Saturday, 28 November 2009

finished coffee table and christmas decorating

Our receptionist dragged me out to the Dollar Store today. She said we needed Christmas decorations for our office. I'm pretty sure we have BOXES of the stuff in our back room storage closet, but she was adamant, and we must keep our receptionist happy (she's the real brains of our office operation most days ... but don't tell her I said so)!

Did you know Dollar Stores are positively EVIL places? They are full of cheap stuff ... which is good 'cuz everyone likes a bargain ... but is bad 'cuz all that cheap stuff does naughty things to everyone's spontaneous purchasing desires. Well, maybe everyone but me. I came away with one package of paper baking cups because I needed them. I kept thinking about all those poor foreign factory workers being paid pennies or less to make all that cheap stuff. It was interesting to note the source of a couple of birthday gifts I received this year though.

The Dollar Store did NOT do anything to improve my festive spirit. I did do my Christmas decorating this evening ... but I had ALREADY planned to do so. Honest!

Before I share my Christmas decorating evening with y'all, I want to update you on my new / old coffee table. The project started like this ...... painting 4 inch squares / diamonds on its surface. I painted three coats on each square / diamond. Once they were completely dry, I added one final THIN coat over all resulting in ...... very subtle wood-grained squares / diamonds between the solid red squares / diamonds. Here's the overall picture ...
... what do you think? 'Scuse the messy knitting basket on the right. And the crayon cup on the floor at the left arm of the sofa (where Little Madam C. left it). Okay, so a red coffee table isn't everyone's cup of tea. Remember that I live in a rented apartment with hohum eggshell white walls and poop brown carpets that I cannot change!

Speaking of tea ... and I digress for a moment ... I'm in LOVE! I found that most fabulous ...
... Tea Chai Spice Mix in our local SaveOn (@ Spruceland in case you're in PG ... the Parkwood SaveOn doesn't carry it). Some years ago, I took a Punjabi language course at UBC and was introduced to "authentic" Tea Chai. Since then, I've tried dozens of different recipes and spice mixes and none of them measured up to that delightful first tasting. THIS spice mix does! It's packaged in Surrey BC and is exactly the right blend of spices and heat and not sweet. You use about 4 teaspoons of spice mix to a mug of boiled water along with a regular black tea bag. I add a dollop of cream because I like it creamy. And I stir it with a cinnamon stick just because.

On to my Christmas decorating preparations this evening. First, I slipped into something comfy to wear ...
... flannel jammies with snow people and snowflakes on them (don't laugh at my crooked toes please). Then a little mood music ...
... Okay, the choices were pretty limited here as this is the ONLY Christmas CD I own. Then a little gingerbread scented oil ...
... to put visions of sugar plums or and yummy festive baking smells in my head (without the calories). Of course, I also had a little something festive to wet my whistle ...
... no, that is NOT a huge glass, it's a very tiny bottle! Oh, and finally, something sweet ... just because ...

With the appropriate preparations in place, I was ready to proceed. Plum Blossom (the ceramic cat) climbed up onto the castle top of my loom for a good view of the proceedings ...
I didn't take pictures of the actual decorating, but here's the results:
No, not the red milking stool. No, not the spindly-legged red moose ... Maeve the Moose lives there year-round. And not the Good Fortune Buddha on the milking stool. Here, I'll show you a little closer ...
... do you see it now? No? I'll move in REALLY close with my camera ... just a minute ... here it is ...
... my Christmas decoration!

Phew! I'm plum tuckered out after all that decorating! I think I'll treat myself to another wee glass of Bailey's and call it an evening. Deck the Halls, y'all!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Mining the Soul

I've developed a habit in recent years of treating myself to a concert sometime in November. A birthday present for myself, if you will. The most memorable concert to date was Julio Iglesias in 2006. Be still my beating heart!Tonight, I went to see Rita MacNeil and The Men of the Deeps. It was memorable too.Rita MacNeil is about four feet nothing tall, wears very sensible shoes, and is both polite and soft-spoken. She walked onto the stage at 7:00 pm precisely without any build up or announcement. The set was very simple ... a half dozen lighted Christmas trees and a comfy chair centre stage. I thought the sound system was a little off ... kind of echo-ish ... but maybe it was because I was sitting 5 rows away from centre stage. Rita MacNeil's talent really shone when she did a couple of old gospel songs ... Peace in the Valley for one. Made me wish my Dad was there just to hear that one.To be perfectly honest, I probably would not have paid to just see Rita MacNeil. These are the dudes I really wanted to see ... The Men of the Deeps, the Coal Miners. I have a special soft spot in my heart for underground miners and I've been fascinated by this particular choir since ... I don't know, thirty years or so. They marched through the darkened arena and onto the stage with their miners' lamps on as Rita MacNeil sang. It was magical. Rita left the stage and they did a few numbers as well as a story and a poem on their own, and I was totally impressed. They were great!

After the intermission, Rita came back and did a few more songs with them, including one of my favorites, Emigrant Eyes.

I had the amazing experience of going 9.4 kilometers underground once. When the locomotive that we traveled on was shut down, the ONLY sound was water dripping and our own breathing, and the ONLY light was our miners lamps. A person cannot comprehend the true meaning of DARKNESS until that kind of experience. Consequently, the song Working Man has a very profound effect on me. (In other words, it makes me cry like a baby every damned time I hear it!)

Fortunately for me, they saved Working Man for their final encore. In case you've never experienced Working Man, check out YouTube. There are several videos of Rita and the coal miners doing this song together. Hang in there until you see the miners turn on their lamps.
In other news, I have a new (old) coffee table. It's not the beautiful beetle-kill pine wood that I wanted (coveted), but it's price was right. I decided to "DO SOMETHING" unique with it. Stay tuned ... I think it's looking pretty good.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Random Thoughts

I spent last weekend sitting at a Health Fair information booth ... yes, my work often involves "volunteering" my weekends ... and below is what I wrote while sitting there. I'm off this morning to yet another Health Fair booth today, this time at the University. Fortunately, this one is happening over two work days so I'll be able to enjoy the coming weekend in leisure. Well, except for the laundry and housework ...

So here I am sitting at a booth for the second day in a row. Why is it OTHER PEOPLE think it's a great idea for our organization to articipate in these comunity events ... but those OTHER PEOPLE never volunteer to actually sit at the booth??? S'okay ... two days volunteered time = two days off at a later date!

I WAS going to use my laptop for a looping PowerPoint presentation, but I got bored and decided to use it to entertain myself instead. Our booth is in the back northeast corner of the conference centre, and I have a great view of the main stage from where I sit. Can't hear a word above the general "buzz" of the crowd, but I can SEE the main stage. As I'm writing this, a fella in full chef's gear is demonstrating something or other. His sous chef looks a bit perplexed. They have both changed gloves a couple dozen times. Maybe it's a flu
prevention presentation and not about cooking???

To my delight, on my way to our booth this morning I learned about a local Organic Farm that DELIVERS boxes of fresh veggies! SIGN ME UP! SIGN ME UP! (Actually, I signed myself up while sitting here playing on my laptop!) $30 a week will bring a box of 12 to 14 different types of organically-grown veggies and 2 to 3 different types of organic fruits right to my kitchen every Thursday. The farm's booth had such a wonderful display ... exotic Blue Russian potatoes (purple on the inside), luscious emerald green Swiss Chard, gigantic cabbages and jars of sauerkraut ... I was seriously torn between drooling over and
fondling the veggies!

I was supposed to give a
Prevention of Elder Abuse & Neglect workshop at 10 am this morning. When I heard the schedule I said "you've got to be kidding! Who's going to coming to an Elder Abuse workshop at 10 am on a Sunday morning?" My words proved to be 100% prophetic ... I set up my workshop for exactly ZERO people, drank two cups of (very tasty) Chai Tea by myself, received a very nice thank you gift from the
organizers for going to the effort of being there, and came back to our booth. My advice to the organizers? DO NOT schedule workshops on heavy topics for 10 am Sunday morning!

To my immediate left from our booth is a booth promoting curbside residential recycling! This is a GREAT thing for this community ... but the service is not free ... $7.55 per month which I would happily pay but no service to apartment dwellers, clients have to live in individual HOUSES. Damn! Straight across from me is the Kidney Foundation booth. They are promoting organ donation, and have a bunch of bright-coloured teeshirts for sale that say RECYCLE YOURSELF. Hmm. Residential recycling and organ recycling. Could I be sensing a theme in this corner???

Next to the Kidney Foundation booth is a Pool & Spa booth. They have the world's smallest sauna on display ... only $149. My comment would be
"how do you spell C L A U S T R O P H O B I A"! Over in the other direction, I see Scouts Canada. Had a lovely chat with the Scouts District Commissioner who has only been in this community for a year.

Oh Good Lord! The chef has left the stage and now eight very slender and energetic young women in spandex are demonstrating something involving kicking and punching in time to extremely loud music. The time has come for me
to go find some lunch!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Isn't it time for a holiday yet?

The past couple of weeks have been REALLY busy for me at work ... several major projects in the works and thus crucial grant proposals to write and multiple meetings to attend. One of our important community contacts walked into my office this past week, and for the life of me I couldn't imagine which project she was there to discuss! She must have wondered why I looked at her with such a blank duh expression. Throw in our Annual General Meeting along with the kick off of our annual Christmas Hampers Campaign and I feel like I'm doing this ...

... and ... YIKES! ... not very well! How do I know this, y'all ask? Because when I sit down for a few minutes I FALL ASLEEP! My body has developed its very own special way of addressing stress. Oh, and I kill alarm clocks ... yes, clockS plural ... they ring and I throw them and smash them into pieces without every waking up. It's most annoying! Especially when I have this book ...

... for 7 days! It was on the express shelves at our Public Library and I thought sure, no problem, I'll just whip through it over the weekend. Nyet. Nope. Didn't happen. (The naps were refreshing though.) Now I have four choices:
  1. return the book unfinished and never know what happens in the end.
  2. cheat and read the last few pages quick before returning the book.
  3. keep the book and pay $1 per day late charges until I'm finished.
  4. suck it up and buy the book so I can read it at my leisure.

Any advice????

I did deliberately book last Friday night off to attend our local Studio Fair, the BIG craft fair of the season in PG. It's the only craft fair I've attended so far, and will probably be the last one for this year too. I bought these ...

... a $6 pair of natural bees wax candles. They smell delicious. I REALLY wanted to buy a coffee table made by a local woodworker from beetle-killed pine.

In case y'all don't know, northwest Canada has been experiencing a very serious epidemic of Mountain Pine Beetle which is killing off pretty much every pine tree around. It's devastating the commercial lumber industry. Beetle-killed wood from those pine trees has a distinctive denim blue stain from whatever chemical process that happens as its being killed by the beetle. While the wood is useless for commercial export, some local entrepreneurs are cashing in on it and making small items that feature the blue stain. And it's GORGEOUS!

I've been thinking about buying a coffee table, and would love to own some pine-beetle wood. These felted coasters ...

... would look fab on it! But I wasn't willing to pay the craft fair price. Instead, I took the guy's business card and will call him after the holidays to see if I can negotiate a more reasonable price.

Studio Fair reminded me that I haven't been adequately pursuing the creative things that nourish my soul ... so many projects and so little time! I really need to address this problem.

On a brighter note, look what I discovered this week ...

... one of my Christmas cacti has opened its first flower. It has quite a few buds so will be a really pretty show in a few more weeks.