April 01, 2019

Shop Less, Live More.

I belong to a Buy Nothing group in my community: "The Buy Nothing Project (Washington, July 2013) began when two friends created an experimental hyper-local gift economy. Whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that the groups are not just another free recycling platform."  

The connections I have made in this group are real and enduring and I can't imagine my life without this generous, caring, and quirky group. 

Let me explain further.  I am thrilled to have joined this group.  I have received an abundance of free things, I have learned new skills and made new friends, and I have gifted objects that were cluttering up my home.  My daughter even got a regular babysitting gig!  What's not to like?  Here are some of my favourite personal Buy Nothing anecdotes and experiences:

1.  I had been hunting for cheap and cheerful tiles for a backsplash.  This is a tedious task for someone who is picky and frugal.  Last April, I saw this post on the BN site:

Oooh!  I wanted them BADLY.  

No one else was interested in the tiles, and the gifter told me that I was the lucky recipient.  I bolted over to her house the same day.  You snooze, you lose.  Would you believe that there were just enough tiles to cover my wall?  Here's my happy post, once my friend installed the tile:

How awesome does that look?  No sterile white kitchen for me!  I admire my backsplash every day.

2.  Like most people, I spend a lot of time at a desk.  My daughter thinks that my desk is her desk (she also thinks that my shoes are her shoes, my chocolate is her chocolate, and my wine is her wine.  Kidding!  She's only 13. I have a year or two.)  She leaves her junk on my desk all the effing time:  chocolate bar wrappers, hair elastics, dirty bowls and glasses, curling and straightening irons, abandoned craft projects, glue guns, scraps of paper and other assorted shit.  This enrages me, or rather, it did enrage me until I got an awesome new desk from the BN site, and she got my old one.  Win-win!  

Vintage tanker desk.  These can sell for a shitload.  Not sure why people didn't jump all over this
As an aside, I got almost everything in this picture at a second hand store, or at a yard sale.  The sewing machine, the rug, the teak dresser and the tin are exceptions - they were gifts (thank you Sheilagh Hunt, Joyce Brouwer and Mom!)

3.  I am really into DIY, crafting and making things for my home.  I love to learn new skills and if I can do it while socializing, eating and drinking, even better.  One of the moderators of the BN group recently hosted our group's inaugural "Learn to Make" event.  I and six other ladies learned to crochet  (I suck.  I will stick to knitting) and make beeswax food wraps on an otherwise cold and dull March evening.  The next Learn to Make event will feature vegan cooking, and I will be hosting a How to Brew Kombucha event in April.  

This brings me to my most recent project and the subject of this post.  A couple of years ago, I decided to attempt a gallery style wall in my home.  It looked pretty good, but I eventually tired of it.  When I removed all those pictures, I had myriad nail holes and chips in the drywall.  It looked like a wall in a student slum.  I was going to repaint it, but while dropping off something at a Buy Nothing  acquaintance's home, I caught a glimpse of the decoupaged wall in her front entry.  She had papered it with the pages from a vintage women's journal (a library discard) - swoon.  It looked a bit like this:

I was totally inspired and resolved to paper my own wall using the pages of a 1946 dictionary (sorry Mom but this unwieldy tome looks better on my walls than on my bookshelf).  When I got home, I cleaned the wall with some vinegar and water, and filled all the holes with some white goo (spackle? I don't know the word for this product).  A day later, I sanded the patches, hung a plumb line using a carabiner and some yarn, and got to work.  Okay, I know my first row isn't straight but that's part of the charm.

I had fun selecting the various images.  I tried to pick illustrations of birds and animals, and anything that I thought was quirky or entertaining.  Here are some entries that I particularly enjoy:

I love this drawing of a refrigerator

I had some problems with rippling and bubbling when I started, but I quickly learned that less glue was the way to go.  My method was to dip one of those cheap dollar store foam brushes into a 1:1 solution of white glue to water.  

I then coated the underside of the page (not too liberally), flipped it over and pressed it onto the wall with my hand.  This had to be done fairly quickly as the glue dried rapidly.  My final step was to smooth out the air bubbles, working from the top down and swooshing out to the sides.  My Art Gallery of Ontario membership card worked perfectly for this.  Follow these instructions and you too can have a fancy and frugal word wall.  

Here are some shots of it in progress:

And the finished product, ta-da!

I just need to rehang my art above the bureau, and I will be moving on to my next project:  painting out my dated staircase and paying someone to install a runner.  

And thanks to the miracle that is modern technology, my art is up and ready for you to see:

Now what to do about these stairs?

Ooops!  The little friend took a tumble down those slippery stairs
Django and Dill are scratching the hell out of the steps - they look very worn - and I have to do something soon.  Enter the great staircase redo.  

I can't tackle rug installation.  Some things are just not DIY.  

My plan is to dust, wash and dry the stairs (likely a day of work).  I will then sand them (ick.  I hate sanding) as much as I can (ugh), and apply primer.  I am not going to bother painting the area where the runner will go.  I think this project is going to take me a while but I'm pumped.  I'm on a decorating roll, peeps!

The look I am going for is something like this:

I did some research online and saw these non-slip stair treads (typically sold in sets) but I am worried that they might come lose and then I too will take a tumble like my little friend pictured above.  So I guess I'm going with a runner.

Wish me luck, friends, and I will post pictures of the great staircase reno once I begin.

On an unrelated note, today is APRIL FOOL'S and I love me some tomfoolery.  I tricked the kids and Richard today by placing a sign on the upstairs toilet ("Do not use.  It's plugged!").  This forced them to use the main floor loo.  Wouldn't you know that it was already occupied by the little friend, who picked herself up after her nasty tumble and raced to the toilet to empty her guts:

olives, hummus, sour cream and bits of chips.  mmmmmmmmmmmm
Not content with just this bit of trickery, I had also face-tatted the children in the night. With a Sharpie.  X marks the spot!  lol

But I wasn't done with the monkey business.  My post in the Buy Nothing group seemed to be a hit:

The comments kill me:

So freaking funny.  Enjoy your day, friends, and try a trick or two on your friends and family even if it's not April 1st!

Optional musical pairing.  April Fool by Chalk Circle

And for some April Fool's inspiration:  April Fools pranks for lazy people

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