Category Archives: Humour

When Bath Towels Shed Like a Cat in Spring

a set of fluffy white towelsAfter the big move to the country, as I was unpacking my towels, I experienced a bit of a life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment, as each towel colour seemed to hold an association to a specific period in my life.

I guess the fact that I bought my bathroom towels in batches to coordinate with my decor each time I moved might have had something to do with it.

When I first moved out on my own, my bathroom (actually, my whole apartment) was decorated around basic black and white neutrals with red accents. It was easy, it was inexpensive (luckily, budget-friendly flat-pack furniture often came in either black or white), and it looked deliberate and pretty well put-together.

My linen closet was stocked with a first purchase of black towels. I enjoyed them because they were very low maintenance in the sense that they rarely needed special treatment. To me, they never showed stains the way a lighter colour might.

The only issue I had was the dust and the lint that they produced when they were brand new, despite several washings.

I found myself cleaning the pale bathroom floor more often than I would have liked simply because of the little black fibers and spots of lint that littered the floor. It only took a couple of days for the bathroom floor to look like it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. This was more than the Type-A part of me could tolerate. Continue reading

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Too Excited to Sleep

cute stuffed toys in the shape of sheep I don’t know if it’s just me, but even after several decades on the planet, I can still get that giddy energy I did when I was a kid and sometimes find myself too excited to sleep.

When I was growing up, I remember being afflicted with that joyful sense of sleeplessness before my birthday, before Christmas, before summer holidays and before the first day of school (not for the school part itself, but to see my friends and favourite teachers again).

In the younger days of adulthood, I had those same moments but for different reasons. The start of a new job, an upcoming trip, a first date and the move to a new dwelling all brought with them a jolt of energy that could leave me looking a bit tired and puffy-eyed the next day.

A decade later, I noticed a shift to more experience-based reasons for being excited like once-in-a-lifetime concerts, Broadway shows, unique travel destinations, and celebratory meals with friends and family.

I get a chuckle out of how I’d even get too excited to sleep the night before the delivery of a new kitchen appliance. If that’s not an adult thing, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

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The Mystery of the Exploding Tissues

I think it would be fair to say that most people experience the “exploding tissue in the washing machine” situation at one time or another.

You know… it’s those times when despite having thoroughly checked the pockets of the garments being loaded into the washing machine, a tissue still sneaks in, goes through a full wash cycle, and explodes into a million little pieces.

Given my emergency preparedness training at work, it should come as no surprise that I always kept a tissue neatly tucked in a pocket (especially since the pandemic) to catch unplanned, unscheduled or unexpected sneezes.

That being the case, over the years, I was no stranger to the occasional case of exploding tissues in the wash.

It’s not that I didn’t check my pockets. I did… I do… I always do… but once in a while, I might miss one.

That being the case, I developed and implemented a two-step checking process to try to catch those sneaky little buggers (or “boogers” in the case of used ones):

Step 1: I check the pockets before an article of clothing goes into the laundry hamper.

Step 2: I check the pockets again before the clothing goes into the washing machine.

This two-step process has proven to be invaluable as I have found myself breathing a sigh of relief in catching some just before a wash load, especially a load of dark coloured clothes.

But still, every once in a while, a tissue sneaks through and makes a mess.

Why is this? Continue reading

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When Work Doesn’t Feel Like Work

An overhead shot of a writing desk, containing a pen, a pad of paper and a cup of coffee.Not too long ago, I was having a discussion with the cat, trying to nudge her along in her morning routine so that I could get back to the computer and my latest writing project.

The words out of my mouth made me pause for thought: “Please Ivy, Daddy needs to get back to work.”

I think that I said the word “work” out of habit more than anything else. But I started questioning whether it really was the most appropriate word to describe the fun I have pursuing my calling for writing and storytelling.

If you have read any of my blog posts over the last eight years, you know that this what I have been preparing for, to apply everything I’ve learned about writing through the years and being able to create for the pure enjoyment of it.

It was my #1 plan for my retirement years, and I am finally at the desk, downloading ideas from my brain, at a rate that sometimes surprises myself. With so many writing projects that have been buzzing around in my head for years, I feel like I am in a pretty crazy catch-up mode.

But is it “work”? To me, it doesn’t feel like it.

The various definitions online seem to follow a common core, but some are tainted with a negative slant or synonyms like “toil”, “exertion”, “drudgery” and “grind.” Continue reading

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Why I Don’t Ask for Directions

a sign post showing city names and the distances to travel to themFor as long as I can remember, there has always been a running gag among comedians and comedy writers about how men would rather lose a limb than ask for directions. It’s a generalization that may not apply to every guy on the planet, but you’d think it was, given how many times that theme has come up.

I hate to admit it but I am indeed one of those men.

I grew up in a family that lived on maps. In our library, we had amassed a collection of maps from our family vacations in addition to a couple of our fair city of Ottawa.

Once I was old enough to go bicycling on my own, I took to exploring our suburb. I would pull out the city map and find a corner of our ‘burb that I hadn’t discovered yet. Once I had my itinerary laid out, I’d hit the road.

To this day, I know that suburb inside and out to the point of being able to call upon that knowledge when traffic is tied up on the main artery, and I can nimbly navigate around the obstacle.

That was my first exposure to using maps, which became a life skill in itself, along with knowing how to fold it neatly back to its original accordion-like creasing. Continue reading

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The First Snowfall of the Season

When I hear the quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus, “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters,” I admit that the words are sometimes a bitter pill to swallow when my frustration is beginning to swirl.

However, over time, I have discovered the wisdom of those words when I have seen the contrast in my own feelings over a recurring situation, and how those feelings can change depending on any number of contextual factors.

The first snowfall of the season is an excellent example.

As a young boy, that first snowfall was consistently met with joy and excitement as it meant a switch in the games we played outside at recess.

Running after snowflakes and catching them on our tongues to see who could catch the biggest was a favourite (clearly, it didn’t take much to amuse us). Piles of snow would become the focal point of a game of “king or queen of the castle”. And of course we would blow off steam with the occasional snowball fight, just for the fun of it. Continue reading

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25 Worries about Hair… When I Had Hair

In my late 30’s when I first noticed my hair thinning, I wasn’t prepared to admit defeat. I chose to chase after the remedies on the market that claimed to restore hair.

The sad reality was that I could not fight with Mother Nature as male pattern baldness ran like sap through one side of the family tree.

It was after I turned 40 that I became more accepting of the situation, although you could say that I didn’t really have much choice. All of the haircuts that I tried seemed to look a little off-balance in one way or another, which drove the Type A part of me a little crazy.

One day, I saw a picture of a young man with a shaved head, whose facial features and head shape looked a lot like mine. The shaved head was a very flattering look for this guy. I would even say that he looked pretty cool, which opened the door for me to gradually cut back my hair and then to try my first clipper cut.

Once I started in the clipper zone and went progressively shorter and shorter, I grew to like it more and more.

To me, this was an extremely freeing experience. With a low-maintenance haircut, I reclaimed so much time in the morning, I was able to sleep more plus I saved money on hair product and trips to the hair stylist.

Now, in retirement, I appreciate it even more, in terms of saving time and energy for more important activities, especially my writing. Continue reading

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Spell It Out!

A close up shot of a computer keyboardOver the span of my career, I took great joy in preparing drafts of memos, briefing notes and all kinds of correspondence for my management team. Naturally, I learned a lot along the way and I was more than happy to pass on to the advice to the newest generation when it was my turn to coach them.

In the early days, one comment that came back a few times was the editing note, “in full first”.

By saying that, my director was suggesting that I should write out an acronym in full the first time it appeared in the document and then to include its acronym version in parentheses. Once that is clarified to the reader, the writer can then feel free to use the acronym in its shortened form throughout the rest of the document.

What sage advice that was! To this day, I really appreciate the time, effort and patience that this busy executive took in tutoring me on the importance of spelling out an acronym.

She explained that an acronym that might be commonly used by my peers and myself might not be evident to someone on another team, someone who isn’t involved in the technical aspects of the work, or someone outside of our organization. Continue reading

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My Grape Jelly Laboratory

a basket of freshly harvested grapesShortly after we settled into our home in the country, my partner and I were beyond surprised to discover grapevines in our garden.

Maybe I am too much of a city boy to know better, but to find out that grapes could successfully grow at all in this northern climate was news to me. To discover them in our own garden was pure serendipity.

Given that it was just a couple of grapevines, we did not develop any grand illusions of a future in winemaking. Just the same, we looked forward to seeing how much they might produce and whether the grapes would be fit for consumption.

The first summer we were here, we were so busy, I don’t even recall seeing the grapes. But it was a drought year, so there is a chance that we barely had any.

It was in the second growing season that conditions were quite good. Not only did our apple tree give us a bumper crop, but the grape harvest filled a 4 litre basket, just enough for a batch of grape jelly. With the help of a recipe I found online, it was time to make jelly magic.

This was not my first time making jelly. Back in the early 2000s, at a time when I was forever searching for creative projects, I found a recipe for red pepper jelly in the TV Guide and thought to myself, “that doesn’t sound too hard.” I bought mason jars and the necessary ingredients and successfully produced a beautiful red jelly, perfect for Christmas gift giving.

With that experience long behind me (maybe too long), my grape jelly journey began. While I am certainly no stranger in the kitchen, the multi-step process seemed more complex than I remembered from my first experience. Continue reading

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The Showdown with Paper Towel Dispensers

Of all the inanimate objects in the universe, there is one item that seems to be my equivalent to Lucy pulling the football before Charlie Brown gets to kick it… it’s paper towel dispensers.

Let’s be clear, I am not referring to any specific brand of paper towel dispensers, or even specific paper towel dispensers in a specific venue. I just mean paper towel dispensers in general.

Am I the only one for whom they don’t seem to work right?

Before I start getting nasty emails from paper towel dispenser companies, let me say up front: it’s not your fault.

It’s the human component using them that seems to have a knack for messing them up… and I’m not talking about myself.

The principle for a mechanical dispenser should be pretty simple. You wash your hands; you gently pull down on the little lever to feed the desired amount of paper through slot; you carefully pull off the towel with the help of the serrated blade; you dry your hands with the towel; you toss the used towel in the receptacle provided.

It’s not rocket science. The devices are pretty intuitive and should be easy to use.

But much like the rules of the road are not always followed to the letter of the law, there are rebels in the bathroom reinventing how to use the dispensers. Continue reading

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