Stoned: 3 Vignettes

“You rocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!” Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

No, not all of these stories are about marijuana, but it’s an apt title considering how recently I’ve been plagued by stones in a variety of ways. This first tale is, however, about my terrible relationship with Mary Jane…

1) When I was a teenager, I tried weed a couple of times. I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience—it made me feel overly anxious and stressed out rather than all mellow and funny like the movies of the 70s and early 80s had promised. I’d never touched the stuff since, aside from using CBD oil and THC cream on my shoulder topically, but recently my daughter got a vape pen. “Do you want to try it?” she asked one evening before we were about to watch a movie. So I did. 10 minutes later, I felt absolutely no different. “Give me another hit,” I asked, and she obliged. Suddenly, and almost immediately, everything went dark and I felt myself sinking slowly onto the kitchen floor, where I lay for several minutes while everyone tried to figure out what to do with me. I was finally able to make it upstairs where I lay on the bed giggling in a panicky kind of way, while Kate kept me company. After about half an hour, I felt stable enough to put on pajamas and go back downstairs, but I still have no idea what movie we watched. Ken can’t remember either but that’s not because he was also stoned—he’s just old and has a bad memory. As for me, I won’t be imbibing again.

2) A few weeks ago, I was on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for a rock tumbler, a “professional National Geographic” model. We’d had a rock tumbler years ago but it broke, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember why we hadn’t replaced it. So I bought this one. It was a great deal, having only been used once, and still had two sets of gems and grit to have fun with. Why on earth would anyone be selling such a cool machine for so little money? I thought to myself. I put the rough gems and the grit in the barrel, plugged it in, and fired it up. Then I simultaneously remembered why we had never replaced the old rock tumbler, and completely understood why a person would sell theirs after one use. If you know me at all, you know that I have misophonia—like Nature, I abhor a vacuum and anything else that makes a loud noise. And this thing functions at the same decibel level as a vacuum cleaner, which I had conveniently forgotten. We started out with it in our back TV room but it was so loud that Kate and her boyfriend put a cardboard box over it to muffle the sound slightly. That didn’t help much, tempting me to throw it out the nearest window, so I put it in our back bathroom, where it stayed for three weeks, chattering away like a small demon, until I’d finally had enough of both the racket, which I could hear in my office, and of yelling, “Who left the bathroom door open?!” I didn’t even make it to the last round of fine grit—I looked at the gems after the second-last polish and declared them good enough. Still, the gems looked nice, and on Friday I went to a local craft store and bought all kinds of things to turn them into jewelry. And because I really like smooth polished rocks, Ken promised that we could start it back up in the summer out back in his workshop.

3) And finally, the stone story that takes the proverbial cake. Almost a month ago, on a Friday night, I woke up in the night in terrible pain. I was about to ask Ken to take me to the hospital when it suddenly stopped. But for the rest of the weekend, I still felt awful. On the next Tuesday, I had an appointment with my doctor, he of the dick-ish bedside manner, about my shoulder, about which he bluntly stated he could do nothing about and to go back to the surgeon*. Then strangely, he asked, “So how is everything else going?” and I mistakenly took this as a cue that I might be allowed to discuss more than one ailment in contravention of his policy.

Me: Actually, I think I might have a kidney stone. I had this terrible pain on the weekend starting here and ending here (*demonstrates*) and I’m still having symptoms, like a UTI maybe?
Doctor:
Me:
Doctor: So I’m retiring in about 3 months and my patients will all be moving to a practice in Kitchener…

And that was that. Until the next weekend, when I got fed up and went to the urgent care clinic where, despite the absence of any infection, they gave me antibiotics. Those were as helpful as my family doctor who, despite my unwillingness, I had to call again the next week, still suffering from a lot of pain. But my timing was excellent! My doctor was away and his locum saw me instead. She ordered a lot of tests, including an ultrasound. But while waiting for the results, last Monday morning around 3 am, I woke up again in terrible pain. And it got worse. AND THEN IT GOT EVEN WORSE. Ken rushed me to the hospital where I saw a very nice, very young, VERY laidback doctor who ordered another ultrasound which showed—surprise, surprise—a kidney stone slowly making its way towards my nether regions.

Emergency Doctor: No wonder you’ve been in so much pain. It’s about 6mm.
Me: How big is that in terms someone my age who was taught the Imperial system can understand?
ED: About a quarter inch.
Me: A quarter inch?! How the hell is that going to come out??!!
ED: Well…

So I’m on a lot of medication and had an appointment with a specialist but the saying “this too shall pass” has not yet applied. The whole thing has been very stressful—the only funny moment was when the ED, having already asked me about past surgeries, including my hysterectomy, followed up with this:

ED: When was the date of your last period?
Me:
ED:
Me: As I mentioned, I don’t have a uterus, so I’d have to say sometime in 2015. Sorry I can’t be more specific.
ED: Oh, yeah, right.

Maybe he was stoned.

At any rate, wish me luck. If things work out, maybe I can make a necklace with it.

Jadite, not kidney.

*Ironically, I’ve been on so much pain medication that my shoulder feels perfectly fine. And that rocks.

I’m Porn Again

So it was my birthday last week. I’ve never been one of those people who bats their eyes and says demurely, “Oh, don’t get me anything—it’s just another day after all.” It’s NOT just another day. It’s an awesome day, a day on which I get presents, and I LOVE getting presents which is why I could never be a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, one of the reasons anyway, because they aren’t supposed to drink unless it’s in ‘moderation’ and if you know me at all, you know I never do ANYTHING in moderation. But the presents are a dealbreaker—I mean, even Jesus got presents and also, he never showed up to a party without wine, and if he ever did, he would just wave his hand like a messianic Jedi, and make wine appear, because Jesus understood both hospitality and the importance of refreshing beverages at a party. I myself had several refreshing beverages on the evening of my birthday, starting during the Zoom call I had with my former colleagues where I was the only one drinking, but then again, I’m the only one retired so I guess that’s my prerogative. It was lovely to see them and it reminded me of the old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” because in my former workplace, we had a porn floor, and once again, in my part-time job, I’m having to deal with the world of adult wonders yet again.

Now, to refresh your memory, the 16th floor in my former office building was commonly known as “the porn floor”. There were two production companies on the 16th floor: Bump N Grind Media and Pink Lady Productions. Whenever we were in the elevator and someone got on and pushed the button for the 16th floor, we all gave each other knowing glances, and later we speculated about what the person’s “role” might be. Sometimes, it was obviously an “actress” or “pizza delivery boy”, but occasionally it would be a short, balding man that we dubbed “the producer”. There was also a guy in the building that we called “Vaping Elvis”, although to be honest, he looked more like Buddy Holly. He had dark glasses and black, slicked back hair. He was slightly paunchy, and always wore a long, black leather coat. He stood right outside the building doors vaping every day, even though the sign CLEARLY stated that you couldn’t smoke within 9 feet of the doorway. We always assumed that he worked on the porn floor as a creepy-ass director or something, but one day, he got off on 8 (that wasn’t a pun or a euphemism. He exited the elevator on the 8th floor, you perv).

And now, my workplace is once again rife with porn-y things. Last week, I was walking by a booth in the antique market that sells wooden letters, and as I passed, I realized that someone had rearranged them so that they spelled out the word ‘BOOBIES’. And while you may remember the joy with which I posted about my digital car odometer finally landing on 80085, it WASN’T me who rearranged the letters in such a naughty way (although I DID do this to a moveable hand when I was out shopping with a friend on Saturday because I’m 56 now and that’s how I roll, and also since I took the picture and the copyright is mine, I hereby authorize any of you to use it as needed:)

Then further down the aisle, in a booth that sells comic books and action figures, I was shocked to discover that someone had posed Ironman and Superman into an extremely compromising position. After re-randomizing the letters and getting Ironman up off his knees, I went back to the front counter, only to be engaged in conversation by a vendor who regaled me with stories about how he has to put brassieres on the mannequins in his booth because he ordered them sight unseen and they turned out to have come from an adult novelty store, resulting in them being VERY well-endowed which, in turn, regularly causes the local high school kids to unbutton the mannequins’ blouses and take pictures of them when they think no one is looking.

So it occurs to me that if my new job is as porn-y as the last, then maybe we need to rename the company, and here are some suggestions:

1) He Shoots, He Scores Inc.

Canada IS a hockey nation, so what better moniker for a porn store than this one?

2) The Blue Pages

If you’re an educator where I live, you regularly get a magazine where all the teachers who’ve done naughty things are featured at the back on blue pages, so this name is bizarrely apropos.

3) Pour Some Syrup On Me-dia

The guys who run the place where I work are pretty ambitious, so I could totally see them branching out into films as well. Also, in my last novel, I had a minor character who was a Canadian drag queen and I named her Mabel Syrup, and if that isn’t the best name for a Canadian drag queen ever, I don’t know what is.

4) My Little Pony Productions

Every film features a miniature horse just standing in the background somewhere. Don’t ask me why.

5) Existential Butt Films

Motto: “Dirty and Full of Dread”.

Bom chicka wow wow.

How Much Is Too Much Information?

As you know, quite often I buy and sell things on Facebook Marketplace, particularly if it’s something large that I don’t have room for in my booth at the antique market. I wouldn’t mind expanding, and there are spaces available at the market where I just started working, but I’m not sure about that because last week I had a really weird dream. When I left the secret agency, they threw me an amazing retirement party, with a Kudo board and a slide show, a Kahoot game where people had to prove how well they knew me by answering multiple choice questions for points (apparently when I’m concentrating and looking for a file on my computer for someone, I sing “doo di-doo, doo di-doo”, which was something I had no idea I did until it was pointed out to me, and then I realized I, in fact, do this, and that revelation was both hilarious and embarrassing). They also got a pipe band to play for me virtually, and wow, did I cry. And then I started my new part-time job and I hadn’t even been there for a week when I dreamed that they were throwing me a retirement party as well, but nowhere near as good as the first one I had. I was in the lunch break room and there was a large Bristol board poster that said Happy Retirement, and a bunch of signatures that I didn’t recognize, because I’ve only worked there for 6 days in total. There were photographs on the board but I wasn’t in any of them because again, I’ve only worked there for 6 days. And in the middle, in large letters, there was the heading “Famous Quote”, which was presumably something I was renowned for saying, and under it were the words, “I’M LEAVING.” Because I hadn’t worked there long enough to be famous for saying anything else, I guess. I woke up laughing hysterically and thought “At least no one noticed that I say doo di-doo.” So maybe it’s an omen, who knows?

 At any rate, last week, I talked about the set of silver that I found. It was filthy and tarnished but I polished and under all that tarnish, it was beautiful. It’s a huge set with 12 place settings and four servings pieces—64 pieces overall, and way too big to fit in my booth, so I put an ad on Facebook Marketplace for it.

Here’s the ad copy that I used:

Gorgeous Italian Silverware

Gorgeous vintage Italian silver silverware set in wooden case, just in time for Christmas. 12 place settings plus 4 serving pieces. Freshly polished and ready to use. Located in (my town) Ontario.

It’s a very clear ad—the description is IMMEDIATELY BELOW the heading, and it’s accompanied by 5 photographs. And here are the top ten questions I got about the ad I posted, all from different people, and my responses:

1. Is it silver?

Yes, it’s silver. If you mean, is it sterling, no—it’s silver-plated.

2. Is it English?

No, it’s Italian.

3. How many place settings are there?

There are twelve plus 4 serving pieces.

4. (Follow-up) How many pieces is that altogether?

64

5. Where are you located? (I got 3 of these questions).

I’m in (my town).

6. Are you in (my town)? (I got two of these questions).

Yes.

7. Is this vintage or is it new?

It’s from the late ‘70s so it’s vintage.

8. What’s the case made out of?

Wood.

9. Is it still available? Can I have $50 for it?

You want the silver and you want me to pay you $50? No, sorry.

10. Mine where’s your place?

(I didn’t respond to this one—was she implying that I’d stolen it from her and she wanted it back? And if so, I’d already said in the ad where my ‘place’ is.)

I also got a message from a woman who liked the silver but didn’t want to buy it—she just wanted to know how I got it so shiny. She seemed nice and didn’t ask any more ridiculous questions so I sent her the recipe I got off the internet and she was really grateful. I just hope she actually reads it and doesn’t just plunge everything into sulfuric acid, as one does.

Ultimately, I sold the set to a woman who asked many of the same questions and offered a lower price, but I was exhausted so I counter-offered closer to my asking price. She accepted and e-transferred me the money to hold it for her until next Tuesday. I just hope she knows where I live.

We were both exhausted.

Antique Like Me

Before I start, I just wanted to let you know that I had the immense pleasure of recording a reading from The Seventh Devil for the Canadian Authors Association Spooktacular Podcast. I’m first up after the intros, and you can listen to it here! And then, if you’re not too affrighted, you can continue on to the weird-ass post below:

Before

Early last week, I got my first pension cheque so I decided to calculate my new income as a pensioner minus my current expenses. When I saw the result on the calculator screen, I had a mild panic attack:

Me: I need to get a job right away!
Ken: You’ll be fine
Me: But my skin won’t be! At this rate, if we’re going to eat during the week, I’ll have to buy the cheap face cream, and everyone knows that’s just throwing away good money! No, I need a job. Print off my resume for me at once!


As you can tell, I was looking for a job with a personal assistant. However, I was also planning a trip to a particular family run antique market that afternoon, one where I’d had a booth over a decade ago, so I thought, “What the hell.” I handed in my resume to the young guy at the counter who turned out to be the son of the owners that I’d known years ago when he was just a little boy. I pointed out the tiny section on the second page of my resume where it mentioned I had a booth in another antique market and had “antique” experience, lest he become confused by all the references to the secret agency and worry that I’d been sent to spy on him.

“Thanks,” he said. “I don’t know if we have any openings right now. My dad might be in touch, probably next week if we need extra people for Christmas.”

“Cool!” I responded, and went off to shop.

A while later, I was driving home when the phone rang. I thought it might be Ken with another porch update (Slight tangent—Ken finally got the balcony railings installed after I had my seventh panic attack about either me or the dog falling to our respective deaths in a freak accident. “Why would you even be OUT there when you know there aren’t any railings?” Ken asked. “I DON’T KNOW, KEN. That’s why it’s called a ‘freak’ accident!”), but the caller said “Hi, it’s Frank. I got your resume. Can you start tomorrow? I’ll need you to train all this week then start a regular schedule of Monday to Wednesday from then on.”

I was speechless for a second—I hadn’t planned on working right away, or that much, or that regularly but what could I say? I’d literally gone in, hat in hand, and asked for a job. And there it was. So we agreed that I’d start on Wednesday. And I was TERRIFIED. I haven’t had a minimum wage customer service job since I was 18, and my new boss (since the sons are taking over the business) is 24 years old. I went in on Wednesday for “training”, which was mostly learning how to use the complicated computer sales system. But hey, I figured out the new WordPress editor so how hard could it be? And I know everyone was super impressed every time I put through a sale without any help and then jumped up and down, whispered ‘Yay!’ and clapped for myself. But aside from the fact that my feet are killing me, having sat in front of a computer all day for the last year and a half, it’s a fun job. Mostly I just walk the aisles asking people if I can carry stuff up to the front for them or open showcases or answer questions. People are very appreciative of these things and regularly apologize for taking up my time, to which I respond, “I literally get paid to do this.” And it’s true. Because there are no other distractions in a 7-hour workday aside from cleaning the bathroom, which yes, I have to do every morning. Thankfully, the men’s bathroom is on a different floor and someone else gets that pleasure. When I was much, much younger, I worked in a doughnut shop to make money for university. It wasn’t a bad job until closing time, when I had to clean the bathrooms. The women’s bathroom was usually pretty decent, but the men’s? You needed a gas mask and full hazmat suit to even go in it. I can’t accurately depict for you how disgusting cleaning a public men’s bathroom can be—suffice it to say the only way to thoroughly clean that one was to use a flamethrower. Every night, I was like, “Is it even worth cleaning it? Wouldn’t it be better to just bulldoze this entire building down and start fresh?” Overall I’m pretty happy with the new jay-oh-bee, especially since, when I finally gave Ken the financial breakdown I’d panicked over, it turns out that my math skills are as bad as ever and I’d made several errors, so I’m not as destitute as I thought I was and I can still afford the finer things in life. Like the good skin cream.

After

P.S. If you want to know how I got this silver I found so clean and shiny, I used the aluminum foil/baking soda/salt/ vinegar/boiling water recipe and it worked like a charm!

Balancing The Books

So I did the most incredibly dumb thing last week, and you’re the only one I’ve told, because it’s so embarrassing, so don’t say anything to anyone, okay?

A couple of Sundays ago, I was in a hardware store in the next town to buy some white spray paint and other odds and ends. I’d recently purchased this very cool antique wicker chair and side table, but they needed freshening up, and just like I prefer hem tape to actual sewing, I also will spray paint literally anything if it means avoiding using a paint brush. I got up to the checkout and paid for everything, then went home, but when I took my purchases out of the bag and saw the receipt, I realized that it said 2@$9.99 instead of 3. I felt a little guilty that I’d gotten a free can of spray paint, but whatevs, am I right?

But then, after the incident at the fabric store last week where I got away scot-free with the right sized foam cushion in direct defiance of the “No Foam Exchange” policy, I started to worry about the can of spray paint and maybe that I should go back to the hardware store and pay for it. And no, this wasn’t me trying to be morally superior—this was me believing very strongly that by circumventing the laws of economics and physics (you may be wondering why I said ‘physics’—here is the explanation: up until the moment that I looked at the receipt, I had a can of Schrodinger’s spray paint, in that I had simultaneously paid and not paid for it. I would have made a great physicist because I’m very good at explaining made-up sh*t.) and it occurred to me that I had just double-dipped into karma and maybe it would come back to haunt me in an unpleasant and costly way.

Anyway, I happened to be going by the hardware store in question the other day, so I decided to stop and pay for the spray paint:

Me: Hi there. A couple of weeks ago, I bought three cans of spray paint here, but I was only charged for two. I’d like to pay for the third one now.
Sales Clerk: That’s fine. Just take the third one.
Me: No, no—I GOT three but you only charged me for two. Is there a way I can pay for the third one that I DIDN’T pay for?
Sales Clerk: Take it up to the front. I’ll explain it to the cashier and she can figure it out.

Since I didn’t have the can with me, I went to the spray paint aisle but they were sold out of white so I took a can of black spray paint to the front:

Me: Hi there. A couple of weeks ago, I bought three cans of spray paint here, but I was only charged for two. I’d like to pay for the third one now.
Cashier (whispers): It’s okay, hun. You can just take it.
Me: NO, I want to pay for it. But it’s not the right colour—will that affect your inventory?
Cashier: What?
Me: I don’t have the receipt, sorry—is there another way you can get the right code?
Cashier:
Me: I don’t want THIS spray paint. I just want to pay for the one I got that you didn’t charge me for two weeks ago.
Cashier: Oh! Seriously? If it was me, I would have just kept it. No problem, here, just give it to me.
Me: But this isn’t the can I got! The one I got was white! Can I just give you the money for it?!
Cashier: Sigh. Give me a minute. I can grab the bar code off the shelf. (Leaves then comes back with tag.) OK, with tax, that comes to $11.29. Do you want a bag for the spray paint?
Me: This isn’t my spray paint.
Cashier (confused): Okay, have a nice day.

So I was finally able to restore balance in the universe, even though it was in an absurdly random, Monty Python-esque way. Or so I thought. Because two days ago, I was tidying up and saw a receipt sticking out of a bowl on one of the kitchen shelves—it was the original receipt for the spray paint. And it said 2@$9.99, just as I remembered. And further down, after the cleaning supplies and the belt I’d bought as a gift for Ken, there was a third charge. For $9.99. For the third can of spray paint. Which I had just paid for AGAIN. So now the universe owes me.

And on a lighter note:

This Facebook ad made me remember a recent conversation with Ken:

Ken: Hey, can you pass me one of those…those…tooth knives?
Me: You mean a ‘serrated knife’, such as one might use for steak?
Ken: Yeah, one of those.
Me: Okay, but you realize now that you can no longer make fun of me for referring to the hedge trimmer as ‘shrubbery scissors’, right?
Ken: Fair enough.

Isn’t It Ironic, Don’tcha Think?

On Friday afternoon, Ken went to get the mail and then retired to his office to open any envelopes addressed exclusively to him, because I have dibs on everything else—his mail is mostly bills, so all other mail has that ‘potential of excitement’ aura about it, like “Ooh, postage PAID? Someone wants to connect with me really badly!” Of course, it’s usually just home decorating magazines begging me to re-subscribe, but sometimes it can be quite unexpected and lovely, like the retirement card that Cyranny of Cyranny’s Cove and our Skypy Fridays group sent me (and if you ever want to join us for a chat on Friday night, just go to her blog and ask for the link—it’s a fun group from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.).

Anyway, suddenly Ken reappeared, irate and waving a piece of paper at me:

Ken: Look at this! Every month when I get my new cheques, this is the first page of the chequebook and it drives me CRAZY!
Me: You get cheques every month? How many cheques do you write?!
Ken: A LOT. Not the point. Look at this thing!

He handed me a piece of paper that he had taken out of the chequebook, and which was causing such a strong reaction in a man who rarely gets upset about anything. The piece of paper said, “This page is intentionally left blank.”

Me: But…
Ken: I know, right?!
Me: I…
Ken: Because it’s NOT BLANK. Every. Single. Month.
Me: I really need to introduce you to online banking.

But we both agreed that if the bank really wanted to be accurate instead of extremely ironic (and definitely more ironic than rain on your wedding day), there would be TWO pieces of paper. One of them would be blank, and the next one would say, “The previous page has been intentionally left blank.” And I don’t even want to get into the grammatical issue of placing the adverb BEFORE the verb—suffice it to say that banks make enough money to hire their own damn grammaticians.

But it was a trying day overall, in the first place, so this was no surprise. Earlier, I had decided to go into town to get some fabric at the fabric store, and to exchange the large foam cushion I had purchased the week before for a slightly smaller one, as I’m currently restoring a Mission oak rocking chair for our neighbours, and, not being as good at math as I like to think, I mismeasured the seat.

Step One: Lug large 24×24” foam cushion into store.
Step Two: Stand in line at counter.
Step Three: Get told that I need to go to the cash register line for refunds and exchanges.
Step Four: Stand in very long line at cash register. Realize that I should have the cushion I want to exchange mine for to expedite matters.
Step Five: Get second 20X20” cushion and lug it and my original cushion back to long line-up.
Step Six: Finally reach the front of the line and see a sign taped to the cash register that says, “All foam sales are final”.
Step Seven: Entreat cashier to let me exchange cushions, a request she refuses.
Step Eight: Go to find fabric, whilst cashier holds both cushions at the front so I don’t have to lug them around the store.
Step Nine: Find fabric. Realize the roll it’s on is WAY too heavy to carry.
Step Ten: Get back in line at the counter to ask about fabric.
Step Eleven: Take the advice of the woman in front of me in line who suggests loading the roll into a shopping cart and bringing it to the counter.
Step Twelve: Go off to find a shopping cart.
Step Thirteen: Load fabric into cart and wheel it back into line at the counter.
Step Fourteen: Watch for fifteen minutes as every quilter in town ahead of me wants half a f*cking yard of 15 different fabrics and “Hallowe’en themed buttons”.
Step Fifteen: Finally get to counter. Get told that my fabric roll is too large to cut at THAT counter, and I need to go to a different counter at the back, exactly three feet away from where I originally got the fabric. Tell the clerk that I would have done that but there are only two people working in the entire store and none of them were at the back counter, which is hidden by bolts of quilt batting.
Step Sixteen: Line up at the back counter.
Step Seventeen: Get fabric cut. Take fabric, as instructed, back to the cash register line to pay for it.
Step Eighteen: Present fabric to different cashier and ask for my foam. Cashier hands me the 20×20” foam cushion and says “Is this the one?” I reply, “Do you need to see my receipt?”
Step Nineteen: Show cashier receipt for foam. Pay for fabric.
Step Twenty: Leave store with fabric, and the foam cushion in the size that I want. Isn’t it ironic, don’tcha think?

But then I felt terrible so I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken.

Me: They wouldn’t let me exchange the foam cushion but then when I went to pay, they gave me the wrong one and I didn’t tell them.
Ken: Did you lie about it?
Me: No. When he asked if it was the right one, I didn’t say yes or no—I just showed him the receipt. I didn’t even SEE the other one. Maybe they reshelved it by accident.
Ken: Well, their foam exchange policy is stupid anyway. You touched both pieces of foam, which seems like the only criteria, so it’s fair.
Me: Yes, and the first piece of foam was more expensive than the one I just got, so I’m the one taking the loss here, especially considering the hour I spent in the store that I’m never getting back.
Ken: See? You’re a good person.

And just to prove that the universe agreed with Ken, right after I hung up, I saw a huge red and gold fox walking across the road up ahead, and it was beautiful. And even though I was alone in the car, I was so excited that I said out loud, “A fox! A fox!” and then I whispered, “A fox.” And the irony here is that this blog post was intentionally left unironic at the end.

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.

Getting Rusty

I’ve been feeling a little tired lately for a variety of reasons—I’m getting older, the days are getting shorter, but mostly because I ran out of iron pills. “So why don’t you buy more?” I hear you ask, and while you’d think that would be an easy solution, it’s apparently not, because I’ve gone to three drugstores in my area and none of them sell the iron I like. No, they’re NOT gummies, unlike all my other vitamins and supplements, but they do come in a soothing green and gold bottle from a brand that I get regular grocery store points with. But for some reason, all the iron is currently behind the counter, causing me to have conversations with pharmacists who are guarding it zealously, as if the conspiracy theorists are spreading around the rumour that sticking iron pills in a blender and then giving yourself an enema with them will cure you of Covid (it won’t, and please don’t tell people that you’re doing an iron cleanse because mydangblog told you to):

Me: Where’s all the iron?
Pharmacist: Back here with the narcotics.
Me: OK, weird. But I need some.
Pharmacist: Did your doctor prescribe it?
Me: No. You don’t need a prescription for iron.
Pharmacist: Well, did he tell you to take it?
Me: No! Can I just have some iron? Here’s the kind I normally take. (shows picture on my phone)
Pharmacist: Well, I don’t have that kind. Here, this is the same.

So that night, I took the new iron pill with my glucosamine, and only AFTER did I look at the bottle:

Me: Holy sh*t. I think I’ve made a dreadful error in judgement.
Ken: What’s wrong? Did you apply to that acting job at the Hallowe’en farm?
Me: No, I just took one of those new iron pills. My old ones were 28 milligrams each and this one is 300 milligrams! Am I going to rust?! Am I magnetic now? (googles ‘What happens if you take too much iron?’) Oh my god, it says here that taking more than 40 mg of iron a day can lead to organ failure, seizures and, death! I haven’t even retired yet!!

I went to bed that night terrified, and then I couldn’t sleep because I’d taken so much iron that I wasn’t tired. So to amuse myself, I surfed Facebook Marketplace and found these weird ads:

Ad that says We don't fish anymore

Of all the public announcements you could make, this is the strangest. Apparently Werner, at the age of 65, has become a vegetarian, or has given up being a pescatarian, or just wants to give the fish a chance, and felt the need to tell the world, as one does. He doesn’t look very happy about his decision, and I wonder if the “we” was really just his wife who was like “Werner. I hate fishing. We are no longer fisherfolk,” and Werner was like “But I love fishing,” and his wife was like “Not anymore you don’t.” Still, if we’re posting random angry proclamations on FB Marketplace, look for an ad of me looking super-pissed off with the caption “I JUST TOOK TOO MUCH IRON”. But I wish poor old Werner the best of luck in his new, non-fishing life.

Ad that says Free Bees

Hard pass. I don’t care if they’re free; in fact, how would you even SELL bees? Like a nickel a piece, or 5 bucks for a…(googles ‘What is a group of bees called?’ Swarm, Cluster, Bike, Ball, Colony—there are a LOT of names for bees)…bushel? But I don’t want bees—they’re sting-y little f*ckers and I’m sure they’re just as happy as I am that we have a long-distance relationship.

Ad that says Small Child Box

How small do you think children ARE? And is that a ladybug or a face with giant polka-dotted ears? See, now that I’ve said it, you can’t unsee it. Either way, I’m not interested in it even if it’s free because that box is NOT big enough to store a child, even a small child. Now, a bushel of bees might fit…