Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ice Escapades

This time of year is always a delight as long-buried items begin to emerge from the melting snow.

Clothing, a hockey stick, some garden tools, the frostbitten toe I’ve been looking for, all are arising into the joyous warmth that is spring.

The large rectangle in the back yard grass is something new this year. It is where the ice rink was. Lovely brown isn’t it? It contrasts nicely with the lush green of the surrounding growth.

I devised a clever technique for removing the rink called “Sit Around and Let It Melt.” I've never built one before so I didn’t know quite what else I should do.

Apparently some people take sledge hammers and bash their ice into small chunks, then remove the plastic liner so their grass doesn’t die underneath.

I did not know that. Further, actually doing that would involve effort, which I try to avoid at all times. Bad back you know.

My only plan was to remove the ice by the expeditious means of letting it drain through our fence and into the park behind us, thus giving our arid region a much needed moisture boost this spring.

Due to a minor landscaping error, it turns out the back yard slopes toward the house and not towards the park, the correction of which may form the basis of future humourous anecdotes.

As a temporary measure, I was sweeping the melt water on top of the ice through the fence into the park when a bylaw enforcement officer descended upon me, and informed me that I was draining a pool into public property without a permit.

When I reasonably pointed out that I was not in fact draining a pool but a skating rink, I was informed that anything deeper than two inches was considered a pool, and was therefore subject to bylaws direct control.

He did not seem to appreciate my humourous Nazi salute, and I have now added his $50 “Attempted Amusement Upon a Peace Officer” ticket into my project costing for next year. I could have sworn his back was turned when I did that.

The problem of breaking up the ice and removing the plastic remained. Spurred by innovation (some might call it laziness), I came up with a rather novel idea. Driving my old clunker around the back yard, I readily accomplished the task without too much trouble.

By “not too much trouble” I mean there are some rectangular holes in the sod where I got stuck and the tires burned through the ice into the soil beneath. I figure I can call them new flower beds and get away with it.

Leaking fluids from my car’s engine seem to have created some bare patches that I have re-seeded.

And the slight scratch on the side of the house came from slowly maneuvering the car around the slippery ice surface.

Actually, I was burning donuts and waving at my neighbours out the window and yelling “Yee Ha!” when I went slightly off course and bashed into the pillar(s) supporting our deck.

When I went to city hall to pay my fine (ahem – fines plural) I considered lecturing them on the unfairness of ticketing a man for making a fool of himself.

I could live with the “Mocking an Official” one, but ticketing a guy for Illegal Parking, in addition to Renovating without a Building Permit, was, I think, unfair. Not to mention humiliating in front of the guys and all.

As I was about to open my big mouth to loudly explain my point of view, my wife began twisting the ear she was holding, such that I could not speak.

I quietly wrote out my cheque and thanked them for their time and understanding.

I want you to know that I gave them a good muttering under my breath on the way out though.

A man has his pride.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Things I'm working on

Random thoughts that may become columns. Or bits of columns which I may join all together into some sort of semi-cohesive whole.

- My son (age 7) and I have been discussing the relative merits of switching nose and ear functions around. The thought of smelling through your ears, and listening through your nose, has some appeal you must admit.

- Having recently run out of shampoo, I am conducting my semi-annual contemplation of shaving my head again. I have done this before, and it is not just because I'm cheap and would realize significant shampoo savings. One also realizes benefits in the toque adhesion realm as well - those suckers stick to your noggin like velcro when you are a cueball. Which is handy if you happen to be in a tornado or hurricane while wearing a toque.

- The whole shampoo thing is somewhat baffling, in that modern shampoos seem to want to put a lot of food on your head. A recent stroll down the shampoo aisle offered up the following ingredients inside this unguent: flowers of many kinds, peaches, kiwis, apples, cherries, melons, oranges, lemons, fructises (whatever those are), and I think celery.

Now I don't know about you, but I prefer enjoying my food from the inside.

Given that hair is DEAD, one wonders what benefit would accrue from feeding one's hair these various substances.

I guess if I'm going to go off on a rant about shampoo I should confess to buying the stuff purely based on smell alone. Like the kids. Yes, we selected them based on smell...

What I meant to say is - the kids and I only check the labels to make sure it is in fact shampoo and not shaving foam we are getting, but after that it is all smell. Well, sometimes taste, based on the smell. Hey - kids are curious.

I think this all started with the product Gee Your Head Smells Terrific I think it was called. I remember when this hit back in school. It fueled more lust in adolescent males than most pheromones or naughty pictures. Naturally all us guys went out and bought some of the stuff, in the jaundiced belief that women smelling our locks would immediately grab our hands and lead us astray into dens of iniquity where we would indulge in hours of wild carnality - based purely on the smell of our noggins. That was the hope anyway. Reality was not so much.

I'm looking forward to the day when marketing types come full circle and we see shampoos with more back to the earth themes in their aromas. Products like Barkmulch, Essence of Dirt, Fresh Lawn Clippings, and so forth.

Why not use other foodstuffs as fragrances? Roast Beef Conditioner, Alpha Bit Shampoo, Gee Your Hair Smells Like Beans, Pureed Yams with Shampoo Emulsifyer and so forth may someday be winners in the drug store.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grocery Lineup Muse

The woman in front of me at the grocery store express line (12 items or less) had 18 items. I counted. I was generous in my assessment – even with controversial items like 2 bunches of bananas, which I counted as one item.

She had 18 items. She knew it. I knew it. The people behind me knew it.

As she turned and put her now empty basket into the pile with the others, she sheepishly looked at me and said “I guess I went a little over the limit.”

“Well then get out of the lineup you illiterate moron” I said.

I didn’t really say that. I wanted to though. I’m sure the people behind me did too.

In reality I just smiled tight-lipped and smacked her in the face with the big bag of taco chips I was holding. I felt much better.

No I didn’t really, but these fantasy lines and actions were extremely satisfying to daydream about.

Why can’t we do that – just lash out and smack those who so desperately deserve it? Do we really have to be nice all the time?

And that's as far as I got on that column...a bit Bill Brysony really...not sure if I want to complete it even. I'll just bask in the glow of the thought...dreaming...ahhhhh

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What, No Undies?

We went to one of those high-end, million-dollar home tour things on the weekend.

These are interesting in that women tend to analyze the color choices and kitchen cabinets, whereas guys check the TV screen size, the flashing lights on the stereo, and the cool way the powered blinds go up and down.

Snide remarks are frequent no matter what the gender which is, of course, the reason you go in the first place.

Even though I’d like to live in any one of them, these places are just not homes.

They are like high-fashion models that regular guys haven’t a hope of dating. They are fantasies only, albeit ones with great siding, and I suspect would be a disappointment to actually live with, although most of us wouldn’t mind trying. I think I’m talking about the homes now. Sorry, my mind wandered off for a minute there.

Anyway, what these homes need is a dose of reality. Magazine photographers take note. You too Martha.

First of all, the floors are too clean. Add some dust bunnies for goodness sake! Preferably the size of escaped hamsters.

A few candy-encrusted Hot Wheels cars mixed in with the furballs are always a nice addition, and will make a satisfying “Glurp” sound when vacuumed.

A permanent drool stain on the floor where the dog stands during family meals (that’s the family eating, not the dog eating the family) would be nice.

Next – underwear. There are no skivvies laying about or flung haphazardly in the kids rooms. How about some delicate girly things draped elegantly over the shower bars and towel racks? Not mine though, since I have mine dry-cleaned. Nevermind.

Dog owners would feel much more inclined to purchase a home that has scooty marks on the carpet here and there. Some barf stains from when the dog ate the entire thigh bone of an elk would help too.

Bathrooms could also use some family reality. Young boys are not always accurate with their waterworks, so leaving a few ‘coins on the counter’ of the toilet seat would help. Toothpaste encrusted counters are good, as are toothpaste lids hidden along the baseboards beneath the sink.

Some Barbie doll parts, violently amputated in some long-ago encounter with a dog or psychotic child, would look lovely glued to the carpet in the hall just so.

Shallow dents in the drywall from various heads, elbows and knees cast nice shadow schemes on the walls. Holes the same size as running shoe heels at the back end of the dusty tread mill in the basement also add charm to any home.

Add some finger and hand prints to all the windows. Same goes for light switches and around the handles of drawers and cupboards. Try this: smear some peanut butter on your hands, and then open the stainless steel door of the fridge. There – that’s better.

Come on people – get real!

Lastly, cobwebs in an upper corner of the dining room will complete the family oriented look of your new home.

NOW take your pictures and I bet you’ll have actual homeowners lined up at the door in no time.

By the way – those motors on the blinds just don’t work for me.

And aren’t those colours GHASTLY?!

Hunting With The Fudds

“Bang! Bang!”

The gunshots inside the car were deafening.

My brother (driving) and I (in back seat) looked stunned as the smoke swirled around our heads, ears ringing.

What had Dad, the intrepid leader of our hunting party (in passenger seat) just done – lost his mind and started shooting mosquitos in the car? Assassinate a marauding badger or grizzly bear that had snuck into the vehicle?

Actually no – he was checking the operation of a weapon’s safety by blasting two nicely grouped holes in the floor between his feet.

We were out ‘hunting’, if driving down back roads, blasting at anything that moved, can properly be called hunting.

All we usually did was head out on old logging roads, and upon sighting a Fluffed Grouse or rabbit or cow or whatever, we would quickly but quietly exit the vehicle (we were stalking our prey you see). Then, bringing our many weapons to bear on the general region of the target, we would commence firing.

With lead spraying the countryside we would keep up our barrage until something fell dead from a tree or bush, be it bird, rabbit, moose, or low flying aircraft. I’m sure if we had access to hand grenades we would have put them to good use too. And probably missed with them as well.

I suspect whenever we did in fact kill something it was because the bird had collapsed from laughing at our efforts. Or had choked on all the dirt we had kicked up around it with our ammunition

Anyway, on this particular expedition, Dad had brought along one of his war relics – a German Army pistol called a Lugie or Lugger or something. You know, the pistol used by evil Gestapo agents in old war movies. “Hands up! You cannot escape Major, now drop zat blonde and come viss me!” One of those jobs.

Dad had picked it up while saving the world from the evils of National Socialism by serving in the battle-hardened Royal Canadian Army Dental Corps. Yes, while the crack divisions of the Canadian Army were battling their way through France and Germany, my father was passing gas in a mobile dental surgery truck many miles to their rear. War is hell.

Perhaps because of his traumatizing wartime experiences (mainly hangovers I suspect), Dad could never remember if the safety was on or off when the little lever thing was in the up position.

Not having handled the device in many years, instead of removing all the bullets to see if the safety worked (the Non-Crawford Reasoning Method), Dad cleverly just aimed the thing at the floor of the car and started blasting.

It took two (yes, two) rapid shots into the passenger foot well to determine the safety was not, in fact, working.

Luckily no vital bits of automobile or human were damaged. For a change, one of us had actually hit what he was aiming at, namely, the floor.

Our hunting trip was ended for the day, having bagged our limit of round, drafty conversation pieces in the passenger compartment. And some unfortunate stains in the upholstery.

Shortly after this episode, in order to provide food for my family, I switched to hunting for bargains at Safeway.

For ammunition, I use a spring loaded clip of money. For safety’s sake, I usually keep the clip empty.