Mom Was Right Again

So, you know how Mom used to tell us to wear nice underwear “just in case”?  Well, this week I found out she was right.

It’s a long story.

You may recall that last week I whined about our drought.  Since June we’ve been doing the summer equivalent of Rick Mercer’s “Seven Day Forecast”:

The forecast has been promising cooler weather in the mid 20s (Celsius) and a chance of showers… but always five to seven days in the future.  So on Friday I was shocked to discover that there was a 40% chance of showers predicted on Saturday!  Mere hours away!

I dragged out our giant tarp and wrestled it across the bottom and up the sides of our 10′ deep, 60′ long (dry) dugout.  All our downspouts are routed to the dugout and we have a lot of roof area, so I hoped that even a little sprinkle might yield a few gallons of captured water.

Imagine my delight when it POURED for half an hour on Saturday and I got three feet of water in my tarp – about 5,000 gallons, enough to water the garden for the rest of the summer!  Hooray!

Except…

The tarp leaked.  And we don’t have any 5,000-gallon storage vessels.

Soon there were only a few sad inches of unsalvageable muddy water lying in the folds of the tarp.  Mosquito eggs hatch fast, so I needed to drain my failed experiment and get it out of the dugout.

But a few inches of water in a 60′ long tarp still amounts to a couple of hundred pounds of water.  Add the couple of hundred pounds of silty gravel that had washed down into the tarp along with with the deluge.  Then add me, trying to shovel/scrape/drain all that so I could drag the filthy (and therefore extra-heavy) tarp up a wet, unstable, 10 foot high, 45 degree gravel slope.

After about an hour of hard labour, I clawed my way to the top looking like some primeval swamp creature:  caked with gritty mud, abraded by gravel, soaked to the skin, and so malodorous that even the mosquitoes lost interest and fled.

So your mother was right:  Always wear nice underwear.  Because you never know when you might end up doing a striptease1 in the back yard so your husband can hose you off2.

* * *

1 At least none of the neighbours live close enough to see my performance (I hope).  I’m going to consider that a qualified ‘win’.  The ‘mud, sweat, and mosquito bites’ theme probably won’t catch on at any strip clubs; but after 19 years of marriage I like to think Hubby’s expectations are realistic.

2 Just thought you’d want to know that ‘hose you off’ is not a kinky euphemism – Hubby was wielding the garden hose.  Honest.

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One Of Those Weeks

These photos perfectly illustrate the way my week has gone:

On the left is a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) that I bought last fall for about $15.

I carefully amended our crummy soil and tucked the little plant lovingly into the ground.  I hovered over it, cheered when it survived the winter, worried when it died back to the ground in the spring, and cheered all over again when it put out a few tiny sprigs of new growth.  During this whole hot drought-ridden summer, I’ve been hand-carrying water to it.  It’s about a foot tall.

On the right is… you guessed it:  another butterfly bush.  It apparently started itself from some wayward seed carried by wind or birds or whatever.  It’s growing in bare gravel that was dug up last spring, so it’s at least a year younger than the plant I bought.  It’s never been fussed over (in fact I didn’t even notice it until it started to bloom) and it hasn’t received a single drop of water that didn’t fall from the sky.  Did I mention we’re having a drought?

But the intrepid new butterfly bush is three feet tall and growing like stink.  Go figure.

That’s the kind of week it’s been:  Our well is beginning to show the stress of the drought and we’re not sure if it will supply enough water to get us through the rest of the summer.  We’ve been wrestling with well drillers and water consultants AGAIN (I was really hoping we were done with that for a few decades), and we still don’t have a decision or quote or timeline.  Hubby is being his usual laid-back self, but I’m finding it immensely stressful and time-consuming.

Still, though, things could be worse:  I was sitting outside enjoying a cup of tea one morning and listening to the pounding of hammers over at the neighbours’ place when I heard *bang* *bang* *bang* *bang* *bang* OW, SHIT-F*&$#$F*#@B&$!!!

After my wince and (I’m ashamed to admit) instinctive snicker, I waited worriedly for a car to rush past on the way to the emergency room; but a few minutes later I was relieved to hear laughter and jovial teasing.  I’m glad nobody got seriously hurt, but I bet their week was a whole lot worse than mine.

So… no complaints.  We still have water (so far).  I’m still clinging to sanity (or to be precise, I can still fake sanity convincingly).

And hey, I got two butterfly bushes for the price of one!

How’s your week going?

Book 14 update:  The water fiasco ate up a bunch of my writing time this week, but I still made it to Chapter 9.  Onward!

 

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Elvis, Me, And A Fly On The Wall

I’ve read that Elvis used to get all shook up and fire his gun inside his penthouse Vegas suite.  Nobody seems to know exactly why, but I have a theory:  He was shooting at a fly.

I understand completely.

I hate flies.  They’re disgusting disease-bearing vermin, and I know where their filthy little feet have been.  Add that to the fact that they puke on their food before sucking it up and they shit everywhere, and they’re pretty much the most revolting insect ever.

Every time a fly gets in the house I say it again, loudly:  I HATE FLIES!

By now, Hubby must be so sick of hearing those words that he’d like to swat me almost as much as he’d like to swat the fly.  Fortunately he’s managed to restrain himself (so far).

We were sitting at the table the other night when one of the little bastards buzzed by my head.  I growled and said the ubiquitous words, but I was in the middle of dinner and didn’t feel like getting up to wage war.

Instead of uttering the long-suffering “I know you hate flies” that I deserved to hear, Hubby grinned and said, “We need some anti-fly attack drones.”

In the past we’ve discussed the possibility of laser tracking and targeting systems that would zap flies out of the air, but this time Hubby stepped up with, “…and when the drone catches up to the fly, it can just suck it through the propellers:  BZZZP!”

My jaw dropped with sheer awe.  A brilliant and elegantly simple solution.  Much easier than lasers and electronics.  Except…

“But not over my dinner plate,” I objected.  “I don’t want fly bits raining down on my food.”

“Right,” he agreed.  “The kitchen and dining room would be a no-kill zone.  The drone could chase the fly out and then disintegrate it.”

We batted the idea back and forth, making refinements to the design.  (Yes, this is how dinner conversations usually go at our house.)  Meanwhile, the fly buzzed around my head, taunting me.

In the end, Hubby and I decided it was unlikely that we’d be able to build a prototype drone in time to obliterate the current fly, so I got out the Dishtowel of Doom and dealt with the problem.

For those unfamiliar with the Dishtowel of Doom:  When a dishtowel is snapped like a whip, it doesn’t even have to hit the fly – the concussion of a near miss knocks them right out of the sky.  Which is fine with me, because the only thing more disgusting than a live fly is a freshly squished fly embedded in formerly-clean cotton.

So if you ever catch me stalking through my house with a crazed gleam in my eye, fondling a dishtowel while Elvis tunes blare in the background:  Don’t worry.  I haven’t lost my mind (much); I’m only fly-hunting.

At least I’m not brandishing a handgun.  Or wearing a sequined jumpsuit.

Book 14 update:  I’m halfway through Chapter 7 and the ideas are flowing!  And I took a left turn down a rabbit hole and wrote the first pages for what might turn out to be an entirely new series… or maybe a scene from another book for Aydan & Co.  Time will tell…

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Manly Soap Opera

When I was a young teen, I was a huge WWF wrestling fan.  Every Saturday I was glued to the TV, my heart in my mouth while I watched my favourite wrestlers in the ring.  I cheered their miraculous rebounds from complete unconsciousness to inexplicable but triumphant victory, and booed the bad guys (usually the less-handsome guys in black) who ambushed my heroes from behind.

Then, about the time I got old enough to take up a few contact sports of my own and simultaneously developed a bit of critical thinking, I realized… WWF (or WWE, as it’s now known) wrestling ain’t exactly what you see on the screen.  Those wrestlers are great athletes; but even the WWE admits that the drama is pure scripted soap opera.

So I swallowed my disillusionment and life went on.

I hadn’t thought of WWF wrestling in decades, but it all came back to me a few weeks ago when Hubby was watching a Formula One Grand Prix.  For those not familiar with (or who couldn’t care less about) Formula One racing, rules stringently control the action on the track as well as the specifications of the cars themselves.

So theoretically, the race is all about the skill of the driver and pit crew; but in fact the owner, team chiefs, and managers hand down directives and dictate the team’s and the individual driver’s strategies during a race.

Let the soap opera begin.

Enter Lewis Hamilton, a handsome (good looks are important) British driver who is currently considered “one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport”.

But…

Lewis Hamilton is dogged by luck so bad it would bring any normal man to his knees.  His teammates get advantages he’s denied.  His car suffers bizarre mechanical failures.  The management team subjects him to incomprehensible strategic decisions.  I can hear Hubby raving in his mancave:  “Why would you do that?!?  EVERYBODY knows you don’t (fill in management decision here)!”

But poor Lewis just keeps taking the karmic hits, and then miraculously winning by the skin of his teeth.  Or fighting his way back from last place and almost winning, which only increases the drama.

And I said to Hubby, “You realize this is WWF wrestling, don’t you?”

He stared at me open-mouthed.

“It is,” I insisted.  “The handsome, talented guy keeps getting ambushed by some dirty rat, but even though he’s just been hit over the head with a chair and left for dead, he somehow manages to drag himself back into the ring and win.”

I realize that it’s blasphemous for me to even suggest such a thing; but I’m just sayin’… the plot lines are remarkably similar.

Who says men don’t watch soap operas?

 

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Objects In The Mirror May Be Scarier Than They Appear

Mirrors.  When I need them to tell me the truth, they lie; and when I really, really want them to lie, they tell the truth.

I’ve found that it’s important to adjust my expectations based on which mirror I’m consulting.  The ones in our bedroom and bathroom are very slimming, which is a nice boost to my self-esteem on a daily basis, but it sets me up for disappointment when I look in any other mirrors.

The mirror in my workout area makes me look as though I’ve strapped a life preserver around my middle, but I’m pretty sure that mirror has an odd distortion at stomach height.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

And don’t even get me started about the mirrors in bathing suit stores.  Those ones tell the brutal truth about all the worst features of my body; and then they go ahead and pile on a bunch of ugly lies about my best features, too.  I’m pretty sure store mirrors were designed by Satan himself in the fiery depths of hell.

I was reminded of all this the other day.  No, I wasn’t buying a bathing suit – I don’t need that kind of trauma in my life.  I was looking in my magnifying mirror with my middle-aged eyes (wearing reading glasses, of course, because otherwise I wouldn’t see anything but a pink blur).

And I thought, “Well, those whiskers aren’t too obvious.  Guess I’ve got another day or two before I have to pluck them all out again.”

Then I realized the unfortunate truth:  Nobody my age will see my face-fur unless they’re peering at me from close range with reading glasses (and I’m pretty sure I’d notice that in time to take evasive action).  But younger eyes can see crystal-clear detail at any distance.

So those bristles I’ve been pretending “aren’t too noticeable”?  Yep, you guessed it.  To anybody with normal eyesight, I’m well on my way to a playoff beard.  Sadly, there’s no victory in sight.

Dealing with reality would take too much effort, so instead I’ve decided to invent the new and exciting “Middle-Age Mirror”.  For women, it’ll have subtle distortions at boob and waist height to bring back our hourglass figures, along with a nice soft-focus face area.  For the guys, the mirror will broaden the shoulders and minimize the beer belly, while providing a flattering magnification zone in a strategic place.

Now I only have to convince our legislators to make the Middle-Age Mirror mandatory in all public places.

Ahhh.  I look better already!

Book 14 update:  I’m almost finished Chapter 4, and those headstrong characters are surprising me already.  This is why I love writing  I never know what’s going to happen!

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What The F…ish?!?

This week’s WTF?!? moment occurred when I ran across an article that mentioned fish pedicures.

Now, I pride myself on my ability to successfully distinguish a fish from a human in 9 out of 10 cases, via the simple observation that fish generally have no toes.  So when I discovered that fish pedicures were apparently a “thing”, I was gobsmacked.  I figured it must require extreme skill and outstanding manual dexterity (or perhaps some recreational pharmaceutical products) to locate and subsequently groom fish toes.

I was ’way off base, of course; but the reality is almost as worrisome:  It seems that a ‘fish pedicure’ is actually done to human toes.  The to-be-pedicured foot is submerged in a basin containing hungry carnivorous fish, which tidily nibble away all the dead skin.

My mature and well-thought-out response to this revelation was “EEEEEUWWWW!!!” immediately followed by, “There is NO F(ish)ING WAY I’d do that!”  Which might actually be a sensible reaction, since it turns out that a woman lost all her toenails as a result of a fish pedicure.  That doesn’t surprise me in the least.  What amazes me is that anybody thought it was a good idea in the first place.

I mean, seriously:  Hungry carnivorous fish.  Human toes.  What could possibly go wrong?

But maybe I’m just showing my plebeian roots.  I grew up on a prairie farm, and in summer we swam in our backyard dugout.  Leeches would attach themselves to any exposed skin and suck our blood if we stood still for even a few seconds; and just in case that’s not enough to give you nightmares, there was also some kind of water bug whose sadistic specialty was to get inside one’s bathing suit and inflict an agonizing bite on whatever they found there.  (Remember, bathing suits cover all the tender bits.  Just sayin’.)

I’ve mistrusted aquatic critters ever since; and now I have one more reason.

So the next fish that comes near me had better be sliced and served with a side of wasabi.  Or pan-fried in butter; I’m not picky as long my teeth are sinking into the fish and not the other way around.

Brrr!  *dons steel-toed boots, just in case*

Book 14 update:  I’m already on Chapter 3, woohoo!  And I just wrote a scene that may turn me off Gummi Bears forever.  Such are the hazards of living inside my brain. *sigh*

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Me And The Boys

I’ve probably mentioned that we’ve planted several fruit trees here at our new place… or, more accurately, fruit twigs.  They’re not really big enough to be called “trees” yet.

So imagine my surprise when I spotted something on our peach twig.  Then imagine my laughter when I realized the “something” was actually two small fuzzy spheres cuddled together on one tiny branch.  I’ve always had a bad habit of assigning gender to inanimate objects, but in this case I can say unequivocally “It’s a boy!”

And while we’re in that… *ahem* …area, here’s some news in brief (sorry, couldn’t resist):  Apparently a researcher in the States is seeking over 3600 photos of men’s penises in order to determine whether Size Does Matter to a guy’s social and psychological makeup.  If you’re an investor, now might be a good time to buy shares in Photoshop.  I predict a firming trend in their stock, perhaps even a dramatic rise.

I dunno; I’m no expert, but it seems to me that if you’re looking for meaningful insights into male psychology you might not want to draw all your study data from the subset of ‘Guys Who Want To Send You Dick  Pics’.  But I notice the researcher looks a tad annoyed in the news photo, so she’s probably had more than enough razzing already.  I’ll just let the topic, um… subside.

And…

According to my blogging buddy Tom Merriman and Charlie O’Shields from Doodlewash, July is #WorldWatercolorMonth.  I’ve been envying Tom’s talent for quite a while now, so I’m happy to finally be able to join the fun.  And hey, my watercolour subject even suits the theme of this post! (Okay, I’m reaching a bit; but still.)  Anyhow, seventy-nine years ago, ‘it was a boy’ for Hubby’s Uncle Bert’s parents.

We were invited to the birthday party, and Bert’s only request was “No gifts, just homemade birthday cards”.  He has led a fascinating life that includes many years of owning his own business driving trucks and operating heavy equipment.  Bert had retired by the time I got to know him, but he still does odd jobs with his loader/backhoe.  So my imagination took flight (so to speak):

What’s up in your world this week?

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Pitch Fail

The phone rang, at suppertime as usual.  Hubby and I both know what that means:  Either it’s a telemarketer or it’s Hubby’s mother, who belongs to the generation that always called at mealtimes because there were no answering machines and you were more likely to catch somebody at home then.

We have call display, so we knew it wasn’t Mum.  But we also have some new acquaintances whose numbers we don’t know at a glance, so I picked up.

Before I could even utter the second syllable of “Hello”, the world’s most obnoxious voice interrupted:  “Hi!  I’m Bob Shit-For-Brains (I admit I might have made up his last name), and I’m calling on behalf of the Society of-”

I hung up.

We’re in the Do-Not-Call registry, but nothing stops the idiot telemarketers.

I hate telemarketing companies; but I feel sorry for the poor employees who actually have to make the calls.  If our caller had been a real human being, I would have at least stayed on the line long enough to politely say, “Not interested”; but it was a recording, so I felt zero guilt about my abrupt disconnect.

(Well, okay; not zero.  I’m Canadian, so I did feel a teensy bit guilty even being rude to an obnoxious recording.  Sad, but true.)

But I wonder:  Who in their right mind would hire a voice actor who sounds like a cheesy good-ole-boy used car salesman?  Even if I might have been interested in their society, that voice killed any chance of me listening to their pitch.

But maybe it was the International Society of Cheesy Used Car Salesmen calling.  If they were doing a recruiting drive, then their choice of voice actor was a brilliant way to qualify their respondents… unless even cheesy used car salesmen can’t stand the sound of their own voices.  That would explain a lot.

What’s your favourite solution to automated telemarketers?  I like the idea of getting an autodialler of my own and setting it to call their company’s CEO at home, every ten minutes for the next five years…

*

Thank you to everyone who voted in my poll last week!  I’m a creature of habit so I’ll probably continue posting on Wednesdays, but apparently I can stop obsessing about word count and schedules.  🙂  (To see the responses, click on the “View Results” link at the bottom of last week’s poll.)

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Rainbows and Seascapes

I took a mini-vacation last week (three whole days, woohoo!), so you’re getting photos instead of my usual essay.  Here’s a happy beach scene to set the mood:

This paradise is only 15 minutes away from our house.

 

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we experienced the lowest tide we’re likely to see for a while, with water levels actually below the mean sea level.  Hubby and I went exploring and discovered tidal pools teeming with fascinating critters.

This pool was only four or five feet across, but the longer we looked, the more we saw.  The big purple starfishes clinging to the rock were almost invisible in the shadows (gotta love light-adjusting cameras).  There were two larger crabs (below and left of the starfish) and dozens of tiny ones; and there’s actually a brown starfish in there, too.  The barnacles are farther left again, and we got to see one of them extend and retract a spindly spider-like leg from its white shell glued to the rock.

Tidal pool with purple starfish, crabs, barnacles, baby sculpins, and host of other unidentified marine life zipping around.

 

It’s been hot (36C/97F) for the past few days, and I know you tropical folks are chuckling because that would just be a pleasant little cool spell where you live.  But earlier in the week we had some lovely rain, and our house was at the end of a double rainbow:

Time to start digging in the basement – there’s gotta be a pot of gold in there somewhere!

 

And in other news, I finally managed to complete a watercolour painting that didn’t make me want to hurl and/or creep away in shame.  Hooray!  I’ve got a long way to go yet, but at least I feel as though I’m making progress.

It’s no masterpiece, but at least it’s identifiable…

 

And, one more thing:

I’m thinking about making changes to my blogging schedule and/or the length and content of my posts.  The usual 500-word posts take me 4 – 6 hours each week to write and edit.  (I usually edit each one about 25 times.  Yes, I admit I may have slight issues with perfectionism.)  I love interacting with everybody regularly; and I’d like to free up more time to work on Book 14.

So… hmm.  What to do?  Please help me decide by voting in the poll below, and if you have any other suggestions, please drop them in the comments.

Thanks for weighing in!

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Carmageddon Is Coming

I’ve mentioned on several occasions how much I hate renting cars, so you can imagine how pleased I was (not!) to belly up to the rental car counter again last weekend.

My life seems to flip-flop between Murphyesque fiascos and windfalls of ridiculously good luck; so I fully expected our car-rental experience to be either excellent or excrable, with no chance of middle ground.

My heart sank at the first words out of the agent’s mouth:  “We don’t have the full-size sedan you booked…”

I braced myself for the inevitable shit landslide.

But no; the agent went on to say that they’d give us a free upgrade to an SUV or mini-van instead.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“You can go and look at the vehicles and choose the one you want,” he replied.  “Just check with the agent on the lot.”

So we did.  The lot agent confirmed that they had a Kia Sportage or a mini-van available.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“Let’s just go and have a look,” he said.

The shiny red Sportage was brand new with a leather interior and only 78 kilometres on the odometer.  The driver’s seat was comfortable.  Perfect.

“Let’s look at the mini-van now,” the agent encouraged.

“No mini-vans,” I said.

“It’s fully loaded.  Let’s just go and look at it,” he cajoled.  “You’ll love it.”

“No mini-vans,” I muttered.  But he wouldn’t give up, so I followed him around the corner.

He hadn’t lied; the mini-van was loaded.  Leather interior, remote start, power everything… and approximately the size of the RMS Titanic.

I did not love it.

“NO… MINI-VANS!” I repeated loudly and firmly.

The agent gave me an incredulous look.  Because seriously, who in their right mind would want to zip along in a sporty red SUV when they could be wallowing down the highway in a land yacht designed to accommodate seven full-grown adults along with enough luggage to outfit an entire expeditionary force?

But at last the agent reluctantly handed over the keys for the Sportage.  And life was good.

Until…

We were at my niece’s wedding reception when my brother-in-law’s phone pinged.  “Uh-oh,” he said, and showed us the screen.  There was a severe weather warning:  Lightning, thunder, torrential rain, hail, tornadoes, and a 60% chance of the biblical apocalypse.

Our shiny new rental car quivered under the darkening sky.   I quivered, too.  We had insured the Sportage under our regular auto policy, and I really didn’t want to make a claim for total vehicular annihilation.

The sky turned as black as night and the heavens split open.  The wind howled.  The power failed.  When the rain wasn’t blowing completely sideways, it bucketed down so hard it bounced a foot up off the asphalt when it hit.

But not a single hailstone fell on the shiny new Sportage.

I found out later what a ridiculous stroke of good fortune that had been.  A giant hay barn collapsed near Tilley; two semis blew off the TransCanada highway near Brooks; the entire city of Medicine Hat was without power for a couple of hours; loonie-sized hail pounded northeast Calgary; and tornadoes touched down outside of Edmonton.

But we were fine.

Which was wonderful; but I shudder to think what Murphy is saving up for the next time I rent a car.  It’ll be Carmageddon for sure.

Maybe I’ll just stay home for the rest of my life…

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