It’s All Uphill From Here

On Thursday, I was in the middle of a meeting. While I was listening intently as one does, I shook my shoulders slightly to loosen them up. I realized in that moment that my shoulders weren’t the only thing that was loose because I had forgotten, after almost 40 years of getting dressed in a specific order, to put on a bra. I was shocked but also strangely comfortable. Luckily, I was wearing a flowy top and we’re currently in the middle of a heat wave so it wasn’t apparent to anyone else but me. At least I hope it wasn’t. But still, it was a little confounding that for the first time in living memory, I had unintentionally forgotten to don a foundation garment:

Me (shimmying): I just realized that I forgot to put a bra on this morning.
Ken: Nice. But seriously? It’s not even the weekend.
Me: I know. So weird. I’ve never been so footloose and fancy-free at work.
Ken: See? You announce your retirement and the standards immediately begin to slip.

And yes, it occurred to me that my wardrobe mishap may be a subconscious result of my intention to retire from the secret agency at the end of September, an intention that I made public last week. I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but Ken’s retiring at the end of June, and we have a lot of plans. I have writing to do, he has photographs of trees and clouds to take, and we both have the antique business to maintain. (Just kidding about Ken’s photos—he’s an amazing photographer but he DOES take a lot of tree pictures–see the one below titled Sunrise). If you want to see more examples of his awesome photos, search for him on iStock—his last name isn’t hyphenated and it starts with the W part). Then there’s travelling—eventually. Our anniversary cruise, the one we couldn’t take last year, also got cancelled this year, so here’s hoping for the fall, or at least January.

Sunrise

And then to double down on my subconscious reaction to retirement, on Thursday night I dreamed that I went to a retirement workshop, but it was about FUNERAL PLANNING. I was seated between a really young boy and a very grumpy older woman, and we were given categories to make decisions about like “Materials” and “Location”. I distinctly remember examining a brochure and thinking ‘I’ve never been a fan of dark wood but this Mahogany looks pretty sweet.’ Then the woman next to me said, “For Location, make sure you specify high ground, and watch out for salt levels. High salt content causes you to decompose faster.” When I woke up, I researched this and it’s patently untrue. According to Google, bodies decompose faster in fresh water than salt water, although I get the high ground thing. I don’t want my beautiful mahogany casket to turn into a boat. Plus, since Ken will be building me a mausoleum, I want a room with a view. But all of this is beside the point, which is ‘Why the hell am I equating retirement with death?!’ I mean obviously, the bra thing is a metaphor for freedom but choosing a coffin? Then again, I’ve heard that the Death card in a tarot deck isn’t really an indicator that you’re going to shuffle off the mortal coil, but more about moving from one state of being to the other. So I guess if that’s true, I’m fully invested in the transition from work life to a life of leisure. And on Monday morning, I will stare into my bra drawer, pick out the prettiest one and sigh.

Here also is a picture of the cemetery at the top of a hill that I mentioned in the video I posted last Wednesday. I got a couple of requests so here you go. I bet there’s room up there for a mausoleum…

Creative Wednesday – Titles, Talk and Tipples Part 2

Here’s the second part of my incredibly fun interview with Jude Matulich-Hall. Don’t know why it took me so long to post this, but you can watch me get slightly tipsy as we talk about my upcoming short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones (Potters Grove Press), cassette tapes, and meeting my idol Gary Numan. You can watch it here.

Omen II: Return of the Herons

On Wednesday night, Ken was out walking Atlas and he came home perturbed:

Ken: I was scooping, and when I looked up, there were three blue herons just sitting there, watching me.
Me: That’s not good.
Ken (whispers ominously): I know.

You may or may not remember that I’ve written before about herons and their portentous nature. Oh, they’re beautiful, and graceful, but they are also harbingers of doom. And sure enough, this happened the next morning:

Ken: I can’t find Bob anywhere.
Me: What do you mean, ‘can’t find Bob’? Don’t joke like that.
Ken: I’m not kidding. I can’t find him. I’ve looked and looked.
Me: But that’s impossible. Where would he go?!

Bob is an African dwarf frog. He lives in a small tank in Ken’s office. We’ve had Bob for thirteen years, since he was given to Kate for her 10th birthday. Bob originally came with Doug and the two of them were presented to Kate in a tiny plastic cube barely big enough for a cup of water, so we quickly moved them into a small fishtank with fake plants and buildings so that they felt important, like small gods. We also assumed they were brothers because they fought A LOT. Then one day I looked up “why are my dwarf frogs fighting so much” and it turned out a) they weren’t fighting and b) Doug was Dougette. I was hopeful but we never did get any baby frogs. Dougette passed away a few years ago but it took a while for us to realize that because dwarf frogs don’t do much and just hang in the water rather lifelessly most of the time anyway. If I had a dollar for every time I had to tap on the tank and poke Bob to make sure he was still with us, I could have bought him a bigger tank. But now, not only is he not hanging languidly by his miniature Parthenon, he’s nowhere to be found. He isn’t in the tank, he isn’t on the bookcase the tank sits on, and if he somehow got out of the tank and fell OFF the bookcase, he’s not on the floor anywhere in the room. And it’s upsetting because even though he didn’t do much, he was a fixture in our lives and I hope no matter what happened to him that he didn’t suffer. F*cking herons.

And it was just the sour cherry on top of the stale cake that was this week, because normally, this week is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR, which is to say it’s Big Garbage Pickup Week or, as I like to call it, Big Junk Day. Last year, you may remember that we struck gold, bringing home stained-glass lampshades, antique sleds, and vintage leather suitcases. So last Sunday, as we were putting the finishing touches on my new outdoor office/garden house, we realized that the ceiling fixture wasn’t working properly. And since we’re locked down and can’t go to any stores to replace it, Ken said something that made me love him even more—“Let’s go drive around the back roads and see if anyone put a ceiling light out for Big Junk Day.” I’m sure you’re thinking, “Right. What are the odds?” But don’t scoff—sure enough, we DID find one, a very nice chandelier, as well as a 1920s Mission Oak armchair in beautiful condition that I’m now using as a desk chair in the garden house office. It was an auspicious beginning. The next night before dinner, I was raring to go. But an hour later, I was sadly disappointed:

Me: What’s with all the tarps?! Why does everyone have so many tarps? This junk is crap!
Ken: Ironic.

Concession after concession, gravel road after gravel road, it was just tarps, old mattresses, and empty plant pots. Finally, we came to a junk pile that looked promising and I hopped out. Sure enough, there was a bag with a small Persian rug inside. I pulled it out, to Ken’s dismay (“You don’t need another rug to straighten!”), and put it in the truck. I was elated, but my triumph was short-lived:

Me: What’s that smell?
Ken: It smells like pee.
Me: It’s not the rug.
Ken: It’s the rug.
Me: Goddammit!

The bright spot of the week came when Ken got the mail on Thursday. There was an envelope addressed to me from Capital One with a refund cheque inside. It was for 10 cents. Here’s the background. A year ago or so, I was making a phone order from The Bay, a department store here, and my store credit card was declined. I was befuddled so I called Capital One and they told me that my account was $1.36 overdue.

Me: You seriously suspended my account because I owe you a buck thirty-six?
Capital One Person: Yes.
Me: Why didn’t you let me know?
COP: I don’t know.
Me: Cancel my account.

So she did, and told me she would clear out the $1.36. But the next time I got a bill, instead of it saying I had a zero balance, it said I owed them 8 cents. And I was like, Really, Capital One? You want 8 cents? FINE! So I took a nickel, found three old pennies, taped them all to the bill and sent it back. That was the last I heard for almost a year until yesterday when I got the cheque for 10 cents (which I assume is my 8 cents plus interest) with the stern warning that I must deposit it immediately. Maybe I’ll really screw with them and send it back with “No longer at this address”. Then again, if the herons keep showing up, I might just have to move.

Update: Well, several updates. I decided to give up on the old Singer sewing machine, and as I moved it out of the alcove where I’d left it, I looked down and Eureka! I found the battery we thought Atlas ate. We also found Bob, lifeless under the rocks in his tank. Poor Bob. We buried him next to Titus and said a few words about what a good frog he was. And considering that the average life expectancy of an African dwarf frog is 5 years, and he lived to be 13, he was a pretty lucky little amphibian, despite the herons.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I spent a lot of time last week cleaning out our garden house, which is what we call a cute little structure that Ken built many years ago in our side yard. In the summer, it’s a nice place to sit and relax, and in the winter, it stores all of our summer furniture. So with the weather getting nicer, I decided it was time to take everything out of storage and get the place spruced up. There was only one problem—earlier in the spring, in a sudden moment of lunacy, I had purchased a used elliptical machine from our neighbours across the street who had posted it on Facebook. “Look!” I said to Ken. “It’s not very expensive, we just have to wheel it over here, and it fits in perfectly with my exercise plan.” Ken gave me the look he always gives me when I announce that I’m going to exercise, which is to say, he looked at me with incredulous disbelief.

“Just put it on the porch for now,” I directed him. “We can bring it in the house when I figure out where to put it.” But finding a place for a very large piece of exercise equipment proved to be more daunting than I thought, and the elliptical stayed on the porch until I had another brainstorm. “Let’s put it in the garden house. I can exercise in there.” Ken rolled his eyes, as one does, but loaded it onto the handcart and wheeled it over. “Remind me who’s supposed to be using this to exercise again?” he asked, but I promised that it was ME. And to prove my point, once it was installed in the garden house, I immediately hopped on to prove to him that I was serious. Then I immediately cracked my head on one of the ceiling joists to prove to him that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. But we repositioned it so that I could—I don’t know, do you RIDE an elliptical?—do whatever it is you do on one of those without giving myself a concussion.

And there it stayed until last weekend, when the weather suddenly got much warmer. It was a gorgeous day and I immediately headed out to the garden house. I stood there contemplating the elliptical, when I had yet another brainstorm. The garden house would be a perfect spot for an outdoor office, where I could sit and write whilst listening to the bubbling of the fishpond outside the door and the birds singing in the trees nearby. But there was an elephant in the room, and by elephant, I mean a giant metal elliptical machine that, by this point in time, may or may not have become slightly spiderwebby from disuse, and that’s not my fault because I’ve been quite ill lately and here’s a slight tangent for you:

I finally called my doctor and he wanted some ‘samples’, so he sent me to a lab over half an hour away to pick up the sample bottles, and let me just say that for someone in my current situation, driving that far away from home during a pandemic when there are NO open public washrooms was one of the most terrifying things I’ve done in a while. But I made it there and back without incident. At some point later that evening, I was able to provide the required samples (which was an ordeal in and of itself and one I will NOT be sharing with you, and yes I can hear your palpable sighs of relief), and the instructions said to refrigerate them until taken back to the lab. I couldn’t stand the thought of them just sitting there in the refrigerator though, so I went into our dining room closet which is obviously where we keep wrapping paper and gift bags, and picked out a small but cheerful little bag to put them in. Then I placed the bag on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Sometime later:

Kate: Ooh, what’s this?
Me: Don’t look in–
Kate: What the hell, Mom?!
Me: I tried to warn you.

The next morning, I had to return to the same lab, with the same sense of terror, this time with my cheerful gift bag. The line-up to get in was very long, and I was glad that my offering was charmingly concealed. When I got to the registration desk, the nurse asked why I was there:

Me (whispers): I’m just bringing back some samples.
Nurse: Oh, what a lovely little gift bag.
Me: You might think it contains sweets or a treat. Yet it does not.
Nurse (laughs): I’ll take it in for you. Do you want the bag back?
Me: No. No, I don’t.

I’m still waiting for the results and a thank you card. Tangent complete. I believe I left myself staring at the elliptical machine that was obscuring my plans for an outdoor office. I decided to sweep and mop as I considered my dilemma, all the while being taunted by the elliptical:

Elliptical Machine: Why did you buy me? You’ll NEVER use me. Be honest.
Me: But I want to use you. So bad.
Elliptical: You never will.
Me (sadly): I know.

For sale: one elliptical machine. Bit of a bully but works fine otherwise. Just want what I paid for it, or will trade for a comfy chair. (Update: Someone is coming for it today–I hope it’s kind to her).

Schrodinger’s Pants

On Friday morning, I was having a bit of a sleep in, because I’d taken the day off. Ken still had to work, but he’s retiring at the end of June and likes lording it over me a little with his plans to spend the summer building sheds while I’m slaving at the computer. He came out of our walk-in closet wearing a shirt and boxer shorts.

Ken: Should I wear light or dark coloured pants with this shirt?
Me: You work from home. Why are you even wearing pants?
Ken: I always do. But on my last day of work, I won’t. I’ll have my retirement party, then at the end, I’ll get up, disappear into the West and everyone will say, “Hey, he’s not wearing any pants.”
Me: That’s the best retirement gift you can give THEM— Schrodinger’s Pants. All they know is that at any given moment over the last year of your career, you were simultaneously half-dressed and fully-dressed.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

And speaking of enigmas, I saw this online on Friday afternoon.

The first three words I saw were Ranch Dressing, Poison, and Crabs and now I’m a little freaked out because a) I made Ken go to the corner store on Wednesday TO GET ME RANCH DRESSING so what’s next—I have a severe shellfish allergy so is anaphylaxis on the menu this weekend? Also b) if you look at all the words carefully, the majority of them are quite violent and the whole exercise just went from fun to mildly threatening:

Chainsaw
Danger
Sword
Clown
Shim
Poison
Nordebeaste
Crush
Pills
Secret
Quicksand
Demon
Rat
Apologies (which I assume is sarcastic)

The post was introduced with the sentence “It’s that time again” and the following emojis: a laughing face, a face gritting its teeth, a skull, and a demon. So did a serial killer design this list? And then there was this comment below the word jumble: “Chainsaw, unicorn, and music…a perfect trio!” and I will leave you to picture that person’s week all on your own.

In other news, I haven’t provided a quilt update for a couple of weeks because I’ve temporarily given up. I was halfway through row 9 when my 1936 Singer machine literally fell apart, so I borrowed my mother-in-law’s sewing machine and apparently it was built by NASA and I need to learn astrophysics to use it. “Why don’t you read the User Manual?” I hear you ask. Because it’s a generic User Manual for several different models and not a single instruction or picture is for the model I have. So now all I can do is wait for Ken to retire and learn to use it so he can sew more clothes for his marionette, and then he can make Youtube videos that I can follow. And when he does, he may or may not be wearing pants.

Atlas Shrugged

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I woke up and after a few minutes, I looked at my phone. There was a new notification from Facebook Marketplace exhorting me to check out the latest thing they had decided was “Just For Me”. And obviously, it was a clock. But not just ANY clock—a mid-1800s gingerbread clock, and it was only $10! So I contacted the seller and made arrangements to pick it up. I was about to leap out of bed, but then Ken came in with a card, inside of which was an assortment of LCBO gift cards, and if you don’t live in Ontario, LCBO stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and that’s what they do. They control the sale of liquor here, and you can only buy it from their stores or other ‘official’ outlets instead of at grocery stores and corner stores and off people on the street like you can almost everywhere else in the world. But now I was flush with the potential of buying a lot of wine, and on that high, I demanded that Ken take me clock-shopping:

Ken: But you already have 47 clocks.
Me: Most of them don’t EVEN WORK, KEN.
Ken: But I was going to make a little wooden boat and put this plastic lion on it.
Me: That’s very cute. But the clock is just up the road, and coming with me can make up for you not bringing me breakfast in bed.
Ken: Sigh. Fine.
Me: Great! Also, I bought a jigsaw puzzle from someone in Brantford, so if we leave now, we can feed two birds with one…bag of birdseed or whatever.
Ken: You mean, kill two birds with–
Me: NO.

So off we went. I had put the address into my GPS, and it directed us to a house. A white house with a blue roof. But the number on the house was different than the address the guy had given me, so I messaged him:

Me: We’re here but the number doesn’t match. Can you resend the house number?
Guy: It’s the white house with the blue roof.
Me: OK, we’re here.

So I rang the bell, and I saw a woman through the window scurrying around inside, but she didn’t come to the door. I rang the bell again, and she yelled, “That door is locked!” and I was like, “OK, I’m just here for the clock!”  Then she poked her head out the side door and yelled, “I don’t have a clock!” and slammed the door.

By this point, I was a little frustrated and also feeling gangster-y, like “Give me the clock and no one gets hurt!” but then Ken realized that the guy lived to the north of the highway and we were south and I was like “Is that up or down from here?”, but long story short, we found the guy’s house, and wouldn’t you know it—it was also WHITE WITH A BLUE ROOF.

Then we picked up the jigsaw puzzle and made it back home within the hour. And within that very hour, Atlas decided that the remote controls for our satellite dish and our ROKU streaming stick were exactly the thing for a mid-morning snack. We walked into the house, clock and puzzle in hand, and were greeted by shards of plastic strewn all over the family room. And out of the four AAA batteries involved in this scenario, WE COULD ONLY FIND 3.

So that’s how I spent my Mother’s Day—terrified that my dog was going to die. As for him, he was quite nonchalant about the whole ordeal:

Me: What’s wrong with you?! Those aren’t food!
Atlas: Says you. They were quite tasty.
Me: You could get really sick!
Atlas: Meh, I feel fine now. I can’t guarantee how this will play out around 3 a.m. though.

At any rate, it’s been a week. We still haven’t found the battery, either in the house or in his poo, but he seems perfectly fine, and based on the sheer quantity of the poo over the last seven days, it doesn’t appear that he has a blockage. But now, whenever I want to watch Netflix, I have to push his nose.

Also, competition on Facebook Marketplace must be getting pretty stiff, because people are starting to use sex to sell the most random stuff:

J.K.

I woke up on Thursday morning to a notification that I had a new comment to moderate on my blog. I have things set so that any new commenter has to be approved, and then once approved has carte blanche to say anything they like. Spam, of course, is filtered out right away; otherwise, my entire site would be littered with people encouraging me to buy backrest pillows shaped like baseball caps, kamagra jelly, various antibiotics and other drugs, and comments like:

“It’s perfect time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
I’ve read this publish and if I may just I desire to recommend you some fascinating
issues or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles regarding
this article. I want to learn more issues about it!”

Or

“I have been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never
found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet
will be much more useful than ever before.”

And while I’m happy to be making the internet more useful than ever before, I am very aware that these are just autobots. So imagine my surprise on a sunny Thursday morning to discover that J.K Rowling HERSELF had left a comment on my blog to be moderated. It was a particularly eloquent comment too. Now, before I tell you what the comment was, I should probably state for the record that, while I love Harry Potter, the books AND the movies, I am NOT, for personal reasons, a huge J.K. Rowling fan and I may or may not have responded to her more transphobic tweets by telling her exactly how I felt about her. Still, she took the time to read my blog and even better, she left a comment on my About page. The comment read as follows:

Trash ass blog? That’s the best you can do, J.K.? Not even a cool spell like ‘Trashicus Assicus Blogamundo!’? And it’s obvious that her editors had washed their hands of this pithy tome, with nary an upper-case letter in sight. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In addition, J.K., my ass is not trash and I have the receipts, and by receipts I mean the results of my last colorectal screening, to prove it. But then it occurred to me—maybe this wasn’t really J.K. Rowling. But I looked up the website and it took me straight to Wizarding World: The Official Home of Harry Potter. The email address was jkrowling@gmail.com. Hmmm. Seemed legit. Perhaps this was her revenge for that tweet I sent. So I emailed her and asked if she had posted a comment on my blog, and wouldn’t you know it? She must have been so ashamed of herself that she deleted her email address because my email got immediately bounced back.

And now I’m starting to wonder if this is, perhaps, the work of an imposter, albeit one with terrible writing skills and a definite lack of humour, an imposter who has gone to an awful lot of trouble only to leave an incredibly stupid comment on my About page. Actually, it’s even more nonsensical, because the comment was a reply to a reply that I had given to someone else’s comment, not even on one of the posts where I mention anything to do with Harry Potter. This is one of my favourites—thanks fake J.K. for giving me an excuse to promote it:

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

I Fix Noisy Bath Fans

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.

Honestly, if I was going to create a fake name, website, and email address just to say something snarky on a person’s blog, I would at least have made the comment worth reading, like “A backrest pillow for bed that provides a soft and comfortable material is perfect. It’s going to support your entire body, so the aches in your shoulders and back will disappear. This will give you the best night’s sleep you can have, allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.” Now THAT’S useful information.

Update: Apparently the dumb f*ck masquerading as J.K. Rowling clicked on other people who had commented previously on my About Page and left them rude comments too. Weirdo.

Quilt Update: 8 and 1/3 rows and then my 1936 Singer sewing machine had a nervous breakdown. I’ve borrowed Ken’s mom’s machine and now I have to figure out how THAT works.

Playing Around

Over the last few weeks, the AZ vaccine was made available to Gen Xers and, in Canada at least, most of us rushed to get it, because as many people recognized, those of us in Generation X are pretty devil-may-care, that’s how we were raised, and we don’t give a f*ck. Blood clots? I’ll take my damn chances if it means that people stop getting sick, small businesses can open, or I can have a graduation party for Kate. So I decided to repost this satirical look at the way our childhoods were different from kids today, originally written almost 5 years ago when kids were allowed to hang out on playgrounds without masks. I hope you enjoy…

 I was watching the news at lunch on Thursday, and there was a feature on “playground safety”. A very serious and sincere woman was instructing parents on how to “inspect” their local playground to make sure it was safe for their children. Her following gems of wisdom made me realize how much the lives of children have changed since I was a kid:

1) “Make sure the playground equipment is on a soft surface such as sand or wood chips.” This is so that, in case of a fall from the monkey bars, it’s less likely the child will suffer a broken bone. Well, in my day, we didn’t have “playground equipment”. There were swings and slides, and they were usually on concrete pads, and if you happened to fall off, it was no skin off anyone’s knee but your own. The best piece of playground equipment from my childhood had to be the giant metal rocket at Churchill Park. You had to climb into it via a metal ladder that went all the way up through very tight openings to platforms at different heights. The whole structure was on a slight angle and the top platform was probably 20 feet off the ground, which made it all a little disorienting, but you were encased in a metal cage (picture a rocket-shaped Wicker Man), so it was perfectly safe unless you lost your footing and slipped off the ladder. But see, all this taught us to be CAREFUL. It was like when hockey players used to play without helmets—they thought twice before trying to block a slap shot with their heads. Now, it’s just a free-for-all, with pucks flying everywhere, and kids leaping from platform to platform or swinging maniacally off stuff without a care in the world. Really though, in my day, we had better things to do than be all supervised on a playground. The best playground in the world when I was a kid was a construction site. I remember the good old days, racing around among the nails, concrete blocks, and roof trusses, then a gang of us would swing down into the basement through an open window, and play tag. Was it dangerous? F*ck yes, it was dangerous. One time when I was too small to get in and out by myself, the neighbourhood kids swung me in, then forgot about me later when it was time to go home. After a couple of hours, my mom started to get worried and, eventually a search party found me. Sure, it was scary being down there by myself, screaming for help and whatnot, and sure, I have an intense fear of climbing through tight spaces like windows or holes in metal platforms, but it made me TOUGH. Not like these babies today.

2) “Thoroughly inspect the equipment to ensure there are no damaged areas or sharp edges.” This is good advice for today’s playgrounds, which are all made out of plastic and easily broken. Or vandalised. But that was the great thing about the slides and swings of my youth. They were sturdy and iron and medieval-looking and held together with giant bolts and chain ropes. You couldn’t damage them if you tried. You would literally need a gang of kids wielding sledgehammers to even dent the slide in my neighbourhood. Was the bottom edge sharp? Sure. Was it rusty? I would certainly hope so. Otherwise, what was the point of getting a f*cking tetanus shot?

3) “Teach your children about the ‘zone of safe passage’.” What the playground safety expert meant by this was that parents need to assist kids in observing other children swinging and running, and figure out how far away they need to be from them to not get kicked or knocked down. When I was a kid, no one taught you that sh*t—you learned via the school of hard knocks, pardon the pun. In other words, if you ran by someone on the swing set and got a foot in the face, you very quickly learned the “zone of safe passage” on your own. There were no adults screaming, “Veer left, Tommy! Veer Left!! Remember the zone of safe pass—Oooh!” Our parents taught us one rule, and it was the most important rule of all: “Never chase a ball onto the road. But if you’re already playing on the road, move when you see a car coming.” That was their wisdom, and it saved my life many a time. Actually, both of my parents saved my life at one time or another. Mom saved my life at a baseball game. It was before the age of netting to protect the spectators, and a fly ball was coming straight for my head. She stuck out her hand and deflected it away. The bruise on her hand later was a very good indication of what might have happened to my skull if she hadn’t been so quick-thinking. She also saved my brother from drowning on more than one occasion. My dad saved my life one day when he happened to look out a bedroom window and saw me dangling by the collar from the branch of a pear tree in our backyard, slowly choking. I’ve never seen him run so fast. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for helping me survive to adulthood.

4) “Smoking is now banned on playgrounds, so be vigilant and remind those who might not be aware.” NO SMOKING?! What? I’m sorry, but the only reason that I’m only slightly asthmatic is because my lungs were toughened up by years of second hand smoke (and first-hand as well, of course—it WAS the seventies). It’s funny how attitudes change over the years. When I was a kid, ANYONE could buy cigarettes. I still remember my mom giving me a note and a couple of dollars, and sending me to the local store to buy her a pack of Rothmans. I’d stand there in line with the other 6 year-olds, shooting the sh*t about the latest Barbie outfits, or what construction site or vacant lot we’d be meeting at later, or what vacationing family had left their milk door unlocked, then spending the change from the cigarettes on sugar candy. (Milk door, in case you’re wondering, was a tiny door next to the actual door. The milkman would open it from the outside, put the milk in, then the family could open a second door from the inside and get the milk. If you went on vacation and forgot to lock the milk door, you were an open target for the neighbourhood kids. The smallest one, usually me, would squeeze through the opening and let the others in. So if you came back from a trip and all your cookies and cigarettes were gone, you knew you’d forgotten to lock the milk door.) But people back when I was young were not as knowledgeable about the dangers of smoking. In fact, my mom, like many women, smoked through both her pregnancies. Of course, she’ll tell you she’s glad she did, because otherwise, my brother, who has a Ph.D., and I would be “insufferable” and much taller than his 6’1” and my 5’6”. Now, of course, some women are so paranoid that they won’t eat peanut butter if they’re pregnant because it “might cause allergies”. I say expose ‘em early and often—it’s the best way to toughen them up. I remember once being told off by a colleague when I was pregnant with Kate for drinking a Pepsi. No, not because it wasn’t a Coke—she said, “Don’t you know what the caffeine might do to the baby?” I was like “Hopefully keep her awake all day so she doesn’t kick the sh*t out of my stomach tonight when we should both be sleeping.” I feel terrible though—she might have gotten MORE scholarships to university if I’d gone with Pepsi Free.

Overall, I just think that monitoring your child’s every move is counterproductive to childhood. And of course, I’m exaggerating about my own youth—my parents took very good care of me and my brother, but not in that “in your face” kind of way. My dad calls it “Carefully supervised neglect,” which to me, means that you let your kid be a kid, but you’re always there to stop the baseball or the drowning, as the case may be. Personally, I’ve tried to embrace that saying, but I get that it’s not always easy. The world seems to have become a more scary place than it was 40 years ago, or maybe as an adult, I’m just more aware of it now than I was when I was young. All I know is that the first time Kate wanted to go to the store by herself (it’s just around the corner and she was 10), I had to stifle every protective instinct I had. She was gone about 30 seconds when I broke down and begged Ken to act like a stealth ninja and follow her at a safe distance so Kate wouldn’t know he was there. Ken, of course, obliged, and came back to report that she was fine—that she had made it safely through the four-way stop and was on her way home with some sugar candy and a pack of smokes.

Quilt Update: 7 rows complete and 13 to go. You can see the pattern starting to form, maybe?

Creative Wednesday – Titles, Talk, and Tipples

A couple of Fridays ago, I sat down with my friend, Jude Matulich-Hall, for the inaugural episode of her new video series Titles, Talk and Tipples. It was a lot of fun–we talked about writing, our upcoming books, and a lot of other things while drinking some very nice wine. There are two parts and here is the first if you’d care to watch it:

There IS a second part, which I MIGHT post next week but by that point, we had both been ‘tippling’ pretty hard, there was a lot of giggling, and my vocabulary had deviated to the singular adjective ‘incredible’. I used it a LOT. Still, it was an excellent time and Jude is a very gracious host, even when she’s tipsy.

It’s Golden

So I was recently nominated for the Golden Bloggerz award (created by Chris Kosto) by my blogger pal Mark Bierman (thanks, Mark!), a great writer and supporter of other bloggers. Now, I know a lot of you don’t like the whole award thing, but I do, mostly because I always do it in my own way and it gives me something to write about in a week when all I did was work and get the AZ vaccine. The vaccine didn’t turn me into a zombie, nor did I sprout the coveted forklift arms I often fantasize about, but it did make me super-tired for a whole day and my arm still hurts like someone punched me several times. When I told people at work that I got it, someone joked, “Oh, they’re tracking you with that microchip now!” and I was like, “If Bill Gates wanted to track me, he could have been doing it for years through a little something called Windows. And if he really thought I was even interesting enough to track, I’d be incredibly flattered.” It’s honestly the most bizarre conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard. If you’re posting on social media about microchips and vaccines, the reason you’re getting ADS about microchips and vaccines is because social media already knows EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE DOING, BOB. I’d be more worried about Zuckerberg than Gates, frankly. Oh, and Bob? 99.9% of us aren’t even worth bothering about, so put your ego back in your pocket.

Anyway, on to the award. First I’m supposed to tell you three things about myself. This is tough because I’ve been writing this blog for almost 7 years and what is there that I HAVEN’T told you? You know about my obsession with forklifts, my relationship with the elusive Shane, the fact that I aspire to have the nickname Player One—heck, I even told you about my hysterectomy…OK, here are three things you might not know:

1) I refer to every bird larger than a crow but smaller than a vulture as an owl. It saves time, although it drives Ken nuts.

Me: Look at the huge owl!
Ken: For the last time, that’s a hawk! Owls are nocturnal!

2) I have never seen the movie E.T. and I have no intention of doing so. I’ve managed to live almost 56 years without seeing it, and I’m okay with that.

3) I am very superstitious. I have a pair of lucky underwear (you all know THAT) but what you don’t know is that I wore them on Wednesday when I went for my vaccine so I wouldn’t get a blood clot. And I didn’t. Because the underwear is lucky. Also, I knock on wood and I believe that it works. Fight me.

Okay, now I have to answer Mark’s questions and they’re really hard.

Question 1: If you could speak to one person from history, who would that be?

Mark didn’t specify past or future history, so I’m going to say ‘a dude from the year 2121 so I can find out if we ever get flying cars, transporters, or robot butlers.’ Hopefully, the pandemic is over by then so I don’t have to wear a mask while I’m time traveling. And don’t @ me with “The future isn’t history, Player One.” The future isn’t history YET, but it will be, so it counts.

Question 2: Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?

Sunsets because that means it’s almost time for bed, and as you all know, I enjoy being horizontal much more than I like being vertical.

Question 3: Have you ever done anything for the adrenaline rush?

Rollercoasters, I guess? That’s pretty much it, I mean, I have no interest in doing anything where I could easily die just for adrenaline. As the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios, I’ve literally spent my life actively AVOIDING things like falling out of a plane, being attacked by a bear, or drowning. I WAS almost bitten by a shark once, but it was a little one and very cute, and I was just trying to get a picture of it. I didn’t know it was dangerous.

Question 4: What’s your go-to comfort food?

White wine. It’s made from grapes and that’s a food.

Question 5: Do you have any pets?

Do I have any pets? Here’s a picture. Note that Atlas is wearing a cute little onesie because he just got neutered. He’s not impressed, but as I keep telling him, “It’s better than a cone.” As he keeps telling me, “If you hadn’t stolen my balls, the subject would be moot.”

And there you go. I don’t know about who to nominate because I’m aware that many of my followers don’t like awards, so I’m nominating these bloggers, since I have no idea how they feel about awards:

The 59 Club
Eastelmhurst.a.go.go
Scribblans
James Proclaims

Texas Writer
…and my good friend at Cyranny’s Cove

There are a bunch of rules as well, but I’ve provided a link to Mark’s blog at the top and he has them there.

Here are my five questions:

What’s your favourite photograph?

How long can you go without blinking?

On a scale of 1 to 5, how superstitious are YOU?

Flowers or chocolate?

Where’s the first place you’ll go once the pandemic is over?

I look forward to your responses. I hope that many of them are in the form of haikus.

Quilt Update: I have sewn the first two rows. 19 rows to go.