The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I spent a lot of time last week cleaning out our garden house, which is what we call a cute little structure that Ken built many years ago in our side yard. In the summer, it’s a nice place to sit and relax, and in the winter, it stores all of our summer furniture. So with the weather getting nicer, I decided it was time to take everything out of storage and get the place spruced up. There was only one problem—earlier in the spring, in a sudden moment of lunacy, I had purchased a used elliptical machine from our neighbours across the street who had posted it on Facebook. “Look!” I said to Ken. “It’s not very expensive, we just have to wheel it over here, and it fits in perfectly with my exercise plan.” Ken gave me the look he always gives me when I announce that I’m going to exercise, which is to say, he looked at me with incredulous disbelief.

“Just put it on the porch for now,” I directed him. “We can bring it in the house when I figure out where to put it.” But finding a place for a very large piece of exercise equipment proved to be more daunting than I thought, and the elliptical stayed on the porch until I had another brainstorm. “Let’s put it in the garden house. I can exercise in there.” Ken rolled his eyes, as one does, but loaded it onto the handcart and wheeled it over. “Remind me who’s supposed to be using this to exercise again?” he asked, but I promised that it was ME. And to prove my point, once it was installed in the garden house, I immediately hopped on to prove to him that I was serious. Then I immediately cracked my head on one of the ceiling joists to prove to him that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. But we repositioned it so that I could—I don’t know, do you RIDE an elliptical?—do whatever it is you do on one of those without giving myself a concussion.

And there it stayed until last weekend, when the weather suddenly got much warmer. It was a gorgeous day and I immediately headed out to the garden house. I stood there contemplating the elliptical, when I had yet another brainstorm. The garden house would be a perfect spot for an outdoor office, where I could sit and write whilst listening to the bubbling of the fishpond outside the door and the birds singing in the trees nearby. But there was an elephant in the room, and by elephant, I mean a giant metal elliptical machine that, by this point in time, may or may not have become slightly spiderwebby from disuse, and that’s not my fault because I’ve been quite ill lately and here’s a slight tangent for you:

I finally called my doctor and he wanted some ‘samples’, so he sent me to a lab over half an hour away to pick up the sample bottles, and let me just say that for someone in my current situation, driving that far away from home during a pandemic when there are NO open public washrooms was one of the most terrifying things I’ve done in a while. But I made it there and back without incident. At some point later that evening, I was able to provide the required samples (which was an ordeal in and of itself and one I will NOT be sharing with you, and yes I can hear your palpable sighs of relief), and the instructions said to refrigerate them until taken back to the lab. I couldn’t stand the thought of them just sitting there in the refrigerator though, so I went into our dining room closet which is obviously where we keep wrapping paper and gift bags, and picked out a small but cheerful little bag to put them in. Then I placed the bag on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Sometime later:

Kate: Ooh, what’s this?
Me: Don’t look in–
Kate: What the hell, Mom?!
Me: I tried to warn you.

The next morning, I had to return to the same lab, with the same sense of terror, this time with my cheerful gift bag. The line-up to get in was very long, and I was glad that my offering was charmingly concealed. When I got to the registration desk, the nurse asked why I was there:

Me (whispers): I’m just bringing back some samples.
Nurse: Oh, what a lovely little gift bag.
Me: You might think it contains sweets or a treat. Yet it does not.
Nurse (laughs): I’ll take it in for you. Do you want the bag back?
Me: No. No, I don’t.

I’m still waiting for the results and a thank you card. Tangent complete. I believe I left myself staring at the elliptical machine that was obscuring my plans for an outdoor office. I decided to sweep and mop as I considered my dilemma, all the while being taunted by the elliptical:

Elliptical Machine: Why did you buy me? You’ll NEVER use me. Be honest.
Me: But I want to use you. So bad.
Elliptical: You never will.
Me (sadly): I know.

For sale: one elliptical machine. Bit of a bully but works fine otherwise. Just want what I paid for it, or will trade for a comfy chair. (Update: Someone is coming for it today–I hope it’s kind to her).

Schrodinger’s Pants

On Friday morning, I was having a bit of a sleep in, because I’d taken the day off. Ken still had to work, but he’s retiring at the end of June and likes lording it over me a little with his plans to spend the summer building sheds while I’m slaving at the computer. He came out of our walk-in closet wearing a shirt and boxer shorts.

Ken: Should I wear light or dark coloured pants with this shirt?
Me: You work from home. Why are you even wearing pants?
Ken: I always do. But on my last day of work, I won’t. I’ll have my retirement party, then at the end, I’ll get up, disappear into the West and everyone will say, “Hey, he’s not wearing any pants.”
Me: That’s the best retirement gift you can give THEM— Schrodinger’s Pants. All they know is that at any given moment over the last year of your career, you were simultaneously half-dressed and fully-dressed.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

And speaking of enigmas, I saw this online on Friday afternoon.

The first three words I saw were Ranch Dressing, Poison, and Crabs and now I’m a little freaked out because a) I made Ken go to the corner store on Wednesday TO GET ME RANCH DRESSING so what’s next—I have a severe shellfish allergy so is anaphylaxis on the menu this weekend? Also b) if you look at all the words carefully, the majority of them are quite violent and the whole exercise just went from fun to mildly threatening:

Chainsaw
Danger
Sword
Clown
Shim
Poison
Nordebeaste
Crush
Pills
Secret
Quicksand
Demon
Rat
Apologies (which I assume is sarcastic)

The post was introduced with the sentence “It’s that time again” and the following emojis: a laughing face, a face gritting its teeth, a skull, and a demon. So did a serial killer design this list? And then there was this comment below the word jumble: “Chainsaw, unicorn, and music…a perfect trio!” and I will leave you to picture that person’s week all on your own.

In other news, I haven’t provided a quilt update for a couple of weeks because I’ve temporarily given up. I was halfway through row 9 when my 1936 Singer machine literally fell apart, so I borrowed my mother-in-law’s sewing machine and apparently it was built by NASA and I need to learn astrophysics to use it. “Why don’t you read the User Manual?” I hear you ask. Because it’s a generic User Manual for several different models and not a single instruction or picture is for the model I have. So now all I can do is wait for Ken to retire and learn to use it so he can sew more clothes for his marionette, and then he can make Youtube videos that I can follow. And when he does, he may or may not be wearing pants.

Atlas Shrugged

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I woke up and after a few minutes, I looked at my phone. There was a new notification from Facebook Marketplace exhorting me to check out the latest thing they had decided was “Just For Me”. And obviously, it was a clock. But not just ANY clock—a mid-1800s gingerbread clock, and it was only $10! So I contacted the seller and made arrangements to pick it up. I was about to leap out of bed, but then Ken came in with a card, inside of which was an assortment of LCBO gift cards, and if you don’t live in Ontario, LCBO stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and that’s what they do. They control the sale of liquor here, and you can only buy it from their stores or other ‘official’ outlets instead of at grocery stores and corner stores and off people on the street like you can almost everywhere else in the world. But now I was flush with the potential of buying a lot of wine, and on that high, I demanded that Ken take me clock-shopping:

Ken: But you already have 47 clocks.
Me: Most of them don’t EVEN WORK, KEN.
Ken: But I was going to make a little wooden boat and put this plastic lion on it.
Me: That’s very cute. But the clock is just up the road, and coming with me can make up for you not bringing me breakfast in bed.
Ken: Sigh. Fine.
Me: Great! Also, I bought a jigsaw puzzle from someone in Brantford, so if we leave now, we can feed two birds with one…bag of birdseed or whatever.
Ken: You mean, kill two birds with–
Me: NO.

So off we went. I had put the address into my GPS, and it directed us to a house. A white house with a blue roof. But the number on the house was different than the address the guy had given me, so I messaged him:

Me: We’re here but the number doesn’t match. Can you resend the house number?
Guy: It’s the white house with the blue roof.
Me: OK, we’re here.

So I rang the bell, and I saw a woman through the window scurrying around inside, but she didn’t come to the door. I rang the bell again, and she yelled, “That door is locked!” and I was like, “OK, I’m just here for the clock!”  Then she poked her head out the side door and yelled, “I don’t have a clock!” and slammed the door.

By this point, I was a little frustrated and also feeling gangster-y, like “Give me the clock and no one gets hurt!” but then Ken realized that the guy lived to the north of the highway and we were south and I was like “Is that up or down from here?”, but long story short, we found the guy’s house, and wouldn’t you know it—it was also WHITE WITH A BLUE ROOF.

Then we picked up the jigsaw puzzle and made it back home within the hour. And within that very hour, Atlas decided that the remote controls for our satellite dish and our ROKU streaming stick were exactly the thing for a mid-morning snack. We walked into the house, clock and puzzle in hand, and were greeted by shards of plastic strewn all over the family room. And out of the four AAA batteries involved in this scenario, WE COULD ONLY FIND 3.

So that’s how I spent my Mother’s Day—terrified that my dog was going to die. As for him, he was quite nonchalant about the whole ordeal:

Me: What’s wrong with you?! Those aren’t food!
Atlas: Says you. They were quite tasty.
Me: You could get really sick!
Atlas: Meh, I feel fine now. I can’t guarantee how this will play out around 3 a.m. though.

At any rate, it’s been a week. We still haven’t found the battery, either in the house or in his poo, but he seems perfectly fine, and based on the sheer quantity of the poo over the last seven days, it doesn’t appear that he has a blockage. But now, whenever I want to watch Netflix, I have to push his nose.

Also, competition on Facebook Marketplace must be getting pretty stiff, because people are starting to use sex to sell the most random stuff:

J.K.

I woke up on Thursday morning to a notification that I had a new comment to moderate on my blog. I have things set so that any new commenter has to be approved, and then once approved has carte blanche to say anything they like. Spam, of course, is filtered out right away; otherwise, my entire site would be littered with people encouraging me to buy backrest pillows shaped like baseball caps, kamagra jelly, various antibiotics and other drugs, and comments like:

“It’s perfect time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
I’ve read this publish and if I may just I desire to recommend you some fascinating
issues or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles regarding
this article. I want to learn more issues about it!”

Or

“I have been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never
found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet
will be much more useful than ever before.”

And while I’m happy to be making the internet more useful than ever before, I am very aware that these are just autobots. So imagine my surprise on a sunny Thursday morning to discover that J.K Rowling HERSELF had left a comment on my blog to be moderated. It was a particularly eloquent comment too. Now, before I tell you what the comment was, I should probably state for the record that, while I love Harry Potter, the books AND the movies, I am NOT, for personal reasons, a huge J.K. Rowling fan and I may or may not have responded to her more transphobic tweets by telling her exactly how I felt about her. Still, she took the time to read my blog and even better, she left a comment on my About page. The comment read as follows:

Trash ass blog? That’s the best you can do, J.K.? Not even a cool spell like ‘Trashicus Assicus Blogamundo!’? And it’s obvious that her editors had washed their hands of this pithy tome, with nary an upper-case letter in sight. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In addition, J.K., my ass is not trash and I have the receipts, and by receipts I mean the results of my last colorectal screening, to prove it. But then it occurred to me—maybe this wasn’t really J.K. Rowling. But I looked up the website and it took me straight to Wizarding World: The Official Home of Harry Potter. The email address was jkrowling@gmail.com. Hmmm. Seemed legit. Perhaps this was her revenge for that tweet I sent. So I emailed her and asked if she had posted a comment on my blog, and wouldn’t you know it? She must have been so ashamed of herself that she deleted her email address because my email got immediately bounced back.

And now I’m starting to wonder if this is, perhaps, the work of an imposter, albeit one with terrible writing skills and a definite lack of humour, an imposter who has gone to an awful lot of trouble only to leave an incredibly stupid comment on my About page. Actually, it’s even more nonsensical, because the comment was a reply to a reply that I had given to someone else’s comment, not even on one of the posts where I mention anything to do with Harry Potter. This is one of my favourites—thanks fake J.K. for giving me an excuse to promote it:

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

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.

Honestly, if I was going to create a fake name, website, and email address just to say something snarky on a person’s blog, I would at least have made the comment worth reading, like “A backrest pillow for bed that provides a soft and comfortable material is perfect. It’s going to support your entire body, so the aches in your shoulders and back will disappear. This will give you the best night’s sleep you can have, allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.” Now THAT’S useful information.

Update: Apparently the dumb f*ck masquerading as J.K. Rowling clicked on other people who had commented previously on my About Page and left them rude comments too. Weirdo.

Quilt Update: 8 and 1/3 rows and then my 1936 Singer sewing machine had a nervous breakdown. I’ve borrowed Ken’s mom’s machine and now I have to figure out how THAT works.

Playing Around

Over the last few weeks, the AZ vaccine was made available to Gen Xers and, in Canada at least, most of us rushed to get it, because as many people recognized, those of us in Generation X are pretty devil-may-care, that’s how we were raised, and we don’t give a f*ck. Blood clots? I’ll take my damn chances if it means that people stop getting sick, small businesses can open, or I can have a graduation party for Kate. So I decided to repost this satirical look at the way our childhoods were different from kids today, originally written almost 5 years ago when kids were allowed to hang out on playgrounds without masks. I hope you enjoy…

 I was watching the news at lunch on Thursday, and there was a feature on “playground safety”. A very serious and sincere woman was instructing parents on how to “inspect” their local playground to make sure it was safe for their children. Her following gems of wisdom made me realize how much the lives of children have changed since I was a kid:

1) “Make sure the playground equipment is on a soft surface such as sand or wood chips.” This is so that, in case of a fall from the monkey bars, it’s less likely the child will suffer a broken bone. Well, in my day, we didn’t have “playground equipment”. There were swings and slides, and they were usually on concrete pads, and if you happened to fall off, it was no skin off anyone’s knee but your own. The best piece of playground equipment from my childhood had to be the giant metal rocket at Churchill Park. You had to climb into it via a metal ladder that went all the way up through very tight openings to platforms at different heights. The whole structure was on a slight angle and the top platform was probably 20 feet off the ground, which made it all a little disorienting, but you were encased in a metal cage (picture a rocket-shaped Wicker Man), so it was perfectly safe unless you lost your footing and slipped off the ladder. But see, all this taught us to be CAREFUL. It was like when hockey players used to play without helmets—they thought twice before trying to block a slap shot with their heads. Now, it’s just a free-for-all, with pucks flying everywhere, and kids leaping from platform to platform or swinging maniacally off stuff without a care in the world. Really though, in my day, we had better things to do than be all supervised on a playground. The best playground in the world when I was a kid was a construction site. I remember the good old days, racing around among the nails, concrete blocks, and roof trusses, then a gang of us would swing down into the basement through an open window, and play tag. Was it dangerous? F*ck yes, it was dangerous. One time when I was too small to get in and out by myself, the neighbourhood kids swung me in, then forgot about me later when it was time to go home. After a couple of hours, my mom started to get worried and, eventually a search party found me. Sure, it was scary being down there by myself, screaming for help and whatnot, and sure, I have an intense fear of climbing through tight spaces like windows or holes in metal platforms, but it made me TOUGH. Not like these babies today.

2) “Thoroughly inspect the equipment to ensure there are no damaged areas or sharp edges.” This is good advice for today’s playgrounds, which are all made out of plastic and easily broken. Or vandalised. But that was the great thing about the slides and swings of my youth. They were sturdy and iron and medieval-looking and held together with giant bolts and chain ropes. You couldn’t damage them if you tried. You would literally need a gang of kids wielding sledgehammers to even dent the slide in my neighbourhood. Was the bottom edge sharp? Sure. Was it rusty? I would certainly hope so. Otherwise, what was the point of getting a f*cking tetanus shot?

3) “Teach your children about the ‘zone of safe passage’.” What the playground safety expert meant by this was that parents need to assist kids in observing other children swinging and running, and figure out how far away they need to be from them to not get kicked or knocked down. When I was a kid, no one taught you that sh*t—you learned via the school of hard knocks, pardon the pun. In other words, if you ran by someone on the swing set and got a foot in the face, you very quickly learned the “zone of safe passage” on your own. There were no adults screaming, “Veer left, Tommy! Veer Left!! Remember the zone of safe pass—Oooh!” Our parents taught us one rule, and it was the most important rule of all: “Never chase a ball onto the road. But if you’re already playing on the road, move when you see a car coming.” That was their wisdom, and it saved my life many a time. Actually, both of my parents saved my life at one time or another. Mom saved my life at a baseball game. It was before the age of netting to protect the spectators, and a fly ball was coming straight for my head. She stuck out her hand and deflected it away. The bruise on her hand later was a very good indication of what might have happened to my skull if she hadn’t been so quick-thinking. She also saved my brother from drowning on more than one occasion. My dad saved my life one day when he happened to look out a bedroom window and saw me dangling by the collar from the branch of a pear tree in our backyard, slowly choking. I’ve never seen him run so fast. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for helping me survive to adulthood.

4) “Smoking is now banned on playgrounds, so be vigilant and remind those who might not be aware.” NO SMOKING?! What? I’m sorry, but the only reason that I’m only slightly asthmatic is because my lungs were toughened up by years of second hand smoke (and first-hand as well, of course—it WAS the seventies). It’s funny how attitudes change over the years. When I was a kid, ANYONE could buy cigarettes. I still remember my mom giving me a note and a couple of dollars, and sending me to the local store to buy her a pack of Rothmans. I’d stand there in line with the other 6 year-olds, shooting the sh*t about the latest Barbie outfits, or what construction site or vacant lot we’d be meeting at later, or what vacationing family had left their milk door unlocked, then spending the change from the cigarettes on sugar candy. (Milk door, in case you’re wondering, was a tiny door next to the actual door. The milkman would open it from the outside, put the milk in, then the family could open a second door from the inside and get the milk. If you went on vacation and forgot to lock the milk door, you were an open target for the neighbourhood kids. The smallest one, usually me, would squeeze through the opening and let the others in. So if you came back from a trip and all your cookies and cigarettes were gone, you knew you’d forgotten to lock the milk door.) But people back when I was young were not as knowledgeable about the dangers of smoking. In fact, my mom, like many women, smoked through both her pregnancies. Of course, she’ll tell you she’s glad she did, because otherwise, my brother, who has a Ph.D., and I would be “insufferable” and much taller than his 6’1” and my 5’6”. Now, of course, some women are so paranoid that they won’t eat peanut butter if they’re pregnant because it “might cause allergies”. I say expose ‘em early and often—it’s the best way to toughen them up. I remember once being told off by a colleague when I was pregnant with Kate for drinking a Pepsi. No, not because it wasn’t a Coke—she said, “Don’t you know what the caffeine might do to the baby?” I was like “Hopefully keep her awake all day so she doesn’t kick the sh*t out of my stomach tonight when we should both be sleeping.” I feel terrible though—she might have gotten MORE scholarships to university if I’d gone with Pepsi Free.

Overall, I just think that monitoring your child’s every move is counterproductive to childhood. And of course, I’m exaggerating about my own youth—my parents took very good care of me and my brother, but not in that “in your face” kind of way. My dad calls it “Carefully supervised neglect,” which to me, means that you let your kid be a kid, but you’re always there to stop the baseball or the drowning, as the case may be. Personally, I’ve tried to embrace that saying, but I get that it’s not always easy. The world seems to have become a more scary place than it was 40 years ago, or maybe as an adult, I’m just more aware of it now than I was when I was young. All I know is that the first time Kate wanted to go to the store by herself (it’s just around the corner and she was 10), I had to stifle every protective instinct I had. She was gone about 30 seconds when I broke down and begged Ken to act like a stealth ninja and follow her at a safe distance so Kate wouldn’t know he was there. Ken, of course, obliged, and came back to report that she was fine—that she had made it safely through the four-way stop and was on her way home with some sugar candy and a pack of smokes.

Quilt Update: 7 rows complete and 13 to go. You can see the pattern starting to form, maybe?

Creative Wednesday – Titles, Talk, and Tipples

A couple of Fridays ago, I sat down with my friend, Jude Matulich-Hall, for the inaugural episode of her new video series Titles, Talk and Tipples. It was a lot of fun–we talked about writing, our upcoming books, and a lot of other things while drinking some very nice wine. There are two parts and here is the first if you’d care to watch it:

There IS a second part, which I MIGHT post next week but by that point, we had both been ‘tippling’ pretty hard, there was a lot of giggling, and my vocabulary had deviated to the singular adjective ‘incredible’. I used it a LOT. Still, it was an excellent time and Jude is a very gracious host, even when she’s tipsy.

It’s Golden

So I was recently nominated for the Golden Bloggerz award (created by Chris Kosto) by my blogger pal Mark Bierman (thanks, Mark!), a great writer and supporter of other bloggers. Now, I know a lot of you don’t like the whole award thing, but I do, mostly because I always do it in my own way and it gives me something to write about in a week when all I did was work and get the AZ vaccine. The vaccine didn’t turn me into a zombie, nor did I sprout the coveted forklift arms I often fantasize about, but it did make me super-tired for a whole day and my arm still hurts like someone punched me several times. When I told people at work that I got it, someone joked, “Oh, they’re tracking you with that microchip now!” and I was like, “If Bill Gates wanted to track me, he could have been doing it for years through a little something called Windows. And if he really thought I was even interesting enough to track, I’d be incredibly flattered.” It’s honestly the most bizarre conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard. If you’re posting on social media about microchips and vaccines, the reason you’re getting ADS about microchips and vaccines is because social media already knows EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE DOING, BOB. I’d be more worried about Zuckerberg than Gates, frankly. Oh, and Bob? 99.9% of us aren’t even worth bothering about, so put your ego back in your pocket.

Anyway, on to the award. First I’m supposed to tell you three things about myself. This is tough because I’ve been writing this blog for almost 7 years and what is there that I HAVEN’T told you? You know about my obsession with forklifts, my relationship with the elusive Shane, the fact that I aspire to have the nickname Player One—heck, I even told you about my hysterectomy…OK, here are three things you might not know:

1) I refer to every bird larger than a crow but smaller than a vulture as an owl. It saves time, although it drives Ken nuts.

Me: Look at the huge owl!
Ken: For the last time, that’s a hawk! Owls are nocturnal!

2) I have never seen the movie E.T. and I have no intention of doing so. I’ve managed to live almost 56 years without seeing it, and I’m okay with that.

3) I am very superstitious. I have a pair of lucky underwear (you all know THAT) but what you don’t know is that I wore them on Wednesday when I went for my vaccine so I wouldn’t get a blood clot. And I didn’t. Because the underwear is lucky. Also, I knock on wood and I believe that it works. Fight me.

Okay, now I have to answer Mark’s questions and they’re really hard.

Question 1: If you could speak to one person from history, who would that be?

Mark didn’t specify past or future history, so I’m going to say ‘a dude from the year 2121 so I can find out if we ever get flying cars, transporters, or robot butlers.’ Hopefully, the pandemic is over by then so I don’t have to wear a mask while I’m time traveling. And don’t @ me with “The future isn’t history, Player One.” The future isn’t history YET, but it will be, so it counts.

Question 2: Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?

Sunsets because that means it’s almost time for bed, and as you all know, I enjoy being horizontal much more than I like being vertical.

Question 3: Have you ever done anything for the adrenaline rush?

Rollercoasters, I guess? That’s pretty much it, I mean, I have no interest in doing anything where I could easily die just for adrenaline. As the Queen of Worst Case Scenarios, I’ve literally spent my life actively AVOIDING things like falling out of a plane, being attacked by a bear, or drowning. I WAS almost bitten by a shark once, but it was a little one and very cute, and I was just trying to get a picture of it. I didn’t know it was dangerous.

Question 4: What’s your go-to comfort food?

White wine. It’s made from grapes and that’s a food.

Question 5: Do you have any pets?

Do I have any pets? Here’s a picture. Note that Atlas is wearing a cute little onesie because he just got neutered. He’s not impressed, but as I keep telling him, “It’s better than a cone.” As he keeps telling me, “If you hadn’t stolen my balls, the subject would be moot.”

And there you go. I don’t know about who to nominate because I’m aware that many of my followers don’t like awards, so I’m nominating these bloggers, since I have no idea how they feel about awards:

The 59 Club
Eastelmhurst.a.go.go
Scribblans
James Proclaims

Texas Writer
…and my good friend at Cyranny’s Cove

There are a bunch of rules as well, but I’ve provided a link to Mark’s blog at the top and he has them there.

Here are my five questions:

What’s your favourite photograph?

How long can you go without blinking?

On a scale of 1 to 5, how superstitious are YOU?

Flowers or chocolate?

Where’s the first place you’ll go once the pandemic is over?

I look forward to your responses. I hope that many of them are in the form of haikus.

Quilt Update: I have sewn the first two rows. 19 rows to go.

It’s Toxic

I’m currently being plagued by toxicity. No, I don’t mean I’m surrounded by toxic people—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m particularly fortunate to have many incredible people in both my life and work. No, when I say toxic, I’m referring to the song. Yes, Toxic by Britney Spears. I’ve had that f*cking song in my head now for several days and it’s evolved from an ear worm into a serpent. At first it was amusing. “What’s that song playing in my head?” I asked myself last week. “Oh, Britney. Fun.”  A couple of days later, I was like, “Toxic? Still? What the hell?” as it became more persistent and annoying. Yesterday, it ramped up to the point where I started getting worried. Every time I stop actively thinking, I realize it’s there, playing in the background, over and over again. And the worst part is that I don’t even know all the goddamn words so it’s mostly just Britney mumbling and then belting out the chorus. I actually woke up at 3 am yesterday and the first thing I heard was “With the taste of a sip I’m drinking rye/It’s toxic, I’m hearing thunder…” and it’s even more worrisome that my brain is filling in the lyrics like THAT.

Now, I’m no stranger to the ear worm. I get them pretty regularly, thanks to good old OCD, usually based on something I’ve just listened to, but after a couple of hours or a couple of glasses of wine, they disappear. And because I have a semi-eidetic memory, I usually know the lyrics and can sing along. The week before I began my battle with the Britney Army (slight tangent: I just googled ‘what are Britney Spears’ fans called?’ but first I misspelled ‘what’ and it autofilled ‘what are hemorrhoids?’. Then I misspelled ‘Britney’ and again it autofilled with ‘what are hemorrhoids?’ To be clear, I have never done any research on that topic and thus far in my life I haven’t needed to, but it concerns me that Google associates Britney Spears with butt ailments, so I investigated further and went down a rather terrifying hemorrhoidal rabbit hole and now I know more about the topic than I ever wanted to, and I still don’t know why I can’t get Toxic out of my head.), I had Shame by Foo Fighters playing on a loop, but that was okay because a) I love Foo Fighters and b) it’s an awesome song and c) I knew all the words so I just started merrily singing along.

But now? Is it an omen? Is it a warning? Is the universe trying to tell me something? Could it be related to the sudden upswing in my OCD due to all the adhesive rug grippers I bought suddenly letting go due to several rather vigorous games of boogedy boogedy with Atlas, resulting in my carefully symmetrized rugs being askew once again (I should have known there might be issues with the product when I saw the instruction that read “For renew the sticky, wipe with cloth”)? OR…hear me out: Is Britney in danger and needs my help to free her? Well, if that’s the case, she’s sh*t out of luck, because we’re under yet another stay at home order. Sorry, Brit. At this point, I’m just resigned to having the damn song in my head forever. And you know what they say—the next step after resignation is acceptance, so hit me baby, one more time.

Quilt Update: All patches are cut, and the design has been laid out. Ken figured out how to use the sewing machine because he made a wooden marionette out of some scrap wood and decided to sew it a little shirt and pair of pants. I’ve named the marionette Marty, and he’s adorable in a kind of grotesque way and definitely has Ken’s fashion sense, but at least now Ken can teach me how to sew. Also, just in case you think I haven’t been busy, I also made this cool bookcase out of a 1970s grandfather clock shell.

Profiled

A few days ago, I saw a red flag hovering above the LinkedIn app on my phone. “Ooh,” I thought. “Is someone interested in being my friend?” Now, I know that connections on LinkedIn aren’t technically called ‘friends’, but what exactly DO you call them? ‘Business peeps’? ‘Corporate posse’? ‘Kudo Klub’? (If you know anything about LinkedIn, you know it’s always pressuring you to send kudos to people as if the mere fact that you’ve been connected to them for five years is cause for celebration, like ‘You’ve never once LIKED MY POSTS, MARCIA, so kudos for that.’) At any rate, when I opened the app, I was even more excited to see that it was a personal message. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have been so thrilled but after socially isolating for over a year, any form of communication is exciting. Even the stupid Norton on my computer popping up to tell me it’s protected me from several threats recently is a bit of a thrill. Of course, Norton is just a tryhard, because I have the free version and Norton keeps trying to impress upon me how much better off I’d be if I paid for a better package. But why have a cow and buy milk, am I right?

So I clicked on the message icon in breathless anticipation. There was a message from Jarod. It read, “Hi Suzanne! I wanted to reach out because, based on your profile, I thought you might be interested in discussing your sports flooring needs. Please reach out to me anytime!” Now, there were several questions I had about this message:

1) Who the f*ck is Jarod?

2) What’s with all the exclamation marks? This is LinkedIn, not Twitter.

3) What in the name of all that is holy could possibly have led Jarod to read my profile and glean from it that I had ‘sports flooring needs?

4) What even IS sports flooring?

And because I had no interest in engaging with Jarod about his weird flooring fetish, I will answer these questions myself:

1) I have no goddamned idea. He is neither a Business Peep nor a member of my Corporate Posse.

2) Jarod is very excited about sports flooring and the idea of potentially connecting with me over it. Perhaps he envisions us, sipping wine on a terrace somewhere, discussing whatever the hell sports flooring is.

3) I re-examined my profile. It says my name and that I’m the author of Smile and The Dome (I should probably update that with my two new books, The Seventh Devil and Feasting Upon The Bones and if that isn’t a shameless plug, I don’t know what is). It also says I’ve been endorsed for Public Speaking and Educational Leadership despite the fact that the only thing I ever post on LinkedIn is my blog. Where, in ANY of that, is there the slightest indication that I’m a) athletic b) interested in sports c) interested in floors?

4) The only thing I can even think of is astroturf. Why would I ever in a million years need astroturf? I HAVE GRASS, JAROD. Or is sports flooring that bouncy stuff? Because that MIGHT be cool, maybe in like one room where you could go when you were stressed and just bounce around on your sports flooring like Tigger until you felt better. Then it occurred to me—could ‘sports flooring’ be a euphemism? But I couldn’t for the life of me think what it might be a euphemism for, so I asked Ken:

Me: What could an interest in sports flooring be a euphemism for? Like, you’re a professional killer and you bury someone under concrete at an arena?
Ken: That’s very dark. Hmm. The only euphemism about sports I’ve ever heard is ‘Water Sports’.
Me: Water sports? Like water polo?
Ken: No, like…”pee play”. You know, Golden Showers.
Me: EWWWWWW.

So I immediately wrote back to Jarod: I DON’T DO THAT. What a creep. Then I looked and realized I had two other messages, one from ‘Matt’, who wanted to know if I was interested in an AI Training Pilot Project. Now, if that’s a euphemism for teaching my robot butler how to bring me wine, count me in. The other was from someone who thinks I like camping. Guess which message I’ll be responding to based on my profile?

Quilt Update for those who are following: I’m now at 270 squares. Thanks to those who recommended the rotary cutter. That thing is a godsend.

Weekend Update

Well, Happy Easter Weekend to all of those who celebrate it and Happy Weekend to those who don’t. The mydangblog household doesn’t observe Easter particularly, but we do give each other chocolate according to pagan tradition, and chocolate is one of the few life’s pleasures left to us as we’re currently under yet another “lockdown that’s not really a lockdown”. As someone on the interweb succinctly put it: “I can go to Costco, but I can’t go to my barber. My barber can go to Costco but can’t give me a haircut. We can both be in Costco at the same time—maybe he can cut my hair in Costco.” People aren’t allowed to gather in groups of more than 5 people, but come Tuesday, classrooms will be full of 30 kids per room. Ultimately, I’m never sure if this is a pandemic or just a really bad Monty Python sketch.

At any rate, before I begin, I have three updates. First, an update on the quilt. I have, as of this day’s reckoning, cut 121 squares of denim with about 300 to go. I will be attempting to purchase a rotary cutter today on the advice of my many quilting friends (you never know how many you have until you tell people you’re making a quilt), if I can find a store that’s open.

Second, thanks to all of you, I did indeed win Spillwords Press Publication of the Month, and I am very thrilled and grateful to everyone who voted or tried to vote (that site is super-finicky) or even just clicked on it to read it because that counts too.

Third, and this ties into number 2, I’ve begun the sequel to The Seventh Devil. It’s called The Devil You Know, and now I have lots of names for the characters thanks to my promise to name them after anyone who voted for me.

And off we go on another foray into the strange world of Facebook Marketplace.

1) Drama: Free

You can just tell by the photo that Amanda is a very dramatic girl. It’s amazing to me that she isn’t charging more for her drama but maybe the lockdown is getting the better of her and she’s so bored she’s just willing to give it away. So I contacted her and asked about a sample:

Me: What kind of drama are you offering?
Amanda: Low level best friend drama, mid-range passive aggressive wife, and crazy ex-girlfriend.
Me: Can I try the crazy ex-girlfriend?
Amanda; I WILL SLASH YOUR TIRES, YOU BASTARD!!
Me: Wow, that IS intense. I think I’m good.
Amanda (sobbing): So that’s it? You’re just going to leave? WHY??!! I LOVE YOU!!
Me: Okay, have a good weekend.
Amanda: You too!

2) Bookshelf: It is issued.

It wasn’t so much the bookshelf in this ad but the description, which reads “Good bookshelf. We are moving. It is issued. Has a lot of place. It is useful.” So, these people are moving due to some kind of decree? Is there a dude whose job it is to randomly evict people with bookshelves, like, “I see you have a good, useful bookshelf. I must demand that you move immediately. Leave the bookshelf behind in this place. I have spoken.” I hope he doesn’t find out how many bookshelves I have—I have no intention of moving.

3) Self-portrait: 5 dollars

This is an excellent example of a post-modern charcoal sketch in the style of a young Matisse. Personally, I would title it “Artist Holding Boom Box”, but those could be boobs. And that’s the joy of art.

4) Custom Handmade Boat: $100

What a lovely, idyllic scene: A peaceful living room with birds merrily chirping in their cage, a puppy snoozing on his pillow, the sunlight spilling in through the cracks in the boat—wait, what? I’m guessing that the genius who handcrafted this boat has never actually been in one and is unaware that the key to building a seaworthy vessel is to ensure that the water STAYS ON THE OUTSIDE. Now, you may be thinking that the person meant a good bookshelf SHAPED like a boat, but the description below simply reiterates “Custom handmade boat”. This is the stuff for which relocation decrees are issued, my friends.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone—now I’m off to cut some denim.