Who Are You People?

It occurs to me, that I write about myself, my husband, son, mother and closest friend often. So I decided to give a bit of a backstory to them. Yes, this blog has existed just fine without such a page for four and a half years, but think of the “characters” page as being like streamers on a bicycle. Who doesn’t love streamers?

I just posed the streamer question to my husband Tex and he gave me a perplexed look and asked me whether I would paint dicks on a wall. It would seem that only five year old girls and me love bicycle streamers. Although now I’m somewhat relieved that Tex has never shown interest in decorating our home, I’m understandably concerned what his accents for a room would look like.

So with that profane tangent aside, I encourage you all to check out the new page on The Great Unwashed.

Golden Equine Showers and Other Dubious Events I Can Anticipate In My Future: An Update On Where I’m Going To Live

Remember when I swore that I would update everyone on where Tex and I were going to live in my post Man Eating Fish, Bakery Theft and KKK Heaven: Let’s Introduce the Contestants? And then I didn’t? Well I have an excuse. It’s because I was showering off all the horse pee that was dumped on me. Figuratively thankfully.

Not so secretly, I had thought that Tex and I were staying. That our family would get to enjoy our happy home with its sun room and live in peaceful northern harmony for a couple more years. Or at the very worst, that we would be placed in the town that is a smaller version of where we live. After all, Tex is well liked at work, I mean who can live without a man who uses the word “eutectic” in a sentence? I know I can’t. Anyways with that confounding term and all Tex’s other shining qualities, I thought we were good, no better, I thought we were golden.

And we were. Covered in golden horsey showers that is, as the universe, or karma, or the gods, or whoever it was smited the both of us for being so cocky as to believe that we were going to stay.

When Tex told me where we were going to be placed, I quickly mass texted my family and close friends the name of the town and the words “I can’t even speak.” Then I dropped my phone and went to go curl up, lick my wounded ego and contemplate where I was going to live.

Frantically Sula tried texting, then calling all the while scrolling through my words to determine what place it was on my posted list we had been placed at. “Charm City?” her voicemail asked. “I don’t think it’s Charm City.” Then, when she Googled the place name, she realized the terrible truth. That we weren’t staying where we live, that we hadn’t been placed at my second choice, or my third choice or even my fourth choice with that fabulous indoor playground.

No dear readers, I’m heading to my seventh choice. The town that considers indoor plumbing and eeelecktricity, as they call it, to be “new fangled technology”. It was karma’s way of dumping a trough full of horse urine onto my head for being so smug as to only compose one version of my “updated” post revealing where my family was going to live. I was like those actors at the award ceremony who are nominated and still stand up when their name isn’t called on the stage.

I was going to invite you all to a bonfire at my house. We were going to light up all the boxes that I had saved just in case. Instead I started frantically packing said boxes, while my cowboy brother in-law who was visiting for the day said “Well $*@^, that sucks, I’m sorry.” while wrapping my equally shocked husband and I enormous, warm, bear hugs that only a rancher can give. My brother in-law then encouraged me to “scream, cry or break things- do whatever I need to do” while he watched Mini-Tex. I didn’t need to scream or break things, but I did cry while I started to box up our life.

So now that the moving van has been booked and housing with indoor plumbing has been secured (“Golly gee- you’re going to love this marvel!”), I can write an addendum to my Introduce the Contestants post.

Goodbye cruel world. I had wanted to invite you to a bonfire, but instead I’m moving six hours away, which doesn’t sound, far but it might as well be the moon in terms of distance to everything which resembles civilization. I hope everyone enjoys their grande coffees, automatic washers and dental floss. I will miss all of those things and you, my Unwashed public.

It is with a sad heart that I will pack up our covered wagon (we had to trade in our car to move to this place which is in the middle of nowhere) and bid you all adieu. The Great Unwashed will continue for ten or so posts because I have them banked but there’s no telling how long it will take me to teach a carrier pigeon to type my thoughts so wish me luck.

Soon to be very remotely yours,

The Great Unwashed

Speaking Farsi and Interpretive Dancing With Engineers

My husband Tex makes my life nice. He’s an engineer, meaning he loves science, understands math and his entire life is organized by a series of intricate but straight forward systems. I, on the other hand am a failed scientist turned artist whose life contains no obvious organizational systems, however I cook so this arrangement works for us. I joke that he lives to solve problems and I create them by virtue of existing.

For the most part, that last statement is true. Broken door? Tex is on it. Excessively complicated taxes? Put away the calculator, the engineer is here. Hosting family Christmas on the same day a drop shipment of furniture is set to arrive to fill three empty rooms of the house? Let the organizational pro through, he’ll schedule this day into submission.

Artistic problems are a horse of a different colour though. Having dabbled in the arts throughout my life, I’m experienced at collaborating with other like-minded artsy people. In those circumstances, I will explain my vision for a project, listen to my partner’s ideas and together we’ll come up with a product that is infinitely better had I just worked on my own.

For the No Excuses November post, I wanted to recreate the John Snow “Winter is coming” meme.

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Only with my name because I am equally powerful as a season of course. Modified from makeameme.org

It was going to look like the original but with curly hair.

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It’s like John Snow is wearing a wig. Modified from makeameme.org

And of course Mini Tex would be incorporated.

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Because who doesn’t love babies with preternaturally long fingers on their left hands? Modified from makeameme.org

In his ridiculous bird/dragon/fish costume, because there is no point in purchasing a costume for your child unless you force them to wear it in all manner of situations. Admittedly, bringing a fish/bird child to that funeral was not the most popular decision but I stand by it.

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You can properly appreciate the randomness of the fin/wing/foreshortened arms of the costume at this angle. Modified from makeameme.org

But no matter how many images Tex and I took, or alterations that I made to the poses or suggestions for framing, the photos all looked completely awkward and not even remotely like the meme. And it wasn’t even like I was unprepared! I had fur! I had a giant heavy dark coat! I even had a giant sword-like thing! All of the elements were there but the fairies of luck and creativity refused to smile on us that day.

I concluded it was a one-off, that there was all the possibility in the world that Tex would suddenly morph into a free love spouting, organic eating, Burning Man attending, artsy hippie. I mean, I’m becoming like him after having lived together- just last week I used the words “anaerobic reaction” in a sentence and it wasn’t just an example of my mommy brain substituting words while trying to describe a new fitness class.

Only time will tell though. In his words, I’ll continue asking him to “take weird pictures of me” and hope that in the future we’ll be able to artistically trouble shoot together. In the meantime, my readers can enjoy my Microsoft Paint photos.

Five Things Friday: The Murderous Family Christmas Edition

It’s Friday in New Zealand. It doesn’t make any sense, but time zones are like that; they’re tricky devils, sometimes, for example last weekend, they jump backwards an hour for no reason at all. Time zones don’t obey the laws of physics. Scientists thought everything had to obey the laws of physics. And everything does, except for time zones. Also Cher.

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This lack of adherence to physics is the only possible explanation for this woman. Photo Credit: MTV.com

Anyway, on with Five Things Friday

  1. My In-Laws Gave Me Coal For Christmas

It wasn’t actually coal, it looked more like severed tree roots. Regardless, it sent a message -be nicer to our son; this is your Christmas gift. Following celebrating an early Christmas with Tex’s family this past weekend, I found a “present” at the bottom of the bag of produce they had brought from the farm. It was underneath the beets and the lone zucchini which was the size and shape of a baseball bat.

I turned the oddly shaped, dirt clod coated bulb-ish/shrub-ish thing over in my hands trying to find an identifiable feature so I could figure out whether to cook it or plant it. Finally I gave up and called my mother-in-law Zoey*. “Did you give us a piece of a tree?” I asked. “Pardon?” Zoey replied masking her obvious disapproval of my naughty behavior over the past year with confusion.

“I’m holding a plant” I said. At least I thought it was a plant, it very well could have been dirty petrified wood. “Is it for the garden?” I questioned further. “Oh!” Zoey burst out, “it’s the horseradish”. So it wasn’t coal, it was condiment ingredients. Close enough, it ended up making me cry. Message received -I should be nicer to Tex.

 

  1. I Drove Over Two Men With My Van

To clarify, I drove over a pit AND two men with my van. It was horrifying and I cried in the way that one does when they’re about to commit murder. I’d never patronized a Jiffy Lube before, consequently I was shocked when the garage doors opened and in lieu of a friendly mechanic trotting out to relieve me of my keys, a youth in a pit beckoned me to drive over him. Then to make matters worse, another young man jumped in with him. Double manslaughter, goody.

I drive infrequently because I loathe it, but more importantly because I’m terrible at it. The examiner had to coach me through a three point turn on my licensing test. Thus, the pit/youth situation spelled certain doom and jail time to me. However I somehow managed to very slowly maneuver the van over the pit and the youths lived to scare another unsuspecting customer.

 

  1. Babies + Oranges = Mistake

Mini-Tex is into eating exactly what I’m eating. I made the mistake of consuming citrus in front of him so now our floor is like a high school cafeteria- sticky and more than a little gross. I debated not washing it and leaving the job for Tex but thought better of it upon remembering the number of baseball bat sized zucchini my mother-in-law has in her garage. Death by squash is never pretty.

 

  1. I Don’t Actually Have A Fourth Or Fifth Thing

Cher took them to another time zone. I’m sending a search party to Taiwan and Austria, I’ll let you know when my other writing points turn up.

 

 

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of lovely, thoughtful women whose fondest desire is for their families to have well seasoned, delicious, local food. She also would never think of using her zucchinis for anything other than baking and is so gentle that she makes people who would never hurt a fly look aggressive. My mother-in-law is compassionate to the point that I’m pretty sure she mourns the dust-mites that accidently get sucked out of the air by the vacuum cleaner.

Accidental Poisoning

It’s “Instructional Guides on Spousal Murder Week” here at The Great Unwashed. I kid, I would never poison Tex and had he realized what I was doing, my loving husband would have stopped me.

I’ve alluded to the fact that our family lives in the middle of nowhere, a place so remote that in a strong wind, we lose cell phone service. It’s an hour and a half to the nearest city, which in the grand scheme of cities, isn’t actually a grand city at all. We’re here for Tex’s job but sometimes Tex’s job decides that a cell phone signal, neighbours and street lights are just too great of a luxury, so we’re sent to places so small that they couldn’t even be called the middle of nowhere because nowhere is a place. The kinds of areas that you can’t say “they roll up the sidewalks at night” because there aren’t sidewalks to begin with.

The accidental poisoning happened just before Tex, Mini-Tex and I were about to head to one such place for a month. Seeing as there are no sidewalks, there are no 7/11s either, thus any snacks must be preplanned events; a challenge for someone like me, who feels it’s their duty to consume delicious goods in their entirety, as soon as they cross the threshold of my home.

As I stared down the barrel of thirty some odd days without cookies, chocolate bars or candy, otherwise known as three of my four major food groups,

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This is me at every meal. (Photo Credit : drafthouse.com)

I felt the need to indulge in a big way. This was how I found myself buying both a package of Glossettes and a family size candy bar at a local store at ten o’clock at night.

I decided to be healthy, so I purchased a family sized candy bar of dark chocolate. Seventy percent cacao dark chocolate is delicious and on the same shelf there was eighty percent cacao, ninety percent cacao and ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate. I reasoned that if seventy percent cacao dark chocolate is somewhat healthy, then ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate is probably like eating a salad

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One with avocados because it has the kind of fat that’s so good it fights both cancer AND terrorists. (Photo Credit: http://www.recipeshubs.com)

so if I chose that then I should buy a package of gummies as well to reward myself for being so nutritionally conscientious.

When Tex is feeling particularly tired or unwell, he’s fond of saying that he feels like “a bag of crushed @&&holes”. I’m being kind when I describe ninety-nine percent cacao dark chocolate as tasting like an unexpectedly salty bag of crushed @&&holes. However, in the face of thirty days without any chocolate of any kind, either delicious or disgusting, I ate the whole bar.

Chocolate in large quantities gives me a migraine, as does any quantity of red wine larger than a thimble. Supposedly the latter has something to do with tannins. I’m forced to conclude that the ninety-nine percent cocao bar of chocolate was also one hundred percent tannins because extremely dark chocolate left me wishing I was dead. The next morning I crawled back under the covers at the first glint of sunlight, and begged Tex to either shoot me or bring me an intravenous drip of migraine medication. My head throbbed in a way that left me fantasizing about guillotines. It goes without saying that my husband whom I normally encourage to sleep in on days when he doesn’t work, was responsible for Mini-Tex from six o’clock onwards.

It was only when Tex discovered the detritus from the night before splayed across the coffee table that he figured out that I had unintentionally poisoned myself. After copious amounts of Excedrin, I made a full recovery by the afternoon and having learned nothing from my experience, I was pressing for us to make a pit stop at a gas station on our way out of town to procure more chocolate for the road.

 

 

This post is dedicated to Natalie*; I miss you too, thank you for your words of encouragement about my writing.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of people so organized that they wouldn’t need to hire a hitman to assassinate me for revealing their name to the interwebs; they’d stealthily carry out the act themselves and then cover it up flawlessly.

Stabbing Your Husband – An Unusual But Useful How-To Guide With 8 Easy Steps

  1. Start By Crying

It’s your husband, you’re planning on stabbing him in the back with a knife, unless you’re some sort of monster without feelings. you ought to be upset.

  1. Pick Up The Knife

It might be comforting to use your favourite kitchen knife. Also, your familiarity with this tool increases the odds that your stabbing will be successful.

  1. Close Your Eyes

What you’re about to do is terrible, it’s best not to look.

  1. Open Your Eyes

When you realize that you’re liable to stab at the air rather than your beloved if you keep your eyes closed.

  1. Prepare To Stab Your Partner

Then pull back at the last second because ultimately, you really really don’t want to sink a knife into their back.

  1. Try To Stab Your Husband Again

This only happens after some encouragement from your spouse and more crying

  1. Successfully Poke The Tip Of The Knife Ever So Gently Into Your Other Half’s Back

So lightly in fact that it doesn’t break the skin.

  1. Press Harder With The Knife Until You Stab Your Husband

This part may be accompanied by a turning of your stomach.

This actually happened – I totally stabbed my husband. Tex boasts many wonderful qualities and charms; the ability to jump off a rolling horse, a dashing head of thick hair with just enough salt in it and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the properties of metals. However, he has extremely oily skin which often erupts into angry blemishes on his back.

A couple of months ago, one such blemish grew up and had a party with a whole bunch of bacteria, so it became giant and infected. Causing Tex to turn to me and say “You’ll have to lance this. It’s easy; I’ll go sterilize the paring knife” in that calm, confident way of his that convinces me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t, like mercilessly murder lobsters or shoot a gun. Tex then spent twenty minutes hunched underneath the best light in our apartment, trying to convince me that I was brave enough the stab him. I cried and resisted the entire time, it was like the lobsters all over again only thankfully no one died.

Addendum: For once Tex’s near eidetic memory failed him and when he saw what I was typing he said in a panicked tone “Are you mad at me? Can we find another way to solve this?”

The Dog Pee School of Ballet

One summer when I was twenty, I decided to take ballet. This would have worked better if my job as a lifeguard hadn’t ended at eight pm every evening. As it was, my criterion for classes was as follows: at my level, which began after eight thirty and that were in my price range. Hence how I ended up dancing next to eight year olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The teacher was a cantankerous former ballerina who had taken to eating a family-size box of cookies each day. A large woman, she spent every class sitting in a chair shouting directions at the four children and me while an accompanist played classical music on a piano in the corner. Despite never demonstrating the proper technique once, she held the group to the highest standards and would fling objects and curse words whenever we failed to meet expectations. My lack of experience and exhaustion from working in the sun all day made me a target. My friends would sometimes tag along and listen to the lesson from the waiting room “Who was she so angry at?” I was asked after one particularly furious evening. I slunk down in the chair while changing out of my ballet shoes, “me” I answered despondently.

The teacher also owned a terrier. For the majority of the class, the dog would sleep on a pillow at the front next to her chair, but once or twice it would get up, pee in the corner, then bite the feet and legs of the nearest dancer before settling back down to rest. Consequently, the back of the room was a coveted spot not only because it was out of the range of staplers, hairbrushes and cassette tapes, all of which were occasionally thrown our way after a misstep but also for its distance from sharp doggy teeth.

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This ballet instructor likely would have deemed this to be an acceptable teaching instrument were it not for the effort required in throwing it about. (Photo Credit : walyou.com)

As I was often running late, despite being taller than the other girls and thus blocking the teacher’s view of them, most nights I stood near the canine terror.

Despite the profanities, the bite holes in my tights and the odd flying hairbrush, I continued with the class. At the end of the term was a recital. Classes became more intense as rehearsals loomed. My inability to simultaneously coordinate my arm and leg movements infuriated the instructor whom my family nicknamed “The Cube” because she was as wide as she was tall. Although my eight year old colleagues did their best to help, hissing the dance names under their breath at me -“jeté!”  in the hopes of avoiding the instructor’s wrath, it was to no avail. Finally one night, after watching me flail my arms and barrel sideways into the smallest dancer “The Cube” declared that we were all to hold hands and dance. This had the added benefit of allowing the children to whisper the sequence of steps to me without detection. Class went smoother after that.

This experience culminated with the recital. Picture fifty eight-year-olds in leotards and slicked back hair and twenty-year-old me running around the underbelly of a theatre while upstairs, onstage other eight-year-olds in leotards with slick backed hair performed.  It was the pinnacle of my dancing career, and I absolutely wasn’t ready. My family had turned out in full force complete with flowers to congratulate me afterwards. My sister had even brought along her boyfriend. While the children ran up and down the halls, muffling their shrieks of joy with their hands, I obsessively practiced the choreography. Then, my turn came; nervously I lined up with five tiny ballerinas, looking like a female Billy Madison  and stepped onstage.

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It was like this, but with a tutu. Also to make matters worse, because I was a nightmare of a dancer, “The Cube” stuck me not in the middle, which would have made the height and age difference less obvious but towards one of the ends so I was buffeted by two little girls who knew the routine much better than me. (Photo Credit : downtowntulsaok.com)

 

Halfway through the dance I realized I was grimacing, so I decided to smile. That slight break in my concentration caused me to lose the beat and lightly trample the child’s foot beside me. In the wings, my family said “Oh! She smiled! And now it’s gone.” Once more, I focused on the steps determined to keep up with my tiny dancing cohorts. After, we bowed and exited the stage and I awkwardly congratulated the little people on their work, while they stood, still not quite certain what I was doing there. Ballet is without a doubt a commitment involving pain and sacrifice, but for me it was mostly an exercise in all aspects of discomfort, right down to the weird slick backed hair.

This post is dedicated to Tex. I can’t wait to celebrate our first anniversary with you tomorrow.

He Said, She Said, Engineers versus Artists

She Said: Marriage According to the Great Unwashed

(Tex has added in his two cents in italics)

In a word, being married to an engineer is awesome. I love it. 

I always know where Tex is and what he’s doing; I’m kind of like Santa Claus but without the beard

Around about when we first started dating, Tex linked me to his Google Calendar. To say that it’s a comprehensive document is an understatement. It includes when to check his tire pressure (the 2nd of every month), any outings he has tickets for within the next couple of weeks and his work locations for the next year. I’m not saying I know when my hubby goes to the loo; if he starts slotting that activity in there too, it wouldn’t be shocking. After Tex sent me his schedule, I was supposed to create my own. That was a year and a half ago.

“By the way I need to borrow the car tomorrow to do this thing. Didn’t I tell you about that? Remember?”

 

The keys are always in the same place. Actually everything is in the exact same place

Or rather I should say Tex’s keys are always in the same place. It’s a crap shoot as to where I’ve stowed mine. This makes it easy to take my significant other’s keys. Please note this kind of behavior will get you into trouble on occasion. Along these same lines, Tex has routines and protocols for everything in our home, up to and including washing pots and the proper storage of baking soda. Everything is very easy to find and is grouped with like items when Tex has organized or tidied a room.

Since we’ve moved into our new place, there’s a constant litany of “Unwashed where did you put the colander/spatula/baking pan?” and she’ll respond with “It’s in the garage/shed/under the couch.” Of course it’s there. That is the obvious place for a frying pan.

 

Everything in the house is in perfect working order

Engineers love problems. They live for problems; the show “How It’s Made” is engineering porn. I’m always surprised whenever I see it on TV during the daytime, because I know there’s engineers out there, watching saying, “Oh, oh yeah, look at how well they figured out how to make paint spackle. Oh the hydraulics.”

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Somewhere, an engineer is getting worked up over belt sanders. (Photo Credit: all-that-is-interesting.com)

Along these same lines, whenever something in our house breaks, Tex launches into engineer mode, taking our tap apart, determining where the problem is and whisking Mini-Tex and me off to the local Rona to locate the necessary part. (It’s possible I’m only along for the charity popcorn that is always sold at the hardware store.)

 

Our car seat is installed properly

Remember what I said about “How It’s Made” being engineering porn? Oven manuals, car seat directions, really any kind of manual is like a dirty magazine for engineers. I’m not saying that I’ve found instructions for the lawnmower under Tex’s side of the mattress, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised to find them there. Whenever we purchase anything, Tex reads the manual from cover to cover then adjusts the item so it exactly meets his specifications; our car door opens after pressing only one button and it never beeps when it locks. Afterwards he files the manual so he can always refer back to it even though he never needs to because he has an eidetic memory. (But won’t admit to it because then he would have to confess that he’s actually a super villain.) He then carefully explains to me how the item works and all of the minor changes he’s made to improve its function. I half listen because I know that if something breaks I can always call my husband in a panic and say “Tex! The dishwasher/dryer/car is broken!”

 

Everything somehow relates to science

It doesn’t matter whether the topic is weather, cooking or machinery- an in depth explanation of the science behind the subject always follows. Yet I still can’t recall the basic rules of matter.

Unwashed’s equivalent is celebrity name dropping and referencing obscure Canadian authors. For example her post about Desmond Howl “Oh you don’t know Hornjob McGee? He appeared in little known indie film “That Greasy Summer.”

 

He Said: Marriage From Tex’s Perspective

(With Unwashed’s comment in italics)

By contrast, this is what it’s like to be married to an artist- bedlam.

Nothing is ever where you left it including the car

For a period of time, Unwashed hid various pieces of mail and vital items like my phone charger. It was only after I had exhausted my own search of our apartment that I questioned her “Have you seen my ID badge for work?” “Oh” she replied nonchalantly as if she wasn’t a magpie squirrelling away my belongings and correspondence “they’re in the Very Important Place.” “The pardon?” I asked “The Very Important Place” my wife repeated “I put everything right here” and then she pointed to the most random of hiding spots in our home. It wasn’t a loose floorboard under the bathroom cabinet but it was close.

Admittedly, sometimes I do tidy Tex’s belongings away for company and then forget to move his items back. And the car wasn’t my fault; we had just moved here and I drove past the house three times before finally throwing the car into park and walking home. I will cop to forgetting that I had done this and where the car was parked though.

 

Your laundry flies stand-by and there has been an exponential increase in the number of lost socks

They say purgatory is a place between heaven and hell, currently in my house there is a laundry purgatory or one might say it flies stand by as it exists neither clean in my drawer nor dirty and obviously in need of washing in my hamper. I suspect one day I will be searching online classifieds and find a “Missed Connections” ad written by one of my socks.

In my defense, I once witnessed Tex systematically search for an hour for one lost sock. He found it in the end. I am neither that thorough, nor do I possess the memory to retrace my steps and the steps of others exactly to locate lost undergarments. As for the laundry, I’ve created a complex system that there isn’t enough time to explain, be assured that all of my and Mini-Tex’s clothes are found and cleaned on a regular basis. Tex’s shirts make it into the wash when they can hence the stand by comment.

 

I’ve been forced to take bizarre and ridiculous pictures of her

I had to take a picture of her covered in chocolate icing, holding a wad of flaming bills while riding a pig and I was supposed to not only understand the symbology of this but at the very least hold the camera steady. Not to mention catch the terrified pig.

This is a complete exaggeration. Ok not complete. There wasn’t a pig though. I did make Tex take artistic photos where I composed an image of multiple juxtaposing elements and then posed myself in awkward ways to enhance this effect.

 

Arranging a room has less to do with what will fit and more to do with the “chi” and whether it makes a room “warm” or not

I’ve moved sectionals more times than I care to count. And I had to buy a big, really expensive chair to provide her with a place to read and feel artistic or whatever it is that she does when she isn’t riding pigs.

Again, he’s totally fabricating the pig thing and what can I say? Chi is a moving target. Happily I don’t have to move it.

 Also, did anyone else notice that Tex didn’t comment about the memory thing? I expect I’ll find his blaster ray gun in the basement any day now.

Cowboy Cookin’

“We’re going to kill something, skin it and eat it” Tex proclaimed one afternoon midway through his visit to my city, just when I thought that he was adjusting to the civilities of urban life. Thankfully he didn’t mean an elk or deer, the creature Tex was hankering for was lobster.

The first problem with this idea was transportation. In Tex’s world vehicles come with half or one tonne sizes with a gun rack on the back. By contrast these were my wheels at the time.

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It might look more manly if I removed the streamers. (Photo Credit : price.salespider.com)

Happily, although Tex likes his meat red and his boots nicely polished, he isn’t averse to riding a bicycle, so we rode to the grocery store. The next problem was how to get the boxed up lobsters home. Normally I stow delicate items like eggs in my jacket so that my body can absorb the impact of any curbs or bumps. It was decided that there are better ways to lose a nipple than by stowing live crustaceans in your clothing, so Tex set about using our other groceries to pad the saddle bags of my bike to create a nest for our new marine friends.

The last and greatest problem we faced that day was me; specifically my inability to kill and dismember living creatures. An avid meat eater, I had no problem with the theory of the process, but the actual act itself caused me quite a bit of anguish. Once we arrived home, Tex was all set to commit murder. I on the other hand was preoccupied with the lobsters’ mental wellbeing.  I sang to comfort the lobsters and distract them from their impending doom. Every creature loves music right? Meanwhile Tex busied himself with boiling a stock pot full of water. “Do you think their lives were happy?” I asked Tex. Standing over my slow moving salt water friends that I had carefully transported home, I worried aloud “Should we show them pictures of the sea during their last moments, or would that be cruel?” Guilt was slowly building in my gut; I tried to assuage it by brainstorming a last meal for the lobsters. “What is a lobster’s favourite food?” I wondered.

Then came the terrible moment. Tex held the lobsters over the boiling stock pot of water and looked down. “I don’t think it’s hot enough” he lowered the lobsters back into the box and transferred the pot to another, supposedly more effective burner. The lobsters had been spared, and given an extra couple minutes of life, so I sang them a song from the “Rescuers” encouraging the hard shelled creatures to be brave. They lazily waved their claws at me. I don’t know if lobsters understand English.

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Unfortunately Bernard and Bianca did not show up at the last minute to prevent the lobsters’ demise, undoubtedly they were too busy saving orphans to concern themselves with a couple of undersea creatures. (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

The water reached a rolling boil on the larger burner and once again Tex held the lobsters high above the pot. Supposedly the change in pressure when lobsters are immersed in boiling liquid creates a sound like a small scream. Neither Tex nor I heard that noise over my shriek as Tex dropped Fergus and Amalda in. (Following their close call minutes earlier, I named our supper which is according to Tex a rookie cowboy’s mistake; the only names his rancher brother gives his cattle are “Filet Mignon”, “Steak” and “Chuck”.)

Twelve minutes later the lobsters were declared done and Tex offered the tongs to me. “Want to fish yours out?” he asked. I didn’t. I wanted nothing of the sort but I took the tongs anyway and haphazardly grabbed a lobster (Possibly Amalda?) out of the pot and dropped it on the plate. The lobster was sopping and water sloshed over the plate. Then Tex confidently turned his lobster in the pot so it was easy to grasp, raised it out of the water and held it still for a couple of seconds to allow the shell to drain before lowering it onto his dry plate.

I brought my full plate with lobster water to the table, too distressed to tip the excess liquid back into the pot. “Turn your lobster like this” Tex instructed, “It makes it easier to break off its arms”. My hand went to touch the poor dead lobster, then pulled back at the last second. “Touch it” I ordered my hand. My fingers hovered around the lobster almost touching it, then pulling back. “Just pick it up” Tex encouraged. “I can do this” I thought as my hand hovered around the dead sea creature. I’m not sure what terrified me more, the idea that the lobster would move when I touched it, or the fact that it wouldn’t. Finally after more coaching, I picked up my lobster. That’s when the low grade distress noises started, my terror and guilt combining in a small, high pitched hum.

Undeterred by my hesitation, Tex continued to coach me in the art of lobster slaughter. “Now you grip it like this, and break its arm. Don’t hold onto the pointy part of the claw.” That last part seemed obvious but in my upset state I had grabbed the claw tightly in the wrong spot, it was only then that I felt the pain in my hand as the points of the claw dug into my skin. “Crack!” Tex’s lobster was now down an arm. My stomach lurched, it sounded just like the rat dissection in grade twelve, when my partner had to break the rat’s arm in order to pin it down. In that biology lab, not only had I refused to break the arms but I avoided pinning the rodent to the cutting board as well.

In the present, I held a dead crustacean and gave it the same horrified and disgusted look I had given the formaldehyde preserved rat.  “Your turn” Tex gestured to my lobster. Desperate to delay the inevitable I sweetly asked if I could watch him do it again. “Crack!” off went the other arm of Tex’s lobster. “Now yours”, Tex urged.

I took a deep breath and recalled my university Animal Physiology lab, when I’d been paired with a beautiful but flaky sorority girl. She was a partier and a consistent C student whereas I stayed home most nights and excelled at the course. At first glance it seemed like an unfortunate pairing however after I passed out during the teaching assistant’s demonstration of how to behead, then filet a fish, the sorority girl beheaded and prepared our fish for the experiment while I inhaled through my nose on the floor and focused on not puking all over the other teaching assistant that was patiently rubbing my back. “No more blood!” The cheerful sorority blonde proclaimed when I returned to our lab station still woozy and soaked in my own sweat.

Closing my eyes I bent the lobster’s arm back. “Crack!” My stomach heaved, and my guilt over having broken the poor creature’s claw was thick at the back of my throat. It didn’t matter that it was dead; in my mind the lobster needed that claw. “Now the other one”, Tex instructed. As I gripped the remaining claw, a wobbly “Uhhhhh” was added to my high pitched hum. It grew in volume as the claw moved to break, so loud that the “crack” was almost soft underneath my keening.

Just as in both the biology and animal physiology labs, my dread over dismantling a living creature had me bathing in my own sweat. But unlike both of these situations there was no one else to dismember the lobster for me. Regrettably, the worst was yet to come. “Now you rip the lobster body in half” with a great “POP” Tex’s lobster was in two and my stomach flipped over.  My arms shook and tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as I tore Amalda in two. At my feet, Whiskey, my room-mate at the time’s cat mewled pathetically for a taste.

Tex’s enthusiasm was palpable now as he prepared to taste his meal. Using my can opener, (surprisingly I lacked the tool to crack the hard shells of crustaceans) he broke the hard red chitin of the claw into pieces and fished out the meat inside. Then handed me the can opener so I could so the same.

Next to literally tearing a creature in half, this step seemed humane. But then as the meat dangled limply from my fingers I realized that guilt had stolen my appetite. By contrast, Whiskey the cat was in a frenzy at my feet. So I passed the meaty claw to him. He devoured it with what can only be described as feline ecstasy.

From there, the gradual consumption of our meal continued, Whiskey was fed more surf than I think any cat aside from those in cultures which worship felines have eaten. While cleaning up Tex grabbed me about the shoulders and kissed the top of my head “You did great Unwashed” he said. Clearly he was more engrossed in his dinner than in my reaction, either that or “great” in cowboy terms means wimpy and on the verge of fainting.

The Great Unwashed, Coming to a Mailbox Near You -Travesty Tuesdays The Spam Edition

I recently came upon a collection of postcards. The images ran the gamut from Babysitter Club book covers, to remote locations in the US, to beautiful pieces of Italian art. Clearly when one comes upon such a bounty, there’s only one course of action- start inflicting yourself on the world in the form of postcards like you’ve discovered how to make 457 dollars a day and want to share the secret with everyone you know AND  all their friends.

No longer am I asking for volunteers to send cards to (for the record, I received one lone reply last time in response to that request) instead, if we once had a conversation and your address is listed- you’re on the list. I’ve got a lot of postcards and nothing but nonsense to cover them with. All I need are your addresses. Happily, over the years I’ve amassed an equally large collection of contact information that could almost but not quite keep up with my childhood love of 35 cent souvenirs.

Here’s an excerpt from the first batch

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Next to opening up their mailbox to find one of those novelty cheques for a million dollars, it’s everyone’s dream to receive a postcard like this, no?

Dear Iris,

I don’t know you well but I thought you’d enjoy receiving images of random cyclists exiting a tunnel in a place that I don’t remember the name of and that you likely don’t care about. It’s a part of my new campaign to treat the mail like the internet. I’m going to send 300 of my closest friends an offer to enlarge their vagina next.

Socially inappropriately yours,

Unwashed

 

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Don’t these people look hangry to you?

Dear Ben,

This is what it looked like in Ancient Rome when the lunch cart was late- people standing around, their stomachs rumbling and all of them grumbling about how Aelius must have gotten into the wine again and taken a dip in the aquaducts. If they’d had Twitter, they might have tweeted something passive aggressive like “Still hungry #thelionsaretooAelius” But instead after the fourth time this happened, they just fed the tardy man to the beasts. Then regretted it- no one could quite make his beef and fig dish the same way.

Much carnivorous action,

Unwashed

 

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The ghost of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s clothes is even more terrifying if you know that her father was a prison warden during the era of straps and racks in Canadian penitentiaries.

Dear Jared,

People are all “Wow, I can’t believe you write even though you have a baby” what they don’t know is that the mannequin  from this card appears to me in my dreams and threatens to suffocate me with her moth eaten veil that smells of mould if I don’t put pen to paper. It’s like the literary version of “Nightmare on Elm Street” The wallpaper also starts to spin in those dreams. This may be why I prefer paint. Happy Writing!

Sincerely, your friend and the undead spirit of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s clothes

 

My Grandfather is having a love affair with his new car. Incidentally his new car is Tex and my new car. Well, they’re the same make and model, so close enough. I wrote this to him because when Sula informed him one night over dinner that I had bought a car, (Yes, Sula is so lovely I have to share her with my grandparents.) apparently my grandfather’s fork just hovered in the air while he stared at my friend in disbelief with his mouth open. The idea of me doing something normal like buying a car was shocking I guess. I sent this to him to tease him, because trading in our lovely, practical minivan for something absurd would be just the kind of ridiculousness I strive for every day.

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As you can see my ride comes pre-pimped, no need for a reality TV show.

Dear Granddad,

Did you hear the news? We decided to trade in our can for something more practical. Our new car is pictured on the front. After all, how is one supposed to go joy riding in something with side air bags? Where the fun? Where’s the sense of peril? There’s just no point in driving unless you can feel the wind in your hair, the rain puddling at your feet and your childrens’ fingers pinching your side as they cling to you with their nails while trying not to fall out of the car. I’m off to pick up Betty and Archie for the shin dig, Archie’s jalopy broke down again, thank goodness mine is reliable. It’ll be a swell night.

Love, Unwashed

The next card was sent to a man who began as a friend of Tex’s and became a friend of mine, so much so that when I sent him an unsigned postcard, he figured out who had sent it. If sending weird pieces of anonymous mail and then being called on it isn’t a sign of a good friendship, I don’t know what is.

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Hammy’s post petite potatoes diet head shots

Dear Wyatt “Why did I give Tex’s crazy wife my address” Strumpber,

This is Hammy Swine. After spending his childhood working the petting zoo circuit thanks to his momager, Larda, he tried out for the role of “Bebe” hoping to make it big. Obviously he was rejected seeing as the role went to a younger, pinker, thinner pig. Ever the fighter, Hammy was determined and went on a diet of small potatoes when he learned of a Babe related opportunity- “Babe 17: Bringing Bacon Back”. Hammy was elated when his newfound weight loss led to a supporting role. Tragically Justin Timberlake passed on the role of the hiphopping farmer so the project was kiboshed. Now Hammy spends his days sitting on street corners trying to sell future shares in his own pork roasts in exchange for watermelon. It’s a story that reminds us to just let pigs be pigs.

Wow, that got dark and very weird fast. Even for me. I think I’m going to stop there.