…In Which I Go Soak My Head

I didn’t even know the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a ‘thing’ until my sister nominated me (read ‘bullied me into it’).

But it’s for a good cause – I had a friend whose mother died of ALS, so I’d love to see some progress in the fight against this degenerative and 100% fatal disease. If you haven’t heard of ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ in North America and ‘Motor Neuron Disease’ in the UK), there’s more info at the ALS Association’s website:  http://www.alsa.org.

I was slightly distracted by the thought of dousing myself with ice water on video, so I wasn’t quite as coherent as I had hoped when I reeled off my little blurb.  I forgot to mention that I’ll donate as well because, while it may give some folks great satisfaction to watch me make a fool of myself, my brain freeze won’t benefit the ALS Association directly.

I’m not sure how good the audio will be, so here’s a short summary of what I was babbling about:

The rules of the challenge are that after you take your ice shower, you get to nominate some other deserving folks.  (Apparently my sister is harbouring some unresolved hostilities that we should probably address.)  If your victims friends choose to accept the challenge, they have to do it within 24 hours and post a video as proof.

I didn’t name names since I’m posting here on my blog, but if you’re just spoiling for an excuse to tell your friends to go soak their heads, consider this your official challenge… and don’t forget you have to do it yourself before you get to nominate anybody else!  (If you do, post a link to your video in the comments – I’d love to see it.)

But first you’ll need to stop laughing at me…

P.S. I’ve read a lot of criticism about this challenge.  People decry it because ALS is not a common disease so we should give to other charities that will benefit more of the population/it’s a fad and the people who participate are somehow morally and intellectually inferior to those who sit back and criticize/the ALS society doesn’t allocate a large enough portion of donations to research and patient support so the money isn’t being used efficiently/millions of people are dying of war and starvation and disease in other countries and it’s our fault because we should have donated there instead/yadda, yadda. 

I agree that it’s preferable to channel our donations to causes where the funds will benefit the most people and be used most effectively, but I don’t believe this challenge is somehow taking donations away from other charitable causes.  It’s a one-time thing, and people are impulsively donating.  That won’t prevent them from donating to the causes they regularly support, but it may get some people who don’t regularly donate to do so… and if it builds a culture of giving, that seems like a good thing.  I donate to a bunch of charities regularly, so I doubt I’ll bring about the apocalypse by dumping a bucket of ice water over my head and sending a few bucks to ALSA.  And yes, it’s a silly challenge, but how often do grown-ups get to be silly in public?  (Well, unless they’re me.  I’m silly most of the time.)  Anyway, I figured it’s good fun for a good cause.

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Filed under Commentary, Humour, Life

Stop The Fashion Presses!

I wrote this very late last night and I wasn’t quite sober at the time.  Consider yourselves warned…

I’m taking a semi-vacation this week, and I’ve left the writing of this draft to the last possible moment.  So since I’ve had one too many glasses of birthday wine tonight I’m going to offer some random fashion-related thoughts.

Yes, I realize that fashion opinions from me are approximately as valuable as makeup tips from Ronald McDonald, but please indulge me for a few minutes ’cause I’m feeling inspired.  Or possibly just intoxicated.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference…

Anyway, here’s the first thing that inspired me: You know how I postulated a couple of years ago that I was probably a sociopath because I refused to give up wearing my waist pouch? Well, the joke’s on the rest of the world. I wasn’t a pathetic refugee from the fashion police; I was a cutting-edge trendsetter. Look at this:

Matthew McConaughey has made it cool to wear fanny packs: http://uproxx.com/filmdrunk/2014/08/matthew-mcconaughey-has-made-it-cool-to-wear-fanny-packs-again/?sc_ref=direct

And Rihanna rocks a fanny pack, too:  http://perezhilton.com/cocoperez/2014-03-04-rihanna-chanel-show-fanny-pack-paris-fashion-week#.U_QLgNN0yUk

I realize their waist pouches are an order of magnitude more fashionable than mine, but I prefer not to cloud the issue with facts.

So neener-neener to the fashion police! *proudly hoists up waist pouch and strides off into the sunset*

Also on a fashion-related note: Stop the presses; I wore a skirt to my birthday dinner tonight:

diane 50th bday

Sadly, my sartorial choice had little to do with a sudden attack of fashion-consciousness and everything to do with the fact that I wanted to wear stretchy clothes so I could make a pig of myself at the fancy restaurant Hubby had chosen. (And I did pig out; with relish. Or to be exact, with saffron cream dressing on my prawn-and-avocado salad and balsamic reduction on my duck breast.  No actual relish.  That would just be gross.)

But getting back to the point:  Me. In a skirt. Shocking, yes?

I don’t want to cause any more trauma to your optic nerves so I’ll leave you with a cartoon.  I actually posted it for the first time a while ago, but it suited my theme tonight and I’m still tipsy enough not to be bothered by my lack of originality:

fashion

Here’s to being fashionable; or, failing that, being too oblivious to care.

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. I just realized this post is positively rife with semi-colons and colons.  It’s probably some deep Freudian way to indicate the anatomical area I most resemble when I’ve been drinking…

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Filed under Cartoons, Humour, Life

Karma’s Dicking With Me

As you may know, I’ve got a big birthday coming up next week. So since my friend Swamp Butt also turned fifty a couple of weeks ago, we decided to get the gang together and go to the mountains for a joint birthday bash.

A good time was had by all, and a better time was had by a couple of us who shall remain nameless. The obligatory insulting age-related gifts were given and received with varying degrees of grace, and somebody might perhaps have had a shooter:

shooter

When the waiter arrived bearing a martini glass full of whipped cream and told us it was a Muff Dive, I declined on the grounds that I bat for the other team. But once he explained that there was a Blow Job submerged in the cream, it was all good.

The object of the game is to slather the victim in equal parts whipped cream and humiliation by forcing them to drink the shooter hands-free. I think I took the fun out of it when I inhaled the cream and tossed back the shot so fast they barely had a chance to snap the picture. (Swamp Butt didn’t fare quite so well. Apparently whipped cream is not a comfortable sinus rinse.)

Hubby and I had splashed out on a fancy hotel that night, so we put on our best behaviour and checked in trying to look like responsible adults.

And guess what I saw when I went into our fancy-schmancy king suite?

First the expected granite counters, leather furniture, yadda, yadda:

hotel room

Then this:

dick window

Yep, somebody had drawn a dick on our window. The rest of the suite was absolutely pristine, and that’s partly why the smudged window caught my eye. I probably wouldn’t have even identified the subject matter if I hadn’t been lying on the couch at exactly the right angle to see it against a dark background.

Summoned by my uproarious laughter, Hubby asked what was so funny. When I pointed out the misplaced genitalia, he agreed that this was clearly another instance of my bad hotel karma. Things like this could only happen to me. In fact, I challenge you to find anyone else who’s experienced both a rappelling nudist and a dick-print on a hotel window, in separate $200+ per night hotels in two different countries. (Though I guess the statistical probability of seeing both at the same hotel might be higher.)

But karma still wasn’t finished with me. When I went into the bedroom, I discovered the hotel’s scratch pad and pen lying on the writing desk. And guess what their slogan is?

“Sleep with the best”.

I nearly laughed myself sick. It was all I could do not to print ‘Complimentary dick with each night’s stay’ under the tagline.

But I didn’t. It’s that whole ‘responsible adult’ thing.

And speaking of which, I had actually intended to clean the window before we left so the hotel staff wouldn’t think we were the guilty parties.  But then I thought, “Nah, what the hell. Why not share the joy?”

Besides, I was a little squeamish about touching it…

What’s your funniest hotel experience?

* * *

By the way, if you ever get the chance, eat at the Grizzly House in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It ain’t cheap, but it’s a blast. A holdover from glory days of the 70s, it still retains the original telephones at each table so swingers could call each other from across the restaurant if they liked what they saw. The night we were there, a complete stranger dialled our table and sang ‘Happy Birthday’! The fondues are delicious – everything from traditional cheese to exotic meats. I went for it all: wine, salad, cheese fondue, bagna cauda, shrimp, scallops, lobster, Brome Lake duck, and kangaroo, with the traditional Toblerone chocolate/fruit fondue for dessert. YUM!!! (And ouch. I kinda hurt myself. But it was good pain.)

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How Do You Like My New Piercing?

A couple of days ago I exercised such iron self-control you’d be amazed. Despite tremendous temptation, I acted like a normal well-mannered adult, which we all know is a wholly unnatural state for me.

When you exert that much pressure, the shit’s gotta leak out somewhere. So since I prevented myself from blurting offensive and/or potentially incriminating comments in front of two people on Monday, I now find myself writing them here for all to see.  Go figure.

Here’s what happened:

Hubby and I were shopping for outdoor equipment: Bear spray and bear bangers, and we each wanted a new camping knife. (And I didn’t even think of making a joke about banging bears until now. Aren’t you proud of me?)

If you’re not familiar with these products, bear bangers make a sound like a gunshot to frighten away a bear, and bear spray is hot pepper spray you carry in case of a bear attack.  Theoretically, you spray it in the bear’s face and the horrible burning sensation makes him run away, or at least distracts him so you can escape.  In actual fact, it probably just pisses him off and gives him a taste for jalapeno human, but I digress.

In Canada you have to provide identification to buy bear spray.  It’s been so long since we bought any, we didn’t realize they now track the canisters and record their serial number along with your ID. When the clerk explained that, I almost said, “Jeez, we’d better use our old canisters when we commit our next crime.” The sentence was fully formed in my brain and halfway out my mouth before I stifled myself.

It’s never a good idea to make that kind of joke in front of someone who’s recording your name to give to the police.

Restraining that comment wasn’t exactly a selfless act, but my other tongue-biting episode took place solely because I’m nice. And polite. And modest. Prudish, even. (Okay, also full of shit.)

Anyway, I wanted a new knife. I have a lovely old Mora blade I’ve used for years, but it doesn’t have a finger guard and its wooden handle gets dangerously slippery when it’s wet. (No, I’m not going to say anything about wrapping my fingers around wet slippery wood, either. See? Restraint.)

I was looking for a half-serrated Ka-Bar type, but the regular sporting-goods stores only seemed to carry five-inch blades in that style. My Mora is six, and that’s what I wanted. So I approached the guy behind the counter and explained my problem.

I admit I was inwardly snickering about walking up to a guy and demanding more inches, but I managed to squelch my inner adolescent and I didn’t even crack a smile.

But it nearly killed me when he whipped out a measuring tape and started measuring the blades even though I’d already told him they were only five inches. It was all I could do not to say, “I’m a woman. Trust me, I know the difference between five and six inches.”

That was rapidly followed by the need to tell him, “It doesn’t matter how many ways you measure it, it’s still not big enough”, along with the almost irresistible urge to hold my fingers a couple of inches apart and say, “You’re a guy. Of course you think this is six inches.”

But I didn’t say any of those things. Steam came out my ears and my brain threatened to implode under the pressure, but I bit my tongue. Hard.

How do you like my new tongue piercing? I’m thinking a silver stud would be attractive…

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A Grizzly Attempt At Humour

I made a scary discovery this past weekend.

Our garden is out in the wilderness so we’re always wary of bears, particularly in early spring when they’re hungry and grumpy and in late fall when they’re foraging for enough food to last them through hibernation. This has led to me regularly jettisoning my dignity as described here: http://blog.dianehenders.com/2013/08/28/scuse-my-bear-behind/.

But it’s mid-summer, so I’ve been starting to relax a bit. I figured by now the bears would have moved on to higher ground, and it would be too early for them to be coming down around our place searching for winter provisions.

How wrong I was. I had just finished strolling happily through the woods to my garden when one of our neighbours came by and stopped to chat. “Be careful,” says he. “Fish and Wildlife says there are seven grizzly bears in our area right now.”

Seven? SEVEN GRIZZLIES?!?!

Yikes!!!

Needless to say, my trip back through the woods was accompanied by a wildly swivelling head, a sweaty hand on my canister of bear spray, and embarrassingly high-pitched off-key singing.

That might have been pretty funny to a casual onlooker, but it’s old news to anybody who’s read my blog for a while. None of you expect me to exhibit any kind of dignity or decorum anyway, so when I started to plan this blog post I thought, “Let’s see, what can I say about grizzly bears that’s new and funny?”

Y’know what? I got nothing. Nothing is funny about grizzly bears. Grizzly bears scare the shit out of me. If I ever met one in the woods, and I sincerely hope I don’t, I’d probably kak my drawers on the spot.

Nature may abhor a vacuum (though I’ve never understood Mother Nature’s objection to cleaning tools), but my nature abhors any situation in which I can’t find some humour. So my renegade brain immediately leaped to the challenge of making grizzly bears funny. Maybe a grizzly bear in silly clothes?

Eh, maybe not. There’s something about all those claws and teeth that just takes the giggles right out of it.

But then I thought, “Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. After all, grizzly bears must have their problems like everybody else, right?”

And this happened:

 

 

*After I drew this I realized it may be another Canadianism, so I decided to provide a bit of explanation for anyone who’s not from around here. ‘Does a black bear shit in the woods?’ is a rhetorical question that translates to ‘Hell, yes!’ Example: 

Friend: “Do you want to go for a beer?”  Me: “Does a black bear shit in the woods?”

So what do you think? Grizzlies: Tragic heroes of their own lives, trapped in fur suits and destined to be forever misunderstood? Or big-ass scary mo-fos with no sense of humour whatsoever?

I’m leaning toward the latter…

* * *

The deadline is almost here for draw winners to contact me.  Lee-Ann, if you’re out there, please email me before Friday or I’ll have to draw a different winner for the Spy Now, Pay Later signed paperback.  Thanks!

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Filed under Cartoons, Humour, Life

Hubby’s Got A Big Deck

I mentioned last year that Hubby had gotten a deck enlargement kit and we were very happy with the results, but this week he surprised me with an even bigger deck!

You’d think it would be too much of a good thing. In fact, before last week, if you had asked me if I was satisfied with the size of Hubby’s deck, I would have said “Definitely!”. But Hubby knows what I want even before I want it. One look at his new big deck, and I fell in love all over again. I wanted to be on it all day long!

And since we were hidden in the trees of our acreage, I blush to admit that’s exactly what I did. There’s nothing like enjoying a deck alfresco. The feel of the breeze on your skin; the illicit thrill of knowing somebody might sneak through the trees and catch you in the act… it was intoxicating!

And that night, sitting on Hubby’s deck was so good I saw stars.

The best part is its rigidity. Often a large deck can be floppy, but Hubby’s is as stiff as can be. He could probably have a dozen people on his deck in a day, and it would still be just as stiff as ever.

He’s not really into that, though – it’s just him and me.  Although… *whispers* …we might invite a couple of really close friends to join us later. But that’s probably too much information.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. One of the main problems with any deck is keeping it clean. There’s nothing more disgusting than a dirty deck, and after I’d gotten on and off Hubby’s deck so many times during the day, it really needed a good wash. So I got busy. Running my hands over his smooth hard wood was a joy, and his deck looked bigger than ever by the time I’d finished rubbing it all shiny clean.

So of course I couldn’t resist getting on it again. And again…

Another problem with a huge deck is that it tends to get in the way. In fact when I first saw it, Hubby was dragging it on the ground. It made me wince just watching him walk over the gravel.

But with a bit of manoeuvring he got it tucked into place, and now Hubby’s smiling again. He figures it was worth the temporary discomfort just to know that any guy would be envious of his big deck. And he doesn’t admit it to me, but I’m sure he knows a deck that size is a major chick magnet.

So we’re both delighted with his deck, and we’re looking forward to enjoying it together for a long time to come.

I hope the internet censors will look the other way just this once, because I can’t resist sharing a dirty picture of Hubby’s deck:

Sorry it’s dirty; I’d been on and off it all day and hadn’t gotten around to cleaning it yet…

Sorry it’s dirty; I’d been on and off it all day and hadn’t gotten around to cleaning it yet…

Anybody else have a big deck story?

* * *

We have winners in the Book 8 Giveaway! Kathy Williamson and Lee-Ann have won the contest for signed paperback copies of Spy Now, Pay Later. Ladies, you should have received an email from me yesterday – if you didn’t, please click here to email me your mailing addresses. A big thanks to everybody for participating – I really enjoyed all your comments! :-)

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The Battle Of The Keep (A True Story)

We shouldn’t have left the keep unguarded.

But we did.

Driven by our need for sustenance, we abandoned its empty larders to forage beyond its protective walls.  From the outside it looked so substantial, its smooth walls defying any intruder.  We thought it was secure.  Impenetrable.

We were wrong.

The foul creatures ambushed us when we returned.  Black and winged, they swooped down when we re-entered the keep, the harsh buzz of their language beyond our comprehension but their evil intentions horrifyingly clear.

We fought.

Back to back, we swung our weapons again and again until we prevailed.

We hauled away the mangled bodies and cleaned the battle-gore from the walls and floor.  Then we set ourselves to the task of fortification.  We blocked even the smallest aperture, securing our stronghold.

The rest of the day we waited, alert to the slightest hint of another invasion.  We could see them circling outside, but none penetrated our bastion.  At last, exhausted, we crept to our bed.  Though we knew they seldom attacked at night we slept fitfully, one ear listening for their vile clamour.

Morning dawned clear and hot.  Still they circled, but none breached our walls.  At length, reassured, we withdrew to our separate chores.

Several hours later I returned to the keep alone.

A mistake.

Laden with the garden’s bounty, I stepped inside unprepared for the seething horde of black monsters, their battle cries rising to a maddened pitch.

I knew they would give no quarter.  Their hive-mind brooked no compromise, no mercy.  And a single touch from any of their loathsome legion could transmit a veritable cornucopia of disease.

I sounded the alarm and threw myself into desperate battle.

By the gods, they were fast; but they were so many that my strikes often vanquished several at a time.  Black bodies surrounded me, falling one upon another, piling three and four deep.  Beset, I could allow no time to ensure merciful kills.  Their wounded writhed among their dead, their lifeblood and entrails defiling the walls around me.

Again I cried the alarm and reinforcements arrived.  We fought valiantly, but they were too many and we were still fatigued from the earlier skirmish.  At last we were forced to retreat.  We fled, barring the doors behind us.

Standing outside, supporting each other in our despair, we swore to return.

After a week without food or water, they would be weakened.  Now we knew where they had breached our defenses.  We would fight again, and we would win.

Next week we would retake the keep.

Story synopsis:  The houseflies in our new-to-us RV are driving me crazy!  We screened off all the appliance vents and thought we’d solved the problem, only to discover that the window screens weren’t properly attached and the whole place was absolutely buzzing by the time we got back in the afternoon.  Despite a fly-swatting marathon that left the interior smeared with guts, we still didn’t get them all.  Next weekend we’ll fix the screens, and hopefully win this battle once and for all.  Flies are such filthy, disgusting little creatures.  But at least I got a story out of it!

* * *

Book 8:  SPY NOW, PAY LATER is still on track for release tomorrow!  And the contest to win a signed paperback copy closes at noon July 22, 2014 – click here to enter.

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Filed under Flash Fiction, Humour, Life

Hello From Planet Innuendo

Apparently Mercury was retrograde from June 7 to July 1, which astrologers say is supposed to cause general chaos.  I don’t know much about astrology, but if there’s a planet that governs accidental double entendres, it’s definitely exerting its influence this week.

Friday night I was sitting in the pub with the usual suspects, regaling the crew with tales of our recent search for a good used RV.  I had only one requirement:  a queen-size bed with some space around it.  I didn’t care about the kitchen or living area or anything else.  Just the bed.

(Those of you with dirty minds are getting ahead of me… oh, never mind; whatever you’re thinking, you’re probably right.)

Anyway, we found a trailer Hubby really liked, with a nice big living space and kitchen, only seven years old, yadda, yadda.  But the bedroom was designed for a double bed.  The current owners had put in a queen mattress, but that left only a few inches between it and the wall.  You could still squeeze in, but only if you had skinny legs.  Grrr.

Now back to the pub scene…

Fuelled by some very tasty beer, I was expounding upon the idiocy of the designer who planned the layout of a huge trailer without allowing for a queen-size bed.

“Goddammit,” I ranted.  “It’s a thirty-one-foot trailer, for shit’s sake!  It’s not like the guy who designed it didn’t have any space to work with!  I can’t believe he couldn’t give me just six more inches in the bedroom!”

My rant was completely derailed when my buddy Chris burst out laughing.  “You want six more inches in the bedroom?” he sputtered.  “That sounds like a blog post.  But I want credit!”

So here you go, Chris – this is your five minutes of fame.

After we dried our tears of laughter, the conversation wandered as it usually does and we got talking about cars and buying gas and the oddball sensor in my car that requires the gas cap to be cranked around several times after it’s tightened to prevent the ‘check engine’ light from coming on.

My friend Swamp Butt spoke up:  “Our new car doesn’t have a gas cap at all.  It’s so easy to fuel up.  You just stick it in, pull it out, and you’re done!”

More raucous laughter ensued.

But Planet Innuendo still wasn’t finished with me.  The Calgary Stampede is on now, so everything around here is western-themed.  And wouldn’t you know it; the patron saint of dirty minds blessed me with another gift this weekend:  a completely serious ad from a staid and reputable company, exhorting me to “Celebrate the cowboy in you.”

I might have let that pass if not for the fact that I’d just finished reading an article about how all the health clinics brace for the annual surge in syphilis cases during Stampede.  Save a horse; ride a cowboy!  Give the gift that keeps on giving!  Yaaa-hooo!!!

Needless to say, I laughed myself silly(er).

Did anybody else notice the effects of Planet Innuendo this week, or was it just me?

P.S.  The word ‘innuendo’ always gives me a childish snicker, too.  It sounds like the Godfather describing a sex act:  “In-U-end-o”…

* * *

Speaking of celebrations, I’m celebrating the upcoming release of Spy Now, Pay Later by giving away two signed paperback copies!  If you’d like to enter to win one, here’s the contest link:  http://blog.dianehenders.com/do-you-know-me/book-8-giveaway/.

Look for the first e-book versions of Spy Now, Pay Later at Smashwords and Amazon on July 17.  As usual, Kobo, Nook, and Apple versions will show up later than Smashwords and Amazon… but my distributor promises me they’ve improved their system and it should only be a few days instead of a few weeks.  Time will tell, but regardless, I’ll email notifications to everybody who’s signed up on my new book notification list.

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Canadian, Eh?

Yesterday was Canada Day, so just for fun I’m going to ‘speak Canadian’:

Canada Day is one of our favourite times to celebrate!  We had a nice hot day yesterday, so we could finally take off our tuques1 and kick back in the shade with some Freezies2, which was a nice change after the long winter.

Contrary to popular belief we don’t actually live in igloos year-round, but if the hydro3 goes off in the winter we’re hooped4.  All we can do then is huddle in our houses and hope for a chinook5.  So we love summer!

And Canada Day is a great excuse to break out the hooch6 of your choice, whether it’s a mickey7 of screech8 , a forty-pounder9 of ta-kill-ya10, or a two-four11 of beer.  But we don’t want to look like a bunch of hosers12 lying around in our gitch13 collecting pogey14 and building our Molson muscles15, so most of us settle for a poverty pack16 when we’re celebrating.  And that saves us a hangover as well as some loonies17 and toonies18, so it’s a win-win.

No celebration is complete without food, and the unhealthier it is, the better it tastes!  Whether it’s burgers or Eggs Benny, your Canada Day fare can always be improved by adding peameal bacon19.  And if you’re really looking for a way to harden your arteries, nothing fills the bill like poutine20Donairs21 are a good choice if you’d like to spice things up a bit, but dieters could eat fiddleheads22 instead if the season is right.

Let’s not forget dessert!  Canada Day is a great time to break out the gooey and delicious Nanaimo bars23.  And speaking of sweet treats, be careful if you get a loaded beavertail24 – it’s hard to eat them tidily, and if the toppings fall off onto your Arborite25, it’s into the garburator26 with them… and that’s just sad.

There are always lots of Canada Day celebrations to attend, but our favourite is the fireworks.  We don’t go very often because we don’t like fighting the crowds, but we felt like keeners27 this year so we decided to go.  We thought we might be able to deke28 into a parkade29 and walk to where we could see them, but that didn’t work out.  When we discovered we’d have to go to a golf course and fight the crowds after all, we bailed at the last minute and went to bed instead.

Guess we’re just getting old, eh30?

 

  1. Tuque – a knitted cap (called a watch cap in other places).
  2. Freezie – a brightly coloured frozen treat in a clear plastic sleeve.
  3. Hydro – everybody else calls this ‘electricity’ or ‘power’.
  4. Hooped – screwed.
  5. Chinook – a warm dry wind.
  6. Hooch (also hootch) – booze.
  7. Mickey – a 375 ml bottle of liquor, often conveniently curved to fit in a pocket.
  8. Screech – Traditionally, cheap, high-alcohol booze from Newfoundland, often moonshine.  Now also a brand name for rum.
  9. Forty-pounder – a 40 ounce bottle of liquor
  10. Ta-kill-ya – tequila
  11. Two-four – a 24-pack of beer.
  12. Hoser – a drunken oaf, but the term isn’t too derogatory – it’s kind of like calling somebody a goofball.
  13. Gitch (also gotch or gonch) – underwear of any kind, men’s or women’s. (Where I grew up, gitch was women’s underwear and gotch or gonch was men’s).
  14. Pogey – unemployment benefits.
  15. Molson muscle – beer belly.
  16. Poverty pack – a six-pack of beer.
  17. Loonie – a one-dollar coin.
  18. Toonie – a two-dollar coin.
  19. Peameal bacon (Also back bacon or Canadian bacon) – cured boneless pork loin, originally rolled in ground yellow peas, but now rolled in cornmeal, though the name ‘peameal’ has stuck.
  20. Poutine – french fries sprinkled with curds of new cheese and covered with hot gravy-like sauce.
  21. Donair – spiced meat wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sauce (I like sweet sauce best, yum!).
  22. Fiddleheads – baby ferns.
  23. Nanaimo bar – a chocolatey dessert square with vanilla filling (traditional), but there are lots of other flavoured variations.
  24. Beavertails – a deep-fried pastry topped with various forms of yumminess.
  25. Arborite – a brand name for plastic laminate. The name is often used instead of the words ‘plastic laminate’, like ‘Formica’.
  26. Garburator – a garbage-disposal unit that fits in the sink drain and grinds food finely enough to be washed down the drain.
  27. Keener – someone who is overly eager. Can also be a derogatory term meaning ‘suck-up’, depending on the usage.
  28. Deke – dodge or make a sharp turn. Also ‘deke out’ – to fake or feint successfully: “I deked him out”.
  29. Parkade – parking garage.
  30. Eh – the quintessential Canadian interjection. Turns a statement into a rhetorical question that assumes the other person agrees.

How many of these Canadianisms did you recognize?  What oddball words do you use in your neck of the woods?

* * *

Woohoo!  I’ve finished the final edits for Book 8:  Spy Now, Pay Later, and it’s off to final proofreading!  I’ll let you know as soon as there’s a release date on the horizon, but for now I’ll just say “Coming VERY SOON”. :-D

 

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Farewell To A Faithful Friend

I’m about to get maudlin over a vehicle, so if you’d rather have some chuckles today, why not go and check out my very first official blog post, Bad Hotel Karma?  I’ll be back to my usual silliness next week.

* * *

Yesterday I said goodbye to a faithful friend:  a battered 1983 Ford half-ton.  Even though I’d been its official owner for over ten years, I still called it ‘Dad’s truck’.

It’s the truck he drove from Manitoba to Halifax to visit me in 1988.  At a miserable time in my life, he drove nearly 10,000 km (6,000 miles) round trip, and we took a long weekend to drive around Cape Breton Island, just him and me.

It was a leisurely trip, pulling in to explore every tiny “point of interest” beside the highway and stopping frequently to snap photos.  That was before Dad began to suffer from the increasingly debilitating effects of the lung enzyme deficiency that would slowly steal his breath, and eventually his life.  I didn’t spare a thought for the truck at the time; it was just a vehicle that took us where we wanted to go.

Dad at Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Dad at Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, 1988

Dad used that truck to haul my piano from Manitoba to my apartment in Calgary in 1989.  In 1998, he used it to trailer my 1953 Chevy from Manitoba to Calgary.  In 2001, I officially ‘bought’ the truck.

I was going through a tough time financially, but Dad wasn’t well enough to drive anymore so the truck had to be sold… and I needed a truck.  When I asked if I could buy it, he agreed.  But when I went to write the cheque, he eyed me with his usual gentle gravity and said, “Now isn’t really a good time for this, is it?  We’ll do it later.”

The truck came to Calgary in the middle of summer, 800 miles in temperatures hovering around 37 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit).  It had no air conditioning, and I was sick with a horrible head cold.  We crept across the prairies, stopping in every little town for Popsicles and cold water.  The truck performed faultlessly.  Me?  Not so much.

I tried to pay Dad for the truck, several times.  At last, I arrived on his doorstep with the cheque already written.  And he smiled and said, “Well, I’ve done some deals with the other kids, too, so we’ll just call it even.”  The cheque was torn up and the issue was closed.  That was my Dad.

By then the truck was twenty years old, but it never let me down.  It hauled furniture and pre-fab outhouses and garbage and tools.  Its capped box served as an impromptu storage shed, and I slept in it many times while camping.  Whenever friends needed to haul something, they knew they could come and borrow it.

The truck lived a hard life.  Parked on the street, its side mirror was smashed by vandals and it got egged and spray-painted.  Other drivers ran into it, five different times.  Sometimes they slid down our treacherous hill on winter ice and only stopped when they hit the truck.  Sometimes they backed into the side of it, apparently unable to see a bright red, twenty-foot long vehicle in their rear-view mirror.

But despite their incompetence as drivers, those people restored my faith in humanity.  I never found a dent in the truck that wasn’t accounted for.  Nobody discounted it as an old junker and drove away without reporting their accident.  Each time, our doorbell would ring and some contrite person would apologize profusely for hitting the truck.

Each time, I told them not to worry about it.  They’d have enough trouble and expense repairing their own vehicle, and they didn’t need the additional cost of an insurance claim.  Dad gave me the truck out of the goodness of his heart.  The least I could do was pass it on.

The truck endured the ravages of age and rust and injury, the years and impacts damaging its body but not its tough engine.  It developed a cantankerous carburetor that I referred to as my anti-theft device.  To start the truck, you had to open the hood, remove the air cleaner, and manually close the sticky choke plate.  Then back into the truck to pump the gas for about 30 seconds, after which you could turn the key while still pumping the gas vigorously.  But as long as you followed the protocol it never failed to start, even in the dead of winter.

That same cantankerous carburetor required three quick pumps of the gas when starting in first gear.  Just a little extra jolt of fuel, or it would stall.  The brake drums were out of round, causing a slight surging effect, and the left-turn signal didn’t work unless you knew you had to pull the signal lever slightly outward and toward you.  Then it worked just fine.

In its stubborn persistence I saw my Dad’s final battle.  The loss of breath, the frequent and increasingly serious illnesses, the wasting and weakening of his once-powerful body.  Labouring against the burden of slow suffocation, his cardiac arrhythmia was so pronounced that when I took his pulse the irregular beat would have done a calypso band proud.  But just like his truck, his indomitable heart wouldn’t quit, and he endured the suffering and indignities with stoicism and quiet humour.

In recent years we didn’t use the truck often, but I kept it insured and registered, and it kept doing what we asked of it, over and over.

Last spring two young girls in a big half-ton backed into the side of it.  Another giant dent; another contrite conversation.  Another round of forgiveness with the gentle admonition to drive more carefully in the future.  Just the way my Dad would have done it.

I could have called the insurance company then and let them write it off; maybe gotten a couple of hundred bucks.  Instead I hung onto the truck, not driving it but keeping it registered and insured and in its place of honour beside our house.

A couple of weeks ago I drove it for the first time since the girls in the half-ton hit it.  It started right up as usual, but its shocks were gone.  It wallowed through undulations in the pavement like a ship in heavy seas, and its steering wandered dangerously.  I wanted to cling to it from sheer sentimentality, but I couldn’t bear to see my poor truck endure more dents, more infirmities.  It was too much like watching Dad face a battle he knew he couldn’t win, bravely waiting for the final blow.

In the end, Dad’s every breath was an agonizing struggle.  Coughing literally tore him apart, causing a massive hernia.  The morning after he underwent surgery to repair it, the surgeon told us he could go home that day.  Mercifully, he did go home later that day, but not to any earthly dwelling.  It was April 1, 2004.  April Fool’s Day.  Go figure.

I knew the truck’s time was up, too.  It wasn’t safe to drive and it wasn’t practical to fix, and I didn’t want to wait for the day when its heroic old engine finally failed.  So I called Donate A Car Canada and yesterday my beloved truck went away for the last time.  The Lung Association won’t get much for it, but I’d like to think Dad would be pleased.

Today there’s an empty spot on our street, and in my heart.

Goodbye, old friend.  I’ll miss you.

truck

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