Monthly Archives: August 2019

Ride Along

1. The pony was shaggy, overworked thing, all knobby knees and sagging skin. And even though it was still nursing its tiny foal, they saddled it up and give me the reins. The baby followed us, tying to keep pace with its mother so it could nurse, while the guide, a terse man with thin lips, pulled us along atop his own stead, a horse and not a pony. It was wide-eyed and better fed then its companions – that’s about all I can say about the horse. The pony tried to stop to fed the foal. I didn’t mind, but the man sure did.

 

2. The elephant ride happened a few years before the pony, at a circus that came to town once a year. At the end of the show, once the lions had been wrangled back into the their cages and the clowns, mercifully, exited the stage, parents lined up with their children, and for a small fee, bought them a seat on the elephant’s back. The “saddle,” such as it was, was more like a playpen, capable of carrying about a dozen evenly-sized kids at a time. We were then taken around the perimeter of big top. We went around and around and around, then stopped and disembarked.

I cannot say the elephant enjoyed giving rides for a living. It also did tricks – balancing on its front legs, sitting only on its hind legs, trunk curled high in the air waving a baton (the secret of tricks: the more antithetical to the nature of the beast the more impressive the trick). Elephants must earn their keep at the circus. As for me, I remember staring intently at its cracked grey skin, at the coarse black hair growing there, sticking out in all directions, something you don’t ever see in cartoons or storybooks depicting elephants. Something I did not know was even possible before that day, but which I’m sure I could have easily looked up in a book.

 

3. A friend decided to surprise me with a camel ride at the zoo, buying the ticket while I roamed elsewhere, unawares. There was no line and few people out that day. It was nearing the end of summer, the beginning of their off-season. The camel seemed annoyed at having to work on such a light day, but it dutifully carried me along a well-marked path, its keeper guiding it using a halter attached to its head. It was a Bactrian – two humps, not one. My friend took our picture: it is of me giving her the finger as I ride the camel. This was all after the elephant, years and years. I didn’t say anything during the ride, not to the camel and certainly not to its keeper. Our relationship was strictly transactional.

***

Bactrian camels live up to 50 years in the wild, and between 20-40 years in captivity. So it is likely the camel at the zoo is still alive. Elephants live up to 20 years in captivity, and anywhere between 60-70 years in the wild. There are no more elephants in zoos in Canada and elephants have been banned from circuses (or rather, circuses have been banned from using elephants). I doubt the elephant I rode is dead, and I hope it went somewhere that was more in line with the dignity of elephants. The pony is surely dead.

That any one of these creatures allows us to ride on their backs seems preposterous, perhaps because it is.

It just is.

***

While on vacation one year we stopped at an unnamed tourist trap offering ostrich rides. Living, breathing ostriches, $20 bucks (American) a ride. Speaking of the preposterous, and not forgetting too the sheer lunacy to be found out there, literally anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Birds, Childhood, Places, THE PAST

Bowlerama

There’s a bowling alley in a strip mall near my house.

Or at least there was.

The strip mall is no longer. It has been devoured by a colossal hole, which will serve as the foundation for a new building. By its scale and scope (not to mention depth), the size of the work crew and the recently mounted cranes now there, I’m guessing an office building or (more likely) a condo.

Lots of condos in this city.

I haven’t done much bowling in my life. A few get-togethers with friends, a birthday party or two. A school trip once – a reward for good behaviour and nice (but not spectacular) grades. Five pins and ten; big balls and small.

I never went to the strip mall, let alone the bowling alley in the strip mall. The street was always seemed too busy to cross, and the strip mall didn’t have a convenience store or coffee place or restaurant. Nothing to entice someone out, say, for a mid-day stroll.

But I always liked the idea of having a bowling alley near me and that it was in the strip mall (a rather odd though innocuous thing to have in the neighbourhood, and therefore not without its own charm), and, admiring it from afar, I thought I might go someday. The hole reminded me of all that and confronted me with the fact that it’s too late for any of it.

Come to think of it, I actually never really ever enjoyed bowling, good grades or no. The lighting, the sound of constant thudding. Those shoes… Not that I begrudge anyone those things. Besides, not liking something is not the same as hating it. Nice enough, but not spectacular. Good to think on.

Then again. My friend lived in a condo that had a bowling alley as one of its amenities. The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe it’s not too late after all.

This is probably the most time I’ve ever spent talking about bowling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, City Life, Entertainment, Friends, Hobbies, Places

Good Fishy Fish (in a can)

In a recent post I’ve realized that I came down rather hard on sardines. Actually, sardines are quite delicious. They are not just fish in a can.

 

So listen, I never do this, but you’ll need:

  1. A largish or smallish onion (red or yellow or white). It should remind you of a fist cupped doggedly in the hand of a steady and determined foe. Shallots will work too, in a pinch, but they should be gob-sized. Gobs of shallots, then, would be wise.
  2. Your tolerance level of red Thai chilli peppers. I recommend a smattering. A smattering is good. Yes.
  3. One can of sardines in tomato sauce. Note the brand for later. There are lots, so many out there to choose from, so please do also keep that in mind. Too many really. A ridiculous amount.
  4. Leftover rice, a good lunch portion of it (i.e. enough to fit comfortably in the a child’s sun hat or mid-size catcher’s mitt).
  5. Like, some oil (read: cooking). Anything else is between you and your god. Between you and infinity.
  6. Salt and pepper (but not really, you can skip this if you want).

Then:

STEP 1: Prime stovetop to medium heat. Spill a bit of oil into to a shallow pot or pan. If necessary, deploy gumption. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add red Thai chillies, sliced dramatically. Enhance with salt and pepper (or not).

STEP 2: Empty can of sardines in tomato sauce into pan. Reduce heat. Simmer till onion and sardine and sauce enter into an exquisite union wherein the parts do and do not make up the whole. A dance, really, and a rather intricate one at that, something at the level of a tango or Polonaise. You’ll know it when you see it, probably. You’ll feel it before you know it. Trust.

STEP 3: Drape over rice and make sure to tuck it in at the corners before it’s too late. Remember to use leftover rice so that there is that feeling of extra accomplishment.

 

There. That’s it. You’re done! Now try it and see. Hope you like it.

Don’t like it? That’s fine because it wasn’t like I was really asking, was it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Food

And Now (And in No Particular Order) A List of Good Words*

  • Splendid
  • Redolent
  • Peccadillo
  • Ornery
  • Flotsam
  • Crux
  • Dire
  • Rot
  • Nasty
  • Jazz
  • Pluck
  • Gumption
  • Crotch
  • Sultry
  • Cracked
  • Unrepentant
  • Pit
  • Moist
  • Bum
  • Despondent
  • Junk
  • Thingy
  • Bold
  • Sallow
  • Exuberant
  • Rancid
  • Dick
  • Grotesque

 

                                                    – Etc.

 

 

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*Please use at will and with or without restraint.^

^Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Language, Words