Friday, December 04, 2015

#201. or, Don't call it a Man-Cave.

  As it was explained to me, the whole idea made me, for lack of a better word, giddy.

  Since The Boy is the only son that remains in our house, we have a spare bedroom in the basement, and one on the main level. We could renovate that main level bedroom. Rip out the 30 year old carpet and put down laminate. Paint the walls a manly hue. I could put up all my little treasures that remind me of days long since forgotten. Create a space where I could immerse myself in all of my mind calming, inspiring junk and perhaps, sit at my computer and churn out blog post masterpieces, the likes of which the world has never seen.

  The more I thought about it, the grander this room became.

  I could add a bathroom vent fan which would give me the opportunity to smoke the occasional cigar in the winter, while sitting in a leather bound chair, sipping the finest of Scotches in my red velvet smoking jacket and feel the pages of actual books on my fingers as I read from all the great masters.

 This was going to be freaking awesome! The best man-cave, EVER!

  So we got right to work on it.

  Two years ago.

  Don't get me wrong here. An undertaking of this magnitude requires careful planning. It takes time to accumulate just the right furnishings to put together a room that says a brilliant mind exercises its synapses in here, but also I'm more than happy to play LEGO Star Wars video games all night. It's a fine line to walk, and I wanted to feng shui the shit out of it.

  I acquired a leather recliner. Not a new one, but one that came with its own history. Leather, softened by countless butts so I wouldn't have to be distracted by that new recliner smell, or with the inconvenience of needing to create that, this-is-a-chair-for-thinking, time worn look myself. Also it was free, so that played a big part in the decision making.

  We found a small desk to write at, which became a much larger desk with the addition of a pine table that had been hiding in our basement for about ten years. In turn, my desktop computer was added to type my posts into. Then I added a second screen so I could monitor all of social media while I typed out those posts. Plus a desk chair that looks remarkably like an antique tractor seat, because it was uniquely fitting to the persona I've created for myself. And it turns out, it's about as comfortable as you'd expect an antique tractor seat to be, too.

  I used to do my work in my lovely wife's office, and as I moved my things from her office, where I practiced the clutter and stacks of paper method of keeping track of things, she busied herself cleaning and reorganizing her stuff.

  It was about that time when I began to notice that my man-cave was starting to look less man-cavey and more man-officey. Probably due to the, clutter and stacks of paper, method of organizing things I had mentioned earlier.

  I'm beginning to think this whole man-cave idea that my wife came up with was a cleverly concocted plan to get me and my junk out of her office. The other day, I may have walked in on her hugging her newly cleaned desk and giggling to herself, but I can't be sure.

  If that's the case, it only took her two years to play this whole idea out, and I'm not about to cross a woman with that kind of patience and commitment to a plan.

  ...........I'll be hiding in my man-cave.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#200. or, I Wear My Own Kinda Cap

  Sometimes, it's nice to take a couple of day just to get away.

  You know, take a little time for your own sanity and leave behind all the things that cause the stress in your life.

  In my case, things like trying to keep up with new equipment, attempting to learn even more technology that's apparently making my life easier, figure out better ways to market my grain, and making decisions about seed purchases that will put into play all of next year.

  So, a week or so back, my lovely wife and I packed a bag, fueled up my truck, and headed 3 hours south for a little get-away.

  To the farm show.

  To look at new equipment, learn about the latest technology that's going to make my life easier, figure out better ways to market my grain, and make decisions about seed purchases that will put into play all of next year.

  Farmers love farm shows just as much as they love pick-up trucks. I know this, because even before we got into the pavilions, we had to do that thing where you circle around the parking lot looking for a spot like it was Costco on the last Saturday before Christmas.

  You know who else loves farm shows? The hutterites do. Technically farmers too, but they were out en mass, both days we attended, and despite living within about a half hours drive of not less than three different Hutterite colonies, I have to admit to not knowing a terrible amount about them. Aside from the rumors I've heard about some wickedly potent potato alcohol they brew, and also from the Corb Lund song, that apparently if you and all of your buddies get your trucks stuck, when the Hutterites come by in their big ol' Hutterite four-by-truck, they won't come anywhere near you.

  Hutterites have a very distinct way of dressing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I believe that knowing your first decision of the day, every day, is going to be; I guess I'll wear the black pants, plaid shirt, and black jacket over top, probably frees up a lot of space in your brain for other more pressing issues. If I wasn't burdened with the weight of trying to select and match attire, all groggy brained, first thing in the morning, I would probably make a far more responsible decisions. Like how much Baileys I'm going to add to that first cup of coffee.

  From what I could tell, about the only way that the Hutterites are able to express their individuality, is through their choice of cap.

  I can appreciate that.

  This year, upon the urging of my wife, I only brought one cap to the farm show. Which is not a decision to be taken lightly. I mean, I intended to visit a multitude of different seed companies and tractor dealers. Choosing a hat that you can comfortably wear to any booth and not tip your hand toward any brand loyalty is quite daunting. It's a decision that weighed heavily on me for at least a week before we actually left, and included pie charts, an excel spreadsheet, and a scale model of the entire pavilion grounds made of popsicle sticks on the floor of the spare bedroom.

  Finally, and again with the urging of my wife, my choice was made easier by taking all of the hats I keep in the closet and getting rid of everything I haven't worn in the past year. So that only left around 20 or so, and from there, I narrowed it down to one of my John Deere caps. Because lets face it, even if I do visit the red tractor booth, I'm not going to buy one.

  Having crossed that hurdle, relatively painlessly, my wife is now urging me to bring only one cap with us on tropical winter vacation in the new year. That's one cap for an entire week! This may require some therapy on my part.

   Funny thing I'm noticing, with less hats to choose from, the less time I spend trying to decide what hat I'm going to wear each morning, which is leaving me with enough time for an extra cup of coffee and Baileys.

  ............  and it seems that makes the decision far less stressful as well.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

#199. or, The Rise of the Comfortable Pants Gang

  I've been around for long enough to know, that in fashion, trends will come, and trends will go. And more likely than anything, we'll probably look back on some of them in ten or so years and wonder, what the hell was I thinking?!

  I'm looking at you, skinny jeans.

  Don't even to try to conjure up that image. There was never anything skinny enough about me to even entertain the thought of shoe-horning my man bits into the pants of a prepubescent boy.

  There are however, certain trends that have come to help define, and even add to the mythos of particular cultures. Say, for instance, cowboys and Wrangler jeans. I'd wager that if someone asked you to imagine up a cowboy and describe that image to you, your cowboy would be wearing  boots, a hat and Wrangler jeans. Those jeans have come to define that ideal even more than cows. And cows are part of the damned name and job description.  

  Recently, while in Costco, I discovered a technological advancement in fashion, the scale of which the world has very likely not seen before, or might not ever see again. Stretchy denim jeans!  Honestly, I don't even know if they're actual denim or not, I don't really care, because those freaking things are stretchy!

  Did I mention that those freaking things are stretchy?

  They're my new favorite goin-to-town jeans. I even own two pair now, just in case I need to go to town while the other pair is in the wash. If both pair are in the wash, I send someone else to town for parts.

  When I was younger. Probably last year. (that was a joke) There was nothing like slipping into a crisp pair of freshly washed jeans to make me feel emboldened, and teeming with sexual confidence. But, slipping into a pair of stretchy denim jeans is completely different. They're not empowering, as much as they are comfortable. It's almost like you're wearing pajamas, without the judging looks you get from actually wearing pajamas at one o'clock in the afternoon, or the chance of finding yourself on a People of Walmart internet page. They're  a metaphor for the place I am in life right now. Feeling pretty good in jeans, but not so much caring whether or not all my manly accents are on display. Not so much to be desired as a sex object, but just happy things still work well enough to have sex.

  The thing is, and I don't want you to think here that I spend a great deal of time looking at other mens asses, but lately I've been spending a good deal of time looking at other mens asses.

  For research purposes.

  You'd be surprised at the number of times I've been in a group of guys, where I've noticed more than one of us wearing those Costco stretchy jeans with the familiar stitching on the pocket. Granted, the demographic that I'm usually hanging with is middle-aged-farmer-guy, but it would seem, that the stretchy denim gang is on the rise.

  The thing that worries me though, is this.

  I'm not certain if any of my brothers, in the throes of stretchy denim bliss have noticed or not, but over the course of a day out and about, stretchy denim gets relaxed. I mean, really relaxed. To the point where I find myself continually hiking up my pants. I worry that this whole stretchy denim phenomenon might have all of us old guys, wandering around with our pants drooping down our backsides like a bunch of teenagers. Then how are we all going to sit at the CO-OP, drinking coffee, and yell at the kids to pull their pants up and get a job, while maintaining any sort of credibility?

  Of course, this could all be avoided with the use of a belt, but how comfortable are they? Besides, belts seem more like a fashion accessory when your waistline exceeds the girth of your hips. And who wants to complicate things with fashion accessories, when you want to feel like you're wearing old grey sweatpants and dressing for success at the same time?

  .........although, I might see a business opportunity in starting a line of casual pants/pajama belts. Anyone interested in funding me? 




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#198. or, Good Looking

  I believe, that I may have made a mistake.

  Now, I know what you're thinking. Ken. That's just not possible, you must be wrong?

  Maybe it would be better if I started at the beginning.

  At some point over the last year, when I wasn't really paying attention, it became necessary whenever I tried to read anything, to hold that script at arms length. And in turn, when it became obvious that I was born with arms that were nowhere near long enough to continue reading anymore, my wife suggested that I may require glasses to read with.

  An appointment was made and in anticipation of probably having to wear glasses, I may have spent more time than I should have in front of the mirror with my sunglasses practicing dramatically taking them off by one arm, and waving them with authority to make a point. I also got quite good at removing the sunglasses, chewing the thingy that goes over my ear, and furrowing my brow while slightly nodding to portray intense concentration and super-human attentiveness.

  My wife said I was an idiot, because I have the attention span of a dog in a ball factory run by a workforce of squirrels.

  What does she know?

  Wait, where was I?

  The appointment! Right!

  So, it was determined that even though I can look across a 40 acre pasture and tell if a calf from a cow giving birth has both feet properly aligned during the process of calving, I am unable to actually read any book sized print without propping that book up and stepping back two paces. Reading glasses were most likely my best option, and my wife pointed out, it might not be a bad idea to get full time glasses with the reading portion incorporated into them so I always had them with me.

  I thought, Naw! I can still read a little bit, I'll be fine with the glasses just for reading.

  What I didn't count on though, was as soon as my eyes realized that reading glasses made all the difference in the world, they now pretty much say, "screw you!" anytime I try to read without them. Things I could at least get by with reading before, are now all just a blur without the glasses. And because I have glasses that are only good for reading, whenever I'm not trying to remember where I left them, they sit out at the end of my nose so I can look over the top of them to see anything distant but still look down through them to read.

  Which does nothing to perpetuate the illusion of youth and vitality that I've been trying to get away with since I turned 40.

  You'd think by now I'd know to listen to my wife in the first place. I'm starting to suspect that the things she suggests to make me look better than I am, might in fact be part of her own illusion to convince people that when we're out together, I really am allowed to be out in public.

  But the reading glasses do help a lot, and to be honest, when I have them on, anything within arms length is now bold and impressive. I've also noticed a newfound air of confidence about me ever since I've started wearing them when I go to take a leak. My wife says it's nice that I have such a good imagination. least I'll know I've got the dosage right when she says it's time for that Viagra prescription.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

#197. or, Found Money

  When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother giving me this passport sized folder, booklet thing with a squirrel on it, that you were supposed to put your dimes into. It had little pockets for individual dimes, and the point of it was that if you were diligent to save enough dimes to fill all of the pockets, you'd have a couple bucks or something.

  The thing is, I don't ever remember getting enough dimes to fill it. I didn't have an allowance. In fact, the one time I did casually broach that subject, it was greeted with such a frosty reception, I knew never to go back there. I was poor, not stupid.

   Back then, dimes were big money. Anything silver was big money. And paper, whoa Nelly! I'm certain that I was driving a tractor before I was allowed to touch paper money. No, my currency back in those days was the penny, which they don't even make anymore because it costs more to produce than it's worth in actual value. But, unlike my children, if I happen to come across one on the street, I'll still stop to put it in my pocket.

  I pick up any money I find on the ground. It makes me feel lucky. I mean, why wouldn't it? In an instant, fate has bestowed upon you, funds which have required no effort to earn. Other, of course, than the bending down part, which unfortunately requires more effort these days than I like to admit. But, that's getting off track here.

  It's my belief that I have a knack for finding money. Now, I'm not talking about a bag of non-sequential 50's or anything. I'm still a small change guy. Self trained in the art, through years of high school spent looking at the ground to avoid any chance of accidentally making eye contact with someone. A thing I try not to do anymore, but still retain the subconscious reflex to spot a quarter in a snowdrift like a Jackfish drawn to a Len Thompson red and white.

  What can I say, we don't get to choose the things we excel at.

  Anyways, a couple weeks ago I was looking for my backpack. I use it as a carry-on when we go on vacations, but I wanted to put my shoes in it to go to the track to try to do something about that bendy at the waist issue I mentioned earlier. Stuffed down in the bottom of one of the pockets, I found a 10 dollar Cuban convertible peso bill. I immediately remembered putting it there a year ago as part of some money we had left, in case we wanted to pick up a snack or something at the airport when we left Cuba. Then, just this morning when I was waking up The Boy to come out and help with the chores, because he had a day off school, my eye caught the corner of a 5 dollar Cuban convertible peso bill stuffed under something on the shelf in his room.

  Now, none of this money has any value here and can't even be exchanged for Canadian funds. And even if I could, those 15 bucks in Cuban convertible pesos are actually only worth about 12 bucks or so in Canadian dollars. But just because those found Cuban pesos have no monetary worth here, it doesn't mean that I can't find any value in them.

  As the majority of my friends have already been, or are returning from their winter vacations to various tropical paradises, I've been stuck here in my wintery nation, longing to be sipping rum & Coke someplace warm, while I watch bobsled on the TV. Actually, I've got the rum either way, but those 2 bills helped me to remember all of the great times we had on our vacation, and it was only a year ago.

  That being said, it is illegal to remove any Cuban currency from the country. So if any Cuban authorities are reading this right now, I'm ready to surrender myself to them and work it off by mixing drinks on a resort, or raking weeds on a beach. I know their wages are really low, but I'm willing to remain there as long as it takes to make this right.

  ..........after all, I'm pretty used to working for nothing.