Sunday, May 25, 2014

He was harmless, in the way that they're all basically harmless as long as you're thinking of them abstractly. But when one of them is slithering in the place where you walk barefoot, it engages this innate fear that's hard to suppress no matter how many encyclopedic facts are at your disposal.

Fact: Garter snakes tend to be less than 4 feet long and very thin.

Fact: They're only "slightly venomous" , not usually dangerous for humans (bites just swell and itch).

Fact: They eat frogs (which we have in abundance) and are eaten by dogs (which we have in abundance).

Fact: I know that they are not "inherently evil", technically. Unless you're a Christian, I guess.

Fact: It still scared the fuck out of me.

He wasn't a total surprise. We've seen this fucker (or his brethren) before. We've also found his skins. But just catching a glimpse of this scaley motherfucker made my breathing come fast, unleashed my urge to flee, and stressed me right the fuck out. I don't want to coexist with this guy. I don't want to learn what it feels like to have him slime between my toes or grab me by the ankle. I don't want to reach for the "hose" and get a nasty surprise. I don't want to find Herbie with a snake hanging limply (or worse, not limply) from his mouth. I don't want to go for a swim and find an uninvited skinny dipper in the pool. So when I saw him, we were both startled, and we both took off, luckily not in the same direction. But when the dogs bounded over, he froze. He kept his head above the grass but did.not.move.a.muscle.  Do snakes even have muscles?

Fact: Yes, they do. Strong ones. And a whooooole lotta bones.

Anyway, I told Sean about my reptilian encounter later that night, and he reported that he'd had a brush with him himself just a day or two before. He was weeding in my hydrangea beds and actually TOUCHED IT! Eep.

"O.M.G.O.S.H. Did you scream like a little girl?"

Yes, he did. And let forth "a stream of curses." Of course, this being my Seanathan, his string of curse words can comfortably be reproduced in almost any church bulletin without the slightest bit of censorship:

"Shit. Shit Shit SHIT."

Can you even believe I married a guy who doesn't swear?
Neither can the snake.


There is not a snake living in our yard after all.
There's a whole damn family of them!
I was weeding when I encountered a wee little snake. Still not happy to see it. Let out a yell. The kind of yell that Sean, who was out in the woods operating a chain saw, heard and came running for.
He got a stick for "snake removal."
He chased the baby snake around quite a while. The snake was uncooperative or else just couldn't fathom the plan. Snakes are probably not big-picture thinkers. Anyway, whether the baby snake was secretly "yelling" for help or perhaps just all the movements and prodding startled her parents, two quite large snakes then slithered out of their hiding spot - get this - from underneath the day bed where I read and sun myself all day long!
There is a nest of snakes under my happy place!
Well, it's not my happy place any more.
What use is a backyard if I cannot bear to set foot in it?

Fact: the mommies can give birth from 3 to 98 babies in one go. So the one that we saw? Definitely just the tip of the iceberg. But how many are there? Where are they hiding? Can they get in the house?

Sean assures me there are no holes in our foundation. The house is about 3 years old, and I know Sean probably looks it over pretty thoroughly since I put a caveat on our living here: if I ever, EVER see a single mouse in my house, it's for sale the very next day and we're outta here. And I never have. Haven't even seen one in the yard or in the woods or anything. But now I'm going to amend that clause to include snakes.

Meanwhile, I'm googling frantically to find out how we can tell the snakes to fuck off. And don't give me any guff about how they're "ecologically necessary" and how they're more scared of me than I am of them. This all may be true, but they're absolutely ruining my enjoyment of my own backyard. I know it was technically theirs first, but as far as I'm aware, they don't have the shadow of a hefty mortgage to show for it.

So if you know of a repellent that's super effective on snakes but not  also poisonous to small, curious dogs, let me know. So far I've been told to sprinkle the borders of my yard with fox urine and\or human hair, neither of which I have on hand, and neither of which are listed on the Home Depot website. Personally, I'm leaning toward a well-sharpened garden hoe. Not that I'm brave enough to do the hoeing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Maybe I'm Born With It?

When I ran out of conditioner this morning, I had a second bottle in reserve, so it wasn't a disaster, but it was a surprise. I use a decent grocery-store brand, nothing too fancy, nothing salon, but I'm fairly loyal to it. I have an occasional fling with something else, only a dalliance here and there, but this is the one I always come back to, have for more than a decade now. But usually I use the blue variety, and this bottle was orange. It has been standing in the cupboard as back-up for too long for me to remember why I went orange rather than blue, but I knew as soon as I had a dollop of it in my palm that it was wrong.

It "uses the power of honey" which apparently is great for strong hair, so I can see why I might have given it a try. Once a month I bathe my hair in chemicals so strong they make my throat close, and then every day I all but light it on fire with extremely hot tools. And, after such torture, if a single strand still possesses enough of a rebellious streak as to not fall completely into line, I teach it not to have an original thought of its own by dousing it with treatments for frizz and flyaways. "Overprocessed" is the nice way of calling my hair what it is. Tired. Very tired. It's been told that it's never good enough, not the colour, nor the texture, nor its rate of growth, not even the way it lies on my head. So I have to prod it into assuming the qualities that a woman's hair should apparently have: lustre, shine, softness, fullness, and a flowery-fruity smell. Not unlike dessert, wherever possible.

I've been buying the blue bottle by rote for so long that I couldn't quite remember what it was supposed to have been - certainly not honey, but what? The empty bottle told me coconuts. Honey for strength, coconut for softness. Everything on a conditioner bottle is just a synonym for "nice hair". And I'm pretty sure conditioner itself is just latin for "hair placebo". At any rate, I read, as a child, probably 11 years old or so, that shampoo didn't matter because "soap is soap" but conditioner was where it's at. I have spent my life buying beauty products based on exactly that principle, which is a funny thing to do considering I lifted the advice from a magazine entitled Young Miss.

At any rate, I thought the coconuts must be a new development that I failed to pick up on. Lather, rinse, repeat. I think there used to be more jojobaness. More unpronounceables, intangibles, things that were probably made up just to flesh out the ingredient list on a bottle of conditioner and justify its pricetag.

I had a brief but torrid affair recently with the moroccan craze. Moroccan oil was going to save us all. It was at least 4 times the price, and didn't smell as nice, but if it worked, you wouldn't hear me complaining. Alas, it seems to have left my hair more or less as everything else does. Which is fine. It's fairly lovely, fairly soft, and it always smells nice. Faces have burrowed into it without complaint. But we always strive for better. After all, hair is neighbour to lashes that are always being told to be longer and lips that could aways be redder. They're all meant to be high achievers, and I buy into it. Not because I particularly want hair the consistency of glossy satin, but because for those four minutes in the shower during which I allow certain exotic oils to soak into my hair, I am giving myself a treat. A luxury. Candy for my hair.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I think this is what my grandmother means by "necking".

Last weekend was the season opener at the drive-in.

We go as often as we can, all summer long, it's our thing, it's our date night.

But drive-ins are a dying breed, and not many people are so lucky (or as interested), and those people are quite easy to spot when you say "We've been to the drive-in!" and they say "What did you see?"

What did we see?

Well, we did see something, and at the drive-in, it's always a double feature minimum, a triple feature on holidays. But when you go to the drive-in, it's not about the movie, it's about the experience. It's not what you see, but who you see it with.

We bring a chilled bottle of champagne, mosquito screens for the windows, a picnic of delectables (or a pizza if we're in a hurry), a blanket for discretion. We've got this date night down to a science.

We usually throw a lot of pillows into the back seat and tuck ourselves in. The windows are going to steam up no matter what you do, so you may as well make out a bit while you're back there. Or makeoutPLUS* as the case may be (like Hulu, the content of this blog will remain free but Saint Vodka is now offering juicy premium content for a small monthly subscription fee...stay tuned for details).

The first movie, at minimum, is a dud anyway. Movie studios learned long ago that pairing a non-starter with a blockbuster is a great way to direct a little more box office towards a flop. That's how I saw The Last Airbender. And Pacific Rim. And last week, Noah.

Not great movies, but you feel more forgiving if at least one of you has their pants around their ankles.
Either way, the movie is incidental. It's a social event. I remember seeing Crocodile Dundee as a little girl, all of us in our jammies to sleep through the less kid-friendly second feature. Armageddon with my mom and sisters, a van full of hormones and tears. Lost in Space with a handsy high school boyfriend.

Over the past few years Sean and I have learned about drive-in culture. Everyone starts honking their horns before dusk, to usher in the movie. Dogs get in free, and it seems that most people stuff the empty seats of their SUVs with pets, and then they trot them about during intermission, a little doggy parade between cars. The old guy who runs the place likes to interrupt the movies to tell us when the canteen is opening and closing - but don't worry, he always picks a climactic scene or important plot point to mute so you can be sure to find it on imdb the next day if you're still confused about something you missed. And he sometimes even remembers to turn the sound back on as he's finished his announcement. Not always. Sometimes the last 10 minutes of the film will be silent, but that's okay, because you didn't come to find out how the Harry Potter series wraps up once and for all (we did see the 8th and last Harry Potter movie at the drive-in but since neither of us had ever seen any of the others, it was fabulously out of context and mysterious and we didn't mind losing crucial scenes to our hanky panky-hokey pokey. Actually, I remember that the sound was abandoned for the final parts of the last Die Hard movie, but you don't need words to tell you what you already know: that John McClane is tough and sexy and loves making things explode. He'll get scratched up but will ultimately walk away victorious, probably from something fiery.

And when the lightning started crashing during Noah, we did worry for half a second about whether the weather would turn biblical. It seemed a bit ominous. But our rain cleared up before theirs did, and we had the benefit of a few well-timed twists of the wipers.

No matter what's playing on the screen, there is something inherently romantic about sitting underneath the stars, in your own little bubble. It's magic. It's nostalgic. And it's always two for the price of one.

Monday, May 05, 2014

This is my Gertie. She is a good dog. A very good dog. She has nothing but happiness is her heart and the only time she's not smiling is when you take her picture. She prefers to look serious in those. She wants everyone around her to be happy too, so she'll nudge you and kiss you and pat you until you forget your worries. She actually kisses away tears and is very attentive to illness.

She is such a bright spot in our lives with her little twirls, and her funny jumps, and her fluffiness, that even when she threw up on my laptop yesterday, causing the motherboard to fry, you can't be mad at her. There are a million similar computers at Best Buy, but there's only one Gertie.

Just look at that face.