The Keys To Happiness

A few days ago, I was in the kitchen and I happened to look up at the really cute key holder on the wall that I’d made out of an old breadboard and antique keys to hold not-antique keys. My brow furrowed. “Ken!” I called. “Did you put all those keys on that lanyard and hang it on the key holder?”

Ken (yells back): Yes
Me: Well, what are they all for?
Ken: I don’t know.
Me: If you don’t know what they’re for, why did you put them all on the lanyard? Where did they all come from?
Ken: They were all just hanging on different hooks on the key board so I put them together.
Me: But you don’t know what they’re for.
Ken: Correct.
Me: So if you don’t know what they’re for, and we don’t use them, why didn’t you just throw them away?! What are you, some kind of key hoarder?
Ken: I am NOT a hoarder. They’re just nice keys and you never know when you might need one.

This is me holding the lanyard up to Ken and demanding to know what they’re for. In the picture, I have transformed into an angry elderly man and the lanyard is a two-dollar macrame plant holder, which is just about as useful as a multitude of mysterious keys.

There were 18 keys. We have 4 doors that require keys, so you’d think at least one of them would have fit at least one of the doors. You would, however, be incorrect. I took the systematic approach, and by that I mean at first, I carried all the keys around and tried them in the doors, but there were so many keys and doors that I lost track and couldn’t remember which ones I’d experimented with. So I took them all off the lanyard and lay them out on the counter in a straight line. Then Kate came in and identified three that were for the lab at her former university, which left 15 keys. I tried each key in each door and you know what happened? Again, none of them fit any door in our house.

Me: This is f*cking bullsh*t.
Ken: You sound like that guy at the brewery the other day.

And here’s a fun tangent. The other day, Ken and I went on a roadtrip to our antiques booth, and on the way back, we decided to stop for lunch at a local brewery that had outside seating. There was a foursome at the next picnic table, and we couldn’t help but overhear their conversation, which was an absolute cornucopia of epithets (and for the purpose of this conversation, I will be transcribing the swearing verbatim so there will be no asterisks):

Sweary Dude: If you fucking go to Scotland, they don’t fucking say ‘yes’ there. They say fucking ‘aye’.
Woman: Really?
SD: Fucking right. So you better be fucking prepared because they say ‘aye’ a fucking lot. And I was fucking talking to Pete the other day, that fucking German guy…

So Ken and I discussed the use of the word f*ck and what parts of speech it could be substituted for: noun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition…

Ken: Can you use it as a pronoun?
Me: Only if you say f*cker. Like ‘F*cker ordered another beer.’ It can also be used as an interjection. Do you remember Schoolhouse Rocks?

And that led us down a rabbit hole of 1970s animated linguistic cartoons, culminating in Ken’s favourite, Mr. Morton, which is about predicates: “Mr. Morton talked to his cat (‘Hey Cat, you look good’), Mr. Morton talked.” Because Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence, and what the predicate says, he does. At the end of the song, Mr. Morton gets the girl, Pearl, and they get married. It’s very sweet, and there is not a single use of the word f*ck in the entire cartoon, as one would hope.

Hey Cat, you look good.

At any rate, I myself was quite sweary after putting 15 keys into 4 separate locks and discovering that none of them opened any door in my house.

Ken: Maybe they were for other locks, like ones we’ve replaced.
Me: We’ve lived here for 16 years. We’ve replaced the locks on ALL the doors. Why do we have 16-year old keys??!!
Ken: We could make a craft with them.
Me: Or we could throw them away. The last craft we made with keys is still sitting in our antiques booth because no one wants NEW KEYS.

So I threw them all away. But you just know that next week, we’re going to find a padlock or something that we hadn’t even thought of, and now we won’t have a key for it, or one of you will be like “Here’s a cool thing you can do with new keys” but now they’re gone. F*ck! That’s an interjection.

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.

Getting Rusty

I’ve been feeling a little tired lately for a variety of reasons—I’m getting older, the days are getting shorter, but mostly because I ran out of iron pills. “So why don’t you buy more?” I hear you ask, and while you’d think that would be an easy solution, it’s apparently not, because I’ve gone to three drugstores in my area and none of them sell the iron I like. No, they’re NOT gummies, unlike all my other vitamins and supplements, but they do come in a soothing green and gold bottle from a brand that I get regular grocery store points with. But for some reason, all the iron is currently behind the counter, causing me to have conversations with pharmacists who are guarding it zealously, as if the conspiracy theorists are spreading around the rumour that sticking iron pills in a blender and then giving yourself an enema with them will cure you of Covid (it won’t, and please don’t tell people that you’re doing an iron cleanse because mydangblog told you to):

Me: Where’s all the iron?
Pharmacist: Back here with the narcotics.
Me: OK, weird. But I need some.
Pharmacist: Did your doctor prescribe it?
Me: No. You don’t need a prescription for iron.
Pharmacist: Well, did he tell you to take it?
Me: No! Can I just have some iron? Here’s the kind I normally take. (shows picture on my phone)
Pharmacist: Well, I don’t have that kind. Here, this is the same.

So that night, I took the new iron pill with my glucosamine, and only AFTER did I look at the bottle:

Me: Holy sh*t. I think I’ve made a dreadful error in judgement.
Ken: What’s wrong? Did you apply to that acting job at the Hallowe’en farm?
Me: No, I just took one of those new iron pills. My old ones were 28 milligrams each and this one is 300 milligrams! Am I going to rust?! Am I magnetic now? (googles ‘What happens if you take too much iron?’) Oh my god, it says here that taking more than 40 mg of iron a day can lead to organ failure, seizures and, death! I haven’t even retired yet!!

I went to bed that night terrified, and then I couldn’t sleep because I’d taken so much iron that I wasn’t tired. So to amuse myself, I surfed Facebook Marketplace and found these weird ads:

Ad that says We don't fish anymore

Of all the public announcements you could make, this is the strangest. Apparently Werner, at the age of 65, has become a vegetarian, or has given up being a pescatarian, or just wants to give the fish a chance, and felt the need to tell the world, as one does. He doesn’t look very happy about his decision, and I wonder if the “we” was really just his wife who was like “Werner. I hate fishing. We are no longer fisherfolk,” and Werner was like “But I love fishing,” and his wife was like “Not anymore you don’t.” Still, if we’re posting random angry proclamations on FB Marketplace, look for an ad of me looking super-pissed off with the caption “I JUST TOOK TOO MUCH IRON”. But I wish poor old Werner the best of luck in his new, non-fishing life.

Ad that says Free Bees

Hard pass. I don’t care if they’re free; in fact, how would you even SELL bees? Like a nickel a piece, or 5 bucks for a…(googles ‘What is a group of bees called?’ Swarm, Cluster, Bike, Ball, Colony—there are a LOT of names for bees)…bushel? But I don’t want bees—they’re sting-y little f*ckers and I’m sure they’re just as happy as I am that we have a long-distance relationship.

Ad that says Small Child Box

How small do you think children ARE? And is that a ladybug or a face with giant polka-dotted ears? See, now that I’ve said it, you can’t unsee it. Either way, I’m not interested in it even if it’s free because that box is NOT big enough to store a child, even a small child. Now, a bushel of bees might fit…

That’s The Entrepreneurial Spirit

As some of you may be aware, I’m retiring from the secret agency at the end of September which, by my count (not that I’m counting) is eight work days away. And while I love my job, I’m still happy to be finally entering my golden years. But the problem is, I’m incredibly worried that I’ll be bored. Yes, I know I have some books to write, and there’s the antique booth to keep stocked, and weekly submissions from the literary magazine that I volunteer with to read, but there are still a lot of hours in the day, and if you know me at all, you know I HATE being bored. I recently signed up to a couple of online job sites, looking for something fun and part-time, you know, but all they send me are either things that will be as, if not more, demanding than my current position, or sound boring AF. And they keep asking “Are you qualified for this position?” like how the hell should I know, and why are you sending me jobs where speaking Italian is a prerequisite? Today’s crop included a lot of jobs involving math, and isn’t their faith in my numeracy skills adorable?

Ken: So the guy at the tree nursery said he’d sell the Lions Club 50 trees for 1000 dollars.
Me: That’s a good deal, like…$20 a tree. Hey, I just did math in my head! I’m really good at math!
Ken: Yes. Yes, you are, honey.
Me (pulls out phone): Where’s that ad for the part-time accountant?

Also, there was a faculty position to teach Introduction To Neuropsychology, but I think to take a job like that, you need to know what neuropsychology is aside from ‘weird brain stuff’. There WAS an intriguing post for ‘Collections Specialist’ and I was thrilled for a minute because, as you know, I collect a LOT of things, but it’s actually just a euphemism for shaking down people over the phone to get them to pay their debts, and I’ve never seen the word ‘delinquent’ used so much in one ad. Ultimately, I think I need to give up on these sites, because I never know what the jobs are, and I spent a lot of time the other day coming up with various configurations of meats, cheeses, and condiments to demonstrate my creativity, only to discover that “Sub Stack Developer” was not quite what I imagined it to be.

But I’m not a quitter, so I’ve decided to use my entrepreneurial spirit and come up with my own jobs, positions that are a LOT more fun than “Mobile Truck and Coach Technician” or “Procurement Operations Specialist” (which is code for professional kidnapper, obviously):

1) Travel Advisor

This is not the same thing as a travel agent. No, what I’ll be doing is using my extensive experience as Queen of Worst Case Scenarios to help people who are thinking of travelling:

Client: So I’d like to go hiking.
Me: Terrible idea.
Client: But I really want to go.
Me: Fine. Don’t stand on the edge of any cliffs.
Client: Ooh, good thinking.
Me: And don’t clamber around on rocks. Your ankle could get caught in between two of them, and then you’d have to chew your leg off. Also, get some bear spray.
Client: Excellent advising. Here is fifty dollars.

2) Boredom Specialist

Me: I see that you are the Synergy Group, Boring Division. I’m here to help you spice things up.
Guy working on my street: That’s not what that means.
Me: So your division isn’t boring?
Guy: Well, yes. It IS boring, but–
Me: Then you definitely need my help. I suggest a clown costume, the bigger and redder the nose the better. Also, two words—glitter cannon.
Guy: Lady, leave me alone. I need to do boring.
Me: Fine. Be boring. But don’t say I didn’t try. And on that note, you owe me fifty bucks.

3) Pet Detective

I actually saw that job title come up the other day, and I was super excited at the idea of combining two of my favourite things–solving mysteries and pets. And this was even better because it was solving mysteries ABOUT pets. The position involved ‘striking up conversations and sharing stories with fellow pet owners about their animals’ and it sounded EXACTLY like what a good detective would do:

Me (striking up conversation): Hello. Might I ask you a couple of questions?
Pet Owner: Why certainly.
Me: (holds up photograph): Have you seen this cat anywhere? Her name is Miss Whiskers McGee. She was last seen in the company of your bulldog.
Bulldog (running): You’ll never take me alive!
Pet Owner: Bowzer! What have you done?!

And I had just gone through the closet and found one of Ken’s old fedoras and a trenchcoat when Ken pointed out that the job was with the Blue Buffalo Pet Food Company and that ‘Pet Detective’ was a glorified pet food salesperson and I was like “How in the name of Nancy Drew is that doing detective work?!” But then the other day, our neighbour’s cat escaped from their breezeway and they asked us to help find her. We didn’t–she was hiding in their basement ceiling–but if it happens again, I’m definitely wearing the fedora and trenchcoat. In the meantime, though, the search for something interesting and fun continues. I’ll keep you posted.

Rendezvous With Destiny

A few years ago, Ken and I bought kayaks. I’d been watching the Canadian Tire flyers for weeks, waiting for a sale, until finally, they dropped the price on the model we wanted by $100 apiece, making them very reasonable. So I called Ken, and we agreed (after he refused to take time off work and go first thing in the morning because he’s just mean) that we would get them the next night. I was worried that they’d all be sold out, but luckily we were able to get one for each of us. Then the problems started. Our neighbour had had his kayaks stolen from behind his cottage, where they were CHAINED UP, so how were we supposed to retain possession of ours when they were just either sitting on our trailer or lying on our lawn? Ken didn’t share my fear of kayak thieves, which just made things worse, because he insisted on driving places with them, and leaving them unattended while we did stuff like grocery shopping or going to restaurants. And there they were, in the trailer, like shining green beacons of adventure-ness, secured only by a rope and a couple of knots. Here’s a sample of one of the MANY conversations we had about the kayaks:

Me: We can’t just GO into Staples. We have the kayaks on the trailer. Someone could take them.
Ken: No one’s going to take them. It’s broad daylight.
Me: Some of these people look really sketchy. Don’t park next to the guy with the pick-up truck!!
Ken: Right. Because he’s going to untie the kayaks, put them in his truck, and drive away BEFORE we come back out from buying labels.
Me: He looks like he enjoys water sports, KEN…What about those guys over there?
Ken: They have bicycles. What do you think, they’re going to tie them onto their bikes like a pontoon?
Me: It could happen. Stop mocking me.

You can replace the word “Staples” with “Zehrs”, “Canadian Tire”, the gluten-free bakery in Paris, and the Lighthouse Restaurant in Port Burwell, because we dragged that trailer around with us for a few days before we even put the kayaks into the water. Despite my worries though, no one stole off with them in the night. Or in the parking lot. Then on the weekend, we finally had the chance to try them out. We took them down to the Otter Creek and carried them to the water. Ken steadied my kayak so I could get in. It wobbled from side to side and I sat there, feeling panic rising but while Ken was getting himself sorted out, I tried a few hesitant manoeuvres, and started to feel more balanced. As I turned around to tell Ken I thought this might be OK, he stepped into his kayak. As he settled himself into the seat, the kayak wobbled one way—he tried to re-balance but overcompensated and TIPPED HIMSELF RIGHT INTO THE CREEK.

I yelled, “Oh sh*t! Ken!” but all he could do was flail around in the water, his hands on the creek bottom, trying to extricate himself from the kayak shouting, “Cold!! So cold!!” as he struggled to stand up (luckily, we were only in about two feet of water at the time). Thankfully, he had put his wallet, cell phone, and camera into a ziplock bag, but it was now floating downstream along with his paddle. “Get the bag and the paddle!” he cried, and I was like, “Me? You’re kidding, right?” I had just seen my beloved husband, who was MUCH better than me at both watersports and balancing, dump himself into a freezing creek—how was I supposed to start chasing down his stuff if it meant having to lean over the side of the kayak to get them?

But then my desire to get a picture of all this chaos outweighed my fear, and I needed his camera to do that, and that doesn’t make me mercenary, just practical. Anyway, he managed to get upright, and pulled his kayak out of the water. Then there was the problem of DRAINING the kayak, which was full of water. Well, I guess people must capsize this particular brand of kayak A LOT because we discovered that there was a plug in the prow, specifically designed for draining. But there was a silver lining to all of this, because while I was waiting for Ken to recover, and get all the water out of his kayak, I had a chance to paddle around and get more comfortable.

And now I’m having déjà vu because last weekend, we went kayaking, again on the Otter Creek. Now that we’re both kayak pros, it was a beautiful trip, but then the unbelievable happened when we pulled the kayaks out of the water:

Ken: My camera!
Me: What?
Ken: The ziplock bag fell out of my pocket! Quick, get me a paddle!

Me: I TOLD you to wear your fanny pack!

But it was too late. The ziplock bag, and in it, the exact camera he had almost lost a few years ago, bobbed downstream with the quick current, then disappeared. Almost like it was meant to be, like we had unfinished business with the Otter Creek. It wasn’t one of his good cameras, and he’d cleared the SD card out the week before, so all we were missing was pictures of me in the kayak and some trees and clouds. Luckily, we already have lots of those.

Alternatively Speaking

On Friday night, Kate and I were watching a show called What If, the premise of which is that Marvel has pretty much exhausted the ubiquitous iterations of its universe and in order to keep generating income, has resorted to a fantasy-like series that asks things like, “What if the dude from Black Panther was the dude from Guardians of the Galaxy instead?” or “What if Groot was a raccoon and instead of saying ‘I am Groot’, all he said was ‘I am Raccoon”?

Me: I have one. What about “What if Spiderman was bit by a badger instead, and then he would be Badgerman?
Kate: That’s ridiculous.
Me: No it’s not—think about it. Badgers can climb and they’re lightning quick. I bet they could catch thieves better than a spider could. Ooh, it says on google that their favourite food is earthworms. Badgerman, Badgerman, catches thieves just like worms, look out! Here comes the Badgerman.
Kate: Is his wife named Honey?
Me: Obviously, KATE.

And here’s another one: what if Batman and Robin were a couple?

Robin: Where are you going?
Batman: The bat signal is all lit up and whatnot.
Robin: Always with the damn bat signal. What about me?!
Batman: Here’s fifty dollars. Go buy yourself something pretty and I’ll take you out for dinner after I kill Superman.
Robin (under his breath): Like that’s going to happen.

Or…what if Aquaman couldn’t breathe underwater?

Aquaman: Help! (gurgles) Help!

It was a very short episode. But why have I been so bored that I’m inventing alternative superhero universes? Because Ken just got a new job. But wait, I hear you ask. Didn’t he just retire? Isn’t he supposed to be devoting all his energy to rebuilding the side porch? And the answer to both those questions would be yes. However, the other night he came skipping into the kitchen, very pleased with himself, because the local hot air balloon company—yes, THE LOCAL HOT AIR BALLOON COMPANY—had seen his application for ‘ground crew’ and he had a trial run the next morning at 6 am.

Me: Ok, but promise me you won’t get your foot tangled in the rope and then get dragged halfway across the countryside dangling in the air before falling into a pond.
Ken: I think maybe you saw that in a movie. But there are other people to untangle me if that happens.
Me: IF? You mean WHEN!

So the next morning, he left for his new job, and I lay in bed stressing that he might float away, or that the other balloon guys might be mean to him, or that he would get lost taking one of his ‘shortcuts’, or any number of other worst case scenarios. Of course, none of that happened, and he came home excited because the owner had given him the balloon handbook and now he was an official member of the crew, which meant twice a day, weather permitting, he helps set up the balloon, chases it in the crew van, then packs it away. And while he’s enjoying his new-found employment, I’m feeling the pressure to get a cool new job too when I retire in 3 weeks, especially since I reached out to James Gunn about my idea for a Suicide Squad sequel featuring my superhero Heavy Metal, and he has yet to respond. Alternatively, maybe something where I get to drive a forklift…


It’s All Filler

(Ken: It takes a while for this post to get funny.
Me: But it DOES get funny. Do you think I need to add a warning or something?
Ken: Maybe. Also, you need a transition between the story and the Facebook ad.
Me: Oh stop.)

On Friday, I went to see my orthopedic surgeon. It was the first time I’d actually met him in person or even gone to his office, thanks to covid lockdown. But he seemed nice on the phone, and when I’d called recently, the very pleasant receptionist gave me an appointment within the month. And since things have been getting progressively worse and I’m in constant pain, I was pretty relieved.

But when I walked into the office, I was a bit baffled. It was attached to a gym (for physiotherapy I presume) and the waiting room was packed with people. But there were a couple of other doctors’ names listed on the receptionist’s window, so after checking in, I sat in the last chair available. My appointment was for 12:45, but by 1:00 there was no sign of anyone, which isn’t that unusual, but my family doctor is ALWAYS on time, so I guess I’m spoiled. “Looks like they’re running behind,” I said the woman next to me. “What time is your appointment?”

Woman: 12:30.
Me: Oh dang. I guess mine might be a while.
Other woman across the room: Mine’s at 12:30 too.
Man next to me: So’s mine.

And they were ALL with the same surgeon. Around 1:15, a bunch of people came out and the surgeon came to the door and called the next three people in. 20 minutes later, they all came out, and he called my name, along with two other people. We all tromped in, and after another 5 minutes, he came into my treatment room. “So what’s going on?” he asked. I explained the situation:

Me: And I think the issue is being exacerbated by sitting in front of a computer all day. But I’m retiring at the end of September, so I was hoping you could give me a cortisone shot, just to get me through the next month.
Surgeon: Yeah sure. Go into the next room. By the way, it’ll be 30 dollars.

But I didn’t care about the money—I’d gone through more than that amount in Advil in the last couple of weeks. So I followed him into another room, where he grabbed a big-ass needle, filled it up, pulled the sleeve of my top off my shoulder and jammed the needle in as far as it would go. “It might hurt for a couple of days. See you.” And with that, he was gone to the next patient.

When I got home, I told Ken about it.

Me: And then he just jammed the collagen into my shoulder.
Ken: You mean the cortisone?
Me: What did I say?
Ken: You said collagen.

And I realized that every time I thought about it in my head, I had said ‘collagen’ to myself instead of ‘cortisone’ and then I had a horrifying feeling that maybe I actually HAD asked for collagen. I mean, the place seemed like some back alley clinic you’d hear about on that show Botched, so what are odds that he had just pumped me up with filler? I could imagine him at home later, talking to his wife during their 5-minute dinner:

Surgeon: Weirdest case today. Woman wanted collagen in her shoulder.
Wife: That IS weird. Did you do it?
Surgeon: Thirty bucks is thirty bucks. Gotta go. Thanks for dinner, dessert and the sex.

And now I’m mad at myself for wasting a valuable opportunity. I mean, I could have had my cheeks done, my lips done, gotten rid of those fine lines around my mouth, but no—I had to say ‘shoulder’. No wonder it feels so puffy and still hurts. But it looks REALLY smooth.

Me: Ooh, I really like that chair.
Seller: Yes, it’s very stylish.
Chair: Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt, thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Me: What’s wrong with it?
Seller: Nothing. It’s just a little theatrical.
Me: Cool. I’ll take it.
Chair: I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.
Me: Awesome. Let’s go.
Chair: We can’t.
Me: Why not?
Chair: We’re waiting for Godot.
Me: Don’t be absurd.

We’ll Always Have Paris

For a long time, I’ve been obsessed with vintage paintings of Paris. You may have seen the type I’m referring to, the impressionistic ones that look really drippy and weird from up close, but from far away begin to resemble a street full of shops and cafes, with people strolling along, and the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe in the background. I adore them—they’re not expensive and whenever I’m feeling down, I look at one and imagine myself wandering down a rainy Paris rue, and it makes me feel better. The problem is, Ken hates them:

Me: Ooh, look! A Paris painting!
Ken: You already have 10 of the damn things. No more!
Me: But this one would be perfect for my bathroom…

So now, if I see one, I have to promise I’m only buying it to resell it. Which I’ve done a couple of times, but apparently there aren’t many other people as obsessed with Paris paintings as I am, because they tend to sit in my antiques booth for a while. But last weekend, I was in the midst of rearranging furniture in the hope of turning the alcove in our bedroom into a “reading nook”, when it suddenly occurred to me that a Paris painting was exactly what the nook needed, and I knew exactly where to find one. In fact, a painting of the perfect size had been languishing in my booth for several months and I was planning on going there last Sunday afternoon to put some fresh stock in. “This is perfect,” I thought to myself. “I’ll bring it home with me.”

When I arrived, the owner greeted me enthusiastically at the door. “Guess what!” he exclaimed jovially. “You just sold those two Paris paintings, you know, the ones that have been here for months. Literally half an hour ago—you just missed it!”

“No!” I gasped. He looked confused, both of us being in the “selling of things” business, so I had to explain my lack of excitement.

“Never mind,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll find another one.”

The very next day, I did. And it broke my heart.

I was at Goodwill, a charity shop, after work on Monday to drop off some odds and ends from the alcove mentioned above. I was helping the girl unload my car, when suddenly a man sauntered past us through the parking lot. He was CARRYING A PARIS PAINTING. And it was a beautiful one, in an antique frame. I could see the Arc de Triomphe from where I stood, stunned and speechless, box of knick knacks in hand. I cannot accurately convey the sense of horror I felt as I watched him get in his car and drive away, knowing that if I’d been there half an hour earlier AGAIN, the painting would have been mine.

And because I’m a grown-ass woman, I didn’t cry, although I badly wanted to. No, I did what any normal person would do—I called Ken:

Me: The universe hates me! I just missed out on a gorgeous Paris painting by like half an hour!
Ken: Hahahahaha!
Me: Why are you laughing?!

I tell you all of this not to elicit sympathy—in fact, you’re probably thinking Ken was right to laugh, and I really don’t need another painting of a city I’ve never been to—but that’s not the point. The point is, in fact, that the universe is taunting me, and I don’t know why.

Here are some thoughts:

1. The universe hates me.
2. The universe hates Paris.
3. The universe agrees with Ken that I have enough paintings of Paris.
4. The universe doesn’t care about me at all, and things are just random.

But then, as I was writing this on Saturday morning, I happened to glance up and realized that in an obscure corner of my office, there was a small Paris painting hanging there, and wouldn’t it be better placed in the new reading nook than tucked away in a spot where Ken can’t see it? See, I’m nothing if not thoughtful, and maybe the universe loves me after all.

Quilt Update: My wonderful neighbour finished the quilt I had begged her to help me with and it’s gorgeous–Ken and I presented it to Kate, for whom it was always intended, and she loves it. All my neighbour wanted in exchange for her labour and skill was a donation to the local foodbank so I made a big one in her name. And I also bought her a gift card to the liquor store as a personal thank you, because I can imagine after all that sewing, she needs a drink. I sure did.

Heavy Metal

You may remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about needing an MRI and the surgeon asking me if I had any metal in my body. I ran through a mental catalogue, at which point, after having made a detour into a delightful reverie about becoming a human forklift, I determined that I was metal-free. I had carefully considered the surgeries I’d had over the years, and I assumed if a surgeon had left any metal in me, I would know it by now and therefore could enter the MRI tunnel without any worries.

I was WRONG. I am FULL OF METAL.

And how did I arrive at this horrifying conclusion? Well, I recently had an abdominal X-ray for another, completely unrelated matter, and on Thursday, I was able to access the report through the radiology clinic dashboard. It was pretty humdrum, and I was getting more than a little miffed once again at the liberal use of the term “unremarkable” (although I was pleased to note that my lungs are apparently “well-aerated”) when it said this: Cholecystectomy clips noted. I was like “What the f*ck is a chole-thingy?” so I googled it, and it’s when you have your gall bladder removed, and I did that about 15 years ago. I realize I’ve just made it sound like I reached into my own abdominal cavity and pulled it out myself, and if that did indeed happen, you will note that I would have accompanied the pulling out of my gall bladder with a flourish and the words Abracadabra, but a surgeon did it, and he was a terrible magician. And I KNOW this because in the same way that a terrible magician would accidentally sit on the top hat and kill his rabbit, this person left METAL CLIPS inside my body. I’ve been setting off the airport security alarms for years and telling them it was MY BELT when, in fact, I am a human IED.

These are my insides

According to my research, there are different kinds of clips for this—some dissolve and some are permanent, but the issue is that no one even asked me if I wanted to become a cyborg, and normally I would have said YES, but in this case, there’s no upside—I mean, it’s nothing AT ALL like having forklift arms, and I was initially very upset (not to mention worried that the MRI maybe dislodged them, and now I was being slowly stabbed to death from the inside), but then we went to see the new Suicide Squad movie. There was a variety of new characters, including a guy called Polka Dot Man, who could shoot polka dots out of his body and eviscerate people with them. Polka dots are a stupid weapon, but you know what’s not? METAL CLIPS. So now I’m going to write to James Gunn and suggest that, for the Suicide Squad sequel, there should be a new character introduced. Her name is Heavy Metal and her superpower is shooting sharp pieces of steel out of her body:

Criminal: Who the hell are you?!
Heavy Metal: My name is Heavy Metal, loser.
Criminal: You look rather unremarkable to me.
Heavy Metal: Prepare to die.