How do you deal with the post-Christmas blues? Do you get them at all? I love this time of year, and when it's all over I definitely feel a little bummed out.

I think what does it for me is the fact that Christmas is such a nice reprieve from winter. We haven't even really gotten sick of the cold yet, but there's this marvelous break for family and food and gifts and music. How lovely!

Then the break ends, and we have another four months of snow and frigid temperatures. There are ways of dealing (hibernating for me, mulled wine, hearty winter cooking, bulldog snuggling), but in the end, you don't have a truly exciting holiday again for a while. Valentine's Day doesn't count, and Easter is right at the end of it. I would amp up our Passover celebrations, but they're in late April as well.

What do you do to keep the winter craziness away? I'd love to know.

Now 2010 is ending, and 2011 is starting up. It's safe to say that 2010 was the nuttiest year on record for my BH and I. We did the following, beginning on Jan. 2:

- Started looking for a duplex after being driven crazy by our new landlord.
- Endured awful awful awful renovations to our building that were not only intrusive, but illegal.
- Came home to our unlocked apartment, not once, but three separate times! Thank you, Landlord-Who-Will-Burn-In-Hell.
- Looked at a few places, all of which were fixer-uppers we didn't want to fix. Like that place with the spongy floors. Yikes.
- Saw the listing for our eventual home, viewed the place that day, bought it on the spot. Fixer-upper that we liked!
- Dealt with some very shady behaviour from the owner of the home. Persevered and pushed the sale through.
- My BH finished school. Oh my gawd, that was exciting. Salivated over the possibility of a second income.
- We decided that Morty needed company and started looking for older dogs to adopt. Found Frida, our furry angel. Became a two bulldog household.
- Took possession of house. Began extensive renovations within hours of getting the keys.
- Replaced the floors, bath, tile, knocked down a few walls, built a closet for laundry and one for a studio, knocked down the garage, had a fence built, had a shed put up, replaced the furnace and old hot water tank, replaced disintegrating sewage pipe, put on a new side door, had duct work done, tried (unsuccessfully) to grow grass, painted everything, removed ancient wallpaper.
- (My BH was studying for his registration exam while this was happening)
- Our lovely tenants moved in and I learned how to be a landlord.
- We moved in. Continued small renos for several months.
- My BH passed his registration! Started looking for jobs.
- I bought a new guitar, some recording gear, and began teaching myself how to make an album in a closet.
- My BH found a job that required a car. We bought on used. He started work!
- I decided to Get In Shape, and abandoned my plan very quickly. Why lift weights when I have a studio in the house???
- Morty and Frida now love each other to pieces, despite being opposites and not totally 'getting' each other at times.

Wow. Crazy to think that at this time last year, I was getting pre-approved for a mortgage that would start this crazy train rolling. Thank you for continuing to read - I know this blog isn't always the most exciting place to hang out, but I feel very happy that you keep wandering back.

December 27, 2010

It Was Good

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Aaah, we had a lovely holiday.

I had been looking forward to this Christmas for a long time, largely because of what I was gifting to my BH. I secretly collected the photos of his childhood in India (with lots of help from his sister), scanned them (it took DAYS) and made them into a photo book. I also made extra copies for his family. He had talked about these elusive pictures for years, never being sure where they had ended up. Just as I hoped, he seemed to really love the gift, as did his parents.

Everything else was great too. The food was wonderful, especially the traditional (haha) curry meal we have with his family. It's seriously my favourite Christmas dinner. Spicy curry with dal and rice. You should try it!

Now for some pictures:

The teeny Christmas tree at my folks' house.



My mom is fitting Frida for her winter coat, because Frida doesn't handle the cold very well. I know the picture's blurry, but I need to point out that the coat is made out of fake fur that looks real. So basically, when she's all dressed up, Frida looks like a Bubbi.



Morty loves to help people open Christmas presents. Unfortunately he also took the corner off this gift in the process. He's got quite a jaw.


We dressed Frida up in ribbon, and she seemed pretty chill about the whole thing.


Pfeffernusse! My favourite.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, my charming readers. Next on the agenda: New Years! This time the goal will be for a puke-free evening. Hopefully we meet our goal.

But seriously, no puking. I'm looking at you, BH. ;)

December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

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Frida the pissed-off reindeer dog wishes you a very Merry Christmas.






We tried to dress Morty up too, but he was scared of the felt antlers. Like a true bulldog.

My BH and I wish you a lovely holiday! BH will be working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day like a trooper, so we're just taking it easy at the house when he's off.

Cheers, folks!

December 21, 2010

Merry Merry

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Some scenes from around my house. No wonder I'm such a homebody... I never want to leave my little nest.




December 20, 2010

All Was Calm

I'm back at work this week. It may seem odd that I took last week off instead of this week, but since I'm taking over for my boss while he's on Christmas vacation, it was a good option to rest up earlier.

I think that's actually the best way to do it. Last week was so calm, so productive and so creative. I knew Christmas was still a couple of weeks away, so I could just focus on relaxing instead of the stress of the season. If I can, I'll do the same thing next year.

Now we're in the final stretch. All my gifts are bought, but only some of them are wrapped. I'm trying to intercept some parcels from UPS, but they are making it difficult. Generally, things are under control (grumble grumble UPS).

Back to the calm productiveness of last week.... I actually wrote three songs! If you've been reading a while, you may know that I've had a long stretch of writer's block. Like, three years long. The stalemate was broken after my friend died this past summer. I wrote a song for him, and slowly started to write about other stuff. It was an odd feeling.... Like a dam had been opened. It makes me excited about recording a new album this winter. It's also a bit sad to be writing about such sad things, but that's how it goes, I suppose.

The recording itself has also been coming along. I've set up the studio and am learning how to use Pro Tools (the program I'm using to record with). My mic is working, my fancy new headphones are getting lots of use.... It's pretty fun. That being said, I'm going to need to improve a whole fuck of a lot if I'm going to record this album myself. So far the recordings sound distinctly (and understandably) amateur.

I'm thinking of starting either a Youtube or Vimeo account to post some of my new songs. Question, dear readers, music-types especially: which should I go with? Youtube is all over the place, so that's good, but Vimeo is sleeker. If you were making an account for promotion and to stay in contact with fans, what would you use and why? I'd love to hear your pros and cons.

Thanks honeys!

December 13, 2010

Merry Everything

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Right when I was getting bummed about not having a Christmas tree, my BH surprised me by buying one and getting it all set up as a surprise.

AWESOME.


You can see our new couch there in the corner, along with my rather large collection of CDs. What can I say? I love CDs the way some audiophiles love their vinyl.



Today was my first day of vacation, and it was everything I hoped it would be. There was some cleaning, but the rest of the day was filled with Sufjan Stevens' Christmas album(s), cooking, and napping.


Merry everything. I love this time of year.

December 11, 2010

What I'm Up To

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Kissing this awesome baby, and teaching myself Pro Tools.

So far I've recorded one shitty vocal track with Frida snoring in the background. This album is going to be EPIC.

But seriously, is this not the greatest baby that ever was?




Those cheeks. THOSE CHINS.

Last night, I played at my office Christmas party.

This is not something that would normally appeal to me, but I actually offered this time around. One of my bosses was leaving, and I thought it would be a nice gesture. People were very sweet about it. I actually sold more CDs than I expected.

Playing for co-workers is a... Unique experience. I'm happy to share my "other job" with them, but I can't deny that it changes my professional relationships in the process. After they hear me play, I become a musician first, and co-worker second. On a personal level, I prefer this. I certainly put music ahead of my job when I think about my identity. But it does make meetings awkward when people change the subject to ask me about guitar lessons, or pitch their musical opinions my way. It's not really a complaint, but a strange side effect of having a musical line of work.

Speaking of musical opinions, this might have been the most frustrating part of the evening. It happens all the time, so it's certainly not reserved for my co-workers, but I have to ask: Why do people become authorities on my musical career after they've heard me play? It's very common for somebody to come talk to me after a gig with the sole purpose of giving me advice. Obviously they mean well, but they tend to have no experience with music, music management, recording, or running shows. Those who do have the experience? I welcome feedback. But holy, I could write a book about the strange advice I've been given.

Last night, a well-meaning colleague said that I should give up playing instruments and writing songs so I could "focus only on my voice."

"Like... A capella?" I said, confused.

"No, just, like, singing."

"But I sing the songs I write. And I play the songs I write."

"But you could sing pop music instead!"

He then proceeded to butcher a song on my banjo. Seriously, dude? This will sound rude, but don't give me stupid advice. It wastes my time. I write songs, I play instruments, and I'm not going to quit because you'd rather I sing pop music. My response to these opinion bombs is changing, too. I've always been as gracious as possible with people, but now I have to bite my tongue not to tell them to fuck off. Eventually the words will just slip out.

In other, more exciting news, I'm taking all of next week off. ALL WEEK.

My vacations tend to put me in stressful situations, far off countries, or I get stuck at home putting down wood floors. This time around, I'm spending the week with ME, doing some baking, recording, cleaning and napping. I'm so excited, I can't even explain it.

On that note, to the weekend we go!

December 8, 2010

Muppet Time

Oh hai!

I've been watching Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat. 'Tis the season, and damnit, it's just a great movie all around. Is anyone else fond of this movie too?



On other news, it seems that my French teacher and I don't get along. We tend to argue for the length of our lesson (politely), me messing up verbs in my frustration, and her reverting to broken English to make her point. Today we argued for an hour and a half about copyright laws. The upside is that I commited some words to memory that I usually forget.... "supposition," "mal gérée" and "consommateurs." We're both taking some time off for the holidays, so maybe we'll be blessed with schedules that don't gel when we return. I think she'd be happy to get a student who isn't so quick to argue, and I'd love a teacher who isn't quite so formal.

I think nearly all of my gifts are bought for Christmas... The only missing link is the tree. We haven't had a chance to pick one up yet, and it's starting to bum me out. I like to have the tree up for as much of the month as possible, since we only get to do this once a year. Maybe this weekend, if we're lucky. Fingers crossed!

In music news, it looks like I might be recording a (very inexpensive) music video sometime this winter! Details to come, when I've sorted them out.

December 7, 2010

Plain Jane

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This morning, I took my thick Canada Goose coat out of hiding, and wore it outside. It's quite cold now... Early winter instead of late fall. The snow looks like it's staying this time.

I'm actually relieved. Although I'm definitely a warm weather gal, I have trouble with in-between seasons. Full blown winter is much easier to handle than a non-committal Still Fall, Maybe.

Yesterday was a total shit show. My BH and I drove home after the gig, leaving Toronto at midnight and arriving in Ottawa at 5am. I don't tend to stay up past 2am ever. Pushing it to 5 while still needing to be alert for the drive? A little crazy. But my BH had to work, so we plugged ahead. One of our headlights burned out and I almost hit a deer, but otherwise we're fine. I also discovered that I prefer Old Fashioned Glaze and Chocolate Glaze doughnuts over all others. Who knew I was such a plain Jane doughnut eater?

Now.... The gig!

It was really lovely. The room was full; I think nearly every seat was taken. I played decently, but I was much more excited about Shawna and Jon, who did such nice sets. It was fun to be back to the Free Times. I'm not sure it's changed at all since I gigged there with Alicide and The Vanity Press. The gear is just in worse shape. But the food.... Mmmmmm....

We didn't have a lot of time for visiting before the gig, although we did make it to the Distillery District with Shawna. Man, it is beautiful there around Christmas time. Lights, trees, music. Vendors who sell seasonal things. I was impressed at how non-kitschy it was, while still being decorated to the nines.

We also got to visit with High School Boyfriend, who happens to live in my favourite alley (in an apartment, not the alley itself) near my favourite music store. We all drank tea and had a fun time catching up. There's something charming about hanging out with people you've known for ages and ages. It's a good thing.

There wasn't a lot of time for shopping, but we did find something totally random and exciting: mini squeeze bottles for soy sauce. You put them in your lunch. I've been looking for them for years. What? Is nobody else impressed by my find?

I spent much of yesterday sleeping, but the time I spent awake was put to good use. My poor little studio / closet has been languishing under a pile of boxes for months. It was the last part of the house to get a floor, and still needed a shelf to be completed in my eyes. I decided that I would put up the dang shelf.

Easier said than done. Honestly? That closet is lucky it's still in one piece after how frustrated I was yesterday. The shelf pulled out of the wall three times, even with plugs and sturdy brackets. Eventually I got it in, crooked, but functional. And now?

I will record an album. (Or at least, that's the plan)

December 6, 2010

To Be Continued...

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December 3, 2010

I Bought An App, Etc.

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I'm not much of an app buyer. I don't even really buy music off iTunes - still strictly a CD type of gal. But I read a few reviews of Hipstamatic, and thought it sounded like fun.

Verdict: It IS fun! I've started actually taking pictures with my iPhone.

This is Morty, relaxing on our rumply bed. He's not much of a morning doggie.... It takes coaxing (read: chicken) to get him up and about.




This is my favourite lamp. You can see the corner of our new couch, which I'm hoping won't fall apart when people sit on it. So far so good.



Sweet little Frida. Doesn't she look cute? I think she's up to something.


I was unsuccessful in getting Morty out of bed. Poor dude has a tough life. All that sleeping is exhausting, right?



In other news, I need to do something about my Facebook account. I get about 20 event invites a day. I'm "friends" with too many people I don't really know. But it's really the invites that get me.


Should I block invites from people who are the worst offenders? Should I cull my friend list and change my name? I know that when I have a gig, I only invite people I think might actually want to come. I don't invite people who live in other cities, and I don't invite people who I know hate live shows. I do this out of common courtesy, and also because that's how I hope to be invited to events... But I think I'll have to change tactics.


Facebook was looking like a real help as far as music promotion goes, but now I'm wondering if people are just overwhelmed by all the information. Myspace is totally antiquated, and I'm waiting until the joyful day I can finally delete my page. So what does that leave? I guess I'll have to plug along with my plans to re-vamp my web site, and go from there.


My BH and I leave for Toronto tomorrow morning. We have plans to spoil Shawna, hang with my ex, buy amazing chocolate, look at some sexy shoes, and have a grand old time. Oh, and play music, of course.
Onwards and upwards!

November 30, 2010

@#$$*(@)#

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So!

This past week has been stressful, for lack of a better word. My life seems to have morphed into a scattered collection of bills, receipts, post-it notes, To Do lists, grocery lists, Christmas lists..... GAH.

Even writing about it is stressful.

I've also given up on the grant I was applying for. No time to make it good, and damned if it wasn't giving me anxiety attacks. Next time, perhaps.

To compensate, I've been taking pictures of the dogs, planning Christmas meals, and vacuuming the carpet. Repeatedly. I don't know why, but it helps.

I'm sure I can push aside all that badness and focus on a few good things.

My BH is well into his third week of the new job, and he's become a fountain of information. I think that happens when you start in a brand new field.... Your brain gets filled up with interesting (and occasionally mundane) stuff. It's great to see him doing such a good job, although having him as a househusband was pretty rad. Heh.

We've been buying stollen, my favourite Christmas cake with marzipan filling, because it's finally in the stores again. Stollen and clementines. That makes up about 80% of my diet these days. I'm not complaining.

We're going to Toronto this weekend! I've got a gig at the Free Times Cafe, and we're going to eat at our very favourite dosa restaurant in Little India. Try as we may, we can't find a decent dosa in Ottawa. I'm still haunted by the amazing dosas we ate in India.... *drool* In case you aren't familiar with dosa, there's a little bit of eye candy here.

I've ordered most of my Christmas presents. As a rule, I try to have all my shopping done before December hits, but this year will be different. I need to go easy on myself. Having the gifts mostly bought isn't so bad.

What else.... Well, this doesn't fall into "good" or "bad," but I've developed a weird compulsion to put spice on EVERYTHING. It started in the summer with a particularly yummy hot sauce, and now I go through chili peppers like a mad woman. I've started to look at food with disdain if it's not piping hot. What is the deal with my taste buds? They've gone wacky!

Okay puppies, that's all I've got. Hopefully I'll be able to post something before I leave for the T Dot.

November 26, 2010

First Snow!

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video

Two bulldogs, fresh snow, and a bit of butt sniffing. What more could you want on a Friday?

Funny night.


I've reorganized the spice drawer, which has left me smelling like paprika and mustard seed.

Frida's in a kissy mood, and she's giving me little licks on my nose.

I'm struggling to get a grant application in even though I really have no time.

Work is busy! Why now??

I've got about half my Christmas gifts under control. The other half? Not so much.

I'm prepping to play a Toronto gig that I'm very damn excited about.

My BH has an erratic work schedule, but dudes, at least he's got work.

On my To Do list, I actually have a bullet that says, "Do not cry over bills."

Part of my roof kinda blew off, but it's all good. Or at least, it will be good once we climb up there and nail the fucker back on. Courage!

I've re-started French lessons at work. You know what I hate? Subjonctif. Why does French have to be so complicated?*


That's it with me. What's new with you?


*My French teacher said that the millions of tenses and complexities that exist within the language originally evolved as a way to differentiate between high class and low class speakers. Yeah? Well I REJECT YOUR CLASSIST VERBS, FRENCH.

November 20, 2010

Maskmakers

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Since I'm too sleepy to write a cohesive post, here's a picture of Milan taking pictures of a mask. Don't get too attached to the couch... It's on its way out! The replacement was purchased today.



The mask was made by my mom. Did I ever tell you about the maskmakers in my family? A story for another time, perhaps. But it's a good one.



Thanks Milan!

November 19, 2010

Fixer-Upper

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We've had some bad luck with our furniture since the big move.

For the first while, it was all buried under boxes. I remember the feeling of being unable to walk a straight line to the double bed, and stepping over saws to make breakfast. I'm glad those days are gone.

When we did get unpacked, I noticed that a lot of what we had didn't work that well in the space. Our couch was a broken loveseat, too small to fit a visitor or two, and too rickety to use properly anyway. Our bed had always been too small for us, but it was especially obvious now. I woke up every morning with half my body off the mattress, hands clinging to the sheets. Falling out of bed is particularly dangerous when you're surrounded by drying paint, nails, and splintered wood.

With some of our savings, we decided to replace a few key pieces, namely the couch and the bed. We bought our glorious king-sized bed and mattress, counting down the weeks until it would be delivered to us. The mattress arrived first, so we set it up on the ground and slept like that for a couple of weeks. When the frame arrived, the factory had made a mistake and sent us faulty legs for the thing. Unwilling to wait another three weeks for the replacement, we propped up our fancy new frame with paving bricks.

Yes. You read correctly. Our stylin' bed frame was held up by bricks. Eventually the legs were installed.

Somewhere in there our fridge died, and we swapped our used stove for another used stove in a better colour. Insert swearing about Craigslist crazies here (kinda makes you hate people, you know?).

Then we ordered the couch, which was cute, on sale, and folded out into a bed. Yes! Score for us! Except that it didn't seem very well made, and we were nervous about how wobbly it was. Sure enough, my darling father-in-law sat on it two days ago and the leg broke right off. Would you like to see how the couch looks now?





Uh huh. We're returning it, getting a full refund, and starting our search all over again.

Despite all my complaining, I'm so happy with our house. It recently came to my attention that EVERYONE thought I was nuts when I said I wanted to buy this place. Maybe I'm blessed with the ability to see how to fix a fixer-upper. Maybe I really am nuts. But dudes, furniture mishaps aside, I'm glad we went though the madness and get to enjoy the results.

November 17, 2010

Smooth

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Last night I spent three hours cleaning my closet. I'm talking ironing, re-folding everything, re-organizing, ditching, and putting away summer things.

In the process, I learned something about myself.

I am hard on my clothes.

There were holes, oil stains, dirt stains, pulls, you name it. Even my nicest stuff was hiding damage of some kind. I took it as a sign that I'm not meant to work in a fancy office forever, but it may also be a sign that I'm a slob. Long live jeans and a tee.

Anyway, now I have a beautifully organized closet, and I can move on to inflict the same treatment on my mini studio. It needs some attention.

I'm trying really hard to be organized about the next six weeks - don't you find that they go by SO QUICKLY?? We'll see if I manage it. Luckily, the craziness will be interrupted by a trip to Toronto! I'll be playing a gig with my beloved Shawna. It's going to be something else.

I have no smooth way to end this post.... So....

Bye!

November 15, 2010

Post-Haste

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My BH started his new job today. I'm still waiting to hear how it went, but dudes, we are officially a two-income household!! Woot! May the debt repayment begin post-haste.

In other news, I cut all my hair off. Probably about six inches gone. I feel so light! Although the longer hair was fun, it's also a lot more work. Let's face it - if I can avoid my brush and my hair dryer every morning, I'll do it. I'd much rather spend my precious morning hour snuggling the dogs.

So... Having a car is quite something. It's only been ours for couple of weeks, but man, it sure is great to be able to make plans without relying on shitty OC Transpo. I used to love taking the bus, but they earned my wrath with the Strike To End All Strikes. Hey, at least that PR fail got me walking to work.

Besides the new job and the car, I've been filling my time with:

- Counting down the minutes until Harry Potter comes to the big screen again.

- Enjoying our new (but very much on sale) couch, which fits two adults and two dogs with lots of room. Luxurious.

- Planning what sorts of tasty lunch foods I can make for my BH. It may sound weird, but I love packing him a lunch. Truth.

- Watching every episode of Vag Magazine, because it's so damn witty.

- Picking out some courses I can take this summer. Hint: they have nothing to do with any of my current jobs, but might involve power tools.

I'm also working on the next album, although mostly in the planning phase.... I'd like to find out which CD manufacturers are the best so that I can price them all out. I've been using the same company for years, and although they have been fine, I want to know what my options are.

But enough about me. How are y'all doing?

November 8, 2010

Onwards and Upwards

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I'm setting some goals for myself, because I love me some goals. I also thrive on having something to work towards, especially if its written down. Seems to be the way I'm wired.

The main thing I'm trying to improve on is my health. Working a job that requires you to sit on your ass all day takes its toll. It's funny, but when I was working in retail, I was in much better shape. Broke and stressed, yes. But being on my feet kept me moving. I was always standing, walking, or running for the bus. It made me unintentionally active.

I can't really pretend that my increasingly squishy "muscles" are hiding because they are shy. I am terribly out of shape, exercise rarely, and eating more takeout than I should for someone with good cooking skills. Mad skills, even.

So here's what's happening: I bought a membership to a city gym, with pool access included. I went for the first time a couple of days ago with my BH, and had the greatest time. No, I'm not being sarcastic.... For once. I had a wicked time. Listening to loud music while sweating away on the elliptical is crazy fun. I have yet to use the pool, but since I enjoy swimming laps, I plan to give it a try sometime soon.

I've also bought.... Get this.... An exercise DVD. This is probably the last thing I would have expected myself to do, but the fact is that I'm a homebody. There will be days when I don't want to go to the gym, and it would be smart to give myself a realistic option for staying in.

As for whether or not I'm going to see results? The holidays are coming and the love of my life makes fudge cake when he's bored. So no, I don't think I'm going to firm up over the next two months. But I do hope that I can build some muscle and get my heart working a bit. Even if I'm licking icing off a beater in the process.

A funny story about the gym, if you'll indulge me:

I got a free orientation with a personal trainer as part of my membership. The trainer was great. Maybe even hilarious. Anyway, she was showing me around the equipment and we arrived at a big machine with a slidey bar and a bunch of scary-looking accessories.

"This is our big slidey machine with accessories!" she said, enthusiastically.

"It looks like an S&M dungeon," I said, right when there was a lull in sound at the gym. Several heads turned.

"Ummm." said the trainer. "People don't usually say that out loud."

And that's my foot-in-mouth story for you today. Onwards and upwards!

November 4, 2010

Fruitcake

I'm officially excited for Christmas. I'm already listening to my favourite Christmas music, planning what cookies to bake, and buying gifts. Do you think that's weird? Given that I'm mostly Jewish?

Anyway.

My choir is also going to be doing carolling (at my insistence, hehe) and that's got me excited too.

My BH, an avid fruitcake fan, is already steeping candied fruit in booze. I don't like fruitcake, but I've learned to stop questioning his devotion. Once, at a wedding, I saw him go from table to table scooping up people's discarded fruitcake favours. He looked like a kid in a candy store, except that the candy was strong-tasting cake that could break your teeth.

Gotta love that that guy.

My studio is all tiled, so now we have to hang a couple of shelves and we're done. I can't wait to start recording - oh man oh man.

You know what else? Thanks to our awesome vet, Frida has a functioning ear canal and is... Get this..... RARELY ITCHY. Can you believe it? When we got her, if she wasn't sleeping, she was scratching until she bled. We are overjoyed that she's feeling better.

Her happiness has also translated into her being more playful with Morty, which for Frida means that she lovingly bats him in the face. Repeatedly. Until he plays with her. Bulldogs!

More soon...

We found a car. As of last night, it's ours. It's a small, used Acura with a million kilometres and old heated seats.

This is my first car - everything else I've driven belonged either to my folks or my BH. Now my BH and I have a car of our own, and honestly? I am still having trouble believing it.

I've gone without a car for a long time. I use Vrtucar and rental services when I'm really in need, but lately that's been happening more and more. Getting myself to concerts with two instruments, a gig bag, my CDs and guitar stand is hellish, and I'm usually rushing in and out of cabs to get there on time. I've lost more capos in the process than I care to admit.

Now with my BH's new job, we didn't have a choice. The bus routes don't run when his shifts start, and it's too far to bike. Not a whole lot of options there.

I've already caught myself making alternate car arrangements in my head when I'm planning out the week. If I need heavy groceries, I make a note to book a Vrtucar on a certain day. Now I can head there direct from my driveway! Amazing. Does anybody else think this is amazing? Maybe it's just me.

This past weekend was mostly filled up with car buying, but I also got some very sad news. Another high school friend of mine died. He had cancer - skin cancer, actually - which spread to his liver.

I went to the wake, but couldn't make it to the funeral. The open casket never ceases to freak me out, and the mood was sombre.

They were playing a slideshow of pictures on the far side of the room, so I wandered over there. The pictures showed my friend smiling and happy, traveling with his friends and his wife.

Then the last picture in the slideshow popped onto the screen. It was my friend, ever the clown and comedian, dressed up as a giant vagina.

Everyone watching erupted into laughter, and really, that's exactly what CJ would have wanted.

October 28, 2010

Wherein I Attempt to Fundraise

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Dearest readers...

I've been a bad blogger lately, and I apologize. Real life has been a little nutso, and it's been tricky to sneak in blogging time. Let me tell you a bit about what I've been up to.

I've been tiling the studio closet! It's nearly done, and very soon I'll be recording in there. Just me. Because nobody else will fit.


I've been gazing at this sweet doggie. Look at that face. And those ears!



My BH and I have been cooking dinners for people. Now that the house is somewhat presentable, we're actually trying to entertain. Look at that gorgeous cake. My BH is quite something in the kitchen.



Morty has been napping. His giant tongue is always fighting his lips for freedom.



I've been gigging, albeit reservedly. It's fun to play gigs a little less frequently than I used to. It makes the shows a bit more special. It also makes me less of a zombie.



We've also been shopping for a car, because my BH's new job is too far for biking and too random for the bus. We don't have money for a car, so.... Our search is going to be interesting. To say the least. Maybe he can travel via jetpack!

Also, in much bigger and scarier news, I launched a fundraising site for my next album. You guys all know the nitty gritty about my state of brokeness, but I still get asked constantly when I'm going to record again by folks around town.

Here's the thing: while I can probably manage the costs of recording myself (largely by doing the bulk of it on my computer), I can't afford the design, manufacturing, mastering, mixing etc. That is where shit gets expensive. I'm trying this out as a total experiment, but it's going to be interesting to see if people are willing to contribute some money to help me record a bit faster.

Now it's not just a flat donation; you get something for the money. I'll send you to the actual site (with my real name and everything... shhhhh) so you can take a gander. If you're interested, or you want to show your support, consider making a donation. Or even pass it around to some friends if you think they might want to lend a hand.

I'm hoping to start recording within the next couple of weeks, with the goal of having the songs done by the end of winter. Who knows if that will happen, but I do try to keep to my goals.

Anyway.... Thanks for being patient with me, and I promise to write a little more consistently from now on!

October 24, 2010

Job Job Job

Sorry team... I sorta dropped off there, hey?


But there's good news. Lots of great things have happened since we last spoke.

My BH got a job. A real, using-his-fancy-degree job. Do you know what this means?? It means the income we've been sharing for the past many years will be less strained.

Exciting.

I also played at Raw Sugar to a sold out crowd with my dear friend Shawna. There were new songs, good connections and happy people.

What else?

Oh, I forget the rest. I'm at home drinking wine and roasting pumpkin. All I want to focus on is dinner and that lovely bottle of booze on the counter.

Hope you are all well! More sober blogging to come!

October 17, 2010

Perfect Weekend

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So many good things have happened this weekend. It makes Morty's enthusiastic and repetitive puking a little more bearable.


1. I had dinner with my old roommates. Holy shit, I love them all. There have been marriages, homes bought and babies made since our time together, but we are all very much the same. It was a delightful evening. I also got to blow bubbles on the tummy of a chubby newborn. AMAZING. He smelled like milk.

2. The Vinyl Cafe replayed the broadcast from when I was their musical guest. I didn't know it was happening this weekend, so it was a wonderful surprise. I was tipped off by sudden CD sales off my site. Even better.

3. I wrote a new song. It was hard to write - unusually hard. It's about the death of my friend this past spring. His death was still haunting me a bit, and the song pretty much charged out of me. I can't decide if I should play it live or not, because it makes me cry. That could get awkward on stage, but it could also be a nice song to play if I can keep it together.

4. I got to catch up with Shawna, one of my very favourite people, and also the gal I'm sharing the stage with this coming Friday at Raw Sugar. She was very calm and collected while Morty wretched up a day's worth of meals onto her feet. Thank you, Shawna.

5. My old guitar teacher and I had lunch. He wanted to pick my brain about recording, which was just weird, because, y'know... He's my teacher. Don't teachers know everything? But seriously, he's lovely and I think I want to start lessons again.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but I've got a kitchen to clean and a puppy to console. What a perfect fall weekend.

October 12, 2010

Epic Pie

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Yeah, my BH made this. No biggie.

Just kidding. It's a biggie. This pie is EPIC. Look at it! Is there anything hotter than a guy who makes mind-blowing pastry in his spare time? No.

In related news, I'm pretty sure I gained more weight over the weekend. Thanksgiving was GOOD. Especially the meal we had with my BH's folks. Spicy curry and sky high apple pie, yes indeed. Who needs a turkey when you've got Indian in-laws?

It's really quite chilly outside. I've programmed our thermostat, and not a minute too soon. It's supposed to go down to -1 tonight. The dogs are super snuggly with each other. Body heat will do that... Not to mention bulldog love.

The next two weeks are being filled with gig prep. It's nice to have a fun show to work up to... Although I'm stuck about adding new songs to my set. I can't decide on a cover, and I can't decide on a new song. I'd better get picking.

My BH and I finally saw the new Alice in Wonderland movie last night. Well, I watched it while my BH and both dogs snored through it. Anyway, I thought it was a kick ass film. Helena Bonham Carter could not have been better suited to her role as the Red Queen. I think I'll watch it again tomorrow.

Hope you all had a filling weekend!

October 9, 2010

Thankful

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Aaah, Thanksgiving weekend.


I'm not sure the weather could be any nicer, to be honest. We started the day by attending the neighbourhood farmer's market, and got the good news that it's been approved to be a weekly event as of next spring.

I already think my neighbourhood is awesome, but it was a real vote of confidence to hear that I'll have access to fresh, local food within a five minute walk of my house.

Then we walked downtown to buy my BH some new clothes. We snaked around the canal, took the footbridge, and soaked in the colours. I made the mistake of walking into American Apparel once we hit the Rideau Centre. I used to love their plain cotton clothes, but it just looks like hell in there now. I get twitchy just thinking about it. Spandex lace... thong leotards... NASTY. May bankruptcy come swiftly, and may something better replace them.

Then it was off for a walk with the dogs, and we met up with a mastiff puppy along the way. Are you familiar with mastiffs? This puppy was already double Morty's size, and she's going to quadruple that pretty fast. They had a great time wrestling each other while Frida hung out between my ankles.

Now we're cleaning the house and feeling pretty accomplished about the day.

Last night's gig was... Interesting. The highlight was when I met a guy who had driven up from Montreal to see my set. Really, he just watched my set, bought a CD, and drove back home to Montreal. I was speechless! As for the night in general, I'm not sure my songs were a great match with the other people on the bill. Our crowds were pretty different too. Not a loss, but not a comfortable fit either. I guess it reinforced my new method of being picky about gigs - I don't want to come off as a snot, but I also want the best show possible instead of a flop.

All this to say that the Raw Sugar gig at the end of the month is going to be super fun. :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

October 7, 2010

Fat Cat

Today is one of those days. One of those GOOD days. I woke up and the sun was shining. No small bulldogs (I'm looking at you, Frida) woke me up at 4am to have explosive poo in the yard. Breakfast was yummy. I got part of my energy rebate in the mail. Did I mention the weather?

Also, last night fulfilled my longstanding craving for good Ethiopian food, as my BH and I went to a birthday dinner at Horn of Africa. Damn, I could eat there every night.

AND THEN? I got a phone call that my bed frame is ready, and will be delivered next week. No more sleeping on the floor, albeit on a giant fucking mattress.

PLUS?? Frida's reacting so well to her steroids that her itching and swelling has decreased by about 90%. That's pretty astounding.

AND???? Apparently CBC Radio played one of my songs this morning. I love you, CBC.

THEN???? My stove finally sold on Craigslist. Thank fuck.

So all in all, today is going pretty well. I'll enjoy it while I can to store up energy for those bad days.


For those of you who like stories where I embarrass myself, or for those of you who wonder why I say I have a potty mouth, I bring you: A conversation from last night.

Friend 1 is wearing a shirt featuring a fat cat wearing a dunce cap.

Friend 2: Is that a dumb cat?

Friend 1: Or a cat that misbehaved?

Friend 3: Or a cat who bugged the teacher?

Me, after deciding that the dunce cap looked more like a party hat: I THINK IT'S A PUSSY WHO LIKES TO PARTY!

*crickets*

Keep in mind that I had never met some of the people at the table. When somebody finally responded, they cleared their throat, and said, "Well, at least that's legal now."

Hope you are all having a lovely autumn day too.

October 1, 2010

Advance Planning

A few things:

I'm selling some household items for the first time on Craigslist and Kijiji. It's been... Interesting. Somebody who wanted to buy my used stove called himself "Grandmaster Sexy." I'm cutting my losses and not responding. Not looking to bag myself an internet psycho, thanks.

Frida's itching didn't improve so we took her to a new vet. The new vet was horrified that her old vet didn't do more, and sooner. Now I'm angry. Poor little Frida.

I've pulled something funny in my neck, and it's affecting my shoulders, back, right leg and ankle. WTF? I'm all hurty!

Lastly.... I've started Christmas shopping. Don't freak out, I know I'm crazy, but DUDES. It's just so much easier to get it done early. I'm telling ya.

Have a great weekend! We're doing a million things. Approximately.

September 28, 2010

Funny Place

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I'm in a funny place right now. I think the changing season is responsible. I spend most of my time in la la land, dreaming about autumn, walking through autumn, cooking with fall foods.... Seriously dreamy. Just don't ask me to do any heavy thinking.

Over the past month, our house has really become our home. We went from ordering take-out every night to making elaborate curries, canning, baking cinnamon buns and cobbler. Our new mattress came and we've been sleeping so much better; sure beats the groggy nights we spent surrounded by sawdust. Since we bought the television, we've been able to sit back and watch our favourite movies with the dogs on our laps. Our lawn sorta kinda came in. Actually, let's not talk about that.

We're already planning nights to bake pumpkin pies. I'm pulling my sweaters out of storage. My scarves have gotten some use. The entryway is muddy and full of leaves. We bought a rake. The neighbourhood smells like a wood stove.

This really is the best time of year.

Since my uncle passed away, two strange things have happened. I called my grandmother and her machine picked up. A familiar voice told me to leave a message. I forgot my uncle had recorded himself on the answering machine.... Now every time I call my grandmother, part of me wants her to pick up right away, and part of me wants to hear the message again.

Then, I was cleaning out my e-mail, and I found a message from my uncle that he sent me in August. He wished me all the best with the house, and told me to keep in touch. It's been hard to process his death because it happened so suddenly, but I really miss him. It's just strange to think that I'll never see him again. I guess that's the thing about death. It's... Strange.

In happier news, I've booked two shows for October. I was going to book more, but I think I've lost the urge to gig constantly. Now I just want to play shows that fit what I need, instead of taking everything that comes down the pipe. Maybe I'll lose some good opportunities this way, but it makes me feel calmer.

Here are the gigs.... I'd love to see some of you out there! It will be a meet and greet of sorts, or if we've already met, it will be a good time to listen to music and drink beverages of your choice. Bring your friends too!

Friday, Oct 22, 2010
Raw Sugar Cafe, Ottawa
With THE AMAZING Shawna Caspi
$6, 8:30pm

Friday, Oct 8, 2010
Cafe Dekcuf, Ottawa
With Great Bloomers and Kalle Mattson
$10 advance, 9pm
Tickets available at Vertigo Records or www.ticketweb.ca

September 27, 2010

New Baby

Baby guitar, that is....



It looks almost like a classical version of my steel string guitar, actually. At least I know what I like!
You can check out the company here:
I traded in my old Washburn when I bought the new guitar, and then I got even more money off because they couldn't find the case for it. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
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After a bit of a non-starter with our canning weekend, my BH and I finally got our shit together and successfully canned green beans and tomatillo salsa. Once you get the hang of it, the actual process isn't difficult.... Just time consuming.
Also, I'm super paranoid about food poisoning after getting hit with a bad case many years ago, so I really hope I got this right. Canning food incorrectly would be a lame way to die.
On that cheerful note, enjoy the rest of your Monday!

September 23, 2010

Littlest, Itchiest Bulldog

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As I have mentioned before, Frida, the littlest bulldog, has a lot of allergies. When we adopted her in April, she came with a bag of hypo-allergenic food and the warning that "she itches a lot."

C'est tout.

It seems to me that if your dog is on hypo-allergenic food and she's still red and itchy, maybe the food isn't doing the trick. But what do I know?

We changed her food several times, theorized about what she was reacting to, and gave her nightly anti-histamines. Some improvement, but not enough. A few weeks ago, we took her to the vet and got an allergy test done. Her blood samples had to be sent away for testing, and we got the full results in the mail today. Wanna hear?

Frida is allergic to the following:

pork
beef
fish
dairy
carrots
yeast
oats
dust
a variety of trees (including maple!)
grass
several weeds
feathers
CATS

... Seriously.

My BH and I are going to spend the evening looking into different types of dog food until we find something that works for her. Then we're going to switch our down duvet for something less.... Allergic. And THANK GOODNESS we decided to stick it out with EcoLawn instead of grass seed. It would have been sad to have a nice yard that only one dog could enjoy.

It's funny, but before we got Frida, I could not have imagined living with a dog who was so sensitive. Now that she's ours, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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In other news, tonight I'll be trading in my old classical Washburn guitar for a newer classical cutaway with a pickup. I'm so excited I could pee. I'll post pictures when the deal is done.... It's on hold for me right now!

For you guitar folks out there, lately I've been craving the warm sound of nylon strings over the familiar twang of my steel string Cort. After the disaster that was my Steve's Music experience, I headed down to Spaceman Music and found a sweet little guitar with my name on it. I also put in an order for Pro Tools, which should arrive in a couple of weeks. Suck on that, Steve's.

September 21, 2010

Breaky

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Sorry for the pause in posts.... I just found out that my uncle passed away unexpectedly. He left behind seven kids, and it looks like things will be nutty for a while.


In the meantime, please enjoy this music video, which cheers me up significantly despite the glaring lack of bulldogs.

September 16, 2010

Sleeping Like a King

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My BH and I slept well last night for the first time in a long time. By "slept well" I mean that I didn't wake up throughout the night, I wasn't pushed out of bed, I didn't have a bulldog sitting on my head, and I wasn't fighting for blankets. When my alarm went off in the morning, I actually woke up.

This isn't a coincidence. This happened because we finally set aside the money to buy a king-sized mattress.

We've been sharing a double bed with broken springs for many years. Before we had the dogs, we found it to be too small. When Morty came along, it became super tiny. When Frida joined us, I stopped sleeping through the night.

Until last night, I don't think I've slept through the night since April.

A king-sized mattress seems insanely large, to be honest. But as indulgent as it is, it's really the most practical size for us. While I don't move around much at night, my BH is a bit of a flailer, and the dogs don't care much for personal space. Morty in particular feels most comfortable squishing his bum against my cheek. You have no idea what sort of nightmares that causes, most of which are about gas attacks.

We've tried a queen when we stayed at a friend's house, but I was still pushed out of bed when Morty decided to stretch his legs.

King mattress it was. I say "mattress" because the frame is on back order, but dang, I'm happy to sleep without a frame when the mattress is this comfortable.

We bought the Sultan Hamnvik from Ikea. I'm not sure we could have afforded it without Ikea's prices, and honestly, the quality is excellent. If I had realized their mattresses were so inexpensive, I don't think I would have waited this long.

It will be interesting to see if anything changes now that I'm getting proper sleep. Maybe my eyes will be less puffy? One can only hope.

I also want to welcome the new commenters (and thank the old ones too!). It's always a pleasure to have a dialogue with people who read the blog. Sometimes I forget that I'm not just ranting to myself.

September 15, 2010

Failed Hipster

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Everyone has a movie that spoke to them as a teenager, right? The movie becomes the soundtrack of their youth, their generational touchstone. Reality Bites was like that for me. I watched a few clips from it the other day, and it got me thinking about 90s style.

I was a teenager in the 90s. Not a trendy teenager necessarily, but I felt really comfortable with how I dressed. I also attended an arts high school, so that may have helped - you could feel comfortable wearing just about anything there. Or nothing. Given the day.

Some of my favourite outfits still stick out in my mind. I had a pair of army pants that were so badly worn, they were 90% covered in colourful patches. My jeans were in a similar state of disrepair. I wore comfortable t-shirts, plaid shirts, cardigans, and combat boots. This was my uniform, and I loved it. I also wore dresses over pants like it was going out of business.... And I still like the look, honestly.

That's where I came from, stylistically. We're not talking high fashion here... We're just talking comfort. Grungy, riot grrrl, hippie comfort.

Now it's 2010 and I feel completely at a loss with what is in style. Hipster fashion, and I'm talking about the mainstream stuff, doesn't really gel with me. It's taken me a while to put my finger on it, but I think I've figured out why I'm having a hard time fitting in with this look: I find a lot of it genuinely unattractive.

Wearing ironic ugly things from the 80s doesn't sound fun to me. That stuff didn't flatter me back in the day, and it doesn't flatter me now.

Wearing straight legged jeans is cute, but wearing "skinny" jeans that are too tight to walk in comfortably? A little weird.

Lace and unitards: two things that will never look good together.

Short shorts that introduce me to your labia? Probably too short.

I could go on and on, but that would make me sound crochety. The thing is, plenty of people pull it off while still looking cute. Those people are not me.

I'm not even sure why it was bothering me that I didn't like this particular trend. Maybe I was worried that it would make me sound old if I said it out loud, which is silly, because I'm not old. I just like to be comfortable.

Watching Reality Bites again was a strange experience.... Because I identified so much with those characters, and damnit, their clothes made sense to me.

So now it's out in the open: I am still that grungy, riot grrrl loving hippie that I always was. I'm slightly less disheveled, and I have an extra wardrobe for the office, but I'm still me. When labia shorts go out of style, when unitards are shoved back into the shadowy recesses of people's closets, I'll still be here. And I'll be wearing comfortable jeans.

September 13, 2010

The Steve's Incident

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I wanted to look into buying some audio gear, as well as a new guitar (I'll be trading on one of my others to afford it). While there are a few great music stores in town, not many of them have large geeky audio gear sections. I decided on Steve's Music, because it's huge and was likely to have everything I needed. It's also more central than Long and McQuade.

Now, I don't go to Steve's very often. It's a notorious wiener fest, and I've never seen a woman employed there, let alone shopping there (although I'm sure they get the occasional gal customer). That kind of an atmosphere drives me mental, but I was trying not to write it off completely just because they are an old/young boys club.

The guitar section had some promising stuff, and I headed on up to the audio floor to ask some questions about a recording program I wanted to buy.

As a backgrounder, I taught radio editing in university as a TA, and I'm pretty familiar with the basics of sounds recording in general. I'm not a pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not completely useless either.

I approached the counter and asked a couple of simple questions to the dude working there. When his answers didn't match the answers I've gotten from my sound technician friends, I made broke the cardinal rule of being delicate with the ego of an angry male. I said, "Really? Are you sure?"

Word to the wise: questioning the expertise of aged audio guys is never going to be pretty, but especially so if the guy in question has an audio god complex.

The dude, clearly offended, took the opportunity to school me, loudly and rudely. He responded with the unsurprising, "Listen, I've been doing this for 30 years, I know what I'm doing and you don't" speech. The way he turned his words, the pointed digs he made, and the general tone of his response rubbed me in entirely the wrong way.

Maybe he treats all his customers like shit, but I got the impression that my gender made his attack a lot meaner. Who knows.

I'm usually pretty good at staying calm in the face of asinine behaviour, but for some reason, I was unprepared. I got angry, left the store fuming, walked halfway down the block, and decided not to let him off the hook. I marched back into the store and filed a complaint with a very polite guy who seemed to be in charge. He asked me if it would help if he got someone else to answer my questions, and although I said no, I appreciated the offer. I ended the conversation by stating how much I had been willing to spend in the store, which will now go to another deserving shop.

It's possible the angry audio guy was just having a bad day, and if so, I'm sorry for making his day worse. But the thing is, most women I know in the business avoid Steve's because they don't feel comfortable there. If your store is trying to rid itself of a bad reputation, it would help not to have raging egos loose behind the sales desk. Be polite, be helpful, and don't be demeaning. It's not complicated.

Just sayin'.

(Disclaimer, the guy who took my complaint was seriously lovely. Also, I did purchase a banjo case at Steve's once without incident. The service was even friendly! So all is not lost... Just bruised.)


Next post: I come to terms with the fact that I will never like mainstream hipster fashion and embrace the comfort of the 90s.

September 8, 2010

Canning and Babies

It's fall!!!! I am so relieved this summer is behind me. It's been a big one: we bought and renovated a house, my BH graduated, we got a second dog.... But MAN am I glad to move forward.

Mostly I'm just glad I don't have lay any more wood floors. Never again.

This weekend we're going to try canning for the first time. I don't know what to start with, and I only have a book to guide me, but I'm really excited. Maybe apple sauce is nice and easy? Does anyone out there have advice for a first time canner?

We've also managed to save enough money to buy ourselves a television. You know, after we gave our other one away so we didn't have to move it. In hindsight, we might have been a little hasty with our desire to de-clutter.... But now we get a fancy new TV! I'm going to celebrate by setting it up and watching some Harry Potter.

It's funny, but I never really grew up with much TV. We didn't have cable, and the reception sucked, so we opted for other activities.... And yet, I am stupidly excited for something fancy and big. And flat! With great resolution! Okay, I'll stop. For now. BUT I'M EXCITED.

This month seems to be the Month of Babies. We know so many pregnant people, and everyone is due soon. Guess I'll have to start stalking Etsy for adorable onesies again.

What are you doing to celebrate fall? Are you happy, or sad that summer is (nearly) over?

September 5, 2010

Hands Like Dogs

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I wrote a new song tonight. I'm not going to place any expectations on it, but I like it.


Songwriting has always been my default medium of personal expression. My songs may not always be literal interpretations of what's going on in my life, but the emotions that come out of the songs are genuine. They show what I was feeling at the time of writing, and what I am re-feeling by performing the piece. Does that make sense?

Anyway. I don't always realize what's going on inside my brain or my heart. I'm busy paying bills, working, doing laundry... But sometimes I write a song and it makes me stop, because I had no idea I was feeling something so strongly. This new song is like that.

In related news, I want to buy a new guitar. I've been using my trusty Cort since I was a teenager, and while I love it to pieces, it holds no more songs for me right now. My hands want something different to sink some chords into.

As Tom Waits once said, "Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they've been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits or you don't explore; you only play what is confident and pleasing."

I'm going to try that. Besides, if my hands are anything like my dogs, my guitar must be completely covered in drool by now.

September 2, 2010

Biggie and Smalls Say Hi

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