September 28, 2010

Funny Place


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

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.
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


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:

a variety of trees (including maple!)
several weeds

... 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.


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



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


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


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


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


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


September 1, 2010

Disjointed Rambling



There are stressful things happening at the moment that are making it difficult to blog. Maybe I'll talk more when everything blows over and the leaves start to turn.

Speaking of which, it's September. I am so relieved. I love summer, but fall suits me better. Layers, harvest food, good smells.... Harvest food. Mostly that.

Frida's allergies have been out of control, and she's at the vet right now for an allergy test. The test involves taking blood and checking it for antibodies. If you've been reacting to something, it will show up there. I had this test done myself and it's a good one. It also shows when an allergy is serious or mild. Hopefully it can help the littlest bulldog. She's so itchy all the time.

This weekend my BH and I are going to tackle our first tiling job! We're going to do the floor of the closet studio, which is a great place to practice since nobody will see it. That space is coming together slowly. I've finally installed a couple of instrument hooks, but I still need a shelf. Eventually it will be done.

My mom is turning 60 this weekend and there's a family reunion to celebrate. Sadly we can't find anyone to look after the dogs, so my BH may have to stay home. We have a couple other people to ask before we give up.

To completely change the subject... I didn't meet a lot of people I liked in university. Actually, it's not that I didn't like them, but we had so little in common I spent most of my time waiting for class to end. Through the magic of Facebook, I'm still in contact with a few of the cooler folks, and things are much more fun now that we're not all in the same competitive program. Case in point, one such person had photos of her artwork up, and I commented that I loved one piece in particular.

Look what came in the mail:

I think it's lovely.

That's the end of my disjointed rambling for today... Back to stress central.