O.K. Baumer

Orville Baumer was about my same age when I met him in grade school. We went to the 5th grade in Riondel and lived not too far apart. We also joined the Cub Scouts that same year, though Orville was a lot better at doing the badges than ever I was. I can only recall getting two in all my time – one for cooking and one for woodcraft. Orv got semaphore and shelter building and a lot more. He went on to Boy Scouts as well.

Orville was a home soul – he stayed in the town long after I had moved away. Went to high school there and eventually graduated a year ahead of me; I had dropped back a year through moving to Australia. He also stayed in the province for his university time, and got out faster with his degree than I did down here.

Orville had girlfriends in high school and university. A lot more than I did. He married a little earlier, though maybe that was a mistake – he ended up with a divorce from that first marriage. Thankfully, his second has worked out well, and he’ll be well into his thirty-some anniversaries.

Orville does like I do – keeps his cars until they are about 13 years old before trading them in. He never buys big ones – always just little sedans. He’s only taken two overseas holidays in his life. He lives in a regular house with the average amount of old furniture, cranky pets, and unsuccessful grass.

But Orv is different from me in one important respect. When tasked by some unknown  teenager with being responsible for all the ills of the world, Orville cringes and apologises. He says he is sorry for whatever the kid complains about and promises to do better. Orville bows his head in shame for owning his own little house and car, eating regularly, and minding his own business. Orville shys away from the internet groups and protest demonstrations and people who complain in malls.

Orville would never tell a work-shy, over-age, quasi-student who plays the welfare system like a xylophone for money, opiates, and sympathy that they are a public pest. He’d never call them pinko parish parasites. He’d never tell them to stuff their puerile secondhand manifesto where the sun don’t shine.

In many respects, Orville Kitchener Baumer is an admirably civilised person. I really should try to emulate him. One day. I’ll let you know which day I choose.

Oh, Candida

In honour of the Dominion Day a’coming, I have written a little song that can be played and sung at school assemblies. It is perfectly suitable for Edmonton and Ottawa.

Oh, Candida


Oh, Candida, the home of native scams.

True, reasonably patriotic love, if that’s not too strong a word, in all our non-gender specific citizens command. Well, not command as such, but suggest, eh?

With glowing bongs we see thee rise, Trudeau’s North stoned and twee.

From far and wide, we stand aside, we stand aside for thee. Sorry.

God keep us all, even Quebec…

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.




Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?

Detroit 56


The paint job and licence plate of this car at Gillam Drive this year set up a train of surprising echoes in my memory – ’56 was one of those years.

It was the year my dad set a world record. It was the year he cheated death. It was the year I got beaten at school. It was the year his business failed. It was the year we saw Detroit.

The world record was for the deepest fresh-water dredging operation. The fact that it was nearly impossible to do led to the business failure. The fact that my father decided to leave his former employment and pursue it meant that he was not aboard a Trans Canada Airlines DC – 6 when it hit the side of a mountain in British Columbia – his successor in that job was…


The school beating was from the principal, for the crime of talking in line. It was the only instance of corporal punishment in all my cschool career, though I was beaten up many times on the playground. The officious unfairness of it still rankles, though it pales into insignificance compared to the sort of abuse Australian high school teachers in the 1960’s regularly got away with.


The Detroit visit – after the business failure – was as part of a relocation to Montreal for new employment. We went on a guided tour of parts of the Ford Motor Company plant and were shown rolling mills, casting shops, and assembly lines. I could not admire the rolling mills enough. Detroit was , indeed, Motor City.


Okay – the other memory evoked by the ’56 Chevy you see here involved the colour. That is a scheme favoured in the mid-50’s for many things…and it was the exact shade of pink*and black that our bathroom was. I often think that it influenced us here at home when we chose the tiles for the bathroom and laundry, though we stuck to pink alone and avoided black. If I were to rebuild I think I would bring the black back…


Please note the details: the custom tail-lights and fin extensions, the pinstriping and graphics, The extremely neat – very stock – interior, and the six-cylinder engine. Proof that not all cool customs need to have enormous V-8’s sandwiched into their engine bays and that effective rodding does not need to chrome everything in sight or poke pipes out through the bonnet.


Many thanks to the owner for opening the passenger’s side door for a clear interior shot. This is always a welcome thing for a reporter.

* Mamie Eisenhower liked pink, and it was therefore fashionable.


Dogwashing For the New Age


The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has always encouraged new industries. We feel that an active interest in capital growth is the best way to bring young people ahead – that and a good shooting war in someone else’s country that they can participate in on a contract basis.

Here in Australia, scientists have brought to our attention the need to conserve water and energy, and have pointed out the millions of gallons of fresh water that are wasted every year in cleaning cars, boats, dogs, and vagrants. The Guild has a plan to cut this waste. We have invested in water cannon trucks left over from the East German Political Police Service and are bringing them to Australia.

These trucks –  1989 Feldröhr 3000 SKV vehicles – are fitted with Skoda hydraulic cannon and pumps capable of pushing out 3000 psi streams of icy water that can travel up to 80 metres. They are fitted with a separate water trailer in some cases. Up until now they have been in demand in the Canadian goldfields as mobile hydraulic monitors to wash hillsides down into gold sluices. Unfortunately the British Columbia Department Of Ecology has ruled that they are too destructive to be used on rock faces or pine forests and so they have been offered to the Guild.

The new service – to be branded Guildy As Charged – will be available through the suburbs on a call-up basis. You merely phone in, give credit card details, and tell us what you want washed and where. The Feldröhr turns the corner in your street, the operator puts the muddy dog, child, or Hyundai in the laser sight and opens the valve. Most cleaning takes place in under 5 seconds and in many cases no windows are broken. Soap is unnecessary, and isn’t that good news for the environment.

For those objects that may be badly affected by water, the Guild will reserve one vehicle for use with a tank of xylene monoacetyte biphenolic acid which has been shown to dissolve even the toughest stain. In some cases through armour plate.

Remember – if it’s not clean it’s not safe…call the Guild today and rest in peace.

The Gang Of Three


Here  he is, the third member of the gang – Baby Bear. The only one of my stuffed toys that ever possessed a pair of pyjamas.

No, I don’t know why, and no, I don’t know what happened to them. I prefer to think he lost them in the bedroom of a courtesan when the police raided the place.

He is small, and that means he has piloted more model airplanes than his companions, the monkey and the dog. He is articulated, so he sits and stands equally well. He can lift his arms, and does not small bad when he does so. A distinct social advantage which I do not share.

Whence? No idea. When? About 1955. A constant companion since.

Current position? Front-bear for my profile on Facebook. He is furry enough to engage the hearts of the viewers without being explicit enough to give my game away. A perfect co-conspirator.

Bear with me…

The Traditional Garb Of My People


Having noticed the recent critical complaints being flung out over cultural appropriation, and remembering my own shameful episode in the 1990’s when I draped myself in someone else’s colours, I decided to look carefully at my situation and correct any errors. I refuse to be politically correct, but I can be personally correct.

The primary thought was to refrain from aping any other cultures, religions, or people. This is a negative thing, but at least one can be specific whilst doing it. No longer will I appear in public as a Catholic monk, or a Scotsman. I shall not appear in a Jackie Howe, or a Hello Kitty kimono. Even the Halloween scarecrow costume will go, though I must say that I am not unhappy to lose it – it itched.

But the tougher part is to actually identify what I can wear in the future if I am to stay within cultural lines. And the first question to address is: What exactly is my culture – where am I now and from whence did I come? To answer this, I need to consider the consideration I raised a couple of posts ago…the business of the ” old country “.

I have decided to leave the European and middle eastern countries to themselves…I suppose they are ancestral but I have no contact with those ancestors save chromosomes. So I need not look there for the garb of my people.

It becomes a little more apposite when I consider the clothing worn by my parents and myself when I was younger. Personal memory of what a person of a certain age should be dressed like is still strong, and can be remarkably persuasive. When I was young, the men of my tribe wore khaki work pants and shirts when on outside job sites. In an office they wore suits or sports coats. At home there might be a sports coat but frequently it was exchanged for a sweater or pullover. Pants were broadcloth or wool and cut generously – little denim was worn as this was the additional garb of a different tribe – the farmers.

Likewise, the people of our tribe were not bowlers – so loud polyester shirts would have been seen as an aberration. No-one past high school or college would wear a blazer or sweater with numbers or letters. Blazers with piping and crests on pockets were only seen in illustrations or motion pictures and no-one took them seriously. Sandals were reserved for the beach or back yard.

Shirts in the summer might be referred to as short sleeve sports shirts, but they never betrayed the name of a sports team or the manufacturer. Stripes, perhaps, or a check pattern. Wool plaid shirts for colder times were standard, as were tee shirts worn as underwear. Tee shirts with logos were reserved for a child’s souvenir of Disneyland or a television hero – no grown man would imagine himself in one.

Ex-military garb was unknown except as camouflage in duck season and even there I doubt it fooled the ducks.

Men wore hats. These had style in most cases and practicality was always present – the ludicrous small straw brim pork pie hat was an affectation for Miami – Westerners knew that you either had sun, rain, or cold to deal with. An adult could only wear a cowboy hat if they were actually herding cattle or if it was Calgary Stampede time.

Shoes were leather, brown or black as the outfit required, and Oxford style. No ludicrous Italian toes. No Spanish heels. Work boots stayed at work until they were destroyed, and hunting boots actually kept your feet from freezing. The only rubber sole canvas shoes were on the feet of basketball players and little kids.

So….where does this leave an adult in 2016? It means that he need not and probably cannot shop at Big W or Target or Jeans West or any other cheap store. He needs must go to a better shop for formal wear – a suit or sports coat and trousers – or to a workplace outfitter for khaki shirts and pants. In any case a surplus store or workplace outfitter will be his preferred shoe shop, but there is still a core of decent leather in the Florsheim store. R.M Williams and specialty hatters still can cover his head decently.

The real problem is to find tee shirts and regular shirts that suit an adult. No logos, no signage, no odd shapes or cut. Sometimes one can trail through an entire shopping centre and come up with nothing. In many cases the Op Shop starts to look good.

In my case, the wardrobe – the back reaches – is going to be the preferred prospecting ground. My people do have traditional garb and I’ve got a lot of it. – I just need to realise that it is as valid a costume as anything that the foreign market might suggest.