My Week 252: Outdoor Living, Jason Says Goodbye

Recently Ken and I had our 29th anniversary, and we decided to buy some outdoor furniture for the porch Ken is putting on the front of the house. It’s almost finished and it looks great, but if we’re going to use it, we need somewhere to sit. And here’s the first thing I discovered—patio furniture is REALLY f*cking expensive. Apparently, they’re all made of some kind of weird resin now that are supposed to last forever and costs a fortune. Well, if I’m not going to be buried with it, I really don’t see the point. The second thing I discovered is that Ken has no sense of humour, because whenever we’re in a store and the salesperson asked if we need help, I say, in an Irish accent, “I’m looking for Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture” and Ken never even cracks a smile. I mean, who WOULDN’T find that funny? The salespeople always laugh VERY heartily as they try to offload their outrageously costly goods onto us. On Saturday afternoon, Ken and I went out to see if there were any sales on:

Ken: I really don’t see the point in spending exuberant amounts of money on porch furniture.
Me: I think you mean ‘exorbitant’.
Ken: Huh?
Me: It’s not ‘exuberant’. That means, like, REALLY happy.
Ken: OK, but if you did decide to spend that much on patio furniture, you’d have to be pretty happy about it.
Me: HERE IS ALL MY MONEY! WHEEE!! Ah, I see what you mean.

We made our way to Lowes, where they were having a terrific sale, and then we met Roger, who sweetened the deal by allowing us a ‘scratch and save’ card even though the furniture we wanted was on clearance. We ended up getting a very good deal, so while it wasn’t exorbitant, it WAS exuberant.

And it seems like everyone is trying to spruce up their property right now, which brings me to the point of this seemingly mundane exploration of a particular Saturday morning in the hell that is a Canadian summer. 32 degrees Celsius, 45 with the humidex as the weather experts like to remind us. (Saturday was also K’s 21st birthday, so we all went out to an outdoor paintball place with the lovely V and her family, which is how you should ALWAYS spend three hours in extremely hot weather. I did not ‘paintball’—I was the official photographer, and I was still on the verge of heatstroke. But Happy Birthday, K—you’re the best child a mother could ask for.)

Anyway, as I’ve been driving around town, I’ve had the chance to notice some of the strange lawn ornaments that people like to decorate their yards with. Personally, I love garden statuary, and we have a few around the property, but it’s a full acre so they’re not overwhelming like some places I’ve seen where there’s a gnome every two feet. Here are a few things that I’ve seen lately though that really generate more questions than answers:

1) The Godfather Flower Bed

Let me make you an offer you can’t refuse.

I mean, what kind of horse farm IS this? Can you imagine the conversation that must have inspired this particular outdoor motif?

Horse Dude: Hey, I was thinking about the best way to advertise our horse farm.
Horse Lady: A statue of a horse?
Horse Dude: No. Just the head. People will know we mean business.
Horse Woman: Eccellente!

2) The Ozzy Osbourne Collection

Is that a bat or a dove?

I saw a woman buying one of these at Home Depot. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it look like she’s about to bite the head off that bird?! And like she’s already done it a few times already? Put her next to the horse head—she’ll be right at home.

3) The Rainbow Rooster

Cock-a-doodle-doo.

We saw this 6 foot tall fellow outside a house on a back country road. What would possess someone to put the Kellogg’s Corn Flake Rooster on their lawn? I like cereal as much as the next person, but I certainly have no interest in having a giant leprechaun greet our visitors. But if I DID have a giant leprechaun, guess what I would name him? That’s right. Paddy. Paddy O’Furniture. Man, that never gets old.

As I said, Ken and I have several pieces of garden statuary around the property: there’s Harry the Heron, who stands by our back door, a statue of Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream underneath a shaded arbour in the back, and a small black cat, curled up and sleeping, that we put on the bench over Raven’s grave. But I think my favourite piece of garden art is definitely “Dog in a Box”:

 

Jason Says Goodbye

You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Jason Momoa and how his cardboard likeness had been watching over us at our secret location. But now it seems that maybe Aquaman himself was responsible for all the water mishaps we’d been having  because last Wednesday, the skies opened, and a torrential rain flooded the building. We literally had to evacuate over 800 people because water was shooting up like geysers out of the drains and it was dangerously close to all the electrical stuff. In addition, the parking lot flooded and my car was one aisle over from floating away. We put Jason up on a table out of harm’s way, where he stood watching us enigmatically. Or was it SMUGLY, like a god toying with his creations? At any rate, the next day, my colleague came in, quietly packed Jason into his box and took him home. Personally, I’ll miss his calm presence, but I won’t miss his watery antics.

 

My Week 250: WWJD, A Special Day

Yesterday, I was driving to the secret agency’s offsite location in Mississauga. I had just gotten off the highway and turned onto the service road approaching the site when suddenly, some kind of liquid gushed onto my accelerator foot. I was immediately freaked out, as one would be, but because I was driving in traffic, I couldn’t look to see what it was so I had to suffer the terrors of my imagination for at least two minutes, during which it occurred to me that the liquid might be a) the blood of a small rodent who had just died in my dashboard b) the urine of a bat that was living in my dashboard or c) me leaking in some way. When I pulled into the parking lot, I tentatively pulled my foot out and looked at it. Water. There was water on my foot. Where it came from, I had no f*cking clue, but suffice it to say that I was disturbed by this aquatic turn of events. Then I thought “Aquatic? Wait…could it be?!”

Hello again, ladies.

Yes. It could. You might recall that, a few weeks ago, a colleague had a birthday and she—well, all of us were all gifted with a life-size, cardboard Jason Momoa. And guess who had arrived at our secret location yesterday? That’s right—Aquaman himself. I walked into our temporary office and there he was in the corner in his bespoke suit, a lei draped casually around his neck, like a giant cardboard guardian angel sent to watch over us all. And then it all made sense:

1) On Wednesday, the water dispenser ran out of drinking water. Well, Aquaman needs to stay moist. The rest of us mortals will just have to suffer on occasion.

2) On Thursday, we went out for a quick lunch. On the way back, despite the sun and heat, we were caught in a sudden rainshower. I was initially angry, because I don’t dry well, but then I realized that it was just Jason, pouring his love down on us.

3) On Friday morning, there was the water on my foot. Despite my initial shock, I now understand that it was a blessing from Jason, welcoming me back to work in the way that only Aquaman can.

4) On Friday afternoon, the skies opened up and the rain came down like a monsoon. The building we’re in is known for flooding easily, and everyone was panicking, but Jason just smiled his enigmatic smile and the rain eventually stopped. The only damage was to the car of a colleague who had left all his windows down and was now faced with soaked upholstery. Well, Jason tried to warn him.

WWJD? Close the car windows.

And it’s so helpful having him onsite. Yesterday, someone asked me a question:

Colleague: So what should we do?
Me: Hmmm. WWJD?
Colleague: What would Jesus do?
Me: No, Jason. What would Jason do?
Colleague: Ah!

WWJD, my friends.

I’m A Terrible Audience But Ken’s A Good Listener.

It’s true. I’m really terrible at listening to other people’s stories sometimes, because I have random thoughts that get in the way. I have family members who get really frustrated when people (ie: me) interrupt them to ask questions, or clarify a point, and they will sometimes just give up (ie: scream “Oh for God’s sake, never mind!). Luckily, Ken is used to this, and has no storytelling ego. He will just patiently address my thoughts and questions, then get back to his story. For example, in the car the other day:

Ken: …and then we all went to the RARE Slit Barn—
Me: Is that a STRIP CLUB?!
Ken: No, it’s a nature preserve funded by a charity called RARE. A slit barn has vertical slits in it for ventilation—
Me: Ha! It SOUNDS like an exclusive strip club, like “Then we all went to the Rare Slit Barn, had a drink and a lap dance…
Ken: So anyway, they had students there who were training as interpreters—
Me: What, like for sign language? Was everyone hearing impaired? I’d love to learn sign language…
Ken: No, NATURE interpreters. To teach other people about the nature preserve—
Me: That would ALSO be a great name for a strip club: The Nature Preserve…
Ken: It was incredible how professional the students were. Everyone learned a lot.
Me: Slit Barn. That’s awesome.
Ken: Sigh.

But Ken? Unfortunately, he’s a very good listener:

Ken: Hey, Pete just posted a picture of the commemorative stone he bought for the new Lions’ Club Splashpad. It has the name of the pub engraved on it.
Me: Cool. Did we buy a commemorative stone?
Ken: Of course.
Me: Nice. What does ours say?
Ken: ‘Slippery When Wet.’
Me: WHAT?! It does NOT!
Ken: That’s what you said you wanted.
Me: I WAS KIDDING!
Ken: You were? Too late now.

Aquaman would be proud. Happy 29th Anniversary, Ken. I love you.

My Week 246: Buttons and Bones

Every so often, my parents give me a tin of Quality Street chocolates. I’m not a particularly big chocolate eater, so I put it on the table in my office next to the little antique box I have full of chocolate squares, chocolate eggs, and Lindors. Why do I have so much chocolate if I don’t really eat it myself, you ask? Because a lot of other people REALLY like chocolate. It’s useful for so many things. For example, it ensures that people drop by and see me regularly just to “steal a chocolate” (although it’s not really stealing if I’m constantly saying “help yourself”), and I appreciate the company AND the momentary distraction. Also, after you’ve asked someone in the IT department to do you a favour and they’ve done it WITHOUT making you “log a ticket”, it’s really nice to offer them a chocolate reward in return for their help (and oh my god, I will never be able to say ‘log a ticket’ with a straight face ever because all I can think of is that it’s an awesome euphemism for using the bathroom, like “I just need to pop out of this meeting for a moment to log a ticket”). Finally, chocolate is fantastic for when someone is ticked off with you:

Colleague: Did you forget to review that very important document that I sent you?!
Me: Would you care for a Lindor? They’re filled with raspberry cream. Now what were you saying?
Colleague: I…mmm, they’re delicious.
Me: They are, aren’t they? Now, if you could just excuse me for a moment—I need to log a ticket.

Quality Street chocolates are very popular. In fact, on Thursday, someone from another floor ran past my door on his way to do something apparently important, but then he doubled back, darted into my office and grabbed a handful of Quality Streets. As he left, he waved the fistful of chocolates at me and said, “I love coming up here!” And it made me really happy. What didn’t make me happy though was that there were only a few chocolates left in the tin and when I transferred them into my other little chocolate box, I was left with—you guessed it—a large empty tin. What the f*ck do you do with an empty tin? It’s like Schrodinger’s Container—it’s simultaneously too useful to throw away AND too useless to keep. Which explains why every button in the world is kept in a tin. You all know I’m right. In fact, if you ever give anyone a tin of Quality Street chocolates, the first thing they say is, “Are there really chocolates in here or is this just a tin of buttons and sewing supplies?”

Nana’s buttons

The first tin I ever remember seeing was also a Quality Street tin. It did NOT contain chocolate. It contained the entirety of my great-grandmother’s button collection. Why did people collect buttons? I don’t know. But there were hundreds of buttons in that tin, and I spent many a pleasurable childhood hour sorting them by colour and size. I still have that tin in my cupboard. So when my Quality Street tin was empty, I took it to the kitchen at work with a note on it: “Free—great for buttons or sewing supplies”. So maybe, 50 years down the road, another woman will be saying “Why the f*ck did Nana have this many buttons?!”

Living Your Best Life

Which of these people is living their best life? Leave your vote in the comments below:

1) Me

This week, one of my colleagues had a birthday and another member of the team got her a life-size cardboard Jason Momoa which she put in her cubicle facing towards the door. I got to see him every day and he was VERY lifelike. Someone put a lei around his neck and we all pretended that he was saying “Aloha” to us every time we came into the office.

Aloha, ladies.

2) OR This Guy

A man was arrested this week for stripping naked and swimming in the shark tank at Ripley’s Aquarium. Right before that, he had started a fight at Medieval Times—I don’t know if he challenged one of the Knights to a joust but I wouldn’t be surprised. I was also surprised to learn that he was NOT from Florida—he was released on his own recognizance to go back to British Columbia.

So who’s living their best life? It’s a tough call since they both have an Aquaman theme, but you decide.

Addendum 1: This week was big junk day in our township, where everyone puts out cool stuff they don’t want anymore. I got Frank the stuffed fish at big junk day five years ago. So when Ken got home from work on Friday night, I made him drive me around to look at junk.

Me: Ooh, there’s a lovely pile of junk here, Ken!
Ken: Ergh.
Me: Turn right! I think I see a table top to go with the table base we just found.
Ken: Ergh.
Me: Look! There are two chairs—I can paint everything and make a set!
Ken: Ergh.

I love big junk day; Ken not so much, but he’s a good sport about it. Then when we got home, I started to unload the large, solid oak tabletop out of the back of the SUV and it slipped out of my fingers and onto my foot, which may or may not be broken now. But it was worth it. (Update–my foot is still swollen but it’s functioning as normal, so I don’t think I broke any bones.)

Addendum 2: I went on the Amazon website to order volumizing cream for my hair and discovered that, despite not being told ANYTHING by my publisher, my new novel, The Dome, is available on Amazon and Chapters Indigo for pre-order, the release date is October 15th and it’s currently ranked #543 in Dystopian Fiction. I was super-excited about breaking into the top 1000, but then I realized that the first chapter on both websites has the formatting wrong. The chapter heading “Chapter 1: Dee” runs right into the first sentence and there’s no paragraphing–it’s making me crazy and I want to yell out to the internet “IT’S NOT LIKE THAT IN THE BOOK!!!” Maybe they’ll change it if I give them some chocolate.

My Week 165: All I Want For Christmas Is A Transporter–But Not A Robot Cat

Yesterday, I turned 52. I keep thinking of myself as middle-aged, although if this is the middle, I want some kind of guarantee that I’m going to live to see 104. At what point do you stop being ‘middle-aged’, like what age is no longer realistic to double? 104 years old doesn’t seem like an impossibility any more, given advances in the medical field and the fact that people are more healthy than ever. A colleague from work lost her grandmother a while back, who had just turned 101, and the whole family was shocked because she was in such good health. Whereas, in 1850, most people could be expected to kick it before they turned 40, so I guess we’ve come far from the days of scurvy and black lung disease. And I say ‘I guess’, because frankly, I’m a little disappointed with the future I was promised when I was young. Not my own personal future, which has been pretty awesome, but the general future that was envisioned by cartoons, TV shows, and novelists, and which has completely failed to live up to expectations.

1) A couple of weeks ago, I was at a workshop, and we were invited to discuss what we thought the future would look like. Other people at the table were jabbering on about “entrepreneurship” and “global competencies”, but I was like, “Transporters. What’s the point of even HAVING a future if there aren’t any transporters to magically take you wherever you want to go?” Then the guy next to me whispered, “I don’t think you’re getting this” but I was like “NO. I TOTALLY get it. Star Trek built up my expectations, then betrayed me.” I mean, think of all the technologies that Star Trek predicted that we now have: doors that slide open when you stand in front of them, holograms, supercomputers that talk back to you, and a whole lotta other useless sh*t. But the one thing, the ONE THING that would really make MY life easier would be a transporter. Why have the science people been focusing their attention on building fancy coffee makers and rechargeable vacuums? I’ll bet James Dyson could figure out a way to transport astronauts to the International Space Station on a sub-molecular level if he put as much thought into a transporter as he did into a hand dryer. Why do I need to drive a car to the airport, get on a plane, and arrive in Paris 7 hours later, when I could just say “Teleportez-moi, Monsieur Scott!”?

2) Also, where are the goddamn flying cars? It’s bad enough that I can’t miraculously appear in Paris whenever I want, but my car doesn’t even FLY. Damn you, George Jetson. It’s 2017, and the best we can do is a ‘driverless’ Uber, which is just making a bad idea worse. And even worse is the fact that we still use dinosaur blood to run our stupid, non-flying cars, instead of electricity, like somehow, electric cars will destroy the world as we know it, or at least take money out of the pockets of billionaires.

3) When I was 6, I was obsessed with Aquaman. I was convinced that, by the time I grew up, there would actually be biodomes under the ocean where people could live in harmony with the creatures of the sea. I asked my gran one morning if she thought it would happen soon, and she said, “Never. People will never live under the sea.” And while her bad attitude made me angry, I knew that one day I would be vindicated. And I’m still waiting for that day to come. The only scientific advance that the people who created Aquaman are actually responsible for is casting Jason Momoa in the new Justice League movie, in which he will carry a sparkly trident and ride a shark. Yet I still can’t breathe underwater.

4) Where is my robot butler? I’ve made my peace with never having a monkey butler, despite recently having my hopes raised (I still think of you fondly, Ralph Van Wooster, and all the hijinks we would have gotten up to), but there is still nary a sign of the artificial intelligence that all the movies have been promising since I was a child. There are smart phones and smart homes and GPS in our cars and Siri/Cortana/Alexa, but where is the actual physical embodiment of the mechanical person who will do my bidding? The best we’ve come up with is a robot CAT. Why would I EVER want a robot that lies in front of the fireplace all day, sleeps next to my face at night, and surprises me by peeing on my rugs when it’s “in a mood”? Real cats can be dicks enough—why are we creating mechanical ones? And don’t be all like “Oh, come on, mydangblog, cats are so sweet.” Here’s what I had to deal with the other day:

Me: OK, I’m going out. I have to be at the car dealership in 15 minutes, so see you guys later.
Titus: OK, bye!!
Raven: I need to get into the kitchen. Open the gate.
Me: Sigh. Hurry up…What are you doing?
Raven: The dog is panting too hard. It’s off-putting.
Me: Don’t walk away from me. Do you want into the kitchen or not?
Raven: Yes. Open the gate.
Me: Here. It’s open. Let’s go!
Raven (sits back down): Nuh.
Me: I don’t have time for your bullsh*t, Raven! Fine—stay back here.
Raven (under breath): Boy, are you going to be surprised when you get home.

Let’s just forget robot cats and focus on robot monkey butlers. Then EVERYBODY wins.

5) Space Tourism. This might possibly be the greatest disappointment of them all. When I was a kid, people lived on the moon, they colonized Mars, and they travelled around the galaxy exploring strange new worlds. The actual real-life Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, and 40 years later, it’s JUST ABOUT to leave our solar system. Me, I want warp speed. We could have invented this a long time ago, but apparently scientists were too busy making blankets with arms in them, LED multicoloured flashing scarves, and realistic wind-up mice (“Watch their tails whir while they scurry across your floor!”). And yes, I DID just get my Bits and Pieces Christmas catalogue, and NO, there’s nothing future-y in it. Although you can relieve the stress you feel about not being able to live in a subdivision on Mars by purchasing a set of basketball net hats so that you and a co-worker can shoot balls at each other, although I think Human Resources might have an issue with that. It’s been almost 50 years since we first put a dude on the moon—how hard can it be to put a middle-aged woman on Uranus? (I am SO sorry about that one, but I couldn’t resist. I may be 52 physically, but I’m pretty much 13 years old in my head.)

All in all, by this point in time, I was really hoping that the world would have been more like Gene Roddenberry’s vision than George Orwell’s. Luckily, I still have another 52 years left, and Christmas is coming, so this middle-aged girl can dream.