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’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

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 

Dad Wins ‘Best in Show’

Shannon Kernaghan Leon-boat-photo-e1548017023153 Dad Wins 'Best in Show' Childhood Family Memories parents Relationship

It’s that time again, the third Sunday in June when we tip our ball caps to the good fathers in our lives. I treat this day with plenty of respect, which is easy to do because I had a great dad.

Bottomless patience. That was one attribute that made him wonderful. While other dads shouted at their kids for denting cars or coming home late, my pop rarely lost his temper.

Take the time he bought a boat so we could cruise the river or enjoy a dozen rides on the lake during our weeks at a rental cottage.

Once, while my dad was tying our boat to the pier after one of those excursions, my brother dropped his glasses into the water. They quickly disappeared through the murk.

Some fathers would have yelled at their son’s carelessness. Not my dad. He donned a pair of goggles and dove once, twice, five times through gasoline rainbows until he found Randall’s horned rims on the lake bottom. That’s how Dad took care of business, without finger pointing or threatening words, and without expecting big thanks.

On another occasion it was my turn to test his endurance. I entered our teacup Chihuahua, Mini, in a local dog show. When Dad and I rolled into the parking lot, there were no cars, only a notice on the building’s door: DOG SHOW MOVED. The new address was a 45-minute drive.

On his day off – only one each week – Dad could have said, “Oh well, try again next time.” But he didn’t. We sped across town through pouring rain and hurried inside with Mini, who wasn’t overly excited about imminent fame, fortune or Best in Show.

Unfortunately, we were too late and I missed my turn in the ring. Tears streamed down my face as I stood in a crowd of milling people and their pooches. Again, my dad could have been annoyed for wasting his afternoon. All he said was, “Let’s get a hot dog from the canteen before we leave. They look like good ones.”

And that was it, all part of being a father and spending time with his children, supporting their dreams.

Remember to cherish your own dad, whether he’s near or far. To all the patient dads on Father’s Day, I raise my hot dog to you.

And for the record, Mini could have won that Best in Show trophy. At least that’s what I’ve told myself since age thirteen.

*Note* music backing track is Airport Lounge by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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

My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

Shannon Kernaghan Cliches-400-3 My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague Culture Drinking Friendship Humor Lifestyle Memoir New Years Parties Relationship

It’s now or never. There’s no better time than the present to make a New Year’s resolution. This will take nerves of steel but for my 2018 pledge, I resolve to cut back on my use of clichés, those tired expressions worn thin through the years.

I don’t know how many clichés I utter because I can’t see the forest for the trees. But it’s a pain in the neck to give up what’s familiar, like throwing out a pair of comfy old shoes. Speaking of footwear, if the shoe fits, I’m talking to you. You’re in the service industry, the ones bringing home the bacon who tell me to “have a nice day.” News flash: your advice falls on deaf ears since I’m determined to have a nice day, even if it kills me.

Don’t get all bent out of shape because I’m equally guilty of using platitudes. “You too, have a good one,” I answer, as if I really give a hoot.

Starting in 2018, let’s all get with the program. Just once I’d like to hear, “Thanks for buying something. Your purchase guarantees my job for another shift.” To that bit of honesty I’ll reply, “You’re a breath of fresh air. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Now I have two resolutions for 2018: avoid clichés like the plague AND be more honest with people. We don’t have to see eye to eye across the board, as long as we’re on the same page. For example, I’ll welcome a serving person who answers, “How am I today? I’m up to my neck in alligators!”

“Then take a load off and fill me in,” I’ll say. “I’m all ears, but make it snappy. I’ve got people to see and places to . . . uh-oh, there I go again.” These New Year’s promises are murder, tougher than teaching old dogs new tricks.

The next time you hand me my purchase and tell me to have a nice day, give me a little wink. That’ll be our secret code, which means you’d rather be home watching HBO. While you’re standing there, give me two winks if anything is about to go on sale. I know, I can’t buy happiness and I should save for a rainy day, but a penny saved is a penny earned, no matter how I slice it.

Happy New Year!

Backing track in the audio story is
“Where Am I?”
by Text Me Records 

My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Adventure Challenge Family Relationship Risk Travel

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS.

Backing music track in the audio story is
“Urchins” by The Rondo Brothers
from YouTube Music Library

You Throw Salt, I’ll Knock on Wood

Shannon Kernaghan skull-e1507756491922 You Throw Salt, I’ll Knock on Wood Culture Humor Memories Relationship Risk

Friday the 13th is one unlucky day for women. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that women have a higher than 60% risk of dying in traffic accidents on Friday the 13th compared with other Fridays. For men, bless their less superstitious stars, Friday the 13th is just another day, with a mere 2% risk of not making it past midnight.

If you have an irrational fear of Friday the 13th, add this title to your playlist: paraskevidekatriaphobia. A milder condition is triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. If you suffer from both, throw a few grains of salt over your left shoulder. Next, crawl back into bed, on the right side if you’re SUPER superstitious.

I wonder if there’s a condition for fear of long and unpronounceable fears. If so, I’ve got dibs on that one.

Friday the 13th doesn’t make me anxious, although I understand the obsession. All of the focus spent worrying about events that could happen and attempts that might fail is distracting. Take my quirks: I can bash out work on the computer when left alone. But if anyone watches over my shoulder, I start to think about the keys and suddenly I make mistakes and forget how to type.

Same goes for playing piano. I spent years tickling the plastics in the privacy of my family home. Since I performed in only a handful of compulsory recitals, no one besides my piano teacher watched me play. And the old dear, in her early hundreds, regularly dozed off mid-song, so her attention didn’t count for much.

The problem resurfaced every June, that traumatic month when I took my Royal Conservatory of Music exam. Before this intimidating stranger, I had mere minutes to showcase a year’s worth of practicing and memorizing.

While waiting to hear my name called, my hands shook uncontrollably. When it was time to take my place at the bench, the keys looked foreign. I’d stare but middle C evaded me. When did I learn how to play piano? . . . Mommy!

I’d begin a song, race through a few bars to hurry the suffering, and then forget what notes came next. My song book would be retrieved and I’d lose points. Those countless hours spent memorizing music flew out the window faster than a Kardashian marriage.

To bolster my nerve, I should have brought along a lucky charm, like those athletes convinced they need their lucky underwear or let their beards grow. (Note to self: no more facial depilation before my next exam, which should be an eye exam so I can find those pesky whiskers.)

My present-day certainty? In an age of dwindling forests, it’s becoming harder to knock on wood for luck. Polymer laminates will never offer the same protective thrill.

Maybe Friday the 13th is unlucky for women because we spend too much time worrying about being unlucky. Calling all women: let’s ignore the calendar and stop being superstitious. But just in case I’m wrong, keep the salt shaker handy. And don’t break any mirrors.

What’s YOUR common or crazy superstition?

Audio story backing track
“No Good Right”
by Freedom Trail Studio

Can You Hear Me Now?

Shannon Kernaghan Honey-Dew-list-400 Can You Hear Me Now? Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship

Listening is an under-rated art form. There’s a wise saying that people should listen twice as much as they talk, considering they have two ears for every mouth. When I read the report that men listen with only half their brain, my husband’s confidence improved.

“See? Paul said, pointing to an online article. “It’s not my fault, that’s the way I’m hardwired. Now when you call me a half-brain, it won’t be such an insult.”

The man has a point. I’ve been doing a non-clinical study for years and agree with the findings. Take the subject of errands. If I ask Paul to pick up a few groceries, he looks like a proud warrior when he returns with two of the four items I requested.

“Didn’t you buy coffee beans? I told you we were out and now won’t have any for breakfast tomorrow! What’s all this other stuff?” and I rummage through the bag.

“I never heard you say coffee. I got a Rolling Stone and BBQ chips.” Surprise: I don’t need B-B-Q chips, yet I do love my morning coffee.

I never confuse the topic of listening with that of memory. When it comes to memory, Paul has a great set of temporal lobes. He’ll recall something I mentioned at a party in 2006 where I commented on a woman’s pretty purple dress. From one remark, he’ll forever believe I adore purple dresses, and he’ll point out every one we walk past in store windows. Since the seed is firmly rooted, why bother arguing?

I’ve made another discovery through years of unscientific study: what men don’t hear, they invent. While on holidays, Paul led me into a restaurant that specializes in ramen soup. He ordered me a bowl and watched me eat while I commented on the soup’s poor quality and expensive price.

“Yeah, but at least we found a place that serves ramen,” he said. “I know how much you love it.”

“I do? Since when?”

“Since we used to eat it in Vancouver. Remember that noodle place on Robson Street? We’d always sit at the window.” He wasn’t giving up.

“Yeah, I liked the restaurant, but when did I say I loved the soup?” At some mystical juncture, Paul decided that I loved ramen. Case closed. At least he tries, even if he’s correct only half of the time.

Sometimes I wish that I could listen with only half a brain. Think how bearable it would be when the radio plays the same song six times on the hour. Or when the neighbor’s dog barks before I’m ready to get up in the morning. Or when I’m seated next to a screaming baby on a plane. There are countless advantages.

Why do I have to listen at all?  Maybe I’ll request a pack of ear plugs on Paul’s next grocery run. At this rate I’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting them.

Audio backing track
“Bleecker Street Blues”
by Chris Haugen