One Thing After Another

A couple of weeks ago, my parents emailed me with a picture of a big old pine wardrobe that someone in their condo building was giving away. I showed Ken the picture and he thought about it for a minute, then said, “You know that built-in cupboard in the upstairs hallway, the one made out of plywood that we keep sheets and pillowcases in?”

Me: It’s not plywood. It’s just not the best wood, but it’s not horrible.
Ken: I’ve always hated it. What if I rip out the built-in and we replace it with that wardrobe?
Me: It’s built right into the ceiling. You’d have to replace the drywall and then patch and paint behind it.
Ken: Cool!

We picked up the wardrobe from the very elderly parents of the guy who lived in my parents’ building. They were literally adorable, both in their 90s. He insisted on helping Ken and his son carry the wardrobe out to our trailer, while she insisted on showing me their house, including the rugs that she’d hand-knotted herself. We promised to send pictures of the wardrobe in place once we’d completed the project. And so the process began, as most home renovations do, in the ‘one thing leads to another’ school of fix-it projects.

1) Rip out the old linen closet. Discover a very cool hollow space at the base that would be perfect for hiding valuables, or love letters, or human remains, or old clocks. Discover that there is NOTHING in there. Wander the house in existential disappointment for 10 minutes.

2) Find some drywall for the ceiling. The old linen cupboard pre-dated the upgrade to the hallway, and the previous owners had simply drywalled AROUND it, which left quite a gap. Go to the store to buy drywall compound. Purchase Pokémon toys, shampoo, and chocolate in addition to drywall compound because I’m AT THE STORE, KEN.

3) Put up the drywall. Tape it and patch it, as well as all the holes in the wall where the nine-inch nails were holding everything in place. Not Nine Inch Nails the band, because that would have been super cool. But no—just stupidly long nails that ripped out pieces of lathe and plaster when Ken crowbarred the cupboard out.

4) Continue to apply drywall compound, because Ken is a fanatic.

5) Let the drywall compound dry. Search the house for the one can of paint that might match the rest of the walls in the hallway. Find three different cans, none of which match. Determine that now the ENTIRE hallway will have to be repainted.

6) Sand the drywall compound that coats the walls like a powdery white lover until you’ve almost scrubbed into the next room so that the walls that will be hidden behind the new wardrobe will be supersmooth. Spend half an hour vacuuming up all the dust.

7) Contemplate the waste of opportunity around having a very large space that would have been perfect for gold bullion, a severed hand, or even a rat skeleton, but which has been squandered. Realize that reality is never as good as your imagination and that you may be obsessing just a tad.

8) Mix two colours of paint together to get an approximate match. Decide that it’s not approximate enough to avoid having to repaint the ENTIRE hallway.

9) Curse the wardrobe. Curse it long and curse it deep. Rip a small piece of painted wallpaper off to get a match at the paint store. Meet a girl who is a WHIZ at paint mixing and who makes you paint that is indistinguishable from the rest of the hallway.

10) Realize that, if nothing else, the whole experience has provided you with a writing topic in a week in which not much happened.

In other news, there are less than 3 weeks until At The End Of It All, my new short story collection, drops. I’m super-excited. I don’t know how these things work, but if you want to host me on a blog tour once it’s out, I’ll repay the favour by promoting you and your own work, or posting a review, or whatever you like. I’ll even come to your house and look for ghosts, or name a character in my next book after you. I’m easy. And if you want to grab At The End Of It All as soon as it’s released, you can go to the Potter’s Grove website, or pick it up on Amazon.

Here’s A Tip

Recently, I started tutoring to earn a little extra money, now that I’m no longer working at the antique market. I still have a lot of teaching resources, including children’s books, in one of the guest bedroom closets, so I went through the stack of books the other night, looking for something that might interest one of my new students, a child in grade 2. I found a couple of cool I Spy books and some other fun reads, and then I found a book called Dinosaur Bob And His Adventures With The Family Lazardo. I couldn’t remember ever buying it or even reading it to Kate when she was little, and I started flipping through it. Here’s the gist of the story: An American family named Lazardo goes on safari and finds a dinosaur which they bring back to the States and it causes a lot of issues but in the end, (spoiler alert), the dinosaur helps their town baseball team win a big game. And that explanation is only slightly longer than the title of the book. But that’s not the weird part. The fact that they go on an AFRICAN SAFARI with their small children and find a dinosaur isn’t even the weird part. No, the thing that absolutely confounds me is this. On the cover of this book, which was written in 1988 by the way, and on almost every page, there is a man wearing a regimental uniform and a turban. He is briefly described on the first page, when the family initially encounters the dinosaur thusly: “Jumbu, their bodyguard, said nothing.”

Okay, first, why the hell does this family need a bodyguard?! And why is he some kind of Sikh warrior? But then things get even weirder because based on the illustrations, it turns out that he’s not really their bodyguard—he’s actually their MANSERVANT, and on the second page, the Lazardos are lounging on the dinosaur’s back in their swimsuits while Jumbu is in some kind of ceremonial beachwear and he’s SERVING THEM ALL DRINKS. This book was published by Scholastic and can you imagine the pitch meeting?

Author: So there’s this white family and they find a dinosaur…
Scholastic: Like, dinosaur bones?
Author: No. A real dinosaur. And they bring it back to the United States to play baseball for their hometown team.
Scholastic: Interesting. Are there any quirky unexpected characters?
Author: Well, they have an East Indian manservant–
Scholastic: Manservant? That might be perceived as racist. This IS 1988 after all. Better call him a bodyguard.
Author: Oh, okay.

Throughout the entire book, no one talks to him, no one mentions him, even though he’s on almost every single page serving drinks to the family, playing catch with the kids and whatnot, and no one even thinks to ask “Hey Jumbu, you’re a bodyguard, right? Do you think it’s safe to bring a dinosaur back to the Unites States to play baseball?” Because I’m sure all the chaos could have been avoided by letting Jumbu do his damn job. The only time we hear about Jumbu again is on the last page where the family is celebrating the big baseball game win and “Jumbu brought out the musical instruments” so the family could sing and dance. But then it felt like there was some ominous foreshadowing because right at the very end, “Jumbu smiled.” I’ll bet he did. And the sequel to this book is called, Jumbu Gets Even.

The other thing that completely befuddled me the other day happened when I went into the cannabis store. That’s it. That’s the story. No, I’m kidding. I went into the cannabis store, because I live in Canada and we like weed so much that we have government-licensed and regulated places where you can legally purchase it. I don’t smoke it or anything—I use CBD gel caps to help with my shoulder pain. I ran out of pills, and walked into the cannabis store to buy some more. On the counter at the till, there were two jars. These jars are TIP JARS. Every month, this store and others like it, have a question that prompts you to leave money in one of the jars. Last month, the question was “Is the Earth flat?” and terrifyingly, there was almost as much money in the YES jar as in the NO jar. Like, how stoned ARE you if you think that gravity, physics, and every explorer who circumnavigated the globe are just LYING TO YOU? But this month the question was “What TV show was better?” and the choices were Friends or Seinfeld. However. The questions are NOT the point. The point is, Why is the staff in a government licensed and regulated business asking for tips? First, they get paid $15.50 an hour at the very least because that’s the minimum wage. Second, it’s not like they cooked me food or brought me a drink—like, all the woman in the store literally did was open the locked cabinet that I pointed at and hand me a bottle of pills. And she wants a TIP for that? But I guess people are very grateful to cannabis store workers because there were a LOT of tips in those jars. More tips than I bet Jumbu ever got anyway.

Creative Wednesdays: My Spooky Six Interview with Willow Croft

Thanks to my good friend Willow Croft of Willow Croft: Bringer of Nightmares and Storms for her unique and very fun interview with me for The Horror Tree’s Spooky Six Interview Series. I hope you enjoy finding out more about me, especially the reason why I never dangle my arm off the bed. You can read it here on The Horror Tree!

Jan-uary Ads

On Friday, I was surfing through ads on Facebook Marketplace and I saw something that made my heart soar. No, it wasn’t a clock. It was, in fact, an ad for a cabinet, but it wasn’t the cabinet I was taken with. I’ve become so used to people who can barely put two sentences together online, let alone describe a product they’re selling with any accuracy at all, that this ad description almost made me weep:

Capacious?! And an example in another colour for inspiration? I have found my people!

I immediately followed this seller and took a look at some of her other ads. One in particular touched my heart: “The camera doesn’t do the colour justice; see the close-up picture of the fabric juxtaposed against white paper for a more accurate sense of the colours.” She used a SEMI-COLON. And JUXTAPOSED things. Why can’t everyone be so literate AND courteous? Prior to Friday, I had become inured to the lack of simple spelling, punctuation, and sloppy descriptions that are par for the course on online buy and sell sites, particularly with a highly rated seller named ‘Jan’. The majority of Jan’s ads are an enigma. Yesterday, she was advertising “Decorations Puts”, which I can only assume means ‘decorative pot’, but with Jan, you never know—it could be some kind of insult or a strangely worded command. And right before Hallowe’en, this was a group of things she was trying to offload:

Now, call me crazy, and a lot of people do, but I don’t think that particular Hallowe’en staff deserves even minimum wage—I mean, they all look half in the bag. I appreciate that she managed to spell both outdoor and chair correctly, and I love that she named the bank:

Buyer: Hi, I’m here for the piggy bank.
Jan (cradling it in her arms): His name is PETE.
Buyer: Um, ok.
Jan: SAY IT. SAY THE NAME.
Buyer: …Pete?
Jan: MR. BANK TO YOU.

But I have no idea what ‘2 landre’ basket is, except ‘landre’ is French for ‘moor’, so I can only assume these baskets are to be used in gothic novels by heartbroken heroines who wander the moors in torrential downpours, kind of like an umbrella but with many holes. Sadly, it seems that Jan is almost as misguided in her efforts as this coat she’s currently trying to hawk:

I can imagine that living with Jan is an ongoing adventure, trying to decipher whatever madness comes out of her mouth, because if she’s this bad at written English, how on earth does she speak?!

Jan’s husband: Hey Jan, where are you off to?
Jan: Gone to stone. Bach will eat moussaka.
Jan’s husband: Delicious. Or terrifying. Only time will tell.

But at least Jan isn’t as morbid as this person, who’s selling Vintage Death. And I was like, who the hell takes a picture with some alive family members and some who look VERY DECEASED? I was sure those two Scottish children were just sleepy from the photographer taking so damn long to get the shot. But then I did some research on Victorian death photography and it turns out they REALLY ARE DEAD. And everyone else in the photo just looks casual, like “Och, it’s a lovely wee day for a pic of the fam. Come on, Mam. Gi’ us a wee smile. Let Dead Robbie lean on you so he don’t fall over.” Victorians. I’m currently writing a Gothic thriller called Charybdis (based on a short story in my new upcoming collection) that partly takes place in the Victorian period so I can’t wait to find a way to fit this bizarre practice in.

New Year, Same Me

It’s New Year’s Eve as I write this. I’m feeling slightly nauseated, not because I’ve been drinking—I mean, it’s only 11 o’clock in the morning after all. No, it’s because Ken decided to run some errands, and right before he left, he made himself a cup of coffee because he obviously HATES ME. The smell has permeated the house, reaching right into my office, and now I understand how the woman feels who posted this ad on Facebook Marketplace:

I don’t know what her husband did to her that he no longer deserves a wet/dry shop vac, but I’ll bet it involved a percolator. So right now, my house smells like a skunk died in the kitchen, and I’ve taken futile refuge in my office to think about the new year ahead. I never make New Year’s resolutions, as I’ve said before– mostly because if I want to change something about my life, I do it when I think of it, not on some arbitrary and imaginary date line. But still, the moving forward of time does give one pause, and by “pause” I mean “let’s stop and think about what the f*ck we’re doing and do we want to keep on doing that?” So here are a couple of things I will most likely be doing in 2023:

1) I will finish the book I’m currently writing by the end of February. I have to, because I quit my job at the antique market to focus on it. Also, the antique market was no longer a fun place to work, and Ken and I promised each other that when we retired, we would only work at jobs we enjoyed doing. Not that I didn’t enjoy the work I did BEFORE I retired, but moving forward, I will only work at things I really, REALLY enjoy, like driving a forklift around the neighbourhood helping people move picnic tables or whatnot, or petting kittens and puppies. And writing. Writing is definitely something I enjoy. The new book is called Charybdis and it’s a gothic thriller that takes place in two different time periods involving a little-known reclusive Victorian poet and the modern-day graduate student who’s researching her life. What horrors will she discover? If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know there will be several! And then, once Charybdis is done, I’ll be starting on the third book in The Seventh Devil trilogy. Book 2, The Devil You Know, will be out this summer, and Book 3 will be called The Devil You Don’t. And of course, there’s At The End Of It All, which will be out in February and I can’t wait for you to read it. I love writing short stories, and I already have some more stories in the planning stages, which is to say I have notes on my phone like ‘laces where joints are supposed to meet’ and ‘Glitter for Brad’ and I have no idea why I wrote that down but it’ll make a great story once I figure it out.

2) I will travel more. I will have to do this spontaneously, because whenever I PLAN to travel, I instantly regret making travel arrangements and would rather just stay home.

Me: But what’s the use of being retired if I can’t travel?
My mind: Where do we want to go?
Me: I don’t know. Somewhere fun.
My mind: Home. Home is fun.
Me: No, NOT HOME! We need to see more of the world!
My mind: We’ve already seen plenty. The world is too scary now.
Me: Sigh. You have a point.

3) I will buy more clocks if I want to. You can’t stop me, KEN. In honour of clocks, I promised to show a picture of my favourite:

But I WILL make Ken a deal. I’ll stop buying clocks if he stops drinking coffee (at least in the house). Tick tock…

Anyway, Happy New Year. Let’s hope 2023 is a little more sane that the last few years.

Give And Let Give

If I had a dollar for every time someone that I know and love said to me, “I didn’t know what to get you—you’re so hard to buy for”, I’d have enough dollars to buy myself something that I really like. But I am NOT hard to buy for. Here are the things that I like: jewelry, perfume, make-up, clothes, fine leather goods, electronics, antiques, clocks, and alcohol. That’s a pretty comprehensive list. But Ken will tell you that within this list, there are only specific types of things that belong to each category, which is why he always approaches buying me gifts with a certain amount of dread. I think this is totally unfair, and it makes me feel really guilty. And I’m a very believable recipient—I always act terribly pleased, regardless of the gift, and no one but Ken ever knows if I’m not. This is part of the problem—I CAN’T FOOL KEN. He always knows when I’m not being sincere, because, unfortunately, Ken was my partner in crime when I taught Kate how to handle getting things she didn’t like, for example clothes instead of toys, which was to say “Thank you, it’s beautiful!” (this came out as “Tank you ids bootyful” when she was little and it was sooo adorable). Of course, now that Kate is much older, she doesn’t bother with the niceties. This was the conversation a couple of years ago on Christmas morning:

Kate: 2 more pairs of pajamas. Wow.
Me: But you said you needed pajamas.
Kate: No, YOU said I needed pajamas.
Me: Well, SOMEONE said you needed pajamas! Either way. Now you have lots of pajamas, and I don’t have to look at you in that pair you’re wearing right now with the knee ripped out.
Kate: Yes. Now I have a different pair for every day of the week. Thanks. Is there anything under the tree for me besides more pajamas?
Me: Um….
Kate: Again, wow.

While I might not be very imaginative when it comes to picking out gifts, the trouble with Ken is that he tries to be TOO imaginative. For example, one year right as we were about to open our stockings, Ken announced, “The gifts in your stocking this year are based on a THEME.” We all stopped what we were doing. Nobody spoke. Then Kate said, “I don’t see this ending well.” Because apparently the theme was “things you can use to cook my dinner with”.

The first stocking stuffer was a shaker of spices. I looked at it curiously, and Ken said, “You can use it to sprinkle on the potatoes when you roast them!” He was getting nervous. I smiled, and opened the next gift—a jar of pizza spice “for when you make homemade pizza.” This was followed by a grinder full of chipotle and pink Havana sea salt, and a selection of “peppercorns from around the world”. At this point the smiling kind of stopped. I didn’t know quite what to make of any of it, except that I had a lot of cooking ahead of me, and it was going to be very spicy. But that’s OK—I really like cooking, and in retrospect, they were pretty cool gifts with a lot of thought behind them (even if he did buy them all at Homesense on Christmas Eve). But the main point is that I don’t really care about presents all that much. At this time of year, I like to remember one of my favourite quotations: The best things in life aren’t things. The most awesome gift of all is having Ken and Kate (and her boyfriend) with me on Christmas morning. And like the Whos down in Whoville say, “Christmas day will always be/Just as long as we have we.” Plus this year, Ken got me the wine fridge that I asked for, two bottles of very good wine to go in it, and some other nice things, so I never once had to say “Thank you, it’s beautiful”.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Peaceful Solstice, and all the joy of the season to you and yours.

Pressing Questions

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to set up a WordPress post, and I suddenly noticed that below the place where it says, ‘Add title’, there was some faint text. I looked more closely and the text said, “What are your feelings about eating meat?”

And I was like, Are you judging me, WORDPRESS? Because the post I was setting up was fairly bacon-heavy, and how the hell did they even know that, let alone start pestering me about it? For the record, I would prefer NOT to eat meat, but I’m realistic in that a) I like the taste of most of it (organ meats aside, because they are extremely gross), and no one has yet to discover a vegetarian bacon that tastes as good as the real thing. On the other hand, I had an experience not long ago when I called a government agency to complain about the way that a truck I was following on the highway was transporting turkeys, presumably to the slaughterhouse, and it was so awful that I called Ken crying. The so-called veterinarian that answered my call was less than helpful, and told me that the turkeys were “probably huddled together for warmth rather than being stacked on top of each other”, and that didn’t make me feel any better AT ALL.

But I don’t want to get into the complexities of eating meat versus being vegetarian, because WordPress is still doing that weird thing right now. I started to set up my post for this week, and right below ‘Add title’, it says “Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you.” And my response is “Who the f*ck is US?!” Is this WordPress trying to make some extra cash by blackmailing random bloggers?

Random Blogger: Ooh, good question. Hmm. Well, I hope people never say I’m a murderer, because THAT was in self-defense.
WordPress: Self-defense, you say? We’ll see about that.

5 minutes later…

WordPress: According to our investigation, it was NOT self-defense. You owe us twenty-five thousand dollars to keep quiet about this.
Random Blogger: Damn
.

All I can think is that WordPress is playing the long game, hoping that some blogger desperate for a topic will fall for their ploy. Does anyone really open up the site without a topic in mind, just praying that WordPress will provide inspiration? And yes, I see the irony in this whole debate, because I wouldn’t have a topic MYSELF if it wasn’t for these bizarre WordPress prompts. So with that in mind, here are the things I hope people never say about me:

1) I’m good at math (because that would be a LOT to live up to).
2) I’m not funny (but I’m not actually that funny in person so it’s ok).
3) I have too many clocks (I just bought another one at the antique market where I work and it’s so gorgeous and it was so cheap that I carried it downstairs cradling it in my arms like a baby).
4) My nickname is NOT Player One (because it totally is, even if I’m the only one who thinks so).
5) I’m too old to dance like no one is watching. (I regularly dance behind the till at work when no one is watching, although sometimes customers see me and give me a thumbs-up, and yes there’s music because we have a radio playing behind the till just in case you thought I was one of those people who dance to music in their own heads, which I also do sometimes but just not at work).

Screw you, WordPress—I’ve fallen for your little game.

In other news, if you read my post last Monday, you’ll know that my new short story collection At The End Of It All is now available for pre-order but I posted the wrong link. It would be a great Christmas gift for you or someone you love, so if you want to order it, you can go here: At The End Of It All.  Also, in honour of the new collection coming out soon, Potter’s Grove has put my first short story collection, Feasting Upon The Bones, (which got some very good reviews and would also make a great Christmas gift) on sale for a limited time and you can find it here: Feasting Upon The Bones

Marvelous Monday: My New Book!

Just a quick surprise post to let you all know that my new short story collection, At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows is now available for pre-order from Potter’s Grove Press! I’m super-excited about this collection, which features a foreword written by my friend and writer extraordinaire, Steven Baird from Ordinary Handsome, and if you haven’t read him or follow his blog, you definitely should–he’s the kind of writer I love to read. His work leaves me breathless, every single time.

At The End Of It All has been my heart’s work for the last year; I started writing it not long after Feasting Upon The Bones was published. It contains 27 short stories, some flash fiction, some a little longer and some shorter, and I’m extremely proud of it. And I’m especially thrilled by the cover image that Potters Grove has chosen–they really are the best, and possess a tremendous creative vision that aligns perfectly with my own. As you know, Christmas is coming and what a perfect gift a spooky collection of stories makes! So if you’d like to give the gift of literature, you can pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BPTQC5DM

White Christmas

With Christmas two weeks away, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done very little to prepare. Things have been very hectic around here, what with Ken and me opening another booth at the antique market, this one on the third floor so we have to lug everything up three flights of stairs or use the dreaded, ancient, and evil freight elevator. But the rent was really cheap because “sometimes the roof leaks a little above the left wall”, so we’re making sure we don’t put anything there that could get damaged. It’s mostly for large furniture ie the furniture that spent the summer on the porch because we have nowhere in the house to put it, and I’ve given up trying to sell anything online because people are so annoying:

Rando: Hi, is this available?
Me: Yes, it is.
Rando: Will you take $100 less and will you deliver it?
Me:

So we decided it was better and less stressful to just take another booth. I’ve already paid the rent on it with the sale of a single vintage wool blanket, so it was definitely worth it. Also, I didn’t take the job at the bank. I had an interview and it went really well—all I had to do was one last thing for their external HR recruiter: VIDEO RECORD MYSELF ANSWERING QUESTIONS. I clicked the link, saw the first question, and ran into the kitchen:

Me: I can’t! I can’t work at a bank! I RETIRED so I wouldn’t have to do stuff like this. I like the job I already have!
Ken: So don’t work at the bank. I told you it was fine if you didn’t want to.

And my decision was a good one based on what happened on Wednesday when I rang through a customer, who wanted to pay with cash. I entered the amount and was making change when he suddenly said, “It’s probably easier if I give you another $1.55.” I looked at him, confused, as he counted out more money, especially since I had his change in my hand, ready to give it to him. I started to panic, and my 23-year-old boss came over:

Boss: What’s wrong?
Me: I—money—calculator?
Boss: Just give him back a ten.
Me: I’m not good at math.
Boss (laughs): That’s okay.

I don’t think the bank would be as forgiving. Plus, it’s good exercise, walking around a 90 000 square foot warehouse.

At any rate, it’s been busy, like I said, and I’m starting to have Christmas inadequacy, especially after buying a decorating magazine called Farmhouse Christmas. I saw it while Ken and I were waiting in line at the grocery store, and there were some cool instructions inside for making different kinds of ornaments. Of course, when it got rung through, I realized that it was literally the most expensive thing we bought at FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Was it worth it? Yes, if only for the laughs. Because there are several things in this magazine that are just bizarre.

1) Despite it being called Farmhouse Christmas, every featured house is decorated in white. Pristine white walls, pristine white floors, pristine white furniture—which leads me to believe that NONE of these people actually live on farms. If I owned a farmhouse on an actual farm, everything would be decorated in brown to hide all the mud and manure. Apparently one of the farms is an alpaca farm, and there’s a picture of a guy outside with two alpacas, but they look fake, like giant friendly stuffed animals. And I just did a lot of alpaca research for this (thanks Google) and discovered that alpacas are not actually that friendly, and that there’s a real thing called Berserk Alpaca Syndrome and that alpacas will spit at you and also scream at night. The two alpacas in the picture are called Scooter and Handsome (exactly what I would name stuffed alpacas) and that the owners love to “watch them interact with the sheep.” I can only imagine.

2) There are at least four different families represented in this magazine, and every single person in every single photo is BAREFOOT. With the exception of the guy with the alpacas, demonstrating that the only lucrative farming is alpaca farming, even if they spit and scream. But seriously—why is no one wearing any shoes?! Family posing on the couch—no shoes. Mother with child on her lap—no shoes. Woman standing in her kitchen—no shoes. Ken grew up on a dairy farm and I don’t recall anyone in his family running around the farmhouse without shoes or socks. I can imagine the photo shoots:

Photographer: OK folks, I love the matching outfits. Kids, those rosy cheeks are precious. Everyone ready to smile? Oh wait—why are you all wearing shoes?! This is a photo shoot, not a visit to an alpaca farm! Take those damn things off right now—you’re ruining my feng shui and disrupting my chakras.
Child 1: But the floor is cold…
Photographer: I don’t care. You remember what I said about shoes?
Child 2 (whispers sadly): They’re the devil’s footwear.

3) The most out-of-touch with reality thing in this entire magazine has got to be the story about “Cindy”, a blogger who decorates in white but likes to “sprinkle” other colours around to inspire her readers. In the photo, she’s also barefoot. But that’s not the crazy thing. THIS is the crazy thing: “My husband cooks and prepares all holiday meals. He takes the week off work to shop for all the ingredients. Our entire meal, desserts included, is made from scratch,” Cindy says.  He takes THE ENTIRE WEEK OFF WORK TO GROCERY SHOP?!! Is he just really bad at it? Because Ken can literally buy a week’s worth of groceries in under an hour. And she’s bragging about making all the food ‘from scratch’? Did he personally raise and then slaughter the turkey? Then it’s not from SCRATCH, CINDY.  Also, if Cindy’s husband can afford to take a week off work to grocery shop, then I bet he can afford to buy her a pair of slippers.

All this magazine did, besides giving me a good chuckle, is make me realize that I would rather live in a house where people are allowed to wear shoes, surrounded by warm wood and love. And tacos. Which Ken is going to make tonight. From a kit.

The decorating has begun!

The Deepest Cut

Last weekend, I was supposed to do a live reading in another town. I get very stressed about things like this—not because of the reading, but because the venue was downtown with very little parking, and I have a lot of anxiety over parking. It’s always my first question: “Where will we park?” In fact, I will actively avoid doing things if the parking situation is unknown or sketchy. I know some people who are about to open a new store and my first reaction was “No one will ever go there. It’s right downtown and the parking is terrible.” By ‘no one’, I obviously meant me, because I know I’m the only weirdo who stresses about parking and most people are happy to just leave their cars literally anywhere:

Carefree Person 1: Oh my, we’re two miles from the venue. Stop the car. Right here.
Carefree Person 2: Excellent choice. I shall abandon the vehicle on this verge.
Carefree Person 1: It’s a lovely night for a trek to the concert and the weather continues charming. Well, it’s raining slightly, but no matter.
Carefree Person 2: Might we be late? Yes. Yet it matters not.

So anyway, I said to Ken, “We need to leave by 2:15 at the latest, so make sure you’re ready to go. I’m serious.” And Ken nodded and went back outside to ‘finish up the one thing he was doing’, which was using the table saw to make a small wooden box to house the transformer that runs our outdoor Christmas lights. I was preparing by silently reading and timing myself in the kitchen when he came back in, around a quarter to two. He looked weird.

Me: What’s wrong? Why are you cradling your hand…
Ken: I think I’ve really hurt myself.
Me (panic rising): What did you do?
Ken: I cut my finger. With the table saw.
Me: Let me see!…Oh god. We’re going to the hospital.
Ken (weakly): No, it’s okay. I’ll just tape it.
Me: You can’t tape THAT. You need stitches.

Then Kate came in:

Kate: What going on? Let me see. JESUS! Is that bone?
Ken: Can you stitch it up? You’re a vet tech.
Kate: NO! Go to the hospital.

In the meantime, I was calling to cancel my reading, and then calling the nearest Urgent Care to see if they did stitches, to which the nurse I spoke to cheerfully replied, “We sure do!” as if people almost dismembered themselves all the time. Which, in fact, people probably do, judging by the casual attitude when we arrived, Ken holding a wad of blood-soaked paper towels around his hand and me looking like I was about to faint, cry, or both. The nurse was like, “Go sit down in the waiting area, and someone will bring you some gauze.”

After about an hour, we finally saw the doctor (which was actually pretty quick, although I think we maybe got pushed to the head of the line due to ALL THE BLOOD), and his immediate and unsurprising reaction was, “Wow, that needs stitches. But it doesn’t look like you severed the ligament, which is a good thing, or you would have lost the use of the finger altogether.”

Ken: I hope you can fix it. It’s my favourite finger.
Doctor:
Me: It’s the one he uses for texting. The ONLY one. That’s why he texts so slowly. Will this heal quickly? Otherwise, I’ll never hear from him.

After he was all stitched up, we came home. Did we have a conversation that started with “How many times have I TOLD you to wait until the blade stops” and ended with “I love you and I’m so happy it wasn’t worse”? Of course. At any rate, I can’t show you the picture of his finger after it was stitched up because it looks pretty gross, but here’s a picture of a very cool wooden hand that he made once I’d given him his tools back.