The Keys To Happiness

A few days ago, I was in the kitchen and I happened to look up at the really cute key holder on the wall that I’d made out of an old breadboard and antique keys to hold not-antique keys. My brow furrowed. “Ken!” I called. “Did you put all those keys on that lanyard and hang it on the key holder?”

Ken (yells back): Yes
Me: Well, what are they all for?
Ken: I don’t know.
Me: If you don’t know what they’re for, why did you put them all on the lanyard? Where did they all come from?
Ken: They were all just hanging on different hooks on the key board so I put them together.
Me: But you don’t know what they’re for.
Ken: Correct.
Me: So if you don’t know what they’re for, and we don’t use them, why didn’t you just throw them away?! What are you, some kind of key hoarder?
Ken: I am NOT a hoarder. They’re just nice keys and you never know when you might need one.

This is me holding the lanyard up to Ken and demanding to know what they’re for. In the picture, I have transformed into an angry elderly man and the lanyard is a two-dollar macrame plant holder, which is just about as useful as a multitude of mysterious keys.

There were 18 keys. We have 4 doors that require keys, so you’d think at least one of them would have fit at least one of the doors. You would, however, be incorrect. I took the systematic approach, and by that I mean at first, I carried all the keys around and tried them in the doors, but there were so many keys and doors that I lost track and couldn’t remember which ones I’d experimented with. So I took them all off the lanyard and lay them out on the counter in a straight line. Then Kate came in and identified three that were for the lab at her former university, which left 15 keys. I tried each key in each door and you know what happened? Again, none of them fit any door in our house.

Me: This is f*cking bullsh*t.
Ken: You sound like that guy at the brewery the other day.

And here’s a fun tangent. The other day, Ken and I went on a roadtrip to our antiques booth, and on the way back, we decided to stop for lunch at a local brewery that had outside seating. There was a foursome at the next picnic table, and we couldn’t help but overhear their conversation, which was an absolute cornucopia of epithets (and for the purpose of this conversation, I will be transcribing the swearing verbatim so there will be no asterisks):

Sweary Dude: If you fucking go to Scotland, they don’t fucking say ‘yes’ there. They say fucking ‘aye’.
Woman: Really?
SD: Fucking right. So you better be fucking prepared because they say ‘aye’ a fucking lot. And I was fucking talking to Pete the other day, that fucking German guy…

So Ken and I discussed the use of the word f*ck and what parts of speech it could be substituted for: noun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition…

Ken: Can you use it as a pronoun?
Me: Only if you say f*cker. Like ‘F*cker ordered another beer.’ It can also be used as an interjection. Do you remember Schoolhouse Rocks?

And that led us down a rabbit hole of 1970s animated linguistic cartoons, culminating in Ken’s favourite, Mr. Morton, which is about predicates: “Mr. Morton talked to his cat (‘Hey Cat, you look good’), Mr. Morton talked.” Because Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence, and what the predicate says, he does. At the end of the song, Mr. Morton gets the girl, Pearl, and they get married. It’s very sweet, and there is not a single use of the word f*ck in the entire cartoon, as one would hope.

Hey Cat, you look good.

At any rate, I myself was quite sweary after putting 15 keys into 4 separate locks and discovering that none of them opened any door in my house.

Ken: Maybe they were for other locks, like ones we’ve replaced.
Me: We’ve lived here for 16 years. We’ve replaced the locks on ALL the doors. Why do we have 16-year old keys??!!
Ken: We could make a craft with them.
Me: Or we could throw them away. The last craft we made with keys is still sitting in our antiques booth because no one wants NEW KEYS.

So I threw them all away. But you just know that next week, we’re going to find a padlock or something that we hadn’t even thought of, and now we won’t have a key for it, or one of you will be like “Here’s a cool thing you can do with new keys” but now they’re gone. F*ck! That’s an interjection.

All Critters Great And Small

We live in a 115-year old home, which means occasionally, we get a critter or two in the house. They rarely come into our living area, being mostly confined to cupboards or in between the walls where they’re pretty quickly discernible and easily caught in live traps then relocated. This past week though has been a disturbing combination of visible and invisible creatures, and I place the blame fully on Kate who, reveling in the joy of her Veterinary Technician program, is like a young, female Dr. Doolittle:

Kate: I just learned how to restrain a dog using the Lateral Recumbency method. Watch. C’mere, Atlas.
Atlas: I don’t think so.
Me: Let her do it. You’ll be fine.
Atlas: Okay, but NOBODY is cutting my nails.
Me: I promise….is he restrained now?
Kate (holding him): Yes.
Me: Ken, get the nail clippers!
Atlas: Betrayed once again!!

Don’t feel sorry for him—I distracted him by feeding him treats while Kate performed the nail-ectomy. And then last Friday, she came home for the weekend super-excited and waving around a…

Me: Is that a vial of…blood?!
Kate: Horse blood. I drew it myself.
Me: I thought you hated horses.
Kate: Not any more.
Me: Well, just don’t use it for any rituals.

Just to clarify, she drew the blood as part of a practical class–the instructor asked for a volunteer so she put her hand up, determined to get over her fear of horses. And while we’re super proud of her, her enthusiasm seems to be radiating out into the animal world because we’re becoming a haven for tiny creatures. Last weekend, we invited the family over to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary, so I decided to get fancy and pull out a nice tablecloth. But when I went into the sideboard in the living room where I keep them, I was puzzled by the presence of what looked like red peanut skins. I dug a little deeper and found more skins, and then some peanuts. And while the old sideboard doesn’t have a back panel, it’s still pretty close to the wall, and it’s an absolute mystery to me how a squirrel could have been sitting in there eating peanuts without anyone noticing. And how long was it in my house? Was it still here, hiding somewhere? And more importantly, where the hell did it get the peanuts from? Ken had other ideas:

Ken: It was probably a chipmunk. I think we would have noticed a squirrel.
Me: And you don’t think I would have noticed a CHIPMUNK carrying a grocery bag full of peanuts into the sideboard? And where did it go?! Was it waiting behind the kitchen island for me to open the door and it rushed out when I wasn’t looking?

Then things got worse. Kate called to us from her bedroom saying that she could hear loud scrabbling sounds in her bedroom ceiling, so Ken and I went up into the attic to investigate. We didn’t find anything, but when we came back down, she told us that while we were up there, a mouse had come through the very tiny hole in her ceiling where her internet cable came in. It climbed half-way down, then saw her and hightailed it back up into the ceiling. It was hard to believe that anything could have squeezed through that hole, but Ken shoved some steel wool into the opening as a deterrent. In the meantime, I went into the guest bedroom next door to discover to my horror, a singular piece of mouse poop right in the middle of the guest bed quilt. I shook my hand at the ceiling and cried out, “This means war!”

So Ken set up the live traps, and I couldn’t wait to catch the little sh*t that shat on the bed. And when we checked the next morning, sure enough, there in the trap was…the most adorable little baby mouse I’d ever seen. It had big ears, and big eyes, and tiny little feet…

Kate: Awww…
Me (sigh): We can’t keep it.
Kate: But—
Me: Take it out to the field. Fare thee well, Peanut.

But as everyone knows, there’s never just ONE mouse, and I’ve been busy designing tiny Hallowe’en costumes, so the trap is still set up, and every day I check it, but so far, no luck. Darn.

And just to make the week even more disappointing, the church across the street is up for sale, so the local Heritage Society asked Ken to come over and take pictures when they opened the time capsule that had been in the church’s cornerstone since 1876. I was intrigued and immediately wrote a short story about a church group that opened a time capsule only to discover it contained, among other things, a severed finger that was apparently put in there to save the town from ruin. So, as you can imagine, I marched over on Tuesday, breathless with anticipation, along with Ken and a group of Heritage Society members. The local stonemason was on hand with a bunch of tools, and the cornerstone was finally pulled out and the time capsule extricated. We all crowded around to see the contents, and let me tell you that I wasn’t the only one who was let down. I mean, I wasn’t REALLY expecting a severed finger or whatnot, but the only things in it were a decayed annual report from 1876 that was falling apart, and a few old coins. And I know I wasn’t the only one who sighed, said, “Meh”, and left. Darn.

Raise A Glass

So I had my first official day of retirement last week. And it was lucky it happened when it did, because things were rapidly devolving as I got closer and closer to the date. The week before, I’d been talking to one of the bigger bosses when Atlas, having decided that he was bored in the absence of Ken, launched himself onto my lap. Which would have been ok except that one of his big, slappy paws grabbed the neckline of my sweater, pulling it and my bra down far enough that it was quite the show. Fortunately, my male colleague was looking at his other monitor, giving me time to shove Atlas away and rectify the wardrobe malfunction. And then the next day, I had to rush downstairs to meet with my direct supervisor who had called me early for a meeting. I hadn’t quite been fully dressed when she messaged to see if I was available, so I threw on a top and ran to the computer. After the meeting, I went into the kitchen:

Ken (laughing): Why are you wearing a fancy blouse, plaid flannel pajama shorts, and your slippers?
Me: Impromptu meeting.
Ken: No bra?
Me (shimmies): Obviously not.

As you can see, all the signals were there. So, you ask, was your first day of retirement as gloriously awesome as everyone says it should be? In short, NO.

The Beginning

Ken had an early morning balloon launch, so he left me to have a luxurious sleep in. But at around 7:30, I was lying there, all cuddly and warm, when I heard a sudden noise. Atlas was in the back room where he stays when Ken has to leave early, and I knew it wasn’t him. So I did what any normal person would do—I grabbed the baseball bat that I keep by the bed and snuck out of the bedroom to peer down the hallway. Nothing. I kept going, realizing that if anyone actually WAS in the house, Atlas would be going apesh*t, and when I got to the back room, sure enough, he was curled up on his chair looking sleepy. “Come on, buddy,” I encouraged him, and he followed me back upstairs where we settled back into bed. Less than 5 minutes later, his head suddenly popped up and he started to growl under his breath.

Me: What is it?
Atlas: Is noise.
Me: What kind of noise?!

And with that, he started barking and took off downstairs, leaving me alone in bed. At this point, I was more fed up than panicked, and I grabbed the bat again on the premise that, if there WAS someone in the house, I was going to beat them senseless for ruining a perfectly good first morning of retirement. When I got downstairs, Atlas was staring out the window at a squirrel. “You know I’m retired, right?!” I asked him, but he was too intent on the squirrel to care.

The Middle

I took a load of antiques to my booth, then spent some time wiping my company phone, deleting any files that didn’t need to be moved into a shared drive, and signed out of my work computer for the last time. It seemed a little anti-climactic, so I decided to make a ceremony out of it by wheeling my office chair out of the house and putting it at the side of the road. Then I realized that I was kind of boxed in, and spent the next twenty minutes rearranging furniture to maneuver the chair through the living room. By the time I’d finished the whole exercise, I was exhausted and just sat in the chair next to a hydro pole drinking Prosecco and yelling, “I’m retired!” at the neighbours.

The End

Ken was out AGAIN ballooning, so I made dinner for myself and opened a bottle of wine. I turned around to grab a stopper when the bottle hit the counter, fell out of my hand and onto the floor, sending shards of glass and white wine everywhere and freaking me completely out because I HATE broken glass. I was right in the middle of cleaning it up when Ken messaged me to see what I was doing:

(Transcript

Me: I just dropped an entire bottle of wine on the floor and it broke everywhere. Glass is everywhere (crying face emoji). I am very unhappy and also afraid of glass.
Ken: Come to pub for wings.
Me: I am cleaning up glass. Next time (smile emoji). When things aren’t so glassy.)

I finally got everything clean and dry, much to Atlas’s relief, since I’d locked him out of the kitchen.

Atlas: I come in and help clean.
Me: Not a chance. I’ve taken glass out of your mouth before, you dummy.
Atlas: But wine.
Me: But wine, indeed.

Later, we were in the kitchen when Ken yelped.

Ken: What the hell! I just stepped on a piece of glass!
Me: I did the best I could! I was all by myself, Mr. BALLOONMAN! I AM retired, you know! When is this going to get FUN??!!
Ken: Are you missing work?
Me (sighs): Yeah.

Epilogue

It’s been three days. I guess I’ll get used to it. Cheers.