Creative Wednesdays: Tiger Lily Book Launch!

A little while ago, I got an email from a good friend, the amazing poet Susan Richardson of Stories From The Edge Of Blindness. She had just completed a collaboration with Scottish artist Jane Cornwell, and had almost finalized a collection that featured her poetry and Jane’s art. And she wanted ME to write the foreword. I was honoured, and a little intimidated—I wanted to make sure I did justice to the book, because it’s beautiful and profound and exemplifies the highest caliber of the written word and the visual image. Fortunately, they both were happy with what I wrote, and the book was finally finalized and now the launch is only a couple of days away! So if you’d like, you can join us on Friday, August 19 at 2 pm EST, which is 7 pm GMT in the UK where they both live, and enjoy our company, participate in a Q and A about the collection, listen to Susan read some selected poems and see the artwork that Jane created, and have an opportunity to read your own poetry at the end if you’re so inclined. The link to register for the event is here: Tiger Lily Book Launch – Poetry Party Tickets, Fri 19 Aug 2022 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

I hope you can join us, no matter what time zone you’re in. (Here’s a link to a time zone converter if you’re not sure.)

Playing With Fire

As you might remember, I recently started my own online literary magazine called DarkWinter Lit. It’s going really well, and I’m getting some incredibly good submissions, but one of the things I’m really proud of is that 99% of the images that I use to accompany each piece are original, chosen for each unique story or poem—either taken by me or Ken. I’m fortunate that I work in an antique market, where I can easily find fur coats, weird statues, and driftwood horses. Sometimes though, I need to create a specific scene that I have in mind. And last week was one of those times:

Me: I need a picture of a gold coin covered in water, with a backdrop of fire.
Ken: I don’t have anything like that.
Me: I thought you were a PHOTOGRAPHER, KEN. Do you at least have a butterfly I can use for something else?
Ken: Ooh, yes, I have lots of those!

So it was up to me to create the photo that I needed, at least for that particular story. But then it struck me—we have a burn pit in the side yard surrounded by rocks and it was full of wood. I could prop a loonie (the golden Canadian equivalent of a dollar) on one of the rocks, start a small fire, then spray it all down with water before things got out of hand. It was a terrific plan…

I brought the loonie, some newspaper, and a bbq lighter out with me, and placed the loonie in what seemed like a great position. I crumpled up the newspaper and held the lighter to it. It immediately caught fire but then started to go out, so I tossed some dead grass in there for good measure. I sat back on the dry lawn (we hadn’t had rain for weeks) and contemplated the sad state of the gardens, suffering from lack of moisture as well. When did we last have rain? I thought to myself. It seemed like it was a while ago.

Suddenly, the grass, paper, and the dry wood in the fire pit all ignited at once and I quickly found myself seated next to a raging inferno. Where the f*ck is the hose??!! I screamed silently, berating myself for having forgotten an essential part of the plan. I ran to the porch, the flames getting higher and closer to the dry lawn, and I dragged the hose over to the burn pit.

Do you know what happens when you spray a large fire with a large amount of water? It creates an even larger cloud of thick smoke, a cloud that drifts over your entire neighbourhood, terrorizing your neighbours, at least one of whom belongs to the volunteer fire department. And at this point, Ken poked his head out the door:

Ken: What are you trying to do—set the neighbourhood on fire?
Me: I just wanted a photograph of a gold coin drenched in water in front of a backdrop of fire!
Ken: Did you at least get the shot?
Me: It’s a little smoky but yes.
Ken: Well, that’s one thing. I’m sure the fire department will take it into consideration when they hand you the fine.

I managed to extinguish everything eventually, thanking the universe for the fact that our burn pit is hidden by trees and the guy who kept driving by looking for the source of the smoke couldn’t see it. But imagine the conversation:

Firefighter: So let me get this straight. You set your lawn on fire because you were (checks notes) “trying to get a photograph of a wet coin in front of a large flame”?
Me (whispers): Yes.
Firefighter: And you thought this was a good idea in a month where we’ve had very little rain?
Me (whispers): Yes.
Firefighter: Wow. You’re dumb.
Me (hangs head and whispers): I know.

The things we do for our art.

How It Started
How It Ended
The Final Product

In other news, you may recall that recently, I got my license renewed and faced a barrage of disturbing questions about having my skin flayed off for science right before having my photograph taken. Well, the license arrived in the mail yesterday, and here’s the reaction on my face:

Now, you may think that’s just the way I always look in driver’s license photos, but here are other examples from 2007 and 2016:

I think it’s pretty clear that I won’t be getting any speeding tickets until 2027 when I no longer look like I’ve seen horrors that no sane person can contemplate … And the worst thing is that, along with the license, there was a questionnaire asking me the same questions that the woman at the license place had asked me PUBLICLY. I could have done all of that IN PRIVATE. And looked prettier in my photo.

Image-ination; I Get Read

It’s been a hectic week and I didn’t think I had much to write about, but then I remembered that I hadn’t told you about my new tattoo. You may remember that over a year ago, I promised that I would get all my books tattooed on me, and I’d made a good start but then I got sidetracked. Until finally, three weeks ago, I finally got an appointment with my favourite tattoo guy, Nathan S. of New Rise Studio. He did what he always does—I arrive, he says “What were you thinking?” then I say, “A steampunk pocket watch with the words ‘Time’s a-ticking under it”, and he says “Okay”, then he draws something fantastic on the spot. Here’s the end result:

I’m super-happy with it, because the image commemorates Feasting Upon The Bones, my first short story collection (Potters Grove Press), featuring the character Mr. Death and his catchphrase “Time’s a-ticking.” I’ve expanded that character and he also now appears in a couple of other places, which you’ll hear more about down the road. But for now, Feasting is immortalized on the back of my calf.

I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone, looking for something interesting to go with a story that was going to be published on DarkWinter Lit (I only use original images, taken by either me or Ken, except in rare circumstances, because I like to customize a unique image to the individual story or poem), and I came across this image, which you might recognize:

Yes, it’s from WordPress and it’s the image you see when a post has no comments. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but I only looked at it closely the other day and then I was really confused. Seriously, what the hell is it? Here are two options:

a) A girl carrying a giant tennis racket, accompanied by a boy awkwardly holding a small oar. Are they attending the world’s weirdest summer camp? I went to summer camp once, and all I remember is shooting arrows at targets and crying because I got stung by a bee in my ladyparts. Needless to say, I hate camping to this day, especially if it involves playing tennis in high heels or rowing a boat with one hand. Or bees.

b)  She’s a detective with a magnifying glass the size of a hula hoop and he’s her trusty sidekick, ready to gather evidence in his crossbody bag. Someone at the summer camp died, and now they’re looking for clues. Maybe there’s one behind that mostly invisible plant. Actually, THAT would be a summer camp I’d go to—a murder mystery adventure camp where the counsellors are all robots, and it would be called MurderCampWorld, kind of like WestWorld but without the sex, violence, misogyny, and racism. Okay, there’d be a little violence but it’s just the one murder.

Regardless of what the image actually is, I have no idea why it’s the one chosen to encourage people to post comments, and if I were customizing an image for this page, I’d encourage discussion with this cute little guy that I found on Facebook Marketplace. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be, but I’m certain he would make people really want to open up:

In other news, I had a tarot card reading the other day on Zoom, done by my good friend and fellow blogger Willow Croft, Bringer of Nightmares and Storms at willowcroft.blog. It was fantastic and fun, and her insights have really helped me center my energy around the things that matter the most to me. I highly recommend her—she charges a small fee, but it’s completely worth it, and she can do it over Zoom, telephone or even email. If you’re interested in supporting a fellow blogger, you can contact her at croftwillow@yahoo.com for a full reading, or if you’d like to try it out, use the code mydangblog in the email subject line for a $5 USD three-card reading.

Getting Thrifty With It; Tiger Lily

I’ve always loved thrift store shopping. When I was younger, it was the only place to find the vintage clothing that my friends and I, 1980s club kids, favoured. When I got older and money got tighter, it was a cheap way to look nice. And now that Ken and I have re-instated the antiques business and I’ve opened a second booth at the antique market, thrift stores are a wonderful place to find trinkets, odds and ends and whatnot that I can resell. The other day in fact, I was at a local thrift store, Goodwill, and found some good deals–a vintage action figure for a buck, a few pieces of ironstone and a depression glass rooster candy dish for 4.50. It’s from the 1930s, in excellent condition, and worth a heck of a lot more. So imagine my excitement when one of my co-workers at the antique market mentioned that there was a Goodwill ‘outlet store’ not too far away.

Me: OUTLET, you say? A place where things are even cheaper than at the regular Goodwill?
Co-worker: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. You pay by the pound. We’ve gotten some good stuff there.
Me: Where is this mecca of good deals?! I must know!
Co-worker: Just up the highway. Here are the directions.

I was super-excited, imagining a store lined with shelves of beautiful china, glassware, and other assorted sundries, and me with a shopping cart, just filling it up with things that didn’t weigh too much. Finally, last week, after days of anticipation, I was able to go there.

AND IT WAS THE MOST TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.

I arrived shortly after 10:30 in the morning, having followed my GPS instructions like a pirate with a treasure map. I pulled into the parking lot and the red flag should have gone up right there. It was PACKED. People were double-parked and cars were squeezed together, but luckily my car is quite tiny, and I managed to find a spot partly on the grass. I grabbed a couple of reusable shopping bags and walked through the door…into a giant open room. It was full of large, wheeled bins surrounded by people, who were going through them, tossing things up in the air, digging through to the bottom, and pulling things out. I was hesitant, and took a tentative step forward to peek into one of the bins, which was full of what looked like broken CDs. Then I noticed in the far corner, there was a line of tape on the floor, and behind the line of tape, there was a line of men, standing shoulder to shoulder, fidgeting, rocking back and forth on their heels and looking desperate and hungry. A store worker went by:

Me: Excuse me. That line-up over there—is that where I’m supposed to wait my turn or something?
Worker: Oh no. You can look in all the bins over here. Those guys are waiting for the new bins to come out. You have to stay behind the line until the new bins come to a complete stop and the back-room workers have had time to step away. Then we give a signal and you can dive right in.
Me: Maybe I’ll just watch for a bit.

After a minute, the doors to the warehouse suddenly flew open. The air bristled with anticipation and the men in line started cracking their knuckles and bouncing up and down on their toes. The bins were wheeled over to the corner and parked. A man began to move and a woman shrieked, “NOT YET!! STAY BACK!! The men muttered in frustration while the carts were positioned, and then the workers let go and backed away quickly as a whistle sounded. The line surged forward and everything became pure chaos. Arms disappeared into the bins, then reappeared holding perceived treasures. A cry went up as one man triumphantly brandished a coil of copper tubing. Two other men tussled over loose hockey cards, and another ran back to his shopping cart (I realized they all had carts lined up against the back wall) with a Coleman cooler. It was like feeding frenzy time at the shark tank, with vintage radios and glass vases as chum. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the men tossed their finds into their respective carts and ran, as a unit, to the opposite corner, where ANOTHER LINE FORMED. Apparently, the new bins were placed in alternating corners, and sure enough, a minute later, a set of full bins arrived, and a fresh round of shrieking and digging commenced.

So what did I do? What do you think? I tucked my reusable shopping bags under my arm, got the hell out of there, and drove like the wind to the calm oasis of Value Village.

In other news, I had the tremendous honour recently of being asked to write the foreword to my good friend and brilliant poet Susan Richardson’s latest compilation titled Tiger Lily, to be released on August 19. The collection is an ekphrastic collaboration between Susan and artist Jane Cornwell, and it’s just brilliant. You can pre-order it here. And here’s a sneak preview of one of my favourites, Mermaids Are Real:

In Memoriam: James Douglas Whytock

It’s been a tough week. Last Tuesday, Ken got a call from his mom that his dad, who’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s and had been in a nursing home for the last couple of years, had stopped eating. He’d been on a steady decline and if any of you know anything about Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll know that’s pretty much a signal that the end is near. And it was. Ken’s father, a lovely man, passed away peacefully on Thursday night at the age of 87, surrounded by people who loved him very much. And while the last two years of his life were incredibly sad, as we watched him drift further and further away from us, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about him.

James Whytock was a kind, hard-working man. He had to quit school and take over the family dairy farm at the age of 16 when his own father passed away very young. He and Ken’s mom built a good life for Ken and his siblings, and I know they all look back on their childhoods with fond memories. One of my first experiences with Jim was when Ken and I had begun dating and I would go with him to the family farm. In the morning, our chore was to feed the calves while Jim milked the cows, and he would razz me about being a ‘city girl’, even though I’d grown up in a town that really wasn’t much of a city, but to Jim, anything larger than the 1000-person town he called home was a metropolis.

He loved to tease people, but never in a mean-spirited way. He was quick with a one-liner and had a variety of sayings for all occasions. He was the skip of our family curling team, and I still laugh when I remember the time we were winning but the other team was gaining points—he leaned over to me, winked, and whispered, “Now the cheese is starting to bind!” It made me laugh so hard that I could barely sweep, but we won the tournament–and some bacon. Even once the dementia got hold of him, there were still glimmers of the old Jim—every once in a while, he’d crack a joke and it would let us know he was in there somewhere.

He was an incredibly creative person. When, at the age of 62, he and Ken’s mom sold the family farm and moved to town, he finally had more time to devote to all his favourite hobbies. He was a talented photographer (in fact, he was the photographer at our wedding and did an amazing job). He also worked with glass. He taught me how to do stained glass, and we shared ideas and designs. He had a glass kiln as well and made all kinds of things out of fused glass, including my favourite set of checkerboard “Alice In Wonderland” coasters.

He collected all kinds of things, notably coins and diecast tractors. Kate inherited his love of coin collecting, and when she was younger, they would discuss coins—she was always impressed by how knowledgeable he was. And not only did he collect tractors, he also customized his own collector vehicles, one of which sits proudly on a shelf in Ken’s office—a gift from his dad.

James Whytock leaves behind a family who loved him very much and who will miss him terribly, and an enduring legacy as a man who always saw the positive side of things—I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad word about anyone, and my last image of him this past Father’s Day was the smile on his face as he ate the chocolate that Ken’s mom brought him. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and I’m glad he’s finally at peace.

My favourite coasters
A lamp made by Jim

A Pointed Stick

After having had a brutal heat wave last week, the weather here turned much cooler, so on Friday morning, I decided to weed the front flower beds. I was having a great time, yanking out wild carrot and crabgrass from between the daylilies when I bent over and (if you’re the slightest bit squeamish, brace yourself) I was stabbed square in the left eyeball by a dead hydrangea branch. I didn’t see it coming and had no chance to close my eye before it stuck me, and I jumped back in both horror and pain, much to the amusement of the construction crew working on the monster house next door. They watched (or at least I think they did because I couldn’t see anything), as I staggered around the yard, my hand over my eye, tears streaming down my face, and yelling profanities. This is the view they get when they cut down the trees next to MY house. At least I wasn’t naked, and a good thing too because who knows where that stick might have ended up otherwise.

I was eventually able to get back to weeding but as the day wore on, the pain increased, and I got worried. I had an old bottle of antibiotic eyedrops and I used them before bed, and that only MADE THINGS SO MUCH WORSE. And to top it all off, this happened:

Ken: So you know how we thought we had a skunk in the backyard under the deck of the shed?
Me: …yeah…?
Ken: it’s pretty small and kind of cute. Atlas thought so too for a minute. And you know how we had that fence up but then I moved it a bit and forgot to put it back?
Me: …YEAH…?
Ken: Atlas got through it. The skunk wasn’t very happy about it.
Atlas (walking into room): Was cat.
Me (sniffs the air and comes to a horrifying realization): That wasn’t the cat, you dummy!!
Ken: In fairness to Atlas, the skunk and Ilana DO kind of look alike–
Me: OH MY GOD, why is he in here with his skunk-sprayed head??!! Stop rubbing your face on the blankets!!

Not a skunk

So on top of everything else, I had one eye watering from being impaled and the other one watering from the stench. I barely got any sleep and woke up the next morning feeling like there was sandpaper in my eye and skunk ass in my nose. Atlas, on the other hand, was in fine form, ready to tackle the morning, and the skunk if he saw it again. We’d set out a live trap with peanut butter, wet dog food, and a few other things, but apparently this skunk is very finicky and didn’t appreciate our smorgasbord efforts. After two days, the top of Atlas’s head is more reminiscent of sesame oil than really cheap marijuana, so things are looking up. I found the recipe for skunk odour remover that we used on our last dog, so here’s hoping the combination of peroxide, baking soda, and dish detergent rids us all of it for good. As of right now, my eye is feeling slightly better, and I keep thinking about that Monty Python sketch, “How To Defend Yourself From A Man Armed With A Banana”, where one of the unruly students in the self-defense class keeps asking about pointed sticks. Let me tell you, I’d much rather have been attacked by a banana.

In other news, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just signed a publishing contract with Potters Grove Press for my second short story collection, At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows. It might be out by the end of this year, so put it on your Xmas wishlist!

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…

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

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!