Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spring Cleanup

With spring just around the corner my "signifcant other" (no not my alternate personality, Raul) but Catherine, pulled me out of bed, last weekend, insistent that today was the day we clean up the backyard. A whole winter of unsupervised play by two large dogs had created a blighted landscape which resembled "no man's land" in the Great War.

Catherine was concerned about what our neighbours would think. I was more nonchalant suggesting that we just wait for all the snow to melt before we take any action. However last weekend I was shocked out of my lethargy when I realized that all the other snow in Orangeville had melted; except in our back yard. How odd, why was our lawn still covered inch deep in the white stuff?

I immediatley began dreaming up a number of possible scientific theories to explain this atmospheric anomaly. These were all dashed, when peering out the window and actually focusing, I realized it was not snow at all: it was plush toy stuffing.

You see last fall Catherine had been give a giant bag full of stuffed animals. Rather than distributing them to needy children as the doner had intended, Catherine doled them out to the dogs as toys which they of course, took out with them to the yard. Now the yard was covered in toy remains.

No wonder Catherine's was worried about what people would think. I thought perhaps we could cover up for our garbage lawn by explaining that our yard was being used as a sound stage for the filming of Christmas specials. However the fact that neither Bing Crosby nor Rita MacNeil had been seen at the house might raise suspicions.

What to do but clean it all up? Catherine advised me that the plan was as follows: I go outside and do the entire yard and lawn, while she stay inside and do some light vacumning.

Outside in the midst of the detritus, the scene was even more awful. It looked like The Teddy Bear Picnic Massacre: half eaten bunny heads, bears without eyes, damp, dirty plush toy skins bereft of guts hung lifelessly from decorative thorn bushes.

Adding to the "Terminator-esque" terrain were the many bits of half chewed rubber hosing that the dogs had brought out from the garage or dug up from the garden to use as tug o' war equipment. Strangely they had also got into a box of electrical wiring and Christmas stuff stored in the garage and had stewn connector cables and Christmas tree bulbs across the yard.

I also discovered vampired cans of Guiness in amongst the mess; pierced with teeth marks, the dark delicious liquid sucked out last Christmas by thirsty dogs when I had unfortunately used the garage as a makeshift fridge.

The clean up was not an easy job made more difficult by the fact that teddy bear stuffing sticks to everything. The use of a rake was required. However Findley, the Australian Shepherd, thought I had invented a wonderful game in which Player 1 (me) would rake and he, Player 2, was to attack and bite the prongs. When I put my rake down to take Findley inside, the other dog would grab the rake by the handle and run away into the bushes with it, requiring me to chase her around the perimeter of the yard.

No doubt our neighbours were relieved to finally see action taken, fearing, I am sure, that we were soon intending to fix and store old cars on the lawn.

Now if I can only get it together to take the Christmas Wreath off the front door.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Readers Exchange Redux (Part 2)


In terms of those who are "truly cheap", I have omitted any hints from persons who are clearly impecunious seniors as a) they are living in poverty and are 'frugal' from lack of choice and b) as they are seniors, they lived through the Depression and are bound to be compelled to scrimp and save;

No, I mean just weird and truly cheap.

i) Soap Lady

This woman suggested that, I assume, in light of the cost of soap, one save all the little residual bits of soap you have leftover when your soap bar ceases to qualify as a "bar" and instead becomes the annoying little mushy things that always gets stuck down the drain.

You then save them all up then stick them in a mold (?) (yes I just happen to have a soap mold, it is here right next to the butter churn) and put them in the microwave for a few minutes. Thereafter they will all melt together and become a new and colourful bar of soap!

ii) Don't Go to her Home!

This woman suggested that if you have hardwood floors you should do the following: take J-Cloths, cut them up in a pattern and sew them into slipppers. Thereafter apply wood polish and when your guests come over, ask them to change into the slippers and walk about your house. That way they polish the floors while visiting you.

While this one could easily fit into the category of "Just Plain Weird" or even "Don't go There for Dinner" thought it fit into "Truly Cheap" for the following reason: This woman is like some 19th century capitalist who is not satisfied with simply serving you bunt cake and coffee. No you must be made to work and she must extract some kind of value out of your visit. I hate to think of what she might want guests to wear for a visit to the bathroom.


These contributors will make it possible for anyone to lose weight! Just go to their home for a meal!

i) Eggcups! I Need Eggcups!

This gentleman had guests over and didn't have any egg cups right on hand to serve his guests soft boiled eggs. Rather than a) buying more egg cups or cleaning the ones he had or b) making different kinds of eggs, he came upon the following brilliant idea:

Take used toilet paper rolls, stand them up on your plate and put your soft boiled eggs in them and use them as cups! In case we thought he was only partial to toilet paper rolls he also advised that you could use empty paper towel rolls and cut them into smaller sections for use as an egg cup.

ii) Picnic Fun

Have you ever been burdened with having to bring both platewear AND sports equipment to a picnic? Well no more. This reader had so much to bring, that he figured out that he could reduce the amount of things to bring, if he simply fed people off of overturned frisbees. Once you finish you meal, just a quick wash, reverse and its off to toss a little "Wammo" around the park!

He didn't raise the issue of whether when you play frisbee with your dog, whether you feed him off his own personal frisbee or use another guest's former plate for that particular game.


This one came in the paper only two weeks ago, just when I was beginning to despair that the Reader's Exchange was getting too dull and only publishing actually good ideas.

Like the J-Cloth Slipper lady, this one could also be classified in the "Truly Cheap" category, but I really think it belongs in food. See if you agree with me.

Once you have finished with your disposable razors there is no need to throw them out. Just throw them in the dishwasher and then use them to peel all your vegetables!

Despite the attempt at some semblance of hygiene by mentioning the dishwasher, foregoing the obvious rust eating away at old blades, the crud that gets smooshed in between the blades and the half eaten "lubricant strip" this idea is just truly, truly horrible.


These are "odd" little hints that are, well, just plain weird.

i) I Hate Smelly Dogs

If you don't like having a dog that smells like a dog, simply pull out those perfume strip samples in magazines and staple them to your dog's collar! Finally Ginger won't smell like Ginger, but instead Obsession for Men. Just pull out the Harlequin Romance and have a good snuggle with the dog. You will never know that Ginger is not really "Bradley Carlton".

ii) Carving Knives and Foam

This guy was really bent out of shape by the fact that all this perfectly good styrofoam comes packing your stereo and you just throw it out!

Deciding to come up with a use for another, really Dodo item, he instructed readers in great engineering detail to take your "electric carving knife" and cut the styrofoam into five large squares (he gave specifications for width, sizes etc...) and stick them on your car entenna so you can find your car at the mall lot. So can local teenagers who are not known to suffer fools gladly.

iii) Here Comes the Bride!

This particular reader was obsessed with the idea that the rice you throw at weddings will be eaten by birds who might ultimately explode after the rice re-hydrates in their stomachs. Aside from the fact that one would think tall buildings with bright lights appear to be a greater threat to birds, she still considered this to be a significant issue.

Her resolution? Not confetti or just dispensing with throwing things, instead throw bird seed at the bride as she leaves the church.

Now anyone who knows me knows how I feel about marriage. However I now have this image of myself as a straight blushing bride, wrapped in a beautiful gown, tripping gaily down the church steps, holding my 'husband's' hand on this: the happiest day of my life, only find myself pelted by bird seed. As I stand shocked, millet and sunflower husks clinging to my veil I realize this is, in fact, now the worst day of my life.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Readers' Exchange


Little known to the great many of the world's population, not of course, living in T.O. which considers itself to be the Centre of the Universe (which "It" is not: in fact recent scientific studies have shown the "Centre" to be a little known slum in one of the higher and more dangerous areas of downtown Lisbon: they had icky feral cats there and garbage!)

In any event to really know "man" one must read: "The Reader's Exchange" published in the Toronto Star every Saturday: it proves to any reader that the world is far more 'interesting' than your lowest dreams.

The "exchange" (and the following is all true) allows local Torontonians to publish helpful hints, time saving devices and ideas in the way that your Great Aunte "Gustie" might have exchanged, around the Bridge table at the local Sisters of Pithany luncheon; except back then, good common mob sense would have resulted in these people being, in a 'nice way', put off to the sidelines.

The hints can be roughly divided into the four following categories:

1) Really, really Dangerous;

2) So Cheap;

3) I Never Want to Go to Your House for Dinner; and

4) Just Plain Weird;


a) Raisins:

It really is a challenge to get into the minds of these particular folk.

It starts with the first, very, very dangerous hint, in which a lady who thought that rather than have little kids eat raisins out of the little Sun Maid raisin boxes, you should buy a big box of Sun Maid raisins, and to save the environment (from all those little Sun Maid paper raisin boxes) put the raisins in those plastic thingies 35 mm film comes in. Kids love to eat raisins that way!

Soon after, many photographers began to write in warnings about the terrible dangers of photographic chemicals which will contaminate containers and cannot ever be washed off!

Imagine my terror as I thought, not about some Stepford like freaky 'Green' mother forcing a child to eat raisins from film canisters, but instead all the hash and grass I smoked in my youth that we all concealed in empty 35 mm film jars.

b) Ping Pong Balls

This particular writer was really bent out of shape about the cost of replacing ping pong balls which had been dented. While I first considered that he should go into the category of "cheap" the possible dreadful consequences of his 'hint' caused me to place him into the 'very, very dangerous category".

Mr. PP, as I will call him, suggested that if you have dented ping pong balls, you should place them in a pot of boiling water with the lid closed and they will re-inflate iradicating the dents. Now Canadian Tire does sell new undented ping pong balls for 25 to 50 cents a piece I would imagine, but that's beside the point.

Some reader the next week in a panic advised that he was an engineer of sorts and apparently boiling Ping Pong balls could lead to awful explosions of toxic gas and plastic. This lead me to be reminded of Jerry Hall's walk-in, in "Batman" as the work of 'Art'

c) Help My Lock! Ouch My Eyes!

Finally there is the WD-40 exchange. Here, in probably the most dangerous of all hints, a man suggested that when you had a car door lock that was frozen, one should take a can of WD-40 (this is aerosol pressurized petroleum lubricant) and place it on a hot stove element, heat it up and then spray it into your lock.


Tomorrow I will continue with Part 2) so cheap!