The Barbarian Hoard

I have a guilty secret. Well, I actually have more than one, but this is the only one I’m willing to share online, at least currently. I have, in the past, made certain revelations on this site about things I’ve done that hitherto had been unknown to my family, like the time I buried Ken’s slippers in the garden in retaliation for his refusal to move them from the basement stairs (they were a TRIPPING HAZARD, KEN), or my attempt to put Kate’s beta fish, suffering from beta bloat disease, out of its misery by pouring a bottle of absinthe into its tank:

Kate: You killed my fish and I find out ON YOUR BLOG?!
Me: He was really sick! I didn’t want him to suffer. Besides I told you about it at the time.
Kate: I was five! What else have you murdered?

But this time I’m not destroying anyone’s blissful ignorance. No, this secret is more like a guilty pleasure, and it’s the fact that I’m obsessed with the show Hoarders. You know the one I mean—a group of “hoarding experts and organizers” descend upon the home of someone who has been deemed a hoarder in order to simultaneously cure them of their disorder and make their house livable again. There are thirteen seasons of this American show, but because I’m Canadian, I can only watch when the American specialty channels are having a free preview month. But even then, it’s all just the early seasons of rerun—I can easily recite right along with one of the…are they contestants?… participants?..: “I wouldn’t classify myself as a hoarder; I would consider myself more of a saver, a rescuer of things”, and then I yell back at the TV screen, “Nobody wants your garbage bag of dirty diapers, LINDA!” So last week, in a fit of both pique at having to watch the same Wife Swap commercial for the one thousandth time on Paramount (leave the goddamn cat alone, KEISHA!), I broke down and bought Season 13 of Hoarders on Apple TV. And I was in my glory.

But why do you watch Hoarders? I hear you asking. A) Don’t you have OCD? B) Isn’t this show extremely stressful for you? And the answer to those questions is A) Yes, I do and B) No, it’s not. Because the best part about Hoarders is at the end, when they get rid of all the stuff, clean the house, and then present it to the hoarder, who goes through and cries about how beautiful and spacious it is. And the rugs are all symmetrical and the table is set with all the corners perfectly perpendicular, and it’s such an amazing payoff at the end. It’s almost enough to make me want to become a professional organizer myself. But the thing about Season 13, and the reason I know I’d be terrible for someone who has hoarding disorder, is that Season 13 features several people who’ve hoarded some very nice things, unlike the mounds of trash, dirty diapers, dead animals, and moldy clothing that have been the mainstay of other seasons. I lay there night after night, watching antiques and paintings going into dumpsters and it’s awful. Can you just imagine me, with my antique booth and 47 clocks that don’t work, trying to help someone with hoarding disorder?

Dr. Zasio: Okay Diane, I’m so happy to see you letting go of all this furniture.
Me (whispers): That’s a mid-century Eames chair, Diane. I’d keep that if I were you. And why are you throwing away all those picture frames? Put some chalk paint on those bad boys and frame old quilt squares with them—ooh, a mantle clock!!
Diane: I want all my sh*t back!!

Yep, I’d be awful at any job that required me to watch perfectly good stuff go into a junk truck. In fact, big junk day is where I GET my perfectly good stuff. But then again, I’m highly motivated to get things, fix them up, and actually resell them because if I don’t, I get accused of being a hoarder myself:

Ken: Another clock? You’re a hoarder!
Me: It’s a really nice clock. Besides, I’d only be a hoarder if I had a closet full of broken clocks that I never looked at but couldn’t bring myself to throw away. Speaking of closets full of crap you never look at and won’t throw away, how’s the closet in your office? Still full of magazines from 1988?
Ken: I just found this really nice clock online that you might like!

I guess there’s a fine line between being a collector and being a hoarder. Either way, I’m pretty sure who the hoarder is at MY house:

My office (there are five clocks that don’t work in here, and one that does)
Ken’s Office (only one clock)

Smoke And Mirrors

I have a mystery. An enigma so profound that I’ve puzzled and puzzled ‘till my puzzler was sore, and I still have no idea what’s happening. At the end of November, I went into my bathroom as one does, and I was immediately struck by the sight of a scorch mark in the wooden frame and gold surround of my vanity mirror. The frame itself is over 100 years old, and we had a mirror cut just for it. It’s very nice, and I have one right beside it that matches it, so I was understandably upset when I saw the unexpected damage:

Me: Ken! Come here! What on earth is this?
Ken: It looks like something burned your mirror. How long has it been like that?
Me: Since now. It wasn’t like that last night.
Ken: Weird. Probably the sunlight reflected off that magnifying make-up mirror on the counter, and the concentration of light and heat set it on fire.
Me: This isn’t Gilligan’s Island, KEN!

And while I understand that Ken and I grew up in an era where television shows prepared us for a lot more coconut-powered appliances, quicksand, and campfires created with simple sunlight and a magnifying glass than we actually ever encountered in adulthood, the truth is that there’s no way that the sun, crossing the sky and whatnot, could have possibly been concentrated enough and accurate enough to burn my mirror frame. For a few days, I entered the bathroom with a certain amount of trepidation, glancing at the mirror skeptically (and suspiciously), convinced that there were other forces at work. But after a certain amount of time, I got used to the scorch mark and was actually able to ignore it. Until Tuesday morning. I got out of bed and went into the bathroom to get ready for work and THERE WAS ANOTHER SCORCH MARK. The new mark was about an inch to the left of the first one, and when I saw it, I felt faint. Then I did what any normal person would do—I called for Ken:

Me: There’s another burn mark!
Ken: It’s your make-up mirror.
Me: That’s impossible, PROFESSOR. Go call someone with your coconut.

And I was freaking out just a little, but then I did some research on the internet and discovered to my horror, and disappointment, that my house isn’t haunted by a pyrotechnic ghost but that concave makeup mirrors can actually cause fires when the sun reflects off them, and that I had dodged what could have been a very serious bullet/fire. Apparently, the chances of this occurring are extremely remote but it’s happened in both Leeds, England involving a shaving mirror and in Toronto, where a concave mirror caused a serious blaze. And in 2015, the London Fire Brigade issued a warning to homeowners to keep all glass objects away from windows, including mirrors, crystal, glass paperweights and more, after it responded to 125 fires in the previous five years, all caused by the sun’s rays, and when I read this, I immediately put my make-up mirror inside the vanity cupboard unless I needed it. Mystery solved, right? But then yesterday, I went into the bathroom and instead of a scorch mark, the words REDRUM were written on my mirror in lip gloss….

Not The Sharpest Tool In The Shed Quiz

It’s been a weird week—or at least weirder than normal. On the upside, I discovered that my last novel The Seventh Devil was part of a list of best spooky reads that appeared in October on a well-known book review website, and I didn’t even know about it, so that was cool. And my publisher likes the sample chapters I sent him for the sequel, The Devil You Know, so I have incentive to keep writing. On the other hand though, I’ve been plagued by intensely specific dreams about my new antique business, particularly one in which I was at Staples trying to buy supplies to frame pictures of old book pages from Alice In Wonderland with black silhouettes of rabbits superimposed on them. At one point, the salesperson and Ken began having a conversation about them working together on a different project while I used the photocopier and compared prices on fancy price tags. It’s exhausting—I mean, if I have to work all night as well as all day, what the hell is the point of being retired? And speaking of working, I had a disturbing incident in which a feverish coworker who’s a rabid anti-vaxxer/anti-masker came right up in my face on Monday to tell me that he was sick and needed to sign out. Apparently he’s been sick for days with all the symptoms of COVID, but he refused to get tested because he doesn’t believe that COVID is real. Needless to say, I was a little upset. Luckily, I was double masked and triple vaccinated. My best friend was able to get me a rapid test and thankfully, I was negative. In addition, I saw this magazine on the newsstand dated January 10th.

Did no one tell them? Was her death a secret? And while I admire the mid-December optimism, I really think they should have pulled the copies, or at least changed the cover once the lovely Betty White had passed away on December 31. But I did manage to find some amusement this week, especially after seeing the following ad for a set of axes:

So now I have a mydangblog Tool Quiz for you, in the same vein as the ad for Three Wood Choppers:

a) Dirt Tosser

b) Hitty Thing

c) Marathon Man

d) Ho

e) Stabby Bastard

f) You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

g) Reverse Autumnal Vacuum

h) No. Just No.

i) How Did I Cut The Cord On This Thing WITH This Thing AGAIN?! Goddammit.

j) The One With The Square End

Bonus: Biggest F*cking Tool In The World

Here are the answer choices. Try to match them and see how well you do!

1) Exacto Knife

2) Robertson Screwdriver

3) Hoe

4) Hedge Trimmer

5) Staple Gun/Nail Gun/Red Ryder BB Gun

6) Shovel

7) Table Saw That Ken Removed The Safety Guard From

8) Hammer

9) Drill

10) Leaf Blower

Bonus: The Guy Who Breathed His COVID Germs In My Face

Correct Answers: A6, B8, C9, D3, E1, F5, G10, H7, I4, J2. Bonus: Yeah, that assh*le.

I hope you were able to get them all correct. Remember, there are a lot of tools out there and it’s important to know them when you see them!

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

It’s been a crazy week, as Ken and I shifted all our stock from the antique market where we’ve been for a year to the one where I now work. I really liked the other place but after working at the new place for a month, I realized how much easier it would be if I didn’t have to drive quite so far and could have a booth in a place I was going to three days a week anyway. So we spent most of the week packing up, bringing stuff home, putting new price tags on everything and then taking it all to our new space. I haven’t had a lot of time for writing or even thinking about writing, so in honour of antiques, here’s a throwback…

One Saturday morning, Ken said to me, “Hey, let’s go to the Christie Antique Show.” I did what I always do and immediately said, “Yes! Let’s do that.” Then I did the next thing I always do and immediately had second thoughts and regrets, especially after looking on the website which said that there were free shuttle buses from the parking lot to the show site. All I could think of was the line-up to get into the parking lot, the line-up to get on the bus, and the obvious huge crowds of people that would be there. So I said, “Maybe let’s not go after all,” but Ken was insistent, even when I was all sad and whiny and like, “I don’t wanna go to the antique show. Don’t make me go to the antique show,” but he made me go anyway on the grounds that “it will be fun.”

Before we left…
Me: I’m taking my wristlet. I don’t want to lug a huge purse around with me.
Five minutes later…
Ken: I’m taking my camera.
Me: You always take your camera. Why are you telling me this?
Ken: Oh, I just thought we were announcing things to each other.
Atlas (from outside): I’m taking a dump in the back yard! This is fun!

In the car…
Ken: Why are you staring at me like that? Is there something wrong with the way I’m dressed?
Me: I wasn’t staring at you. I was looking past you out the window.
Ken: No, you were looking at me.
Me: How would you even know that?! I’m wearing dark sunglasses. Besides, you look fine. You’re wearing a black T-shirt and a black plaid shirt. You match. (*under breath*) Unlike when you wear your red plaid shirt and lime green T-shirt.
Ken: What?
Me: Nothing.

A moral dilemma…

Me: Did you see that video on Facebook about the job interview question?
Ken: The one where you’re driving in a lightning storm and you see three people at the side of the road?
Me: Right—“You see your best friend who once saved your life, a beautiful woman, and a sick elderly lady standing by the side of the road in a lightning storm, and you only have one seat. Who do you take?” It was easy. I solved it right away.
Ken: What do you mean, “you solved it”? Did you watch the video to the end?
Me: I didn’t need to watch it to the end. The old lady sits on my lap in the driver’s seat, my best friend sits in the other seat, and the beautiful woman sits on HIS lap.
Ken: You’re not allowed to do that. You only have one extra seat.
Me: I can do whatever the f*ck I want. It’s MY ethics. I’m the Kobayashi Maru.
Ken: No, you’re Kirk. But it doesn’t matter. That’s not the right answer. Why don’t you EVER watch videos to the end? The CORRECT answer is: You give your keys to your best friend because you trust him to take the old woman to the hospital and then come back for you.  This leaves you alone with the beautiful woman. Then he comes back and—
Me: This is starting to sound suspiciously like that logic problem where you have a rowboat and you have to take a bunch of animals across a river. It’s a MORAL DILEMMA, not a logic problem, Ken. Also, why do I want to be alone with the woman?
Ken: So you can hit it off with her.
Me: A) She’s not my type and B) That’s why my solution is more ethical. I put the woman on my best friend’s lap so that HE could hit it off with her. I’m self-sacrificial as f*ck. There. I win. ALL THE MORALS ARE MINE.
Ken: Sigh.

Then we got to the antique show, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had no problem getting parked, got a bus right away, and made it into the showgrounds less than 5 minutes after arriving. But then we realized that there were 100s of dealers and we needed a system, which was basically to wander down one row and back up another, saying, “Have we been down this aisle before? Oh yeah, I remember the giant elephant statue.” We have a friend who had a booth, and we finally found him. He said he was having a pretty good day, selling quite a bit and whatnot, when Ken pointed to a large box of bones at the front of his tent. They were priced at $5 each. When we asked about it, he said that last month, a guy came into his store with this big box of bones, wondering if he’d buy them. He was skeptical at first, but they sold like hotcakes (if hotcakes were all dirty and decomposed). So when the guy came back with another box, he bought that too, and brought them to sell at the show.

Friend: People are going nuts for them. I’ve already sold most of them. Quite a few people have been teachers, you know—want to use them in their classrooms.
Ken: What kind of bones are they?
Friend: Cow bones. I think.
Me: Cow bones?
Friend: Probably.

I don’t know if I want my child in a classroom where the teacher is like, “Hey kids, check this out! It LOOKS like a human femur, but the guy told me it’s probably just a cow bone.” And the weirdest thing was, he wasn’t the ONLY dealer selling bones. There were so many of them that we lost count. There were skulls, antlers, jaw bones, full skeletons of small rodents, you name it. We walked past a booth where a guy was showing a woman a skull that was on top of a log with a branch going through the skull’s eye socket. He was actually saying this: “Sometimes when animals die in the forest, they do it on top of logs and such, and then they go into rigor mortis there. So I’ve arranged the skull and log like this—kind of like a nature scene.”

And while this may seem like a one-off, at the antique market where I currently work, there’s a dealer who has glass vials full of chicken bones, and they also sell like crazy. Go figure. I guess I should have kept this year’s Christmas turkey carcass–I could have made a fortune. Happy New Year!