Lost And Found

They say, “Nobody gets through life without losing a few things along the way”. For example, despite having dozens of pairs of reading glasses in a variety of colours and different strengths, I regularly can’t find any. Ken says if he had a dollar for every time I said, “Have you seen my glasses?”, we could pay off the mortgage. So I’m no stranger to losing things every once in a while, but the last few days have been ridiculous, and now I know why there are so many quotations about losing things.

1) “Sometimes the things you’ve lost can be found again in unexpected places.”

It started with the loss of a complete room. A week ago, Kate and her boyfriend were getting ready to leave for a town far away where he’ll be doing a Master’s degree. They planned to get up in the morning and drive most of the day to the room he’d rented in a house with a few other guys. Then she messaged in a panic—he’d received an email from the ‘landlord’ telling him that he’d been replaced and no longer had anywhere to stay. Apparently, it’s a lucrative market and it’s not uncommon for people to get better offers for rent and screw their prospective tenants over. This, with school starting in less than a week. They left in the morning anyway, but instead of moving in, now they were desperately trying to find housing for him. He was able to get shared accommodation for October, but where was he going to live in the meantime? Thankfully, my aunt has a friend who lives in this particular university town, and despite never even considering renting space in her home to a student, she unexpectedly and graciously agreed to put him up for the month, proving yet again that for every sh*tty landlord, there’s also a kind stranger.

2) “Nothing is really lost until your mom can’t find it.”

Next, it was Kate’s turn to pack up and go back to school where she’s studying to be a veterinary technician. I had to go to work, so I left it up to her and Ken. I called at lunch:

Me: Are you on the road yet?
Ken: No.
Me: Why not?
Ken: We can’t find the cat.
Me: What do you mean you ‘can’t find the cat’?! How did you lose the cat?
Ken: We don’t know. But we can’t find her in the house. The back door got left open, so we’ve looked all over outside, and there’s no sign of her.
Me: Okay, I’m sure she’ll turn up. Shake the treat bag, and message me when you leave.

Half an hour later, there was still no message, so I called again:

Me: Did you find the cat?
Ken: No. Kate’s really upset. I don’t know what else to do.
Me: I’m coming home.

Luckily, I work in a place where ‘cat emergency’ is a perfectly fine reason to leave in the middle of the day, so I raced home, white-knuckling the steering wheel, freaking out that she’d gone out the door and was chased by a dog, or got kidnapped, or hit by a car, or something equally awful. I finally got home and found Kate in tears. I immediately got the treat bag and started walking down the hall, shaking it and calling her name in the high-pitched sing-song way she likes, and suddenly Kate called out, “I thought I heard a meow!” I opened the guest room closet door but she wasn’t in there. I couldn’t hear anything, but when I turned, I saw the linen cupboard and remembered that every time I opened it to put towels away, Ilana tried to jump into it. On a whim, I opened the linen cupboard door, and there she was, snuggled up in the blankets, looking sleepy. She gave a tiny mew and jumped out, expecting treats, which I gave her because I was so happy and relieved.

3) “I don’t lose things; I just place things in locations which later elude me”.

Of course, that all took so long that Ken wasn’t able to move her in until the next day, and that night, she came into my room to tell me about another loss. Apparently her boyfriend hadn’t bought a parking pass for school yet, so he parked on a side street near the university. When classes were over, he went to get his car, and he couldn’t find it. Yep, he lost his car. He didn’t know if it had been towed or if he’d just misplaced it, but he’d been wandering the streets for an hour, pressing the lock button on his remote to activate the horn so he could track it down. I really wanted to say, “Tell him to buy a bag of treats and look in the linen cupboard” but I restrained myself. Half an hour later, she yelled down the hall that he’d located it. Exactly where he’d left it.

At the end of the day, it’s true what they say: “Finding lost things is one of life’s greatest pleasures.” Now, where did I put my reading glasses?

This represents approximately one fifth of the glasses I own. I couldn’t find the rest.

Very Superstitious

Things have been weird lately, like, if something could go wrong, it does. From sudden expensive car repairs to Kate and my parents all getting covid, to Ken almost being rushed to the hospital after a chlorine gas incident, bad luck seems to be hounding me. The other day, I started to wash my hair and the cold tap handle disintegrated right in my hand.

Then later my wine fridge suddenly stopped working so we took it apart, cleaned the fan and tested it—still nothing. Then I forgot it was still plugged in:

Me: Do you think there’s something wrong with the motherboard?
Ken: Maybe.
Me: That wire looks loose.
Ken: Don’t touch—
Me: OWWWW!! I just got electrocuted! Why the hell am I even bothering to wear my lucky underwear?!

Yes, my lucky underwear seems to have run out of good luck—no matter how often I wear them, I can’t seem to get a break. Like two weeks ago, Ken and I were at Werq The World, a touring drag extravaganza. We’d met some of our favourite drag queens, then settled in to watch the show. Suddenly, I felt a pain in my side. I tried to ignore it but it kept getting worse, until there was no doubt. I had another kidney stone. I made it through the show, but now I’ve gone through yet another round of X-rays, ultrasounds (I have to drink HOW MUCH WATER?!) and CAT scans. And I can’t even get a specialist appointment until the 15th.

But I don’t want to sound whiny. In fact, I’ve been doing some research and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m bringing this all on myself with a variety of bad luck symbols that I’ve been encountering lately.

1) Broken Appliances

See above. I was shocked. Literally. Stupid wine fridge.

2) The number 666

Thanks to the Wiccan healer I used to work with, we have two booths at the antique market with the number 666. And I have to regularly open them to get out spells and black candles and crystal skulls and whatnot. So maybe I’m exposing myself to curses that I’m not even aware of:

Customer: You know Satan isn’t bad, right? Like, he’s only doing his job.
Me: Kind of like me.
Customer: What?
Me: Did you want the red skull or the blue skull?
Customer: Ooh, is that a chicken foot keychain?

2) Stopped clocks

As you may remember, I have 53 clocks in my house at current count and only 16 of them work. Maybe it’s time to get rid of the broken ones. (Because it’s TIME. Get it?) Apparently, according to a “feng shui coach”, who is basically someone who comes into your house, takes your money, points at things, and claims they have bad chi, “broken things won’t bring positive energy into your life.” That’s very judgmental, KIM. I love ALL my clocks, and I’m pretty sure the charge on that wine fridge was positive.

3) Dried Flowers

I saw this on Realtor.com. The caption underneath a photo of dried flowers says, “Dried flowers will suck the life out of your home.” And wouldn’t you know, I recently cut some hydrangeas from my garden and put them in a vase to dry. Apparently, I have created an energy vacuum, which sucks (Because vacuums suck. Get it?) and also, do actual real estate agents really believe this sh*t? Like if I was selling my house, would Darla from REMAX take my hydrangeas and throw them onto the porch in a superstitious frenzy whilst stomping on them and screaming “Only live flowers in this house!!”?

4) Walking Under A Ladder

I do this all the time, because one of my booths at the antique market came with a ladder across the top to put or hang stuff on. I’m back and forth under it several times a week in order to restock my booth, which is making the ladder spirits angry, according to google.

5) A Black Cat Crossing My Path

Ilana is a tuxedo cat, so she’s mostly black with a white bib and paws. And she crosses my path continually, begging for treats and tummy rubs, which I’m happy to oblige because she’s so sweet, even though the tummy rubs usually end in her grabbing my wrist and biting me. Because she’s a cat, and that’s what they do.

6) Pointing Towards Feces

I saw this one on Wikipedia. It’s an English superstition, which doesn’t surprise me. And I actually did this a while ago, because I have to clean the bathrooms at work, and one of the toilets was super-gross, so I came out all disgusted and pointed in the direction of the bathroom/poo while exclaiming to my boss, “You don’t pay me enough to clean crap like this up!” Also, I don’t know WHY it’s bad luck—maybe people got sick of Sir Archibald Dungheap continually pointing at people’s poo and describing it, like “Pish posh, tally-ho, that’s a remarkable shade of ochre!” and then they beat him to death with broken clocks.

At any rate, it’s possible I’m looking at this the wrong way. After all, my car got fixed by our wonderful mechanic neighbour, Kate and my parents both recovered quickly, Ken didn’t have permanent lung damage, I ordered a new tap online, and I can drink lukewarm wine as easily as the cold stuff. Now if only I could pass this kidney stone quickly, that would be lucky. Knock on wood.

Getting Thrifty With It; Tiger Lily

I’ve always loved thrift store shopping. When I was younger, it was the only place to find the vintage clothing that my friends and I, 1980s club kids, favoured. When I got older and money got tighter, it was a cheap way to look nice. And now that Ken and I have re-instated the antiques business and I’ve opened a second booth at the antique market, thrift stores are a wonderful place to find trinkets, odds and ends and whatnot that I can resell. The other day in fact, I was at a local thrift store, Goodwill, and found some good deals–a vintage action figure for a buck, a few pieces of ironstone and a depression glass rooster candy dish for 4.50. It’s from the 1930s, in excellent condition, and worth a heck of a lot more. So imagine my excitement when one of my co-workers at the antique market mentioned that there was a Goodwill ‘outlet store’ not too far away.

Me: OUTLET, you say? A place where things are even cheaper than at the regular Goodwill?
Co-worker: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. You pay by the pound. We’ve gotten some good stuff there.
Me: Where is this mecca of good deals?! I must know!
Co-worker: Just up the highway. Here are the directions.

I was super-excited, imagining a store lined with shelves of beautiful china, glassware, and other assorted sundries, and me with a shopping cart, just filling it up with things that didn’t weigh too much. Finally, last week, after days of anticipation, I was able to go there.

AND IT WAS THE MOST TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.

I arrived shortly after 10:30 in the morning, having followed my GPS instructions like a pirate with a treasure map. I pulled into the parking lot and the red flag should have gone up right there. It was PACKED. People were double-parked and cars were squeezed together, but luckily my car is quite tiny, and I managed to find a spot partly on the grass. I grabbed a couple of reusable shopping bags and walked through the door…into a giant open room. It was full of large, wheeled bins surrounded by people, who were going through them, tossing things up in the air, digging through to the bottom, and pulling things out. I was hesitant, and took a tentative step forward to peek into one of the bins, which was full of what looked like broken CDs. Then I noticed in the far corner, there was a line of tape on the floor, and behind the line of tape, there was a line of men, standing shoulder to shoulder, fidgeting, rocking back and forth on their heels and looking desperate and hungry. A store worker went by:

Me: Excuse me. That line-up over there—is that where I’m supposed to wait my turn or something?
Worker: Oh no. You can look in all the bins over here. Those guys are waiting for the new bins to come out. You have to stay behind the line until the new bins come to a complete stop and the back-room workers have had time to step away. Then we give a signal and you can dive right in.
Me: Maybe I’ll just watch for a bit.

After a minute, the doors to the warehouse suddenly flew open. The air bristled with anticipation and the men in line started cracking their knuckles and bouncing up and down on their toes. The bins were wheeled over to the corner and parked. A man began to move and a woman shrieked, “NOT YET!! STAY BACK!! The men muttered in frustration while the carts were positioned, and then the workers let go and backed away quickly as a whistle sounded. The line surged forward and everything became pure chaos. Arms disappeared into the bins, then reappeared holding perceived treasures. A cry went up as one man triumphantly brandished a coil of copper tubing. Two other men tussled over loose hockey cards, and another ran back to his shopping cart (I realized they all had carts lined up against the back wall) with a Coleman cooler. It was like feeding frenzy time at the shark tank, with vintage radios and glass vases as chum. Then, as quickly as it had begun, the men tossed their finds into their respective carts and ran, as a unit, to the opposite corner, where ANOTHER LINE FORMED. Apparently, the new bins were placed in alternating corners, and sure enough, a minute later, a set of full bins arrived, and a fresh round of shrieking and digging commenced.

So what did I do? What do you think? I tucked my reusable shopping bags under my arm, got the hell out of there, and drove like the wind to the calm oasis of Value Village.

In other news, I had the tremendous honour recently of being asked to write the foreword to my good friend and brilliant poet Susan Richardson’s latest compilation titled Tiger Lily, to be released on August 19. The collection is an ekphrastic collaboration between Susan and artist Jane Cornwell, and it’s just brilliant. You can pre-order it here. And here’s a sneak preview of one of my favourites, Mermaids Are Real:

Flushed Away Again

One of the things I have to do at work, one of the things I dislike the most, is that I have to clean the bathroom on my floor. It’s technically a ladies’ bathroom, and it’s used mostly by our female customers. I used to think that women were much more hygienic when it came to toilet stuff than men, based on my experiences many years ago at the donut shop where I worked in my late teens to make money for university tuition. The men’s room there used to be so disgusting that the only thing that would really help would have been a flamethrower. But now that I have to clean this particular bathroom regularly, I’m beginning to wonder if I was unfairly stereotyping the guys. Personally, I’m fairly straightforward when it comes to using public washrooms—I go in a stall, sit down, do my thing, wash my hands and leave—but apparently I’m an anomaly when it comes to using a public washroom and I have some questions for the hypothetical woman who regularly uses the bathroom at work that I have to clean.

1) Why do you put the lid down?

I know that people complain ALL the time about men leaving the seat up, but that’s an easy fix—I just use the toe of my shoe to pull the seat back down. But putting the actual lid down before you leave the stall? What the hell for? You flushed, didn’t you? (see Question 5) So what are you trying to hide? I enjoy taking a “safety go” right before heading home, and seriously, the number of times I’ve had to lift the lid so that I could sit down is ridiculous. And you can’t use the toe of your shoe for THAT one—you have to touch the lid WITH YOUR FINGERS. Do you do this so the germs from the toilet flushing don’t invisibly splash on you? Well now my hands are covered with them, so thanks for that.

2) Two-parter: a) Why do you line the toilet seat with toilet paper?

So you don’t want your butt to get dirty? Honey, you’ve already touched all kinds of sh*t before even sitting down, and you’re worried about your butt? I hate to break this to you, but going to the bathroom in and of itself is a process that is rife with germs. A thin layer of toilet paper will not protect you. Of course, the alternate to the toilet liner is to simply crouch and mist the toilet seat with your urine, which makes things even more disgusting, especially for the next woman to enter the stall.

b) If you do insist on lining the toilet seat with toilet paper because somebody else was spraying like a tomcat, why don’t you flush the damn stuff when you’re done instead of leaving it on the floor where it fell after unsticking itself from your butt? Now it’s MY responsibility to sweep up all your ass-paper.

3) How do you manage to get water spots all over the mirror?

I mean, are you having a splashfest in the sink? Are you just waving your hands around, doing the chicken dance or something? The mirror at work is at least two feet above the sink but it constantly needs Windexing to get rid of all the droplets that have managed to land on it from your exuberant handwashing. Oh well–at least you washed your hands.

4) Why is the garbage full of V8 juice cans and an entire empty tray of butter tarts? Were you having a picnic in there?! (This happens more than you think). And please stop leaving your empty Red Baron beer bottles behind the toilet at 10 am. No wonder you have to pee so much.

5) Do you not understand how a toilet handle works?

The handles on two separate toilets were literally snapped off last week. How hard are you trying to flush?! Oh well, I guess it’s better than not bothering to flush at all, which you do on a regular basis. No wonder you put the lid down.

If I seem a little grumpy today, it’s because I am. There’s still a skunk somewhere on the property, and it refuses to take our delicious peanut butter and cat food bait, but insists on spraying several times a day to the point where I can barely breathe! So here’s a picture to cheer us all up:

Princess Toilette

Wiener Fest!

Well, it was quite the exciting week. After relocating skunk Number 1, we caught a second little varmint later that same night. In the morning, Ken went out to check on him and returned, saying, “He has two friends visiting him in jail.” So the fencing stayed up and the trap was re-baited with peanut butter and cat food, which seems to be the entrée of choice for the discerning skunk. By Wednesday, 3 and 4 had been relocated, and Ken and I were breathing a sigh of relief, although the breathing was still tinged with eau de skunk, thanks to Atlas. Then, around 8 pm, Ken came into the room with a glass of wine, and handed another one to me:

Ken: I’d like to propose a toast.
Me: Really? That’s so sweet. To what?
Ken: To five.

Me: My fifth book?
Ken: Nope.
Me (confused and a little worried that I’d missed yet another anniversary of some kind): Five what?
Ken: Skunk number five.
Me: Oh my god. (Downs wine in one shot). How many more can there be??!!

Turns out there were SEVEN. Yep. Seven skunks. At least I hope that’s all there are, because I don’t fancy battling the final boss, and so far, there’s been no mother in sight, just a lot of kits. Apparently, a group of skunks is called a ‘stench’, and I can certainly see why, because our cargo trailer might just permanently smell like raunchy weed. The problem with skunks, especially the young ones, is that they’re so damn cute but you can’t hug them, and I really hope they have a family reunion in the forest where we dropped each of them off.

Aside from Skunkapalooza, not much happened this week, except for the funniest misunderstanding at work I can think of. I took Kate’s shift on Saturday because she was in an e-sports tournament, and around lunchtime, a woman came to the counter:

Woman: We’re just heading over to Wiener Fest. Is it okay if we come back with a couple?
Me (hesitates): I suppose, as long as you don’t get ketchup or relish on anything in the booths.
Woman (confused): Oh. All right…

Later on, a group came into the market with a pair of dachshunds. We have a policy that dogs are fine in the building as long as they can be carried or put in a cart (the exception is service dogs, which are fine no matter what). So my boss got them two carts lined with cardboard and they went around happily (the dogs, of course—I have no idea if the people were happy because the second I saw the dogs, their humans ceased to exist. I once got on an elevator and there was a man with a golden retriever. “Hello, gorgeous,” I said, to which the man replied, “Thanks.” Imagine how sad he was when I told him I was talking to his dog.). Anyway, the dachshunds were adorable—one was even wearing a little bow tie—and they seemed to be having a great time. Eventually, the whole group came to the counter to check out, and I realized the woman who had asked about eating hot dogs was with them.

Woman: I’m so glad we were able to bring Roxie and Moxie inside. Wiener Fest was so hot!
Me:
Woman: I know you weren’t sure about it, but they’re so well-behaved.
Me: When you said wieners, I didn’t know you meant dogs. I thought you were going to a barbeque!
Woman: Ha ha! Is that why you were talking about ketchup and mustard? No wonder we were both so confused!

Then I hugged Roxie and Moxie and told them if they were ever in the neighbourhood again, to be sure to drop by. Whether they bring their people or not, that’s up to them.

The only way I take a picture of a skunk trap is if the skunk isn’t in it.

It’s A Raid!

If you remember, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post called All The Pretty Dead Things, in which I discussed the plethora of bones, dehydrated animals, and other suspiciously taxidermized items at the antique market where I work. They sell like crazy, and over the last few weeks, I’ve had to ring dried rabbit ears, cow ribs, hawk legs, and even a whale vertebrae through the till, much to my dismay, because I don’t believe for a second that a whale vertebrae was ‘ethically sourced’. But apparently someone else agreed with me, because when I dropped Kate off at work the other day, there were several official looking men speaking with the owner. AND THEY HAD WARRANTS. They were from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and if you don’t know what that is, imagine the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and then pretend they’re Canadian. Because the NRF has just as much power as the ATF and are also allowed to carry guns, although none of the guys who were at the market were armed.

The MNR showed up unannounced, based on a tip from someone who had been in the market and was taking pictures of things that they deemed illegal. Their first stop was a booth run by a friend of mine which happened to have a vintage stuffed and mounted fish, which generated much consternation among the Ministry agents, despite the fact that the fish in question had been caught approximately 40 years ago. So I just now googled “Can I sell a stuffed rainbow trout in Ontario?” and the answer was a) ABSOLUTELY NOT and b) terrifying because according to their website, even if the fish is long dead, if you get caught, you can face fines up to $100 000! And I’m so happy I didn’t know that when I sold Frank, the stuffed and mounted fish that I found at the side of the road and sold for ten dollars at a yard sale over two years ago (the post where I wrote about it was called One Man’s Junk, in case you’re interested).

The MNR was there all day, going over each of the almost one thousand booths with a fine-toothed comb, and ended up confiscating not only the stuffed trout, but a variety of other animal products, including half the inventory from the booth that sells exclusively jewelry made from animal bones and terrariums containing desiccated barnyard animals. Ironically, they DIDN’T take the whale vertebrae, because apparently that’s not their jurisdiction. So I guess we’ll be receiving a visit from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries soon—do you think they carry guns or harpoons?

Hand over the fish!

That’s Not My Name

The other day, I was standing at the counter at work with my colleague, the Wiccan healer. She had just returned from a two-week absence due to covid, and was quite anxious to know if my recent mammogram had, indeed, revealed the issues that she had predicted. They didn’t, as you’re aware if you read my last post, and she was bummed out over the whole thing, but brightened up when I told her I was pretty sure that there was an old cast iron fireplace in a back corner booth with a nasty aura. She was just about to go cleanse it and perform a smudging ceremony (no, she’s not Indigenous and actually uses an aerosol “smudging” spray that she gets from a Chinese importer), when the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer/Flat Earther who works on the third floor walked by the counter. And as he walked by, he looked at us, made a flappy gesture with his hand, and said this: YO YO BITCHES!

Now, I’ve been called many things in the workplace. For years when I was teaching, I was Mrs. Craig-Whytock. Then when I went to the secret agency, I was Suzanne, or Boss on occasion. I’ve been called Sweetheart, Hon, or Honey by those I know better than others, and currently, one of my employers tends to forget my name and calls me Susan. There was also the time that a student got really mad at me for kicking him out of summer school for being stoned and called me a f*cking *sshole. But never, I mean NOT ONCE, has a person I’ve worked with ever called me a b*tch (at least to my face). I stood there speechless, while the Wiccan laughed.

Me: Did he just call us “bitches”?
Wiccan: Yeah, haha. What a guy.
Me: I have no words.

Then, about an hour later, the same guy walked by us again, and this time, he mimed tipping his hat, and said, “M’Ladies” and I’ve never been so confused in my life, but I guess that’s par for the course when you work at a minimum wage job in customer service? And now I have to come up with a clever comeback that works for all occasions. I’m thinking about screaming, “Yass Queen, come through!!!” at him unless any of you have a better suggestion.

In other news, now that Kate’s cat Ilana is officially adopted into our household, I can finally share pictures of her with you. She’s two years old but tiny as a kitten, and absolutely adorable. She’s very affectionate and super-purr-y, especially if you give her treats, which I do all the time, and which she’s grown to expect, so now every time I go in Kate’s room, she comes running to ‘Nana’ and tries to climb up my leg to get a Frisky. Atlas doesn’t quite know what to make of her—his only experience of animals as small as Ilana is squirrels in the backyard, which he chases with gusto. Luckily, the squirrels can escape to the trees and Ilana has her cat tower. We currently have the house divided up with baby gates—hopefully, they’ll get used to each other soon.

All The Pretty Dead Things, Some Exciting News

If I had to catalogue all the items in the antique market where I work, it would take me the rest of my life. With almost 1000 booths and three giant floors, there have to be millions of things there. Yet, surprisingly, some of the most popular, after vintage comic books, Pokemon cards, and old vinyl LPs, are dead things. Now don’t get all semantical on me—yes, I know that technically anything inanimate could be considered dead, but I’m talking about things that USED to be alive and now, are not, because we have two or three vendors who specialize in selling dead things:

1) Bones

Me: Are you ready to cash out?
Girl: Yes. Aren’t these cool? (points to a bundle of narrow bones)
Me: The tag says “cow bones”. Maybe.
Girl: What do you mean?
Me: How can you be certain? But don’t worry, I’m sure they’re not human.
Girl:
Me: Have a nice day!

2) Dehydrated animals

Me: Ooh, what do we have here? A “dessicated chick with moss miniature terrarium” (in the item description, I write ‘dead chicken baby’.) What are you going to do with it?
Guy: Put it on display with all the rest.
Me : Cool. Now that’s an interesting aesthetic.
Guy: A what?
Me: Have a great day!

3) Skeletons

Elderly Woman: Can you take both those bat skeletons encased in resin out of the showcase? I’d like to compare them and see which one is nicer.
Me: Certainly. Personally, I’d choose this one. It looks more dynamic, like it’s just about to take flight. If it wasn’t dead.
Elderly woman: You know, you’re right. That one IS nicer.

What I really wanted to say was, “NICER?! Lady, neither of them are nice! They’re dead f*cking bats.” But I restrained myself.

4) Jewelry made from animal bones

Me: (reads tag) “These earrings made from fox ribs are ethically sourced.” I suppose roadkill could be considered ethical if you don’t actively TRY to run small animals down with your car.
Boss: I think she gets them from an importer.
Me: Importing roadkill? Now there’s a niche market.
Boss: Too bad that raccoon you saw in your yard yesterday is gone. You could have made a fortune on it.
Me: I’ll stick to more traditional stuff, thanks. The only thing in my booth that was once alive is a vintage leather Harley Davidson ballcap.
Customer: Excuse me—I’m ready to pay.
Me: Here you go. Would you like a bag for your coyote foot?
Customer: Yes, please.
Me: Have a wonderful day.

In other exciting news, my second novel The Dome has been translated into Arabic. The physical copies won’t be available until closer to the summer but the Middle Eastern publisher is doing some great pre-promotion. The original cover was the Toronto skyline, but since they’re trying to make the setting a little less specific, here’s the new cover, which I quite like!

More Questions Than Answers

This week was insanely busy–I’m two chapters away from completing The Devil You Know (the sequel to The Seventh Devil), and 4 stories away from completing my second scary short story collection (tentatively titled Into Thin Air although I’m also thinking that Night Terrors would also work so if you have an opinion let me know), and I didn’t know what else to write about, so here’s a reboot of the time that Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 32 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions aside from the thousands of “how did you create your site and what theme do you use?” questions from the very many van, trailer, truck and RV owners who have recently proliferated my spam folder, so I made some questons up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of years ago. Ken and I became obsessed with Jeopardy because there was a guy on who won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. Regardless of the money, we feel sorry for the people who had to go up against “James” since he always rang in first and usually got the answer right. If you’ve ever watched Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek used to always ask the contestants questions about themselves—the questions were cheesy and the answers sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

The sign reads “I fix noisy bath fans”

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

The other day at work, there was a noisy bathroom fan–just kidding. No, someone bought a vintage Mr. Peanut peanut butter maker. If you put peanuts in it and turned the crank handle, it would then dispense homemade peanut butter.

Me: So where does the peanut butter come out of?
Brenda: He’s holding a platter and it kind of squirts onto there.
Me: It doesn’t come out of his butt??!! What a wasted opportunity!

And it reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles. I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but peanut butter that doesn’t come out of Mr. Peanut’s ass? That’s just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A few years ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. And when it came out, there I was, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description referred to me as a “professional appraiser”, and it was prophetic because now that I’m retired, I spend literally all day telling people what things are worth.

Now, back to the books. Wish me luck.

Ups And Downs

This week, something amazing happened. It was a dream come true. No, I didn’t win a Nobel Prize for Sassy Literature—I didn’t even get the writer’s grant I’d applied for which, even though it was a long shot, still really made me sad. But then I was at work, and I got the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for a long time. And if you’re thinking, “Mydangblog finally got to drive a forklift!”, you’d be sadly mistaken and also, driving a forklift around an antiques market would be a very bad idea, and I’ve always thought the saying, “Like a bull in a china shop” should really be “Like a forklift in an antiques market”. No, the exciting news is this—I got trained to operate the elevator! And while this doesn’t sound very earthshattering, given that most elevators are easily operated by literally a small child, and I myself have operated many in the past by pushing the up button or the down button, or in one terrifying case, the emergency call button, this elevator is very different, as you can see here:

The actual elevator is on a different floor in this picture. This is just the shaft.

It’s technically a freight elevator, and it looks f*cking terrifying, am I right? Like the gaping maw into hell, or a cave where vampires live. And it was my greatest heart’s desire to be able to run it all by myself. Now, thanks to my 21-year-old boss, who showed me how to use the buttons on the outside to bring it either up or down to our floor, then pull up and lower the gate, and use the buttons on the inside to take it either upstairs or to the basement, I am now officially trained to operate the elevator. How hard can it be? you ask. IT DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY STOP AT EACH FLOOR, BOB. That’s right—you have to wait until you get close to even with the next floor and then let go of the button. My boss told me a trick—there’s a slight click right before the elevator and the floor line up, so you can kind of predict when to stop. Here are some other helpful tips he gave me:

1. Don’t stick your foot in the gap between the elevator floor and the elevator shaft.
2. If you stop too high, don’t push the down button right away. Give it a second—any abrupt jerking can pull the elevator off its track.
3. The gate on Floor 3 only goes up three quarters of the way, so don’t try to force it or it’ll get stuck and you’ll never be able to lower it.
4. The elevator won’t move if the gate is open. The gate won’t open if the elevator isn’t there. This prevents clumsy people or small children from falling into the shaft.
5. Don’t jump up and down with excitement. You’ll knock the elevator off its track.

As you can see, operating a freight elevator, particularly one this old, is tricky and serious business, business which I have yet to put into practice, because all last week, whenever I tried to encourage someone to put their stuff on it, I got no takers. And I say ‘stuff’ because we’re not allowed to transport passengers in it, only their antiques.

Me: Hey Frank, that looks like a lot of boxes. You can put them on the elevator if you want.
Frank: No, that’s ok. I don’t mind carrying them up.
Me: But the elevator would be more efficient. I can—
Frank: No, I’m good. Hey! Did you tell anyone about that clock?
Me: The one I bought from you three months ago off the loading dock?
Frank: SSSSSHHHHHH!!! We shouldn’t be seen together!

At any rate, I’m biding my time. One day, someone will come along with a table or a large lamp and will need it taken upstairs, and I’ll be right there waiting. And then I’ll get one of the guys to come and open the gate because it’s really heavy and I can’t do that by myself because of my shoulder tendonitis, but once the gate’s up and they’ve loaded the table and they’ve shut the gate for me, I know how to get that table up to the next floor. All by myself.