My Week 13 – Titus the Alcoholic Psychic

Thursday: Titus is an alcoholic. Also, he may be psychic.

I’m a little worried that my dog is turning into an alcoholic. A few weeks ago at the cottage, I spilled some wine on the carpet. Before I could even get a paper towel, Titus was going crazy licking it up. It was only a few drops, but we could barely drag him away. Also, I began to notice that whenever I poured a glass of wine around him, he started to drool, and it was really gross. To prove my theory, one night I dipped my finger in the wine glass and offered it to him. He licked it off my finger voraciously, then started to lick the blanket where a drop had fallen. Suddenly he seemed to realize that this heavenly nectar was coming from the glass in my hand, and I spent the rest of the night pushing his face out of my wineglass. Then the other day, my aunt was at our house, and she left her full glass of wine on the coffee table when she left the room. When she came back, the glass was empty and Titus looked extremely glassy-eyed. At this point, we realized that our dog might be a wino. (Did I give him a little bit of wine in his bowl on Christmas Eve as a treat? Did he spend the next couple of hours lying on our bed, staring at the wall? Did Ken call me an “enabler”? I admit to nothing.) But I started to worry about getting calls from the local pub eg: “Come and get your damn dog—he’s too drunk to walk home by himself. And he lost all his money playing poker.” Then I started thinking about a 12 Step Program for dogs and what that would look like. The AA steps seem to be very religious, with a lot of talk about giving yourself up to God, but that would be OK—Titus seems to believe that a deity of some sort lives in his supper dish, because we usually put him outside before we fill his bowl up. When he comes in, the food seems to have magically appeared, to the point that, whenever he comes in from outside, he always checks the bowl “just in case”. Of course, the god-like bowl was also where he got his last taste of wine, so he probably thinks his personal deity is both loving and benevolent. One of the other steps is to make amends to all the people you’ve harmed. What do dogs apologize for? Here are some things that Titus might want to make amends for:

• I’m sorry I licked your pants 5 times. Well, I’m not sorry about the first time, because you dropped a donut on them, but the other 4 times were unnecessary.
• The other day when everyone thought you farted, it was actually me. So much for blaming the dog, huh?
• I didn’t mean to puke on the carpet, but I ate my dinner too fast. Next time, I’ll aim for the hardwood.
• Was that you I tripped on the stairs in my eagerness to go for a walk? Sorry–I didn’t see you there.
• I didn’t mean to smack you in the face when you asked for a high five. I’m just not very coordinated.
• Yes, I ate that entire box of crackers that you left on the counter, as well as the 16 cubes of chicken bouillon that I stole out of the cupboard. I apologize. I also apologize for once again puking on the carpet.

And so on. That dog has a lot to answer for. But, in his defense, we think he might also have a sixth sense, because on Christmas day, my sister-in-law, who very recently lost her husband, came over to the house and met Titus for the first time. Titus never barks, but when he saw her, he went nuts, barking at her, or the air around her, and wagging his tail like crazy—not an angry bark, but a really excited bark, like maybe he saw someone we didn’t. It was a comforting thought for all of us, that perhaps Lonzo’s spirit was with us and Titus could somehow sense him there. Despite his addiction issues, and the occasional puking, he’s a pretty cool guy, which is what people say about a lot of alcoholics, right?

My Week 12 – A Tribute

My Week 12

I like to keep this blog lighthearted—that’s the entire point of writing it, so that I can focus on the positive aspects of my life, the quirky, funny things that happen every week. But sometimes a week can be so tragic that it seems dishonourable to ignore it. This past Tuesday, my family lost someone important to us—my brother-in-law, Lonzo Lucas Jr. He collapsed very suddenly while out Christmas shopping with Ken’s sister Karen, and couldn’t be revived. Lonzo had some major health issues, including the fact that he had no functional kidneys and was on home dialysis for 10 hours every day. He had been very ill this fall, but had begun to recover. He had regained a lot of the weight he lost, his doctors were impressed with his improvement, and he seemed to be getting his energy back, so his death was completely unexpected. Most of all, he had been very happy; he was looking forward to Christmas, and we had plans to see him and Karen at Ken’s parents’ place, our house on Christmas Day, and hopefully on New Year’s Eve for a raucous night of board games. So instead of my usual ramblings and sweary-ness, I’m going to tell you what I loved about Lonzo.

1) He was one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind, loved his family and especially his wife, and I never heard him say a wrong word about anyone. He and Karen had a tremendously rich life together—they took wonderful care of each other, loved the same things, and were genuine soulmates. He liked everyone he met, and was always sincerely and enthusiastically happy to see you. He always greeted us with a bear hug and “Hey, Sis!”, “Ken, my man!”, or “There’s my niece!” This wasn’t an act, or an attempt to impress anyone—it was just his nature. If more people in the world were like Lonzo, there would be a lot less war and a lot more dancing (and he was a pretty good dancer).

2) He was one of the most singularly optimistic people I’ve ever met. He had many health issues, and had had a difficult life, facing health crisis after health crisis—I think the days when he felt lousy far outweighed the days when he felt 100%, but I never heard him complain. He and Karen would arrive at our house to stay for a day or two, lugging in jerry cans, tubing, machinery, and all kinds of strange and cumbersome things, but he never drew attention to it—it was just another part of the luggage. And he had plans for the future. He’d had several close encounters with death, but that never fazed him. As soon as he was home from the hospital, he and Karen were planning their next big trip. He loved adventure, and they spent a lot of time exploring the world together. Last summer, they rented a big-ass, 25-foot R/V and drove down to the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Park or Yosemite—one of them anyway…sorry, the details are fuzzy because as soon as someone says R/V, camping, or “outside”, I instinctively tune out…and they were planning to do the Rockies the same way this coming summer.

3) He sucked at math more than me. I am not a math person, and neither was Lonzo. He was a very intelligent man—in fact, he had a Master’s degree as well as a Bachelor of Education, but math was not his strong suit. The big difference between us though, was that Lonzo cared enough to become better at math. He needed it to be an elementary school teacher, and he persevered. He took classes, got tutors, and studied as hard as he could, until he knew he could teach math to 8th graders (and that’s hard math, y’all). Me, I gave up a long time ago, and my math skills are limited to calculating percentages for tips and discounts, and being able to determine the area for tiling jobs or flooring.

4) He was tremendously creative. He was a writer of stories, a sculptor, and an extremely talented painter. With Karen’s encouragement, he developed a beautifully unique style. I like to think of it as a fusion of black history, southern religion, and African mysticism. I would look at one of his paintings and be suitably impressed, but then he would tell me what the images meant, and it would become iconic. This past summer when we visited him and Karen in Barrie, he was excited about being able to spend time at the family cottage, where he and Karen could sculpt soapstone and driftwood to their hearts’ content without worrying about the dust getting everywhere. He had a huge piece of driftwood, and told us about his plans for it. We looked through his sketchbook together, and he talked about the canvasses that he was going to paint based on the ideas he had drawn. He loved collaboration as well—he and Karen often painted the same canvas together based on their shared vision, or worked side by side on projects.

5) He made me go down the Ridge Runner at Blue Mountain with no brakes on. No one else could have convinced me to do it, but he was determined that we all had to make a “no brake pact”. How was I supposed to get out of it, when the guy with no kidneys was going to do it? Plus he was so excited about it that I couldn’t say no. So I went straight down Blue Mountain at over 45 kph, through twists and loops, screaming one continuous scream. It was the most exhilarating thing you could imagine. When I got to the bottom, he and Ken and K were there, waiting to help me out of the cart—my knees were shaking, but I couldn’t stop laughing with the sheer joy of it. Thank you for making me do that, Lonzo.

People like Lonzo are a rare breed. Who knows what mysterious forces combine to create them, but when they come into your life, you are better for knowing them. His passing at the age of 46 is tremendously unfair. Perhaps on some level, he knew that his time in this world might be less than he hoped—maybe that’s why he treated each day, each person, each experience like a gift, and why his short life was a gift to us.

Ken’s Epic Conversation with a Guy on the Phone

I have to share this, because Lonzo would have loved it too. This morning, the phone rang, and Ken answered. Here’s the conversation:

Guy: I’m calling to notify you that your computer has a virus.
Ken: (mock horror) It does?!
Guy: Yes. Is it on right now?
Ken: Yes, it is.
Guy: Do you see any icons on the screen?
Ken: Yes…I can see an icon for This Is A Phone Scam, another icon for I Can Trace This Number, and an icon for I Should Call The Police.
Guy: *pause* You’re a smart man. *click*

Totally epic, honey.

My Week 11 – The Smelly Chair

Friday: I worry that my love of a good deal can sometimes be a problem.

I love a bargain. We all know how K gives me a dirty look at the grocery store when I buy 30 rolls of toilet paper to get the extra points. And I only ever buy something from Lancome if there’s a “gift with purchase”, which means that I have more eye make-up remover and sample size mascara than I could possibly use in one lifetime. But sometimes, my love of a bargain has its downside. Well, downside mostly for Ken:

Me: I need you to go into Ayr tonight around 7 o’clock.
Ken: What? Why?
Me: I bought a 7 foot column.
Ken: What do you mean a column?
Me: You know, like a pillar. It was a really good price.
Ken: What do you want it for?
Me: I don’t know yet. But it’s awesome, and I told them you’d be by around 7. Here’s the address.

And the column WAS awesome, even Ken agreed. Right now it’s in the corner of my office, but one day, it will be used for something really cool, like a super-tall pedestal for a bust of Shakespeare, or to hold up a low ceiling or something. I do this to Ken all the time, and I’m glad he’s the kind of guy who sees into the future for this stuff. Last week, I made him go and buy a vacuum cleaner hose for the upstairs of our central vacuum cleaner. He gave me a hard time, which is par for the course, but he later agreed that for $30, it was worth the drive to Cambridge so that he didn’t have to drag the downstairs hose up the stairs anymore. See, I’m always thinking of ways to make his life easier.

I’ve gotten many amazing bargains over the years, but I’ve learned some lessons the hard way. Like, don’t buy furniture from chain smokers. About three years ago, we were looking for a certain kind of chair for in front of our fireplace. I was on Kijiji, and I saw the perfect chair: dark brown leather, tufted back, recliner—perfect for Ken after a hard day, and very match-ey with the rest of the room’s motif. So I called the owners, and arranged to go and see it. When I got to their house, I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of cigarette smoke. I looked at the chair, which was gorgeous, but told them I’d have to talk to my husband first and would let them know (because I didn’t want to buy it, but also didn’t want to be mean to this nice old couple who were, apparently, well on their way to lung cancer). Well, when Ken saw the picture of it, he fell in chair-love. “Their house reeks,” I said. “It’s leather,” he replied. “We can just wipe it down.” Well, OK then. So we drove back out, paid for it, and loaded it up. He kept saying things like, “See, it’s not so bad,” to which I would reply, “It’s on the trailer and I can still smell it.” We got it in the house, and it looked amazing. “See,” said Ken, “it’s perfect. And it hardly smells at all.” So we went to bed that night, feeling pretty good about our great deal. Then in the morning, I came downstairs. My living room smelled like a BROTHEL. I kid you not, it was like a bunch of emphysemic wenches had set up shop in front of my fireplace. The chair spent the next three days out on the front porch.
After three days, we brought it back in. It became immediately clear that the problem had NOT been solved, so out came the leather cleaner and the Febreeze. For those of you who are aware of my obsession with the wonderful world of Febreeze scents, this is where it began. Day after day, I cleaned and sprayed that damn chair with a variety of floral and geographic scent-sations. One night, Ken was so simultaneously sad about the smell, but happy about the comfort level of the chair that he spread a blanket over the entire thing to mask the odour and fell blissfully asleep in it. At this point, I realized that no matter how much the chair smelled, Ken loved it like a child—a smelly, poorly behaved child—and I could never convince him to part with it. Over the years, the smell has faded to the point where it’s barely detectable, unless it’s particularly warm and damp outside. And we still call it the Smelly Chair. But it was a great deal, and if nothing else, I’m all about a bargain. Just ask my students, to whom I was bragging the other day that the sweater I was wearing cost $129.00 in a boutique I’d been in on the weekend, but I had found it for $6.99 in a consignment store. “What’s a consignment store?” they asked. When I told them, the general consensus was that it was a little strange to be happy about wearing someone else’s clothes, but I assured them I had washed it first. And then I reminded them about the song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and we all agreed that it was awesome.

My Week 10 – Predictability

Thursday: I ponder predictability

First, I love Ken. He’s awesome, and he puts up with my many foibles. He hardly ever gets mad, even when I killed his robot vacuum, or when I buried his slippers in the garden because he kept leaving them on the basement stairs (although THAT could be because I never told him about it. Surprise!). But let’s be honest—he has some “foibles” too. Mainly his predictability. Ken is very predictable. In fact, I can predict with absolute certainty that he just said, “I am NOT predictable”, because that is exactly what he will say when he reads that (and he just did, haha). But he is predictable, and I can prove it:

Exhibit A: A couple of weeks ago, we had the first ice storm of the season. I have a new, little, very cute and sporty car. I used to have a great big SUV with all-wheel drive. To my surprise (and it was a very nasty surprise), my new car, by virtue of the fact that it weighs about 10 pounds, is NOT good on ice or snow. I discovered this as I tried to leave the driveway. Things, and the car, slid quickly downhill from there. My immediate response (as some of you already know) was to go into panic mode and announce to K, “I’m trading this car in for an SUV. I can’t drive this all winter.” She agreed that it would be a good idea, but I cautioned her: “Your dad will never agree to it. I can tell you right now what he’ll say. ‘We’ll trade for the winter—I’ll drive your car, and you can have my SUV.’” Then I called Ken, because I wanted to complain about the roads (and I have Bluetooth so now I can call him whenever I want to complain about anything, which he secretly loves), and when I told him I wanted a different car, he said, ‘We’ll trade for the winter—I’ll drive your car, and you can have my SUV.’ (I just copied and pasted that from the first time I wrote it, because I didn’t even need to retype it—that’s how well I know him). To which I replied, “What the hell is the point of that? Then YOU can die in a car crash?! I knew you would say that. You’re so predictable!” And he said, “No, I’m NOT.” Which is exactly what I knew he would say.

Exhibit B: Whenever I ask him what he wants for dinner, he always says “homemade pizza”. I don’t know why I ask. I should just make the damn pizza and cut out the middleman.

Exhibit C: He’s even predictable in his unpredictability. When we’re driving, the one thing I can always count on is that he refuses to ever drive the same route twice in a row. So that would seem UN-predictable, but the fact that he ALWAYS does it makes it not count. We’ll be driving and suddenly I’ll realize I have no idea where we are. He’ll turn down a random road, and I’ll be like “Where the hell are we going? We’re backtracking. We’re driving AWAY from where we’re going.” And he’ll say, “It’s a shortcut.” NO, IT’S NOT, KEN. When you drive in the opposite direction from your destination, you aren’t taking a shortcut, you’re Christopher f*cking Columbus. Of course, he tries to explain things using fancy technical terms like North, South, East, or West, which he knows I don’t understand, because to me, you either go left or right. And then I’m like, “We’re not going North, Ken—we’re going ASSBACKWARDS.”

Anyway, I suppose predictability is a good thing. Like I know if I send him an email hint from, I can predict that he will buy something for me, and if I ask him to rub my back, he always will, without complaint. What more does a girl need?