Spuds And, Um… ‘Spunts’

So there we were, stumbling across frozen ground in the darkness carrying a powerful flashlight and a digging fork… and Hubby turns to me and says, “This is going to be a blog post, isn’t it?”

Yes; yes it is.

Why were we apparently robbing graves in the dark of night, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure it’s my dad’s fault.

He loved potatoes, and we had them for nearly every meal.  Every now and then my mom would sneak in a bit of rice or pasta; but as my dad tactfully explained, “That was okay, but I wouldn’t want it every year.”  I love potatoes, too, and most of our meals include the humble spud.

But the other night Hubby came into the kitchen where I was making gravy and announced, “You know we’re out of potatoes, right?”

My jaw dropped in horror.  What?


We had roast beef.  With gravy.  And NO POTATOES?  I turned off the heat under the gravy pot and marched toward the door.

“Please tell me we’re not going out to the garden,” he said.

“Of course we are.  We have gravy.  We need potatoes.”

“It’s pitch dark, and the ground is starting to freeze.”

“I don’t care.  We need potatoes.”

Which led to the aforementioned jacklighting of potatoes.  As it turned out, it was remarkably similar to grave robbing since some of the hills were a little on the rotten side; but we did end up with enough good potatoes to soak up our gravy.  Whew.  Crisis averted.

Later in the week I was waiting my turn in the insurance office, playing Scrabble on my phone to pass the time.  It’s a point of pride for me to win – in all the time I’ve had it, the app has only beaten me once.

I was down to three tiles, so I knew the game was almost over.  I hadn’t seen the Q (worth 10 points) yet, which meant the app had it.  By then there was no way the app could win – I was already beating it by nearly a hundred points.  But I really wanted to stick it with that Q.

I had three letters left, and there was only one place where I could unload them all at once.

But I hesitated.  The available letter on the board was C.

And I had U, N, and T.

I’ve already mentioned my profoundly Canadian habit of never using foul language in public even though I’m actually a complete potty-mouth.

I was in public.  And it was a really rude word.

It wasn’t as though I was going to stand up and yell it out at the top of my lungs, but still.  My Canadian conditioning runs deep.

I stared at the board.

Sneaked a surreptitious glance around the waiting room to make sure nobody could see my screen.

Then I snickered inwardly and unloaded the dirty word that ended the game.  But I felt as though I should apologize to the little old lady beside me, just in case she’d seen it.

…But then again, if she was as Canadian as I was, theoretically her private vocabulary was just as colourful as mine.

Any dubious victories in your world this week?

Canadian, Eh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess we’re just getting old, eh30?


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

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

* * *

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


Love My Beaver!

Well, it’s time for another “proud to be Canadian” blog post.  In previous years, my national pride has been stimulated by achievements such as world-champion profanity and the world’s fastest motorized toilet.

Fitting neatly into the topic of stimulation, this year I had originally planned to point out that we Canadians are a sexy bunch.  A recent study showed we indulge in lots of interesting bedroom shenanigans, with threesomes being a popular choice.  After all, it’s cold outside a lot of the time, so what else are we going to do?  But my favourite statistic from the study was this:  apparently 8% of Canadians have had sex in a canoe.

There’s one for my bucket list.  Fortunately, they didn’t specify that the canoe had to be on water to qualify, ‘cause Hubby can’t swim.  I’d offer to keep you posted on our progress, but I’m sure you’d rather not know.  So moving right along…

I had also considered informing birders that Canada is home to the little-known Kiki bird.  Although it’s an extremely common bird, most people in warmer climes have never encountered one.  The Kiki can be spotted year-round in extreme northern Canada, and throughout most of the country during the winter months.

It’s a very large bird, completely flightless, and its plumage varies through every colour of the rainbow, making it impossible to determine its gender at a glance.  You might think this would make it difficult to achieve a positive identification, but it’s instantly recognizable by its distinctive call:  “Ki-ki-ki-riiist, it’s cold!”

All you have to do is step outside whenever the temperature dips below -20 and you’re likely to hear at least one.  Go out in -30 or colder, and you’re guaranteed to hear a chorus.

The Kiki bird (winter plumage)

The Kiki bird (winter plumage)

Either of those things would have been worthy of a “national pride” blog post, but today I’m gratified to report our most significant achievement yet:  everybody sucks the ass of our national animal.

No, seriously.

My blogging buddy Murr Brewster pointed it out back in October, and she’s not even Canadian.  I was buried in writing the final chapters of Book 7 at the time, but it’s one of those things I just have to bring to the attention of my readers, even if I’m a little behind (sorry).

It’s true.  Beaver bum goop (actual words used by National Geographic’s columnist) is used in perfumes and as a food component, particularly in vanilla flavourings.  And beaver butt smells good.  I realize there’s a significant segment of the population that has always insisted beaver smells and/or tastes good; but I always kinda thought it was a subjective and largely gender-based opinion.  Now I stand corrected.  NatGeo says it’s yummy, so I defer to their expertise.

A couple of years ago, one of our senators had the temerity to insult our national animal and suggest we should change it to the polar bear instead.  The backlash was swift and overwhelmingly negative, and no wonder.

After all, what other country can boast that its national animal is industrious, a stellar structural engineer, a devoted spouse, peaceable when left to its own devices, and a formidable fighter when provoked?

In every sense of the expression, its shit doesn’t stink.

Yep, I’m proud to be a Canadian!


It’s interesting to be Canadian.  As a nation, we’re generally regarded as the polite, low-key, boring neighbours of the superpower south of us.  We tend to define ourselves by what we’re not, instead of by what we are, and we may get quite impassioned about the whole thing.  Especially if beer is involved.

We’ve got a lot going for us.  We’re superpowers in hockey and curling.  Our military, while pathetically undermanned, is generally respected.  We are usually laid-back and polite.  Until you get to know us.  Then we’re potty-mouths (language warning on this link).

Despite (or perhaps because of) the abundance of off-colour jokes about our national animal the beaver, we are actually quite attached to the furry buck-toothed rodent.  And every now and then, the beaver gets revenge on its detractors, though this may only happen in beer commercials.

And speaking of beer, despite my high regard for our neighbours to the south, our beer is generally much better than theirs.  I have a sneaking suspicion that most U.S. beer is just Canadian beer that’s been warm-filtered through a kidney.

We’re a nation of oddballs who are perfectly capable of starting a violently destructive riot over a hockey game, and then getting sidetracked partway through:


After all, which is more important, a hockey game or getting lucky?  (Note:  If you are a Canadian male, this question will cause intense indecision.)

You know you’re Canadian when you put on your parka and go out to buy a Slurpee in -30 degree weather.  (If you’re not from around here, a Slurpee is a slushy drink composed of crushed ice and a soft drink).  Winter is a great time to drink Slurpees, because they don’t melt and dilute the flavouring, and your hands don’t get cold while you hold the cup because you’re already wearing mittens.

Maybe because we spend a lot of time sitting inside to avoid the cold, we’ve also contributed quite a few useful things to the world.  We’ve offered up handy-dandy stuff like insulin to treat diabetes (Banting & Best, 1922), basketball (Naismith, 1891), and the Canadarm for the space shuttle (SPAR Aerospace, 1981).

There are many reasons why I’m glad I’m Canadian, but a couple of weeks ago, we scored another notable achievement.  A Canadian stuntwoman, Jolene Van Vugt, set a new land speed record for the world’s fastest motorized toilet:  75 km/hr (46.6 mph).


Now I’m really flushed with pride!

I’m Canadian, I Swear


Think I’ll get that printed on a T-shirt, along with a maple leaf.

Studies show (and I want to know who got paid for this one) that Canadians swear more than Americans, Brits, or Europeans.  We’re not merely foul-mouthed, we’re world-champion spewers of profanity and obscenity.

Unless we’re around people we don’t know.  Then we wouldn’t say shit if we had a mouthful of it.  ‘Cause, well, we’re polite, eh?  (Unless we’re rioting after hockey games, but that’s different.)

If I had a nickel for every time I said something vulgar, profane, or obscene in front of my friends, I could quit my job and live forever more on the proceeds.  But if I’m with strangers, I don’t swear.  There’s some bizarre internal filter that simply won’t let that language out.  Instead, it all gets saved up for the next time some fucking moron cuts me off in traffic.

I’m not the only one who does this, either.  The same study showed that it’s a Canadian trait to be restrained in public but a potty-mouth when with friends.  Guess they weren’t listening the day our Culture Minister publicly referred to Canadian television as “shit”.

This blog is an exception to the “not in front of strangers” rule.  We’re all friends here, right?  And I wouldn’t want the language in my books to come as a complete shock.  But still, I post the F-bomb alert.  Other bloggers just let ‘er rip, but I’m too… Canadian.

I’m not sure why we collectively possess such a deep well of profanity.  Maybe it’s because we’re trying so hard to be polite to every dipshit we meet that it just has to come out somewhere.

Maybe it’s the beaver jokes.  As you may know, the beaver is our national animal, causing no end of hilarity to those with dirty minds (which would be most of us).  It’s really hard to avoid a little coarse language under the circumstances.

Or maybe it’s our weather.  Let’s face it, when you live in a country where a third of the land mass has continuous permafrost, profanity seems like an unavoidable consequence.  In the southern areas, schools close when the temperature dips to -40 degrees Celsius.  If it’s only -38, well, suck it up, ya pansy-ass kids, and walk to the bus.  The swearing habit starts early here.

For those who aren’t familiar with Canada, I should mention that we do, in fact, have summer.  You can tell it’s summer when the grass turns a funny green colour, and enormous squadrons of mosquitoes attempt to carry you away if you venture outside.  But that only lasts about ten minutes, and then it’s back to fucking winter.

I’m exaggerating.  We actually do have other seasons on the prairies, called “goddamn hail again”, “holy shit, tornadoes”, and “sumbitch heat and humidity”.

Or, if we don’t know you:  “How about that weather, eh?”

Any other potty-mouths out there?  What are the seasons in your neck of the woods?