Category Archives: satire

Things I’ve Learned in the Past Three Weeks…

As my regular readers know, I’ve been set up in the Saint John City Market for the past three weeks selling books from our bookstore…this isn’t my first time selling at the Market, but it is the first attempt at being a full-time vendor.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Nothing is predictable.  You can have an amazing sales day on Monday, but your sales on Tuesday might suck!  There is no rhyme or reason to it…it completely depends on who walks into the Market that day with money in their pocket and a desire to buy a book.  There was a raging snowstorm outside on one of my best sales days ever…I thought people would be holed up in their houses!  Hopefully, it all evens out at the end of the week (or month!).

2. Listen to other people’s suggestions, within reason.  My friend, Scott, (who is also a Market vendor) suggested I change my display to a U-shape with individual books highlighted in the center instead of two straight rows.  He was right…it looked much more inviting, and gave the illusion of having more books.  Another Market vendor suggested I stick a price tag on the books so people wouldn’t have to look for the price (inside the front cover in pencil)…no way…stickers are death on books!

3. Change is good.  I change my display daily, and bring a new box of stock from the store every morning.  The theme changes weekly.  I learned this from a very successful Market vendor (and good friend), Becky.  There are a bunch of people who go through the Market every day (it’s part of a pedway system)…I want them looking at my stuff when they pass through.

4. Word travels fast.  I mentioned to a couple of other vendors that we used tomato boxes to store our books, and pop flats to mail them in.  Now cardboard and boxes magically appear under my bench!

5. The public can be a little too friendly sometimes.  One day last week, I felt someone looking over my shoulder, turned away from my computer and was nose-to-nose with a little old lady who was staring intently at our bookstore logo on the screen, and giggling like a little girl.  It is cute, but she was certainly old enough to have a sense of other people’s personal space!

Our bookstore logo...guaranteed to make you say "Awww..."

6. Customers usually fit in one of three categories.  The first, buyer, is my favourite!  The second, be-backer, may or may not come back, despite what he or she says (although I have been surprised more than once!).  The third, bugger, will talk your ear off for fifteen minutes and leave without buying anything…if you’re going to tell me about your Great Aunt Martha’s hip surgery, at least reward me for the torture I’ve endured by buying a book!

7. Regulars are the best.  My best customer so far bought seven books the first week, two the second, and one this week (he gets 20% off since he’s bought five books from us).  He walked by my bench at a fast clip on Wednesday muttering, “Stop tempting me…stop tempting me…stop tempting me!”  I got a laugh out of it!

8. My bladder is stronger than I thought.  I’m at the Market from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I work alone, and the bench across from me is vacant most of the week.  I depend on the kindness of my friends (and fellow vendors) to make pit stops.  My record for “holding my water” so far is seven hours (I usually don’t drink anything during the day, and wait until I get home at night to have tea).  I’m hoping that I get a “neighbour” soon!

9. People are procrastinators.  If I had a nickel for every customer I’ve talked to who’s said, “I’ve seen your store, but I haven’t gone in yet,” I’d have a lot of nickels!  It’s been twelve years, people!  It’s time!

10. Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are.  Last week, a fight nearly broke out in front of my bench because one guy failed to move to one side so that a man coming toward him could get past.  Ridiculous!  Luckily, a woman travelling with one of the men was able to talk him out of his idiocy.

I’m having fun at the Market…I’ve met some interesting people.  I’m going to keep it up as long as I can make a bit of money…

I miss Blogland, but it’s really hard to read and write when one is being constantly interrupted…and I do have to eat.  I’ll try to visit my blogging buddies once in a while, and post when I have a few minutes…

 

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Filed under books, family, friends, rants, satire

Religion, Resolutions, Raccoons, Rutabagas, and Red Tablecloths…

When I last posted, December 21st (sigh), I was deep in the holidaze.  Now that the fog has cleared somewhat (or as much as it ever does for a woman of my advanced years), I decided to post an update with some of the highlights of my last couple of weeks:

Religion:

There’s an Anglican church near Hope’s school that Jim drives by every day when he drops off the kids.  The minister seems to put great thought into the messages he puts on the display board.  This is one of his latest offerings:

Prayers just aren't what they used to be...photo by Jim

I haven’t met the minister, but I think I might like him!

Resolutions:

New Year’s Day has come and gone.  Jim and I hung out at home with the kids on New Year’s Eve…the most exciting thing we did was play Just Dance 3 on the Wii (which I suck at…Jim has a video which he’s keeping if he ever needs to blackmail me!).  I was laughing so hard at my own incompetence, I almost peed my pants (although Jim’s attempt was pretty funny too!).

I don’t do resolutions…I figure there’s no point in deliberately setting oneself up for failure.  Before Christmas, I decided to give up eating chips, and I’m happy to report that I haven’t had any since (I have had cookies, cake, pie, fudge, caramel popcorn, nuts, and candy, though…the weight is falling off at such a speed, you can hardly see it!).

Raccoons:

We’ve had fun the last couple of months watching a local family of raccoons which enjoys helping itself to Jim’s birdseed smorgasbord on the back deck.  The babies love tormenting our dog, Jake, by walking right up to the back door and peering through the glass at him.  Jake goes ballistic, barking frantically, and all three raccoons continue gazing wide-eyed at the crazed canine as if they were touring the Schnoodle exhibit at the museum.

The mother scares me a little.  She’s big, and not nearly as cute as her kids!  Jim and I often fall asleep at night holding hands…one night I dreamed about the mama raccoon.  She was trying to bite me, and I was holding her mouth shut!  Jim woke me up because I was squeezing his hand so hard!

Here’s a picture Anna took of a raccoon last fall:

One of our nightly visitors...photo by Anna Matheson.

Rutabagas:

Last year, I grew rutabagas in my garden…I love them.  Of course this year, the deer chewed the tops of the rutabaga plants…they don’t do well without leaves, so I harvested none.  I was thrilled to see a nice 5 lb. bag of rutabagas at Giant Tiger earlier this week (most stores around here have just turnip, which isn’t the same!).  I bought it immediately.  I had some nice stewing beef in the freezer…I made a gigormous beef stew and told Jim to invite his parents over to help us eat it, because fridge space over the holidays was still at a premium!  If I do say so myself, the stew was delicious, and people seemed to enjoy the homemade rolls and pumpkin pie for dessert too (the pumpkin pie I’d served at Christmas dinner got eaten before I had any)!  I’ve got leftovers for my lunch today…yummy!

Red Tablecloths:

Since my job at the Saint John City Market ended on November 30th, I haven’t been overwhelmed with job offers, so I made a proposal to my dad: I would start setting up at the Market with books full-time.   I would pay the rent, but keep whatever profits I made.  I would finally start taking a salary from the bookstore after almost twelve years of sweat equity!  It would give us more exposure (our location is a little off the beaten path), and allow us to get rid of some excess inventory.  Much to my surprise, Dad agreed with my idea!

I’ve spent this week assembling and packing books to take, and looking for red vinyl tablecloths for my bench…not an easy thing to find right after Christmas (I’m trying to keep with the colour scheme at the Market – benches are painted red)!  Each week, I’m featuring a different theme…next week’s is The Movies.

If you’re in the Market, please stop by and see me.  Even if they don’t buy anything, I’ll be depending on the kindness of friends for my bathroom breaks!

 

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Filed under books, family, food, satire

Yes, Virginia…You Can Write a Blog Post About Almost Anything…

Yesterday, I stayed home from the bookstore because I had a sore toe.  And because I could.  When one is not getting any money for working, it’s easy to make the decision not to go to work!

I had noticed on Tuesday that my big toe was a little sore…I attributed it to arthritis, and basically ignored it…just another bonus of being 50!  It was Wednesday night before I actually looked at it…be thankful I have chosen not to gross you out with a photo!

This is how my toe looked...and yes, I really drew this myself! Try to hide your amazement...

The skin around the base of my toenail was puffy and an angry shade of red.  The toe itself looked about 25% bigger than its sister on my left foot…not good!

Then I made the mistake of showing it to Jim, who, sweet as he is, has inherited worrying from his lovely parents!  “That looks awful!” he said.  “If I had a toe that looked like that, I’d be in BIG trouble!”  For those of you who don’t know, Jim is a Type 1 diabetic…it would be a concern for him.  But I’m not diabetic!  “If that doesn’t get better, we’d better take you to the after-hours clinic!”

I basically told him not to worry, and then spent the rest of the night doing just that…sigh…

Thursday morning, I told Jim and my dad that I was staying home because I had a sore toe and wanted to take care of it (I think my exact words to Jim were “You freaked me out about my toe, and now I’m going to stay home and soak it!”).  Dad went to his room and brought out a big bag of epsom salts for me.  He and Anna left for town without me.  Jim drove the rest of the kids to school, and went to work.  I went back to bed and slept for THREE more glorious hours!

I awakened about ten a.m., and went downstairs.  I would make my breakfast (toad in the hole) and cook my rice for supper (I was making chicken fried rice, and needed to cook the rice ahead of time) before I soaked my foot.

I put the rice on, and quickly cooked breakfast, pouring a cup a tea to drink with it.  I went into the back kitchen and retrieved a plastic ice cream bucket (luckily, one of the square ones).  I ran a couple of inches of very hot water into it, and poured in a generous bunch of epsom salts.  I was about to sit down at the computer to eat my breakfast and soak my toe, when I remembered a towel (I always forget that until after I have dunked my foot in the water!).  I grabbed one of Jake’s dog towels from the closet (old ones that are too ratty for public display), and sat down.

I poked my toe carefully into the hot water, and nearly kicked over the bucket because it was so hot!  It was at least ten minutes before it was cool enough…I took the opportunity to Google my condition while I waited…

Looking at the pictures (which I don’t recommend doing while one is eating), it appeared that I was nursing a fungal infection of my toenail.  I vaguely remembered having a problem with the same toe as a teenager in which my toenail actually cracked and part of it fell off!  Could I have been harbouring that same infection for the last 35 years?  Apparently…

Correspondents on the Internet suggested all manner of home remedies including pouring straight bleach on the toe (OWWW!) and applying Vicks Vaporub (it’s fungus, not a chest cold!).  I opted for more traditional methods like epsom salts, anbiotic and hydrocortisone creams instead.

About 2:30, Jim called to see how I was doing.  He also mentioned that Devin’s girlfriend was coming over after school…my “jammy day” turned into a “I’d better have a shower because we’re having company day”!

By the time the kids came home from school, I was clean and wearing clothes at least, having hobbled up the stairs to achieve that!  Dev’s girlfriend, K, appeared not to notice the pains I had gone to, and they went right to Devin’s room and shut the door after the obligatory “Hi” to the parental unit.  It was suppertime before I saw them again.

Note to self…hold out for the “converted” or “parboiled” rice…do not buy the regular “long grain” because you’re too cheap.  My chicken fried rice was way too mushy, and I was disappointed!  Jim ate all of his, but he used to eat “Minute Rice” and “Sidekicks” before I got hold of him!

After we ate, Jim and Brianna left for town to do some Christmas shopping and pick up Anna at cheerleading practice.  Hope and I watched the premiere of Candy Queen on the PVR (regular readers know I’m addicted to food shows).  I only watched that episode before deciding I wasn’t going to watch any more.  The “Candy Queen” was almost as much of a “princess” as her customers (and I don’t mean that in a good way!), and I didn’t think her work was that wonderful!  We opted to watch a PVR’d American Pickers after that…Dad and I enjoyed that one!

Once Jim and the other girls got home, we watched the Big Bang Theory which was also PVR’d…I don’t know what we’d do without it…love fast forwarding through the commercials!  Leonard confronted one of his childhood bullies, and Penny was exposed as being a bully herself!  Good stuff…bravo to BBT for taking on this important topic!

Before going to bed, I carefully slathered my toe with hydrocortisone cream and wrapped it in three Band-Aids.

This morning when I pulled the Band-Aids off, my toe looked much the same as it had when I’d gone to bed…however, I was happy to see a bit of blood on one of the Band-Aids…at least the medicine would be able to penetrate now.  I soaked it again while I ate my bagel, and rebandaged it.  I wore shoes to the bookstore, but replaced them with sandals once we arrived there…still pretty tender!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this exciting saga…

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How To Clean an 184-Year-Old Building…by the Employees of Cleaners ‘R’ Us

1. Arrive in your company car, which closely resembles a dark blue roller skate.  Remove your vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies from the trunk.  Slam trunk hard enough to rattle the windows of the building.

2. Trudge up the steps with your burden, and enter the building while complaining loudly to your co-worker about your aching body parts.  Ignore the sign, reading “Please close this door,” on the beautiful curved mahogany front door with leaded glass…you won’t be there long anyway.  Who cares if those people in the bookstore get cold?  The inside door also has leaded glass, and an automatic closer…do nothing to prevent it slamming.  They have that glass at Wal-Mart, don’t they?

3. Stomp up the stairs to the architect’s office.  Vacuum the carpet in the office, making sure to chip paint off the baseboards with the powerhead while making loud thumps.  Slam the office door on your way out.

4. Vacuum the stairway.  It is important never to lift the machine, but bounce it down the stairs, while bashing the powerhead into the wall repeatedly on each step.

5. Make a call on your cell phone.  You’ve worked hard…you deserve a break!  Talk loudly about something important, like what happened on the episode of Jersey Shore you watched last night.  If there are customers in the bookstore, double the volume of your voice.

6. Lift the entrance mat, and heave it out of the way, letting it drop with a thud.  Never stop chatting with your co-worker – she really wants to know the weather for Tuesday!  Using your mop, do a quick run over the tile floor, using the handle as a battering ram on the hall baseboards as you go.  Under no circumstances are you to talk to the people in the bookstore.  They’re readers…everyone knows that readers are dangerous!

7. Wash the windows in the doors, even though the leading makes them hard to see through.  Slam the door every time you come back in.

8.  Clean the bathroom.  Take the bag out of the garbage can, and don’t replace it until you’re ready to leave.  Those people can carry their used paper towels up the hallway to the store and throw them away!  Be sure to throw the door open hard enough to jangle the spring on the doorstop (bonus points for dislodging it from the wall completely)!  Don’t forget to fold the end of the toilet paper into a point!

9. Go back to your car.  Drop vacuum and cleaning supplies back in the trunk.  Slam the trunk and your car doors once again.  Drive away.  Don’t forget to come again next week!

 

Note: This satirical piece is based on my weekly experience with the company employed by the landlord to clean the building our bookstore is in…it is not intended to represent common practice for this or any other cleaner.  However, if I were paying these women, they wouldn’t be employed long!  I miss our old cleaning lady, Joanna, who was lovely…sadly, she left to go back to school!

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Has Anyone Seen My Dashboard?…or…She’s BAAACK!

The report of my death was an exaggeration.”  Mark Twain

I actually wasn’t dead, just working so much that Blogland was like Never Never Land…a place I never had time to visit.  That chapter in my life is now finished – the temporary, seven-week job turned into seven months with a somewhat disappointing ending – I didn’t get the permanent position!  However, certain facts came to light during the last month as I was training my replacement (yes – I’m that nice much of a patsy), and I’m rather glad someone else will have to deal with those “challenges” (which is corporate speak for things that are FUBARed).  I had a lovely going away party, and have made several wonderful friends.  I expect to be happily unemployed at least for the next few weeks…getting a new job in December is next to impossible!

So, WordPress has been changing things around while I’ve been gone…I really had to search to locate my Dashboard!  Once I get this post written, I hope to get around and visit all my blogging buddies and at least read their latest posts (sadly, I deleted more than 1500 unread e-mails this morning – they were stressing me out – best to start fresh!).  I’ve missed everyone so much…please forgive me if I’m ignorant of what’s been happening in your lives lately!

Okay…so in my last post, some (gulp!) four months ago, the deer had totalled my garden (it’s still completely useless, and the grass the landscapers planted in my devastated back yard isn’t growing!).  Jim and Devin have replaced the fence that was ruined, but we will definitely have to make it higher with wire, as the deer still sail over it like Olympic high jumpers (I refuse to award medals – it’s too hard to get the deer to stand still to put them around their necks!).  Ironically, to control the ballooning deer population, the powers that be in our province decided to allow hunting them with crossbows during the gun hunting season.  To protect our family and our dog, we bought multiple “No Hunting” signs at the Dollar Store and posted them around the perimeter of our (landlord’s) property.

Jim and the girls returned safely from their amusement park vacation (without me!), although there was a slight mishap which involved Hope losing $40 cash which she had placed in the cupholder of the van for “safekeeping”.  When the van door was opened near the top of Mt. Washington, the wind carried the money away (some $80 in total).  Jim scrambled down an embankment to save one $20 bill, while another two sailed over the cliff.  The last was later found by Anna on the floor of the van.  When I asked Hope why she didn’t have the money in her purse, she told me that she was afraid of being mugged: “Americans are sketchy, and they carry guns!” (please don’t take this personally…Hope’s 13, and she watches way too much Criminal Minds!).

Hope, Brianna and Anna drinking fruit smoothies at Cora's...

My granddaughter, Elise, celebrated her second birthday on September 9th.  Kaylee and Scott had a barnyard-themed party for her.

Menu for the Party

 

Elise wearing the sweater Gramma got for her...the tiara was not my purchase!

 

A few days after the party, Elise made an announcement on Facebook:

Elise has some news...

Everyone is very excited!  The new kid has some big shoes to fill…Elise is a tough act to follow!  She’s PERFECT, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Gramma (well, maybe I am!).  I don’t know of many kids who know all of the alphabet (as well as punctuation marks), and the sound each letter makes, before their second birthday!

This is getting a little long, and I’m getting hungry for lunch…I will leave you with this amusing anecdote from a couple of weeks ago:  I was talking to a single woman friend of “a certain age” who was lamenting the difficulty of finding a suitable partner for casual “whoopee”.  “I don’t want to get married,” she said.  “I just want an occasional roll in the hay, but I don’t want to be one of those…what do you call them?…JAGUARS!”

 

 

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Herbivore Havoc, Holy Crap, and Hamlet…NEW POST!

Herbivore Havoc

"We'll just wait here until she goes in the house!" (photo by Anna)

I’m really starting to hate Bambi and his relatives…because of them, I’m not going to have any produce to put in the freezer for the winter this year.  They have feasted on all the plants from my $130 worth of organic seeds, and the seedlings that I bought to replace plants that weren’t doing very well.  The arugula and the leeks are the only things they haven’t eaten.  My total harvest so far has been three or four salads, a few meals of spinach/beet greens (before the deer got in the first time), one zucchini, and three meals of green beans/peas (I put away some 40 bags of green beans last year!).  I have fewer than 10 green tomatoes (of various sizes and varieties) that they have not discovered and devoured.  The root vegetables have virtually no leaves on them…I had hoped my rutabaga, beets, and carrots would be spared…I was wrong!

Leafless, fruitless zucchini...

Leafless pole beans...

Leafless bush beans among the weeds...they're the stick-like green and purple things...

Chewed off tomato plant...

Munched beet greens/Swiss chard...

Holy Crap

About a week-and-a-half ago, one of my Market vendors asked me to put a new product they were carrying on our website: it was billed as “The world’s most amazing breakfast cereal” and was called Holy Crap.  The cereal had been featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den (a program where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to experts) last fall.  I read the literature, and decided to [gulp] pay the hefty $13 bag price tag (8 oz. or 225 grams) to try some.  The cereal is a mix of three organic grains and seeds: chia, hulled hemp seeds, and buckwheat, and three organic fruits: raisins, dried cranberries and apple.  It is gluten and lactose-free.  Every morning since last Saturday, I have stirred a tablespoon of Holy Crap into a container of yogurt, let it sit for five minutes, and eaten it for a mid-morning snack.  I’ve been bringing half my bag lunch home with me…I haven’t been hungry enough to eat it all.  In the evening, instead of sitting down with a bowl of chips, I’ve been eating more Holy Crap with yogurt.  Here’s the best part: I’ve been watching my considerable “muffin top” get smaller and smaller all week.  My clothes fit better!  The first bag of cereal lasted nine days.  I’m going to keep using it, and try to get Jim on to it when he gets back as well.  If I can lose weight just by eating a certain food, I’m going to keep doing it!

Holy Crap (photo from holycrap.ca)

Hamlet

Last night, Dad and I stayed in town after work to see a performance of Hamlet – one of our friends had a lead role (Claudius).  The play was being performed in a tent behind the Saint John Theatre Company’s new building on Princess Street (billed as “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot”).  We paid our money and took our seats in folding chairs.  As we waited for the performance to start, we noticed music and loud voices coming from a party in the courtyard of the building next door.  Unfortunately, it continued, getting louder and louder throughout the first act of the play.  Shakespeare is hard enough to follow when one isn’t being distracted, but actors trying to perform while competing with beer-swilling yahoos and top hits of the 1970’s was more than either of us could take.  We made our exit, vowing to contact the theatre company to see if we could come back and see the whole show without disturbance (at no cost) next week.  The acting was wonderful, especially the man playing Hamlet – he showed how loopy the Danish prince truly was!

I sent a message on Facebook to the director of the play, and she is graciously providing free tickets for the Tuesday night performance…there’s an 80% chance of rain that night…perhaps that will keep the partiers indoors!  I look forward to seeing Act 1 again, and Act 2 for the first time!

Jim and the kids are back Tuesday from their vacation adventure…looking forward to seeing their pictures!

Have a good week…I hope to read some of your blog posts in my spare time…

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My Rapture To Do List…

Word is that the world is coming to an end tomorrow night at 6 p.m. EDT (which is 7:00 our time…couldn’t it be earlier so I don’t  have to make supper?).  I’ve made a list of things I need to do before then, just in case*:

1. Buy new underwear (sale at Giant Tiger 5/$5 – wonder if they’ll let me buy just one pair?). My mom always told me that when I go somewhere, to be sure I didn’t wear raggy underwear.

2. Finish income tax. Even though I won’t be around to cash the refund cheque, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I got it done (3 weeks late…whatever!).

3. Water plants. At least they’ll be able to cling to life for an extra couple of days after I’m gone!

4. Bathe the dog. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a crowd with a stinky Schnoodle.

5. Take the recycling to the bins. Maybe the next civilization can figure out what to do with my old shampoo bottles!

6. Cancel the newspaper and magazine subscriptions. After tomorrow, I won’t care what our government is up to, and won’t need to know how to knit a toilet paper cozy.

7. Shave my legs. I don’t know what the styles are like where we’re going, but I’m thinking the “Caveman Look” isn’t going to fly.

8. Finish War and Peace. Oh wait, I already did that…maybe I’ll read it again…

9. Beat my buddy, Mike, at online Scrabble…he wins 85% of the time now and I’m not sure if they have Facebook there.

10. Watch a science fiction movie that Jim likes that doesn’t have a hot guy in it, just so I can say that I did.  Normally, I don’t do science fiction…I’m one of the few people on earth who has never seen any of the Star Wars or Star Trek movies in their entirety!  However, I have been known to make the odd exception for movies like Source Code (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Inception (Leonardo DiCaprio).

What’s on your Rapture To Do List?

* This is a satirical piece written for entertainment purposes.  I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject.  If it offends you, I am sorry that you don’t have a better sense of humour…

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