Ah, trade shows. Nowhere else can you see such a hodge podge of timeless kitchenware, newfangled diet plans and homemade delights.
I started my tour of the Inspirations Trade Show with the first booth in the door, Family Doctor 2 - TENS Machine Health. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator, which means the battery-operated device stimulates the contraction of muscles by delivering low frequency impulses through a pad, adhered directly to the skin. The small device had big claims, so I decided to give it a try. I lifted my shirt and tried not to wince as Doreen Lamb stuck two ice-cold pads on my lower back.
The device took a few seconds to warm up, but soon I was surprised by the intensity of the sensation. There were many different modes and I have to say I liked all of them, but the massage mode was my favourite.
Lamb has been selling the machines for about three years, after buying one herself and letting her friends and family try it.
"Everyone that tried it loved it and wanted their own machine," said Lamb.
I wonder if I could fly this thing past my boss as a "business expense?"
My next stop was to chat with the fine folks at the Watkins booth.
Watkins will always remind me of baking with my grandmother, but it has a much different meaning to distributors Ewald and Rita Schenker; the couple met at a Watkins convention. I've heard of great desserts being made with Watkins products, but this is the first time I've heard of marital bliss resulting from the famous apothecary!
My nose led me to the next booth, Scentsy, where aromas such as Mochadoodle, Vanilla Suede and Clean Breeze hovered deliciously in the air.
I gladly took a free sample of a wickless candle (I'm smelling it as I write). Wickless candles are cubes of scented wax designed to be melted in dishes suspended over a small bulb.
"They're much safer than candles," said distributor Val Williams, explaining there's no fire to worry about. Besides wickless candles, Scentsy also has a line of air fresheners, both in spray bottles and deodorizing mats.
So now that my camera bag was smelling like mochadoodle sample, I decided to give my hands a treat, stopping at BeautiControl booth, where Shirley Spenst treated my hands to a beautiful experience.
"Beautiful skin, beautiful life, is our motto," said Spenst as she scrubbed away years of damage with a sea salt scrub.
After a delightful conversation, I walked away with smooth as silk hands and a promise to organize a spa night for eight friends and I. I'll have to make some friends
I briefly stopped to chat with Colleen Gabruch, who has been a jewellery distributor for Fifth Avenue Collection for about three years.
"It's just a fun girl thing to do," said Gabruch, who is an OR nurse at Battlefords Union Hospital. She said she decided to distribute for the company because she liked their jewellery and they are a Saskatchewan-based company, founded in Moose Jaw.
When I peeled my eyes off the gleaming jewels, I saw something else gleaming - the beautifully finished wood furniture at the Wood Farm Woodworking display.
Colin Gauthier, a real charmer, runs his company out of Kyle, Sask.
"It started out as a hobby and became a company," said Gauthier, who spent 17 years teaching drilling technology in 19 different countries before succumbing to his love of woodworking.
I oooh-ed and aaah-ed over the smooth mechanism that rolled the dining room table apart, recalling the struggles I've been through extending my crappy IKEA table and knocking everything over in the process.
Reluctantly, I said goodbye to Gauthier - the man had furniture to sell - and wandered over to Battleford Furniture's demonstration of 3-D technology. I joined Cheryl Stewart and Howard Senger, who both work at the Western Development Museum, on the couch and tried on a pair of 3-D glasses.
I cannot tell you how much better those glasses were than the average theatre experience. Two televisions were on, one showing an Ice Age movie (I'm not sure which one, but I always enjoy watching that crazy squirrel in his fruitless quest of the acorn) and the other showing a 3-D demo DVD, which included a corral reef and Grand Canyon tour. At one point, the water rushing through the canyon actually splashed on my face well, not really, but I caught myself reaching to wipe the water droplets off the glasses.
Stewart, Senger and I agreed that if we had the money kicking around, a 3-D TV would be next on our list.
"Once my kids are done university, then I can spend money on myself again," said Senger.
Hmm maybe I'll just skip the offspring and go for a TV instead.
There had to be something to top the TV at the trade show, I thought, and I found that something at the psychic booth.
Now, I am quite possibly the world's most skeptical cynic, but I'll try anything once.
My psychic was Thunder, a man who claims he has had his psychic ability for as long as he can remember. Not only can he see things before they happen, but he's also seen dead people, something he said is comforting rather than frightening.
"You know that there's something else," said Thunder.
I explained my skepticism and he said he is actually a skeptic as well, believing it's better to approach these things with both an open mind, but a healthy dose of skepticism.
"There's people that are out there to help, and there's people who aren't, unfortunately," said Thunder, who recommends people chat with a psychic before having a reading done in order to get a feel for their motives.
Thunder said although he charges for readings, he works in the computer business during the day, and doesn't do the psychic consultations for money.
Rather, he enjoys helping people, whether that means passing along his clairvoyant knowledge, or simply letting people talk about what's bothering them.
Thunder explained he determines whether to use palm reading or tarot cards based on people's preferences, or what he feels people prefer.
He said we'd be doing a tarot reading because he got the impression I like my own space. Psychic - 1 point.
He had me shuffle the cards, then laid them out in what he referred to as a Celtic cross formation.
He explained the cards to me one by one, pausing to decipher the images coming to him. He started out by saying in my past, I had a tendency to do things by myself and enjoy my own space. Psychic - 2.
The fool card meant I sometimes do things too impulsively or act without thinking when I'm stuck in a rut. Psychic - 3.
One card meant money issues, Thunder saw a vehicle, or paying for a vehicle worrying me, or possibly preventing me from doing things I enjoy. Yeah, I'm financing a Ford Escape that has already devalued to less than I still owe on it. Psychic - 4.
Then he went on to talk about my relationship. I'm not going to share the details, but I will say it sparked a 'disagreement' (that's the polite word for fight, right?) between my significant other and I. Turns out the psychic was right about one more thing, bringing him to a total of five points.
Thunder talked a bit about my career as well, saying I wouldn't be a newspaper reporter for long.
"I would be disappointed if you were," said Thunder, alluding to a career in writing, perhaps in historical fiction. For the sake of my editor, I won't give him a point for that comment.
Part of me thought there could be something to the whole psychic thing; in fact, I almost went back, ready to pay the $20 to ask about my dead grandmother.
Then I realized my grandmother, if she could indeed be contacted by Thunder, would likely chide me for not spending the $20 on something like perogy ingredients. More importantly, $20 can get you a 12 pack of Lucky Lager.
That's right, folks, I remain a realist - Thunder may have been a psychic, or he may have been an extremely adept people reader (doesn't every reporter secretly dream of being a "real" writer?), but either way, he was still selling something I don't really need.