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I guess if U.S. Senator John McCain can admit to a blooper (playing poker while in a crucial senate hearing about Syria), I can admit to a goof as well. Yesterday morning, while checking our blog site, I mistakenly thought Gill hadn’t posted her blog. Then I checked my list (the paper one on my desk that I scribble on and is thus virtually indecipherable) and thought it was my turn to post. Which I did. Only it wasn’t. Okay, dear readers, in my defense, it was 6:45 a.m., I didn’t sleep well the previous night, and I was thrown off since my visiting pooch went home and there was nobody to greet me with a vigorous tail wag and try to body slam me (in a loving gesture) on the way to the computer. I was discombobulated. So it is in all humility that I print the two blogs from yesterday in case you missed one of them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a nap…

Pilfered Sweets

Gillian Best

I’m fairly certain that every mother in the world has a chocolate stash – though, not all may have been hidden for the health and safety of everyone in the household. Some, I’ll admit, may have been kept away from prying eyes just so that there’d be some chocolate left when the mother of the house needed a fix.

In our house, however, chocolate has always been kept out of our reach and well hidden for our own good. Now, I say well hidden, The Mom certainly thinks she’s out-smarted us every time she moves the chocolate stash, but like all true junkies, we’re more than capable of finding it.

The Mom likes very much to believe her chosen spots for stashing the forbidden fruits are seriously high-level, on par with say, something the CIA might get up to, or possibly MI5. And it’s in everyone’s best interests for her to keep believing that, because once we’ve found what we’re looking for, as we always do, she can at least have the dignity of feeling that it took us a while to find it. When in reality I do believe the longest it’s taken is about ten minutes.

The thing is, The Mom normally hides chocolate in several favourite locations. The cupboard with the baking supplies (the idea being if it’s hidden in plain sight, we’ll ignore it), in her walk-in closet (The Dogs always know when it’s in there, so it’s easy enough to spot), or in a drawer in the kitchen (being that there are only so many drawers, a few minutes spent rifling through things generally leads to success).

When she comes home from the grocery store, if there’s chocolate in the shopping, she’ll be really cagey about putting it away when you’re not looking. She might leave a head of broccoli in the bag to deter watchful eyes, as broccoli is a well-known repellant of children. And when she goes to have a piece for herself, she’ll do it when she’s dead certain no one is around. Though she’s quite restrained – it’ll take her weeks to get through one bar which makes it even harder to pilfer bits and pieces.

Because that’s key to remaining undetected. If you’re bold as brass and eat the whole package, she’ll be onto you. But if you take one or two squares at a time, the theory is that she’ll just think she’s the one eating it. I mean, her day’s pretty full-on, especially when we were kids, I can’t honestly believe she’d remember how much was left.

Sometimes, though, I remember her hiding the stash in her walk-in closet. I do believe those were back in the days of the chocolate benders, which had to stop due to the migraines they were bringing on.

The Mom has always had a soft spot for chocolate. She’ll happily describe herself as a chocoholic. In fact, when I was home this summer, The Mom took L’il Sis and I out for ice creams, whereupon The Mom ordered the only flavour that had four different types of chocolate in it. She will literally go bonkers without unfettered access to chocolate. Her eyes light up when there’s chocolate around. And when I come home to visit, I always bring a box of her favourite very posh chocolates – ones that go off in a week or two as they’re all natural. She’ll say she doesn’t want them, as she’s getting fat or whatever, but I tell you, that box gets eaten. Weirdly, though, we seem to know there’s a line that ought not be crossed. We’ll gobble up the supermarket chocolate, but the fancy ones that come in a nice box those are for her and her alone. Even desperate, thieving children have a moral code.

In a strange turn of events, given that I’ve been pilfering chocolate from the stash, I don’t actually like the stuff. Well, I do and I don’t. Whereas The Mom will start at choclate and go no futher, not even acknowledging there might be anything else that would satifsy her cravings, I’ll take chocolate if it’s the only thing going. I just want the sugar. Which is just as well, because she never pilfers my sweets.

Never Trust Your Dog With Family Secrets

Laurie Best

I have the pleasure this week of looking after a neighbour’s large hound while the family is on vacation. This, the first day, saw her a little disoriented and confused. She had witnessed them doing some preliminary packing and was getting upset. In an effort to quell her anxiety, they brought her across the street to my house a bit earlier than planned. No problem. To distract her, I took her for a long walk, ignoring the fact that every turn I took, she gazed longingly behind as if to check on her family’s whereabouts.

By the end of the first day, however (placated with a few judicious bribes of baby carrots and smoked salmon pieces), she had settled into the routine of my house. Mrs. Beeton (the pink parakeet), while suspicious of the new guest, was holding her own anxiety-wise. Well, except for the flapping incident in the middle of the night when the dog startled her and she fell off her perch. Very undignified.

Despite the fact that I was on ‘pet duty’ for the week, I had to get some work done– especially the writing that had been set aside while Gill was here. So I sat down at the computer. The dog lay down behind my chair and we settled into a companionable silence. I worked away for a while, pecking out what I hoped would be a couple of funny new blogs. In the midst of my creative streak, up popped a computer message saying my session time had ended and I had to log in to this site again. This required my password. I entered it. There was no hesitation on my part. I knew it down cold. But my machine rejected it. Not possible! I tried it again, lest I had misspelled it. Still no luck. After several times trying it and then entering a new one, only to be told the computer didn’t like and therefore wouldn’t accept the new one (it was deemed ‘too simple’), I lost it. My temper, not the password. Who died and made my computer God?

“Simple? I’ll give you simple!” I yelled at the computer. I ranted at its incompetence. I waved my hands at it. I was one step away from punching out its lights when I felt a soft chin on my lap. It was the dog, looking very concerned on my behalf. She whimpered, offered me her paw in comfort, and gazed into my eyes as if to say, “Oh, my Papa does this too. He screams at his computer all the time. He told me not to say anything to anyone, but I’m trying to make you feel better. You know, you’re not alone. Everyone hates their computer.”

That was the point at which I realized that the family pets we love and trust with our secrets are every bit as dangerous as Julian Assange and his cohorts in the current leaking scandals. Our pets are little sponges, picking up all our bad words, erratic actions, violent tendencies, compulsive behaviors and financial misdeeds, ready to divulge them at the drop of a hat…or the  crumble of a Milkbone. They are our best friends until they aren’t. They are turncoats of the lowest order. We farm them out to a friend and before we know it, our family secrets are public! I now know my neighbour gets angry at his computer and probably screams obscenities at it. One look at the dog’s face and I knew it wasn’t the first time she’d seen a human go ballistic at a computer screen. Oops…BUSTED! My mild-mannered neighbour is not what he seems!

And now that I think of it, the last time Crazy D was here with his puppy, the tiny critter divulged a couple of their family secrets too. Take his penchant for pants, for instance. Underpants. At home, the puppy sometimes curls up in Crazy D’s pants. This usually occurs when Crazy D is away on a job and the puppy misses him. Understandable. They smell like Poppa…in a way no other object could! So the puppy collects pants and snuggles with them. He absconded with a pair of Gill’s underpants as well and made a fine little nest for himself — earning the puppy his new nickname, Mr. Pants. Which begs the question: why were they within reach (i.e.:on the floor) in the first place? That in itself is its own family secret…we leave clothes lying around. Ergo, we’re slobs. Not something the neighbours need to know but we have a little ‘snitch’ in our midst. Paul Revere, nothing! The snitches are coming — and they’re our furry little friends, the creatures with whom we share our most intimate secrets. And, of course, everyone knows a story about a parrot that has picked up his owner’s penchant for dropping F bombs when company comes.

Yes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens at home gets spilled by your pet! And you think that little personal stash of weed in your desk drawer is safe? Ha! Your pooch ‘The Narc’ and his nose will lead The Man right to it. But, I guess if Justin Trudeau isn’t worried, we shouldn’t be either…