My Week 2 – Smokehouses and Country Vets

Sunday, When Ken and I Have Yet Another Fascinating Conversation:
When we’re driving in the car together, Ken and I often have fascinating conversations about the things we see. I like talking to Ken more than pretty much anyone I know, because we can talk about anything with complete seriousness. Like this:
Ken: Did you see the barn we just passed? There’s a big sign on it that says “Smoke Barn”. I wonder why.
Me: You mean “Why is it a Smoke Barn?” or “Why label it?” Because to answer the first question, most likely because things get smoked in it, tobacco leaves for instance. Or maybe it’s where people who work on the farm are allowed to smoke.
Ken: No, I mean why put a sign on it? If it’s YOUR Smoke Barn, why tell other people about it?
Me: Maybe the owner is really proud of it and wants people to know that he finally reached his goal of owning a Smoke Barn.
Ken: It just seems weird.
Me: Maybe it’s a liability thing, like for insurance. In case someone breaks into the barn, gets overcome by the smoke and dies, their family can’t sue you cuz you warned people that it was a Smoke Barn.
Ken: I think that if you break into a Smoke Barn and die, it was pretty much your own fault.
Me: I don’t know about that—I remember hearing about a robber who was on the roof of a house trying to break in when he fell through the skylight and broke his back. He sued the owners for having a faulty skylight and won.
Ken: That’s crazy.
Me: Maybe they should have put a sign on it.

Tuesday, The Day I Pretend To Be A Country Vet:
So I was reading the latest issue of my favourite magazine “Country Living”, because I live in the country but need help, because I’m not really a “country” person and this magazine helps me figure out how to decorate and cook in various countrified ways that make me feel like I can keep up with the other country people around here, although technically I live in a village with a gas station, a video store, and two restaurants. I say two, but there is a currently a plaza being built on the edge of town which is, like, two blocks from my house, featuring another gas station as well as a Pizza Pizza store and a Country Style Donuts place, because of course what every small village needs is national franchises that will run local businesses into the ground. I’m going to digress from my Country Living opening and complain for a minute about the new plaza because a) it’s been under construction for over a year and at this point I’m convinced that the owners only work on it when they win money at the Woodstock casino, and b) we already have some great restaurants in town as well as a gas station called the Diva (a tremendously cool name, right?) run by this lovely East Indian family, which has amazingly cheap gas as well as dollar store stuff. These people are all local and I will NEVER buy anything from the new plaza. (Unless the gas station is full-serve because I hate pumping my own gas. I would like to be more loyal, but the truth is, I can be pretty mercenary when it comes to avoiding getting gasoline on my shoes.) Anyway, back to my original topic—I was reading Country Living magazine and it features a column called “Ask A Country Vet”. And based on the questions that are asked of said veterinarian, I can only assume that SOME people in the country don’t get out much. This month’s issue featured the following question: “How can I prevent my cat from sleeping in the laundry basket on top of my freshly laundered clothes?” I’m going to give you a minute to re-read that question. Because I had to re-read it more than once to confirm that I wasn’t imagining that I was in an alternate universe where veterinarians had to actually answer bizarre questions like this. Then I pretended that I was the veterinarian and answered the question thusly: “After you freshly launder your clothes, PUT THEM AWAY. Then your cat can’t sleep on them.” It seemed like a pretty obvious response to me, as someone who has owned cats for many years, but wait—the vet responsible for this column apparently has never owned a cat, and very seriously responded that the best solution was to put a SHEET OF TIN FOIL on top of the laundry so that when the cat leapt into the laundry basket, the sound of the tin foil would startle it to the extent that it would become afraid of the laundry basket, thereby avoiding it. My immediate response to that was WTF??!! because in my experience with animals, scaring the crap out of them does not lead to a happy co-existence. But the main reason why you do NOT want your cat in your clean laundry is this: Cats are filthy. They poop in gravel and then drag it around your house. I love my cat, but when she jumps up on the bed and wants to cuddle, I try really hard NOT to think of the billions of bacterias that are swarming all over the quilt, and I never, ever high-five her like I do the dog. Now, here’s what I imagine will happen in this whole tinfoil scenario—your cat uses the litter box, and is about to drag some of that poopy gravel into your freshly cleaned laundry on its little poopy paws. Then your freshly cleaned laundry scares more poop out of the cat, ONTO your freshly cleaned laundry. Instead of pissing your cat off, why don’t you try the simple, hygienic trick of putting the laundry away? Then it occurred to me that maybe the editors of Country Living magazine make up these questions because a few months ago, somebody asked this following gem: “Why does my dog chase his tail?”

Friday, The Day I Discover My New Favourite Phrase
I’m currently binge-watching a show called “Elementary,” which is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes series. The dialogue is very witty at times, and today, during one episode, Sherlock, played by Johnny Lee Miller, who is very awesome, says to Watson, played by Lucy Liu, “Opinions are like ani, Watson—everybody has one”. It took me a second, then I figured out what he meant and it became my new favourite phrase. My previous favourite phrase was “This is not my circus; these are not my monkeys” which I would say to myself whenever the case called for it, which was fairly often. But my new favourite phrase can also be used for a variety of occasions, and sounds pretty innocent until you look up what “ani” means (it’s pronounced ayne-eye, by the way). When I started writing this, I looked up the spelling because I didn’t know if it had one or two “n”s in it, and I discovered another interesting fact, thanks to dictionary.com, that while it means the plural of “anus”, the word “anuses” is more commonly used. Really, dictionary.com? Because I’ve never in all my life had the need to refer to more than one anus, so whoever is making its usage common is beyond me. Maybe people who work at hemorrhoid cream factories. Or proctologists. Then I thought about something similar that happened in class the day before (absolutely NOT involving the word “ani”), when I remarked that someone had used two different mediums in their artwork, and one of my students, in the way that only teenagers can do, corrected me and said I should have said “medi-ahhh”, because that was the plural of medi-ummm. So I did what all great teachers do when they’re caught making a mistake, which is to totally make something up on the spot, and I told the kids with absolute confidence that when you are using a specific number in front of a word like that, you use the singular noun form, not the plural, because it was Latin. And nobody questioned it.

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