Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Knitting Humour

For all you knitters and Twihard fans... proof that no matter how bad life gets sometimes, a little knitting will always make things better.

Go check out The Panopticon for a sweet little yarn that had me chuckling. But then, wool does that to me.


You want more Vegas? I'll give you more Vegas although the memory is quickly fading as I have spent the past week at the lake surrounded by chipmunks and baby hares and red squirrels and cheeky bluejays pestering me for peanuts. Oh, and one aggressive male hummingbird which mistook my red flowered kimono for his breakfast this morning. He got within inches of my nose, twittered his disapproval, and zoomed into the woods.

Simply put, Vegas, or at least the part I was in, is one bat-crazy party town. My friend, writer Vicki Pettersson (writer extraordinaire with a work ethic that should be bottled and sold) was born and raised there. She looked pained and said please don't judge all of Vegas based on the strip. This was reiterated by the nice young blonde pony-tailed woman beside me on the flight back to Montreal. She was wholesome, looked like a vegan hiker and worked as a fundraiser for cancer research and she too was born and raised in Vegas. She said she loved Vegas, but it's so much more than the strip. Her ideal day is to drive out just beyond the city to the stillness of the desert because that's where she really felt like her true self.

I did not find stillness in Vegas because I spent my entire time on the strip. I was swept up by the crowds, the barrage of music from every corner, the men and women flicking cards advertising women for sale, a bikini contest in our pool, Elvis impersonators, neon billboards a la Bladerunner, young women out on benders to celebrate grad who were indistinguishable from the working women, tinkling slot machines and spinning roulette wheels, little hoses misting pedestrians, and always the inescapable heat of the desert in summer. The heat was shocking, hitting me like a wall as soon as I exited any building (which was usually overly air-conditioned to my delight) and shimmering up from the pavement. Even the wind felt like a blow-dryer. I drank bottles and bottles of water and it was never enough. People everywhere casually walked around with drinks in hand, or pitchers of beer in both hands.

Apparently our weather was not all that hot according to locals, just "moderate" because it wasn't in the triple digits.

So I'd say it's a bit like a frat party/Star Wars Bar/circus all rolled into one. A walk down the street means running across people in costume for no apparent reason. One afternoon I spied two Kiss guys, several Elvises (Elvi? Elvee?), Michael Jackson both live and one encased in a rubber mascot type costume (how he survived the heat I don't know), three Star Wars guys, several showgirls including one all in black feathers and an enormous set of black feathered wings, and a middle-aged Dorothy of Oz resplendent in blue gingham dress, braids and ruby slippers, sprawled on an upturned bucket having a smoke and talking on her cell phone.

I won't even tell you about the (very legal) working girls I watched plying their trade in the hotel. Except for one notable one at 6 a.m. Friday morning. My sister and I were off to find the pool and we got stuck behind a very tall hooker as she teetered along on her very high heels, clutching at her very inebriated client. Both of them bounced off of, and slid along, the hotel hallway walls, thus preventing us from passing. We lumbered along in their wake, two middle-aged women in our bathing suit coverups, mesmerized by her very round and bouncy buttocks stuffed in a silver dress which stopped right below her bum. Once they got to his room, they were invited in by a third party who, I can't repeat it. But it made my sister and I double over and forget all about the pool, which wasn't open anyway.

But back to the weather (because I'm Canadian, and we obsess over weather first and foremost.) One good thing I'll say about the heat. It was surprisingly easy on the hair. Instead of frizzing all over the place, it stayed put. All day. As in, just out of the salon straight. For one who struggles daily with fine hair that goes haywire in the humidity, it was a joy. However my skin felt like that guy who "chose poorly" in the second Indiana Jones film.

I suppose I should also mention the crazed man high on something who careened through the hotel casino on Saturday morning. My sisters and I were walking around in a daze in our (my) quest for Starbucks coffee (seriously, the casinos are set up like mazes on purpose with no windows, soft lighting and no clocks so you'll end up spending as much time as possible in there. You find yourself looking for some sort of landmark to get your bearings. "Was the Starbucks to the left or right of that pole dancer?") Suddenly this guy - bare-chested with his shirt wound around his head - smashed into this young woman beside me. She made a comment under her breath about his rudeness, and when he got to about 20 feet away he turned slowly, looked right at me and my sisters, and charged full on like a bull in a bullfight. He screamed (at no one in particular) "GET OUT OF MY CASINO, MOTHERF***ERS!" We all froze in shock. Then he shoved one of my sisters into the other and ran off, grabbing a bar stool along the way which he threatened to throw. He bolted out the door before anyone else could react.

It was kind of thrilling. My neighbourhood at home is so quiet in comparison.

I have to say I loved the carnival atmosphere of Vegas and the people watching, especially at Fremont Street. I gambled a bit, mostly 25 cent slot machines and Black Jack. I won more money than I lost, which I think vexes my husband who cautioned me not to get sucked in.

We saw the Cirque du Soleil show LOVE featuring Beatles music. Loved it, though we were in the very last row of the theatre and so high up we could almost touch the lighting fixtures. Seriously, just when we thought we couldn't climb any higher, the usher would point to yet another set of stairs until we were at this narrow set of steps out of a Dicken's novel. As we practically curled our heads into the crease of the roofline, a woman sat in the seat directly ahead of us and complained to her husband, "gee, could we BE any farther away?" I leaned forward and said, "Uh, yes you could actually. You could be in my seat."

Which made us all laugh. Then we dabbed at our nose bleeds and enjoyed the show.

We saw Blue Man Group on Saturday night (silly fun) and Cher on Sunday. What can I say. The crowd, with its strong gay representation, got into the swing of things in a big way. There was swaying, fist pumping, and dabbing at tears when the old clips from the Sonny and Cher show were shown. It was great. And the woman looks amazing. Ah-maz-ing.

So now I'm home again, with the other kind of wild life.

I'm glad I went. But I'm happy to be home.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vegas is also...

The view from my hotel window.

The entrance to my hotel.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On Holiday

It's St. Jean Baptiste holiday here in Quebec.

I'll post some Vegas photos when I get a chance.

But I might be in the lake for the next little while.

A lot.

I'll be back.


I'm still recovering from Vegas so more about that later. For now, enjoy this courtesy of Pub Rants. They're both funny, but the Othello one is hysterical.

Also, we had an earthquake today, 5.5 on the Richter scale. Didn't feel a thing. I think my butt must have absorbed it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Viva.... Guess Where I Am.

The Novel Woman will be offline for a few days. She is headed off for a birthday bash with her two sisters. One of them is turning fifty (which is the reason for the trip) and the other is also celebrating a birthday, (In fact, it's today. Happy Birthday, dear Brink! Let me buy you a drink!)

Hey, where are you exactly Novel Woman, I hear you asking.

Here's a giant hint: Viva.....___  _______

Mayhem will ensue. And lots of photos.

For sure, eh.

This is so unlike any vacation I've ever taken before. I usually head to cities like London or Paris and wander through art galleries and museums and watch a lot of plays. I am particularly fond of Shakespeare. Do you think I'll find any Shakespeare in Vegas? My sister, last time she went, said all she wanted was to see an Elvis impersonator, a bride in full dress and a little person. She got her wish and saw all three. And the little person was a prostitute soliciting a client on the corner. Oh, this should be an interesting getaway.

And YES I've seen The Hangover. No worries.

We'll behave.



Monday, June 14, 2010

Dragon Boat Race 2010

Whereupon there is sad news and good news, great news, nay fantastic news and some terrible, rotten crummy news.

First all the good news. Another year, another mighty Dragon Boat Race to raise money for Missing Children's Network. It was a banner year. Record amounts of money were raised in one day, all of it going to an organization devoted to finding missing children. We are a team made up of friends, neighbours and families from Lake Louisa who come together on this day to raise money for charity, and have some fun together.

Once again, our team came in first, and we raised the most money, and we had the single biggest contributor on our team (Go Claude "The Pad Man" Montcalm and Johnson & Johnson Bros!)

How much $$ I hear you asking?

This much:

Now, I don't row in the race (I have weak arms, yeah, that's it. Plus our captain asks everyone to give him their weight so he can balance the boat. Sheeyah. I don't think so. Drag ain't just high heels and a shiny's what will happen to the boat if you put me in it and ask me to paddle.)

However, I do volunteer to take photos and put together a slide show for all the participants. Last year, Captain Tom and his lovely wife Claire hosted a huge backyard BBQ at the lake and we ate, sang, watched the race highlights and then danced by the light of the moon like we were all teenagers again.

We dedicated this years race to Ed Wight. He was a retired Air Canada pilot who was anything but retiring. He was a bon vivant, a family man, a loving husband, and a great friend to many at the lake. He died doing what he loved - fishing with his buddies. His two grown sons took part in the race this year. And one of them won the grand prize - a trip for two, anywhere in North America.

So there was some sad news and very good news on this day.

But what about the terrible, rotten crummy news?

My favourite lens. This baby goes with me everywhere. It is a Nikkor 18-200mm that can zoom up close and personal, or go wide and capture everything there is to see around you. It is the camera equivalent of the Basic Black Dress. I love it. Correction, loved it.

Since I don't row for the team (our family was represented by my son) I photograph the heats, and the final race. Yesterday was hot. I was sweating, and I was fumbling with two of my Nikon lenses as the last qualifying heat was about to start. I shoved my 18-200mm lens in my pocket and got my loooong 150-500mm lens on the tripod and bolted on the camera.

I felt like the lens in my pocket might not be secure and I didn't want it to bang into the tripod, so I quickly shoved it in my shoulder bag. The whistle sounded, I began to shoot frantically, knowing the race would be over in mere minutes. Zoom, focus, snap a shot, pivot on the tripod, I didn't waste a second. As the boats raced through the finish line, I leaned in to get a farewell shot of our boat, my bag swung forward, and....I tipped the lens onto the grass in front of me, a couple of feet from the edge of the canal.

Now if this had been a putting green and my lens had been a golf ball, this would have been the money shot. My lens (which could have rolled towards me, or rolled to the right, or to the left on the grass) actually bounced and rolled directly towards the water. It skittered at the cement breakwall, hesitated for a split second then plunged into the dark depths of the canal.

Yes, my favourite lens is at the bottom of the Lachine Canal. Even assuming it was visible (it was not) and I was able to fish it out (I was not) it would have been filled with water and ruined.

I felt terrible. Awful. I kept running the movie in my head, over and over, wondering if I had just lunged for it, could I have saved it? Or would I have knocked the entire camera and other lens in as well? And maybe I would have plunged headfirst into the canal.

It took the shine off the rest of the afternoon. I couldn't fully get into the final race, nor cheer as loudly as I ought when we won.

Then I remembered where I was. Sure, I lost a lens. Yes, it's going to cost a lot of money to replace it.

But it can be replaced. I looked around at the people volunteering at this event and I realized many of them have lost their children. Their beloved children are out there somewhere, maybe abused, maybe dead. Some have their children returned to them, and some of those children were there at the event. But many are gone forever, their families wondering if and when they'll ever get news, any news, about what happened.

Puts losing a lens into perspective.

Friday, June 11, 2010

You may yearn for the old days but...

This is less of a stroll down memory lane and more like removing your iPod earbuds where you've been blissed out while shoulder dancing to The Black Eyed Peas' I'VE GOT A FEELING only to realize your Sunday constitutional on Main Street has taken a twisted turn down a dark alley, one strewn with the dregs of a seedy nightclub and heady with the scent of stale beer and leftover souvlaki from the night before.

I was talking to a friend about the irresistible series MAD MEN which simultaneously attracts and repels me. I lived through that era, in fact, I was around the same age as Don Draper's daughter Sally in the show and later on, in my twenties, I worked for a Toronto ad agency. So while I relate to it on many levels, I find it oddly disturbing. The old ads help explain why.

I'm telling you, be careful when you reminisce about the old days.

Have a great weekend!!

A Giveaway!!

AND WE HAVE A WINNER: Linda "PA_Shutterbug" wins the $60 gift certificate.

I'll be contacting you with the details!

Here's a bit of serendipity for you.

I'm in the process of renovating our cottage bathroom, a room which (like me) is in need of a complete overhaul. I replaced everything but the tub, but honestly, the one piece that proved to be the most difficult to find was the bathroom vanity. I wanted something simple but solid, and with a bit of country charm. Like this:

Do you think I could find it? As I complained incessantly calmly explained to my husband, I drove everywhere, from one local store after another. They either didn't have it anything decent at all or, if I found something similar, they were out of stock. (We won't even go into how hard it is to pin down one of their salespeople for help. Seriously, they look right at you and bolt in the other direction. What is with that? Short of grabbing one of 'em by the apron strings and hauling him over to the shelf, it's impossible to get served.) Long story long, I eventually found something that will do, but it wasn't my first choice.

Then, as my luck would have it (the serendipity part) I received an email a few days ago and was offered a choice. Would I like to accept a $60 gift certificate from and keep it for myself, or would I like to give it away to one of my readers?

I decided to take the gift and run. Buh bye.

The end.

I kid. Besides the fact that I am almost finished my bathroom reno (hey, great timing boys!) I'd much rather give away a gift to one of you.

So, with that in mind, there is a $60 gift certificate to be won. And I see, from a casual browse through their online catalog, that they deliver to Canada as well as the U.S. and in a lot of cases, the shipping is free. (Sorry to my many Aussie buds and other friends around the world. I'll have to make sure the next giveaway includes the overseas contingent.) And may I add, the name Just Vanities is totally misleading because they have tons of other stuff to choose from - lights, faucets, room dividers, shelves, cabinets, furniture for the bedroom...

So, if you win, you can put it towards something like this nifty sink, then wrap it up and re-gift it to me for Christmas. I'm just saying. (Oh, how I love this sink, I covet this sink. What does it say about me that I covet a sink more than, say, a new handbag?):

Or you can go in a completely different direction and get a toilet seat with dolphins on it. I'm not kidding. It's a toilet seat. With dolphins. Yes, they have something for everyone.

To enter, just leave a comment and answer this skill testing question:

If a tree falls in the forest at the exact moment you go into your bathroom, will your kids still knock on the door?

Or you can just say "Pick Me!"

One entry per person.

You have until Friday June 11th at High Noon to enter.

A winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Giveaway Reminder

It's not too late to add your name for the Giveaway.

Btw, I'm get offers of free stuff quite frequently (to either keep or give away) and I've never accepted before now, but I thought I'd give it a go this once, and if it works out, I'll do it again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Flowers Down the Road

I haven't posted any flower photos lately, so here are a few I took this past week.

They are from the garden of Kathy Down The Road, my friend and neighbour (never thought I'd string those two words together) and the place where my daughter works. Kathy invited me to breakfast - eggs (the kind with the lovely orange yolky yolks) and potatoes and thick slices of white bread with cherry jam. Even KDTR's coffee is outstanding because her machine grinds the beans and makes the espresso all in one go.

After breakfast we finished our coffee out on the double-chair swing while my daughter weeded and watered plants, and KDTR and I traded stories and laughed and cried a little. Dave, her sweet gentle giant of a husband who is generous to a fault and as kind as they come, is still getting his strength back, so he napped. At least I hope he napped. We were laughing pretty long and loud out there.

Enjoy the photos. And remember, if you haven't entered already, make sure you add your name in the comments section from THIS POST to have a chance to win a $60 gift certificate.

I could happily roll up into a ball and live in the soil, tucked under the leaves where these flowers grow. As long as KDTR invited me in for the occasional breakfast, I'd be just fine.