The Barbarian Hoard

I have a guilty secret. Well, I actually have more than one, but this is the only one I’m willing to share online, at least currently. I have, in the past, made certain revelations on this site about things I’ve done that hitherto had been unknown to my family, like the time I buried Ken’s slippers in the garden in retaliation for his refusal to move them from the basement stairs (they were a TRIPPING HAZARD, KEN), or my attempt to put Kate’s beta fish, suffering from beta bloat disease, out of its misery by pouring a bottle of absinthe into its tank:

Kate: You killed my fish and I find out ON YOUR BLOG?!
Me: He was really sick! I didn’t want him to suffer. Besides I told you about it at the time.
Kate: I was five! What else have you murdered?

But this time I’m not destroying anyone’s blissful ignorance. No, this secret is more like a guilty pleasure, and it’s the fact that I’m obsessed with the show Hoarders. You know the one I mean—a group of “hoarding experts and organizers” descend upon the home of someone who has been deemed a hoarder in order to simultaneously cure them of their disorder and make their house livable again. There are thirteen seasons of this American show, but because I’m Canadian, I can only watch when the American specialty channels are having a free preview month. But even then, it’s all just the early seasons of rerun—I can easily recite right along with one of the…are they contestants?… participants?..: “I wouldn’t classify myself as a hoarder; I would consider myself more of a saver, a rescuer of things”, and then I yell back at the TV screen, “Nobody wants your garbage bag of dirty diapers, LINDA!” So last week, in a fit of both pique at having to watch the same Wife Swap commercial for the one thousandth time on Paramount (leave the goddamn cat alone, KEISHA!), I broke down and bought Season 13 of Hoarders on Apple TV. And I was in my glory.

But why do you watch Hoarders? I hear you asking. A) Don’t you have OCD? B) Isn’t this show extremely stressful for you? And the answer to those questions is A) Yes, I do and B) No, it’s not. Because the best part about Hoarders is at the end, when they get rid of all the stuff, clean the house, and then present it to the hoarder, who goes through and cries about how beautiful and spacious it is. And the rugs are all symmetrical and the table is set with all the corners perfectly perpendicular, and it’s such an amazing payoff at the end. It’s almost enough to make me want to become a professional organizer myself. But the thing about Season 13, and the reason I know I’d be terrible for someone who has hoarding disorder, is that Season 13 features several people who’ve hoarded some very nice things, unlike the mounds of trash, dirty diapers, dead animals, and moldy clothing that have been the mainstay of other seasons. I lay there night after night, watching antiques and paintings going into dumpsters and it’s awful. Can you just imagine me, with my antique booth and 47 clocks that don’t work, trying to help someone with hoarding disorder?

Dr. Zasio: Okay Diane, I’m so happy to see you letting go of all this furniture.
Me (whispers): That’s a mid-century Eames chair, Diane. I’d keep that if I were you. And why are you throwing away all those picture frames? Put some chalk paint on those bad boys and frame old quilt squares with them—ooh, a mantle clock!!
Diane: I want all my sh*t back!!

Yep, I’d be awful at any job that required me to watch perfectly good stuff go into a junk truck. In fact, big junk day is where I GET my perfectly good stuff. But then again, I’m highly motivated to get things, fix them up, and actually resell them because if I don’t, I get accused of being a hoarder myself:

Ken: Another clock? You’re a hoarder!
Me: It’s a really nice clock. Besides, I’d only be a hoarder if I had a closet full of broken clocks that I never looked at but couldn’t bring myself to throw away. Speaking of closets full of crap you never look at and won’t throw away, how’s the closet in your office? Still full of magazines from 1988?
Ken: I just found this really nice clock online that you might like!

I guess there’s a fine line between being a collector and being a hoarder. Either way, I’m pretty sure who the hoarder is at MY house:

My office (there are five clocks that don’t work in here, and one that does)
Ken’s Office (only one clock)

Smoke And Mirrors

I have a mystery. An enigma so profound that I’ve puzzled and puzzled ‘till my puzzler was sore, and I still have no idea what’s happening. At the end of November, I went into my bathroom as one does, and I was immediately struck by the sight of a scorch mark in the wooden frame and gold surround of my vanity mirror. The frame itself is over 100 years old, and we had a mirror cut just for it. It’s very nice, and I have one right beside it that matches it, so I was understandably upset when I saw the unexpected damage:

Me: Ken! Come here! What on earth is this?
Ken: It looks like something burned your mirror. How long has it been like that?
Me: Since now. It wasn’t like that last night.
Ken: Weird. Probably the sunlight reflected off that magnifying make-up mirror on the counter, and the concentration of light and heat set it on fire.
Me: This isn’t Gilligan’s Island, KEN!

And while I understand that Ken and I grew up in an era where television shows prepared us for a lot more coconut-powered appliances, quicksand, and campfires created with simple sunlight and a magnifying glass than we actually ever encountered in adulthood, the truth is that there’s no way that the sun, crossing the sky and whatnot, could have possibly been concentrated enough and accurate enough to burn my mirror frame. For a few days, I entered the bathroom with a certain amount of trepidation, glancing at the mirror skeptically (and suspiciously), convinced that there were other forces at work. But after a certain amount of time, I got used to the scorch mark and was actually able to ignore it. Until Tuesday morning. I got out of bed and went into the bathroom to get ready for work and THERE WAS ANOTHER SCORCH MARK. The new mark was about an inch to the left of the first one, and when I saw it, I felt faint. Then I did what any normal person would do—I called for Ken:

Me: There’s another burn mark!
Ken: It’s your make-up mirror.
Me: That’s impossible, PROFESSOR. Go call someone with your coconut.

And I was freaking out just a little, but then I did some research on the internet and discovered to my horror, and disappointment, that my house isn’t haunted by a pyrotechnic ghost but that concave makeup mirrors can actually cause fires when the sun reflects off them, and that I had dodged what could have been a very serious bullet/fire. Apparently, the chances of this occurring are extremely remote but it’s happened in both Leeds, England involving a shaving mirror and in Toronto, where a concave mirror caused a serious blaze. And in 2015, the London Fire Brigade issued a warning to homeowners to keep all glass objects away from windows, including mirrors, crystal, glass paperweights and more, after it responded to 125 fires in the previous five years, all caused by the sun’s rays, and when I read this, I immediately put my make-up mirror inside the vanity cupboard unless I needed it. Mystery solved, right? But then yesterday, I went into the bathroom and instead of a scorch mark, the words REDRUM were written on my mirror in lip gloss….

Not The Sharpest Tool In The Shed Quiz

It’s been a weird week—or at least weirder than normal. On the upside, I discovered that my last novel The Seventh Devil was part of a list of best spooky reads that appeared in October on a well-known book review website, and I didn’t even know about it, so that was cool. And my publisher likes the sample chapters I sent him for the sequel, The Devil You Know, so I have incentive to keep writing. On the other hand though, I’ve been plagued by intensely specific dreams about my new antique business, particularly one in which I was at Staples trying to buy supplies to frame pictures of old book pages from Alice In Wonderland with black silhouettes of rabbits superimposed on them. At one point, the salesperson and Ken began having a conversation about them working together on a different project while I used the photocopier and compared prices on fancy price tags. It’s exhausting—I mean, if I have to work all night as well as all day, what the hell is the point of being retired? And speaking of working, I had a disturbing incident in which a feverish coworker who’s a rabid anti-vaxxer/anti-masker came right up in my face on Monday to tell me that he was sick and needed to sign out. Apparently he’s been sick for days with all the symptoms of COVID, but he refused to get tested because he doesn’t believe that COVID is real. Needless to say, I was a little upset. Luckily, I was double masked and triple vaccinated. My best friend was able to get me a rapid test and thankfully, I was negative. In addition, I saw this magazine on the newsstand dated January 10th.

Did no one tell them? Was her death a secret? And while I admire the mid-December optimism, I really think they should have pulled the copies, or at least changed the cover once the lovely Betty White had passed away on December 31. But I did manage to find some amusement this week, especially after seeing the following ad for a set of axes:

So now I have a mydangblog Tool Quiz for you, in the same vein as the ad for Three Wood Choppers:

a) Dirt Tosser

b) Hitty Thing

c) Marathon Man

d) Ho

e) Stabby Bastard

f) You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

g) Reverse Autumnal Vacuum

h) No. Just No.

i) How Did I Cut The Cord On This Thing WITH This Thing AGAIN?! Goddammit.

j) The One With The Square End

Bonus: Biggest F*cking Tool In The World

Here are the answer choices. Try to match them and see how well you do!

1) Exacto Knife

2) Robertson Screwdriver

3) Hoe

4) Hedge Trimmer

5) Staple Gun/Nail Gun/Red Ryder BB Gun

6) Shovel

7) Table Saw That Ken Removed The Safety Guard From

8) Hammer

9) Drill

10) Leaf Blower

Bonus: The Guy Who Breathed His COVID Germs In My Face

Correct Answers: A6, B8, C9, D3, E1, F5, G10, H7, I4, J2. Bonus: Yeah, that assh*le.

I hope you were able to get them all correct. Remember, there are a lot of tools out there and it’s important to know them when you see them!

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

It’s been a crazy week, as Ken and I shifted all our stock from the antique market where we’ve been for a year to the one where I now work. I really liked the other place but after working at the new place for a month, I realized how much easier it would be if I didn’t have to drive quite so far and could have a booth in a place I was going to three days a week anyway. So we spent most of the week packing up, bringing stuff home, putting new price tags on everything and then taking it all to our new space. I haven’t had a lot of time for writing or even thinking about writing, so in honour of antiques, here’s a throwback…

One Saturday morning, Ken said to me, “Hey, let’s go to the Christie Antique Show.” I did what I always do and immediately said, “Yes! Let’s do that.” Then I did the next thing I always do and immediately had second thoughts and regrets, especially after looking on the website which said that there were free shuttle buses from the parking lot to the show site. All I could think of was the line-up to get into the parking lot, the line-up to get on the bus, and the obvious huge crowds of people that would be there. So I said, “Maybe let’s not go after all,” but Ken was insistent, even when I was all sad and whiny and like, “I don’t wanna go to the antique show. Don’t make me go to the antique show,” but he made me go anyway on the grounds that “it will be fun.”

Before we left…
Me: I’m taking my wristlet. I don’t want to lug a huge purse around with me.
Five minutes later…
Ken: I’m taking my camera.
Me: You always take your camera. Why are you telling me this?
Ken: Oh, I just thought we were announcing things to each other.
Atlas (from outside): I’m taking a dump in the back yard! This is fun!

In the car…
Ken: Why are you staring at me like that? Is there something wrong with the way I’m dressed?
Me: I wasn’t staring at you. I was looking past you out the window.
Ken: No, you were looking at me.
Me: How would you even know that?! I’m wearing dark sunglasses. Besides, you look fine. You’re wearing a black T-shirt and a black plaid shirt. You match. (*under breath*) Unlike when you wear your red plaid shirt and lime green T-shirt.
Ken: What?
Me: Nothing.

A moral dilemma…

Me: Did you see that video on Facebook about the job interview question?
Ken: The one where you’re driving in a lightning storm and you see three people at the side of the road?
Me: Right—“You see your best friend who once saved your life, a beautiful woman, and a sick elderly lady standing by the side of the road in a lightning storm, and you only have one seat. Who do you take?” It was easy. I solved it right away.
Ken: What do you mean, “you solved it”? Did you watch the video to the end?
Me: I didn’t need to watch it to the end. The old lady sits on my lap in the driver’s seat, my best friend sits in the other seat, and the beautiful woman sits on HIS lap.
Ken: You’re not allowed to do that. You only have one extra seat.
Me: I can do whatever the f*ck I want. It’s MY ethics. I’m the Kobayashi Maru.
Ken: No, you’re Kirk. But it doesn’t matter. That’s not the right answer. Why don’t you EVER watch videos to the end? The CORRECT answer is: You give your keys to your best friend because you trust him to take the old woman to the hospital and then come back for you.  This leaves you alone with the beautiful woman. Then he comes back and—
Me: This is starting to sound suspiciously like that logic problem where you have a rowboat and you have to take a bunch of animals across a river. It’s a MORAL DILEMMA, not a logic problem, Ken. Also, why do I want to be alone with the woman?
Ken: So you can hit it off with her.
Me: A) She’s not my type and B) That’s why my solution is more ethical. I put the woman on my best friend’s lap so that HE could hit it off with her. I’m self-sacrificial as f*ck. There. I win. ALL THE MORALS ARE MINE.
Ken: Sigh.

Then we got to the antique show, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had no problem getting parked, got a bus right away, and made it into the showgrounds less than 5 minutes after arriving. But then we realized that there were 100s of dealers and we needed a system, which was basically to wander down one row and back up another, saying, “Have we been down this aisle before? Oh yeah, I remember the giant elephant statue.” We have a friend who had a booth, and we finally found him. He said he was having a pretty good day, selling quite a bit and whatnot, when Ken pointed to a large box of bones at the front of his tent. They were priced at $5 each. When we asked about it, he said that last month, a guy came into his store with this big box of bones, wondering if he’d buy them. He was skeptical at first, but they sold like hotcakes (if hotcakes were all dirty and decomposed). So when the guy came back with another box, he bought that too, and brought them to sell at the show.

Friend: People are going nuts for them. I’ve already sold most of them. Quite a few people have been teachers, you know—want to use them in their classrooms.
Ken: What kind of bones are they?
Friend: Cow bones. I think.
Me: Cow bones?
Friend: Probably.

I don’t know if I want my child in a classroom where the teacher is like, “Hey kids, check this out! It LOOKS like a human femur, but the guy told me it’s probably just a cow bone.” And the weirdest thing was, he wasn’t the ONLY dealer selling bones. There were so many of them that we lost count. There were skulls, antlers, jaw bones, full skeletons of small rodents, you name it. We walked past a booth where a guy was showing a woman a skull that was on top of a log with a branch going through the skull’s eye socket. He was actually saying this: “Sometimes when animals die in the forest, they do it on top of logs and such, and then they go into rigor mortis there. So I’ve arranged the skull and log like this—kind of like a nature scene.”

And while this may seem like a one-off, at the antique market where I currently work, there’s a dealer who has glass vials full of chicken bones, and they also sell like crazy. Go figure. I guess I should have kept this year’s Christmas turkey carcass–I could have made a fortune. Happy New Year!

Villainous Notions

Last week, I bought a footstool. It was dark cheap wood and had dark tapestry fabric on the top, but the lid lifted for storage and it was only 5 bucks, so I got to thinking that I would paint the wood grey and re-upholster the top. Which I did, and the paint looked lovely (aside from the transfer I may or may not have put on slightly off-centre—see picture at the end). The problem was that the fabric on the underside looked choppy and unprofessional no matter how much I tried to trim it, but then I had an idea. I rummaged through my basket of sewing notions—well, it’s not so much a basket as an empty tin of Quality Street—and found something that just might resolve the issue:

Notice the manufacturer? It’s Kismet.

Me: Do you think this would work?
Ken: What is it?
Me: According to the packet, it’s Rick Rack.
Ken: Maybe…
Me: No, you’re right. The colour is all wrong. However, RickRack would make a great name for a James Bond villain.

Cue naughty fantasy sequence (and if you’re a little prudish, you might want to skip this one)…

M: Double-Oh-Seven, we need you. Apparently, RickRack has abducted Pussy Galore!
Bond: Pussy Galore? Again?! Well, Pussy is delightful. I can see why he keeps coming back for more.
M: Intercept RickRack before he gets to the Upper Holstery Islands and deliver Pussy to us, James.
Bond: I’m shaken, not stirred by this turn of events.

Some time later, on a cargo ship off the coast of the Upper Holstery Islands…

RickRack: Ah, Mr. Bond, I’ve been expecting you.
Bond: Release Pussy Galore, RickRack! There’s nowhere you can run.
RickRack: I’m never gonna give her up. I’m never gonna let her down.
Bond: Did—did you just Rickroll me?
RickRack: No, I RickRACKED you, Mr. Bond. But you can have her. To be honest, I’m not particularly fond of Pussy. I only kidnapped her to lure you to the Upper Holsteries.
Bond: But why, RickRack?
RickRack: Because…because I’m in love with you, James. Is there a chance for us?
Bond: Have you actually SEEN any of my movies?
RickRack: Sigh. I’m never gonna give you up—
Bond: Just stop. Come on, Pussy.
Pussy Galore: Oh James, thank you for saving me!
Bond: Enough of the small talk. We need to hurry—I have a date with Holly Goodhead later and no one misses a date with Goodhead!

And all I can do at this point is apologize for my giggly thirteen-year-old imagination, but in my defense:
a) I was going to include a scene with Bond and Q discussing a missile launcher that was extremely euphemistic but even I know when enough is enough and b) I’m not the one who named the Bond girls things like Miss Goodthighs, Chew Me, Xenia Onatopp, Holly Goodhead, Plenty O’Toole, and Pussy Galore. That was a DIFFERENT giggly thirteen-year-old. Happy Boxing Day.

Christmas Carols

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Twinkly lights (which Ken calls “twerking lights”), home baking, holidays, and of course, presents–for those of you who know me well, you are well aware of my love of presents, both giving and receiving them. But the thing that really captures the spirit of the season for me is Christmas music. I start playing Christmas music on the first of December, and I drive Ken crazy by listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas almost continuously (and when the music for the party scene comes on, I always dance like Snoopy. It’s FUN and I also do it at the antique market where I work–they have the radio tuned to the Christmas station all day long, so I get to do my Snoopy dance several times a day. Great cardio.). We also have some beautiful traditional Celtic Christmas stylings, as well as some instrumental stuff we got years ago with cool sound effects in the background, like birds chirping, sleigh bells jingling, or the sound of skates on ice. So as you can tell, I love a lot of Christmas music. But on the other hand, there are some really creepy Christmas songs out there.

1) One of the songs that’s been playing on a loop at work is the version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé. And wow, this is one hella creepy song. It sounds perfectly pleasant and festive but if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you start to wonder how this EVER made it onto anyone’s Christmas playlist because it’s about a woman who wants to leave a man’s apartment, but he’s refusing to let her go. At one point, he convinces her to stay a little longer, and pours her a drink, prompting her soon after to ask, “Say, what’s in this drink?” I’ll tell you what’s in your drink—DRUGS. Here’s a newsflash, lady—if you have to ask that question, your next move should be running for the door. But no. As he takes off her hat, she tells him she really ought to say “No, No, No”, at which point he “moves in closer”. Then she explains that her mother will start to worry and father will be pacing the floor. DUDE, SHE LIVES WITH HER PARENTS—LET. HER. GO. HOME. This guy obviously doesn’t understand CONSENT. Then he tells her that she’s “hurting his pride”. Is this not the epitome of a man who is about to be involved in a major #MeToo scandal? How did this song even get to be a “Christmas carol”? It’s not about Christmas; it’s about a guy trying to get into a girl’s pants. I think Jesus would have a serious objection to a song like that being used to celebrate his birthday. (I was going to say, “because Jesus never tried to get into anyone’s pants”, but then Ken just reminded me that some people say that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and that’s why he appeared to her first when he was reincarnated or whatnot. Still, Jesus would never have been like, “C’mon baby, I’m not pushy, I’m just opportunistic”). But there are other carols which are actually more Christmas-y which, when you think about them, are equally ridiculous. Here are a few:

2) Jingle Bells: In what possible world is it FUN to dash around in an open sleigh? This song could not possibly have been written in Canada, where it’s regularly -30 degrees. If you’re dashing around without some kind of shield from the wind-chill, you’re going to get frostbite and your nose will fall off. This is only Christmas-y if you put a little bow on the nose and hang it on your Christmas tree. On second thought, that’s not actually festive, it’s just kind of gross.

3) Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart: This is a contemporary tune by George Michael. The first two lines are “Last Christmas I gave you my heart/The very next day, you gave it away.” Is this not the ultimate in regifting? I myself have been known to pass on a mug or something equally inconsequential, but even I wouldn’t stoop so low as to regift a human heart. This is the worst Secret Santa gift ever, like “It’s decomposing a little, but if you keep it on ice for a few days, you can hang it on the tree next to that piece of nose you’ve got there. It’s a nice theme.”

4) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The Shark Version: I googled this one and I can’t even find it on the internet, but it was on a compilation of Christmas songs called Santa Jaws that my brother and I had when we were little. The only lyrics I remember are:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
You’re not so merry now.
The seaside signs said not to swim,
But you swam anyhow..

Moral of that Christmas song–never ignore seaside signs.

5) Honorable Mention: Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy: This one doesn’t get a lot of airplay because it’s just a tad raunchy. Thanks to Gaga, the phrases “let’s fa-la-la-la-la” and “underneath my Christmas tree” are now sexual innuendo. If she got together with the guy from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” I doubt there would be a lawsuit pending—there would just be one very merry gentleman.

At any rate, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas. And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift (shameless plug coming as fast as a one-horse open sleigh), don’t forget that you can go to the Potters Grove Press website and download my short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones in either PDF or Kindle version and give it to someone you love. Tell them you know the author personally and that she’s weird, but nice.

Advanced Marketing 101

Well folks, it’s that time again. No, not time for wine—that’s ALL the time. But I’ve been amassing some hilarious advertisements so get ready for Advanced Marketing Tips With Facebook Marketplace!

Tip Number One: Intrigue Your Potential Buyers

Up first is this great deal on the Invisible Man. Now, I didn’t know that the Invisible Man’s real name was Wilfred Shacket—I thought Jack Griffin was the Invisible Man, who debuted first in H.G. Wells’ novel and was played in the film of the same name by the inimitable Claude Rains. But I guess when you’re an evil scientist, you can call yourself anything you damn well want. My big question, though, is how exactly was he captured? I can only assume that he was caught unawares, this coat was thrown over him, and then he was restrained by coat hanger until the $100 ransom was paid. I have a feeling that there’s not much interest in Invisible Men these days, judging from the reduction in price after only 6 hours. Then again, I’m willing to bet he’s a little obnoxious, being see-through and all, and maybe the people who are holding him captive are just a tiny bit fed up, but I have to admit, I’m intrigued.

Tip Number Two: Appeal To The Sophisticates In The Crowd

Continuing on with the literary theme, we move from Wells to Shakespeare—Hamlet to be precise. Apparently, these chairs are a couple of depressive Danes covered in floral chintz. After having to put up with their “antic chair disposition” for so long, their owner is as desperate to be rid of them as Claudius was to “upholster” Hamlet. As for the description, all I have to say is “Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.”

Tip Number Three: Sharks, Sharks, Sharks

For the low, low price of only $40, you can purchase this lovely Ascent Chair, which I assume will launch you into the air in case of a shark attack. (I don’t know why I said ‘shark attack’ but then again, I don’t know why more people don’t use spellcheck, and besides, everyone loves sharks. Or at least I do).

Me: How does it work?
Seller: You push this little button hidden under the arm here.
Me: And?
Seller: And you ascend. Obviously.
Me: And the sharks?
Seller: Take a bucket of chum up with you and keep throwing pieces into the water from the lofty heights until they’re satiated.
Me: Awesome. Sold!

Tip Number Four: Obfuscate And Confuse Your Audience

And then of course, there’s Jan. I stumbled across Jan one day when I saw an ad for a “Raining Boiler”. I was intrigued (see Tip Number One)—was this some kind of medieval torture device or a new-fangled way to have a shower? Then I got lost down a rabbithole of Jan’s mostly illiterate ads, including another one for a different rain barrel that was possibly named after one of her children, Rian Bellar. Poor Rian—according to the ad, “just the place that water comes broken” which I took to mean that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. At any rate, Jan has numerous incomprehensible postings including this one for a Red Nice Patty, which makes me think that Jan is originally from Boston (this is no slur on Bostonians, but seriously, say Red Nice Patty to yourself—do you hear it?)

But Jan, despite your attempts to convince potential purchasers with your positive description of this household item, I have to be honest with you: this is NOT a nice red potty. In fact, it’s the most disgusting potty I’ve ever seen and even the rock bottom price of $5 won’t sell me. Jan seems to be the queen of irony, as proven by this ad of hers:

These “flowers” are about as lucky as that potty is nice.

Tip Number 5: Give The People What They Want

Speaking of nice, here’s a lovely offer from a completely normal young man who only wants to help.

Kiss my boots AND do my chores AND pay me for the pleasure?! Isn’t that sweet? Maybe I should introduce him to Jan—I bet she’d appreciate someone who could post comprehensible ads for her.

The Secret of the Old Clock

I haven’t been motivated to do much this week, because I’m still struggling with the same health issue as last week; in fact, I was at the hospital again on Friday, I’m exhausted, and I still haven’t seen the object of my disaffection. The only bright spot in the whole ordeal happened after I had seen the doctor. I was getting dressed and overheard this conversation with another patient. Apparently, half the population is having kidney issues as well, judging by this, and the two other women in the waiting room who were also there with suspected kidney stones:

Doctor: So what brings you in today?
Patient: A few days ago, I peed in a snowbank and the pee looked really dark.
Doctor: And…
Patient: I got worried so yesterday I peed in the snowbank again. This time it was red.
Doctor (completed unfazed): What shade of red? Dark red, bright red…?
Patient: Pretty dark. At least it looked pretty dark against the white snow.
Doctor: OK, I think we’ll need a sample.

I just hope the guy wasn’t freaked out by having to go in a cup instead of on his favourite snowbank. Aside from that, the only thing that really made me happy this week was my new clock. ANOTHER CLOCK? Yes, another clock and mind your own damn business, KEN. But this is a really nice clock and I couldn’t help myself, even though the circumstances of my acquisition were bizarre. I was at the side door just about to go in to work the other day, when a guy pulled up and started to unload a van. I didn’t know who the dude was, and I didn’t really care because my attention was IMMEDIATELY focused on the gorgeous clock on the top of the bin he had put on the ground:

Me: I like your clock.
Dude: It’s for sale.
Me: How much?
Dude: Forty bucks.
Me: Great! Can I buy it?
Dude: If you want it, you need to take it NOW and put it in your car. GO. NOW. Before anyone sees you! RUN!!
Me: How do I pay you for it?
Dude (looking around wildly, for what I wasn’t sure): You can e-transfer me later—just go!!

Psst, wanna buy a clock?

And even though I had no idea who he was, or how I could e-transfer a paranoid stranger, I picked the very heavy, 2 foot high clock up in my arms and hightailed it across the parking lot like a middle-aged Nancy Drew. You would have thought I was buying cocaine rather than a 75-year-old timepiece, although to me, a 75-year-old timepiece is as good, if not better, than cocaine. I safely stowed the clock in the back of my car, covering it with a blanket just in case the clock detectives came by. I didn’t see the dude for the rest of the day and was wondering what to do about paying for my illicit purchase, when he suddenly appeared. He wrote something quickly on a piece of newspaper and handed it to me surreptitiously.

Me: Awesome. It was forty dollars, right?
Dude (looks around to see if anyone is listening): SHHH. Don’t send the transfer until you get home, in case anyone sees you.
Me: Uh…okay.

Dude: By the way, the clock doesn’t work.
Me: Do clocks ever really work? Time is a human construct…
Dude: We can’t be seen talking!

But then I looked at the piece of paper and I couldn’t read his writing. I wasn’t sure what to do, but right before the end of the day, he appeared again:

Me: I’m having trouble reading your handwriting. So is your last name–
Dude: SHHHH!! Come this way with me. Is anyone watching?
Me: No…?
Dude: Pretend you’re walking with me to the back to open the door.
Me: Am I opening the door for you?
Dude: That’s what we’ll tell people if they see us.

So I went with him to the back and he whisper-spelled the email address to me, then disappeared out the door. I never saw him again.

That night, while Ken watched TV, I lay in bed next to him staring at my new clock, which I’d placed on a table in our bedroom alcove, along with some of my other favourite things: a small Persian mat, a Paris painting, a lamp with a stained-glass shade, and some old poetry books.

Me: Sigh. I love you.
Ken: I love you too.
Me (confused because I wasn’t actually talking to Ken): Yes, right. Do you know what else I love?
Ken: What?
Me: That f*cking clock. But I love you, Kate, and Atlas more. Obviously.
Ken (laughs): Obviously.

Stoned: 3 Vignettes

“You rocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

No, not all of these stories are about marijuana, but it’s an apt title considering how recently I’ve been plagued by stones in a variety of ways. This first tale is, however, about my terrible relationship with Mary Jane…

1) When I was a teenager, I tried weed a couple of times. I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience—it made me feel overly anxious and stressed out rather than all mellow and funny like the movies of the 70s and early 80s had promised. I’d never touched the stuff since, aside from using CBD oil and THC cream on my shoulder topically, but recently my daughter got a vape pen. “Do you want to try it?” she asked one evening before we were about to watch a movie. So I did. 10 minutes later, I felt absolutely no different. “Give me another hit,” I asked, and she obliged. Suddenly, and almost immediately, everything went dark and I felt myself sinking slowly onto the kitchen floor, where I lay for several minutes while everyone tried to figure out what to do with me. I was finally able to make it upstairs where I lay on the bed giggling in a panicky kind of way, while Kate kept me company. After about half an hour, I felt stable enough to put on pajamas and go back downstairs, but I still have no idea what movie we watched. Ken can’t remember either but that’s not because he was also stoned—he’s just old and has a bad memory. As for me, I won’t be imbibing again.

2) A few weeks ago, I was on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for a rock tumbler, a “professional National Geographic” model. We’d had a rock tumbler years ago but it broke, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember why we hadn’t replaced it. So I bought this one. It was a great deal, having only been used once, and still had two sets of gems and grit to have fun with. Why on earth would anyone be selling such a cool machine for so little money? I thought to myself. I put the rough gems and the grit in the barrel, plugged it in, and fired it up. Then I simultaneously remembered why we had never replaced the old rock tumbler, and completely understood why a person would sell theirs after one use. If you know me at all, you know that I have misophonia—like Nature, I abhor a vacuum and anything else that makes a loud noise. And this thing functions at the same decibel level as a vacuum cleaner, which I had conveniently forgotten. We started out with it in our back TV room but it was so loud that Kate and her boyfriend put a cardboard box over it to muffle the sound slightly. That didn’t help much, tempting me to throw it out the nearest window, so I put it in our back bathroom, where it stayed for three weeks, chattering away like a small demon, until I’d finally had enough of both the racket, which I could hear in my office, and of yelling, “Who left the bathroom door open?!” I didn’t even make it to the last round of fine grit—I looked at the gems after the second-last polish and declared them good enough. Still, the gems looked nice, and on Friday I went to a local craft store and bought all kinds of things to turn them into jewelry. And because I really like smooth polished rocks, Ken promised that we could start it back up in the summer out back in his workshop.

3) And finally, the stone story that takes the proverbial cake. Almost a month ago, on a Friday night, I woke up in the night in terrible pain. I was about to ask Ken to take me to the hospital when it suddenly stopped. But for the rest of the weekend, I still felt awful. On the next Tuesday, I had an appointment with my doctor, he of the dick-ish bedside manner, about my shoulder, about which he bluntly stated he could do nothing about and to go back to the surgeon*. Then strangely, he asked, “So how is everything else going?” and I mistakenly took this as a cue that I might be allowed to discuss more than one ailment in contravention of his policy.

Me: Actually, I think I might have a kidney stone. I had this terrible pain on the weekend starting here and ending here (*demonstrates*) and I’m still having symptoms, like a UTI maybe?
Doctor: So I’m retiring in about 3 months and my patients will all be moving to a practice in Kitchener…

And that was that. Until the next weekend, when I got fed up and went to the urgent care clinic where, despite the absence of any infection, they gave me antibiotics. Those were as helpful as my family doctor who, despite my unwillingness, I had to call again the next week, still suffering from a lot of pain. But my timing was excellent! My doctor was away and his locum saw me instead. She ordered a lot of tests, including an ultrasound. But while waiting for the results, last Monday morning around 3 am, I woke up again in terrible pain. And it got worse. AND THEN IT GOT EVEN WORSE. Ken rushed me to the hospital where I saw a very nice, very young, VERY laidback doctor who ordered another ultrasound which showed—surprise, surprise—a kidney stone slowly making its way towards my nether regions.

Emergency Doctor: No wonder you’ve been in so much pain. It’s about 6mm.
Me: How big is that in terms someone my age who was taught the Imperial system can understand?
ED: About a quarter inch.
Me: A quarter inch?! How the hell is that going to come out??!!
ED: Well…

So I’m on a lot of medication and had an appointment with a specialist but the saying “this too shall pass” has not yet applied. The whole thing has been very stressful—the only funny moment was when the ED, having already asked me about past surgeries, including my hysterectomy, followed up with this:

ED: When was the date of your last period?
Me: As I mentioned, I don’t have a uterus, so I’d have to say sometime in 2015. Sorry I can’t be more specific.
ED: Oh, yeah, right.

Maybe he was stoned.

At any rate, wish me luck. If things work out, maybe I can make a necklace with it.

Jadite, not kidney.

*Ironically, I’ve been on so much pain medication that my shoulder feels perfectly fine. And that rocks.

I’m Porn Again

So it was my birthday last week. I’ve never been one of those people who bats their eyes and says demurely, “Oh, don’t get me anything—it’s just another day after all.” It’s NOT just another day. It’s an awesome day, a day on which I get presents, and I LOVE getting presents which is why I could never be a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, one of the reasons anyway, because they aren’t supposed to drink unless it’s in ‘moderation’ and if you know me at all, you know I never do ANYTHING in moderation. But the presents are a dealbreaker—I mean, even Jesus got presents and also, he never showed up to a party without wine, and if he ever did, he would just wave his hand like a messianic Jedi, and make wine appear, because Jesus understood both hospitality and the importance of refreshing beverages at a party. I myself had several refreshing beverages on the evening of my birthday, starting during the Zoom call I had with my former colleagues where I was the only one drinking, but then again, I’m the only one retired so I guess that’s my prerogative. It was lovely to see them and it reminded me of the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” because in my former workplace, we had a porn floor, and once again, in my part-time job, I’m having to deal with the world of adult wonders yet again.

Now, to refresh your memory, the 16th floor in my former office building was commonly known as “the porn floor”. There were two production companies on the 16th floor: Bump N Grind Media and Pink Lady Productions. Whenever we were in the elevator and someone got on and pushed the button for the 16th floor, we all gave each other knowing glances, and later we speculated about what the person’s “role” might be. Sometimes, it was obviously an “actress” or “pizza delivery boy”, but occasionally it would be a short, balding man that we dubbed “the producer”. There was also a guy in the building that we called “Vaping Elvis”, although to be honest, he looked more like Buddy Holly. He had dark glasses and black, slicked back hair. He was slightly paunchy, and always wore a long, black leather coat. He stood right outside the building doors vaping every day, even though the sign CLEARLY stated that you couldn’t smoke within 9 feet of the doorway. We always assumed that he worked on the porn floor as a creepy-ass director or something, but one day, he got off on 8 (that wasn’t a pun or a euphemism. He exited the elevator on the 8th floor, you perv).

And now, my workplace is once again rife with porn-y things. Last week, I was walking by a booth in the antique market that sells wooden letters, and as I passed, I realized that someone had rearranged them so that they spelled out the word ‘BOOBIES’. And while you may remember the joy with which I posted about my digital car odometer finally landing on 80085, it WASN’T me who rearranged the letters in such a naughty way (although I DID do this to a moveable hand when I was out shopping with a friend on Saturday because I’m 56 now and that’s how I roll, and also since I took the picture and the copyright is mine, I hereby authorize any of you to use it as needed:)

Then further down the aisle, in a booth that sells comic books and action figures, I was shocked to discover that someone had posed Ironman and Superman into an extremely compromising position. After re-randomizing the letters and getting Ironman up off his knees, I went back to the front counter, only to be engaged in conversation by a vendor who regaled me with stories about how he has to put brassieres on the mannequins in his booth because he ordered them sight unseen and they turned out to have come from an adult novelty store, resulting in them being VERY well-endowed which, in turn, regularly causes the local high school kids to unbutton the mannequins’ blouses and take pictures of them when they think no one is looking.

So it occurs to me that if my new job is as porn-y as the last, then maybe we need to rename the company, and here are some suggestions:

1) He Shoots, He Scores Inc.

Canada IS a hockey nation, so what better moniker for a porn store than this one?

2) The Blue Pages

If you’re an educator where I live, you regularly get a magazine where all the teachers who’ve done naughty things are featured at the back on blue pages, so this name is bizarrely apropos.

3) Pour Some Syrup On Me-dia

The guys who run the place where I work are pretty ambitious, so I could totally see them branching out into films as well. Also, in my last novel, I had a minor character who was a Canadian drag queen and I named her Mabel Syrup, and if that isn’t the best name for a Canadian drag queen ever, I don’t know what is.

4) My Little Pony Productions

Every film features a miniature horse just standing in the background somewhere. Don’t ask me why.

5) Existential Butt Films

Motto: “Dirty and Full of Dread”.

Bom chicka wow wow.