American Caravans

Cedar Point Bald Eagle

I can see Canada from my house. Actually it’s my wife’s cabin, but it sounds better that way. Canada is a little more than a mile away, across open water. About half as far is the international boundary. Crossing that boundary is no crime. Boats do it everyday, all day long. The two dueling coast guards only complain after someone has strayed too far across that boundary. Two shipping lanes straddle this boundary, up bound is in the US and down bound is in Canada. These lanes are plied all day and night by boats big and small, up to 1000’ long. You don’t want to be going the wrong way when one of those are about.

Yesterday, when we were on Cedar Point, we were even closer to Canada, maybe a hundred yards or so from the border. Once in the past the lake level was so low that except for the dredged shipping channels it seemed that you could almost walk to Canada, hopping from rock to rock. In the winter this would be even easier, once the lake froze over.

It used to be easy to travel to Canada. Any American with a credit card was always welcome there. In areas of the border with many islands on both sides, the border patrol had setup special pay phones at public docks, where one could self declare your entry. Then 9/11 occurred and everything began to change. First US customs turned nasty and then soon after Canadian customs began to reciprocate. Now with the Rona, Canada has all but closed its border with us. There is a loophole though that American caravans of RVs can exploit to gain entry to Canada, but still it is sad to see how far the mighty have fallen.

Speaking of the mighty fallen, Mister Red T Rodent Es-squirrel continues to outwit and torment us. He was about, but was laying relatively low. Making only enough noise to keep us on our toes. The rat trap snatched its fifth victim, but not Mr. Red. In frustration I went online to research my foe. Various reputable looking websites offered advice. One totally poo-poo the idea of ultrasonic rodent repellent devices. Another informed me that Red squirrels are the hardest to catch, because they stock their nest with a larder and so are less tempted by traps. Normally, squirrels vacate the attic when it gets warmer, but in more temperate climes could remain. Mostly they advised being subtle when trying to trap them, because once warned, they will become very wary of the trap. Well, too late for that now.

Good night Moon. Good night Zoom. Good night sense of impending doom. That’s all the news from Lake Woe-be-gone.

Back In The Saddle Again

Montreal Bicycling Poster

Montreal Bicycling Poster

I got back on the bike today. The mercury hit the sixties and I hit the road. This was my first bicycle ride of the year, but it certainly won’t be my last. It felt good to be back in the saddle again. There was a lot of debris on the road and Forest Park was not very crowded, but I didn’t mind. It felt like I was flying on my two-wheel chariot, as I sailed around the park. There is quite a bit of roadwork going on in the park. The Hi-Pointe entrance from Skinker and the two roads that lead from there to both of the zoo’s parking lots are under construction. Hopefully, the work will be done before this summer’s tourist season starts. When Anne got home from school, she wanted to go for a walk. We are trying to get ready for London, where we plan on doing a lot of walking. I’m feeling a little beat now.

Swedish Meatballs

Sombre Helmet with Horses, Donald Robertson, 1952

Sombre Helmet with Horses, Donald Robertson, 1952

Back in my Spartan days, when I was a student at Michigan State, my roommate Chandos, one of the real McCoy’s would from time-to-time have a hankering for Swedish meatballs. Fortunately, there was a whole smorgasbord from Sweden nearby. While, probably not rising to the standard of Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy balls, their balls were still pretty fine meatballs and were all you could eat. The real meat of this post is about a pair of Swedish meatball comedies. While, the photo is a not too subtle reference to my alma mater that I hope somehow fits.

The first Swedish comedy is “A Man Called Ove”, by Fredrik Backman. Ove is a curmudgeon, who likes to jab his finger at people he dislikes. He has staunch principles, a strict routine, and a very short fuse. People call him a bitter old man, but behind his cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. One morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale. All of which will change one cranky old man and the neighborhood to their very foundations. I’m currently listening to this book on tape. I’m about halfway through it. When I finish, I’ll likely revisit this subject again. Plus, Music Box Films has released a movie version of this story, by the same title. It is currently in theaters. Here is a link to the trailer on YouTube.

While searching YouTube for “Ove”, I came across another Music Box film, “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared”. It is available to stream through Amazon Prime. While, at least so far, “Ove” is both sweet and charming, “100 Year-Old Man” is a riot. After living a long and colorful life, Allan Karlsson finds himself stuck in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he leaps out a window and begins an amusing journey. You can think of Allan as the Swedish “Forest Gump”, because through the course of his life, he holds many different jobs, meets many famous people and manages to influence history. His journey gets a boost at its beginning, when a biker-gang member asks him to watch his suitcase, while the biker goes to the loo. Allan’s bus is leaving, so he walks off with this suitcase full of gangland money. Here is a link to the film’s YouTube trailer.