"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

"Need a Latch?"

Today we were packing items from the garage in anticipation for our move.  And though my husband and I are both intelligent people, we have different backgrounds that, as I'm finding, influence the items that we want to take with us.  I was raised on a farm, and, as Frost said; "that has made all the difference." Where my husband was going to throw out a perfectly good latch, I would have none of it.

If you have never been to a farm, you should go, and find the tool bench.  If it's a cold, ordered, sterile kind of set up, leave and go do something else.  But if the tool bench is wooden, poorly lit, and cluttered with old coffee cans, jars, and boxes filled with all sizes of hardware; if it's backed by shelves of items that you can not recognize, and, especially, if there are bits of rope or wire kept on a peg, definitely stay, and learn.  All of this involves "thinking outside the box," and it will serve you well.

Our tool shed was put together in an old chicken coop.  The bench was enormous and had a vice that was substantial.  The bench was littered with all kinds of wire, and bolts and brackets, with which we learned to fix the hay baler, when the timing went, the Minneaplolis Moline tractor or the bush hog (big, honkin' grass mower) when they began to decline, and which gave us the ability to look busy when my parents had company over that we didn't like.

"Kids?  Kids?  Come on up to the house and say 'hello' to the Brewsters; Milton and Tapioca.  And, kids?  Can you hear me?  They brought their kids, Fulcrum and Downspout...so you can all play together.  Kids?"

And we would reply:
"Sorry.  We're just in the middle of replacing the, uhm, bronchial undulator in the, uhm, manual collapser module with this cobbled-together excuse for a particle accelerator."

We would show them a melange of bolts, hinges, and cotter pins (google it yourself) assembled to look like Detroit, but covered with  grease, so it looked functional.  At various points through the evening, one of us would start a chainsaw, or fire a gun, just for the sound effect.  Fulcrum and Downspout never ventured into the tool shed, and grew up to become auditors.

We did learn to fix a lot of stuff with what was lying around. And that skill hasn't left me.  A few years ago, I figured out a way to get my husband out of the hospital after he badly tore a hamstring:  I was in the drug store, getting his prescription for pain killers filled when I saw this luggage strap for sale.  An idea sprouted.  I bought the strap, returned to the emergency room, stood him up, put the luggage strap around his neck and one shoulder, then looped a tourniquet in a figure-eight, just below his knee and then up through the strap.  It worked like a charm; kept the weight of his leg from pulling on his injury.  ...."outside the box."

So, yes, those bolts may look useless, but if you can visualize it, they might be just the size to fix that old thing that always tilts to the left. And I know that wire is short, but it might be the perfect size to snake down the vacuum hose when it becomes plugged with that broccoli cheese cake that someone tried to get rid of behind the couch.  And that latch?  Well, you never know when someone's going to need an old fashioned latch.  It's just a matter of how you look at it.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Phrase Please: "The Wife."

The phrase, "the wife," has been around for, uhm, too long.  You've all heard it. It rolls out like a cigarette butt along a highway, as if it was nothing.  "The," the first part of the phrase, the definite article, leaves nothing to interpretation.  It's not "a" wife.  It's "the" wife;  the "one."  But it might as well refer to "the boat motor," or "the two-four."   

There is nothing more unpoetic than "The wife."  Shakespeare used it not even once.  There is nothing, even in his sonnets like:

"As rises Sol, so does my heart to you each day.
I feign to my tasks.  Such an effort to forge a wheel,
Or be mindful of all when you draw my very breath and thought.
My heart to only you, the wife.  Such pleasure in your company."

It just seems so sad.  And the fact that those using the phrase are seldom fending off calls to pose for the great artists of the world, although in their minds, they may consider themselves a real prize. I know a marriage involves the attention of both parties.  And I know people grow at different speeds, dealing with this and that, or discovering that they really don't like so many Elvis prints in the hallway.  Perhaps they won't buy a new wolf t-shirt this summer.
And maybe, this year, they won't create that thanksgiving scene made out of "Pogo's".

But wouldn't it be lovely to be surprised?  Wouldn't it be great to overhear a couple, maybe at "the bingo," talking to each other;

"Adreana, my love.  As you are part of me, my soul, my all, I see on your card that you have missed, under the "I," 42.  I am yours."

"I blush.  I tremble and, Carl, my husband of time, though time is nothing.  Time takes us through the days.  But what are days?  Yes, light and dark as the tedious sun gives and takes, but I have you in my heart always...and now..."I" 42."

Or at "the garage sale";

"Bob, I have found a "sad dog clock."  The man wants a twoonie for it and, sadly I have none.  And hoping on your fondness for me, as I am also for you...I see your eyes..."

"Yes, Tabitha, and I see your eyes and...and enough of the "sad dog clock."  I must have you here, right now on this treadmill.  Though your husband for 30 years, I am as if a newly wrought.  I am, undoubtedly mad.  You have made me so...I am in your care.  ...just move that blender out of the way..."

Instead, we have "the wife."  It's not poetry.  But who am I to judge.  Maybe it does work for some, and that's fine, I guess.  Whatever turns "the crank."  

Monday, 20 June 2011

Mammogram: From the "Spanish Inquisition" to the "Dyson Dust-Fucker."

There I am, half naked, in a basement, with part of me caught in the jaws of a machine reminiscent of the "Spanish Inquisition."  I'm having a mammogram, but all I could think of was that, at some point, "Cardinal Shoehorn," in a satin robe was going to enter the room through a secret panel, and suggest that I confess.  He was going to skitter up behind me and remind me that I had missed my last appointment and that, both the Pope, and Health Canada were very concerned about my soul.  I know mammograms are helpful, but the experience is tough.  

You can't have a mammogram and not consider your mortality. It's part of it.  But having the whole show in a basement office doesn't help. The space is comprised of hallways laid out like a mouse maze, walls with absolutely no art on them at all, and the poor technicians who never see the sun for days;  they wait, eagerly, for news of the weather, new fashion trends,  and if there's any chance the Leafs will win the cup this year. And then there's the procedure; I had to stop at a gas station on the way home and "re-inflate"  afterwards.

There must be a better way. There usually is, for most things.  All it takes is for someone to come at it from a different perspective.  I'm all for giving the problem to the genius that invented the "Dyson" vacuum cleaner.  I have one.  It's amazing.  I have dubbed it, "The Dyson Dust-Fucker." (I don't normally swear in my blog, but in this case, the name is perfect.)  This thing is designed within an inch of it's life and it is beautiful.  All we need is another attachment for this specific purpose.  Something you simply snap in, and, uhm, "present the cast of two."  A sensor takes the reading, without radiation, without any discomfort, and perhaps provides a slight exfoliation to boot.  

All I know is, that there has to be a better way.  Somebody, somewhere must know something.  The "cast" and I certainly hope so.  

And just so you know, my results were all clear.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Sensibility of Albo Truez.

Inez and Albo Truez sat blinking at the television screen.  They had just completed a successful garage sale in which they had managed to clear out most of the past year's excess and now they were going to watch a movie.  Albo had gotten rid of more than Inez knew.  He was going to tell her before the movie started, but the phone rang:

"Hello,"  he answered.
"Hi, Albo?"  
"Yes.  Who's this?"
"It's Walter.  Walter Hatband from two doors down.  Listen.  I bought an old egg beater from your sale today."
"Oh, yes.  I guess I know the one.  Is there a problem?" 
"Actually there is.  I got it home and used it to beat some eggs for a western sandwich for my grandson, Toil."
"Your grandson's name is Toil?  I think you have more problems than just my egg beater.  But what, exactly has got you ruffled?  Didn't it work alright?"  Albo asked.
"Oh, yes, it did.  But after Toil ate the sandwich, he began walking around babbling about how he 'didn't want to be a bother,' and how he knows that 'children can be exhausting' and he 'didn't want to cause my early death.' Then he found a scrub brush and bucket in the breezeway, filled the bucket with soapy water and began scrubbing the floors on his knees.  Albo, Toil is ten.  Something's up."
"What do I have to do with Toil's obvious struggle with his own existence? I live two doors away. I hardly know the kid,"  he defended.
"Albo, come clean.  What did you do?"  Walter demanded.

There was silence for a moment.  Albo looked over at his wife.  And she was looking back at him, trying to piece together the one side of the conversation that she was hearing.  He took a deep breath.

"Okay.  So sue me.  I got rid of a little guilt with the egg beater.  I didn't think you'd mind."

"Guilt?  You packaged the egg beater up with guilt and didn't tell anyone?  No wonder it was so cheap.  Five cents.  Unheard of.  I should have known."
"Oh, for crying out loud Walter.  Inez and I are going on vacation and I wanted to clean house so we could have some fun.  It feels so good.  You should try it."
"I should try...what else did you get rid of?"
"Well, we managed to get rid of that ridiculous dog-clock, where the ears rotate to tell the time...it just always bothered me at around ten after seven; looked painful.  So I bundled it up with some angst that I didn't want.  But that was all.  Or pretty much all, except for the suspicion and paranoia that I hid in a 'Yahtzee' game.  But nobody plays those games anymore.  I don't even know who bought the game.  I didn't see it go."
"I should have known better than to buy anything from your sale.  I knew you'd do it again.  I knew it," Walter accused.

He was referring to an incident several years ago wherein Albo and Inez had attended a pot-luck gathering. They had intentionally brought a salad in a bowl that they had knowingly used to store vitriol that they weren't using.  Before dessert, the party cleared, everyone sad and believing that either the food they had brought, their pant suit selections, or their choice of spouse was terribly, terribly flawed.  Feelings were so intense that the Durbin County Emotion Bylaw Office was called in.  Charges were strongly implied and the pair were forced to endure several weeks of emotional lock-down in the form of politically correct children's programming in 3-D.  The experience almost killed them and they repented.

"Alright.  Alright.  Bring the egg beater back.  I'll give you your money."
"I want more than my money back.  I want you to take back the guilt."
"Alright, alright.  I'll...I'll do better.  I have a set of Yankee Spoons that I'll give you for Toil.  I'll give them to you, for free and I'll throw in moderate concern for others. It's a rare attribute for a boy like Toil to have. "

There was silence on the line.  Walter was thinking.  Inez got up and went into the kitchen.  Walter finally agreed and said that he'd be right over.   Albo hung up the phone and wiped his brow.  Inez came back into the room with a glass of milk in one hand, and the Yahtzee game in the other.  He watched her put the game up on the book shelf next to Scrabble  and Quaker Monopoly ( a remnant from their lock down that they were required to keep in the house as a reminder).

"What are you doing with that game?"  he asked.
"Why are you asking?  What do you mean?  Does this milk taste off to you? Are you really my husband? Why are we watching this movie?  It's creepy and makes me uncomfortable...unless you're trying to tell me that you don't love me anymore.  Is that it?  Who's that coming up the stairs?  I think I'm lactose intolerant.  Who's at the door. I should call the police..."
"Inez.  Inez!"  he yelled.  "Stop! So you opened the Yahtzee box?"
She looked at him, somewhat troubled. 
"Inez, toast!  Use the toaster.  It's full of common sense and stability, remember?"
She got up and made herself walk toward the kitchen where the toaster was.  Just then, the doorbell rang.  It was Walter, and instead of waiting for someone to open the door, he just barged in.  He held up the egg beater.  Inez, thinking this was a threat wrestled the guilt-laden egg beater from his hands, ran into the kitchen and jammed it into the toaster.  The ensuing melange of conflicting emotions and electrical current, though set to toast on light, resulted in a slightly overweight fireball with dyed, thinning hair, eyebrows drawn on startlingly high on the forehead, and a split-second realization that her husband had all of the dependability and charm of a cheap plastic zipper.  She disappeared in an instant.

The two men looked at the toaster for a minute.  Albo disappeared into the back room and came out with a plaque laden with spoons commemorating the American civil war (because nothing helps to explain death, pain and hardship better than cutlery).  He handed the plaque to Walter.  
"For your grandson Toil," he said.
"Thank you Albo.  And I'm sorry about your wife, I guess...that toaster.  I know the two of you were...tolerating each other nicely.  I was wondering," he looked down at his spoons, "could I take that toaster off your hands?  My wife, Grantietta complains about...toast.  She doesn't like our toast."

Albo thought for a moment. He looked around the apartment.
"Walter, I guess I'm going to be going on a longer vacation than I had originally planned.  Perhaps, if I give you the toaster, you could also take care of the cat, Suet.  He's a manx crossed with cloying need, complete global indifference, and halitosis, but he has a nice coat.  Grantietta will adore him."
Walter nodded.  Albo picked up Suet just as you'd pick up a bag of mortar.  He stuffed him into a box and handed it to Walter on his way out the door. Walter headed out.

Two weeks later, Albo and Grantietta were sitting on the beach in Curacao.  It was a lovely day with a warm breeze moving the smells of the tropics through like a buffet for the senses.  Grantietta was smearing sunscreen on her great calves.
"You know,  Albo, Walter never even suspected the box.  He let Suet out in the living room and then I watched him hold onto the box in one hand, and the toaster in the other; common sense and stability vrs. an intense empathy toward processed meats.  I think I actually saw his mind unsnap.  No one could withstand that kind of inner conflict."

Albo adjusted his sun hat.  He loved Grantietta. He wasn't sure where this love came from. He really didn't care.  But he found it odd that his feelings started only after he began using that new floss that his dentist gave him.

"You do what you need to do in this world my little cabbage. Let me know when you need more of that sunscreen.  I've got lots."

Grantietta nodded and leaned back in the chair to soak up the sun,  the bottle of sunscreen leaning beside her beach bag.  It was good quality sunscreen with an SPF of 60...with added adoration and fawning. And, it came with a free lip balm.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What a "Waist."

We see not much.  Then, we realize that we're looking at fog; fog, along with the sounds of water lapping and then a fog horn, from a big boat.  The fog starts to clear and, just as we begin to recognize the dark outline of a freighter, we hear radio static and then muffled, authoritative radio voices:

"Roger, reading you five-by-five.  Am aboard the 'Dust Bunny.'  Negative on souls aboard.  'Have ships manifest, Dutch flags, and the menu for tonight.  'Looks like they were going to be having fish, sir. Over."

"Copy that, Sergeant Inseam.  This is Colonel Cabernet, from the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel,  'Chuck E. Cheese.' Please prioritize searches of recording devices and go and see what's in the hold.  I can see 'Dust Bunny' and she's riding low. Unless there's a breach, she's got a full load of something."

The sun breaks through the fog, just in time to see the top doors open over the hold.  Several important looking men peer down into the massive hold.  They shake their heads and then select a man from the sidelines to descend via a ladder on the wall. He does as he is ordered, and then returns with something in his hand.  It's small.  The important men look at it.  They scratch their heads, almost simultaneously. Something is afoot. They have stumbled onto something big.  Very big.  The important man, more important than the others, speaks into his radio:

"This is Sergeant Inseam for Colonel Cabernet from the 'Dust Bunny.'"

"Inseam, this is Cabernet, go ahead."
"Sir, you're not going to believe this. Sir, the hold is full, absolutely full of belt loops."

Belt loops.  I knew it.  After all, they must be somewhere.  And I believe this why?  Because I have several pairs of pants wherein, somebody made the decision during manufacturing that it would be a good idea to forego the mid-back belt loop for either fashion, or economic reasons.  There has to be a reason.  It's too bloody annoying to happen so many times, just by chance.  There I am, getting ready to step out for a night of fun, or to participate in the old 'Yorkshire Pudding ' toss down at the pub.  Maybe I'm getting all shined up to impress some motivational speaker coming in to the local book store to promote his latest book called; 'When Things Hurt,' all about a sliver he once got, the mental sleigh-ride he had to endure because of it, and the mourning process he went through when he pulled it out a few minutes later. 

Or maybe I just wanted to put pants on. 

Whatever the reason, there is nothing more frustrating than reaching around to snake your belt through that mid-back loop and then realizing that, you've done it again;  you've purchased pants with nothing but a clear run from the left-back loop to the right-back loop.  




'What's all the fuss?'  you may ask.  There is nothing quite so disconcerting as, mid-way through an evening, realizing that, though your belt is around your waist, the top line of the back of your pants is sitting slightly lower than you would like; low enough so that, during one of those unconscious perimeter checks, you manage to tuck your shirt into your underwear, instead of your pants.  And nothing says; 'I'm a moron' more than a middle-aged woman with that kind of decorum nightmare going on. It's horrifying.

...and yet it happens...more than you would like to know.  So while, yes, the scenario described earlier may sound fictional, I think that somewhere, there is a huge cache of belt loops that didn't make the sewing table.  And women all over the world are suffering; silently cursing themselves for buying the pants, and the Karl Lagerfeld 'wanna-be' who gave the order to ditch that back loop.  It's something nobody talks about, and yet it affects more people than you know.  

Belt loops;  "Stop the madness."

Sunday, 12 June 2011

I Love That.

I love my boys.  We have so much fun together that most everyone else is jealous.  They make me laugh.  And worry.  But they make me laugh more.  This morning, I had to go up and awaken them from their teenage slumber so they could help arrange items for next week's garage sale.  I did so while wearing a welding mask. They weren't even phased.  In fact, it was almost as if they expected it.  

I love that.

Monday, 6 June 2011

"Moby Dick" and the "Bell" Bill.

Call me Ishmael.  Don't call me, Ishmael, because I can't afford it.  But if you want to refer to me as Ishmael, well, I will assume that you are bananas, and nod and smile as you do.  The reason I bring up "Call me Ishmael," the first line to Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," is because, Mr. Melville was paid by the word to write it.  That's a sweet gig.  If he were alive today, he might want to get a job with "Bell" who sent me a THIRTEEN PAGE BILL TODAY.  



I can't even bring myself to sift through it all.  I try, but the plot  leaves so much wanting.  In Moby Dick, there was  Captain Ahab, and Queequeg, Starbuck, Stubb...and the great white whale.   There were harpoons and ambergris, waves and roiling seas, and MADNESS.  VENGEFUL MADNESS.  It's a great story.

The phone bill is, well, not a very interesting story at all. I think it's meant to bore and confound you so that you don't question any of the charges.  Consider these:
1 Residence line:
1 digital bundle-long distance plan:
1 DSL service:
1 DSL service with fries:
1 DSL service with fries and the option of riding in a gondola:
1 Network charge:
1 911 emergency service access, when you swallow your own head after trying to figure out your phone bill:
1 Call Return service...in case you've tried to make a call while you had swallowed your head...the sound would be all muffled and thumpy.  So get the call back and try again:
1 Touch-Tone service:
1 Touch-Tone service and eavestrough stencil:
1 Touch-tone service, eavestrough stencil and remote control pencil sharpener offer:

...later on:
Long Distance Savings and Discounts with Telephones made out of jam this month:


Cans of soup: 12
Talk and Share the soup: 5
Shoelace retrieval:  Nil
Member to Member Local Calling: 0
Calls in Desperation to the Real World: 1000000,0000000
1 Bundle
  Includes: Call Display:
                  Christmas Display:
                  Map of Mandalay:
                  Message Centre:
                  Rogers Centre:
                  Messages from the Rogers Centre:
                  Christmas Messages from the Rogers Centre:
                  Christmas Messages from Ahab:
                  Unlimited Incoming Messages:
                  Unlimited Incoming Messages with fries:
                  Unlimited Incoming Messages with fries, in a gondola:
                   Any message from a whale:

Total Monthly Charges (Before fries, and gondola fees):

6 Trillion dollars.

Total Other charges...that we're just not going to explain to you:

Calls made while up a tree:
Calls made while NEAR a tree:
Calls made while under a Spruce while wearing sensible shoes:


Cost for the maintenance of the internet tubes:
Monthly charges for all of the people who can't sing, on Youtube:
Extra charge for slow bandwidth for no reason when you need it the most:
Extra, Extra charge for making up an explanation for slow bandwidth that we think will satisfy you and stop you from chopping up your phone and connecting lines with an axe:
Axe license fee:
Wireless option for your axe:
Axe App:
Wireless axe fee:
Unlimited Messages to your wireless axe:


It's just too long.  Thirteen pages is TOO LONG.  Anything longer than three pages should have a plot.

...or at least danger.
...or a whale.
I don't think that's too much to ask.



Yeah.  I can hardly wait.  

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Those Poor Olives.

I sat looking at them; three lovely olives, clinging together on a stir stick.  I felt so bad.  A lot of effort goes into, not only "being" an olive and growing in the mediterranean sun, soil and wind, but ending up in my drink in, what I thought was, a fine Toronto bar on Cumberland. The whole journey was put to rest, selfishly and terribly by the dopy bartender that screwed up my martini : "Thumbs McGee." 

I love martinis.  Specifically, I love a vodka martini with only the slightest bit of vermouth. If you suggest that I have one with chocolate, cranberry juice, or a herd of goats in it, I will verbally thump you, and then pull your socks up over your ears.  I'm 48 years old.  Don't mess with my martini.  The bartender that served me this latest disaster didn't mean any harm.  She just wasn't concentrating.   She couldn't have been.  Why?  There was an ice cube.  I saw it.  I crunched it with my teeth.  An ice cube in my martini.  That's like having Richard Simmons at your breakfast table.  It's horrifying. And very, very sad. That, and the fact that the martini tasted like it had been sitting in the bottom of a rusted bucket for a day...but those poor olives.  They had come so far, and then, in their moment of glory, they find only defeat.  I ate them quickly to put them out of their misery.  I heard them scream...

It's tempting to tell you the name of the bar...but instead, I'll tell you where you can get a martini that will change your life:

"Batifole,"  744 Gerrard Street East, in Toronto.

Go there.

Sit down.

The people there are brilliant.

Do this:  ask for a "Vesper."

A "Vesper," is the original James Bond martini.  It is made with an ounce of gin, an ounce of vodka, and a half ounce of Lillet Blanc.  Revel in the look of the drink.  Revel in the fact that you can feel your legs, because, shortly, you won't be able to.  It's best to make an evening of it.  Have some good friends join you.  Order from a menu full of the best food you will ever taste.  The evening will be "magnifique."  Why?  Because your drink, a very important drink, was made with love and attention.  Not like that other place.  That other place should be leveled and turned into a parking lot.

I'm sorry for the olives.  It wasn't their fault.  The Vesper had only a lemon peel in it; a lemon peel that was very, very happy and fulfilled.  
"Batifole."  C'etait absolument merveilleux.