Both guest blogger Paul Curran and I were both on a more comfortable Saturday schedule this week. So you lucky readers are back to the regular early Sunday start for his weekly Cuppa. Take it away, my Canadian friend.
Welcome to the weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today, and I’m happy to be here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the living room. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B have prepared a nice, comfy place for us so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather this morning is warm at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit with a few clouds (for those of you flying in). As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer. We have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership, and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been? Have a sweet – electronic sweets are all calorie free!
So, Happy Easter! I would be remiss if I didn’t wish everyone the very best on this important Christian holiday. We splurged on chocolate sweets this week in honor of the Easter holiday – so all you folks won’t have to watch with envy when your kids dig into their chocolate bunnies and such.
Well, Friday there was an occurrence that will happen only twice in my lifetime – my birthday, March 25, fell on Good Friday. Now 2016 and 2005 were the only two years in my life that occurred on. My good friend Steve brought over a classic square bottle of Jack Daniels (the 375 ml version was quite sufficient for two old geezers like us), and we sat and drank and solved all the problems of the world. It occurred to me that that iconic bottle had been present at a number of funny incidents in my lifetime and in stories told by my friends.
New York City Here We Come
It was mid-November and my good friend Elroy and I had turned in our temperature-controlled trailers for flat beds and we had started hauling Christmas trees from Nova Scotia to New York City. The hardest part of that job was finding the tree lots where we were to unload. Occasionally we unloaded at garden centers or large stores, but 90 percent of the trees went to unnamed tree lots that sprang up for the season in empty lots in the city without addresses and often without the knowledge of the locals. We were given directions with each load, but they were approximate at best, and, of course, there was no phone service and no business name at these temporary lots. My good friend Elroy was loaded for one such tree lot when he exited I-95 into the bowels of the Bronx. At the bottom of the ramp stood a liquor store with all the attending bars on the windows and garbage blowing down the sidewalk. Elroy made a note to drop by on the way out as he was an avid Jack Daniels fan and happened to be out.
Home of Jack Daniels
He followed the directions carefully and after 15 minutes found himself driving by the same liquor store without having seen a tree lot. Thinking he must have misread the directions, he continued on with another attempt to find the lot. When he came back in front of the liquor store a third time he realized his directions were wrong and so he stopped to see if the shop owner knew of the lot. Picking out a 40-ouncer of Jack Daniels, Elroy paid and then asked the owner if he knew of the tree lot. The store owner replied: “No, can’t say that I do, but it can’t be far. I just saw two of your trucks go by here.”
Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet?
Another time, I was laid over at our Maine office on a Friday night. I had arrived before closing but had to get some work done to my trailer that couldn’t be done until Saturday. I asked our accountant, Deborah, who was a very attractive single mom, if I could take her and her 4-year-old daughter out for supper. She agreed, so we actually picked up some food and a bottle of Jack Daniels on the way back to her place. After supper, her daughter went to bed and I poured Deborah and myself a drink of Jack. We were just friends at the time, but I was not above trying to impress her as I saw a glimmer of a possibility there. There was a wood stove in the living room and she said she had never used it. I loved a good fire so I decided to light it. I asked Deb if she had any newspapers to use to get it started but she did not. However, she said she had Kleenex in the bathroom garbage can and would get it. I went out to the shed to get kindling and wood that had already been stored there when she moved in.
When I returned, arms full, Deb had placed a bed of tissues in the bottom of the stove. Without checking, I just put in kindling and then a few logs. Checking to make sure the damper was open and there was good airflow, I lit the tissues and the fire roared to life. We sat back down, a little closer this time and sipped our Jack Daniels. Relaxed and watching the fire we were completely surprised when there came a huge explosion in the stove and ashes flew out and smoke started pouring into the room. The explosion caused both of us to startle so bad that we almost fell off the couch. We jumped up and stomped out the cinders burning on the floor and then she got some water to quench the remaining ones while I checked and found the damper closed. I opened it and the smoke began to clear.
When we had cleaned up and the fire was burning again, Deb asked if this was normal as she had never had a wood stove before. I assured her that it wasn’t and asked what had been in the garbage can besides tissue. She confessed that there had been an empty shaving cream can but she hadn’t thought it would make a difference. Sigh. There wasn’t much romantic atmosphere left but we did a good job on the JD and I got the local radio station that we were listening to to play Deb’s favorite – Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero.”
One night I was trucking along in a snow storm with whiteouts in Newfoundland when I saw one of our competition’s trucks upright down in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. I stopped to make sure he was OK as the trailer lights were all on and the tracks were fresh. I found him OK in the truck, which was running, and we checked out the scene with flashlights. He had apparently just gone off the road, but we found not even a scratch on the truck or trailer. The problem was that he was in a ditch so deep that the roof of the trailer was level with the road. I told him to forget a wrecker, that he would have to hire a crane in the morning to get him out without damage. He looked pretty depressed so I told him to wait a minute, and I went back to my truck and got a bottle of Jack Daniels I was saving for when I was empty and gave it to him, explaining that he was going to need it more than me. He brightened up considerably, thanked me profusely and retired to his cab where it was warm and he could enjoy the whiskey.
That’s about all we have room for this week folks, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation, and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great long weekend and a Happy Easter.