Beware the Dough-Snake!

Sunday evening I was making myself a cup of herbal tea, with my brain completely fried after a grueling weekend spent putting on the conference I mentioned in my last post.  I steeped my tea in the pleasantly dim kitchen, then groped for the compost bucket to dump my tea leaves.

But instead of the expected plastic lid, my hand contacted the soft bulge of something.  A cool, moist, yielding something that moved under my hand like a sleepy snake.

I yelped and recoiled, only to burst out laughing when I discovered that the ‘snake’ was… pizza dough.

We’d made pizza for supper, but as I was pressing the dough into the pan I discovered tiny metal flakes in it.  (Yes, that flour went back to the store ASAP!)  So I remade our pizza crusts from a fresh bag of flour and chucked the contaminated dough into the compost bucket.

But it’s a small bucket.  And yeast rises.  So by the time I zombie-shuffled over there in the late evening, the dough had pushed up the lid of the bucket and escaped, clearly bent on world (or at least garbage-bin) domination.

After patting my thumping heart back into my chest and wiping away my tears of laughter, I dumped the compost bucket out into the recycling green-bin we keep in the garage.  It’s a big bin; but nevertheless, the next morning I opened the door to the garage with caution… just in case the dough-snake had devoured the tasty contents of the bin and grown into a giant man-eating serpent overnight.

Fortunately, it hadn’t; and on Monday the dough-snake went into the collection truck with the rest of the recycling.  So I think we’re safe from compost serpents for now… but I’m still chuckling over my momentary adrenaline burst.

Any surprises in your world this week?

Writing update: I’m (finally!) putting the last of the conference stuff to bed today, and then I’ll start plotting Book 17, woohoo! Soon, soon…

Fear Factor: Creepy-Crawly Edition

Warning: There’s a snake photo at the bottom of this post!  (Just thought I’d mention that for those who hate/fear snakes.)

No Fear Factor would be complete without a few creepy-crawlies, so here we go:

Even though I’ve had quite a few close encounters with things that crawl and slither, most of them don’t really creep me out.

(See what I did there? ‘Creep’ me out…?)

*ahem*  Sorry.

Anyway, I’ll start with spiders (and I don’t mean the lovable Spider Webb from my books).

I guess after you’ve had a large spider walking around in your mouth it’s hard to get too wound up about bugs of any sort. Mind you, I didn’t tongue the spider intentionally. I just didn’t realize the potential consequences of drinking from a hose without letting it run for a few seconds first. That poor spider probably achieved low-earth orbit when I spat him out. (The world’s first spidernaut: One small step for man; eight giant steps for arachnids…)

Over the years I’ve lifted spiders off my eyebrows, shaken them out of my hair, and, if statistics are to be believed, probably eaten close to a dozen in my sleep by now. Spiders don’t bother me.

But wood ticks?

Bleah!!! I hate wood ticks! They’re bad enough when they’re crawling around all flat and icky but once they latch on and get engorged to the size of revolting dead-white grapes… *shudders*

Before the advent of flea-and-tick collars, picking engorged ticks off the cats and dogs on the farm was a disgusting but necessary chore. It was too bad they didn’t make flea-and-tick collars for humans, too, because after being outdoors in Manitoba we almost always had to evict a couple from our clothes or bodies.

Moving on to the crawlies: I’m not crazy about centipedes, mainly because I’ve heard they bite. But wooly-bear caterpillars are cute. As kids we loved to pick them up and watch them curl into a furry ball. Then after a few seconds they’d relax and crawl around our palms while we giggled at the tickly sensation.

Cold-blooded crawlies don’t bother me, either. My fifth-grade teacher confided to my mother with some dismay, “All the other children bring me flowers. Diane brings me salamanders!”

I didn’t mean to upset her. It was just that the other kids were tormenting the poor salamanders, so I rescued them and carried them home to release by our pond after school. I kept hoping they’d stay and have families, but I never saw them again. (Maybe I should have tried bringing two salamanders home. Clearly I didn’t think that part through.)

And then there are the ‘slitheries’.  I class leeches under ‘slitheries’, and they revolt me; but then again I figure it’s probably healthy to harbour an aversion to critters that want to suck my blood.  (No vampires for me, either, thank you very much.)

Snakes, on the other hand…

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Years ago, friends had a six-foot long boa constrictor who loved to cuddle up and tuck his nose under my hair where it was nice and warm.

Snakes are okay, but I do prefer a little advance warning. Sudden snakes are rarely a good thing, particularly if you’re poking around one of our desert micro-climates where the rattlesnakes hang out.

Snakes in quantity are another thing entirely. The garter snake pits at Narcisse, Manitoba are amazing (click on the videos at the bottom of their page if you dare). I don’t know how they all manage to untangle themselves. Apparently the accepted collective nouns for snakes are ‘bed’, ‘pit’, ‘den’, ‘knot’, and ‘nest’, but I think a ‘macramé of snakes’ would be appropriate.

Which creepy-crawly do you loathe the most?

P.S.  You may have noticed that my site was down for the better part of a day last week.  My domain host crapped out completely (yes, I’m switching to a new one now) and all my emails vanished into cyberspace.  If you emailed me any time within the past couple of weeks but didn’t get a reply, please resend your message.  I promise I’m not ignoring you!

Is That A Snake In Your Pocket Or…?

Last week in the news this headline confronted me: “A Sandwich, A Snake, And A SNAFU: How Things Went Wrong At A Saskatoon Tim Horton’s”. And I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to put it into a blog post. (Thanks to Chris Robinson for inspiring the title of this post with his comment on my Facebook page.)

In case the link expires, here are the salient points of the event:

  1. Two guys walk into a Tim Horton’s in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Yes, this IS the beginning of a joke.)
  2. They order a sandwich (unclear whether that was one sandwich between the two of them, or one sandwich each). They want their onions diced.
  3. The employee objects to dicing the onions.
  4. An argument ensues.
  5. The argument escalates.
  6. One guy gets thoroughly pissed off, reaches into his buddy’s pocket, pulls out a non-venomous snake, and throws it at the employee.
  7. Chaos ensues and the police are called.
  8. The guys get arrested and charged with public mischief. The snake gets a temporary home until it can be released into the wild. I get a belly laugh or three. No word on what the employee got.

Naturally, my first reaction on reading this article was to post it on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to enjoy. After all, as I noted there, how often do you find a guy secure enough in his manhood to publicly reach into his buddy’s pocket and grab his snake?

But on further reflection, there was just so much in this article to boggle my mind. To wit:

  • All double entendres aside, why would a guy carry a snake in his pocket?
  • Why did the snake stay in his pocket? In my experience, snakes tend to prefer stillness and solitude, and they tend to seek them out fairly determinedly.
  • If, for some unfathomable reason, you were walking around with a snake in your pocket (yes, I’m still talking about the reptilian variety), why would you go into a Tim Horton’s? Presumably you’re transporting the snake somewhere for a reason, so why not use the drive-through and carry on to the intended conclusion of your snake-toting?
  • If the “unfathomable reason” was a pleasant outing for the snake, there are lots of better places to take it. As far as I know, snakes don’t like coffee or sandwiches. Not even Tim Horton’s coffee.
  • If you’re carrying around a snake with the intent to fling it, why not just fling it and be done? Get in, fling the snake, get out, go get your sandwich at a different Timmie’s.
  • Why was it so important that the Tim Horton’s employee dice the onions? Why wouldn’t the guy pull out a jackknife and chop the onions himself? Or if he didn’t have a tool in his pocket, (hence his need for the snake, perhaps…?), why not just break the onions into pieces with his fingers? They should have been clean – his momma must have told him to always wash his hands after handling his snake.
  • Who, in the extremities of irritation, decides to reach into somebody else’s pocket for what was clearly an inoffensive critter (at least to the snake-toter, who theoretically must have been sanguine about his reptilian pocket pet)?

So many questions… just one answer: Only in Saskatchewan.

(If you don’t believe me, I offer this YouTube clip as evidence. This is part of the half-time show from the 2013 Grey Cup, played in Regina, Saskatchewan. Check out the maniac on the snowmobile behind the band. Yep, I rest my case.)

* * *

Book 9 draft is at 90% and we have a title!  SPY HIGH will be coming out in January… cover art coming soon!

It’s Gonna Be A Long Winter

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when we question our sanity in living where we do.

Saturday was nice and sunny with temperatures in the high teens (that’s low 70s for you Fahrenheit folks), and Hubby took the motorcycle out for one last ride. Sunday we had six inches of snow and last night the temperature was -27 with the wind chill.

We knew winter was coming. We’re not shocked.  But the longer we live here, the more we start talking about other places we could live.  The problem is that other than the cold and snow, we can’t think of a better place.

Well, okay; the cold and snow and the fact that there are large animals here that would like to eat us. Grizzly bears and cougars and such.  They’re not really an issue in the city, but when we’re out at our garden in the country, they’re a threat.

Hubby and I considered and discarded a few options.

Tropical beaches have a special allure when our world is cold and white, but then there are the problems of jellyfish and sharks and undertows and red tide and hurricanes and tsunamis, which are probably of negligible concern to the people who actually live there, but they seem pretty scary to us.

And most places with warm tropical beaches also have giant bugs. And the giant bugs often occupy houses where we might want to live.  This is an issue for at least one of us.

I grew up in a farmhouse that was infested by big black crickets all summer long, and crickets eat everything. Including your underwear in the laundry bin.  I had crotchless panties at an age where I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want them.  So my bug tolerance is slightly higher than Hubby’s, but I still have no desire to cohabitate with bugs.  Ever.  Again.

Then there’s the whole snake issue. Here in Canada even our venomous snakes are polite.  We only have four kinds, and they’d all prefer to avoid humans if possible.  They keep to themselves in a few small geographic areas, and even if you manage to find one and convince it to bite you, you probably won’t die.

Not like some of the warmer climes where you can take your choice between being fatally bitten or fatally squished by a mind-boggling variety of reptiles. I’ve heard Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, but then again, they’ve got volcanoes and lava flows.  One way or another, something’s gonna sneak up and swallow you when you least expect it.

And if you go really far afield, there’s a whole ‘nother set of man-eating critters licking their chops. Oh, with tropical diseases thrown in as a bonus.

Having exhausted our discussion of alternate places to live, our kitchen table conversation swerved to this:

Hubby: Wouldn’t it be nice to just put all the big predators on an island somewhere so we wouldn’t have to worry about them?  I wonder who’d win in a fight between a grizzly bear and a lion?

Me: Cage match!  I’d put my money on the grizzly.

Hubby: How about a grizzly bear and a polar bear?  Polar bears are bigger than grizzlies.

Me: Yeah, but polar bears only hunt wussy stuff like seals and humans.  No claws or teeth or anything.  Grizzlies are mean mo-fos.  They kill other bears.

Hubby: Hm.  Yeah.  How about…

*discussion continues*

Yep, only three cold days and already cabin fever is setting in. It’s gonna be a long winter.

Please help us out: Where’s the ideal place to live?