Signs of the Apocalypse

No, the title of this post does not refer to coronavirus, or Covid-19 as it’s now being call in order to spare Corona beer from further stock losses. Although, if you want an absolute sign that the end is nigh, take a look at this picture I took at the grocery store on Friday of the toilet paper aisle.

 The fact that people are fighting over TOILET PAPER in the face of a global pandemic is a very good indication that a great many human beings are simply too stupid to live—if hoarding bleached paper to clean your ass is what’s most important to you, then I weep for our civilization.

Anyway. Last week, Ken and I were driving north to see his parents, and to get there, we have to go through this cross-country corridor of weirdness where people with more money than brains spend their time erecting signs, some of which simply boggle the mind. Here’s the first:


Just in case you can’t read it, this sign says, “Don’t B!tch About The Farmer With Your Mouth Full!” and underneath it asks “What’s Your Contribution?” Now, none of this makes any sense at all. First, you can’t b*tch about ANYTHING with your mouth full. If you try, no one can understand what you’re saying and then they get mad at you for spitting potato or chicken or whatnot at them. Swallow first; complain later. That should be the motto of all whiny people. Second, I’m 54 years old and I’ve LITERALLY NEVER heard anyone complain about ‘the farmer’. Like who’s going around saying, “Those goddamn farmers and their CROPS. They should be ashamed of the way they make sure we get calcium from their UNHOLY MILK”. Where did the animosity on this sign come from?! Is it, like, one disgruntled farmer fed up with being kept down by ‘the man’?

The Man: Hey Farmer Bob, your combine is blocking my driveway again. Would you mind moving it?
The Man: I wasn’t b*tching, I just—
The Man: What? No, I only—
The Man: I’m not giving you any money for a sign; I need you to move your combine.

The most ironic thing about this sign is that it’s not on a farmer’s field—it’s actually next to a railroad bridge in a swamp, so I guess Farmer Bob has bigger worries than Dan The Man. (For the record, Ken grew up on a dairy farm, and I love farmers, obviously, and if anyone ever b*tched about them in my presence, I would set them straight.)

2) And then there was the sign in a small town we went through that had two words on it: Landfill Cenotaph. There was a single arrow pointing down a side road. So the cenotaph is in a landfill? Or is it a memorial TO a landfill? Either way, that’s not very respectful to our veterans, and it makes Remembrance Day ceremonies awkward:

MC: Let’s have a moment of silence in remembrance of all of those who fought—hey! Can you turn off the bulldozers for one hot second?! Jeesh!

3) One of my favourites is this sign advertising a garden centre in Listowel:

Gardening with Attitude? Do drag queens work there? Surly teens, perhaps? All I could think of was this:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to buy a shrubbery. One that looks nice, and not too expensive.
Garden Centre Worker: F*ck off!
Customer: Wow, that’s some attitude you have there.

4) Finally, there are always the ‘Come to Jesus’ billboards and my absolute favourite is the one that reads, “Jesus said, ‘The only way to my Father is through me’:

Me: Did you see that sign? I don’t believe Jesus said that.
Ken: What? Why not?
Me: Well, don’t you think it sounds a little violent? I never think of Jesus like that. You’ve read the Bible. Did Jesus really say that?
Ken: I don’t remember.
Me: No. From what I know about Jesus, he would have said something more like, “It would be really nice and super swell if you could let me help you find your way to my Dad”. Something non-aggressive, you know. That sign makes it seem like there’s going to be a bar fight, and Jesus is all like, “Hold my beer! You’ll have to get through ME to get to HIM!” like Liam Neeson or The Rock or something.
Ken: OK…
Me: Or John Wick—ooh! Like John Wick 4: The Resurrection!
Ken: You really don’t know much about the Bible, do you?
Me: I saw Jesus Christ: Superstar. I could totally picture John Wick Jesus kicking over those moneylending tables in the temple then pulling out a machine gun–
Ken: That’s not what happened.
Me: But in John Wick 4: The Resurrection, it would be a flea market where unscrupulous grifters were selling hoarded toilet paper and hand sanitizer for outrageous prices.
Ken: I’d watch that.

I was trying to think of what people could do with the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper they bought once the pandemic is over and I have a couple of ideas—instead of hunting for Easter candy, you can hide toilet paper around your house and watch the kids squeal with delight as they locate each one. Or you can do my favourite thing of all—make a Toilet Pirate. Meet Captain John Crapper:

My Week 186: Deathly Foods, Weird Signs

Currently, I’m working in a foreign land known as Mississauga, so I leave you with this–I hope you enjoy!:

Wednesday: I make a list of things that I’ve ingested that made me feel like I
was dying.

I can often succumb to peer pressure, when it’s about something that’s
supposed to be good for my health. For example, I haven’t eaten gluten (well,
except for the occasional juicy, wheat-y pizza) for almost two years because I
have arthritis and someone told me it was better for my joints. It was hard at
first—gluten-free baked goods, especially tortilla wraps, can taste a lot like
cardboard. Also, everything is made of rice. To be honest, I do feel better for
it, and I’ve found alternatives that are almost as good as the real thing. But the
other day at work, a colleague was extolling the virtues of Oil of Oregano as a
cure-all and preventive for almost everything known to humankind. It can cure
the common cold, prevent Montezuma’s Revenge, and apparently turn water
into wine. A bunch of us decided that, with super-busy days coming up, and it
still being flu season and all, we would troop down to the health food store en
masse to buy some of this miraculous elixir. Little did I know what I was in for.
I like oregano—I grow it in my garden, and I sprinkle it on pizzas, and use it to
season pork tenderloin, among other things. How bad could an oil made from
oregano be? The man at the health food store said it was a distilled oil and
could be “pretty strong”. Well, I have a hardy constitution—I’ve eaten haggis–
so what the hell? The directions said to put four drops under the tongue. I did
that. My immediate reaction was, “This isn’t so bad. I—OMFG!!” Then I
thought I was GOING TO DIE. My tongue went numb for about 20 seconds,
but then the sensation came back, and that was worse, because all I wanted
to do at that point was rip my own mouth out with my bare hands. Perhaps Oil
of Oregano was meant to build one’s character as well as one’s immune
system, you know, under that old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you
stronger”? I had always previously thought of that as a metaphor for dealing
with nasty people, but if Oil of Oregano was a person, then it would be
SATAN. Then it occurred to me that I had been here before, doing that same
“Kill Me Now!” dance. So I decided to make a list of the top food type things
that I had ever ingested that made me also feel like I was dying.

Death by herb

1) Gorgonzola cheese. Once, Ken and I were overseas, and the person we
were staying with, a wonderful host and one of my favourite people, made us
dinner. It was gnocchi tossed in melted gorgonzola cheese. I loved gnocchi
and the whole thing looked fantastic. Then I took a bite. Some people claim
that they quite like gorgonzola—I call these people LIARS. Gorgonzola
cheese tastes like mold growing on sweaty socks—the black mold that
medical dramas always tell you will kill you. I didn’t know what to do because I
didn’t want to be offensive, so I choked down as much as I could stomach, then claimed that jet lag had made me too tired to eat. Jet lag is a good
excuse for just about anything, especially avoiding food you don’t want to eat.
The other really good excuse for that is “I just had those dilating drops put in
my eyes at the optometrist and I can’t see what’s on my plate.” I pulled that
one out as a child to avoid eating veal—don’t tell my mom.

2) Barium. Remember, this is about things I’ve “ingested”, not things I’ve
eaten. No one in their right mind would ever willingly want to EAT barium (OK,
you could say the same about gorgonzola cheese) but still, barium is like a
medical thing, not an actual food substance. If you ever have stomach
problems, you might have to go for a procedure called a barium swallow.
Notice that it’s not called “Olive Garden’s Lunch Special” because the
expectation is that you will NOT enjoy it—and no one is going to treat you like
family while this procedure is happening. Barium is a mineral or something,
and according to Wikipedia, “has a low toxicity”, which means it has more than
zero toxicity, so it’s only SLIGHTLY poisonous. But still, if you’ve ever had a
barium swallow, it feels like you’re being FULLY poisoned. I had to have this
procedure done once. The nurse handed me a gigantic glass of what looked
like pink chalk pureed with a little water. I looked at it dubiously, and she said,
“You have to drink the whole thing. Don’t worry—it’s Strawberry Flavour.”
Strawberry Flavour, my ass. Next time, flavour it with a little Drambuie—it’ll
still be death in a cup, but I’ll feel better about it. After I had choked and
gagged the whole thing down, and my eyes were tearing from the effort, it
suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea how my body was going to get the
stuff back out, and I had this horrible feeling that I would never be able to use
the bathroom again—that it would sit in my stomach like concrete for decades,
laughing at me.

3) Deep-fried squid. Deep-fried squid actually tastes really good. I had it once
at a restaurant where we were having a “sampling” menu. I love sampling
menus, because you can try something, and if you hate it, you don’t have to
eat any more of it. So I tried the deep-fried squid, (one little piece because it
was a French restaurant where I guess they expect you to smoke so many
Galois that you aren’t hungry enough for full portions), which came with spicy
peanut sauce. Squid is delicious. It is also, as I found out later, a member of
the mollusk family, and I’m severely allergic to shellfish. After about 20
minutes, my lips started to swell, and on the ride home, I was feeling dizzy
and out of breath. By the next morning, I was extremely ill and the inside of
my mouth felt like someone had taken a flamethrower to it. I had no idea what
was going on, but Ken did some research, and we discovered that there was
a good reason why I felt like I was dying–because I just might have, ha ha.
Thank God for tasting menus with very small portions.

4) Eggs that are not scrambled. Eggs are interesting. Essentially, they’re
imaginary chickens. I can never understand how people who say they’re
vegetarian can eat eggs, but some people do on the premise that “they were
never fertilized”. But aren’t they still animal protein? Anyway, I love scrambled
eggs and omelets, basically anything where the white of the egg and the
yellow part are mixed together so you can’t taste either of them separately.
Together, they are a heavenly component of the “All Day Breakfast”, one of
my favourite meals. Separately, they are like death on a plate. The white part
tastes like the sulphurous fires of hell (in other words, like eating flatulence),
and the yellow part is—well, I don’t know because I’ve never tried the yellow
part because its simple appearance is enough to put me off. That liquid-y,
slimy thing that some people love to “dip their toast in”. Why the HELL would
you dip your toast in a liquid baby chicken? So gross.

5) Extremely sour candies. Isn’t that an oxymoron? What is it with people and
extremely sour things? The other day, I was in a store and on the candy
display were bags of “Extreme Sour Gummi Bears”. The “i” in gummi was in
the shape of a lightning bolt, and the slogan was “Try to eat more than one”.
The gummi bears on the bag had FANGS. Where is the pleasure here?
Candy is supposed to be a treat, a reward for doing something good, like
using the potty. Can you imagine how long kids would be in diapers for if you
gave them rewards that made them scream in agony? Depends-Nation.
Candy is not supposed to be scary. A couple of months ago, some of our
summer students brought in ‘extreme sour candy’ and challenged me to try
one. They were all grimacing and gagging, but I have more “mature” taste
buds, so I accepted the challenge. Let me tell you, there is no taste in nature
like an extreme sour watermelon candy. Within 10 seconds, my extremities
went numb and I could no longer feel my face, either inside or out. Very
casually though, I plucked it out of my mouth and gently put it in the garbage
can. Never let them see you sweat. Or swear.

Friday: Weird signs that I’ve seen (NOT of an apocalyptic nature).

Yesterday, I was in the Bay, and I had to use the ladies’ room. As I was
leaving, I noticed a sign on the door that read, “All criminal activity in this
bathroom is closely monitored.” I stared at it for a minute or two, trying to
figure out exactly what it meant. First, what KIND of activity are we talking
about here? The only people I’ve EVER seen in that bathroom are elderly
ladies. I mean, the Bay is not exactly Forever 21. Could there be a gang of old
toughs who frequently gather in said bathroom to fence their stolen Hudson’s
Bay blankets and Estee Lauder cosmetics? And what does “closely
monitored” mean? Are there security guards looking at hidden cameras
whose reaction to every criminal transaction is “Huh. Take a look at that.
Interesting. We’d better keep monitoring this. CLOSELY.”

Of course, one of my all-time favourite signs is one I saw a few years ago, outside a
church, which said, “Take Jesus on vacation with you”. Ken and I were
planning a trip to Great Wolf Lodge with K, and I went into this reverie about
what would happen if you literally COULD take Jesus on vacation with you to
the waterpark. Would you have to stop him from trying to baptize the kids in
the wave pool? Would all the water in the park automatically become Holy
Water? Would he get annoyed if strangers kept splashing him? Would he be
like, “OK, I’ll go down the waterslide as long as I don’t get my hair wet?
(Because that’s what I always say.) Would he multi-task, and deliver a quick
sermon while he was on the white water raft with a bunch of other people? At
the end of the day, I could picture him in a lounge chair, surrounded by small
children, telling them parables until it was time for Pizza Hut and Pay-Per-
View. At any rate, it would be a hell of a lot better than taking Satan on
vacation to the waterpark with you. He’d be “that guy”, you know, the one who
wears the super-tight Speedo, always does the cannonballs into the pool, gets
everyone in a 20 foot radius soaking wet, and laughs like he thinks he’s so
cool. He’d hog the Jacuzzi, make all the water boil, then force everyone to
take Oil of Oregano. No wonder Satan never gets asked to go on vacation.

My Week 158: Management 101, Throwback: Titus and I Watch the National Dog Show 2015

A few months ago, I got a promotion at work. It was great for a while, but eventually these things catch up to you, and a couple of weeks ago, I got an email that said I was registered to take a two-day course off-site on Management. And I was like, “How the hell did they know? I have done NOTHING to deserve this.” I mean, it’s not like I’m not interested in being a good manager, but I’ve done courses like this before—this isn’t my first time around the management block. So I asked my Director if I really had to go, and she laughed and said, “Yep. Everyone who’s new has to take it.” When I reminded her that I was only an interim manager, she said, “Well, it’s tied to your merit pay. It won’t be that bad.” MERIT PAY? I didn’t even know I got that, let alone that I would be exploited into taking a two-day course to earn it. I’d already taken a bunch of other on-line courses on topics like “The Union Is Your Friend” (untrue), “Workplace Violence and Harassment” (I’m already an expert—see below), and “Hazardous Chemicals and How To Avoid Them” (if only the stench of egg salad was considered hazardous, my life would be SO much better). Online courses are great, once you figure out that the “quiz” you have to take at the end is a huge lie. Which is to say, the first time, I listened SUPER-carefully, and then when the video was done, I was all prepared with my notes so I could pass the test. The “test” consisted of 1 question: “Did you watch the entire video?” I answered yes, and a screen popped up that said “Congratulations! You have completed this course and it will be entered into your record.” And I was like, “WTF kind of quiz was that?! I STUDIED! If I’d known I didn’t have to pay attention to what my union dues were used for, I could have been watching Rick and Morty on Youtube.”

At any rate, I had merit pay hanging over my head, so on the Wednesday morning, I got up bright and early to get there on time, since the email notification had stated very ominously that the course started at 8:30 SHARP. After a tussle with the door (turns out it was a push, not a pull), I flew into the room and got a seat in plenty of time, next to a colleague of mine who was in the same boat so at least I had someone I knew to talk to. At exactly 8:30, the instructor, Donna, started the course. At exactly 8:31, someone started jiggling the door handle. I can forgive someone for being, like, one minute late, but this went on for the next half hour, with people arriving and struggling with the door, and the instructor stopping to go over and open it until I wanted to yell two things: a) What don’t you understand about 8:30 sharp?! and b) Jesus, Donna, can you just leave the goddamned door open?!

We finally all got settled and underway, and the first thing Donna asked was, “So how are you finding being a manager?” One woman immediately put up her hand and said, “Well, the person who was in the Acting position didn’t get the job and I did, so things have been a little uncomfortable. She won’t really talk to me.” Then Donna asked the rest of the room if anyone else had had experience being treated badly by a colleague that you supervised, and I was like, “Won’t really talk to you?! Hold my f*cking beer” because, if you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I left my previous position because of Bob, the nutcase who wanted my job and would harass me by text, email and even call me at night:

Bob: Why won’t you answer my emails?!
Me: What? It’s 10 o’clock at night! Why are you calling my house?
Bob: I’ve sent you 6 emails. I know you’re online because at 8:47 you liked something your mom posted on Facebook. Why are you ignoring me??!!
Me: You got me out of bed. Can we discuss this tomorrow?
Bob: You’re so mean! (click)

I would have loved it if the worst thing that dude had done was “not really talk to me” instead of dragging me to the union for taking him off Facebook. Anyway, we got all the triggering stuff out of the way, and got down to the meat of management, which is of course, dealing with unions. Then the worst thing happened—Donna decided that, instead of discussing things with our table groups, with whom we had grown comfortable, we should “find someone in the room that you haven’t spoken to yet”. This, of course, is my own personal vision of hell, where you wander around, being forced to meet new people and then converse with them. I stood up—there was a rather pleasant-looking tall guy coming towards me, and he pointed, smiled and mouthed “You and me?” I nodded enthusiastically, relieved at how easy that was. Then his face fell, and I realized that he was talking to the young, beautiful blonde behind me, who had just been swooped up by the guy who worked in a prison and who had endless (I mean ENDLESS) stories about testifying at grievance hearings.

Me: Oh, is it OK if we—
Tall Guy: Actually, I was wanting to talk to HER, but…
Me: Oh. (pause) Well, I guess you can talk to me if you want to…
Tall Guy: Sigh. I suppose.

Thanks, Tall Guy. Also, nice wedding ring you’re wearing.

Overall, the course was pretty good, and I think I learned a lot about “supporting my team”, but there were a couple of things that befuddled me:

1) We were given plenty of time for breaks and lunch. On both days, the person sitting on the other side of me brought in full tubs of very spicy, pungent food, which he insisted on eating by hiding it under the table, then quickly shoveling it into his mouth when he thought no one was looking. He would have been successful if first, the food hadn’t smelled so strong, and second, if he hadn’t made really loud squeaking and squelching sounds the whole time he was chowing down. I don’t usually notice people chewing, but the noises coming out of him were bizarre.

2) Why do people use the term “buckets” to refer to categories of things, as in “I’ve put all the soft skills into the Management Bucket on the slide deck.” As a visual metaphor, “bucket” doesn’t work for me, because I always think of a mop bucket. Also, the word “bucket” is just plain silly, like “smock”. Listen: bucket, bucket, bucket, bucket, smock, smock, smock. If you didn’t laugh at that, I don’t know why. Here’s a limerick about a bucket (mostly because all the limericks I know are about a man from Nantucket and bucket rhymes with Nantucket):

There once was a man with a bucket,
Who lived in a town called Nantucket.
He wore a white smock,
And he fell off the dock,
And he dented his bucket, so f*ck it.

I never said it would be a GOOD limerick.

Another piece of “manager-speak” that always confuses me is when things get a little heated or complex, and someone says, “Let’s take this off-line.” In a face to face meeting. Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to yell, “You’re not ON-line! How can you take it OFF-line?!” Seriously people, be precise—just say “let’s speak privately about this”.

3) We were given the following scenario: You wake up late, you’re racing around to get to work, and you finally make it to your office. You’re in the elevator and someone jostles you, and you spill your coffee all over yourself. So now you’re in a terrible mood, and Marcia chooses that moment to come into your office and tell you how WELL her initiative went the day before. This is a tough situation, and it will be hard to be happy for her. How do you react?

People were answering things like, “Hey Marcia, can you come back later?” or “Jesus, Marcia, can’t you see I’m covered in coffee?” or “I’m having a bad morning, Marcia, so I’m having trouble caring about your sh*t” and so on. I was confused by all of this, and finally put up my hand and said, “I guess maybe I’m just easily distracted, but being happy for Marcia would make me forget about being late for work. Also, coffee is Satan’s brew. We should all drink wine in the morning, just like Jesus.” Ok, I didn’t say that last part, but coffee IS gross. And I don’t know if Jesus really drank wine in the morning, but if HE had to sit through two days of “Disciples Management 101”, I’ll bet he would have.

I’m superproud of you, Marcia.


Throwback Sunday:

Friday: Titus and I make fun of the National Dog Show 2015

Titus: Watcha doin’?
Me: Watching the National Dog Show.
Titus: Cool. (jumps up on bed) So what’s going on?
Me: It’s the Working Dogs right now.
Titus: (snorts derisively) Right.
Me: What?
Titus: That dog never worked a day in his life. His paws look all soft.
Me: And you’re Mr. Blue Collar? When was the last time YOU did any work?
Titus: Excuse me? Just yesterday, you were all like, “Where’s the Piggy, Titus? Can you find your Piggy?” And I DID. I AM a Retriever, you know. It was hard work. That pig was like all the way upstairs in the guest room.
Me: Maybe because that’s where you left it. Now be quiet so I can watch this. It’s the –
Titus: Holy sh*t, that dog has dreadlocks! WTF?!! Is that even REAL?
Me: Yes, Titus, it’s a Komondor, a real dog.
Titus: A “Commodore”? What, like Lionel Ritchie’s dog or something?
Me: Yeah, that dog belongs to Lionel Ritchie. Obviously. Now stop talking—it’s the Toy category now.
Titus: I can see why they call them “Toys”. None of those dogs are real either. That one looks like a cotton ball blew up in the microwave, that one looks like Raven coughed it up, and that one is like something out of a Japanese anime cartoon. You want to see a real dog? THIS is what a real dog looks like. Check me out.
Me: Good god.

My Week 147: I am Descended From Royalty, Deadly Distractions

I am descended from royalty

A couple of weekends ago, Ken and I went to a local Highland Games. I love the Highland Games for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the music. I can never understand when people object to bagpipe music and cover their ears, or make jokes about the sound of cows dying, because to me the sound of the pipes and drums is thrilling. The best part is the band competition, where you can hear them approaching, and then they walk onto the field in formation, stop, circle up and play their hearts out. If you look around at the crowd, you can see that almost everyone watching is subtly moving one of their feet up and down to the rhythm. Because it’s Scottish, so no one’s getting all excited and doing the pogo, or breaking out into spontaneous flings (mostly because it’s the middle of the day and the drinking hasn’t started yet). Nope, just the understated foot tap, but we all know that means the soul is awake.

This year, they also had a sheep herding competition which was kind of interesting. The trainer had different border collies for the demonstration, and the one thing they had in common was that they only cared about the sheep. I’ve never seen dogs so focused—it was like if instead of sheep, I was holding a hamburger, and Titus was watching me eat it. That’s how intense these dogs were, but without all the requisite drooling.

Of course, if you’ve ever been to a Highland Games, you’ll know there’s also the heavy events, where men, and women now too, do things like toss giant poles into the air, or see who can throw a massive stone the furthest, because that’s what Scottish people used to do back in the old days:

Scottish Man 1: Och aye! I need to build ma hoose, but I dinnae know how tae get this log from here to there!
Scottish Man 2: Dinnae be daft. Just toss it.
Scottish Man 1: Och! Good idea, Jimmy! How will I nail the logs together?!
Scottish Man 2: Just throw the hammer after them!

So apparently, all the Highland Games heavy events are based on Scottish construction techniques.

There was also Highland Dancing, which I longed to do as a small child. Once, when I was about 5, my mother, in a misguided attempt to save my soul, sent me to Sunday School at the local church. It was in the basement, and literally this is my only memory of the entire event: I told the Sunday School teacher that I knew how to do highland dancing, and she asked me to show everyone. Of course, I had absolutely no f*cking idea how to do it, but I’d just been to a local highland games and had watched the dance competition. Back when I was five, I wasn’t quite so introverted as I am now, so I stood up, walked to the middle of the circle of kids, and flailed my arms around, kicked my feet randomly, then bowed. Because that’s how I used to roll. All the other kids clapped, but the Sunday School teacher looked confused:

Sunday School Teacher: You don’t really know how to highland dance, do you?
Me: Yes.
Sunday School Teacher: But that wasn’t really highland dancing, was it?
Me: Yes it was.
Sunday School Teacher: Did you take lessons?
Me: No. I learned it myself.
Sunday School Teacher: Sigh. Jesus hates liars.
Me: Who’s Jesus?

OK, I made up that last part, but it was really what we were both thinking—her, that this five-year-old was full of sh*t and would be punished in the afterlife for being a crappy highland dancer, and me, why the hell was I sitting in a basement with a lady who doubted my dancing prowess?

Anyway, back to this weekend. As the band competitions were nearing a close, the sky was looking ominous and thunderstorms were in the forecast, so I said to Ken, “Let’s take a look at the vendors before it starts to rain.” There were a lot of booths, with pottery, and baked goods, and so on, but then I saw a sign that said, “Have you ever dreamed of owning land in Scotland?” and I was like, “We’re going to that booth, Ken!” The booth was mostly clothing, and I kept looking for a real estate agent, until finally I just asked the guy who was running it, “Where do I buy the land?” So he showed me these packages where you can buy so many square feet of Scottish property, and then he said the BEST THING OF ALL: “If you buy this land, you can become a lord or lady of Scotland.” I thought I was going to die from happiness, and I bought the 10 square feet package which would entitle me to legally change my name on all my banking information and credit cards to “Lady mydangblog”. But then I thought to myself, “Who might get a bigger kick out of this than me?” and also, “Who’s more legitimately Scottish than me?” and I immediately thought of my Dad, who was actually born in Scotland and who just had a milestone birthday. Also, if I made my dad a Scottish lord, it would totally beat out my brother, who travels a lot and once, for Christmas, gave my parents plane tickets to Hawaii with his points, while I was like “Here’s a gift card to The Keg.”

So I registered the land ownership to my dad, then I called my brother to tell him:

Me: I just bought Dad land in Scotland and now he gets to call himself a Lord.
J: That’s awesome. And the best part is that I get to inherit it.
Me: No. The rules of primogeniture have changed so that women can inherit. I’m the oldest, so it goes to me.
J: We’ll see. I have to look up the legal precedents…

(Later, when I told my dad about this, he said, “I can’t believe you guys. I’m not even dead and you’re already arguing about my estate.”)

I really wanted it to be a surprise, but the company had to have his email address. Mom and Dad were coming over for dinner that afternoon, and when he walked in, I said, “Greetings, my lord!” and he said, “What’s going on? I just got some spam email calling me Lord D__ and inviting me to tour my new property in Scotland!”

When I explained it to him, he was pretty chuffed, but he said, “What could I possibly do with 10 square feet? That’s just a little over 3 by 3.” So I thought about it, and here are some suggestions:

1) Pitch a tall, narrow tent and sleep sitting up in a camp chair.
2) Yoga. You can do the Lotus, the Hero pose, and the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. Also, the Standing Up Straight pose, and the Curled Up in a Tight Foetal Position pose.
3) Solitaire.
4) Picnic for One. Or two, if you hug each other while you eat.
5) Narrowly Focused Highland Dancing. I’m an expert, so I can show you how.

When I told K about it, she was intrigued, and the next thing you know, she bought herself her OWN 10 square feet of land in Scotland. So now, I’m surrounded by royalty. Luckily, we’re going to Scotland in a little over two weeks, and the company will give us the GPS coordinates for K’s land so that we can visit it. And huddle tightly together while we survey all that is hers.

Saturday: I am distracted

Yesterday, we were downstairs getting ready to go out, when K said, “Hey, do you hear that? It sounds like something is scratching inside the wall in the back room.” So I listened, and sure enough, there was some kind of creature making a lot of noise, like it was trying to escape. But it wasn’t coming from inside the wall—it was coming from inside an old chimney that has an access door into the top cupboard of a wall unit that Ken built. So we did what any normal person would do—we called Ken/Dad. Which is to say that Ken was taking a shower, so we both ran towards the bathroom, simultaneously yelling, “Ken!” and “Dad!” Ken came out of the shower, and tied a towel around his waist, then went to the back room to look.

“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to have to open the cupboard door.” I immediately ran outside and locked myself behind the gate leading into the vegetable garden, and K hid behind the door to the backyard, where we taunted each other:

Me: Once that thing gets loose, it’s going to eat your feet off.
K: No—it will eat your face off.
Me: No—it’ll hit the floor and go straight for your feet.
K: Haha—that’s what you think—it’ll go straight for the exit and fly at your face!
Ken (opening the door): I can’t see anything—the chimney is full of bird skeletons.
Me: Someone wake me up from this hellish nightmare.

A couple of years ago, Ken had wrapped chicken wire around the top of the chimney to stop creatures from getting in, but apparently the wire had fallen down, and now it was a graveyard. The only thing he could do was pull all the dead stuff out and put it in a bag, and hope that whatever was still alive in there would be able to finally make its way into the cupboard. Which meant that for the rest of the day, we had to keep the door to the back room shut, because I was terrified that some manic squirrel would push its way out and kill us in our sleep. As of this morning, there’s still no sign of anything and I’m super-distracted. The only person who was happy about the whole situation was Ken:

Ken: Hey, check this out!
Me: Why are you digging through all that dead sh*t?!
Ken: There are some awesome skulls in here! I can use them for a photography project.
Me: Are they maggoty? Stop digging in the bag—you’re kicking up dead animal dust and I don’t want it to get in my wine!
Ken: Ooh—this one is really nice. So clean! Oh look—a perfectly formed leg…
Me: I need more wine.



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.