My Big Announcement; Stuck In An Elevator

A few weeks ago, I was driving somewhere and thinking about things, as one does, and I thought to myself, ‘I would love to start my own online literary magazine.’ And even though it seemed like something far-off and maybe not possible, I currently work/volunteer as a submissions reader for another online lit mag, and I had some knowledge of how it was set up. But it had always been a dream of mine to have my own publication, and I kept thinking and thinking about how cool it would be, and by the time I got home, I had pretty much fleshed it out enough that I could explain it to Ken, complete with the name. And then, I was talking to a friend who does website development, and she said she could help me set things up, including not just the website but all the social media (you can see her on the masthead). So now (drumroll please), I am super-excited to announce the launch of DarkWinter Lit, an online literary magazine for short stories and poetry. And we’re currently open for submissions (no fee). I know a lot of my followers and fellow bloggers are writers, and I’d be thrilled if any of you wanted to honour DarkWinter Lit with your submissions. In fact, I already have two pieces of flash fiction from a terrific writer friend of mine, Cecilia Kennedy of Fixing Leaks And Leeks—she graciously offered the two stories to me so that there would be something awesome to read when the site went live. And she fits our mission statement perfectly, which is this: “We want your weird, your traditional with a twist, your humour, your dark thoughts, or your elation. We’re open to anything—just make it interesting. Make us think.”

I won’t be publishing full-length books or chapbooks, or anything in hard copy—it’s strictly online, and you can find it, and the submission guidelines, here at darkwinterlit.com

And why ‘DarkWinter’? Because it’s a combination of the last two names of my characters in The Seventh Devil and the sequel The Devil You Know, as well as the name of their ghostbusting, demon-exorcising business. But more importantly, DarkWinter Lit is a beautiful dream of a cold, dark night, illuminated by hope and wonder.

Aside from that momentous announcement, I was also trapped in an elevator this week—well, at least for a brief moment. You see, Kate has started to work at the antique market with me, and on Wednesday, one of the vendors came to her and said, “I need my bins brought down from the third floor to the second.” So off Kate went, with me hot on her heels:

Me: You don’t know how to run the elevator—you haven’t been trained!
Kate: It’s an elevator, Mom. I think I can figure it out.
Me: It’s not an ordinary elevator. Let me show you. This is my wisdom!

So we went back to the freight elevator and she got the gate up, then we went inside.

Me: See? First you need to put the gate down. And now we push this button and hold it until it gets almost to the third floor and you hear a ‘click’. When you hear the click, you let go of the button. Don’t get close to the edge!!
Kate: Mom, calm down. I’m not stupid.

We got to the third floor. She opened the gate and we loaded the vendor’s bins. Then she closed the gate. I could hear voices below on the second floor—it was our second-floor staff member Vivian. “We’re on our way down!” I shouted. I pressed the elevator button to go down and…nothing happened. I pressed it again and still nothing. “Vivian!!” I yelled down the elevator shaft. “We’re stuck in the elevator!”

Kate: Sigh.
Me: Oh my god! What should we do?
Kate (lifts up gate and gestures): We should get out.
Me: OK. Thank you for saving our lives.

Apparently the gate wasn’t quite on the track and once we got out and Kate pulled the gate down from the outside, it went to the second floor quite easily without us in it, and Kate stayed upstairs to help the vendor while I fled to the safety of the main floor. Then later, Vivian came by the till on the first floor:

Vivian: Did they get your daughter out of the elevator yet? I hear she’s still stuck in there.
Me: What??!! Oh my god!
Vivian: Haha. Just kidding—she’s fine.

Moral of the story: I hate elevators and my daughter is a hero.

Also, our power has been off for 24 hours and I’m posting this from my phone before the battery di…

Interview With Bad Juju, I Have A Clean Face

This past April, I joined my friend Jude Matulich-Hall, author of The Eversteam Chronicles, as a guest on the first episode of her new video podcast called “Bad Juju & J Bone Presents…” I was her first guest last year on the original iteration of the show, called Titles, Talk, & Tipples, and you may remember that we had a lot of fun, thanks to the tippling, although we did talk about books. This time, the show has expanded quite a bit—here’s the synopsis:

“In this episode you’re going to see some incredible photography by Suzanne’s daughter Katelyn Whytock, hear some poetry and excerpts from Suzanne’s written works, and get a peek into her new books coming out in an interview I recently had with her. Storytime isn’t just for kids! You’ll also get some adult storytime with Bad JuJu as she reads Suzanne’s short story “What’s My Name?” from Feasting Upon The Bones (Potters Grove Press), see a vintage film by Georges Méliès, another short film with Bad JuJu & J Bone, and some creepy, kooky fun interspersed throughout.”

Just like last time, it WAS a lot of fun, especially seeing Jude as her alter-ego Bad Juju reading my story accompanied by Gnossienne 1 by Erik Satie, a piece of piano music I’m completely obsessed with right now. So if you have some time, watch it and give it a like and/or subscribe—I know she’ll appreciate that as much as I appreciate her promoting my work. Here’s the link–I didn’t embed it so that she’ll get the views on her channel:

https://youtu.be/Ykswsj6m3Pk

As I’m writing this, sweet little Ilana is lying on the chair next to me, basking in the sunshine. Sadly, sweet little Atlas is in the kitchen behind a baby gate because he still doesn’t know what to do with her. We’ve been keeping them separated, giving Ilana the run of the upstairs, but the other day, she was sitting in our bedroom window enjoying the spring air when Atlas suddenly appeared (somehow the gate downstairs got moved). He rushed in and before I could do anything, he tried to jump up and sniff her, causing her to freak out. By the time I had yelled to distract him, she’d managed to rip a large hole in the window screen in her desperation to escape, but was able to retreat to her own end of the house before he realized she was gone. It was time for a conversation:

Me: Look what you’ve done!
Atlas: Not me.
Me: Well, if you hadn’t charged at her, it wouldn’t have happened. Leave her alone!
Atlas: But is squirrel. I chase squirrel.
Me: She’s not a squirrel. Squirrels are black.
Atlas: Is black.
Me: She’s black and white. She doesn’t look anything like a squirrel. Stop chasing her.
Atlas: I love her.
Me: You have a weird way of showing it.

And speaking of weird ways to show admiration, the other day one of our more “quirky” customers was standing at the counter. Suddenly, he looked over at me, where I was helping a woman decide on a ring, and yelled across the store, “Hey! You have a clean face!” I kind of muttered “Thank you,” and he followed up with, “Are you married?!” at which point, my young boss told him very sternly to stop harassing the staff. Clean face? I guess that criteria is as good as any other…

My Van Blog

For about the last six weeks, I’ve been noticing a strange phenomenon in my comments folder—well, my SPAM comments folder anyway. Apparently, and without me having done anything to deserve it, I’ve become the darling of the van world. That’s right—vans. People with vans ADORE me, if the comments I keep stumbling upon are any indication. For example, ‘Benz Camper Van’ is amazed by me. “Free Bird Camper Van’ feels that I made some really good points. “Cargo Van Conversion’ has bookmarked my site, and 2021 Mercedes Benz 200 High Roof V6 4WD Cargo Van’ called my post “Spilling The Beans”, where I discuss my hatred for coffee, an outstanding share. And there are, quite literally, hundreds of similar comments, all from avid readers who live in vans. Some of them are so excited by my posts that they’re buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each other in gratitude for having shared my writing. ‘Camper Van Graphics Ideas’ told me I was cool, and although I already kind of figured I was, it’s still nice to have it verified by an objective third party. Many of my new fans love my colours and theme, and despite the web browser compatibility issues and duplicate comments that some of my fans are reporting, it seems that everyone is thrilled by my posts, regardless of the topic. Well, everyone except for ‘Sprinter Camper Vans’ who was disappointed by my blog and called me an attention-seeking whiner. I tried not to take that to heart, especially in the face of such overwhelming adulation from the rest of the van crowd.

This picture is blurry but if you click on it, you can read it.

But I’ve been dying to know what prompted the outpouring of goodwill from van aficionados. I haven’t actually owned a real van, just one of those mini-vans that we bought when Kate was little, and here is the only evidence, albeit minor, of my van ownership, and it took me half an hour of searching through old photo albums to find it.

My sole experience with a camper van was travelling somewhere, and I can’t even recall where, with a childhood friend and her family. The van they had was the type with those large floor to ceiling windows, but for some reason, the trip to wherever we were going and then back home again seemed to happen in the middle of the night, because I don’t remember any scenery at all. In fact, the only thing I remember is that they kept playing the same weird song over and over again. It was called “The Snakes Crawl At Night”. As a child, I assumed the song was actually about snakes crawling around at night, since the only lyrics that I remember to this day are “The snakes crawl at night/That’s what they say/When the sun goes down” and at the time it seemed like the creepiest thing in the world. But then, like, right before I typed this sentence, I googled the song, and it’s by Charlie Pride, and the song is about a man whose wife is cheating on him and then he SHOOTS HER BOYFRIEND AND GETS THE DEATH PENALTY. And I have to seriously wonder what kind of people think EITHER version is okay to play on repeat in a camper van full of children. None of my new fans, I’ll bet.

At any rate, I’m going to bask in the glow of my new-found camper van fame. Maybe if I play my cards right, I’ll win some kind of award, like the What Van? Award and join the ranks of other premiere bloggers like Fiat Ducato, who I assume is a famous Italian writer.

In other news, I have something super-exciting on the horizon, which I can’t tell you about yet, but suffice it to say that I’ll have a big announcement before the end of the month. No, I’m not expecting, as an elderly woman asked me a couple of weeks ago at work, simply because I was wearing a flowy top, to which I replied, “Well, I’m 56 and have no uterus, so that would be a minor miracle.” No, this thing even better than having someone flatter me by assuming I’m young enough to still bear children. Or a close second, anyway. I’ll keep you posted.

And finally, Happy Mother’s Day to the moms, step-moms, foster moms, sisters, aunts, and mentors out there. You all deserve to be spoiled on this special day!

That’s Not My Name

The other day, I was standing at the counter at work with my colleague, the Wiccan healer. She had just returned from a two-week absence due to covid, and was quite anxious to know if my recent mammogram had, indeed, revealed the issues that she had predicted. They didn’t, as you’re aware if you read my last post, and she was bummed out over the whole thing, but brightened up when I told her I was pretty sure that there was an old cast iron fireplace in a back corner booth with a nasty aura. She was just about to go cleanse it and perform a smudging ceremony (no, she’s not Indigenous and actually uses an aerosol “smudging” spray that she gets from a Chinese importer), when the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer/Flat Earther who works on the third floor walked by the counter. And as he walked by, he looked at us, made a flappy gesture with his hand, and said this: YO YO BITCHES!

Now, I’ve been called many things in the workplace. For years when I was teaching, I was Mrs. Craig-Whytock. Then when I went to the secret agency, I was Suzanne, or Boss on occasion. I’ve been called Sweetheart, Hon, or Honey by those I know better than others, and currently, one of my employers tends to forget my name and calls me Susan. There was also the time that a student got really mad at me for kicking him out of summer school for being stoned and called me a f*cking *sshole. But never, I mean NOT ONCE, has a person I’ve worked with ever called me a b*tch (at least to my face). I stood there speechless, while the Wiccan laughed.

Me: Did he just call us “bitches”?
Wiccan: Yeah, haha. What a guy.
Me: I have no words.

Then, about an hour later, the same guy walked by us again, and this time, he mimed tipping his hat, and said, “M’Ladies” and I’ve never been so confused in my life, but I guess that’s par for the course when you work at a minimum wage job in customer service? And now I have to come up with a clever comeback that works for all occasions. I’m thinking about screaming, “Yass Queen, come through!!!” at him unless any of you have a better suggestion.

In other news, now that Kate’s cat Ilana is officially adopted into our household, I can finally share pictures of her with you. She’s two years old but tiny as a kitten, and absolutely adorable. She’s very affectionate and super-purr-y, especially if you give her treats, which I do all the time, and which she’s grown to expect, so now every time I go in Kate’s room, she comes running to ‘Nana’ and tries to climb up my leg to get a Frisky. Atlas doesn’t quite know what to make of her—his only experience of animals as small as Ilana is squirrels in the backyard, which he chases with gusto. Luckily, the squirrels can escape to the trees and Ilana has her cat tower. We currently have the house divided up with baby gates—hopefully, they’ll get used to each other soon.

Silver(be)ware

Last week, I brought a box of silverware home from my booth because the knife holder thingy had detached itself and I wanted to repair it. The silverware and the box are heavy, so instead of lugging it all the way back to the antique market, I decided to post it on Facebook Marketplace for $70. The ad was a picture of the silverware, the box, the hallmarks etc. and the description read as follows: “Gorgeous 1928 hallmarked Bruckman German silverware. 12 dinner forks, 8 dessert forks, 8 teaspoons, 7 large spoons and 1 large serving spoon, and 11 knives with never-rust blades. Comes with box. Located in Drumbo Ontario.”

Two things happened as a result. First, I was inundated with all the usual stupid questions:

Is it silver?
Is it silverplated?
How many pieces are there?
How old is the set?
Is it English?
Where are you located?
Is it sterling?

I was asked that last question several times, because apparently there are people out there who think you can buy an entire set of solid sterling silver cutlery for $70, and not the ten grand it would actually be worth. So I updated the ad to include the rider, “Obviously, based on the price, this is high quality silver plate, not solid sterling.”

The second thing that happened was that I realized that there are a LOT of people who think you can buy and sell priceless objects for veritable pennies (or even free), based on the ads that some people are posting:

1) This is a picture of a piece of wood with the word “undies” written on it in what looks like black crayon. The description reads, “If you turn this down you clearly dont know art.” After considering for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that people who DO know Art are aware that he regularly runs out of underwear and is reduced to begging for ten dollars’ worth of it on the internet. But the description is a little ominous. If I DO turn the request down on the principle that Art is a grown-ass man and should get a job to fund his foundation garment issues, is he going to come after me and drag me out to an underwear store, forcing me to buy him a pair? And for ten dollars, it will be only one pair—have you SEEN the cost of undies these days? The whole thing seems a little aggressive to me.

2) Of course, the opposite of aggressive is passive-aggressive, and I think this ad fits that bill perfectly. While it SEEMS incomprehensible, I think it’s just a very clever way of getting sh*t out of your house without having to move it yourself, like “If you want this free thing, I’m not helping you move it, but you and your friends can come get it. By the way, I have a sore back, so don’t blame me for expecting you to do all the work, I mean this thing is FREE after all.” But the best part was that at first, I looked at the ad really quickly and thought that Louis meant that the buyer and their friends would need to carry it on their backs, and I know it’s free, but you can’t MAKE people do tricks for you without a little more incentive. Like, throw in a “free away” couch or something, you know, sweeten the pot.

3) Then we go from aggressively passive-aggressive to quantum mechanics. Apparently this is not just a simple mirror, it’s Schrodinger’s Mexican Punched Tin and Talavera Tile Mirror. Currently, it’s in a large box where it is simultaneously free and not free. But seriously, why do this? If you don’t want to give it away, put a price in the box that asks you for the price instead of being so ornery about it, like “It’s NOT FREE, BRENDA. I KNOW IT SAYS FREE BUT IT’S NOT. GODDAMMIT.”   

In other news, good news that is, I had my regularly scheduled mammogram on Thursday morning, and the results came back yesterday, congratulating me that my boobs are still just fine. I wouldn’t have thought otherwise, but I work with a woman who styles herself as a Wiccan healer and a few weeks ago, my shoulder was really bothering me, so she offered to do a “Wiccan healing therapy session” on it at work. This involved me sitting in a chair and her breathing deeply, waving her hands around and then pressing them down on my shoulder. During the “treatment”, she suddenly stopped and asked, “Do you have any problems with cysts in your breasts?”

I said no, and she continued very ominously, “I’m detecting quite a few on the left. You should get it checked out.” And while I don’t believe that anyone, even the MOST qualified Wiccan healer on the planet could magically detect a boob issue, she DID cleanse the back corner of the antique market of the dangerous presence that she detected back there. Well, she THINKS she did, but *whispering voice* it’s still there

I Become A Real Estate Mogul

Last week, my parents dropped by and my dad had a cool coupon for me. No, it wasn’t for “buy one get one free wine”, which would have been really sweet—it was for a free square foot of land in Scotland. And with housing prices these days, I’ll take that square foot and flip it one day for at least a bottle of scotch. I logged onto the company website, entered the coupon code and it immediately brought up a lush green landscape on the island of Islay. It was zoomed out quite a bit and close to the middle, there was a tiny box with some coordinates in it. The tiny box was in the only part of the entire satellite view that was dead, brown, and dry. “No!” I yelled. “Not again!” But yes, sure enough, when I zoomed in, MY plot of land was right in the middle of a barren wasteland.

The Wasteland

And this happened to us five years ago as well when we visited Scotland…(time for a flashback):

As you may remember, I am now a Lady, having been presented with the title to 10 square feet of land in a nature reserve in Scotland after complaining that everyone else in the family was nobility except me. Kate thought it sounded kind of sketchy, but it’s actually true (well, the landownership part if not the “peer of the realm” part), and on the second last day of our trip, Ken, Kate, and I decided to drive up to the Duror area to visit our property. We didn’t know what to expect. We had directions from someone named Stewart, and we were told we were too late to book an actual tour, but we were welcome to come and visit our property. When we got there (down a single-track road, because that’s how you know you’re in the United Kingdom), we came out into a parking area with a seemingly deserted small, log-style cabin. But there were other cars around, so we knocked on the door. A woman called for us to come in, and then next thing you know, we’d logged into the wifi, downloaded their GPS app, and were handed personalized maps of the reserve. It was a lot more high-tech than I imagined it would be. We followed the GPS compass through a dead forest—“dead” because we were told that it had originally been a corporate logging area, and that the North American spruce trees had been planted too close together, causing them to crowd each other out so that none of them could grow properly. The 5 year plan was to take all of them down and plant native Scottish species, but at the time, it was dark and forbidding:

Kate: Those are like trees that had some terrible disease and died. Who would want to own THAT? It’s like a tree graveyard.
Me: Can you imagine the poor sucker who paid good money to own 10 square feet in THERE?
Kate and Me: I know, right?! HAHA.
Ken: Um, the GPS says to turn left in 10 metres.
Me: But that would be straight into the dead forest…

Sure enough, both Kate’s and my land were in the part of the reserve that was going to be “rejuvenated” over the next 5 years. But we were pretty happy to discover that our property was on the far edge of the dead forest, where there was a little sunshine and some moss growing:

Kate: I have a mushroom on my land!
Me: You’re so lucky–I wish I had a mushroom! But I have all this lovely moss. Ooh, there’s a bird in my dead tree!

In truth, the whole place was beautiful, despite the dead trees. There are fields, and rivers, and all kinds of lovely forest creatures. And because it’s been parcelled out, it can never be developed or destroyed, so it was well worth the 85 bucks we each paid for it. Kate and I each buried toonies (Canadian two dollar coins) in our land so that future civilizations would know that Canadians were capable of crossing the great water. And hopefully now, if the whole thing has been rejuvenated, I’m going back and building tiny castles to oversee my vast Scottish estates. Just because I can.

I own all that moss.

Creative Wednesdays: The Seventh Devil eBook

Just a quick post to let everyone who asked know that The Seventh Devil is now finally available as an eBook. You can find it here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-seventh-devil

In case you scroll down for more product information, you should know that it’s all wrong. This book is 176 pages long, not 31, and about 53 000 words so it’s probably going to take more than an hour to read it. But if you do read it and like it, I’d love it if you could leave it some stars. See you on Sunday!

All The Pretty Dead Things, Some Exciting News

If I had to catalogue all the items in the antique market where I work, it would take me the rest of my life. With almost 1000 booths and three giant floors, there have to be millions of things there. Yet, surprisingly, some of the most popular, after vintage comic books, Pokemon cards, and old vinyl LPs, are dead things. Now don’t get all semantical on me—yes, I know that technically anything inanimate could be considered dead, but I’m talking about things that USED to be alive and now, are not, because we have two or three vendors who specialize in selling dead things:

1) Bones

Me: Are you ready to cash out?
Girl: Yes. Aren’t these cool? (points to a bundle of narrow bones)
Me: The tag says “cow bones”. Maybe.
Girl: What do you mean?
Me: How can you be certain? But don’t worry, I’m sure they’re not human.
Girl:
Me: Have a nice day!

2) Dehydrated animals

Me: Ooh, what do we have here? A “dessicated chick with moss miniature terrarium” (in the item description, I write ‘dead chicken baby’.) What are you going to do with it?
Guy: Put it on display with all the rest.
Me : Cool. Now that’s an interesting aesthetic.
Guy: A what?
Me: Have a great day!

3) Skeletons

Elderly Woman: Can you take both those bat skeletons encased in resin out of the showcase? I’d like to compare them and see which one is nicer.
Me: Certainly. Personally, I’d choose this one. It looks more dynamic, like it’s just about to take flight. If it wasn’t dead.
Elderly woman: You know, you’re right. That one IS nicer.

What I really wanted to say was, “NICER?! Lady, neither of them are nice! They’re dead f*cking bats.” But I restrained myself.

4) Jewelry made from animal bones

Me: (reads tag) “These earrings made from fox ribs are ethically sourced.” I suppose roadkill could be considered ethical if you don’t actively TRY to run small animals down with your car.
Boss: I think she gets them from an importer.
Me: Importing roadkill? Now there’s a niche market.
Boss: Too bad that raccoon you saw in your yard yesterday is gone. You could have made a fortune on it.
Me: I’ll stick to more traditional stuff, thanks. The only thing in my booth that was once alive is a vintage leather Harley Davidson ballcap.
Customer: Excuse me—I’m ready to pay.
Me: Here you go. Would you like a bag for your coyote foot?
Customer: Yes, please.
Me: Have a wonderful day.

In other exciting news, my second novel The Dome has been translated into Arabic. The physical copies won’t be available until closer to the summer but the Middle Eastern publisher is doing some great pre-promotion. The original cover was the Toronto skyline, but since they’re trying to make the setting a little less specific, here’s the new cover, which I quite like!

More Questions Than Answers

This week was insanely busy–I’m two chapters away from completing The Devil You Know (the sequel to The Seventh Devil), and 4 stories away from completing my second scary short story collection (tentatively titled Into Thin Air although I’m also thinking that Night Terrors would also work so if you have an opinion let me know), and I didn’t know what else to write about, so here’s a reboot of the time that Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 32 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions aside from the thousands of “how did you create your site and what theme do you use?” questions from the very many van, trailer, truck and RV owners who have recently proliferated my spam folder, so I made some questons up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of years ago. Ken and I became obsessed with Jeopardy because there was a guy on who won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. Regardless of the money, we feel sorry for the people who had to go up against “James” since he always rang in first and usually got the answer right. If you’ve ever watched Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek used to always ask the contestants questions about themselves—the questions were cheesy and the answers sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

The sign reads “I fix noisy bath fans”

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

The other day at work, there was a noisy bathroom fan–just kidding. No, someone bought a vintage Mr. Peanut peanut butter maker. If you put peanuts in it and turned the crank handle, it would then dispense homemade peanut butter.

Me: So where does the peanut butter come out of?
Brenda: He’s holding a platter and it kind of squirts onto there.
Me: It doesn’t come out of his butt??!! What a wasted opportunity!

And it reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles. I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but peanut butter that doesn’t come out of Mr. Peanut’s ass? That’s just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A few years ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. And when it came out, there I was, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description referred to me as a “professional appraiser”, and it was prophetic because now that I’m retired, I spend literally all day telling people what things are worth.

Now, back to the books. Wish me luck.

Made To Measure

It’s been a busy week, so here are some things that have been happening, in no particular order:

1) I was out driving and realized that I was very close to the next mileage milestone, which was 99999 kilometres, followed immediately by 100000. My car is a 2013 and because I lived in Toronto during the week for several years, I didn’t drive it much. In fact, looking at my last mileage post, the incredibly funny and somewhat juvenile 80085 (my car has a digital readout and that spells BOOBS, in case you had any doubt that this blog was sophisticated and adult-ish in the non-porn way), I see that I posted my BOOBS picture on August 23, 2020. Yes, it took me a year and a half to drive not quite 20 000 kilometres (that would be around 12, 427 miles for my Imperial friends). But by the time I realized I was almost at another photo-worthy moment, however, I was in my driveway, the odometer read 99996, and I was too tired to drive around the block several times, so I decided to wait until the next morning when I had to see my doctor about sudden tinnitus in my right ear. And even though I had to pull over twice in the space of two minutes to get 99999 and then 100000, I still made my appointment on time. I do this for YOU and not me, so I hope you appreciate my efforts.

2) I was cleaning out a kitchen cupboard and I found a small, antique salt shaker far in the back. I couldn’t remember buying it but it was pretty so I took it out to examine it. When I shook it, something rattled. I got excited for a second but then I realized it was just an old cork that was inside, so I grabbed it and pulled it out. But something was still rattling—there was a piece of paper in there, tightly folded up. I was immediately intrigued—could it be a secret message? Directions to treasure? A cry for help? A love note? The possibilities were endless, but they ended when I extracted the paper with tweezers, unfolded it breathlessly, and realized that it was blank. WHO DOES THIS? Who would put a blank piece of paper into an antique salt shaker?! A friend suggested that maybe the message was written in invisible ink, but when I held a lighter up to it, it burned like any other stupid piece of paper. What a letdown.

3) Ken and I decided to rearrange our living room a bit and get a larger bookcase. He was going to build one, but with the price of wood, we decided to try buying one secondhand first, which meant a foray into Facebook Marketplace. One of the first posts to pop up was for a fairly simple wall unit listed for $150.

When I scrolled down to the description, it said this: “No idea how big it is.” Seriously? How do you have a piece of furniture and be at a complete loss as to its size? If only there was an easy way to find out. So here are some suggestions, QUINN:

A) You can measure it with a measuring tape.
B) You don’t have a measuring tape? Borrow one from a friend.
C) You don’t have any friends? I’m not surprised, given your lack of interest in things like measurement. But you could try frame of reference, like, ‘I’m 6 feet tall and it’s slightly shorter than me, and when I lie down, it’s slightly longer than me.”
D) You don’t know how tall you are? Go to a local convenience store and stand next to the entrance. There’s a height bar RIGHT THERE.

At any rate, we bought a very nice shelving unit from a man who had taken the time to discover its dimensions all on his own. And now my living room is in chaos as we move things around and have to sell a china cabinet. I wonder how tall it is…?