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I informed Gill recently that I was getting rid of my pressure cooker. “Oh, but you can’t, Ma! That’s how you make that stew of Grammy’s that we love.” Yes, such were the days when pressure cookers were nothing but innocent appliances, something to hold a family’s treasured memories. They spoke of canned tomatoes, peaches, and pickles. But, as I explained to Gill, the pressure cookers of her childhood have crossed over to the dark side.

And with Gill’s stressful career and hectic life, I often think of her as living in a ‘pressure cooker world’. An innocuous enough phrase. But all that innocence has gone.

Trust the terrorists to screw things up. Now, when you go into a store to buy the latest updated version of a pressure cooker, you have to be careful not to look suspicious lest you be slapped in handcuffs and taken to a dark room to be tort—, uh, interrogated. I feel particularly nervous on behalf of our local population since many of them are Old Order Mennonites. They wear long black outfits, black hats, and often speak in what appears to be a ‘foreign’ (read suspicious) language. It’s Pennsylvania Dutch, but I suppose it could be misconstrued as some Middle Eastern tongue…and hence, a symbol of trouble to overzealous authorities. That could mean they’re targets– the next group to be hauled off airplanes. Oh, they don’t use airplanes, you say? (Too much electricity involved.) Suspicious behaviour in itself! They do, however, use pressure cookers. But the thought of a Mennonite blowing anything but a potful of tomatoes up in her own kitchen is ludicrous. Still, such is the tension in our modern, civilized(?) world after the Boston Marathon bombings.

And, just when things were simmering down, the RCMP arrested two people in British Columbia on suspicion of being terrorists about to bomb the legislature in Victoria. Guess what they were going to use? Yup…It seems these losers are stoners (and not just the usual pot-smoking B.C. types), deadbeats unable to pay their rent and, if you believe the newspaper reports, bad housekeepers living in a stinky, dirty mess. And, according to their picture, CAT LOVERS! If that isn’t enough to convict them, I don’t know what is.

Of course this latest news made its way across the pond to Gill. “What is going on over there?” she questioned. “First it’s the mayor of Toronto smoking crack, then two mayors in Montreal resigning, the floods in Calgary, a plot to blow up Via rail,                        and now  a terrorist plot in B.C.? Will there still be a country left when I arrive home? And this business with Mark Carney leaving Canada to run the financial system here. Does he know something I don’t? I’m going to be seriously annoyed if something happens to screw up my holiday! Ma, you’d better get on it.”

“Well, the first thing I’m doing is throw out my pressure cooker,” I announced. “I could give it to the charity people who ask for donations every few weeks. But I’d hate for them to be put on a terrorist watchlist because of my donation.”

“Just pitch it into the garbage, Ma. Nobody will trace it to you in the dump.”

“Ha! You think not? I’ll have to wrap it carefully and disguise it by putting it in a large plastic bag. If I simply put it out, exposed, beside the recyclables, the garbage police will see it and come looking for me. Nope! Gone are the days when intimate items (boxes of condoms,personal lubricants, that breast enhancer cream bought online), too many empty booze bottles, are the embarrassing items at the curb. Now it’s a pressure cooker.”

“Maybe if you put it out on the curb before dawn, one of those neighbourhood ‘scavengers’ will find it before the garbage vigilantes. They’ll whisk it off and, again, not traceable to you.”

“Oh, I never thought of them! But what if THEY are terrorists, stalking the neighbourhood, looking for pressure cookers to do evil? There’s a guy in a big Ram truck. Looks a bit sketchy. Oh, and that little old Chinese man on his bike. Every week I see him weighed down with bags of stuff he’s collected. What if he’s really a closet terrorist? And who knows, maybe his bike is bugged, maybe CSIS is using him in a sting operation to catch sympathizers and potential co-conspirators!”

“Ma! You’ve been watching too much CNN again! It’s a bleeping pressure cooker and he’s an old Chinese guy just trying to make a buck. Lighten up!”

“I guess perhaps my imagination did run a little wild on me…but I still don’t want to be found with a hot pressure cooker in my possession. Maybe I can stick it in the garden and fill it with petunias. Nobody will suspect a thing!”