September 29, 2009

My Brat

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I've talked before about how I find it hard to write songs in my apartment, right?

This is largely because of Morty, who is a bonafied brat whenever I whip out an instrument. He is scared shitless of my banjo and my guitar, and is only slightly more tolerant of the piano. He cries and howls whenever I try to play a tune. A sure way to batter one's self esteem, musically speaking.

Sometimes I worry that people don't understand my need to be alone, REALLY alone, to write properly. I'm happiest writing in an empty house, with no puppies or partners to listen in. It's not a diva thing.... It's practical. There's a certain amount of focus needed to get a song right.

I'm happy to report that I finally have video evidence of how my little dude behaves when I play music in his presence. Please keep in mind that he is actually being really good in this clip. Seriously. And for those of you who are about to write "put him in another room!" just know that his volume increases fivefold when I do that.

Behold, Morty being comparatively quiet while I plunk out a song on the piano:


video

September 28, 2009

The Madness Begins

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I've been eating terribly over the past few days. A lot of sugary baked goods and deep fried zucchini sticks. I'm not entirely sure how I convinced myself that I could get away with that.... But I'm regretting it already. Saaad tummy.

It's actually been a crazy few days, now that I think back. We went bowling in Carleton Place Friday night (fun, in a weird way) and I managed to completely piss off the server at the Thirsty Moose pub. Whatever. They fed me revolting licorice-flavoured pasta. I'm bound to get a little feisty, is all I'm saying.

Saturday I hopped in the car with Heather and two other fine ladies, and we went to Montreal for the day. I kept saying naive things like, "I'm not going to buy any clothes, I'll just wander around while you guys shop." HAHAHA. Silly me. Everything I bought was on sale, and it was all practical. But I certainly did buy.

I think Montreal is messing with me. After I finished high school, all my close friends and former flames moved to Montreal. It was my emotional epicentre. I visited constantly; in fact, I wrote quite a few songs about my trips on the Greyhound. I was sure I would go to university there, but opted to stay in Ottawa instead. Partly for the program, but largely for my sweetheart. I'm glad I stayed.

Over the past few years, all my Montreal people have emptied out. They've moved all over the world, it seems, and now I'm left with this giant Montreal-shaped void. This weekend's day trip was the first time I had visited the city since everyone had left, and I won't lie.... I was weird. I'm so used to going there to visit people. Is Montreal really just a shopping destination for me now? I never thought the day would come.

Yesterday was equal parts rehearsal, cleaning and entertaining. I can happily report that Brian and I practiced the crap out of my new song, Alternative to Flight, and it's officially ready for gigs. We played it at Irene's last month, yes, but I'm going to strike that from my memory. It wasn't quite ready. We'll bust it out this Thursday at U of O.

My BH and I had invited some friends over for drinks and snacks yesterday evening, hence the cleaning. I wanted to serve mulled cider with baguette and brie, guacamole and garlic crostinis. Except that Hartman's was out of cider, and the wine booth was closed. I grudgingly opened a bottle of wine I had bought for someone else as a gift. Yes, I'm that person.

The visit was great, in the end, and our lovely guests brought extra wine AND chocolate peanut butter cookies. Clearly they are made of 100% awesome. Morty probably enjoyed the visit more than anyone else, however, because he had FOUR humans fawning over him instead of the usual two. He parked himself between our guests and stayed there all night, a dreamy smile on his face.

This week is looking almost as packed as last week. Why does Autumn fill up so quickly? I guess I'm not really complaining, but I would really like to get to bed before 1am tonight.

September 25, 2009

Photo Update

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Here are some random pictures from my recent adventures, all completely out of order thanks to Blogger's terrible photo uploading system.

First, I snapped this pic at the art show in Toronto. This woman has two things I covet: A kick ass dress (stripes! belt!), and a Righteous Babe tattoo on her back. I wanted to bring her back to Ottawa with me.


This woman was watching Shawna play her set. Yes, she has two pugs in her bike basket, and one pug purse over her shoulder. (I think she likes pugs)

I sympathise as a self-proclaimed bulldog obsessed gal. But slap me if I ever buy a purse that looks exactly like Morty.

My BH and I found this farmer's market by chance when we were wandering around Toronto. We bought creamed honey and some maple syrup. So far, everyone I've mentioned this to has said, "You're from Ottawa and you went to Toronto to buy maple syrup??" I still don't see what's wrong with that. It's good maple syrup, too.
They were selling a lot of elk meat there as well, but I passed.


It was my mom's birthday while we were away, so we bought her this insane mini cake at a bakery on Queen. Those are fondant fishies! And the fondant actually tasted great! This is rare, in my opinion. I hate bad fondant something fierce.
Anyway, fishies aside, the cake was chocolate and lavender. Amazing combo.


My folks are fabulous, no?



Out of order, but still funny: A sign outside a coffee shop in Toronto.


Rachel and I trying to eat messy cake on a busy sidewalk. We were completely covered in chocolate by the end of the experiment. My BH pretty much took pictures and laughed at us the whole time. Thankfully, Rach had a container of wet wipes in her purse, because she hangs out with kids more often than I do.



That's it for now, folks!

September 22, 2009

Time Warp

A strange thing happened the other week. My BH and I were in Hartman's picking up some grub, and I bumped into an old friend from, get this, KINDERGARTEN.

We were in class together from kindergarten to grade 8, I think. We grew up in the same neighbourhood, knew all the same people, and then came high school, where we parted ways. I don't think I had seen him since.

So here he was in Hartman's, having recently moved a block away from where I'm living. It was too cool. After a few weeks of laziness, we are finally getting together for a bite. I'm hoping I can locate one of my ancient yearbooks to bring along. He was one of the few people who was always kind and sweet in class. Grade school can really suck sometime, you know? Kids can be mean little shits. Not this one, thankfully.

On a different note, would you believe that I am still getting letters from people who heard the Vinyl Cafe broadcast?? Some from friends, but most from total strangers. It sounds like a lot of people bought the album off iTunes and Amazon, although I have yet to get the numbers. I'm itching to see that invoice. Not for the money necessarily, since I make a sad penny off iTunes, but more because it will give me a more accurate idea of who heard the thing.

I've got quite a few gigs coming up in the next few months. Oct. 1st I'll be at the University of Ottawa for a fundraiser. Then it's the OCFF conference, which I actually wasn't going to attend this year, due to a lack of funds. Thankfully, one of the rooms I'm playing is sponsored by the Blues Festival, and they are covering part of the costs for the weekend. Then it's the Elmdale (I know there are Elmdale fans out there.... Come on out!) on Oct. 29. Toronto comes up quickly on November 14, and lastly, Wakefield on November 28.

That's a lot of shows. I should probably book a rehearsal or two.

September 21, 2009

Highlights

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We came home last night to a very happy bulldog. Morty had a great time with his sitter while we were gone, but my goodness, is he ever a snuggle sponge today. He's all, "Rub my bum! Now kiss my ears! Hug me! Throw my toy! And then rub my bum!"

We are happy to oblige.

This little trip was exactly what the doctor ordered. Not literally, of course. The crap I've done to my legs from all the walking is certainly NOT what my doctor would have wanted.

But it felt good to be away. The kind of away that lets you book a hotel for a couple of nights, visit some friends, and have date after date with your partner. The kind of away that helps you remember why you're plodding along doing occasionally mundane stuff. Why, it's so that you can enjoy your holiday time, of course!

Oddly, sometimes it takes being out of town with my BH to remember what a good team we are. My sense of direction paired with his ability to find cool shops. My organizing and highlighted lists with his relaxed temperament (This paid off especially well when we missed our train on Friday and had to take a bus up instead. Apparently I had accidentally bought tickets for a 5:45 AM train, not a 5:45 PM train. Having a laid-back partner is a must for situations like this - otherwise I would have had a meltdown.)

Some highlights from the trip:

- having a hotel that was a few blocks away from our dear friend Shawna
- being upgraded to a nicer room when we checked in, seemingly because we were friendly
- watching Shawna play a set in the middle of a giant art festival
- discovering a wonderful Japanese grocery store, and buying a bottle of brown liquid there just because it had a bulldog on it (I was assured the liquid tasted like caramelized onions)
- finding a bottle of clear liquid in the same store that was listed as a beverage but was called "sweat"
- meeting no less than four English bulldogs and two French bulldogs in ONE DAY
- having Wendell the English bulldog cuddle me and then snot in my eye (it felt like I was home!)
- buying some cute dresses and tops
- catching up with our dear friend Rachel, who is one of the more charming people I know
- randomly finding a farmer's market in downtown east, thus scoring some creamed honey and maple syrup!
- eating a lunch Shawna packed for us on the train ride home

I'm sure there are more things to report, but I'll probably remember them when I am uploading the photos for a later post. Either way, we're happy to be home, and excited to go back whenever we can. I'll actually be in Toronto this November for a gig, so we'll see if I can sneak out for some Japanese groceries and some bulldog lovin'.

September 18, 2009

Morty-sitter

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We went to see our Morty-sitter last night to make sure everything was going to be fine while we were gone. The visit completely put my mind at ease.

Morty was SO HAPPY to see him, SO HAPPY to be running around his place, and SO HAPPY to be hanging out with someone who likes to play the way a bulldog plays. I know Morty will miss us, because he misses us when we're not in the same room as him, let alone city... But at least now I think he'll have a blast while we're gone. They'll both be spending time at our place this weekend too, so at least Morty will still have all his favourite things around.

Now I'm scrambling to get everything in order. Lists, maps, numbers, cash, music... And then a full weekend of hot dates with my BH.

EXCELLENT.

Bring on the vacation!

September 17, 2009

First, Second, Third

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Just some quick items for today.... My BH is finally starting his very long hospital placements and we are both knackered from trying to get him ready. I have a funny feeling I'm going to sleep for the whole train ride to Toronto tomorrow.

First of all: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Karma hurts, hey Rahim? He once performed a rendition of Sexual Healing on a radio show I worked for at CBC. It was awesome. How the mighty fall.

Second of all: The death of a folk icon. This woman influenced me so much, it's hard to believe that she's gone. I'll be playing some of my old records tonight and thinking happy thoughts for Mary Travers, who inspired so many people.

Third, and lastly: If you have time, and I hope you do, check out the trailer for Gentlemen Broncos. I nearly peed myself laughing. Must see.

September 15, 2009

Brain Dump

This post is going to be a mish-mash of what's going on in my brain - just a warning that it may not tie together all that well.

I had a big long talk with The Colombian this past weekend. He called unexpectedly from Miami, and I was thrilled to see his weird phone number on my screen. There is something about catching up with people I've known forever that just tickles me silly.

I think he is the only friend I have that can get away with being a consistently shit-awful communicator. If anyone else disappeared for months or years at a time, blowing off e-mails and phone calls repeatedly, I'd lose interest and move on to someone who gave a crap. I've quit trying to stay friends with people who don't care one way or the other. But him? The times where we do talk are so, so worth it. I've stopped feeling hurt or rejected by his lousy convo skills, because I know that underneath it all, he's still a really great friend. Funny, that. The exception to the rule.

He's coming back in November for a visit. I wonder if he'll call.... ;)

In the past, I've mentioned how my feet and legs are pretty fucked up (very flat feet, very sore knees, compressed nerves making everything numb). I'm trying different things to make my body a little less unhappy, including the massages with my fab cousin Brian, stretches, and hopefully some new orthodics. Actually, the most helpful thing I've tried was having a chiropractor stretch out my legs and feet, but it's hard to get there for an appointment.

Anyway, now I'm trying out a foam roller. My BH bought it when he was at a fitness store, and I nearly laughed him out of the house. It's like a giant pool noodle, except that it's much more rigid. CUE MORE LAUGHTER. I may have put it between my legs and galloped around the house on it. Maybe.

The exercises you can use it for are actually exactly what I need. I'm hoping that I can do them every couple of days. Unfortunately, when I tried these stretches out last night, I realized the tragic flaw of the foam roller: If you have really damaged yourself, chances are that even the easiest stretches will BURN WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS and make you scream out in pain.

As I did.

On our living room floor last night.

In my underwear, using the blasted foam roller. Screeching.

I'll keep taking it slow with the hopes that I can graduate to stretching without pain sometime in the future. I guess I've just realized that the foam roller is designed for people with normal aches. Not people with years of ouch built up in their legs.

This weekend is our trip to Toronto. On one hand I'm really excited (shopping! friends! hotel!), but overall? I'm so nervous about leaving Morty. He's staying with a neighbour of ours who loves dogs, and adores Morty. I'm sure he'll do a lovely job. But we've only been away from Morty ONCE since we got him over a year ago, and I'm feeling a little hysterical about being without him for three days.

I hope it goes well.

I really hope that I can put my mind to rest and enjoy my vacation without worrying about my puppy all weekend.

Oy veh.

September 14, 2009

Photo Update

My two boys...



Morty actually runs like this at the park. He can't see where he's going, but he still has a blast. He hasn't run into anyone so far. So far.


Happy puppy.


My BH made these onigiri to celebrate the radio show. Is he good or what? It was almost sad to have to eat them.



Then he made these amazing scrambled eggs. *drooling*





Morty eyed them until they were gone.



Seriously.



I think the way he rests his giant head on the coffee table is one of the more endearing things he does.
But then again, I think everything he does is endearing.

Some very cool things came out of this weekend's broadcasts:

1. I was invited to play in the Yukon by someone who heard the show! Hey hey! I'll pursue it and see if I can swing it. That would be a pretty cool adventure if it doesn't break the bank.

2. Sold a bunch of music online. I won't have the exact numbers until my next statement update, but I'm excited to see how it went overall. It sure won't make me rich, but maybe it will buy my BH and I a hot dinner date.

3. Was contacted by my old music teacher who heard the show... I've been trying to get back in touch with her for YEARS, to no avail. Now we get to have tea and catch up. I credit this woman for making me into the singer I am today, so it's pretty cool to be chatting with her again. Turns out she's now a registered holistic nutritionist.

4. Saw my music site traffic spike. I got visits from places like LA, Washington, Japan, New York, Seattle, Texas, New Hampshire, Minnesota... As well as all across Canada. Pretty crazy. I was trying not to think about the fact that the show would be playing in the US as well, but the stats reminded me.

5. Got e-mail from family members all over the place, my favourite being a message from my slightly crazy communist aunt. She's slightly crazy, but I like her that way. She said my voice was "waifish" but "dangerous at the same time," which is good, because that means I'm "messing with gender norms." Good to know.

6. My BH made me the World's Greatest Scrambled Eggs (suggested by Julia's hubby, thanks!). He later made me onigiri, which I think he has finally mastered. SO GOOD. We spent a large chunk of the weekend eating and drinking, including a charming dinner at Zen Kitchen with some local bloggers. Cheers to Hannah, Julia, Milan and Real Grouchy!

There were a variety of other highlights, but this would be a very long post if I went into each one.... Basically, it's been a really memorable weekend, and I'm very pleased with how things turned out.

Funny, but a similar thought keeps popping into my head: I'm so glad that I went into debt for this album.

No, really.

I hate debt, yes, but making this album slowly and professionally is the only reason it's still carrying me today. It's been three years! Three years since that CD release party. As much as I would love to be able to record again soon, I'm thankful that I have a quality album under my belt for now. Thank goodness I over-spent, gave countless hours over to the studio, went a year on low sleep and funds, and was such a tight-assed bitch about the details.

Three cheers for throwing caution to the wind!

September 12, 2009

Done and Done

I listened and it was great!!! No more nerves now, baby!

It was so fun that I'd have to say my only complaint was Morty's ass. We were listening in bed, and Morty was super gassy. Every five minutes I'd hear "ffffft" and then I couldn't hear anything anymore because I was too busy trying to breathe. Silly Morty. He didn't understand why we were so excited.

But other than the air quality, I'm thrilled with it. Those of you who came to the live show may have noticed that they cut a song out of the final broadcast... But that's cool, because we knew that might happen to accommodate the timing of the show. Such is radio.

YAY!!! PARTY TIME!!!

(ps, thanks for all your support, blogging peeps. you are all much appreciated)

September 11, 2009

My Anxious Guts

The first CBC broadcast of my concert is tomorrow at 9am.

My BH and I are going to hang out in bed, drinking tea and eating pastries, if I can remember to buy some tonight. I am so insanely nervous, I can't even tell you. My music site traffic is already spiking, so I'm really interested to see what happens tomorrow when I get some new visitors. I'm already making CD sales from the increased stats!

Facebook has actually been really useful for getting the word out. It's neat to see how many people are going to try and tune in or download the podcast... Although I keep raising my eyebrows at folks who write on the event wall to say they are "too far away to attend" or that they "don't live in Ottawa." I'm going to guess that they didn't read the invite.* It's radio, darlings. Heck, apparently it's even going to play in parts of the US! I have relatives in Florida who are going to tune in.

Florida. That is so fucked up. I am so damn nervous. As my cousin Brian says, "I sure hope we didn't suck!"

Anyway... I need to get my mind off this broadcast before I hurl my anxious guts out.** What else can I talk about? I know... Food! Appetizing!

STELLA'S BREAKFAST DILEMMA

(disclaimer - this will not be as exciting as the radio musings. it's about breakfast, which is exciting in a different way.)

Today I made my first truly successful omelet, as part of a rather elaborate experiment to see what kind of breakfast I should be eating.

My favourite breakfast when I'm on the go is toast with jam or honey, and a cup of tea. Unfortunately, this doesn't fill me up. I'm always hungry again by 10:30, and end up eating my lunch at 11am. That leaves me the rest of the work day without food, and predictably, I often have a big food headache by the time I get home.

One way to solve this is for me to pack more snacks in my lunch.

Another way is to have a more filling breakfast.

My BH and I have been eating steel cut oats for breakfast this week, which keeps me full until 11 or 11:30. Much better than toast, you'll agree. Not perfect, but much better.

So how do eggs fit into this?

When I have eggs as part of my breakfast, I stay full until well after noon. That surprises me, because I am usually always hungry. Unfortunately, I don't really want eggs every morning, and more often than not, I sleep in too late to make them. Something to work on, I guess. I'll have to expand my egg repertoire. Or my snack repertoire. Or both.

Anyone have any suggestions for quick but filling breakfasts? I'm open to trying new things... (preferably something without meat).


Okay, I'm signing off. I'll try and post something after the broadcast tomorrow, providing I haven't wretched all over my laptop.


* Just to clarify: I have no problems with people not being able to attend an event... I only make it out to a tiny fraction of events in this city. But I do read the invite before talking about it on the event wall, because if I don't, I look silly.
** Little known fact! When I was a kid, I was admitted to emerg because I had made myself so nervous, I was doubled over with stomach pain. They thought I was really sick until they realized I was just nervous about going to someone's sleepover party.

September 9, 2009

Fancy Ass

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Today is my BH's first day of classes. First day of the last year of his degree. It's going to go by so quickly, and we both know it. (Congrats babe!)

Actually, the faster the better. I think we're both pretty excited for spring. Which seems silly, right when fall is getting so beautiful, but there you have it. I'm looking forward to the thaw. I'm a bit fixated on it.

We have a bunch of plans, post-degree. Some are pretty informal, but some are definite.


We'd like to go to Japan to visit M-A.

We'd like to buy a car. A used one, but something that will help us take more trips and allow us to bring Morty along.

We'd like to attack my BH's student loans with the ferocity of a thousand lions.

We'd eventually like to buy a house.


The other plans are less certain, but we can focus on these.

I also have some personal goals that are slightly less grand than the ones I listed above.


I'd like to learn how to can food.

I want to perfect the Korean breakfast pancake.

I'd like to take some carpentry classes.

I'd also like to get a fancy-ass computer so I can do more home recording.


Funny how I just slipped that last one in there.... ;)

Anyways, here's hoping that my BH has a great final year. He's done so much school and learned so many things, and soon he's going to be able to put it all to use. I am so proud of him.

Have I mentioned how damn good looking he is?

Sorry... I get easily distracted.

September 7, 2009

Lovely Long Weekend

This was a truly lovely long weekend. Allow me to illustrate...

Morty and Jewel took a walk together and didn't attempt to kill each other. Jewel belongs to two of my best friends and let's just say she didn't get the memo about loving thy neighbourly dog.

To be fair to Jewel, Morty has taken to taunting her, just because he can. Sneaky boy!



Mark opened some mighty fine wine, and we all drank it. Is there anything finer than drinking wine with friends in a park?

No.

Picnic! OMG! Would you look at that spread?


Holy shit, that was some great food. See the sushi rice/tofu pockets? I made those! More info for those who want to know. Can't recommend them enough.



Here, Milan's brother attempts to explain "gaming" to me. I lost him when he started talking about runes and trolls... Or troll runes... Or... Beards? I don't remember. I was lost, as I said.
But he's all into it.



You can see Milan's excellent photos in the background. Oh! And there's Milan!



Mmmm. Coffee. Did you know that I didn't drink coffee until Raw Sugar opened?
True.
Random Stella fact, just for you.



There you have it. I couldn't have asked for a better time. Here's hoping you did something lovely this weekend too!

September 5, 2009

Autograph

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Milan's photo vernissage was crazy fun! Congrats to him for all the hard work.

I played a couple of quick songs with Brian, who just happened to walk in a few minutes before my mini-set. For something we didn't have planned in the least, it was most excellent.

Astronaut Love Triangle was every bit as awesome as they promised to be. Manny Blue signed my chest after the show!! I want a matching pair. Aggie? You there? Get out the sharpie...

(photo stolen from Milan)


This is looking like a pretty nice weekend so far, and I think it's going to be the perfect start to fall. Here's hoping you all have a great long weekend!

September 3, 2009

Fantasy Land

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Knowing that I will have some financial breathing room in less than a year is making think of extravagant ways to spend money.

It's kind of ridiculous, really. I'm not going to be rich when my BH finishes school. I'm just going to be able to pay the bills properly.

But anyway.

Welcome to STELLA'S FANTASY LAND!!! These are the things I would do if I had some extra dough and a muted sense of financial responsibility:

I would get me a fancy-pants mac to make recording a lot more fun.

I'd buy and learn how to play this crazy thing.

I would take piano lessons! This isn't unrealistic, as it turns out. I did manage to get a piano last year, against all odds.

I'd buy a parlour-sized classical guitar. Because I want one.

And this! I'd like this! Bam bam bam.

Maybe a concertina?


Wait a sec. All my fantasy purchases are related to music.


Okay... I could also handle a pair of these.


Anyone else have an extravagant purchase they'd like to share? Surely I'm not the only one who dreams of electric drum kits.

(Also, see y'all tomorrow night at Raw Sugar for Milan's photo show!)

September 2, 2009

Here It Comes


Yesterday I wrote to the folks at the Vinyl Cafe to confirm when my concert would be aired. All I knew was that it was happening in October.

Know what? It's a damn good thing I wrote when I did. The broadcast is in a week and a half, not in a month. I actually might have missed it if I hadn't written to check.

My first reaction was excitement, because YAY, it's actually going to happen!

Then I got a bit nervous, because damn, do I want the entire country listening in on my most nerve-wracking show?

So I made a Facebook event, updated my music web site, and got the wheels turning on all those things songwriters fret about. Now I'm just going to let things happen. The concert is already recorded, so I don't have to worry about messing up the performance. I just need to listen.

With that in mind, why am I still so damn nervous?