Bad Moon Rising

I was sitting at the breakfast table mulling over topics for today’s post when it happened. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly shocked. I’d been half-expecting something bad.

Usually by the time I get out of the shower in the morning I’ve got some ideas for a blog post, but this week nothing funny had happened. I hadn’t fallen off an exercise ball or dropped a dumbbell on my face at the gym. I hadn’t misread anything that made me go, “Wait, what?” and I hadn’t blurted out anything incriminating or even slightly inappropriate.

That made me nervous. I figured the universe must be saving up something truly dire for me.

I was right.

I’d made it all the way to the breakfast table without inspiration, and I was staring blankly out the window when the woman from several doors down emerged from her house with her little dog. Nothing unusual about that, but apparently there was something on her driveway this morning. So she bent over to pick it up.

Bent deeply at the waist.

She was wearing a short nightdress.

Fortunately she was too far away for me to make out details, but if she was actually wearing underwear, it was the exact colour of her skin.

I looked away hurriedly, thinking she’d feel the draft and realize what was happening, but either she was happily oblivious or else she’s an exhibitionist. She puttered around for a good five minutes, turning in all directions and bending over so deeply her skirt rode up far enough for everyone to see not only London and France, but also Turkey, Pakistan, and all of Oceania.

I admit it; I laughed. It reminded me of all the other times I’ve been subjected to views I really could have done without.

A few decades ago mooning was a common sport on the highway. Back then, you knew enough not to glance over if a car pulled up beside you but didn’t pass. If you did look, you were almost certain to see a bare ass hanging out the car window. (I haven’t seen that in years, though, so I guess the seatbelt laws have been good for something.)

And of course, plumber’s butt still abounds. I’ve seen ‘way too many hairy butt-cracks burgeoning out of low-slung jeans while their owners wrestle building materials into their trucks at the lumber store. But I usually assume those are accidental.

The ones I really wonder about are the guys who wear loose-fitting shorts with no underwear. Then they sit directly across from you with a smile on their face and their junk hanging out the leg of their shorts. Okay, guys, maybe it’s nice to give the boys some air, but I can’t help thinking you’re enjoying it a little too much.

I suppose I can’t exactly criticize, though. Having inadvertently done my share of mooning I pretty much have to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, including my alfresco neighbour lady.

At least there was one good thing about getting mooned: I renewed my acquaintance with one of my old-time faves, Creedence Clearwater Revival:

P.S. I saw my neighbour again about twenty minutes later, but this time she was wearing shorts. Maybe she noticed the breeze after all…

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Putting The ‘Real’ In Real Estate

One of my hobbies is shopping for land. It’s a bit of a pipe dream since it’s so expensive around Calgary, but I keep looking just in case there’s a bargain out there. Hey, if it made sense, it wouldn’t be a hobby, right?

Over the years I’ve gradually learned the language of real estate listings, so I’ve decided to share some of my hard-earned knowledge. Here are translations for some common phrases:

“Pristine recreational quarter”: It’s swamp.

“Beautiful creekside property”: It’s swamp.

“Perfect for hunters and sportsmen”: It’s swamp, with scrubby black spruce and gnarly undergrowth.

“Enjoy the beauty of nature and watch the wildlife from your window”: It’s mostly swamp. And if you try to grow a garden on the part that’s not swamp, a herd of ravenous deer will devour it.

“All the space you need”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Stunning views”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Perfect for your horses”: It’s bald-ass prairie.

“Seasonal creek”: It’s bald-ass prairie, but there’s a low spot where the runoff collects in the spring.

“Over 500 trees planted around the building site”: It’s bald-ass prairie, and the ‘trees’ are six-inch twigs. They might be taller than you by the time you die, but only if you have really severe osteoporosis and you shrink to under five feet.

“Spectacular mountain view”: You can see the very tips of the mountains if you stand on a ladder in the far northwest corner of the property next to the neighbour’s barn.

“Oil lease revenue”: There’s a sour-gas well smack in the middle of the only habitable part of the land. The rest is swamp.

“Ideal location to build the walkout of your dreams”: It’s a 45-degree grade with a ten-foot strip of level land at the top.

“Owner is motivated to sell”: There’s a feedlot and slaughterhouse on the next quarter and the stench of concentrated cow shit and rotting innards will slag your sinuses from two miles away.

“Wonderfully secluded property”: There’s no road access. To get to the property you have to build half a mile of road, or else dodge an evil-tempered bull while you four-wheel through the neighbour’s pasture.

“A half-mile of beautiful river frontage”: It’s a flood plain.

“It’s been handed down from generation to generation but now the owners must regretfully pass it on to someone who’ll enjoy it as much as they did”: A giant sawmill has been built on the property to the south and a bunch of nutjobs have established a ‘sporting society’ on the property to the north. The owners are fleeing like rats deserting a sinking ship.

“There’s a sign on the property”: No, there isn’t.

“No, really, there’s a sign on the property”: Okay, there is; but it’s invisible unless you approach from the correct direction and glance over at exactly the right moment.  You will only discover this after driving a systematic grid pattern for at least an hour.

“Fenced and cross-fenced”: …sometime in the 1930s. Now it’s a gap-toothed line of drunken-looking fenceposts with a couple of strands of rusty barbed wire concealed in the grass, just waiting to wrap around your ankle and trip you face-first into the nearest cow patty.

…But I have to admit that after hundreds of disappointments, I’ve developed my own double-speak. It’s only one phrase, but I use it over and over:

“It’s not quite what we’re looking for.”

I’m sure you can guess the translation. (Hint:  If your guess includes an f-bomb or two, you’re probably pretty close.)

* * *

P.S. Book 10 is sailing along!  It’ll definitely be released early, probably in late summer.  Woohoo!

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Un/Lucky?

Last week I got together with four friends for our annual overnight in Banff, the most beautiful tourist trap in the Canadian Rockies. We had a great time as always… but I couldn’t decide whether my luck was good or bad.

I was still fighting this rotten cold, so that was bad luck. But I’m certainly lucky to have friends who like me enough to put up with me even when I’m diseased!

At the Douglas Fir Resort, we checked into our giant 3-bedroom, 5-bed suite. For a while we sat on our balcony with drinks, enjoying the spectacular mountain view. Then, since I was likely to wake everybody by coughing up a lung in the middle of the night, I moved into one of the private queen rooms with an ensuite bathroom.

Lucky, right? Well, yes… until I realized there was no window, only a skylight. Not so lucky if you’re claustrophobic. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that the first thing I did was clamber up on the vanity to see if the skylight would open.

Nope. Bolted shut.

I comforted myself with the thought that if I was sufficiently motivated (say, by flames licking up the crack of my ass), I could smash the glass with the wrought-iron lamp and hoist myself up and out of the skylight. But luckily I wasn’t forced to test my escape plan.

Next stop was the Grizzly House for fondue. Pricey but delicious, it’s an evening’s entertainment as well as a meal. Unluckily, one of our fondue burners began to belch gouts of flame like a deranged dragon, but luckily one of the heroic waiters swooped in to save us before the flames reached the paper placemats. Those guys have nerves of steel and fingers of asbestos – he reached through the flames, turned the burner off, and whisked it away; all within seconds and without a change of expression. Wow.

The next day we went to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. I made a potty stop in the changing room, and just as I sat down my sunglasses slipped over the back of my head. I felt them hit my back. Then I felt them hit my butt. Then… *clink*

I thought, “Oh, please, tell me they didn’t fall into the toilet!”

Yep, they did.

But luckily I hadn’t used the toilet yet.

So I squeamishly fished the glasses out and scrubbed them with copious amounts of soap. Settling them back on my face still seemed a bit gross, but I got over it. But their run of bad luck wasn’t over yet. After we got back from the pool, they fell again… onto the concrete floor of the changing room.

Smash. Frames go one way, a lens goes the other.

But the lens didn’t scratch or break and I picked it up and pressed it back into the frame, where it has stayed ever since.  So that seemed like good luck.

And speaking of good luck, the food was amazing! Buttermilk pancakes with apple compote, candied walnuts, and vanilla cream for breakfast at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge; cheese fondue, bagna cauda, prawns, lobster, scallops, elk, ostrich, and alligator at the Grizzly House with a fruit-and-chocolate fondue for dessert (yes, I was in pain afterward); and even a BeaverTail (I managed to fit that in between my ice cream cone and my candied apple). Yum!

And driving back to Calgary in the eastbound lane of the TransCanada Highway on Friday afternoon, we considered ourselves supremely lucky to not be part of the bumper-to-bumper westbound traffic.

So in the end I had just enough bad luck to make my good luck seem even better. And that makes me feel lucky indeed!

How was your week?

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Beware The Sock Imps

I’ve just realized socks are the handiwork of evil. Not big bad eat-your-soul-for-breakfast evil; but something smaller and more mischievous, like imps. Think about it: No other garment causes as much annoyance.

Okay, I know you’re shaking your head and mumbling, “Nuh-uh. There are worse things than socks.”

That’s very true. For example, most women and a large percentage of men believe female undergarments are the contrivances of Satan himself. Women know this because we have to wear them, and any man who’s tried to manipulate the devilish little hooks and clasps one-handed while simultaneously maintaining a suave distraction will surely agree.

But never mind that; we all know women’s underwear is Big Evil. I’m talking about little evil.

Sock evil.

It’s gotta be imps. Why else could you put an even number of socks into the wash but find an odd number after the cycle is complete? Either the imps steal socks out of washer/dryers or else they’re employed in the manufacturing process, knitting every second sock out of some water-soluble substance that looks identical to cotton. Then they weave in a time-delay spell so that only one sock will dissolve per load… each and every time.

That would also explain why, when I’ve bought twenty identical pairs of socks so I can match them up effortlessly, after several washings they don’t match anymore. Some are still white with their elastic crisp and intact while others are as gray and baggy as socks twice their age.

Or maybe imps sneak into my laundry basket and randomly snatch a sock to polish their impmobiles*. Then when the sock is thoroughly grubby they stretch its elastic out of shape and return it to the basket with spiteful little giggles.

And what about the fact that within ten minutes of buying new socks, at least half develop holes in the toes? While I am willing to consider the possibility that I either have freakish sabre-toes or a talent for selecting defective socks (or both), I’d swear that sometimes the holes appear before I’ve even worn the socks. So I can’t rule out the possibility of sock-nibbling imps in my drawers. (Yikes, that sounds both alarming and painful. I meant my dresser drawers.)

Or maybe the socks develop holes because the special dissolving fibres got clumped together in one place instead of being evenly distributed. A defective manufacturing defect, if you will. Imps probably aren’t great at quality control.

I’m pretty sure a misery-inducing spell is woven in during the manufacturing process, too. If you’ve ever worn socks inside winter boots, you know what I mean. Your socks can have elastic tops that rival tourniquets for tightness, but within ten steps the socks begin to creep down. And down. A block later, they’re bunched into a painful wad around your instep.

So you stop and take off the boot, which pulls off the sock, too, so you’re left balancing precariously with your bare-naked foot waving around in the 30-below air. Now you must retrieve the sock from inside the boot, pull on the sock, and reinsert your newly-clad foot in the boot; all without falling into a snowbank.

And regardless of whether you fail or succeed, you know you’ll have to do it again in another block.

Malicious sock imps. They’re the only logical answer.

*Yes, imps own vehicles.  How else can you explain the AMC Gremlin?

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Hot Cars And Warm Memories

Woohoo! The new cover for Book 2: THE SPY IS CAST is finally ready!  Playing with the Audi R8 was fabulous, and it brought back memories, too.

I’d love to blame the long delay on ‘circumstances beyond my control’, but the truth is I’m doing the covers myself and it took so long because I’m short on ‘spare’ time and dog-slow at Photoshop. But hey, I’m getting better! By the time I’ve finished updating all the covers, I should be a pro. (Or, more likely, a trained chimpanzee repeating rote behaviours without grasping the underlying concepts, but whatever. It kinda looks the same to anybody who isn’t a pro themselves.)

Anyway, without further ado, here it is:

I’m pleased with the sophisticated gray-on-gray (no, not Fifty Shades) look, and I’m thrilled to have a real R8 in the picture! When I wrote the book, I never dreamed I’d actually end up sitting in the car of my literary fantasies. Many thanks to Doug S. and the staff at Glenmore Audi for letting me do the photo shoot at their dealership!

My only regret is that I didn’t ask to go for a ride in the R8, but I’m not too sad about missing out. It isn’t right to make a car like that slog along in Calgary traffic, and there’s no place around here where it could really strut its stuff. But even though I didn’t go for a cruise, the thought of riding in a hot car brought back a happy memory for me.

I’m not sure whether a love of high-performance automobiles is genetic or learned, but either way I was destined to inherit it. My dad’s dream car was a 1966 Corvette Stingray with the 427 big-block, and sometime in the mid-70s he bought one. (Aydan’s 1966 ‘Vette in the Never Say Spy series is based on my dad’s car. Are you surprised? Nah, I didn’t think so.)

We lived out in the country on gravel roads that weren’t Corvette-friendly, and Dad lived a busy life. The ‘Vette didn’t get driven very often, but every now and then he’d fire it up and go for a run. Since he had a wife and three kids and only one passenger seat, we kids didn’t get to ride along very often; but one day it was my turn. I was in my mid-teens at the time, not quite old enough to have my driver’s license, but old enough to know safe driving habits.

We rumbled out the lane and idled along the gravel road until we got to the highway, which was straight and flat with miles of visibility. Dad looked both ways, turned onto the highway… and punched the gas! He was always a careful and law-abiding driver, so I wasn’t sure whether to be terrified or exhilarated. The big engine roared and the tires chirped through the shifts. Dad dodged back and forth between lanes, showing off the handling (which was pretty good considering it was a brute-force muscle car), and then he pointed it straight and let the horses run.

As quickly as it had started, it was over. He slowed down and turned around, and we drove home as sedately as if we’d been in the family sedan.

But one or both of us might have been grinning.

So thanks again, Doug and the gang, for letting me “borrow” the R8, and for reminding me of a beloved memory of my dad and his dream car.

Corvette

Dad’s Corvette 30 years ago. Yes, that’s an outhouse in the background.

 

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I’m Such A Snotty Princess

Hubby brought home a cold last week. As I mentioned several years ago, we generally don’t share viruses because I’m probably a Neanderthal, but this one seems to have targeted the weaker homo sapiens part of my genetic makeup.

Right now I’m at the stage where my throat and lungs are on fire but I’m not coughing yet. I’m still clinging to the idiot hope that maybe the Rhinovirus Fairy will pass me by instead of scooping out my brain and replacing it with snot.

But I think she (or ‘he’, to be fair) has already begun the process, because in the last few days I’ve developed a disturbing tendency to shuffle to a halt and stand staring into space for several seconds before saying, “Come on, brain, you can do this!” aloud. It seems to work – I usually remember what I was trying to do, but it tends to draw wary looks if I do it outside the privacy of my home.

Meanwhile, I’m sucking on zinc/echinacea/Vitamin C lozenges and drinking hot lime juice with honey. (I prefer lime instead of the traditional lemon because then I can pretend I’m drinking a hot margarita instead of a medicinal beverage.)  I don’t expect this to cure or in any way improve my cold, but at least it gives me something to do while I wait.

When I sat down to write this post I racked my virus-laden brain for something funny to say about the common cold, but you know what? I got nothin’. Colds suck. Or rather, blow. Great soggy snot-balls.

So instead, here are a few things that made me laugh this week:

My blogging buddy Carl D’Agostino’s cartoon: https://carldagostino.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/compulsive-behavior-by-carl-dagostino/

My nephew’s comment about men’s locker rooms: “Yep, no matter which way you turn, you’re gonna see something you really didn’t want to see.” That reminded us both of this comic from The Oatmeal and made us laugh uproariously. (Scroll down to the bottom of The Oatmeal’s page for the one about the locker room.)

Then there’s this picture sent to me by one of my readers, Sue W., because she saw it on Facebook and knew it would make me laugh. (The misspelling of ‘potato’ is neither hers nor mine.)

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

I’m hoping the person who wrote the caption meant ‘love this’ in the philosophical sense, not the physical. But probably only my mind would ever latch onto that critical distinction.

This Twitter message was laughable because it was such a lame attempt at marketing from somebody who clearly knows me… wait for it… NOT AT ALL:

Totally me. Not.

Totally me. Not.

Let me count the ways this made me laugh:

  • They clearly put so much time and effort into crafting their marketing message. Ten seconds with Google Translate might have helped.
  • It’s pink. Anybody who knows me (even slightly) knows that I’ve never in my life worn or even owned anything pink.
  • It has a princess crown on it. Is there anything about me that could in any way be construed as princess-like?
  • It has a cutesy heart on it. I’m totally gonna wear this with my biking leathers and flaming-skull helmet.
  • And hell yeah, I’m going to click on a random link sent by some spammer just because the T-shirt has my first name on it. Nice try, guys. But thanks for the laughs.

What made you chuckle this week? And/or what’s your favourite cold remedy?

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A Super Pickle Tickle

Last week I asked if anybody else was harbouring unusual mementos in their home. My blogging buddy Carrie Rubin stepped up to the plate (pun intended) with her Super Pickle, and kindly offered to let me use him in a blog post:

Super Pickle in all his glory.

Super Pickle in all his glory.

That reminded me of yet another oddball item in my house: a leering wooden zucchini.

Quite a bit more disturbing than Super Pickle.

Quite a bit more disturbing than Super Pickle.

Needless to say, the comic possibilities were endless for a woman of my twisted imagination. So many phallic vegetables, so few words allotted to a single blog post…

I considered writing a flash-fiction zucchini-on-pickle romance. After all, Super Pickle wears his rainbow tights with such pride and panache. But he’s so innocently goofy and endearing, I couldn’t bring myself to roll out any hide-the-pickle jokes.

If I was only writing about my freaky double-jointed zucchini I’d go for it without hesitation, because let’s face it: that deranged smile that could mean anything from an invitation for acts better left undescribed to an offer of cake made with his own pulverised progeny. (Mmm, and now I’m hungry for zucchini cake.)

In any case, I’d never tweak a pickle without knowing its background, so more research was required. I vaguely remember Super Pickle from decades ago, but I guess I was living under a rock in the 70s and 80s because I had to go and look him up on the internet to see what he was all about.

I did that with much trepidation, cringing at the thought of finding photos that might defile my virginal eyeballs when I searched for “super pickle”. Much to my disappointment surprise, everything came up absolutely clean. Either somebody has sneakily installed a content filter on my computer, or Super Pickle is beyond reproach.

And he’s still popular. I even came across a fan forum where people described their attachments to Super Pickle and their ongoing search for Super Pickle toys: http://www.inthe80s.com/toys/superpickle.shtml. Carrie, there’s a retail opportunity for you!

Anyway, in the end I discovered that Super Pickle had his beginnings as the star of a 1972 children’s pop-up book so, considering his G-rated origins, any off-colour references on my part would be totally inappropriate. Which, by an amazing coincidence, is the title of my last blog compilation; but still. Out of respect for Super Pickle, I’m going to defy the almost-irresistible compulsion to make a crack about pop-up pickles.

Instead, I’ll leave you with a pickle-related joke:

Chatting over the fence with her neighbour one day, a woman remarks on the tomatoes in his garden. “They’re so ripe already,” she marvels. “How do you always get the first red tomatoes on the block?”

He leans closer to whisper, “I have a secret. Every night after everybody else is in bed I sneak out to the garden wearing a trench coat and nothing else. I flash the tomatoes and they blush red! You should try it with your garden.”

Inspired, the woman follows his advice. A week later they’re chatting over the fence again and her neighbour inquires, “So how are your tomatoes?”

“Well, they’re still nothing special. But you should see the size of the cucumbers!”

See you in the produce department! (I’ll be the one eyeing the cucumbers and snickering.)

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It’s The Cat’s Ass!

Last year I mentioned that my home is a repository for creepy and disturbing items. But I also have a number of things that aren’t exactly creepy, but nevertheless indicate to the world that the inhabitants of this house are just not quite… normal.

For instance, there’s this:

Yes, that is a cat’s-ass fridge magnet.

Yes, that is a cat’s-ass fridge magnet.

There is, of course, a story behind (pun intended) this.

Our family has always loved cats. I had cats for a couple of decades; my step-mom has a cat; and after being feline-free for quite a while, my sister got an adorable little orange tabby christened Phoebe several years ago.

Phoebe is lovely, but, like all cats, she’s fond of mooning. Especially as a kitten she loved to get her butt right up in my brother-in-law’s face, much to his vociferous disapproval. So when I discovered a package of fridge magnets shaped like cats’ asses, I had to buy them for him as a gag gift for Christmas that year. He duly gagged when he opened them, there was much hilarity, and then I got distracted by cooking and visiting and thought no more about it.

Until everybody left and I discovered the Siamese ass, the rudest one of the bunch, stuck to my fridge.

I laughed (yes, I have to say it) my ass off.

The cat’s-ass magnet subsequently became a family joke, and at one point my then-teenage niece got creative with my one of my other fridge magnets:

 Is that modesty or lasciviousness?

Is that modesty or lasciviousness?

Anyway, years passed and I had pretty much stopped noticing the cat’s ass, until my nephew and his wife visited with their kids last Christmas. Aged seven and four, the kids investigated the house and then joined us in the kitchen. I was yakking with the adults and didn’t notice what was going on until a little voice spoke up.

“Excuse me.” (These kids are polite.) “What’s that?” A little finger points up at the fateful magnet. Two wide-eyed stares fix on my face.

“What do you think it is?”

Nothing but silence and round eyes. They know damn well what it is, but there’s no way they’re going to say it to a strange adult (and I’m as strange as they come).

I can’t help cracking (sorry) a smile. “It’s a cat bum.”

Squeals of delight. “A bum! It’s a cat bum!” Giggle-giggle-giggle!

But after they left I stopped paying attention to the magnet again, except to glance at it occasionally and grin at the memories.

Until last night.

Phone rings. It’s my sister. Laughing her ass off.

Her: “Guess what I just got! 3D cat butts!”

Me: “Wha…?”

Her:3D cat butts!

And she sent me a picture:

cat butts 3

Yes. Yes, those are 3D cat butts.

 

Apparently a co-worker had found this package of fridge magnets and bought them for her, without even knowing the family folklore.

And so another round of tradition begins. Some families treasure special china or heirloom jewellery. We bond over cat asses.

Any oddball heirlooms or traditions in your family?

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I Love My Job!

I’m always alert for research opportunities, and this week I was rewarded beyond my wildest dreams.

As you may know, I’m redoing my book covers. I’ve hired a professional photographer to do the main images but I’m filling in the backgrounds myself, so I needed a tractor/trailer unit for Book 8: SPY NOW, PAY LATER.  John R., one of the true Knights of the Road who’s been trucking for 48 years, generously agreed to let me photograph his truck.

Little did I know what was about to happen…

John and me

 

When we arrived at the depot, John offered to move the truck to where I could get a good shot. Then he asked if I wanted to get in the cab while he moved it.

Well, hell, yeah! I clambered eagerly into the passenger seat and peppered him with questions about the gauges and the engine and the air brakes and the jake-brake (engine retarder brake) and everything else, while he patiently explained it all.

I’ve always loved the roar and snort of the big diesels and the bone-rattling growl of the jake-brake, but I’ve never had a chance to get up-close-and-personal with them. Perched in the passenger seat grinning from ear to ear, I basked in the auditory delight while he drove across the yard.

I had finished my pictures and was turning away when John asked, “Do you want to go for a ride?”

Do I? Are you kidding? I was up into that passenger seat so fast I don’t think my feet even touched the steps.

When we reached the Trans-Canada Highway he turned left, which surprised me. I thought it would have been easier to turn right instead of crossing the median with the big rig, but whatever. I was in my glory, and John even indulged me by using the jake a couple of times even though it was completely unnecessary (we were out in the middle of nowhere so it wasn’t prohibited).

At the next small town he turned around to head back, but after crossing the median again to get us on the right side of the highway, he pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped.

Then he said, “Now you’re going to drive us back.” (John has trained lots of drivers for their Class 1 license so this wasn’t as reckless as it might sound, but I’m convinced he has nerves of steel nonetheless.)

After a moment of paralyzed disbelief, I jumped at the chance. My heart pounded so hard I thought I might have a heart attack and I’m pretty sure John’s steering wheel still bears the imprints of my white-knuckled grip, but I drove an 18-wheeler! How cool is that?!?

My short but thrilling trucking career (note the wild hair – we had the windows open so I could enjoy the sound of the engine).

My short but thrilling trucking career (wild hair and all – we had the windows open so I could enjoy the sound of the engine).

I certainly didn’t perform any great feats of driving skill – John shifted the gears from the passenger’s seat because I couldn’t figure out the split-shift and keep my eyes on the road at the same time. But I kept it between the lines and I made the two turns off the highway and onto the yard without dropping the trailer into the ditch, so I’m going to call it a success overall. And it was a giant thrill!

Have I mentioned lately that I love being a fiction writer?

I really, really do!

Many thanks to John for my big adventure, and to his wife Nellie for documenting it with photos!

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Beetle Chips And Other Stories

I was probably too young to remember when my mother admonished me not to eat bugs, but I’m sure she must have. I really would have preferred to follow her advice.

I realize there are some parts of the world where bugs are, if not delicacies, at least a dietary staple. Even here in Canada I’ve seen cricket lollipops and chocolate-covered grasshoppers, but I’ve never tried them. Hell, I grew up on the prairies. Once you’ve smelled the stomach-churning scent of grasshopper guts slowly barbequing on a hot engine and seen a 12” worm squeeze out of a cricket’s butt, you’re pretty much over the idea of eating grasshoppers and crickets.

Which makes the accidental ingestion of bugs that much more revolting to me. I’ve never experienced the clichéd ‘bite into an apple and find half a worm’, thank goodness. But I’ve come perilously close to devouring a couple of giant shiny black beetles.

Okay, they weren’t exactly ‘giant’ – they were probably only about an inch long. But still. That’s pretty-damn-big when we’re talking about bugs in food.

Once I was absently munching chips while reading. I don’t know what made me look into the bag at precisely the right instant, but there it was: a big black beetle lying belly-up and tastily coated in sour-cream-and-onion powder. My next mouthful would’ve had a very odd taste indeed.

Then I remembered I’d taken that bag of chips on a camping trip the week before, and apparently I’d picked up a hitchhiker. At least he died happy, surrounded by more food than he could ever eat. But I carefully avoided thinking about what he might have left behind on the chips.

Another time I was startled by exactly the same type of black beetle scuttling out of a peach pit as I cut the peach open. Fortunately I hadn’t bitten into the peach, or I’d have gotten a squirmy mouthful.

And I’m an authority on squirmy mouthfuls, after the time I drank from a garden hose and ended up with a large spider crawling across my tongue. That cured me of drinking from the garden hose without letting it run for a while first.

I’m sure I’ve eaten my fair share of carrot maggots – they’re exactly the same colour as carrots, and I’d eaten quite a few carrots before I realized what was causing those itty-bitty tunnels. And I’ve definitely had my fill of gnats or whatever those bugs are that hover in giant clouds over the road. If you’re on a bike or even walking fast, there’s just no way to avoid them short of suicidal evasive action.

All this was brought to my mind a few weeks ago when I bolted awake in the middle of the night. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t take much to make me do that, but this time it wasn’t a false alarm. Something was definitely wrong.

Then I realized there was a funny taste in my mouth. And there had been a lot of fruit flies around…

Anybody else got bug stories? Have you ever intentionally eaten bugs?

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