Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Something's Not Right Here

Spoiler Alert: The temperature is in the 30's and I just spent the last two hours cleaning cat sh!t out of my sand box. I'm tired and grouchy.

I'm sure there are responsible cat owners everywhere. Even in my own neighbourhood. But not in my house.

We are not pet owners because we pre-know that we just aren't the responsible pet owner type. I don't like sh!t. Not the look, the smell, the feel of picking it up... nothing about it. But with pets comes sh!t.      

Don't get me wrong, I think cats are the cutest little shedding sh!tting fur balls ever.  All of my children live with cats; I see the joy they can bring.  And when we lived on acreage with mice, I also had a cat. A spayed one with an indoor litter box and vast acreage outdoors to sh!t in without filling the neighbour's flowerbeds and children's sandboxes.

I know it's only natural and I really don't have an answer for cat owners on how to keep your cat sh!t contained to your own yard. But surely if you are a city dweller your cat can be an indoor cat or you could make it some sort of outdoor enclosure if it really must bird watch and catch butterflies. Or keep it on a leash. At the very least, buy it it's own sandbox to be kept in your own backyard so the poor creature doesn't have to wander about weaving traffic looking for someone who does indeed have a sandbox. A sandbox intended for children to play in.

As I alluded to, I have just spent 2 hours, on the hottest day of the year, raking, re-raking, and then fine-tooth combing with my gloved hands, ridiculous amounts of cat sh!it out of my sandbox. I then liberally dusted the entire area with hot tub chlorine and proceeded to wash the sand. Yes, that's right. I washed dirt.

Oh, I partially blame myself. A couple of years ago I bought fresh sand for the 3' x 12' strip along the back of the house that sits under the cover of the fabulous roof my hubby built over our back deck.  Yes. I BOUGHT sand. Even though we live in a neighbourhood built on a sandhill. Well, it's more like an anthill, but it's comprised of sand.

The sandbox had been pooped in too many times so I replaced it with lovely grainy sand I purchased at Superstore on clearance-clearance at the end of the season.

For the first couple of winters I was faithful to cover it up with landscape fabric, knowing full-well that a sandbox with a roof over it will not get the protection of 3 feet of snow to save it from sh!tting cats. I think I was too focussed on going to Maui last October to remember to winterize the sand. Never again!

So while I am partly angry at myself, I can't help but take on a bit of victim mentality here. I am the victim here. It's my sand. In my own yard. I responsibly don't own pets because I know I'm not responsible.  Yet here I am having to clean sh!t and wash dirt in stifling heat while I try to think of creative ways to protect myself from future abuse.  Something's not right here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Verdict is In...

I’m sure you’ve seen the posts on social media this year about a recipe claiming to be an effective mosquito repellant that you spray around the yard and it will ward off the pesky buggers for 80-90 days.
I’m a skeptic by nature, so I didn’t immediately jump on board – partially because for years I’ve been taking 100mg of vitamin B1 daily when I’m going to spend time at the cabin or in other infested areas. And for me, it really works. I rarely get bitten by mosquitoes. However, they still drive me crazy when they are buzzing around the cabin in the night, so I thought I’d give this 90-day remedy a try. (90 days is pretty much the entire summer here in the north.) 

I was especially willing to try it after I read comments from people who heard it on Paul Harvey decades ago and claim they’ve been doing it ever since. If you are too young to immediately know who Paul Harvey is, google “The Rest of the Story” and you’ll see why he sets the standard for news stories that aren’t “Fake News.” 

So I headed to the lake last week after gathering all the supplies: A spray bottle, 3 cups of Epsom salts, 1 litre of cheap blue mouthwash and 3 cans of stale beer. I’m not sure what constitutes “stale” beer, but I opened it and let it sit in a jug for 2 days. 

It took me a couple of days to figure out what the smell reminded me of. I actually really liked it – it was a memory smell for me, and it took me back to my childhood bathroom. I was thinking maybe it smelled of the Poli-dent that my Mama used to clean her removable teeth. But I think it actually smells like a blue powdered toilet bowl cleaner we used in my youth. I can totally picture it in its shaker can, but I can’t recall the name of it. But that’s irrelevant. The point is, this alleged magical compound smells pretty darn good despite its contents. 

I sprayed all around the cabin property, concentrating around the cabin door, windows and the deck. I soaked down our chairs by the fire pit and showered the trees, planters (apparently it’s not harmful to plants) and the picnic table.

We didn’t spend the night but we sat lakeside for a few hours. We really didn’t see any bugs at all. But it was pretty windy, and that usually keeps the bugs at bay, so my skeptic self gave credit to the wind and my hopeful self resisted the urge to shout far and wide the merits of my new found use for beer.

We left town for a few days and it was about a week later when we returned to the cabin for the real test. 

I wasn’t expecting to head out to the lake quite as soon as we did, and in my haste to get ready, I forgot to take my vitamin B. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Ahh well, with my magical Paul Harvey solution I may never have to pee fluorescent yellow again.” (This is a side effect of taking 100mg of vitamin B) 

It had rained a bit while we were away and I still had ½ a spray bottle of magic, so I gave the backs and bottoms of our chairs another sprinkling as added protection. 

We did some puttering around, thinned out some dead bushes and other assorted cabin-life tasks before pouring a glass of wine to sit by the fire and gaze out at the lake and bask in the blessings of our peaceful corner of paradise. 

And suddenly it was as if a helicopter was taking off from our site, with an almost deafening sound of buzzing and the air swirling violently, due both to flying insect activity and our arms flailing around in attempt to swat away the swarms of mosquitoes, no-see-ums and fish flies. 

I have.never.seen so many bugs at the lake in the six years we have had the cabin. Seriously. 

It was a beautiful windless evening, and yet by 8:30 we were hunkered down in the cabin inhaling 2 burning mosquito coils and watching the sunset through the window. 

So yeah, the verdict is in. 

I’ll be going home to freshen my breath, fill my bathtub and drink the last 3 cans of beer from the 6-pack, while I soak in Epsom salts to try get some relief from these mosquito bites, and contemplate how to get rid of the layer of white salty residue that now graces everything I own at the cabin. 

And now you know the rest of the story.  


Friday, March 23, 2018

Words. The most powerful source known to humanity.

I love words. I love to write them. I love to know their meanings. I love to know their origins. But speaking them - not so much.  You can't edit and delete spoken words. You can't eat them and take them back. 

Tomorrow my beautiful little five-year-old turns six.

On one hand I can hardly remember life without my little Maeve Liliana, on the other hand it seems only weeks ago I played the role of midwife as her mother delivered her at home on the floor in the back hall.

And tomorrow her mom will read her the story of her birth (Granny Has a Midwife Crisis)  as she does each year on her birthday.

Her party is tomorrow and Mommy has been sick most of the week so I went over there tonight to help in whatever way I could.  This included giving the birthday girl a bath, braiding her hair and doing her nails.

During her bath our conversation included her telling me (for the umpteenth time and as if I didn't know the story) about the sad day that her her mom's mom, Grandma Alma, passed away from a heart attack. (which was about six years before her birth)

"Granny, if she was still alive, she would spoil me rotten. Well... not rotten as in rotten. She would just spoil me with love and toys."

"Yes, Maevey. She would spoil you. And even though you can't see her, she knows all about you and she is so very proud of you. So proud that her only granddaughter is so kind, and beautiful and smart. And she'd so pleased that you are such a friendly loving little girl."

"I'm a big girl, Granny."

"Yes, Maevey, yes you are."

"And Mommy's sister, Aunty Angela would also spoil me with toys if she didn't pass away too. And she would totally love to come to my birthday tomorrow."

"Oh yes, Maeve. Aunty Ang would be here for your birthday if she could. It would be one of her favourite days of the year."

Granny's heart simultaneously breaks and bursts with pride for her granddaughter who has always seemed wise beyond her years.

After her bath, as I was doing her hair, mommy came in the room and said, "Thank you so much, Granny, for coming over. I really didn't have the energy to help her bath and do her hair tonight."

I continued braiding Maeve's hair as I responded, more to her than to Mommy, "Oh, I was totally excited to come spend the last day with my favourite five year old."

The room falls silent. Miss Maevey's eyes filled with tears. "Granny, is this really the last time you are ever going to see me?"

Oh.my.heart! "No! No! Maevey Mouse, it's just the last time I will see you as a five year old. Tomorrow you will be my favourite six year old!"

Relief washes over her face and I am stabbed with the reality of the power and force simple spoken words carry.

No matter the intended meaning, or the casualness with which we speak, we really have no idea how forcefully our words are capable of affecting those around us. Especially our wee ones.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

May I interest you in a beaver butt breakfast bun?

I'm a carnivore. I have no problem salivating over a steak or mowing (this sounds like "mau, as in "Maui" ing, not mow, as in cutting-the-grass, ing.) down on chicken parts or pig ribs. Meat is a big part of our diet.

However, there are certain animal consumption scenarios I am not comfortable with: I wouldn't eat a cat. You probably couldn't pay me enough to consume moose liver. And you won't find me dining on sheep's eyeballs anytime soon. (These are all things some people across our world will joyfully consume.) 

But what about the secretions from beaver anal glands? Now doesn't that sound like an excursion in yumminess? 

When it comes to eating candy, I always savour 'red' flavours - raspberry, strawberry, cherry and even watermelon. And what about vanilla? Mmmm yum. Vanilla flavoured anything, even scented items that aren't actually eaten are simply divine. Or are they? 

Let's digress for a second here...

Do you ever buy blueberry muffins or bagels? 

I don't know the reasoning here - be it cost, preservability, taste or whatever-  but about 99% of the time, if you actually read the labelling, it will say "simulated blueberry flavour" or something like that. 
 That's because those 'chunks of blueberry goodness' aren't actually blueberries. Or anything in the fruit and vegetable world actually. They are coloured chunks of beaver anal gland secretions. Yup. read that again. Congealed beaver anal gland secretions. 

My apologies if you thought you were vegan, yet eat anything store-bought that is blueberry, raspberry or vanilla flavoured. Ingredient listings will say "natural flavours." And truly, the anal glands of beavers are pretty much as natural as you can get. But vegan they are not. 

You can google or Snopes this if you think this is just too far fetched to be real. 

Castoreum can be defined as the yellowish brown  unctuous slime substance with a strong, penetrating odour which beavers secrete from castor sacs located in skin cavities between the pelvis and the base of the tail, and spray when scent marking their territory. (The location of the beaver's castor sacs means that castoreum also often includes a mixture of anal gland secretions an urine as well.)

Castoreum is so favourably fragrant, that we've been using it to flavour ice cream, gum, pudding, candy and brownies - and basically anything that could use vanilla, raspberry, blueberry, or strawberry substitute, for nearly a century. 

Gag if you must. But you cannot deny eating this in your lifetime.

My obvious first question is ... who the hell discovered this? Seriously??!! Who was the first person to think, "Let's eat this beaver's anal glands to see if we can market it as candy, pudding and simulated vegan flavouring in muffins and bagels."? 

Bagel anyone? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Wanderlust Ways are Being Watched

I have no intention of spending less time on Facebook, but sometimes it is a bit freaky.

I am currently participating in a 28-day Daily Art Practice Challenge with Opus Art Supplies.

Each morning I am emailed a prompt word at 5:35am. I have no idea why it comes at this exact time, but every day I find myself waking at 5:36 and fighting getting out of bed until 6 o'clock to check my prompt.

I know this is a god-awful time and there is absolutely no reason for someone not enslaved to employment to be awake, but I convince myself that I will just check the word and go back to bed to dream of what I might paint.

I stumble to the kitchen and brew a coffee, in an act of admitting complete denial of any intentions of going back to bed, before opening my email.

Today's prompt was "Wanderlust."  The word itself seems old and outdated and is defined by Merriam Webster as "strong longing or impulse toward wandering."  And while the dictionary could probably post my picture as part of the definition, (I live a bit of a wishy-washy la-la-la artist-y sort of life) it's a word I could count on one hand the number of times I've ever used it. And I think they all happened today.

Nothing I have done in my life epitomizes "wanderlust" to me more than our trip across Canada on our Goldwing. And more specifically, August 11, 2007 when we rode the Cabot Trail. I just try to block out of my mind that it was more than 10 years ago - it feels like yesterday. Yet feels like another lifetime away.

And here I go wanderlusting away on a rabbit trail again...

I posted my Wanderlust painting to Facebook, both on my personal page and the Opus page, sometime in the morning:

I will probably go back and re-work parts of this painting. My favourite part of it is my hubby's sexy arm in the mirror reflection - A view I had for six and a half weeks. 

Within an hour of posting this photo online I began seeing this ad that appeared numerous times throughout the day on Facebook:

Seriously!!??! Wanderlust is NOT a common word. This is not a fluke. It's a bit freaky. And on the other hand, I used to set up the Google advertising for work back in the day - 5 or 6 years ago, and I know how it works with cookies, keywords, demographics etc. But still, it somehow seems different when you are the prey instead of the predator. 

Reminds me of a time a while back when I washed my kitchen floors with Pinesol and strategically cornered myself into the area where my computer was so that I could lallygag on Facebook while waiting for the floors to dry.  I opened my browser and one of the first ads I saw was for Pinesol. Yes. Pinesol. 

Do you ever remember seeing an ad for Pinesol? I didn't. That was bizarre. I get that marketing uses cookies based on your browsing history. I even can fathom marketers having access to your microphone and/or camera in a Big Brother sort of way. But smells?? (The computer is out of camera view of the kitchen and I certainly didn't talk to myself about Pinesol.) Too weird. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

When is a "Challenge" not really a challenge.

The Tide Pod Challenge. Oh.My.Giddy.Aunt! Let it go already.

There have been numerous "challenges" on social media, more specifically Facebook, over the years. Some more rampant than others. Some more worthwhile than others.

These range from the "List three items starting with your first initial" to "post the 47th picture on phone" (I never know if they mean the 47th most recent or the 47th picture taken. And to be honest, the couple of times I have participated in this, I totally cheated and posted the picture I most wanted to practice my exhibitionism with.) to the "video yourself doing 'X' to prove you support 'Y.'"

And then there are the "click here to see who your celebrity doppelgänger is" (that's a fancy German word for "who do you look like") or click here to see what you would look like as the opposite sex. These apps can be very tempting to participate in. And I admit to caving to the pressure on occasion, knowing full well they are simple phishing sites who want access to all your Facebook information. Yes, you fully permit them access to all your photos and info when you "click here," usually without reading a damn thing they are disclosing.

Anyway, as usual, I am ranting off on a rabbit trail, so let's circle back around to the matter at hand: The Tide Pod Challenge.

Have you actually seen a for-real posting on Facebook from someone who has taken the challenge? No, I didn't think so.  It really hasn't happened all that often. Oh, to be sure, there are some dumbasses out there who have probably done it. thinking "everyone" is doing it. But the dumbasses are few and far between. I can promise you there are a lot more stupid things that a lot more stupid people have done in the last few months than eat a Tide Pod.

Remember a couple of years ago when the "Ice Bucket Challenge" was all the rage? This was an actual challenge that actual people did and actually posted the videos for all to see. With the intention to raise awareness for ALS, a terrible debilitating and fatal disease. This challenge was one that actually served it's purpose.

I'm always a skeptic, and doubt the effectiveness of how 'secretly posting the colour of your bra' on a social media site can really do anything for the real women who are enduring the battle with breast cancer. But I do personally know of someone, here in my hometown, who financially benefitted from the awareness and funds raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge. So don't let my ranting discourage you from participating in fun ways to create community and promote a cause.

But I am getting tired of the Tide Pod Challenge. It isn't really so much a challenge to participate as it is a way for the 'normal people,' like me, to make fun of and belittle someone else in an attempt to make myself feel smarter than. Sorry folks, The Challenge isn't nearly as much of a 'thing' as we would like it to be.

***end rant***

And just so you know, though I like to rant, I am not immune to succumbing. Here I am if I were a man:

I've always thought of myself as a "Cutting" and my brother Ted as a "DeBalinhard." However,  this phishing site, which I knowingly gave full permission to access my info, will prove we obviously share genes from both sides. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I Can't Find the Door.

I've had an Instagram account for years. I'm not sure how many. Quite a few, but it's less than nine, because my username is grannyelzee and my grandson isn't quite nine years old, but it has been years.

I posted my third picture today. Yes, my third (my next most recent photo was posted almost 5 years ago.) Today I got 20-some likes in a few hours.

I have 78 followers.

One thing's for sure, no one will get tired following me cuz I'm not taking them anywhere.

I just don't get it.

And I want to get it. I do. Because there's obviously something there worth getting if EVERYONE is doing it.

If I can be honest here, the most frustrating part for me is that many of my followers are people who are, let's say, not so techno minded people. Some of them are even kind of elderly. And this freaks me out a bit.  Why can't I get it?

And hashtags ...  Remember when they were "number signs" and then evolved to the "pound key"? I sort of get what they do, but not really.

I can get around on Instagram marginally better if I access it on my computer, but logging in on my phone I see photos by natgeo, which I assume is National Geographic - I obviously figured out how to follow them at some point in time - and I see ads for Home Hardware and Penningtons.

On my computer I manage to see a few more photos from people I personally know. However I've already seen all the same photos on Facebook, so what's the point?

I'm trying hard not to be negative here, but...

Seriously, if there's actually something to it, I want in. But I can't find the door.

And Twitter?? Oh gosh. I don't even go there anymore. Lost in space, I am.

Here's a picture of my mother-in-law and me on Christmas Day, just because we match.
And I don't know how to put it on Instagram - she probably does though. 

Something's Not Right Here

Spoiler Alert: The temperature is in the 30's and I just spent the last two hours cleaning cat sh!t out of my sand box. I'm tired...