Friday, July 31, 2015

Little Moments

My sister-in-law was visiting recently. I had been tweeting about her willingness to walk with Susan; no ordinary feat - and, truthfully, no ordinary feet can keep up with our fitbit beast! During her visit, Susan's sister happily walked crazy distances in the middle of our stifling heat wave! I guess that's what sisterhood is all about.

At one point during her visit, and I'm not really sure how it came up, Lana admitted being very good at untangling knots. Susan promptly produced two pieces of jewellery that had knotted chains. One of the chains, Susan complained, had one knot in it and the other, had three. Bravely, her sister installed herself on the couch and began to tackle the problem.

In the end, Lana wasn't able to untangle the chains. She's gone back home now but the two chains were laying conspicuously on the kitchen table this morning. Casually, Susan expressed disappointment the tangles remained.

Not thinking rationally, perhaps driven by blind love for this wonderful woman with whom I just celebrated a 21st wedding anniversary, I hastily dug out a magnifying glass, two pins and as much patience as I could humanly ring from my mostly impatient personality.

Absolutely planless - that's without plan, strategy, or technique - I began to poke randomly with the two pins at the single knot chain. After a few minutes, I was able to loosen the strand and untangle the knot. I contemplated ending the quest there, to reign as the quasi-conquering pseudo-hero. Did I? No. I decided to persist and attacked the triple knot chain.


Susan left and went for a walk. I moved the operation to a surface lit by sunshine and, again, still planless, began poking randomly. After several minutes, I untangled one of the three knots. I contemplated ending the quest there, to appear as quasi-conquering pseudo-hero. Did I? No. I decided to persist. What fun would it be to boast, when Susan returned, that I'd succeeded in untangling one of the three remaining knots? Not very.

It would give me far greater pleasure to be able to announce, when Susan returned, her jewellery was completely knot-free, thanks to me.


I attacked the second of the three knots, planless, but foolishly encouraged that, so far, my success had not required a plan, or planning of any kind.

There was no one to hold the magnifying glass at the perfect height, so I had laid it across the rim of two tea cups.

I stabbed, poked, prodded and pierced and, after several minutes, I loosened the second of the three knots and, then, finally untangled it. What a boss!

Only the third knot, right beside the end clasp, remains.
I needed a break before tackling the final of the three knots! I went out and ran errands. My neck was sore from stooping, my fingertips tender from pressing the pins and my vision was blurring from staring so intently for so long at such small objects.

A couple of hours later, I returned to tackle the last of the three knots in this second chain. This knot was right up against the clasp at the end of the chain. Undaunted and planless, I hacked away for several minutes and finally got the chain to loosen. The final knot was gone. Boom!

It was not fun, although quite satisfying when I untangled the last of the four knots. I am the reigning quasi-conquering pseudo-hero, vanquisher of jewellery chain tangles and bearer of a very valuable lesson. Untangling jewellery knots is like assembling Ikea furniture; yes I can do it, but I never want to do it again. 

Susan came home and when I announced her two chains were knot-free, she was quite grateful. Little moments I live for.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I’m three-quarters of the way down the street from our house. I have our household broom in my hands and I’m rather frantically sweeping the street! I’ve decided the broom bristles are not quite as stiff as I need them to be when I notice a car slowing down beside me and I hear a tentative voice query, “Richard?”

I stop sweeping and turn around to hear the driver say, “I thought it was you”. He wanted to let me know he’s been listening to me on the radio and that I sound good, but I sound different than I did on television. I thank him, wish him a nice day, dismiss the need for an explanation, but still think to myself, “awkward”.

It must have seemed strangely random to see me sweeping the pavement with such crazed zeal, unable to get the bits of glass out of the pock-marked road surface because the bristles were too soft!

I walk the dogs to a street corner every day to meet my wife, who gets off the train. The season starts off fine, with freshly cleaned roads. Inevitably, a few weeks in, there are spots of roadway strewn with pieces of smashed glass. Unless you’re obsessively vigilant, people will unwittingly walk their dogs over these bits of glass. I decided to sweep them myself which is what I was doing yesterday when the car pulled over.

What can you do?

It wasn’t as awkward as my last trip to the dog groomer. I arrived right on time and walked our Westie, Spike, into the waiting room. I could hear the groomer working on a dog as the customer and his daughter chatted and directed her scissors. It sounded like some last-minute problem with the animal’s fur. I didn’t look into the room, but stood in the waiting area with fidgeting Spike at the end of his leash. All of a sudden, I was overcome by a terribly foul stench. For those first few seconds, stunned by its potency and mystified by its sudden onset, I could think of no rational explanation, which, unfortunately, meant I’d have none to apologetically offer to the groomer and customers as they staggered past me to leave.

I could hear they were finishing their visit. My eyes watering, I desperately looked around the small waiting area for an explanation and spotted a fresh pile of excrement on the floor as Spike casually stared off into the distance, content he’d made his feelings known about visits to the groomer. Worse, I had inadvertently stepped in it. Standing on one leg, reeling from the sight of this steaming mound, eyes watering from the smell, right on cue, the customers and groomer came out of the room.

The customer immediately exclaimed, “Richard Dagenais!” I smiled, looking down at the mess as a gentle reminder I had other concerns. Seemingly oblivious, he asked, excitedly, “Do you know who I am?” I quickly confessed I did not. He asked again, “You don’t know who I am?” By this time, the groomer had retreated into her work area and re-emerged with a bottle of cleaning spray and paper towel. I offered to clean it myself. She refused the offer, got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed her floor. The customer was disappointed, “Are you sure you don’t know who I am?” I admitted perhaps I should know who he was, but I did not. The groomer began pulling the freshly tainted sneaker off my foot. I felt terrible about the mess and the stink but was no longer entirely sure I should feel terrible about my inability to identify this persistent customer.

It turns out he was the husband of one of my wife’s friends and I had met him once before, months, or years ago. I’m pretty sure I shook his hand as he and his daughter left the groomer’s house, but I really don’t remember it. I do remember thinking, “awkward”.