Butt Of A Soak… Erm, ‘Joke’

Sometimes the mo(i)st unwelcome surprises in life sneak up from behind.

In arid Calgary where we used to live, rain is infrequent and everything dries fast afterward, so it’s difficult to inadvertently sit on something that will drench your drawers.  But here on Vancouver Island, it rains more, it rains longer, and everything stays wet even though it looks dry.

So when we moved out here, I adjusted my habits accordingly:  I always check outdoor surfaces before sitting down.  But (and it’s a wet butt) the West Coast has sneaky ways to soak my skivvies despite my precautions.

F’rinstance, there’s the rogue wave that caught me unawares while I was crouched in the shallows checking out the contents of a tide pool.  One minute I’m warm and dry and utterly absorbed in watching the little aquatic critters; and the next minute I get butt-slapped by icy ocean water.  (And immediately after that, I squelched rapidly back to my car hoping nobody would notice that I’d apparently peed my pants.)

But I learned that lesson fast; and after nearly two years out here, I was starting to feel pretty complacent about my ability to identify situations that might dampen my derrière.

That mossy log that feels dry to the touch?  Nope.  It’s dry on the surface, but moss holds water like a sponge.  It’s just waiting to humidify my haunches.

That chair placed welcomingly on the deck in the early-morning sunshine?  Nope again.  It’s covered by a thick but virtually invisible layer of dew.

So the other day I found a plastic Adirondack chair out in the sun on a fine afternoon.  It hadn’t rained for a day, but I swiped my hand across the seat just to be certain.  Dry.

I sank into the chair, stretching out my legs and admiring the sweeping mountain view over a vivid green golf course.  Birds sang and fluffy clouds drifted by in the blue sky.  Ahhhh.  Heaven.

I eased back to take advantage of the perfect reclining angle and discovered (butt-first, of course) that plastic Adirondack chairs retain a pool of rainwater in a deep groove right where the back meets the seat.  In this case, my seat.

So there I was, on my way to a birthday party in jeans with a big and highly-visible wet spot on the ass.  With, of course, no time to go home and change.

So the Wet Coast won again; but now I’ve figured out all its tricks – my butt won’t be its joke again!

(I hope…)

Book 14 update:  I made it to the middle of Chapter 19 this week against all odds (it was a very busy week).  Hoping for some quality writing time this week!

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The Vultures Are Circling

So, remember how I waxed lyrical about the beauty and majesty of eagles soaring overhead?  Well, it seems I was mistaken.  There are actually eagles along the coast, but here at our place it turns out that those majestic soarers are, um… turkey vultures.

“The turkey vultures soaring majestically overhead” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Granted, they’re almost as big as an eagle, with a nearly-six-foot wingspan.  But my binoculars reveal the truth:  Turkey vultures are constructed like some particularly tasteless cosmic joke.  From the shoulders down they’re beautiful, with powerful wings frosted white on the undersides… but nature grafted on the ugliest excuse for a head and neck I’ve ever seen.

It’s not too noticeable when they’re soaring, which is probably why they do it so often.  But when they’re perched in a tree, it looks as though somebody did a really bad Photoshop merge between an eagle and an inflamed penis.

There’s the eagle’s body and beak, but in between there’s this scrawny angry-red fleshy thing.  Whenever I peer at a turkey vulture through binoculars, I worry that I’m going to get arrested for voyeurism.

I’m pretty sure the turkey vulture is a victim of evolution’s practical joke; but I can’t help thinking that the cosmic comedians have been taking a dig at me, too.

First of all there’s the unsettling realization that eight large carrion-eaters have been circling our property for weeks, apparently waiting for me to keel over in the garden and achieve the optimum degree of putrefaction to become their dinner.

But the main thing that bothers me is that all this time I’ve been admiring what I thought was a noble scion of the sky, and it turns out I’ve only been ogling a dickhead.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere…

Book 14 update:  I’m on Chapter 18 and rollin’!  Things are getting complicated for Aydan…

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Cheesy Sasquatch Fries

* Note:  The first part of this post may require a front porch, a rocker, and a cane to wave at the young whippersnappers.  The second part may require anti-psychotic meds.

Hubby and I were sitting at the table the other day, talking about cheese.  (Yes, I realize that “Let me tell you about the cheese I ate the other day” is the conversational gambit most likely to make listeners lapse into a coma.  I hope you’ll bear with me.)

I bit into a tasteless piece of rubbery orange-ness and announced, “You know, this so-called ‘old’ cheddar is what we used to call ‘mild’.  It’s really sad that there’s a whole generation out there who thinks this is actually ‘old cheddar’.”

“Huh,” Hubby replied.  “Never mind; there’s a whole generation out there who thinks that the orange plastic stuff on their fast-food burgers is cheese.”

Not to outdone by crotchety complaints, I upped the ante.  “And most kids don’t even know that their french fries are made from potatoes.”

Then (as it frequently does in our house) the conversation veered sharply off-course and scuttled down the nearest rabbit hole.

“They probably think french fries grow on trees,” Hubby grumped, then brightened as inspiration hit.  “Groves of french-fry trees… but they’re all hidden behind government-controlled park areas so nobody has ever seen one.”

“That’s it!” I exclaimed.  “The government is in league with the forestry companies.  That’s why the logging companies have such tight controls on their land.  All those security measures and radio check-ins and restricted roads… I mean, seriously, how many logs do they really haul out?  We’ve seen maybe two or three trucks carrying logs in the year since we’ve been here.  They’re actually just hiding all the french-fry trees.”

“And those two logging trucks we saw are only decoys!” Hubby rejoined, getting into the spirit.  “It’s the same two trucks with the same logs, just driving back and forth.  The real money is in the french fries they’re shipping out in unmarked reefer trucks.  And…”

He considered for a moment, then laid down his most compelling argument yet:  “You know that guy who petitioned the Supreme Court to have sasquatches declared an endangered species?  He was onto something, because guess who’s picking the french fries?”  *imaginary drumroll*  “It’s the sasquatches!  They have a treaty with the government that gives them the sole contract to harvest from the secret french-fry trees in exchange for living in seclusion and having no contact with the rest of the world!”

So there you have it:  We’ve figured out the mystery of why some french fries bear no resemblance to an actual potato; and we’ve also explained why all official sources categorically deny the existence of sasquatches.  Are we brilliant, or what?

(Don’t answer that…)

Now their secret is out!

Book 14 update: I made it to Chapter 17 this week and I’m chugging along.  Aydan gets a nice surprise for a change!

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It’s A Fine Line…

I’ve mentioned on several occasions that fashion is not exactly… okay, fine; just not… my thing.  But every now and then I get a niggling feeling that maybe I should try a little harder.

It usually happens on a day when I’ve been immersed in some project, and I discover that I urgently need a tool/part/ doohickey to finish the job.  So I zip to town, forgetting that I’m wearing my old clothes.  They were clean at the beginning of the day, but halfway through my project they’re decorated with dirt/sawdust/engine grease/paint/all of the above.  My hair is in a braid that started out tidy in the morning, but by now I’m wearing a halo of frizzy tendrils and the braid itself looks as though it went through a spin-washer and then got rolled in twigs (or other bits of work-related detritus).

That’s when I see her:  My nemesis.

Her hair colour, skintone, height, weight, age, and fashion style vary, but she always has one instantly recognizable characteristic:  She’s perfectly put together.

Her hair might be sleek or artfully tousled, but she clearly just stepped out of the salon.  Her makeup is flawless; her nails are polished; her clothing is pristine, fashionable, and well-fitting; her shoes are the stuff of dreams; and her jewellery accents her outfit.

We do not make eye contact.

I suffer a moment of hopelessly envious inadequacy, and then hurry off to buy my much-needed doohickey.  By the time I get home I’ve forgotten the whole episode, which sets me up to repeat it over and over.

All this occurred to me the other day when I found myself resenting the amount of time I spend on personal hygiene.  It was a worrisome thought, because five minutes with the nail clipper a couple of times a month constitutes my “manicure”, and my “beauty regime” consists of showering, slapping on some deodorant and a combination moisturizer/sunscreen, and letting my hair air-dry.  A bit of lip balm, and I’m good to go.

That’s when I started to wonder:  Where do you draw the line between “carefree and natural” and “a lazy slob”?

I realize that my nemesis would probably consider herself a lazy slob if she went out in public with a chip in her nail polish; but that’s not a helpful evaluation tool when the closest my nails have come to polish in the past three decades has been a splattering of blue house paint that wouldn’t come off for a week.

Notwithstanding my occasional sartorial slip-ups, I do usually make an effort to change my clothes before I leave home; and I figure as long as there’s no visible dirt and people can’t smell me coming, I’m doing okay.

Or maybe I’m just a lazy slob.  It’s a fine line…

Book 14 update:  I made it to Chapter 16 this week, woohoo!  I love it when I hit “the zone” and the words just flow.  🙂

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Pickles, Peeves, And Daniel Craig

It’s been one of those weeks.  I’ve been trying to fit ten days of work into seven, and my brain has rebelled.  I knew I was in trouble a couple of nights ago when I dreamed of Daniel Craig.

That might sound like the quintessential female fantasy; but it wasn’t… because of the pickles.  Yes, I dreamed that Daniel Craig was plying me with a plethora of pickled cucumbers.

Freud would nod sagely and point out the phallic significance.  Normally I’d snicker and agree; but the truth is that I’ve been inundated with cucumbers lately, to the point where I’m even dreaming about them.  The garden is going crazy, and every second day I lug in a basket of strawberries, a basket of cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, and a basket of corn.  And now the beans have found their second wind, too (no pun intended).

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that our garden is doing so well.  But I’m also a teensy bit overwhelmed, which means the chances of me writing a coherent blog post this week are somewhere between ‘Nil’ and ‘Not a chance in hell’.

So instead, here are a couple of random thoughts that flitted through my mind this week:

I love food, cooking, and eating; but some days the futility of it nearly brings me to my knees.  I spend SO MUCH TIME (and money and energy) acquiring food, preparing it, eating it, and cleaning up afterward… and four or five hours later I do it all again.  And again.  Repeat the next day, and the next, ad infinitum.  And it all ends up in the toilet anyway.  Wouldn’t you think we’d have found a better solution by now?

And one of my pet peeves:  Stinky soap in public washrooms.  Seriously, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, and MacDonald’s:  Can’t you buy hand soap that doesn’t reek like some unholy combination of burnt transmission fluid, old gym socks, and rotting flowers?  You post big signs reminding everyone to wash their hands, and then you provide hand soap that nobody wants anywhere near their skin.

But… kudos to the PetroCanada at the corner of 17th Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, BC – their soap smells nice.  And BIG props to the Flying J truck stop on Portage Avenue in Headingly, MB for providing GoJo mechanic’s hand cleaner in the women’s washroom – hooray!

Despite my pickles and peeves, I’ve had some wins this week, too:

Our bookshelves are finally finished, woohoo! It’s been nearly two years since I last saw my beloved books. Thanks for all your hard work, Hubby!

The tomatoes have been FABULOUS. That’s one sammich-worthy slice! (This is the heritage variety ‘Brandywine’ – definitely the flavour winner this year.)

Book 14 update:  It was a busy week, but I still managed to get to Chapter 13.  Poor Kane is discovering that fatherhood can be a dirty job…

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Zucchini Wars

I was driving home a few days ago when I saw it lying sad and alone by the side of the road, gazing up at passersby like an abandoned puppy begging for a home:  a giant zucchini.

I didn’t stop.

One of the charming features of Vancouver Island is the honour-system market stands.  Lots of little farms offer eggs or produce at the end of their lane; and you can pull over, pick up what you want, and leave money according to the prices on their sign.  Free items are left out there with no payment requested or required.

So there was this giant zucchini beside the road.  Colossal:  A couple of feet long and about eight inches in diameter.  I’m guessing its growers spotted it making a play for world domination, recoiled in horror, and extracted the threat from their garden to carry it as far away from their property as they could manage.

Or who knows?  Maybe the zucchini didn’t even belong to that farm.  Maybe it had been dumped there by someone eager to be rid of it; or maybe it was intentionally deposited there as a subtle threat from some enemy.  Instead of a horse’s head in your bed, you get a mega-zucchini at the end of your lane.

Or maybe it got there under its own power.  Judging by the activity in my garden, it’s entirely possible that one mutant monster became sentient and was searching for the ideal spot to disgorge its seeds and begin a zucchini-terrorist cell intent on taking over every square inch of arable land.

Yes, actually, I am hip-deep in zucchini right now; why do you ask?

But I don’t mind.  I like fresh zucchini; and if I can’t eat it immediately I dehydrate it into chips that are compact and easy to store, and yummy all winter long in soups, stews, omelets, and even on homemade pizza.

As you read those words, I’m guessing that at least 50% of you are grimacing.  After extensive research involving alcoholic beverages with several sets of my friends, I have determined that all men (and some women) hate zucchini.

My dad hated zucchini.  My husband hates zucchini.  All my male friends hate zucchini; although actually, ‘hate’ is probably too strong a word.  “Meh” is more accurate.  After all, there’s nothing much to hate about it – as the guys tell me, “It doesn’t taste like anything, so why would you eat it?”

Well, okay, guys:  If you don’t want to eat it, how about racing it?  One of the small towns near us held zucchini races last weekend (the zucchini footage begins at 0:46 in the video).

’Cause why NOT take a huge malevolent vegetable intent on world domination, and give it wheels?  What could possibly go wrong?!?

Zucchini:  Love it or hate it?  Take my very scientific poll!  (You can choose as many answers as you want.)

Book 14 update:  Chapter 12 is well under way, and I’m chuckling while I write Daniel’s dialog – you can always depend on kids to say the things that adults won’t!

Zucchini Poll Update:  New answers now coming in!

Zucchini is:
– Take it or leave it. Choco zuke cake! Yum.
– What will replace cryptocurrency in 2045
– Local produce
– Part of the deep state
– Great battered and fried crispy
– Makes the best chocolate cake!

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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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