Wednesday, 30 September 2015

TV Commercials

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I am a crime show junkie. I watch old syndicated shows all day long. More to the truth, I maybe watch, maybe listen. It’s more background noise and a change of focus for the eyes.

I never, ever, just watch TV. I am either crafting, painting, reading or writing. Oh, and very rarely, housecleaning.

For me to watch commercials they have to be memorable, like with cute little animals, catchy music, or some kind of visual that gets my attention.

There’s a current ad where a farmer is driving his dog around in his truck to do his fence checks, or to herd his sheep. Not watching the ad in its entirety, I only saw him carry the dog to the vehicle and figured the dog was old, one of those situations where the spirit is willing but the body weak. Not in this situation...the dog has a broken leg, with a blue cast on it. I don’t know how many times I saw that ad before I saw the beginning.

There is one ad that makes me laugh, but I don’t think that is the purpose of the commercial. I laugh, but don’t know the name of the product, so if that’s the intent of the ad, and I assume it is, it’s a dismal failure, for me at least.

The product is a home pregnancy test. The woman in the ad states, “Imagine knowing you’re pregnant, the moment it happens.” I laugh because all different scenarios come to mind.

How would you know? Does it hit you like (hopefully) a repeat of the orgasmic event? Or do you get up and feel the earth move ( sorry, seem to have orgasms on the mind) like there’s been a seismic event. Maybe you just feel that inner glow.

I know none of that is true; they are selling a product after all, and to know means you take their test. But the idea is just ridiculous...the moment it happens? Give me a break.

I like the other commercial for a pregnancy test, where a woman informs her friend that she is pregnant. The friend asks if she’s been to a doctor and is told she did a self test, good after two weeks. Much more reasonable, though I don’t remember the product name. Not something I’m in the market for.

Some ads are so appealing. I like the Joe Fresh ones for the clothes, especially for the holidays with the music and the dancing. Or there’s the Keurig coffee machine commercial with the different genres of music with matching coffee mugs, very representative of each cup being individual choice.

The new shows are starting; the old ones back for another season. Hopefully the commercials will be new and improved, too.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Mixed Media Card Inspiration

I use Pinterest and the internet to keep up with what other artists are doing, what new mediums are available and how to use them. Like the Gelli pad I have on my wish list.

There are so many different techniques, like the effects gained using salt or plastic wrap with watercolor. I use acrylics more than watercolor, and the possibilities there are just as endless.

I found this demonstration on Youtube, by an artist who has created a deck of cards, each giving a different direction to take in a piece of art work. In the video she uses eleven of them. The directions are varied, from adding paint with something other than a paintbrush to using a stencil.

You get the idea.

It's a very interesting way to go about it and adds a touch of serendipity to your work.

Watch, enjoy, and be inspired.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Creative ADD

I sometimes feel I have a case of ADD...Attention Deficit Disorder. I can’t seem to keep my mind on any one thing at a time, but bounce from one thing to another.

One aspect of this is the thinking, the planning, of one project while I’m doing another. Pinterest is somewhat to blame because it constantly throws new ideas in front of me, and I’m helpless to resist. It’s an addiction, for sure.

Last year I wanted to do an art piece in wood. I found a four foot long, four inch wide piece of pine and brought it home...where it sat, as I waited for inspiration to strike. I finally decided I wanted to do a tree, and my first thought was to do it in nails, all different sizes, colors, maybe some screws for texture. My son gave me a container of old nails to get me started.

But then my mind went to wood burning, or maybe Sharpies in a Zentangle style. I couldn’t make my mind up, so I did nothing.

After a time I went back to the nail idea, thought I would do the tree in cast off pieces of metal, in a sort of Steampunk style, and started to gather bits and pieces. I got so far as to draw the design on the wood, and that was it. I got involved in other projects and sort of forgot about my tree. It was winter and hard to get out and about looking for bits of metal.

Then the summer was hot and humid, and I stayed home and out of the heat. Some days I accomplished nothing but searching the internet, which, of course, included Pinterest. I would do a search for some craft or art form, and collect ideas.

One day, after searching jewellery and polymer clay sites, I noticed that wire had been used very creatively, and it made me think. Wire? Made into specific shapes and designs?

Now my head is full of ideas for my tree again. Filling the whole tree with nails seemed a bit too much, in nails, noise and hammering. But what if I used a specific number of nails to form an outline, and joined them with wire? I could string the wire around the nails and fill in the space with wire shapes. Kind of like a wire Zentangle design.

Here’s where the ADD comes in. When I had this thought I was working on a series of 12 paintings for the Native phases of the moon. I have another painting started, but it needed some more thought and planning before I proceeded.

I have 2 afghans on the go, and a sweater almost completed. I was also making some simple crochet items for Christmas and played with making jewellery. And that doesn’t take into consideration the lanyards I made for my son and his hunting buddies, or the silk bouquets I made for my daughter’s wedding.

I went to the closet for something, can’t remember for what, and found my stash of different wires. Immediately all else was forgotten and I was right back thinking about my tree. I gathered the wire and sat. But there was no available space to set the wire down, so obviously, no place to work on it. I looked around.

Paintings in various stages on the kitchen counter, crochet bag with sweater under the table to my left, a bag of Christmas crochet on my right, and almost every surface covered with a project in some stage or another.

I got up and put the wire back in the closet. I need a To Do List, in plain sight, where I can be reminded of what I’m doing. I need the sense of accomplishment of taking these projects through to completion. As I write this I’ve finished the series of 12, and the Christmas crochet.

So that’s a start, right? At least with the arts and crafts. I won’t even go into the three novels I’ve started, two abandoned and one current, but temporarily set aside. Winter’s coming, and I’ll get back to it.

Go with the flow, seems to be my mantra. I go wherever that creativity takes me and can’t wait to see what happens. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

I Hate Whining

Velma and I have been at odds for the last few months. She’s been in a continuous whiney mood, and I hate whining. Maybe her mood is because it’s summer and we haven’t been out and about, enjoying the sunshine.
Well, excuse me Velma. I can’t get up the energy to go out when the Humidex is reading 35. Sue me.

For those of you who don’t know, Velma is my car, and we’ve had a very up and down relationship. Two years ago she was in a bad mood, didn’t like going out in the cold, wouldn’t start, and a couple of times, left me stranded and in need of help.

I gave her a name that winter, thinking it would put us on more friendly terms, but it wasn’t enough. To be totally unfair to most of my gender...I bought Velma a bauble, a peace offering, in the form of a new battery and she was content...for a while.

Early this summer she started acting up, feeling a little restless and out of sorts. A few days at Uncle Brad’s spa (the garage) and she was fine thought her content was short lived.

The whining started up again, causing some stress in our relationship. This time, a week at the spa fixed things, maybe her constant noise making was her way of telling me something was wrong. Now, with a new set of brakes and a few other things, she’s happy...and quiet.

So all is well, we’re friends again, and heading out tomorrow. I think Velma needs to cut loose a bit and deserves a run on the highway.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Communication Skills

My son and I had a conversation about communication last week, and how ineffective some communication can be, because people don’t take the chance to say what they really want or think, or don’t ask for clarification.

For example. You’re going out for lunch and your friend says “Where do you want to eat?” and of course, you reply that you don’t care. When your friend names a place you don’t like, you can be stuck, unless you’re honest and say what you feel.

How many meaningless conversations do we have like that?

Here’s another. “What are you doing on the weekend?” a friend asks. And you reply nothing. Then that first person asks if you want to go shopping, and you’re stuck again. So you either go shopping, lie and say you forgot you had plans, or be honest and say you don’t feel like shopping, what about taking in a movie?

Adding to that, would be the questions about time. Why can we not be definitive, be honest? Do we feel the other person would not like us if we said we said we didn’t want to go shopping, made another suggestion and took control by naming a specific time?

My problem with communicating is I initially have the conversation one sided, making up my part and the other person’s response, all in my head and treating it like it really happened. Did that make any sense?

Here’s what I mean. I wanted to get my car in to the shop, but needed someone to follow and pick me up as it’s outside of town. I also needed a dehumidifier, and it was on sale. Even if I had the car I couldn’t lift the big box and so needed help.

Hmmm. Needing help, asking for help, that’s a problem for me. I had a conversation with my kids in my head, where I said I needed help and they said they were too busy. That was a month ago, and the car was still whining and the air was still humid. And whose fault was that? Entirely mine, for sure,100%, no quibbling, no denial.

But I did learn from our conversation. Yesterday I spoke to my son. “My car needs to go to the shop and I need a dehumidifier, which happens to be on sale, again, and I need help”. I made a plan and suggested, as his wife works in town, that she follow me to the shop and drive me back. Then, as he needed to pick up the kids and feed the dogs, he could meet us at the store.

I turned it into a celebration of the first day of school and we went out for dinner, then I got my dehumidifier hooked up and running. It was a win/win.

It’s entirely my issue that I didn’t get this done a month ago, because I assumed someone else's response, and yes, I know that to assume makes an ass-of-you- and-me, an old saying that still works.

Our conversation last week inspired me to do better, and look at what a success it was. And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

Monday, 7 September 2015

Wedding Reflections

Weddings are always an emotional affair, and when everything is over and done, all can give a huge sigh of relief. I don’t mean this in a negative way, like I wasn’t happy to be a part of the blessed event (oops, that’s a different kind of anxiously awaited moment), I mean part of the nuptials, the joining of two lives into one, or in this case it was the joining of six lives into one family, and beautiful it was.

But, as you well know, for the months prior to the event, all of your time and thoughts are consumed with wedding details. All the ‘what ifs’, the ‘why nots’ and the ‘what the hells’ that take over and crowd the everyday. Anyone planning a wedding has to be a major talent at multitasking. Right, General Jenn?

I had briefly met my daughter’s in-laws, and at the wedding was finally able to put faces to the names I had been hearing about for the last two years. I have to say, she is one lucky girl to have gained entry into this wonderful family. And wasn’t it strange that at the party Saturday night I was able to reconnect with some of my own in-law family, and realize that I too had been fortunate in the family I inherited. Though we have not been close for many years, every time we meet, and this time for a more joyous occasion, it felt comfortable, like an old home, like a familiar place where I once lived and remember fondly.

You can’t help but think about other weddings you’ve attended, or not attended as the case may be. I think that marriage is such a big step, such an important event in one’s life that each couple needs to make it be the best it can be...for them, and not for anyone else. In remembering my own wedding, I know decisions were made more to please other people (sorry Mom), than were made by my choice. What can I say; I was young and gave in to pressure.

My son has always been negative on the subject of marriage, following along the line that it’s just a piece of paper, not a true reflection of a relationship. And I agree, in some ways, but I also think it’s more than that; it’s a promise, and not a promise to be made lightly.

After more than ten years together, my son and his partner eloped, and made the promises that they had lived for years...official. For them, it was the right way to do it, and I couldn’t be happier for them. I like that as their first anniversary nears; they have big plans to celebrate, to pull the kids into it, to sort of relive the moment, but still in a quiet and personal way.

My son and I have talked about this, and understand each other as we both like solitary time, and are quite comfortable with our own company. His wife is much the same, and they have the added blessing of enjoying the same interests so solitary time becomes shared time.

If I were ever to get married again (heaven forbid, ain’t going to happen, never, no way, no how), just speculating, of course, I’d go for something in between what my children chose for themselves. Not quite an elopement, but a very small gathering, outside, in a beautiful setting.

The photos taken that day are a beautiful reflection of the day, of the love, the family and the joy. I wish both of my children, and the partners they have wisely chosen, a lifetime of happiness.

What a lucky Mom I am to have children like these two.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

With This Ring

Weddings have a magic that is all their own, and so it should be whether promises are made in front of a crowd, a smaller more casual gathering or in intimate privacy. My daughter was married yesterday, in front of a small group of family and friends, outdoors, in the beautiful backyard at the home of the groom’s parents.

I was late arriving at the beach where pictures were to be taken before the ceremony, though it was not so much a case of my being late as that the picture taking was completed quickly due to the heat. When I arrived at the house, after detouring by the lake, my daughter was inside, and everybody seemed to be in a bit of a flap.

What wedding is complete if there isn’t some last minute emergency? 

In this case, it was blood stains on the wedding dress. Apparently, as the story goes, (I did miss the beach activity after all), the groom was clearing a spot for photos and cut his hand on a dried blade of wild grass. Unaware he was bleeding (reminds me of my father and his obscure accidents) he put his arm behind the bride for a photo and got blood on the back of her dress.

I had taken a seat on the deck when I arrived at the house and was informed of what had happened. Use hydrogen peroxide, I told them, as it works particularly well on blood stains. I’m an old nurse and I know these things. It seemed to do the trick and all was well.

So, finally, the wedding was to begin. As the music played, three of the couple’s combined four children led the procession, followed by my daughter’s oldest girl and her friend, acting as wedding attendants with the groom’s two brothers. It was very much a family affair.

But, as things go, there was a bit of a delay, as we all waited for the bride to make her appearance. She was to exit the house, cross the deck, and make her way to the grassy area where everyone waited. It was enough of a delay that the groom’s grandmother, sitting front and center on the deck, called out to him, “maybe she changed her mind”. Everyone laughed and almost immediately the blushing bride appeared, on the arm of her brother.

I looked at two of my son’s children sitting to my right, and at the youngest of my daughter’s kids standing at the front, and thought how sad it was that their grandfather hadn’t lived long enough to meet them, and to share in this day with his daughter. The oldest two grandchildren he did have the chance to love, though for too short a time, are teenagers now. It brought tears to my eyes to see my son stand in his place.

Vows were spoken and rings exchanged. I glanced about the guests, and noticed that other couples seemed to draw together, to stand in pairs, almost separate from the group. It was as if they wanted to share that moment, not only with the bride and groom, but with each other. That’s part of the magic of the day, new promises made and the comfort of old promises kept over time.

A second ceremony, called a Unity Sand Ceremony was conducted involving the bride and groom and their four children. It was lovely to see as each poured sand from their individual containers into one final glass jar to display the layers representing the new family.

With all the official details over and done, it was time to eat, drink and be merry. 

The party that is their life together is just beginning.

Friday, 4 September 2015

When did I Become That Old Lady?

When did I become that kind of old lady? You know the one I mean, the one with whiskers.

I was rubbing my chin and found one single whisker, not a hair, but the rough, tough kind of whisker that men get. I know at my age I’m estrogen poor, but come on, whiskers are for those old ladies in their eighties. I’m in my prime of old age; I should have years to go before all those age things prevail.

And what’s with all these brown spots? For years I convinced myself they were freckles, can’t do it anymore. Sure sign of age. Who am I kidding, I’ve been aging for years...ha, ha, ha...and have not done it gracefully, but then I never did any of the work to hold it off.

I try to warn the next generations about eating healthy, getting enough exercise and sleep, and taking care of their skin. A do as I say, not as I did kind of thing. But do they listen? No. After all, what do I know?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Spicy Flavors

I remember in the olden days, if you wanted spicy, it was barbecue flavors, or maybe chili, which is usually found in BBQ.

If you had a roast of beef, it was horseradish sauce. My Dad used to joke that eating horseradish was good for clearing his sinuses, as it made him cough and sneeze, so not to be eaten in public. Sorry Dad.

My next spicy experience was Natchos, which had jalapenos, another very hot and spicy taste. Or jalapenos in a popper. MMMMMMmmmmmm.

But we always want more, right? So then it was Cajun, a step spicier, hotter, than BBQ. Then Thai, especially the Thai chicken at Boston Pizza.

Let’s not forget Tabasco, or that Red Hot Sauce, that some old woman puts that on everything.

Chicken seems to lend itself to all sorts of spicy additives, like Buffalo wings, or Szechuan. Not that I eat out that often, but I like the General Tao chicken at the Chinese buffet.

Wasabi Paste
Chipotle Dip
It seems there is a constant parade of new flavors, and new ways to taste them. Like Cilantro, Wasabi, Chipotle and now Sriracha.

The restaurants are quick to jump on the flavor train. I have a Chipotle sauce on a chicken sandwich at Tim’s, and have tried the Sriracha in a potato chip. It seems the potato chip companies are always introducing new flavors for us to try, if not on the chip itself, in a dip.

I think I’ll conduct a taste test, like a science experiment. I could try out a new flavor of potato chip every Saturday night, with a movie.

Sounds like a plan, though I think it’s more of an excuse, a way to rationalize snacking.