The Spoon Apocalypse

My paternal grandmother believed that at some point in the near future the world would be bereft of spoons.  To prepare her grandchildren for the coming apocalypse, we all received spoons for Christmas, that is until Cousin George, then over six foot eight, pooped on her prophesy. I believe his exact words were “Get your head out of the vodka bottle Grandmother.”

“Oh what a wonderful spoon, Grandmother! Now I’m prepared for the Spoon Apocalypse.

Through all my travels and relocations, my spoon collection has not fared well but I still have the first one she ever sent me. It’s a sterling silver teaspoon with an etching of the Moorhead Minnesota Public Library.  I always assumed it was just something she picked up at some antique store, but through the miracle of the internet, I believe it had some other meaning to her besides the spoon prophesy.

Moorhead was my Grandmother’s home until her father died and her mother married The Judge. Probably a wise thing for a young widow with two small children to do but The Judge was a controlling nasty pants who didn’t allow his stepchildren to talk of their father or paternal aunts, uncles and cousins still living in Moorhead. That town always remained a life that could have been if not for the Spanish flu.  As a freshman in college when the library opened, she probably also spent a lot of time there.  At that time, the University of North Dakota at Fargo catered to the study of animal husbandry and improvement of soy bean crops and not to the study of something so useless as English literature.  So the spoon wasn’t just something she wrapped in foil and sent to her granddaughter (or maybe it was and I’m just a fruitcake)

After Grandmother’s death my aunt sent me this odd assortment of her utensils. Note anything odd?

 

There’s only one fork and who needs that many butter knives? Or pickle forks.

I don’t know what to do with all those spoons. Perhaps play Spoons.  Have you ever heard of that game?  Apparently it’s also known as Pig and Tongue and it is some kind of variation of Musical Chairs.  The winners of Spoons take a spoon from the middle of the table and the winners of Pig, fart.  (Not really they just touch the end of their noses. Don’t ask.) The winners of Tongue stick their tongues out.  I imagine it’s a game old Judge Nasty Pants would have loved.

Maybe I’ll give the spoons to the Spoon Lady!  Any odd things you’ve gotten as Christmas presents that made sense many years later?

 

Car Eighteen Where Are you?

Don’t you just hate it when you’re not as smart as you think? Or that you were smart but too late in the game.  Or you just plain weren’t smart at all.  I’m talking about the overnight train from Montreal to Halifax in “renaissance” cars with old world charm, three course meals, and wine and cheese tastings in the afternoon.  The one with the observation car available only to the sleeper class passengers where you can enjoy panoramic vistas  of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The train with the friendly staff who will regale you with local folklore. Yes, that undiscovered gem I was so smart to have stumbled upon.

You can probably guess the moral of this story. Googling “unique vacations” is going to get you to the same URL as three billion people also searching for a unique vacation.

In our case, we were joined by a group of about sixty party hardy retirees from Minneapolis. Relax and enjoy the countryside?  Hell no. The scene on board reminded me of the geriatric version of the movie Some Like it Hot.

 

Compounding the raucousness of the trip, the aisles in the sleeper cars (all eighteen of them) were so narrow that if you were heading toward the dining car (at the front of train) you would have to wait at the end of a car for the aisles to be clear or hop into a stranger’s cabin when confronted by someone going the opposite direction. But what am I saying? 

There are no strangers on a party train.  At times one group would confront another halfway down an aisle and flip coins as to who should back up and let the others pass. It was like being part of an eighteen hour conga line and guess which car we were in?  Yup, the eighteenth car.

Would I do it again?  Yes. Nova Scotia via train is spectacular although it’s not easy to get good pictures so you’ll have to take my word for it!  

Leave Room in Your Take-on for a Lobster

We just returned from a ten day trip and so now I am a travel expert. I could write a book and charge you money for my expertise but heck, I’m a generous sort of gal so you’re getting my top five or so tips free of charge. 

Tip Number One: After checking in to your hotel, Airbub, VRBO or friend’s couch, locate the nearest liquor store.  This is not as easy as it sounds. In Canada, where where we spent most of our vacation, liquor and wine are sold in well-guarded holes in the wall that are often hard to find. However, these shops only sell alcoholic beverages so if your nightly poison is a gin and tonic, you will have to find a separate grocery to purchase the tonic. Oddly, beer and hard cider are not considered alcoholic so they’re sold just about anywhere food is.

I’m not saying you should avoid the local bars and hole yourself up in your room to get sloshed. God no. Good bartenders are true artistes and it’s always fun to see what regional spin they’ll invent to liven up a standard. But, if you consume more than one Hop, Skip and Go Naked, you might just hop, skip and go naked.  So, it’s best to wait until you’re back in your room to get wobbly sloshy (the only way to watch the evening news in a country where the citizens think your president is a sick and perverted joke.)

Tip Number Two: If you can, splurge on a centrally located hotel so you can walk everywhere you want to go. Do not assume ride sharing services such as Lyft or Uber will be there for you. The two cities where we stayed, Montreal and Halifax, have outlawed them. Of course, there’s the Metro and bus service which I’m sure are absolutely wonderful but I’d rather march the old goat I’m married to all over town and listen him to complain for the next three days (another reason why locating the liquor store first is smart thinking).  Besides, a wrong turn every now and then can lead to new and fun adventures. Here is Joel on an overlook that overlooks nothing. Now, that’s not in the guidebooks!

Tip Number Three: If your hotel has one of those obnoxious turn down services, put the Do Not Disturb sign on your door and leave it there for the duration of your stay.  I don’t know about y’all but once I return from marching the old goat all over town, there ain’t no one gonna pry me from bed for a chocolate mint. A chocolate martini perhaps. Heck, if we’re staying at a hotel for more than one night, we put out the Down Not Disturb sign and never take it down. I’m one of those women who can’t stand to have people see my mess and so I will scour and scrub a hotel room if I think a maid might be coming in while I’m gone which kind of negates the idea of a vacation.

Tip Number Four: If you’re staying at a popular tourist destination, such as Halifax Nova Scotia, and you look out your hotel window in the morning and see five super gigantic cruise ships docked in the harbor, adjust your plans to visit all the must-see places.  I can assure you that the mile long line of buses parked at the wharf are waiting to shuttle three hundred thousand retirees out for a delicious lobster feast at Peggy’s Cove. Getting that perfect shot of the most iconic lighthouse in the world, well, is it worth trailing a line of tour buses for thirty five miles? Nay.  Trust me, there are other picturesque lighthouses in Nova Scotia. (Below Baddeck’s lighthouse)

Tip Number Five:  If you’re planning to take the famous Adirondack train from Montreal to Manhattan and are worried about passing through customs at the US border, keep two things in mind. First,  you will be leaving from Gare Centrale which is a cavernous station filled with shops, cafes, and the most heavenly bakeries in the world.  For crying out loud, unless you prefer microwaved hamburgers and three dollar bottles of water, purchase food and drink at the station.  It’s an eight hour trip and the tiny snack bar on the train runs out of everything by the time you reach Albany.

 The second thing to keep in mind is to rehearse your story.  You will be questioned at least three times by armed customs agents who stop the train out in the middle of nowhere.  They stand over you and, after asking the usual “Are you carrying explosive devices?” will ask gotcha questions such as: “When did you have your wisdom teeth removed?” “Are there any left-handed people in your family?” “Are you currently or have you ever eaten a rutabaga?”

And you better give the same answer every time they ask or they’ll pull you from the train and you’ll never be seen again.

Last tip: Always make room in your take on bag for a lobster. I didn’t and so we had to leave Halifax lobster-less.  Ah well, live and learn.

What are your favorite travel tips?

Wonderful Opportunities on Mars

I turned on the television last night and watched a reporter interview a group of Trump supporters about the Space Force.  He asked them perfectly reasonable questions such as: We already have a branch of the military dedicated to space exploration.  Why do we need to spend billions of dollars for another? 

The answer that made the most sense was “Because I like the way it sounds.

Another question was: What will the purpose of the Space Force be?

There again the answers befuddle the mind. Apparently General Zod is planning to return from exile and join forces with the ISIS terrorists currently circling earth in their drones and, because Superman is dead, we’re up shit creek without a paddle without Space Force.

Kneel before Zod

The last question I remember was:  The Pentagon says forming another branch of the military is pointless so why go to that expense?

The Sea of Tranquility on Mars, honest.

Guess what? NASA hasn’t been telling us the truth about what’s up in space. Mars is a lush paradise with riches beyond belief and plenty of oil so drill, baby, drill!  Jobs for everybody! 

Here’s the question I wish the reporter would have asked: Once Space Force conquers Mars and forces out the current occupants (who are illegal rapists and murderers from the planet Saturn) would you take advantage of his offer to send you and your family on an all expenses paid vacation to the Trump Red Planet Resort on the Sea of Tranquility? 

What question would you like to ask Trump supporters about Space Force?

What do your favorite movies say about you?

I had an intriguing comment from Mr. Duke Miller on my last post.  He wrote that when he had to interview people he asked them for a joke and then the names of their three favorite movies.  His jokes would start with a man drinking in a bar and his top movies were: Old Yeller, Psycho, and Blue Velvet which he interpreted to mean he liked mezcal, soft cloth, hot showers and dogs.  I’m sure he probably does.  But who doesn’t?  So I thought if I were interviewing Duke what would my take away be? 

After struggling to ferret out the commonality between the three,  I decided his choice in movies meant he valued loyalty above all else. Here’s why.  Old Yeller is a dog who puts his life on the line to save his family,  Norman Bates is so devoted to his mother that he dresses up like her, and Jeffrey Beaumont simply must try to save a damsel in the most extreme distress.  All three protagonists are loyal.  Duke’ll probably inform me that I’m totally full of beans and so I decided what’s fair is fair and provided my three choices for his analysis. My picks were North by Northwest, Tender Mercies and Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Really doesn’t say much about me, does it?  In the first, a case of mistaken identity almost gets a man killed.  The second is a slow paced story of redemption and the third is about the filibuster to end all filibusters!  I have a thing, evidently, for hopeless causes. 

Just for fun. What do your three favorite movies say about you? 

By the way.  Duke didn’t offer me the job. And I’m not really a shrink although I do play one in a book (Flipka) so any analyses provided by me is not worth the time you might take to read it.   It’s just for fun on a hot Sunday when trying to avoid cleaning that dirty kitchen  floor.

 

The Prisoner of Twisselburg

I don’t generally share upsetting news with my online friends because that’s not why I started this blog.  I started it because my now-defunct publisher told me it was the way to sell books.  The theory being, if you could get people to like you then they’d buy your books.

You don’t have to say it.  I will.  What a load of crap. 

But by the time I made that stunning revelation I was hooked.  Today I literally blog more than I write and from what I’ve read buzzing about the hive, I’m not the only one.

However certain things I just don’t like to write about such as Joel’s disease (chronic couch potatoitis) or the acute pain in my gluteus maximus (the result of my bizarre sleeping habits).  Don’t get me wrong. I think bloggers who write candidly about issues such as depression and chronic pain do a great service and should be applauded for the bravery and candor.  I’m just not one of them.  Uptight? You betcha.  It’s those Puritan genes.  You know, skeletons staying in closets, dirty laundry staying in the hamper.

But today I cannot contain my grief.  I’ve eaten all the saltines in the house, stuffed them into my mouth and chewed them into mush and still that’s not enough.  The bottomless void in my heart  has migrated to my stomach and it’s all over now Baby Blue, bring on the Tamborine Man. 

You see, dear friends, my cat hates me. Absolutely despises me.  Wouldn’t give the sweat off his balls (if he had them) to save me from eternal damnation. Of course, I’m not entirely sure he ever liked me but at least he would let me pet him during a full moon cycle at precisely five o’clock in the kitchen as he sniffed my gin and tonic hoping to get lucky.  Now, nothing.  Not even a look in my direction.  It’s tense here, friends, very tense. 

It all started when the back door was inadvertently left ajar and out he walked, tail high in the air like a question mark.  I became aware of his escape when he strutted past the window and looked in at me, a little surprised at his own brilliance, “Holy Shit, I outsmarted you bozos.” 

Once free, no amount of “Here Kitty” would entice him back in. He promptly found the nearest mud puddle and had himself a spa day and then, when the sun set and it started to get cold, finally submitted to Joel’s pleas.

I don’t know what the hell was in that mud but he returned a changed kitty.   Arrogant and bossy.  Demanding to be let out and when told no, a damn pain in the patootie and, as I previously mentioned, my patootie already has a pain.

“You used to have a pet, humans, now you have a caged beast who hates you. And don’t try buttering me up with various cat treats and toys. It wouldn’t work as long as I’m condemned to your lousy lockup!” Woe is me. On a positive note, the calla lilies are blooming.

A tip for time travel

I keep dreaming up stupider and stupider ideas for the ending of The Return of Flipka.  My latest had her time traveling from 1978 to 2016 as a part of an FBI plot to stop the presidency of Donald Trump  and yes, aliens were involved. Obviously I’m in a slump.  If the weather were better I’d forget my writing gig and go down to the teahouse and paint.  But the teahouse has no heat.

I write this sniveling, whiny post while listening to Rachmaninoff, someone so gifted that he could not possibly have ever suffered from writer’s block.  Or so one would think.

Of course, he did. As a young man he needed therapy for a depression that plagued him for four years and came and went  throughout his life. One of his most famous pieces, The Bells, was inspired by another famously depressed artist, Edgar Allen Poe. 

I don’t know nearly as much about classical music as I’d like but luckily my husband once belonged to one of those CD of the month clubs. I don’t know why as most of the hundred or so CDs he received are still wrapped in plastic but his loss is my gain. So now I’m going through composer by composer and trying to learn something about each one.

First I was hooked on Bach (whose birthday is coincidentally today).  His compositions aren’t as rhapsodic and soulful as Rachmaninoff but it is possible to listen to them over and over again. Try listening repeatedly to Rachmaninoff’s  Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, I dare you.  That piece is so achingly romantic it’s been used as the sound track for many a movie, including Somewhere in Time

In this movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it, Christopher Reeve is a playwright who’s approached after his debut show by an elderly woman who hands him a pocket watch and says “come back to me.” He forgets about the incident until, while on vacation, he becomes obsessed with the portrait of a woman who lived in the early 1900s.  Many plot convulsions later he manages to hypnotize himself and go back in time and meet her. Unfortunately he can’t stay back in time forever.  He has to return to present day where he finds out his true love has just died of old age. After this point the plot goes into an infinite loop of past and present spinning like tops and all because of a little self-hypnotism. 

Okay, I guess my time travel idea for the Return of Flipka is not so crazy after all, is it?  (yes, it is!)