Things That Are Like Other Things

This Christmas, Ken put something amazing in my stocking. We’ve always given each other stockings full of socks, chocolate, wine, and other small cool stuff, and this year I was excited to receive a pen. That might sound less cool than I’ve made it out to be, but wait! It’s not just a pen—it’s also a screwdriver, a level, and a ruler. It is, in fact, a “4-In-1 Pen Tool”, and if that isn’t the best thing that is like another thing, I don’t know what is. Now, no matter where I go, I can measure something, check if it’s level, repair it, or write down an interesting fact about it. Because multi-tasking is an art, and things that are like other things are a multi-tasker’s best friend.

 

For example, if you’ve been here before, you know that I LOVE gummy vitamins. They’re multi-coloured, taste just like gummy bears, and are the best of both worlds. The first thing I get to do when I get up in the morning, even BEFORE I eat my yogurt, is have some candy. And it was recommended by my doctor! I NEVER used to take vitamins before, on the grounds that they tasted bad (except for Vitamin C tablets, which taste like oranges, or just like the baby aspirin they had when I was a kid. I used to sneak baby aspirin every so often because they were so delicious–I could fall off my bike and bleed half to death because my blood was so thin, but it didn’t hurt at all), and I didn’t really care about thiamine or niacin or dioxin or whatever. But now, I take vitamins every day because it’s fun AND healthy.

And that got me thinking about a) things that are like other things that make me happy, and b) things that SHOULD be like other things. So here is my list:

1) My newest favourite thing which is like another thing is ‘Pants That Are Pajamas’. Now that I’ve been working from home for almost a year, I have several pairs of these. Some people call them ‘Yoga Pants’ but I don’t do yoga, unless you count a vigorous stretch to grab a wine glass from the cupboard. ‘Pants That Are Pajamas’ allow me to easily transition from Business Casual to Nightwear with very little effort at all.

2) If you’ve ever flown, you know that your seat cushion turns into a flotation device. Which begs the question (which I think I heard first from Jerry Seinfeld) ‘why doesn’t the plane just turn into a cruise ship if it lands in the water?’ I know this is totally possible, because my next favourite thing which is like another thing is a bus that turns into a boat. We went on a bus tour in Ottawa a few years ago, and after we’d driven around for a while looking at the Parliament buildings and whatnot, the driver suddenly announced that we would also be cruising the harbour. Then we drove down a ramp, STRAIGHT INTO THE RIVER. I was totally freaking, but Ken was like, “Don’t worry–the wheels turn into propellers and there’s a ring underneath that inflates.” I responded very calmly with “Liar! We’re going to drown!” and Ken said, “They ADVERTISED this. Why are you acting all surprised? Don’t you remember?”, but I reminded HIM that first, I thought they meant we would get OFF the bus and get ON a boat, and second, I may or may not have been enjoying a very nice Sauvignon Blanc the previous evening when he pulled out the brochure and was waving it around, saying, “Ooh, this will be fun.” But you know what? Once I got used to the idea that my bus was now a boat, and the bus driver was now a sea captain and I could refer to him as ‘Skipper’, I really enjoyed the whole experience. Kate, of course, remained calm throughout the entire tour. Or maybe she was bored. Mainly because the tour consisted of just looking at buildings. But still, the Bus-Boat was very cool.

3) Canes that become swords. Okay, technically, they don’t BECOME swords, they just have swords in them. It would be awesome to be hobbling around, all decrepit-like, then suddenly whip out that sword like a superspy ninja when the need arose. I also love canes that double as flasks for alcohol, because who DOESN’T want to crack that bad boy open when no one’s looking? It would have made my Bus-Boat trip a hell of a lot more interesting once we were on the water, that’s for sure.

4) Sporks. This is two handy things in one–a spoon and a fork. Take it one step further by sharpening the plastic edge, and you have a sporfe: a spoon, fork, and knife all in one, which I just invented. Actually, this might have already been invented, most likely by a prisoner, who stole a spoon from the canteen and turned it into a weapon to shank his cellmate with first, then ate the guy’s pie and ice cream after. Wow, that got dark kind of quick for a fun plastic utensil.

5) Closed Captioning. This allows you to watch TV and read at the same time, so all those people who think reading is a more intellectual pursuit than Netflix can get stuffed.

Okay, so I’ve listed some things that are already other things, so here are some ideas about things that I WISH were other things:

1) Protein shakes that taste like Bailey’s Irish Cream. Wait, does Bailey’s have any protein in it? If so, we could just cut out the middle man, drink the Bailey’s, and then go work out. Many years ago, I had a recumbent cycle, and I used to pour a big glass of wine, turn on the TV, and cycle for a few kilometres. It was hardly like exercising AT ALL, and I broke even on the calories.

2) A bookshelf that is a door. I’ve been bugging Ken about this for a while now, trying to get him to think of a place in our house where we could put a bookshelf that is, in reality, the door to a secret room. There are a couple of spots where we could do it, but Ken thinks it would be really complicated to build. What a baby. I mean, I’m no engineer, but I do have a 4-In-1 pen, and I think it’s definitely possible.

3) A pen with a Tide White Stick on the other end. This is great for people like me, who are fairly clumsy and wave pens around for emphasis, inevitably getting ink on their clothes. But see, with my invention, all you’d have to do is flip the thing around, erase that blob, and you’re good to go. Combine it with the 4-In-1 Pen and you wouldn’t be able to keep them on store shelves—they’d be snapped up faster than toilet paper in a pandemic.

Ultimately, I am the QUEEN of multi-tasking. Whether it’s eating, drinking, working out, or just relaxing, I’ve got a pen for that.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

We’ve had Atlas the wonder dog for almost 7 months now, and over that time, he’s accrued a variety of nicknames. When he’s being sweet, he’s Puppy Dobkins. When he’s being rambunctious, he’s Killer MacGee. Under a variety of circumstances, he’s Buddy, and then of course, right before Christmas, he was, for a brief time, OHMYGODYOUJERK when I discovered that he had somehow gotten my car key fob off the top of the cabinet by the door and had chewed it up so badly that it no longer worked. I had to replace it to the tune of $130, and didn’t they all nod knowingly at the car dealership when I told them how it happened? But sometimes, just for fun, I’ll say to him, “Hello, Georgie. Do you want your boat back? Would you like a balloon? We all float down here,” and he just looks at me questioningly and goes back to barking at the recycling bin or THAT poodle from down the street. I am, of course, doing a very fine impression of Pennywise The Clown from the movie IT (played by Bill Skarsgard, not Tim Curry), based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It’s such an excellent impression that when I did it the other day when Ken was in the room, and once again, he didn’t laugh or even comment, I got quite frustrated.

Me: What the hell, Ken!
Ken (innocently): What?
Me: Why don’t you EVER laugh when I do that?
Ken: Do what?
Me: That’s a really good impersonation, and you never laugh!
Ken: Who were you impersonating?
Me: Pennywise The Clown!
Ken: I think you think your impersonation is better than it is.

A little while later, Kate came down, and we (I) insisted that she listen to my very fine impression of Pennywise and give her opinion. After I demonstrated it for her and finished with a flourish, I asked her what she thought.

Kate: How candid would you like me to be on a scale of 1 to 10?
Me: So 1 is totally honest and 10 is a complete lie?
Kate: Yes.
Me: What would 10 be?
Kate: You were amazing.
Ken: (*laughs hysterically*)
Me: Well, Atlas thinks it’s awesome.
Atlas: I don’t, but you always give me a special cookie after you say it.
Me: Sigh.

Because I do a lot of good impersonations. When I was still teaching, every year for the Christmas skit, the teaching staff had to take on the personas of different musicians. One year I was Lorde performing Royals, another year I was Taylor Swift and had to sing Love Song, which I did to thunderous applause.

See? I look exactly like her. I still have the wigs from both performances, and every time I hear either song, I’m transported back to the stage. My favourite impersonation, and I’ve told the shortened version of this story sometime in the past, was the year I got drafted into a group doing KISS and was nominated to play the role of Paul Stanley, the lead singer. I went out and bought a curly black wig, some cheap leather gear at the second hand shop, and found some platform boots at the back of the closet. Another staff member did my make-up and the resemblance was remarkable as I lip synched my way through Rock and Roll All Nite with other staff members looking equally KISS-ish and awesome.

Then, just as we had finished our set, the snow started coming down like crazy, and since it was the last day before Christmas holidays, all the students and staff were sent home early. At the time, I had a very sporty low coupe, and it didn’t have winter tires, so as I was rounding the corner towards our house, I suddenly got stuck in the snow. I couldn’t move forward or backwards, and while I was literally half a block from home, I couldn’t just leave the car in the middle of the road. But then I saw a pickup truck coming so I got out and waved it down. The truck stopped and the guy got out and stood by his front bumper, looking very nervous. “Oh hey!” I called out to him. “I’m stuck. Can you help push me out?”  

He just continued to stare at me, and that’s when I realized that, while I’d taken off the wig, I was still in full KISS makeup. I had to explain to him that I’d been doing a KISS impersonation and the whole time he was pushing my car out, he stared at me suspiciously. And I think that’s because he was convinced that I WAS Paul Stanley and wanted my autograph. Because I’m THAT GOOD AT IMPRESSIONS, KEN.

And then, in a strange turn of fate, Ken just showed me the most bizarre video I’ve ever seen of a clown that looks just like Pennywise singing Royals by Lorde. It’s like my life has come full circle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU&ab_channel=PostmodernJukebox

Spilling The Beans

The other morning, I came out of my bathroom. Slight tangent: to clarify, I was styling my hair, because I haven’t had it cut since last March. My hair is very fine and thin and the downside of growing it out that it also takes longer to make it look nice. I would get it chopped off right now, except that Kate is growing hers out to, and I’m trying to be supportive. And to support ME, Ken and Kate got me a very expensive hair straightener for Christmas which I could never use on short hair, so I’m stuck until the damn thing is paid off. Anyhow, I came out of the bathroom and sniffed the air:

Me: Ken! There’s something burning!
Ken: I don’t smell anything.
Me: Were you cooking something? Seriously, it smells like something was on fire out here!
Ken: I don’t know what you mean. (*sniffs air*) Nope, smells fine to me.
Me: You seriously can’t smell that? It’s like when the fireplace motor almost went up in flames!
Ken: It must be your imagination.
Me: It’s worse over here by your office—wait a minute. Do you have a cup of COFFEE in there?!
Ken (abashed): Maybe…

Now, this may shock some of you, but I hate coffee. I mean, I really despise it. The taste and ESPECIALLY the smell. In fact, one of the reasons I married Ken in the first place is because he DIDN’T drink coffee. I’ll admit, I went through a strange phase in university where I drank coffee and smoked cigarettes, but all my friends were doing it, so chalk it up to peer pressure. Once I graduated, that fell by the wayside, and I haven’t had a cigarette OR a cup of coffee in over 35 years. And I really thought Ken was on the same page as me, but when we went into lockdown last March, suddenly he became a coffee drinker. I put up with it for the first few mornings, but one day, the stress of lockdown combined with the outrageous smell of burning garbage caused me to have a complete meltdown and scream, “NO! No more coffee if you want to stay married!”

I’ll be the first to admit that I may or may not have overreacted, but Ken, being the good soul that he is, switched from the deadly bean to green tea. At least for the time being, apparently, and now I have to wonder how long he’s been sneaking around behind my back, having cups of coffee when I was out getting groceries or driving to our antique booth in Delhi.

But it’s not like I eschew hot drinks or caffeine altogether—in fact, I drink copious amounts of green tea myself, and Ken and I have a ritual on the weekends where I get up and make us both cups of hot chocolate. I just have never understood how some people are so obsessed with coffee, although I know that caffeine is addictive. But there’s caffeine in LOTS of other things, so why are the lockdown lineups outside of Tim Horton’s or Starbucks twice as long as the liquor store? It simply confirms my theory that coffee also contains opium. There’s no other explanation for anyone wanting to drink something that smells like Satan’s breath and tastes like Satan’s *sshole.

And I know I’ll take a lot of flak for my anti-coffee sentiments, but aside from that, I’m a pretty nice person, and I will always make a cup of coffee for my dad, because he’s my dad.

Also, Happy New Year. I don’t do resolutions or retrospectives, especially not this year. The only thing I’m hoping for is that 2021 is better than 2020, not just for me but for everyone. Even the coffee drinkers.

Missed Opportunities

A few days ago, on Christmas Eve Eve (yes, that’s a thing and I’ve celebrated it for years by opening a special bottle of wine), I was on the hunt for that last elusive gift. Ken is an avid photographer, and I wanted to get him something camera-y, but I have no idea what kind of cameras he has (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Polaroid?) so I went to this strip mall in the next town to a little camera store that I found by googling “Camera stores near me”. A few days previous, I had phoned one of the larger chains, and when I told the man on the phone that my husband liked photography and that I was looking for something fun to get him for Christmas, he said, in a kind of weird way and with a heavy English accent, “Oh, ahem, I really couldn’t tell you…I would really have no idea…I’m probably the wrong person to ask.” Wrong person to ask?! You work in a goddamn camera store! But looking back on the incident later, it occurs to me that maybe he thought the conversation was more porn-based than it was in reality, which says much more about him than it does about me (or does it?). So when I went to the small camera shop on Wednesday, I was sure to preface my request with “My husband takes a lot of pictures of trees” and I refrained from adding, “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.

Seriously, here is one of Ken’s photographs of a tree. He’s very talented.

Anyway, I came away from the camera store with a gift card, assured by the owner that Ken could buy whatever he liked, which suited me fine. But as I was leaving, I noticed another business in the plaza, a hair salon. It was called The Main Attraction Hair Studio. And all I could think is, ‘There’s a missed opportunity if ever I saw one’. Like, who was the genius who said, “I know that the word ‘Mane’ is another word for long, luxurious hair, but if we call it “The Mane Attraction”, nobody is going to get THAT”? It’s like having the last name Taylor and being a seamstress, but calling your business ‘Tailor-Made’. I mean, why would you NOT capitalize on the obvious?!

And while I was taking a break from writing so I could think of more examples, I asked Kate for help:

Me: What are some other fun plays on words that people could use for their businesses?
Kate: Um…Sofa King.
Me: I don’t get it…
Kate: Because their sofas are so f*cking comfortable.
Me: (laughs hysterically)

And I remember when I was a kid, being absolutely fascinated by the Dew Drop Inn, a motel in the cottage town we used to visit. I don’t think I would have been quite as impressed if the name had been the Do Drop Inn, although that’s kind of cute too. Of course, if I owned a motel, it would be called the Come Inn…and it’s no wonder that people think I’m talking about sex stuff all the time. At any rate, I started thinking of some other fun names for businesses and I designed a quiz just for you. You have to match the names with the businesses. And just to up the ante, all the names I made up kind of sound like porn shops, so you have to guess which one is actually a porn shop. Also, one of them is an real business name that I found online, so you have to figure that out too. Answers are below the picture of an ad I found that is, apparently, someone else’s idea of a quiz, only theirs costs much more than mine:

1) Let’s Get Fizz-ical
2) We’re Going To Pump You Up
3) One Man’s Junk
4) The Hole Shebang
5) Can You Dig It
6) He Shoots, He Scores
7) Quality Tools
8) We Suck
9) Big Ass Slabs
10) Pour Some Sugar On Me

a) Excavating Company
b) Sporting Goods
c) Donut Store
d) Confectioners
e) Chainsaw Milling and Timberwork – this is a real company, I sh*t you not
f) Tire Repair
g) Vacuum Repair Service
h) Adult Novelties i.e. porn
i) Soda Shop
j) Thrift Store

Answers: 1i, 2f, 3j, 4c, 5a, 6b, 7h, 8g, 9e, 10d

How’d you do? As for What? I don’t know. All the pictures are exactly the same and the description just says ‘Working condition’. I really think there was a missed opportunity there.

 

Holiday Decorating Quiz Extravaganza

I adore decorating magazines, especially in December, because they have those fun quizzes in them, like the one I did this year on how to “Unwrap your signature holiday style”. I love it when anyone assumes that I actually HAVE a style to unwrap, like there’s a part of me just DYING to run into a forest and gather evergreen boughs and whatnot. The explanation under the headline was “If determining your home’s holiday look is your own personal nightmare before Christmas, fear not. We’re here to help.” Personal nightmare?! Aren’t we getting a little dramatic here? Because the nightmares I have focus on the house burning down or worldwide pandemics, not so much on whether people appreciate my decorating style. But the magazine thoughtfully provided a list of 10 questions to help me determine exactly how to discover my “festive style” by giving me four choices—A, B, C, or D, and then adding up the choices to correspond with a style. Here we go:

1) Which winter wreath would you hang?

I chose D, the “Feathery Evergreen”, except that I would forgo the peacock feathers and bow, and add twinkle lights. Now it looks just like the wreaths that Ken and I hang in our windows every year. We keep them in a closet under the stairs along with the twenty extension cords we need to make them light up.

2) Choose the prettiest gift wrap.

While “Snowflake Chic” and “Golden Glamour” were both very fetching, I myself am partial to “Last Year’s Leftovers” with a side of “”Scotch Tape and a Bit of Ribbon”.

3) What’s Your Must-Watch Christmas Movie?

I’d only seen one out of the 4 choices—A Christmas Story, which is so wonderfully random with the leg lamp and the pack of dogs that continually appear out of nowhere to wreak havoc. As for the other options, It’s a Wonderful Life is way too morbid, A Muppet Christmas is way too Muppet-y, and I’ve never actually seen Love Actually. MY must-watch movie is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Not the live action film, which is ridiculously over the top, but the original animated classic, which I can recite almost verbatim, having watched it every year since I was old enough to remember. It’s tradition, and I don’t care if it messes up my style score. Also, Die Hard WASN’T on the list, which frankly is ridiculous because it’s the best Christmas movie of all time. Yippee Ki Yay indeed.

4) Which candles will you set out this season?

While “a selection of unscented tea lights and votives in mercury glass containers” sounds quite glam, I’m gonna go with NONE, because as I previously mentioned, one of my personal nightmares is having the house burn down, and candles are tiny fires that aspire to be bigger ones, in my book. Don’t get me wrong—I HAVE candles but I only use them when the power is out and I can see them in the dark.

5) Which wallpaper would you use for an accent wall?

What? Now I’m putting up wallpaper?! Go to hell.

6) Select a pair of holiday pajamas

OK, this I can get behind. I’m going to pick…a “monogrammed crisp white button-down nightshirt and matching pants”? Nooo. “A long sleep tee featuring a flamingo donning a Santa hat”? Nooo. Ok, these choices are NOT appealing to me. I shall choose the reindeer patterned flannel pants I bought last summer on sale, accented with a Joe Fresh tank top in “used to be crisp white but then I washed it with a black hoodie and now it’s kind of grey and I only wear it to bed”.

7) Your Yuletide tree is…

Whichever one is closest to where we parked the car at the tree farm. The magazine’s option D is “An imperfect long-needled pine, chopped fresh from the forest”, so I kind of won this one except that in recent years we’ve been buying small potted trees that we can replant in our yard in the spring rather than going into the forest, finding the biggest tree and chopping it down with…a herring (that’s your Monty Python reference for this post) . The best part of this question is option C, the picture of a “life-like” tree that you can buy from Canadian Tire for $500. I can get a whole decade’s worth of real trees for that price, imperfect though they may be.

8) Pick an ornament.

One of the choices is a felt ketchup bottle. It’s thirteen dollars. I can’t even. I’ve used the same vintage glass ornaments from the early twentieth century for the last twenty-ish years. I also make my own ornaments to give out to friends and family made from wood. On a more serious note, I choose a word each year to burn into them–this year’s word is HOPE because I think we all need a little bit of that.

9) Choose a Christmas card to send out.

I would if I could ever remember to actually send out Christmas cards in time for them to get to people. So while I love the “Paisley Reindeer Card” ($7, Hallmark. Yes, for ONE card), I usually end up buying a box of whatever’s left at the local convenience store, and taking them with me when we visit family. Nothing says “love” like hand-delivery, am I right?

10) How do you usually spend Christmas Eve?

None of the options seemed quite right, so I made up my own. Being with my family, enjoying good food and drink, listening to beautiful music, laughing and hugging, and being grateful that the house isn’t on fire.

When I tallied up my score, I’d gone rogue too many times to establish a Christmas style. I wasn’t “Formal Elegant”, “Colourful Eclectic”, “Fresh Contemporary”, OR “Rustic Country”. And I’m good with that, because all of these trappings of consumerism are not what Christmas is about anyway. To quote the Grinch:

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

grinch

Have a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and anything else you celebrate in December even if you can’t be with the ones you love. Here’s some hope from me to you that next year will be better.

Advent-ures

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, not because I’m particularly religious—in fact, I’m not religious at all—but because I love the trappings of the season, many of which date back to pre-Christian times. I adore the tree and the twinkle lights, the decorations, even the snow on the ground for one day of my life. And of course, the presents. I’ve never been too proud to say that I like getting presents as much as giving them, and if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses can come to my house as many times as they like, but until they lift their weird-ass moratorium on getting gifts, they will never own my eternal soul. But the one concession I make in terms of the more heavily Christian aspect of the holiday season is the Advent calendar. Every year, I buy several different kinds for Ken and Kate. The current favourites are Lego for Ken and Lego Friends for Kate. For a treatise on Lego and sexism, please feel free to go to My Week 266: Toys for Girls and Boys; luckily, Ken and Kate have no issues with ‘girl’ vs. boy’ toys and Ken’s Lego snowman is holding a pink and purple boombox decorated with hearts, while Kate’s Lego girl figure is wielding a sword (and why there’s even a sword in an Lego Advent calendar is a mystery for another day). I also got them your standard Lindt chocolate calendars, one of which I had also purchased for myself but then gave away to my nephew, leaving me sans Advent-ure.

And you’d think that SOMEONE in my house would be like, ‘Oh poor you—here, let me buy you an Advent calendar of your own so that you can join in the fun’ but alas, that did not happen. What did happen is that, hopes dashed, I went out at the last minute to get one for my own damn self, but all they had left were Reese’s Peanut Butter calendars. At first read, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘Why, that’s not so bad’ but let me assure you that after last year’s Reese’s fiasco, I was none too pleased. Let me explain:

There are 24 doors on an Advent calendar, one for every day from December 1st to December 24th. Every door on the Reese’s calendar is exactly the same size, with the exception of December 24th, which is HUGE. So every day last year, while Ken and Kate were oohing and ahhing over the adorable Lego, or the assorted Lindt chocolates (balls, bells, bars, teddy bears), I extracted a very small, very miniature peanut butter cup from my calendar. But the last window was so big that I consoled myself: ‘It’s going to be the BIG CUP. Maybe even the one stuffed with Reese’s Pieces!’ I mean, it had to be, right? There had to be a pay-off at the end that made the tiny cups, barely a morsel in the mouth, and all the waiting, worthwhile. Because part of the discipline of the Advent calendar is NOT ripping the whole thing open and eating all the chocolate at once—it’s having ONE each day no matter how bad your chocolate craving is. So every time I thought of skipping ahead, even by one day, I would remember the BIG CUP waiting, and I would go have a glass of wine instead. Then at long last, it was Christmas Eve, the day when I could finally reveal my Big Cup and gloat a bit while Ken and Kate were nibbling on their Lindt bunnies. I pulled back the giant cardboard window and guess what was in there?  Inset into a much smaller container within the giant window was a very small Reese’s ‘praline’ cup. A tiny  f*cking PRALINE CUP?! A month of waiting for that? I’ve been disappointed many times in my life, but this one made the top ten.

(Slight tangent: I was also very disappointed two days ago when Kate, Ken, and I finally finished the very complex 500 piece jigsaw puzzle we were working on as a family, only to discover, as I had indeed suspected, that Atlas had eaten several of the pieces, and Mexico City was looking very hole-y. Atlas defended himself by claiming that he was only trying to help, but undermined his own defence by whispering, “They were so delicious.”)

At any rate, I’ve made my Reese’s Peace with being deprived yet again of the Big Cup. And I’ve already bought the Lego Advent Calendars for next year and hidden them in the fireplace. And before you think I burned them in a fit of pique, let me explain that when we moved into our house, the previous owner privately called me over to the elaborate fireplace surround they had constructed, and pulled down what looked like a decorative panel to reveal a hidden compartment. I’ve used it ever since to hide presents, although it’s a bit too warm for chocolate. And then two days ago, Kate was assembling her most recent Lego Advent toy:

Kate: This Lego cake is adorable! I hope there’s one just like it in next year’s calendar!
Me: Who can say?
Kate: I’ll go look—it probably shows it on the box.
Me: What box?
Kate: The one in the fireplace.
Me: What are you talking about?
Kate: Your secret hiding spot. Behind the gold panel. Come on, Mom, I’ve known about that for years.

And now I’ve lost my secret hiding spot. Imagine my disappointment.

Find the secret compartment

Pump It Up!

I like cream. Not whipped cream, not ice cream—in fact, I hate ice cream, and I can hear you muttering right now, “Weirdo”—but no, I’m talking about body cream. Lotion that comes in all different scents, with luxurious ingredients like hemp oil, shea butter, infusions of collagen, and jojoba, which is the best word to say in the world. But do you know what I hate? The damn pump containers they come in. Every single one of these things is designed specifically so that the pump stick thing (I just googled it and it’s call a dip tube, and if that isn’t the most sexual term for a thing that isn’t particularly sexual, I don’t know what is, and don’t pretend that you weren’t all like Ooh! as well) doesn’t go right to the bottom, leaving you inevitably with an inch of cream that you can’t access. Then you have to take off the lid, and try your best to get the rest out of the container by a) turning it upside down and slamming it against your hand if the container is small or b) sticking your hand INTO the container and scooping it out, if the container is large enough, thereby getting it all under your fingernails, which is what I’ve been doing for the last few days with a particular favourite. The only problem is that every time I take off the lid, the dip tube pump thing falls out, forcing me to reassemble the whole damn thing every time.

And here’s where I found myself on Wednesday night, in a perfect storm of circumstances. On the weekend prior, I had stupidly carried a heavy bag and re-injured my bad shoulder, eradicating all the good, and the extensive number of dollars, that the recent round of shock wave therapy had provided. My shoulder, like the rest of the world, went into lockdown. And there I was, in my bathroom, half naked, trying to scoop the last of the collagen cream out of the bottom of the stupid container, when the dip tube not only fell out but the whole lid fell on the floor and rolled under the bathroom vanity. And what did I do? I waved the arm that wasn’t in agony imperiously and yelled, “You know WHAT? You can just f*cking STAY THERE!!” You may be surprised to learn that the lid did not respond and is, in fact, still under the bathroom vanity where it is paralyzed with fear.

And then, to add insult to injury, I had to see my doctor, he of the dick-ish bedside manner, who matter-of-factly referred me to an Orthopaedic surgeon. While he was looking for the referral form on his computer, all the while muttering, “Where is it?” and forcing me NOT to respond “Would it be under ‘O’?”, kind of like trying to help your elderly parent figure out how to reset their password on ‘The Facebook’ or akin to watching my colleagues walk me through how to download and edit a document in Teams, he DID offer this:

Dr.: I’ll also give you a cortisone shot.
Me: Oh, Ok…um, will it hurt?
Dr. (laughs): No. Oh, I found the referral form! It was under ‘W’.
Me: Makes sense. Are you going to do it now?
Dr.: No, I don’t have any cortisone. I’ll fax a prescription to your pharmacy and you’ll need to pick it up, then make another appointment and bring the vial back here next week.

NEXT WEEK? How many more cream jar lids will have to die before I get some relief?!

In other news, I couldn’t resist sharing this ad, which I saw last week after my post about my chair, and I wish there was a way to tell the Facebook algorithm that I ALREADY BOUGHT ONE and to stop sending me ads for chairs. But this one for a ‘single seater couch’ is the best marketing strategy I’ve ever seen:

There are four pictures, all of the same chair, with one showing a huge rip in the arm, and they’re STILL asking $150 for it! And it made me think of other ways to advertise things to make them sound more valuable than they actually are, so here are some examples for you to guess:

Upright bathtub
Winterized motorcycle
Compact minivan
Organic glass
Semi-liquid product with dip tube

But I’m sure you’ll be able to think of lots of better examples than I can.

Prone To Being Prone

I am not by nature a vertical person. I don’t enjoy gravity, and as I get older, I find myself longing more and more for the horizontal. To clarify, I’m not talking about a coffin or anything as morbid as that—I love life; I just love it more when I’m prone. And it occurred to me last week as I turned 55 that there was one thing missing from my life that would allow me to live my dream. But first, a little backstory.

When we bought our house, it had an old summer kitchen attached to the back. It was being used as a workshop, but we soon realized the potential for finishing it and turning it into a living space. Plus, it gave Ken an excuse to build a workshop in the back yard, and if you were following the chronicles of last summer’s artisanal gazebo, you will understand the glee with which he undertook the challenge of applying gables and picture windows and other assorted architectural features to the project. Ultimately, the old summer kitchen was transformed into a very nice family room where we could watch movies. The trouble was that the room had no heat source; an electric fireplace did the trick, but there was an old door at the back that let in a lot of drafts. We had already put in a set of French doors and never used the other one, so a couple of weeks ago, we finally had the back door replaced with an insulated window. Side note: did you know that having an open wall cavity in early November attracts a lot of flies, but that you can gain hours of endless amusement from watching your dog attempt to catch them all?

At any rate, the window project was completed, and as it happens with all home renos, a slippery slope began. We had more space to rearrange the furniture, which left us with an area that was big enough to add an additional chair. We brought one down from the bedroom but, as we were watching The Mandalorian last week, I was dissatisfied. With both the series, which I will get to, and the chair.

Me: I don’t like this.
Ken: It’s Star Wars. The acting is never stellar.
Me: No, I meant the chair. It’s not that comfortable.
Kate: Well, sit on the sectional with us.
Me: But it’s so crowded and I never get the long spot. I want one of those theatre chairs with the cupholders and the power recline.
Ken: Those are way too big. It would block the patio doors.
Me: I WANT ONE. I’m a grown-ass woman—if I want a theatre chair, I should be able to have one!! Stop laughing at me!

But I had the last laugh. Because another Friday rolled around, and as I finished off an incredibly busy week, I was, once again, simultaneously looking forward another episode of The Mandalorian and wondering which other franchise it would rip off (this season has already seen Dune and Alien, and I’m just waiting for a planet ruled by a chick riding a dragon) and NOT looking forward to sitting in the very vertical chair from our bedroom.

Me: I’m going out.
Ken: Why?
Me: I’m going to buy a chair. Want to come?
Ken: I’m too tired. Wait until tomorrow.
Me: No.

But let’s be honest. Did I really need to buy an expensive theatre chair just to watch movies in a couple of times a week? Of course not. But I DID know a great place to shop for furniture, and I was convinced that I would find something perfect at the Restore Store, which raises money for Habitat For Humanity through donations of furniture and other things that people can buy. I raced down the highway, got there right before closing, threw on my mask, and rushed in. And would you believe it? They had not one, but TWO theatre chairs for a third the price of retail! And would you also believe that when I looked at them, I realized Ken was right—there was no way a chair that size would fit into the room. I was sadly disappointed, but then, from behind me, a sultry voice called out, “Hey, baby.” I turned, and there was a tanned, leather recliner, sturdy and fit.

Me (blushing): Are—are you talking to me?
Leather Recliner (slow drawl): Uh huh. Why don’t you come sit on my lap and settle in?
Me: Well, I could, just for a…ooh, this is very comfy.
LR: Reach down and pull the handle.
Me: Oh yeah! This is what I’m talking about!

So the guys at the store helped load up the chair, who was extremely happy to be coming home with me. When I told the cashier that I needed the chair to watch The Mandalorian, he nodded and said, “Perfect. All furniture today is also 15% off.”

Of course, having the perfect comfy chair didn’t really help the viewing itself, particularly when it came out finally that The Child, who is apparently NOT Baby Yoda, is actually called Grogu. What kind of name is that for an adorable animated puppet? I recently bought Kate a toy Baby Yoda, and I call it Shmoo, which I think is much better and cuter. But at least I got to watch the whole thing in a warm room, glass of wine in hand, and completely horizontal.

A-Muse-ing

This week, D. Wallace Peach of  Myths of the Mirror challenged her readers to write about their muses. She has many, all with distinct personalities, and the one who appeared to her cut quite an imposing figure. My muse, on the other hand, isn’t corporeal, doesn’t have a name, and annoys the hell out of me.

Cue frenetic electric guitar.

A screaming howl rising to a crescendo.

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it…

Me (groggy): What the f*ck…?
Muse: Hello!
Me: Why are you making me listen to Sabotage at 3 o’clock in the morning?!
Muse: You weren’t asleep anyway. You had an idea and you need to write it down.
Me: No, it’s fine. I’ll remember it in the morning.
Muse: No you won’t. Write it down.
Me: It was only two damned lines. I’ll remember it.
Muse: That’s what you said last time. Then you went back to sleep and when you woke up in the morning, you couldn’t remember the fantastic idea you had. It was only mediocre, if I’m being completely honest, but you were still really furious with yourself.
Me: But I’m all warm and snuggly.
Muse: WRITE IT DOWN.
Me: Fine! Where’s my damn phone? There…are you happy? And since we’re both up, any ideas for the blog this week?
Muse: Two words. Weird clock.
Me: Oh right! You’re the best muse.
Muse: I know, right? Now that you’re wide awake, do you want to discuss the sequel to The Dome? Any more progress on Chapter 2?

Luckily, I was saved from the rest of that conversation when Atlas decided to throw up. As for Weird Clock, no, it’s not one of mine. Get ready for more Facebook ads that make no sense:

1) Weird Clock

I can only imagine the conversation regarding the existence of this particular item:

Guy: Hey honey, I think I’m going to sell this weird clock. It’s so small that I can’t see the time from over here.
Wife: Well, it’s no use to us. Do you think anyone would even pay good money for it? I mean, the only way you could even see what time it is would be to wear it on your arm or something.
Guy: On your arm?! What a ridiculous idea. Who on earth would want to do THAT?
Wife: We’ll be lucky to get 2 dollars for it.

2) Room For Rent in a Workout Basement

And you thought a gym membership was expensive! $550 a month and be forced to work out on top of that? No thank you! My only question is “Where’s the workout equipment?” All I see are two boxsprings and two mattresses. Is it a trampoline workout? Because that ceiling is REALLY low.

3) W.w.1 Gift Box

Is it the shadow of a grenade? Is it an extreme close-up? Is the person being purposefully mysterious? Because there’s another picture and it’s exactly the same as this one. Even the description below just says W.w.1 gift box. Is it a box that contains a gift from World War 1 or—hear me out—is it a box that CONTAINS World War 1?:

Guy 1: Hey, I got you a present!
Guy2: Ooh, what is it?
Guy 1: Well, you know how you’re always talking about how much you like war?
Guy 2 (excited): Yes…
Guy 1: I got you one of your own!! It’s an original!

4) Jullery Box

Perfect for holding all your jullery.

5) Brass candle holders for carriage or hearse with eagle tops

Not only is it the longest title for an ad, I think it’s a little misleading. That puppy is NOT made of brass and I don’t see any damn eagle tops anywhere. I know you’re not allowed to sell pets on Facebook Marketplace, but if you’re going to try anyway, couldn’t you just advertise the puppy as Con Rear Stairs? Or a Temporary Sheep/Goat Fence?

Feeling Salty

A couple of years ago, my lovely cousin gifted me a salt lamp. If you don’t know what a salt lamp is, it’s essentially a chunk of Himalayan rock salt that someone has drilled a hole in and stuck a night light up. But apparently it has a lot of health benefits: it can purify the air, increase focus and concentration, and balance your electromagnetic radiation. Since I’m not an X-Man, I never really needed that last thing, but I DID find that it had a warm glow that was very soothing. Unfortunately, my beautiful salt lamp was one of the many things I had to leave behind when we abandoned our office during the Great Covid Evacuation of 2020. I really missed it in my home office space, then one of my colleagues was going to visit the office (he had a large collection of shoes that he wanted to retrieve and I was like, are we even WEARING shoes anymore? but I can’t judge because the only thing I initially wanted from my office was my Fluevogs) and he offered to bring back some of my personal stuff. I immediately thought of my salt lamp. Thanks to him, who passed it on to another workfriend who lives nearby, I got it back last weekend. I pulled the lamp out of the box full of reading glasses, trinkets, clocks, and other assorted miscellany and left it on the counter while I cleared a space on the windowsill next to my desk for it. When I came back to the kitchen, something very unusual was happening. Kate was bent over with her tongue on the lamp while Ken watched, as if cheering her on.

Me: What the hell?
Kate (innocently): What?
Me: Were you…LICKING my salt lamp?!
Kate: Perhaps…
Me: WHY??!!
Kate: I wanted to see if it really tasted like salt.
Ken: It does.
Me: Did you lick it too?!
Ken: Well…
Me: If you wanted to know what it tasted like, all you had to do was ask.
Kate and Ken: You licked it too?
Me: Obviously. It’s a large chunk of Himalayan rock salt. Why WOULDN’T I lick it? I wanted to know if it lived up to its name—mystery solved. Now stop licking my lamp.

Of course it’s not the first time I’ve tasted salt that didn’t come directly from a little shaker on my table. Last winter, I was walking downtown and it was really windy. In Toronto in the wintertime, they lay down salt on the sidewalks so heavily that it’s literally inches thick, but people walk on it and crush it until it’s as fine as sand and intermingled with dirt and other unsavoury elements. So there I was, walking along and talking to Ken on the phone:

Me: So I’m taking the 4:35 train on—oh my god!!!
Ken: What’s wrong?!
Me: The wind just gusted and blew sidewalk salt into my mouth! Argh!
Ken: Eww.
Me (spitting): It’s stuck to my lip gloss! Oh my god, it’s from the SIDEWALK. People PEE ON THE SIDEWALK!  I’m going to get so sick!

And I did. I had to spend a week on antibiotics because of my sinuses. I don’t know if it was from  the dirty sidewalk salt, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

And then there was the time I found salt in my hair. About four years ago, Ken and I were watching TV. It was actually the Democratic National Convention, interestingly enough, and we were intrigued by American politics. Of course, the bloom was quickly off THAT rose, with our reaction to American politics over the last four years going from intrigued to befuddled, to WTF? but at any rate, halfway through, I ran my fingers through my hair. You know, the way people do when they’re relaxing, and maybe a little bored, waiting for something interesting to happen, like a Bernie Sanders supporter disrupting the performance by running across the stage naked, a la the streaking fad of the 70s. But something felt weird—on my head, that is. It felt like there were grains of sand in my hair. I pulled one out, and looked at it closely. It was clear and crystalline. I put it in my mouth, bit down on it and realized it wasn’t sand. It was SALT. I had salt in my hair. A LOT of grains of salt. I turned to Ken:

Me: WTF?! I have salt in my hair!
Ken: How did you get salt in your hair?
Me: You tell ME!
Ken: Were you shaking the saltshaker really vigorously at dinner? Maybe some of the salt flew up in the air, and landed in your hair.
Me: I think you and Kate would have noticed if I was using a saltshaker like I was playing the maracas. This is insane. How could I get this much salt in my hair?

I was so disturbed that I actually Googled “salt in hair” to see if there was some rare, little-known disease that might cause one’s body to spontaneously produce salt crystals. All I got was “using Epsom salts as a hair rinse to prevent dandruff”. Which I had definitely NOT done. My only choice was to bend over and shake all the salt out of my hair, worried that I might be turning into Lot’s wife.

The next day at lunch, I was still freaked out by what had happened, and I decided that maybe Kate had played a joke on me.

Me: I have to ask you a really weird question. I swear I’m being serious.
Kate (suspiciously): Um, OK. What?
Me: Last night at dinner, did you shake salt into my hair when I wasn’t looking? Like, as a joke?
Kate: (laughing hysterically): What?! Did I do what?!
Me: Don’t laugh! I found a sh*tload of salt in my hair last night and I don’t know where it came from.
Kate: How did you know it was salt?
Me: I tasted it.
Kate: What?! Why would you TASTE it?!
Me: BECAUSE I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT IT WAS!
Kate: What if it was poison?!
Me: Why would anyone sprinkle poisonous salt in my hair? Just be honest. Did you sneak up behind me and do it?
Kate: No, Mom. I did not put salt in your hair.

I still have no idea where all that salt came from. But at least now, if I’m in the middle of a meeting and craving something salty, I can always just lick my lamp.