Random Bits & Bobs

In French, as in English, there are homonyms. The word avocat, for example, means both "avocado" and "lawyer". We can thank the Canadian government ruling that everything be labeled in both languages for my recent revelation that I have been moisturizing my face with Lawyer Oil.

Oooh, greasy.

I treated myself to a Wacom tablet a while back. I've been coveting one for years. Also, I felt that the reason I was not drawing very much was that I was awkwardly sketching comics on paper, and then scanning them into the computer, and then inking and coloring them digitally. Wouldn't it be ever so much more convenient if I could draw them digitally to begin with? Wouldn't I draw so much more?

I've had it 5 months and drawn with it twice. Clearly "convenience" is not the reason I don't draw much.

"Mom, if a bear eats a whole fox, that means it's his birthday." - my enigmatic 5 year old, completely out of the blue.

 

One of these days I'll promise to blog every day but today is not that day.

 

There's always an exception

The day after I blogged for the first time in ages, a co-worker said to me,

"I read your blog."

I froze. Oh. Right. This was part of the reason that I eased away from blogging. Because there is only so much material that a person is comfortable posting and subsequently having brought up during a coffee break. I'm trying to be a professional here and all.

"Oh." I said cautiously.

"Actually, like 5 pages of it," he continued. "I especially liked Jesus Snail."

I un-froze slightly. I don't know why I worry about this. My co-workers are awesome. They're not going to be offended. I'm always going to live in fear of my mother-in-law finding my blog, but I guess I don't care if my co-workers read it.

Another co-worker overheard this exchange and demanded the link. Which I happily gave her. Apparently, as of now, I give no fucks about who reads my blog.

(Except my mother-in-law.)

(Seriously, if I find out one of you told her about it, I will hunt you down and STAB YOU IN THE FACE*.)

 

*Not really. But please don't.

Update on the patio

I know you are just dying to be told how that went.

Well, I finished the seating. The heavy as fuck, wood part, anyway. I stained it but probably didn't seal it properly and OH MY GOD WHO CARES, I WAS JUST TIRED OF BUILDING PATIO FURNITURE.

I think it turned out okay:

Chillin' out maxin, relaxin, cool.The cushions were not sewn by hand as intended, but were purchased at a deep discount because it was, as you can guess, near the end of the season.

We still got a few good weeks of sittin', though.

Note that there is no table-with-cooler, nor is there a chandelier. I even downgraded the plan to Just Make Some Side Tables, but I was tired of the whole thing.

Next summer.

Oh, look.

[pokes blog]

[waits]

[shakes blog, smacks it around a little]

Oh! Good. Still alive then.

So, around this time of year is when Becky gets all bloggy and inspiring, and I start to think, hey! I have a blog. I should do that again.

(It took until the middle of the month for me to be really inspired this year, not because Becky is not totally inspiring, but because I'm extra lazy.)

But anyway. I guess I should blog, because I have this blog, and I'm paying for it to be hosted somewhere, by people who did something majorly cool like haul their servers up many flights of stairs to keep customers blogs hosted during that giant storm last year, which was approximately the same time I gave any thought to the hosting of my blog. 

(That run-on sentence is definitely the best reason to start sharing my thoughts with the world again.)

Also, I have time to blog now, because I am no longer doing the roller derbies.

What? Why? (I imagine you asking.)

Well, as it turns out, making a roller derby league successful is really fucking hard. Our league was the result of a split from the original league in town, and was still finding its wobbly bambi legs. It split for legitimate reasons, and had a good run at it, but was constantly battling challenges like finding a practice space and retaining membership. 

All leagues face those challenges, but ours had some major hiccups, and now it is back down to some original core members, all of whom are burnt out on trying to keep the league going. TOD has not been officially called, but the attending surgeon is glancing at the clock.

Also, this summer Alfred broke his leg in his pro wrestling debut. Did I mention Alfred was taking a swing at being a pro wrestler? I think I may have. I guess he decided if I could dress up in crazy outfits and beat people up in front of crowds, so could he.

Anyway, during his exit from the ring - a Royal Rumble in which he spent a good 8 minutes being thrashed by at least 5 men, not that there's anything wrong with that - he landed poorly and cracked his tibia.

(I say "exit" like it was unspectacular, but in fact he was thrown over the top ropes, a move he hadn't even practiced until that day.)

He "sold" it by limping off stage holding his back, which is what wrestlers do. I leaned in towards my friend and said, "I think he actually hurt himself."

She nodded sagely.

He spent the night in emerg. They gave him a brace, which he wore (or a variation of it) for 10 weeks. 

Obviously Alfred was the one with the pain and mobility issues, but it really made me realize how screwed I would be if I broke an ankle playing derby. It's a fairly common injury, especially if you drag your toe stops, which I am guilty of. If I were out of commission for 10 weeks (or more), I would...hate it a lot. Really, really, a lot. And Shit would not Get Done.

So, no more derbies. This makes me sad, in some ways. Somehow it is time to move on though. I'm just not sure what to move to. My exercise regime has me halfheartedly following a co-worker around as she lifts weights, which is not that inspiring.

Any suggestions?

 

 

Patio

I finally bit the bullet and just paid somebody to put in our patio.

Because, otherwise, it'd be Labor Day before we managed to do it ourselves, and that would give us approximately 2 days to enjoy it before there was snow on it. We spent all last summer with a mud hole instead of a patio and I didn't feel like doing that again.

But because I spent money to get it put in, I felt like I couldn't spend a lot of money on seating. It's a pretty big area, it needs basically an entire living room furniture suite to fill it up.

(Or, a crapload of toys and bikes and garden implements and random shit, but I'd prefer the furniture.)

I know what you're going to say - Keely! Haven't you seen on Pinterest, how you can totally make furniture out of old wooden palettes and some yarn?

And yes, I have seen that. It looks...ok. But I felt like, I'm handier than that, I can wield power tools, I could one-up the wooden palettes and still do it on the cheap. Right? Right.

So I found some plans online for a patio sectional, that looked pretty do-able. About 6 seats, with an estimated 10-12 hours of work. And I thought, hey, while I'm at it I should build it out of 2x4s instead of 1x4s because it will be marginally cheaper but also HEAVY AS FUCK, and that's what I'm looking for in a sectional.

It gets windy here. You can never be too careful.

And while I am at it, I should plan to build about NINE seats, because it's a pretty big area, and also I need some plans for a center table that has built-in coolers, so I can sit and have some beers on ice without having to go into the house. I will probably build that out of 2x4s too because really, who needs to move their table ever?

Cushions? Well, I could probably sew those up. I'm handy, you know.

Oh, and I'm also on the hunt for a chandelier because Pinterest told me it would be cool to hang it from the tree and replace the lights with solar lights.

1 of 9. Before sanding or staining or cushioning. Kill me now.

I'll post a pic when it's all done.

Sometime around Labor Day.

Teal

One morning a few weeks ago, I put on a new sweater-type top that I had picked up at Sears Clearance Centre for 6 dollars. Because it was such a bargain, it wasn't a color that I'd normally choose. It was sort of a turquoise-y teal-y blue, a color family which I have largely avoided since the early nineties, when it seemed to be everywhere and was usually paired with pink. And neon. 

But, hey, six dollars.

"Ah, teal," remarked Alfred when he saw it, "The color of sarcasm."

"Um...what?"

"Sarcasm. In this one online game that I play, whenever someone enters teal font into the chat window, it's understood to be sarcastic. I just assumed that was sort of an internet standard."

"No," said I, "It's not."

A couple of weeks later, at the hairdressers, I found myself agreeing to this:

 

The color was planned. But it was going to be pink.  Except my hairdresser showed me this new product, and suddenly the teal was inexplicably appealing.

Then last week on a work trip to Dallas, I got it into my head that I wanted blue cowboy boots. I walked into the store and there they were:

 

Not blue, exactly, but definitely my boots. They came home with me and I have been planning outfits around them ever since. 

I don't know, I can't explain it, this sudden attraction to the color teal.

Make it stop

For some reason, winter is still here.

It's really pulling out all the stops this year, showing up early, staying late, breaking records. It's like the model employee that you can't fucking stand.

That's an assload of snow.I'm trying to stay positive about it - it will go away eventually! Maybe I can try to grow rice this year! - but I'm starting to get a little bitter. Seriously, enough already. You win, winter. You broke me.

I mean, look at me - I'm blogging about the weather. 

That is just...sad.

Jesus Snail

A while back we bought two of those snails for the 5-year-old's fish tank. You know, the kind that eat the algae so you can be lazy and never clean the fish tank? Anyway, they cleaned the tank all spiffy and then promptly keeled over and died. Because I'm lazy (see previous buying-of-snails-to-avoid-cleaning-the-fish-tank statement) and my child is very watchful of my activities in his room, I didn't quite get around to scooping them out and flushing them to Fishy Heaven. A few days later I had this text conversation with Alfred:

Me: Holy shit, one of these snails just rose from the dead!

Alfred: ?

Me: I'm going to name him Jesus.

Alfred: Why not Zombie Snail?

Me: "Aaaah! It's eating my brains! Slowly! Vverrrrry slooowwwwllly!"

Me: Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Alfred: Fair enough.

Me: If the other one ressurrects, we can name HIM Zombie Snail. This one is Jesus.

Alfred: Please don't tell my mother we're having this conversation.

Me: I'm not promising anything.

 

(In retrospect, the snails probably play dead when their food supply runs out and let the "current" carry them somewhere else. Although the second snail never did rise from its watery grave.)

(It's still in there though. I think the fish ate it.)

(Fish are so weird.)

Things I keep doing for no apparent gain

1. Buying green onions. I don't eat green onions. Nobody in our family eats green onions. Yet, I keep buying them on the off chance we're going to make something that requires green onions.

2. Taking the stubs of the green onions and putting them in water so that they will grow again, after they've gone all gross and mushy because we haven't used them. Then they grow and...become all gross and mushy. 

3. Checking in on Foursquare. I don't know. What's the point of this? I don't have anyone on there to really compete with. It's pretty boring. And yet...I keep doing it.

4. Freezing chicken carcasses. My intention is to make chicken stock. I mean, I did that once. Now there are approximately 37 freezer-burnt chicken carcasses awaiting the next time I am possessed by Suzy Homemaker. I exorcised that bitch, this seems unlikely to come to pass.  (See also: freezing old bananas.)

5. Charging and/or synching my iPod. I don't seem to use my iPod. I use my phone for tunes and my tablet for other stuff. I charge the iPod, leave it lying around, it dies, I charge it. It's the circle of life.

Everything else I do seems to produce some net gain for me (even the ones that don't feel like they do, like laundry and feeding the dog).

I guess that's not such a bad ratio.

 

I hereby Resolve to resolve something. Next year.

Happy New Year. Did you have a good holiday season?

(Mine was...not so great. Remember how I said I was getting along with my MIL? Well, I think she took that as a challenge. Worst trip to Hellville, ever. Then we all got sick. I spent Christmas Day shaking with fever and the next few days moving from the bed to the couch, leaving a trail of used tissues in my wake. So did the rest of the family, which made it difficult to whine. Or nap.)

(We'll just have a do-over next year.)

I hate feeling obliged to make Resolutions, but I also always feel like I should be starting new things or somehow improving myself in January. I think I did pretty well today by not snarking at all the brand-new gym-goers (that will be MIA by February), but I could probably do better.

I could blog more, for instance.

What about you? Do you make Resolutions?

Under where?

Last week the MIL stayed with us, because she had a day surgery test and she wasn’t allowed to drive afterwards (the test was negative, no need to worry).

I must be totally mellowing in my old age, because her visit was sort of a welcome change of pace. My kid was ecstatic, Alfred was happy. It was actually…enjoyable.

(No, I won’t share my meds, sorry.)

Anyway, during her stay, she was supposed to be resting, recovering and not doing much of anything, so naturally that meant she was hauling and folding my laundry. She threw out half of Alfred’s holey socks and then tsk’ed over the sorry state of his undies.

“I guess I’ll have to buy him some,” she said.

And I replied, without a trace of bitterness or annoyance, “Please do!”

There was a time that her statement would have set me on edge, overly sensitive to the implication that I was not doing my job or taking care of Alfred properly. I have since realized that I am not That Person, the person who keeps tabs on her husband’s underwear situation.

Because, I’m sorry, but he’s a grown adult. He has a job and a mortgage and occasionally gets the oil changed in the car. He’s perfectly fucking capable of replacing his own ratty undies. And socks, for that matter.

He doesn’t, very often, but he’s capable of it.

So while I have bought him underwear (when he’s requested it), and sometimes when I do laundry I look askance at the specimens that are older than our relationship, I just can’t bring myself to maintain the quality of his collection on an ongoing basis. Call it a wifely failing, but that’s just not who I am. Albeit misguided, I expect grownups to take care of that shit on their own.

And if that means waiting until their mother does it, well…whatever.

State of Affairs, Part 2

What else has been going on? Hm, let’s see.

I got another tattoo:

IMG_6355

That’s after it was just done, obviously. This is just the start. I’m going to turn my whole back into a treasure map.

You know, if I get around to it. Which I probably won’t.

Somewhere shortly after that we got lice. I’ve managed to avoid it for almost 5 years of having a kid, so I guess it was time? Is there a lottery for things like that? We were on high alert, though, as we got an early warning from the family we’d been staying with, so at the first sign of a nit I called in a chemical air strike.

And holy fuck, that was a lot of laundry. But nobody had to shave their head so I consider it a success. If you can call having bugs chewing on your scalp “a success”.

(I bet your head is itchy now.)

Roller derby is…rolling on. Our league’s first “real” season started and we have our first “real” bout in November. As an actual team, that is, rather than just scrimmages with random people. I haven’t broken anything yet, so I guess I’ll keep doing it. (I occasionally pull a groin muscle, which is the sexiest muscle to pull, I think.)

PSA Section:

Do you read Suburban Matron? If you don’t, you should, because Becky is the bees knees. Anyway, GoDaddy sold her domain to some pimply teenager living in his mom’s basement, so she is now located at http://suburbanmatron.blogspot.com. If you have links to her old URL, kindly update them, and if you don’t read her blog yet, go visit her there.

Next PSA – shortly after Alfred and I started co-habitating, he started playing an MMO called City of Heroes. I gave it a try and was totally hooked; he got me my own account for Valentine’s day, because we’re nerds like that (and also because he wanted his account back). We have both played the game for over 7 years – it’s sort of our default hobby. Recently NCSoft made the abrupt decision to close the game down, despite it still being profitable. It has a steady and loyal fan base that is trying to save it. If you want to save it too (or just want to be a friend and help me out), there’s a petition with over 20,000 signatures on it already.

End PSA section.

So that’s about it in the State of Un Mom. I’m sure there’s other stuff I’m forgetting to tell you.

Maybe I’ll even make blog posts out of it.

State of Affairs, Part 1

So, what have I been up to? Oh, quite a lot, actually. It’s finding the time to blog about it that I struggle with. Today one of the new employees at work said to me, “Are you a blogger? You seem like you would be a blogger.”

I don’t know. Am I a blogger? I didn’t know how to answer her, mostly because I couldn’t tell whether she considered ‘being a blogger’ a positive thing or not. I hedged my bets and said I was, but I didn’t blog much anymore.

So, just to be contrary, here I am. Blogging.

Anyway! While we’re on the topic of work, here is my costume for Talk Like a Pirate Day this year:

2012-09-19 10.05.26

(Here’s last years’.)

I was pretty proud of it. I put a lot of detail into it – I was even drunk on rum for authenticity!* -  but I still didn’t win Pirate of the Year. Not even close. Next year I’m going to have to chop off a hand or a leg or something.

Hallowe’en is coming up. Got any prize-winning suggestions?

My basement is still in a sorry state. Actually, you know what? I don’t want to talk about my basement. It’s likely we’ll spend another winter without useable basement space, and it’s equally likely that somebody will get stabbed. It may even be me.

My kid went off to kindergarten. Gah! Kindergarten. If you know my son at all, or read my other blog, you know he marches to the beat of his own drummer. In fact, the absolute worst thing you can say to him is “Everybody else is doing it!”. (Unless, of course, you are actually aiming to get him to do the opposite. Except that would be the one time he’d go with the crowd. Just to fuck with you. That is my child. I can’t imagine where he gets that from.)

He wore a SpiderMan costume on the second day. He’s worn a dragon costume. I have already had to establish a communication journal with the teacher due to small reports such as, “When I get everyone’s attention with the drum, Xander will keep chatting. When I speak with him about it, he says, ‘I heard you the first time.’"”.

So, yes. That is fun. I have a bit of a hard time with it as I want him to be able to wear his costumes and do his own thing for as long as possible. So many aspects of his personality will be valued later on, so I don’t want them squashed out by the melting pot that is public school. On the other hand, I don’t want to have to micromanage his education for the next 12 years either.

I’m sure it will work out.

This will be a really long post if I keep going so maybe it’s a two-parter.

What’s new in your state of affairs?

 

*If you are my boss: Not really. If you are everyone else: well, a little.

A plea

Dear Amazon/Kobo/Everybody I know,

Please stop recommending Fifty Shades of Grey to me.

Now, I will be the first person to admit my reading habits are not exactly highly cultured. I read a lot of Young Adult fiction, primarily because I can only read something for approximately 36 seconds before I am interrupted by a “Mom”, or a “Hon”, or a “Holy shit the dog got out the gate and appears to be gnawing on the neighbour’s Bichon”, but also because I enjoy it. I like zombies, magic, steampunk, werewolves, all that good schlock. I have also been known to read (and re-read) pulpy horror fiction and self-help books.

And I am certainly not above reading p0rn-y romances. But I do prefer that they have a plot, that does not just involve the female lead overcoming her clumsiness and standing around moping after the guy, and I really do insist that their male lead characters are not abusive douche-waffles.

It’s just how I roll.

So while I appreciate that you are all no longer recommending Twilight, it cannot happen soon enough that the hype around this other complete bullshit of a trilogy dies down.

(Related: Dear Authors, please stop spinning your books into trilogies because they seem to be the magical formula for success. They’re not all meant to be trilogies. If your writing is good and your characters are compelling, I will keep reading to book 5 and beyond (see: the Outlander series or Game of Thrones). If your characters are boring and your phrasing makes me twitch, I will give up after the first book with no regard for whether or not I ever find out if Esther’s latent magical ability saved the world or not.)

(Also related: Dear Authors, if you are a good writer and I like your characters, labeling your first book as part of a trilogy is kind of a jerk move. You’ve basically just told me in advance that I will have to wait 3 years to find out what happens. Also that it ends, which I never want to hear about my favorite characters. Write faster.)

(Also related: I probably spend too much money on e-books.)

So who wrote this? YOU TELL ME.

A while ago a friend offered to update my blog for me.

“What, like guest post?” I said.

“No, pretend to be you,” she clarified.

I made a face. My brain automatically thought, “my readers would be mad at me!”, and then pointed out that I likely don’t have any readers that would care anymore. Because I haven’t updated my blog.

“What would you say?” I asked. I was pretty sure nobody could pretend to be ME convincingly. Because I am a unique and special snowflake.

“Probably, I dunno, I’m sorry I haven’t updated in so LONG, and ohmygod I feel so GUILTY, and something about I’ve been so busy blah blah blah.

Huh.

That does sound…quite a lot like me.

How to survive the winter in 700 sq ft with two adults, a child, and a large dog (without completely losing your shit)

Last spring we got seepage into the basement that resulted in life forms spawning and rising up to kill us. We had the whole thing ripped out last October, and then we had to wait for insurance to pay us back so that we could rebuild.

So we waited.

And waited.

All winter.

It was…a really long winter. Our house is only 700 square feet, and we have two grown adults, one four-year-old and all his accoutrements, and a 70 lb dog. It gets as cold here in Saskatchewan as you would think it would, so going outside is not really an option most of the time. Losing exactly half of our functional space (and cramming all of our stuff into the other half) was a bit of a strain. We’re just starting to rebuild now, but at least we’ve been able to go outside for a while, and hopefully we’ll have a functional basement before September.

We survived!

(We’re totally ready for the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m sure it would be less stressful.)

So if you ever find yourself in a similar convoluted situation, I have a few tips on how to retain your sanity.2012-07-06 19

1. Be a basket case.

Baskets make all your crap look pretty. I have baskets for hats, mitts, toys, magazines, DVDs, workout equipment, sewing supplies, old bills, you name it. You don’t have to stack things neatly or organize them, you just have to cram them into a basket and it looks WAY better.

(That one on the bottom is getting a little full, and threatening the aesthetic. Whatever.)

2. Sweeeeeeeeeeep!

Or vacuum, or whatever. For some reason clean floors make the whole place look bigger. This might not affect other people as much, but this dog sheds at least two other small dogs a day. I couldn’t figure out how she could eat so much and not get fat, but she’s putting all of her energy into hair production.

Further to this: if you have hardwood floors, you can just open a can of that wax stuff and your brain is fooled into thinking it looks clean because it smells clean. At least for a little while.

3. Binge and purge.

Do you need that? Are you sure? Have you used it in the last 60 days? No? FUCKING GET RID OF IT. Seriously, I got rid of so much stuff, quite a lot of it belonging to the four year old, and nobody noticed. Even I barely noticed a dent. Someone else could use it, or it could be recycled, so you can even feel virtuous at the same time. Just…get it out of your house. Consider it a step towards enlightenment.

4. Go bi-level.

Big shelves with small things on them are stupid. I divided up all of my available real estate with little mini shelves, so this shit isn’t all over my (fairly limited) counter space. I applied this theory in all closets, too.

2012-07-06 19-22012-07-06 19-3

5. Let yourself completely lose your shit sometimes anyway.

Yeah, sometimes you just have to. I got a little twitchy and stabby despite all of my organizational efforts. I banished Alfred and the kid once or twice to go live with the inlaws for the weekend, so I could clean and purge and just feel like there was more space, in peace. They lived. You’ll live too.

 

Soon I will have all these clever tricks AND my basement back. Whatever will I do with all my space?

(End up buying a bigger house right away, probably.)

Life Stuff

Last week someone from my derby league demanded to know when I was going to blog again.

"I don't know," I snarked, "there has been this thing taking up all of my time. I THINK IT'S CALLED ROLLER DERBY."

Seriously, derby does take up a lot of time. 

But, mostly, I haven't blogged because I'm just not doing anything. I am weeding my garden. I am working industriously to build a patio out of the part of my yard that has been an unused dog run for 6 years. 

(By "working industriously", I mean "hiring the bobcat operator and picking out bricks".)

(I am also "working industriously" to re-finish my basement, and that "working industriously" means hiring the concrete contractor but also taking a week off of work to frame and drywall. Whee.)

I am going to 4-year-olds' birthday parties and playdates. I am playing in the sprinkler. I am going to meetings, going for runs, registering my child for kindergarten, hanging out with friends, making mojitos. I am doing things, I guess, but just Life Stuff. 

Regular old Contented Life Stuff. It's pretty boring unless you're me, and then it's pretty sweet.

 

 

Fail better

I am never promising to post every day in a month again. I just fail, every time. 

Failure is a theme this past week. I've failed at my diet. I failed at managing the ire of some clients. I failed to finish both derby practices last week, feeling faint halfway through the first and actually throwing up, halfway through the second.

"Maybe you're pregnant?" offer people who don't know the whole history of my uterus.

No...that part of me is also a failure, I want to tell them. But I don't. I say clever things like, "Uh...highly unlikely".

I blame the rain for all these grey feelings. It's been raining for a week straight, and although it is often miserably cold here in the baldass prairies, we actually get more sunshine hours than most other places. I like my big open sky and I like my sun. Vitamin D only remedies so much.

Rain, overwhelmingly, makes me want to curl up on the couch and opt out of life. I have no idea how I survived two years in Vancouver. 

Anyway, tomorrow the sun is supposed to return. So I'll consider today the end of feeling sorry for myself, and tomorrow the start of my more successful week. Failure just gives you the opportunity to learn, right?

Right?

 

(Hope all of my 'merican pals are enjoying their nice, long, sunny weekend.)