3 Not Only Wise, But Security-Conscious, Men

On New Year’s Eve, the coffee shop that we usually go to near the office was closed.  Despite the impending festivities, it was a crazy busy day for Spouse and I, and at some point it became necessary to make a caffeine run.  I headed out the door, a little off the routes that I would habitually have occasion to pass along, and loaded up on Tim Horton’s steeped tea for Spouse and I, as well as a few other souls also unlucky enough to be in the office.

As I retraced my steps through the frigid December air, hands full of the supplies I had been sent to retrieve, I had passed by the City of Hamilton’s public nativity display in Gore Park.  As I’ve already said, it was a busy day and I had about six trillion other things on my mind;  I was in one of those mindsets that I get into when I have a lot of tasks to accomplish in a short period of time and I’m afraid of getting off schedule and causing complications further on down the line.  Single-minded, laden with cups of tea and timbits and striding purposefully back to work, I only half-noticed the display out of the corner of my eye. I had completely passed the display and was just stepping into the street when what I had seen scrambled up out of my subconscious and screamed at me to do a double-take.  I stopped, turned around and walked back and couldn’t stop laughing when my second look confirmed what my peripheral vision had told me was there.  As pressed for time as I was, and even though it was difficult to juggle about forty-five cups of tea while I fished my iPhone out of my pocket and got the camera app ready to go, I just had to take a picture:

Wide angle nativity
Nativity, Hamilton Style

Close-up view:

Closeup Nativity Warning
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3)

“…and in the darkness shineth
an everlasting light…”

Next step in Hamilton’s war against magi thieves?  Three words:  “booby-trapped Balthasar.”  Can’t be too careful with all that gold, frankincense and myrrh laying about.


Menagerie: Rogue Snake Department

Judging by the beret, this particular criminal must be French.

Let’s play a little game, shall we?  Why don’t you tell me what species of reptile you see coiled in the leaves in the picture below.  I should mention that the little cretin was, um, what’s the word, “rattling” his tail when discovered.   By “discovered”, of course, I mean “nearly trod upon” during a brief late-morning survey Spouse and I conducted of the western environs of Juniorvania;  tramping about in the brush is a lovely way to spend some time in the warm sun of a mid-November forenoon, cup of tea in hand – provided, of course, that one’s woodsy saunter is not interrupted by pestilential menaces and assorted blackguards of the animal kingdom intent on doing you in.    My perambulations seemed to disturb our most recently discovered visitor, as Spouse advises me that the vicious little scoundrel actually struck at my pant leg as I strode through his immediate vicinity, blissfully unaware of the potentially mortal threat currently attempting to assassinate me.

Let’s make an identification, you amateur herpatologists:  tell me what sort of a beast you think it was that made such a brazen attempt upon my life.   Take a close look at the markings.   Remember, if you will, the rattling of the tail;  it’s difficult to forget, I can assure you, for those who have had occasion to make the personal acquaintance of this little villainous bastard.   The taxonomic process ought to be a little less stressful for you to do in the comfort of your own presumably adder-free home than it was for me during my dangerous, death-defying afternoon stroll among the serpentine assassins concealed around the perimeter of Juniorvania with evil in their repitlian hearts.   It will be easier for you to summon up Google and tap-tap-tap a couple of keystrokes,  possibly noshing on a little snack, as you idly venture a guess about the identity of my would-be killer.

Things were considerably less serene here as we embarked upon the process, I can tell you.  It involved rather a lot more screaming than I suspect most professional biologists employ during the conduct of their work, which screaming was spiced with a liberal dose of anxious profanity.  Still, we managed to get the photo and avoid entirely a trip to hospital, so all’s well that end’s well I suppose.  Except of course that somehow, during the identification process, the pint-sized terrorist managed to flee the scene of the crime and remains at large, a fugitive from Juniorvanian justice.  No doubt the little miscreant is plotting his next murderous escapade, so visitors to these parts should consider security precautions and have an eye to the ground when travelling alone.

He may be small, but he's a criminal.
He may be small, but he's a criminal.
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If you look closely at the bottom of the picture, under the leaf in the middle, you can see the rattling thing on the end of the rattling thing.

Passive Aggressive Sign Language

Brantford Rona is No More_8531
Rona, as it used to was.

Not far from the friendly confines of Juniorvania, there used to be a Rona store.  Careful and attentive readers may remember this store making a cameo appearance in a home improvement saga related to the making of shelves from last year. I think I went in to that store the day I was looking for the melamine to finish up that shelving project and on two other occasions, both of which were on the same day:  it was the day I purchased some scrap cedar to make the rails on the side of our compost heap and the risers for the grass stairs that run alongside the largest of our gardens in the back.

Three visits on two days in the course of about fifteen months;  not very many visits at all, compared to the time Spouse and I have spent in the Lowe’s and even (shudder) Home Depot in that same time period, though both stores are much further away.  I guess if I was in to augury as it relates to home improvement centres, I would have given the matter some serious consideration and I would have likely come to the obvious conclusion (after ripping apart and examining the entrails of a shop vac and a mitre box) that the fact that I didn’t throw a lot of business the way of a store that was essentially in my backyard probably didn’t bode well for the survival of the place.

A couple of weeks ago, on one of our drives by the Rona, we noticed that it had indeed gone out of business.  Here’s a picture of the message left for the citizens of Brantford by the folks at the recently demised Rona:

Passive Aggressive Sign_8527
We didn't have a middle finger graphic, or we woulda posted THAT.

Closed. Thanks, Brantford! Way to go, citizens of the telephone city! If you heartless bastards could have found it in your cold, cold hearts to simply purchase a couple more board feet of pressure-treated lumber; if you could have managed to squeeze a single snow shovel into your annual basket of consumer good purchases; if you could have maybe managed to buy your paper towels here instead of at the 7-Eleven, you ridiculous hammerheads, we might not be boarding up the windows right now. Terrific. Thanks a fucking million!

I think that’s what the sign says. Maybe it’s just me.

Home Again, Home Again

 Spirit 7126
A Spirit Air Plane Touches Down - Not Ours.

Spouse and I have successfully returned to the tiny Kingdom of Juniorvania from our vacation in the sunny south .   The Popper and Prince Henry were pampered indeed over the last few days;  on this occasion, rather than bunking in at the five-star pet hotel run by my parents, the five-star came to them.  We are very grateful to my folks for agreeing to come inhabit the local landscape and care for our boys;  what a treat for all concerned (there was even dinner on the table for the weary travellers upon our return!)… 

I will write more tomorrow about the many events of our journey.  For now, in the interest of completeness, let me report, following up on the last post, that the “eagle” was in fact an osprey, that the alligators were obligingly available, and that the zebra – unfortunately – was a no-show.

Until tomorrow; it’s been a long day, up at 5:20 this morning and shambling through various airports, clutching a passport, sixteen boarding passes and my camera, which just wouldn’t fit in the carry on at the tail end of a fantastic vacation.

Gator_6656 adjusted
Mama Gator is Watching You
IMG_7085 adjusted
An Osprey Fishing Over the Pond Behind 16 Green
One Out of the Water Behind 16 Green 3478
What the Osprey Wanted

Too Bad The Sausages Don’t Just Grow on Trees

Not far from the borders of Juniorvania, the little village of St. George will be hosting its “Apple Fest” this weekend.  Locally, everyone is about as amped up about this as country folk get about anything.  The enthusiasm is charming, dare I say “quaint” (without meaning to be condescending in any way) to these eyes used to city-scale hype about city-type events.

It would seem that not all of the local zeal, however, produces sound policy-making.  There is a certain purveyor of meats not far from here that is advertising (on a sign in front of the store) “Apple Sausage $1”.  Now I’m not here to besmirch the good name of sausage generally, and I have nothing in particular against your common apple and it’s reputed physician-repelling properties (when applied in a quotidian manner);  neither can I argue with the price posted, which seems quite reasonable.  I have to wonder though, in all good conscience, whether it is appropriate to combine these two special goodnesses in the manner advertised.

Personalize This

Note to the dude on the 403 Eastbound today driving the ‘vette with the personalized plate that says “RAWPOWER”:  when I think about who might be moved to purchase such a plate for this particular vehicle, my thoughts keep coming back to a middle aged man whose penis is of less than average size, and who is wearing a toupee.  If that’s the image you’re going for – you got it.

Categorized as Sightings

Signs I Have Comically Misread (Part I)

The other day, as Spouse and I were returning home from work, we were driving along a portion of the Steel City roadways that consisted of a fairly abrupt and steep descent.  The road was dipping in this extreme fashion to permit passage beneath a rail bridge.  There was a diamond shaped sign showing a water-covered roadway and a caption that I read as follows: “Underpants subject to flooding.”

UnderPASS.   Not “underpants”.  UnderPASS.  Big difference.  That is all.

To Paris, for Hardware.

I know this is getting comical, but I just don’t have the time to post the Roughrider poetry contest winner tonight. With a little luck, an easterly crosswind and a downhill lie, I’ll get it posted tomorrow night.

In the meantime, I need to tell you about my trip to Paris today. Like most people, I went to Paris for hardware. In particular, I went to the Canadian Tire in Paris…

What’s that?

Oh. No, not that  Paris. Paris, Ontario. It’s really quite close by. You can also travel to Scotland and Dublin by car from here. It’s quite confusing.

Anyway, I brought my camera because Paris is actually quite charming, and I suspect quite photogenic; this gave me the perfect excuse to wander around and practise my newfound photography skillz while in the big city. On my trip there, I passed the following sign, which sign I have had to drive by every day for the last two weeks. Since my camera was in the car and on the seat next to me, I couldn’t resist clicking off a shot or two:

Now you would think that, being in the real estate business, a person might have occasion to come across the word “development” from time to time, and that – even if only by osmosis – a person might end up knowing how to spell it. At the very least, you would think that once you pounded in the stakes and nailed this puppy up, you might stand back, scratch your head a little and say, “Damn, something don’t seem right. Somebody get me a dictionary.” It’s kind of like being a baker and telling people you make “braid” for a living.

I am my father’s son. Like him, this butchering of the language grates on me and I can barely keep myself from crashing through the underbrush with a bucket of paint to start blotting out extraneous letters.

Maybe the Century 21 people are too busy being concerned about what the hell they’re going to call their company in 92 years when suddenly they (by virtue of their company’s name) are no longer the futuristic, robot-owning flying car pilots of the real-estate world and have become instead essentially Model-T enthusiasts with astonishingly ugly gold jackets. Deal with that developement!

Breaking News

JUNIORVANIA (AP) – Senior officials in the Juniorvanian Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Homeland Security tonight confirmed rumours running rampant in this tiny hillside country that the nation was nearly overrun earlier this evening by a hostile army of four-legged intruders bent on destroying the natural beauty of the homeland. The aliens in question have been thought to target in particular the attractive and apparently delicious euonymous plants scattered throughout the Juniorvanian countryside. Nervous residents have, in recent week, been cautiously eyeing the many unexplained footprints littered throughout the snow covering certain grasslands adjacent to the southern border.

An unidentified source within the Department of Homeland Security, speaking on condition of being given a free Payday bar, confirmed that as many as fifteen to twenty unidentified intruders (pictured below) roamed across the lands immediately adjacent Two Deer in Back Yardto Juniorvanian borders at approximately 7:05 p.m., right around the washing up after dinner hour. In an official statement released shortly after 10 p.m., the Glorious Leadership pointed out that these obviously aggresive interlopers were quickly spotted by an alert lookout posted and trained to deal with just such a threat to national security, and that appropriate steps were immediately taken to diffuse the threat, though the local authorities declined to specify what actions in particular were deemed necessary. Although critics of government policy point out that the beasts in question appear to be harmlessly grazing on vegetable matter in the available photographs, official-looking people with expensive suits and a very busy demeanour dismissed these criticisms as helpful to the enemy and possibly treasonous. “That’s helpful to the enemy – and possibly treasonous” said Juan Gohoam, a spokesman for the Glorious Leadership and part-time cobbler. Nevertheless, anti-government sources speculate that the action plan set in motion upon receipt of the alert included opening a window and watching in quiet wonderment until the terrible beasts became bored of looking at the crazy people hanging out of an open window in the middle of winter and simply moved along.

Mr. U.R. Kidd-Enmie, Chief Padishah of the Department of Homeland Security, took the opportunity to remind Juniorvanians everywhere that although there was Deer in Back Fieldno need to panic, it certainly couldn’t hurt in the least to do so, as that would make it far easier for the government to justify the ridiculous expenditures on “security and defence related” planned by government as part of the upcoming budgetary process. “Tonight, these strange creatures spared us the intense pain of a gentle gnawing that only complete herbivores can inflict ,” he said, “but we might not be so lucky next time. We might be mistaken for a bucket of ferns, for example, or it might be rampaging dinosaurs or berserker robots that appear from within the adjacent woods.” Citizens, however, were reminded to panic an orderly and respectful manner, only in the approved and pre-designated areas, and were asked to refrain from generating any unnecessary noise, litter or unsolicited opinions. Also, the government reminded would-be panickers to refrain from breaking any of the really nice stuff we might like to use in the future, and suggested instead that civil disobedience and abject fear of extinction might best be expressed in the form of an interpretive dance or haiku.

Juniorvanian defence forces – consisting at this time largely of a fifteen year old one-eyed dog with no tail and a profound desire to make friends – remained on alert level fuchsia for most of the evening, except when yummy cookies were distributed on the living room floor, and when American Idol was on because that’s prime snoozle time.

Government officials would not comment on suggestions that tonight’s encounter was related in any way to weekend sightings of numerous winged creatures within the borders of theCardinal in the Tree country. Some commentators have suggested that the small flying intruders noted recently by many citizens may act as spies and informants for their larger mammalian masters; the Science Ministry, however, is reputed to be too busy looking up the meaning of the word “herbivore” to be able to respond meaningfully to such inquiries at this time.