Here’s A Tip

Recently, I started tutoring to earn a little extra money, now that I’m no longer working at the antique market. I still have a lot of teaching resources, including children’s books, in one of the guest bedroom closets, so I went through the stack of books the other night, looking for something that might interest one of my new students, a child in grade 2. I found a couple of cool I Spy books and some other fun reads, and then I found a book called Dinosaur Bob And His Adventures With The Family Lazardo. I couldn’t remember ever buying it or even reading it to Kate when she was little, and I started flipping through it. Here’s the gist of the story: An American family named Lazardo goes on safari and finds a dinosaur which they bring back to the States and it causes a lot of issues but in the end, (spoiler alert), the dinosaur helps their town baseball team win a big game. And that explanation is only slightly longer than the title of the book. But that’s not the weird part. The fact that they go on an AFRICAN SAFARI with their small children and find a dinosaur isn’t even the weird part. No, the thing that absolutely confounds me is this. On the cover of this book, which was written in 1988 by the way, and on almost every page, there is a man wearing a regimental uniform and a turban. He is briefly described on the first page, when the family initially encounters the dinosaur thusly: “Jumbu, their bodyguard, said nothing.”

Okay, first, why the hell does this family need a bodyguard?! And why is he some kind of Sikh warrior? But then things get even weirder because based on the illustrations, it turns out that he’s not really their bodyguard—he’s actually their MANSERVANT, and on the second page, the Lazardos are lounging on the dinosaur’s back in their swimsuits while Jumbu is in some kind of ceremonial beachwear and he’s SERVING THEM ALL DRINKS. This book was published by Scholastic and can you imagine the pitch meeting?

Author: So there’s this white family and they find a dinosaur…
Scholastic: Like, dinosaur bones?
Author: No. A real dinosaur. And they bring it back to the United States to play baseball for their hometown team.
Scholastic: Interesting. Are there any quirky unexpected characters?
Author: Well, they have an East Indian manservant–
Scholastic: Manservant? That might be perceived as racist. This IS 1988 after all. Better call him a bodyguard.
Author: Oh, okay.

Throughout the entire book, no one talks to him, no one mentions him, even though he’s on almost every single page serving drinks to the family, playing catch with the kids and whatnot, and no one even thinks to ask “Hey Jumbu, you’re a bodyguard, right? Do you think it’s safe to bring a dinosaur back to the Unites States to play baseball?” Because I’m sure all the chaos could have been avoided by letting Jumbu do his damn job. The only time we hear about Jumbu again is on the last page where the family is celebrating the big baseball game win and “Jumbu brought out the musical instruments” so the family could sing and dance. But then it felt like there was some ominous foreshadowing because right at the very end, “Jumbu smiled.” I’ll bet he did. And the sequel to this book is called, Jumbu Gets Even.

The other thing that completely befuddled me the other day happened when I went into the cannabis store. That’s it. That’s the story. No, I’m kidding. I went into the cannabis store, because I live in Canada and we like weed so much that we have government-licensed and regulated places where you can legally purchase it. I don’t smoke it or anything—I use CBD gel caps to help with my shoulder pain. I ran out of pills, and walked into the cannabis store to buy some more. On the counter at the till, there were two jars. These jars are TIP JARS. Every month, this store and others like it, have a question that prompts you to leave money in one of the jars. Last month, the question was “Is the Earth flat?” and terrifyingly, there was almost as much money in the YES jar as in the NO jar. Like, how stoned ARE you if you think that gravity, physics, and every explorer who circumnavigated the globe are just LYING TO YOU? But this month the question was “What TV show was better?” and the choices were Friends or Seinfeld. However. The questions are NOT the point. The point is, Why is the staff in a government licensed and regulated business asking for tips? First, they get paid $15.50 an hour at the very least because that’s the minimum wage. Second, it’s not like they cooked me food or brought me a drink—like, all the woman in the store literally did was open the locked cabinet that I pointed at and hand me a bottle of pills. And she wants a TIP for that? But I guess people are very grateful to cannabis store workers because there were a LOT of tips in those jars. More tips than I bet Jumbu ever got anyway.

New Year, Same Me

It’s New Year’s Eve as I write this. I’m feeling slightly nauseated, not because I’ve been drinking—I mean, it’s only 11 o’clock in the morning after all. No, it’s because Ken decided to run some errands, and right before he left, he made himself a cup of coffee because he obviously HATES ME. The smell has permeated the house, reaching right into my office, and now I understand how the woman feels who posted this ad on Facebook Marketplace:

I don’t know what her husband did to her that he no longer deserves a wet/dry shop vac, but I’ll bet it involved a percolator. So right now, my house smells like a skunk died in the kitchen, and I’ve taken futile refuge in my office to think about the new year ahead. I never make New Year’s resolutions, as I’ve said before– mostly because if I want to change something about my life, I do it when I think of it, not on some arbitrary and imaginary date line. But still, the moving forward of time does give one pause, and by “pause” I mean “let’s stop and think about what the f*ck we’re doing and do we want to keep on doing that?” So here are a couple of things I will most likely be doing in 2023:

1) I will finish the book I’m currently writing by the end of February. I have to, because I quit my job at the antique market to focus on it. Also, the antique market was no longer a fun place to work, and Ken and I promised each other that when we retired, we would only work at jobs we enjoyed doing. Not that I didn’t enjoy the work I did BEFORE I retired, but moving forward, I will only work at things I really, REALLY enjoy, like driving a forklift around the neighbourhood helping people move picnic tables or whatnot, or petting kittens and puppies. And writing. Writing is definitely something I enjoy. The new book is called Charybdis and it’s a gothic thriller that takes place in two different time periods involving a little-known reclusive Victorian poet and the modern-day graduate student who’s researching her life. What horrors will she discover? If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know there will be several! And then, once Charybdis is done, I’ll be starting on the third book in The Seventh Devil trilogy. Book 2, The Devil You Know, will be out this summer, and Book 3 will be called The Devil You Don’t. And of course, there’s At The End Of It All, which will be out in February and I can’t wait for you to read it. I love writing short stories, and I already have some more stories in the planning stages, which is to say I have notes on my phone like ‘laces where joints are supposed to meet’ and ‘Glitter for Brad’ and I have no idea why I wrote that down but it’ll make a great story once I figure it out.

2) I will travel more. I will have to do this spontaneously, because whenever I PLAN to travel, I instantly regret making travel arrangements and would rather just stay home.

Me: But what’s the use of being retired if I can’t travel?
My mind: Where do we want to go?
Me: I don’t know. Somewhere fun.
My mind: Home. Home is fun.
Me: No, NOT HOME! We need to see more of the world!
My mind: We’ve already seen plenty. The world is too scary now.
Me: Sigh. You have a point.

3) I will buy more clocks if I want to. You can’t stop me, KEN. In honour of clocks, I promised to show a picture of my favourite:

But I WILL make Ken a deal. I’ll stop buying clocks if he stops drinking coffee (at least in the house). Tick tock…

Anyway, Happy New Year. Let’s hope 2023 is a little more sane that the last few years.

White Christmas

With Christmas two weeks away, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done very little to prepare. Things have been very hectic around here, what with Ken and me opening another booth at the antique market, this one on the third floor so we have to lug everything up three flights of stairs or use the dreaded, ancient, and evil freight elevator. But the rent was really cheap because “sometimes the roof leaks a little above the left wall”, so we’re making sure we don’t put anything there that could get damaged. It’s mostly for large furniture ie the furniture that spent the summer on the porch because we have nowhere in the house to put it, and I’ve given up trying to sell anything online because people are so annoying:

Rando: Hi, is this available?
Me: Yes, it is.
Rando: Will you take $100 less and will you deliver it?
Me:

So we decided it was better and less stressful to just take another booth. I’ve already paid the rent on it with the sale of a single vintage wool blanket, so it was definitely worth it. Also, I didn’t take the job at the bank. I had an interview and it went really well—all I had to do was one last thing for their external HR recruiter: VIDEO RECORD MYSELF ANSWERING QUESTIONS. I clicked the link, saw the first question, and ran into the kitchen:

Me: I can’t! I can’t work at a bank! I RETIRED so I wouldn’t have to do stuff like this. I like the job I already have!
Ken: So don’t work at the bank. I told you it was fine if you didn’t want to.

And my decision was a good one based on what happened on Wednesday when I rang through a customer, who wanted to pay with cash. I entered the amount and was making change when he suddenly said, “It’s probably easier if I give you another $1.55.” I looked at him, confused, as he counted out more money, especially since I had his change in my hand, ready to give it to him. I started to panic, and my 23-year-old boss came over:

Boss: What’s wrong?
Me: I—money—calculator?
Boss: Just give him back a ten.
Me: I’m not good at math.
Boss (laughs): That’s okay.

I don’t think the bank would be as forgiving. Plus, it’s good exercise, walking around a 90 000 square foot warehouse.

At any rate, it’s been busy, like I said, and I’m starting to have Christmas inadequacy, especially after buying a decorating magazine called Farmhouse Christmas. I saw it while Ken and I were waiting in line at the grocery store, and there were some cool instructions inside for making different kinds of ornaments. Of course, when it got rung through, I realized that it was literally the most expensive thing we bought at FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Was it worth it? Yes, if only for the laughs. Because there are several things in this magazine that are just bizarre.

1) Despite it being called Farmhouse Christmas, every featured house is decorated in white. Pristine white walls, pristine white floors, pristine white furniture—which leads me to believe that NONE of these people actually live on farms. If I owned a farmhouse on an actual farm, everything would be decorated in brown to hide all the mud and manure. Apparently one of the farms is an alpaca farm, and there’s a picture of a guy outside with two alpacas, but they look fake, like giant friendly stuffed animals. And I just did a lot of alpaca research for this (thanks Google) and discovered that alpacas are not actually that friendly, and that there’s a real thing called Berserk Alpaca Syndrome and that alpacas will spit at you and also scream at night. The two alpacas in the picture are called Scooter and Handsome (exactly what I would name stuffed alpacas) and that the owners love to “watch them interact with the sheep.” I can only imagine.

2) There are at least four different families represented in this magazine, and every single person in every single photo is BAREFOOT. With the exception of the guy with the alpacas, demonstrating that the only lucrative farming is alpaca farming, even if they spit and scream. But seriously—why is no one wearing any shoes?! Family posing on the couch—no shoes. Mother with child on her lap—no shoes. Woman standing in her kitchen—no shoes. Ken grew up on a dairy farm and I don’t recall anyone in his family running around the farmhouse without shoes or socks. I can imagine the photo shoots:

Photographer: OK folks, I love the matching outfits. Kids, those rosy cheeks are precious. Everyone ready to smile? Oh wait—why are you all wearing shoes?! This is a photo shoot, not a visit to an alpaca farm! Take those damn things off right now—you’re ruining my feng shui and disrupting my chakras.
Child 1: But the floor is cold…
Photographer: I don’t care. You remember what I said about shoes?
Child 2 (whispers sadly): They’re the devil’s footwear.

3) The most out-of-touch with reality thing in this entire magazine has got to be the story about “Cindy”, a blogger who decorates in white but likes to “sprinkle” other colours around to inspire her readers. In the photo, she’s also barefoot. But that’s not the crazy thing. THIS is the crazy thing: “My husband cooks and prepares all holiday meals. He takes the week off work to shop for all the ingredients. Our entire meal, desserts included, is made from scratch,” Cindy says.  He takes THE ENTIRE WEEK OFF WORK TO GROCERY SHOP?!! Is he just really bad at it? Because Ken can literally buy a week’s worth of groceries in under an hour. And she’s bragging about making all the food ‘from scratch’? Did he personally raise and then slaughter the turkey? Then it’s not from SCRATCH, CINDY.  Also, if Cindy’s husband can afford to take a week off work to grocery shop, then I bet he can afford to buy her a pair of slippers.

All this magazine did, besides giving me a good chuckle, is make me realize that I would rather live in a house where people are allowed to wear shoes, surrounded by warm wood and love. And tacos. Which Ken is going to make tonight. From a kit.

The decorating has begun!

You Can Count On Me

Before I was born, my mother worked at a bank. My father began his career as a toolmaker and machinist. They are both good at math. My brother has a Ph.D. and is good at math along with a lot of other things. Ken is good at math. Kate is exceptional at math, having taken advanced calculus, and is able to do computer coding. Me? I am sh*tty at math. I’m like the middle of a very mathematical Venn Diagram where the middle is someone with no ability to work with numbers AT ALL, and that person is playing with a puppy and laughing at memes about cats, and if you’re saying to yourself right now, “That’s not how Venn diagrams work!”, let me once again remind you that I AM NO GOOD AT MATH. At work, I’m responsible for cashing customers out at the till, and there’s one regular who INSISTS on waiting until I’ve punched the amount of money he gave me into the computer, then also INSISTS on changing the amount of money he gave me just so he can laugh while I try to figure out how much change I owe him.

And the point of this very self-deprecating prologue is to set up the following story. Ken came home the other day and said, “I was at the bank and they’re looking for part-time help. I’d love to do it but I already have 7 volunteer jobs and 3 paying jobs so I don’t think I’d have time. But it’s right across the street so why don’t you apply?”

I didn’t hear him at first because I was trying to mentally add up how many jobs he had (10! The answer is 10!), but then I thought about how nice it would be not to have to drive on a very busy highway every day to get to my current job. So I printed off a resume and went over. The people there were lovely, and after chatting with the manager, I had a good vibe, but then this happened:

Manager: So you can count money, right?
Me: Count money?
Manager: Part of the job is being able to count.
Me (laughs lightly): Of course I can count.

And I wasn’t lying—I really CAN count but…how much and how high are we talking here?! On the way home, I was really quiet:

Ken: What’s wrong?
Me: What have I done?! What if I get an interview and there’s a MATH TEST? The closest I’ve ever come to doing math professionally was teaching Life Of Pi!
Ken: You’re worrying too much. It’s not like you’d have to be doing calculus—it’s probably just basic math.

And then I felt better and remembered that I used to help Kate with her math homework, and that always went well:

Kate: Math, math, blah, blah, dividing by zero.
Me: Oh, that’s easy. Whenever you divide by zero, you end up with the same number you started with. Like 15 divided by zero is 15.
Kate: No, it’s not! You can’t divide by zero.
Me: Sure you can. I have 15 things. There’s zero things that go into it, so I still have 15 things.
Kate: That’s NOT how it works. It’s impossible. See, if I put 15 divided by zero into my calculator, it says “Error”.
Me: I paid good money for that calculator—what’s wrong with it?
Kate: Nothing! You just can’t divide by zero.
Me: But I just did.
Kate: But you’re wrong. Zero would go into 15 an infinite number of times, so it can’t be calculated.
Me: But I just calculated it.
Kate: NO, YOU DIDN’T.
Me: Look. If you have 15 slices of bacon, and you try to divide them by zero, how many slices of bacon do you have left? 15! Because you have eaten zero of them!
Kate: 15 is the REMAINDER!…IS there bacon?
Me: Sure. Do you want 15 slices or zero?

Anyway, I have an interview on Tuesday, so wish me luck. I’m counting on it.

Batter Up!

Recently, Ken has taken a part-time job at the local gas station. It’s a great gig—it’s a thirty second walk from home, he only works four hours a day, and most people pay at the pump so he’s not run off his feet. In fact, the only downside is that his shift is 5:30 to 9:30. IN THE MORNING. Now, he loves it, being an insanely early riser and all, but it’s been hard on me. You may remember that our house has been experiencing strange events, from doors being left open, to taps running, to the dog staring at the basement door and growling—and while things have gotten slightly better, which is to say that I haven’t needed to enlist the neighbours in a house search lately, I and especially the dog are both a little jumpy. The other morning, Ken left for work but forgot to close the door to the family room, which meant Atlas was free to roam the house. He decided to pay me a visit and announced himself by leaping onto the bed and staring into my face:

Me: Huh? What’s going on?
Atlas: Nothing. Just came for snuggles.
Me: Okay. Be quiet though.

Then five minutes later, he suddenly lifted his head, started to growl, and ran out of the room barking. He wouldn’t stop, and it was making me really nervous so I finally had to get out of bed and found him at the top of the stairs, hackles raised:

Me: What are you doing?
Atlas: Noise. Downstairs.
Me: Go look.
Atlas: No, you go look.
Me: YOU’RE the dog. And YOU started this. Go see!
Atlas: Hard pass.

At which point, exhausted and fed up, I went back into the bedroom and grabbed the baseball bat I keep under the bed. And why do I keep a baseball bat under the bed? For the exact same reason I keep a hammer in the drawer of the bedside table. I also have both a hammer and a baseball bat in the bathroom, and a hammer in the family room, as well as two large oars in my office. I don’t have either a hammer or a baseball bat in the kitchen because in the kitchen THERE ARE KNIVES. And all this is because I am the Queen of Worst-Case Scenarios. In fact, one year for Christmas, I bought Kate a book called “The Little Book of Worst-Case Scenarios”, and I forced her to read it so she would know what to do under different circumstances, for example:

a) Being chased by a bear (make yourself look as large as possible and scream loudly to let the bear know you could take it in a fight. Don’t run—unless you’re with someone who’s obviously slower than you).

b) Accidentally driving a car into a river (find an air pocket, wait for the car to be submerged, then open the door and swim to the surface). Kate was like “I’m seven years old–why would I ever drive a car into a river?” I DON’T KNOW, Kate. But if you plan for these things, you might SURVIVE them).

c) Playing in a bouncy castle that suddenly becomes untethered and begins to float away (which apparently happens more often than you think, prompting our local school board to ban them from school property. They also banned dunk tanks. Because of all the dunking).

And Kate has learned her lessons well, because a few weeks ago, she came home for the weekend, and after she left, I went into her room to re-make the bed (because I’m weird and like things a certain way). As I was moving the pillows to one side, I found a knife under one of them. I smiled, put it back where I found it, and said to myself proudly, “That’s my girl.”

Anyway, I have assorted weaponry in the house just on the off chance that Atlas is correct for once and there actually IS an intruder in the house.  Here’s the scenario:

We wake up in the middle of the night to strange noises coming from downstairs. Ken offers to investigate. He puts on his housecoat and goes down with the dog, who is clearly agitated but too much of a chicken to go see by himself. I wait, wracked with fear. There are shouts, commotion, then nothing. The intruder has tied up both Ken and the dog, and is taunting them as he steals our stuff, mainly clocks and paintings of Paris because he’s a robber with good taste. I quietly get the baseball bat out from under the bed and sneak downstairs. The intruder has his back to me. Ken sees me, but luckily, he’s gagged so he can’t do what he would normally do and say something like, “Why do you have a baseball bat?” At this point, I swing, connect with the intruder’s head, and down he goes. I free Ken and Atlas, put back my clocks and paintings because I’m weird and like things a certain way while Ken ties up and gags the intruder, and then we call the police. Ta dah.

But to make a long story short, I went downstairs with my baseball bat in hand, but as usual, there was no reason to sound the alarm. I came back up, slightly unnerved from the experience to find Atlas fast asleep in my spot. He’s the worst guard dog ever, but he’s very warm and snuggly.

Radioactive

See, antiques ARE fun.

One of the great things about working at the antique market is that I’ve discovered so many fun and fascinating gadgets. A few weeks ago, I was helping a customer look through a bulk jewellery tray and he asked, “Do you mind if I use my diamond tester on these rings?” And I was like, “A DIAMOND TESTER? I must see this!” So he pulled out this little device and touched the tip to one of the stones in a ring, and…nothing. But three rings later, a tiny alarm sounded. “I’ll take this one,” he smiled. I immediately went home and ordered not only my own diamond tester, but also a tester that distinguishes between natural diamonds and moissanite, which are lab-grown diamonds. The testers came the next day, and I gleefully went around the house testing all of our jewellery and discovered that a pair of earrings I’d never worn and just tossed in a drawer actually had diamond chips in them. I still won’t wear them because they’re not my style being all fancy and dangly (and no, that’s not my cool nickname) but it’s still good to find out. Then I took the testers to work but I didn’t find anything surprising because almost all the jewellery dealers have their own testers. Still, you never know your luck, like that customer.

Then a couple of weeks later, another customer was walking around with a tiny blacklight. “What’s that for?” I asked.

“Oh, I collect uranium glass. If you point a UV light at it, it fluoresces.” He showed me, by pointing it at a small green plate, which immediately turned neon. So guess what I immediately did? That’s right—ordered my own little blacklight from Amazon. And then I went through the house pointing it at stuff to see if any of my glassware glowed in the dark. And I was amazed to discover that my house is full of glassware made with uranium, like, for example, this innocuous little vase and the lamp next to it.

Before
After

Apparently, I’m a hive of radioactivity, which might account for what I saw on LinkedIn this morning:

LinkedIn doesn’t have many uses, but it DOES tell you who’s been looking at your profile, and why the hell is some American Senator trying to suss out who the mysterious mydangblog could be?! I mean it says my actual name on my profile, and pictures of my books with my own damn name on it are right here on this website. Do they think I’m secretly running a nuclear power plant in small town Ontario?

U.S. Republican Senator 1: Forget Russia—we should be more worried about the Canadians. We’ve detected a substantial amount of uranium close to the border.
U.S. Republican Senator 2: Not surprising. They’re a bunch of commie pinkos up there.
U.S. Republican Senator 1: Call Ted Cruz. He used to be Canadian. Maybe he can reason with them.
U.S. Republican Senator 2: There’s no reasoning with those frosty bastards.

Aide: This just in, breaking news from Fox! The Canadian uranium stockpile is being kept in a house owned by someone named ‘mydangblog’ but who prefers to be called…(checks notes)…Player One!
U.S. Republican Senator 1: Ooh. That IS a cool nickname.

I guess if the U.S Army shows up at my door, I’d better hide all the antique glass.

In other news, it’s become so prevalent on Facebook Marketplace to advertise things as free and then list exorbitant prices in the description that if you actually HAVE something for free, you need to be extremely adamant about it, thusly:

And just to make it REALLY clear, this is what the item’s description says, in case there was any doubt:

I so badly wanted to be a frosty bastard and message the person: “How much is this?” But, truth be told, I don’t even know what the f*ck it is, and if it’s what’s in the picture, I don’t want his glowing wood clones–I can glow just fine on my own.

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