Tag Archives: life

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand (Swear)Words

Pictograms.  Never has a supposedly simple solution gone so laughably (and swearably) wrong.

I realize that they’re supposed to provide accessibility for the 5% of people who have difficulty reading; and it’s a great idea to add them to signs.  But take away the words, and it leaves all of us bumbling around wondering, “WTF is this supposed to mean?!?”  The ancient Egyptians used nothing but pictograms, and look where they ended up.  Just sayin’.

I’m all for pictograms plus words.  But pictograms alone are like playing Pictionary with art-challenged companions; except that the stakes are your time and sanity instead of gut-busting laughter and minor humiliation when you accidentally draw a pornographic-looking diagram that was supposed to have represented ‘stretch pants’.  (Not that that’s ever happened to anybody I know, nuh-uh, nope).

For instance, after years of exposure to this cryptic symbol, I’ve finally recognized that it means power on/off:

But if I were looking at it for the first time, I’d be stumped.

What is it supposed it to represent?  An apple?  A bathroom sink as seen from above?  A nipple ring?  A cherry bomb?  A sex act?  A giant space probe slamming into the planet and annihilating all life?  Or maybe it’s a finger pressing a button.  Who the hell knows?  Should I push that button or not?

My treadmill has equally arcane symbols.  You’d think it would be hard to go wrong — the tortoise means “slow” and the hare means “fast”.

But then there’s this:

I’m okay with ‘time’ represented by the clock and ‘speed’ represented by the rabbit.  But what’s that button with the vertical lines and double back-arrows?  Maybe it resets my time and mileage.  Or maybe if I press that button, my treadmill will suddenly reverse direction and accelerate to warp-speed, catapulting me off the treadmill and through the wall.  I could press it and find out; but I don’t dare.

The little flames under the right indicator are equally worrisome.  They’re supposed to indicate “calories burned”, but they could just as easily mean “your treadmill will catch fire in three… two…”

But I’m sure my treadmill would never do that, because it loves me.  That’s what those hearts mean, right…?

What pictograms do you love to hate?

P.S.  I just found this hilarious interpretation of laundry label symbols

Book 14 update:  Chapter 36 and going strong!  Now, if only my fingers would learn to correctly type “public” instead of “pubic”…

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Solving The Wrong Problem

I’m a problem-solver by nature — as soon as I’m confronted by an issue, my brain immediately rounds up the metaphorical troops and puts all available energy into finding a solution.  Often this leads to creative solutions or hare-brained inventions, but occasionally I zoom  right past the main issue and solve the wrong problem entirely.

Take this weekend, for example:

We had been invited out to a birthday party, where (as usual) I ate far too much and then topped off my excesses with a couple of delicious beers.

Showing superhuman restraint (if I do say so myself) I managed to behave like a polite adult the whole entire time we were in public.  (Mark a big star on the calendar for Saturday November 24, 2018:  “Diane acted like an adult ALL DAY today!”)

Well, okay, not all day; but most of the day…

Happy and relaxed in the car with Hubby on the way home, I let out a resounding belch and said, “’Scuse me.”

Hubby reacted not at all, neither to the original gross breach of etiquette nor to my subsequent lip service to politeness.

After a couple of beats of silence I turned to him and said, “I guess after belching loudly enough to register on the Richter scale, excusing myself is probably solving the wrong problem, isn’t it?”

He smiled and shrugged.

Thus encouraged, I finished,  “…so next time I won’t bother excusing myself.”

And Hubby just laughed.  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love him?)

And on another note:  Here are some photos that have made me happy lately.  They may not solve any problems, but maybe they’ll make you smile, too.  (Click the photos to see larger versions.)

It’s hard to believe, but one of our azaleas is still blooming! This is “Bloom-a-thon Lavender”, still putting out flowers at the end of November.

The heather is already in bloom, and the pansies haven’t stopped since I put them in last spring.

The last few leaves of the weigela perch like bright butterflies on the tips of the twigs.

We took a trip out to Ucluelet (on the west coast of Vancouver Island) a couple of weeks ago, on a gorgeous calm sunny day.

Even on a calm day, the ocean never rests. This is the Amphitrite lighthouse in Ucluelet. (The person in the middle isn’t actually close to the waves crashing on the rocks – it’s just that the waves are that big.)

It wouldn’t be the West Coast without some gorgeous greens!

Ahhhhh…

May all your problems be easily solved!

Book 14 update:  Despite a busy week, I made it almost to the end of Chapter 34.  All the threads are coming together now!

 

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No Regrets… Much…

I have a hard time finding ‘work/life balance’, because I work from home and I love my work.  Sometimes I’m more stressed when I don’t work than when I work all day and half the night.

But I do try to allow myself some guilt-free indulgences every now and then.  The indulgences are easy.  The ‘guilt-free’ part?  Um… not so much.

I’ve read a lot of motivational books, so when I’m enjoying a treat or taking a break and I catch myself feeling guilty, my inner motivational speaker pipes up:  “Do you really think you’re going to be lying on your deathbed thinking, ‘Gee, I really wish I’d eaten broccoli instead of that ice cream thirty years ago’ or ‘Dang, I wish I’d worked longer hours’?”

According to the books, that’s supposed to work; but my twisted mind just can’t resist rhetorical questions like that.

I immediately imagine myself weighing five hundred pounds and dying in agony from diabetes-induced gangrene in my extremities, heartily wishing I’d chosen the broccoli instead.  Or being a hungry 92-year-old huddled in a cardboard box in the rain, cursing myself for not working harder while I still had some earning capacity.  A vivid imagination isn’t always a good thing.

I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that I love writing and I can continue to work for the rest of my life if I need to (as long as I don’t get dementia, and that’s a whole ’nother nightmare).  But the way book sales are plummeting these days, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to make a living as an author even next year, never mind in a few decades.

That’s when I start to envy people who coast through life doing whatever they damn well please without worrying about the consequences.  They just assume that somebody will take care of them when it all blows up, and somebody usually does.

But not always.  And since I’m capable of foreseeing catastrophes caused by goofing off for half a day once a week, I can only imagine how wild-eyed I’d be if I completely dropped the ball and took a whole weekend-

Hang on.

I can’t actually imagine it.  Because if I could cause a personal apocalypse just by taking a few hours off or eating a box of leftover Halloween candy (not that I’d actually do that… okay; yes, I would), how could the outcome get any worse?

Hmmm.

’Scuse me, gotta run — there’s a junk-food-and-binge-reading session calling my name!

Does anybody else get the guilts from goofing off?

Book 14 update:  It was a great writing week!  I hit Chapter 30 and I’m working on the last few details to wrap up the plot.  I’m on a roll!  (And I’m not goofing off.  Just sayin’.)  😉

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What Were They Thinking?

You know how you’re cheerfully going along and everything makes perfect sense, and then you find something that makes your brain screech to a halt and yelp, “Wait, what?”

This week I encountered more ‘what-were-they-thinking’ situations than usual.  For instance, I sometimes use preservative-free eye drops that come in teeny individual vials:

0.4 ml: About 7 drops

You’re supposed to open the vial, use what you need, and throw away the remainder to avoid contamination.  Each vial holds about seven drops.  But… most people have two eyes.  Why would they create a vial that holds an uneven number of drops?

At first glance it seems illogical, but I guess it’s actually marketing genius — they know you’ll have to waste part of each vial; and more waste for you equals more sales for them.  (Sometimes finding answers isn’t as satisfying as one might hope.)

Also:  This weekend I was at an art conference, where I learned about a new drawing tool.  It works like a wax crayon but also has water-soluble elements so you can drag a wet brush through it and get a watercolour effect.  Very cool indeed!  But why did they call it a ‘Woody’?

The Stabilo Woody: It even comes wearing a condom… erm, sorry; “protective sleeve”.

Not even the conference presenter was able to say ‘woody’ out loud without snickering.  I can’t believe that nobody on the Stabilo marketing team ever said, “Hey, you know that’s slang for an erect penis, right?”  (Or maybe they were snickering when they named it.  Hmmm.)  So wrap your hands around your woodies, folks, and let’s get this party started!

Moving right along…

Also at the conference, I found this sign in the bathroom:

It says “Please press the grey circle for 5 seconds to flush”… and there’s a grey circle on the sign.

I wonder how many people did what I did:  Read the sign, saw the grey circle, and thought, “But pressing a dot on the wall won’t flush the toilet.”

The sign was actually referring to the grey circle on the dual-flush control for the toilet far below; and it was necessary because the other half of the control didn’t work.  But why would they put a grey circle on the sign and mount it so high it seems unrelated to the toilet?  It would have been much more helpful to place the sign directly above the actual control with a downward-pointing arrow.

I chuckled at this garbled communication, but maybe the joke’s on me.  Maybe I’m the only person who ever looked at the sign and momentarily wondered if I was supposed to press the wall.  But I don’t think so.  The grey circle on the sign looked suspiciously finger-smudged.

And now I’m giggling at the thought of people repeatedly pressing the dot and wondering why the toilet wouldn’t flush.

Any oddball events in your world this week?

Book 14 update:  I got into Chapter 27 this week.  It’s fun to be a fly on the wall when Reggie Chow and Holt The Magnificent lock horns!

P.S. For those who asked for an updated photo of the trellis project that singed my toes, here it is completed and installed:

The last of the dahlias and glads are still hanging on, and yesterday I planted another 700 bulbs. We’re looking forward to the spring blooms!

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“Random” Passenger

I used to love flying, back in the days when I could throw everything I needed into a carry-on bag and board the plane without getting hassled about my shampoo bottle or *gasp* my jackknife.  Back in the days when they still made airplane seats to fit normal adults instead of emaciated waifs with abnormally short legs.  Back in the days when they still served actual food on board.

Remember how we used to joke about airline food?  Well, the joke’s on us.  If we had known back then that today’s “airline food” would be ten mini-pretzels and half a cup of pop, we’d have shut up and reveled in our good fortune.

And don’t even get me started about security… oh, wait; I’m already started.  Hang on, ’cause here we go.

So you know how the security scanner automatically selects some poor schmuck random passenger for groping and harassment “additional screening measures”?  News flash:  It ain’t random.  It’s specially calibrated to go off like fireworks every… single… time… I pass through it.

Usually it’s not too big a deal, because I always strip to the point of marginal decency before I go through the scanner anyway.  When the inevitable lights and sirens start up, I assume the position, they search/swab/manhandle any luggage item and/or body part that catches their fancy, and then I get re-dressed and carry on.

But last week I got extra-special treatment.  The scanner went off and I assumed the position as usual.  The screening agent must have really liked me, because I received a particularly thorough pat-down – she should have given me flowers afterward; or at least a nice kiss.  I don’t know why it’s supposed to be less ‘sexual’ to get your PTA (pussy/tits/ass) squeezed and fondled by the backs of the agent’s hands instead of their palms; but maybe I’ve just been away from the dating scene for too long.

Anyhow, after my X-rated interlude I figured I’d be good to go… but I was wrong.  The explosives scanner picked up something on my suitcase, too.  That got everyone’s attention.

So in addition to getting publicly felt up, I also won the booby bonus prize:  Having every single item in my luggage removed and laid out so everyone could scrutinize it.  Mom really was right:  Always buy nice underwear.  Even if nobody ever sees you wearing it, at least it’ll look pretty when it’s spread out on the security conveyor in front of dozens of gawking bystanders.

By that point I was beginning to wonder whether I had actually packed some dynamite without noticing; but fortunately they didn’t find anything.

At last they allowed me to get re-packed and re-dressed, and I made it to the boarding lounge with everything but my dignity, privacy, and equanimity.  I left those behind at Security – I guess they had to confiscate something after all that kerfuffle.

Anybody else got “random passenger” tattooed on their forehead?

Book 14 update:  I hit Chapter 25 this week!  The middle of a book is always where I start to question my writing ability and sanity, but fortunately I know by now that it’s all part of the process.  Will… push… through…

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Ruminants, Ice Cream, And Welding Feet

I often send cryptic reminders to myself when I think of a blog topic but don’t have time to write the whole post.  Usually a few words are enough to jog my memory, but when I discovered this email on my laptop a few days ago, I was confounded:

“Ruminants.  And ice cream.  Welding feet.”

All-righty, then.

I do actually remember sending the email; but beyond that I don’t have a clue.  It must have been something so weird that my brain discarded it in self-defence.

I guess I’ll never know, but at least “welding feet” still makes sense (to me, at least).  ’Cause you never know how foolish you’re willing to look until you’ve shuffled around wearing welding gloves on your feet.

(Note:  I’d like to emphasize that it wasn’t my fault – I didn’t know I was going to be welding.)

Hubby’s uncle Bert had offered to fabricate a trellis for us, so I drew up the plans and we went over to his workshop.  I planned to hang over Bert’s shoulder and watch the master at work, so I had worn jeans and a denim jacket and brought a welding helmet and gloves.  But when he offered the stinger to me, the learning opportunity was too good to pass up.

Everything was going fine… (that is to say, I sucked just as badly as when I first tried welding as a teenager) …until I felt a sizzle on my toes.  And then another.  And another, until I was doing a funky little soft-shoe shuffle in an attempt to avoid the pain.

Yep, I had worn nylon running shoes instead of my usual boots (see “not my fault” above) and specks of red-hot slag were burning through my shoes and socks and toasting my toes.  But I wasn’t about to abandon my educational opportunity, so that’s how I ended up shambling around with welding gloves on my feet like some deranged leather-toed waterfowl.

My welding didn’t improve much, but at least the trellis is solid and I had fun revisiting another long-abandoned skill!

And best of all, there’s no photographic evidence of my latest goofball performance.  Instead, here’s the almost-finished product:

We still have to clean it up, attach the decorative panels (they’re only laid in place in the photo), and paint it. Then it’ll support our peach tree in an espalier-type setup against the garage wall.

Any oddball activities in your life this week?

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Evil Seagull Lady

The other day I was down at the ocean (and I’m still thrilled that I can get there in fifteen minutes).  This is my favourite time of year to go to the beach – the days are crisp and the tourists are gone, so it’s only me and the waves and the seagulls.

And the Seagull Lady.

An elderly woman drove up and parked as I was walking down to the water’s edge, but I didn’t pay much attention – I was focused on getting to my favourite sandbar while the sun was turning the waves blue and silver.  I made a beeline for my special spot and stood there smiling, tuning out everything but the gentle hush of the waves and the cries of the seagulls.

Except… there seemed to be more seagull cries than usual.  And they weren’t the normal squawks that seagulls emit while they’re casually flying overhead deciding whether to shit on you.  These were more urgent squeals that were easy to translate:  “Feed me!  Feed me!  Feed me!”

I glanced over to see the Seagull Lady seated on a big driftwood log holding a bread bag and surrounded by gulls.  She tossed handful after handful of bread to the greedy crew, who gobbled it up and screamed for more.

I had several thoughts in quick succession:

  1. “Aw, that nice little old lady must love gulls.  That would make a great photo, with her sitting on that big log backlit by the sun and surrounded by birds.”
  2. “Jeez, I’m glad that’s not my house right next to the parking lot.  Now I know why there are always dozens of squawking gulls and a river of birdshit on their roof.  I bet the homeowners would love to smack that nice little old lady.”
  3. “I wonder if that nice little old lady knows that bread is unhealthy for gulls and she’s not really doing them any favours?”

That’s when my brain took a hard left (as it frequently does) and kickstarted my urge to create stories of mayhem and betrayal.

My next thought was this:

“What if that little old lady actually hates gulls?  What if she’s purposely feeding them bread in the full knowledge that it will make them malnourished and less able to fend for themselves?  OMG, what if that little old lady is actually a twisted psychopath who intentionally inflicts suffering on all living things?  That would make an awesome storyline!”

…And that’s what it’s like to live inside my head.

So the next time you see a woman at the beach gazing across the waves and smiling, don’t assume she’s all zen-and-happy-meditation.  She might be devising evil plots…

*

P.S. I’m travelling, so I’ll catch up with comments later in the day.  “Talk” to you then!  🙂

Book 14 update:  I hit the 50% mark this week, hooray!  This is where the plot gets complicated…

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Just A Nutjob

I have to confess:  I’m obsessed with nuts.  All sizes and shapes and colours; from soft to firm to rock-hard, and everything in between.  Such a glorious variety… mmmm!  And there’s nothing like that delicious crunch when I crush them between my teeth.

Guys, stop wincing – it’s nothing personal.

The other day I checked the grocery list and chuckled.  There were only three items on it:  Peanuts, walnuts, and pine nuts.

This was in addition to the dried-fruit-and-peanut mix that’s always in my car in case I need a snack while I’m on the road; the can of salted cashews in the snack drawer; the almonds and almond flour in the baking cupboard; and the big bowl of unshelled nuts that takes up residence on our counter every year as soon as fresh nuts become available.  (And you know I’m secretly snickering at “fresh nuts”.  There’s nothing better than cupping a nice big handful of… okay, I’ll stop now.)

And there’s always at least a gallon of peanut butter in the freezer in addition to the jar that’s currently in use; but I don’t actually include that in my nut count – peanut butter is a staple food that transcends nutdom.  (If only I could say the same about myself.)

If there’s peanut butter, there’s hope.  If there’s no peanut butter… *shudders at the thought*  I’m not even going to go there – it’s too traumatic to consider.  I’m sure most guys would agree that a nutless day is a bad day indeed.

Hubby is bemused by my love affair with peanut butter.  If we eat the same leftovers a few days in a row I get tired of them no matter now delicious they might be.  But peanut butter?  I eat it for breakfast every… single… day.  And I have for decades.  I just tell Hubby he should be glad that when I find something I truly love, my commitment problems magically disappear.  😉

I do realize that peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all – they’re legumes.  But I’m still nuts for them.  I know; sometimes I’m such a goober.

And now I can’t get the song “Goober Peas” out of my head.

Any other nut nuts out there?

Book 14 update:  I made it to the end of Chapter 21, and circled back to tune up some details in earlier chapters.  It’s fun to weave in all the little loose ends!

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Keep Calm And Carry On

You know how you get organized at the beginning of each week so you can sail through the upcoming days happy and relaxed because everything is under control?

I hope I’m not the only one laughing helplessly right now.

What’s even funnier is that sometimes I actually delude myself into thinking I truly do have everything under control.  That’s when Fate lets out a derisive laugh and upends my plans with unexpected detours, unavoidable delays, and unmet expectations.

I just try to keep calm and carry on. (And sometimes I lie awake stewing for hours in the middle of the night because everybody knows that helps…)

Anyhow, it’s been one of those weeks.  Nothing bad has happened; but every time I’ve tried to get my shit together, it’s ended up hitting the fan.  So since putting together a coherent post is beyond my ability at the moment, here are the highlights of my week in pictures:

Remember how several months ago I was chuckling about the eccentricities of the locals when I saw a woman leading a goat across the Canadian Tire parking lot?  Well, that’s not the only oddball animal on the loose around here.  Last week I was driving through the middle of nowhere when I saw this:

Two peacocks, just hanging out in the middle of the woods. Go figure.

I’m used to seeing deer by the dozens around here, but peacocks were a new sight for me.  And speaking of deer, these cuties were taking their ease right in the middle of town:

Mom and babies weren’t worried even when I walked up about fifteen feet away.

The rest of Canada is already getting snow (yes, Calgary, I’m looking at you with heartfelt sympathy for yesterday’s sixteen inches – blech!), so we’re starting to feel the pressure to get some last-minute gardening done around here.  I’m making slow progress on our landscaping:

Only a few more tons of rock to move. To give you a sense of scale, the post at the far right is almost 5′ tall.

But around here autumn is just starting, and with gorgeous colours like these, I might reconsider my vendetta against the fall season.  Almost.  Kinda.  Maybe…

This golden gorgeousness is a katsura tree, which smells deliciously (and unbelievably) like caramel in the autumn. The beautiful bark behind it is a giant Douglas fir.

How was your week?

Book 14 update:  I managed to squeak into Chapter 20 this week despite the craziness.  Fingers crossed for a more productive upcoming week…

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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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