I get a lot of weird looks from complete strangers as a result of my tattoos and stretched earlobes. I’m used to it now. In the past I let it bother me, but these days I really don’t care about stares or comments. Perhaps that is why, when Holly was painting her toenails next to me and asked if she could do mine too I thought nothing of it. She liked how large of a “canvas” they provided, and it didn’t bother me one bit. I never thought so many people would notice so quickly and immediately make comments like “Dude, that’s pretty gay”, or something to the effect of being effeminate. Strangers, friends, everyone. Even Gage, Roan, and all their little dip-shit friends had to make constant comments and question why I would ever do something like that.
No one said, “Oh, isn’t that sweet. Clearly he loves you and didn’t think twice about allowing you some minor happiness even if it would make his peers question his manliness upon sight.”, they all just gave me a look like I was lying when I explained the reason for my purple toenails. She asked, I said sure. At no point did it make me any less of a man in my eyes or hers, and she had fun doing it. It’s that simple. Toe nails can be purple (or whatever colour) without being a sign of sexual preference or gender. Having painted toes or not doesn’t matter, nor does anyone’s comments. What matters is making the woman I love know how much I love her.
If you grow up in Canada you should love tobogganing. If you don’t, it’s likely the result of shitty parenting. Perhaps that is why I felt it was my duty as the man of the house to bear the frigid -20°C weather and take the boys out “bombing hills” (as Roan would say) at 8am. I remember how much fun I had ripping down hills on my GT Snow Racer as a kid, and that coupled with my love for skating is likely why I still love winters. That being said, winters need snow or everything just looks dreary. This year has been good so far, and so was last year, but the years prior were quite mild and completely absent of snow. Any time we get a large amount of snow, I’m reminded of the fun I had in it as a kid. Now I realize I can still have that fun, it just hurts a little more.
I made plans the night before. I would wake the boys around 7:30, get ready and hit the hills at Fireman’s Park around 8:00, return home to change and pick up Holly around 9:45, then walk to Triple D’s for breakfast at 10:00. I wanted to go early so there wasn’t too many other people there, and I’m glad we did. We had the entire park to ourselves. Upon our arrival we found a small sled similar to the two we brought with us, and although it was broken it wasn’t broken enough that Roan couldn’t use it. I let the boys try each hill but they decided the first one was best. Roan wanted the three of us to race, so he took the little broken sled and was in charge of the countdowns. Gage and I both struggled to stay on our sled every run, making Roan the champion of the hill that day.
All of us were having so much fun the cold wasn’t as big an issue as the clock. Around when we were supposed to be leaving another family arrived. We decided to take three final runs to see who could go the farthest then head home and let this family have the entire park to themselves. Unfortunately all the snow melted two days later, and we haven’t had enough to go back. However, it is snowing right now! Perhaps we’ll get enough that I can take the boys out again this Saturday. It’s great starting the day with endless smiles and laughter.
We’ve become this couple when we’re out for a meal. I used to judge people like this, before Holly and I had cell phones, as we would sit with our respective newspapers, and interact just as little while we waited for our food. I now get it. When you have all that processing power at your fingertips it’s hard not to fiddle with it. I judge those people no more. I’m on to judging far worse people…
Since my nephew was born, my brother started getting real trees for Christmas. When the season is over and it’s time to toss the tree, my brother cuts some slices off the trunk. I then sand his horrible cuts for hours, until I have a clean surface to burn my nephew’s name and the year which that slice is from on. I like this idea, but it is a little tricky. You rarely burn end grain, and this is all end grain. On top of that, pine is not the best candidate for wood burning, depending on the grade. Plus, because it’s literally a cross section of the entire tree it’s going to have sap pockets and pith which may have to be burned, both of which are a bitch.
I did both of these yesterday, as my brother forgot to give me last years cuts until this year. Both turned out really well, and will look even better after a couple coats of polyurethane deepen the grain and the bark. Unfortunately I have to wait, as they are now getting a paint job on the opposite side featuring the themes of his gifts from each year. I almost wrote ‘backside’ when it dawned on me that the side I worked on will likely be the backside. Shit. I used the best sides for my burning…
Have fun sanding Lisa!
Despite it’s fuzziness, if you can identify the trio in the photo above, you most likely share a love for one of my favourite things, Kids in the Hall. A show I grew up on and still continue to watch on an almost daily basis. I’ve written about my
obsession love for this troupe of Canadian comedy pioneers in the past, so I won’t waste time worshipping their genius (but believe me, I could go on for hours). In the twenty-five or so years that I’ve been a fan, I’ve never had a chance to see any of the troupe’s live performances. I was either too young, or too late to the box office every time they had a show. Until this past year…
I heard a programme on the CBC the other day while I was working away, it’s topic: Bucket Lists. The host was taking calls and asking people what items on their personal ‘Bucket List’ got ‘checked-off’ in 2013. I haven’t put much thought into my own personal list, but I can assure you seeing Kids in the Hall live would have been near the top. I never expected to see them. I figured I had missed the boat on Kids in the Hall live performances. Until one day Facebook, for the first time in its existence, proved useful. I must have at some point ‘Liked’ the Kids in the Hall Facebook page, as it shows up in my news feed. It’s one of the only things I look forward to about signing into Facebook once every lunar cycle, and thrice this past year it’s made me reconsider abandoning Facebook. And once this year it’s made me use the word thrice.
The first show we got tickets for, was just Bruce and Brian Connelly, of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. It was a small show venue, which was perfect. It was an evening of monologues and songs, which you could tell Bruce was having fun doing. It ended too quickly, and left me dying for more.
Fortunately I wouldn’t have to wait long, as a short time later a show featuring Dave Foley and a number of, at that point, unknown special guests was announced. I checked the Facebook feed and much to my surprise the special guests were Mark, Kevin, Scott and Bruce! Holly booked us tickets right away, and a few weeks later we were crammed inside Yuk Yuk’s Toronto, with as many other people as was legally possible (and possibly a few more…) to watch the entire troupe reunite for a benefit show for Calgary Flood Relief. It was one of the hottest days in the summer, so it was highly uncomfortable in such a packed club, but it was worth it. I figured nothing could top seeing the whole troupe together, doing their classic sketches (even if there was an obvious utter lack of organization, rehearsal, and set decoration). That assertion was wrong.
A month or two later, the Kids announced a run of five shows in Toronto, which they plan to use to ‘test the waters’, and consider a possible full tour for 2014. We got tickets to the very last showing, and had some of the best seats in the house. No other details were provided, so we weren’t sure what to expect. I honestly figured it would just be a rehashing of what we had seen earlier in the year, but with the inclusion of sets and preparation.
When we arrived at the theatre we were instantly met by one of the most identifiable KITH icons. He did not scuttle, hurried when we approached. Instead, he just stood there. You see, to rush, or to wear a watch would be foreign to Bellini. People exploited his patience and the more fortunate ones, lined up for a chance to paint the mighty Bellini. We scuttled, hurried to our seats, ensuring we didn’t miss a second.
The curtain came up and there stood five of my favourite performers in elegant wedding gowns. I don’t think I stopped smiling from that second until we were about half way home. The entire show was new material. All of it hilarious. The only sketch that was old material (Bruce apologizing for causing cancer), had so much new material tacked on that it didn’t count as reused material to me. This was truly the best of all three performances I was fortunate enough to be at this past year, and I really hope the guys were convinced that a full tour is possible and in demand. If a tour is announced, do yourself a favour and get tickets. But do ME a favour, and wait until I’ve got mine.
Every time I walk the dog someone stops us and asks what kind of dog he is. I’ve even had people driving by slow down and shout from their car window. We still have no idea what breeds were combined to make him and the more people ask, the more I want to know myself. Regardless of what he is, he’s incredibly handsome with an excellent disposition. He’s also incredibly photogenic, and here’s some proof.
The top photo is about a year late. We bought the sweater shortly after adopting Dempsey, but I never bothered to put it on him until about two weeks ago.
Here he is on the front porch, keeping an eye on local squirrel activity and the neighbour’s cat.
This is how he notifies me he’s ready to return to the cosy warmth of his bed. Door yawns. In fact, he pretty much yawns whenever he wants anything.
This is him looking majestic as fuck. Patiently freezing while I shovel.
I like to make people gifts. It’s sort of a selfish thing to do in a way, since I mainly do it because of how much I enjoy making things and not with the idea of doing something nice for someone. Regardless of the reasoning, I figure as long as something is functional people will be inclined to use or enjoy it. That’s why this year I decided everyone needed a Cobra Cutting Board. That, and because based on the amount of time I had and the tools at my disposal it seemed like the most ideal gift to mass produce.
One Saturday, Holly and I went to get some speciality wood so I could get started with plenty of time. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for since the only hardwood I’ve ever worked with was usually purchased by my boss or whatever school I was attending. I got some assistance from the people working there, found some ideal pieces and even got some advice on how to finish a cutting board properly.
The following day I went to Holly’s mum’s house to rip 1½” strips of the material I bought, which proved more difficult than I had anticipated. I purchased both maple and walnut, as I wanted to mix light and dark woods. The maple was incredibly hard on the table saw, although a large amount of the problem was likely the dull blade I need to replace. I was only able to rip two strips of each before the smoke from the blade was too thick to breathe. Luckily two strips was enough to get started on the first cutting board, which was intended for Holly’s mum, whose birthday falls just before Christmas. I began gluing as soon as I got home, and by the next morning I was ready to start planing.
I brought the planer from Holly’s mum’s house and set it up in our basement so I could work without being a pain in everyone’s ass. It took quite a while to plane them down to finished thickness, but I’m okay with that. Half way through planing the first board, the planer ripped the end piece off. I was forced to re-glue it and wait until the next day to finish planing. Had I not used such a thick piece, when that happened, I wouldn’t have been able to correct the resulting damage.
Once re-glued and planed to finish size I decided to route the edges. One more trip to Holly’s mum’s to use the router table, and it was time to finish sand, burn, and oil. Every step of the way the boards looked more like how I had pictured them, and I grew more and more pleased with how they were turning out. I made some drying racks, bought some butcher’s block oil and applied three coats to each board.
In total I made four large cutting boards as gifts for people, then I managed to put together three small cutting / serving boards using the scraps for Holly. And if I’m being honest, the little ones I made from scraps are my favourites.
I plan to make a few more, and have already had a request for a large board for one of Holly’s friends. Some people who have seen them have said I should make and sell these. I however, am not sure there is enough room for profit. The woods cost me so much, I’d be forced to sell each board for a minimum of about $65. I personally, would never pay $65 for something hard to cut on, but supposedly people do. If that’s the case, I’m missing out. Perhaps in the new year I’ll attempt to move some cutting boards on Etsy.
Readers of the chronicles are likely already aware of Holly’s love of Pinterest, and likely also my disinterest in it. It’s not for a lack of good ideas, but rather the opposite. Too many good ideas, all of which are now on my ‘Honey Do’ list. Unfortunately most of these items on my list are things I personally don’t care about, but there are a few that seem like fun projects. Which brings us to the purpose of this post: Garbage turned dog bed.
Our neighbour has a lame junk removal service he operates via Kijiji and other such sites. He preys on the ignorant inhabitants of Niagara who are unaware that just about anything can be disposed of at your regular curbside pick up, as long as you call the city and inform them. He charges people to go over in his truck, load up their junk and bring it back to sit on his front lawn until Thursday morning when it’s hauled away with everything else. Once or twice we have found usable items in his pile, in fact the shelves on our wall in the den were crates he was tossing that I salvaged. A month ago, he had a baby crib out there waiting for pick up. Knowing things don’t last long on the roadside in our neighbourhood, Holly dragged it over to our house the minute she saw it. Two days later I began work on turning one crib into two dog beds.
Since our dog is rather large I decided to just chop the crib in half vertically, so it could still fit a crib mattress, and he’d have plenty of room to rotate over and over before settling in. I made a new frame out of 2″ x 2″s, reinforced the bottom panel, then added some trim to hide where the headboard and footboard connect to the frame. The first one turned out great and even before it had a mattress or coat of paint, Dempsey was curled up and breaking it in.
It took about five times as long to paint as it did to make, but it looked ten times better. I bought a used mattress from a local second hand store, and it fit perfectly. He still prefers our bed, and I don’t blames him, but he does use his bed all the time. The second bed is still awaiting a bottom and some decorative accessories, but it’s already painted and won’t be getting a mattress. He is indifferent to the mattress and at $20 each it’s a waste. He’ll prefer a pile of blankets he can fluff up and spin endless circles in.
I’m considering making more of these and selling them on Kijiji, but I need to get some more free cribs, or perhaps I can find some dirt cheap ones once garage sale season starts.
Sometimes when things go as simply as they did in your head it’s easy to forget accomplishing something, or even to consider it an accomplishment. Such is the case with these stairs. Ryan-O, had asked me to design and build a new, stable set of stairs for his back porch to replace the old barely usable set. I said it should be simple, and it was. The most difficult part was purchasing the lumber, since we were stuck buying materials from Toronto Home Depot. Other than that little inconvenience, everything else went exactly as planned.
In less than four hours we removed the old stairs, cut all new treads, stringers and supports, and had the new set hung and in use. It all happened so fast and was so uneventful, three months later I had completely forgotten ever building them. I guess this shows some insight into me overall, and how regardless of my best efforts I still focus more on the negative than the positive. If something had gone terribly wrong, or even if something was annoying (tight workspace, shitty weather, bees…) I would have a much better chance at retaining this memory. In this case it was a nice surprise three months later, when I walked into Ryan’s backyard and saw his stairs and ever so cleverly proclaimed “Hey, I built those!”.
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One good thing that came out of going back to work was being forced to keep up with the rest of society and finally get a cell phone. I haven’t had one since the early days of this blog, when Jon had outfitted me with an old Motorola Pebble with pay-as-you-go service. I am now equipped with more pocket processing power than any human should need. I’m not complaining at all, in fact I quite enjoy having it. When this blog started I was travelling a lot and had no fixed address. I carried a backpack full of things at all times; camera, calculator, phone, computer, notepads, mp3 player, PSP. Now I have all that plus a GPS system and so much more, and it fits in my pocket.
It may seem as though I’m regretting waiting so long to become a smart phone user, but that’s not so. I’m glad I waited. All those awesome things my phone does seamlessly, have come a long way since the early days of the smart phone. The camera on my phone is so much nicer than some of the digital handhelds I have paid four and five hundred dollars for in the past. And that might be the thing I am most excited about with this. Just look at that photo above (and below). Lovely HD pet photos for everyone!
With pets this handsome, high resolution is a must. Click the images for a large resolution version of each.