Farewell To The Best Boy Ever

2 weeks ago Sunday, just after I’d hit the ‘publish’ button on that week’s post, Ken yelled to me from our family room that Titus had collapsed. We’d called the vet the previous week because he’d started having some weakness in his back legs, which we assumed was a touch of arthritis. The vet prescribed some anti-inflammatories and he seemed to perk up, and for the next few days, he’d seemed fine–just a slightly senior dog with a touch of the rheumatism. Then…Sunday happened. We rushed him to the emergency vet, who diagnosed him with a very large inoperable abdominal tumour that had just ruptured. She pumped him full of IV fluids and let us take him home, knowing that his time with us would be short. We wanted Kate to be able to see Titus one last time, and we were fully expecting that the vet would come to the house later that day, or Monday at the latest to help him pass. But he rallied, and for another week and a half, he seemed almost back to his regular self. Then, this past Wednesday morning, he stopped eating and couldn’t get up again, so we did what no one ever wants to do. We called the vet (a lovely young woman named Dr. Alison), and she came out to the house late Wednesday afternoon. It all happened outside on the front porch with everyone wearing masks, but at least we were able to go through it at home, with Titus on a cozy blanket in the sunshine. While she got everything ready, Titus nibbled on his favourite pepperoni, and was told he was a very good boy, the very best boy in fact, by all of us more times than I can count. He passed quickly and peacefully in the arms of the people who loved him best. You all know him from this blog—in fact, if you search ‘Titus’, he comes up in 99 posts—and you know how much he meant to us. He was a dog to whom every day was the best day ever, who loved everyone, loved to eat, loved his toys, and was the best canine conversationalist I’ve ever met. In honour of the best boy ever, here are a few of my favourite Titus moments.

Titus and the Magic Box

Titus: Oh my God! You’re making cookies, aren’t you?!
Me: Sigh. Yes. Like I do EVERY Sunday.
Titus: This is the best day ever! I’m just going to lie here, OK?
Me: So long as you don’t drool on my feet like last time.
Titus: I’m not promising anything.

Half an hour later:

Me: What are you doing?
Titus: Waiting for the cookies to come out of the magic box.

Me: You mean the oven?
Titus: Call it what you want. Technically, it’s the “medium-sized” magic box. The “large magic box” is where you keep all the delicious luncheon meats and cheeses.
Me: None of this is actually magic. It’s all based on science.
Titus: Well, how does “the oven” work then?
Me: Well…you push this button, and it gets hot. Then you put uncooked food in it, and it cooks the food for you…
Titus (whispers): Magic.

Titus and I Talk About The Movies

Me: So hey, my blogger friend Often Off Topic is doing a Dog Blogathon in a couple of weeks so for the challenge, I’m supposed to write about dogs and movies.
Titus: Cool, cool. I’m a huge movie buff. I’m still pissed off at you for not taking me to TIFF.
Me: Right, like I was going to take a chance on you trying to high-five Sam Rockwell and slapping him in the face?
Titus: Fair enough. But I do love “the moving pictures”.
Me: Really? What’s your favourite movie?
Titus: Citizen Kane. Good old Rosebud.
Me: I know, right? That shot of the sled at the end gets me every time.
Titus: What sled?
Me: The sled. Rosebud.
Titus: Rosebud wasn’t a sled. Rosebud was the guy.
Me: What guy?!
Titus: The main dude with the big castle.
Me: THAT was Citizen Kane.
Titus: I thought Rosebud was his nickname or something.
Me (rolls eyes): What else do you like? How about Star Wars?
Titus: Meh. That giant cat was really annoying.
Me: You mean Chewbacca? He was a Wookie.
Titus: Chewy cookie? Yes, please.
Me: No, Wookie. So you didn’t like it?
Titus: It was confusing. I could never tell who the bad guys were. Luke and Leia made a cute couple though.
Me: They were brother and sister.
Titus: WHAT?
Me: And Darth Vader was their father.
Titus: You’re sh*tting me! Thanks for the spoiler!
Me: You don’t pay very close attention to what you’re watching, do you?
Titus: I like to multi-task.
Me: If by multi-task, you mean ‘beg for popcorn’, then no wonder you miss so much. So what are some dog movies you’d like to see?
Titus: Um…Slumdog Millionaire. That sounds GREAT.
Me: It’s not about dogs.
Titus: Huh?! OK, what about Reservoir Dogs?
Me: Again, not about dogs.
Titus: I thought it was some kind of nature documentary. Dog Day Afternoon?
Me: Nope.
Titus: The Dogs of War? Wag The Dog?
Me: Do you know any movies that are actually about dogs?
Titus: Apparently not. By the way, Soylent Green is people.
Me: I already knew that, but nice try, Mr. Spoiler. Here, it says on this website that Old Yeller is the number one dog movie of all time.
Titus: Sweet. We could watch that. What’s it about?
Me: It’s about a dog that gets…then the boy…uh…Reservoir Dogs it is!
Titus: Awesome–I love a good documentary.
Me: Do you want popcorn?
Titus: Is Jaws a shark?

A dog of discerning taste.

The Titus Challenge

Titus: I hear you’ve stopped eating pork. You realize that means bacon too, right?
Me: Sigh. I know. It’s breaking my heart, but I saw a video recently of a pig solving a puzzle. Pigs are smarter than dogs, you know. I wouldn’t eat a dog, so how can I eat a pig?
Titus: Pigs are NOT smarter than dogs. For example, when was the last time you saw a pig who responded to commands based on Harry Potter spells?
Me: I’m sure there are pigs out there who could do that. Besides, you have a pretty sloppy Leviosa, so let’s not get carried away.
Titus: It’s Levi-OH-sa, not Levio-SA.
Me: Look at this video. She’s trained that pig to do 17 different tricks.
Titus: Damn. He gives a great high-five.
Me: I know, right?
Titus: But does the Avada Kedavera spell render him seemingly dead?
Me: Dead? Like for a fraction of a second before you jump back up and try to snatch the Corn Pop out of my hand?
Titus: Dead, jumping in the air, whatever. No bacon? Now that’s harsh. OK, find me a pig that can do Leviosa better than me, and I might consider it.
Me: Challenge accepted. Accio the wine bottle, will you?
Titus: Is it 5 o’clock somewhere ALREADY?!
Me: I dunno—I’m not wearing a watch.

Black and White Challenge Week 2

Titus Gets Punchy

Alarm goes off.

Me (*stretching*): ERGH. Time to get up.
Titus: NO.
Me: Oh my god, you just punched me in the eye!!
Titus: It was an accident–I was trying to high-five you. Where are you going? Stay in bed.
Me: No! I have to see if my eye is OK!
Titus: You’re fine. Stop being a baby. Besides, eye patches are all the rage this season.
Me: I don’t want an eyepatch! OWW. If you scratched my cornea with your slappy paw…
Titus (whispers): I just wanted you to stay home with me. I’m sorry.
Me: Sigh. I love you, buddy.
Titus: You’ll look awesome with an eyepatch. Like an angry pirate.
Me: ARRRR.
Titus: I love you too.

If You Build It…

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Via Rail, Canada’s national passenger railway, that the train that was supposed to take us out to the Maritimes IN AUGUST was cancelled. I was shocked—we’d planned the whole trip around the train voyage, and I’d already booked hotels, a ferry to Newfoundland, and a couple of bed and breakfasts. The vacation planning, of course, had all taken place before the great lockdown. And aren’t events around the world just doing their damn best to tell us that the end of days is nigh? There’s a plague of locusts in Africa, Murder Hornets have landed on the shores of North America, the world is infected with a terrible pestilence, and now it’s snowing in f*cking May here. If I see a horse galloping down my street, I’m immediately going to live in a cave.

Anyway, I was super disappointed that our trip had been cancelled, even though they refunded all the money and points I’d used to pay for it. “Peut être ze next year,” the Via rep said in a thick, French accent, which certainly didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic. But then I had a thought.

Me: If we have to do a stay-cation, that’s OK. We can always get a hot tub.
Ken: What?
Me: Hot tub.
Ken: Hot tub?
Me: I feel like this conversation is circular. Like this hot tub. Look…

So I showed Ken the Canadian Tire website, where they had fairly inexpensive inflatable hot tubs on sale. Now, if you’re not Canadian, you’re probably wondering why a tire store sells hot tubs. But Canadian Tire sells tires in the same way that Walmart sells walls or Winners sells lottery tickets, which is to say that the majority of things they sell are not tires. “OK,” Ken said. “Where will we put it?”

“On the back patio,” I answered. So I ordered it, and Ken went to get it. Canadian Tire was only doing curbside pickup, which meant that he had to pull up to the door, show them his order number and receipt, then go and park while someone brought it out. When he pulled into the driveway and unloaded the big box, I was super-excited, but then he said something to me that filled me with dread.

“I’ve decided to build a gazebo for it,” he announced. At that moment, thunder may have rumbled ominously in the distance, the birds may have stopped singing, and the hydro might have flickered.

“How—how long will that take?” I whispered.

“I’ll have to order the wood first,” he said cheerily.

“Just a square gazebo, right? Or rectangular? Something easy to put up?” I held my breath, hoping for the best.

“No! Octagonal!” he cried, leaping into the air and clicking his heels together.

“Aw, f*ck,” I said to no one in particular. A squirrel laughed darkly, as if to say, “You will never sit in the soothing waters of the hot tub. NEVER!!” (It wasn’t THIS baby squirrel who’s currently living in my yard, but he’s too cute not to show you.)

So THE NEXT WEEKEND, Ken and I went to get the wood from Home Depot. Once again, we had to show our receipt and order number for curbside pick-up, then park and wait. After half an hour, an elderly woman came to our window. “Would you mind pulling up by the contractor’s entrance?” she asked apologetically. “Only, there’s so much wood that I can’t push it out here myself.”

“So much wood,” I whispered, as Ken loaded it all onto our trailer.

The weather all week was gorgeous, but no sign of activity on the back patio, and no lovely warm waters to soothe my weary soul. Then on Friday afternoon after work, Ken announced that he was going to lay out the frame see how it looked. Immediately, it started to hail. I feared the worst, but Ken was determined, so he put on a parka, and began framing the base. It looks pretty good so far. And at this rate, barring a shower of frogs falling from the sky, I’ll be soaking my cares away by the time we were supposed to be on a train heading to Nova Scotia.

Just for the record, I want it known that I have no doubts about Ken’s abilities; it’s just his timelines. For years, our front door only had an overhang; here’s the porch that he put on, all by himself (with a little help from me, Kate, and my dad). It took him two summers but it’s gorgeous.

 

 

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

One of the benefits of my current work situation, mentally and physically, is that I’ve set up my home office (which is separate from my writing office) in an alcove in our living room. It’s surrounded on three sides by very tall windows, which gives me a wonderful view of the shenanigans in my yard. There are blue jays, cardinals, and goldfinches among numerous other avian species, but they’re the most noticeable due to their bright colours. Then there are the rabbits, which worry me, because there’s this one really aggressive bunny who likes to chase the others to the point of exhaustion, often causing me to rap on the window and yell, “Give it a rest, ya hoppy f*cker!” I usually remember to mute my microphone when I do that. The other day, I muted my mike to tell Ken something, then I forgot to turn it back on, and I got really upset for a minute when I was trying to contribute to a conversation but people kept talking over me and interrupting to the point that I was like, “What the HELL??!!” I finally realized I was muted and hope that no one could actually see me moving my lips and getting more and more agitated, like an angry mime. There are also squirrels, which scamper around delightfully, and I have a favourite that I’ve named Moo, because he’s black and white like a Holstein cow. I promised Evil Squirrel’s Nest a while ago that I would try to get a picture of him, and I finally did. It’s blurry but you can tell he has white patches:

Anyway, there’s the activity in the yard, and then we move out onto the street, where I’ve grown accustomed to the comings and goings of several dog walkers, and can pretty well figure out what time it is based on which canine is passing my gate. If it’s German Shepherd o’clock, that means lunchtime, and at That Terrier, it’s time to call it quits for the day. The most interesting part of my view, however, has got to be the neighbourhood—more specifically the new neighbours, they of the mysteriously disappearing giant plastic wolf, which I have come to suspect may be residing in the middle of a pentagram in their basement.

Now, I’ve met them, and they’re very young and seem very nice, but appearances can be deceiving. For example, their yard is 30 feet by 50 feet, yet they have a riding lawn mower and have mowed their lawn TWICE in the last week. It takes approximately 7 minutes for this to happen, yet happen it has, not once but twice. In Ontario. In April. Are they trying to make the rest of us, with our province-wide pledge to wait until the Victoria Day weekend to do any yard work, look bad? Or is it part of some strange ritual to appease the wolf? (And this is no dig at you, Tom–I just read your post and I know how much you’ve mowed your lawn in the last week, but it’s a hell of a lot warmer where you are. Our grass is NOT growing!)

Second, there are two of them, yet they have THREE vehicles, and despite the fact that they have a garage, all three are parked outside, two in their own driveway, and one in the church laneway next door. What is it about people who use their garages as an extra room in their house instead of for their cars? This is something I will never understand. I’ve been in so many garages that are literally full of tools, furniture, garbage cans, and assorted junk, while the car is in the driveway covered in ice. If I had a garage, there’s no question that it would be my car’s house, because I HATE scraping off the windshield every morning. (Detour up ahead: Speaking of things I don’t understand, here’s another one—while we should all have little houses for our cars, why do some people have little houses for their DOGS? What exactly is the point of having a dog and keeping it in a tiny house OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE? How are you supposed to have a conversation with him when he’s IN THE BACKYARD ALL THE TIME?!

Me: I just ran that whole category on Jeopardy!
Titus: Yeah, I was here. You don’t always have to answer in the form of a question, you know.
Me: I’m not a MONSTER, thank you.
Titus: Hush! Final Jeopardy category is…Classic Cinema!
Both: OOOH!

See what you’re missing out on when your dog lives outside? Now back to the main road).

But the most recent development is the most disturbing. More disturbing than the wolf?, I hear you ask. No, but disturbing all the same. On Wednesday, I saw the young woman in their breezeway, and she was holding a cat. An orange tabby, in fact. Now, that in itself might not be unusual, but it was the WAY she was holding the cat that concerned me:

Me: The neighbours have a cat.
Ken: Oh.
Me: She was in the breezeway, holding it the way you hold a rifle, and she was pointing it at things.
Ken: Maybe it’s a laser cat.
Me: Exactly what I was thinking! Then she put it in their picture window and now it’s just sitting there staring at our yard.
Ken: The squirrels better be careful. Pew Pew!

(If you are unfamiliar with laser cats, click here to see the original documentary.)

So in honour of the neighbour’s laser cat, I wrote a song:

Laser cats! Scourge of the universe!
Laser cats! They don’t like squirrels!
Laser cats! They’re unpredictable!
Laser cats! Sometimes they purr!

This song is meant to be sung loudly and in a very staccato manner, which I have begun to do quite regularly. And because I can’t get a picture of the neighbour’s laser cat without arousing suspicion, I found this picture of my aunt’s cat Rupert (who is NOT a scourge—in fact he’s one of the sweetest cats I know), and I added lasers using my Windows Paint program, because I don’t know how to use Photoshop. The resemblance to the neighbour’s cat is, however, remarkable. Pew Pew!

(By the way, thanks to the support of all my family and friends, virtual or otherwise, my flash fiction story “Resurrection” is Publication of the Month at Spillwords. You guys are the best!)

Creative Wednesdays – Collateral Damage

I’m really excited to have this short story in the beautiful Moria Literary Magazine, which is the National Literary Magazine of Woodbury University . It’s a quirky little piece called “Collateral Damage” and it’s about revenge gone wrong. Or has it…? 

If you’d like to, you can read it here.

Also, thank you so much to everyone who went to Spillwords and voted for me for Publication of the Month. You’re the best!

Personal Achievements

I’ve accomplished quite a bit this week despite being locked down. No, I didn’t win a damned Oscar, but I’m pretty sure if there WAS one for Best Use Of Hosiery By A Middle-Aged Woman, I would definitely be a contender.

1) Learning New Skills

Last week, I had to finish my Performance Plan which, if you’ve never done one, is where you have to tell someone at the start of the year what you’re planning to do, and then at the end of the year, you tell them what you did, and you hope the two things match well enough that your boss says, “Shantay, you stay.” And while my real boss is very cool, wouldn’t it be amazing if my boss was actually a big, fabulous drag queen who also said, “No tea, no shade! You’re serving up Performance Plan realness—now sissy that walk!”

Anyway, I was putting the finishing touches on my Performance Plan, looking at the ‘courses taken’ section to make sure I’d completed the mandatory accessibility and hazardous materials training (and here’s a long detour: The only hazardous material in my workplace might potentially be the photocopier ink cartridge, and we are under strict instructions to NEVER touch the photocopiers in our office even if they jam, because we are NOT QUALIFIED to unjam a photocopier, even though I spent most of my tenure as an International Languages Principal doing EXACTLY THAT and every Saturday, I was invariably called at least three times to the photocopy room by a distressed staff member who was an excellent teacher of Vietnamese or whatnot, but who couldn’t read English well enough to understand what the digital display on the photocopier was telling them to do, and had managed to completely f*ck up a very expensive machine that it was now MY JOB to repair. So I AM QUALIFIED, FRANK. But I digress. Back to the topic at hand.) and I discovered that there was a section I hadn’t notice before called “Personal Achievements”. Ooh, I thought to myself, now this is exciting. Because the day before, I had made a face mask, and it wasn’t half bad, even if Ken refused to wear it:

Me: Look! I made you a face mask!
Ken: Is that one of your socks?
Me: It may or may not be. See—it goes on like this.
Ken: Is it clean?
Me: Of course I’m pretty sure it’s clean! You can wear it when you go grocery shopping.
Ken: That’s OK. I’ll just stay away from people.

And I was sad, because saving Ken’s life would have been a really good Personal Achievement. But then I went to the tab and opened it, and it was a series of courses that you could take, and some of them were AMAZING. The first thing that caught my eye was ‘Chainsaw Operators Certification” and that would be so handy since we have this chestnut tree on our property that is essentially dead but Ken refuses to cut down because it “still gets a few leaves every year” as more and more of the branches fall off. I could just picture myself wearing a cute flannel shirt tied at the waist, booty shorts, and workboots, firing up that bad boy and yelling whatever it is that lumberjacks yell LIKE A BOSS, as the tree explodes in an orgy of fireworks, and reading this back, I think it’s very apparent that I have no idea what being a lumberjack is really like. But I’m OK.

Then something strange caught my eye. CHEMICAL IMMOBILIZATION OF WILDLIFE. What the hell is this?! So I clicked on it to read the description, which said, “Learn how to chemically immobilize nuisance wildlife” which shone no further light on how, and more importantly WHY one would want to do this, and all I could picture was forests full of animals standing completely still like weird fluffy statues, and I DIDN’T LIKE IT AT ALL.

So I comforted myself by considering taking the Harvard Manage Mentor courses, specifically “Difficult Interactions”, “Persuading Others”, and “Time Management” because Ken is so damn stubborn, but I think I might already have those skills:

Me: Put the sock mask on.
Ken: No.
Me: You’re being difficult. Put the damn mask on or I won’t make homemade pizza for dinner. You have 5 seconds.
Ken (sighs): OK.

See? I dealt with a difficult interaction using persuasion and time management.

There was also the Joint Health and Safety Committee, which I’m assuming has something to do with the legalization of marijuana, Pleasure Craft Operators Card (which I might need now that Ken and I have kayaks), Snow Mobile Operator, and Search Warrant Training. Almost every course you could take sounded completely badass, and all I need is my boss’s approval. Hopefully, she says, “Okurrrr!”

2) A while ago, I was complaining that I couldn’t change my wifi name to something more fun, but I DID figure out how to do this on my computer screensaver:

I’m pretty pleased with myself for being able to capture this moment, since it swirls around really fast, kind of like my brain.

3) Last week, our neighbour across the street moved out, and new neighbours moved in. They seemed like regular people with regular furniture, but later in the afternoon, Ken came downstairs:

Ken: I think the new neighbours have a really big dog, but it’s just standing in the middle of their lawn not moving.
Me: Maybe it’s been chemically immobilized.
Ken: Seriously, come and see.

So we looked out the window and realized that in the middle of our new neighbours’ lawn, they had placed a giant, plastic wolf statue. It wasn’t by their front door, or in the middle of a flower bed where you’d EXPECT to see a lawn ornament. It was just standing there staring at our house. And it had these really weird, bright blue eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and later on, I went out for a few groceries and took a surreptitious picture of it from my driveway. I was intending to sneak back at some point and get a close-up of its eyes, but when we got up the next morning, IT WAS GONE. I’m already having trouble sleeping because I hurt my shoulder, and the only way to be comfortable is to let my arm dangle straight down off the mattress, but I CAN’T DO THAT BECAUSE OF THE DEMONS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT LIVE UNDER THE BED. And now, I have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to find a giant, plastic wolf scratching at my door. So I did what any normal person would do—I made Ken put on the sock and go to the store to get the new neighbours a gift basket. At least one of my personal achievements came in handy this week.

(I just got nominated for Publication of the Month at Spillwords Press for a flash piece I posted a few weeks ago called “Resurrection”. If you’d like to vote for me, you might have to register but it’s free, there’s no obligation for anything further, and if you do, I’ll write a story with your name in it. Also, they’re a terrific and very responsive publication to submit to in case you’re looking for somewhere—anyway, here’s the link: Vote

Creative Wednesdays – Keeping Faith

This is a piece I wrote a few months ago. It’s deeply personal, but I’d like to share it with all of you. For a little context, if you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll have noticed that the name of my child has been changed in all my posts to Kate, my wonderful daughter, who told me she was fine with me sharing it:

Keeping Faith

I stopped believing in a higher power
A few years ago
But sometimes I wonder if I’m wrong
Driving down a dark road
There’s something coming with flashing lights
I pull over for ten seconds but
It’s only a tow truck and
I’m mad
In a hurry
Then I wonder if there was a reason
Like a deer up ahead that I just missed by those ten seconds
And I think about the deal I made with somebody’s god,
A long time ago
That if I could finally have a baby
I would love it forever no matter what
And when my beautiful boy came to me
Crying, saying
I’m in the wrong body
I’m really a girl
I didn’t think about the deal
Or anybody’s god
I just answered I will love you forever
No matter what
Then up ahead I see a doe and her fawn crossing the road
About ten seconds away
Enough time to slow down and remember
It takes two to make a bargain.

Voyage of Discovery

Well, it’s been another exciting week here in the house. Last week, I spoke of being like Magellan, and once again, I’ve been on a voyage of discovery:

1) I discover a solution

After 15 years of having a small sitting room, which is a misnomer in that it only seats three, and which is completely useless since anyone who visits us always comes in pairs, I looked around it on Tuesday and said to Ken, “You know, if we turn the loveseat so it’s perpendicular to the fireplace instead of facing it, sell that big-ass armchair no one ever sits in, buy a smaller chair, and move that wing chair over here, we could seat 4 people in this room.” Ken turned to me with the long-suffering look of a man who has suffered too long from impromptu furniture rearranging schemes. “Sure,” he said, “but all the stores are closed. Oh well. Maybe in a month.”

“But wait,” I said, and his long-suffering look turned into one of resignation, the resigned look of a man who knows that his wife has been perusing the local Buy and Sell sites. “I just saw the perfect chair on Facebook Marketplace. We can sell ours and buy THAT one.”

And that’s exactly what we did. The whole scheme was accomplished using social distancing, of course, which meant that the old couple who bought our big-ass chair refused any help as they staggered down the 100-foot long walkway to the sidewalk carrying it, and loaded it into their SUV. It was snowing and I felt awful, but they waved off any offer of assistance and then e-transferred me once it was safely stowed. Then Ken and I drove to a neighbouring town where the newest member of the family room awaited us on a porch.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered.

“It’s heavy,” Ken answered.

Nevertheless, we/Ken got it loaded up, drove it home, and it now resides in our sitting room, filling me with the kind of joy you only feel when you’ve been locked inside your house for weeks. The new (pre-owned) chair is the one on the left. I don’t know about you, but I have no issue buying furniture second-hand—in fact, we got the loveseat in the picture from the Habitat For Humanity Restore Store for 80 bucks, and Ken and I made the coffee table out of an old pallet we found. 

2) I discover an impossible task

When I was a child, I suffered from a nasty skin condition called dyshidrosis that only affected my hands. The causes of dyshidrosis are still not-well-known today, but for some reason, 50 years ago, dermatologists thought that the oil in orange peel was one of the triggers and as a result, I wasn’t allowed to touch oranges. I’ve talked about my obsession with orange things before, but the one thing I never mentioned was my undying adoration for canned mandarin oranges, you know, the ones that come in the syrup. I long ago realized that orange peel wasn’t really a problem, so usually at work, I have a bag of mandarins in my office so I can have one with lunch every day and avoid scurvy. But then I was at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I realized that you can still get the canned ones, only they aren’t in cans anymore—they’re in these plastic cups with peel-off lids. I was super-excited, and at lunch the next day, I took one out of the cupboard and started to peel off the lid, which resulted in mandarin orange syrup squirting out all over me. “I’ll have to be more careful tomorrow,” I thought to myself, undaunted.

Tomorrow came, and again, despite my care, the syrup shot out. I’d learned my lesson and had it pointed away from me, so it ended up all over the floor, much to the delight of Titus.

Me: What the f*ck?!
Ken: You’re squeezing it. Don’t squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid.
Titus: You should totally squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid. This is yummy.
Me: I’m not squeezing it! And stop licking the floor!

The last part was for Titus, not Ken, just in case you’re worried that the furniture rearranging had finally sent him over the edge. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. There is no possible way to open a Del Monte Mandarin Orange Cup without having the f*cking juice jet out of it. But it’s still delicious.

3) I discover something new to worry about…

…because I don’t have enough things to worry about already. Anyway, I’ve been spending a LOT of time in online virtual meetings, on-camera most of the day, which is fine because I only have to look fancy from the waist up. From the waist down (no, I’m NOT naked!) I’m wearing pajama pants, fuzzy socks, and slippers. So I’m like a modern-day mullet: business up top and Netflix down below. Time has currently become a noun for both Ken and me:

Me: I’ve got a 9 o’clock.
Ken: Me too. Then I have a 1 o’clock.
Me: I’ve got an 11 o’clock, and then maybe a 2.

But on Wednesday, my 3 o’clock was cancelled, which gave me a chance to grab a snack. I had my phone in my pocket and I was on the way to the kitchen when the doorbell and the phone simultaneously rang. My reaction to this sudden ominous turn of events was to yell, “What the absolute f*ck is going on here?!?!!” as I went to answer the door at the same time as I put the phone to my ear. There was a man backing away from the door who called out, “It’s just your Staples order” as I heard people talking and laughing through the phone. I smiled and waved at the man, then took the phone away from my ear and realized to my horror that I was on a VIDEO CALL and that instead of seeing my face, everyone had a great close-up shot of the INSIDE OF MY EAR. And now, on top of everything else, I have to worry about whether or not the insides of my ears are clean, which I would hope they ARE, but how the hell would I know?! So in consolation, I opened my snack, wiped the mandarin juice off my pajama pants, and sat in my new chair.

As a postscript, I’m happy to tell you that my publisher has finally made both my novels available as Kobo e-books, which is great news because for the last two weeks, The Dome has been showing as “Currently Unavailable” on Amazon.ca and has disappeared completely from Amazon.com since somehow the title has been changed to “Dome” and the search link is broken. The word count for both Kobo e-books is completely wrong and less than half the actual words I wrote, unless a) Canadian words convert differently to American, like kilometres and miles or b) over half the words are actually missing, which will make it a real treat for readers to try and follow the plot. Here are the links in case anyone is interested:

The Dome: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dome-11
Smile: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/smile-57

Creative Wednesdays – Dryad

I know it’s late but it’s still technically Wednesday and I’m kind of excited about this. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poem here for Creative Wednesday. I’d never done that before, being kind of a closet poet and not very confident about my skill in that area. Your response was so wonderful and supportive that I thought, Why not? So I submitted a couple of pieces, and the wonderful people at Mineral Lit Mag accepted one of them. It’s called ‘Dryad’ and you can read it here.

I couldn’t have done it without all of you. You’re better than Chardonnay. But since you’re not at my house, I’m drinking the Chardonnay.

Why Fi?

This whole social distancing thing may or may not be making me a little punchy. A few days ago, I set out to buy groceries, and prior to the last few weeks, I had never “set out” like I was f*cking Magellan looking for (she googles “Magellan” to find out what the hell he was looking for) SPICES, although I DID need some turmeric. Something that used to be so easy and pleasurable has become quite the ordeal, especially in Canadian False Spring, which is to say that it’s technically Spring according to the calendar, but according to everything else, it’s still Fool’s Winter, which is when you are a FOOL and don’t dress for the actual weather. And that was me, standing there shivering and wearing vinyl gloves instead of mittens, lining up to get into the grocery store like it was a goddamned roller coaster—in other words, a very long wait, but without the reward of 60 seconds of exhilaration—unless bacon is on sale.

Anyway, I was fine in the store, and got everything I wanted, despite the media hysteria about how we’re all going to be starving and poop-assed. But on the way home, I drove through the same small town that I usually drive though and as I got to the section where the speed limit lowers, the warning light at the side of the road began to flash my speed as I started to slow down. It was a 50 km/hour zone, and for my American friends, I have no idea if that’s like a gazillion miles per hour or (she googles “How many miles per hour is 50 kilometres?”) THIRTY-ONE POINT ZERO SEVEN. And the damn light kept flashing red, even though I was going 54, as if I was Baby Driver or whatnot, and I yelled, “I’m doing my BEST, you passive-aggressive piece of SH*T!! F*ck you!” and I gave the flashing light the finger.

Now, I don’t really believe that an inanimate, solar-powered traffic light can actually be passive-aggressive. I mean, it’s not like it’s a husband who, when you chide him for taking his SECOND nap of the day, later posts an article on Facebook about how great naps are and how people should have at least two every day and no one should criticize them for doing it.  No, it’s not like that at all. And it’s not like it’s a wife who, upon discovering that her husband has spent the afternoon secretly watching a movie that they both wanted to see when he was supposed to be outside gardening, says “Oh, I see. That’s fine. I’m glad to know that the next time I want to watch something that we were both interested in, I don’t have to let you know. No problem.” Noooo, it’s not like that at all.

But my point, and I DO have one, is that people give their wifi extremely strange names. This point may seem to be a complete divergence from what you have just been reading about, but bear with me. As you know, I’m working from home. Last week, I had to change the password on my work computer and when I did, my whole system locked up. I was on the verge of a breakdown, having lost access to just about anything, and I’d been on the phone with one of our lovely secret agency IT guys for over an hour. We were trying to reconnect my VPN and he suggested using my phone as a personal hotspot. “Open your wifi and see if you can find it in there,” he suggested. My phone is known as “Suzanne’s Iphone” which seems pretty human and normal, but then a bunch of other wifis came up and I was like “WTF? You’re allowed to NAME your wifi?!” We have a central router in our house and then three boosters, but they are all just identified by numbers like 560 or 770 (those are fake numbers just in case my neighbours are reading this). But when the list came up, there were things on there like “2BoyzIntheBigCity” and “JaysPad” and I thought for a minute that my life had become a hip-hop video. Who ARE these people? I live in a very small town, and I haven’t seen any funky fresh folks around lately, but those wifi names suggest otherwise. I was intensely curious about this:

Me: Is there anybody in our neighbourhood named Jay? There’s a wifi on here that says “Jayspad”.
Ken: I don’t think so. What’s the name of that new guy across the street? Maybe it’s him.
Me: He doesn’t look like a Jay. I doubt that he has a nice pad.
Ken: What?
Me: You know, like a bachelor pad. My Jay has a funky fresh pad. I’ll bet his living room is all decked out in animal prints and he has a sheepskin rug and a wetbar and those swirling disco lights—
Ken: Ipad. Jay has an IPAD.
Me:
Ken: IPAD.
Me: Stupid Jay.

And then I was sad, because if I’d known I could give my wifi a personalized moniker, it would be known as Player One, OBVIOUSLY. Apparently I could change it if I wanted to but (she googles “How do you change your wifi’s name?”) it’s way too complicated. As for 2BoyzIntheBigCity, I’m fairly convinced right now that it’s the two teenaged brothers across the street being ironic, which I admire them for, almost as much as I admire whoever named their wifi “Nachowifi”. Can I use your wifi? No, because it’s Nachowifi. Passive aggressive, am I right? Yeah, it’s a tenuous link back to the beginning. Fight me.

Creative Wednesdays – Resurrection

It’s Creative Wednesday! If you have a moment and you’d like something short to read, one of my flash fiction pieces is currently featured on Spillwords Press. It’s called “Resurrection” and you can read it by clicking here. If you like it, maybe you could give it some stars. Thanks!