Sunday, January 13, 2013

Take A Seat

Over Christmas, GP and I went to see my family on Orcas Island. My aunt and uncle there own an incredible 1950s house. When my brother and I were little kids (now we're big kids), we used to spend hours playing hide and see there, because it's so big. There are three floors, four bedrooms, (plus a beach house), four bathrooms, a butler's pantry, a "den" with a lovely great big fireplace, a formal living room with a lovely great big fireplace, a formal dining room which looks out onto a courtyard filled with roses, two different attic spaces, and a room for my aunt to do her crafts. These rooms are tastefully furnished with beautiful antiques, such as an old French wash basin, with a copper tub, and incredible bird's eye maple armoires. I take after her in that I love to spend time sewing, painting, and otherwise nesting. (Ok, well I don't love painting, but I do love transforming the house, so we'll just leave that there). When we were there, my aunt happened to be cleaning out some of her not often used furniture, and I just happened to be the lucky beneficiary of that exercise. I made off with:
  • a beveled mirror with a gold-ish frame
  • a darling little footstool with very old carved wood
  • a framed print of an old French milk ad, with cats on it (clearly this was the highlight of the trip)
  • a small side table, perfect for a spot in our bathroom
  • an occasional chair, with needlepoint seat
  • some fabrics and a table cloth
  • a bistro chair that had seen better days 
This last item, the little chair she gave us, I was scheming up ideas for the whole way home. I've now given it a bit of a face lift. Below was the process, from filling in the cracks due to weather and wear, to free-handing the wheat garland on the back. (Ignore the box of recycling next to my desk!) All that's left is for me to sew a cushion for the seat. That'll come soonish. Yes, I'm aware that the chair looks like it belongs at the UN. I love it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Had a Shitty Day, or 50 Ways to Recover from a Shitty Day

  1. Buy flowers for a stranger at the grocery store
  2. Buy flowers for yourself
  3. Do yoga
  4. Clean the house
  5. Play piano
  6. Do something else creative
  7. Phone your mum
  8. Phone your best friend
  9. Get hugs
  10. Give hugs
  11. Breathe deeply
  12. Drink something soothing (doesn't have to be alcoholic)
  13. Be silent
  14. Go outside
  15. Spend time with animals/your pets
  16. Spend time with cute kids (unless they also happen to be brats)
  17. Cry loudly and let your face be really red and ugly and snotty
  18. Go for a run
  19. Play with Legos
  20. Cook something outrageously delicious and don't feel guilty about eating it
  21. Change into the most comfortable clothes you own
  22. Take a nap
  23. Sing, even if it's a sad song and you have a terrible voice
  24. Listen to music
  25. Attend a place of worship
  26. Write down what happened
  27. Cuddle up with something soft
  28. If/when you're driving, let another vehicle into traffic ahead of you
  29. Meditate
  30. Lift weights, if you're into that
  31. Take a bath, if you don't have to clean the tub first
  32. Do a chore you've been neglecting
  33. Look at old photos
  34. Make a list
  35. Make plans with a friend
  36. Get in touch with a sibling
  37. Write someone a happy letter
  38. Write someone an angry letter, if necessary, even if you don't intend to send it
  39. Think about five good things that happened today. Could be as simple as "I came home today and my cats came to greet me", "my skin looked amazing today", "the store had my type of vacuum bags in stock", "I don't have to go to choir tonight", etc.
  40. Put on a ridiculously fancy dress and do nothing important. Works even better if you're a man
  41. Read some fiction
  42. Let someone take care of you
  43. Watch mindless television
  44. Plant a seed, even if it's just a bean you're sprouting in a cup with soggy paper towel, like kindergarteners do
  45. Recall a dream you've had and look into what it would take to make it a reality, as though you were serious about it. Don't feel bad if you lose interest or never intend to follow through.
  46. Take a walk down the street
  47. Look at videos of babies laughing and cats being ridiculous
  48. Tell someone you love them
  49. Tell yourself you love you
  50. Remember that the only constant in life is change, good or bad

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On Gratitude

New year's resolutions suck. I can never remember the myriad ones I end up making and, when I eventually do remember what mine were (around June, usually) and realize that I haven't kept them, I feel guilty and failure-y. Last year, instead of making meaningless resolutions that will make me beat myself up and feel bad, I decided to pick a virtue to focus on throughout the year. That way, I'd still be improving myself, learning about myself, and helping improve the lives of others. Plus, it's a lot easier to remember a virtue than it is to remember a specific and usually unattainable goal.

2012's virtue was kindness and, originally, I meant to choose this virtue to remind myself to be more kind to others. Little did I know how far-reaching this wonderful virtue would be. Of course, I wasn't kind to everyone the whole year, and I didn't always remember that I was supposed to be focusing on kindness, but it gave me a surprising amount of clarity. Now when I make decisions, I keep kindness in mind: "Is this going to benefit me? Will it benefit whoever's on the other end?". At work, writing emails to shitty clients, I sometimes ask myself, "what's going on for this client? Are they strapped for cash? Could that be why their email is rude?". This doesn't always happen, because I'm not a saint. But it's helped me become a more compassionate person, and it's something that I'll always keep in mind because I've focused on it so much over the last year.

I've also started to see that I'm often not as kind to myself as I should be. This is not an extension of the virtue that I predicted, but it's something that's been very important over the last year. I used to be on the executive of my choir, but after choosing kindness as 2012's virtue, I decided to free myself of that obligation so that I could focus on other hobbies that I find more fulfilling. There were many times over the past year that I've had to say "no" to obligations in order to be kind to myself. I get panicked, overwhelmed, and my immune system suffers if I don't have adequate time to be creative, or exercise, or be alone, or be in nature, or be with my family and friends.

I know you're just dying to know what my virtue for 2013 is. I'm choosing to focus on gratitude this year. There are so many things that I have to be grateful for that have happened over the past year and I can't wait to see how this virtue morphs and what parts of my life I can apply it to.

Reese, for example, is grateful that Greg is warm and hungover, because it means she has a very comfortable place to sit.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder

 “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
― William Arthur Ward

"This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house,
empty it of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
― Rumi

Here's to a beautiful, healthy, abundant, and joyful 2013!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twas The First Christmas in Our Own House

'Twas a dark, windy, rainy night, when all through the house,
Quite a few sounds were heard (the cats chasing a toy mouse).
The stockings were hung, by the gas fireplace we share;
They cover holes in the stonework we'd like to fix there.

This dark December night found us nestled all snug in our bed
With visions of renos dancing in sugar plums' stead
The fleece sheets on the bed and a cat in my lap,
We'd just settled in for a long winter's nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I put on my sweatpants to survey the matter
I headed over to the window, which was cold as shit.
We'll budget for double-glazed when we replace it.

The sky was pitch black with rain coming down strong
It was just a small clang, I was sure nothing's wrong.
GP was still sleeping and I thought to head back
To continue relaxing in the ol' fart sack

"It's always so damn hot in here", methinks
The air circulation in our house, frankly, stinks
One day we'll get a system to distribute hot and cold
We were prepared to have quirks in a house this old

Sleeping was a lost cause, so I got ready for the day
"Sleep when you're dead", isn't that what they say?
I headed to the basement for clean underpants
Laundry's down there (with, until recently, carpenter ants)

It's damp in the basement, with a few termites too
Add in the two cats and it's almost a zoo!
I came up the stairs to feed the two beasts
Into the dining room, where we've had lots of feasts
This is where the ghost lives, who opens the doors
Knocks down jars from the shelf and taps on the floors
We think s/he's friendly, so no worry there,
Except for the pockets of icy cold air

I head back up to the bedroom and to my delight
I can hear rain pitter-patter on our upstairs skylight
This house sure has character, that's easy to see
The coved ceilings and plaster endear it to me

Ok, I'll admit, there's not much closet space
But look at our wood floors and kitschy stone fireplace!
The spacious backyard and recent deck renovations                                                                                                             Give us ample room for enjoying summer libations
Right then was high time for my morning cup of tea
I switched on the stove and got out my mug, just for me
The kitchen windows face east, which is pleasing to the eyes
As it allows a perfect view of the late winter sunrise

I sit here and wait for the kettle to boil
And worry about bills: electric and oil
I'm lucky to have a great life such as this:
More good days than bad, and a few moments of bliss
The basement is damp and the yard's a lot to manage,
It'll need some repair because of water damage.
There's not much storage, little room for hockey gloves
But it's got charm a-plenty and it's filled with lotsa love.

It's sure not for everyone and there are bumps along the way
We weren't surprised to learn we'd have hefty bills to pay.
I make my morning cup of tea, quiet as a mouse.
So enjoying our first Christmas season in our first little house.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cool Running

It's kind of cold out here. Should I lock the door? Nah, GP's in there. He's fine. I don't want to have to carry a key. Maybe I should've worn a long-sleeve. I hope I'm reflective enough. It's going to be so nice to watch the sunrise as I go past the harbour, if I get that far. Ok. Let's start the stopwatch. 30 seconds running, 90 walking. Ugh, that's embarrassing. Oh well, gotta re-start somewhere. I hope the music works if the stopwatch is on at the same time. Oh good. Yes. Rolling Stones, Beast of Burden, perfect warm up song. Still cold out here. At least I can't see my breath. Fucking iPod headphones. I need to find my other ones that stay on better. It's nice out here. I hope I don't run into any weirdos. It fucking sucks that I have to think about that shit when I go out for a simple run. Solidarity, lady runners. An upbeat John Legend tune... I can deal with that! Is that a seagull? They're not so annoying as background noise. This isn't so bad. Glad I'm doing yoga with Heather tonight. I wish GP was a morning/outdoor running person. Fuck, my toe hurts. I wish Mike hadn't stepped on it when I was trying to teach him salsa. I hope my toenail doesn't come off. Pussycat Dolls! YES! Oh, damn, the file was corrupted. I'll have to download that song again. Enya? No, what was I thinking? Note to self: make a better playlist for running. Halfway here and I'm almost at the gangway at the Yacht Club. Not bad. I can't wait to see where I am next time! Time to turn around. Shit, out of batteries? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine..........................................Thirty. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine.............................................Ninety. Spine long. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine..........................................Thirty. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine.............................................Ninety. Shoulders down. Hands loose. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine..........................................Thirty. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine.............................................Ninety. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine..........................................Thirty. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine.............................................Ninety. I guess I'll walk the rest of the way for a cool-down. I'm so lucky to live here. Hi, kitty! It's kind of hot inside.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chillin' Out Max

...And relaxin' all cool... Ok, so that is a super nerdy way to start a blog post, but I'm allowed because I MADE CHAIRS. I started these puppies last summer and finished them, well, this evening. I don't really have a good reason for taking a year to make these, other than not wanting to have to spend hours deciding on fabric and paint and the fact that we didn't have a decent power sander, and buying one wasn't a priority at the time and I would never DREAM of hand-sanding that shit. Really, I can't articulate enough how difficult a decision these colours were. Obviously, they work fantastically well and I'm very pleased with them because I have fabulous taste, but fabulous taste doesn't come easily, you know.

So anyway, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my sling chairs, specifically designed for the beach by some broad at this blog. How did I make them, you ask? Well, first I sanded a year's worth of sitting outside (under the deck, out of the rain, but still outside) off the wood. It needed it.
Then I painted the chair frames. Originally, I tried spray paint, which was a bloody nightmare because it runs out really fast, takes a month of Sundays to dry, and doesn't cover worth shit. I didn't bother taking a picture because it looked ugly as sin. So I painted over that regretful event with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Aubusson Blue. (Note: it's not actually paint for chalkboards; it's paint for furniture, which requires no primer and has low VOCs and covers like a dream. It just has a smooth chalky finish, hence the name.) Worked like a hot damn and I'm so happy with the colour. I didn't take a picture of the painted frames because I was too jazzed about the project to document it. I have no regrets, as it would've been a pretty boring photo.

Next, I sewed the fabric slings from outdoor material. They're reversible. (Ooooh!) Obviously someone had to overlook the operation and give me pointers.

 Last, I slipped them through the purpose-made slots and shoved the dowels into the purpose-sewn pockets and, voila, chairs. They'll be perfect for our new house.

Oh, yeah, we bought a house! I'm sure anyone reading this knows that already, but I'm just writing it down for posterity, as this will likely be the last post I write before we live in our very own house on Chestnut Street. What an adorable address.

 The Reese Beast wishes you a thuggin' summer, yo!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Capably Coping with Choir, Coworkers, and Cats

I have been busy lately. GP and I are in the market for a house, the cat has been as ravenous as ever (I started a Twitter account just to document the crazy shit she eats) and I've been to two weddings. Plants and flowers are growing in the garden and on the windowsill, work is pummeling forward at a break-neck pace, my taxes are now more than a week overdue and I am finding myself happily overwhelmed with it all.

Last week I got a cold. It occurred to me that every year in the spring time I get a cold. Not allergies, but a vicious cold. A couple years ago it was pneumonia and before that it was scarlet fever. I guess that's my body's way of saying "stop doing so goddamn much" and I rarely listen. Ok, self, you have my attention; I'm listening now.

GP and I are going to visit his grandmother who is celebrating her 90th birthday this year. She is a wonderful woman who I doubt has ever said anything mean in her life. Clearly we have a lot in common (heh). I wonder if she ever gets overwwhelmed now. I don't think so, somehow. I think if there are too many things going on, she has the wisdom to know that the storm is bound to blow over sometime. Do you think that's the secret to life? I'm not sure, but it's working for me right now!