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:

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.

Sh*t On A Stick

Yesterday morning, I woke up, opened my eyes and immediately grabbed my phone to text Ken (he was downstairs, but I’m lazy and the bed was so cozy):

I was filled with relief. And what could possibly have brought about this reverent—nay blissful—attitude towards the state of our dog’s bowels? Well, let’s backtrack a bit.

On Wednesday, I was in the middle of a meeting when Kate skidded into the room and announced loudly, “Atlas just threw up!” I managed to convince her that, having just been accepted into a Veterinary Technician program, cleaning it up would be great practice, so she did, and after my meeting was over, I went to investigate. It was A LOT. Then about half an hour after lunch, he did it again. And after his mid-afternoon snack. For dinner, we gave him a small amount of steamed rice and plain yogurt, and he seemed OK, so on Thursday morning, we gave him the same. Around 10 am, I let him out and he tossed up all the rice and yogurt. My heart sank, and I started immediately fearing the worst—either an obstruction or a tumour.

Let’s backtrack a little bit more. Atlas the monster dog, our canine enfant terrible, is a typical Lab. Which is to say, he will eat literally anything. I’ve pulled plastic tags, bottle caps, deck screws, my car key fob, and other assorted and bizarre items out of his mouth on a regular basis. A couple of weeks ago, he came into the house with a chunk of ice in his mouth (I’m in Canada and it’s winter) so I wasn’t too concerned, until Kate came home, saw him, and yelled, “Why the hell does the dog have glass in his mouth?!” Turns out it wasn’t ice. I have no idea where he could have gotten a large piece of glass from—Ken and I never put our recycling out back. I found him eating okra once outside too—I had to look it up, because I’ve never bought it before in my life. Where he gets this stuff is beyond me, and we’re also currently missing several jigsaw puzzle pieces and three of Kate’s earrings. So the idea of an obstruction was NOT far-fetched.

We took him to the vet on Thursday, where he spent the day, getting examined and tested. When Ken finally brought him home, he was tired but starving. The vet was pretty sure it wasn’t an obstruction, mostly because, as she put it, “He’s very…enthusiastic” which I took to mean that he was leaping into the air and yelling “Yee Hah!!” as he normally does whenever he knows liver treats are close by. She said to give him the stomach medicine she’d prescribed and not to feed him until Friday morning, then give him special canned food—one tablespoon every hour, and see if he held it down. But the most important thing was to make sure he was pooping. Which he didn’t. All day Friday, and all Friday night.

And then finally, it was Saturday morning and EUREKA!

Right now, I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, What the heck is going on here? This is supposed to be a HUMOUR BLOG. None of this sh*t  is funny! But wait—there’s more.

Me: So where’s the poo?
Ken: Just over by the fence.
Me: Have you examined it yet?
Ken: Of course not. I was saving it for you.
Me: Awesome, thanks!
Ken: You’re not going out NOW, are you? It’s minus 5 and you’re in your pajamas.
Me: I need a long stick.

And if you’re not laughing at the thought of me, out there in my pajamas and slippers, ankle deep in snow, poking through my dog’s poop with a stick, I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t find anything unusual in it, more’s the pity:

Kate: Did Atlas poop out my earrings yet?
Me: Not yet. Maybe next time.

It’s nice to have something to look forward to, am I right?

Jumping The Shark

OK, so this week has been pretty busy, I’m exhausted, and around midnight last night, I had still had nothing in mind to write about. Then, just as I was drifting off to sleep, a voice in my head said, “Sharks are so cool.” I woke Ken up and said, “In the morning, remind me that I need to write about sharks.” He was like, “Sharks. Right.” But then I wrote it down myself because I knew he wouldn’t remember; in fact, I just asked him a minute ago to remind me what I told him last night and he said, “Glass. You were going to write about glass.” Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as obsessed with glass as I am with sharks. And I know that sounds weird, living nowhere near an ocean as I do, but I’ve had a thing for sharks ever since I was little and we were in England, where we watched some fishermen inspect their haul and throw all the dogfish back in the water.

“What are those?” I asked. “They’re so CUTE!”

“They’re dogfish,” my mother said. “They’re like tiny sharks.”

And I was like, if this is how adorable a TINY shark is, imagine how majorly awesome a HUGE shark would be!! So this week, in honour of sharks, here are my top 5 Shark Moments, in chronological order:

1) When I was around 9, my grandmother offered to take me to the movies in another city, which involved a very long bus trip. This was in the days when the cinemas were on Main Street instead of in a strip mall or a ‘cineplex’. When we got there, there were two movie theatres on the same block. One was playing “Blazing Saddles”, the G rated comedy she was SUPPOSED to take me to see. The other theatre was playing “Jaws”. I begged her instead to take me to see “Jaws”, although I didn’t have to try to hard—my gran was one of those ‘laissez-faire’ English people, and her response was “Whatevs. Don’t tell yer mam.” If you’ve ever seen “Jaws”, you’ll know that by the end of the first minute, I was absolutely terrified. But after a little while, the terror turned into fascination, and by the end of the movie, I was kind of cheering for the shark, especially after that woman slapped Sheriff Brody, and I was like, “It’s not his fault—maybe you shouldn’t have let your kid swim in shark-infested waters—it’s not like he didn’t TRY to warn you. And don’t be blaming the shark either—he’s just doing what sharks DO.” By the time the movie finished, when the shark makes its first real appearance, I was in love. Later that week, I saw in the TV guide that there was a movie on about a shark, and I begged my mom to stay up late and watch it. She was confused but reluctantly agreed. Then the movie started:

Me: When will we see the shark?
Mom: What shark?
Me: The movie is about a lone shark. Like Jaws.
Mom: (laughing) Uh no—it’s about a ‘loan shark’. That’s a man you borrow money from, and if you don’t pay him back, he breaks your legs.
Me: What?! I’m going to bed.

2) The next year, when I was 10, my brother and I were absolutely fanatical about this novelty record that had just been released called “Santa Jaws”. It was a collection of Christmas carols, all rewritten to include sharks. Our favourite was “God rest ye merry gentlemen/You’re not so merry now./The seaside signs said not to swim/But you swam anyhow.” It was brilliant. I just looked it up, and you can listen to it on Youtube (here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELZGHmrF9pA )

3) When Kate was little, I somehow transferred my love of sharks to her. When she was about 5, she had her heart set on dressing up like a shark for Hallowe’en. But try finding a shark costume anywhere—apparently the costume people think it’s OK to dress up like vampires, zombies, or culturally inappropriate Indigenous princesses, but sharks? They’re just too scary. The best I could do was find a dolphin costume, to whose mouth I stapled sharp, cardboard teeth. Kate was only 5, so she didn’t know any different, but I was like, “Aw man—that dorsal fin is all wrong. I hope the other kids don’t make fun of her.” She still got lots of candy, despite the dorsal fin debacle.

4) A few years ago, I bought myself a shark puppet. It was on sale at the local store, and I brought it home and named it Marcelle. Whenever our previous dog Titus was getting too hyper, I would put it on and speak to him in a deep, sharky voice:

Titus: There’s food! Food on the coffeetable! This is the best day ever—wheeee!!!
Marcelle: SIT DOWN.
Titus: Whuh—who are you?
Marcelle: I’m your worst nightmare. It’s time to be a good boy. Now, SIT!
Titus: (sitting) I don’t think this is ecologically accurate—
Marcelle: No food for you!

Eventually, I gave Marcelle to a colleague’s little boy. He was just too hard on Titus. I eventually replaced Marcelle with a small stuffed shark that I named Brian. Then we got Atlas:

Atlas: Mine!
Me: No, you can’t have him.
Atlas: But I want him. I will eat him.
Me: Not if he eats you first, buddy.

So I had to put Brian on a high shelf out of Atlas’s reach, for his own good.

5) I saw Sharkwater, that documentary about sharks, and it made me cry. Then I went with my parents to Turks and Caicos, and my dad and I went snorkeling. The tour took us out to a place called Stingray Cove, where they had a lot of little stingrays that for some reason, they wanted you to hold and kiss. So we did, suddenly, the tour guide yelled, “Shark!” And I was like “Ooh, where?!”  Turns out they were small lemon sharks, who grow quite big and can be very aggressive towards stingrays. I thought it was the best thing ever, but the tour guides were all upset because they make their livelihood taking people out to kiss the stingrays, and didn’t want the sharks to hurt them.

So there I was, standing waist-deep in water with my underwater camera, trying to get a picture of a shark, with these local guys all yelling at me to ‘Get out of the water!’ and ‘Stop encouraging the sharks!’  and ‘You’re going to get bit, crazy Canadian lady!’ I DID get a blurry picture of one of them before it suddenly occurred to me that, despite my tremendous sympathy for them, a shark might not know the difference between my leg and a stingray. And they already have a bad enough reputation without the headline “Ungrateful shark eats Canadian shark ally.”

Anyway, there you have it. Sharks. Because glass is dumb.

At A Certain Angle

I was very excited this week, well, for a little bit anyway. My publisher had arranged for me to do a virtual author event at a very big conference. There haven’t been many opportunities to do ANY kind of promotions thanks to stupid COVID and the never-ending lockdown, so I was pretty pumped, and had what I thought was a great time slot. Then, yesterday morning, I was scrolling through Facebook and found an article about a TV show based on a book that had just been cancelled due to some major controversy about the show’s director. But the name of the author who had written the book in question seemed familiar…and sure enough, it was the writer who was doing a virtual session in the SAME TIME SLOT AS ME and no one will be coming to my event now if they have to choose between a well-known writer embroiled in controversy and a little-known writer who just says F*ck a lot. My heart sank faster than—well, I was going to say the Titanic but people died when that ship sank and I’m just sad—so let’s just say ‘faster than a really heavy rock’. But the rock was VERY heavy and I was VERY sad, so I did what any normal person would do—I bought a clock. And if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know I love clocks and that I have, currently, 45 clocks of which 16 actually work.  I didn’t actually NEED another clock, but this one was so pretty and such a good price that I couldn’t resist. I’ll resell it as soon as the antique market where Ken and I have a booth reopens (it’s also currently shut down thanks to stupid COVID and the never-ending lockdown), but for now, I have it by my desk where I can admire it.

And then I had to go and cancel out the joy that clocks bring me by also buying a small Persian rug from a guy for a very good price. But how could buying a rug possibly lead to an absence of joy, you ask? Well, here’s the difference between a clock and a rug: when you put a clock somewhere, it doesn’t move. The hands might, if it’s a working clock, but aside from that, it pretty much stays in one spot. Rugs, on the other hand (or should I say ‘on the other foot’, bwah hah hah) are a double-edged sword. I adore them, but they also have a nasty tendency to shift around when people or dogs walk on them. And the other thing you probably know about me is that my OCD, which is usually fairly mild, flares up when I’m stressed out. It isn’t bad most days—in fact, you might not even notice it, unless you look around my house and realize that all objects of décor are organized in specific patterns, or you’ve watched me put groceries on the conveyer belt according to size and shape and with one inch of space between all items, or you’ve seen me in the bathroom washing my hands simply because doing that fills me with a sense of profound relief, or you’ve noticed my dermatophagia.

But lately, I’ve been under a lot of stress. I also suffer from what I call “Straight Line OCD” or what experts call “an Extreme Need for Symmetry and Exactness”. Do you have any idea what kind of torture it is to simultaneously have an extreme need for symmetry and exactness as well as a house full of rugs that are constantly out of place? Why don’t you get rid of the rugs, you ask? Because it’s an old house with pine floors, and we need the rugs to stop the floors from getting damaged, muffle the creaking of the floorboards, and stop our feet from getting cold. Plus, when they’re nicely centred on the floor, they’re very beautiful. Why don’t you get those rug gripper things, you ask? I have them under every damn rug and they don’t work!

But I don’t blame the rugs. I mean, it’s not like they’re deliberately askew-ing themselves. No, I blame Ken, who walks on them constantly, and especially the dog, who likes to run through a room at top speed, sliding on them and misaligning them. So I literally spend all my time straightening rugs. And if, right now, you’re like “Why don’t you just leave them? Who cares if they’re on a weird angle?”, WELL, KEN, IT MUST BE NICE TO BE YOU.

I feel bad for the dog though. His favourite game is something we call “Boogedy Boogedy” wherein he has a toy, and I pretend I want it, so I chase him around the kitchen island and then suddenly change direction, confronting him as I yell Boogedy Boogedy, then he takes off into the family room. There are, unfortunately, four rugs involved in this scenario.

Atlas: Ma! Do you want my toy?
Me: I most certainly do. I’m gonna get you and when I do, I’m gonna eat you!
Atlas (running) Hee hee!
Me: Boogedy boogedy!
Atlas: Wheeeee—wait…why are you stopping?
Me: I have to straighten the rug.
Atlas: Are we done playing? ‘Cause I’m just going to mess it up again.
Me: I know.

The most exhausting part of the game isn’t running after the dog—it’s having to constantly stop to straighten the rugs.

And I thought I was off the hook earlier in the week. I was supposed to pick up the rug, and when I got to the guy’s house, it wasn’t where he said it would be, which was rolled up in a bag behind his garage. I messaged him and he was confounded. “I put four rugs out, each in their own bag, labelled with people’s names,” he said. Later, he messaged me that he’d looked at the security camera footage and saw that someone else had taken ALL rugs, instead of just the one they bought. And I was like “Oh, that’s OK, and also I wasn’t dancing while I was waiting at your door, I was jumping up and down from the cold.”
(Narrator’s Voice: She was indeed dancing, having been unaware that there were, indeed, security cameras.)
But then on Friday, he messaged me that he’d gotten the rug back, so what choice did I have? So yes, another rug to straighten. But between that and chasing the dog, I’m staying in shape and no matter what angle you look at it from, that’s a good thing.

 

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

We’ve had Atlas the wonder dog for almost 7 months now, and over that time, he’s accrued a variety of nicknames. When he’s being sweet, he’s Puppy Dobkins. When he’s being rambunctious, he’s Killer MacGee. Under a variety of circumstances, he’s Buddy, and then of course, right before Christmas, he was, for a brief time, OHMYGODYOUJERK when I discovered that he had somehow gotten my car key fob off the top of the cabinet by the door and had chewed it up so badly that it no longer worked. I had to replace it to the tune of $130, and didn’t they all nod knowingly at the car dealership when I told them how it happened? But sometimes, just for fun, I’ll say to him, “Hello, Georgie. Do you want your boat back? Would you like a balloon? We all float down here,” and he just looks at me questioningly and goes back to barking at the recycling bin or THAT poodle from down the street. I am, of course, doing a very fine impression of Pennywise The Clown from the movie IT (played by Bill Skarsgard, not Tim Curry), based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It’s such an excellent impression that when I did it the other day when Ken was in the room, and once again, he didn’t laugh or even comment, I got quite frustrated.

Me: What the hell, Ken!
Ken (innocently): What?
Me: Why don’t you EVER laugh when I do that?
Ken: Do what?
Me: That’s a really good impersonation, and you never laugh!
Ken: Who were you impersonating?
Me: Pennywise The Clown!
Ken: I think you think your impersonation is better than it is.

A little while later, Kate came down, and we (I) insisted that she listen to my very fine impression of Pennywise and give her opinion. After I demonstrated it for her and finished with a flourish, I asked her what she thought.

Kate: How candid would you like me to be on a scale of 1 to 10?
Me: So 1 is totally honest and 10 is a complete lie?
Kate: Yes.
Me: What would 10 be?
Kate: You were amazing.
Ken: (*laughs hysterically*)
Me: Well, Atlas thinks it’s awesome.
Atlas: I don’t, but you always give me a special cookie after you say it.
Me: Sigh.

Because I do a lot of good impersonations. When I was still teaching, every year for the Christmas skit, the teaching staff had to take on the personas of different musicians. One year I was Lorde performing Royals, another year I was Taylor Swift and had to sing Love Song, which I did to thunderous applause.

See? I look exactly like her. I still have the wigs from both performances, and every time I hear either song, I’m transported back to the stage. My favourite impersonation, and I’ve told the shortened version of this story sometime in the past, was the year I got drafted into a group doing KISS and was nominated to play the role of Paul Stanley, the lead singer. I went out and bought a curly black wig, some cheap leather gear at the second hand shop, and found some platform boots at the back of the closet. Another staff member did my make-up and the resemblance was remarkable as I lip synched my way through Rock and Roll All Nite with other staff members looking equally KISS-ish and awesome.

Then, just as we had finished our set, the snow started coming down like crazy, and since it was the last day before Christmas holidays, all the students and staff were sent home early. At the time, I had a very sporty low coupe, and it didn’t have winter tires, so as I was rounding the corner towards our house, I suddenly got stuck in the snow. I couldn’t move forward or backwards, and while I was literally half a block from home, I couldn’t just leave the car in the middle of the road. But then I saw a pickup truck coming so I got out and waved it down. The truck stopped and the guy got out and stood by his front bumper, looking very nervous. “Oh hey!” I called out to him. “I’m stuck. Can you help push me out?”  

He just continued to stare at me, and that’s when I realized that, while I’d taken off the wig, I was still in full KISS makeup. I had to explain to him that I’d been doing a KISS impersonation and the whole time he was pushing my car out, he stared at me suspiciously. And I think that’s because he was convinced that I WAS Paul Stanley and wanted my autograph. Because I’m THAT GOOD AT IMPRESSIONS, KEN.

And then, in a strange turn of fate, Ken just showed me the most bizarre video I’ve ever seen of a clown that looks just like Pennywise singing Royals by Lorde. It’s like my life has come full circle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU&ab_channel=PostmodernJukebox

Spilling The Beans

The other morning, I came out of my bathroom. Slight tangent: to clarify, I was styling my hair, because I haven’t had it cut since last March. My hair is very fine and thin and the downside of growing it out that it also takes longer to make it look nice. I would get it chopped off right now, except that Kate is growing hers out to, and I’m trying to be supportive. And to support ME, Ken and Kate got me a very expensive hair straightener for Christmas which I could never use on short hair, so I’m stuck until the damn thing is paid off. Anyhow, I came out of the bathroom and sniffed the air:

Me: Ken! There’s something burning!
Ken: I don’t smell anything.
Me: Were you cooking something? Seriously, it smells like something was on fire out here!
Ken: I don’t know what you mean. (*sniffs air*) Nope, smells fine to me.
Me: You seriously can’t smell that? It’s like when the fireplace motor almost went up in flames!
Ken: It must be your imagination.
Me: It’s worse over here by your office—wait a minute. Do you have a cup of COFFEE in there?!
Ken (abashed): Maybe…

Now, this may shock some of you, but I hate coffee. I mean, I really despise it. The taste and ESPECIALLY the smell. In fact, one of the reasons I married Ken in the first place is because he DIDN’T drink coffee. I’ll admit, I went through a strange phase in university where I drank coffee and smoked cigarettes, but all my friends were doing it, so chalk it up to peer pressure. Once I graduated, that fell by the wayside, and I haven’t had a cigarette OR a cup of coffee in over 35 years. And I really thought Ken was on the same page as me, but when we went into lockdown last March, suddenly he became a coffee drinker. I put up with it for the first few mornings, but one day, the stress of lockdown combined with the outrageous smell of burning garbage caused me to have a complete meltdown and scream, “NO! No more coffee if you want to stay married!”

I’ll be the first to admit that I may or may not have overreacted, but Ken, being the good soul that he is, switched from the deadly bean to green tea. At least for the time being, apparently, and now I have to wonder how long he’s been sneaking around behind my back, having cups of coffee when I was out getting groceries or driving to our antique booth in Delhi.

But it’s not like I eschew hot drinks or caffeine altogether—in fact, I drink copious amounts of green tea myself, and Ken and I have a ritual on the weekends where I get up and make us both cups of hot chocolate. I just have never understood how some people are so obsessed with coffee, although I know that caffeine is addictive. But there’s caffeine in LOTS of other things, so why are the lockdown lineups outside of Tim Horton’s or Starbucks twice as long as the liquor store? It simply confirms my theory that coffee also contains opium. There’s no other explanation for anyone wanting to drink something that smells like Satan’s breath and tastes like Satan’s *sshole.

And I know I’ll take a lot of flak for my anti-coffee sentiments, but aside from that, I’m a pretty nice person, and I will always make a cup of coffee for my dad, because he’s my dad.

Also, Happy New Year. I don’t do resolutions or retrospectives, especially not this year. The only thing I’m hoping for is that 2021 is better than 2020, not just for me but for everyone. Even the coffee drinkers.

A Crisis Or Two

It’s been one hell of a week, I have to say. On Tuesday around dinner time, I was getting the meal prepared and I realized that Atlas was just lying on the kitchen floor, looking really sleepy, instead of jumping around and begging for pieces of whatever I was making. But he’d had a long walk earlier, and as I said to Ken, “Maybe he’s finally over his growth spurt”, because right now, at 6 months old, he weighs 63 pounds. Ken agreed, but after dinner he was still pretty dopey (Atlas, not Ken), and at 9 o’clock when I had to WAKE him for his before-bed snack, he barely reacted. He finally got up and went downstairs with Ken, but when they came back up, there was a problem:

Ken: He seems a little wobbly.
Me: He’s weaving back and forth. What’s up, buddy?
Atlas: I don’t feel so good, Ma. I—

With that, he started to fall over sideways. We immediately called our vet clinic and got connected to the on-call vet, who said we needed to bring him in right away. The vet clinic is half an hour from our house, and we flew there, only stopping once when he suddenly threw up, all over the back seat, all over himself, and all over me. Luckily, we carry around copious amounts of wet wipes, thanks to covid, and we got cleaned up as best we could. Dr. Hunter, one of the many wonderful vets at our clinic, determined right away that it was some kind of neurotoxin and started filling him full of charcoal to absorb anything he hadn’t already puked up, then ran some blood tests, which came back normal. But he was still out of it, glassy-eyed and could barely stand, so she said, “I want to keep him here overnight. Don’t worry—I’ll sleep in a cot next to his crate and make sure he doesn’t start having seizures. I’ll call you if he gets worse; otherwise, I’ll contact you in the morning to let you know how he is.”

As much as I wanted to bundle him up and take him home, I knew it was for the best, so we left him there whimpering a little, telling him that everything was going to be OK.

None of us could sleep. I lay there waiting for the worst and thinking of him crying in his crate, his first night away from us since before he could remember. Finally, at 6:30 am, the phone rang. Dr. Hunter sounded very upbeat and chipper. “He had a good night,” she said. “He fell asleep almost right away, and now he’s up and seems very steady, pretty much back to his usual self. He ate a hearty breakfast and he’s keeping it down. You can come and get him at 9:30. One thing—he won’t pee.”

Which was understandable, because he won’t go anywhere except in our yard. Even when we take him for a walk, he waits until we get home then makes a mad dash for the grass by the back door. So when we got to the vet clinic, he was super-excited to see us, but there was no way I was driving him half an hour home with a full bladder. After being vomited on, I didn’t think I could take a urine shower. So I brought him over to the grass verge.

Me: You have to go pee here.
Atlas: This grass is weird.
Me: We’re not getting in the truck until you pee.
Atlas: Let me sniff around for a sec—oh, there we go. Ahhhh.

He peed for literally two minutes, having had a litre and a half of fluid through an IV overnight. By the time we got him in the truck, he was exhausted, and fell asleep on my lap.

We still have no idea what he got into—being a puppy, albeit a giant one, he still eats things off the ground or in the yard indiscriminately, so we’re watching him like a hawk. Long story short, he seems fine now, but it brought back terrible memories of what had happened to Titus not that long ago, especially since the initial symptoms were so similar. As I write this, he’s mooching around the kitchen, trying to convince Ken that he should have a second breakfast, so crisis averted.

Here’s another crisis that’s a little more like what you normally find on this site:

As I’ve been working remotely, I’ve noticed that a lot of people use virtual backgrounds. I don’t like the way they make you look like you’re on green screen, so I’ve tried to create an aesthetically pleasing REAL background for my desk area, and central to that is a giant, antique clock. I’ve had a lot of comments about it, so here’s the story behind it

One weekend, I saw an ad on a local buy and sell site for a tiny antique clock. It didn’t work, but the price was cheap and the case was pretty. I decided it would make a really great little jewelry cabinet, so I contacted the guy and arranged to pick it up. When I got there, right on time, he was like, “What? I thought you were coming tomorrow. I’m just going out for a ride on my motorcycle and the clock is in the basement.” He said this like it made absolutely logical sense. Then again, the weather WAS charming, and riding a motorcycle is like smoking crack for some people, so I said I’d come by the next day. After a series of confusing messages (at one point, he said, “I’m here” and I thought he meant outside my house, so I spent ten minutes waiting for him to come to the door, but he meant HIS house), I drove to his place to pick up the clock. It was sitting in his garage, and it was WAYYY bigger than the picture made it seem. I had envisioned it as being less than a foot tall, but it was, in fact, over three feet tall, and much too large for a jewelry cabinet, unless you were a member of the Royal Family. Still, it was beautiful, so I put it in the car, and brought it home. It weighed a TON (I discovered later that it still had the original lead weights inside), and I struggled to get it up onto the kitchen counter, where it stayed for a week. Mostly because I had NO IDEA where to put it. Ken said I should sell it for parts, but here’s the issue: it still had the original paper label inside it, and after doing some research, it turned out it was a very rare “Chauncey Boardman” American clock from the early 1800s.

Me: I can’t gut it for parts, Ken. It’s 200 years old! People didn’t even have WATCHES back then.
Ken: Um…I’m going to say that’s incorrect.
Me: Well, fine. But they kept them in their pockets, which is not very convenient.
Ken: What time is it right now?
Me: Not sure. Let me check my phone. Now, where’s my purse?
Ken: Did you know that there were no Canadian clock manufacturers 200 years ago? There would have only been individual watchmakers. I saw this documentary last week about…

I have no idea what happened in the documentary because I tuned out, and started mentally going through rooms to see where I could put the clock. When I tuned back in, Ken was talking about ANOTHER documentary about pygmy goats, or Shakespeare’s skull or something, so I started physically walking around the house to figure out where a 3-foot-high, non-functioning clock could possibly go. After another week, I promised Ken on my honour as a woman that I would find a place for it, and get it off the kitchen counter. And that’s how it ended up as a background prop on the windowsill in my office alcove. Another crisis averted. If only they were all that easy.

His favourite place to lounge in the sun.

Thanks For Sharing

Well, it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I’m grateful for many things, not the least of which is no longer having a strange man taking up residence in my kitchen. “A strange man?” I hear you say. “How intriguing!” Let me assure you that it was not. Here’s the story:

A few weeks ago, I got sick of looking at how worn my kitchen cabinets looked. They’re painted white but chipping everywhere because the original owners of the house didn’t get them properly primed. The cost of replacing all the cabinets was astronomical, so we hired a company to paint them. Enter Mike, he of the numerous tattoos, faux-hawk, effusive personality, and, despite him being the same age as Ken and me, numerous children under the age of 5 who kept him “running around like crazy”. Mike assured us when we signed the contract that in 3 days, with his spray technology and oil-based lacquer, we would have “a brand new kitchen.” But on the night before he was due to start painting, he called to tell me that he had come down with shingles and was running behind schedule. Bear in mind that we had to take every single thing out of the kitchen to prepare for the spraying and the house now looked like a disaster zone:

Me: I’m so sorry to hear that.
Mike: Ya, it’s super painful. Worst pain I’ve ever experienced and I’ve broken every bone in my body,
Me: Wow.
Mike: Ya. And if I can be honest with you, I MANSCAPE, and let me tell you, it hurts like hell.
Me:

And I don’t know what it is about me that compels people to tell me very private things, things that I really don’t want to know, but it happens all the time

Like the tattoo artist that Kate and I went to (my fifth tattoo—the Tree of Life, and her first, a cool graphic she designed herself). It was a reputable parlour, but the artist himself was a little off kilter. My appointment was before hers, and the tattooist, a very short man with a slight build, regaled me with stories about his “Chippendales dancing days”, where he claimed that he “didn’t have a great body like the rest of the guys”, but he “had the best moves”. I was like “Uh huh” and silently begging him not to demonstrate. Then when he was tattooing Kate, he launched into this gem:

Tattoo Guy: My sixteen-year-old stepson just got his first girlfriend.
Me: Oh, that’s nice.
Tattoo Guy: Yeah, I found a condom wrapper on the floor of his room.
Me: Gosh.
Tattoo Guy: So I said, “Where did you get a condom from, anyway?” And he said, “I found it on the path.” So I told him, “NEVER use a condom that you found on the path.”
Me: Words to live by, that’s for sure.
Tattoo Guy: I know, right?

Then there was the last time I went to the dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist for years, but I didn’t realize that they have a completely different staff on Saturdays. The receptionist WASN’T Nina, for starters, although the Saturday receptionist seemed quite nice. But when the hygienist, Cindy, came out, I became more suspicious. “Where’s Serenity?” I asked. Let me just tell you that Serenity has been my hygienist for many years. She’s a lovely woman, and completely suits her name. We like all the same TV shows, and she has a wonderful knack of carrying on a two-sided conversation about Sons of Anarchy or Better Call Saul with me, even with her hands in my mouth, kind of like this:

“Did you see the latest episode of _____?”

“Eh—i wa o ood”

“I know, right? Could you believe it when____?”

“I ow. I uz azy.”

The new, unfamiliar hygienist said, in a very bubbly voice, “Oh, she’s on her honeymoon. But she doesn’t work Saturdays anyway.”

Well, all right. Cindy seemed very professional and competent, so I decided to give it a go. I got comfortably seated, and then the deluge began. By the time we were done, I literally knew EVERYTHING about Cindy’s life: where she went to high school, how she met her husband, his career ups and downs, their respective families and where they all lived…she was very entertaining, and the appointment just flew by. I don’t think she actually took a breath for 25 minutes. But the best part was this:

“So my husband lost over 80 pounds in the last year. I’d known him for so long that the weight just crept up on us, then one day, he decided to lose 30 pounds, but I think he got addicted to weight loss because now he’s really thin and worries about his skin flaps but I just keep telling him to tone up and not worry about the weight. He ran his first marathon last year. The only thing is that I REALLY like to snack and I NEVER gain weight, but if there’s snack food in the house, he’ll binge-eat it all so I have to hide it. I had this really great hiding place in the baking cupboard, but somehow he found it and ate everything and I know he MUST have been looking for it because why would he be in the baking cupboard since he never bakes, right? So then I was hiding all my snack food in the car, but now it’s getting too warm and I’m worried things will melt or go bad. So the other day, I found the perfect spot, and if he finds it, I’ll KNOW he’s been deliberately looking, because I put everything in a TAMPAX BOX IN THE GUESTROOM BATHROOM. If those chocolate bars disappear, I’ll know he was searching the house for food, because why would he want a tampon, right? My only worry is that I might have a girlfriend staying over and she might need a tampon, and then she’d be like, “Is this what you’ve been using? How does THAT work?”

I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for—her, her poor snackless husband, or the unsuspecting house guest. At any rate, I was laughing so hard that I barely felt my gums being ripped open by the assortment of picks in her arsenal. And I had no cavities. Yay me.

As for the kitchen, despite Mike’s promises, he didn’t finish until end of day Friday. The cabinets look great, all fresh and white. Some areas of the walls are also white, as is the perimeter of the ceiling and a lot of the window panes because the one thing Mike DIDN’T tell me was that he was an indiscriminate sprayer. Which, I suppose, I should be grateful for.

And please don’t feel sorry for that sad-looking puppy. He just ate, and thinks if he pushes his empty food bowl into the middle of the floor, someone will feed him again. He’s such a little trickster:-)

Search Me

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately, and my go-to is always Google. I mean, it’s not like I can walk into a public library and take out a stack of books, although if you know anything about me and my OCD hygiene issues, you’ll know I never touch library books anyway, especially after one of my friends told me about how bedbugs can live in library books and she puts them in the freezer for 48 hours before reading them. Google is the best for finding out stuff: Firefox is obsolete, Edge is boring AF, and Bing is Satan’s search engine, which, in retrospect, might have been appropriate. Also, there are no annoying ads on Google, although you DO get ads everywhere else related to every site you visit. It amazes me that there are people who believe that bizarre conspiracy theory about Bill Gates tracking you through microchips in vaccines when Google already knows everything about you simply based on your clicks. Once, I looked at an ad for wigs, and every site I go to now has ads for wigs. Last week I posted about kittens and now Kate Spade wants to sell me earrings shaped like kittens. And two days ago, I filled in an online request for a quote from a kitchen painting company and now my gmail keeps filling up with ads for Benjamin Moore and kitchen renos. If those conspiracy theorists were really smart, they’d stop using computers all together and share their dumbassery through Morse code instead of becoming anti-vaxxers.

Anyway, I recently completed writing my first non-Young Adult novel, called The Seventh Devil, and I had to do a lot of research at different points in the plot. And then I heard that the government monitors certain topics and I got really worried that maybe I’d raised some red flags. Here is a list of things I searched for recently—tell me if you think I should be concerned:

1) What happens when you mix salt and vinegar together?
2) How corrosive is hydrochloric acid?
3) Is it illegal to make hydrochloric acid?
4) What acid is stronger than hydrochloric acid?
5) Is it illegal to buy sulphuric acid?
6) Where in Canada can I buy sulphuric acid?
7) What type of container is best for transporting sulphuric acid?
8) What acids are more deadly than sulphuric acid?
9) What does carbon tetrachloride do?
10) How does phosphine gas kill you?
11) How do you exorcise a demon?
12) What Latin phrases are best for exorcisms?
13) How do I know if my house is possessed by a demon?
14) Why does my puppy lick the carpet?
15) Is my puppy possessed by a demon?
16) What is the largest swamp in Ontario?
17) How long does it take a body to decompose in a swamp?
18) Does the government track my Google searches?
19) What kind of vehicles do government agents drive?
20)If you see a wifi called Surveillance Van 3, is it real or a joke?
21) Does stress cause hiccups?

 

Demon Dog

Then last week, I e-transferred Kate some money for her tuition, and just for fun, I put “Thanks for the launch codes” in the message line. Yeah, I agree—I think I should be worried.

But research is important though–I learned this the hard way many years ago in university when I was doing an English Lit/Film degree. I was tasked with presenting the filmmaker Stan Brakhage to the class, so I read everything I could about him. Remember, this was in the days before Netflix, Youtube or even the internet, so I DID in fact have to go to a library. From everything I studied, the man was a genius, but there was no way I could actually see any of his films. Then, on the day of my presentation, my film professor, a wonderfully enthusiastic and eccentric man, came up to me and breathlessly announced that he’d secured a 16mm copy of Brakhage’s masterpiece, “Dog Star Man Part III” which he would play on the screen behind me while I spoke. I was thrilled too—the lights went down, the film began, and I started telling the class all about the film and how Brakhage was “obsessed with vision, and tried to capture the three dimensions of the senses…he wanted the viewer to see in a fresh way, to disregard social conventions of seeing—” and then I realized that some people in the class were laughing and some people seemed shocked, so I looked over my shoulder at the film playing behind me and there was a gigantic nipple in the middle of the screen, and then a close-up of what looked like someone peeing, and I’ve never been so mortified and so happy to be in a dark room in my life. I literally stopped my presentation and just said, “Well. That’s so interesting,” and then we all watched as it got even more porn-y and my professor launched into a treatise on Brakhage’s ‘instinctive qualities’ and his ‘incredible technique’, and he was so ecstatic about the whole thing that he didn’t even notice that I hadn’t said another word and I got an A anyway (note that his comment below was “a brief but pithy statement not only of Brakhage but also his context”). And if you want to see “Dog Star Man” for yourself, you can just google it.