Stephen King’s Neighbors

Wanna be one?

I know a lot of my friends here are Stephen King fans.  I thought I’d just put it out there that if you want to move to Maine, you can live near the famous writer.

We were driving past King’s house the other day and noticed that a few houses in his neighborhood are up for sale, including the one right next door and it’s a beauty.

I know you are probably thinking that this is a nefarious plan on my part to get one of my friends to move to Bangor, Maine which is a mere hour away from me.  I am not beyond such skullduggery (hehe, see what I did there?) but in this case, it’s all true.



Guest in Jest #39 The Arty Plantsman


Back in the 90s my wife and I, very, unusually, attended an evening out with many of my work colleagues. Including our IT guys. We went largely because it was in our favourite Chinese restaurant.

During the meal it transpired that one of the IT guys did not know that the ‘Crispy Seaweed’ on the menu is actually made from cabbage or similar and is not actual seaweed at all. His colleagues made fun of him but we kept quiet. However, the following Monday morning he arrived at work to find a large box of freshly collected real seaweed on his desk. It took him and his colleagues a couple of days to work out that I was the culprit, and also that I had popped in with it on the Sunday and left it next to a radiator for 24 hours so they could appreciate the aroma in their office to its full extent…

They got their revenge later that summer:

In those days one of my work roles (I seem to collect them) was site photographer. Mostly this involved taking (polaroid!) photos of new starters for their ID badges. The first day for any new staff member involved an invitation to the darkroom in the cellar with me….

Anyway. One day I decided to have a clearout of old photographic kit. In a cupboard were five 1960s cameras made in Leningrad. Brand new and still in their boxes. Goodness knows how they found their way to a cellar in the English Lake District 30 years later.

I sent out a site-wide email advertising them as free to a good home. They all went within an hour. Then I got a call from IT. Allan said “You had better pop over and look at this”. I went to their office and they showed me on one of their PC screens an ebay sale in which the bidding for an identical camera was standing at over £1000…

I went back to my office in a slight panic. I had just given away£5000 of, technically, public property.

Another hour goes by. Another call. “ I don’t know how to tell you this but the bidding has reached £2600 pounds!”

30 minutes later I have my head in my hands when my phone rings again. Allan confesses that they had obtained one of the given away cameras and taken a picture of it and made a FAKE ebay page, just to stitch me up.

I was so speechless with admiration I could not possibly be angry!

“I Maimed The Couch And Killed The Pillow”

Some of you may remember this meme.  Of course, it’s a Great Dane…what else would it be?  Scroll down and you’ll see Walter’s latest masterpiece.




He decided the new foam pillow I put on the couch yesterday must be killed.  That pillow was put there to make up for the stuffing he’s removed from the couch.  He’s removed a lot of stuffing over the past few months.  Notice the big tears in the couch and you can’t even see the half of it.  He is unapologetic.


I can almost read his mind:  “Yes I did this for you. That couch has had it in for you for years and that pillow had evil intentions, I just know it!  I maimed the couch and killed the pillow.  I saved you from something horrible!  Aren’t you proud of me?”

In six days I’ll have two of these monsters.  What have I done?

Our Dog Trainer Has Lost Her Mind

Please be advised that this post is about my dog Walter.  I advise you of this because I write a lot about Walter and you are probably sick of hearing about him.  You know those people who moon over their grandkids’ accomplishments and are totally oblivious to the fact that you might not want to hear about little Johnny’s toilet training or violin lessons?  Yeah, you might want to skip this post because I’m like those people, only when it comes to my dogs…and cats.  In any event, this post is about Walter’s continuing education.  You have been warned.


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Some of you know the trials I have gone through with my soon-to-be adult dog Walter.  I call him that because at 1 1/2 years old he is still a teenager.  A stubborn, rebellious teen.  I’m not sure he’ll ever act like an adult.  We are taking bets on how old he’ll be when he actually stops acting like a puppy.  In an effort to speed this process up, I signed him up for obedience classes.

When Walter started Basic Obedience class, he was a hellhound.  He dragged me into the place.  I’m sure you’ve seen those cartoons where the big dog is running and the owner is flying behind him in the air.  Yeah, my feet weren’t making much contact with the ground that first night.  We had 7 weeks of Basic training and we survived.  Everyone else did, too.  Walter did harbor great hatred toward a specific Goldendoodle, but sneering aside, everyone remained unscathed.  Walter informs me that I must tell you that the Goldendoodle started it.

At the end of his Basic class, I was all ready to sign Walter up to repeat it.  I thought we both needed a little remedial training.  The trainer said it would be ok if Walter went into the Intermediate class.  I was suspicious, ok that’s not the right word.  ‘Skeptical?’  Yeah, that’s more like it.  I was surprised, that’s for sure.  We took the plunge against my better judgment.

Tonight was Walter’s next to last Intermediate class and we had a class picture taken.  Everyone dropped their leashes and stood beside their dogs.  I moved to the side but kept the leash.  It was slack on the floor, but let me tell you I had the end of it in a death grip.  He’s done really well with the other dogs.  He even lets everyone else in the class hold him in a stay position while I wander around the room patting other dogs.  However, I like to play it safe since he’s a big black hellhound and all.

After class, we had the choice to sign up for another Intermediate class or go on to Advanced.  My pen was hovering over the Intermediate sheet when our friend Pam came up behind us with her poodle Hemi.  She smiled and said in this mischievous ‘I dare you’ kind of voice:  “Do the Advanced.”  Yeah right!  I’ll just be enrolling this demon dog in an Advanced class with all of the standout students.   Uh huh, sure…  She kept trying to encourage me because she would be going and Walter and Hemi like each other.  Pffft!

I turned once again to the Intermediate sheet as the trainer walked over.  I laughed and told her that Pam was crazy enough to suggest that we sign up for Advanced classes.  She looked at me and told me we should.  Huh?!  So much for my wanting to show Pam how crazy she was.  The trainer was even crazier.  After all, she was going to have to deal with us in Advanced class and she knew what she was getting into!  I truly question her judgment, but she is the expert.  No matter what happens, it’s all on her…and Pam.  Against all odds, Walter is going to be an Advanced student in a week and a half.   I’m not sure if I should be proud or petrified.


Walter Ate Alexa

I woke up this morning to the voice of my Google Home Mini telling me VERY LOUDLY that its microphone was turned off.  So loudly, in fact, that it woke me up from two rooms away.

When I entered the living room I was greeted effusively by Walter and my happiness in seeing him was rather dulled by the sight of the Mini AND my Amazon Echo on the floor.  The Google was still plugged in.  Alexa looked like she was beyond life support.

I know, why do I have both?  The Google Mini was an impulse buy around Christmas when they were so cheap I couldn’t not buy it.  Are there enough negatives in that sentence to show that I had no choice?  Besides, it’s been fun comparing their abilities.  Alexa wins by a longshot so far, in case you were wondering.

When I saw my two electronic assistants on the floor, my heart sank.  Alexa was in pieces and cloth covering the Google was looking more than a little rough.  At least Google was still talking.  Alexa was unplugged and silent.  Eerily silent.  I picked up the pieces and, even though they were chewed a fair amount, tried to put them back together.  It was way too early for this Humpty Dumpty experience.  I hadn’t even had coffee yet!  Seeing her there was like losing an old friend and I’d had enough of that lately.  At least I could buy a new Echo.

While I was putting my little electronic friend back together Walter was sitting on the couch watching me.  It was an inscrutable expression.  I couldn’t figure out if he was sorry or amused.  It makes no sense to punish a dog after a transgression so I merely picked up the pieces while muttering not so nice things about him.


The fact that the Google Mini was shouting at me was a good sign.  Sure enough, he was just superficially damaged and was still quite serviceable.  Oh!  I should explain here that the Google has a male voice and the Echo has the female Alexa voice.  That makes comparing them all the more fun.  Alexa always has better answers so I get to mutter “Stupid electronic man!” and laud Alexa for being so wonderful.  Her response is always a perfunctory “thanks.”

In spite of being dismantled by Walter, I was able to restore Alexa’s abilities.  She is now rather like my hero Stephen Hawking, a brilliant brain inside a broken body.

And how is Walter taking all of this?  I am lounging back on the couch and he is next to me hugging my leg.  His head is in my lap and I’m typing this while balancing the laptop on his head.  His snoring tells me that he’s not particularly racked with shame.  He’s just storing up some energy so he can eat something else tomorrow.  As you can see, he’s already ruined my couch, I guess I’d better hide the cats just in case.

Are You All Mad?

I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I’ve amassed 500 followers.  Normal people would thank their followers and be humbled, yet proud.  I’m not normal.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate my followers, I love them!  Do I thank you?  I do…oh so very much!  Am I humbled and proud?  I think more than anything I’m bemused and confused…and thrilled!  What truly strikes me is the mindset that pushes someone to hit that “follow” button after reading something ridiculous I’ve written.  Are you all mad!?

Then the reality sets in.  Not only am I not normal, but my followers aren’t either.  What other explanation could there be?  How does it feel to be part of half a thousand abnormal people?  I truly hope it feels fine.  I truly hope you know how much I enjoy you, your blogs, and your comments.  I truly hope you never reach normality because you might find that “unfollow” button and that would sadly prove you have.


Guest in Jest #29 Rhapsody Bohème

Rhapsody Bohème

Ooopsie – Daisy

 I can’t believe that I actually named this post Ooopsie – Daisy, but it’s the first thing that came to mind and I’m sticking with it. I’m in the mood to write a “funny” but believe me when I say that this wasn’t something I initially found amusing. I would call myself lucky looking back and luckily, enough time has passed that I can laugh about it. So, what better way then to write about something funny and on top humiliate one self. Ok then, let’s get started, shall we.
The unlucky, lucky incident occurred on the 17th of October. I had worked all day and had to run an errand by stopping at the store before heading home. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about going after such a long day, and this one said store is rather anti-climactic. But there was no way around it and I already had prolonged going until the last minute. So off to that boring store it was for the sake of time, and because it offered a one stop shopping experience to all the things I needed. It would have to do tonight and it was a chore more than it would be shopping for fun.
Entering through the front door, the women’s clothing department was slightly to the left of me. Right away I zeroed in on a piece of clothing hanging towards the bottom of the rack, near the floor. It was the color and the design that captured my attention, even though I had no clue what it was that I had locked eyes with. Maybe leggings? Yeah, it must be something like that, yeah, I think leggings it is indeed. I walked closer, never once taking my eyes of that mystery piece that still needed to be fully identified. I squinted, eyes locked, but never did I lost my concentration. I must have looked like a predator, sneaking up on it’s prey, while observing my surroundings to notice if someone else had spotted the precious bounty. My steps are getting bigger and I pick up speed. I think I’m in good shape and it looks like I will make it there first. Whatever it is, I’m already sold on it and it shall be mine, regardless of fit and price. Now that I had came this far, the stars just must align, right? It must be meant to be, it just has to fit and how much could it possibly cost. I feel pretty good, I know I can afford it and no other predator is getting closer. I won’t have to beat someone with my purse. Ok the imagination is taking off here and I never, ever have actually done such a thing. But hey, there could be a first. Kidding….

I’m finally within reach of the free standing metal rack that is full of clothing items, although my eyes have been gazing at this ONE, single item hanging on the lower hook. I was right and leggings they are as my mind already pairs them up with other friends (complementary pieces of clothing) sitting in my closet at home. The motion never stops, one more step and my hand reaches down to pick up the mystery piece, but I never make it. I’m abruptly stopped by a loud noise and a force I can not identify right away. It takes a moment and I find myself stuck in an episode of dazed and confused. I catch on rather quickly as my hand instinctively travels towards my head and rubs my forehead. What the heck just happened, did I get struck from something falling from the sky? Within the store? It takes another moment to realize that I have been left pretty vulnerable in all my concentration and eye locking mode with this one piece of clothing. Apparently my peripheral vision went to s… and I ran full dab smack into the upper metal bar of that fixture. I almost cleared, almost, but I definitely hit it and I hit it hardddddd. “It”, the metal fixture never budged, but it brought me to a complete halt. Instantly a headache appeared but it was one of those moments when you are embarrassed and you think something like “Oh gee, I wonder who saw”. Still holding my head, I couldn’t tell how bad it was and decided to just walk away without drawing further attention to myself. Around the corner I went and found a mirror and the bright red mark left behind on my forehead. I had to hit pretty hard for it to leave this kind of mark. It actually stayed for a couple of stays and I might have had a slight concussion based on the headaches. But I guess I have a thick skull and all is recuperated and fine now. I can look back and laugh about it now, but at the time it was a dark moment and it literally scared the hell out of me. I never saw anybody looking at me funny, or giving me the indication that they had seen what happened. Still, I decided against the leggings and never went back to that rack again. Obviously the leggings were bad luck and I wasn’t meant to have them after all.No wound picture, but it got pretty dark for a moment and I’m pretty sure that I saw a few stars.


It’s All About The Numbers

Bill buys lottery tickets every once in a while.  Usually, it’s a way to avert a feeling of guilt if he uses a convenience store bathroom.  Now you may be wondering why I would be writing a post about convenience stores and Bill’s bodily functions.  I assure you, I am not.  You see, it was one of those ‘gotta pee lottery tickets’ that reminded me of one of the best pranks ever.

Ages ago I had a boss named Rod who had a great sense of humor.  Rod had the whole office laughing when he told us about a prank he played on his teenage daughter.  It was a weekly ritual for his family to grab the newspaper every Sunday morning and check out the winning lottery numbers.  They might get a number or two, but predictably, never won much.

Apparently, Rod’s daughter was fairly invested in this process.  She was perhaps overly enthusiastic, hoping they would “win big.”  One week they read the numbers, and as usual, they didn’t win anything.  The next week, they checked the newspaper and as Rod’s daughter read off the numbers, she got more and more excited.  Every number matched!  They were going to be millionaires!

Her jubilation was short-lived, however.  After having his bit of fun, her father had to confess that he had rigged the process.  He had gotten a ticket using the very same numbers that had won the week before.  Then he gave his daughter the previous week’s paper.  Of course, the numbers all matched!  She never read the date on the paper and the joke was on her.

I’m not sure if she ever forgave him for that one but we went into gales of laughter as he told his tale.  You know the old idiom ‘a day late and a dollar short?’  In this case it was a week late and many, many dollars short.

Guest in Jest #28 The Arty Plantsman

Intro: Hello, I am Darren. I blog at The Arty PlantsmanThe blog started out as a botanical art blog but my humour seems to be popular so I have expanded the blog to include more of this, musings on life and mental health etc.



A true story.

Autumn 1990.

Picture a young and reckless Darren, aged 24. He is in the middle of a long night shift, driving a forklift from A to B. The highlight of his night is visiting the toilet. Until the forklift develops a fault:

Darren on phone to factory mechanic: “My forklift is playing up. Can one of you pop over to the pulp warehouse and have a look?”

Mechanic: “Bugger off mate. It is 2 o’clock in the morning and pissing down”

Darren: “The belt is running out of pulp and the whole site will shut in an hour if I can’t use the truck”

Mechanic: “sigh. Is it still running?”

Darren: “well, yes but..”

Mechanic; “Tell you what – bring it round the garage and we will have a look when we’ve had our brew”

Darren: “Oh. OK”

Ten minutes later. Two mechanics sit in the garage office, mugs in hand, when they hear a rumble as a forklift crosses the garage floor and crashes into the rear wall in a cloud of concrete dust.

Darren climbs down from the cab, brushes dust off his overalls and walks away, looking over his shoulder at the two mechanics he says:

“Brakes are fucked”

How I Met My Husband – Part 1

A few weeks back I started a post on how I met my husband.  By mistake, I hit the publish button.  Ah well, premature publication isn’t the worst thing, I guess.  Recently, a new friend here read the first part and wanted to hear the rest of the story so here is the next part… Part 1…because the first one was the Prologue…have I confused you, yet?


This all started in  How I Met My Husband – The Prologue

We left off where my step aunt who, though she was a tough old bird, loved romance magazines.  When she found out that I thought her new mailman used to be my old mailman (for three weeks) was “kind of cute” there was no stopping her.

Every time Bill would deliver Aunt Polly’s mail, she would meet him at the door and call him “cutie.”  I’m not sure Bill particularly appreciated that, but he liked making her happy and he didn’t object.

I thought I would amuse Aunt Polly by putting little messages to Bill on the letters that I wrote to her.  It started out with “Hi cutie.”  This made Polly’s day, so I continued on.

Now keep in mind that I was living in Bangor, an hour away, and I figured I was safe during these exchanges.  I would never see him and this really made Polly happy, so what was the harm?   I could just picture her standing by the door waiting for Bill to see what message might be on the next envelope!

After a couple of these, Polly reported back that Bill had grown a beard.  So the next letter I wrote had “Hi cutie I hear you’ve grown a beard.  I guess I’ll have to upgrade your nickname.”  I really do like beards, so it wasn’t like I was just saying it to amuse Aunt Polly.  Ok, it was mostly to amuse her, but I do like beards.

It was April Fool’s Day when the phone rang.  A gruff voice on the other end of the line demanded that I give him his money back.  You see, I was an employment consultant at the time and my job was to place applicants in new jobs…for a fee.  When I hear this voice I’m perplexed because I’d had a rather bad couple of weeks where I hadn’t placed anyone.  Something was amiss.  I said: “WHO IS THIS!?”  There was a laugh on the other end of the phone and the gruff voice became soft and he told me who he was and said “April Fools!”

My first thought was: “Damn, I got April Fooled!”  That was quickly followed by a bit of alarm because the recipient of my very safe envelope notes was suddenly on the phone and this wasn’t some safe endeavor that would have no ramifications.  Yikes!