Category Archives: Writing

Shower Growlers And Barking Spiders

Depictions of the literary Muse always show some dreamy ethereal woman draped in a classical Greek robe, with brilliant ideas swirling like rainbows around her perfectly coiffed head.

Ha.  I wish.  Here’s the conversation I had with my Muse this week:

Me, strolling up to the Muse’s door on Monday:  *knock, knock*  Hey, there…

Muse:  What’s the matter with you?  Can’t you read the “Do Not Disturb” sign?  Get lost!

Me:  Oops.  It’s just that, well, I usually write my blog drafts today, and…

Muse:  Scram!

Me:  Okay, sorry.  Um… maybe tomorrow…?

Muse:  Yeah, whatever.

Me, shuffling bashfully up to the muse’s door on Tuesday:  *knock, knock*  Hi.  Um…

Muse:  You again?  Whaddaya want?

Me:  Um… a blog post…?

Muse:  You gotta be shitting me!  Didn’t I just bust my ass for you all morning on Book 13?

Me:  Well, yeah; and I was really happy with your ideas.  I appreciate it… but… you know I do a blog post once a week…

Muse:  Oh, for…  Okay, FINE!  Check out the Urban Dictionary for “shower growler”:  “When you’re showering you press your butt against the wall and fart, making a rumbling growl and vibrating the walls of the shower.”*

(*Note:  This was not even the Muse’s own idea – my friend Chris emailed it to me last week.)

Me:  Come on, I need more than that.

Muse, glowering dangerously:  Oh yeah?

Me, finding a backbone at last and glowering in return:  Yeah!

Muse, emitting a martyred sigh:  Fine.  Write a whole post about farts.  How about a page of euphemisms?  I got a million of ‘em!  Blow the butt trumpet, strangle the stank monkey, play the colonic calliope, roast your Jockeys…”

Me, snickering in spite of myself:  Well… I dunno…

Muse:  …Do the one-cheek sneak; drop a barking spider; hit 7.4 on the Rectum scale; a turd honking for the right of way…

Me, stifling giggles:  Stop!  I’ve been trying to behave lately.

Muse:  You?  Behave?!?  As if.  How about this:  “Shit a brick and fart a crowbar”.  Or hey; how about some definitions?  Like “Fartabout”:  Walking away from everybody to ease out a fart so nobody notices.  It’s like a walkabout, only you’re farting…

Me:  There’s already a word for walking around and spreading the stink.  It’s called ‘cropdusting’.

Muse, huffily:  Well, fine, you obviously don’t need me, then. *slams the door in my face*

Me:  Wait, I didn’t mean it that way! *knock, knock*  C’mon, open up!  I need you, really I do.

Muse:  Get lost!

Me:  *sigh*

So there you have it.  I would have prepared a literary masterpiece for today, but my Muse had a bad case of brain flatulence.

Everybody else gets the classy chick with rainbows and perfect hair.  I get this:

Diane’s Muse

So how was your week?

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Filed under Cartoons, Humour, Writing

Having Words With Myself

Every now and then the playback needle in my brain skips a groove and ends up on a different track altogether.  (And if you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably too young to be reading my blog.)

When the needle skips, it’s as though I’m a foreigner looking at our language for the first time.  Words I’ve used for decades suddenly look weird and unfamiliar, and I feel compelled to discover their origin.  And if I stare at a word too long, no matter how familiar it is I’ll begin to question whether I’ve spelled it correctly – it looks wrong no matter how I rearrange the letters.

That happened to me earlier this week, and I’m hoping it’s only because the last couple of weeks have been immensely stressful:  It’s the usual craziness of releasing a book plus a spate of family illnesses and deaths, all in addition to the never-ending gong show that is our house construction.

At least, I’m hoping it’s only the stress that’s making my brain twist.  But even if my word-weirdness is the harbinger of some dire malady, at least I’m getting a chuckle out of the symptoms.

For instance:

The phrase “He’s holding his own” is meant to indicate that someone is holding up under pressure and not requiring the help of others.  But whenever I hear that expression my mind immediately demands, “Holding his own what?”  Which is quickly followed by, “I hope he washes his hands afterward.”

In the same vein, ‘He knows how to handle himself’ is also supposed to be an admiring comment, but you can probably guess where my brain goes with that.  (I wrote ‘he knows how to handle himself’ in Kiss And Say Good Spy; and I admit I was grinning when I did it.)  Whenever I hear or read that phrase I wonder whether it’s being used as a compliment or a filthy innuendo.

…And don’t even get me started about the word ‘innuendo’.  To me it sounds like The Godfather describing a kinky sex act:  “In-u-end-o!”

‘Feckless’ makes me giggle, too.  The online dictionary tells me it’s derived from the Scottish word ‘feck’, which means ‘effect’; therefore ‘feckless’ means ‘useless, incompetent, ineffective’.  I always think of ‘feck’ as an Irish expletive, so in my mind ‘feckless’ should mean ‘not giving a feck’.  E.g. “I’ve been doing this stupid job for so long I’m feckless about it.”  Or “If he fell off the face of the earth, I’d be feckless”.

‘Gormless’ is an intrinsically funny word.  Unlike the others, it doesn’t remind me of any other word (except maybe ‘worm’) but even if I’d never heard it before, I think I’d still identify it as an insult.  Like ‘flaccid’, ‘gormless’ is a word whose sound suits its meaning perfectly.

And speaking of the way words sound, I have to smother a smile when anybody says ‘Doing his/her duty’, too.  Unless the speaker enunciates very clearly, I hear ‘doing his/her doody’… which is another thing entirely.  (Please pass the toilet paper.)

What word or phrase never fails to make you snicker?

42 Comments

Filed under Humour, Writing

Good Spies Finish First!

The votes are in, and the title for Book 12 will be “Kiss And Say Good Spy”!  I’m pumped because that was the title I’d originally chosen for it (before I second-guessed myself).  I would have been happy with any of the other titles, too, but it’s cool to see I was on the right wavelength from the start.

Many thanks to everyone who voted in the poll!  Even if you didn’t vote for “Kiss And Say Good Spy”, your vote was still important – it helps me understand people’s preferences better for future books.  And I’m looking forward to lots of future books – I love writing!

I’m lucky enough to enjoy all parts of it, including the hours and hours of editing (yes, I know I’m a freak).  I also amuse myself by setting mini-challenges for each book:  “Can I include (fill in oddball item) in this book somehow?”

In Book 10 I challenged myself to include “ballistic rutabagas”, which became the name of an alternative music band.  In Book 11 the challenge was alien porn (kindly suggested by @SomeRandomGuy); and I’m proud to say I found a way to work it into the story.  Tastefully, of course.  *snickers*

But Book 12’s challenge, inspired by @SueSlaght’s blog post Short-Beaked Echidna Australia’s Fast Tongue, was a little trickier:  Include a short-beaked echidna, also known as a spiny anteater.  (For those unaware of the short-beaked echidna’s claim to fame:  It has a long, amazingly fast tongue and a four-headed penis.)

I had originally thought I might use an echidna as a villain’s pet, à la Ernst Blofeld in the James Bond classic “You Only Live Twice”.  That idea was shot down when I researched echidnas and discovered that they don’t make good pets because picking them up causes them intense stress and can injure them.

But my research also revealed that there are exceptions to that rule.  F’rinstance, there’s at least one short-beaked echidna that enjoys being picked up… in fact, he enjoys it a little too much.  He had to be retired from his career at a zoo because he kept getting a giant erection every time he was handled.

You can imagine where my mind went with that:  a villain’s pet that pops an enormous boner at inopportune moments.  I so, so wanted to write that!

But I didn’t.

See, I have a modicum of… well, I hesitate to go as far as to say ‘good taste’, so let’s just stick with ‘restraint’.

I did, however, manage to work the echidna into the story.  Challenge = Met!

So if you’re burning to know how a short-beaked echidna fits into a spy thriller:  The release date for “Kiss And Say Good Spy” is August 1, and preorders will be going live by the end of this week for the e-book versions (paperbacks will be released later).  If you’ve signed up for my New Book Notification list, you’ll get an email with links to the preorders as soon as they’re available.  I’ll also announce them on the Books page and my Facebook author page.

And…

I’m a little late with this since Canada’s 150th birthday was July 1, but one of my readers (Ethel: thank you) sent me this link and I thought everyone else might get a kick out of it, too.  It’s a music video created a few years ago by our favourite Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, and his brother Dave:

Welcome to Canada, eh?  🙂

Now… off to ponder Book 13’s challenge…

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Filed under Writing

Flash Fiction: Nun For Us, Please

Yesterday I was texting our contractor about some budget items when my phone autocorrected my sentence to: “Once we have the nuns we can decide”.  I chuckled and corrected “nuns” to “numbers” before I sent it, but the phrase stuck in my brain because it really sounded like a flash fiction prompt.

So here goes:

Nun For Us, Please

“Once we have the nuns we can decide when to perform the ritual.”  Zaz raised her carapace and ruffled her iridescent wings in a show of confidence.

Chith eyed their acquisitions, antennae drooping with doubt.  “I don’t know…”  Squealing and grunting from inside the pen made her spring back with a chitter of alarm.  “Are you sure?”

“Magic brought us here.  Magic will take us back,” Zaz said with more certainty than she felt.  “The incantation I overheard mentioned us by name and talked about going home, so it has to be the right one.”

“It didn’t say ‘Zaz and Chith’,” Chith objected.

“Well, no, but it said ‘Pik’ee’ over and over.  An incantation that repeats our race in every line is obviously about us.”  Zaz ruffled her wings again.  “So all we need now is nuns.”

“You said ‘nun’ when you first told it to me, not ‘nuns’,” Chith argued.  “Maybe we only need one, and we’d better get it right.  If we hadn’t been so careless last time, we wouldn’t be in this fix.”  She peered into the pen, her mandibles drawing back in revulsion.  “I hope nuns aren’t like this.  These are so noisy and smelly.  Are you sure they’re the right thing?”

“This is what the human male with the face-fur showed me when I told him the incantation.”  Zaz drew herself up on her hind legs to deliver her newfound knowledge with authority.  “These are pigs.  Nuns are some kind of special human, so they should be cleaner.”  She hesitated.  “Though the furry human was actually quite smelly, too.”

“Are you sure he wasn’t lying?  Because that…”  Chith indicated a malodorous lump beside the pigpen with a contemptuous mandible-click.  “…is either a joke or an insult.  Or both.”

Zaz’s thorax bristled.  “It’s human food.  The cooked muscle of an animal; a ‘cow’, the furry human said.  I can’t help it if it’s disgusting; the incantation required it.”  Her thorax hairs wilted a bit.  “It didn’t smell as bad yesterday, though.”

“It must be rotting.  We’d better hurry up and get our nun.”  Chith backed away from the pigpen.  “Do you know where to get one?”

“Yes, the furry human showed me.”  At the skeptical dip of Chith’s antennae, Zaz bristled again.  “I’m sure he wasn’t lying.  He was very religious.  When I spoke to him, he ritually smashed a beautiful shiny vessel of liquid and prostrated himself to pray to his deity.”  She paused, one antenna cocked mischievously.  “He said ‘Please, God, I swear I’ll never drink again, just make the giant talking bug go away’.”

Chith clacked her mandibles in amusement.  “Let’s go get our nun.”

*

Sister Mary Agnes made the sign of the cross and gave herself a firm mental reminder that all creatures were precious to God.

“I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand,” she said faintly to the two huge beetles standing on the convent doorstep.  “Exactly what do you need me for?”

“I told you, for a magic ritual.”  The larger beetle, Zaz, buzzed the words by modulating her carapace over her vibrating wings.  “We are small Pik’ee and we want to go home.  The incantation says we need a nun.  We have roast beef, and pigs, too; though I’m not sure about them.  The incantation didn’t mention pigs, but the furry human said ‘definitely pigs’ so we got them just in case.”

“And this incantation…” Mary Agnes asked with rising trepidation.  “Where did you overhear it?”

“A human female was teaching it to her young one.  Like this.”  Zaz recited:

This little Pik’ee went to market
This little Pik’ee stayed home
This little Pik’ee had roast beef
This little Pik’ee had nun
And this little Pik’ee went
Wee, wee, wee, all the way home.

Mary Agnes closed her eyes in a short prayer for strength, then drew a steadying breath.  “I’m afraid I have bad news for you…”

* * *

P.S.  And now I want to write a joke that begins, “A nun walks into a bar with two giant talking beetles…”  😉

Anybody else want to have a go at it?  Please do!  Write a flash fiction piece of 750 words or less using the prompt “Once we have the nuns we can decide”, or tell a joke about a nun and two giant talking beetles.  If you have a blog, post it there and link back here; or else drop your joke or story in the comments below.  Have fun!  (You retain full copyright to any joke or story you post here.)

23 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, Writing

A Few From The Funny-Files

With the stress of our move and house-building, my time has been short and my funny-levels have been critically low lately.  Thank goodness for my friends, who make sure I get my daily giggle quota.

Here are a few of the goodies they’ve passed on to me:

How could you NOT notice something like this during the design meetings?!?

How could you NOT notice something like this during the design meetings?!?

 

“Thou beslubbering pox-marked bum-bailey!” Today’s insults are so unimaginative by comparison.

“Thou beslubbering pox-marked bum-bailey!” Today’s insults are so unimaginative by comparison.

 

Two heads are better than one…

Two heads are better than one…

A convenient little fridge and barbeque for our new place.

A convenient little fridge and barbeque for our new place.

This is why you don’t decorate your palm tree.

This is why you don’t decorate your palm tree.

And just in case my friends don’t send enough jokes to keep me entertained, I can always depend on the spammers to give me a chuckle.  Check out the sequence of subject lines in this screenshot from my junk email folder:

They came through in exactly this order.

They came through in exactly this order.

It was sheer coincidence that the spam topics lined up, but it’s even more fun when oddball items come from real people.  Here are the top search terms that have brought visitors to my blog in the last little while:

“Warfarin shit pants” – I couldn’t imagine how my blog ended up in the search results for this phrase, because I was pretty sure I’d never used the word “warfarin” in a blog post… but I was wrong.  Sure enough, I had:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/08/08/heeere-mr-gopher/.  Much to my own surprise, though, I’ve never actually written a post containing the phrase “shit pants”.  (Until now.  If you’ve found this post because you searched for “shit pants”… welcome!)

“Swinger confessions” – Yep, guilty as charged:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2014/03/05/confessions-of-a-vegas-swinger/

“Werewolf porn” – Uh-huh, you know it:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2015/07/15/werewolf-porn-star/.

“My cats ass looks like it is rotting” – No.  Just no.  I absolutely, definitely didn’t post anything on this topic.  “Cat’s ass”, yes:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2015/05/06/its-the-cats-ass/.  “Pox-riddled rat’s ass”, yes:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2016/04/27/how-to-be-a-slacker/.  But “rotting cat’s ass”, no.  Even I wouldn’t go there.

“My barbie doll came alive at night” – Rather surprisingly… yes, I actually did speculate about Barbie dolls coming alive at night:  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2011/11/30/barbie-celebrity-affairs-and-altering-reality/.

“Great big turds” – This one’s a twofer because it mentions turds and Barbie dolls in the same post.  (And seriously, how many bloggers can make that claim?)  https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/02/22/it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night/.

“Diane farts” – Um, yeah.  If you search my blog for the word ‘fart’, you’ll find 24 posts.  This tag cloud for my blog shows where my brain spends most of its time:

Good to see I have my priorities straight.

Good to see I have my priorities straight.

“Plumber snaked the toilet, husband” – Okay, I really want to have written a blog post about this, because I just can’t help visualizing the plumber ‘snaking’ the husband in some X-rated love triangle.  But even though I’ve written about plumbers, snakes, toilets, and husbands, I’ve never managed to cram them together in the same post.  Now I have a goal…

But despite all these worthy contenders, the one I found funniest was this spam comment:  “I find this website very informative and focused on topic”.

‘Informative’, maybe… if you’re looking for dirty limericks or evil sock imps.  But ‘focused on topic’?  Well, I’ll just let another of my search engine referrals address that:  “I wet my knickers I was laughing so hard”.

Yep, you said it!

 

38 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Diagnosis: Writer

So many of my readers are also writers!

Nelson is serializing his book on his blog,

Jono just posted a sneaky two-part story,

Carrie Rubin has two medical thrillers published and is working on a third,

Nancy Roman blogs, writes for Huffington Post, and has written a novel,

Andrew will soon be releasing a collection of poems,

…And I know @SomeRandomGuy is over 600,000 words into the draft of his epic sci-fi fantasy, and others have mentioned works in progress or in planning.

So I thought now might be a good time for a diagnosis.  Are you or someone you know struggling with writer-itis?  Use this handy checklist to find out:

 

Symptoms:  Uttering random words at inappropriate times; unexplained giggling, crying, and/or scowling.

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, Tourette Syndrome, or psychosis.

Tests:  Observe the subject’s behaviour after the outburst.

Diagnosis: 

If the subject scurries off to write immediately after the outburst, they’re a writer.

If the subject acts as though nothing untoward has happened, they might have Tourette’s… or they’re a writer in the throes of plotting.

If the subject carries on an animated conversation with invisible companions, it might be psychosis… or they’re a writer planning dialogue.

 

Symptoms:  Unhealthy attachment to word processing programs

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer or computer geek

Tests:  Observe the content of the document.

Diagnosis: 

If you’re still reading and completely riveted after ten pages, they’re a writer.

If your eyes glaze over after the first line and your brain explodes after the first page, they might be a computer geek… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Separation anxiety when leaving a computer; obsession with backups; paralyzing fear of data loss

Diagnosis:  Writer, computer geek, or conspiracy theorist

Tests:  Confiscate the subject’s data and destroy it before the subject’s eyes.

Diagnosis:

If the subject bursts into uncontrollable weeping and/or guzzles alcohol until they throw up and/or pass out, they’re a writer.  Or they were; before you destroyed the only copy of their life’s work and with it, their will to live.

If the subject curses you in Klingon and produces three redundant backups, they’re a computer geek… or a sci-fi writer.

If the subject sidles away with a furtive expression and disappears only to resurface several weeks later with a new name, identical data, and a blog decrying the censorship of the establishment and the oppression of free thinkers, they’re a conspiracy theorist… or a writer.

 

Symptoms:  Forgetfulness; changes in behaviour; social withdrawal

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, dementia, or drug addiction

Tests:  Restrict the subject to a controlled environment for 24 hours, then provide a laptop loaded with a word-processing program.  Retest at two-month intervals.

Diagnosis:  If the subject breaks into a cold sweat and suffers tremors, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and/or seizures, it might be a drug addiction… or they’re a writer.

If the symptoms resolve instantly when a laptop is provided, they’re a writer.

There’s really no way to differentiate writers from dementia patients in a single test.  Writers will forget to eat, sleep, and bathe; will walk away from stoves leaving the elements on high; will drop the keys in the sugar bowl; will wander away from home and get lost even in familiar neighbourhoods; and may even fail to recognize close friends and family.  Retesting is the only way to know for sure:  At some point, writers will likely resume more or less normal behaviour (at least until they start their next manuscript).

 

Symptoms:  Immobility and non-responsiveness when addressed

Differential Diagnosis:  Writer, deafness, or death

Tests:  Obtain a lightweight object at least six inches longer than the subject’s reach.  Gently prod the subject.

Differential Diagnosis:

If the subject startles, yells, and/or flails, they’re either a writer in deep concentration or deaf.

If the subject now responds when addressed (and particularly if they respond with creative expletives), they’re a writer.

If the subject still doesn’t respond when addressed, they might be deaf.  Or a deaf writer.  Or a writer in extra-deep concentration.

If the subject falls over and lies motionless, call the coroner… but the subject might still be a writer in extra-extra deep concentration.  Make sure the medical examiner checks for a pulse before starting the autopsy.

 

If you were reading this hoping you’d find a cure, well… sorry about that.  There isn’t one; there are only short remissions between manuscripts.  But the disease itself is so much fun, who’d want a cure anyway?

Do you have writer-itis?

* * *

P.S. I’m poking fun at myself and my fellow writers, but I don’t mean to trivialize the social and emotional consequences of dementia, Tourette Syndrome, mental illness, hearing impairment, or addiction.  To gain awareness and understanding of these conditions:

Tourette Syndrome

Alzheimer’s and dementia

Mental health

Hearing impairment

Addiction

54 Comments

Filed under Humour, Life, Writing

Submariners And Sea Monsters, Oh My!

Moving to a new place always comes with a learning curve, so this week I thought I’d share some of the discoveries I’ve made since we arrived here on Vancouver Island.

For example, I’ve recently learned the correct Navy pronunciation for ‘submariner’.  I always thought it was ‘sub-ma-REEN-er’, but a true Navy man pronounces it ‘sub-MARE-in-er’.  (Coincidentally, I also learned some Navy slang for a gay man:  ‘diesel-driven turnip’.  Don’t look at me like that; I don’t have a clue how that expression came to be.  But it made me laugh.)

Speaking of the Navy, I haven’t met a ringer for Aydan’s Uncle Roger yet (in the Never Say Spy series, he was the favourite uncle who taught Aydan her best cusswords); but the other day a Hellhound lookalike roared past me on his Harley with his guitar strapped to his back; and I actually got to meet a real-life Dave Shore:

Paul was one of the truckers who delivered our shipping containers, and watching him finesse an 80’ tractor-trailer into our tiny driveway off our narrow road was education and entertainment combined.  I just stood there with my jaw dangling while he eased those big tires perilously close to the ditch, sometimes hovering a couple of trailer wheels over empty space.  Then he used a brilliant technique to squeeze into the driveway:  he locked up the trailer brakes while he continued to reverse the tractor, pivoting the 53’ trailer neatly around the 90-degree corner and into our yard.  Wow!

Talking to him was like gabbing with my fictional Dave:  He’s got 700,000 kilometres on his current rig, which is the third his current employer has issued him.  As he explained, “I keep miling them out.”  (Translation:  Driving so many miles that the truck has to be replaced, usually at 1,000,000 km.)  He’d rather sleep in his truck than in a hotel, and when asked about his retirement plans in a few years, he admitted, “I’m going to get an RV and drive around visiting my kids.  I just like to drive.”  It’s very cool to know there are real-life ‘Daves’ out there!

Marine life has been another novelty for me; some of it beautiful and fascinating…

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

Starfish come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours from white to orange/red to blue/purple, and they have the ability to go from soft to rigid in mere seconds if you touch them. (Guys, did you get that?)

…and some of it quite horrifying:

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although although it's probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I have no idea what creature wore this head before I found it bobbing gently in the surf. It was nearly ten inches across and it looked like some hideous sea monster, although it’s probably a mundane fish to a true West-Coaster. But I’m going with ‘sea monster’.

I’ve seen misty sunrises:

.

.

Serene moonrises:

.

.

Dramatic nighttime cloudscapes:

cloudy-moon

.

Rainbows after a storm:

rainbow-wave

.

And harbour seals playing.  (I was too far away so they only look like black blobs splashing around, but you get the idea): 

…And we’ve only been here a month.  I can hardly wait to see the strange and wonderful things the Island has left to show us!

But here’s the best photo yet:  They broke ground for our house on Monday!  Hooray!  (Speaking of finesse and expertise, Sam the excavator operator is an artist.  His touch with that bucket is so delicate and precise you forget that he’s moving literally tons of earth at mind-boggling speed.  Apparently he began operating a small excavator when he was 8 years old.)

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

It might not be as scenic as the rest of the photos, but this one makes me very happy!

What’s new in your world this week?  And… does anybody know what that sea-monster-critter actually is?  (Or, more accurately, ‘was’?)

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Filed under Life, Writing

Screen Crud

I was typing merrily away when I saw it:  a renegade period in the middle of my sentence.  I backspaced to delete it but even after my cursor passed by, it remained impudently in place.

What the…?

Closer examination revealed that it was actually a bit of crud stuck to my computer screen.  When I cleaned it off, though, I realized exactly how much more crud there was.

It looked like tiny splatters of… something.  I have no idea what.  I don’t eat while I’m typing, so it can’t be food.  (Although if I had a third hand I probably would eat at the same time.  Maybe our children’s children’s children will evolve a convenient third appendage after generations of keyboarding.)

Anyway, I don’t have a third hand, so the crudfest isn’t food.

Even though I’ve come close to spewing a mouthful of tea over my screen when I run across something particularly funny, it’s never actually happened.  So it can’t be beverage droplets.

If I’m going to cough or sneeze I contain it.  The crud definitely isn’t snot.  (Which is a comforting thought, because, eeuw.)

We don’t have kids and Hubby has his own laptop, so it’s not someone else’s crud.

Back in the days when cats shared our house I could have pointed the finger of blame at kitty noses, but the last of our elderly felines departed this world over ten years ago and my laptop is much newer; so that theory’s shot.

If I used voice-to-text I might suspect aerosolized spit, which, to my own embarrassment, I discovered we all emit while talking despite our best efforts.  But I don’t talk while I’m working.  Not even unintelligible muttering, which would theoretically reduce the spray range.

But if I’ve eliminated all the likely suspects, what is the screen crud?

I’m stumped.

I suppose it could be deliberately flung there by evil relatives of the sock imps:  Computer imps that reside in the cracks between the keys.

I’m imagining something like our university dining hall a couple of eons ago, where the meal wasn’t complete until at least one person had catapulted a spoonful of Jello onto the ceiling and made it stick.  By the end of the term that ceiling looked like a stained-glass window designed by a lunatic.

So maybe when I close the laptop at night, the laptop imps creep out and fling imp-Jello up at the screen.

Or it might be the invisible ghosts of long-dead copyeditors who are trying to change the punctuation in my work, only to be frustrated when I continue to type and the text scrolls down.

Maybe it’s a squadron of microscopic incontinent flying insects on organized strafing runs.

Or maybe it’s tiny spiders hanging from the ceiling, taking a dump on me as a comment on the quality of my work.  (Spiders are a tough audience.)

I dunno; but if you see me hunched under an umbrella while typing away on my laptop, you’ll know why.

Anybody else have theory as to the origin of screen crud?  Please tell me I’m not the only one getting dumped on by spider-critics!

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New topic over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Life-Changing Fiction — What book(s) changed your worldview?  Click here to have your say!

(Note:  I’ve just discovered that the WordPress theme I’m using for the VBBC has a weird glitch:  If your browser window isn’t wide enough, it doesn’t show the comment box.  If you’ve been unable to comment, I’m so sorry!  Please expand your browser window and the comment box should appear.)

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The Closet Reveal

Thanks to everybody who took at guess at which items weren’t in my closet last week!  It was lots of fun (and occasionally slightly disturbing) to read all the guesses and the reasoning behind them.  So, without further ado, here’s the photographic evidence along with my reasons/excuses for harbouring such oddball items.  (Hubby and I share the closet, but for the sake of fairness I only included items that belong to me.)

But first a disclaimer:  we’re actually not total closet-slobs.  Here’s how our closet normally looks:

closet

And here’s the exploded view with the items numbered according to the original list:

closet inventory1

closet inventory2

closet inventory3

closet inventory4

closet inventory5

And now for the explanations:

1. Umpteen pairs of jeans – Yep.  No explanation required.

2. Bellydance scarves with jingly coins – Remember this post with this video?

3. A bearskin rug – It’s a sleigh rug, left over from the 1930s when my dad used to drive the horse and sleigh to elementary school in Manitoba’s bitter-cold winters.  I’m impressed that almost everybody accepted its presence without question!

4. A bag of cosmetics – Believe me, I was as shocked as you when I discovered this ten-year-old item lurking in the bottom of one of my dusty unused handbags.

5. Books – As @krsmithsite pointed out, the proper place for books is on my giant wall of bookshelves; but I keep my first editions tucked away in a storage bin in my closet.

6. Suitcases – I bought the tiger-print because I thought it would be easy to spot on a baggage carousel… and then I ended up in a wrestling match with some other lady who’d thought the same thing and made off with my suitcase thinking it was her own.

7. A stuffed deer head – Nope, but I’m surprised and flattered by the number of people who thought I might have one in there.  It’s good to be unpredictable. 🙂

8. A white cowboy hat decorated with pearls and silk flowers – From our campy western-themed wedding seventeen years ago.  Neither of us cared about “traditional” so we decided to just have fun with it!

Phill & Diane wedding Aug 13 1999 hi-res9. A stuffed rat – Several years ago, Ikea’s toy designers apparently thought every child should have a cuddly rodent, and my funnybone was so tickled that I had to buy a couple.  (Not Fuzzy Bunny, @ElTea, but close.)  The rats migrate around our house, showing up in odd places and provoking chuckles every time.

10. A heart monitor – For use with my Nike Smartwatch at the gym.

11. Wax crayons – I keep some goodies in my closet for when the little great-nieces-and-nephews come to visit.

12. A plastic flute – See above.

13. A set of knives – The same tub contains items that are awaiting either gifting or re-gifting, and I don’t even remember where this carving set came from.  (Shhh, don’t tell.)

14. 4½” candy-apple red stiletto pumps – Nope.  I’d love to say I own a pair, but I don’t.

15. A backpack – Actually, I have a couple of them in there, plus a couple of duffel bags.

16. Half a dozen waist pouches – Sorry, @jenny_o, I really do have half a dozen.  I buy them in bulk whenever I can find them because they’re hard to come by and I wear them out fast.  (My friend Judy refuses to be seen with me while I’m buying them.  I think she’s afraid my fashion disability might be contagious.)

17. A luggage cart – Yep.

18. Pink cowboy boots – That’s a resounding ‘no’.  I do have several pairs of western boots, but I draw the line at pink.

19.Christmas cards – Gotta store ‘em somewhere.

20. A camera tripod – See above.

21. Dusty business clothes – It’s probably about time to vacuum them again

22. A Frisbee – Nope, the Frisbees live in the garage.

23. 4½” leopard-print satin stiletto pumps – I got them for ten bucks at Payless, intending to use them for a photo shoot that never happened.  But they give me a giggle because they make me think of the scene with Lurene and her zebra stilettos in Book 5, so I’m keeping them.  After all, who knows when one might need satin animal-print stilettos?

24. A sequined evening gown – Believe it or not I have one, and it still fits.  It’s a classic design, so I might even wear it again.  Someday.  Maybe.  But not with Item 23.

25. A dead plant – No.  Usually my plants flourish and take over, but if one actually dies I commend its remains to my backyard garden, not my closet.

26. A soap dispenser – Yep, it’s another item in the gift tub.

27. Dust bunnies – I’d love to say no, but the embarrassing truth is that I found a flock of them happily reproducing behind my storage bins.

28. Boxing gloves – One pair 14-oz. boxing gloves; one pair muay thai gloves.

29. Scented candles – These live in the gift tub, too, waiting for their scent to dissipate enough that I can stand to have them in the house.  It’s been about five years so far.

30. A clothes shaver – For some reason I have two.  Never been used.

And… drum roll, please…

As you’ve probably noticed, nobody correctly guessed all five items; but Lois and el Tea were closest with three each.  So, as a tie-breaker I’ll use a random number generator to select a number between 1 and 100 – whoever guesses closest gets an appearance in Book 12!  Ladies, please post your guess in the comments below.

Thanks for playing, everybody!  And now, inquiring minds want to know:  What’s the oddest thing in your closet?

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New discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  Watch Your Language, Young Lady!  How do you feel about Aydan’s swearing?  Click here to have your say!

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Peek Into My Closet

A few months ago I mentioned I had run across a list of impromptu speech topics for kids.  It amused me, so I hung onto it for potential inspiration.  One of the topics that caught my eye was “What you would find in my closet”.  Prosaic, yes?  But the part that tickled my funnybone was the addendum:  “Make something up”.

Well.

Let’s have a peek into my imaginary closet, shall we?

First off, don’t step into that human-sized glass cylinder with the Google Maps interface displayed on the outside.  That’s my teleportation chamber, and it’ll send me anywhere on earth in the blink of an eye.  (And it gets me there and back intact, too, unlike the Galaxyquest version.)

Next to that is a safe containing several million dollars in untraceable cash.

Why are you looking at me like that?  Of course I’d never use my teleporter to pop into bank vaults in the dark of night!  I won that money fair and square with the lottery ticket that’s framed on the wall right over the vault.  Honest.

At the back is a TARDIS – not because I want to travel through time, but because it’s bigger on the inside.  One can never have too much closet space.

Inside the TARDIS is a giant toolbox full of high quality tools, all clean and organized and ready for use.  (And it’s got a Hubby-proof lock on it so the tools stay clean and organized and ready to use.)

There’s also a gourmet kitchen stocked with the latest tools and appliances, fresh delicious ingredients, and that all-important cooking gadget: a top-notch personal chef.  And a trap/skeet and rifle range; and a fully-equipped gym.

That’s where my flight of fancy ends, but I’m harbouring quite a few oddball items in reality, too.  If you can correctly guess which five items aren’t currently residing in my closet, I’ll write you into Book 12 in a cameo appearance!

  1. Umpteen pairs of jeans
  2. Bellydance scarves with jingly coins
  3. A bearskin rug
  4. A bag of cosmetics
  5. Books
  6. Suitcases
  7. A stuffed deer head
  8. A white cowboy hat decorated with pearls and silk flowers
  9. A stuffed rat
  10. A heart monitor
  11. Wax crayons
  12. A plastic flute
  13. A set of knives
  14. 4½” candy-apple red stiletto pumps
  15. A backpack
  16. Half a dozen waist pouches
  17. A luggage cart
  18. Pink cowboy boots
  19. Christmas cards
  20. A camera tripod
  21. Dusty business clothes
  22. A Frisbee
  23. 4½” leopard-print satin stiletto pumps
  24. A sequined evening gown
  25. A dead plant
  26. A soap dispenser
  27. Dust bunnies
  28. Boxing gloves
  29. Scented candles
  30. A clothes shaver

Which five of these things are not in my closet at the time of writing?  Make your guess before next Tuesday July 19th at midnight MDT!  And yes, I promise I’ll explain the presence of some of the strange items next week.

What’s in your imaginary closet?

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New discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  How Do You Like That Setting?  Click here to have your say!

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