White Christmas

With Christmas two weeks away, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done very little to prepare. Things have been very hectic around here, what with Ken and me opening another booth at the antique market, this one on the third floor so we have to lug everything up three flights of stairs or use the dreaded, ancient, and evil freight elevator. But the rent was really cheap because “sometimes the roof leaks a little above the left wall”, so we’re making sure we don’t put anything there that could get damaged. It’s mostly for large furniture ie the furniture that spent the summer on the porch because we have nowhere in the house to put it, and I’ve given up trying to sell anything online because people are so annoying:

Rando: Hi, is this available?
Me: Yes, it is.
Rando: Will you take $100 less and will you deliver it?
Me:

So we decided it was better and less stressful to just take another booth. I’ve already paid the rent on it with the sale of a single vintage wool blanket, so it was definitely worth it. Also, I didn’t take the job at the bank. I had an interview and it went really well—all I had to do was one last thing for their external HR recruiter: VIDEO RECORD MYSELF ANSWERING QUESTIONS. I clicked the link, saw the first question, and ran into the kitchen:

Me: I can’t! I can’t work at a bank! I RETIRED so I wouldn’t have to do stuff like this. I like the job I already have!
Ken: So don’t work at the bank. I told you it was fine if you didn’t want to.

And my decision was a good one based on what happened on Wednesday when I rang through a customer, who wanted to pay with cash. I entered the amount and was making change when he suddenly said, “It’s probably easier if I give you another $1.55.” I looked at him, confused, as he counted out more money, especially since I had his change in my hand, ready to give it to him. I started to panic, and my 23-year-old boss came over:

Boss: What’s wrong?
Me: I—money—calculator?
Boss: Just give him back a ten.
Me: I’m not good at math.
Boss (laughs): That’s okay.

I don’t think the bank would be as forgiving. Plus, it’s good exercise, walking around a 90 000 square foot warehouse.

At any rate, it’s been busy, like I said, and I’m starting to have Christmas inadequacy, especially after buying a decorating magazine called Farmhouse Christmas. I saw it while Ken and I were waiting in line at the grocery store, and there were some cool instructions inside for making different kinds of ornaments. Of course, when it got rung through, I realized that it was literally the most expensive thing we bought at FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Was it worth it? Yes, if only for the laughs. Because there are several things in this magazine that are just bizarre.

1) Despite it being called Farmhouse Christmas, every featured house is decorated in white. Pristine white walls, pristine white floors, pristine white furniture—which leads me to believe that NONE of these people actually live on farms. If I owned a farmhouse on an actual farm, everything would be decorated in brown to hide all the mud and manure. Apparently one of the farms is an alpaca farm, and there’s a picture of a guy outside with two alpacas, but they look fake, like giant friendly stuffed animals. And I just did a lot of alpaca research for this (thanks Google) and discovered that alpacas are not actually that friendly, and that there’s a real thing called Berserk Alpaca Syndrome and that alpacas will spit at you and also scream at night. The two alpacas in the picture are called Scooter and Handsome (exactly what I would name stuffed alpacas) and that the owners love to “watch them interact with the sheep.” I can only imagine.

2) There are at least four different families represented in this magazine, and every single person in every single photo is BAREFOOT. With the exception of the guy with the alpacas, demonstrating that the only lucrative farming is alpaca farming, even if they spit and scream. But seriously—why is no one wearing any shoes?! Family posing on the couch—no shoes. Mother with child on her lap—no shoes. Woman standing in her kitchen—no shoes. Ken grew up on a dairy farm and I don’t recall anyone in his family running around the farmhouse without shoes or socks. I can imagine the photo shoots:

Photographer: OK folks, I love the matching outfits. Kids, those rosy cheeks are precious. Everyone ready to smile? Oh wait—why are you all wearing shoes?! This is a photo shoot, not a visit to an alpaca farm! Take those damn things off right now—you’re ruining my feng shui and disrupting my chakras.
Child 1: But the floor is cold…
Photographer: I don’t care. You remember what I said about shoes?
Child 2 (whispers sadly): They’re the devil’s footwear.

3) The most out-of-touch with reality thing in this entire magazine has got to be the story about “Cindy”, a blogger who decorates in white but likes to “sprinkle” other colours around to inspire her readers. In the photo, she’s also barefoot. But that’s not the crazy thing. THIS is the crazy thing: “My husband cooks and prepares all holiday meals. He takes the week off work to shop for all the ingredients. Our entire meal, desserts included, is made from scratch,” Cindy says.  He takes THE ENTIRE WEEK OFF WORK TO GROCERY SHOP?!! Is he just really bad at it? Because Ken can literally buy a week’s worth of groceries in under an hour. And she’s bragging about making all the food ‘from scratch’? Did he personally raise and then slaughter the turkey? Then it’s not from SCRATCH, CINDY.  Also, if Cindy’s husband can afford to take a week off work to grocery shop, then I bet he can afford to buy her a pair of slippers.

All this magazine did, besides giving me a good chuckle, is make me realize that I would rather live in a house where people are allowed to wear shoes, surrounded by warm wood and love. And tacos. Which Ken is going to make tonight. From a kit.

The decorating has begun!

My Week 222: And so this is Christmas…

Things are pretty crazy busy at mydangblog’s place right now, so here’s a little something from 2015 that you might enjoy (the original, My Week 59, also has a bit about my possessed vacuum cleaner):

Real Life Versus Magazine Christmas

I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily, but I LOVE anything with pictures. Anyway, Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:

1) A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are NOT whimsical–they are things that kindergarten children make. Prize for runner-up goes to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUST F*CKING INSANITY OVER HERE!

2) A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:

Ken: That one over there looks nice.
Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.

3) A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap a PRESENT like a present, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I love you, NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.

4) “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn! For a full treatise on the elvish devilspawn, please see My Week 61.

So many questions…

5) “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? If you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life, like your children or your personal hygiene.

6) A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strew the dining table with the shards.

7) Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “wine”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can pour you a shot of the cooking brandy that’s been sitting in the back of the kitchen cupboard for the last ten years (I don’t cook with brandy that often).

8) Party tip b): “The Fabulous Four-Step Appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty TWO-Step Appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly Three-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all.

9) Party tip c): “Consider your guests’ dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master of this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat normal human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:

10) Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need ONE idea. All you need is the people you love the most—weird-ass food preferences, magic-y pompons, and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people (and animals) in it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

My Week 111: The US Election True Colours

The US Election Colours

On Tuesday, I watched the US election, as so many people did. I had already predicted that Trump would win about two weeks before the big night. How did I know, you ask? Well, I have a terrible habit of reading the comments section of articles, and the hatred and stupidity out there is palpable. You couldn’t even post a picture of a kitten riding on a baby giraffe without a Trump supporter yelling “That giraffe is taking away jobs from Americans”, or “That kitten is too cozy with big government and should be shot!” The blind refusal on the part of Trump supporters to accept the reality of his incompetence, their disdain of logic and truth, and their ability to excuse ANYTHING he did in their quest for change is what brought this about. The bread and circuses of Trump’s act was just the right blend of the exploitation of fear (I’m gonna build a wall to keep the rapists out) and abstract concepts that his followers parrot, but don’t understand (“She is a career politician and part of the political class, which means that she is likely to perpetuate the croniest, clientist, State-capitalist status quo.” That’s an actual quote from some guy on an article about Hillary Clinton. You can just hear all the Trumpers yelling “Yes!! Lock her up!!” even though I doubt that most of them know what it means or whether it’s relevant to her ability to govern).

Anyway, early in September, after my True Colours training, I actually analyzed both candidates based on what I perceived as their colours. I didn’t post it then, and It’s probably moot now, but here it is, just for fun. By the way, it was before all the p*ssy-grabbing::

“Friday: I use True Colours to analyze the US election

On Friday night, I was watching the news and the breaking story was that Hillary Clinton had said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters were a “basket full of deplorables” due to their violence, racism, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia. She didn’t say ALL of them, just half. And Trump’s campaign organizers got up in arms and claimed that she had insulted millions of Americans whose ONLY fault was that they hated blacks, Muslims, gays, uppity women, and most people in general. But now that I’m an expert in True Colours, I did an extensive analysis of the situation, which is to say that I looked in my binder. Here’s what I see from up here in Canada:

Hillary Clinton is a Green. She’s not super-warm and fuzzy on the exterior, and she’s driven by logic, facts, and a disdain for irrational behaviour and incompetence. When she says “Half of Trump supporters”, she’s accurate. You can disagree all you want, but all you have to do is look at the comments section of ANY article about the election or anything else Trump-related for that matter, to realize that many of the millions of people who support Trump have a tenuous understanding of reality. Not ALL of them—just half. Maybe a little more than half. Or, to quote Trump, “a lot”. I think what she really wanted to say though was “a basket full of crazy”, but being a Green, she was conscious that “crazy” is insensitive. See, people think that Greens often appear unemotional, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Greens see the big picture, and they care about THAT as much as anything else. As a fellow Green, I can tell you that I hate racism in any form, not because I’m all sad about it and sh*t, but because it doesn’t make ANY logical sense to look down on an entire race of people because their skin has more melanin in it, or because they believe in one God or five gods or no god at all. If we all treated each other equally, the world would have more peace than war. That’s the big picture, and Greens can see it.

Donald Trump, as far as I can tell, is an Orange (in more ways than one), and apologies to all the great Oranges out there. But Trump is impulsive, dramatic, pays too much attention to performance versus product, hates structure and responsibility and is super-sensitive to criticism (little hands, anyone?). Unfortunately, he, and many of his followers, don’t possess any of the really positive Orange qualities, like courage, generosity, optimism, and good humour. When Clinton pointed out what we all already know about MANY of Trump’s supporters, their reaction was typical and predictable and simply proved her right: “What is that b*tch talking about?! How dare she criticize us? I’m going to post mean comments about her on the internet. And I’m going to call her Crooked Hillary because Trump told me to.” Trump’s supporters are just like him in the way they approach everything, including their general hatred of the world that is not theirs and the fear that giving to others will take something away from THEM. Actually, I think there has to be a new colour for people like them, people who mock others when they’re suffering, people who want to put up a wall instead of build a bridge. George Orwell, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, said this about a wall: “The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose is serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp.”

At any rate, whatever Clinton’s flaws are, and let’s dispense with the false equivalencies here, because nothing she’s done is ANYWHERE NEAR the crap Trump has pulled over the last 60 years (I’m giving him credit for the first ten), I’d much rather have a Green at the helm—they’re less likely to start wars or meantweet about overweight people—but I’m sure worried that people will buy into Trump and his bullshit. Maybe that should be the new colour for Trump and his ilk—Brown.”

There you have it. It’s over now, and if change was what people wanted, they certainly got it. But I doubt that it’s going to be in the way they thought. Only time will tell.

 

My Week 63: I Have Holiday Inadequacy, A Stream of Consciousness Religious Moment

Thursday: This holiday season is making me feel incompetent

I’ve always considered myself a fairly creative person. My house is decorated nicely, I write middling well, I can paint a little, and make craft-y type things when the mood strikes. But lately, I’ve come to realize that there are people out there who are WAY more creative than me. Case in point—in the last couple of weeks, people at work have been decorating their cubicles for Christmas. It started off with just a few co-workers hanging snowflake ornaments and tinsel on their fabric walls. I was feeling pretty satisfied with my design—a miniature stocking that I grabbed out of the closet at home, and a paper snowflake that a colleague made for me one afternoon—he was practicing making them from instructions from the internet so he could impress his wife on the weekend. So I ended up with something like this:

Bare cubicle

Not bad right? Understated and elegant, with a homemade touch. Added bonus—I found a red pushpin on the floor, and I used it to secure the snowflake in keeping with my colour scheme. Brilliant planning, I’d have to say. Sure, I could have gone a little more crazy, but I didn’t want people to think I had too much time on my hands.

But then, I came in on Thursday morning to discover that the people in the department up the aisle from mine had decorated THEIR cubicles. Here are a few examples:

Cubicle 2

 

 

Cubicle 1

Cubicle 3 version 2

A Reindeer stable?! An entire Christmas house, held up with yardsticks?! An “homage” to the ugly Christmas sweater?! One woman had gone with the theme “Christmas in the Tropics”, having made palm trees out of construction paper and coconuts out of brown balloons. Suddenly, I was feeling angsty, but I comforted myself that at least my display was cost efficient. Then I happened to remark to one of the women, “Oh, you guys have really gone all out!” and she cheerfully replied, “Oh, this is all from the dollar store— it just took a few bucks and some imagination!” So while I have a ‘few bucks’, apparently I’m lacking in the imagination component of the holiday season.

And to make matters worse, there’s Secret Santa. You may remember that I’ve had issues in the past with this torturous aspect of the workplace, but this year it seems that I may be the ‘Bad Santa’. I’ve been doing all right myself, having received some decent little tokens from my ‘giver’, but I’m starting to feel that I’m not doing enough for my ‘receiver’. I organized several treats for my SS, based on her list of likes and dislikes, and thought that it would be enough to wait until she was away from her desk, then run by her cubicle and toss something on her keyboard without getting caught. Holy sh*t, was I wrong, based on the mayhem around me. One woman came back from lunch and discovered a half-dozen red roses carefully arranged in a vase on her desk. Another colleague was sent on a scavenger hunt (which started with a poem, 6 stanzas long, written in iambic pentameter and mounted on a piece of yellow shirtboard) and ended with her finding an assortment of clues and goodies scattered throughout the office and all tastefully wrapped in yellow tissue paper. The icing on the Christmas cake was the cubicle that was decorated some time in the night as a representation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The entire space was domed with red tinsel garlands hanging from the ceiling. There was a sign on the outside of the cubicle which read “1. Shelter  2. Fire  3. Food  4. Drink” and so on, with ‘Shelter’ crossed out. We were simultaneously amazed and jealous, and more than a little worried about how Fire would be represented the next day. But fear not—her Secret Santa created a campfire out of construction paper, and a bundle of handmade twig pencils, complete with a giant marshmallow on a stick. Seriously, WTF? I mean, how are the rest of us supposed to compete with THAT? The best I had done so far was scribble “I hope you like this chocolate” on a post-it note and stick it to a pack of Lindor. It’s not that I don’t WANT to be more clever—I have great ideas but I just don’t have the energy to put them into action. For example, I had this brainstorm that I would take the box of fruit-flavoured mini-candy canes I got her and strew all 60 of them around her cubicle, then put the empty box on her desk with an Elf on the Shelf in it, like HE’D done it. But I couldn’t find an Elf, and it was late, so I just tossed them around, stuck a couple in her shoes, and went home. I don’t think she was impressed because by the time I got to work the next morning, there wasn’t a single candy cane in sight. Then I worried that maybe she was a real neat-freak, and that instead of being charmed, she was pissed that she had to clean up the mess. Then she spent the rest of the day eating oranges and apples. I know this, because I kept sneaking by her desk to see if she was enjoying the candy canes, but I never saw them again. I know it’s all supposed to be in fun, and everyone keeps saying, “Oh, it’s the thought that counts,” but why can’t people just be as mediocre as ME? When the bar is set too high, we ALL suffer. Except the people who have time to write sonnets. My only hope is that when we have our big ‘reveal’ next week, she’s able to see that my intentions were good, and that if I’d had the time, energy, and wherewithal, it would have been…well, something amazing, I’m sure. Plus, there’s a bag of potato chips waiting for her on Monday morning—maybe I’ll get wild and put a bow on it.

Friday: I have a stream of consciousness religious moment

On Friday, we were talking at work, and someone mentioned that Kanye West and one of the Kardashians (I can never remember which one is which—they all look alike thanks to the wonders of cosmetic surgery, and they all seem to be pregnant all the f*cking time) had another baby. You might remember how I ripped Kanye West for naming his first baby “North”—that’s right, North West. North West of where I am is Manitoba, which seems to me to be a much better name for a baby than a compass direction, but if you think I have no imagination, I’m feeling pretty good next to old Kanye. Especially right now. Because my first reaction was, “Did he name this baby ‘South’? It’s a great theme—two more kids and he could easily find his way to his own ass.” But alas, no. This baby, he named “Saint”. Yes, Saint West, the patron saint of stupid parents everywhere. And then I was confused, because it seemed a little sacreligious, but a friend pointed out that ‘Santo’ was a very popular boy’s name in Italian, and it means ‘Saint’. Which got me to thinking about how other cultures have no trouble naming their children after religious figures. For example, there are a LOT of Hispanic men named Jesus, which I believe is pronounced ‘Hey Zeus’, and which I also think is an awesome name—it kind of channels ‘Son of God’ and ‘Lightning Bolt Guy’ all at the same time. And this seems to work for them, but how weird would it be if I had named my son ‘Jesus’, like the actual ‘Gee Zus’ pronunciation? I come from a Scottish/English background, and I know people would have thought I was being a little presumptuous, like I thought my kid was the next Messiah or something. Which got me to thinking about Jesus, and the fact that the church across the road recently had their doors redesigned. On one door is an angel, painted in gold, hovering in mid-air. The other door is where things get weird. It’s supposed to be Jesus on the cross, but whoever painted it did Jesus in REALLY dark gold paint, and the cross in light gold, so from across the street, it looks like Jesus is standing on the edge of a diving platform, getting ready to do a double pike, three and a half turn twist. It’s very disconcerting. In fact, I can see him right now, and all I can think about is Jesus getting the gold medal at the Olympics, which would have been a much nicer thing to happen to him. And then churches would be full of swimming pools instead of pews and ALL the water would be holy. Oh yeah. See, maybe I am more creative than I thought.

My Week 59: Real Christmas vs, Magazine Christmas, My Demon Spawn Vaccuum

Real Life Christmas versus Magazine Christmas

I love decorating magazines. I have subscriptions to at least three different ones, and every month, I pour through the pages for ideas. I’m a visual learner at heart—I can read text very quickly and easily. Currently, I’m making my way through David Mitchell’s new novel The Bone Clocks, which is approximately 500 pages, but about 200 pages too long. It was an interesting read until the second last chapter, when the rather regular narrative suddenly turned into Harry Potter, with characters having some kind of poorly explained magical battle, thusly:

“I aimed my psychosoteric mind laser beam at Lord Pfenninger’s subterranean psychic temple. He responded with a sonic blast from his hypcampus, while his minions snickered and began laying down suppressing mind bullets. I waved my magic wand and disapparated…”

Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but it got pretty ridiculous, and frankly J.K. Rowling does it much better. Anyway, back to decorating magazines. Christmas is coming up, so all the current editions are focused on Christmas decorating and festive parties. As I was gleefully devouring up the images, it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely unrealistic it all was. Sure, I know that everything’s staged, but this year it seems that every single house is owned by people who have no children, pets, food, and who apparently never sit down, judging from the fact that everything is WHITE. White walls, white furniture, white carpets, white Christmas trees, white deer heads hung above white fireplace mantles. What the hell is going on here? Magazine editors have become so intensely out of touch with how REAL people live that I started to view everything with an extremely critical eye. Here are some of the more bizarre statements and ideas that I came across:

  • A designer on his Christmas room design challenge: “I arrived upon this magical masculine scene by mixing patterns and textures with eclectic objects. While the palette and the furnishings are traditional, the vignette feels fresh, thanks to whimsical organic touches like the felt bird ornaments…and the pompom tree skirt.” Let me translate: “Nothing matches”. Also, “men like magicky things, and pompoms”. Someone should clue in this designer that real birds are organic; felt birds are things that kindergarten children make. Runner-up to this designer’s statement: “I like to mix traditional with modern, and pair maximalist notions with more restrained sculptural items.” Again, nothing matches, but this time it’s JUSSSST CRAZZZZY!
  • A page devoted to “choosing the perfect tree”. I don’t need a page of tips. This is how we pick a tree at my house:
    Ken: That one over there looks nice.
    Me: It’s too cold to walk that far. This one’s fine.
    Ken: But it’s missing half its branches.
    Me: That side can go against the wall. Hurry up, I’m freezing.
  • A decorating article on “Wrapping Pillows like a Present” to create a holiday feel. Screw that—I can’t even wrap PRESENTS like presents, let alone stupid accent pillows. If you’ve ever gotten a present from me, you might have thought at first that a toddler wrapped it. But the torn paper and scotch tape all over the place just reinforce how much I LOVE you. NOT that I’m super-uncoordinated and have unwieldy manhands.
  • “Fun Things To Do With Your Elf On A Shelf”. Here’s the most fun thing I can imagine—put it in the toilet and watch it grin maniacally as it tries not to drown. Keep swimming, Bjorn!
  • “Decorative pieces should change with the season”. Seriously? Who the hell has time to redecorate their entire house “with the season”? I think if you’ve got the kind of time to put everything in storage to make way for your holiday sh*t, then put all that away in January and completely redecorate AGAIN, you’re most likely neglecting other areas of your life. Like your children. Or personal hygiene.
  • A designer on a recent dinner party disaster: “Go with the flow. My copper garland broke, so I placed the beads across the dining table, and they looked pretty. ..it was a happy accident.” Absolutely. The next time I break a Christmas ornament, I will definitely strewn the dining table with the shards. Yes, my guests love to eat dinner amidst broken glass. Happy, happy.
  • Party tip a): “Always have a signature drink ready for your guests and hand it to them as they arrive.” We have a signature drink in my house—it’s called “alcohol”. When you arrive, you can have some of this tasty signature drink, or I can try to hunt you down a can of tonic water from the back of the bathroom closet. Party tip b): “The Fabulous 4-step appetizer”. I can do you one better—the Tasty 2-step appetizer. Step one, take a piece of cheese. Step two, put it on a cracker. For the adventurous, I also have the Throroughly 3-mendous Appetizer, where you can add a piece of kielbasa from the plate on the counter before the dog sneaks in and eats it all. Party tip c): “Consider your guests dietary restrictions.” I am the f*cking master at this. I can create a veritable feast for people who are gluten-free, vegetarian, piscaterian, lactose intolerant, who only eat chicken, who can’t eat spicy food, and who refuse to eat human food like rice, pasta, or most green vegetables because they (Dad) are just plain picky. I do this because I love them all so much. Which brings me to my last point:
  • Magazine cover: “128 Ideas for an amazing Christmas”. Here’s the deal—you don’t need 128 ideas. You don’t even need 1 idea. All you need is the people you love the most—dietary restrictions and all. Christmas isn’t about how beautiful and pristine your house is—it’s about the people in it.

My Dirt Devil is Demon Spawn

This week, I decided it was time I got a small vacuum cleaner. I’m a pretty good housekeeper, sweeping the floors and using a Swiffer wet mop when necessary, but face it—I like to do things the easy way. For example, I use Windex to clean just about every surface in my unit, but it’s a little too labour-intensive to spray window cleaner onto paper towels, so I buy the pre-soaked wipes. I’m putting crap into the landfill either way—why not give myself a break? So it occurred to me that if I could get a little vacuum, I could clean the floors AND the carpets all in one easy shot. Most of my condo is hardwood, but I have a couple of throw rugs, and both bedrooms have broadloom that, sad to say, have not been cleaned since the previous tenants moved out, and are looking rather lint-y. Canadian Tire was having a sale (because when is Canadian Tire NOT having a sale, which begs the question: How much do Lagostina pots ACTUALLY cost to make, if the regular price is $400, but they’re on special for $49.99?), so on Wednesday, I headed into Canada’s favourite department store. Or, the store named after Canada—and tires. I was planning on getting something very small, but the sale was so good that I convinced myself that a larger upright on sale for 50% off was the best choice. It was a Dust Devil. The very name should have sent up red flags that there might be issues. A series of problems ensued, the first of which was that the vacuum cleaner box was very large and heavy. I had to walk several blocks back to my condo, and I’ll be damned if I was going to pay $12 for a taxi to take me less than a kilometer. The cashier waved me over though, and said she could make me a handle out of plastic bags and duct tape. Red Green would have been proud (for my international readers, he was a character on Canadian television who, in keeping with proud Canadian ingenuity, could fix anything with duct tape). Handle created, I carried the box out of the store. 20 feet later, I realized that I had made a serious miscalculation in the box weight/arm strength ratio. But, by changing arms frequently, stopping to rest every 100 feet or so, and occasionally dragging the box along the sidewalk, I got back to my condo.

When I regained feeling in my arms, I opened the box and discovered that the vacuum needed several stages of assembly. I got out my magnifying glass to read the instructions, and after trying to follow the obscure illustrations for about 10 minutes, I just went with my gut instinct and slammed it all together with intuition and a Philips screwdriver. Finally, I was ready to clean. Little did I know that the Dirt Devil was indeed possessed by demon spawn.  I turned it on and it took off—after a few seconds of maneuvering it around, I realized that there were dents in the floor that hadn’t been there a couple of minutes prior. I got really nervous that the beater bar was trying to eat the floor, so I steered towards the Persian rug under my coffee table. Immediately, the fringe of the rug got sucked in and when I finally got the carpet extricated from the jaws of Satan, the binding and fringe were shredded. I was pissed off, but the thought of having to disassemble and return it was too daunting. I decided that if it could at least clean the broadloom in the bedrooms, I could justify keeping it. It took off on the bedroom rug like there were souls under the bed, sucking in the bedskirt at the same time. Then, when I swooshed it into the walk-in closet, it somehow managed to suck up the bootlace on one of my Doc Martens, and almost chewed the entire boot up in its devil jaws. I’d had enough. I turned it off, rescued my boot, and cast the damnable thing into the dark pit of my hall closet. My head was spinning (in that mentally exhausted way, not in that crazy Linda Blair/Exorcist way) from my demon battle. Maybe I should call a priest, just in case.