All Critters Great And Small

We live in a 115-year old home, which means occasionally, we get a critter or two in the house. They rarely come into our living area, being mostly confined to cupboards or in between the walls where they’re pretty quickly discernible and easily caught in live traps then relocated. This past week though has been a disturbing combination of visible and invisible creatures, and I place the blame fully on Kate who, reveling in the joy of her Veterinary Technician program, is like a young, female Dr. Doolittle:

Kate: I just learned how to restrain a dog using the Lateral Recumbency method. Watch. C’mere, Atlas.
Atlas: I don’t think so.
Me: Let her do it. You’ll be fine.
Atlas: Okay, but NOBODY is cutting my nails.
Me: I promise….is he restrained now?
Kate (holding him): Yes.
Me: Ken, get the nail clippers!
Atlas: Betrayed once again!!

Don’t feel sorry for him—I distracted him by feeding him treats while Kate performed the nail-ectomy. And then last Friday, she came home for the weekend super-excited and waving around a…

Me: Is that a vial of…blood?!
Kate: Horse blood. I drew it myself.
Me: I thought you hated horses.
Kate: Not any more.
Me: Well, just don’t use it for any rituals.

Just to clarify, she drew the blood as part of a practical class–the instructor asked for a volunteer so she put her hand up, determined to get over her fear of horses. And while we’re super proud of her, her enthusiasm seems to be radiating out into the animal world because we’re becoming a haven for tiny creatures. Last weekend, we invited the family over to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary, so I decided to get fancy and pull out a nice tablecloth. But when I went into the sideboard in the living room where I keep them, I was puzzled by the presence of what looked like red peanut skins. I dug a little deeper and found more skins, and then some peanuts. And while the old sideboard doesn’t have a back panel, it’s still pretty close to the wall, and it’s an absolute mystery to me how a squirrel could have been sitting in there eating peanuts without anyone noticing. And how long was it in my house? Was it still here, hiding somewhere? And more importantly, where the hell did it get the peanuts from? Ken had other ideas:

Ken: It was probably a chipmunk. I think we would have noticed a squirrel.
Me: And you don’t think I would have noticed a CHIPMUNK carrying a grocery bag full of peanuts into the sideboard? And where did it go?! Was it waiting behind the kitchen island for me to open the door and it rushed out when I wasn’t looking?

Then things got worse. Kate called to us from her bedroom saying that she could hear loud scrabbling sounds in her bedroom ceiling, so Ken and I went up into the attic to investigate. We didn’t find anything, but when we came back down, she told us that while we were up there, a mouse had come through the very tiny hole in her ceiling where her internet cable came in. It climbed half-way down, then saw her and hightailed it back up into the ceiling. It was hard to believe that anything could have squeezed through that hole, but Ken shoved some steel wool into the opening as a deterrent. In the meantime, I went into the guest bedroom next door to discover to my horror, a singular piece of mouse poop right in the middle of the guest bed quilt. I shook my hand at the ceiling and cried out, “This means war!”

So Ken set up the live traps, and I couldn’t wait to catch the little sh*t that shat on the bed. And when we checked the next morning, sure enough, there in the trap was…the most adorable little baby mouse I’d ever seen. It had big ears, and big eyes, and tiny little feet…

Kate: Awww…
Me (sigh): We can’t keep it.
Kate: But—
Me: Take it out to the field. Fare thee well, Peanut.

But as everyone knows, there’s never just ONE mouse, and I’ve been busy designing tiny Hallowe’en costumes, so the trap is still set up, and every day I check it, but so far, no luck. Darn.

And just to make the week even more disappointing, the church across the street is up for sale, so the local Heritage Society asked Ken to come over and take pictures when they opened the time capsule that had been in the church’s cornerstone since 1876. I was intrigued and immediately wrote a short story about a church group that opened a time capsule only to discover it contained, among other things, a severed finger that was apparently put in there to save the town from ruin. So, as you can imagine, I marched over on Tuesday, breathless with anticipation, along with Ken and a group of Heritage Society members. The local stonemason was on hand with a bunch of tools, and the cornerstone was finally pulled out and the time capsule extricated. We all crowded around to see the contents, and let me tell you that I wasn’t the only one who was let down. I mean, I wasn’t REALLY expecting a severed finger or whatnot, but the only things in it were a decayed annual report from 1876 that was falling apart, and a few old coins. And I know I wasn’t the only one who sighed, said, “Meh”, and left. Darn.

Raise A Glass

So I had my first official day of retirement last week. And it was lucky it happened when it did, because things were rapidly devolving as I got closer and closer to the date. The week before, I’d been talking to one of the bigger bosses when Atlas, having decided that he was bored in the absence of Ken, launched himself onto my lap. Which would have been ok except that one of his big, slappy paws grabbed the neckline of my sweater, pulling it and my bra down far enough that it was quite the show. Fortunately, my male colleague was looking at his other monitor, giving me time to shove Atlas away and rectify the wardrobe malfunction. And then the next day, I had to rush downstairs to meet with my direct supervisor who had called me early for a meeting. I hadn’t quite been fully dressed when she messaged to see if I was available, so I threw on a top and ran to the computer. After the meeting, I went into the kitchen:

Ken (laughing): Why are you wearing a fancy blouse, plaid flannel pajama shorts, and your slippers?
Me: Impromptu meeting.
Ken: No bra?
Me (shimmies): Obviously not.

As you can see, all the signals were there. So, you ask, was your first day of retirement as gloriously awesome as everyone says it should be? In short, NO.

The Beginning

Ken had an early morning balloon launch, so he left me to have a luxurious sleep in. But at around 7:30, I was lying there, all cuddly and warm, when I heard a sudden noise. Atlas was in the back room where he stays when Ken has to leave early, and I knew it wasn’t him. So I did what any normal person would do—I grabbed the baseball bat that I keep by the bed and snuck out of the bedroom to peer down the hallway. Nothing. I kept going, realizing that if anyone actually WAS in the house, Atlas would be going apesh*t, and when I got to the back room, sure enough, he was curled up on his chair looking sleepy. “Come on, buddy,” I encouraged him, and he followed me back upstairs where we settled back into bed. Less than 5 minutes later, his head suddenly popped up and he started to growl under his breath.

Me: What is it?
Atlas: Is noise.
Me: What kind of noise?!

And with that, he started barking and took off downstairs, leaving me alone in bed. At this point, I was more fed up than panicked, and I grabbed the bat again on the premise that, if there WAS someone in the house, I was going to beat them senseless for ruining a perfectly good first morning of retirement. When I got downstairs, Atlas was staring out the window at a squirrel. “You know I’m retired, right?!” I asked him, but he was too intent on the squirrel to care.

The Middle

I took a load of antiques to my booth, then spent some time wiping my company phone, deleting any files that didn’t need to be moved into a shared drive, and signed out of my work computer for the last time. It seemed a little anti-climactic, so I decided to make a ceremony out of it by wheeling my office chair out of the house and putting it at the side of the road. Then I realized that I was kind of boxed in, and spent the next twenty minutes rearranging furniture to maneuver the chair through the living room. By the time I’d finished the whole exercise, I was exhausted and just sat in the chair next to a hydro pole drinking Prosecco and yelling, “I’m retired!” at the neighbours.

The End

Ken was out AGAIN ballooning, so I made dinner for myself and opened a bottle of wine. I turned around to grab a stopper when the bottle hit the counter, fell out of my hand and onto the floor, sending shards of glass and white wine everywhere and freaking me completely out because I HATE broken glass. I was right in the middle of cleaning it up when Ken messaged me to see what I was doing:

(Transcript

Me: I just dropped an entire bottle of wine on the floor and it broke everywhere. Glass is everywhere (crying face emoji). I am very unhappy and also afraid of glass.
Ken: Come to pub for wings.
Me: I am cleaning up glass. Next time (smile emoji). When things aren’t so glassy.)

I finally got everything clean and dry, much to Atlas’s relief, since I’d locked him out of the kitchen.

Atlas: I come in and help clean.
Me: Not a chance. I’ve taken glass out of your mouth before, you dummy.
Atlas: But wine.
Me: But wine, indeed.

Later, we were in the kitchen when Ken yelped.

Ken: What the hell! I just stepped on a piece of glass!
Me: I did the best I could! I was all by myself, Mr. BALLOONMAN! I AM retired, you know! When is this going to get FUN??!!
Ken: Are you missing work?
Me (sighs): Yeah.

Epilogue

It’s been three days. I guess I’ll get used to it. Cheers.

When The Novelty Wears Off

A few weeks ago, we had a neighbour come over to visit. We had just redecorated our bedroom, adding some architectural columns and whatnot and she was interested in seeing the end result. I proudly escorted her into the room where she looked around and complimented me on the new design, but I thought she seemed a little lukewarm and anxious to leave. Then, on our way out, I glanced over at the bed and gasped internally. Ken had wrapped one of Atlas’s tug toys around one of his big rubber bones, and from a distance, it looked very much like something you would find in an “adult” store. I wanted to run after her as she hurried downstairs, holding it aloft and exclaiming, “It’s for the dog!!” but I don’t think that would have helped matters any, and may, in fact, have made them worse. But then I got looking around my house and realized that a LOT of Atlas’s toys look like they may have come from The Stag Shop, which is the most common sex toy franchise around here. So with that in mind, I have a quiz for you: Sex Toy or Dog Toy?

Number One:

Number Two:

Number Three:

Number Four:

Number Five:

Here’s the answer key: All of them are dog toys. I will never have anyone over to my house again.

(Except for today, because we’re having a party for Kate’s birthday last Tuesday and Ken’s birthday tomorrow, so I’ve hidden all Atlas’s dog toys. And his vibrator.)

The Streak Is Over

You may or may not remember that I’ve written in the past about my lucky underwear. They’re a paisley pattern in a very soft fabric—there’s nothing otherwise notable about them, but for some reason, when I wear them, good things tend to happen. I’ve begun saving them for special occasions or times when I feel like I want to ‘encourage’ good fortune, and if you think this is weird then obviously you haven’t been following me for long because it’s par for the course around here. At any rate, last Wednesday we were supposed to get our air conditioner fixed. It had broken the week before, during the first heatwave of the year, obviously, and when the guy came, he was like “OK, the spinny thing isn’t spinning and the cool-y thing isn’t cooling so you need a new one of these box-y things.” Of course, he used more technical terminology, but I couldn’t hear him very well over the noise of all the fans I had going to try and keep cool. Being very hot makes me sad and grumpy, so I grunted at him and agreed that he needed to replace the outside cold box.

On Wednesday morning, after a week of excruciating heat, I put on my lucky underwear specifically to entreat the air conditioning gods to ensure that the repair people arrived on time with the right unit.

They put it in place, then they needed to go into the attic and hook it up, at which point, the older of the two men came downstairs and stared at me woefully because “the box in the attic that distributes the hot and cold air is older than your marriage and it doesn’t appear to be compatible with the new cool-y thing.”

Me: What does this mean? Also, how do you know how long I’ve been married?
Service Guy: It means you need a new attic distribution of air box. Also, you made the part up about your marriage for dramatic flair.  
Me: How much will that cost?!
Service Guy: If we’re talking about a new air box, a lot. If we’re talking about your blatant disregard for relating conversations verbatim, maybe a few readers.

I looked down at my underwear (well, I imagined I was looking at them through my yoga pants) and silently mouthed “What’s wrong with you?!” They did not respond, nor did they have the good grace to even look ashamed. But then I consoled myself with the thought that nobody’s perfect and they were still very comfortable on a hot day, being made of a breathable fabric and all, so I decided not to throw them away. Maybe they just needed to recharge or something. But then this past Friday, not only did I NOT have a terrible reaction to my second covid shot, unlike Ken, who had a fever and spent the day in bed, but out of the blue, my Canadian publisher messaged me to tell me that my novel, The Dome, had been picked up by a major publishing house in the United Arab Emirates for translation and publication. And guess what underwear I was sporting? No, NOT the lucky underwear, which is somewhere in the laundry hamper, but a completely ordinary old pair that I found at the back of my drawer since Ken has been too sick to put the laundry away. So what does this all mean? Does it mean that things just happen randomly regardless of your undergarments? Of course not. It means that I now have a new pair of lucky underwear. Obviously.

High Five, Ma!

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