Charge weapons! Rifle bolts back, and then forward to cock. (Now they’re finally ready for action.) The Arabs wondered.  And, the SarMaj shouted, At the knees, aim!

He said that, by the time he got his rifle up to his shoulder, and his eyes on the sights, a single piece of paper, and dust, was settling to the ground.  The little plaza was empty.  Maybe some of them understood English, or just understood superior firepower.

Sadly, nowadays, little altercations like this happen much faster and more violently.  The Gentlemanly British rules of war have been replaced by Kill Or Be Killed.  Perhaps they were what Mr. Ed, the talking horse’s ass was thinking about.

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2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

Oh, Rats!

Rat

I smell a rat…. if only I could get my cats to do the same.

In our utility room, which is stuffed to the gills with various types of food – bags of dog, and cat kibble, potato chips, egg noodles, dried peas and beans, and individual packets of hot chocolate powder began developing holes.

Oh-oh, we have a mouse.  There were two things wrong with that assumption.  It wasn’t a, and it wasn’t mouse.  A suddenly-turned-on light eventually revealed a scuttling little fur ball that definitely was a rat.

How do rats get into your house?? I don’t know about yours, but mine has a flexible, 3-inch tube, from the bottom of a window well, down to the furnace, to provide air for combustion.  It’s supposed to have a steel-wire grate in it, but rats have teeth and jaws that can chew a hole in the side of a Buick.

Rat Trap 1

Food was moved, and placed in Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and Zip-Loc containers, and an unused steel canister set. Boxes of cereal went back into plastic store bags and got hung from water pipes on the ceiling, so that they couldn’t be reached.  A large plastic tote box was purchased, to safeguard my nachos.  I went to a hardware store to purchase a rat trap, thinking I’d get one like the  super-sized mouse trap, above.

Rat Trap 2

They’re not sold around here anymore. What I got, for $12, was a plastic, Hungry, Hungry Hippos kind of thing.  I baited it with peanut butter and oatmeal flakes.  Neither rats nor mice particularly like cheese.  After a week of no results, I went to a different chain store, and got one for $6 that was more like I had in mind, and safer/easier to set.

Rat Trap 3

After a week of two traps, the newer one yielded a body. I think it was a female, but I didn’t spread her little legs to find out.  A week later the Tonka Toy trap snagged an adolescent.  (Oh goody!  If they’re breeding, I’ll never get rid of them all.)

Two more weeks passed. We knew there was still at least one more, because we could hear scratching as we sat quietly reading.  At last the new trap caught another supposed female, but the next day, as I entered the storage room, I saw a larger male shinny up a water pipe, and disappear behind the fibreglass insulation.

A whole month passed, with nothing on the trap line, only scratching from the basement. I moved the traps from time to time, especially near the boxes of cornmeal muffin mix that were chewed into.  I changed the bait to moist cat food – and back to peanut butter and oats.  Finally, another dead rat, but this one seemed to be another female.  Still, the rustling and scratching continued.  That male is a canny old rat.

We considered rat poison, but with 4 cats in the house, our vet discouraged us. The son told me about a DIY glue trap.  Apparently Gorilla Glue makes a super-sticky duct tape.  You can stick together a broken car bumper, and drive 75 MPH – in the rain.  Put some, sticky side up, on a piece of cardboard, place near food and hope the rat steps on it.

I don’t have Gorilla duct tape, but I do have a roll of no-sided tape that followed me home from the auto plant.  It’s pure adhesive on a roll of waxed paper.  Stick it to something like cardboard, peel the wax paper, and there’s nothing left but sticky.  I put two layers on a shoe box lid.

Mica

When I went downstairs to place it, Mica, my Fred Astaire cat, followed me down and jumped up on the freezer to demand his usual petting and skritching. While I was doing that, the dog walked in, and suddenly began barking and lunging under the shelving unit.  He crawled in and continued barking.

As I looked, I saw the rat sneak through a hole into a plastic crate, with the dog in loud pursuit. What to do?  What to do?….Throw something, and try to kill the rat….Can’t be a jar, or I’ll be cleaning up glass shards and pickled beet juice for weeks….A can! What can??  A can of soup?  Too small!  Chunky soup – the cans are twice as big and heavy.

I grabbed a large can, and watched as the rat leaked through a hole on the other side of the plastic crate. The fat little f**ker eased under a storage cabinet on casters, popped out the other side, and headed for the shelves on the other side of the room.

I flung the soup can at him, and caught him below the shoulder blades. Apparently the can wasn’t heavy enough, or I didn’t fling it hard enough.  Hurt, but possibly not damaged, he changed direction and scuttled into the corner behind the water softener and refrigerator….

….and all the while, my cat sat serenely on the freezer, calmly watching the rat disappear. We may have to have a discussion about the fine points of his contract.  It’s been two weeks since I added the glue trap to the two others and found that the son had lost a bag of Oreos.  Who knew??  Next he’ll be down there makin’ S’mores.

Google says that a rat can live for 2 to 5 years. This Chubby Cheese-me-off could outlive me.  Have any of you had mice or rats that you couldn’t get rid of?  Any suggestions – or sympathy?   😛

P.S.

The cats occasionally climb the shelves, and get onto the air ducts above the rec-room suspended ceiling, and play chase.  Two weeks after the above, I was quietly reading, and a chase began in the basement.

Who’s chasing who today?  Contessa’s upstairs.  Zorra’s in my lap.  Tonka’s sleeping on the couch.  Mica’s redeeming himself by chasing the rat!  Go Mica, go!  Two days later I heard faint scratching on one side of the ceiling, but nothing since, and I find no further evidence of any more food broken into.  I cross my fingers (and toes, and even my eyes) and hope.