Um… Hello, 911…?

…I think I just killed my husband… with a bathtub…

I came very close to speaking those words several years ago, and yes, you did read that first sentence correctly. ‘With’; not ‘in’. After all, killing one’s husband in a bathtub is practically a cliché, and you know I’d never stoop to that.

When we bought our house, the upstairs bathroom had a ‘cultured marble’ (read ‘concrete finished to look like marble’) jetted tub.  If we didn’t remember to run the jets frequently it spat stinking gouts of slime because there was no way to drain the stagnant water from the lines. It was ugly, as cold as stone (go figure) and poorly insulated on an exterior wall. In winter my ass froze on the bottom of the tub no matter how hot the water was.

It had to go.

Our plumber friend surveyed it and advised, “That thing probably weighs nearly two hundred pounds. Break it up with a sledgehammer and take it out in pieces.” (Gary, if you’re reading this: We should have listened to you.)

We didn’t, of course.

No; the tub was in good shape. Somebody else might be able to use it. It must be salvaged!

We’re both strong, so removing it wasn’t too difficult. We extricated it from the bathroom with a modicum of sweat and profanity and lugged it to the top of the stairs.  There we balanced it precariously overhanging the stairs, and I went down to support it from below while Hubby held it from the landing above.

I eyed the teetering monstrosity looming over me and said, “I think we should wait until after lunch to do this. My blood sugar is low and I don’t know if I can hold this thing.”

And Hubby said, “That’s okay, I’ll take the bottom and you can take the top.”

We swapped positions and I quavered, “I think we might be solving the wrong problem here…”

And we were. Oh, yes, we were.

Have I mentioned that cultured marble is slippery?

As soon as the tub tipped past its centre of balance, it wrenched out of my grasp. I had only enough time to yelp, “I can’t hold it!” before it hurtled down the stairs like a murderous toboggan with Hubby underneath it.

The lower landing sported an oak railing and (luckily) a 90-degree bend in the stairs.

The tub hit the landing and slammed into the railing. The railing let out a hellish crack and tore loose from the wall but miraculously held at a crazy angle, barely preventing the tub from shooting over the edge and plunging through the living room floor below.

Frozen, I gaped down at the scene of the crime: The tub (still in one piece); the broken railing; Hubby squished underneath.

And I thought, “Shit, I just killed my husband with a bathtub.”

I hadn’t, fortunately. He was smart enough to let it carry him down instead of trying to stop it, so he escaped with only a few minor bruises. After I’d eaten some lunch and stopped shaking, we anticlimactically carried it down the remaining stairs, and we did eventually sell it.

But I’ll never forget the horror of those few moments.

Any bulldozing bathtubs of doom in your family tales?

31 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Code Phrases And Cauliflower

Before I begin, I’d like to note that I generally don’t criticize a man who’s washing dishes. I believe the correct response to a dishcloth-wielding male is a sincere ‘thank you’, possibly combined with hugs, kisses, ear-nibbling, and/or some friendly groping. (An aside to my dinner guests: This is why we turn down your offers to help with the dishes. It’s just one more little way we ensure we’ll still be friends when the evening’s over.)

But there are exceptions to every rule. (Okay, not to every rule. There are no exceptions to the “Don’t grope the guests” rule. It’s safe to visit us, I promise.)

Anyway…

A few evenings ago I watched the dishwater turn orange while Hubby scrubbed a pot with a steel-wool pad so rusty it looked like Ronald McDonald’s hair, and this conversation took place:

Me: “Maybe it’s time to either pull off the rusty part or throw the whole thing away.”

Hubby: “It looks okay to me.”

Me: “Let me put this another way: Don’t use that thing on my pots!”

And that got me thinking about the subtle little code phrases that develop in marriages. For example:

Me: “Do you want some of this (food item)?”

Hubby: “I’ll have some later.” Translation: “I will never eat that. I will continue to say I’ll eat it ‘later’ until it grows legs and walks itself to the garbage.”

Or

Me: “Were you using the (whatever tool I’m currently looking for)? Do you know where it might be?” Translation: “Goddammit, I can’t find the goddamn tool that I know I put away the last time I used it! Stop stealing my goddamn tools, goddammit!” (Yes, I’m a writer. You can tell by my extensive vocabulary.)

Or

Either of us: “What’s that smell?” Translation: “Did you fart, or is it time to search the fridge for rotting cauliflower again?”

Yes, there’s a story behind that.

One day Hubby and I were in the kitchen making lunch, and I smelled something.  Something vile.  Something remarkably reminiscent of gasses better released in other, more private areas of the house where food is not being prepared.

But I didn’t say anything. I mean, sooner or later we all let one slip, right?

But it happened again. Then again.  At last I demanded, “Did you fart?”

Hubby denied it. He thought I’d been dropping silent-but-deadlies the whole time.

We agreed that something must be rotting in the fridge, but we both dug through it and found nothing that should be emitting that stink. So I tore the fridge apart, washed the shelves and crisper drawers, and checked the drain pan underneath to make sure nothing hideous was growing in there.

Nada. But the smell persisted.

After several days of futile searching, Hubby finally traced the offending vapours to a glass container containing raw cauliflower. It had a locked-tight lid with a silicone seal and the cauliflower looked fine inside, which was why we’d missed it in our previous purges. But the stench was so fearsome it had come right through the sealed lid. Yikes.

The whole episode reminded me of a long-ago friend’s father when he encountered his wife’s er… effluvium. He sucked in a deep breath and then boomed in the heartiest of tones, “Well, hello, cabbage-ass!”

Yep, he was a master of subtle code.

Any code phrases or tales of festering cruciferae in your household?

* * *

P.S. Cool news:  I did a promo with Bookbub over the weekend, and Never Say Spy hit #1 on the Kindle Free Bestsellers list.  For a short time it was the best-selling book in the entire Kindle free store, fiction or non-fiction.  Of course, it was only my fifteen minutes of fame and it had dropped by the next day, but it’s still #1 in Women Sleuths. The best it had ever done before was #9, so I’m pumped!  Woohoo!  :-D

NSS #1 in all Kindle ebooks

My fifteen minutes of fame

 

43 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life

Meanwhile, Inside My Brain…

3yrold cartoonTrue to form, Book 9 isn’t even out the door yet and already Book 10 is demanding my attention.  Good thing I love writing!  Speaking of Book 9, SPY HIGH is on schedule to be released this Friday, January 16/15.  As usual, it’ll be out on Amazon and Smashwords first, followed by all other channels within a week or two.  I’ll keep you posted!

68 Comments

Filed under Cartoons, Humour, Writing

Cow Farts And Doobies

Hubby and I were discussing cow farts the other day.

We didn’t suddenly turn to each other at the dinner table and exclaim, “Cow farts!”  No; our conversation actually began as a semi-serious discussion of global warming.  It’s just that whenever I’m present, the conversation tends to go rapidly sideways.  I blame this on my brain’s annoying tendency to latch onto useless but amusing bits of trivia.

In this case, the factoid in question was:  Cow farts are a major contributor to global warming gas emissions.  Because of the fermentation that takes place as organic matter moves through their four stomachs, large quantities of methane gas are produced.  The gas is, erm… expelled.  Human beings raise lots of cattle.  Lots of cattle equals lots of cow farts. (Update: Sadly, the Blog Fodder has pointed out below that this is only a factoid, not a true and useful fact.  But I still like the idea of farting bovine enviro-pirates.  It’s good to be a fiction writer.)

Anyway, that got me thinking about cows in general.  You know how some things are intrinsically funny?  For example, bananas are funnier than oranges.  Turnips are funnier than, say, lettuce or radishes.  And cows are funnier than horses or just about any other farmyard animal.

I think that’s partly because of another little piece of trivia that may or may not be true, but it sounds logical and I want to believe it:  Cows spend pretty much their entire lives intoxicated because alcohol is another by-product of the digestive fermentation process.  Maybe that explains why they’re so placid.  Whenever I see a cow I giggle at the thought that behind those big brown glassy eyes is an animal that might be completely snockered. (Update:  Nope, this one’s not true, either.  Bummer.)

And cattle are funny-looking.  They could have been designed by a six-year-old kid:  a big rectangular block supported by four knobby legs with a head stuck on the front.  Oh, and a tail on the back.

The tail always makes me laugh, too.  The skinny rope with a tassel on the end is funny in itself, but what truly amuses me is that cows and lions have exactly the same tail.  I don’t know whether to congratulate the cow on its badass likeness to the king of the beasts or offer my condolences to the lion for getting tagged with the same hair-handle as the ungulates.

And if you’ve ever seen a cow jump a fence (they are actually capable of jumping, though not very high), that in itself is giggle-worthy.  Unless the cattle in question are escaping your pasture, in which case it’s not very funny at all.

Anyway…

Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here comes a topic-swerve that’s only loosely linked to cow farts:  doobies.  (That’s a funny word in itself.)  Yes, I’m talking about bombers, joints, reefers; wacky tobaccy in general.

How is this related to cow farts?  Well, cow farts are funny.  And doobies are funny cigarettes.

Why am I making this extremely tenuous connection?

Because it’s a cheap and sleazy segue into announcing that Book 9, SPY HIGH has cover art and a release date!  Woohoo!  My beta readers blasted through it during the Christmas holidays – thanks, guys, you ROCK!  Now I only have to do some final polishing and it’ll be ready to roll out the door.  The tentative release date is January 16, 2015 (to be confirmed next week).

And yes, that is a funny cigarette on the cover…

Spy High book 9 cover

After four uneventful months spent guarding her boss’s eccentric hippy parents on an isolated raincoast commune, bookkeeper-turned-secret-agent Aydan Kelly is beginning to hope mildewed undies will be the only hazard she’ll face.

But some of the blissed-out flower children are not what they seem.  Aydan discovers a plot to kill her lovable charges, and in her fight to protect them she unearths the commune’s deepest secret.  Suddenly she’s facing dozens of enemies who threaten the lives of all the innocent commune members as well as her own.

She’ll only survive with a little help from her friends…

36 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Thanks For Another Good Year!

It’s hard to believe we’ll be starting a new year tomorrow – this one has flown by so fast!  I had originally planned to write some of my usual foolishness today, but instead I’d rather use this final post of 2014 to say thank you to all of you.

When I first started blogging I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but it has been far more fun than I could have imagined.  And you, my wonderful visitors, make it worthwhile.

You give life to my blog and motivation to me.  You make me laugh, encourage me, and sometimes make me think in new ways.

And in the busy-ness of today’s crazy world, I’m honoured beyond measure that you allot some of your precious time to read my silliness and share your wit and wisdom.  Your comments are the best part of my blog!

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I wish you love, laughter, health, and prosperity in the coming year and always.

Happy 2015!

gingerbread house

36 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Life

Season’s Greetings!

I finished the final draft of Book 9, SPY HIGH, on Sunday and the first beta reader is already finished – woohoo!  Now I’m looking forward to a week of family, food, and festivities.  Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and general merriness to you if you don’t!

snowscape

29 Comments

Filed under Life, Writing

Is That A Snake In Your Pocket Or…?

Last week in the news this headline confronted me: “A Sandwich, A Snake, And A SNAFU: How Things Went Wrong At A Saskatoon Tim Horton’s”. And I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to put it into a blog post. (Thanks to Chris Robinson for inspiring the title of this post with his comment on my Facebook page.)

In case the link expires, here are the salient points of the event:

  1. Two guys walk into a Tim Horton’s in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Yes, this IS the beginning of a joke.)
  2. They order a sandwich (unclear whether that was one sandwich between the two of them, or one sandwich each). They want their onions diced.
  3. The employee objects to dicing the onions.
  4. An argument ensues.
  5. The argument escalates.
  6. One guy gets thoroughly pissed off, reaches into his buddy’s pocket, pulls out a non-venomous snake, and throws it at the employee.
  7. Chaos ensues and the police are called.
  8. The guys get arrested and charged with public mischief. The snake gets a temporary home until it can be released into the wild. I get a belly laugh or three. No word on what the employee got.

Naturally, my first reaction on reading this article was to post it on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to enjoy. After all, as I noted there, how often do you find a guy secure enough in his manhood to publicly reach into his buddy’s pocket and grab his snake?

But on further reflection, there was just so much in this article to boggle my mind. To wit:

  • All double entendres aside, why would a guy carry a snake in his pocket?
  • Why did the snake stay in his pocket? In my experience, snakes tend to prefer stillness and solitude, and they tend to seek them out fairly determinedly.
  • If, for some unfathomable reason, you were walking around with a snake in your pocket (yes, I’m still talking about the reptilian variety), why would you go into a Tim Horton’s? Presumably you’re transporting the snake somewhere for a reason, so why not use the drive-through and carry on to the intended conclusion of your snake-toting?
  • If the “unfathomable reason” was a pleasant outing for the snake, there are lots of better places to take it. As far as I know, snakes don’t like coffee or sandwiches. Not even Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • If you’re carrying around a snake with the intent to fling it, why not just fling it and be done? Get in, fling the snake, get out, go get your sandwich at a different Timmie’s.
  • Why was it so important that the Tim Horton’s employee dice the onions? Why wouldn’t the guy pull out a jackknife and chop the onions himself? Or if he didn’t have a tool in his pocket, (hence his need for the snake, perhaps…?), why not just break the onions into pieces with his fingers? They should have been clean – his momma must have told him to always wash his hands after handling his snake.
  • Who, in the extremities of irritation, decides to reach into somebody else’s pocket for what was clearly an inoffensive critter (at least to the snake-toter, who theoretically must have been sanguine about his reptilian pocket pet)?

So many questions… just one answer: Only in Saskatchewan.

(If you don’t believe me, I offer the following YouTube clip as evidence. This is part of the half-time show from the 2013 Grey Cup, played in Regina, Saskatchewan. Check out the maniac on the snowmobile behind the band. Yep, I rest my case.)

* * *

Book 9 draft is at 90% and we have a title!  SPY HIGH will be coming out in January… cover art coming soon!

25 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Humour, Life

Virtual Cookie Exchange

cookie exchange

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you… cookies!  And fudge!  And snackables!

My blogging buddy Linda Grimes invited me to participate in a virtual cookie exchange, and being the foodie I am, I couldn’t resist.  I promised her my simplest no-cook 3-ingredient fudge and a couple of other super-quick recipes that make you look like a holiday hero for making goodies from scratch.

Author Linda Poitevin is hosting this festival of yumminess.  Here’s a  list of all the recipes so far, and she’ll be posting another update today and again next week.

Here you go – happy snacking!

Simple Chocolate* Fudge

1 – 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk (about 1-1/4 cups – it doesn’t have to be perfect)

2-1/4 cups chocolate* chips

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions:  Melt everything together, stir well, and pour into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

(Note:  If you’re using the microwave, only nuke in short bursts until the milk gets hot and then stir until the chips melt.  If you over-nuke it the chocolate chips turn to cardboard instead of melting.)

*Tip for holiday heroes:  You can make this into any kind of fudge you want – just use a different kind of chips.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, whatever.  If you want to be fancy, throw in some chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, dried cranberries, chopped-up candy bars, or whatever else moves you. If you want to go all Martha Stewart and give homemade fudge as a gift, make a double batch and chill it in a parchment-lined loaf pan, then slice it into slabs the way the fudge shops do.

Simple Peanut Butter Fudge*

1 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Instructions:  Melt the first 3 ingredients together, stir in the icing sugar, and press into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

*Tip for holiday heroes:  Make the peanut butter fudge first, then make a batch of chocolate fudge and spread it over top.  Choco-peanut-butter fudge, hello.  This almost fills the 9×9 pan, so if you like your fudge a little thinner, put it in a 9×13 pan instead.

Ranch Crispix Snack*

1 box Crispix cereal

1 box mini-Ritz crackers

1 bag cheddar Fishie crackers

1 bag pretzel twists

1-1/2 cups roasted almonds/pecans/macadamias, whatever

1/3 cup canola/sunflower/corn oil

2 envelopes Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing mix

2 or 3 tablespoons dried dill

Instructions: Throw everything in a paper bag* and shake well.  Pour out.  Eat.

*This recipe might sound kinda gross to those who don’t like ranch flavour, but it’s irresistible if you like tangy, crunchy, salty snacks. And you can shake it up in anything you have handy – a turkey roaster or covered pail or whatever.

And now…

Since this is actually supposed to be a cookie exchange, here are my favourite molasses spice cookies.  They do require baking so they’re not quite as fast and simple as the first three recipes, but they’re soooo worth it!

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

3/4 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

4 tablespoons dark molasses

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

Instructions: Mix the first 4 ingredients together, then add the rest and mix well.  Roll into teaspoon-sized balls*, dunk in sugar, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Flatten with a fork* and bake at 350 degrees approximately 12 – 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

*Note to Linda Grimes – I know this one has more ingredients than you want to deal with, but you gotta give me credit – continuing in your fine tradition, I said “balls” and “fork”.

6 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Life

Alcoholity 101

Though I generally avoid religious and political discussions, today I’d like to introduce you to a widely-practiced but poorly-documented religion: Alcoholity. As a practicing member, I think it’s important to spread the Holy Word so that Alcoholity can be given the rights and recognition it deserves.

Archaeological records show that Alcoholity was practiced as early as 10,000 B.C., long before any other organized religion. After thousands of years of development, Alcoholity today is divided into two main branches: BeerHallicism and ProBoozetantism.

BeerHallicism is the more stringent of the two branches. Devout BeerHallics attend services at their local place of worship on all High Holy Days, which include Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, days the in-laws visit, and any day on which a major sporting event takes place. Additional days of worship may also be observed at the adherent’s discretion. The most orthodox BeerHallics also designate a day after High Holy Days as a Day of Contemplation, which requires fasting, resting in a dim room, and abstention from loud noises.

Orthodox BeerHallicism is not for everyone. In addition to the extensive time commitment, it frequently comes with a heavy burden of guilt and also requires a rigorous Confession upon returning home at the close of each High Holy Day.

ProBoozetantism encompasses a number of denominations and is a less demanding branch of Alcoholity. ProBoozetants observe the High Holy Days to varying degrees, and unlike BeerHallics they are not required to attend services in a designated building. Services may take place in restaurants, private homes, at sporting events, or even in public places (though open-air services tend to be subjected to religious persecution by the authorities).

The three main denominations of ProBoozetantism are Presbeerterians, Wineglicans, and Liquorists. Their liturgies are very similar, differing mainly in the content of their Holy Communion, though Wineglicans also perform a complex ceremony with the Communion glass resulting in a euphoric state similar to Rapture.

On the subject of Holy Communion, it should be noted that while scholars consider fruit juice and yeast to be the true Body and Lifeblood of Alcohol, all current branches of Alcoholity accept the consumption of any form of booze and food for Holy Communion.

In addition to the three main denominations, many smaller offshoots of ProBoozetantism exist, such as Coolerism, Shooterism, Cocktailism, ‘Shineism, and even Screechism, a tiny sect existing only in Newfoundland, Canada which includes a baptism/confirmation ceremony called a ‘Screech-in’ that requires speaking in tongues and bestowing a kiss upon the holy Cod.

Unlike most other established religions, Alcoholity is inclusive. As the religion continues to evolve, denominational lines are becoming increasingly blurred and ecumenical services are common.  Even the most orthodox BeerHallics warmly welcome everyone to their places of worship to participate in Holy Communion. ProBoozetants and nonbelievers alike are allowed to bow over the BeerHallics’ holy altar, the Pool Table, and everyone worships with equal fervour before the Big Screen.

And the best thing about Alcoholity is that it can be practiced concurrently with almost all of the other mainstream religions.

With such rich historical tradition and widespread adherence, it’s long past time for Alcoholity to be recognized as a mainstream religion. Please lobby your local authorities to write it into law.

And remember: Your employer must accommodate your need to observe the High Holy Days, and may even be required to do so with full pay or face legal action for discrimination on the basis of religion. Schedule a meeting with your Human Resources liaison today and demand your religious rights!

Oh, and let me know how that goes for you…

42 Comments

Filed under Humour

True Confessions

I just finished confessing to a complete lack of literary sophistication over on my blogging buddy Carrie Rubin’s latest post, and it got me thinking (always a dangerous thing).

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I lack taste in most areas.

I hide it well enough in public most of the time. During my lengthy and painful sojourn as an interior designer I managed to build a veneer of deceptive behaviours that masqueraded as good manners and (somewhat) refined taste:

  • About once a year I went to a nice mid-range clothing store and bought a few things in whatever colour/cut/style was purported to be ‘in fashion’ for the season so I could blend into the professional community.
  • I suppressed coughs, sneezes, burps, farts, and every hint of my dirty mind and twisted sense of humour.
  • I feigned fascination and deep concern over furniture and paint colours and carpets that were fundamentally the same and would be indistinguishable from the alternate choices within minutes of being installed.

While I was a computer geek the rules of taste were mercifully relaxed, but in my next incarnation as a business owner I forced myself to attend networking events and dinners and seminars in the hope of convincing other business owners that I was sufficiently socially aware not to be an embarrassment while providing them with computer training.

  • I sat through presentations on everything from team building to angel channeling to economics to unleashing the power of my femininity: straight-faced, asking pertinent questions, and nodding seriously at the replies.
  • I suppressed my natural urge to pig out at dinners and ate politely, nay, dare I say daintily.
  • I never, not even once, stood up and shouted, “All in favour of throwing on some jeans and pounding back some beers, follow me!”

Fortunately I’ve always had good friends who know the real me and therefore find my fakery hilarious, or my brain probably would have exploded.

These days I hire others far more qualified than I to interact with the normal human race (thank you, David and Sharon, for being the public faces of my computer training business), and I lurk happily in my sordid home-office lair, wearing comfortable clothes and writing things that make me laugh.

It’s far too late to impress anybody now. So, inspired by Carrie’s honesty, I hereby confess:

  • I hated the literary classics. All of them.
  • I cheerfully wear the same T-shirts, fleece jacket,  yoga pants, jeans, and sneakers week after month after year without ever desiring any newer or more fashionable clothes.  In my defense, I do wash them after each wearing.  I may not have fashion sense but at least I’m clean.
  • I enjoy poetry, but my true love is limericks.
  • Farts make me snicker.
  • I love fine food and wine, but I love burgers and beer just as much.
  • My liking for classical music might make me look as though I have taste, but the truth is I like rock and pop just as well. And blues and country and metal and reggae and ragtime and big band and just about everything else including polkas and accordion music. Sad but true.
  • I’ll choose a stupid sitcom over a serious drama every time. (Does anybody remember WKRP in Cincinnati? “…As God is my witness, Travis, I thought turkeys could fly.”)
  • In private, I lick my fingers instead of using a napkin.  Sometimes I lick the plate, too.  Especially if there’s rare-steak juice.

How about you?

  • Dress-up or jeans?
  • Haute cuisine or pub grub?
  • Comedy, drama, action, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or romance?
  • Classics or genre fiction?
  • Shakespeare or e e cummings or doggerel?
  • Adolescent humour or… wait, never mind. If you’ve stuck with me this far, there’s no hope for you.  (Sorry about that.)

32 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life