Monday, April 30, 2007

I saw the worst movie EVER

Yesterday, MMM (the Canadian music channel) ran Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story.

The movie sucked. Then it blowed. Then it spewed. It was garbage. It was worse than garbage (wait, what's worse than garbage?). The writers and producers took a fairly interesting story of working class blokes making it big, facing difficulties and rebuilding their lives - and turned into a comic book. A cheap, childish, dull-witted comic book. Characters that could have been full, interesting people came across as cardboard cut outs, silly caricatures where there should have been flesh & blood. Still, just like the car wreck on the autoroute or the co-worker drunk and lascivious at the office party, I couldn't look away.

As bad as it was, it got me thinking. When Pat was a baby, we sang to him - anything that was on the stereo was his lullaby. His favorite stories weren't the piles of books that I bought for him; it was the liner notes of our large record collection. I can still remember him asking why the Bolos and Bozos couldn't be friends (dear friends- Europe 72? The Dead? C'mon, you know this. I know you do). When he discovered MTV on a visit back to the States, he was about 15 months old. It was all over before it began. The family started to call him the 'MTV baby' because you couldn't get him away from videos, singing, dancing and baby air-guitar. Being a musician from a family of musicians, well what could I do? I bought him a, actually it was a ukulele. Most kids would have stopped right there. Not Pat. As soon as he could lift it, the stand that held our fireplace tools became his mic stand. Toss on a pair of funky green sunglasses and the legend of "I a Def Leppard" takes root. Little Pat would hear a DL song start up and whrrrr - he'd arrive running to start 'playing' his guitar. "Pat - what are you doing?". "I a Def Leppard - look" (followed by a scissor jump and heavy strokes down his tiny little fret board). He went to a DL show at age 3 1/2, got a giant T-shirt which became his favorite piece of clothing and cemented his ideas of stardom forever. So, I think that you can see why this crappy movie was a slap to the mother of their biggest little fan.

It's funny, that crappy movie got me thinking of band histories. When I was a teen, my dream was to be the next Lester Bangs or Hunter S. Thompson (PBUH). Catch a story, share a history of the music that was such a part of my own spirit, relate how important and life changing all of this noise was. I saw everybody that I could see - sometimes catching 2 or 3 shows a night, hitting the road with absolute strangers to get to the next big thing. Living for the moment that the lights would roll and the band would fly into view. Being young, wild and reasonably attractive didn't hurt and yup, got my fair share of fun, too. I could share a few choice details about a few folks...but that wouldn't be right. My first real boyfriend was in a band - met him at his video shoot and from there...well, band histories... you know. It was part of the experience. Part of my identity. Why would it be unusual then, for my offspring to be so wrapped up in this culture? To quote my mother, 'the acorn doesn't roll too far from its tree'. Thank, Mom - your support has been immeasurable.

Back in the day, the details mattered so much. I had forgotten the need to research and learn as much as I could about a group. On a whim yesterday, I did a little work on DL, just to see what had become of this major influencer of my toddler. Last year, I was thrilled to hear 20th Century Boy again - Marc Bolan is one of my all time faves but that DL would cover it struck me as odd. A comeback attempt + a chance to share their own influences, I suppose. What I learned yesterday was the usual stuff - young guys form a band, band exceeds expectations, fame goes to their heads (and bodies) and then, they disappear. Comeback's attempted, no one's interested. Band history. What I was surprised to learn about, however was how one band member has taken his own life struggles and used his energy to help others. The Raven Drum Foundation looks to drumming and communal rhythms as agents of healing and spirituality. Not new concepts, by any means but I found it refreshing to see someone take their life and use it for healthy causes. I really enjoyed their site, especially the interviews with Rick Allen where he discusses his (dis)ability and how he worked to re-wire his brain after losing his arm. As our understanding of what a disability is shifts towards acceptance of being 'differently abled' , frank discussions like this are healing. I suppose that our biggest obstacles are really those which live in our minds.

Yeah, never leave your photos in the custody of your children - if you ever want copies of them, that is

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I was fine...

until I stopped breathing

I was so excited by my news late Friday evening that I decided to drop in on K the elder at work to tell him. The only problem were the rubber boots on the counter...right beside the crates of pool chemicals. Latex... chlorine...Yeah, about that... Asthma is a bitch. Actually, the term is 'respiratory distress' as what I have isn't asthma per se; it's a by-product of my condition and I usually used a steroid inhaler to keep my lungs working. Because I don't work in a 'dirty' office any more, I've cut back on my steroids and with the cold that I picked up last week, there are plaques on my airways (who knew?!? Well, actually I did but being stubborn and oblivious are just some of my charms). Inflammation + chemicals = scared. Within minutes of arriving, I was unable to open my left lung and my throat has closed up. It took cold water and fresh air, menthol losenges and a whole lot of time before the whistling noises stopped. I have to admit it was pretty funny to see people looking all around to find out who was whistling at them...

Who says there's no knitting going on? They lie! There's tons and tons of it (ok, maybe not tons but a few pounds, at least)
First, there's the purple sweater

There are the bitey mitts, waiting for their tongues and eyes to be added
And - ta da!!!- Zia's new sock pattern!!! Not only are they pretty socks, buying the wool for them took me out of my comfort zone, straight into one of the most positive conversations of my week. On a whim, I took the advice of some wise spinners whom I had met at an artists conference and went to the Mississippi Black Sheep in Carleton Place (they really need a web site). What a stroke of luck! A lovely little shop, filled with all sorts of woolly goodness. A friendly host with a good heart and a love of her work. It doesn't get any better than that. This was probably the best customer service experience that I've had in a loooong while! After a great chat, I was on my way with a hand-wound skein of the most lovely periwinkle blue with flecks of royal purple wool. The weight is perfect and the prices in that store are really really reasonable! I was worried that I was going to drop a few more bucks than I actually did and was so entranced with my giant bundle of blue that I almost forgot where I had parked. Yeah, I could be an astronaut; I'm just that smart... just like a dump truck

I really thought that with the Mercury retrograde over, communications would be smoother but it seems like there are still some glitches out there, trying to resolve themselves. I made a presentation last week where I reminded the group to be mindful of their words, to walk with 'light feet'. It seemed to hit a note and several people spoke to me about it afterwards. In my life, I have 2 ideals - to be the person my dogs think I am (except that Jack doesn't quite know what to make of any humans right now) and to emulate my beloved Grandfather in his way of living. I can remember him telling us, after the horrors that he had lived through, to always be kind. "If you have the choice, choose to be gentle. And you always have a choice", he'd tell us on our walks. Out of all of us grandchildren, I am the one who remembers these walks with fondness. My older brother remembers them as a' have to' (versus a 'want to'). My older cousins remember these walks as a burden, of 'having to keep Zeyde busy'. I was the smallest, the one who was always lost in the crowd of sibs, half-sibs ,step-sibs and cousins and he focused a lot on my heart, helping me to shape positive thoughts. I thought that I had forgotten a lot of what he tried to impart but I now realize just how much I absorbed. A careless word, an unkind gesture can alienate and hurt. Even though I'm far from a Bodhisattva, I am learning (and re-learning) to be kinder in my day-to-day life. If a man who survived 2 World Wars and witnessed how cruel humans can be, can open his heart to the world, then there's hope for all of us. I just need to keep remembering this when the light seems its dimmest.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Who Should Paint You: Andy Warhol
You've got an interested edge that would be reflected in any portraitYou don't need any fancy paint techniques to stand out from the crowd!

Yeah, I kinda figgered a Warhol would be appropriate...
Child of the 70s...hippy parents...yup

Blame it on PMS?

In this case, it stands for Pessimistic Mind Syndrome. It's been a bitch of a (couple of) years and I've learned not to get overly optimistic when a plan's afoot. After a day/week of misery, thinking that I had been denied my grant/ contract, a late evening phone call made me spin on my heels. After the comments made when I handed my application docs in and those made when I interviewed, I was sure that someone would tried to snafu it for me. When you prepare a professional, succinct presentation and then get told that they don't want to see it, you do start to wonder why you bother putting on a suit, driving 45 KM and smiling like a madwoman.
At any rate, apparently they were quite impressed despite outward appearances and want me to continue with my business plan. Being self-employed is a tough gig, on any level but I couldn't do it any other way. I'm opinionated, obstinate and awake - yup, I'm a triple threat LOL

Better get my poop in a group and finish up on a few crafty things around Rancho Bumbershoot.

The short list

  • Finish 3 pairs of chompy, bitey Gator mitts (almost done...almost...)
  • Finish the 3 totes sitting on my work table
  • Get an Etsy store up and running by the end of May
  • Decide which events and markets to set up at
  • Finish all of the painting projects around here (yeah, like the hall ceiling that's been waiting for 3 years to be finished. There was a death in the family when I started it and I dropped my roller when I got the phone call. Haven't been able to tackle it since....Patching all of my cracked plaster would be nice too - that friggin' jackhammer did a real number on my ceilings and the tops of some of my walls. Curse this plaster on lathe, turn of the century crap - give me a little gyprock, won't ya!?!)
  • Rehang all of my artwork now that that infernal jackhammer has left the work site

In the middle of the maelstrom, I did finish a couple of totes. I cut out the panels for this faux-tik a week or two ago but only got around to sewing them on Thursday. Because the fabric is pretty thick (like a light denim/twill), I didn't interface it. It still feels durable and everything's triple stitched. I may add some stiffener in the bottom, maybe some fun foam or plastic canvas/ buckram

Like Bubbi, I tend to gravitate towards polka dots and the yellow really looks happy, lining this shopper-tote
I tried to get some of the nicer, more complete images on either side; the back has a pretty elephant baby

I'll try to slap up a few other things that I've been busying myself with lately, when there's a moment

Here's to a great (peace-filled) weekend. I hope that yours is warm and wonderful, too

Thursday, April 26, 2007

you know it's been a rough week when

I start dreaming about buying the bus
Of course, the MCI was sold... it's the only one that I wanted. I once flipped the bird to some big bald dude driving that bus after he cut me off on my nightly commute. A couple of weeks later, I was so excited to pull into my first Fred show and lol & behold, there was the bus and who was leaning against the door? Why the big bald dude, of course!
After wiping all of that egg off of my face, I went in and enjoyed the best show EVER - they even did "rev it up". Willie smiled that beautiful smile as we sang along. Fred told us jokes (I've heard them all so many times, now - thank God!) The vibe was good; the people were great...
Man, I miss that bus

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monkeys, poop and phobias

Ok, I guess I have to come clean...I have a mortal fear of monkeys
In my post about Pink Mohair's problems getting Bugaboo to offer a sensible solution to her stroller woes, I used the expression "holy flying Monkey crap", much to Linda Lu's amusement. To me, it's one of the scariest images ever but I guess if you've never lived with a monkey, you just don't know about that. It's just funny. I, unfortunately, did live with a monkey. An ancient, dirty, possessive, violent monkey. There's nothing funny about it, to me or to my siblings

My grandfather emigrated from his country as a young man, accompanied by his older sisters and brother. Alone in a new place, speaking a new language, they started their lives again. Once they started working (their English was much better than his), they felt that 'poor Stan' was lonely and my Great-Aunt suggested getting him a dog. My Great-Uncle John said that he would look into a suitable dog and hit the market. You can imagine everyone's surprise (and Zeyde's delight) when John pulled a small, scared monkey out of his coat that night. Well, Monkey (yes, that was his name) moved in. He went every where with Stan, who of course, loved him like a child. He went to work. He went to football. Everywhere. When he married my Grandmother, Zeyde had to put Monkey out of reach because he would grab about poor little Edith, rip her clothes and shake her. 7 lbs. of monkey vs. 4'11" of hot-tempered Irish beauty - think about it. Monkey was banished to a nest in the kitchen where, frustrated by the distance between him & his nemesis, he resorted to what later became known as "doing it". This was really 2 activities - yes, the perquisite poop-flinging that we've all seen on TV - that was scary enough but it got worse. Monkey's live forever - FOR-FREAKING-EVER- and Monkey was ancient when I came along. Nestled in a perch on top of a chest freezer in the back kitchen, Monkey sat, stared and shook various parts of his anatomy at anyone who got too close. Even as a toddler, I loved all animals and wanted to cuddle the 'baby'; the 'baby' wanted to pull my hair out of my head, throw poop at me and shake his genitals violently at me. When we were cleaning out that house after my Grandparents were gone, I could still hear Bubbi screaming, "Staaaaaaaaaaaaaan he's doing it again!". As funny as it might seem, I still cannot touch a monkey. Look at a monkey. Like a monkey

Maybe I should be grateful - all I ever needed to know about male anatomy was learned fairly early on thanks to that hairy, stinky mess of monkey

So, do ya still like monkeys?

Monday, April 23, 2007

How do you mend a broken dog?

Someone vandalized the work site and tried to break into our home while we were out yesterday...I only found the evidence after I found Jack running through the house. WTF!?! K the elder was supposed to put both of them in their crates before left for Ottawa? Here he was, loose and totally freaked out

Jack destroyed his heavy welded metal crate in an attempt to escape from these 'people' and now he's his manic old self again. He can't be crated right now but I needed to shower- I came back downstairs after 5 minutes of speed shower this afternoon to find him trying eat the bars of his kennel, cracking his teeth and screaming. Nash, poor lad, just sat and watched, confused and worried about his big brother.

We were out for a total of 45 minutes yesterday. That's all it took to destroy his sense of safety. When MC & I got back home, he was loose and had ripped out the sun room baffles from the dog bars (yes, I have installed dog bars after he jettisoned himself through the glass trying to escape on several occasions). In order to stop him from slipping through the dog bars (this is the dog that once escaped through the cat door - all 97 lbs of him - we created heavy 'dog-proof' screen baffles to attach to the bars. Yesterday, he ripped the baffle and the screen out. I think that we got home just in time to stop him from leaping out. Thank God for that- at least he didn't get loose and hurt, hit by a car or shot by one of my neighbours.

I just called my Vet's office and they're so wonderful; when they heard how he was behaving, I could hear the Vet Tech's voice change. They know his story and how far he's come. She sounded as worried as I am. She consulted with our favorite vet, Dr. Malloy who told me to give him 50 mg. of Gravol every 12 hours, for a max. of 2 days until we can get him in to the office to get him something stronger. I'm so anti-chemical but this is extreme... We've done all sorts of behavioral modification but he still slips once in a while. Never like this, though. This is totally off the scale or I wouldn't even consider medicating.

I feel selfish saying this but this is the most important week of my business-life and I need to prepare. Instead, I've got this big dog, drooling and whimpering, trying to fit underneath the couch I'm sitting on. He's already tried to climb under the ottoman, the PC desk, and tried to fit into the lower cupboards in my kitchen. His brain is not working. He's gone. Totally fried. Couldn't these stupid f*#ks bother someone else????

I was Jack's last chance, when I brought him home from the pound. They pretty much told me so - after 2 failed adoptions, he was too much for any other family. I didn't believe that it could be that bad - I was wrong. It was worse. He has been so badly scarred by his early life that he cannot take any changes, noises or even some smells. Motorcycles terrify him. Children terrify him. Life terrifies him. Right now, I terrify him. After years of being his only trustworthy friend, he now feels like I'm out to get him too. I may never be able to leave him alone again... Does anyone out there what to do with this?

I'd better close this before my tears short circuit my laptop...

Night Beaver, Night Bea-verrrrr

No, not a silly Bee Gees song; just a giant rodent, out for a stroll. I looked out the living room window on Saturday night and saw a slow moving, staggering animal. My partner, the mighty woodsman (with an degree in forestry engineering, no less) laughed me off, telling me it was just a raccoon. Yeah, a raccoon that can barely walk, with a flat leather tail and giant incisors...hmm, me thinks not. Brave lad that he is, off he went to follow it up the street. I could hear him from up the block -'it's a freakin' beaver!'. Yeah, ya think? Our quiet little street is a handy access road for the street racers whose little lives are enhanced by revving up and pulling down my steep hill - sometimes into other vehicles. Men are smart like dump trucks...

Knowing that our beloved symbol of Canada was in risk by visiting our street, I decided to talk him down the road, back to the river. Yup, stood on my front steps and had a very one-sided conversation with a enormous rodent. Isn't my life exciting? One dude decided to cut down the road but as he approached (at full tilt, I might add), I flagged him down and pointed to the beaver just 3 feet ahead of him. He stared at me for a second then looked to see what I was pointing at. A giant grin filled his face and he slowed to pass our furry friend. All the time, K is howling 'don't look, don't look' at me, worried that I'd see him get nailed by the neon-lit Acura. And yes, 'it' was definitely a he. Who knew that beavers were so well-endowed? This guy wasn't staggering; he was lugging about 10 pounds of gonads down the street. K the younger, always the smart ass claims that they use them as flotation devices. I just knew that they had to serve some purpose. Truly, evolution at its finest!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Not such a bad day, after all

Well, we've all got colds now - where'd that come from??? Arghhhhhhh

All said, it was a pleasant day - yes, the workmen arrived, thumped and banged - surprisingly little yelling, though - that was nice. It was also nice to be outside on such a lovely (20 degrees!!!) and soul-saving day. After a week trapped in the house, I NEEDED outside time! I got the feeling that the dogs did, too and we let them have a lot of play time, with us and with each other. All said, Jack was a good egg throughout the ruckus and I am really proud of how much work he's done in such a short time. There's a lot more ruckus to come so let's all pray that he can keep his poop in pile, as a my dear friend MC likes to say. From what I understand, it's the governmentese for 'keep his shit together'.

Much thanks to Sara for telling me about the macro feature on my camera - we went for our morning stroll through our riverwalk and when I mentioned it to K the elder, he said 'oh I think that we have that, too'. Whhhhat!?! Sure enough - we do. Color me stupid for not knowing that - d'oh! I managed to get some beautiful shots throughout the day and I just may try to shoot some jewelry, too. Wish me luck.

Here's a little hint of photos to come

This is my first "macro" shot. Wherever you are in the universe, you could probably feel the ground moving when I was jumping up & down in excitement when I took this shot and it was CLEAR!
My neighbour's crocus - this plant always makes me homesick. Anyone who has traveled the Tirol or the Laurentians knows how prevalent this plant is to alpine climates. Our yard back home was always a blur of soft crocus blooms every Easter and my heart is always lightened by their beauty.

I had a nice, long chat with my neighbour to the South and learned a bit more about Almonte history. Being an almost lifelong resident, she knows all the corners (and a lot of the skeletons, too). I would love to write a book about all of these wonderful, older people around here. Let them share their stories about the region and teach us all about the history of this special corner of the planet. I have told you all before how I feel about my County but the more I learn, the more I love it. Years of study as a historian have felt wasted, until I speak with someone so knowledgeable. This might be the book that's been residing in my heart all this time.... Who knows if this is the project that I've been waiting for but it still feels like a good starting point. After years of dry writing, filled with lesson plans and grant proposals, do I really have the ability to switch back into historical writing? My passion has always been driven by how interesting our young country is; when others in my class looked southward to the US for ideas for their theses, I looked to new Canadians who were living the experience faced by my mother and her family, the older people who had lived through so much and were so grateful for the country that we took for granted, and the chance to teach younger people about a country of relative privilege and dignity.Our conversation today started with talk about a missed trip to the War Museum and led to a tale of all of the young men who left this small, farming community and dared to fight for Canada; of her brother, Cyril who sneaked into their house after a five year absence and little communication, and of a mother's joy that her son was not one of the missing, the dead. In an age of almost instant email connection, we forget the real sacrifice of those in that time of uncertainty. Those left waiting at home, praying, hoping, wishing that their sons, nephews and neighbors would come strolling up the walk, intact of body and spirit, safe to the arms of their family. I grew up during Viet Nam and I remember the black cars, the MPs, the officer who would march solemnly up the walk to the front door, cap in hand. We would drop our bikes on a neighboring lawn and wait for the officer to come back out. Even as a little kids, we knew that Jim or Bob or Sam wouldn't be coming home. They were just gone, like a memory, a scream that has left a mouth. Even now, these memories are emotional. I knew that my dad wouldn't make those men walk up our drive because he stayed on base usually. As Crew Chief, he was responsible for making the crafts airworthy and they cut him a lot of slack. Still, there were dads and brothers missing and it wasn't uncommon for kids to miss school because they had received that news. Maybe that's why her stories had so much resonance - because on some level, it had been my story too. A different place, a different time but a similar fear, a common thread. I was such a morbid child that I loved old cemeteries and found cool stones wherever we traveled. Someone told me that the stones are really for the living, because once the living who knew those buried are gone, the memory of those long-dead people are too. Maybe that's what this book will be - a gift to those who have gone so that they are never forgotten.

More moo stuff

Cuz they're just that cute (and I've got the network cooperating), I've got a few shots of the little Moo-sters

I was sort of winging it with this batch; the next batch has much better images. I love the concept, though - a little card to hand out. How many times do you meet someone and want to stay in touch with them. It's pretty non-invasive to simply hand the person a Moo and say 'hey, drop me a line sometime' - nothing creepy 'bout that.

This has been such a stressful week - my astrologer-mother will tell you that it's because we're wrapping up a Mercury retrograde so things are starting to consider moving forward again. I rushed to complete that huge grant application, copy it and deposit it at the office. It wouldn't have been half as bad if I had planned better - so much of it should have been completed during the week, not at the last minute. I've been trapped in the house during these much-needed sunny days, calming the pets and ignoring the screaming, foul-mouthed workers who have taken over my space. My blood pressure has been through the roof... I didn't eat so I had foul-mouth low blood sugar breath, there were loose horses running the length of the Appleton side road (my chosen route), mapquest couldn't locate the address, I was feeling panicky and then, the person who accepted my application told me that it was 'very long'. Oh, just shoot me now!

I don't know what you're doing today but whatever it is, I hope that it brings you joy and smiles. I, for one, will be working in my yard, playing ball with the dogs and laughing at daredevil Pablo as he struts around the scaffolding, meowing for attention. That should be enough to make up for this past week Maybe my cardinals will be nest-building today, too

Ahhhh Crap - the workers just showed up. Is there no peace to be had?!?

Friday, April 20, 2007

In the middle of chaos,

little Flashlight rests

She cracks me up - most of her days are spent hiding in the dark at the top of the basement stairs, hoping that the banging and yelling outside will end. The sun was so strong yesterday that she decided that my office was safe enough to curl up into my mail basket, on top of my purse and nap. She's so funny.

I've been trying to snap some shots of the dogs lately - usually, they're the 2 headed dog, wrestling and tussling when they're not sleeping or eating. Jack's been a little wigged out with all of the noise so in the evenings, he sticks close to me, looking for comfort. I've been trying to wean him off of the need to be comforted when he's scared and we've made big strides in the past few weeks. We still have along way to go, though. I managed to snatch a few photos when he was climbing under my work station. It's hard to believe that just last year, he was a young dog; now, he's a white bearded old dude. In his mind, yelling is followed by a beating and despite the fact that he's never had us do that to him, the memories of his first year still haunt him. He likes to take preemptive strikes and pretends to be vicious, barking and hackles raised when the yelling outside starts. The big command that we've been working on is "no noise" with a finger touching our lips. I learned with Ilka to use both words and hand gestures so that even at a distance, as long as she could see me, she would understand what I wanted. Jack is so bright that he understands most of what I ask of him and the "nn" command seems to make sense to him. He needs to understand that there's no threat and that I'll defend him if a threat would be made. His poor little brain cannot process that news, though. He is such a sweet-natured dog usually...except when he's afraid. I cannot imagine how awful he must feel when the panic hits. And to think that another human did this to him. How powerful that person was (hrmph!) to beat a silly little puppy and break his spirit. It used to anger me to think of it but now, it saddens me.
I wrote my Member of Parliament, asking him to support a Private Member's bill to up the penalty for animal cruelty. No response from his office - guess you don't want my vote, do you Mr O'Connor? When we do not protect the weakest members of our society - children, the elderly,the disenfranchised and animals - we are not a fully evolved society. Why should I be surprised that he couldn't have a staffer reply - he was too busy sending our men and women off to die. If he doesn't respect other humans, why should I expect him to respect the rights of animals?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Urinary woes

I cannot believe that grown tradespeople need to urinate constantly -apparently they do, and they urinate everywhere. The burning question is 'do they really need to do it in front of me?' (can you tell that right now I'm wishing them a little visit from the cystitis fairy?)

This construction lark is starting to wear thin right now - the 'pee pee team' as I've started calling them seem to delight in peeing, right in front of me. Isn't that what wild animals do to mark their territory ? Or maybe wild animals are more sophisticated than that. I am starting to believe that wild animals have better vocabularies than these creatures, too.

Apart from the public urination, the f-bomb seems to function highly in their communication, too. It's a noun, a verb and an adjective - who knew?!? Wow, at least this experience has built my communication skills. "Keep your f-ing pe%$*er in your f-ing pants and stop f-ing pissing on the f-ing lawn. What the f#$% do you think this is? A public f-ing toilet?". My mother will be so proud.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bugaboo Bad Review ( rhymes with "Poo Poo")

A Well Meaning Rant – and a request

(Or, who knew that I could get angry about a baby apparatus, so long after my kids were little – HMMMPH! )

If you have kids, you totally get how important your stroller purchase is – right? When I had Pat, some well-meaning folks bought me a stroller as a baby gift. The only problem is that the purchaser was about 5’5” – and I am quite a bit taller….pushing a stroller intended for a shorter person was killer…backaches, torn muscles after wrestling it through the sleet….just crap. I was too cheap to replace it and switched to a Gerry pack soon after he graduated from the Snugli. With K the younger, we splurged on a new stroller but it was still too short (there wasn’t a lot of choice back then). Once again, I tucked him into some sort of pack and went about my business. That was old me, the ‘don’t make a wave or behave unseemly’ me. Thank God she’s dead and buried; the new me is a lot less accepting of crap. Like my local constable noted after a run in with some local brutes, ‘phew T, you don’t take shit from anybody’. Yup, no shit - I expect idiots to leave me and my family alone and I expect a company to live up to its reputation. After all, a bully in a corporate suit is still a bully. In the case of Pink Mohair, her corporate bully is a bit of a dumbass, too. Just for good measure, I suppose…

A good stroller is worth its weight in gold – at least that’s what the Bugaboo stroller company seems to think – I mean $750 USD!!! Holy Flying Monkey Crap! What would you expect for that price????

If you spend a small fortune on ‘the perfect stroller”, one that allows you to link from car seat to stroller without waking up the baby and to carry everything that you need for the little one, you’d think that the company would be appreciative. “Wow, thanks for purchasing our over-priced but well worth the money stroller – we care so much about your happiness with our product that our customer service team is there to take care of your questions and concerns’ – as a Customer Service trainer, I know the routine inside and out – and I believe in the message. If you’re the customer left in limbo with a legitimate complaint, you start to believe in it too, don’t you?

Here’s the scoop – busy mom, with hectic career and personal life buys super-expensive stroller system, spends extra on (what the company claims are) compatible parts – car seat, etc etc.. One problem – none of this is actually compatible and refuses to snap together – FOR ANYONE! Talk about your high-priced rip-offs! The story only gets better. Read here and see how ineffective (read “Useless and unresponsive, excuse-making and dense”) this company has been in resolving the matter. Just like the Jet Blue fiasco, Bugaboo needs to get its shit together. Do not leave customers stranded without a solution and try to cover your ass with excuses (especially ones that don’t make sense). In a letter sent by the company, they claim that they had not received a lot of emails about this situation. Over 75 of us fellow Bloggers sent in our notes of ire - but somehow, they didn't get them? Ok, maybe their communications system sucks - but that’s not our problem. Address customer concerns in a logical (read – professionally, politely, timely and one that is a solution, not an added worry) manner. What they've offered so far is inconvenient and makes extra work for an already busy family. Any company worth its salt would be sending them the necessary replacement parts, to their home, at the company's expense, not the customer's inconvenience. Think about it...

I tell you what – let’s start them on the path to improving their customer service plan, ok? Let’s all send them an email about the situation – nothing too racy or mean-spirited, just plain language telling them what we think of companies who try to screw us around when we have a problem with their products. As women, we need to stick together and fight this type of battle. Alone, we’re one voice in a crowd. Together, we can make an impact. Ladies, send them an email, put “Pink Mohair Supporter” in the subject box and let rip. Tell them that we, as a population are tired of being patted on the hand and being told to go to our corner, where we can be ‘good girls’. Once, back in the day when I was a ski mechanic helping premiere athletes reach their (and our country's) goals, I met a sales rep who refused to demonstrate a new product to me. "Let the big boys worry about that", he told me. In my youthful arrogance, I looked him in the eye and said 'sir, I am one of the big boys!'. Don't let my response fool you - I was pissed, just like I am about Pink Mohair's situation. I haven’t been a ‘good girl’ since I was about 15 so I don’t think that I’ll regain any ground on that front but there’s a lot to be said about being true to our opinions. Speak out, ladies – if you don’t, who will?

Well-behaved women seldom make history.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Snow, Rain and a new Gazebo....

Yeah, that makes sense... This morning, we woke to heavy, wet snow tumbling from the sky. This was followed by a day of rain, snow and sleet - so deep, wet and cold that even the dogs (who swim in the frozen river if given a chance) outright refused to stay outside in their run. Last night, I woke up from a dream that our ancient cloth gazebo collapsed in snow so it was kind of odd when K the elder screeched, "it's going doooooown. The gazebo's going down!' and dashed outside. The old girl split her connectors and the tent came down, never to rise again. It's all right, though. We had already decided to replace it with a nicer one this summer. This one was for my market booth after I had got a really bad sunburn working one Saturday. I suppose that 6 years of life is as much as you can expect out of a cheap garden tent, eh?

We were going to replace our ancient, peeling Adirondack table with a spanking new patio set but Frugal Freida that I am, I could not condone buying a whole new set when we just replaced our patio chairs a year ago... Yeah, I'm just that cheap. So, after our construction success with the fence, I figured that we were up to building a patio table, too. That leaves the cash that I counted on for the patio set which can be for our new gazebo. Don't you love it when a plan comes together????

On a really bright note, I received a surprise set of stitch markers from Robyn, of the SME! Yay - they're so cute (I'll try and snap a shot of them ASAP - but you know me and my out of focus close up shots.... I suck). I mailed off the set for my partner. She's in Montreal so they should arrive shortly. I love a good swap!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I was so buzzed about Moo cards about 2 months ago. Couldn't wait to make them and get them into my hot, little hands. Then they lost my order. Ok, things happen - they were nice and offered to reprint them. Ok, I'm a grown-up. I can be a point. But wait... there's a problem? Again? Yup, because I had removed some of my photos from Flickr (long after they had told me that my order was on its way), they had several cards in my order that didn't print. Deep's only a business card. It's not like some heavy machinery pulled into my front yard and totally destroyed my lawn and garden and forced me to park far away from my home and to shlep my groceries to my front door, yeah the front door that doesn't unlock because there has been a key for the past 20 years and oh yeah, there is no walkway left unless I want to fall in a hole and break my f-ing leg- oh wait, that's a different story...So, back to our scheduled rant - nice folks that they are, the Moo guys gave me a credit for a free set of cards to make up for the lost cards/ reprint kerfuffle. That was nice - thank you. And so, I waited some more

Then, they finally arrived late last night. I was STOKED - "like totally gnarly, duuuuuude" - yeah, I said that!)and they weren't so bad. Actually they're pretty cute. Right away, I set to making my 'free' set, knowing so much more about the layout of these tiny little cards. I think that, just like baking cookies, the second batch will turn out so much better than the first. Where my first set was all about the 'calling card' with my personal contact info, this time, they'll be for the business. Rock!

On a different note, I had a wonderful surprise visit from two of my most favourite people in the known universe - Francois & Rita, who had just wrapped up their latest pilgrimage to the Sugar Bush. It was so nice to have their company in our hectic lives - thanks for making my Saturday, guys :) Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Las Freakin' Vegas - yeah you heard me L-A-S V-E-G-A-S (or at least Scottsdale/Snotsdale LOL)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don't Fence Me In (but keep the dogs safe)

Jonquils in the snow - yes, this is April in County Lanark...
Phew - to quote the wonderful Jerry, What a Long Strange Trip it's Been! The fence is as good as it's gonna get, the dogs are adapting (so far, so good - still keepin' the fingers crossed), Flashlightie is looking good (and is a total purr factory - hey, if I spent all day snoozing in the sun, I'd purr too), some of the plants have been moved (and I've only lost 2/3 of them, not all). The back hoe will be arriving later this week and once they dig out the foundation of the new buildings, the driver will dig out my new flower bed. We're exhausted - it rained hard all day Wednesday when we were trying to get set up for the weekend's construction, so we were soaked to the skin, cold and tired. K the elder worked Thursday but had Friday, Saturday & Sunday off - so it was full tilt boogie for every hour of every day. And, because the universe has a sense of humor - it snowed every day! Mein Zeyde used to used to say, 'if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans'. Ok, I get it, Zeyde, I get it!

On Friday, we managed to get the main structure set up, but were missing 10 feet of board that we needed to finish up (of course!) - with the store closed, we had to wait. At 7h00 the next morning, K the Elder was in the car, off to pick up the last bit of board. With the frame and wire fencing installed, we were roughly finished by 13h00 but K (typical...) fussed around for the next 3 hours, looking for fault and things to do. I was ready to shout, 'good enough, Boris' (hee hee hee Russian humor - yeah!) but I left him to his fussing.
It doesn't look like much despite all the work, eh?
I was going to stain the bugger (the fence, not K the E) but it looks good the way it is. It'll grey out nicely and blend into the landscape. I really like the wire fencing - it 'disappears' and it's nice to be able to see into the yard on both sides without worrying about the 'boys' running loose and getting hurt. Jack is so damaged by his first year and the abuse heaped on him that he just wants to 'do right'. He is really frightened by change and has been on tenterhooks this past few months, with the construction going on around him. Because we now need to escort the dogs to their run, we need to do one dog at a time but Jack has decided that he wants to please us and is going straight to the run all by himself, no leash. I wonder how long this will last - once he relaxes, the good behaviour usually drops off and Gentleman Jack is replaced by his uncouth cousin, Silly Boy Jack. If he was a human, he'd be a good ole boy at this time, looking for fun, driving too fast. If it wasn't such a pain to try and correct his behaviour, I'd like to see the silly guy more. There have been days when I've prayed that he would 'just be a normal dog'... but I knew that I was bringing home a 'problem' when I adopted him. We were his last chance and I do not regret any of it (but I do wish that I was wiser, more patient, a better dog owner).

Pat made his usual weekly call home (yay!) - this is what happens when your kids pair off with good partners - They call home 'just to chat'!. I think that Val has brought Pat closer into the family and it's just another reason to love her. He was telling us about his last show at Zaphod's and how some of the guys he had gone to high school with were there. Pat was an 'artsy' kid in high school and marched to his own beat. Once, just 'because', he took an online "course" with a virtual church and obtained the faux-title of Reverend. His teachers were NOT impressed with him signing all of his papers with the 'Honorable Reverend Pat XXXX' (I think my favorite comment from on of his teachers was 'Pat, cut the garbage and be sensible!'. Yes, he was just that weird. He had a close circle of friends (most of whom are still his friends today) but like a lot of kids, took his fair share of teasing and abuse by the bigger 'jockocracy' that dominates small town life. So when those past bullies turned up at his show, wanting to be his friend because he was playing there, he was pissed. "I didn't want to be their friends then so why would I want to now?". Pat, darling - sometimes people will not get you when they should. Sometimes, in their ignorance, they will hurt you. Whatever they do or say, stretch your wings and be who you are supposed to be. I would rather have you 'odd' than have you unhappy. Anyone who knows Pat knows what a happy soul he is - he's living his purpose. I can only pray that those sad souls who bullied him back then find their purpose and a little happiness.

On the knitting front, I've churned out 11 pairs of LK mittens in the past 10 days - how? I have no clue... I've set a steep goal for myself this year - 60 pairs by September 30th. Think I can do it? Not sure but I'll give it a brave try. Last year, I knit 36 pairs in 3 months so I should be all right with 60 in 6 months. That is 9-10 schools worth of mittens so it's well worth the effort. If you know of a local school that would benefit from receiving a 'mitten bag' next winter or if you'd like to knit along with me (1 pair is just fine - don't worry about the other 59; I'll do those) - drop me a line.

I wanted to take a few seconds to all of the kind souls who were there with kindness when we were so worried about our little Flashlight - she seems fine and is back to being silly and even cuddled up with me the other evening. I suspect that she really wanted to sleep on this blanket but I'm telling myself that it's because she loves me. And don't even get me started about those who commented about the garden woes - a lot of people 'get' the need to till the soil and I was touched by the concern. I am always amazed at the 'strangers' out there who take time to leave a comment and there are times when those comments get us through the hard times. In this virtual neighbourhood, no one stays a stranger for long - here's to this brave new world and many, many new friends!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Panic in the Thrift Shop

Hey kids!
It's been a crazzzzzzzy weekend (and even week preceding, to be honest) and I'm still not back from 'digupafrozengardenandmoveallthestuffandbuildafenceeventhoughweveneverbuiltanythingtogetherbefore-land'. In all of this panic and mayhem, I haven't even visited the thrift store in at least 2 weeks (apart from my foray into Goodwill on the holiest of days on the thrifting calendar, 50% off day. I have a 'new' project in mind for the last few weeks and call upon you, my Ottawa Valley Friends to help out. I'm building a thrift store site and want to know, 'what's the best thrift store in the Valley?'. Where do you like to shop? Find anything cool? Bizarre? Just to strange for words? An amazing deal? Let me know and stayed tuned for the new site

I am so behind on all of my correspondence (and my life) that I'd better get started...

Talk to you soon!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Meanwhile, on the fabric front....

I've shared my 'materials' obsession before so it should be no surprise that I am working my way through this fabric jungle. Considering the title of this little weblog, I should be focused more on the yarn that looms in three massive storage bins in my den but the fabric has been calling...and calling...and calling

I have a series of built-in drawers in the den, which houses my fabric, wrapping paper, fabric dying supplies and patterns. The only problem has been that the wrapping paper is next to impossible to get to and wrapping a gift involves moving the yarn, and wrestling with the sticky drawer. When you have limited mobility, this is a bitch. Trying to open that drawer has landed me on my tuckus more than once! My solution? To hang the paper, of course.
It probably doesn't look like much but the long green pockets hold rolls of wrapping paper; on the other side, I've put 2 smaller pockets for gift bags. Two of these holders now hang in my huge downstairs closet. I love a cool storage solution. I'll try to write it out at the end of this post - drop me a line if you need more clarification

Because today was the day to dig the garden, it snowed. Not a lot but enough to harden the ground and to make it impossible to wedge a shovel into the soil. ARGH! It looks like Monday will be the only day that we (actually, "I" not "we" - K the elder is working that day) will get the chance to do this... we figure that we can put the plants into heavy garbage bags and tuck them into the crawl space until we can get the new beds dug. I'm a little worried about the cold, about disturbing the roots at this sensitive time of year, about the health of these plants and shrubs. Why do I worry about my plants? They're 'only plants', right? Not to me, for whatever reason, just like my dogs or cats are not 'just dogs' or 'just cats'. The day before we were about to euthanize my beloved Ilka (her cancer had spread and she was in such pain, I cannot imagine living through) I went to work. My colleague asked why I was so withdrawn and I explained my sorrow, the loss that I saw coming and that I needed a little space so that I could make it through the day. Her response was , 'well, it's just a dog - what's the problem?' - yeah, I know... I was at a loss for words and left the room before I boxed her ears. My Ilka was not 'just a' anything, she was my companion, a 3rd child in our house and a loving member of our little family. In some respects, our long-lived garden plants have fit into a niche of sorts, too. Maybe not family members but companions, of a sort, beautiful living creatures under my stewardship. When I read articles about whether or not plants 'feel' or 'hear', I'm hard-pressed not to believe that they do. Maybe not in a human sense of being sentient but as a living organism, their own reality must have some form of experience, of feeling. But hey, who knows - maybe I'm just a nutty old lady? Get ready for me to start loading my pets into a shopping cart and roll around town, talking to myself as I dig through the garbage. If this experience doesn't push me to an extra-wacky state of mind, nothing ever will.

Back to the wrapping paper hanger!
I've overloaded this pocket, so it is saggy. Once I had made the second set of hanging pockets, I unloaded half of this stock and there is less strain on the pocket, the paper is hanging nicely and these pockets should live a long, long time.
They're very simple to make up and I should have drawn up a tutorial (and taken better photos). In a nutshell, the process is very short.
You will need:
1 metre of fabric for the body of the hanger (I used sheets that I picked up a Wally-World for $4.97 each - because of their size, they go a long way)
1 meter of fabric for your pockets
A sturdy clothes hanger
Matching thread
Paper for your pattern (I use brown parcel wrapping paper) and a sharpie or marker
A long straight edge, like a yard or metre stick

1. Lay out your wrapping paper (I found that I needed to hold it down with weights as it had been tightly rolled and wanted to spring back every time I rolled it out flat)

2. Take your hanger and lay it at the top of the paper, leaving enough space for a seam allowance. Trace around your hanger top, leaving an opening for the hook. I left a 3" opening and left a hem allowance so that the top was neatly (for me) finished. Continue tracing along your hanger - where the hanger curves to form the bottom rail, keep going down the sides until your pattern is as long as you need to be. At this point, I laid out my rolls of paper to see how long I needed it to be. Mine are 36" long, plus hem length. Use your straight edge to make a nice clean line all the way from the place where the hanger curves to the bottom hem, making sure that you include a minimum of 3/4" seam allowance.

3. Once your pattern is ready, hang the hanger and pin your pattern to it to make sure that it will work. Ready?

4. Lay out your main fabric, doubled and pin your pattern. Cut out your 2 main fabric pieces.

5. Time to draft your pocket patterns - measure the length of your wrapping paper rolls and the width of your main fabric pieces (minus your seam allowances). My large pocket is 26" X 16", plus seam allowances.

6. Lay out your pocket fabric, doubled (if you want 2 large pockets) or single (if you only want 1 large pocket). Cut your pocket. Press and sew top hem. Press edges under and pin to 1 piece of your main fabric. Sew, taking care to reinforce your stitching at the top of your pocket. This will ensure that your pocket survives the strain of heavy rolls of paper. Repeat the pocket application for side 2.

7. Once your pockets have been attached, take your 2 main pieces and hem the opening (where your hanger will poke through to hang your hanging pockets). It pays to reinforce this stitching with a little piece of interfacing and extra stitches.

8. Lay your 2 main pieces, right side together and pin along the top of the hanger and sides. Stitch, reinforcing your stitches along the hanger edge, where the fabric may wear against the clothes hanger.

9. Once you've finished the main stitching, turn right side out and press. Place your hanger inside and poke hanger top through. You're almost finished (mine took less than 30 minutes, including time to consider the idea and draft the pattern!. Now you need to finish the bottom hem. Turn up the hem, press and pin and stitch along the bottom. Clip your threads and hang it up! You are done!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

*Ginormous sigh*

What a week it's been. I'm sorry for being AWOL but you know, it's hard to be three people - worker bee, haus frau, mischief maker extraordinaire and find time to blog. Flashie seems to be trotting along all right but I don't want to celebrate just yet. I need to see a total turn around before I'll say that we're out of the woods...

Thanks to all of you who sent us your good wishes for my little kitty-grrl. It's nice to know that all of you love your pet-kids too and understand how hard it is when they're not well. Your kindness is invaluable - thank you :)

We're entering into phase II of the big construction project and unfortunately, the builders will be destroying my front garden so that they can put in the new neighbours' foundations. Not only do I lose my little flower bed in front of the house (filled with all sorts of tulips and jonquils, just ready to pop out of the soil) , we are also losing the huge strip garden that I busted my back (and 2 shovels) to build almost 10 years ago. The ground isn't even properly thawed yet and I have to move about $2000 worth of heritage varieties of plants like irises and lilies that I have collected over the years. We also have to build a new fence to keep our dog-kids in a safe place. Nashville, the little scamp has discovered that he can jump over the snow fence by belly-flopping on it, then he tears around our busy neighbourhood, hackles raised, scaring everyone he meets. Hey, he's an 18 month old Lab puppy - he wants you to pet him not run away. I felt really bad yesterday - we were inspecting the area where the new fence will go and he decided to pull his Houdini act and tore off after our neighbour's son-in-law. The SIL decided that he was under attack and tried to get into his car but the door was locked. I'd like to say that hilarity ensued but, judging his reaction, we'll be lucky if we don't get sued. I tried to apologize but the SIL just glared at me. Nash was really sweet when he reached the guy but.... guess that introduction didn't go too well....

If only he was still this cute
We'll be working on his etiquette as soon as we finish the fence and move the garden.

Sara, who always seems to be doing something charitable - where do you find the time/energy, girl??? - asked if I'd been to any Fred shows lately and I hang my head in shame. No, no I haven't. Once again, I missed the big Texas weekend. Maybe next year... He was supposed to do a show up in Perth but we had to forgo it to take care of things around Rancho Bumbershoot. This 'being an adult' thing sucks sometimes... Fred is still near and dear to our hearts (and ears). Yesterday, I took part in a collage workshop and a fellow collager remarked that she had noticed my Fred mug - and that her respect for me had increased 'tenfold' (I assume that it is a good thing? Did she not respect me a lot before? Hmmmm). I cannot wait until the big Cobalt weekend and a weekend spent in the cool, Northern woods listening to Fred and gang (oh yeah, and drinking tequila - remember kids, it's one shot for every year of age!) Love that Fred-dude!
On a bright note, Brock is playing at Jersey's next weekend and who is accompanying him? None other than the extremely talented Dan Walsh! Love that baritone gee-tar, dude!
I was extra-super blessed this week - a crate of vintage men's sewing patterns arrived from Texas and a giant "thanks" goes out to Kim from Dioramarama. I mean, a briefs pattern?!? WTF!?! High-larious! I showed it to K the elder and asked what color he wanted. All I got from him was a strange look, and a 'um, no thanks'. At least I thought it was funny. There's a really nicely shaped tennis jacket that I think I'll make up for K the elder and Pat has already asked for a leisure suit - love the curved pockets!

I did a little thrifting and hit Goodwill on their 50% off day - found an armful of vintage sheets that are just gorgeous and are screaming "den curtains" at me. At our local thrift shop, I picked up this beat up sewing box

It's in the middle of a paint transformation (orchid and lime green, no less) so stayed tuned for updates. It'll be a great place to tuck all of my thread and needles, etc instead of the plastic storage containers that I've been collecting stuff in. Not bad for $3, eh?

That's about half of the last week of life but my arms are aching...I'll type some more later - One of my favorite DJs, Chopper MacKinnon always wraps up with "and I love you" to which I cannot help but reply, "we love you too, Chopper" - so let me steal from the man - I miss you guys "and I love you"