Personal Achievements

I’ve accomplished quite a bit this week despite being locked down. No, I didn’t win a damned Oscar, but I’m pretty sure if there WAS one for Best Use Of Hosiery By A Middle-Aged Woman, I would definitely be a contender.

1) Learning New Skills

Last week, I had to finish my Performance Plan which, if you’ve never done one, is where you have to tell someone at the start of the year what you’re planning to do, and then at the end of the year, you tell them what you did, and you hope the two things match well enough that your boss says, “Shantay, you stay.” And while my real boss is very cool, wouldn’t it be amazing if my boss was actually a big, fabulous drag queen who also said, “No tea, no shade! You’re serving up Performance Plan realness—now sissy that walk!”

Anyway, I was putting the finishing touches on my Performance Plan, looking at the ‘courses taken’ section to make sure I’d completed the mandatory accessibility and hazardous materials training (and here’s a long detour: The only hazardous material in my workplace might potentially be the photocopier ink cartridge, and we are under strict instructions to NEVER touch the photocopiers in our office even if they jam, because we are NOT QUALIFIED to unjam a photocopier, even though I spent most of my tenure as an International Languages Principal doing EXACTLY THAT and every Saturday, I was invariably called at least three times to the photocopy room by a distressed staff member who was an excellent teacher of Vietnamese or whatnot, but who couldn’t read English well enough to understand what the digital display on the photocopier was telling them to do, and had managed to completely f*ck up a very expensive machine that it was now MY JOB to repair. So I AM QUALIFIED, FRANK. But I digress. Back to the topic at hand.) and I discovered that there was a section I hadn’t notice before called “Personal Achievements”. Ooh, I thought to myself, now this is exciting. Because the day before, I had made a face mask, and it wasn’t half bad, even if Ken refused to wear it:

Me: Look! I made you a face mask!
Ken: Is that one of your socks?
Me: It may or may not be. See—it goes on like this.
Ken: Is it clean?
Me: Of course I’m pretty sure it’s clean! You can wear it when you go grocery shopping.
Ken: That’s OK. I’ll just stay away from people.

And I was sad, because saving Ken’s life would have been a really good Personal Achievement. But then I went to the tab and opened it, and it was a series of courses that you could take, and some of them were AMAZING. The first thing that caught my eye was ‘Chainsaw Operators Certification” and that would be so handy since we have this chestnut tree on our property that is essentially dead but Ken refuses to cut down because it “still gets a few leaves every year” as more and more of the branches fall off. I could just picture myself wearing a cute flannel shirt tied at the waist, booty shorts, and workboots, firing up that bad boy and yelling whatever it is that lumberjacks yell LIKE A BOSS, as the tree explodes in an orgy of fireworks, and reading this back, I think it’s very apparent that I have no idea what being a lumberjack is really like. But I’m OK.

Then something strange caught my eye. CHEMICAL IMMOBILIZATION OF WILDLIFE. What the hell is this?! So I clicked on it to read the description, which said, “Learn how to chemically immobilize nuisance wildlife” which shone no further light on how, and more importantly WHY one would want to do this, and all I could picture was forests full of animals standing completely still like weird fluffy statues, and I DIDN’T LIKE IT AT ALL.

So I comforted myself by considering taking the Harvard Manage Mentor courses, specifically “Difficult Interactions”, “Persuading Others”, and “Time Management” because Ken is so damn stubborn, but I think I might already have those skills:

Me: Put the sock mask on.
Ken: No.
Me: You’re being difficult. Put the damn mask on or I won’t make homemade pizza for dinner. You have 5 seconds.
Ken (sighs): OK.

See? I dealt with a difficult interaction using persuasion and time management.

There was also the Joint Health and Safety Committee, which I’m assuming has something to do with the legalization of marijuana, Pleasure Craft Operators Card (which I might need now that Ken and I have kayaks), Snow Mobile Operator, and Search Warrant Training. Almost every course you could take sounded completely badass, and all I need is my boss’s approval. Hopefully, she says, “Okurrrr!”

2) A while ago, I was complaining that I couldn’t change my wifi name to something more fun, but I DID figure out how to do this on my computer screensaver:

I’m pretty pleased with myself for being able to capture this moment, since it swirls around really fast, kind of like my brain.

3) Last week, our neighbour across the street moved out, and new neighbours moved in. They seemed like regular people with regular furniture, but later in the afternoon, Ken came downstairs:

Ken: I think the new neighbours have a really big dog, but it’s just standing in the middle of their lawn not moving.
Me: Maybe it’s been chemically immobilized.
Ken: Seriously, come and see.

So we looked out the window and realized that in the middle of our new neighbours’ lawn, they had placed a giant, plastic wolf statue. It wasn’t by their front door, or in the middle of a flower bed where you’d EXPECT to see a lawn ornament. It was just standing there staring at our house. And it had these really weird, bright blue eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and later on, I went out for a few groceries and took a surreptitious picture of it from my driveway. I was intending to sneak back at some point and get a close-up of its eyes, but when we got up the next morning, IT WAS GONE. I’m already having trouble sleeping because I hurt my shoulder, and the only way to be comfortable is to let my arm dangle straight down off the mattress, but I CAN’T DO THAT BECAUSE OF THE DEMONS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT LIVE UNDER THE BED. And now, I have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to find a giant, plastic wolf scratching at my door. So I did what any normal person would do—I made Ken put on the sock and go to the store to get the new neighbours a gift basket. At least one of my personal achievements came in handy this week.

(I just got nominated for Publication of the Month at Spillwords Press for a flash piece I posted a few weeks ago called “Resurrection”. If you’d like to vote for me, you might have to register but it’s free, there’s no obligation for anything further, and if you do, I’ll write a story with your name in it. Also, they’re a terrific and very responsive publication to submit to in case you’re looking for somewhere—anyway, here’s the link: Vote

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.