Tag Archives: life

Flipped Off By The Bird

It’s that time of year again, when even the mildest-mannered gardener turns into a homicidal lunatic.  I wasn’t mild-mannered in the first place, so I’m in full Rambo-mode.

Why, you ask?  (Or maybe you don’t; but tough noogies.  I’m going to tell you anyway.)  Yep, once again I’m locked in a life-or-death struggle with garden-raiding critters.

In March, Hubby took down last year’s bird netting so he could double the size of our strawberry patch.  We now have 22 raised beds, an area 60 feet long and 20 feet wide.  After much anticipation (and much weeding), the first few berries began to blush a couple of weeks ago.

The robins swooped in immediately.

“That’s okay,” I thought.  “It’s a giant patch.  There’ll be enough for all of us.”

Ha.

Robins do not share well.  Nor are they considerate berry-pickers.  When I went out to pick ‘my share’, I discovered that long sharp beaks had plunged into almost every berry that had even a touch of red, and about half the harvest was gone entirely.

Then the robins got possessive.  No longer did they fly away when I approached.  I had to chase them off, waving my arms and shouting obscenities.  (The obscenities probably weren’t strictly necessary, but they made me feel better.)

Then it got to the point where they’d only move about ten feet despite my bellowing and arm-waving; and as soon as I hunkered down to pick the pathetic leftovers, they’d settle in a couple of rows behind me and chow down all over again.

The worst part was their derisive clucking and chirping.  I just knew those little feathered bastards were laughing at me.

So, up went the netting again.  As I secured the last gap, I shot a triumphant look at the robin perched outside the perimeter.  “This is your own fault,” I lectured.  “If you hadn’t been so greedy, you could have still been eating nice fresh berries.”

He let out a loud chirp, flicked his tail at me, and flocked off.  He didn’t have a middle finger to jab skyward, but I got the message loud and clear.  Now I know why they call it ‘flipping the bird’.

At least my berries are ripening unmolested now.  But… last night I spotted a rabbit checking out the veggie garden.

AAARGH!!!  GRAB THE CHICKENWIRE; I’M GOIN’ IN!

Do you ‘enjoy the relaxing hobby of gardening’?

The giant strawberry patch

 

This is how they’re supposed to look: No ugly beak-gouges, just plump beautiful berries. YUM!

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I’ve Learned My Lesson

I thought I was so prepared.  Usually I write blog post drafts on Monday, but I finished this one on Sunday evening.  Secure in my (perceived) efficiency, I didn’t look at it again until 9 PM last night.

That’s when I recalled that I’d been drunk when I wrote it.  Oops.

I think it was the novelist Peter de Vries who said, “Write drunk, edit sober”. Clearly he was a more talented drunk than I; or who knows? Maybe he was just messing with us, and he actually spent every ‘morning-after’ rewriting all the crap he’d spewed while under the influence.  That’s what I was doing last night.

I’d like to say it wasn’t my fault; but… it actually was.

We’ve been saving our pennies lately, but Sunday we decided to splurge and go to the pub. I ordered a pint, and when Hubby discovered that they no longer stocked his favourite Smirnoff Ice, I bullied him into trying a different vodka cooler. When the drink arrived, he hated it; but I thought it was yummy.  So we kept it and Hubby ordered a Caesar instead.

So now I had two drinks.

Have I mentioned that I haven’t been out lately?  And I rarely drink at home; so it had been a while since I’d had anything alcoholic.  And I’d forgotten that I’d taken an antihistamine earlier in the day.

By the time we finished our appetizer, I’d polished off my beer and was completely snockered.  After the vodka cooler, my teeth were numb and I couldn’t feel my feet.  I thought this was hilarious, so I rushed home and wrote a blog post about it.

Isn’t it funny how drunks think they’re funny? (Now that I’m sober, I know the correct answer is ‘no’.)

My draft was lame. The whole thing amounted to, “I’m drunk, hee-hee!” Gut-bustingly funny when you’re inebriated; but it probably should have occurred to me that if I couldn’t feel my feet, my brain might be disconnected, too.

So I’ve learned my lesson.  From now on I’ll drink MUCH more frequently so I’m in shape to handle it… um, I mean… I’ll live an exemplary life of sobriety and restraint.

Yeah. Sobriety and restraint. That’s me in a nutshell.

Wait, why is everybody laughing?

*

P.S. Speaking of ‘learning my lesson’: Thank you, everyone, for all your helpful comments and votes on the cover redesign!  Apparently the original covers ain’t broke, so I’d better not fix them.  I may enlarge the title font a bit so it’s more readable in thumbnail sizes, but that’s all… for now… until I second-guess myself again…

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I Blame The Cucumber

Every now and then my brain gets stuck in a thought-groove.  For example, the other day I reached into our fridge and grabbed a cucumber…

Before I go any farther, I just want to point out that this post is entirely the cucumber’s fault.

Cucumbers bring out the worst in me; especially Long English cucumbers.  I can’t even buy them in the grocery store without smirking.  There’s something about publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects that just tickles my funnybone.  Should I get the ridiculously-long-but-skinny one or the one with average length but jaw-dropping girth?  Will the checkout cashier judge me by my choice?

If I think about it too much, I can’t repress my smile; which only escalates the situation.  ’Cause the only thing worse than publicly sorting through a big pile of phallic objects is doing it while wearing a guilty grin.  When I catch myself furtively glancing around to see if anyone’s watching, I know it’s time to just grab the first available cucumber and get the hell out of the produce department.

(I’d also like to note that I’ve never seen a man buy a Long English cucumber.  Not once.  Talk about intimidation.)

But I digress, as usual.

So, anyway… I reached into our refrigerator and grabbed a cucumber, and it squished.  Eeuw!

Quoth I to Hubby, as I disposed of the slimy remains:  “Liquidity:  A good thing for investments; not so good for cucumbers.”

Then my brain wouldn’t let it go.  It turns out there are a lot of words that rhyme with ‘liquidity’, and most of them have good and bad connotations.  Such as…

Frigidity:  Good for popsicles; bad for bedmates.

Rapidity:  Great for cheques arriving in the mail; not great for bills arriving in the mail.

Solidity:  Good for chocolate bunnies; bad for ghosts.

Aridity:  Nice for armpits; not-so-nice for climates.

Rigidity:  Bad in attitudes, but great in a… *ahem* …tool. (Would you believe I was talking about the Ridgid brand name?  No?  Okay, fine; you got me. *snickers*)

Flaccidity and tumidity:  Not even going there.

Stupidity: Just never good.

I had more, but I decided not to belabor the point.  (You’re welcome.)

But speaking of belaboring the point:  Many thanks to everyone who weighed in on my proposed cover design last week!  The majority indicated that the original covers were better, although some people said it might be interesting to see a design that used some elements of both.  So here’s my next attempt:

And then (because I can’t leave well enough alone), I also did a version with the photo clipped into a “Top Secret” file folder.

Here it is in blue/green just for variety (because if I go with the bright design, each book’s cover will be a different colour under the yellow titles):

Or… here’s the original cover with an updated font and series number:

Or am I over-thinking the whole thing?  Here’s the original cover:

Please click on the one-question survey below for a quick vote:

And as always, if you have comments I’d love to hear them.  Thanks for helping to preserve my tiny fraction of remaining sanity!

P.S. None of this craziness is my fault — the cucumber made me do it!  😉

 

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The Smarter I Think I Am…

One of the blessings/curses of being a fiction writer is that I spend a lot of time surfing the internet for my research.  (Other people waste time on the internet, but I’m doing research.  Honest.)

I’ve gone down all sorts of rabbit holes, but it really messed with my mind the day I discovered illusory superiority and the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  Dunning and Kruger’s tests showed that the less competent a person is in any given field, the more likely they are to think they’re an expert.

Yep, the dumber we are, the smarter we think we are.  (Which explains why 90% of drivers think they’re better than average.  You math majors, stop giggling.)

When I first read about that study, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment:  At last I understand why there are so many idiots out there who think they know everything.  It’s immensely annoying to those of us who do.

Oops…

Seriously, though, I know I’m not good at everything.  In fact, I know I suck resoundingly at a lot of things. But in the things I think I do well…

What if I’m just too stupid to know the difference?

Thanks for nothing, Dunning and Kruger. You’ve made me second-guess everything I once thought I knew.  And seeking constructive criticism won’t help:  Apparently there’s another cognitive bias that lets people believe only the parts of criticism that they want to hear, while disregarding the uncomfortable bits (i.e. the information that could actually help them improve).

So now that my brain has been twisted into a particularly unattractive macrame project, I’m really glad I live out in the country so I can wander around mumbling to myself without anybody calling the nut-catchers. (Fortunately Hubby is used to me mumbling to myself, so I’ve got a free pass there.)

Anyhow…

I have no illusions of superiority in the field of graphic design.  So I’m hoping that all you brilliant readers will help me: I’m thinking of updating the covers for the Never Say Spy series.

I still like the current covers, but the latest trends lean toward lots of colour and bold fonts. Also, the current covers don’t hint that there’s a sense of humour in the stories, and I’m wondering whether a different design might draw in readers who aren’t necessarily looking for a hardcore shoot-’em-up thriller.

Here are the original and proposed covers side by side — what do you think?

Please click on the poll below to vote.  The first five questions are for everyone, and the last question is only for people who have actually read the series.  And if you have any other comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them — please drop them in the comments section of this post.

Thank you so much for your help!  🙂

 

 

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Kiwi Fruit And Toilet Paper

I remember when kiwi fruit first appeared in our local grocery stores sometime around the early 1980s.  The fuzzy brown globes quickly became a fad despite the inevitable jokes about donkey balls.  (No, I can’t imagine who would have started a joke like that…  *crosses fingers and stares at the ceiling, whistling innocently*)

Anyway, it wasn’t long before every fruit tray at every upscale gathering boasted slices of kiwi.  It was exotic and sophisticated and the thing to serve!  But to be honest, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with kiwi fruit.  When it’s good, it’s great… but there are so many ways it can be not-good.

If it’s the teeniest bit unripe, it’s sour with a lingering bitter edge that leaves your mouth puckered and your teeth furry.  Too ripe, and it’s tasteless mush.  Riper still, and the fermentation phase is interestingly fizzy; but I can’t say I recommend it.

If it’s been long enough since my last unpleasant experience, I occasionally buy some kiwis when they’re on sale.  Which is how I came to be sitting at the breakfast table, cutting into one.

Hubby glanced over and said, “That looks very… green.”

I took a bite.  “It’s not too bad, actually.  The last batch I had was an exercise in sour misery, but this one’s okay.”

He frowned.  “Why do you even bother?”

“Well, kiwi fruit has more Vitamin C than oranges.”  I swallowed another virtuous mouthful.  “And it’s very high in fibre.”

Hubby watched in thoughtful silence while I finished my kiwi.  Then he asked, “What kind of fibre is in that septic-safe biodegradable toilet paper you buy?”

I blinked.  “Uh…?”

“Because, you know,” he went on, “You could just eat clean toilet paper to get your fibre.  It couldn’t taste any worse than that kiwi.”

“Except for the nutritional value,” I reminded him.

“Okay; eat the toilet paper, drink water, and take a vitamin pill.”

There was probably a rebuttal to that, but I couldn’t think of it.  He’s right:  Fruit is basically just cellulose fibre, water, and vitamins.  (And flavour; but we’ve already established that kiwi flavour isn’t always an asset.)

I never thought I’d see the day when eating toilet paper seemed like a reasonable option…

*

P.S.  I just found an article that made my day!  I’ve occasionally been chastised by self-appointed Typography Police for my old-fashioned use of two spaces after a period.  They’re adamant that “the only correct usage is a single space after a period”, but that ain’t necessarily so:  https://www.fastcompany.com/90171175/science-just-settled-one-of-type-designs-oldest-debates.  So maybe I don’t have to retrain my fingers after all.  Hooray!  😀

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Restaurant Masochism

And now for a replay of this week’s winning conversation:

Me (eyeing our monthly budget numbers):  “Wow, I didn’t realize you were so heavily into BDSM.”

Hubby:  “What?  I don’t even know what that means.”

Me: “Bondage/domination/sadism/masochism.”

Hubby (with sagging jaw): “Wha…?  Where did that come from?”

Me:  “Your monthly budget.  You said you spend about $100 a month on restraints.”

Hubby:  “Damn autocorrect!  That should have said restaurants!

Speaking of restaurants, the other day we were sitting in a Subway and Hubby was (as usual) picking the anemic yellowish tomato slices out of his BLT.  He jabbed his finger at a prominently-displayed picture of a luscious red tomato.

“See that?” he demanded.  “That’s how tomatoes are supposed to look!  Not this… piece of… I don’t even know what this is supposed to be!”  He dropped another pale crunchy slice onto his napkin.

That’s when I realized that fast-food restaurants are absolutely unique in the business-to-consumer market.  Have you ever been served a fast-food meal that actually looks like the appetizing pictures on their menu?  I haven’t.  But it’s never occurred to me to complain about it; and I’ve never heard anybody else complain, either.

There’s no way I’d tolerate that kind of bait-and-switch in any other business.

Imagine me paging through car brochures and settling on a new Chevy Cruze. I pay my money, they hand over the keys, and I go out to the lot to find a 1982 Chevette dribbling oil and rust flakes onto the pavement, reeking of stale cigarettes and wet dog.  And somehow, I passively accept that the piece of shit they delivered is not even close to the pretty picture I bought.  I climb into that pathetic excuse for a car without a peep of protest, wave to the dealer, and chug away.

I think not.

Then again, in the car dealership I’ve got all the time in the world to argue over expectations and aesthetics.  If I delay the line in a fast-food restaurant, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll get lynched by an infuriated mob of hungry patrons.

So maybe accepting a limp, sad, greasy burger is more about self-preservation than submission and masochism.  That’s what I’d like to think, anyway.

I’ll let you decide…

Book News:  After a long simmer on the back burner, there’s finally hope for Books 2 through 14 to be released as audiobooks!  Stay tuned…

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Tiger Nuts

The other day I was surfing the internet, secure in my delusion that there aren’t too many things left that can surprise me.

You see where this is going, right?  Yep, I got a surprise.

At first I thought it was only another instance of my self-diagnosed attention-deficit sexlexia, but on second glance I realized that I had actually read this label correctly:  “Tiger nuts”.  Skinned tiger nuts, no less.  (Because I guess otherwise the fur would stick in your teeth…?)

I couldn’t believe it either.

I’ve seen and tasted a lot of nuts in my lifetime… (stop snickerin’, youse guys) but I’ve never encountered tiger nuts (other than the zoological variety; which I have no desire to examine closely, much less taste).

But apparently tiger nuts (the correct spelling is actually two words, not the self-consciously concatenated version on the label above) are a type of tuber, like potatoes and peanuts.  Who knew?  The same label also included a banner to cheerily remind us it’s “Not a nut!”

I want a T-shirt that says this.

If only I could get somebody to say that about me.

But there’s no hope of that, because very soon after the tiger nuts, I ran across this product and my attention-deficit dyslexia kicked in hard:

You have to admit, that font is hard to read when it’s vertical.

I glanced at the side panel and thought it said “GoodFarts”.  Standing there in the grocery lineup, I nearly burst a blood vessel trying not to giggle.  The rest of the patrons eyed me suspiciously when I snapped a photo and turned away with my lips twitching, but fortunately nobody called the guys in the white suits.

My childish mind was part of the problem, but the urge to laugh came from another source, too.  My mind immediately seized on the idea of a ‘good fart’ and began manufacturing scenarios in which a fart might be desirable… which led me to a fond memory of my ex-father-in-law (may his delightful soul rest in peace).

One day he went to Emergency with chest pain, so they got him onto a stretcher and attached the usual monitors and devices.  No danger signs showed up, but the terrible pain persisted… until he finally belched and farted in quick succession.  With an engineer’s inborn panache, he sat up on the stretcher and announced, “All systems:  Go!”  Everybody cracked up.

Now that’s a good fart.  And he didn’t even need a ‘plant-based keto-friendly food bar’.

That product label makes me wonder, though:  How many animal-based food bars are out there?  Maybe they just heard about tiger nuts, too…

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Nocturnal Ninja

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a light sleeper. Even while I’m dead asleep, part of my brain is alert for the merest whisper of any unusual sound.

Which is why I jerked awake a couple of nights ago with all my attention focused on the pitch-black corner of our bedroom. I’d heard something moving!

The last time I heard something in that corner there was a mouse skittering around, so this time I was instantly at DEFCON1.

But the sound that woke me hadn’t sounded like skittering. It was more like the surreptitious brush of fabric against the wall.  And that was impossible, because that corner is filled by a large peace lily plant (and by ‘large’ I mean ‘gargantuan’ — over four feet across).

I stared wide-eyed into the darkness, my half-awake brain conjuring ridiculous thoughts of some ninja intruder who had somehow bypassed our security system and sneaked through our closed bedroom door.

After a few heart-thumping moments, I woke up enough to realize that nobody could turn our noisy door handle without waking me; and if some ninja was actually skillful enough to do that, s/he wouldn’t be careless enough to brush audibly against the wall.

By then all was silent. I stared into the gloom for a while longer, but my eyelids were drooping. I’d tossed my clothes on the chair before I went to bed.  Maybe they’d shifted.  Whatever.  *yawn*

I was dropping back to sleep when I heard it again: the Surreptitious Rustle!

I bolted up in bed and grabbed my flashlight, glaring into the plant corner and seeing… a plant. Nothing else. No movement.  No ninjas.

Fine.

I turned off the flashlight, assured my drowsy and slightly incredulous Hubby that everything was okay, and lay down again.

And then… *RUSTLE*

What the HELL?!?

After another foray with the flashlight, I finally remembered that I’d watered and rotated the plant before I went to bed. It had been thirsty and a bit wilted, and now it was rehydrating and straightening up. And in the process, it was rearranging its big leaves against the wall.

I fell back on the pillow with relief, but I still didn’t sleep well with that monster plant crouching in the corner and quietly shifting position. And I may or may not have heard it mutter, “Feed me, Seymour!”

So from now on I’m sticking to my usual routine of watering plants in the morning. At least in the daylight I’ll be able to see them coming for me.

Any ninjas in your world this week?  (And if there were, would you even know?)

The ninja peace lily. I think I’ll name it Audrey…

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Getting Down And Dirty

Psst!  Lean closer so I can share the latest sordid news from my personal life…

*glances around and lowers voice to a whisper*

Yesterday I had a sweaty four-hour session with five guys, and I’m so sore I can barely walk.  I guess I should just be grateful that the sixth guy with the really big tool didn’t participate much.

The whole experience wasn’t as much fun as the salacious stories say it should be; but maybe I was doing it wrong.

Here’s the photographic evidence:

That’s a 33′ x 83′ pond, about 80,000 Imperial gallons.

Yep, we finally got our pond done! The rubber liner weighs 1300 pounds, so Hubby and I planned the project very carefully.  Then we hired four guys from the local labour pool, and had an excavator operator (the guy with the BIG tool) standing by to place the rocks.

The excavator operator had dug the pond last week, and when I mentioned I’d hired guys from the labour pool to help install the liner, he raised an eyebrow. “Guys who can’t get a steady job in this economy? You’ll end up working harder than they do.”

But he didn’t realize that I have a secret weapon: I’m female, I’m strong, and I work really hard.  There aren’t too many young guys who’ll let a 55-year-old woman show them up.

(Have I mentioned lately that I love young guys?  My strategy doesn’t work nearly so well with older guys — sometimes they just shrug and say, “Nah, knock yourself out.  I’ve got nothing to prove.”)

Anyway, we got a great bunch of labourers — hard workers and nice guys.  We spent four solid hours raking, rolling, and wrestling (yes, I’m still talking about landscaping) to get the liner into place.

Even though Hubby and I had planned everything down to the last detail, we didn’t actually expect it to work the way we’d planned.  But it did — hooray!  Today we’re creaking and groaning a bit, but we’re triumphant.

And I gained a juicy story, so it’s all good. After all, how many middle-aged women can say they’ve gotten down and dirty with five guys at the same time? (And don’t forget the sixth guy with his really big tool.)  😉

Anything juicy happening in your world this week?

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Sleight Of Hand

Lately my body parts have been trying to slip things by me.

The other day I shook a vitamin pill into my palm and then turned my hand over to place the pill on top of the bottle so I’d remember to take it later.  I heard the *click-skitter* of the pill falling on a hard surface, but even though I hunted everywhere it had apparently vanished into thin air.  Presto!

Then, for my next trick…

I sighed and shook another pill into my palm, and once again I turned my hand over to put the pill on top of the bottle. I’d seen the pill in my palm and I didn’t hear it fall, but when I moved my hand away… no pill.

What the hell?!?

My grasp on sanity is tenuous at best, and by that point I was afraid I’d lost it completely.  Fortunately, I checked my palm and discovered the pill craftily clinging to my skin by its sticky gelatin coating.

But palming pills isn’t my body’s only trick:  My mouth has been getting into the act, too.  Apparently whenever it spots an approaching tea mug, it sidesteps about half an inch to the right. You’d think I’d notice something like that in the mirror, but nope; everything looks normal. I know it’s happening, though — every time I take a drink, I end up sloshing tea down the left side of my chin.

And don’t even get me started about trying to get the aforementioned daily pill into my mouth.  If not for the fact that everything else seems to be working fine, I’d be wondering if I’d developed some serious impairment of my motor control.

Just to add insult to injury, a few days ago I cut my finger while I was trying to install my painting in its new frame.  And while I was peeling the Bandaid out of its wrapper, I got a paper cut.

Yep, an injury inflicted by a Bandaid wrapper.  Somewhere up there, the gods of irony are rolling around on the cosmic floor and peeing their pants laughing.

Come to think of it, that might explain the two inches of rain we’ve had this week.  Let’s hope I don’t perform any more entertaining tricks, or I might trigger another biblical flood.

If you need me, I’ll be out in the workshop sawing up a few cubits of wood…

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