Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sounding Statues, Retired Speedos, and, Oh No!, Reruns

My wife and I have started packing for our 10-day Caribbean cruise. I have two medium size suitcases ready for all my needs. My wife will use the largest suitcase in the house as her carry-on. Beyond that she has decided that she may need to rent a 26-foot U-Haul truck.

Among my paltry requirements are three swimming trunks. Two of these are the baggy jams-style variety that I swore I would never wear. Even so, I will be packing my “007“ shorts, as I like to call them (after the one Sean Connery wore in Goldfinger). Unfortunately, I’ve had to retire my Speedo.

Back in Antler River, we had a house with a swimming pool and a hot tub. There isn’t room for any such extravagance in Minikin. Anyway, I used to always wear a Speedo in the pool or tub (if I wore anything at all). I have worn those baggy swim trunks in a hot tub. When the jets are on you get a bubble in your shorts that is so big it lifts your ass off the seat! Then you must push down on this gigantic mound of air and out it comes, “BALOOOP” as it breaks to the surface. Others who might be in the tub give you an annoyed look.

You explain, “It was just some air in my shorts.”
“Yeah, "air".That’s what we thought it was”, they complain.

Beans beans are good, say reports
Beans beans put "air" in your shorts
The more you "air", the better you feel
So eat beans at every meal.

As I was saying, I always wore a Speedo in our swimming pool. The first summer that we were able to enjoy our new home, we decided to see how deep the pool was. I volunteered to be the measuring stick, and so I submerged, clad in only a speedo and swim goggles, to the bottom of the pool. While standing in the deepest part, with my hand raised as high as I could get it, I couldn’t touch the surface of the water. I needed something else to extend my reach. We decided to try it again with the leaf skimmer (minus the pole). That did the trick as the skimmer broke the surface by a couple of inches. So now we just needed to measure this length.

As I stood on the surface, dripping wet, in my speedo, and with my goggles still on, I held the leaf skimmer up high and struck a Statue of Liberty-like pose. My wife now had the task of measuring me from toe to skimmer. She got to her knees with a tape measure. Just at that precise moment, the hydro meter-reader walked through the back yard gate. Unfazed, he just said hello, read the meter, and left.

It’s likely that he sees all kinds of things on his job. For all I know I may have been the third or fourth speedo-wearing, begoggled, Statue-of-Liberty-posing, leaf-skimmer-bearing, wife-on-her-knees-measuring man he had seen so far that day.

Incidentally, I believe that France initially used the Statue of Liberty as a sounding instrument to determine water depth in the Mediterranean. Once it became outdated for use in such measurements, it was given to the United States as a gift. The Americans decided to use it as a statue.

              A sounding device for very deep swimming pools

My days of donning a Speedo are done. So are my days of wondering how deep a swimming pool is. The other travelers on our cruise ship can thus relax.

I really am looking forward to this cruise. We’ve never been on one before and by all accounts we should enjoy it — especially the food.

Not that I am any kind of connoisseur. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been gobbling down dinner or lunch when I suddenly look over at my wife who’s picking away at her food.

“What’s the matter?” I’ll ask.
“Don’t you think it tastes and smells kind of funny?” she says.

At this point I’m usually halfway through the meal and am stuck with the dilemma of finishing it and risking a stomach ailment, or just cutting my losses and throwing the rest of it in the garbage (I usually just finish it).

Our dog ate very much like me. She would woof down her food so fast that she couldn't have tasted it. Quite often she’d choke on it.

I remember one instance when an insurance agent called our house around dinner time. I’d already started eating and so had our dog Jessie. Jessie was really going at it as my wife answered the phone (which was in the kitchen directly over the dog’s dinner bowl).

As the insurance agent was asking my wife if I was available, Jessie was making a god-awful racket with her meal; “CHOMP CHOMP... SMACK CHOKE CHOMP... HACK HOCK... CHOMP SNARF.... COUGH... SMACK SNORF... CHOKE HORK HOCK.... CAAWWWW... CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP... HACK...”

“I’m sorry”, says my wife to the insurance agent, “He can’t come to the phone right now. He’s eating his dinner.”

I think the fellow hung up in horror. I had to set up an appointment with him sometime, but I didn’t think I was going to get him to agree to a dinner meeting.

And speaking of insurance, I think it would be a prudential choice for me to check my wife’s reactions to the food on the cruise before I dig in.


The writing, editing, and research team here at Snow Shoveling In Canada will be away for the next 4 to 5 weeks for some much needed time off to recreate. And since we won't have an opportunity to compose any new legendary blog posts until after the vacation, we urge you to peruse once again these SSIC tours de force (or is it tour de forces? tour des force? whatever):

If you're interested in healthy food choices (and who isn't?), you might enjoy this post about the benefits of fruit in your diet.

Perhaps you're hoping to be a reporter for National Geographic. Then you might want to have a look at this post about a land mass peculiarity.

Oh, so you're a sports enthusiast! Read this post to learn about the latest college football bowl games.

Are you into travel? This post will help you get the most out of your next vacation to a warmer climate.

Here is a post for those who love the world of advertising and self-promotion.

Finally, for the science fiction fans there is this post about the potential dangers of a far too technologically advanced society.

Hopefully we'll have something new and fresh for you on our return (not that we've ever had anything new and fresh before. But we can always hope).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Supreme Leaders and Sagacious Sonneteers

”I have bad news about the supreme leader”
“Kim Jong-il?”
“Worse. Kim Jong dead.”

- Overheard on a train near Pyongyang December 17, 2011

Here are some excerpts from a news item I recently read about the late dictator of North Korea. I’ve interjected a few comments that should help clarify things.

“At around 17:30 on December 19, 2011, hundreds of magpies appeared from nowhere and hovered over a statue of President Kim Il Sung on Changdok School campus in Mangyongdae District, clattering as if they were telling him the sad news,” state news agency KCNA reported on Monday.

Personally I’ve never been able to hear a discernible difference between good-news magpie clattering and sad-news magpie clattering. I think in this case it could have been called either way. One thing is sure, those birds better not had done what birds usually do when they hover over a statue.

KCNA reported last week that a family of bears who usually hibernate through the fierce Korean winter had been seen lamenting Kim Jong-il’s death.

“The bears, believed to be a mother and cubs, were staying on the road, crying woefully,” it said.

It’s likely these bears were roused out of their hibernation to put on a show for the North Korean propagandists and that’s why they were in such a state of woe. The crying was real, the reason was an altogether different matter.

Mythmaking for Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, has already started. He is portrayed as the spitting image of his grandfather and has been dubbed the “genius of geniuses” in military affairs despite having no known military experience.   

By the way, is the expression spitting image or spit and image. I personally favor the latter, especially when describing these supreme leaders. But then again, I wouldn’t say they live up to any sort of image, so we’ll just leave it at spit.

Kim, who died in December aged 69 years after 17 years running the world’s most reclusive state, was reputed to be able to control the weather, as well as to have scored a miraculous 38 under par round of golf.

Controlling the weather I might believe, but shooting a 38 under par??? The magpies and bears may have been crying, but I’m sure there’s at least one Tiger who is laughing at that claim.

OK. Let’s get back down to earth. I mentioned in my last post that I joined Twitter, partially due to the fact that I have so much time on my hands. Well, I have more time than I thought. I also joined LiveJournal.

One feature I enjoy about LiveJournal is their “Writer’s Block” question of the day. Why they chose this name is anyone’s guess. It’s likely 99.9999 percent of the members of LiveJournal have no business calling themselves writers  — including yours truly.

Case in point, the members were recently asked to “write a poem or share one that you like”.

Obviously you don’t have to be much of a writer to just reproduce someone else’s poetry. Most of the members chose to do just that.

This was my submission:

Here is a poem for my journal
Of things winter-like and hibernal.
I’ll start off with snow,
Then of flowers that grow.
Hmmm. The end is more spring-like and vernal.  

Uh, yeah. Not my best work. But it was original and — since my ID on the site is snow_shoveler — snow suitable (ha ha. get it? snow suitable... suit... you know... snowsuit... forget it).

However, not all submissions to the daily question are total wastes of time. One clever fellow proffered this:

Hell? Really? It wouldn't be a "writer's block" if we could just pull some poetry out of our *****, would it?

It is extraordinary that we should find a work of such magnitude in this day and age, and on a site like LiveJournal no less!

Another wizardly wordsmith gave us the following:

Die in a fire you ******* ******

The asterisks are mine since this is a family blog.  Regardless, how this astute fellow ever came up with this poem is beyond belief.

So let me conclude by saying that although world politics may be in disarray, the world of arts and literature is apparently in good hands. You can easily see that the aforementioned poems are works of real geniuses.

Sorry Kim Jong-un.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Introducing @snow_shoveler

What wild, wacky, warm, winter weather we've witnessed!

This must be the January thaw. But aside from the storm that I wrote about in my last post, we haven't had much to thaw out from.

The welcomest sight that I ever saw
Is a December snow, with a January thaw.
The most welcome thing that I've ever seen
Is a Christmas that's white, and a New Year that's green.

Therefore, I'm still unable to chronicle any of my shoveling exploits thus far. However, I will carry on with my blog, writing about whatever comes to mind.

You know, many people have asked me, "What does it take to be a contributing writer for Snow Shoveling In Canada?"

The answer is simple: You must have the "ability" to write epic "poetry". As well, you must have an unusual sense of the usual. In addition, you must be able to spell words like rhinocerous, rhinoseros, rinho, rhinho, hippopatomus, hippo. Finally, you must be a male fifty-something resident of Minikin Ontario with too much time on his hands.

Because of the dearth of snow on the earth, I've had time to set up a Twitter account. Of course, tweeting is easier than blogging as I've related before.  That's not to say that tweeting isn't tricky. You  have such a short space in which to express yourself that you often run out of room and end up with posts like these:

Yesterday I heard the funniest joke of all time. A guy walks into a bar with a meerkat on a leash and a bandicoot on his shoulder. He says "

Perhaps I haven't got the hang of this tweeting just yet. Let's try this again. A guy walks into a bar with a meerkat on a leash and a bandi

For those who are looking for prosperity and wealth beyond your wildest imagination, here is a secret that you need to know. First, you must

I've discovered the meaning of life!!! Incredible!!!! It's so obvious, so easy. Listen up world, and be enlightened. The meaning of life is

You get the picture. 

Heed this advice:

If you have a craving to tweet,
Remember  keep words short and sweet.
Just write about stuff
That is trivial fluff
And you’ll join the Twitter elite.

So I'll leave you with this final tweet: When you find yourself down in the dumps and are in desperate need of a smile to brighten your day, remember these wise and wonderful words,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Holy Flying Boobies!

The daybreak air was clinquant with ice crystals. On this most brumal of mornings, I could hear the frozen surface crepitate underfoot as I traversed the hiemal landscape.

I’ve been to a lot these days.

Well, we have snow now! Lots of it. Streamers have been raging off Lake Huron threatening to pound poor little Minikin into white oblivion. The most recent storm was not unlike the blizzard that Good King Wenceslas and his sidekick Paige faced. You know, the one in the song that was so fierce it blew the feathers off birds:

Paige and Monarch forth they went, 
forth they went together,
Through the rude wind’s wild lament,
And the bittern feathers.

I received a book for Christmas which is all about birds and bird feeders. It’s quite fascinating. For instance, did you know that the scientific name for a downy woodpecker is picoides pubescens? The picoides part means woodpecker-like while the pubescens means downy.  Another bird of this genus, the grumpy old gray-haired woodpecker is known scientifically as picoides adultus.

Our bird feeders however have made for a miniature avian battleground. I haven’t seen this much fighting and pecking since Canadian Parliament was in session. And I’ve been busy filling up the damn feeder every second day to feed our famished feathered friends. Not only that, I've had to trudge through mounds of snow to please the little peckers.

Meanwhile fearless Minikinites like myself have been shoveling their little tushies off to keep driveways, walkways, and bird feeding arenas cleared. And if I don’t take it easy, I’ll have a hiemal hernia to deal with.

But like the droplets of icy lace that incessantly flutter down from the lowering skies, crazy news continues to descend upon us.

A recent item from nearby Woodstock tells the story about a wholesome 13-year-old boy who was sent home from his Catholic school for wearing a bracelet that says he adores gazongas. Actually, the bracelet says, “ I ♥ boobies”.

The bracelets are a promo for breast cancer awareness from the Keep A Breast organization.

I know when I was 13 years old, I was very much like this young shaver. I never gave a thought about female anatomy. All I was concerned with were social issues.

I remember I once wanted to wear a t-shirt to school in support of The Heart and Stroke Foundation. The shirt was emblazoned with an image of a large heart and the slogan "I have a big heart on!" But that was back in the '60s, so my idea was a little ahead of its time. The time is apparently ripe for it now. Are you listening out there you downy pubescent purveyors of charity and benevolence?

And now it is time for me to sign off; to fly away like the tufted titmice, or the red-breasted mergansers, or even — yes dear readers — the boobies.