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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Learning

New learning opportunity this month: 

Students are going to choose how & what they learn in my room (within our framework, of course), all based on their own strengths & weaknesses, so their learning and my teaching is tailor-made for each student... 

So, I want to set up an adult 'idea sharing network,' because we often ask other teachers but rarely ask previous students... (teachers, I want you to participate, too, if you want to, and I will share everything with you!)

and this is where you come in... if you have ever been in school, or have known someone in school, please suggest (below or in a private message) something you think is important in/to education today:
- what would you like to see students learning in English class
- what do you think is important/fun/helpful when learning
- how did you learn best (listening, writing, reading, viewing)
- anything else you would like to offer

Thanks for sharing!

Just so you know - Class #1 is VERY excited to be doing this... they happily chose their novels today and can't wait to start in their groups. They are looking forward to 'their learning time' and are already choosing their next tasks. I am excited that they are excited to learn.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Harley's TravelBlog

Mom's dragging me around again. I'm the famous one here, so you may as well hear it from the dog's mouth.

I have fans wherever I go. Everyone wants to pet me and talk to me. Mom tries to make conversation, God love her, but there is only so much you can say about dog food and grooming.

Amiright?

As well, I thought this was supposed to be a fun trip. Being thrown into a bag, zipped up and stashed under a seat for hours isn't my idea of fun.

Just sayin'.

Also, trying to set me up with a girl dog by making us sit together isn't going to work with me. She was a savage. Put that bitch on a leash! I had to get out of there. No one touches my privates except my bears and Cookie Monster is gone now so that part of my life is over. Stranger Danger, girlfriend.

Now we are waiting in Toronto. Every dog in the world has smelled me and howled at me. I'm shaking like a leaf but thank God I'm in mom's arms and not trapped in the bag. I like the bag, just right now I like to be snuggled.

In a few hours, I will be seeing my nan and grandnan. They better have treats and snuggles when I get there. This has been a long, hard road!

xoxo
harleybarleydog

Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Things

 when I'm in : Netflix, pizza delivery, high speed internet


 when I'm in : road construction outside my window, tar sand beetles, pavement hot enough to melt your shoes

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Milestones

I intended to celebrate my ten-year anniversary in Fort McMurray.

I missed it.

I get my 'milestone events' mixed up. Y'see, I moved here in Jan '02. I started work in the Catholic district approximately Feb/Mar '02. I started working at Merc in Oct '02. I started my full-time teaching position at Merc in Feb '03.

So my ten-year anniversary at Merc as a full-time teacher is in Feb '13 (I think?) but I was thinking all of those events happened at exactly the same time. D'uh. Good thing I'm not a Math teacher.

So I missed the Jan '12 and Feb/Mar '12 anniversaries. I have one coming up in Oct, though. Hopefully I can remember it - but no promises.

So, I missed two important dates. Actually, if you have read previous entries, you might remember that I miss important events all the time - I just don't remember to remember them ('forget' sounds so negative). Not intentionally, mind you. It's just that if I am not actively thinking about it, I don't remember it.

Whatever. Facebook keeps a little ongoing list of birthdays. My cell keeps phone numbers. It's the advent of technology that has caused my memory problems.

Otherwise, I would have remembered how long I have been in the Fort. I was going to have a celebratory dinner or something. Maybe watch a movie. Y'know, go all-out.

So, I am a ten-year veteran. Woohoo! Where has the time gone?

Or, maybe my Math is wrong. Is it still 2012?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whirlwinds & Hockey Sticks


Dear Life,

Generally, you are awesome.

However, at some point, you decided that this week needed to be 10x longer than any other week this year. This should have been discussed between us, first.

This is not me. It's all you. I'm just trying to straighten you out. You gotta get it together.

So, school's year-end is usually a flurry of happiness and excitement. I feel more like this is a wading pool of insane laughter, smiles and hugs.

It's time to crank it up a notch, little buddy.

Also, I fear that my hall neighbours might incite a full-on hockey stick riot if this does not happen. One might 'bust up a hockey stick' or something, and that would not do anything to discourage our little ones from trying to play the game in ELA class. This could become like last year's Cup riots... out.of.control.

So, you know, stay awesome, stay golden, stay good.

But let's get the whirlwind happening, shall we?

Summer '12, summer '12... woooo!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

'I Love Being Beaten Up' #SaidNoOneEver

Harley and I were beaten up.

First, one of my students decided to bust up my toe. He annihilated it.


I was trying to make him go to class and he basically kickboxed it. I had sandals on and he was wearing sneakers. You can see the problem.

So, my toe bent backwards at odd angles. The toe nail fell off and there was blood everywhere. I then took numerous pictures to prove I was an injured player.

Disclaimer: that's not exactly how it happened.

Reality: initially, I didn't know my toe was hurt / busted. I think I was in shock. The other teacher (whose room I was trying to keep my student out of) told me that my toe was bleeding... and so it was, a little bit. In nearly ten years at my school, no one has ever made me bleed my own blood (other people's blood... a different matter). I have stopped fights, helped kids who were hurt, etc., but have never bled. Until that day.

And the whole thing was a big joke to begin with. My students are very friendly and laid back and often come for visits and go for visits with others and generally are very good. So, when I went to see another teacher for supplies, this one kid trotted right behind me to visit, too. And when I turned around to tell him to go back to class, he said he was there to 'back me up' (because you know, I need back up when I visit people) and in the ensuing conversation, his sneakered foot kicked my sandaled foot and that was it for my toe. Game over.

The thing is, the kid didn't mean for it to happen, was kind of afraid I was going to give him detention for the rest of his high school years, and after returning to class while giggling like a loon, he then ran over for a hug while saying "It'll be ok, your toe will get better."

And his final words on the whole situation were, "At least it'll make a good story!" *giggle giggle*

He's so cute.

He then nearly broke my friend's hip when she asked him about it. In an effort to stop her from walking in his direction, he threw his envelope of paper in her direction when she was walking toward him and the envelope went careening under her feet, and she nearly fell down because of it.

He almost took out both of us in mere hours. He is so dangerous!

***

In other news, Jenny almost killed Harley. We went to visit her on Saturday. She lives in a house with a dog and two cats. What a bunch of shenanigans.

We walked in, and the dog wanted to eat Harley. He decided to stay away from her.

Then, Jenny was dancing and Harley decided to dance, too, but Jenny kicked him in the face because Harley can't dance, despite thinking he is human.

(She didn't kick him in the face because he can't dance... he was kicked in the face because his dancing skills were subpar, causing him to be a hazard in the dance)

The sound of the CHOMP-SNAP and the look on his face after was priceless. It sounded like dentures being snapped shut. Game over.

You could hear crickets after the CHOMP-SNAP and then he scurried away from Dancing Jenny pretty quickly.

He came running back to Mama right away.

THEN, Jenny said, "Oh, I'll show you a cat!" and brought a big orange cat to us. She said, "Oh, he's beautiful, he's so cute! He will love Harley!"

Harley hasn't ever spent time around cats before. He kept an open mind, mostly because he doesn't know any better.

The cat (who thinks it is a python) opened it's mouth and snarl-hissed at Harley. And it's mouth was big. And by snarl-hiss, I mean it screamed.

It was in Jenny's arms at the time, and she screamed in fright and threw it... "AAAHHHH!!!!!!"

Harley basically passed out in my arms.

I was stone-still in fear.

It then went over and hopped up on a counter and then up onto cupboards in 2 movements. Sneaky.

The PythonCat could have eaten us.

When Jenny went for a shower, I took Harley outside and we weren't out the door for 2 seconds... I turned around and PythonCat was right behind us. Very sneaky.

And scary.

When I looked at him, he took off. I had to protect my baby. Harley is only little and tiny.

PythonCat was big. And savage.

'PythonCat is nice' said no one, ever. He did not love Harley. Harley does not love him.

Harley did love all the little doggies he met at the park this week. Today, there were so many Maltese dogs, I couldn't keep up with them. They were like a bunch of maggots, all running around! So many Maltese!

Harley was tired from all the running. He smells so bad and needs a bath but I am lazy and don't want to do it. I wish he could bathe himself.

But no, he can't dance, he can't bathe himself, he can't protect himself. All he can do is run around and get dirty.

But, I suppose, at least my toes are safe around him.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Too Cool...

By lunchtime yesterday, Harley had parameters on him like never before.

He had the hair in his ears plucked, his toenails cut, he was microchipped and signed up for obedience school.

He hadn't even had his breakfast yet.

Truth be told, all of these things are for his own good. The first two things, the ears and nails, have been done repeatedly throughout his life and he is used to them. Obviously, they are for his health and comfort.

The microchipping and school are also for his health and comfort. You see, Harley is a little Houdini escape artist. I don't want him to escape and become someone else's new pet or brand new roadkill, so these were steps I needed to take to prevent those things.

Microchipping reminds me a little of a futuristic identification system because the very thought of doing that to a human is so alien. However, sticking a piece of foreign matter into an animal is commonplace if we want him returned to his rightful owner. But, I suppose, pawprinting is probably not so great a time for anyone involved.

While waiting at the vet clinic, we happened upon a great find: two little shirts with Harley's name written all over them. One of them addressed obedience school:


and I think it sums up his personality nicely. It would also do a bang-up job of describing mine if it started with "KINDA DESPERATE..." rather than "TOO COOL..." but it'll have to do.

But, no kidding, this needs to work for us. I want him to listen to me when I speak and I don't want to be yelling at him. We need to be civilized.

We have to get our lives straightened out. I'm lazy and he is insubordinate.

Hopefully the teacher there is strong-willed. She needs to get us in line.

Plus, we're both oppositional defiant. Sheesh.

I wish I had a shirt like that, too. We could wear them to class together.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lazybug's Naptime


Today,

1. I was woken by the city to move my vehicle from the driveway to the street so they could access the driveway to fix it

2. I wasted a blender-full of shake across my cupboard - what a dang-blasted mess of milk, yogurt and oatmeal that was

3. I had students tell me they did not do their term projects because they didn't think I was serious when I assigned it (hmmm...)

4. I came home to find both ends of the street being utilized by the city so I had to park in a field, the same as last year, and then became Fred Penner / Batman again
(the whole street has to do this, so the 'woe is me' attitude can only hold out so long)

5. I have 31 tests and 51 essays to grade, which I would like to finish before Thursday night (i.e. tomorrow).

6. I don't want to walk to the doggie-playland to hang-out, so Harley and I are going to be lazybugs and stay here.

It's going to be a long evening.


Now, nap-time. 






Pee Trail

20 years ago, I was a teenager. Wow, it really doesn't seem like TWENTY years.

I think back to some of the things we did and I wonder if kids today have half so much fun as my friends and I did. I hope they do.

One intense piece of business was when someone would pretend to be a wild animal and then start to play a good game of chase-the-human. This 'game' was accidentally discovered.

Y'see, it all happened one night when I was babysitting at my neighbour's house. I lived in 'Da Woods' and across the road from my house was a lounge/bar and a wedding was happening that night at the lounge. Everybody was going.

My neighbours went to the wedding; my friend and I went to their house to babysit.

Some of my friends were old enough to go to the wedding. I was about 15-16 years old, and my friends ranged in age, of course.

Late in the night, one of my guy friends decided to leave the party and come visit me and my friend while we babysat. However, we didn't know he was coming over.

The kids were asleep.

There was a half-knocking, half-scratching noise at the outside door and then the door swung open! I saw this as I was sneaking out through the dining room and kitchen to peek out the inside door of the porch.

Meanwhile, my friend was sneaking out behind me, thisclosetome. But I didn't know that.

My guy friend in the porch thought it would be hilarious to scare the living daylights out of us two girls, so he was sneaking in through the porch, making creepy noises.

Picture it: two girls sneaking out through a dark kitchen to peer out the porch door and a 6' guy sneaking in through the dark porch to scare us girls.

Ah, memories.

When we peeked over the ledge of the glass of the inside door, my guy friend raised his arms up and loudly yelled, like a bear. Seriously, arms up and, "RAWR!"

And the scream froze in my throat.

My brain shut off.

My stomach stopped gurgling, or doing whatever it is that stomachs do.

My legs froze.

I wasn't breathing.

No blinking. Eyes wide open.

And he was looking at me expectantly, then he laughed.

That broke the moment.

And I turned to run.

In my brain, I was thinking, "!!!!!!!!!!!!BEAR!!!!!!!!!!"

So I ran.

While peeing.

In my nice black shorts that I really loved.

My friend who had sneaked out behind me through the kitchen was directly behind me and she, too, was laughing and tried to stop me from running. She put her hands out and was saying my name and telling me, "it was only him, it was only him!"

But my brain was having none of it.

With a wild-eyed stare, I grabbed HER arms and pushed her in a backward run straight across the kitchen, through the dining room and gave her a fling into the carpeted living room. She fell backwards and I believe she ended up with carpet burn all along her forearms.

Meanwhile, I had turned left and was heading down the hallway to hide from the bear.

So, a quick left then a quick right brought me to the hallway of bedrooms.

I was still peeing, and leaving a trail of pee.

I knew, somewhere in the back of my head, that it wasn't a bear, that it was my friend. That part of my brain was struggling to control conscious thought.

Wild-eyed, I looked right to left, and turned right to go to the bathroom. There were two reasons for this:
1. I should finish peeing in the bathroom
2. the pee was no doubt attracting the bear and I should lead it away from the kids, and they were to the left

I was a good babysitter, even during my utmost level of fear.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I could my guy friend yelling my name and dying with laughter. I heard him hit the floor, crying laughing.

But I kept running.

No bear was getting me. No sir.

I got to the bathroom, STILL PEEING. I just couldn't control it.

The tub was right by the door, and the toilet was kind of hidden behind the tub. I raced to the end of the tub and sat on the toilet, with my beautiful black shorts still on.

Then I saw the bear coming, and he WAS CRAWLING DOWN THE HALLWAY!!!!

TOWARD ME.

So I pulled my legs back as far as they could go and hid as best as I could behind the tub, while still on the toilet, peeing. There was absolutely no semblance of control.

My friend was almost sick, still laughing.

Every now and then, I would peek out to see if the bear was still there.

It was.

He finally got to the bathroom door and after saying my name a few times, I kind of snapped out of it. I was beyond afraid. Beyond!

My carpet-burned friend wasn't pleased with me.

My guy friend sent me home to clean up and he cleaned up all the pee that by this point, had trailed all over the house.

On the way back to the Bear House, I was still almost sick and irrational with fear. When I got there, he was still laughing and apologizing profusely. He said he didn't think he would get that kind of reaction but no doubt that was the best reaction, ever.

Meanwhile, don't ever run from a real bear. Probably, it's not a good idea to pee, either. And if you do, the only way it's going to help you clean up is by being the garbage disposal.

just doing whatever they want


Friday, May 18, 2012

When Did You Exercise? :-/

Today was another moving day.

Awhile back, it was Jenny's turn to move residences. This time, we had to move my cousin, The Pixie. We were asked to move 'some clothes and an armoire.'

I said, 'I have some intestinal issues so I can't move an armoire but I'll see if Jenny is available. I can help with the clothes, though.'

Jenny was available.

Now you might remember from some of last year's stories that Jenny and I are the Funny FatGirls. We don't care what we do; we do what we want. And so we today, we wanted to help The Pixie move.

The Pixie changed her mind 800 times regarding the actual time of the move, so we were basically at her beck and call. 'Cuz you know, we're (in her words) 'just teachers breakin' and stuff.'

Yep, just teachers, hanging around on break.

Finally, we got down to business.

There were no clothes to move. It was all furniture! And I thought I was a hoarder! The Pixie needs to have the Hoarder show come visit her. We had to move boxes, clothes, games, dog food, dog treats, a dog, half a board nailed to a wall, a couple of table saws, a printer and a VCR before we could even get to The Armoire. And that was after we went down a flight of stairs, into the basement.



And due to my troubled intestines (that's a story for another day), I couldn't lift The Armoire.

So The Pixie looked at me like this  :-D  and I gave her a look like this  | :-/  . That's me with my eyebrows raised, except it looks like a unibrow and I have two distinct eyebrows. There was no way I was lifting the huge box.

Then we both looked at Jenny, to see if she could help. She looked at us like this  :-/  I'm sure she was thinking, "WTF" because of her expression.

But she did it. On the way up the basement stairs, she yelled, "Ah, I'm full of spiders!" to which Pixie replied, "There are no spiders in my basement" and Jenny then said in a very weak voice, "Oh, woe is me!"

I was giggling like a loon at the top of the stairs because I knew Jenny wouldn't lie. When they got to the top, Jenny was covered in webs. She gave me the dirtiest look of life after I said, "Let me hold the door for you" because she glanced down and I was carrying a pillow. And holding the door.

While she carried an armoire.

For my cousin.

Oh, dear.

So I dusted the webs off her shoulders.

Again, this is how she looked at me  :-/

We brought it all outside. Then we went inside, where Jenny and I thought we were getting The Clothes. Nope, Pixie said "So, do you think we can take this chest?" and by 'chest' she meant ottoman, which was a huge piece of furniture. And by huge, I mean it was humongous, so humongous that I once used it onstage and it was big enough to be easily seen by 600 people in a full theatre.

Yeah, that piece of furniture. We talked her out of it. Then she said, "Well do you think we can take the TV?" We said, "Where the hell are you gonna put a TV?" She stopped to think about that. We had never seen her place but that tactic seemed to work. The TV stayed where it was.

We went upstairs. There were no clothes being moved up there, either. Nope, just more stupid furniture. There was a night table, some baskets, hangers, pillows (which I carried) and a small chair (which I also carried).

The Pixie bossed us all around. Jenny was worried that I was going to be savage about being bossed around but I figured it was The Pixie's stuff and I wasn't really doing anything, so I thought we could let her boss her face right off, if she wanted.

Jenny was basically The Carrier of Everything.

I carried stuff, too, but Jenny said I did nothing but carry pillows. That is a flat-out lie because I also carried a basket with hangers, a chair, and some food. Plus, I got us drinks. And I also held onto the dog, and eventually put her in the bathroom when she got out of control.

But Jenny did do her share, too. I'm not saying she didn't.

We left that place and went to the new place. The Pixie said she lived on the 4th floor, so we thought we would bring everything to the elevator and make one trip out of it. Nope, Pixie lived on floor 2. She said we didn't need the elevator, we could just walk up two flights of stairs.

Jenny's face did this  |:-/  (but without the unibrow).

Then the furniture started coming out of the back of the truck at warp speed. One piece came flying out at me and I tried to lift it but I thought my guts were going to fall out of my arse end, so Jenny caught it and it started to fall forward. I said, "I'll help!" and immediately caught the tiny 8"x10" drawer for her. I thought she was going to kill me. She maneuvered the whole thing up the stairs like The Hulk, though.

She carried all the heavy stuff because Pixie decided to make the most amount of trips to take all of the little stuff. So she was flitting back and forth around us, running up and down the stairs, while Jenny took all the other stuff and I trailed along with the pillows and shower curtain rod.

Then we had to take bathroom breaks. Whew! What a whack of work! Beat to snots!

When we left, Jenny said she was so tired from all the exercise. I said, "Yeah? When did you exercise?" I thought she meant she was out walking or something.

She just about slammed on the brakes of The Blueberry right through the floorboards, and turned to me and screamed in my face, "ASSHOLE!"

And then, "What do you mean, when did I exercise?"

Jenny's face looked like this  >:-S

Then it dawned on me that 'the moving adventure' was the exercise.

Me   :-D

Jenny  :-/

It's been a long time since one of my friends called me an asshole, especially with that much emotion. I burst out laughing, and could barely breathe. Then she started laughing, too. My guts hurt so much.

She was really riled up, and on a pure rant.

"It's all right for you! You were carrying a pillow! Here I am, carrying 'The Armoire' with the spider webs! Then I couldn't use the elevator, and I had to carry all the furniture up the stairs by. my. self. Then! I! had! to! use! the! bathroom! Here you go, you carry the nightstand! You carry the chair! Here, TerriLynn, you carry the drawer! And I was just sweatin' the whole time, fat girl just sweatin' it out."

I wasn't sure why the bathroom was thrown in there but I guess it was a big deal. While all this was being said, she also held onto the steering wheel and tried to shake the shee-it out of her whole car.

Holy love of the Lord, was she wild. She wasn't mad, I could tell because she was laughing. She was just reminding me, loudly, that she did a lot of work, and I didn't remember it.

Sorry about not remembering that you were exercising.

Pure try-athlete in the house.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dog-Park Adventures 4: BFF in Training

Harley met a lot of little doggies over at our little Bark Park but he met one little guy today that was just the absolute cutest.

His name is Frankie and he is an English Bulldog.

Frankie is four months old, already about 20 pounds and as docile as a kitten.

Harley is almost three years old, 7 pounds and savage.

I want them to be best friends.

Frankie wants to play with Harley... and Harley doesn't want to have anything to do with Frankie, of course.

It all started like this:

We arrived at the park around 4:30. I had gone to the post office right after work, had checked to see if anyone was on the Lil Guy Side, and sure enough (!) people were there, so I raced home to get the little maggot, and we raced back to the park.

Harley started with his usual squirmy old shenanigans as soon as we got there because he thinks he can hold his own with the Big Boys. He cannot because he is a wimp. He would get trampled. Harley likes his personal space, only he doesn't realize he likes personal space because rarely does anything ever intrude on that space.

So I had to keep him in a pure headlock until we got to the Lil Guy Side.

We got in through the gate and Harley was acting like a 3 year old kid in a solid temper tantrum, you know when they get all limp and try to slide out of your arms? That was Harley when we got to the gate. He was desperately trying to taste freedom.

I was going to let him down until I saw the Bulldog on the Lil Guy Side. And I almost had a heart attack. Bulldog + Harley Wimpface = not so much a time.

The owners said he was just a baby bulldog and he was placid and he wasn't much of a playmate and all that stuff.

In fact, the two dachshunds there were much more aggressive and one of them was barking up a storm. Enough that it was obvious that the little bulldog was really no threat, as he was overwhelmed with the situation.

Harley was not overwhelmed at all.

He busted right in and introduced his furry arse.



He actually went over and lifted his leg on the bulldog owner's leg. You can't really apologize enough when that happens, I have learned.

So I kept my eyes on all the furry ones, to make sure that the smallest one (mine) didn't get roughed up by the bulldog and the barkers.

It was all going well. Then Frankie started to get a little more comfy and started to come out of his shell. One barking dachshund was trying to get him to play but the noise was just too much, so he would stop playing. When they were occupied elsewhere, Frankie would come over to try to get Harley to play.

But Harley was walking around on his back legs, trying to get me to pick him up because he didn't want to play with the little-kid bulldog. Plus, the little-kid bulldog was over twice his size. So he was getting bullied except the little-kid didn't know he was a bully.

It looked like Harley was a trick-performing dog, when really he isn't - he is just a big wimp.

So we had a barking dog, a Maltese walking on its hind legs and an English bulldog puppy trying to convince the circus dog to play by pouncing at it...

Yes, pouncing.

The English bulldog was trying its very best to pounce. On Harley. And my little boy was having none of it.

Frankie the bulldog was in full pouncing practice mode for awhile, and Harley was the target. In a Nintendo Super Mario game, some of the characters are able to Ground Pound. When a character like Bowser does it (see the link for his info), it seems like you are frozen for a few seconds and those seconds make a world of difference in game-playing ability.

That is what Frankie and Harley reminded me of today: Frankie was Bowser and Harley was Mario. Harley was trying to get to me and Frankie was ground pounding in an effort to play. Except, in Fankie's case, it was more like Ground Pouncing.

Frankie was also learning how to use his little voice - so pouncing and barking in that little puppy voice. He doesn't even have real teeth yet - he has those little puppy needle teeth.

He was trying to smash himself on Harley, and would sometimes lose control of his legs, or get tired, and just lay straight out on his belly.

He was seriously too cute.

Harley was absolutely savage with him.

For Harley, there was no playing with Frankie. Harley was just doggie-glaring at him. Then Frankie would come over and stand by me and wait for Harley to come over, too. Harley would stand on his back legs and lean against the back of my knees to try to get me to pick him up.

Frankie would come around to the front and poke his head through my ankles, right into Harley's face.

Harley would bark "ROWRF!" in a sort-of scream-bark. He was so mad at the surprise attack. Frankie thought the whole thing was a game.

Then the barking dog would jump in and bust the whole thing up because he thought they were playing. Frankie would get scared and run back to his owner.

Eventually, we left because Harley was thirsty and I wanted to watch Flashpoint, which was already half over. My boy had some fun, was terrorized a bit and wanted to go home. His BFF-in-training looked tired because he was cuddling up with his mama, too.

At that point, we were done with the Lil Guy Side of the Bark Park for today.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Art Night 4: Jeannette, Like a Boss

Pure savage.

Once we get going on the arts & crafts, we are pure savage, flat out, no flies on us. No holds barred, I tell ya.

And we're there, just given'er for all she's wort'.

That's what happened on Monday, at Art Night #4:

I showed up a few minutes early but there were still people there before me - it's nice to know I'm not the only one excited about all of this.

So I busted out my tree, and waited for further instructions. Jeannette always tells me fancy art stuff and fancy art words, and I am sure she thinks I understand them. Sometimes I wish she would just turn away for half a second so I could whip out the online dictionary and look up what we are discussing. For example: 'tonal' and 'up and down brush strokes'. Seriously. Painting is hard, man.

So first, Jeannette told me that I needed to see the tree picture all the time. First I thought she meant my actual artwork, and I thought she was insulting me by saying in a nice way that my tree painting was so bad that I was obviously blind.

But she meant the original picture.

You might notice the tree picture taped to my canvas, below. Well, it's taped there because Jeannette does what she wants, and she just ripped the page right out of her picture book so she could tape it to my canvas. She said it was her book so she could rip it up if she wanted to.

Alright - I wasn't, in fact no one was trying to stop her, so maybe she was trying to convince herself. I don't know. But tear up the book she did. She was pure savage on Monday, too.




Then she started to show me various brush strokes to use. However, her painting looks awesome, of course, and my painting looks like a monkey just learned how to throw mud onto the wall in lines, after watering it down by adding blood, poo and spit to make various shades of brown.

Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing because if you look at my tree, I am mostly inside the lines AND it is in the shape of a tree, relatively. And a few weeks ago, I never painted a tree before in my life.

In fact, Jeannette told me that I had some Picasso thing going on. I don't know if that was an insult or not (do art people like Picasso? was he an art world outcast?), but he was pretty famous and his art is still hanging around (pun intended) so I think I'll just pretend I'm that awesome.

So, yeah, I'm pretty much Picasso. You may as well admit it, too, even of it's only to yourself. Look at that painting. I make art.

Actually, if you are 20 feet away, it's not too shabby. And in a picture, like above, it's pretty good, too. So maybe I'll keep it on a cathedral ceiling or something. So what if I have to find one first... I'm ambitious!

Maybe that's why the old art masters only painted on ceilings - they knew art secrets - keep everyone plenty of room away and your art looks amazingly fantastic.

Whatever. I love my tree. I love the antlers. I love the dancing men. I love the colours. I love the brush strokes. I love the tonal stuff (I assume that means different colours). I will also love that we are doing shading next week, after I finish the rest of this weeks work. 

I love it because I am making it. It's mine. And if someone says it's ugly, I will hit them over the head with it. Just teasing - I don't want to wreck it!

Steph the giggling lunatic showed up and she busted out her letters, and she said she was tired and exhausted and all that jazz. Funny, because once she started on her letter T, she was hardcore. 

It took her 3 weeks to get the first letter, B, under control, and she got her letter T to the same point in one night, night #4.

Steph's 'but'

While barely noticeable in this picture, both the B and the T are both inked in black and foiled in silver and gold.

Her current level of speed makes no sense. She is starting her 3rd letter, U, now. She is all business.

She said now that she knows what she is doing, she can speed up. She then added that as soon as colour is ready to be added, everything will come to a screaming halt as she will have to decide what to do.

Then, we will have round-table discussions, I guess.

Time to bust out the old thinking caps, maybe have some voting cards and definitely some long talks about this. We need some of those paint strip colour cards so the discussions can really be informed. I have to go to a paint store so I can be ready for this. I cannot be unprepared.

When we do our little discussions about colour, Steph stares at the letters for a long time as if she is waiting for them to pop up and talk to her (I am assuming she is picturing them in bright Technicolour), and then she will turn to look at me in exactly the same way: kind of with her head tilted and a little bit of a vacant stare. That's because she is thinking (I hope) hard about her choices. 

Otherwise, I don't know what that look is about. Maybe she looks like that all the time and I just didn't notice. Oh well, whatever. Then she turns back to her work, still with the same look: vacant, creepy eyes. It reminds me of monster movies, except creepier because it's not supposed to be scary.

Maybe she is waiting for me to say/do something else, but I am not really sure what else to do about the colour stuff. So I stand there, with my hands at my sides, holding a little paintbrush, until it's awkward. But I think it's only awkward for me. She doesn't seem to notice.

With my heart beating faster, I came up with a new idea in case the monster look came back: I think we have to do some colouring experiments. 

Maybe we need to put aside the good copies of the letters once the foiling is done, and start practicing colouring the flowers with various shades of colours she likes, on extra photocopies of the letters. Then we will know what works for her and then we can apply it to the real thing.

Otherwise, I am afraid she will have to start over (eek!).

In that case, I suppose Jeannette could just rip some pages of letters out of one of her books to frame if it gets really out of control. She can also go no-holds-barred when she wants to. Not only does she do what she wants, she also makes us do what she wants.

In fact, she has already said the magic words to me, "I don't want to read about that in your blog!"

So, if you want to hear the really good stories, you have to be invited to Art Night, like my one-hundred-and-eleventeenth cousin, Ashleigh. She showed up with her art work and painted a bit, chatted a bit and generally had fun. She heard the stories.

I can only give you some stuff. Jeannette said so.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dog-Park Adventures 3: Obedience School


Harley is going to Obedience School on the double.

He might not look it, but he is a Holy Terror.



He escaped numerous times this weekend AND terrorized all the other dogs, even the big ones. He is so bad, and he always does what he wants.

Why is it that I can manage 30-100 teens at any given time but I can't manage a seven pound dog?

Even our secret talks don't make a difference. This is where I put him on his side and tell him "Mama is very upset with you and you are a bad dog. Now stop it." Plus I add in death threats if he has been really bad.

He doesn't care. He's the James Dean of Maltese dogs. He would smoke, ride a Harley and wear chaps, if he could.

No wonder other dogs won't come into the Little Dog Park when we are there - they can sense his evil nature.

Yesterday, the park was freezing but that was no deterrent to the Bad Boy. He ran up and down the fence, peeing, smelling everything and chasing all the dogs on the other side. By the way, they are instigators, I might add - they are running with him, so it may not totally be all his fault.



BUT, he is the one who starts the barking - he gets so excited, he just starts barking and howling. Then I have to get involved and tell him off. So then come our secret talks.

Harley doesn't even listen. He thinks he is the size of a Rottweiler or Great Dane. He is more like Scrappy Doo.

At the park today, Harley decided he was going to squish out through the gate. He is quite good at that. Then I started to have a heart attack because the park is right by a busy road and Harley just bolts. And he. does. not. listen. to. me. at. all.

So I yelled at him but that taste of freedom was just too much. I am VERY lucky he didn't run onto the road but that little leg came up and the pee went all over the flower pot. I don't even care about the flower pot, really, but I could strangle the dog.

This was after being at my friend's house, in the backyard, when the gate swung open and Houdini bolted out and ran across the lawn and all around the front yard. Of course, I thought he was a dead duck but luckily, he stopped to pee on the electrical box.

At Gregoire Lake, he barked at and tried to chase all the dogs on the beach and on the trails. It's not that he hates them or wants to hurt them, he wants them to notice him. When he is off leash, he just smells the dogs and doesn't necessarily even want to play with them. If they want to chase him, great, but if not, that's ok, too. It's as if he wants to talk, but the barking and lunging is unacceptable. It doesn't matter that he is small.

I have worked with him on the 'Come' and 'Stay' commands but he absolutely refuses to do them, even for treats. Obviously, I don't know what I am doing.

So, Obedience School it is. Or no more Doggie Playworld for him if other dogs are there - it's turning into Harley's Stomping Grounds of Terror for everyone except him, because he is having the time of his life terrorizing everyone and everything.



Harley - alone at the park except for the bugs and the wind. This is how it will always be until he can behave himself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Art Night 3: Moose & Men, Ink & Foil


Monday was Art Night. We had many successes.

When I first showed up, though, all the lights were off and I thought I might have missed a memo about class being cancelled.

I snooped around and found one of the ladies puttering around, without the lights on. So we chatted, as it turned out I was just a bit early but she was super early.

The first thing my teacher said to me was, "We're going do some ... something something something something on your painting because something something and this will be dark but these things here will be something something something and that will be better, ok?"

And I said, "What do you mean?" Blink blink.

Blink.

Because I think she thinks I am smarter than I actually am.

So she explained in Terri language: she bought me new paintbrushes so I have to slow down a bit and be a little more careful with the lines. We will also start adding in new colours. In addition, the brown may be too dark but we will layer colours so it will be ok.

Fair enough, grasshopper. I'm on it.

So I flipped my little tree upside down and started painting the upper branches.

The top branches reminded me of moose antlers before, and now I also see little dancing men in there, when it is upside down. So now, when I look at the painting, that's what I see: moose antlers and dancing men.

Told ya I grew up in the woods. Most girls would probably see fairies and butterflies. Not me... pure Newfoundlander: moose and men.

Yup.

My mom would be so proud of her girl.

the Newfoundland girl's tree

It's kind of funny I am naming my painting 'the Newfoundland girl's tree' (thus far) since Jeannette originally said this kind of tree reminded her of NL, and Steph and I burst out laughing, saying this was not the kind of tree we would use to describe NL.

And it isn't, if you are looking at the whole thing. But if you look at just a couple of twigs, like the one dead centre at the top, it looks like a man walking. And if you flip it upside down, he looks like he is dancing. And if you don't see antlers in here anywhere, I don't know what to say about that.

Those things remind me of home. My uncles used to go moose hunting, maybe that's why. I don't know. But that tree now reminds me of home and that was totally, completely unintentional.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Steph was celebrating her own success. It was almost enough to break out a bottle of wine!

She graduated from one letter to another letter! WOOhoo!

graduation #1: one letter to another letter

She has inked the background and foiled the letter in two colours.

However, if Steph gets something in her head, she wants to make all her ideas happen NOW.

So she got the idea to colour her borders without deciding her other colours.

Discussion time. Out came the letters, the colours and the heavy brain waves.

We started talking out all her choices again, discussing colours for the flowers and the borders. She was going to start the borders immediately, but after some heavy thought- and sweat-intensive discussion, she decided to go with her original plan of finishing the inking and foiling first.

Then, she will choose flower and border colours and then move on to actual colouring.

I'm telling you, my heart is getting wrapped up in this project, too. I'm starting to feel concerned about the placement of everything.

They are going to be beautiful. I might sign them all, secretly. She can sign my painting, too, in recognition of all the positive comments she makes. I am the 'thought-processor' on her project, that's why I get to make a mark on hers.

When I am standing there painting, it feel like we are all real artists. I have spray paint or spray gold or something floating around me and into my lungs, there is paint all over me (when it should be on my canvas), there are various artistic instruments everywhere, and all kinds of tiny brushes are on my table at my disposal as if I am capable of making noticeably different lines and stuff with them.

And then, Steph is behind me, coughing up her lungs because she is bent over her work station, breathing in some weird smelling glue that she is using to stick the foil to the paper. Then she breathes in all the foil bits that come off her work when she brushes away the excess.

That, of course, is after she inks the whole thing with smelly India Ink.

She needs a face mask or something. She is going to mess up her work if she gets a coughing fit.

Then we will have to start all over.

Holy Lord above, her project is more stressful than mine and I'm not even working on hers.

Jeannette told me during her "something something something" conversation that we might have to do ten coats of paint to make sure the tree was layered properly and that sounded ok to me. My canvas might not be strong enough to hold up all that paint, but whatever, I'll tack it on to some wood.

I thought, 'No problem, I'll just keep painting until it looks right. Eventually, the paint will round out like a tree really is, I'm sure. I have a great teacher. It'll all be ok. No sweat.'

With Steph's, I think 'Holy love of God! You have 3 letters left! You better get cracking! We have colours to choose! How many colours are you gonna need? Do you know what your colour themes is - wait - don't think about that yet - keep inking and foiling! How much longer is the ink gonna take? What about this foil - I'm stressed out because it's so flimsy! Is this what the dentist uses on teeth!? Do you need some help? We gotta concentrate! No more talking! You need a face mask! You need gloves! We need more light! Your wedding is only 14 months away! We gotta come in on the weekends! What kind of frames are you gonna use? Mad panic!'

And Steph giggles.... like a lunatic.

And I look at my tree with the antlers and dancers.

I love Monday night - we say it's what gets us through the day!


Dog-Park Adventures 2

all tired & sleepy

My boy didn't last too long at the doggie-park today because he is kind of exhausted from all the running and chasing and hopping and playing over the past few days at Doggie Playworld.

We went over today and a lady there had two dogs, and they were excited to see my little monster! Woohoo! Friends!

One of the dogs was Harley's age and he wanted to play, but the lady said her other dog was 12 years old, he was basically the 'Fun Police' and he would shut down any parties the young ones were thinking about throwing.

They did ok for awhile but Grampa Dog kept them in line.

Regardless, my little maggot was so happy. And that makes me happy.

Another few ladies showed up and all the dogs hung out but Harley gets kind of quiet when there are 'big packs of dogs' roaming around and barking, so he came over and kind of hung around the humans. 

And by 'big packs of dogs' I mean there were 4 of them, including Harley.

So Harley is dreaming of Doggie Playworld now, while grasping his toy duck and his chew treat. He fell asleep while trying to chew.

Exhausted happiness.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dog-Park Adventures 1



Harley is not ugly.


When we went to the dog-park today, none of the other dogs would play with him. 


Actually, the dogs wanted to play but their owners wouldn't allow them to do so.


So I took him for a walk.




On the walk, one older couple said, "Oh what a cute dog!" Then another couple passed us and about ten feet after they passed, the woman said, "Oh, what an ugly dog!"


Harley: "Mama, why won't the doggies play with me?"


There was no one else around so I assume she was speaking about me or Harley.


I don't care if she called me ugly. But I thought she called Harley ugly and I immediately thought, "Shut up! You probably have ugly kids!" I didn't say it, though, because my mouth will one day get me in trouble.


Then I thought, maybe Harley is ugly and people tell me he is cute the same way people always tell others that their babies are cute, even if their babies are slightly strange looking. Maybe Harley is strange.


I think he is awesome. Sure, he is a bit rough and sometimes looks like he has never had a bath or has never seen the bristles of a brush, but he is a good dog and to me, he is still cute.


He is friendly and he likes to play. He has no idea about ugly or cute. He just wants to walk the trails or whip around the dog-park, chasing other dogs.


If only humans were made happy so easily.



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nellie's Lobsters

Yesterday, I went shopping and on my way out of the snaggle of a rat race known as the parking lot, I saw a guy in a truck who was selling lobster. So I squealed and screeched my tires and bought some, naturally.

Up until yesterday, I had never cooked lobster on my own. I was always part of a cooking experience, and mostly I was the audience member.

My 'cooking lessons' mostly went to the extent of my uncle getting drunk on Christmas Eve and trying to teach me how to make a boiled dinner. We usually got as far as cutting up the onion (i.e., the first step) before he forgot to continue to speak due to his drunkenness, and then the lesson would deteriorate slowly as he would peel vegetables and resolve to do the rest later. Then the party would continue, and the dinner would be cooked on Christmas Day.

The only thing was, he wouldn't let me practice cutting onions because every year he thought he was teaching me this technique for the first time. So... same 'new' lesson, every year. New onion, new lesson, no practice.

Y'see, I wasn't really allowed to do anything around our house (or anyone's house) while growing up. I was the bookworm, not the hands-on kid. I heard the statement, "Karen got her ruined!" more than once (Karen is my mother) because I didn't know how and didn't want to do 'house stuff.'

But I'm ok with the house stuff and with the ruined comment, because I do what I want. Always. That's what my mom gave to me and I am thankful for it. I am ruined, alright!

At our house, my mom did everything because she was kind of picky and liked things done her way. I don't know why people get like that *shaking my head here* :P but you know, that kind of thing is important to some people.

Anyway, my mom didn't let me do things like cook. Or clean the house. Or anything, really. She cooked our meals. She cleaned our house. I think she thought I couldn't do as good a job as her, but in my defense, she had been doing it for years and I had no practice.

Really, it is her fault I am lazy today. I am used to being waited on. It's all my mother's fault that I am the way I am. And there is no use to say that I am an adult now and I should know better - you are what you are. And I do what I want.

My mom's nickname for me is Nellie.

... as in Nellie Olesen, that spoiled-brat girl from Little House on the Prairie. Swear to God. She has some other ones as well, but that's the one we will talk about today.

As I said, she did it to herself - it's her fault I was a brat. Secretly, I think she loves it. She could have made different choices, but she made this happen, right!?

There I was, dying to learn how to cook (do you believe that?) and clean (HA!) and there my mom was, telling me off, saying I shouldn't be wasting my time with such menial chores.

Oh my God. What a parent. Absolutely ridiculous.

Honestly though, my job was to go to school. That was it. Mom did everything else. She said I didn't need to learn anything else because she was taking care of it. Somewhere along the line, we both forgot that eventually, I would leave her house.

So today, I am figuring things out but I often call her for advice. Which she also loves, I can GUARANTEE that. She loves busting out the old recipe box.

(I haven't asked her about plants yet because I am afraid of the amount of excitement. And when I have kids, that's it. She tells me off now about Harley stuff, so I can only imagine about kid stuff.)

Like yesterday, when I called her about lobster boiling. She loved it.

I was worried sick because it was so warm and the traffic was unbelievable, and I thought my lobsters were going to die before I got them home. You can't cook dead lobsters!

Finally, I got home and called her and the first thing she said was, "Don't let Harley get near those lobsters! They will hurt him if they pinch him!"

Well, it's a damn good thing she told me that! I was going to put them all together for playtime! Sheesh!

Harley was terrified of them, though, because once she said that, I had to see what he actually did think of them, so I brought him to them. He sniffed, then turned around completely in my arms so that his back was to the lobster. This is a defense mechanism of his: if he doesn't like something, he turns his back to it, and it no longer exists. Problem solved.

I got the water boiling and the lobsters ready to go for a dip. Worked up my courage to pick them up... and when I did, the buggers started flopping and moving and squirming, which I forgot that they do. Ugh, ugh, ugh... into the pot they went!

Then of course, the pot boiled over, the smell was too intense for my small apartment, Harley was terrified, my rice was cooking too fast, I had to call mom to see if I should take them out in 16 minutes or in 20, my whole sink was full of dishes that I had to get washed so I could rinse the lobsters...

... what a poo-storm.

I got everything under control after another call home. Then out came the lobsters and off went the rice.



Then the shelling...



... and the hand-scalding.

But it was SO worth it.

All the mess, all the smell, the white fluffy dog panic, all the cleaning up afterward including all the shells :S... so worth it.



I was able to make two meals of course, so coming home today to lobster again was just fabulous.

Nellie on youritlist.com

Just what a spoiled brat would want - a luxurious meal, already cooked and waiting for her.

My mom taught me well.
<3


Monday, April 30, 2012

Art Night 2: Wild, Crazy & Noisy

Tonite, I really made Art. I painted half a tree.

I got mad skills.

wild art skillz

Last week, I painted my canvas blue and white. Today, my teacher showed me some trees and we decided on this wild tree that reminds me of the moors of Wuthering Heights, even though there weren't too many trees there. It also reminds me a little bit of the 'nature gone wild' bits in Macbeth. Love it.

I had to trace it, project it and copy it because obviously I can't do it on my own in an hour. But I'm not too shabby. This tree was one that Teacher really likes, and she said it reminds her of NL. Steph and I cracked up laughing, and Steph said that maybe it could be on the Avalon peninsula. The other trees we were looking at, the skinny little birch trees, were more like the ones from the west coast, where we are from.

The tree actually extends all the way up to the top and all the way across. This is just the beginning. There is all kinds of brown and black paint in there, all mixed up together. Teacher comes by and as quietly as mouse, leans over my shoulder and while I am intensely concentrating, has a little chat with me - what a fright!

I gotta hand it to my teacher - she certainly can see things in a piece of work that I don't, at least not until I can view it from a different perspective, like through the lens of a camera. This photo makes the painting look so different.

When I am painting, I have a system: black paint, water, dab on plate, brown paint, canvas. Brown paint, canvas. That's my routine. Otherwise, my tree looks funny. If I knew what I was doing, I would be dangerous!

Meanwhile, Steph is starting at square 1 again (literally). She loves starting over. Or she loves working on the 'B', I guess. That girl is crazy.

this makes Steph's hand look very manly

This time, she is working with India Ink. We decided that she should put on gloves in case she got it on her hands because that stuff stains so badly. So there she is, looking like a tattoo artist for paper.

Man, does she ever like the letter B.

Maybe she likes to put off the exciting stuff. By the time she gets to putting the silver stuff where the actual letter is, I'm going to pass out from excitement. You see, there are three steps to the lettering:

1. India Ink on the dark spots (only she is after using every dark type of thing she can think about so far... grape kool-aid, blue pen, coffee, black paint, now India Ink)

2. silver foil on the letter itself

3. colouring the flowers

At this rate, she might not have the four letters done by the time her wedding rolls around NEXT August. Look at her face - she sure is happy about the whole situation!

woohoo! B!

What happens if she gets Steps 1 & 2 done on all 4 letters, and then decides she doesn't like the colours she puts on the flowers? For the love of God, I bet you she will start all over. Then: Art Night OFF. No more Art for Steph - she will be kicked out of class for wasting supplies.

Steph's plan last week was to finally try sushi. I told her that she should try eating 'bait' because it was so good. She told me tonite that she tried it and loved it, so she will be going back. I love eating 'bait' too. Hopefully she won't get it in her head to eat real fishing bait when she goes back home for her wedding.

Erin, one of the other girls, had to put on her iPod tonite. She said she gets easily distracted, even by the sound of too many voices. As soon as I came in (of course, I was late), she came over, and she said, "I want to be here, I love Art Night, but seriously, I need to concentrate!" I said, "Bust out the iPod." "Good idea," she said, "but I have no earbuds!" Off she went to the school lab to get some, but of course we don't have snazzy earbuds, we have the big old-school head phones that came out with the 1980s walkman, so she had to wear those with her iPod. 'Excuse me, the 80s called, they'd like their headphones back!' But she rocked out with the big old earmuffs on, and it was all good. She is doing a picture of the Eiffel Tower and it is very pretty. Maybe she will let me take a picture of her art one day. It's not like she refused; I just didn't think to ask.

It will be fantastic when we all have our work done - I don't know where I will put mine. I don't really have anywhere to hang it but I'll figure it out. At her wedding, Steph will probably specifically point out her pictures to make sure everyone notices them. Or maybe they will be in picture frames ON the head table, right at the very front where no one can miss them.

Steph, to her guests, "Yeah, this is how I roll: handmade silver-foil lettering surname on my table, b!tches. What did you have - oh, nothing? ... a streamer? ... a Congratulations sign? Hmmm. Should've planned better, I guess."

Then she will just sit, all smug behind her 4 letters, and not let anyone know that it took her almost a year and a half to make them because she had to start them 4 or 5 times EACH.

Me, sitting on my couch, looking at my picture every now and again, "Yeah, I'm awesome. Look at those branches!"

Erin, at her house, "Wow, that picture reminds me of all those noisy people!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Be Normal

Today I was asked why I couldn't be one of those 'normal writers'.


I'm not 100% sure what a 'normal writer' is, but I am 100% sure that I have never been 'normal'. Are you a 'normal reader'?


'Normal' is a funny word (say it a few times). There was a cat named Nermal on the Garfield comics (remember that?), and that's what the word 'normal' always reminds me of... which is probably completely abnormal.


Nermal, from the Garfield wiki




And I'm 100% ok with that.


If 'normal' means 'average', who in the world really wants to be average? Do you? Below average means you have to work harder to be average, and above average means you still have something to prove... you have to keep your head above that imaginary bar that people have for you, just so you can always be viewed as 'above average'. Make sense?


Seems like an awful lot of work to meet someone else's definition of normal. Whatever. Accept yourself. Love yourself. I actually enjoy writing and reading this blog, and if you saw me writing and giggling, you would realize that I am definitely not a 'normal writer' ;)


Most people settle for average. No, thanks. I'm not settling.


So I will write what I write, and I will do what I do. I'm glad you are reading :)


Some days, our journey will be funny; some days it might be serious. Read whatever you want to read. Share, if you like it. 


Some days, it might be interactive. Who knows? Does it matter, in the grand scheme of things? Be crazy.


On my Twitter profile, I wrote "Have fun. Achieve something. Do what you want. Chase whatever you desire. Live." I mean it.


I like your face and I'm glad you come back every now and then. 


Let's not be normal, together.







Monday, April 23, 2012

Art Night 1: if it makes you happy

I started painting in an Art class.

Sweet love of God.

I don't know how to paint or draw, but that's what I am going to do.

I love it.



The Arse

First, Harley's arse almost made me late for Art.

I left work today and had to take my doggie for a walk. As I have been doing his whole life, I took him to the Snye and we booted it around the pond as fast as our legs could take us.

the Snye in February

He wanted to sniff every rock and actually wanted to poop outside, of course. He NEVER does that. So of course, I had to pick it up and I just wanted to barf.

Meanwhile, a guy was sneaking over to check out what I put in the garbage can and was furtively looking at me, much like one would do if you were trying to steal someone's treasure. Have at 'er, buddy. It ain't no treasure to me - I see lots of it daily. He didn't go to the garbage can, probably because he could smell dog arse from twenty feet away from the can. That could make anyone's eyes water.

Anyway, when we got back to the vehicle, I was trying to figure out what to get for supper and wasted a good ten minutes looking for a number online for the sushi place. Then I got vicious and decided to make rice and beans at home. So off I went to my house.

I was in such a rush, I had to take supper with me to Art Night.

Harley's arse is bad news. We wasted precious moments picking up poo at the pond.

No, there is no picture. There was no time.


The Password 

I got to the class and knocked on the door. The door opened and the woman said, "What's the password?" (I'm not kidding) and my mind went blank. Then, like a Rolodex (remember those? If not, Google it), my brain started flipping through the Art emails... but nothing... so I said, "Please" in the hopes that good manners would work, if nothing else.

I was admitted entry to Art class.

WHEW.

I almost cried.

Over the course of the evening, there were 6 of us doing various projects.

One girl was making balls but that story is for later.


The Painting

Our teacher is actually teaching us, and by teaching I mean teaching from the ground up. At one point, she was showing me what to do to blend in some paint colours, and I asked a question. Then I realized how cocky and snotty I sounded. If you read previous entries, you might remember how I really have an issue with my tone of voice and my facial expressions - I always look mad and sound snotty when I am not, in any way. That's just my face. Sorry about my face!

So I quickly clarified, saying, "I'm not being snotty, I really want to know why because when I do this again, I'll need to know every step." And the girls cracked up laughing at me because they said I did sound snotty (of course I did!) but our teacher said she didn't think I was being snotty. WHEW.

I took pictures of my progress (of course I did).

beautiful blank canvas: I can do anything

the first coat: this is how I Make Art

I am an artist. you may as well admit it

You may as well just say that I am fantastic. Look at that blending of colours. My teacher only did some of it, not all. We are eventually going to have white blending to blue blending to dark blue. This is the beginning. Man, you guys expect a lot for the first night.

I'd say I am on the ball.

The only 'bad' thing was that I started to swoop with my brush, and no swooping is allowed when you are painting. You have to make little lines. Our teacher is a pro, obviously. I am not a pro. But I am snazzy, even though I can't really see all the colours they said they can see. Whatever about it.


The Drawing

ALSO, I was going to start a special drawing of Harley but I tried to print his picture and the printers may or may not have printed anything. So there may or may not be this random bunch of Harley pictures everywhere. I couldn't find them. Not kidding, and they are only partials of his face, which is even creepier. Three black dots in a triangle on a background of white... people are going to think it's Morse code, Braille, or a Rorschach picture.


Watching The Grass Grow

Stephanie is also Making Art, and she is doing an Extra-Special-Project, as hers will be featured in her wedding next summer. She is making gold-leaf letters of her fiance's surname, as she will be taking his name after their wedding, so this project is dear to her heart.

Her first task tonight was to pick the letters she wanted to use. She couldn't figure out what she wanted to go with, so I looked at her letters with her. 'Hmmm,' I thought, 'it's funny how she talks about gardening and flowers all the time, and a couple of her letters have flowers but some have grass... how strange that she didn't choose all letters with flowers.' So I said that to her.

"Why don't you go with letters that have flowers, since that is 'your thing', since you already have 2 matching letters, that way you have a whole theme happening and it will look good?"

I am brilliant.

"Oh, wow," Stephanie said, "I didn't even see that before! Look at that, I was picking the ones with flowers in the letters and I didn't even notice!"

And she didn't notice. Not at all. Funny how something can be right in front of you and it just needs to be pointed out so it becomes clear to you, too.

Steph's letter B

She was pretty happy once it was pointed out and the choice was made. Look at that smile ^. A flowery 'BURT' it is. That's the new surname, for those of you not in the know.

Then she showed me her new gardening supplies, which she was very happy about. Yee-haw for gardening supplies, I say.

I told her if it makes her happy to watch the grass grow, then have at it. All the power to you!

Before the night was over, she had her face full of whatever it was she was painting with: glue or paint or something. She looked like she had a Charlie Chaplin mustache for awhile. It's all good.


The Balls

The girl making balls has her work cut out for her. She has to make a lot of them. We helped for awhile but she was still at it when we left. She needs to use tiny clay balls for a multimedia project, and they will be the sand, as in a sandy beach. The balls I made were too big, 4x the size they needed to be, so I squished them all together again. She said, "the size of pearls" but mine were like blueberries. Oh well, pearls are pretty tiny - my hands got cramped making just blueberry size. Those were some little, tiny balls.


Perverts

A couple of other girls were making similar projects there tonight. One was a painting and another is a drawing that will turn into a painting. That girl is a pro, though. She is all business. The other girl is doing a multimedia project, as well, and is off in her own little world. When I asked her how she was doing, she said she was good but couldn't really hear over the radio, and I think she asked if we were talking about perverts. I couldn't really hear over the radio in that corner, either, so I just smiled and nodded. Then we were both just kind of staring at each other, smiling and nodding in this awkward, 'Why are we talking about perverts?' kind of way. Good thing we are friends and when you are friends, it's ok if you talk about perverts.


Nut Cases

We decided, in the end, that we are like Kindergarten students. Another girl and I had to share a paint brush and we did pretty well, A+. Steph and I got our picture taken (of course), and if you can see, she has her paint brush in her hand, in a death grip. We are both grinning like nut cases. We are so excited and proud to be in Art Class that we have become the nerdiest kids in class, chatting and giggling like lunatics. We talked about grass for awhile, seriously.

Look at those faces.


pure nerds

You can't beat us in enthusiasm. We may only get baby-steps in a couple of hours a night but at least we are taking steps. I have a painting started, which is more than I had at 6pm this evening. When I have that painting done, I might barf from excitement. If I actually get a drawing of Harley done, I'll probably faint from pure happiness.

Unless I faint from the smell of his arse first.




Saturday, April 21, 2012

Collaborative Government?

First, I love Canada. There is no other way to make it more clear than just saying it outright. I love my country and I am happy to be here.


I am happy and proud to have been born in a country where I have rights and privileges because I realize that many people in other places do not have those same rights and privileges. But with those rights also comes responsibilities, something many people forget.


Canada is a beautiful place with a lot to offer in so many ways. So, when we are unhappy with something, it is not our privilege but our right and responsibility to change whatever it is we are unhappy with. 






Alberta politics are in an upheaval right now. Voters need to make decisions and hopefully, the masses are not apathetic.


It seems to me that our whole country needs change. Not only do the parties seem to be changing, but the strategies and the very foundations of their policies seem shaky at times. Rolling with the punches, right?


In an extremely simplified version, I feel like our 4 main parties now are NDP, Liberal, PC and Wildrose. I think there is some real concern from some about the NDP and Liberal side of the spectrum - some worry about things being too easy-going. There is some real support in that area when the country is concerned with the well-being of all, especially when they are unhappy with the current government. Do we want the NDP and the Liberals joining forces in order to put out the current PC government? Maybe. Will they be strong together? Yes.


Bringing in an extreme right party in one province opens the door to having similar parties everywhere. The current PC party here then seems to move closer to the left because they don't look as extreme anymore, and now they end up a little further centre, therefore closer to the Liberals. 


If the Libs were to join another party in the hopes of gaining some footing and leadership, who better to join - the NDP or the PCs? The PCs are currently the bigger group, and if they moved away from the Wildrose at the right, therefore closer to the Liberals, that leaves the majority of voters falling dead centre - with the Liberal/PC group. A minority falls with the NDPs and another with the WR. 


this:
NDP - Lib+PC - WR
not
NDP+Lib - PC - WR
not
NDP - Lib - PC - WR
and definitely not
NDP - Lib - PC+WR


And our political spectrum seems to be evened out again. Overall, the NDP will seem too 'light-handed', the Lib/PC mix (who will then need a newer name - the Liberal Conservatives?) is evened-out centre/a little-right, and then we have the right-wing WR, who seem too 'heavy-handed'.


I think our last elections showed the PCs that people are unhappy with being too right-wing, so the more 'liberal' PCs need to break away from the extremist group.


I don't know. Maybe I'm out to lunch and I have everything wrong. As I said, it's a simple version but it would even things out.


Initially, I was thinking that all of this makes me wary of the future of Canadian politics. I feel like things are going to get meaner and nastier. 


But at the end of the day, I think all of this craziness, the arguing and fighting is fantastic because people are truly fighting for their beliefs. No group is elected in a landslide, no one is getting the job because people don't care enough to vote or because it is an expectation, so "Why bother trying to change?" 


Maybe all forms of government working together for awhile would be a good thing - the collaboration might do us good. Maybe candidates would cross the floor if they see other parties in action. Maybe some people will follow the lead of others' in exhibiting better behaviour.


As public figures, candidates' lives will be combed through; the things they say or do will be scrutinized. So it goes. I'm not saying it is right, but any public figure knows that this is part of the game. Don't try to be a star if you don't want anyone to look at you.


And if you want to be a star, if you want to be the leader, you'd best have it together. You'd best be trustworthy. You'd best have our interests at heart. You'd best be real and keep your promises. You'd best listen to... hear... what your people are saying.


Make us want to follow you. Make us want to hold you up as our shining star, our symbol of Canadian democracy.