Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Artsy Craftsy Show

It never occurred to me that it was my responsibility at work to make sure that our air ducts got cleaned.  I mean, it's not something that I ever thought about.  Would you?  At our last two facilities, building management took care of all that jazz, and no one mentioned it to me when we moved in here.  But when the question came up as part of a health and safety meeting, I realized that it hasn't been done in the past four years.  And as the de facto Facilities Manager (basically it's up to me because no one else can be bothered) it became my problem.

To make a long story short, I finally managed to get a couple of quotes and booked the job for next weekend.  Which means that I have to work next weekend in order to supervise.  :-(  In order to compensate myself, I declared a couple of lieu days off, including this past Friday, which I used to go with my Mom to the One of a Kind Show, known to me as the Artsy Craftsy show.  Known to Ken as the Stuff White People Like show.

He's totally right.  Both the vendors and the shoppers are mostly white.  (Note to Americans: this is very unusual in Toronto.)  In fact, there were so many slightly overweight, sixty-ish women with the same dyed blond, cut short, parted on the side hairstyle that I had a moment when I wondered if I was in the Matrix and these women were like the hundreds of Agent Smith clones.

The booths fall into a few basic categories.  There's jewellery, stationary, clothing, fine art, knick knacks, and food.  Styles range from super-trendy (mugs with moustaches painted on, for example) to twee (delicate ceramic fairies posed in bonsai-sized gardens covered in glitter) to fashions for the aging baby boomer set.  My Mom, by her own admission, favours the twee.

I'm not sure what category I fall into, if any, but I didn't have to use much willpower to resist buying stuff.  Mostly I was thinking "Yeah, that's cute, but I can definitely live without it."  Super-trendy stuff actively irritates me.  Like: yes, yes, we know, moustaches on everything, whales, silhouettes of birds, WHATEVER.  Can we get a little originality over here?

I also felt a little sorry for the fine artists.  90% of them had done extremely similar oil paintings of trees.  Some of them were a bit more impressionistic, and others leaned more towards impasto, but essentially they were variations on a theme.  By the time I passed the tenth painting of a trail through a vibrant, sun-lit autumnal wood, dwindling to a single vanishing point, I wondered what the artists must be thinking.  It's like high school girls showing up at prom all wearing the same dress.  They should have called each other.

My mom splurged on a pretty, hand-smocked flannel nightgown.  That was her only purchase, except for a fresh, catnip-filled mouse toy for the cats.  For myself, I picked this electric-blue handbag.  There's something about the proportions that I find profoundly satisfying.

I had to fiddle a bit with the photo settings to capture the vibrancy of the blue.  The colour might be just titch off, still, but this is more or less it, believe it or not.  I like how it almost knocks your eyeballs out, but does so with elegance.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I drawed a pikchur

Things at my work continue to be kuh-razy.  Our facility has recently been targeted by a couple of different regulatory bodies.  Inspectors have been in here with their proverbial white gloves on, checking every tiny detail and criticizing freely, as inspectors do.

For example: we have a large waiting room/lobby.  There are two doors leading from that lobby out into the wide world, and both are clearly visible and marked with illuminated EXIT signs.  From any point in the room you can easily see at least one door if you're willing to turn your head.  If an evacuation of the building were required, I don't imagine that anyone would have any trouble finding the exits, unless perhaps they were 100% blind, in which case one of the staff assigned to the evacuation team would assist them.

This is not good enough for at least one of the regulatory bodies.  The inspector insisted that we must post a map of the lobby on the lobby wall with the paths to each door clearly marked.  Really?  Is that honestly necessary?  You think that if the fire bell rings someone will, instead of proceeding to the clearly marked exit, pull out their reading glasses and inspect a map?  Well, whatever.  You don't get anywhere by arguing with these people, so we posted a map.

However.  That was not good enough.  The inspector came back and insisted that the path to the doors on the map be printed in RED.  For the love of...  Fine.  We reprinted it in red and reposted.  This was deemed to be satisfactory.

Do you think I'm making this up?  I wish I were making it up.  Truth is stranger than fiction, and I guess the inspector needs to prove to his boss that he's doing his job.

So what's the good news?  I drew this guy.  I'm pretty proud of him, even though one of his eyeballs is twice as big as the other.  Every once in a blue moon I get inspired to do a sketch.  This is from a photo of James Baldwin.

I think his hand turned out well.  That's my favourite part of the sketch.  It looks a bit stippled because I scanned it as a PDF and then converted it to a JPG and that's how it turned out.
Ken thinks it's scary.  I left it on his desk so that he could see it, and when I came in the room he had turned it face down.  Sure, it's a little intense, but that's why I liked the photo!  That and all the interesting lines around his eyes.  What do you think - does it scare you?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Coat

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a coat that doesn't fit her anymore.  It's a funny thing about being a small grown-up; I still get hand-me-downs.  My friend was emotionally attached to this coat, and sad to be giving it away.  She didn't want to simply donate it to charity.  She wanted to give it to a Good Home.  I accepted the responsibility.

The coat looks a lot like this:

However, for reasons unknown, it has no buttons.  It has button holes, but nothing to put in them, nor any sign that it ever had buttons attached.

The first thing I did was take it to be dry cleaned.  (And to have the shoulder pads removed, because I have relatively broad shoulders already so the shoulder pads were total overkill.  It made me think of a quote from What Not to Wear, when Stacey said something like "Foxy lady?  More like boxy lady."  Anyway...)

When I went to pick the coat up, the lady behind the counter gave me a funny look.  I didn't understand why, until she started apologizing for the fact that the dry-cleaning facility had unaccountably lost all the buttons off my coat.  She told me that she was going to call the facility tomorrow about the problem, and offered to fix it for me, clearly trying to defend herself from my fearsome customer's temper, when I started to laugh.  

I explained the situation: that the coat had no buttons to begin with.  She was visibly relieved.  I told her I was sorry for not pointing out the state of the coat when I dropped it off.  I think it nearly gave her a heart attack.  She explained to me in broken English how astonished and confused she was when she realized that the coat had come back to her buttonless.

"Why?"  She asked me pleadingly, gesturing towards the coat, "Why no buttons?  How lose buttons?"

Good grief.

This coat has become quite the drama magnet.  In my determination to successfully rehabilitate it, I went shopping online for buttons, and ordered a style that I thought would be just right.  Six little buttons, for a grand total of $3.19 CAD, before shipping.  I figured they'd show up in my mailbox in a couple of weeks.

Well, it couldn't be that simple.  Firstly, the button vendor sent me e-mail updates at every stage of the process.  My order was received!  My payment was received!  The buttons are packed!  The buttons are shipped!  I have never received so many status updates for any online purchase.  Still, they seemed to take an awfully long time to get here.  I wasn't sure why, because most things ship to Toronto from just over the American border.

Finally, on November 10th, I received a notice that Canada Post had tried to deliver a package but I wasn't at home.  I had to go pick it up at the post office.  The little sticky note they left me said it would be available "Tomorrow after 13:00 h".  Fine.  No problem.  I stopped into the postal outlet on the way home.  But it was closed.  Whu...  Huh?  Why?  It's open later than that, isn't it?  On weekdays?

Except that it was November 11th.  Remembrance Day.  Right.

So the next day I went back, and showed my official government-issued photo I.D. and signed my signature on the dotted line in order to take possession of this precious little envelope of buttons.  Which could easily have fit into my mailbox.  Silliest shipping overkill ever!  At least I found out why they had taken so long to get to me.  The envelope was postmarked "Hong Kong".

The coat has gone back to the nice Asian lady to have the buttons attached.  I have every confidence that it will come out looking great.  (After all this, it had better.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Royal Winter Fair

The Royal Winter Fair crippled me.  Seriously, I can barely walk.  I think I pulled a hip flexor running for the streetcar on the way there.

This would not have happened if the Fair had not printed incorrect transit instructions right onto my ticket.

The ticket offered several routes to the fairgrounds on public transit.  Normally I would have taken the Bathurst streetcar, but the ticket said I could catch a 509 shuttle bus from Union station, and I thought that would be faster.

I exited Union station, and waited around for a little while for the bus, but there was a lot of construction on the road, and I had a feeling that this was not the place for a bus stop.  Sure enough, after a little searching, I found a well-hidden bus-stop post that was marked with an out-of-service sign.  Scrawled onto the sign was a barely legible message about an in-service bus stop a few blocks south at Front Street.

I walked down to the Front Street bus stop.  I saw a few #6 buses going past in the wrong direction, but no #509s.  When a #6 bus pulled up, I asked if the 509 would be along soon.  "Oh no, ma'am.  The 509 shuttle bus was temporary while track construction was being completed.  It's no longer in service.  Go around the corner to the streetcar stop to get the 509 streetcar."

Right.  Fine.  Off I went around the corner.  Pretty soon a streetcar pulled up.  I have to admit that I did not look at the route sign on it because 1) it didn't occur to me that other streetcars might stop there, and 2) it was my first sighting of a brand-new, low-floor, all-the-fancy-bells-and-whistles streetcar that has just been introduced to the city.

It was a very nice, smooth ride.  I got as far as Spadina, and at that point we turned north.  It was a 510.  No no no!  Dammit.  Got off the streetcar.  Walked back to Front Street.  Walked west about half a mile looking for a streetcar stop.  Finally saw a 509 - passing me at speed, just as the stop loomed into sight.  I waved to the driver and ran for it.  I caught the streetcar.  I made it to the fair.  I ignored the steadily increasing pain in my right hip for hours because after all that I was going to enjoy the fair even if it killed me.  Getting home was not so good.  I am now effectively crippled.  But.

It was worth it!

Disapproving hen disapproves.

This six-month-old cow was totally into licking my coat sleeve.  It couldn't be all that tasty... or is there something I've been missing?  *Licks coat sleeve*  Nope, that cow was just crazy.

Jade the goat (above) was a snuggle-muffin.  All she wanted to do was hang out and get scratchy-scratches and neck rubs.  I could have spent all evening with her.  I only left because her owners showed up and wanted to take some of the goats out for a shower and shampoo.

"I am a hungry goat.  I will stick my head all the way inside this delicious bag."

Pig bums are silly.

There were auctions happening.  The one in the main arena was for cattle, but there was a smaller one for pigs.

The Fair was selling alcoholic beverages at its refreshment stands.  I had to wonder if any city people ever show up, get drunk, and buy a pig for their tiny condo.  That would be interesting.

The Horse Palace was very dark, so I didn't get a lot of great photos there.

"I haz fancy sox."

I found a few sociable horses who wanted to hang out with me.  Of course the best part is their velvety noses, but there was one pretty pony who was into getting a full rubdown.  She was all "Yeah, yeah, a little to the right.  No, lower.  Yeah.  There.  Okay, now the other side."  (Pause for more rubbing and scritchy-scratching.)  "Okay, now the other other side."

Sheep strikes a pose.

This little cow (still relatively a baby) had a fancy halter with bling on it.

The Beef Team.  "Does this straw make my butt look big?"

I also met a cow called "Destiny Overload So Fancy".  Wow.  So Name.  Very Emphasis.  I am now considering changing my own name to something equally glamorous.  How about "Sparkling Crimson Fancy-Pants So Classy"?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween etc.

First, a photo by request.

DarcKnyt wanted to see the infinity scarf arm-knitted for me by my sister, so here it is.  I like it so much I have assigned it a permanent place hanging from this doorknob, so that I can appreciate its warm colours and cozy texture every day.

Second, a photo brag.

I picked this pumpkin at the store, hauled it home in my granny buggy, designed it, and carved it; all by my very own self.  I don't think I've ever done a whole pumpkin from start to finish before.  (Usually I design and Ken carves, but he was too busy/tired this year.)

*Pats self on back for trendy owl accomplishment.*

Third, me in a panda suit.

This was an impulse buy.  As I was in a streetcar, rolling along downtown, en route to meet a friend, I spotted some amazing onesies in the window of an Ardene.  I was so taken by them that I made a point of going back after my coffee date.  Selection was limited (the elephant suit, complete with trunk, was no longer available in my size) but I was completely satisfied with this panda option.

I wore it while handing out candy to the neighbourhood kids, although it hardly seemed to register with them.  They were too busy trying to peer into my candy bowl to see what goodies they were about to score.  However, I did get some appreciation from the accompanying adults.

The fleece onesie is so comfortable; I can totally see myself lounging around the house in it on cold winter weekends.  It was so warm that I would only flip the hood up when answering the door.  If my furnace ever fails on a very cold day, this is what the furnace repair technician will find me wearing.

I have more leftover candy than I wanted.  I should have given all the kids two treats, instead of just the older ones.  Oh well.  Extra chocolate in the house isn't an insoluble problem.  I'm sure I can figure out some way of getting rid of it.  (Like this hole in my face. *om nom*)