Luggage Matters

Shannon Kernaghan Luggage-Matters-400 Luggage Matters Adventure Belongings Challenge Family Fun Humor Lifestyle Love Memoir Relationship Risk Travel

While touring Italy with my sister and a busload of keen tourists one spring, I noticed how small problems have the potential to hamper a trip. Take colds and flus. The moment I heard the first sneeze or hack of an ailing traveler, I became germ phobic, refusing to stand or sit near anyone who looked the slightest bit peaked.

I bathed myself with anti-bacterial hand cleaner at every opportunity.  Who had time to get sick and miss a moment of fabulous countryside,  famous art or delicious Italian cuisine?

As for other small problems, factor in a lost piece of luggage.

I thanked my non-superstitious stars when I saw my suitcase spit from the carousel within minutes of arriving in Rome.

To me, this was a veritable feat of engineering, considering I started my journey in Calgary, changed planes in Toronto, boarded another in Frankfurt and finally arrived at my Italian destination.

Despite the jitneys I rode and the terminals I changed in various airports, there it was – my beautiful suitcase – bumping its way along the conveyor belt. I breathed a sigh of relief. Who am I kidding, it was a gusty “Yoo hoo!” and a fist raised in victory.

On these package tours, guests are allowed to bring only one suitcase. In other words, my underwear, toiletries and comfy pillow were all riding on my bag’s prompt arrival. And since we stayed at six different hotels, it’d be no easy task for missing luggage to catch up to an owner.

I’m quick to steal titles from movies today, so call it The Incredible Journey because my loyal suitcase went the distance and met me on schedule, both of us unscathed.

No-show luggage tormented one passenger on the tour. Her partner’s luggage appeared, but her own suitcase stayed in the US, revolving aimlessly in a mystery carousel for several days. Speaking of mysteries,  it’s strange how her stylish green plaid case – one that matched her partner’s – could be left behind. Maybe the baggage handler didn’t like the color; maybe the bag was too stylish for its own good.

The other question is how it took me 20 hours to journey to Italy, but that green suitcase needed a whopping four days. Poor little luggage – it missed everything from Siena to Florence. It deserves a do-over.

If your luggage defines you, then I’m an inexpensive black number with Hello Kitty pink duct tape holding the works together.

There’s a reason I travel like a pauper with my Club Monde (perhaps a take-off on Club Monaco, to make it sound exotic). I read a warning that the more expensive your case, the greater the chance of having it stolen or pilfered. In other words, your Louis Vuitton bag undoubtedly contains a better haul than my nondescript scuffed and taped clunker.

Who’d waste their time ransacking my cheap case? If any thieves covet a $12 alarm clock or a travel pillow, then I’m their bag. But if they’re looking for pricey electronics or designer fashions, they’d be wise to  move along to the next suitcase, something with a better label.

If I learned anything from my Italian excursion, it’s that European travel separates the women from the girls. After all, multiple plane  changes  and an equal number of time zones is no picnic. Plus, schedules are guaranteed to include a mad dash for your plane in one airport  followed by a six-hour stopover in the next.

That said, the travel rewards are huge and the money well spent. Just leave your expensive luggage at home, where it’ll make a fashionable door stop.

Audio story music “Waterfall”
by
Aakask Ganghi

Milk-Bone in Your Pocket

Shannon Kernaghan Milk-Bone-in-Your-Pocket-500 Milk-Bone in Your Pocket Challenge Dating Family Fun Gifts Humor Lifestyle Love Relationship

Since I welcome any opportunity to tease my partner, Valentine’s Day provides yet another opportunity.

I’ll be gentle. I’ve been with the guy for half my life, which translates into a heaping helping of dog years. For that, he deserves a medal, not a hard time.

Speaking of dogs, if he were a canine he’d be a mixed breed: amorous like a Chihuahua, clever like a Border Collie, and regal as a Beagle. Those are his words, not mine. While reading an online personality profile, I asked Paul what three dogs he considered himself. And for the record, “amorous” isn’t the actual word he used but I’ve done a titch of editing.

I’d throw in a tough breed for Paul, such as a Bull Mastiff or Siberian Husky because my husband is no lap dog. Nor is he easily riled.

A perfect example was when I opened a letter from his doctor’s office, describing a simple test he’s scheduled to undergo. I read it aloud while we ate fajitas in a restaurant.

Although the letter referred to “minimal discomfort,” I changed the wording to “substantial discomfort.” Pause . . . no reaction. I decided to roll up my sleeves.

“If further tests are required,” the letter continued, “you may need a tiny wire placed through the skin, about the size of an immunization needle.” Of course I changed that phrase to “a two-inch incision, requiring several stitches.”

Again, no reaction. I bit my lip to keep from giggling and watched as he casually dipped into his salsa. “Honey, doesn’t that worry you? An incision? Stitches?”

He shook his head and shrugged. “Oh well, whatever.”

Like I said, he’s one tough Husky. I grow faint when tweezing my eyebrows. If I ever show up at your party with a uni-brow, you’ll know why.

People put a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day, determined to exchange the perfect gift and sentimental card that expresses their love. Same goes for the scrutiny placed on marriage.

Marriage can be overrated, especially when people don’t respect the promises they jointly make. Actions speak louder than signatures on any old marriage certificate, no matter how much dust has built up over the years.
I’m a firm believer that love is demonstrated by how couples share their lives. It’s the day-to-day challenges they conquer and the effort they make to protect each other.

During an occasional trying moment, I hear Paul mutter: “I shoulda taken a wrong turn on the way to the church.”

“No way,” I quickly reply. “Who’d be here to brag about you, you big stud. Now go eat your kibble.”

Either I still love him, or I really need to get a dog. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.

Audio music “Blue Creek Trail”
by
Dan Lebowitz

I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey

Shannon Kernaghan I-Need-Dental-Work I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey Adventure Career Challenge Fashion Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir Memories Parties Travel

I never forward chain letters or dire warnings that turn out to be hoaxes.  

But when a friend from Ottawa sent me a “Four things about me” email, my interest was piqued. She likes to watch TV crime shows, for example. And I’d forgotten that she’d traveled to Africa.

Not only did I enjoy reading her responses, I started filling in a few of my own.

I don’t suggest you take too much time from your day for questionnaires, especially if you’re the dentist scheduled to fill my tooth this afternoon. Please, I want you to concentrate on my molar, not your catamaran trip to the Galapagos Islands. 

Here goes . . . Four jobs I’ve had:

1. lingerie model
2. product demonstrator
3. realtor
4. bartender

Lingerie modeling was exciting and filled with crazy chaos; it also required too much attention to detail. Every part of me had to be polished and my appearance was always under scrutiny. How tiresome. And I would never be tall enough or attractive enough to make the pages of Vogue, although I had a fun run.

Fortunately I never fell off any dimly lit stages although my catwalk days are long over – I’m currently balancing a bag of frozen peas on my shin after walking into my own coffee table!

My product demonstrator career lasted one week. It’s difficult to sell an expensive manicure kit and it’s disheartening to hear “No thanks” all day. Total sales? Only one. I bought it out of guilt, considering I quit before the promotion ended. Lessons learned? Again, only one. Stay in school.

Working as a licensed real estate agent gave me confidence. Move over, manicure kit, a house was a big ticket item to sell. When purchasers invited me for dinner in their newly constructed homes and everybody was smiling, I loved my career.

But when their homes weren’t ready on time and those once-smiling customers had no place to live for a month, I felt less delighted. My ringing phone began to give me anxiety.

As for bartending, I enjoyed the high energy parties and celebrations but grew tired of dealing with of inebriated people. Drunks can get cranky and unreasonable. Wish I could still remember how to make a flaming Pousse Café.

See? There’s plenty you can discover about people. 

How about  . . . Four places I’ve been:

1. Cap Haitien, Haiti
2. Miami – both Florida and Manitoba
3. Minsk, Belarus
4. Cal-Nev-Ari, which borders California, Nevada and Arizona.

In Haiti, our tour guide had an artificial foot that spun in circles when he walked. Sometimes the foot locked in a backwards position and he’d realign it by a swift kick with his other foot.

In Cal-Nev-Ari, every second resident owned a small place. Their garages were plane hangars and their neighborhood streets were designed as runways. Paul and I explored the area for a month, which included a casino Christmas party with fascinating and off-the-grid locals.

There are more categories to this survey but I have to see a dentist about a tooth. Maybe I should add teeth to the survey under: Four things that need better care!

I’m Sorry, I’m Canadian

Shannon Kernaghan cartoon-beaver-colored-400 I'm Sorry, I'm Canadian Adventure Challenge Culture Family Humor Lifestyle Relationship

Canadians must be a sorry lot because they’re always saying they’re sorry. When I bumped into a woman at the grocery store, she was the first to apologize even though it was my fault. No contest, we’re all sorry.

I’ve said “sorry” after someone walks in front and cuts me off, and after banging my knapsack against a street sign or hitting my knee on the coffee table. I’ve heard myself apologize to a cashier after being overcharged, as if I did something wrong. I’ve gone beyond sorry; I’m flirting with pathetic.

I want to act more like my hero, Judge Judy. I watched back-to-back episodes of her courtroom TV for the first time. This woman is amazing. And lucky. Not only does she get paid Hollywood big bucks to wave her legal wand over a teenager suing an ex-boyfriend for throwing a bagel, but Judge Judy gets far greater license — she’s allowed to yell at people.

Judy doesn’t need to burn off frustration through Tai Bo classes or therapy sessions. All she has to do is go to work. If I could yell at people in my courtroom, I’d be pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And I’d almost feel guilty about cashing those hefty pay checks. I said almost.

“Want justice? Call Judge Judy.” Are you kidding? What sane plaintiff and defendant would voluntarily go before this Queen of Scream when there’s a 99% chance of public humiliation, broadcast to millions of viewers. Not only is the guilty party raked over Judy’s fiery coals, but the innocent person can be thrashed as well. Apparently no one should waste Judy’s time with ridiculous law suits.

You have a good excuse for throwing your son’s computer through the window? Don’t bother explaining as Judy doesn’t care. No witnesses, pictures and receipts to support your claim or defense? Go tell it to the mountain – Judy refuses hearsay.

“Real cases, real people, real justice” is announced for the show’s introduction. The producers should include a medley of her famous lines: “Do you think I’m stupid! Grow up! Pay attention! I’m not talking to you! Put your hand down! You live like a pig!” Ths woman knows how to wield an exclamation point.

Judge Judy is anything but gender-biased. She’s cranky clear across the board, whether you’re a deadbeat dad or a bar-hopping mom. Young and old alike are (mis)treated equally.

I have to respect a woman who writes a book entitled, Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining. Judge Judy, you rock.

Obviously I can’t turn into Judge Judy overnight. Maybe I’ll start the process by replacing “sorry” with “excuse me.” Except when I walk into a street sign. For that I’ll always say “sorry” because those “No Stopping” signs can have attitude.

Speaking of street signs, Canadians need a new one that reads:
                                              NO APOLOGIZING.

Audio story music
“Book Bag “
by E.Jammy Jams

‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes

Shannon Kernaghan Legal-weed_Kraven-Cache_400 ‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes Challenge Challenges Culture Health Lifestyle Memories Recreation Weed

It’s the late 1990s and I’m seated in a restaurant with two people. Before we’ve even ordered our meal, one says to me, “I hope you don’t mind if we smoke.” The other person smiles and reaches for her own cigarette pack.

By the time the appetizers arrive, my eyes are burning and my nose is plugged. I know that in less than an hour I’ll have a full-blown headache.

Now, if the two people were my friends, they’d be considerate enough to go outside, or I’d be brave enough to ask them not to smoke at the table. Since both are my employers, I say nothing. If only, I think, I live long enough to see smoking banned in restaurants.

To my surprise and delight, my wish is granted in the 2000s. Between the Smoke-Free Environment Act and the Tobacco Act, I don’t have to suffer the wrath of other people’s second hand smoke in a myriad public places. No more gasping over my glass of wine or arriving home in clothes that reek.

My wishing didn’t stop at cigarette smoke. Let’s be blunt: I’m not old enough to claim hippie status. Yet I am old enough to know that I’d be laughed out of a Pink Floyd-infused party with the prediction that pot will be legal in Canada by 2018.

No matter how clairvoyant (or high) the prognosticator, legalized marijuana was a dream until recently. It’s not that I smoke – see above allergies – it’s that I’m appalled at how people have been arrested for possession of a few joints.

If a criminal record isn’t enough, this black mark prevented people from crossing borders. They had no choice besides pony up money to apply for a legal pardon and be patient as the process takes years. If only, I think again, I live long enough to see pot decriminalized.

Again my wish is granted! But . . . is legal weed good or bad news for our communities?  I’ve read reams of logical argument and support. If I make one prediction, it’s that the jury will be out for a long while. Toggling the benefits of creating new opportunities in the marijuana market and the challenges of figuring out how to monitor drivers who toke (merely two of the issues), these early days will be interesting.

Until then, I’m happy to enjoy a smoke-free meal in public and to know that recreational pot smokers won’t be demonized and criminalized.

Thank you, Smoke Genie.

Audio music track
“Cumulus Nimbus”
by Quincas Moreira

A Wooden Leg Does Not a Pirate Make

Shannon Kernaghan wooden-leg-400 A Wooden Leg Does Not a Pirate Make Challenge Challenges Childhood Family Farming Humor Lifestyle Memoir Pirates

In 1978 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday in September after Labor Day as National Grandparents’ Day. The idea originated from a woman in West Virginia whose motivation was to persuade grandchildren to listen and learn from the wisdom of their grandparents.

This special day reminds me to appreciate my own family tree. Take my grandfather, a hard-working and good-natured farmer. He had a wooden leg, the result of a war injury. As a farmer, dealing with a missing limb must have been a daily challenge although my mother says she never heard him complain.

Today, prosthetics are made of lightweight polymer and flexible titanium capable of increasing agility and mobility. None of that innovation was available for my grandfather’s leg: his was a heavy and unwieldy contraption held in place by a bulky harness and shoulder strap. Although it had a knee hinge, the mechanism didn’t always work unless my grandpa gave it a couple of hard thumps. He told my mom that the knocks were to show it who was boss. Grandpa also swore this leg had a mind of its own.

Correction: Mom said he did complain one day when he started to limp and couldn’t put any weight on the prosthetic. Climbing in and out of his tractor produced a stabbing pain at the place his thigh joined with the artificial leg.

Sitting on the side of his bed at night, he told my grandma that he was glad the day was over, that he’d have to see a doctor about his sore leg . . . until he unstrapped the harness. Lodged in the leg’s socket was a ring of keys.

“Hey, I’ve been looking for these all day!” and he started to laugh. His pain was from several jabbing keys! It never occurred to him to take off his prosthesis and check. “Too busy,” he told Grandma, caught up in his laughter.

One of the advantages of a wooden leg, he bragged, was that it would save his life if he ever fell into deep water. His theory was tested while canoeing with a friend. When the boat capsized, the leg floated but it didn’t help my grandfather – he was trapped below the water’s surface while the leg bobbed above! The true lifesaver was his friend who dragged him to shore. Since that day, the leg became known as “Troublemaker.”

Even after Grandpa passed away, the artificial leg continued to cause trouble. My mom was enlisted to bring it home from the hospital. But what was she supposed to do with it? She decided to phone the Salvation Army and the charity agreed to pick it up. An entire week went by.

While waiting, nobody wanted Troublemaker in their bedroom (I was scared of it!) so Mom propped it inside the front hall closet behind our coats. When Grandma phoned to say she was driving in from the country for a visit, Mom called the Salvation Army again and explained the situation.

“Please,” I overheard her imploring conversation, “I don’t want my mother to see his leg, it’ll be too painful for her!” Still no truck.

An hour before my grandma arrived, a driver picked up the leg and my mom could relax.

Her relief was short-lived, however, when days later someone from The War Amps phoned to inquire about the prosthesis. He wasn’t happy to hear that she’d given it away and informed Mom that it had been “on loan” for all those years.

“You want it back?”

“If it’s not returned by the end of the month,” he said, “you’ll be charged its full price.” That leg might have been low-tech and well-used, but it was still expensive.

With a quavering voice, Mom called the Salvation Army and explained that now she needed the leg back. She had to make more inquiry calls the following week and explain the story each time. Finally, a woman answered and said, “Oh, YOU’RE the leg woman. We got it, we found your leg!”

The same driver returned to our door and plopped the limb, now missing its sock and shoe, onto our WELCOME mat.

“Hey lady,” he said. “Tell the owner to make up his mind about his body parts!” and he turned on his heel.

My grandfather would have laughed if he knew about the commotion caused by his wooden leg. “See? he’d say. “I told you Troublemaker had a mind of its own!”

Audio story backing track
“Papa Hammond”
by Urban Pastiche from Sony Sound Series

Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come!

Shannon Kernaghan Star_Hollywood-Here-I-DONT-Come_Kernaghan Hollywood, Here I DON’T Come! Adventure Career Challenge Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir

I know why I’m not a Hollywood celebrity – I don’t have “star drive,” that necessary trait for a person to succeed on the stage or screen. I also lack another key factor: talent.

Sure, I’ve made my lukewarm forays into the world of acting. Years ago, I took a few script reading and improv courses. And while living on the west coast, I did extra work in a dozen series and several movies.

When I read about an audition for a local filmmaker, I blew the dust off my skimpy acting resume. Although no pay was involved, the challenge sounded like fun and I scheduled an appointment to read at a nearby hotel.

After memorizing my lines, I skipped to that audition. But reading lines at your mirror doesn’t compare with doing the scene across from a stranger. When it was my turn to read, the script sounded completely foreign in my ears. I stammered and stumbled.

If bungling my lines wasn’t bad enough, my confidence plummeted when the director suggested I try again. “But this time,” he said, “don’t move around so much, and try to be more . . . quiet.”

“More quiet, okay, sure,” I said, wearing an idiot grin. What really went through my mind was, “What did I just do, flail my arms and shout?” At that surreal point, all I could focus on was remembering my lines and staring at the adorable scriptwriter, the one who read the other character’s lines. In the story, I was supposed to be his mother.

“I WISH I had a son as cute as you,” I thought, and then realized I’d spoken aloud as the group started laughing. Laughing is too strong; make that awkward chuckling. Not only was I a bad actor, I felt like Mrs. Robinson, surrounded by a crew young enough to be my children.

Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the part. I couldn’t even give away my gratis acting services.

While leaving the hotel, I had a flashback: I was doing extra work at a rundown movie set in Vancouver. After pulling off a shapeless dress three sizes too large from wardrobe, I sighed at the end of a long night. The actors and crew were cranky, the bag lunches were stale, and someone yelled at me during a take when my shoes made scrunching noises on the dirty floor. Plus, I wanted to tell the actor playing an FBI agent to stop mumbling and speak up!

The highlight of the shoot was when a camera fell and knocked a man unconscious. I remember thinking, “This two-bit series will NEVER get off the ground. What a dump.”

That two-bit series? The X-Files, listed as one of the longest-running science fiction series at 12 seasons. Turns out the mumbling agent Mulder was played by David Duchovny and I was in the pilot with him.

The truth is out there: I’m a bad actor. Time to shelve my dreams of a Hollywood star and stick to writing, where I can invent my own characters and flail my arms until the cows come home. Or shout until I’m blue in the face. Pick a cliché and I’ll be there. With bells on.

The backing track on the audio version is 
“Three Kinds of Suns” 
by Norma Rockwell 

Confessions of a List-oholic

Shannon Kernaghan Confessions-of-list-400 Confessions of a List-oholic Adventure Challenge Humor Lifestyle Relationship Travel

I envy my husband. He lives a list-free existence. Paul never makes a to-do list and has no plans to start. Me? He calls me a “list junky.”

For appointments and meetings, that info goes straight to my phone calendar, which is the logical use of current technology. But if you open my purse, you’ll find three old-school lists on three scraps of paper held together with a paper clip. The first is titled TODAY, the second TOMORROW and the third MISC. for those tasks in need of future attention, somewhere between this week and the next century.

Lists are like maps, guideposts to chart my daily course. When we leave the house for errands, I know exactly what’s required to make my life manageable. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so lists are no replacement for setting goals. (Note to self: add “Set Goals” to MISC. list.)

If I have a dozen tasks on my current list, I take pleasure in crossing off each one as it’s completed. It doesn’t matter if I finish everything, as long as I know what I could be doing if I end up in a mall or various parts of the city.

At the start of each day, I re-write a new TODAY list, bumping unfinished chores onto it and jotting down fresh tasks.

Here’s one benefit to this routine: nothing is forgotten when we travel. “Wow, you remembered my lucky hat!” Paul will say. I’ll smile and shrug, knowing that I owe my organized life to a 99-cent pen and a few pieces of recycled paper.

I’m also a list mentor. I convinced my husband’s friend that life becomes more productive and less stressful with a list. He followed my advice and awoke the next morning to a reminder on his cell’s calendar: PHONE BILL. Then he spent the next hour trying to recall which Bill he was supposed to phone – he works with three!) and why was he supposed to call this Bill? It wasn’t until late afternoon that he remembered: PAY THE PHONE BILL! At least he tried. Hey, good list making takes practice.

Maybe some people should continue to limp along through their list-free worlds, accepting missed appointments and undelivered dry-cleaning. Apparently they’re happy, even if they forget to mail that Welcome New Baby card before the child begins college.

The reason my husband doesn’t need to make lists? “I’m no fool,” he says, “I have YOU to make them for me.” (Note to self: be more spontaneous!)

*Note* Backing track on audio is “Space Coast” by Topher Mohr/Alex Elena 

I’m Not a Patient Patient

Shannon Kernaghan Im-not-a-patient-400 I’m Not a Patient Patient Challenge Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Risk

I admire my current doctor and her no-nonsense approach to my body when I haul it into her clinic for my annual check. Her quiet inspection is appreciated because any gasps, giggles or “hmms” would make me nervous.

Despite scheduling an appointment weeks in advance, I’m tolerant of the required wait time. As for the magazines, some are outdated and dog-eared.

While taking furtive glances at other long faces who share my delay, I contemplate the person who assigned the phrase “waiting room.” He/she is a genius because never did two words better describe both process and surroundings. This same brain obviously invented the word “patient,” as in who you are and how you must behave while waiting.

My only objection involves the patient gown. Did I say gown? Paper towel is more accurate. In the past, it was tough enough to sit shivering in a shapeless, backless cotton smock. At some point the shift was made to paper, which is not surprising in our budget-crunching society.

“Take everything off and use that to cover up,” the doctor’s assistant said before she closed the door.

“Cover up with what?” But she was gone and it was just me and my square of paper, neatly folded on the end of the examining table. This wasn’t a gown, this was a large serviette. I was to cover up and maintain a shred of naked dignity. When I tried to arrange myself underneath, I felt like a paper cut-out doll. And if I didn’t stay still, my serviette would slip to the floor.

Although the instruction was to take everything off, I drew the line at socks and glasses.  What if the fire alarm suddenly rings? I’ll need socks to keep my feet warm and glasses to see where I’m running. Anyone gripping a flammable paper towel should stay away from direct flames.

And knock on wood that my doctor doesn’t find anything wrong with me. On second thought, don’t bother knocking on wood. During your next doctor’s visit, you’ll be wearing a tree in the form of a paper towel. Gently rub a corner of it for the same superstitious results.

As for those vintage magazines in the waiting room, I have a suggestion: convert them into cover-ups. They’d be thicker than the cover-ups I’ve been given. More importantly, patients will have something to read while they endure that second near-naked wait for the doctor to arrive.

Did you know that Trump won the US election? Good thing I went for a check-up!

*Note* Backing track in the audio version is “Front Porch Blues” from YouTube Music library

This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

Audio backing track
“This is a Jazz Space” by Midnight North
YouTube Music Library