Monthly Archives: August 2018

Dog Sit

Recently, my sister asked if I wouldn’t mind dog sitting.

I love dogs. Love them! So why not?

I have a dog myself: Louis, my 14 year-old dachshund. More dogs? An additional dog? Sure! Why would I mind? What would there be to mind?

Turns out, I did mind. I mind, a lot.

So much minding over so much to be minded about:

 

1. Smell

Dogs smell. Not just the ability or the power (to smell) but the fact of the thing itself (the smell of dog). Dogs. Smell. Did you know that? This dog, the one I’m dog sitting, smells. Like dog. Like a big dog, so much bigger than a dachshund, let alone a 14 year-old dachshund and his dachshund smell I’ve been smelling for so many years I don’t smell it anymore. Big dog smell. In my house. Just wafting around, riding the currents of our A/C like some rude, musky little ghost.

2. Space

I live in a tiny place with tiny furniture and this dog – with his big dog paws and big dog butt and big dog poops and big scoops of dog food that go into making the big dog poops – cannot seem to maneuver without bumping into something or knocking something down or pushing something – a carefully placed something, mind you, that brings together the room just so – totally, utterly into the worst space imaginable (i.e. to be crushed underfoot or under such garish light or harsh angle(s) as to force me on more than one occasion to question my sense of taste; my ability to see the beauty in life itself).

3. Hair

 Everywhere. Every goddamn nook and cranny in a home full of nooks and crannies. This dog’s hair is not fur but hair, OK? Tiny little eyelash things that – while pixyish and cute upon first blush – have become a plague upon our household. They, too, ride the air currents, whirling here and there, landing where they will, be it in the corners of the room, on the stovetop or in unguarded eyes and noses and mouths. Actually, forget about simply acting as a garnish on our spaghetti or in our tea, these little hairs everywhere are now are part of the chemical makeup of every single thing to be found in our place.

4. Water

This particular dog spills about half the water he drinks out the sides of his mouth while drinking. Socks are a luxury we can no longer afford, lest they become soaked in pungent spillover dog-snot water. Thank god for the hardwood floors, though our place being as old as it is, the water tends to pool in odd places where the wood is uneven, thus forming a series of pools that somehow remind me of the surface of the moon.

 

So, you know, after all this I realized something rather crucial about myself: I may not love dogs. May never have loved them at all. Just my dog. My singular, very particular dog who himself has caused me no end of trouble. No other dogs need apply. I’m good. I’m set.

I’M DONE.

***

Recently, a friend asked to if I wouldn’t mind babysitting.

I’m still laughing.

I have not stopped laughing.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Dogs, Family, Interruptions, People, Pets

Big Blue Kazoo

My brother recently (as in a week and a half ago) decided to quit smoking and is vaping to ease the transition. His vape pen looks like a big blue kazoo.

Kazoo (noun): a small, simple musical instrument consisting of a hollow pipe with a hole in it, over which is a thin covering that vibrates and produces a buzzing sound when the player sings or hums into the pipe.

 

Simple toy, assorted history:

– As the story goes, the kazoo in its North American form was the brainchild of one Alabama Vest, a black man from Macon, Georgia. To bring his idea to fruition, Vest eventually teamed up with German-American watchmaker, Thaddeus Von Clegg, though the circumstances of their meeting remain murky. At the 1852 Georgia State Fair, Vest’s “down south submarine” was purportedly introduced to the world.

– The first documented invention of what we now call the “kazoo” appears in 1883 via a patent application undertaken by American inventor Warren Herbert Frost.

– However, mass production of the kazoo did not occur until 1916, and is said to have come about after a traveling salesman, Emil Sorg, happened upon the down south submarine at the 1852 State Fair. Or so the story goes.

– And from here on, Vest and Von Clegg disappear from the narrative. No documentation of their collaboration has yet surfaced. It’s not certain if Vest attended the fair alone, or if he had partnered up with Von Clegg for the event. It is unclear whether Von Clegg only helped to create the prototype for Vest’s invention, or whether the two worked together to come up with the first ever “kazoo.” It’s difficult to say what that first kazoo even looked like.

– There is no proof that Vest and Sorg ever met, least of all at the 1852 State Fair.

– “Alabama Vest” and “Thaddeus Von Clegg” may or may not have ever existed at all. There is only no proof that they didn’t exist.

Which leaves us with our kazoo lore. And “down south submarine.”

 

So, then: my brother recently (as in a week and a half ago) decided to quit smoking and is vaping to ease the transition. His vape pen looks like a big blue down south submarine, which is about as descriptive as I feel like being on this particular item.

 

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Filed under Characters, Family, History, Names, People, Uncategorized

Encounters Both Mundane & Strange (a.k.a. Midnight Neighbours)

Stephen and I have taken to taking late-night walks because the dog cannot (possibly will not) walk in the ungodly daytime summer heat.

Over the course of these past weeks and months, I’ve come to notice certain neighbours: Midnight Neighbours, who seem to only come out at night to do their various neighbour/nighttime things.

(Midnight being, of course, a name. I don’t always see them at Midnight, and they do come out at other times of the day. Midnight just sets the context and is specific to my POV).

(Also: “Midnight Neighbours” seems both descriptive and cool).

(Doesn’t it?)

 

1. Green Bin Hilda

Her name may not be Hilda. I don’t know for sure what her name is, but I once heard someone call out to her from her bungalow and the name sounded something like “Hilda.”

Lit up by the awful yellow streetlight, GBH’s seemingly disembodied head can be seen hovering in the corner of the front window facing the street. She watches. She’s a watcher.

She is also a rummager.

Twice now on garbage days, after Stephen, the dog and I walked well past her house, GBH rushed outside and across the street so that she could take a peek inside the green bins left out in the night for pick up in the morning.

(Mind you, the city’s green bins are built to deter raccoons: to open them, you have to grab a black handle that juts out from top and turn it just so.)

I watched the watcher. She scanned the contents of the bins, moved an item or two around, nodded approvingly, shut the lid and then walked back across the street and into her own house.

We’ve never spoken about it, GBH and I, and us. We’ve never spoken, GBH and I, and us, and eye contact has been spotty at best.

Still: why?

Why those bins, Hilda? Just those bins, Hilda? I have so many questions, though I admit they are only variations of the same.

Why, Hilda? How come?

Oh. And also: Hilda, would you ever approve of the contents of my green bin?

Could you?

 

2. The Sculptor

The Sculptor is a rather affable guy decked out in ripped jeans who plays one-man street hockey with a tennis ball and a makeshift stick that is too short for his tall frame, causing him to chase the ball with a practiced hunch and shuffling gait. He never falls.

I have never encountered him sober. He typically has a Bud Light in hand and, when he is not busily engaged in street hockey, he will raise it to toast you as you pass his property, which a lot of people must do because it lies on a direct path to transit.

Other times, he is working.

There are elabourate rock “sculptures” strewn all about his otherwise overgrown front yard: squat objets d’art of stacked river rocks that strike me somehow as being a gathering of disenchanted “rockmen.” A union meeting perhaps? Or maybe some sort of townhall meeting for sexist quartz and granite. Whatever is going on, The Sculptor can often be seen moving the rocks/men here and there; adding to them, taking things away or incorporating the occasional wind-chime or hubcap among their accumulated masses acquired from who knows where.

Once, while I was checking my phone in front of his house, he yelled at me from somewhere inside:

“NO PICTURES. DELETE! DELETE!”

He must have seen the light against the darkness of the streets. Or maybe he too was a disembodied head in a the window. Hard to tell, because the streetlamp by The Sculptor’s house is busted.

I wonder what my face must have looked like, illuminated by the screen of my smartphone.

It has never occurred to me to take a picture of the rockmen, though I admit it does not surprise me that he would get riled up at the prospect of anyone doing that. The Sculptor’s sculptures are his and his alone.

 

3. Basketball Shorts

Basketball Shorts is not young, not small and not an athlete. His clothing is merely more of a uniform consisting of an assortment of tank tops and the same pair of basketball shorts, the kind that just skim the tops of his the crooked domes that make up his kneecaps.

His primary function seems to be that of sitting in front of his house, on a too-small faded plastic chair, making intense eye-contact with passersby. He lives 2 streets across and down from us and I appreciate the distance, truly.

The other night, at around 11:15PM, we passed him walking our dog as he was walking his, a tiny Yorkie. He continued on his way and we on ours, walking past his house, to the corner and then turning to go down the opposite block. Stephen and I were far along down the block, many large houses away, when we paused in our conversation at the sound of some distant babbling.

A man’s voice – B.S. on the corner, at the intersection we had left as we turned away from his block. We couldn’t see his face. We could barely make out his form, but as his outline is quite distinctive I’m sure it was him, there, in the flesh. Him and no other. He no longer had the dog (or at least, I didn’t see it).

To get to where he was, he must have backtracked, gone past his home to end up at that corner.

He was frustrated – angry even – and talking to…who?

Us?

We were far enough away from him by this time that we would be little more than vague figures on a dark street. Had he gone out looking for us (because he would have had to, not knowing our intended path)? I didn’t see anybody else there, in his general vicinity, but then why talk at somebody’s back from a distance if you’re trying to make a point to them, whatever that point may be?

“I saw you…you moved the pylon! I know where you live! This is ridiculous! Pylon there – You moved…pylon! Pylon! Ridiculous!”

Code? These peculiar words were carried to us by the wind, and were the only ones to reach us from his remote though incessant chatter. Although, to his credit, there are some pylons set up around his block due to some city work being undertaken there this summer. He had something there at least.

Know where you live? A threat? I doubt very much he knows where we live, have never seen him on our street, though in addition to living 2 streets across and down from us, he also appears to live in moments like these.

Or perhaps not. His voice had the quality of a broken reed jammed into the mouthpiece of a rusted saxophone: it sounded thin, out-of-practice, forced. He, being the most able (or willing) of our Midnight Neighbours to wander the furthest from his house, seems also, unlike Green Bin Hilda and The Sculptor, to be the most unsettled because of it.

Another possibility: he wasn’t talking to anyone – no one – at all. Maybe that, in the end, is where he really lives, speaking of bringing things home.

 

 

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Filed under City Life, Dogs, People, Relationships, Routines

Open Secrets, Vol. 13

  • What goes around comes around around around.
  • Reverse Psychology vs. Emotional Blackmail.
  • Bad relationships —> Good Drama —> Bad Kharma.
  • Where are all the candelabras?
  • Back Talk vs. Forward Thinking.
  • Kingmaker, Starkiller, Widowmaker.
  • Missing: keys, cat, you.
  • Eat the whole thing.
  • Seen it yet?
  • Work family values.
  • Puff Up vs. Simmer Down.
  • Back again there and.
  • Everlucky 13.

 

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Filed under Change, Communications, Relationships, Words, Work

Taint Nothing

My next door neighbour caught me in our shared alleyway (but let’s admit it, it’s actually my driveway, which her giant, looming house abuts) and told me that her garage bin smelled.

Excuse me?

“My garbage bin. It smells, doesn’t it?”

Unless she’s storing diamonds or jasmine petals in there, yeah, I’d say it smelled. It smells. Like garbage.

Garbage smells?

“Yes, it does, doesn’t it?” This was a genuine question and, I suspect, a real revelation. She gently lifted the lid of her bin and peered in, brow raised. Took a dainty sniff…as if to demonstrate the smell.

I don’t know.

This all can’t be real, can it? Can’t it be? What’s the game here, then, really?

Is she trying to tell me my garbage smells? Because it does, like garbage.

Is this some kind of test? I disagree and she’ll never, ever bring it up again? Or I agree and she shows me how deep the rabbit hole really goes.

Is she just amusing herself, inserting the absurd into the banal? Into each other? Hard to blame her, if so. But no.

No. I don’t think so.

***

Days later…

Her housekeeper was bleaching and washing the garbage bin in the alleyway that I must now adamantly insist is actually my driveway. But more than that: um, what?

Why?

“She says it smells like garbage.”

I had watched the housekeeper a while, confounded. She nearly fell into the bin in the act of cleaning it; so large was it that it half swallowed her whole was she dove in, head first, to bleach its gaping insides. And then, with a kind of practiced fall, she tumbled out and rinsed the bin off with a bucket and a fistful of sopping rags.

Garbage water everywhere, which smells, pooling at our feet. Like garbage, it smelled, even as it seeped into every crevice on the patchwork asphalt that makes up my driveway, even as it baked into the runoff from the lawn under the oppressive heat of the summer sun.

Please don’t do that ever again on my driveway.

“I won’t. I’m sorry. She told me. I just…she says she wants them clean.” It was almost a question.

But she will never get them clean. She will never get rid of the smell. She will never be rid of the taint.

But looking at this situation: taint ain’t nothing.

Is it?  

 

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Filed under Interruptions, People

Work It Real Good

So much of my work is editing other people’s work that I often find it fascinating to know where their work (and mine), begins and ends. The burden of the work is clear: it is theirs, but also, here and there, and after a fashion, mine. But not really. But also more than maybe so.

I suppose this is what you call the collaborative process. It’s certainly an interesting way to live, and not at all a bad way to mention earn a living.

It’s fascinating what people come up with as they work through things – to follow their ideas as they emerge, take shape, grow (and at times falter, at times slip and derail). It’s fascinating what can be done to help them; what they need, what they want. They only have to ask, or let me ask on their behalf.

There’s a lot of trust that goes around, only to come back again. Mistakes, too, happen, not all of them regrettable. Some of them very.

The work varies, from not-so-great to good to great. But maybe it can be a little better. Not everywhere, not always, but there will be room enough, here and there, to re-work things. Why not?

It’s up to you, and then it’s mine until it’s yours again. Between us, we’ll work it good.

Work real it good.

 

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Filed under Communications, Employment, Language, People, Relationships, Words

Open Secrets, Vol. 12

  • Blame destiny.
  • Never the less.
  • Shamble if you have to.
  • Don’t know vs. Don’t tell.
  • Space Forced.
  • Aspirations & exasperations.
  • IT’S EVERYTHING (until it isn’t).
  • He smelled very well vs. He smelled very good.
  • You just don’t say.
  • Equivalences will take us all down too.
  • Poke that bear.
  • Feelings vs. Emotions
  • Culture, culture everywhere.
  • Who ever is tallest.
  • Don’t not.
  • Credit fate.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Interruptions, Language, Words

Coffee Time (and again)

1. Wave of the Future

Shared coffee pots are oppressive! We are an interesting and imaginative group of people who deserve to have our many facets represented in our tastes. The office has therefore eliminated the old, antiquated and, frankly, oppressive coffee pot in the upstairs kitchenette, and has replaced it with a brand new, state-of-the-art single-serve KERUG KOFFEE MAKER.

You are. Most welcome.

2. BYOKK

As a part of our “coffee initiative” (as our beloved Doris has colourfully named it) please do note that employees are now free to supply and store their own koffee kups for use while at work. The sky’s the limit, though we do ask everyone to be mindful of nut allergies.

3. Tamp It Down

The environment as we know it is in peril! Thusly, we have decided to do away with the waste and excess of the single use – non-recyclable – koffee kups and have instead supplied the office with reusable, single-load receptacles for all your coffee needs. Gently pack desired grounds into the receptacle with a small spoon or forefinger and insert into the KERUG KOFFEE MAKER machine. It could not be simpler. Wash your hands before and after use.

4. Grounds for Dismissal

Coffee grounds everywhere! Littering the counter, clogging up the kitchenette sink, crushed into the carpet into ugly, suggestive stains. A most sad and lamentable state of affairs. The single-load receptacles have therefore been removed until further notice. For the time being, please purchase your coffee and related beverages before work or during break.

5. New is Old Again

Employees take note! Some of your coffee cups are non-recyclable. Please dispose of these in the garbage where they belong.

6. Debauch

Employees! We have noted there are a few of you are sneaking into the kitchenette at odd hours in order to make coffee though the unsanctioned use of the remaining (and offensive, and offending) koffee kups. Be advised: you are warned.

7. Bylaws

To avoid confusion, all coffee cups are to be thrown into the garbage as the city has twice now refused to collect our improperly-sorted recyclables. Extra bins have been provided in the downstairs kitchenette, next to the photocopier.

8. Purge: Anarchy

As forewarned, a purge of all remaining koffee kups has been carried out by Doris.

9. BE MINDFUL

A gentle reminder to all in our employ that while your coffee habits and choices are your own, we are reaching capacity in terms of weekly garbage disposal. Bins are filling up faster than usual. Consider, therefore, finishing your coffee before or after work or during breaks and disposing the cups in outside bins (i.e. the public trash bins located down the block or across the street at the nearby primary school).

10. Don’t Ask

Stop asking Doris. She doesn’t know.

10.5. Further Notice

The KERUG KOFFEE MAKER has been removed from the office until further notice.

Thank you.

 

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Filed under Communications, Food, Health, Work

Treasure, Treasure Everywhere!

It was as though we stepped into a daymare masquerading as an antique market.

I do not, as a matter of course or habit, frequent antique markets. Once or twice a year, at most, and mostly because I have a few precious friends who live for these markets – who know all the vendors and all the wares (and about them) and have committed the antique market circuit (it is seasonal; it passes from county to county like a circus and all of its transient allure) to memory.

It’s fun going to antique markets because I go with my committed friends, and I only go to antique markets when I go with them.

As for the rest…

… Not all of the “antiques” live up to the name, or even care to aspire to it. There’s a lot of junk (“vintage” as it may as well be), or borderline junk (or borderline or absolute treasure, depending on how you’d see it) – props from movies no one’s seen (or longer cares about, if anyone ever did), random doll parts (heads, arms, torsos), chairs made of discarded horns, disused and disembodied clown heads, anatomically outrageous equestrian statuary, pharmacological (not to mention gynaecological) implements (both great and small) – most of it hard to keep in the mind when it’s spread across vendors’ stalls going in all possible directions.

When the senses are bombarded by the immediacy of these myriad…things.

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I am convinced that much of the stuff is haunted, or at least cursed in some nefarious way. No monkey’s paws (not yet) but a few purported “shrunken heads” have popped up here and there. The implication of such a thing is bad enough; the sustained drive to covet it…well, what isn’t for sale these days?

The antiques, such as they are – and there is a fair amount of what may be termed “the good stuff” (vintage jewelry, beautifully hand-crafted furniture, some exquisite taxidermy, dishware of various shapes, sizes and hues, cute and/or elaborate butter stamps, etc.) – repeat themselves as you make your way from vendor to vendor. So many butter stamps. Endless bowls and tureens. Tables and chairs and desks just everywhere.

This particular market, though (Christie Antique and Vintage Show, 26/05/18), and on this particular day, seemed primed for the peculiar and the unsettled.

All of the above-mentioned junk above, with all its attendant weird angles, strange proportions and unreasonable scale. But also brief pockets of lucidity, in which the heads, horns and assorted aberrances receded into everyday folk art, books, china, rugs and lamps.

Daymare (noun): a frightening or oppressive trance or hallucinatory condition experienced while awake.

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Oppressive heat; unrelenting humidity for all that it was a supposed spring day too, though the clouds and gentle wind provided intermittent relief.

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Many “vintage” photographs with dead faces staring out not unpleasantly. A lot of inexplicable nudity (not all of it pleasant). Some tantalizing glimpses of nostalgic charm (in the form of, say, a freezer bag full of He-Man action figures or a neat pile of gently used sets of Operation).

A heady sense of timelessness in which minutes turned into hours turned into minutes turned into that second I looked away and then insides were out and on display.

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Overpriced refreshments, and even then barely enough of them.

On and on as they day wore on, and wore thin.

No relief, and then some.

There’s another CA&VS in the fall (08/09/18) . Rain or shine! Will I be there?

I’m beginning to think I never left…

 

 

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Filed under Dreams, Events, Friends, Interruptions, Places