Born in a Walmart parking lot… The Urban Yoke

March 1, 2011

Ever notice how a shopping cart is almost exactly the size of a car’s trunk? Both can comfortably fit a body and/or the spoils of a Sunday morning mission to Walmart. This revelation came too late for yours truly, who recently found herself stranded in the middle of a snowy Walmart parking lot with a cart’s worth pile of loot heaped at her feet, but no car, no trunk, and no options – and stubbornness can only take a girl so far.

Behold... The Urban Yoke (and delightful shadow angel - who watches over those of us foolish enough to buy more than we can carry)Just then, a small sedan pulled up out of nowhere. The driver opened his door and leaned out. “Are you ok? Do you need a hand there?”

Now, I’m a great believer in chivalry; I take an opened door with all due grace and appreciation. But I draw the line at accepting rides – however fortuitous – from strange men in Walmart parking lots, men who quite possibly spend their Sunday mornings trolling said parking lots for bodies to fit snugly into their trunks.

“No thanks,” I said, with all due grace and appreciation, “I’m fine. It’s just a question of logistics.”


Now, I’m also a great believer in creative problem solving. I took a fresh look at all my available resources (excluding the man who gave me a weird look before driving off). Eureka! And the ‘Urban Yoke’ was born! Note toilet paper back padding. After a joyous stroll home (ok I’ll be honest here, it was still one heck of a trudge) I pulled the hubby out of bed to come take a picture of my genius. He also gave me a weird look, especially when I described my vision for an ergonomically molded, carbon fiber version for Mountain Equipment Coop. I guess some of us are just ahead of our time….and other people don’t buy more than they can carry, sigh.


The dangers of chance encounters with venture capitalists in Vietnamese noodle houses

October 26, 2010

Business lunch?

Life can be so random. During a solo noodle lunch earlier this fall, I got caught engineering something odd, yet eminently practical, out of a bent wire condiment caddy and a Robert Ludlum paperback. My audience, an Über groomed businessman two tables over, was endlessly amused. I went on to tell him about a similar invention of mine involving corrugated plastic. His face went bright red with excitement at the ludicrously low material cost per unit. Plans were made, and I spent the next month perfecting and prototyping my design. Long story short, I found out the fellow’s company had filed for bankruptcy under some extremely shady circumstances – a mere two weeks after our meeting!

A corrugated cascade

This summer’s blog hiatus taught me many things about life (a subject I still know embarrassingly little about), the above fiasco being only one of countless adventures. In our over-documented lives, we have little opportunity to go off the radar and explore our deeper selves without an audience. What with Facebook and cellphones, blogs and Twitter, we risk sacrificing these precious spirit quests in favour of availability, so easily misconstrued as accountability. I come back to you rested, dear readers, and inspired. I have passed the 200 page mark on my most recent novel project, and am pursuing a patent on my corrugated design independently, on my own terms. But more importantly, these few undocumented months have awakened me to certain inexpressible truths about love and the need for honesty when it comes to honouring our deepest selves.

“Are you OK?” my husband asked, when I told him about the bankruptcy.

I sighed. “Yah. But it’s weird, I’m not half as upset as I thought I’d be.”

As he wrapped his strong bear arms around me, and I lost myself in the warmth of his hug, I knew why.

(soup pic source)