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

Made To Measure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Senior Moment

As you may recall, Ken and I recently set up a booth in the antique shop where I currently work part-time. The space I have now is twice as large as the booth I used to have, which means I have to do a lot more buying if I want to keep up with sales. Not that it’s a problem—I love to shop. But where do I buy things cheap enough that I can resell them? Thrift stores, of course (or what some of you would call charity shops). It’s amazing how many cool things you can find at second-hand places that can be refinished, refreshed, or refurbished. So I’ve been regularly haunting Goodwill, Value Village and a couple of other places where I’ve found some great stuff—well, great if you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease. For example, the other day, I got a couple of old sewing machine drawers for 6 bucks each—a little chalk paint and new knobs, and they’re ready for resale. Or check out below the coatrack that I made out of a single footboard, a couple of old shoe forms, and some fancy hooks.

But I have to keep my overhead low, which is why the other day, I had an experience that was both amazing and troubling.

I’d been at my hairdresser’s and she mentioned a thrift store in another town called Talize, which I’d never heard of, but apparently they have a ton of locations in Ontario. I needed to visit my Lancôme lady anyway, and this Talize store was just down the street. I had been astonished to discover that my tiny, perfect, and young-looking Lancôme lady Rosina had a twenty-seven-year-old son, since she looks about twenty-seven herself, but then I remembered that we’d known each other for over fifteen years, so she must be older than I thought. At any rate, she told ME that I didn’t look old enough to have a twenty-four-year-old daughter, and I know that’s just to keep me buying serum, but still, I walked away with a bit of a glow.

The glow continued on into Talize, where I discovered a fancy plate stand, a wicker suitcase, an old washboard, and a couple of wine goblets. Then I got to the cash register. “That’ll be 18.35,” the cashier said. “Unless you qualify for one of our discounts.”

“Which discount?” I asked.

“Well, we have a senior’s discount. You’d qualify for that.”

The glow faded. And even though their seniors’ discount was for 55 and up, I still felt a little betrayed by Rosina, who had assured me, prior to my purchase, that I didn’t look a day over 45, and the cashier had immediately clocked me as being at least my own goddamn age. But then, the cashier recalculated the sale. “16.50. You saved 10%.”  

And I was so excited that I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken. “I’m a senior!” I said. “Do you know what that means?”

“That when you crouch down, it hurts to stand back up?”

“Also that. But it means that I get a discount at Talize. Ooh, I wonder what age you have to be to qualify for a discount at Chez VV? Let me look…what the hell? SIXTY? The nerve. How does Value Village expect us poor pensioners to afford their sh*t? Oh well, three more years to go.”

And I can’t wait.

I made this too! It’s our company name!

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

It’s been a crazy week, as Ken and I shifted all our stock from the antique market where we’ve been for a year to the one where I now work. I really liked the other place but after working at the new place for a month, I realized how much easier it would be if I didn’t have to drive quite so far and could have a booth in a place I was going to three days a week anyway. So we spent most of the week packing up, bringing stuff home, putting new price tags on everything and then taking it all to our new space. I haven’t had a lot of time for writing or even thinking about writing, so in honour of antiques, here’s a throwback…

One Saturday morning, Ken said to me, “Hey, let’s go to the Christie Antique Show.” I did what I always do and immediately said, “Yes! Let’s do that.” Then I did the next thing I always do and immediately had second thoughts and regrets, especially after looking on the website which said that there were free shuttle buses from the parking lot to the show site. All I could think of was the line-up to get into the parking lot, the line-up to get on the bus, and the obvious huge crowds of people that would be there. So I said, “Maybe let’s not go after all,” but Ken was insistent, even when I was all sad and whiny and like, “I don’t wanna go to the antique show. Don’t make me go to the antique show,” but he made me go anyway on the grounds that “it will be fun.”

Before we left…
Me: I’m taking my wristlet. I don’t want to lug a huge purse around with me.
Five minutes later…
Ken: I’m taking my camera.
Me: You always take your camera. Why are you telling me this?
Ken: Oh, I just thought we were announcing things to each other.
Atlas (from outside): I’m taking a dump in the back yard! This is fun!

In the car…
Ken: Why are you staring at me like that? Is there something wrong with the way I’m dressed?
Me: I wasn’t staring at you. I was looking past you out the window.
Ken: No, you were looking at me.
Me: How would you even know that?! I’m wearing dark sunglasses. Besides, you look fine. You’re wearing a black T-shirt and a black plaid shirt. You match. (*under breath*) Unlike when you wear your red plaid shirt and lime green T-shirt.
Ken: What?
Me: Nothing.

A moral dilemma…

Me: Did you see that video on Facebook about the job interview question?
Ken: The one where you’re driving in a lightning storm and you see three people at the side of the road?
Me: Right—“You see your best friend who once saved your life, a beautiful woman, and a sick elderly lady standing by the side of the road in a lightning storm, and you only have one seat. Who do you take?” It was easy. I solved it right away.
Ken: What do you mean, “you solved it”? Did you watch the video to the end?
Me: I didn’t need to watch it to the end. The old lady sits on my lap in the driver’s seat, my best friend sits in the other seat, and the beautiful woman sits on HIS lap.
Ken: You’re not allowed to do that. You only have one extra seat.
Me: I can do whatever the f*ck I want. It’s MY ethics. I’m the Kobayashi Maru.
Ken: No, you’re Kirk. But it doesn’t matter. That’s not the right answer. Why don’t you EVER watch videos to the end? The CORRECT answer is: You give your keys to your best friend because you trust him to take the old woman to the hospital and then come back for you.  This leaves you alone with the beautiful woman. Then he comes back and—
Me: This is starting to sound suspiciously like that logic problem where you have a rowboat and you have to take a bunch of animals across a river. It’s a MORAL DILEMMA, not a logic problem, Ken. Also, why do I want to be alone with the woman?
Ken: So you can hit it off with her.
Me: A) She’s not my type and B) That’s why my solution is more ethical. I put the woman on my best friend’s lap so that HE could hit it off with her. I’m self-sacrificial as f*ck. There. I win. ALL THE MORALS ARE MINE.
Ken: Sigh.

Then we got to the antique show, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had no problem getting parked, got a bus right away, and made it into the showgrounds less than 5 minutes after arriving. But then we realized that there were 100s of dealers and we needed a system, which was basically to wander down one row and back up another, saying, “Have we been down this aisle before? Oh yeah, I remember the giant elephant statue.” We have a friend who had a booth, and we finally found him. He said he was having a pretty good day, selling quite a bit and whatnot, when Ken pointed to a large box of bones at the front of his tent. They were priced at $5 each. When we asked about it, he said that last month, a guy came into his store with this big box of bones, wondering if he’d buy them. He was skeptical at first, but they sold like hotcakes (if hotcakes were all dirty and decomposed). So when the guy came back with another box, he bought that too, and brought them to sell at the show.

Friend: People are going nuts for them. I’ve already sold most of them. Quite a few people have been teachers, you know—want to use them in their classrooms.
Ken: What kind of bones are they?
Friend: Cow bones. I think.
Me: Cow bones?
Friend: Probably.

I don’t know if I want my child in a classroom where the teacher is like, “Hey kids, check this out! It LOOKS like a human femur, but the guy told me it’s probably just a cow bone.” And the weirdest thing was, he wasn’t the ONLY dealer selling bones. There were so many of them that we lost count. There were skulls, antlers, jaw bones, full skeletons of small rodents, you name it. We walked past a booth where a guy was showing a woman a skull that was on top of a log with a branch going through the skull’s eye socket. He was actually saying this: “Sometimes when animals die in the forest, they do it on top of logs and such, and then they go into rigor mortis there. So I’ve arranged the skull and log like this—kind of like a nature scene.”

And while this may seem like a one-off, at the antique market where I currently work, there’s a dealer who has glass vials full of chicken bones, and they also sell like crazy. Go figure. I guess I should have kept this year’s Christmas turkey carcass–I could have made a fortune. Happy New Year!

Balancing The Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on a lighter note:

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

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

Nailed It

So I’m feeling a little anxious right now for a couple of reasons. First, I DID manage to find two chairs that were not cocaine-related, so I quickly set about painting and reupholstering them and fixing up the table, and made a very cute set complete with a piece of wall art that I advertised for sale. Almost immediately, a woman contacted me and asked me to call her. I did:

Me: Hi, you were asking about the table and chairs set?
Woman (thick Russian accent): Yes. I will take. Sandra will call to arrange pick up.
Me: Um…okay…

And then I had several questions, the first and foremost of which was “Who the f*ck is Sandra, and how am I once again back in this weird chair/cocaine loop?” I so badly wanted to say “This really is a table and chairs, not anything else, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN”, but what if she didn’t know what I meant and then I lost the sale? Or what if she DID, and then I lost the sale? So I figured I’d play things by ear. On Thursday night, somebody named Ray messaged me: “It’s Sandra. I’m on the way.” But then the phone rang, and it was Sandra, telling me she couldn’t come because it was raining. This made little sense until she explained that she had an open pick-up truck and didn’t want the set, which she was picking up for the Russian woman, to get wet. Ultimately, Ken and I delivered the whole thing to her because, as it turned out, she lived just one town over and she was a very nice woman and had no interest in cocaine, or at least she was polite enough not to mention it.

Not cocaine

The second reason I’ve been feeling anxious is because Ken has embarked upon yet another home improvement project involving the dismantling and rebuilding of our side porch. He had previously done the same with the front porch and it’s amazing, but it took him TWO YEARS. And remember the gazebo that started out as a simple deck with a roof for the inflatable hot tub but ended up being something akin to the Taj Mahal? The issue is that we use the side porch as our main entrance, so I’m more than a little concerned about the pace and scope of this project.

In addition, I have certain irrational fears about elements of the construction industry, like being afraid of stepping on a nail sticking out of a wooden board, falling onto a table saw, and other highly improbable things involving dangerous power tool-like objects. I can usually quell these fears, except that I’m married to a man who takes extreme delight in making them worse. Case in point: I have a morbid fear of nail guns. Ken was using one last weekend, and I had to keep going into the other room because I was afraid of getting shot with it. When Ken pointed out that it was absolutely impossible that he could shoot me with a nail gun because of its safety guard, I reminded HIM that that was exactly what he said about the electric staple gun, right before he shot a staple past my head and that I didn’t trust ANY so-called “safety technology” regarding sharp, missile-like objects when it was in his hands. Sure enough, not much later, he dropped the nail gun on the floor, tip-down, and came close to shooting a nail into his foot. He will claim that I am exaggerating in a “lying” kind of way, but I’m just telling it like I saw it.

In other news, because I’m retiring at the end of September, the job ad to replace me was posted on Friday, and when I read it, my first thought was “Holy sh*t, is that what I actually do?!” And then it occurred to me that if I applied for it, I wasn’t even sure that I would get it, because it made me sound very fancy and experienced, and not at all afraid of Russian cocaine dealers or power tools.

And in other, other news, Feasting Upon The Bones, my debut short story collection from Potters Grove Press (which is currently sitting at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Horror Anthologies), is now being delivered and my parents were the first people as far as I know to get their copy. And don’t think I’m a terrible daughter—I offered to give them a copy for free but they insisted on buying one, which I signed for them yesterday, because they really are the best and most supportive parents a girl with irrational fears could ask for.

Chair of the Bored

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I made the mistake of taking a table out of our family room to use in my new outdoor office. This led to a cascading domino effect involving several pieces of furniture which needed to be reconfigured. Ken undertook the rearranging of the room with his usual good humour, rolling his eyes only slightly as I issued instructions:

Me: Can you put that cupboard in the corner by the sectional?
Ken: Okay.
Me: Ooh, I don’t like it there. Can you move it over by the patio doors?
Ken: OKAY.
Me: Maybe it would be better by the window…?
Ken:
Me: Never mind, it’s fine where it is.

After all the adjustments were made, Kate complained that there was no longer a table behind the couch for her to set a drink on. But I had another table that I’d just bought for resale, and it would do in a pinch. Then I saw a really cool idea for a sofa table involving using a cast iron sewing machine base with a wooden top, and decided that was exactly what the room needed. I found an old machine for 50 bucks, took it apart and repainted the base, then we used some cherry wood that Ken’s dad had given us for the top.

It looks awesome, and the best part is I sold the machine for $30 and the drawers for $40. But that left us with the placeholder table that I had to do something with. Then I had a brainstorm—I would buy two cheap chairs, paint them and upholster the seats in a toile fabric, and sell the whole damn thing as a set. But where to find chairs? Obviously, Facebook Marketplace. And wouldn’t you know it? I found the two exact chairs I needed for sale for $25 for the pair so I immediately messaged Cindy, the woman who had posted the ad with the standard “Is this still available?” message. She replied right away that yes, they were, so I asked if I could pick them up the next day around 4:30. This was her response:

Open 8am to 4pm Monday to Thursday. Friday 9am to 4PM.
address___________ (I’ve blanked this out for reasons which will become clear)
drive in the parking lot to the back
white Bay 1 door.
ring bell.
ask for Deana

And now, of course, I had more questions than answers, the first and foremost of which was “Who the f*ck is Deana?” Is Cindy RELATED to Deana, or is she her boss or what? Does Deana know she is going to be asked for? And why am I picking up two apparently antique chairs from some strange warehouse/speakeasy? Is there a secret password that I need to know? I was also slightly miffed that Cindy hadn’t even bothered to read my message wherein I had clearly stated that I couldn’t be there until 4:30, so I responded with “Sorry, I can’t make it by 4”. And then the plot thickened…

Peter will be in the front office waiting for you.
drive in the front.
park where the invalid sign is go to the door in front of the sign.
ring bell.
let me know if that works for you

NO, CINDY, your convoluted instructions and “Choose your own adventure” directions don’t work for me! And on top of that, now we’ve thrown Peter into the mix?! Also, by “invalid”, did she mean “not valid” or is that some bizarre archaic way of identifying a parking spot for those with disabilities? Ultimately, I chose to pass on the chairs, because I couldn’t make heads nor tails of this virtual game of Twister. But then, bored because I had no project to work on, I began to wonder what if I HAD gone to get the chairs?…

Me (rings bell nervously): Ooh, this place looks deserted. (rifles through purse) Where’s my bear spray?
(Door Opens)
Man, presumably Peter (whispers, and for some reason he has a Russian accent): Vat is password?
Me: Ummm… “Let me know if that works for you”?
Peter (nods): You’re here for package?
Me: Well, if you mean the chairs, then yes.
Peter: Deana is waiting in back. You have instructions?
Me: White Bay Door 1, ring bell?
Peter (looks around suspiciously): Quiet pliz! Now go.

Me (rings second bell nervously: Dang, it’s even more sketchy back here. (rifles through purse) Where’s my zombie spray?
(Door opens)
Woman, presumably Deana (whispers, and for some reason she has a posh English accent): Good afternoon. May I be of assistance?
Me: Peter sent me back.
Deana: Ah, of course. You’re here for the cocaine?
Me: What?! No, I’m here for a pair of antique chairs!
Deana (blanches and shakes her fist at the sky): Bloody hell, Cindy, will you ever get it right?!
Me: I’ll just be on my way then. (runs quickly to car and drives home very fast).

So no, I still don’t have any antique chairs to paint and re-upholster, and I haven’t slept for days.

It’s A What?

Last month, Ken and I decided to rent a booth in an antique market owned by a friend of ours. You may be surprised by this, but years ago, Ken and I had an antique business called Washington House Antiques. It’s a fancy name—perhaps you were thinking we aspired to the Oval Office—but let me assure you the name came about because we lived in a house in Washington, Ontario and I’m the kind of person who named my stuffed animals Teddy or Rabbit or Koala. We had a store on our property, I had a booming eBay business, and we had booths in several markets. But then I started working full-time, and Kate got older and life just got too busy. Recently though—in fact, it was right after Big Junk Day—I looked around the house and realized I could be one step away from being featured on Hoarders. It would be an upscale episode where the psychologist would question my desire to hang on to 40 pieces of Beswick Art Pottery from the 1920s, and I couldn’t bear the thought of my family being brought in, ‘intervention-style’:

Mom: Honey, let them go. You haven’t even dusted them in months.
Dad: Och! They’re neither use nor ornament, lassie. Gi’ ‘em up!
Brother: Speaking as someone with a PhD, you could earn good money with those. Let me see the contract with the antique market. 10% commission? Not bad.
Ken (whispers): Don’t let them into my office!

At any rate, I had a lot of things in the house and sheds that I could use to stock a booth, but at a certain point, I ran out, and now I have to find other sources for things to sell. Which brings me to the internet and more specifically Facebook Marketplace, where the average person can list their absolutely weird stuff for free. Here’s a small sample of things that I’ve seen over the last little while that made me do a double-take:

There are many words that begin with the letters ‘sm’. Smell, smooth, smack, small, sment…SMENT? This is an ad that I actually saw a couple of months ago and I’ve thought about it every day since then. It’s a small statue of a boy holding a large misshapen bowl. The caption for the listing says “Sment boy”. Two things are noticeable about this ad. First, THE BOY IS NOT EVEN CEMENT. It looks like some kind of pottery or plaster that the person has painted with acrylic paint. Second, the paint brushes are standing in a jar labelled “Cayenne Pepper”. How the f*ck do you know how to spell “Cayenne” but not “Cement”?! Maybe the person was being really clever, like “I know it’s not really a cement statue, but if I call it Sment then no one can sue me for trademark infringement. Kind of like that Mickey Mouse/Mighty Mouse thing.” At any rate, it’s not very appealing, and I did NOT buy it.

This one looks very innocuous, but the real weirdness is in the description. This is a cat scratching post made of cardboard and fabric. The reason the person is selling it is because his cat is “too cool for it”. So I guess if you have a cat who’s nerdy or awkward, this is the perfect gift for them? Personally, I think the reason the cat doesn’t use it is because cats are notoriously lazy, and have no interest in walking all the way across a room to use a scratching post when they can just scratch the arm of the chair they’re lounging about in. I speak from experience.

Right now it’s July, 5 months into the middle of a global pandemic, and this charming display is being sold. It’s being advertised as a “Coffin shape diorama”. I can’t tell how big it is since the pictures of the measuring tape are all blurry. I’m just praying it’s not life-sized, because there are several disembodied arms and legs in there. To be honest, I can see a market for something like that around Hallowe’en. OR if you have neighbours who insist on having large parties with no social distancing or masks, I think this would be great to put on their porch as a warning.

This one boggles my mind. Why on earth would you want a pool thermometer with a large bowel movement attached to it like a handle? Seriously, if you’re willing to pay $17 for something like that, I will come to your house every day with one of Atlas’s poops and throw it in your pool for free. AND tell you if the water is warm.

I was scrolling through Marketplace when I saw this picture, and my first thought was, “Who’s selling that weird, sad-looking dog?” and then I read the description, which said “Antique Scarf”, and my second thought was “WTF? EWWW!” It’s a dead animal. I’m not wearing that around my neck no matter how ‘antique’ it is. Basically what you’re selling is a very old, very deceased—possum? Sorry, I’m not that familiar with the types of animals people drape across their shoulders these days.

Finally, I leave you with an enigma that will haunt me for the rest of my days. This is something my mother brought me last week. At first glance, it’s just a couple of bottles of essential oil. They’re both listed for medicinal use. One smells like peppermint and the other smells like cinnamon. The one that smells like peppermint is called “Peppermint”. The one that smells like cinnamon is called…“Thieves”.

(After having a couple of people explain what Thieves Oil is made of, I googled “Why is it called Thieves Oil” and the answer was “Its name was inspired by the legend of four French thieves in the 15th century who wore a special blend of rosemary, clove and other botanicals while they robbed the dead and dying.” ROBBED THE DEAD AND DYING? They probably wore those antique animal scarves too.)

One Man’s Junk

If you read the title of this post and you immediately thought of something naughty, get your mind out of the gutter! This is a PG-13-ish blog, so obviously, when I write an entire treatise on a man’s junk, I’m talking about something totally different, something I love more than anything—wow, it’s REALLY hard to avoid the innuendo here—so let me clear this up: I’m talking about Big Junk Day, and all the wonderful things that people throw away, things that are trash to them but treasures to me. The official term for this glorious week of pile-diving is Large Item Pick-up, but to me it’s just Big Junk Day.

It was Tuesday. It had been a particularly hard afternoon, because around 3, I’d been in a video call with my Director when suddenly I heard a loud buzzing and something large flew past my face:

Director: What was that?
Me: There’s a really big fly in here.
Director: There it is again!
Me: Oh my god, IT’S A GIANT WASP!!

So I did what any normal person would do—I called for Ken to bring me a fly swatter and both my Director and I held our breath as I tried to dispatch it quickly and mercifully, a difficult task considering how uncoordinated I am with a fly swatter (just for the record, I hate killing things, and usually try to put insects outside, but I was being attacked and had little choice*). Did I ask my Director if I could call her back in a minute? Of course not, because what fun would that be? No, I made her watch as I flailed around in my chair, slamming the fly swatter against the window several times until finally I caught it in a corner and sent it into the next life. Under normal circumstances, I would have used a tissue to pick it up and put it in the garbage, but I WAS IN A MEETING, so I left it there on the windowsill until I was done. Then the meeting finished, I turned to the windowsill and THE WASP WAS GONE. I still had over an hour left before the end of the workday, and there I was, a sitting duck for a very angry and vengeful wasp. I couldn’t find it anywhere—it hadn’t, in its death throes, rolled onto the floor, and I hadn’t seen it resurrect itself and fly off. So for the next hour, I sat at my desk with my feet up on my chair just in case. I haven’t seen it since, and I have no idea where it went, but suffice it to say, I’m keeping an eye open for something large, yellow and black striped, and slightly smushed.

And after yet another flying insect fiasco (remember the fruit fly from last week?), I really needed a break. So I yelled, “Hey Ken—do you want to go for a drive up and down the back roads?”

Ken: Why?
Me: That’s where all the best junk is. The junk that the other junk pickers haven’t gotten to yet.
Ken: Well, the weather IS charming. But I should keep working on the gazebo…
Me: Keep working on the—I just woke you up from a nap!
Ken: Let’s go look at junk!

We set out, up one concession and down another, with me yelling out instructions like, “Slow down! There’s a lovely pile of junk up here!” and “Ooh, look at these treasures!” and “I’m not trying to be judgmental, but the junk these people have is rather low quality—I thought they’d do better after last year.”

Now, before you think I live in a glass house and shouldn’t throw stones at other people’s junk, I can tell you that Ken and I put out a beautiful solid oak sideboard that we had once used as a bathroom vanity. It was in perfect condition except for the holes cut in the top for a sink and taps. But the woman who pulled up in her truck to take it was thrilled. “I have a slab of marble that’s just the right size to replace the top,” she said, as we helped her load it. See—we not only have great junk but we provide complimentary curbside service as well.

Our personal haul included the following: an antique magazine holder, an antique wood and wicker fern stand, a stained glass lamp shade (no damage at all!), a little red wood toboggan (perfect for a Christmas display), a leather suitcase with a travel sticker, 2 pond forms, an antique wool winder, 2 wrought iron chairs (Ken replaced the broken seats) and an ornamental concrete garden pedestal. More than made up for that elusive wasp.

But I’ve always had tremendous luck with Big Junk Day. One year, I was driving home and I saw a china cabinet, so Ken agreed to take me down the road to get it. As we stopped, a van pulled in behind us, kicking up gravel. Ken grabbed the china cabinet and started loading it, as young guy ran up. “Aw, that was what I was here for,” he said sadly. You snooze, you lose in Big Junk land, my friend. But then, he started rummaging through a garbage bag and pulled out a huge stuffed, mounted fish. And it was AWESOME. I said, “You should take that—they’re very collectible.” The guy put it back in the bag, but then as we were leaving, I saw him drive away without it. Well, I thought about that fish all night, and the next day, on the way to pick up Kate from school, I saw its fin still sticking out of the bag. So I did what anyone would do—I pulled over and put it in the backseat. Then I was worried, because Kate had a habit of throwing open the back door and tossing her backpack in, and I didn’t want Frank to get hurt. This meant that as I stopped the car, I locked the door and yelled out the window, “Be careful! There’s a fish in the back!” Kate was with some of her friends, and they all looked kind of puzzled. Then she opened the car door, jumped back a bit and said, “Mom! What the hell!”

Me: What?
K: Why do you have a stuffed and mounted fish in the back of the car?!
Me: I found it. I’m going to sell it. His name is Frank.
K: NO ONE is going to buy a dead fish.
Me: Sure they will. Lots of people would LOVE to hang a stuffed fish over their fireplace mantle.
K: Mom. Let me explain something to you. There are two types of people in this world. People who fish and DON’T hang what they catch over their mantelpiece, and people who fish and hang the fish they PERSONALLY CAUGHT over their mantelpiece. But no man should EVER mount another man’s fish….
Me: *snicker*
K: OK, yes, that sounded weird. But no one will buy it, I’m telling you.

We did sell Frank eventually for ten dollars at a yard sale. A woman admired Frank, who we’d pulled out of the shed to put by the side of the road on the grounds that none of us REALLY wanted a dead fish in the house, so I told her she could have him for free because, as it turned out, one of his fins was kind of cracked and flappy. She loaded all of her purchases into her car, then suddenly she came back to the house. “Here,” she said, holding out a $10 bill. “That’s for the fish. I know he’s worth a lot more.” When we protested that no, she could just have him, she insisted, and tucked the bill into a glass on the table. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” she laughed, and then drove away. A woman after my own heart.

 (*Update: I found the wasp upstairs in a window so I got a glass and a piece of cardboard, caught it and put it outside. Live long and prosper, little friend.)

My Week 264: Sew What?

I’m pretty good at a bunch of stuff. For example, I’m crafty, and I can take a piece of junk that I found at the side of the road and turn it into something pretty. In fact, this week, I was in our garden shed and saw the bottom of an antique piano stool that I had picked up in the summer time, and I made a toilet paper holder out of it, a piece of doweling, and a small finial that Ken found in his workshop. It’s the most fancy f*cking toilet paper holder that you could imagine.

I can also paint, I write a bit, and I’m a decent cook. At the present moment, I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people, and the turkey is in the oven as we speak (just as it was about to go in, the power went off. Then it came back on. Then it went off again, and I looked to the sky and said, “Don’t make me f*cking come up there!” The power is now back on). But the one thing I can’t do, the one thing I’d really like to do, is sew. Oh, I can thread a needle and attach a button to a shirt in a passable way if you don’t look too closely, but I can’t actually sew. When I was in Grade 8, while all the boys were having a fantastic time in the Industrial Arts shop, all the girls had to take cooking and sewing in the Family Studies classroom, and isn’t that the most goddamn sexist thing you’ve ever heard of? As part of our final project, the girls each had to sew something using a sewing machine. I made a vest. It was blue corduroy on the outside and blue sateen on the inside. It was horrifyingly lopsided. The worst part was that I had no idea how to use the buttonholer on the machine so it was a buttonless vest. Needless to say, I failed  Family Studies, mostly because I was incredibly pissed off about not being able to make a cool wood-and-welded metal candle holder like the boys and, having been a smartass from a very early age, may or may not have answered the questions on the final exam with joke answers:

Question: What is a dart?
My Answer: Something you throw at a dartboard.

My parents were called in to meet with the teacher. They were naturally furious at my deliberate self-sabotage, and my punishment was that I wasn’t allowed to go to the Grade 8 graduation dance. This just made me hate sewing even more; however, I forgave my parents long ago when I realized it was much better to have a story about standing up against sexism and paying the price vs. a story about a lame dance.

Over the years, I’ve never needed to sew—it’s amazing what you can do with a staple gun. But recently, I had a dilemma. I’d seen a picture in a decorating magazine that I really liked, and decided to redo our upper foyer. The problem was that the picture featured these beautiful curtain panels, and I must have gone to over 10 different stores but I couldn’t find anything REMOTELY close. So I went to the local fabric store, found the perfect fabric and bought a sh*t ton of it in the hope that I could just hang it and no one would notice that the edges weren’t hemmed. As I was paying for it though, the woman behind the counter said, “Before you sew it, make sure you—”, and I interrupted her with “Oh, I’m not sewing it. I don’t know how to sew and I don’t have a machine.” But instead of looking at me like I was an idiot, she said, “No problem—let me get you some HEM TAPE”.

HEM TAPE?! Did any of you know that this miraculous invention actually existed? That all you need to do is put it on a piece of fabric, fold the fabric over it, and iron it, and then the edges are FUSED TOGETHER?! I couldn’t believe my luck! So I brought the fabric and the hem tape home, and looked for the iron, because I haven’t used an iron in over ten years. But I found it in a cupboard, blew the dust off it, located the ironing board behind a door, and got to work. In under an hour, I had two big curtain panels, which I hung with these clip things that go over the curtain rod. Here’s what they look like:

My Family Studies teacher would be so proud.

Two quick things:

First, I completely forgot that My Week 260 was the 5th anniversary of this blog. Yep, I’ve been giving you a glimpse of my weird-ass life every week for over 5 years. Some of you have been here from the beginning, some of you are newer to the game, and one of you is no longer here (I miss you, Harry) but I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and for reading this nonsense.

Second, a box containing the author copies of my new novel The Dome arrived on my porch this week. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Apparently it’s been shipped to all the major outlets now too, so if you pre-ordered it, you should be getting it soon, and it will be on store shelves in the next couple of weeks. Here’s the synopsis if you’re interested:

“It’s the year 2135, almost four decades since the Water Wars ended. Much of the continent is a desert wasteland, and the powerful Consortium rules Adanac, one of the few habitable areas remaining, with an iron fist.

Cee and Dee, 16-year-old twins who share a special, almost psychic bond, are runaways from a Consortium workhouse. Now living as Freeworlders in the largest tent city in Trillium province, they’re determined to survive—Dee spends her days thieving with her best friend Rogan, and Cee makes a living selling his handmade woodcarvings to the Fancies, the wealthy elite. Like all Freeworlders, life is a struggle, made worse by the constant threat of The Dome, where punishments for the slightest offense are meted out by the Dome Master.

When devastating circumstances force the twins to become separated, all seems lost until the sudden appearance of a mysterious stranger who reveals some shocking truths. Rumours become reality, enemies become friends, and old foes resurface. Dee and Cee are tested to their limits as they confront the demons of their past and try to save the future, for themselves and all of Adanac.”

If you’re anywhere near the Drumbo Pub on the 9th, drop in for a drink. Happy Thanksgiving!