A very different kind of fairy tale…

Warning: The following fairy tale is NOT for kids.
No siree. It’s for all of us grownups who are sick and tired of reading about all the nasty shit going on in the world these days and would, for once, like to read a story with a happy ending.

So, go curl up on the couch with your blankie and a cold beer… ’cause it’s story time!

Jack And His Beanstalk

I was not amused when Jack developed a sudden zest for gardening. The last time he’d flexed his green thumb, it had got him thrown in the slammer.

He came home, not with news that he’d finally found employment, but with a ratty leather pouch containing a few seeds he’d won in a poker game. You heard me right. He won seeds in a poker game. When he added that they were magic seeds, I lost it.

“How much beer have you drank today, Jack? Are you into the pot again too? Those are marijuana seeds, aren’t they? How could you go back on your word like this?”

Clutching his silly pouch of seeds as if it were a sack of rare diamonds, he shook his head. “I didn’t smoke nothing. And no more than ten pints touched these here lips. I was a good boy today, Ida. And it’s gonna pay off in spades!”

I glared at the sorry lout that was my lot in life for the past thirty-six years, spun on my heel and stormed down the hall to our room, from where I sent his pillow and beddings sailing smoothly out the door to land magically at his feet. The slamming door was my exclamation point.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I arose early with a thirst for a good, strong cup of coffee. While I ran water at the sink, I caught my reflection in the windowpane.

I couldn’t help but despair at the tired face that stared back at me—old beyond her fifty years. (Yes, you figured the math right. I was just a bit of a girl when I was fool enough to marry Jack. Fourteen, to be exact.) My reflection faded as a movement out the window caught my attention. I nearly dropped the coffee pot at the sight that met my eyes.

There was Jack, crouched over a freshly turned patch of earth by the shed, planting his “magic” seeds. Turning away from the window, I slammed the empty coffee pot on the counter and stomped back to the bedroom to change. I had to get away. It was obvious that Jack had lied to me and was back to growing “the smoke” again, instead of hauling his rump out to look for work. There was a time when those plants had nearly destroyed our lives. I thought he had changed. I was wrong. And I was devastated.

***

After a morning spent rifling through the racks at the new Save-A-Dollar in town, I had cooled off considerably. It’s amazing really how therapeutic it can be to treat yourself to a comfy new pair of elastic-waist jeans. I was ready to go home and confront Jack.

I called out his name as I entered the house, but there was only silence. In the kitchen, I dropped my parcel on the counter… then dropped my jaw at the scene that greeted my eyes through the window.

There was Jack perched at the edge of the half-rotted Adirondack chair he’d “found” on garbage day, peering intently at his dirt patch which had sprouted a leafy green sapling about four feet tall.

“What in the…?” were the first words that came to my mind. How could seeds planted just this morning be producing growth already? Could Jack be playing some kind of mind game with me?

I flung open the kitchen door and stalked across the lawn, fists planted firmly on my hips to keep myself from punching him.

“Jack O’Toole. What the hell kind of game do you think you’re playing with me?”

Jack’s head snapped around, his eyebrows meeting his hairline as he gawked at me.

“What do you mean, Ida? What game?”

I took a deep breath to keep myself from exploding, and growled.

“I saw you planting those seeds this morning, Jack. Do you really think I’m stupid enough to believe that they could’ve grown this much already?”

Jack’s shoulders relaxed as he waved a hand and chuckled. “Oh. Of course. You didn’t believe me when I told you they’re magic seeds.”

He sighed, leaning forward in his chair to grasp both my hands in his.

“I know how crazy it sounds, Ida, but I’m telling you the truth. I swear on Stinker’s grave,” he said, motioning with his chin toward the small mound of earth under the kitchen window. The patch was marked with a cross I’d made from twine-trussed branches, a laminated photo of our beloved old mutt—bless his little I-love-to-roll-in-crap heart—duct-taped to it.

“I’m not growing illegal contraband. I’m not playing games. These seeds are one of a kind. Old Callaghan brought ‘em back from Ireland. He told me he bought ‘em from a wee odd man who appeared outta nowhere after he’d stopped to take a whiz at the side of a dirt road outside the village of Ballybeg. Paid three-hundred pounds for ‘em! Callaghan’s eyes were like a pair’a beer taps, he was cryin’ so hard when he had to hand ‘em over to me. In all our years, I’ve not seen him so distraught.”

Jack nodded toward his plant, which had sprouted another foot as I’d stood there listening to him.

“The wee odd man told Callaghan that these seeds are guaranteed to bring good fortune to and fulfill the wildest dreams of he who possesses ‘em.”

He released my hands and leaned back in his chair to resume watching over his magic plant.

“Trust me. You’ll see proof soon enough.”

I leaned forward to take a closer look. It definitely wasn’t a marijuana plant. I knew what they looked like, thanks to years spent watching “Farmer Jack” tend his precious crops in our back yard until the day Morris Dwick from next door—pissed off after Stinker’d chased his cat over to the next county—tipped off the cops. The day Jack returned home after serving his sentence, he swore up and down to me that he was turning over a new leaf. Excuse the pun.

And he had. Until now. Was it any wonder that little soldiers of suspicion were marching up and down my spine?

As he talked, the plant grew some more, right there before my own eyes. It looked just like a beanstalk, with identical leaves and lush, orange blossoms. It was now the same height as the shed and sprouting more vines as I watched it, dumbfounded.

Could Jack actually be telling the truth? It was certainly beginning to appear that way. I continued to stare at the plant.

“So, Jack, just how will this plant be bringing us good fortune? If it gets you a job that pays in tax-free gold bricks, I just may fall over with a heart attack.”

Jack shrugged. “I don’t know exactly how, Ida. I just know that our luck is about to take a turn for the best. Callaghan said the wee man promised that he who plants the seeds shall find paradise at the top of the world. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

I sighed. “All right then. I’d best go in and start supper. I don’t imagine that the plant will be taking over my chores anytime soon.”

I went back inside the house, now feeling a tingle of excitement as I busied myself preparing a big pot of my famous Canada goose stew. While I chopped and diced, thoughts of “happy dances” bloomed in my mind, and a good half-hour passed before it dawned on me to take another look outside at Jack and his beanstalk.

I gasped and the knife slipped from my fingers and fell to the floor, missing my big toe by a hair. The beanstalk was now the circumference of a thirty-year-old oak tree. I craned my neck in an attempt to see the top of the monster plant, but it had vanished into the low cloud ceiling. I was either in the process of completely losing my mind or this truly was magic.

I turned the burner down under the stew and hurried back outside to check things out. Jack’s Adirondack chair was vacant. I glanced around the yard. “Jack?”

I peeked into the shed. “Jack? Are you in here?”

I scratched my head and chewed my lip. “Where the heck did he go?”

I cupped my hands around my mouth and yelled, “JACK! Where are you?”

A distant voice on the breeze—Jack’s—responded from somewhere far above me.

“I’m just checking things out up here, Ida. Don’t you come up though. You might slip and fall. Just yell when supper’s ready and I’ll come right back down!”

Frowning, I reached out and touched a finger to the stalk. It was soft as velvet, but solid as granite. I looked up, hoping to see Jack, but my eyesight wasn’t sharp enough to locate the precise spot where the stalk had pierced the clouds. I backed up a step, frightened suddenly at the magnitude of the strange events that had taken place over the past twenty-four hours. Perhaps Jack really would find our fortune up there.

My curiosity finally won out over Jack’s orders to stay on the ground. I wiped my damp hands on my apron, took a deep breath and raised my foot to the first vine. The creepers that wound around the trunk were thick and sturdy—spaced as closely as the rungs of a ladder. I wasn’t as nimble as I used to be, but for some reason, I found myself climbing the plant with the buoyancy of my youth. Before long, I was ascending that baby as swiftly as a mountain goat in the Rockies. I even began to whistle a tune as I climbed.

As I made my way through the clouds, I wanted to shout, “Pinch me—am I dreaming?”

They may look like fluffy cotton balls from the ground, but they certainly aren’t so soft and cuddly when you’re climbing through them. I cursed as the heavy mist drenched my new pants.

At last, my head broke through the clouds to behold blue skies and lemony sunshine that drenched the emerald grounds of a palatial, breathtakingly beautiful mansion. And…

There was my Jack, his big belly propped atop his crossed bird legs as he lounged like a king on a mound of royal blue velvet cushions beside an Olympic-sized pool. The pool was filled with what appeared to be beer, a solid gold fountain in the middle spouting a sudsy amber geyser. In one fist, he clutched a crystal mug of ale, in the other, a fat Cuban cigar.

A twittering harem of diaphanously garbed floozies were clustered around him, some feeding him nachos and cheese, others fanning him with peacock feathers and palm fronds.

Across the way, a hockey game (with the Toronto Maple Leafs winning by a landslide) blared on a widescreen TV as big as a Boeing 747, while nearby, in a gem-encrusted gazebo, Jack’s poker cronies were hunched around a marble table that overflowed with gold coins. They were playing cards, draining suds, and basking in the attention of another flock of “I Dream Of Jeannie” wannabes.

I was SO stupefied… SO stunned… SO flabbergasted… I wouldn’t have been surprised had a clap of thunder and a lightning bolt erupted from my mouth once I was able to open it. Instead, it was my voice that burst forth, “Jack?! You slimy, bottom-feeding son of a…”

“Oh crap! Ida! What the hell are you doing up here? Oh crap!” Jack leapt up from the cushions, guilty as a politician defending his expense account. I couldn’t hold back an incredulous guffaw as I took in the tight white suit he was wearing—straight from the seventies—the jacket unbuttoned to display that his once beast-like chest had been shaved clean and adorned with ropes of gold chains.

“What the hell is this at the top of your stupid magic plant, Jack? A new sequel to Saturday Night Fever?”

I turned to glare at his cronies. They looked like a shoal of fish—eyes popping, mouths gaping open. The tarts hovering around them had become a frozen tableau, all eyeballing me curiously.

“And you! You gang of…” Oh, they weren’t worth my breath. I spun around to redirect my glare at the genies that huddled around Jack.

“You know what? You can have him! He’s all yours!”

I lowered a foot back onto a vine to begin my descent. Jack’s mouth was working but no sound was forthcoming.

“And you know what, girls? Jack-and-his-beanstalk, my ass! It’s more like a sprout!”

I descended as swiftly as I’d climbed until my feet hit the solid ground of our backyard. The anger boiling under my skin was the force that propelled me to the shed, where I dug out an axe and proceeded to chop down that blasted beanstalk… and Jack out of my life, once and for all. I have to admit—I was none too upset when it finally crashed down on top of Morris Dwick’s double-wide.

Once I was done, I pitched the axe back into the shed, slapped the dirt off my hands and felt some of my fury begin to dissipate. Stepping out of the shed, I paused a moment to rub my eyes. The fallen beanstalk had completely vanished (although it had left behind a huge crater in Dwick’s roof—heh heh).

I peered skyward for a few calming moments. Then I did a sprightly little two-step before heading back to my house for a heaping bowl of stew.

***

This being a fairy tale—Ida proceeded to live happily ever after, of course!

THE END.

 

ALTERNATE ENDING #2:

Once I was done, I stomped to the shed, pitched the axe back inside, slapped the dirt off my hands and felt my fury begin to dissipate.

Turning back toward my work, I halted and rubbed my eyes. The fallen beanstalk had completely vanished (although it had left a huge crater in Dwick’s roof—heh heh).

I crouched to get a closer look at the patch of earth where a massive beanstalk had existed only moments ago. It was now nothing more than a freshly turned patch of earth. Astonishing? Not really.

I straightened up and stretched languidly, raising my eyes skyward. The thick cloud cover had dissipated to reveal a limitless stretch of sun-washed, robin’s-egg blue.

I stood for a moment, my smile a radiant tribute to this picture of transcendence.

Prompted by the grumble of my appetite, I blew a kiss to the wind and turned toward the house, ready for a yummy bowl of stew on this, my first day of Happily Ever After.

THE END.

 

ALTERNATE ENDING #3:

Once I was done, I stomped to the shed, pitched the axe back inside, slapped the dirt off my hands and felt my fury begin to dissipate.

Turning back toward my work, I halted and rubbed my eyes. The fallen beanstalk had completely vanished (although it had left a huge crater in Dwick’s roof—heh heh).

I crouched to get a closer look at the patch of earth where a massive beanstalk had existed only moments ago. It was now nothing more than a freshly turned patch of earth. I peered a little closer… Perhaps there wassomething there.

Kneeling, I brushed at the earth then clawed at it with my fingernails. I scrambled into the shed, grabbed a spade and began to dig.

I struck it at the exact moment the sun sank beneath the horizon and the first evening star appeared.

***

Fast-forward one year…

I’m sipping the world’s finest champagne as I gaze out over the sparkling Mediterranean Sea from the yacht that serves as one of my vacation homes. Stinker II is curled up on my lap, dolled up in the most precious little custom-made cummerbund and bow tie. A team will soon arrive by shuttle to do my hair, nails and makeup for the dinner party I am hosting tonight in honor of my new best friend, His Royal Highness. Donatella is also arriving shortly with a gown she designed just for me. A nip here, a tuck there—I’m a whole new woman.

Good fortune and my wildest dreams fulfilled… I’m on top of the world thanks to the endless fountain of black gold I struck right in my own backyard. And thanks to a few magic seeds that provided me with the means to chop away a bad chapter of my life.

***

Of course, this being a fairy tale, Ida—or rather Princess Ida (as is her new destiny)—lives happily ever after with a real prince.

THE END

 

This gives new meaning to the term “Smart Ass”

My inventive but batshit crazy friend, who I’ll just call “S”, shares with me a love of making crafty stuff… but as you’ll see below, she has taken repurposing clothing to a whole new level.

Here’s a picture of her wearing her new homemade mask.


I’m just hoping she salvaged it from clean laundry.

 

Bored shitless? Here’s a short story for the current times…

Better Get Betty Some Butter

Betty ran a hand through her silver-white hair as she stared down at the baggie on her counter. That baggie contained a thing most precious to Betty—a single slice of Wonder bread. There was a time when her freezer had been jam-packed with loaves of that good old, plain white bread and pound after pound of Gay Lea butter. But that was before the virus had turned the country into a wasteland of food stores with no food—just aisle after aisle of dust-laden shelves scattered with battered tins bearing no labels and perhaps some packs of cat treats.

Betty glanced between her toaster and the appetizing slice of bread nestled in ziplocked safety. Closing her eyes, she swooned at visions of golden brown toast dripping with real butter. Her last bit of butter had run out long before the loaves of bread, and she’d been forced to switch to the government-issued margarine, which was comparable to eating toast buttered with candle wax. Now, she was down to her last precious slice of Wonder.

Last week, she’d ventured outside and onto the doorsteps of some of her neighbours, yelling through their locked doors in an appeal for a spot of butter that they might like to trade for perhaps a tin of sardines? All she’d heard in response were a few muffled “fuck offs.” She’d never much liked any of the assholes anyway.

Betty was tired through to the marrow of her bones. The world had changed in the most terrible of ways and, after well over a year of social distancing with thousands of deaths reported every day in the news, she didn’t have much hope that she would live to see the world change back to how it once was.

Every Monday, government officials in hazmat gear performed a door-to-door delivery of a few essential dry goods, left in a sterile box on the front doorstep of each house. Stale bread. Pats of margarine. Well screw this, Betty thought to herself, I want a goddam piece of toast with butter.

Betty wrapped a bright fuscia scarf around her neck, then shuffled to her front closet and yanked out her sunny yellow spring trench coat. She shrugged into it, hung her purse on her arm, then out the door she went into the quiet of the new badlands.

The supermarket was only two blocks away. Residents were not permitted to go there unless they needed emergency essentials, which was why she was going. She needed butter.

Betty kept her head down as she marched along the sidewalk. She was in no mood to make eye contact with any of the jerkoffs peeping out their windows at her. Her arthritis had done a number on her hands—she couldn’t even give a proper middle finger any more.

The fresh air had Betty feeling slightly more chipper by the time she began to cross the empty supermarket parking lot. There were two cars parked up near the front door. She remembered the days when she would curse the fact that finding a parking spot was like panning for gold in the Don River. How she longed for those days again.

Betty entered the store. Most shelving had been dismantled, and only about a quarter of the store was now being utilized. It was really more a bodego than a grocery store. The proprietor stood behind the only cash register, glaring at her over his face shield.

“Lady, you should be wearing a mask,” he barked.

“Mask, shmask,” Betty snapped, “I’m 88 years old and more than ready to leave this hell-hole of a planet anyway. But I do need to purchase something first.”

The man shook his head and went back to wiping down the counter.

Betty made her way down the one aisle and around the corner to the dairy cooler, where a small, stooped figure draped in a long rain poncho and what appeared to be a beekeeper’s headgear stood peering through the glass doors. As she approached, the figure started, and turned toward her.

“Why aren’t you wearing a mask?” It was the gruff voice of an elderly man, whose features she could barely see through the thick black mesh covering his face.

“Why are you dressed like an apiarist? I don’t see any bees around here,” Betty replied, tightening her hands on her purse handle in case she needed to swing it at him.

A guffaw burst from behind the mesh hood. “How the hell do you know what an apiarist is—which is what I once was, actually.”

“Because I’m smart,” Betty said. “That’s how I know.”

“More like a smart ass,” he snarled.

Betty glanced at the cooler and gasped. “Butter! There’s a pound of butter in there!”

“Yep. And it’s mine,” the man said. “I was here first.”

Betty scowled. “Oh yeah? Beat it, buster.” She yanked the cooler door open and reached for the foil-wrapped treasure.

The man’s gloved hand swatted Betty’s hand aside, and as he grasped the butter, Betty coughed repeatedly on him. The man shrieked, dropping the butter on the floor as he hurtled his body away from her.

“Thanks! Don’t mind if I do!” Betty said, snatching up the butter and digging a five-dollar bill from her purse as she hurried toward the cash register. “Here,” she said, tossing the bill at the proprietor. “Keep the change.”

That evening, Betty savoured a large bowl of her favourite split pea soup…

along with a perfectly toasted, golden-brown slice of Wonder bread slathered in real butter.

Ain’t Youth Grand?

It’s a humid evening in June of 2001, when I, and my friend, Jayne, join the throngs of parents taking their children to the big NSync concert at Skydome in downtown Toronto. Our teen daughters, best friends, generate enough electricity between them to power ten city blocks of concert halls.

My own enthusiasm pales in comparison since, elected to be the evening’s chauffeur, I dread the thought of battling freeway congestion after an already long day fighting deadlines at work. I also feel rather petulant at the thought of having to fork over a sinful amount of cash for a parking spot that will no doubt still be a long hike away from our final destination.

Since the plan is to deliver the girls to their gate at Skydome and then meet up with them after the concert at a pre-selected spot outside the gate, I also wonder how Jayne and I are going to kill the next four hours without having to spend a week’s pay on designer coffees (or something stronger) in exchange for an air-conditioned place to rest our laurels.

Imagine our relief when we discover that Skydome’s Windows Restaurant has been converted into a “Parents’ Lounge” for the evening, complete with loads of couches and club chairs, a large-screen television playing music videos at one end, and overhead monitors at the other end broadcasting a variety of sporting events. It’s spacious yet cozy enough to allow tired moms and dads to deflate for the next couple of hours.

The relieved facial expressions around the room tell me that I’m not the only one here who is über-grateful. To boot, there is a refreshment station set up with an unlimited flow of complimentary coffee! Suddenly, life is just one big ol’ box of chocolates (Hershey’s rather than Lindt, mind you—but plenty good enough).

The boom-boom-booming bass vibrations that pound from the stage area beside us, and the eardrum-shattering screams of thousands of teenaged girls (proof that our kids are at least getting our money’s worth) is a small price to pay for the luxury of having a relatively comfortable place of our own to inhabit.

Of course, the stage itself is obscured from our view with a number of strategically placed tarpaulins. I suppose this is only fair, since the ninety-buck admission we were forced to pay for our kids did not extend to the ones who actually toiled for it, so I suppose it’s understandable that we should be banned from goggling at the mighty NSync through a wall of warped Plexiglas.

Securing a spot at a table that overlooks the equipment area behind the stage, Jayne and I pass the time watching a parade of roadies scuttling back and forth, back and forth. I’m aware that roadies travel and work with the band, but I’m still not sure what it is that they do exactly. For four hours, we entertain ourselves watching them pace from one corner to another. And here I thought that politicians were the only ones who’d mastered the art of appearing to do something while doing a whole lot of nothing.

I am also now convinced that roadies are mass-produced from one original roadie-mould. No matter what era we’re in, roadies never, ever change. And I mean that literally.

I think that the roadies working for NSync were somehow teleported into the present day straight from a 1970s Black Sabbath/Led Zeppelin/whatever concert. They all look identical: long hair, either big and bushy or straight and stringy; stubbled chins or unkempt beards; scruffy denim jeans tight enough to emphasize the roach-clips in their pockets; sweat-stained tee shirts emblazoned with either obscenities or dumb platitudes; and frozen grins that say, “We’re cool ‘cause we’re with the band…and you’re not.”

The high point of Jayne’s and my evening arrives not a moment too soon. The tarpaulins block the front of the stage, but not the back. Our eyebrows rise at the sight of three members of NSync racing offstage and down a backstage ramp between sets! As they bound into view, roadies scatter like bowling pins and hover around the sidelines like seagulls circling a pack of French fries. The boys in the band huddle behind a stack of equipment, attempting to perform a lightning-quick costume change. I know it’s “them”— the flash and glimmer of their elaborate costumes draws our attention like lips to chocolate.

Later, Jayne and I brag to our daughters about the fact that we got to see NSync “take it all off” backstage (nah nah nah nah nah). The girls respond with “you-are-soooooo-pathetic” eye rolls, until I offer up a detailed description of the costumes we saw. There is a wide-eyed moment of silence, followed by screams. Lots of screams.

Basking in my newly acquired limelight, I proceed to boast that, although my view was somewhat obstructed, I had actually glimpsed the tighty whities of one of the four high-priced bottoms as it struggled into a very snug pair of jeans. The face hadn’t been visible, but I’d had the pleasure of observing some real-live NSync butt! This revelation elevates me to about as close as I’ll ever get to achieving celebrity status in the eyes of my daughter and her friend.

By ten-forty-five, you would be able to hear a pin drop in the lounge, if it weren’t for the continuous boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam-boom-boom-boom-screeeeeaaaaaam. Parents from wall to wall are slumped in their chairs, limp as overcooked noodles, chins propped up on knuckles, eyes half shut. We are all beyond fatigued.

Suddenly, without warning, an explosion of sonic magnitude rocks the lounge. As my daughter later explained, “…they do the most awesome fireworks displays.” Awesome, indeed. It is quite a sight to see 300-odd exhausted men and women awaken instantly. Jayne and I come this close to experiencing the first of many teen-induced myocardial infarctions (I’ve learned a lot from watching Grey’s Anatomy). I wouldn’t have been surprised to see ambulance attendants flooding the place with gurneys.

With my heart still skipping double-double-dutch, I have quietly resumed praying for the show to “just end now, dammit,” when those nasty little NStinkers do it again. I swear my feet actually lift from the ground for a split second. The second blast is our cue to haul it out of there and begin the trek toward our designated meeting spot.

The number of parents waiting around for their children is impressive. There are hundreds. Such a sight, you would never have seen during my childhood years. Back then, if we weren’t old enough to drive to an event on our own, our “concert experience” consisted of staring at our idol in a teen magazine while listening to his latest 45.

Finally! At eleven-thirty, our rosy-cheeked, laryngitised, starry-eyed daughters race up, shrieking with excitement. Throughout the entire ride home, their ongoing description of the show comprises only those words you’ll find in a thesaurus under “awesome.” The girls thank us over and over again. Jayne and I grin at each other. For this one night, we are their heroes. We have successfully granted the wishes of two very grateful teenaged girls. And we have also received a rare and unexpected treat in return.

The evening’s adventures have taken both of us on an emotional trip of our own, back in years, back to a long-faded time when the bigger-than-life rock stars of our dreams left us overwhelmed and suffused with such giddy excitement that we, too, screamed until we could do no more than whisper.

When my weary body finally folds itself into the welcome embrace of my bed, well past the witching hour, I can’t contain my smile as I drift off.

Ain’t youth grand?

Otis the cat meets Robo Fish

Handsome Otis models an ice-cream sundae hat

He’s not particularly fond of ice-cream, but nevertheless, poor Otis found himself coerced into modelling my spool-knitted “ice-cream sundae hat.”
Much to Otis’s dismay, I recently felt an urge to try some spool knitting, or as we used to call it when we were kids, “corking.”

I can remember my best friend and I learning to cork using old wooden thread spools with four nails hammered into the tops of each. Today’s spool knitters are much fancier, not that the results are any better than what we got from those old wooden spools!I had a collection of bits and pieces of old yarn ends, so I corked a long cord, then wound it around and hand-sewed it together to create the “sundae.”
Next, I used some red yarn to make a pompom: the cherry on top.
It is Otis’s plea that I refrain from using him to model any more yarn fashions.

“Get this @#%$!!! hat OFF me!”

Otis likes to keep a close eye on Backyard Bunny

He has suggested that, instead, I consider using his good friend, Backyard Bunny, as my model—that is, if I am ever able to catch him!

Random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk

Every day, I go for my exercise walk outside, rain or shine. I put on my headphones, listen to great music, and walk to the beat. I’ve found that I brainstorm some of my best ideas for new projects or stories while I’m walking.

I’ve also found that some really crazy-ass, random thoughts will pop into my mind for no good reason, and I’ve started writing them down, just for fun.

Every so often, I’ll share these thoughts here because… well, why not?

A sample of the random shit that pops into my mind for no good reason while I’m doing my daily exercise walk:

“What’s it like to be dead?

I know that lots of people have died and been revived, then gushed about how beautiful death is and how sad they were to have to come back to life on earth.

But how about all the ones who didn’t come back? Is it possible that, during their journey through the tunnel, they kicked and screamed and told God to go find some other sucker? Might they have been screaming things like, “Blimey! Why didn’t I just eat that effing piece of cheesecake the other night! Like it matters up here what my ass looks like!” or
“It bloody well figures. Now I’ll never get to buy a Prada bag or Miu Miu heels! I penny pinched and plucked, and now my kid will be livin’ large—thanks to el cheapo!” or
“Shit! Did I turn off the stove this morning?”

And then again—just in case the powers that be are reading my mind right now—I take it back. I don’t really want to know the answer after all. I’d like to just forget about it and put my focus back on Diana Ross & The Supremes, OK?”

My “Hate Winter” hat and infinity scarf

Anyone who knows me even remotely also knows exactly where I stand on the subject of winter.

shovellingI HATE*:
(1) Snow. (Especially when gale-force winds blow it in my face and it melts all over my glasses as I trudge from the parking lot to the mall doors, so then I have to dig through my purse to find a tissue that I can use to clean the lenses so maybe I’ll be able to see again, but dammit, the glass is smeared and starts to fog up just as I put them back on, and I am halfway through cursing a long string of expletives when I realize that lots of people have stopped shopping to stand and stare at me and some are even crouching behind clothing racks.)driving in storm
(2) Ice. (Except when it’s in the stiff drink I’m going to need by the time I get home since I’m trapped in my car behind a bunch of dimwits who have suddenly forgotten how to drive on Canadian roads in winter, so their cars are all upside down in the ditch while the rubberneckers ten miles ahead slow down to gawk, which means I’ll be idling in traffic for what is going to feel like a week. Maybe two.)
winter boots(3) Boots. (Unless they’re on a cowboy that looks just like Clint Eastwood in his prime.)
(4) Frozen ears, hands, feet, arms, hair, eyelashes, brain
bare tree(5) Dead foliage. (I’ve been housebound for so long, I’m beginning to act like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, so I talk my husband into risking our lives to go on a Sunday drive. How picturesque the scenery is at this time of year: dried up brown farm fields, tree trunks and branches stripped bare of all growth, evergreens that will never again be green because they are now the colour of dried blood. It’s all so stunning, I feel inspired to go home and write poetry. Not.)
dirty-snow(6) Brown snowbanks. Or even worse, yellow. (Double worse if you fall in it.)
(7) Being trapped behind that confounded snowplow blocking both lanes as it moves at 1.5 km/hour. (I swear I can hear that prick of a driver laughing his face off at the masses stuck behind him, all of whom are cursing the ground that he plows on.)
(8) Slush. (Unless it has “fund” after it and fills a box in my cupboard). driving in storm2
(9) Salt. (Not the kind we eat. The kind that eats holes in everything we own, from the boots that I hate having to wear to the freezing car that I hate the thought of having to go out and get into right now.)
(11) Grey skies. Grey landscape. Grey skin. Grey mood.

(12) Sneezing and coughing people. Everywhere. (And why can’t you cover your mouth?? I’ll bet you can’t be bothered to use your car indicator either. Is it really that much trouble to lift your hand?? I’ll bet your kids are the ones that always have snot oozing from their noses—why bother lifting a finger to pass them a tissue when they can just use their sleeves, right??)
(13) The gazillion dollars I pay Enbridge to barely heat my house. (My pleasure, Mr. CEO—mi dinero es su dinero! I just hope you’re able to get by this year on your 12+ million payout!)
sleeping-bear(14) Snowflakes. (I really don’t give a flying puck how pretty they are).
(15) It’s night when I get up for work. It’s night when I get home from work. (No wonder bears sleep all winter. I am so coming back as a bear in my next life.)
(16) Goddam snow. (It’s no surprise that there’s never quite enough to force employers into giving us a snow day but always just enough to wreak havoc during rush hour.)frozen birds
(17) Having to wear layer upon layer upon layer of fleece-lined clothing to keep from turning blue. (Of course, the multi layers make me look like I’ve scarfed every box of chocolates that pretty much everyone I know gave me for Christmas—damn them—which, ok, I did because I have no willpower (resolutions? what resolutions? they were blown all to hell on Jan 1st), so now I’m dreading spring since I’m going to look like a great big hot-dog cart sausage when I try to squeeze into my clothes from last year. But seriously, what the hell else is there to do but eat bonbons when it’s cold enough ouDocument2tside to get hypothermia just by walking across the street to the mailbox.
(18) Hat hair. (Why waste time and energy brushing my hair when I know it’s just going to look like Kim Jong Un’s by the time I get wherever I’m going?)
(19) Anybody and everybody with plans to travel south. (May you bump into Jaws at the beach.)snowman
(20) Fucking goddam snow. (Whether it falls gently from the sky, spreads like vanilla frosting over hill and dale, or becomes a cute little snowman on your front lawn—I HATE it.)

*I know. HATE is a strong word. But in my case, it’s warranted.

Anyway. While my daughter was shopping at Christmastime, my miserable face sprung into her mind the moment she spotted this hat, and she just couldn’t resist buying it for me. In only two words, it sums up everything I feel in my heart at this time of year, and even though it makes my hair look like crap, I love it so much that I crocheted a wacky looking infinity scarf to wear with it.

Without further ado, here’s the pattern:

scarf_infinity black & hot pink2“Hate Winter” Infinity Scarf

Materials
Yarn: one ball black fun fur; one ball black chunky worsted; one ball hot pink worsted
Crochet hook: 10 mm

Pattern
Using fun fur, chain 112.

Row 1: Single Crochet (sc) in 2nd chain from hook, and in each chain across. Turn.

Row 2: Ch 1 and sc in same sp; sc in each sc across; fasten off and attach black worsted.

Row 3: Using worsted: ch 1; sc in first sc; sc in each sc across. Turn.

Row 4: Ch 1; *Double Crochet (dc) in first sc; sc in next sc; repeat from * across, alternating dc and sc. End with a dc in the last sc.

Row 5: Ch 1; *sc in first dc; dc in next sc; repeat from * across, ending with an sc in the last dc.

Repeat Row 4. Fasten off and change hot pink.

Using hot pink, repeat Row 5. Fasten off and change to black worsted.

Using black worsted, repeat Row 4.

Repeat Row 5.scarf_infinity black & hot pink1

Repeat Row 4. Fasten off and change to fun fur.

Using fun fur: ch 1; sc in each st across. Turn.

Ch 1; sc again in each sc across. Fasten off.

Finishing
Using black worsted, seam together both ends of scarf on the wrong side to form the infinity style.

(SIDEBAR)
On the other hand, here’s what I love about winter:

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat in the Christmas Tree Hat (is not a very happy cat)

If you’re a knit- or crochet-a-holic and you share an abode with a cat, you may have discovered that your cat delights in watching you work your magic with your needles/hook and yarn.

xmas tree hat for catBut if your cat is like my Otis—strongly averse to being dressed in tiny outfits with matching accessories—certain needlework projects have the capacity to make his back arch, his fur stand on end, and cause a mighty scrambling of paws as … away he flies like the down on a thistle.

And what sort of project would prompt that kind of reaction?

wearing his new xmas tree hat5

Giving me a dirty look.

If you guessed a cat hat, you’re absolutely right!

So now guess what I made for Otis.

I discovered the most adorable crochet pattern for a tiny tabletop Christmas tree at a really cool crochet and craft site called Pops de Milk. But instead of using it as an ornament, I imagined instead how festive it would look on top of Otis’s bare little head. 🙂

wearing his new xmas tree hat4

If cats could swear…

You can find the SO easy-to-make pattern at this link: http://popsdemilk.com/crochet-christmas-tree-buttons-2/) I used emerald-green worsted weight yarn and a 4 mm hook, and left it hollow instead of crocheting a base. I finished the bottom edge with one round of single-crochet in red yarn, then chained a strap just long enough to fit under his chin and button up on the other side to keep the hat from falling off. (Until it’s been stubbornly shaken off, that is.)

Then after digging through my cupboard of notions for some buttons and a string of tiny decorative Christmas lights, I sewed everything onto the tree. The entire project was completed in an evening.

Otis was only very briefly willing to model his new Christmas Tree hat, and I had to pay him afterward with treats. Monkey is now the new owner.

wearing his new xmas tree hat3wearing his new xmas tree hat1xmas tree hat on monkey

A Redneck Christmas Poem

I’ve been negligent with my posts in recent weeks. I was in Cuba with my daughter for a week, and we spent some wonderful, quality time together. I’ll post some pictures in a future post. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. It’s a busy time of year, yada yada.

With all this busyness consuming my life, my brain has been going through a dry spell with any creative writing too. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I moderate a community writers’ group that meets the first Wednesday of every month, and we’re expected to bring something to read aloud at meetings. Of course I had nothing prepared for our December meeting.

To make a long story short, I wanted to write a quick poem during my lunch hour and hadn’t been able to think of anything to write about all morning, when suddenly, an image of a redneck who’s pissed off Santa popped into my mind (only God would know why…and maybe a psychiatrist). You can read the result of my brain fart below.

Mullet_redneckA Redneck Christmas Poem

Santa don’t come down
muh chimney no more,
He don’t even come through
a window or door.

No more presents for me,
‘cuz I think he bin told,
‘bout the six-pack-o Bud
an’ the smokes I done stole.

An’ how I drunk moonshine
straight from the still;
Spent two days in a whorehouse, smashed to the gills.

Borrowed Clyde Dooley’s truck to cross the town border,
An’ pick up the ten pounds of weed I done ordered.

Hid the weed in Clyde’s barn, where I thought I could trust it,
Sheriff got wind, an’ poor Clyde, he got busted.

Next day, I beat a ho with a hickory switch,
‘cause she gave me somethin’ that made muh balls itch.

Dancin’ and scratchin’, I dug out muh 12-gauge,
An’ blew more than a gasket in muh boy-gone-wild rage.

Now, there’s a mess of buckshot in the whorehouse walls,
An’ no more glass windows in the ol’ town hall.

Sheriff’s car? Well it done look like swiss cheese,
spoutin’ with fountains of green anti-freeze.

Needless to say, it weren’t a good year,
I don’t give a damn ‘bout no peace an’ good cheer.

Christmas ain’t comin’ for me anytime soon,
Just the sheriff and his jailhouse posse o’ goons.

There ain’t no frickin chimneys in the county jail,
for Santa to come down and pay for my bail.

Feel free to come knockin’, ‘cause my trailer ain’t be rockin’,
I know I’m getting’ coal instead’a crack in muh stockin’.

‘fraid I won’t be gittin’ no presents no mo’,
No mo’ boobies and butt under the mistletoe.

Yep—Santa—he don’t love me no mo’.
‘cause this year, I bin a baaaad, baaaad bo’.

 

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: