A Use For Small Talk

After discovering a large, rapidly growing puddle in my basement, I called my mother to get the phone number of her friend who is a contractor. While reciting his contact information, she accidently switched two of the digits which led to the following sequence of events.

I call the random number, because it is long distance, the man does not pick up. Hence I begin to text about my household issue to the random number, who I still think is Garry’s*, my mother’s contractor friend. At the same time, the wrong number recipient reconsiders failing to answer my call, figuring that it may be a long lost relative offering him money, or a cruise, or a hooker. Actually I’m not sure about the last one; he seemed like a standup guy, although I’m fairly certain he would have accepted the money or the trip. At any rate, the mystery man, who I think is my mother’s contractor friend, calls me back while I am texting about my small basement lake.

The Great Unwashed – Hello! Gary, thank you so much for calling me back.

Mystery Man who is not Garry- Hello? (Admittedly I found it odd that his voice sounded so different on the phone from in person but I forged ahead with the conversation.)

The Great Unwashed-  It’s Unwashed, the Great Unwashed, there’s water in my basement. Like a lot of water. A large puddle actually. Is this a problem? I don’t know what to do, I mean I’m considering getting frog eggs and growing some tadpoles in there but besides that, I haven’t a clue. Also the puddle is located between the only two useful parts of my basement; the stairs and the laundry machine which means I have to walk around the side through the den of spiders if I want to wash my sheets. This is bothersome today because Maddie, my dog just dried her wet, muddy fur on my bed.

Random Guy who is not Garry and is super confused- Um. I. I’m not who you’re looking for.

The Great Unwashed- You’re not?

Complete Stranger – No. You have the wrong number.

The Great Unwashed- Do you know anything about basements? Because your number is the only one I have at the moment.

Kindly and Extremely Understanding Stranger who is still talking to me  despite the fact that it’s long distance and using his minutes- Only the average amount of  basement knowledge.

The Great Unwashed- Well I have a sub-average amount of knowledge about basements, obviously given that I’m considering growing frogs in mine.

A pause while the recipient of my wrong number considers this thought.

The Great Unwashed realizing that my calamity has reached new heights as it’s now pulling in people I don’t know, who don’t live in my city- You know what? It’s ok. You have yourself a good night.

Somewhat Confused Mystery Man- You too.

I had always thought pleasantries and small talk were a waste of time. Now I see that their usefulness lies in figuring out early on that you’ve called the wrong person before you tell them all about your house owning woes and plans to breed Kermit the Frog next to the washer and dryer.

Kermit is feeling unsure about living in my muddy, flooded basement. (Photo Credit: Jim Henson Productions)

Kermit is feeling unsure about living in my muddy, flooded basement. (Photo Credit: Jim Henson Productions)

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of contractors I later got in touch with and coached me through a muddy situation.

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Negligence and Garbage Soup

I was caught in a garbage-poo-water tidal wave on Friday. It was a situation of my own making, which is frustrating because when you’re left standing completely soaked from the waist down, smelling like a mixture of old socks and rancid chicken, you only have one person to blame.

The Friday before last was garbage day and the truck arrived to empty the containers before I left for work. Ordinarily I would have left the bins on the curb but that day my grandparents were supposed to arrive for a visit before I got home from work. So I hurriedly grabbed the large can and blue bins and placed them next to the house, rather than in their place under the awning in the backyard.

Then because I’m an idiot, I left them there. For a full week. On the surface, this shouldn’t have been an issue. Being a minimalist environmentalist means producing shockingly little trash, hence there was little need for me to use said containers. In fact, after a week the only items in the garbage bin were from my grandparents. The bags were easy to see what with the fact they were floating.

It rained a lot this week. And by a lot, I mean every night, for hours and sometimes during the day. My recycle bins were both thoughtfully equipped with drainage holes. Unfortunately the enormous black trash can was not. The week of rain and my own stupidity had created a giant cauldron of garbage soup. The piece de resistance was the bag of dog poo bobbing on top.

On Monday when I thought of the garbage cans right before bed, there was already a foot of water, which had cooked in the midday sun, effectively creating a bacterial paradise. Tuesday, when I looked out the window at the rain, the bacteria were screaming “WOOOO! Come on in dirty water from the eaves troughs, it’s a party!” and taking off their microbial tops in the riotous fun. Wednesday the sun shone the entire day and the bacteria got together and made sweet, sweet mono cellular love in the afternoon. Hence on Thursday there was a population explosion, also the mosquitoes decided to get in on the fun and lay some eggs in there too.

When I arrived home on Friday, the water line was two centimeters from the top of the container and it smelled atrocious. Pulling gently on one of the two black handles I tested the weight. Garbage-poo water sloshed over the side from the slight movement. “Eeek” I cried jumping backwards as the splash sprayed the ground. Removing my shoes and placing them in the backyard, I stared down the product of my lazy idiocy.

Because the fates have a dark sense of humour, the can was situated right next to the hole in my basement wall. Meaning that if the garbage bin was to tip, my basement would be flooded with garbage soup. I had only one option; drag the can as far away from the house as I could and empty it there. Ideally not on my neighbour’s lawn, as I hadn’t yet determined who placed the angry note in my shaggy grass.

Taking a deep breath, I accepted that I would be soaked while completing this disgusting chore and I tugged slowly on the handle again. Once more a small wave of disgusting garbage water splashed onto the driveway. Determined to preserve the integrity of my basement, I pulled. The can moved a little, the water moved a lot. My foot was wet.

Emboldened by my lack of gagging over my soaked foot, I decided to try and wheel the garbage can as though it was full of refuse and not one hundred pounds of mobile liquid and bacteria. I tipped the bin slightly and the garbage soup yanked against my tiny pipecleaner arm, pulling the container down sharply, creating a tidal wave which spread across my driveway and drenched my legs and shorts. Shrieking, I tried to jump away but then glancing back at the hole in the basement wall, I charged back into the growing puddle of garbage water, righting the can.

Having dumped most of its contents onto my driveway and effectively into my basement, the can was much lighter as I pulled it haltingly towards my front lawn. Tipping it again, I let out a much smaller shriek and attempted to direct the remaining garbage water onto the grass.

I realize this is just an unfortunate coincidence, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m bad at this whole home ownership thing.

We Should Do Brunch

Much to my great pleasure and surprise, life stopped beating the snot out of me. Regrettably, life is still life which means it’s continuously handing me lemons, but at a more manageable rate thankfully, so I’m able to turn to those around me and say “Who wants dessert? Lemon meringue anyone?”

Which is my way of telling you, my fair readers, that I made everyone pie. Actually that isn’t true; I am neither that skilled nor that motivated. However I thought about making pie, in my world that’s practically the equivalent of the act itself. Often in my life I’ll think of jobs and assume because I’ve thought of them, that I’ve completed the tasks. Hence why I’m writing this post in the dark, let that be the lesson of the day; pay the electricity company, they have no sense of humour and a complete lack of regard for the fact that their customers contemplated paying the hydro bill multiple times.

I digress, for those of you who have been steered this way from North of the Grid, I apologize, not only is this not a science blog packed with useful information but we’re out of pie. My condolences, however the invitation did say come early. What you have stumbled upon is a humour blog that contains record of all of the nonsensical things I do to myself and loved ones.

And on that note, allow me to share my most recent paddleboarding experience. Last Saturday, having learned my naked, cold lesson the previous week, I arrived at the dock fully kitted out and ready to sit Maddie on a paddleboard for a couple hours with me.

This is Maddie her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

This is Maddie. Her hobbies include chasing squirrels, trailing bits of sticks into the house and staring woefully at me while I paddleboard. Photo Credit : northofthegrid.com

“Hello” I said waving cheerily to the blonde, tanned youths working at the dock, “I’m the naked gongshow from last week. I’ve come to give a repeat performance.” At which point the youths all shaded their eyes, ostensibly to protect them from the sun but more likely because the young workers had no desire to see my doughy midsection again.

The young man, who I can only assume drew the short straw, held the paddleboard for me while I took out a bathmat and proceeded to press the suction cups to the nose of the watercraft. “This is so the dog will have something to grip” I explained while the silicon mat made “sqwoosh, shlup” sounds on the fibreglass board. Then I secured the dry bag, stuffed to the brim with a towel, sunscreen and a doggy snuggie to the back of the paddleboard.

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Even canines like to get warm and fuzzy after they fall in the river. Photo Credit: community.babycenter.com

Next of course came Maddie herself, who was looking bulky and resplendent in her lifejacket. That is, as long as resplendent means awkward and funny-looking. Then of course I had to remove her lead and secure it to the back of the board with the dry bag. It was at that moment, kneeling on the board with a dog on a bathmat on the nose and what was in essence a giant doggie diaper bag on the other end, that I realized that I had failed to grab a paddle. “Help!” I cried to the youth who had long since given up feigning interest in my floating sideshow and let go of the paddleboard, “I need a paddle!”

At first, I was handed a  broken paddle which was missing a section “This won’t do” I told the youth gesturing towards Maddie’s small shape on the front of my board “Do you not see all the extra weight I have to propel forward? I need a whole paddle.”

Eventually an unbroken paddle was found and away we went. The Provincial Park staff has since begun campaigning for a raise, supposedly to compensate for all the nut jobs they are forced to assist.

I Wish This Wasn’t True

The Great Unwashed – “I kicked a bank today.”

Diana – “Then what happened?”

The Great Unwashed – “Nothing, so I punched it.”

Diana – “Then what happened?”

The Great Unwashed – “Still nothing, so I kept yelling at the top of my lungs and then a fifty year old bank manager came out and said “Closed” emphatically while making a frowny face, so I snarled at him and bared my teeth.”

Diana – “You know this story doesn’t make me worry about you less. Also you need to go to a different branch now.”

There is no explanation for my behaviour on Thursday. Well there is, it’s just not very good and doesn’t excuse me from transforming into a rabid, mental patient outside of a financial institution. In my defense, the mental patient appearance was not entirely my fault.

The end effect was like this only shorter. (Photo Credit : hji.co.uk)

My hair looked like this only shorter. (Photo Credit : hji.co.uk)

All of the pipes had clogged that morning and it was supposed to be bathin’ day. To distract from my unwashed state, I decided to put my hair up. Unfortunately my hair is currently about chin length, so the end result of pinning my curls meant that tendrils poked out from my head, making my scalp look like a mismanaged, wild garden in the spring. I was wearing utility pants which I had haphazardly sewn extra pockets into. However I hadn’t bothered to finish the pockets so the ones I sewed in were fraying about the edges. The end result was bag lady chic.

As a card carrying adult, I accept certain necessary evils in my life for example, banks and insurance companies. My life philosophy is “Most people probably want to help me and be my friend”.  The bank’s philosophy is “We don’t want to help you and we will take ALL of your money”. As a result, I do my best to avoid this institution, however purchasing a house has meant that I’ve dealt quite a bit with the bank recently. As I headed once again to the dreaded financial institution, I was aware that the interaction was going to be long, possibly unpleasant and one hundred percent certain that the fees would be astronomical. But it was ok because I was going to get my down payment for my house. I had even written down the financial terms to use in conversation with the bankers so I wouldn’t be nodding my curly head while saying “You know, the paper that you give to people, to give to the other people, to give to your mortgage company?”

But at four thirty two PM, when I arrived outside the locked doors of the bank, having run almost a half a kilometer because traffic was moving at a crawl so I was forced to park far away to have a hope of making the closing time, all of those terms flew out of my head. This bank closed at four thirty on Thursdays. Pulling with all of my might against the doors, I yelled “Mortgage! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Yanking again with my entire five foot-ish frame, the door did not budge. “AHHHHHHH” I yelled in frustration “But, but, but HOUSE! NOOOOOOOOOO”

It was one of those times in life where you can’t believe your poor luck, when the sheepish shrugs of the employees inside are almost taunting in the face of your time-sensitive To-Do List.

Around the time I yelled “HOOOOUUse. Down payment!” the dour faced bank manager appeared. What I needed most in the world at that moment was a hug. But people don’t approach nut cases with their arms outstretched. I do expect a video of my meltdown to appear on Youtube though, seeing as all of this occurred in front of a crowded bus stop.

I booted the door. The bank manager frowned. I punched the metal frame. “Closed” he said firmly. “No? But, down payment, house! MonEEEEEEEEEEY!” I bellowed, having lost the ability to form coherent sentences half a minute before. “Closed” he repeated sternly. That was when I snarled and bared my teeth, shoving my face as close to the door as I could. Realizing what I had done, I pulled myself back. “Thank you!” I shouted turning and rushing away from the building towards my car. Then upon realizing that I had thanked someone who wasn’t remotely helpful I turned again “I mean, NOT thank you!”

In the end, I called the helpline on my bank card and explained the situation. The kind voice directed me to a branch two kilometers down the road which was open slightly later.