Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spell check would have come in handy

I'm the type who reads newspapers, magazines and books and laughs hysterically when I come across a blatant spelling mistake, so imagine my reaction when I saw this sign in Brampton.

Do you think the "Y" is silent? Yeah, me too. Or at least I hope so!

Chesty LaRue on canvas

Do you see the forest for the breasts?

Time flows quickly, distracted intermittently with ringing telephones, the click of the keyboard keys as my fingers fly across them, and I realize that I’ve written only three posts to-date for October.

I’d like to apologize but I have a feeling that a lot of you understand. Time is fleeting and before you blink, it’s three weeks later and you’ve written all of 10 words and most of that is on the grocery list you’ve tucked into your purse only to forget that too.

I understand. October has been crazy and boring in the very same breath. I can say I’ve been busy with my job but it’s actually boring, monotonous and soul-sucking. I can say my artwork has exploded but I have only one-and-a-half pieces to lay claim. And I can say that I’ve done nothing to rectify the situation but sit on my ass.

One of those art pieces (the only complete one) went to Jesus Christ Margaret to commemorate my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. In hindsight, it went to the wrong person and for the wrong occasion as even as we speak it’s sitting on the floor because Margaret doesn’t quite get it. She finds the colours wrong, the landscape too non-conformist, so unlike her. She doesn’t realize that it’s her daughter giving her a gift – a little piece of herself.

I’ve been rebelling a bit, checking my call display and walking away when I see it’s her. I don’t want to hear her “Dear” me that and “But honey” this. I don’t want her to forget the niceties that come with receiving a gift, that a thank-you is enough of a comment especially when 8 hours of work has been invested. Art is personal and emotional, and I believe a little more couth could have been used in this circumstance.

Regardless of the reaction, I am furiously proud of my painting no matter if or where it hangs. The fact that my tree line looks like a tree line in all its fall glory and that the sky has a beautiful hue to it – I’m proud. I’m even proud of my fire trees, conical trees that look like flames with its vibrant red/orange fall foliage. It’s my best work and the one I felt most free, like I knew it would turn out well.

At least Jesus Christ Margaret did not hint at the fact that the fields on either side of the river looked like lopsided breasts and the fire trees like tassels, as two friends did. I told them they were perverted. They are, so I’m telling the truth. And, the truth is, after looking at it for a few minutes, I saw Chesty LaRue in a striptease, spinning the tassels and taking the eyes out of the patrons in the front row.

At least she didn’t say that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Through the woods to Grandma's house...

For the past two weeks I've been staring at my computer background, halfway between smiling and tearing up.

It's not your traditional computer backdrop. It's a photo from the Thanksgiving Monday and a sojourn to the north, two hours to be exact, to my grandmother's home town of Markdale. It's the home of Chapman's Ice Cream, Steven's BBQ and the quaintest town you've ever seen.

The main street hosts a few choice shops, my favourite "Peek Thru My Window," in existence for over 20 years and that is the last time I spent any time in the place. There's the old firehall, now an information centre, a Food Town where Gramma did all of her shopping and two churches just steps from each other, like there's hope that religious entities can co-exist in a small space.

It's also where my grandmother lived, my father's mother, and where my brother and I spent many happy a summer picking raspberries in the back garden and yelling down the heat grates from the bedroom upstairs to see what was on the breakfast menu. I know that tonka trucks and cars were also dropped down the grates, often narrowily missing the porridge pot on the stove.

I still have the memories but it's also the house that I miss, the insatiable need to slide down the bannister, complete with large wooden ball at the end. There's the country kitchen that seems so much smaller than I remember, the back bedroom where the daddy long legs always seemed to be in abundance.

I paid my respects to the house on this Monday, taking The Man and Boyo the Boxer to meet it. And, I was a little nervous to mount the front steps and introduce myself to the now-owners. The house was sold in the mid-80s, out of the family that had been its caretakers since the late 1800s. It had proven too much to maintain. The pipes always froze in the winter, the roof was needing replaced and it was too big for my diminutive grandmother who was starting to forget to eat, forget to throw out spoiled food and even how to cook her famous meals of salmon sandwiches, chili and roast beef. Porridge was almost never on the menu anymore.

The owners were really gracious, recognizing the last name that had been permanently etched a hundred times over in the brick wall of the side porch. My great uncle, grandfather, brother and a slew of other family members too long gone from memory. They're all still there, watching over the homestead.

I was very upset way back when my grandmother was considering selling the house. It was my home away from home, my place to yell down the heating grates that once had pipes running through from the wood burning stove in the kitchen.

My grandmother died in 1989 from emphysema, from years of smoking and bouts of asthma. She was 78. And it was back in 1989 that I had even stepped foot in the town where my grandmother lived. It was comforting to see that it hadn't changed that much - a few changes in businesses, new lines painted on the road but the same small town feel was intact. I felt instantly comforted. The fact that the new owners offered me a beer helped too.

What touched me the most as I walked up to the door with a whole bunch of Nervous Nellies floating around in my belly was that my grandmother's door knocker, full of brass and very lion-like was still there - a testament of who came before. The door had been given a new paint job, red with passion, and the old green indoor-outdoor carpet had given way to a concrete landing, but the door knocker remained.

I knocked on the door with that door knocker, a lion's share of memories still intact and I was instantly transported to my five-year-old self playing Nicky Nine Doors with my grandma. I only wish she would have answered the door.

** Photos finally posted. Procrastination strikes again!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I got nothing...

Nada, Zilch, Zero. But I have sore legs and a somewhat tidy house.

Over the last two weeks I've hosted and helped with two garage sales or yard sales without a garage. I collected, organized, carried and eventually sold other people their new treasures. Would I do it again? Maybe not for another eight years or so 'cause people are cheap and rude.

It was a 7 a.m. start last week, with the hours running from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., plenty enough time to hock my wares. I had the makings of a whole kitchen, complete with pots and pans, rice cookers, veggie steamers and enough coffee makers to make coffee for the whole city. Really, what did I need with three coffee makers when there is a Tim Horton's steps away from my house? Don't get me wrong... I love a good coffee and I'm known to grind my own coffee beans but when I'm in a hurry, it's the drive-thru I go. Anyways, back to the cheapskates.... but first a question.

If you're at a garage sale and you see a great set of pots and pans, do you assume that they've never been used? Remember you're at a garage sale and the said pots and pans are priced ridiculously cheap at $4 for the set of three. A woman came up to the table all interested and itching to get her hands on these pots and then she asked the price. $4 for all three, I said, knowing I wanted to sell them but knew a good deal when I made saw one. And her counter offer? $.50 each. Yes, 50 cents. I bargained down to $3.50 since there's always some haggling involved. Her answer: "But lady, it's used." And mine: "You're at a feckin' garage sale. Yes, it's used. Get off of my my friend's lawn."

Despite the haggling and the attempts at walking away without paying, I did end up making $80 that day and that was in the rain. Today's efforts were much better weather-wise, but I was still unable to unload a computer. For $50 all in - hard drive, 17 in. monitor, keyboard and mouse. And did I mention the CD burner? No? Well it had that too. It was an older model, but still.

And I still got the cheapskates. One man, after working me down from $3 to $2 to a never-been-used fondue pot and burner tried to hand me $1.50. You're cheaping me down for $.50? Get off of my my friend's driveway. I got the toonie in the end.

Will I do it again? Perhaps not. But I did like the feeling of accomplishment that came from clearing out the clutter and ridding myself of what I didn't need or want. It's a paring down and what will remain will be truly wanted, used and cherished.

One item I was a little sad to see go: a corkscrew and wine top made from a grapevine. Until I was told that it indeed looked like a turd. I could not disagree but it became a topic of conversation for the lovely couple who bought it, and they laughed as I shouted out my goodbye: "Enjoy your wine turd." They raised the turds in the air and did a mock salute and it was a good day after all.