A To Z Challenge – M

Challenge2017

Please don’t let me be misunderstood, by The Animals.  (Click for YouTube)

letter-m

Worse than being misunderstood, is being misidentified.  Those of you who know me, know that my name is not John Smith, but it’s almost that common.

I once worked with a young woman named Kauffeldt, a very non-common German name meaning ‘a purchased field’. She came to Kitchener from a town north of Ottawa, the equivalent of a 6-hour drive, because – that’s where the jobs were.

She started dating a guy, then they were ‘going steady’, then after a year, they got engaged. I thought that I should show at least a little bit of interest, and asked his name.  She told me that he was Barry, but managed to pronounce it more like Bawry, than berry.

As the wedding approached, I asked what her married name would be, and she told me that it would be Kauffeldt. “You’re not going to keep your maiden name are you??”  A hundred years ago, two brothers settled on opposite sides of a lake….and the families lost contact.

Barry was a 4th or 5th cousin, who lived in a different township.  They went to different elementary and secondary schools.  He also came down here for a job, and they met in Kitchener.  Talk about not even needing to change the monograms on the linen – she didn’t have to change her driver’s licence, or any other official paperwork.

My more common name though, has caused misunderstandings, if not actual problems.

I went to my dentist, to have some work done on a lower, right molar. The tech bustled in, and gave me a shot of Novocaine in my upper left jaw.  When I asked why, we found that another ‘John Smith’ had moved into the neighborhood.  She had his file, and I got his shot.  Then, of course, I got my own Novocaine shot, and spent the rest of the day with my face falling off.  I’ve since learned to provide address, Social Insurance Number, telephone, and/or birth date, to prevent this sort of thing.

On a street I once lived on, a house was built on the last empty lot, 8 houses past mine. One day I got a letter from a lawyer, threatening to sue ‘John Smith’ for cutting down a tree.  John Smith the contractor was from a small town, 25 miles away.  Shouldn’t someone know this?  When I called the lawyers office, the clerk alibied that, “We thought it was a work-site address.”

About 2:00 AM one Saturday morning, as the wife and I were watching a late movie, the phone rang. “Hey, this is Guido.  I’m checking in.”  That’s nice Guido.  Why are you calling me?  “Ain’t you John Smith, my parole officer?  I lost my contact information, so I looked you up in the book.”   Shortly after that, we put the phone in the wife’s name, and list it with just her initials.

One evening the phone rang, and when I answered it, a very irate man threatened to come over to my house and “punch your f**kin’ lights out.” Why would you want to do that?  “Halfway to the next town, my f**kin’ transmission fell out.”  And what does that have to do with me?  “Well, aren’t you John Smith, of John’s Transmissions?”  No sir, and next time, take a business card, or better yet, take your car to Mister Transmission.

Fifty years ago, when I took my Government-operated Academic Upgrading/Business Practices course, I may have been a bit more intelligent and educated than the run-of-the-mill factory/fisheries/ lumber crowd. I was dragooned into being the Acting Office Administrator for two weeks, while the real one (finally) enjoyed a much-earned vacation.

With a strong, independent Mother, it was amusing yet disturbing, that there were still bastions where a 22-year-old kid made executive decisions and directed 3 competent middle-aged female clerks – because men ran offices, and told women what to do.

Later, I found myself supervising and teaching several classes per day of a Basic Business Machines course, for six weeks, while they located and hired a replacement for a teacher who’d found a better job.

Shortly after I graduated, my Adult Education Program was absorbed, and officially renamed Conestoga College Continuing Education. About ten years ago, just before we put the phone in the wife’s name initials, I answered it one day.  A man queried, “John Smith?”  ….Uh, yeah.  “From Adult Education?”  What do I respond to that?

It turns out that it was a new student, trying to reach a newly-hired instructor named ‘John Smith.’ Apparently, unofficially, the old Adult Education name was still being used, to encourage mature students.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner – but please be sure, when you do call me, that I’m the Me you really meant to call.   😳

***

My apologies!  I should have posted this under the title A For Alzheimer’s, or F For Forgetful, or wait and publish it under R For Rerun.  I knew it sounded familiar.  We did it before, and, apparently ‘we’ (I) did it again.  This is an almost word-for word repeat of ‘Oh Yeah? Name One!‘ which you can click on below if you want to leave a comment, ridiculing my memory.  Sorry about that.  New material coming soon.   😳

Advertisements

2017 A To Z Challenge – B

Challenge2017

When I sieved out the following list of B-word prompts, I was struck by how many of them could apply to me.  Rather than choosing only one, here are some random thoughts about a few of them.

Bibliophile
blood
baggage
belief
bold
books
beach
barn
blog

Letter B

My home town is halfway up the East coast of Lake Huron, in Ontario. It has 3 miles of lovely warm, soft, white sand beach.  It has become a vacation haven, and tourism is a large part of its financial wellbeing.

The town to the south gets only 1 mile of shoreline. The tiny tourist village to the north sits in the center of 10 miles of sandy shore.  Access to the water is good, and the swimming is wonderful but, in both cases, the sand barely reaches above the water level, and their beaches are flat, hard and damp.

My mother constantly read to me as a child, and I learned to read quite young. I became a bibliophile, a lover of books.  I am also a logophile, a lover of words, but all the wonderful words are in the wonderful books, so we’ll discuss that later.

Ray Bradbury said, “Libraries raised me.” My tiny little town had a tiny little library, about the size of a medium house.  It was only open two days a week.  The volunteer librarian was a former teacher.  It was here that I learned early, the value of linguistic precision.

The fine for late books was 2 cents, biweekly.  The intent was for 2 cents, per book, for each of the 2 weekly open days.  I stood beside a man who went and got a dictionary to show the librarian that ‘biweekly’ also meant ‘every two weeks.’  He would pay 2 cents, but not the 8 cents that she demanded.

A local man became a mining engineer. He located an ore field in Northern Ontario, staked a claim, and sold the rights to a mining firm which would extract the minerals.  With the initial payout and ongoing royalties, he retired early, as the town’s richest resident.

He and his wife were great readers, but they never had children. When his wife died, and he was facing his own mortality, he donated a large portion of his fortune to the municipality, to be used to build a library in memorial to his wife.  We got a fairly large (for a small town) new library, right beside the Town Hall.  His bequest bought lots more books, and an annuity paid for hired staff.

When I moved 100 miles to Kitchener for employment, it was easy to pack my luggage. I had very little.  I also had to pack my baggage – my propensity for procrastination, my learning disorders, my neurological syndrome which causes poor physical control and lousy short-term memory, as well as my autistic-type inability to read social cues, and make and hold friends.

I am more methodical, determined, and tenacious; I would never be described as bold. Having survived an interesting, if not terribly thrilling life, now in the twilight of my years, I can put these thoughts and remembrances down, and publish them in my blog.   😀

 

Flash Fiction #125

bigfoot

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

Rochelle turned the tables this week, by writing about exactly what’s in the picture. I’m going to turn them back again, by writing a tale about something that’s not even there.

ENQUIRING MINDS

“See, I told you. There he is, by the big tree.  Take the shot.”

“What tree, the maple??”

“No, the big oak, by the dock, quick, he’s getting away. Take the shot, take the shot! ….The lens cap is still on??!  You’re the photographer, I told you to have your fancy camera ready! ….  Argh!  He’s gone.  We could have been rich and famous.”

“A clear picture of him hiding from humanity would be worth $20,000 to the tabloids, but the shot you missed, of Bigfoot fishing from someone’s porch chair in the lake, would have made us both millionaires.”

***

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

Flash Fiction #114

flood

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

A WET TIME IN THE OLD TOWN, TONIGHT

We’re finally on our way to Disney World, and everybody’s done their part. I’ve planned this for months.  I made sure everybody packed the right things.  Dad loaded our stuff in the car, and will drive us all the way there.

You kids did well. Emily, you made sure the stove and main floor lights were all turned off.  Bobby, you were responsible for the computer and all the upstairs lights.  Billy, late as usual, still brushing your teeth, you just had to make sure the bathroom light and running water were shut off.  You got those, right??

….Uh   ….right, Mom.

***

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

I Am A Challenge

challenge

Always searching for inspiration, and any lame excuse theme for a post, I downloaded the above ’31 Day Blog Challenge.’  I quickly saw that I could never do them all, in a month.  Having blogged for 5 years, and pumped dribbled out over 660 posts, it was evident that I’d already (over)done several items, and others simply don’t apply.  Here’s the 31-day series in a fast-forward, 1-post version.

Self-portrait, and 5 random facts about yourself
Check my gravatar, my ‘About’ page, or any/all posts in my ‘Awards Earned’ category.  I’ve revealed more than the girls at the nudie bar.

Favorite quotes
I have hundreds of interesting, impressive and inspirational quotes rattling around in my empty head, and run into more online often.  Only if I’m very lucky do I remember an appropriate one when I need it.

einstein

What makes you happy?
LIFE makes me happy – playing children, a sunset or rainbow, a well-turned phrase.  I am easily pleased.  However, I am also easily displeased.  That’s when I am happy to have this blog-site to bitch about, and hold certain facts and actions up, for ridicule and opprobrium.

Best childhood memory
ALL of them!  I was fortunate to live a long-ago, safe, innocent, happy childhood.  One of my blog-award posts mentions not being much impressed when jobs, taxes and family responsibilities came along.

Favorite movies you never get tired of watching
I knew people who watched ‘Titanic’ 8 and 9 times.  The boat sinks.  Everybody dies.  A movie is a visual story. Once you’ve been told the story, it doesn’t change.  Even epic movies like James Bond, or Star Trek, I can only watch twice, or perhaps three times, before my OCD yells, “Tell me a different story.”

Your last act of random kindness
What?  Today?  They are constant and ongoing.  Small things.  Everything from smiling and saying Please and Thank You (Which, sadly, is becoming viewed as an act of kindness, rather than mere good manners) to taking shopping carts out of parking spaces and arranging them neatly in the cart corral.  It assuages my OCD and sense of order, and prevents others from getting dinged cars.

What’s your dream job?
I’m retarded retired, and living the dream.  I’d like to dream with a little more money, but….

Biggest pet peeve
We all rant about dopey drivers and dealing with bureaucracy but, since such a large part of my life centers around reading and writing, my peeve is about poor English usage – especially by paid writers and authors. Teachers used to go to Teachers College to learn how to teach children.  Now they go to Universities to obtain two useless degrees, and neither they nor their students can read or write.

What’s on your bucket list?
I don’t have a pot to piss in, so there’s no money in my bucket to do anything.

Rate the last movie you watched
I recently saw Star Trek Beyond.  It was forced, fun and fast.  Written by Simon Pegg, the actor who plays Scotty, it contained a number of ‘McGuffins’, unnecessary/invalid plot devices to get the viewer to go along with the tale.  After (finally) suspending disbelief, it was a rollicking action movie.

The last book you read
See ‘kindness’ above.  What, today??  I’m currently reading E.E. (Doc) Smith’s ‘Spacehounds of IPC’, Tom Clancy (actually written by Mark Greany), ‘Command Authority’, and Robert Asprin/Linda Evans, ‘Tales of the Time Scouts.’

What is your favorite recipe?
We eat so many kinds of real good food….anything Tex-Mex.  I never got any when I was young.  They had barely invented pizza.  Nothing fancy, just filling.  Perhaps Potato pancakes.  Yum!

Create a photo gallery of your best pics
Old shaky-finger Phil??  I don’t take artistic shots.  Almost everything I’ve photographed, has already been included in my posts.

What’s on your favorite playlist?
I’m too damned old for ‘playlists’!  I occasionally go to YouTube when I recall a 60s or 70s song I can’t listen to on my cassette player any more.  For an upcoming drive to Detroit, the wife asked about a playlist for the trip.  Among others, I suggested Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, and The Chain, Valdy, doing Play Me A Rock And Roll Song, as well as The Moody Blues’, I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band).

Tips on travelling to a destination
Our journeys are restricted to car trips, so I have few tips.  Plan ahead, service and gas the car, make reservations!

What are your 10 must-haves for a vacation?
If you have 10 things, or more, that you must have, that’s not a vacation.  That’s a temporary move!  Take along twice as much money, half as many clothes, an open mind, a spirit of inquiry and adventure, and the determination to see things, learn things, and have fun, no matter what happens. ….and that reservation!

As usual, I’m too wordy. Please return soon for Act 2 of this one-act play.  😳

Flash Fiction #94

Antiques

PHOTO PROMPT © Mary Shipman

HARD-TIME MACHINE

They’d spent a wonderful week at the little lakeside tourist town when he finally succumbed to curiosity about the sign. It read;

TAKE A TRIP IN A TIME MACHINE
Shuttle Leaves At
9:00AM 11:00 AM 1:00PM 3:00PM

The psychedelically-painted hippie love-bus dropped them off at a moribund factory, next to another bright sign declaring;

Welcome to Terri’s Temporal Temple
Come on in and see how your
ancestors lived 150 years ago
(And our Amish neighbors still do)

It was a cute come-on for a ratty little antique shop, but the tour was educational. Our pioneer ancestors worked hard! Vive technology!

***

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

T.M.I.

Aghast

26 Things About Me

 

Twenty-six things about me…

A- Age: Just count the rings – uh, 71

B- Biggest fears: I fear nothing – but I’m smart enough to avoid certain things.

C- Current time: 12:34:56 AM

D- Drink you last had: Iced Tea

E- Every day starts with: waking up and checking the obits page

F- Favorite song: Fleetwood Mac – Tusk, YouTube video with USC Marching Band

G- Ghosts, are they real?: Only if you think they are.

H- Hometown: Southampton, Ontario, Canada

I- In love with: Myself – Damn, I’m awesome!

J- Jealous of: No one. I didn’t do all this work to wish I was someone else

K- Killed someone?: In my head? A lot. (Nobody’s actually gonna check – right?)

L- Last time you cried: When I sliced up four pounds of onions for French Onion Soup

M- Middle name: Howard – and one more Archonian secret is revealed

N- Number of siblings: 2 – 1 full brother and 1 half-assed sister

O- One wish: To turn back time.

P- Person you last called: Called what? Oh, daughter, LadyRyl!

Q- Question you’re always asked: Would you like to come to dinner now?

R- Reason to smile: I know – but you don’t even suspect.

S- Song last sung: Eagles – Take It Easy

T- Time you woke up: 7:22 when son got home, 10:36 when bladder insisted, finally 12:54 PM

U- Underwear color: Differently colored bikini briefs every day

V- Vacation destination: Charleston, SC

W- Worst habit: Procrastination.

X- X-Rays you’ve had: Am I still glowing? A lot, recently!

Y- Your favorite food: A lot – potato pancakes/fries & gravy/poutine

Z- Zoos visited! Detroit, as a kid. Not Toronto. Does African Lion Safari count?