November 24, 2014

I never went to your school, I learned in a monkey tree…

Everything has been super crazy lately and today is my only day “off” between now and next Sunday, with some of those days working multiple times per day to cover people for US Thanksgiving-related stuffs. I had yesterday off technically but I slept all day because my body just needed it, I woke up, ate dinner, watched a show and basically went back to bed for the night. This is partially a byproduct of depression and winter, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as the doctors/Health Canada say. I was supposed to see Shrinklet (the “almost-shrink” who works with my new shrink, who’s technically a doctor but not a full shrink) last Wednesday to get a lightbox to try to alleviate some of the aforementioned symptoms, but she cancelled on me, so I see her this Wednesday instead.

I’m training 2 new people at work now, my last 2 having graduated out of training with me with flying colours. Now we’ve hired 2 MORE and I’m trying to get them into my morning training sessions with the other 3 I train every morning. With all these new employees, I’m pretty excited about our work’s Secret Santa because some of it will be blind guessing and some of it will be pure stalkage. :o) I also signed up for Secret Satan with the Scratching Post kids this year, which I’ve never done before. We met up with them earlier this month for lunch/brunch, as we tend to do a couple of times a year in Toronto, and as always, it was good to hang out. I’d never signed up for Secret Satan before because I’d never had enough money to do it properly and I suck at making things on a deadline. Last year’s work Secret Santa cured me of this when I made the perfect thing for the person I got and they loved it. This year I know my work Secret Santa really well and my Scratching Post Secret Satan barely at all because the last time we spoke, she was probably 16 and now she’s an adult.

The whole near death experience thing taught me a lot of things, but most importantly who my friends are. That and getting older is teaching me that putting energy into friendships is a good use of one’s time on this earth. Further to that, I have a LOT of “stuff”, so if I have to spend my money on something, I’d rather it be on an experience than another “thing”.

Last Sunday we went to the Danforth Music Hall to see Mother Mother and they were fantastic as always, but we were in the balcony and they use a lot of light effects in their show and I was literally switching between my regular glasses and sunglasses for their whole set. Then on Tuesday we were supposed to go see Book of Mormon but there was a blizzard and it took us 2 hours just to get to the movie theatre in the city closest to us where we watched Interstellar and waited out the storm instead. Super bummed about that. Then tomorrow we’re going to see Amanda Palmer, which should be interesting. It’s a “book tour with music” so I’m not really sure what that means. Her book is called “The Gift of Asking” and it’s all about artists finding funding for their projects or something. I dunno, I still say it sounds a little pyramid-y/Tony Robbins-esque but we’ll see. We had a spare ticket so we’re going with a new friend, named Liz. She’s a writer and here site is here.

The week before last, our hot water heater died and getting a new one into our tiny, shitty house was an expensive 10 day ordeal. 10 days without HOT water, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to live in a place with NO water.

I got into Touched By Fire, the remedial art show for people with mood disorders. It’s December 3rd in Toronto if anyone wanted to go, and you can get tickets here. I guess all of the artwork is going to be up in the gallery for the full month of December though, so you don’t have to go to the show itself to see what I made. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get in. I submitted the maximum allowed size and honestly, my piece isn’t perfect. I submitted it anyway figuring, why the hell not? It’s a self portrait and I’m hardly perfect either. Touched By Fire takes 20% commission so I made the price $1250, figuring I need at least $1k to get my next project(s) off  the ground and the intention with those is Touched By Fire next year and maybe…other things? I dunno, it’s totally an “if you build it, they will come” situation.

The latest rage in chez Crittenden is Magic. Liiiiiike, the uber nerdy card game that I was told the other day was invented by a mathematician, which I fully believe. Madison started it, or rather, her friends have been playing for a long time and Madison got interested, particularly when she found out that the comic shop down the street from us has Magic Night on Fridays and they stay open until like, 3am, so people can hang out and play. And people do, I mean, it’s a small town/community and there isn’t a whole lot to do here ANY night of the week. So Madison learned how to play and I asked her if she’d mind if I played too, because this is something she does with her friends and I didn’t want to intrude on a “kid thing”. She said she’d think about it and then I sort of forgot I asked until she told me this week that she thought playing with me would be fun and good for me, if we/I started going to Magic Night.

On Wednesday Madison and I went to the comic shop so I could start building my deck. We discussed things ahead of time and decided I wanted to build a blue and white deck for a bunch of different reasons, so I bought the starter pack thingy (the $17 as opposed to the – I think – $35 one) in the appropriate colours and then a ton of booster packs. I don’t think I was super lucky with my booster packs. I got a red foil guy that Madison said she’d trade for me for something I can use (I did the same with the foil that came in the starter pack because it required 3 types of mana and that’s too complicated right now) and I got 2 or 3 cards that I couldn’t use, that the store bought back from me for store credit, which Madison used yesterday I think, to get me better creatures. I have a lot of spells, counterspells and enchantments but a distinct lack of guys who do actual damage. I know one is a Planeswalker of some sort and that that’s a good thing and that I should actually have 4 of them in my deck. The learning curve is steep and I’ve still only played twice with Madison who obviously beat me both times, and I still haven’t gone through and read every single card, which is my plan when I’m finished writing this.  I’m also shockingly bad at math and that played a factor in deciding to play. When I was like, 13 maybe, my step-dad decided he wanted to learn how to spell things better so he bought a Scrabble game and we played LOTS of it and he improved, so I figure I can only improve my math skills by playing this. And of course, it’s something I can do with Madison (and Wes when he gets his start from Madison for Xmas), whom I hardly see anymore, that potentially gets me out of the house and interacting with real, live people. It’d be super cool if I end up being any good at this game and we can play teams, which I’m told is a thing. It’s also entirely possible that I’ll get frustrated with it and give Madison and Wes all my cards. We’ll see.

And finally, last Monday, Hoover Dog had a lump removed from his neck and THANKFULLY it turned out to just be a benign cyst. He’s recovering from surgery just fine, but he does ask for more ear scritch scratches because they gave him a haircut to do the surgery and I think it feels extra good without all that fur.

Okay time to make a “white sandwich” (turkey, mayo, havarti cheese and lettuce on toasted grainy bread) and read these Magic cards. Wish me luck and if you have any online Magic resources you actually use/trust, lay ’em on me! (If my site allows comments this time…which it may not, I think, because Blake keeps forgetting to upgrade WordPress.)

Peace oot!

PS. This song is so stupid but is so totally my current favourite stupid song.

November 6, 2014

Yeah, I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster, what!?

Well, I *was* gonna show you a picture of this cool, old, US army truck that’s parked like a sculpture near my house but my gallery program doesn’t seem to want me to upload anything to it for some reason so I guess I’ll have to get Blake to take a look at that later to see why it’s not doing what I need it to do. Whatever, imgur for the time being. Behold, this awesome truck that I love so much I actually pulled over and trespassed on this person’s lawn/field to show you, which, for someone undergoing immersion therapy, is sort of a big deal.

I submitted a painting or, probably more aptly, a mixed media assemblage to Touched By Fire but I don’t think I got in because they originally said we should be notified by November 3rd if we did and I haven’t heard anything. That was before they extended the deadline until October 31st though so who knows? The piece I made was the biggest size they allowed so I knew my chances of getting in were pretty slim, especially when submitting so late in the game. Doesn’t matter though because I like what I made (but think I could have done better, of course) and it lead to two BIGGER ideas that I’m completely in love with and in the process of trying to make happen. The first part is waiting at least 3 weeks for samples because this shit is srs bsns, and within that 3 weeks, coming up with a solid budget which has been a lot harder to pin down than I originally thought it’d be. I’ve never spent this much money on an art project before though so I’m trying to be as accurate and frugal as possible but I’m dealing with wholesale minimum orders that I’ll only be able to meet ONCE so if I’m short on what I need, I’m screwed and I am THE WORST at math. I’ve asked many people to help me with the math and of the 15 or so answers I’ve gotten, including on Reddit, they’ve all been different. Vastly in some instances. I figure Reddit’s answer is probably the best jumping off point because if the ONLY DUDE THAT ANSWERED ME was wrong, he would have been downvoted or some other dude would have come in with a bigger dick to tell him he was wrong. Anyway, it’s been challenging but I’m pretty obsessed with making it happen one way or another, it’s just the “one way or another” I’m still figuring out.

I met my new shrinks on Monday. Yeah, shrinkS. Plural. I’m so lucky, I get two. The main one, we’ll call her Murphy Brown, immediately wanted to switch me from side-effect-free ziprasidone/Zeldox – my main anti-psychotic, the foundation of my mental health pyramid – with Abilify for no reason whatsoever that I can see except maybe she wants me to gain 30 lbs, which is just the tip of the iceberg with that drug. Fuck that and fuck her. It took me MANY YEARS of trial and error and metabolic syndrome, that outweighed any mental benefit of any drug, to find the right meds and right now I’m maintaining so fuck the fuck right off. I don’t have a nickname for the other shrink yet and she’s a doctor but not a full doctor and still in training or something? She looks about my age. I told them that S.A.D. has started kicking in, meaning that “we may need to go up by half a pill on my cipralex” at some point like my prior doctor said we may have to do and it’s not like this shit doesn’t happen EVERY SINGLE YEAR LIKE CLOCKWORK OR ANYTHING. I asked to borrow a lightbox, I’m going to use it – again, please fuck off with your bulldozer parked so close to my crystal castle.

So that’s how that went. I see the shrink-in-training in 3 weeks. I have no idea why or what I said to necessitate that. Hooray. Thrilled, I am, to have the privilege of answering 50 more random, nosey, irrelevant questions. Oh, that’s another thing, Murphy Brown suggested I stop drinking Diet Coke because it’s “SO MUCH CAFFEINE” and she said if I didn’t believe her I could look it up. Well. I did. When I got home. According to the fucking Mayo Clinic, a cup of coffee has 95-200mg of caffeine and a can of Diet Coke has 23-47mg which means that I consume on average the same amount of caffeine in a day as one cup of coffee, so again, I tell you, Murphy Brown please go fuck yourself.

I’ll stop now. Needless to say, the first visit was not a positive one despite the fact that I went in there with nothing but positivity because life’s going pretty good and good things are happening.

Like I said a while back, I’ve been working a lot. I now work 7-9 hours/day as opposed to 3. I’m still training people. Working all these new hours has enabled me to do something I’ve never done before: paid off my Visa. Then as soon as the final payment cleared, I immediately maxed it out by buying myself and Blake plane tickets to go to San Francisco for my birthday. Why San Francisco? Because Steph the Geek is there in her 20 Mission hippie commune. Because Sapphire is there. Because my friends Kat, Sarah, Quelyn and Erica are there. Blake’s sisters and nieces (whom he’s never even met) are close by in Tahoe. And it’s a medical state. With weird food we can’t get here. And it’s my birthday. So that’s why.

The plan is pretty simple: we’re gonna rent a place in the Mission District using airbnb with (ideally) 2 desks or work surfaces and a kitchen, that has a backyard or courtyard and we’re going to order crazy fruit and organic meat from this website Steph uses and basically just hang out with whoever and each other. Blake’s going to work on his book and I’m sure I’ll find a way to entertain myself.  We’re also going to rent a car and go to Tahoe. Not sure if that’s going to be an overnight thing or not at this point though. On the actual day of my birth we’re trying to have some sort of get-together with everyone…somewhere, because we’ll be leaving for home the next day. I don’t care about Alcatraz or the bridge. I would like to see some painted ladies. I wouldn’t mind seeing the other ocean. omg will there be tidepools? I’ve never seen a real starfish. I dunno, I just figured by the end of February I’ll probably be wanting to slit my wrists so somewhere sunny and warm (to me) with some of my closest friends seemed like a good idea since I suddenly realized it was a viable goal. And I realize I’m now in debt again, but it won’t take too long to pay off and I was pretty proud of myself for essentially saving up all of the money to do this. Or at least take the first step and order the plane tickets.

I have to figure out how to carry-on both my laptop and my camera because everything I’ve ever read/heard has said not to pack them in your luggage. Hrm. I dunno about this traveling stuff.

This week the new Anne Rice book came out AND the new Mother Mother album did too, so honestly, it’s been a pretty good week. Cried a little this morning, convinced that it was going to be a bad day, but it wasn’t. I also got the Lena Dunham book to read for myself, with context, what happened with her sister rather than rely on sentence fragments and the one excerpt the media’s been primarily focusing on to come up with my own opinion. My friend Tay also mentioned that Lena Dunham’s also said some racist things in the media about why there are so few minorities on Girls, which I guess I missed. I follow her on Twitter but like, as much as I follow any celebrity, which means I only read like, maybe 1/10 of her tweets. Anyway, I was interested in her book before all this but when I went to get the Anne Rice book, the Dunham book was only $20 and there was one copy left, so I was like, “fuck it” and added it to my pile, which also included Gone Girl, High Times and a magazine called Canadian Art that looked interesting.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANYWAY, it’s time to take my PM meds, find food, watch American Horror Story and go to bed. Peace oot, y’all.

February 17, 2014

Don’t you like American music, baby?

Greetings, Earthlings.

Sooooooooooooooooo this Florida thing is 98% happening so I think I can post about it…

Next month, when the kids are on March Break, we’re driving to Florida to stay with Blake’s mom and Charlie at their house there because they’re snowbirds now. We’re going to be going through the following states:

– New York
– Pennsylvania
– West Virginia
– Virginia
– North Carolina
– South Carolina
– Georgia

I love car rides. I hate driving and sometimes people’s driving freaks me out, but I like riding shotgun and watching the world pass by. I have no idea how the kids are going to be in the car because the farthest they’ve ever been away from home is Militiagan. They’re good going that far, which is about 5 hours, but Florida is like, 20.

The plan, as of right now, is that Blake’s going to sleep all day on the Saturday and then drive it straight, with us leaving right after I get off work (at 11pm!). Then the kids can sleep in the car (and me, theoretically) and we’ll miss the stuff that’s boring that I’ve seen before and that looks the same as home because it’ll be dark, but then we’ll all be awake for the bizarro stuff we’ll no doubt start seeing around West Virginia. At least this is what people are telling me. Just like, weird signs and houses and stuff, I guess.  Then if Blake gets tired, we pull off and get a hotel room and he sleeps for a while.

I’m stoked at the idea of getting actual fried chicken from “the South”. Laugh all you want but I live in Canada and with very few exceptions, fried chicken here fucking sucks. My concern though, is that they’ll look at me funny if I ask for white meat specifically, is that a nit picky thing in the US (specifically the South) or a common thing? It’s a common thing here and I’m super picky about which parts of a chicken are edible soooo, lemme know. Oh and do I have to have it on a waffle? What is with that? Why a waffle? And I’m guessing it’s corn syrup you put on it. Ugh. No, I just want a fried piece of chicken breast please, maybe some fries, DEFINITELY pie. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to, all the various types of pie available throughout our trip through the good ol’ US of A. Supernatural and Twin Peaks make the US seem like some kind of pie mecca and I really like pie.  And American junk food! Woo hoo! The last time I was in the US, I got these buttery garlic pretzel twists from some random  gas station, like just on our way back to Canada, and I am determined to find them again! Also! Pineapple Fanta! PINETHEMOTHERFUCKINGAPPLE pop. When I learned of this product, it blew my mind and IMMEDIATELY went on my list of things to try because it sounds awesome. Also apparently they make a strawberry flavour so that’s on the list too. What other things do you think I should definitely try? Oh yeah! I want to go to Sonic and get a…cherry lemonade? Is that what I want?

We’re not going to have time for visiting anyone on our way to and from Florida, with the exception of one of my coworkers who lives in West Virginia, right on our route, but while we’re in Florida we’ll be visiting Blake’s friend Noelle and his Aunt Pat.

The plan for being IN Florida is to show the kids the ocean, which is apparently down the street from Blake’s mom’s house, swim in her pool, hang out in her hot tub, eat stuff…Blake and I plan on doing a lot of writing while we’re there. I know one day we’re going to a wolf sanctuary because Wes is obsessed with wolves and he is absolutely going to lose his shit when he gets there. I know another day we’re going to this cool Dali museum that Skylar told me about AND as it turns out, while we’re there, they’re having a Warhol exhibition. So that’s pretty cool. Also I’ve NEVER been to an art museum so I’m excited about that. I barely know who Salvador Dali is and I’m staying willfully ignorant until we go to the museum and learn about him because I feel like if I go on a Wikipedia rampage, it’ll be like reading spoilers since we’re going to a whole museum about him. But yeah, other than that stuff, the plan is to do a whole lotta much-needed nothing.

So, my American comrades (okay and everyone else too), what things should we see, do, eat and listen to during our trip? All suggestions welcome even if we can’t do it! As far as “listen to”, we’re going to be in the car for over 40 hours by the end of this so suggestions of songs to download would be WONDERFUL and I thank you in advance! To get an idea of what I listen to, here’s the current playlist I’m working on called “Blake is REALLY stupid” but any internet music suggestions will go in their own playlist (if I get enough suggestions):


December 2, 2012

Even little bitty baby Jesus did it…

Yesterday I woke up at like, 7:30am and screwed around online, waiting for Blake to wake up and since he wasn’t waking up and we’d made plans the night before to have breakfast – and dammit, I was hungry! – I went in the bedroom and sat on his chest until he woke up. Then we went to our usual place and ordered the usual (2 eggs with peameal and a side of bacon) and then we checked the mail and BLAKE’S XMAS PRESENT WAS THERE BUT IT’S A SECRET SO I CAN’T TELL YOU WHAT IT IS.

Then I came home and Wes practically crawled into my lap and begged me with his big, baby browns to play Warcraft with him. Which I did until level 20 so he could get his mount. By the time we’d gotten back to Orgrimmar from Gilneas, it was time to get read to go to the Mother Mother show, so that’s what I did.

Not that there’s much to do to “get ready” for a show. There were lots of girls in mini skirts and lots and lots of leggings and skinny jeans, but I just wore jeans and a t-shirt and I didn’t check my coat so it’s not like what I was wearing mattered. I just threw on some mascara and lipstick and called it a day.

Apparently Justin Bieber was playing the Air Canada Centre  last night too so I kept telling people online that that’s where I was going haha

I’d seen Mother Mother before at Lee’s Palace but this time it was at the Kool Haus, which is a much bigger venue. Or maybe not bigger exactly, just different. I had tickets to see them last fall but I was using a walker at the time, I was half bald from my hair falling out and I still had a vac dressing on my cheese pizza wound, so I opted not to go. It really bummed me out, especially because I’d gotten the tickets just before I got sick and had been looking forward to the show.

Anyway, Mother Mother THIS time was spectacular. Definitely in my top 5 favourite shows of all time. They had crazy lights and they even covered a Pixies song (“Cactus”) and a good time was had by all.

What surprised me about the show was all these dudebros everywhere. Lots of guys in pairs of two and I don’t think they were gay. Mother Mother doesn’t strike me as a guy’s band, really, but there they all were. When Mother Mother came out for their encore, 5 dudebros in front of my actually double high fived each other. These guys didn’t come together I don’t think, they were like, “pit buddies”. So funny.

Anyway, that’s all I have to report. As soon as I’m finished this post Blake’s going to make me drive to Wasaga Beach to get mushroom pizza, which I really don’t want to do, but I haven’t driven in a month so I guess I really should.

Next Saturday we have to go to Blake’s work’s kid Xmas party at Medieval Times. There is not enough Ativan in the world for this so I have no idea if I’ll be able to go. I don’t even really know what it is. I’ll have to research some more…

Anyway, I’m starving and need mushroom pizza. I’ll leave you with Mother Mother’s two best songs off the new album “Sticks”:

PS. $25 for parking and $5 for a Diet Coke is HIGHWAY ROBBERY.

November 22, 2012

Sugar Come By, Get Me High

Crazy news of the day: There’s this island that shows up on Google maps and other maps, referred to as “Sandy Island” somewhere near Australia but apparently it doesn’t even exist! Or maybe that’s just what the Dharma Initiative wants us to believe.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American comrades! I am thankful for each and every one of you and I hope you’re all having a fantastic meal with the people you love! I’m filling in for one of my American coworkers tonight so she can have dinner with her family because I’m the only non-American on our team and therefore could. Which is cool, I’ve been banking overtime so I can take next Saturday (the 1st) off to go see Mother Mother at the Kool Haus in Toronto without taking a pay cut or having to make up hours so yay Thanksgiving!

Right now I’m transferring 77GB from my 114GB external hard drive to my sexy new 3TB external hard drive which is awesome, but it’s taking fooooorever. I do now have more bytes than I know what to do with! Although I did fill up my laptop’s HD and two 114GB HDs pretty fast from shooting RAW all the time so I guess we’ll see how long this lasts…

Something I also got for Xmas – because we never actually open present ON Xmas, it seems – is a pink iPod Touch with my name engraved on the back and it’s kind of awesome too because now I have a way to talk to Madison while she’s at school because she can use the school’s wifi and I can use our wifi and we can message back & forth that way. Very handy. Wes got one too, a blue one with his geocaching name on the back, and we set up wifi on it too because we also got him a blue Furby (which he doesn’t know about) and you can control the Furby with the iPod through the wifi (or Bluetooth, I’m not sure which, honestly).

I can’t say what we’ve gotten Madison for Xmas so far because she reads my site. But what I got her is pretty cool. What I got Blake is pretty cool too but he reads this too so I can’t say. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

What I can say about Madison’s Xmas presents this year because she already knows about it is that I finally gave in and we’re letting her bleach her hair and dye it turquoise. She’s also getting what she calls an “emo haircut” (?) to go with it. We bought Splat brand bleach and dye because that’s what our drugstore had and I was actually shocked to see it there because I’ve never seen it in Canada before. I knew about it though, because my friend Halcyon is on the box of the pink dye. So she’s excited about that. We’re going to do it on the last week of Xmas holidays so it’s fresh for when she goes back to school. She’s pretty stoked about it and keeps asking to look at the dye, which we keep saying no to because she has to open SOMETHING on Xmas, even if she knows what it is. We’re not sure what else to get her. She’s not really giving us any ideas. She dresses up a lot at school so when we were at the mall yesterday I thought maybe a gift certificate for Claire’s so she could buy accessories might be a good idea, but I don’t know and neither does she.

Yesterday Blake and I went to see Life of Pi and I thought it was pretty well done with only minor, irrelevant differences from the book. The 3D was annoying, but that’s probably just me because I think 3D is just annoying. There was only one part in the movie where it was a benefit and it actually made a lady in front of me scream, which I thought was pretty funny. Blake found the 3D rain obnoxious, but I thought it was cool. I dunno, I thought it was good, but obviously the book is better with more detail and stuff. I think I enjoyed the movie a lot less because it was so faithful to the book, I knew everything that was going to happen and there weren’t any surprises. Definitely worth seeing, in my opinion though.

Today’s been pretty uneventful so far. I worked this morning, slept and then I screwed around on the internet for a while. On my way to the bathroom, I noticed that all the animals were chilled in the living room in their own little zones, so I thought I’d work on my photography class assignment which is “informal portraits” and as per usual, the pets made terrible subjects because they’re not used to the camera. The cat is almost impossible to photograph because the camera scares her, I think. The dogs both get super self-conscious (do dogs GET self-conscious? hmmm), or at least they act like it, when you try to take pictures of them, as you’ll see in the following pictures.

Hoover’s better than Lucky. I think Hoover’s just more used to it.

See? Lucky always looks freaked out when you point the camera at him.
Then again, Lucky usually looks pretty freaked out. Dog’s got issues.

Pixel started off in Blake’s chair, but I messed up and had the shutter speed too slow so those pics turned out super blurry. Then she lost patience with me and walked away but I found her again in the kitchen, rubbing her cheek up against the shelves we have in there and I was lucky enough to get this shot. I had to lighten it quite a bit in Lightroom though because there was next to no light in the corner where we were.


I just liked this one because her whiskers looked cool.

Yesterday morning we had lots of frost on the ground and all over the grass/weeds in the field across the road. It was also a sunny morning, so at 8am, the light was perfect, especially with all the frost. I begged Madison to let me take pictures of her but she was running late and couldn’t do it. Bummer. She said if there’s ever an opportunity like that again to just wake her up early. I love that she’s so willing to help me practice. :o)

We can finally GET across the road because the construction has moved up the street and they’ve put big cement cylinders in the ditch with the water pipes inside them and covered them with dirt, so I guess there’s not going to be a ditch across the road anymore. The side of the bridge they were working on is finished and is now 2 lanes, but it looks like they’re setting up to start working on the other side.

Yesterday was pretty laid back. In the morning I started working on my baby druid (WoW) and played her until I got sick of doing so and Blake woke up. Then he went and got us lunch and after lunch we shot the shit about his evening the night before (he went to see Trail of Dead with Ronny & Alex and got to meet Conrad) and then it was time for a meeting with Wes’ teacher about his report card.

Wes’ report card was actually really good, good enough to allow him to play video games after school, but his teacher was concerned that he doesn’t show initiative (which is weird because he does at home) and that he’s always so negative. This is a carry over from last year when he started telling us he was depressed and basically all 3 of us (us and his teacher) think that if he’s going to go into things with a negative attitude, of course he’s going to have a negative experience. So all 4 of us are going to work on improving his outlook on life by getting him to reframe things positively. It’s just so strange because up until last year, the kid was an unabashed optimist and we’re not sure what happened. The only thing Blake can figure is that he doesn’t have a best friend and maybe that’s bothering him, but he’s never said anything like that so we just don’t know. His attitude now is just negative when it comes to school. After he gets home from school, he tells me he had a bad day, lists all the bad things from his day, but then after he has his snack and watched half an hour of TV, he’s the positive kid we’ve always known. And on weekends, he’s positive too, so I dunno.

After the meeting with his teacher, I watched Blake play Guitarsmith for the first time, which was pretty entertaining and then we just shot the shit again until it was time to go to the movies. After the movies, we went to the mall (which wasn’t packed like I thought it would be, only being a month away from Xmas) and had teriyaki for dinner and then we came home, I watched a video on the war on drugs and consciousness (which is worth watching, I think) and then I went to bed.

And now I think I’m going to read and go on the treadmill for an hour. (Madison thinks I’m weird because I don’t wear socks or shoes on the treadmill.) I started Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie yesterday and I’m finding it really difficult. Then again, I’m only on page 12 so maybe if I get used to how he writes, it’ll get easier.

Peace oot!

October 19, 2012

Macarons & Other Things

So guess who e-mailed me this morning? You’ll never guess so I’ll just tell you: my mom’s ex-boyfriend of 20 years, Keith, whom I hadn’t heard from since they broke up like, 6 or 7 years ago. Curious right? All the e-mail said was “How you all doin?”, he didn’t even sign it.

Every year around Xmas, he sends the kids each $50 Ciniplex giftcards and us a $100 grocery store or Swiss Chalet gift certificate so it’s not like he’s forgotten us this whole time or anything, we’ve just never heard from him outside of that. Every year I send him an Xmas card and a thank you e-mail but I never hear anything back.

So that was definitely weird. I wrote him back with a super Reader’s Digest version of life right now (seriously, like 2 paragraphs) and asked how he was and if he was on Facebook. I’ll bet you a million dollars I never get a response but that we’ll still get gift certificates in December.

Yesterday was a pretty eventful day. I got up at 4am for work as per usual, did my shift and then I farted around doing pretty much nothing (internetting) until around 10am when Blake could take a break from work and drive to Midland to get my painting for Touched By Fire from my shrink’s office so I could photograph it for their show catalogue since they needed a 1200px wide, 300 dpi picture of it and I only had the low-res one in my site’s gallery because somehow when we were doing a backup onto my external hard drive, we (and by “we” I don’t mean “me”) deleted all of my old files pre-2010 so it’s all gone. And the painting I’m putting in Touched By Fire was painted in the fall of 2009.  So yeah, the mad dash to Midland was on since they told us on TUESDAY that they needed this by FRIDAY! Thanks for the notice, guys.

So we got to Midland around 10:20am and decided that we were there early enough to get homemade donuts at this bakery I’m semi-obsessed with but we’ve never been there early enough to get donuts before because they sell out pretty fast so we went there and got a bunch of donuts, a chocolate eclair and a dutch apple pie. (Which in hindsight was probably a bad idea because I’m probably going to be the only one eating it and it’s the last thing I need.) I ate the eclair (also called a “long john”) on the way home and it was HEAVENLY. Did I mention that for breakfast I had toaster strudel? This comes into play later.

So after the bakery, we get the painting and come home. When we get home, I re-photograph the painting and then we put it in a safe place until it gets delivered in Toronto next month. Wait! Before we came home, we stopped off at the pharmacy where Blake got me drugs and I bought super blonde hair dye and hair elastics meant to blend in with blonde hair. I mean, you guys have all seen me, my hair is naturally blonde, I haven’t dyed it in over 2 years, but I’ve been playing with the idea of making it blonder and yesterday I decided to take the plunge.

Originally I was going to save my money and have it done professionally but I’m scared of hairdressers and I never have any money so a $13 bottle of L’Oreal it was.

So I came home, photographed the painting and threw the dye on my melon. After using Lush products exclusively for the last few years, the chemicals in regular shampoo, let alone hair dye, are extremely irritating and offensive. My skin was absolutely crawling. While I waited, I had a donut. Basically it was a deep fried cinnamon bun covered in sugar and it was delicious. Also during that time, I ordered our Mother Mother tickets for December 1st. Fucking $22 in Ticketbastard fees! $$$! Terrible!

Then it was time to wash the dye out…my hands still feel dry from that, my whole head feels dry. My hair feels fine, it didn’t damage it or anything but the colour is not one found in nature. I am now ridiculously, unnaturally blonde. Behold:

It’s really really brassy because it always is when I use bottle dye, but that’s easily fixed with the blue shampoo I got at Shopper’s Drug Mart last night and the brassiness usually fades on its own after a few weeks anyway.  I’ll be good by the time Touched By Fire rolls around and that’s what’s important.

After dying my hair, I internetted some more (got really sick because of all the grease in my stomach that lack of a gallbladder can’t process) and watched the premiere of Gossip Girl and e-mailed Alex to see if she wanted to go out for dinner with us since we were going into Barrie to get me that lens from Black’s for Xmas because Blake’s work has a deal with them for Canon products until the 21st and this was our last day to be able to go. She said yes, so when Blake was done working, we left for Barrie, picked up Alex and went to Black’s where we bought the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens for $250 less than retail price, clear lens filters for the macro (boooooo Charlie, I know, but I’m paranoid) and the new lens and a new tripod since Madison broke our old one. Plus the new one has TWO levels. Fancy schmancy. Blake’s work had 30% off accessories and tripods so we got a deal on all that too. Blake originally thought I meant a different lens than the one I got, which was only $200 and that’s the one he meant to get me for Xmas. It was essentially the same lens, just without image stabilization but even the girl in the store (and remember Blake and Alex both used to work there so it’s not like she was jerking us around) said that with this lens, you definitely want that, so we went for the more expensive one (double the price) for that feature and I told Blake I’d pay for half of everything we got yesterday. Soooooo if anyone was going to get me anything for Xmas this year? I need MONEY. Between that and Mother Mother tickets and Lush and Lotus Wei, I am so far into debt it’s ridiculous. I almost have my camera paid off and now I have this to pay for. I’m going to be broke for a very long time. :o(

But happy! :oD

After Black’s, we went to Fresh A Fare, which I think I’ve talked about before but it’s this wicked deli in Barrie (not to be confused with Dino’s in Midland that I often rave about) that smokes its own meats and has homemade soups that are to die for and refrigerated salads and entrees and homemade gelato (which they don’t have in fall and winter unfortunately) AND macarons from Paris! And that’s Paris FRANCE, not Paris Ontario! I had a turkey sandwich with lettuce and homemade mayo with havarti cheese on a sourdough bun and a small bowl of potato and spinach soup. For dessert, Blake bought me 8 macarons, 4 of which I still have and will be sharing with the kids after school.

I love my macro lens.
As long as you manually focus…

Then we dropped Alex off at her house and we came home, internetted for a while, and then I went to bed at like, 9pm. Now I’m listening to music very loudly and writing this post. When I’m finished, I’m going to sit by the front window and see if the crows come back. That’s the real reason I wanted the new lens; the other day there were crows across the road at the part and they were literally PLAYING in the fall leaves, but my kit lens couldn’t take pictures of them from far enough away that I wouldn’t scare them off so I missed the shot. I think I’m going to go take some bread crusts out there and scatter them around in the hopes the crows come back and I can hopefully take pics of them with the new lens.

PS. Our Black’s still has a wet lab, as opposed to a dry lab (which is like inkjet printing and not as good in our opinion (and theirs) so that’s a very good thing.

September 19, 2012

My Brain Lies To Me

As much as I want to write a happy, fun post about Squam and as much as I know I should, I just can’t.  Since coming back, I’ve been having a hard time. It’s grey and cold and wet and I’m just…really depressed and scared. Depressed due to lack of sleep, lack of sunshine, and just the fact that this time of year is really really hard for me. Despite my successes at Squam, I’m terrified of making the call to Rick, my caseworker, to tell him that I need help with immersion therapy. I know I’m going to make Blake do it and I’m going to make Blake come with me to the appointment and I don’t like the guy and I don’t want to do this. Except that I do. I’m so torn and confused and no one understands because I can’t even put anything into words. I’m just scared. Scared of what I don’t even know. Just scared. :o(

There’s this girl who e-mailed me while I was away, Elizabeth Nervosa, who has a clothing line “geared towards mental health awareness who is also mentally ill and who wants to do a “spotlight” on me for her website, which I agreed to (despite the fact that she called me “hun” twice, I really, truly hate that; I used to say it until I realized how patronizing it sounded). Anyway, she said that agoraphobia isn’t actually the fear of leaving your house, it’s the fear of panic once you’re out there and I think that’s probably true. I don’t go anywhere by myself because I’m scared I’ll have a panic attack and no one will be there to help me or hide me. Or get me out of there. Take care of me. I should be able to take care of myself, I know, but I’m not. That’s why I need immersion therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

And I guess this is probably a good segue into the beginning of Squam…

So my mom and I get to Squam at around 6pm, which meant that we had to register at the office and not our cabin so we did that and the lady behind the counter handed us a gift bag full of weird magazines and local tourist guides and she said that dinner was underway at the Rockywold Dining Hall (the camp is divided in half; Deephaven and Rockywold, our cabin was in Deephaven and it was a good kilometer on hiking trails to get to food from home base – I lost lbs!). Anyway she said that we were supposed to go to the dining hall and sit with the people in our first day’s class.


I didn’t even hear anything else the girl said, I needed to get back to the car as soon as possible because I couldn’t contain the panic. SO we get back to the car and I am sobbing uncontrollably and my poor mother has no idea what to do with me so I call Blake and I don’t really remember the phone call but I remember saying “I can’t move” because I could not get out of the car. While Blake talked me down (my phone bill is going to be ridiculous next month – PLEASE use the donate button on my site if you want to help!), my mom unloaded the truck of everything but my art supplies because where my 2nd day’s class was, was closer to the parking lot than our cabin.

So finally I get the nerve to move my legs and I go upstairs in our cabin to our room, still talking to Blake and then I realized that he’s a million miles away and can’t really help me so I think I said, “I’ll just talk to my mom about it” and I think I hung up on him.

My mom was just like, “they’re not your mom, they can’t make you sit with people you don’t want to”, and seeing that she had a point and after chowing down like, 6 Ativan, we drove to the parking lot and then we walked to the dining hall where my mom peeked in the door and informed me it was a buffet to which I freaked out a little more because I am terrible with buffets, they freak me right out. I made my mom promise that she’d come to the buffet with me and she did after we found a small table in a corner to ourselves to drop off our purses etc.

The food at Squam was amazing. I’ve e-mailed my mom and Belinda to see if they could remember what all we ate because like I said, my memory is crap, but I do know that first night I had salmon and this gourmet macaroni and cheese that was to DIE FOR.

In the dining hall there were two buffets, one was a salad bar and one was for hot stuff. Then on the end of the hot one there was a table for condiments etc and THEN beside THAT on the wall was a FREEZER with ALL THE FUDGSICLES AND ICE CREAM SANDWICHES YOU COULD EAT!!!!!!!!! I had bacon, sausage and ice cream every single morning for breakfast (and like I said, still did enough hiking that I lost 5lbs.) Beside the freezer was a station set up for something but I never investigated to see what it was. I know one night it was a Caesar salad bar where they put the parm and pepper on your salad for you. Belinda said it wasn’t very good though. I forget why but I remember her saying that.

Then on the wall behind the salad bar was the drink stations. You had your hot water for tea and your coffee (blech) and then there was a machine for both regular milk and all the chocolate milk you could handle (but I didn’t have any because US chocolate milk is gross with its vitamin D and crap added – ours is gross too but only because it has carageenan in it) and then they had this “enhanced water” which was like Crystal Light except with no aspartame aftertaste. I drank a metric fucktonne of the strawberry kiwi kind. I brought a water bottle with me and I just filled it up all the time.

So that was the dining hall.

So as I was saying, we got our food and we sat down to eat it and my mom said something that made me turn around and when I did, I saw two people with flaming red hair and I just KNEW it was Brian and Belinda and that Belinda would probably be freaking out too so I went over to where they were with one of the Squam guide ladies and I put my arm around Belinda, which freaked her out more probably and I told her to come to our table and so we could be freaked out together.  (Bel & I had been texting pretty much the whole time on the road. At 60 cents per text. I wasn’t kidding about that donation button…)

So we had dinner and shot the shit and then, since Brian and Belinda had driven to the dining hall, they gave us a ride back to our cabin where they still had to unpack.

We went back to our room and I started freaking out some more because I was terrified of what to do about my photography class in the morning, like how I would find it and how I would get there by myself and how it would be and that prompted another frantic phone call to Blake to calm me down (he was on his way to bed, poor guy). When I got off the phone with him, my mom promised to walk me to my class and pick me up when it was done because her class was nearby and I was satisfied with that and, exhausted, I think I pretty much took my pills and fell asleep, but not until I found an ACORN in my bed! I can’t find the meaning of an acorn that my mom found but this is what I found, which is similar:

Acorn: During the Norman Conquest, the English carried dried acorns to protect themselves from the brutalities of the day. Considered to be an emblem of luck, prosperity, youthfulness and power, the Acorn is a good luck symbol indeed! It also represents spiritual growth.”

Edit: Here’s the definition my mom found – “Mighty Oaks, from little acorns grow” Symbol of good luck, survival, growth & perseverance.

Anyway, I found an acorn in my bed, set it on the night table and passed the fuck out. Apparently my mom then Googled the meaning of an acorn and e-mailed Blake with it, telling him I’d freaked out, we solved the issue and I fell asleep.

So obviously my first day was “Spirit Session” photography with Thea Coughlin and honest to god, the woman changed my life. You know the saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world” that’s often (incorrectly) attributed to Ghandi? Well that’s her favourite saying and she really lives it, I think. I’ve never met a more genuinely positive, full of light person in my life. And the thing is, her light is infectious and she shares it freely. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First of all, I am SO fucking glad I decided to buy my Rebel for this class. Taking my point & shoot would have been completely pointless because there would have been nothing to teach. I know that purchase was controversial and I totally understand why, but believe me when I say it was essential for this class and as a result of this class, it is essential to my life. Now that I actually know how to use it, it goes with me everywhere, no matter how uncomfortable it is to carry around a giant bag full of comfort stuff (my laptop bag/purse) AND a camera bag.

But I’m still getting ahead of myself.

The first thing she did was a slide show presentation about shutter speed, aperture and ISO. I took TERRIBLE notes so I have to e-mail her and ask for a copy of her presentation. Truthfully, my morning meds make me really tired, especially if I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, which I didn’t the night before and I was barely staying awake through her presentation. Somehow though, I came out of it understanding how to take a perfectly exposed photo.

I can’t remember if it was before the presentation or after but at one point there was a “warm up activity” where you had to put your camera in auto mode (which I’d never done) and figure out what the ISO was, the shutter speed and the aperture, then see the exposure meter, then put your camera into manual and set those things yourself. Despite the fact that I already knew all that I somehow lost my mind and sat on the steps of the playhouse (our classroom, sort of like a pavilion with a wall at the back with a fireplace and a stage at one end) crying so when Thea came to me to see how I was doing I just felt so defeated I let out a stream of my mental health history and how I never leave my house and how this is a huge thing for me etc etc etc so she took me over to the fireplace and hugged me and rubbed my shoulders and told me I was beautoful and talented and creative and strong and that I could do this and that she would help me and it was literally like a fucking Carebear stare of all this light and positivity directed right at my third eye chakra or something and then she sprayed me in the face with these flower essences that were supposed to focus me and calm me down and quiet my mind and I swear on a stack of bibles that these flower essences WORK because I was more or less fine after that. I don’t know if like, aromatherapy has been debunked by Penn & Teller or anyone like that, but I truly, honestly feel like the ones that gave me energy and calmed my mind really, truly worked. I would love to get some of those essences but they’re $35 a bottle. The bottles are big though and would last a long time. As an aside, if any of you do order the essences say that you heard about them from me or Thea and that it was Squam related because Thea’s trying to get them to come to Squam’s art fair if there’s enough interest.

After that, Thea helped me do the next exercise which was called “data gathering” where (for example) you take a picture in auto mode and note where the light is coming from (left or right etc), the quality of the light (shady porch) and what the camera chose for ISO, aperture and shutter speed, what you liked about the image, what you didn’t like about it, what you wish you were able to capture but couldn’t. And then you did this for 3 photographs.

Then we did “Spirit Journaling”. At one point in her presentation she asked us to think of 2 photographs that we really loved and I chose the sepia ones I did of Madison when she was three because they were so moody and to me, they showed the darker side of childhood. The 2nd one I chose were these pics I saw once by a photographer in Iceland of long exposure pics of rivers full of ice and stuff and how the water looked smoky and smooth. So the first question for Spirit Journaling was “Looking back at what you wrote about your 2 favourite photos can you think of one or two guiding words or a quote that ties in to your spiritual connection to photography?” and I wrote “moods, tones, feelings”. (Feel free to disagree with me if you don’t think my photos convey that.)

The next question was “How does photography nourish you?” to which I had no answer and the last was “Are there any poems or songs that inspire you or tie in with your guiding words?” and I left that blank too.

Then we went to have lunch and my mom came to get me and we went and had lunch, which I can’t remember what it was but I remember looking at the menu and saying to my mom that I couldn’t eat any of that because it was all gross and she took me aside and said that negative remarks like that would affect her trip and she asked if I would please stop it. So I did. Mostly. And all that gross stuff on the menu that day I bypassed and I had cheese flatbread pizza and ice cream, if I recall correctly. And it was good.

I think I walked back to my class by myself from the dining hall but maybe I’m not remembering correctly. It’s entirely possible that I made my mom walk me back. In fact it’s highly probable. And actually now that I think of it I’m pretty sure I walked to the dining hall by myself for lunch because I took this picture of fungus on the way there:

I actually think I met my mom on the benches outside the dining hall. I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Then once we were in the dining hall, we met up with Brian and Belinda and we all had lunch together.

After lunch Thea showed us how to use a bounce and these are the pictures I took during that part.
These rocks without a bounce:

With a bounce:

 For those who don’t know, a “bounce” is a piece of SOMETHING white or silver (foamcore, styrofoam, cardboard etc) that you place  on the side of the object that’s not getting enough light and the light bounces off the bounce and illuminates the side of your object that wasn’t getting light before. The bounce I was using was two pieces of styrofoam with silver stuff on it that were taped together to make a < shape. The effect is subtle in my examples because we were outside but it’s there.

Here’s another picture I took during photography class. These pom poms were everywhere:

This stuff was everywhere too:

After taking all those pics, I told her I was done. Because I did the assignment, I knew how a bounce worked and I didn’t need 32 million pictures of rocks. I played with depth of field with the pom pom as was asked (although really, I should have used 5.0 rather than 5.7) and I thought I took a pretty good picture of the twinkle lights, which was our next assignment (to adjust ISO & aperture) so I was done!

Other people still needed help though so she said to me that since she thought my talent was to find the moodiness of things, that she wanted to see dark Hansel and Gretel and light Hansel and Gretel, so challenge accepted, I went out into the woods and took these two pictures:

This was supposed to be my “dark” Hansel and Gretel.

This was supposed to be my “light” Hansel and Gretel.
I realize there’s not a fairy in that story but the sun reminded me of a fairy in the woods.

Then on the way back to the playhouse, I took this picture for no apparent reason:

Then I went back to the playhouse and took pictures of my shoes because again, I was “done”. I did what she asked me to do so I thought I’d just sit there quietly until the next instructions.

During this time, most of the rest of the class had paired up to try doing “Spirit Sessions” which is Thea’s way of doing portraits. I have a whole sheet on how to do it, but I’ll just show you the first little bit:

“*It is a dance. In a way a sort of heart spirit courting ritual.
* Start with a hug.
* Sit as close as you are comfortable looking into each other’s faces and eyes.
* Remain open to move closer while talking if it feels natural.
*In your heart keep your intention…connecting…seeing…sending love.
*Ask them what they are stepping into in their lives…”

Like I said, there’s a whole sheet on her process and it’s actually pretty cool and it totally works for her. I’m not sure I could pull it off but I’m going to practice with Madison and Wes as soon as it’s not so cold & rainy. We’ll probably start with geocaching pictures in the fall leaves, I figure.

So after she’d checked on everyone else and she saw me taking pictures of my shoe, she asked to see my Hansel and Gretel pictures and she asked if I was happy with them. I said I was not because they weren’t moody either way at all. Well, the “fairy” one kind of was but I was trying to get a lens flare and I didn’t know how to do that.

So Thea took me back into the woods, put her lens on my camera and she asked me to take a picture of this weird macrame wreath hanging in the forest which was actually what I’d been trying to get a picture of (with the sun coming through it) but was unsuccessful, so here’s the picture I took:

Then she showed me how to over expose and this was the result:

The aperture was 1.4 on this pic, where it should have been much higher, but it was over exposing that she was showing me so we had the ISO at 800 with a shutter speed of 1/127 sec. (You can see all that info in my gallery if you actually go to the gallery page of each pic. Like this. It’s VERY useful, I find, especially when you’re experimenting.)

Then she showed me how to under expose and how to get “moody” when Hansel and Gretel’s trail is just a bit too sunny (this was still with her lens):

Same path, just a little more ominous. ISO was 100, aperture was 1.4, shutter speed was 1/197 and my hand was verrrrry steady. I think it turned out rather well and now I want a lens like hers (but I don’t know what kind it is. I can ask her though.)

On our way back from the woods, Thea asked if she could take my Spirit Portrait and I honestly wasn’t sure. I’d e-mailed her before Squam to tell her how nervous about that I was and she reassured me and what I really learned from her class, aside from how to actually use my camera, was that taking a person’s portrait is all about trust. I trusted her not to show me the ugly ones, not to keep them and not to show them to anyone else. And she only sent me the 3 best ones. Here are the other two:

The rest of the class was spent taking pictures of “something that is special to you” and that, for me, is a whole post in and of itself, which I’ll probably write after this one if my drugs haven’t kicked in and put me to sleep. For now, here’s a playhouse chipmunk that I took a pic of while I waited for my mom; these little guys were EVERYWHERE and they were not afraid of people in the slightest.

After class, it was SO hot, especially after my mom picked me up from class and we walked “home” on the trails so when we got back to the cabin, I made it my mission to convince Belinda to go swimming in the lake with me. It didn’t take much convincing! I put on my aqua bikini and Belinda put on her suit and we grabbed towels and we got about tits deep, decided it was way too clod and got out. We shot the shit on the dock with the 4 of us until it was time for dinner.

This is a pic I took of my mom on the dock that day (with my phone – if you follow me on Twitter, you’d get pics like these as they happen!):

After we were done at the dock – oh yeah, we were drinking Mike’s Hard on the dock too, we only had one each though – Belinda went to shower and my mom and I went up to our room so I could change and so my mom could do internetting or whatever she was doing (I forget) and then it was time for dinner so we got a ride with Brian and Belinda who drove to dinner and classes most of the time because Bel has bad hips and hiking through the woods on trails really really hurts her. :o(

Dinner that night was fucking amazing! It was roast beef, medium-well, hand-carved right on your plate! There was also a mushroom risotto of some sort that I didn’t have…all of us are drawing a blank. I know there were roasted red potatoes, of which I had like, 4 because I LOVE potatoes. And I’m pretty sure all I had was meat and potatoes. And probably ice cream.

After dinner, we all drove back to the cabin and I know I internetted for a little while, just trying to catch up on e-mail and then somehow Cards Against Humanity got brought up, which Belinda had brought with her, and we had 7 or 8 of us playing it by the end of the night and it was a goddamn RIOT. We even had a real live OPERA singer named Ramona in our cabin who wanted to play and a fellow Whovian named Kat who was wearing Dalek socks! I told Blake we had to buy it and get the special Canadian deck of cards once we’re not so far in debt. My mom didn’t play but she sat with us by the fire and at one point the grumpier of the two rich, drunk ladies who were criticizing us the whole time said something like, “do you condone this garbage?” and my mom said, “It’s just good to hear them laugh.” I heard that and almost started crying because I knew exactly what she meant. 14 months ago, we didn’t know if I’d ever have the chance to laugh with my friends again and I know those kinds of thoughts shook both my mom and Blake to their very cores.

The game was over at about 11pm when Belinda had to go to work (she won because she’s a truly terrible person) and then my mom and I went upstairs to bed. I think I checked my e-mail again and just passed out.

Oh yeah, after dinner, we transferred my art supplies from my mom’s truck to Belinda’s car so Brian could drive us to our first class/breakfast and drop it off because our class the next day was right across the path from the dining hall. Then when he got back from Fun Spot, this super old arcade, he’d pick it back up from the cabin and all would be good.

The next day would be Pages and Paint with Sarah Ahearn Bellemare, whose book I have and had brought with me to have both her and Thea sign (Thea did the pictures). Thea signed it: “Dearest Sunny, You are brave, beautiful, and full of light. Much love, Thea“. That class I also shared with Belinda so I was less nervous about it than my first day’s classes. But I’m going to save that story for tomorrow because it wasn’t a very positive experience – well, in some ways it was, I learned some things after the fact – and I don’t want to bring this post down.

The next day my mom’s class was going to be “Story Scarves”, which ended up pretty cool, so keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post where I’ll show it to you!

And now I’ll go work on my other photography post where I had to take pictures of something that was special to me.

PS. The new Mother Mother album “The Sticks” came out yesterday and it is pretty damn good! Check it out!  I think “Dread in my Heart” is going to be like, my new anthem.

August 21, 2012

Nourishing the Muse

So someone rudely informed me recently that I only live my life online and therefore I have no perspective. On life, I’m assuming, this person threw a tantrum and didn’t clarify further. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends. Oh well. Anyway, I don’t live my life online although I can understand why people might think that, I am online a lot, I’m always connected, but so are most of my friends. I don’t see a problem with that, I mean, welcome to my generation (which this person is supposedly a part of but his comments made me wonder if it isn’t he who was the sheltered one, but I’m straying from my point)…anyway, yes, I am agoraphobic and yes, I don’t leave my house as often as most people. I have a job that allows me to work from home and my “outside the house” destinations really boil down to Michael’s, Curry’s and Starbucks. Oh and the beach and the doctor’s office. But I don’t see how those places are any different than anyone else’s. Why would someone who leaves the house more often than me have a better perspective of life than I do when I talk to literally 50 different people per day online and we discuss more intimate things than I would discuss with a stranger on the subway? From my observations, people who leave the house all the time usually keep to themselves. All of my friends who regularly use public transit protect themselves from the other passengers by way of very obvious headphones. Everyone I talk to, or maybe not everyone but the vast majority, goes through their “outside” lives in a bubble with the goal to not engage anyone, so how is their perspectives on life “better” than mine? And since when is this a contest anyway? I think everyone’s perspectives on life are equally valid without exception. To think otherwise would be awfully close-minded and insulting because you’re invalidating a person’s entire life experience. (Which was his point; to be as insulting as possible – I think anyway.)

What made me think of all this is the fact that in the last 24 hours, I have experienced things. I have nourished the muse, filled the well. Probably moreso than the loser who wishes he was a tiger and worships David Hasselhoff, who tried to tell me I’m not as awesome as I feel.

Yesterday Madison made me a BLT on an everything bagel because she loves me. In fact she’s doing it again as I type this and I suppose I’ll write the rest of this while I’m eating. (And chances are, I’ll give half of it to Wes because I can’t eat a whole one by myself. It’s just too much grease for my lack of gallbladder but oh so tasty.) I am so lucky to have a daughter who cares about her family enough to think of them when it comes time to prepare food. I would think most teenagers would only think of themselves and their own needs. Madison is constantly asking me if I need anything and if she can do anything for me to make my day better. For a while I was afraid that she was doing this to like, take care of me because I’m mentally ill or whatever, but I’ve been reassured that it’s just because she loves me. We definitely have a bond that’s different than the bond I have with Wes. Equal but different.

Madison made herself bacon and eggs while she made me my BLT and at the same time, she and Wes are making blueberry and carrot muffins for the whole family. In fact, I wanted bacon and eggs too but after the muffin making, there were only 2 eggs left so that’s why I’m having a BLT – so Madison could have bacon and eggs. After all, she’s doing all the work, she deserves to have the meal she wants. It’s only fair.

Prior to making muffins, the kids were in Madison’s room painting. They hung pieces of wrapping paper backwards on her wall from floor to ceiling and they’re using my paint to paint these sheets of paper. Wes painted nyan cat so far and a planet. Madison’s still sketching out her creation in pencil. She’s definitely more of a planner and Wes is more of a do-er.

Madison likes to plan experiences for all of us, particularly Wes, so I think she should be an event planner when she grows up but she doesn’t know.

Today I had an extra day off because I worked for Belinda last week so she worked my shift for me today. I had said I wasn’t going to be online at all today but I wanted to at least make this post because I feel like so much has happened in the last little while, like quality stuff.

This week Blake is taking a class in Toronto I think to learn something about Oracle. Last night I called his cell because I thought he should be home already but there was no answer and I never leave voicemail so I just hung up and figured he must be in the deadzone near Horseshoe Valley Road. A few minutes later he called me back because he was at the flower shop in Barrie that sells peacock feathers, asking how many he should buy. We decided on 6 because their “eyes” weren’t as big as I had envisioned them in my head. In case you haven’t read my post from a few days ago about peacock feathers, here it is. (Long story short, I’m planning an elaborate painting using them.) I never asked Blake to stop off and get them and I didn’t ask him to pay for them either. I get paid at the end of this week and my plan was to go to that flower shop on Sunday to get them. He beat me to the punch. THAT is what a supportive husband looks like!

I sketched out the peacock painting on the last page of my current sketchbook and I’d scan it to show you but since the feathers’ eyes are smaller than originally anticipated, I’m going to have to alter the design quite a bit. But now that I have the peacock feathers, the next step is to go to the zoo and take Polaroids of actual peacocks. Luckily there’s a zoon in my town, the Elmvale Jungle Zoo, that has peacocks so that won’t be too hard. I would like to go on Sunday but I’m not sure that’ll happen because we’re supposed to go to pow wow with Kara on Sunday but Heatha can’t come and she was Kara’s ride so I’m not sure what’s happening now. I don’t want to go to pow wow without Kara because if I’m going to go, I want a tour guide, so if she can’t come up then we’re not going.

The other thing is that there’s this big Picasso exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario that ends on Sunday and I really really want to go see that because I’ve never been to an art museum in my life and I love Picasso. Or at least what I’ve seen of his work. It’s $25 admission, which I don’t really have to spare, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I think it’s going to win out over pow wow and the zoo because I can go to pow wow next year and the zoo literally any time I want to, it’s just up the road. Also I think Alex wants to go to pow wow with us too but she’s going to a convention of some sort so maybe waiting until next year when she can come is a better idea anyway.

For someone so sheltered who doesn’t get out much, I certainly have a bit of a scheduling conflict!

I still haven’t tested varnishing Polaroids but I took a ton of really awful, blurry shots yesterday because I was using the tele lens when I should have been using the macro so I’ll use those to test it out. What I was taking pictures of and why is actually sort of exciting! Or at least I think so!

So I haven’t totally worked out the whole painting yet, but I want to do a painting with a fairy girl with monarch butterfly wings and she’d be holding a Polaroid picture of a monarch caterpillar! So that’s what we were taking Polaroids of yesterday when Blake got home from work. To be totally honest, I’m not so great with the Polaroid but Blake, despite his hate of the camera and low-fi photography in general, is like a goddamn Polaroid whisperer. When I’m struggling to get a shot and wasting film, he can just take the picture and have it be fine. What a dick, eh? Regardless, I now have like, 12 pictures, both blurry and nice, of monarch caterpillars.

I also have 3 monarch caterpillars sitting in a tank on my desk. :o)

They were born in my milkweed patch (which I grow for this reason, milkweed is all monarch butterflies eat) and I would say that they’re a few weeks old judging by the size of them. In about a week and a half, they’ll stop eating and crawl to the top of the tank and hang upside down, forming a “J” shape with their bodies. Then their skin will split (it’s actually pretty gross) and they’ll form into bright green chrysalids with a gold line around the top.

Then in about another week & a half to 2 weeks or so, the chrysalids will turn transparent and the butterflies will emerge. At first their wings will be wet and all crinkled up so the butterflies will pump their wings to straighten them out and to pump blood into them while they dry out. At this point, in the wild, the butterflies would be extremely vulnerable to predators because they can’t fly yet. Monarch butterflies are poisonous to some birds but not all, from what I’ve read, but I don’t know which birds actually eat them. I know lots of birds eat the caterpillars though, while only a few eat the actual butterflies.

It’ll take a few days for the butterflies to actually be able to fly and at that point we’ll take them outside and let them crawl on our hands until they’r ready to fly away. I always wait until this point in the summer to hand raise the caterpillars because it’s their last generation of the summer and these ones won’t have a short life like previous generations of the same summer and they’ll make their migration to Mexico for the winter. What I’m not totally sure of is if these butterflies will go to Mexico and then return to Canada in the spring or if they fly to Mexico, lay eggs and die and then THOSE new butterflies fly back to Canada. I googled a few years ago when I started doing this but the internet wasn’t clear on that point.

The kids can tell the caterpillars apart, but I can’t and they’ve named them. Madison made this handy chart to tell them apart but they still all look the same to me. Apparently all of them but “Sniffer” are females according to Madison’s google fu but I don’t see this supposed line on their butts that’s how you apparently tell their sex.

Wes named Sniffer and Madison named the other 2.  I forget what Tozzo means (it’s Italian for something, “stubby” maybe) but Rubigo apparently means “caterpillar” in Latin.

Here are pictures of our current house guests:

Aren’t they gorgeous? I love them so so much and so do the kids. I wonder if they can feel our love? Y’know like how dogs can supposedly smell fear? Do you think animals or creatures in general can sense love?

Right now I’m reading The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice and it’s obviously about a werewolf. In it he can smell fear and innocence and he can sniff out people who mean harm. I realize it’s fiction, but I’ve often wondered like, when I’m loving my dogs, do they know that’s what I’m doing? The cat sure doesn’t. She doesn’t appreciate kitty lovins. However, if I’m “torturing” the cat by holding her in my arms and petting her and rubbing my face on her head, none of which she likes because I’m holding her, if I set her down on the ground she doesn’t take off and hide from me. She’ll lay there so I can love her how she wants to be loved. So maybe she does know that I’m loving her and not torturing her or being mean to her. With Lucky, even if you’re telling HOOVER what a good dog he is, Lucky’s tail will be wagging. So I think they know or can sense it. I’m sure studies have been done on this, I just haven’t read them.

Speaking of The Wolf Gift, I’ve gotta say I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I really didn’t think I would because I’ve never had any interest in werewolves. I’ve read almost every book Anne Rice has ever written (I couldn’t get into her angel books, but I did try!) and it really bummed me out when she stopped writing the Vampire Chronicles (but I understood why) and found God instead because that’s just so fucking boring. Her Jesus books were alright and from what I understand pretty historically accurate and well researched but if I wanted to read about Jesus, I’d read the bible. But because she wrote them, I read them and just thought she could do better. Then when she announced she’d be writing about werewolves, I was like, “whhhhhy Annie, whyyyyyyy?” but she’d done a really good job of creating a character who you can’t help but care about. I’m about halfway through the book and so far so good. I recently discovered the disgusting joy that is cheddar cheese flavoured pretzel Combos so I’ve been eating those and reading most evenings lately.

On Monday I had to get up early for good ol’ Cheryl who had to come and change my dressing. We’re using silver on it to keep the infection down but the dressing isn’t waterproof so once again I can’t shower. :o( Dr. Hanrahan ordered waterproof bandages with silver in them but my homecare nurses claim they can’t get them so I’m stuck with Aquacell AG which looks like felt and you can’t get it wet or it deteriorates and it sticks to the scab and ribs it off so healing is slow and then gauze on top, taped on with clear surgical tape that I stole from the hospital. I’m not happy about this. They’ve ordered waterproof bandages that we can use in combination with the awful Aquacell AG but they haven’t come yet. Cheryl says I might not be able to go swimming this year at all with how this last bit of wound is healing. What happened to me being Wolverine?

Sex the other day went okay painwise during the actual act but at 3am that night, I woke up in excruciating stomach muscle pain and I had to come into my office to take 4 Tylenol 1s and an extra strength Ibuprofen and I had to wait until they had kicked in before I could go back to sleep. The next day I couldn’t figure out what I must have done to make my pain WORSE than it was a week ago and that’s when Jax reminded me that Blake and I had had the relations the day before and that’s the only thing it could have been. I was sure if we did it doggy-style it would be okay because that doesn’t really engage those muscles but apparently I was mistaken. :o/ Now at night when I turn over, I practically cry because the pain is so bad.

In a week and a half I have to start weaning off from the hydromorph and I have no idea how I’m going to manage that with the pain the way it is. If I’d have understood what Dr. Hanrahan was saying when she said I had to “make the decision” to stop them, I would have spoken up about my pain levels. But she didn’t really ask about my pain and I thought when she said I had to “make the decision” she meant when *I* thought it was time to do so. Blake and my mom assure me that was not the case so because I misunderstood, I have to start weaning in a week and a half. Way to go genius.

On September 18th, Mother Mother will be releasing their new album called “The Sticks” and I am so fucking excited I can barely stand it! I wish it was coming out sooner so I could bring it with me to Squam but at least it’ll be a nice thing to come home to anyway. Here’s them doing “Dread in My Heart” on a porch somewhere for some magazine or radio station or something. I don’t know if it’s their song or a cover or if it’s even going to be on the new album, but I really hope so because I’ve heard them do it a few times now and I really love it:

My big project this week is decorating the cover of my new sketchbook because my old one got full and I need one for my 2nd class at Squam. (Well, I obviously need one anyway, but it’s in the material list for Squam too.) So far the cover has a layer of white gesso, metallic pink acrylic paint, crackle medium and white paint over top which is pretty much the beginning of every painting I do. I think my colour scheme is just going to be pink and turquoise like I do everything but I’m going to try using fabric for the girl on the cover’s dress instead of paper because that way I can (theoretically) use pink for her dress without it turning orange when I varnish it. The unfortunate part of doing that is that I’m going to have to locate my iron and find a dog hair-free place to iron the fabric. The last time I used my iron I was making crayon hearts like a million years ago so chances are I’m going to have to clean the iron too so I don’t get crayon wax on my fabric. Getting crayon wax out of the little holes at the bottom of an iron is extremely difficult. I guess I’ll have to use Q-Tips!

Blake just texted me that he’s been to Michael’s and has procured me a brand new, 8 oz. bottle of Titanium White Americana paint so when he gets home, I’ll be good to go to start working on these new paintings, the ones with the Polaroids.

Anyway, I said I wasn’t going to be online today and it’s taken me a couple of hours to write this post so I guess I’ll wrap it up and get back to my sketchbook. I hope you’re all having a fantastic Tuesday!

Edit (9pm): Two of the caterpillars are hanging upside down in a J-shape! We should have chrysalids by morning! Guess I underestimated their age!

July 17, 2012

New Mother Mother!

Posted at 3:46 pm in: Canada , Creativity , Mother Mother , Music , Summer
April 22, 2012

Everyone’s Fucked And They Don’t Even Know.

That title is from a Mother Mother song called “The Stand”.

Anyway, I love “shuffle”, because that song was followed by Bob Marley and that was awesome because it’s Sunday and I love Bob Marley on sunny Sunday mornings. I realize that by the time you’re reading this it’s not going to be morning but for me, it’s only 12:40-ish as I’m writing this right now and that’s like morning for me because I pretty much got out of bed, made sure Madison was busy and didn’t need anything, realized Blake was at hot yoga and would be for like, another hour I think, the coast was clear to sneak a bowl before we go geocaching in the afternoon with Alex.

Ronny hurt his back a few days ago :o(. So he’s probably not coming but Alex said she would and that is awesome because trampsing through the bush with Alex today with the sun shining and the kids being excited to find “WONDERBALL” the awesomest cache I think near us that we’re going to have found so far  today is exactly what I want to do when I’m coming down from the giant bowl of whatever the fuck I smoked this morning was.  Does that make sense? I hope so because whatever the hell this is, it’s good stuff. You only need a tiny bit to get completely fucked up and the high lasts a long time. I have no idea how it was grown or created or whatever. I don’t watch Weeds anymore so I’m unclear as to where my pot came from, I’m not a weed nerd who knows like, every type of sativa silvanus whateverus was ever hydroponically created vs the natural shit coming out of places like Mexico where they grow it in fucking fields or something right?

Anyway, it was 4/20 2 days ago, we got some, it’s awesome. It’s awesome because you only have to smoke a tiny bit and everything is just great. I’m in a fantastic mood, I’m listening to good music, I’m warm in only a t-shirt, I’m sitting cross legged in my chair listening to Mother Mother again (“Ghosting” this time, excellent song). The furnace is on but it’s not annoying like I find it most of the time. The dogs are passed out somewhere, not needing attention. I have zero responsibility right now except to feed myself, but I will and when I do it’s going to be two Eggo waffles with a LOT of margarine and about a half a cup of real Maple Fucking Syrup.

Know why? Blake and the kids went to the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday and  got us TWO giant bottles of Real Fucking Maple Syrup (which would be an awesome brand of maple syrup if a maple syrup farmer had the balls to print the labels LOL). One is considered “dark” maple syrup and one is considered “light” maple syrup and I think the difference is how long they “cook” it for because all maple syrup is, is boiled down tree sap right? At least that’s, I’m pretty positive, how my Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill always made it, I don’t remember them ever adding anything else to it, they’d just pour the sap into this big huge VAT type metal container that had a flame under it, like a fire, and that boiled the sap. I remember my Aunt Betty once boiling sap on the stove for like, “instant” maple syrup and I think that’s how Blake’s friend Charissa does it, I mean, tapping trees is easy if you have a lot of them.

I remember growing up in Stouffville, which was a pretty big town, like its down town core, when you’re like, I dunno, in grade 3. I think to Wes, Elmvale feels like a big place because it takes “so long” to walk anywhere and he hates having to walk home from school. I understand where he’s coming from because I used to think the same thing when I was in grade 3 and lived in Stouffville when it was small. Anyway I’m straying from my point; when I used to walk home from school when I lived in Stouffville in grade 3, there were people who were tapping trees in their front yards all throughout the neighbourhood we walked home from school through. We didn’t live in that neigbourhood, that’s just where I got babysat, but you would never see tapped maple trees in a front yard in most subdivisions anymore. I don’t even know what kind of trees they plant in the front yards of subdivisions anymore but it’s always just 1. And is it a maple tree? Probably not the right kind to make good maple syrup, if it is. Back when they were planning the neighbourhoods that were in Stouffville when I grew up, they planned the houses AROUND the trees so everyone would have nice big, mature maple trees, the good kind that our country up here had just EVERYWHERE naturally, I think anyway. And I think that’s awesome. It’s too bad subdivisions now, unless they’re really expensive, are clear cut and then replanted so people can’t enjoy them in their lifetimes. Again, unless you’re like, Oprah rich and can have full grown trees shipped in. (If you live in an area they can live in.)

Anyway, it would have probably have been beneficial for me to go to the Maple Syrup Festival with Blake and the kids but I had to work yesterday and I like to have some time to myself before starting my 9 hour shift. I know 9 hours is only 1 hour more than a “normal” workday but right now a “normal” workday, doing what I do, is really really hard (especially when you’re on the kind of drugs I’m on for my health issues). You are stuck in a chair all day, the e-mails come in faster than you can conceive of doing anything artistic so all you can do is maybe follow Twitter since it’s slow on a Saturday night most of the time, maybe follow a conversation on AIM on a Saturday night but the only two people I talk to on the weekends on AIM are work people and they have lives so they don’t always have the time to talk to me. Anyway, my job is like, high attention because certain things are big deals on weekends and I can’t slip up because a big slip up could cost our company a lot of money down the line and believe it or not, I take my job pretty damn seriously because I know what it feels like to not HAVE a job and being able to work from home and be with my family and stay ahead financially is a huge thing in this life, not just this economy where a lot of people don’t even have jobs, and being able to work on a schedule that’s really really good for me – that’s a blessing. So I take my job really seriously. Plus, I actually really like my bosses and I actually really care about the people I work with. It’s all good. :o)

Now Jay-Z is on. Now Beck. “Loser”, how appropriate for my current state of mind. Have you ever really listened to the words of this song? What was HE on when HE made this song or is this just a byproduct of $cientology?

It’s 1:19pm. “My time is a piece of wax, falling on a termite, who’s choking on the splinters”. Genius or insane? “Get crazy with the Cheez-Whiz”? I love it, I don’t know why I love it but I do. That’s the anthem of a generation, not “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

And while I’m harshing on the 90s, we watched SNL last night with Daniel Radcliffe and while I think he did a good job, for the most part SNL seems to be like…cool mostly for telling square 20-somethings what’s cool. Lana Del Rey? Um what was that obnoxious band I saw again on Ellen, oh yeah “Karmin”. omg what? They were terrible! I can’t even remember right now what other stuff I’ve seen on SNL recently because it’s mostly just mediocre (except for last night’s) with bits of Kristin Whig and Bill Hader thrown in. I don’t even know the names of anyone else on the show right now except for those two and Keenan Thompson who’s been on the show too long.  I realize all the sketches can’t be gems since they write these sketches, I think, in a very short period of time and ideas, solid ones, don’t just happen because they need to happen, that’s not how ideas work.

There was this cache I found on sort of near us, at least on the way to Barrie. It’s apparently a “book cache”, which isn’t an official category of cache as defined by the site, but I think it’s a good idea and I found a couple of books, including the How To Get Ideas book I was reading last week, that would be good for a kind of cache like that but the cache itself is apparently in bad condition if it’s even there at all at this point because now that everyone knows it’s ruined just by reading the comments, no one’s going to go out and look for it. Well, the way I see it is, it probably got ruined because of moisture because the comments say that the contents are moldy. Well, books + moisture = mold. So it could have been the container or it could have been that someone didn’t CLOSE the container properly. So I wonder what the container was and if it’s something that IS watertight, like an ammo box or something, and someone just didn’t close it properly, then I say we go out there and get a free ammo box so we can replace the cache and keep it as a book cache because Blake and I think that’s a good idea. The guy who placed it has placed a few caches in the area but hasn’t seemed to have maintained them, or an internet presence, in over a year. So who knows, maybe he got sick? Or maybe he died?


I think we’ll wait and talk to some of the pros at this big event in Midland in June to do anything about it to see what the actual protocol of doing something like that is (the cache is apparently exposed now due to logging in the area too, so the cache location may have to be moved). I don’t know the official channels on you have to go through to do something like this. It’s just a thought we had.

Wow, so this post was a little all over the place haha. To wrap up, because Wes is home and I still have to eat my waffles and it’s like, 1:40-ish and Blake should be home soon; weed is controversial, music is awesome, maple syrup is awesome and I know an awful lot about it so I hope by Blake and the kids going to the Maple Syrup Festival, they learned a little bit about maple syrup too. Alex is awesome. I am awesome. You are awesome. Have a fantastic Sunday. :o)