March 26, 2017

I've Blinn Shamed

In March of 2015, I took my family on a "mystery trip" in the swagger wagon.  The family was super excited, because who doesn't want to go on a mystery trip, right?

What will we see?  
Will there be food?  
Where are we going?  
Where, Mumma, where?

This blog post is NOT actually about that particular trip, but let me be brief and detail what we did because I know you're all curious.  We drove to the famed Culbert's Bakery in Goderich for doughnuts and cream puffs, walked around the town square, and checked out some of 2011's tornado wreckage.

It was a bitterly cold day and the kids were cranky, so thank goodness there was food to soften the blow.  

Here are pictures of the town square pre and post tornado:

circa 1985

circa 2011

Quite shocking, isn't it?  The square had been cleaned up by the time we arrived on the scene in 2015, but evidence of the storm's destruction remained.  The kids gave this part of the trip a 6 out of 10 (doughnuts good, walking outside in freezing weather bad; toy store good, not buying anything in the toy store very bad).  

After Goderich, we traveled a short distance to Exeter for the second part of the trip - seeing a "mystery animal" in its natural habitat.  

What kind of animal, Mumma?  A bear?
What does it look like?  Does it have fur?  How many legs?
Is it bigger than the car?
Superexcitedly:  Is it a liger?

I am happy to report that I saw not one, but three mystery animals in Exeter's MacNaughton Park.  I was also thrilled to see that this little park had lovely landscape architecture - bonus!  
The mystery animals were a bit erratic, and one of them "kukked" at me, and I was briefly afraid that it might jump onto my head and attack me.  I didn't need to read How to Speak Squirrel in the Washington Post to know that the squirrel was pissed.  

According to the author, who does "not like to attach anthropomorphic descriptions to the behaviours of lower animals", the squirrel was likely "exhibiting alarm rather than anger", but pissed is pissed, I say. 
Treerat's cute, but cute can be dangerous...
It would be adorbs if it wasn't a squirrel
Kids rated this part of the excursion a solid 5 out of 10 (warm car good, treerat bad;  car ride back to London bad, wasted day bad).  

But as usual, I digress.

Today, I decided that Nath and I would go on another mystery trip, but this one would be by bike.  Nath wasn't impressed (I'm hungry.  Will there be food?  Where are we going?  I don't like surprises...)
Gah.  Who invented teenagers anyway?

He had one job to do to get ready for our trip - get the bikes out of the shed - but he failed, electing to play soccer with the 8-year-old and 5-year-old neighbour kids outside.  Grrrrrr.

After I unlocked the shed, dragged the bikes out, locked the shed back up, and yelled at Nath to "get on your bike now dammit!", away we went.  It's chilly out today, but the sun was peeping through the clouds every so often, and the fresh air smelled good.  

We rode east on Bruce and turned north on to Wortley, turned west on Victor and crossed Wharncliffe at Springbank.  Heading west, we merged on to the bikepath and pedalled to Greenside, where we turned south.  A few blocks west on Springbank and we arrived at our destination:  Woodland Cemetery.  Nath guessed where we going before we arrived, and I was only mildly annoyed :-)  We were having mother son fun!

I've written about this cemetery before in Deerly Departed - how funny am I? - as Nathaniel and I had had an adventure there in 2012, and peripherally, that is one of this blog's more popular posts with 428 hits.

But today.  We had no idea what horrors awaited us today.  

We were just there to see some deer.  There has not been a day when I set foot in the cemetery and have not seen at least ten deer.  "They're ever' damn where!", as my stepDad would say, and today was no exception: 

C'mere deer!  

Deer about to be fed by old dude
An old fellow stopped his vehicle and approached the deer with a bag of what I can only assume was breadcrust.  I briefly considered chastising him (for buck's sake dude, don't feed the deer) but I decided to keep my trap shut.  It was Sunday, he was happy, we were happy, the deer were happy - who I was to intrude and ruin this peaceful scene?  

Well, I am not going to lie, I couldn't help myself and I did say, using my best innocent tone within earshot of the man, "Nathaniel, are you supposed to feed the deer?  I don't think you are... " and "What do you think, Nath?  Should he feed the deer?  Deer don't eat white bread!" 
Nath wisely said nothing.  The man didn't even look at me; he just got into his car and drove off. 

I smiled smugly.  

Hey lady, take off eh?

Deer friends until death do them part 
Things soured right about here, but before I get into that, I will break for a surprise because it's in line with the mystery theme in this blog post.

I have a contest for you!  Yup, a contest.

First person to find the deer in the picture below wins a prize!  Comment below and I will tell you what you win.  :-)

I didn't say "geese".  I said "deer"

Okay, the contest part of this entry is over; we'll return to that anon.  


Things were about to get juicy before the break and so I will resume my tale...

Nath decided to approach the deer on foot, which I did not encourage.  He was honked at and hissed at by two Canada geese and that was totally a sign for him to back off, buster.

I heard a car drive up behind me and suddenly I was being screamed at by a white hair sitting in the passenger's seat of a white SUV:  "You are disrespectful!  You are disrespecting this property!  It does NOT belong to you! Shame!"

I was baffled.  I had no idea what I had done, but whatever it was, it was BAAAAAAD!

She of the white hair, red scarf and dark sunglasses continued her tirade:
"You are IGNORANT!  I saw you stand on that headstone!  THAT IS DISGUSTING!"

I considered this as she continued her onslaught. Had I stood on a headstone?  Really?  Was this unconscionable behaviour on my part?
A - ha!  

I had stood on the bottom ledge (about a foot wide and a foot off the ground) of this headstone (Mr. Blinn) to take a picture because I couldn't see the deer properly:

Hiram Wetherby, you da man.  

I didn't even think about standing on the ledge, actually.  I am in the habit of moving to where I need to be to get a good photo, and as such, I didn't think that this was particularly out of the ordinary or offensive.  I wasn't defacing / humping / spray painting / lounging on / smashing / scuffing / trying to topple said headstone, and Hiram Blinn had expired in 1897.  

I did not want to say anything to the three elderly ladies in the car, so I let them carry on their verbal assault:  "You're DESPICABLE!  You're disgusting!  There's no hope for the younger generation!"  

And you three are bitches...

I said nothing.  Eventually they shut up, presumably exhausted from so much mental and physical exertion, and I said, "thanks and have a nice day".  I smiled and waved.  Please note that I was on the ground, and that I had only stood on the headstone for about ten seconds.  The car was rolling away as I waved gamely, but the driver abruptly changed her mind - did she not like my royal wave? -and slammed on the brakes.  Someone opened the door behind the driver, got out of the car noisily and violently approached me, stomping away in her Tender Tootsies, and getting right up in my face.  

Whitehairfloralscarf pointed her gnarled, ancient finger right at my honker and snarled, "YOU'RE DESPICABLE AND IGNORANT!  These headstones are private property and you have no right!  NO RIGHT!  Our husbands are buried here!"  

I tried not to laugh and retorted, "if this was my father's headstone, and he is DEAD! - I would have no problem with someone standing on his headstone to take a photo of some deer and neither would he!  MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!"

"It is my business!" (old ratchety finger shaking practically up my nose).  You are DESPICABLE!" [said for the third time].  At this point in the exchange, I had had ENOUGH.  I then saw that one of the old ladies was freaking filming me on her cell phone and I SNAPPED.



I was totally livid and later Nathaniel told me that he was laughing so hard on the inside (not in the ladies' faces thank goodness), and he couldn't believe what was happening (neither could I!).  If those old, mangy bitches thought that I was going to let them insult me like that for something that I did in error and not to cause harm or infuriate anyone they were WRONG.  I chose to NOT respect my elders and treated them as my equals instead, meaning that they were about to be TOLD OFF BY THE WRONG LADY FOR THEM ON A SUNDAY.  

Whitehairfloralscarf shrieked at my sputtering face, and her asinine friends all moaned and made "I've been grievously wronged" sounds.  Then the biddy in the passenger's seat yelled, "I am going to call THE........."  
Okay lady.  Who ARE you going to call? The po-po?

She thought for a second.  "I am going to call the cemetery office!"

"Go ahead!" I screamed.  "GO!"

And they did, tearing off at 10km an hour.  

I was shaking, I was so pissed and upset.  Nathaniel laughed so hard.  He couldn't believe it.
I am so proud of him for saying nothing to the psychotic trio during the incident, but he did tell me that he didn't know what he would have done had they physically attacked me:  "Mum, I'm not sure that I could hit an old lady."  LOL.
I told him that had they attacked me that I would have kicked their sorry asses, and if I wasn't able to do so, he would have had to pull them off me.

Let me finish this disagreeable tale by apologizing to Hiram Wetherby Blinn's kin for my rudeness.  I sincerely hope that they forgive me.   It is not lost on me that "PEACE, PERFECT PEACE!" is carved in CAPS on his headstone, and that our nasty catfight took place directly in front of his final resting place.  Sorry, Hiram.  I really am.


And now friends, I would like to know your take on this?  Was I in the wrong?  Should I have let the biddies insult me so rudely and apologized profusely for my thoughtlessness and ignorance?  This inquiring mind wants to know.

And don't forget to enter my contest :-)  Winner winner, squirrel dinner!

I will leave you with a picture of a wild turkey that Nathaniel spied on our ride home, which he tried to "take down" (his words):  "I'll destroy that turkey.  If I were starving I would catch it and eat it!"  Whatevs, Nath.

And because I always end my blog posts with a tune, I'll leave you with a very brief video about a blind deer.  It's not funny, but it's totally cute.

Previous post about Woodland:  Deerly Departed

November 01, 2016

Dream in Peace

About a month ago, my ten-year-old told me that she wanted a room makeover for her birthday.
     "Let's!" I said.  "We'll have the big reveal on your birthday".
     Gwen's eyes sparkled.  "Yay! And Dad can transfer me to my bed in the middle of the night so I wake up in my new room." I pictured Richard struggling with the long and lanky Gwen in his arms (those legs are ridiculously long).
     "Ummmm.... yeah..."

The room redo was a good idea though.  The purplish hue (Benjamin Moore's Victorian Trim) was tired and sickly. The black closet doors, black furniture and miles of black trim (who in their right mind?...) also needed to go.

When I told G that there would be little in the way of gifts if I was to redo her room, she was unfazed:  "It's okay, Mumma."
Was she actually maturing?

And so I dug in.

I am no interior decorator, but I do like to dabble.  Anyone who has been inside my home knows that it is a riot of pattern, texture and colour.  I am not a fan of greige.  I knew that I could create a happy space that Gwen would love, and because I am thrifty (and a diehard recycler), I challenged myself to do it on a dime.  I wanted pretty much everything in the room to be recycled, repurposed or purchased second-hand.

Gwen had given me carte blanche: her only real specifications were that I was to remove a bed (there are three in the room) and she would be thrilled if there were a lot of pillows on her bed (easy peasy).  I happen to know that her favourite colour is blue and so I went with fresh and clean:  Arctic Ice.

I needed some inspiration for the room (a great area rug or a fabulous fabric).  I couldn't afford to buy a rug because I am a rug snob (wool and silk only, please) so I scratched that idea and considered the drapery.  An Ikea purchase, the current pair are a floral linen with muted pinks, purples, yellows, blues and oranges, and they're all kinds of meh:

tired purple walls and ugly black trim
I took them down and set off for the Goodwill, where I found the perfect pair of drapes for $11:

Score!  I had my inspiration for the room.

I thought about what I had in the house that I could use, and I remembered a wool rug that I made when Gwen was an infant.  I had cut up old wool sweaters into strips, wrapped them in coils and sewed them all together (because that's what you do when you have an infant).  The rug used to sit beneath a pedestal sink in our old bathroom, but I hadn't put it out in the new house and it had been languishing in a bin for six years.

It would look cozy beside Gwen's bed and because it's thick and squishy, it would feel marvelous on her feet when she crawled out of bed.

Richard had begun painting a Dutch landscape the summer before last, but it had been collecting dust in the basement.  The colours were fabulous and the painting would be a reminder of the special time that our family shared when we traveled to the Netherlands last summer.  I told him to finish it, and fast.

Nathaniel's old twin quilt- made by me but currently out of favour as he sleeps on a queen bed- would go on Gwen's spare bed.  It's primarily blue and white with pops of colour:

One bed down, one to go.  Gwen's current duvet on her double bed is grey with velvet trim and it still looks good.  It would have to do.
Bam!  Bedding taken care of.

As I read the paper one morning, I saw that Sherwin Williams was offering their paint at 40% off, and a new shop had opened just up the road from us.  Nice!

Because I SUCK as a painter, I did not want to paint the walls of Gwen's room.  I am good at unhinging doors, removing plastic light and outlet covers, and washing walls and trim, but I am a terrible painter.  TERRIBLE.  I am also a skinflint, and I did not want to pay out the wazoo for labour either.  What's a girl to do?  I consulted my friend Kijiji, and found a painter (who also refinishes furniture) for $20 bucks an hour.  He promised to be quick (and he seemed sane over the telephone), so I went with him.  He did an awesome job and I ended up having him paint my upper hallway and staircase walls, the main floor hall, and the dining room.  As I am typing this blog, he is painting my kitchen.

Wallpainting completed, I decided that I would restore the black closet doors to their former glory by painting them white (Cloud White by BM).  Let me tell you that it was a completely hellish job, and that I loathe painting doors.  Richard said that I did a bad job and I didn't disagree.  I believe he may have used the word "shit" when he saw them; however, they are now white (ish) and they're hanging up and it's not like they're the focus of the room.  They have new hardware and to me, they're as good as new.

I wanted to change up the furniture because it was black, certainly not heirloom quality, and definitely not attractive:

I found a brilliant bureau on Kijiji and that was my splurge at $250.  It would have been only $200, but I asked the seller to go with glass knobs instead of brass hardware and the damn glass set me back $50.  I think it was totally worth it though.  Here's a pic of the bureau, before the hardware was changed.  I love that the seller painted the three rows of drawers three different shades of grey:

You will have to wait until the end of this post to see its final look.

Gwen's tickle trunk - a cedar chest that I purchased on Kijiji many years ago - also needed an update.    It's incredibly ugly, but sturdy and well-constructed, so I dug around in the basement for a can of grey paint that I knew I still had (it had been purchased from Rona's mistints section for $10).  I hauled it down the road to the paint shop and had them mix it up for me, which wasn't a problem.  My plan was to paint the chest grey and decoupage it with paper cutouts from The Art of Audubon - The Complete Birds and Mammals (Goodwill $3):

The illustrations in this 674-page tome are outstanding.  I briefly felt guilty as I scissored into the gorgeous book, but as it's a library discard I got over it.  My inner o.c.d. child wanted me to create a legend inside the lid of the chest so that Gwen would know the names of all of the birds that I pasted onto it, but I accidentally ripped one of the names in half so I abandoned that idea.  I committed all of the names to memory so if she really wants to know, she can ask me. :-)

Closeup of the bird detail (illustrations are reprints of John James Audubon's originals in 1831-51): 

Wait until you see the chest in its entirety; I love it!

I needed a bedside table for Gwen because the old one did not go particularly well with the new dresser, and it was too large for the space.  On the day of Gwen's birthday (!), I drove like a maniac to the Goodwill to look for one.  I found a filthy little side table for $8:

I know.  It's horrendous.  I removed the hardware, washed the wood (spattered with a white, greasy substance), and painted it grey to match the chest of drawers.  $6 for new hardware from Tuckey's and I had fashioned a very pretty piece of furniture:  

Can you believe it?  Total for the makeover for this piece was $16 ($8 for the table and $8 for the handles)
Gwen's old bed, which was my old bed when I was in university), was fine for the new room.  It's cast iron, timeless and beautiful.  I had Richard cut some planks to fit beneath the mattress so that we could remove the boxspring.  I felt that it had been hiding too much of the bed's feminine details.  

I didn't want to buy bedsheets at the Goodwill (you have to draw the line somewhere!) and so my only new purchase was a set of orange and grey sheets on clearance from Winners ($27).  And an orchid because they were on sale at Freshco. ($10)

Bed and furniture done, all I needed was a mirror, artwork and some finishing touches.  I found a cheval mirror on Kijiji for $30, but didn't have time to drive across town to pick it up.  The lovely woman who sold it to me delivered it after hearing of my predicament.  It is perfect.  

I found a vintage blue aluminum tree from the Goodwill ($3), a white pillow with silver embroidery ($3), and a fun Perplexus puzzle ($2).  

Richard in the meantime, finished up his oil painting and picked up a fun print that he had sent to Costco ($15).  Gwen had purchased a black and white poster of King Kong for her Daddy from Comicon and Richard Photoshopped, scanned and enlarged it.  Our neighbour framed it for us:

The final touch was a leaded glass panel that I made many years ago:

And now it's time for the big reveal!  You will have to scroll down to see it.  

Drum roll, please...

Here's the view from the doorway, with the lights out so you can admire the glass:  

Lights on, tada!

And the messy version of the same space, now that the windmill painting is up:

Gwen made the G pillow, I found the white one at Goodwill ($3), and the fluffy one was purchased from a yard sale many years ago.  You can see the new sheets if you look closely.  Grey floor lamp ($6) also from Goodwill

Check out the sparkle on the glass knobs!

The clothes rack was purchased at a yard sale for $5.  There are two of them (I bought both; the other is in Nathaniel's room), and they're from Eaton's department store (I loved Eaton's.  It was a sad day when that store closed its doors).

All that is needed to complete the room is a bookshelf (her old one has been moved to the basement where it holds all my sewing supplies), and I have to finish the wall quilt that I am sewing (I seriously underestimated the amount of time it would take).

Final tally for the room redo:

pillow from Goodwill - $3
orchid - $10
curtains - $11
Costco poster $15
Kijiji cheval mirror (including delivery!) - $30
aluminum tree from Goodwill - $3
bureau from Kijiji (the splurge) - $250
table from Goodwill - $8
puzzle from Goodwill - $2
painting and paint supplies - $190
hardware from Tuckey's - $16
sheets on clearance at Winner's - $27

Grand total for the room:  $555

Make sure you watch this video for Gwen's priceless reaction:

“...the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” 
― Gaston BachelardThe Poetics of Space