Friday, November 25, 2011

Life’s a talent show

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet, I am a man of many talents; albeit most of which were honed when I was a child, and as such, involve sticks, string, elastic bands and bogeys, or boogers, as you Canadian folk like to call them.

My other ‘arf, ‘er in doors, as she’d variously be known if we still lived in the east end of London, is somewhat different. She has a varied and valuable skill set, which it seems, is shaped perfectly to serve Little Z and me most handsomely in everyday life: and we appreciate this greatly I’d like to add, before anyone accuses me of chauvinism.

My wife cooks like an angel; she is charming and witty, although Little Z has yet to truly grasp these talents (he usually grasps her hair); she is not afraid of spiders, a trait that I greatly admire and am very relieved that she possesses; she is well versed in the realms of nutrition and health (she has a university degree, no less); she is a wonderful mother and the ideal life partner; I could go on but if I do she’ll undoubtedly become very big headed, in her own beautiful way, of course.

But I tell you this not in simple homage to my wife but to highlight all of our uncelebrated talents; though often they lie dormant until some event kick starts them, coughing and spluttering back into life. And so it was that a trip to the city did just that for me. A trip to Burlington, no less: that shiniest of suburb, where an old English friend has chosen to reside.

With our children playing happily and wives nattering busily (chauvinism alert!) us men were sent out to buy supplies, i.e. two bottles of red wine and a nice roasting joint for the evening meal. On the way to the grocery store, my host said: “there’s this great little shop nearby with all kinds of cool stuff in it, want to go see?” I couldn’t refuse.

An hour or so later we returned home with two bottles of red wine, a nice roasting joint for the evening meal, an electric chop saw, a pillar drill and the Hog Stuffer (the nickname for my new sausage maker, for those of you who didn’t catch last week’s missive).

Initial wifely amazement soon turned to annoyance, and then, thankfully, to the usual weary resignation following one of my ‘inspired’ purchases. However, the wine revived spirits and the weekend passed off without further reference to the chop saw, or my assailant’s new pillar drill.

Now, I can hear you asking: “a chop saw, is he mad? What could a writer want with a chop saw?” Well, dear reader, remember I mentioned those dormant talents. In a past life I was a carpenter, and as such, I am relatively handy with tools: I just never had the space to keep any, much less wield them effectively, during the fifteen years that I lived in a two-bed apartment in London. To have owned a chop saw would have meant forsaking the collection of fine wines and spirits that was tucked in the space under the stairs and that was never going to happen!

And so it was, back in Haliburton, in a house so big that I can glug spirits and wield power tools to my hearts content (you’ll notice I have one less finger than I used to), that my chop saw and I set out on our first mission: a toy box for Little Z. This project turned out relatively successful I am pleased to report. But, as I turned from admiring my work (glass in hand, blood still dripping from what used to be an index finger) I caught my lovely wife’s eye and in it a gleam that could only mean trouble.

In a stream of consciousness so long that I think I napped for a while during it, she listed the plethora of things that I could now make, jobs I could do, “seeing as how you have an electric saw and have remembered how to swing a hammer!”

Ah, those hidden talents… My back began to ache at just the thought of it. As she turned and left the workshop I sunk down against the wall, unplugged the chop saw and reached for the bottle.

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