The Scariest Word: ‘Oops!’

A couple of weeks ago I was scooping ice cream out of a one-gallon pail when my hand slipped and a gob of ice cream hurtled across the kitchen to land on the floor. Not surprisingly, I yelped, “Whoa! Shit!”

Hubby looked over at the scene of the crime and said, “You know, ‘shit’ is one of those words you just never want to hear coming from the kitchen.”

That’s very true.  But after considering it for a while, I think ‘oops!’ is probably the scariest word on the planet. For instance, here are just a few of the times and places you really, really don’t want to hear anybody say ‘Oops’:

  • In the hairdresser’s chair
  • In the operating room
  • At the accountant’s office
  • At the lawyer’s office
  • Any time condoms or birth control pills are involved
  • In answer to the question, “You remember I’m allergic to (fill in the blank), right?”
  • When checking in for a flight/hotel/rental car
  • At the bank
  • In the dentist’s chair

The list (and the potential for scary situations) is virtually endless, but if you’re lucky ‘oops’ isn’t always disastrous.  I emitted a benign ‘oops’ a few days later. It was quickly followed by a facepalm, but it made me laugh because it was such a quintessentially Canadian mistake. Here’s what happened:

It’s been an unseasonably hot summer here in Calgary, and Hubby and I were driving to our garden outside the city. We had a plastic gas-can in the trunk to fuel the rototiller, and the fumes were strong (we discovered later the can was leaking, but that’s another story).

Anyway, I rolled the window down.

After a few miles, I thought to myself, “Why is it getting so warm in here?”

Uh, DUH! *facepalm*

It’s hot outside. You’re letting the air conditioning out and the hot air in, dummy.

You can tell I’m from Canada, where we always expect it to be colder outside than inside.

* * *

But that’s enough about words you don’t want to hear. Here are some words you do want to hear (at least those of you who are waiting for Book 10 to come out):

The beta readers are hard at work and I’m well into my first round of edits.  And… We have a cover and blurb!  (These aren’t finalized, so if you spot any ‘oopses’, please let me know.)

Bookkeeper-turned-secret-agent Aydan Kelly has barely begun to relax after her last mission when a shotgun-wielding man kicks in the front door of her country home. She doesn’t recognize the would-be assassin, so who hired him and why?

As evidence mounts against her abrasive co-worker, Aydan begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with herself as bait. If her suspicions are correct, the Department’s security has been breached and no one is safe.

With the lives of her dearest friends at risk as well as her own, Aydan must stop her unknown enemy before the next assassin succeeds.

More good news: I can now set up pre-orders, and all retailers will release the book on the same day. Pre-orders for Spy Away Home should be active in another couple of weeks (if you’ve signed up on my New Release mailing list, you’ll get an email when the pre-order pages go live), and it looks as though the final release date will be at the end of August. I’ll keep you posted with more details as I get them confirmed.

If you’d like to have a say in which day Spy Away Home gets released, please vote in the poll below.  Thanks for your help!

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Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

A Clean Post

As my blogging buddy Sue Slaght pointed out last week, you know you’ve hit the big time when one of your blog posts gets banned. Apparently WordPress flagged last week’s post as ‘likely inappropriate’ and blocked it from their Reader application.

Well, dang. Who knew they’d object to a post containing the words p*rn, s*x, scr*tum, sy*hilis, and n*ked? They were obviously okay with allowing the original p*rn commenter to solicit me on my guest book. And I’ve done two other posts with the word n*ked in the title, so it couldn’t be that. The previous week’s post containing ‘s*x’, ‘sy*hilis’, and ‘scr*tum’ got through okay…

Wait; maybe ‘werew*lf’ was the offending word!

I got a belly-laugh out of the whole thing, partly because their tag perfectly fit my blog compilation series. Maybe I should name the upcoming book ‘Likely Inappropriate’ in homage to WordPress’s delicate sensibilities.

The funniest part was that last week’s post was actually one of the cleaner ones I’ve written. I mean, really; I was talking about spam and search terms.  I didn’t even tell any dirty jokes. Jeez.

But I’ve learned my lesson, honest. So this week I’ve written an innocent post full of valuable writing advice. No dirty words at all. This one’s for you, WordPress:

Cleaning Up Your Post

The relationship between blogger and reader is an intimate one, and it’s important to gain your readers’ trust by keeping your post clean. Here’s how:

First, strip away the superfluous trappings to lay the post bare. Every post is different: some require rigorous scrubbing, but for others a light polishing is enough to raise them to their full potential. Some people use an automated process, but the hands-on approach is always more satisfying. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the subject begins to firm up for you.

Work closely with a reader to identify subtle lingual nuances. Pay attention to how the post feels rolling off the lips and tongue. Savour the sensory experience, reading in multiple passes from top to bottom, then from bottom to top. This technique is important because critical points may be missed if you only go down.

By now your subject should be rock-solid, so it’s time to plunge deeply into the meat of the matter. Pay careful attention to rhythm and be sure you don’t deviate from the main thrust of your post. Any miscues at this point will be, at best, an unpleasant distraction for your reader; and at worst, a complete disaster resulting in messy fallout.

Slowly work toward the climax of your post. Don’t hurry. When the time is right you can switch to the hard-hitting style that will thrill your readers to the core.

After this you may discover that your post needs a bit more cleaning. That’s normal, but don’t be too heavy-handed. The best strategy is to let the post rest for a while before undertaking the final polishing. Then your magnificent post will be ready to fulfill all your readers’ needs!

Just remember: The extra time and effort you invest in this process will be worth it, ‘cause nobody likes a dirty post.

Thank you, WordPress, for reminding me how important it is to keep it clean!

* * *

Woohoo! The draft is finished for Book 10: Spy Away Home! Just a bit more polishing (sorry, couldn’t resist), and then it’s off to the beta readers.

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Filed under Humour, Writing

Werewolf Porn Star

Well, it’s been an interesting week on the blog. After doing back-to-back posts featuring scrotums and syphilis, I fully expected to find some, erm… unique search terms in my blog stats.

I navigated eagerly to my stats for the week, expecting a plethora of twisted terms. But instead I found this:

What, no scrotums or syphilis?

What, no scrotums or syphilis?

I could probably have had some fun (of the literary sort) with the first one, but ‘Sex at Calgary Stampede’? So mundane. *sigh*

Still, it’s nice to see that the classic ‘we’re all free! And naked!’ made it into the top four yet again. Even though I wrote that post over two years ago, it’s still the most popular search term that brings people to my blog:

Wait, am I detecting a theme here…?

Wait, am I detecting a theme here…?

I sure wish I knew what all these people are looking for. I’m not promising I’d supply it if I found out, but damn, I’m curious! Meanwhile, for all you bloggers out there: If you want to increase your site traffic dramatically, just write a post using the magic phrase.

Giving up on my search engine stats, I turned to my spam folder for entertainment. Alas, the spammers were merely plying me with generic praise unrelated to my posts and offers for payday loans and handbags (though I’m pleased to see the handbag ads are diminishing).

Fortunately for my sense of humour, a couple of gems slipped through the filters to land on my posts.

You may recall I mentioned I’d discovered my inner werewolf a few months ago. Imagine my surprise when I found this comment: “…Becoming a breed of the lycanthropus blend of the werewolf and acquiring hircine’s gifts enables one to live a powerful life. Join the seventh sixth pack of the Hademus, know the shapeshifting techniques, spells, feel among and enjoy supernatural gifts. If you really want to become a werewolf, contact…”

It included contact information, details on the strain of werewolfism (is that a word?) to infect me, and the specific werewolf spells and curses that would be applied, along with information on the werewolf father and werewolf god, and an application form. It was quite specific and well-organized, but the last line of the application form was the zinger: “Tell us why you want to become a werewolf”. I guess there must be a high demand for werewolf conversions so they need to screen out the posers.

Apparently it was Alternative Career Recruitment Week, because I also got this on my Guest Book: “…if you are interested in becoming a porn star, either male or female in xxx videos, this is an opportunity for you to apply with our company…” It also included contact information, salary details, travel allowances, and an application form.

It’s wonderful to know my career opportunities are so many and varied. Since they offered me the option of either male or female, I think I’d like to become a male porn star. Or better still, a male werewolf porn star.

I just hope my new employers won’t insist on the ‘no body hair’ look. ‘Cause for a werewolf, that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘waxing moon’.

Aaaarrooooooo!

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Crazy Cones And Cockroaches

Yaaaa-hoooo!! It’s Stampede Week here, and the usual happy insanity reigns.

I love the Calgary Stampede. If I had time (and if I wasn’t too cheap to pay the daily $18 admission fee), I could easily spend days there. The free exhibits are fascinating: circus acts, horseshoeing contests, tractor pulls, Superdogs, team penning competitions, art shows, native cultural displays, live bands, extreme BMX/motocross/snowmobiles; you name it. There’s even the Cannon Lady getting shot out of a cannon several times a day.

The giant midway doesn’t really attract me, though. The rides are expensive, and I can’t quite get over the knowledge that they’ve been knocked together in record time by sleep-deprived carnies fresh off the road. Or worse, fresh off their last party. I know they have a stellar safety record, but… I’m just sayin’.

The rodeos are fun to watch, too, but I rarely go to them. Tickets are pricey, and there are so many other things to see and do that I just can’t fit it all in. Not to mention I can’t help giggling at the thought that rodeo is clearly a sport designed by men, for men. A bunch of guys giving each other prizes for their ability to stay up for 8 seconds…? Boys, I hate to break it to you, but an 8-second ride ain’t gonna do it for the ladies!

Speaking of rides to remember, I noted a few years ago that the Stampede is a prime opportunity to get the gift that keeps on giving. Syphilis was the big winner when I wrote that post four years ago, but in true Stampede spirit we’re diversifying. Now gonorrhea and chlamydia are getting their fair share of erm… exposure, too. So before you ride that cowboy, you might want to slap a latex saddle on his pocket bronc.

If you’re looking for a slightly less risqué adventure, the Stampede offers lots of scope for risky business of the culinary variety.

Last year’s scorpion pizza was a big seller, and this year foodies were eagerly anticipating the cockroach pizza. Alas, they were doomed to disappointment: Apparently the shipment of dead cockroaches from Vietnam got delayed at the border. (There’s a unique first-world problem.)  But our indomitable pizzameister promises they should be in soon, so the pizza might get its cockroach crunch before the end of Stampede.

I dunno; I expend a considerable amount of effort to avoid eating food containing cockroaches, but I guess that’s just me.

And in case your stomach wasn’t upset enough after the rides and cockroaches, you can also get a cup of mini-doughnuts topped with cheese curds, gravy, and jalapeños. I’m not sure why you’d want to, but you can.

Or, if you’re looking for a treat that’s both risky and risqué, how about a Crazy Cone:

Oh dear...

Oh dear…

The last time I saw something like that, I was in a sex shop. (Doing research on Lola’s merchandise for my novels. Honest. That’s my story and it’s sticking to me.)

Anyway, no Stampede Week is complete without the requisite crazy-citizen stunt, so here it is: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-man-soars-over-city-in-lawn-chair-attached-to-helium-balloons-1.3139591.  Some folks’ll do anything to get high…

What’s risky or risqué in your neck of the woods this week?

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Scrotums Rule! …Or not.

Last week I mentioned that I hadn’t misread anything in a long while. Clearly that statement tempted fate, and fate was quick to retaliate.

To wit: There was a lot of buzz in the news this past week about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, and it seems most American journalists are fond of acronyms. It took me a while to figure out that SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court Of The United States; probably because I read the acronym as ‘SCROTUMS’.

You can imagine my reaction when I read ‘SCROTUMS rules in gay marriage!’

‘Scrotums rules’? Did the new marriage ruling specify what constituted acceptable male equipment? That led me to wonder exactly what the specifications were, and who enforced the ruling. Were there inspections? Measurements? Wait, let me get my calipers…

Or, (I speculated) maybe they actually meant ‘scrotums rule!’, implying that the marriage of two men was superior to any other combination. Like some X-rated version of poker: “Ha! A pair of scrotums beats a pair of vaginas! Pay up, loser!”

Fortunately I realized I’d misread SCOTUS before I could go too far down that path, but I must say it was an interesting trip as far as it went.

And apparently fate was determined to teach me a lesson, because that was only the first of many.

I read ‘…the fourth grade class decided to get pissed as a civics lesson’, but at second glance it was actually ‘get a bill passed’. Technicalities…

Next up was an email that offered me a seminar titled ‘Creating Flatulence’. I couldn’t figure out how it constituted a business opportunity, but I was completely sold on the entertainment potential. Unfortunately, it turned out they were only offering to teach me how to create ‘Affluence’, with an ornate drop-cap on the first letter. So I guess I’ll have to stick with beans, beer, and cabbage for all my flatulence needs.

And apparently business development was on the spammers’ minds this week, because they also offered me a ‘Self-Important Training Program’ and a chance to ‘Thrive by Insult’ (which seemed like quite a useful and practical course). Much to my disappointment, though, it was merely ‘Thrive by Intuit’ and a ‘Self-Employment Training Program’.

Next came this nugget of wisdom: ‘Along with great taste, beetles have health benefits and they’re low in calories, too’. I’ve already made my position clear on the consumption of beetles, but I couldn’t deny my morbid curiosity. Were they offering recipes? Dung Beetle Pilaf? Crispy Sriracha Weevils? When I clicked on the link, though, it turned out they were recommending beets, not beetles. I wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or relieved.

And my week was complete when my favorite automotive website chimed in with the headline ‘Peeing Under The Hood’. Even though my garage is well-stocked, I was pretty sure I lacked the necessary tool to successfully complete that endeavor. But it was okay – it turned out we were only ‘Peeking’ under the hood.

I’ve been waiting with bated breath, but apparently fate has been satisfied by completing the circle from scrotums to inappropriate peeing. No other gems have revealed themselves, but I know better than to get smug about it.

Know any good beetle recipes?

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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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Filed under Commentary, Humour, Life

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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