Thursday, March 29, 2012

A to Z Challenge

I've just decided that in the month of April I'm going to participate in the A to Z challenge, where I create a blog post for every letter of the alphabet during the month of April. That's every day except Sundays (and since April 1st is a Sunday, I have to blog that day too).  Unlike my highly organized friend Siobhan Minty, I have not planned out what I am going to say, so the topics will be totally random.

April 1st is also the launch of Crush. Candy. Corpse., the latest book written by my highly-talented mother, Sylvia McNicoll.  If you live in or near Burlington, come down to A Different Drummer Books between 2 and 4 pm, and purchase a signed copy.  Here's the official invite:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fun stuff

I told Adam's iPad the plot of a Star Trek episode to test out the dictation software. This was the result:

What time there was a man named Capt. Jean-Luc Picard became the board the enterprise for the very first time to meet his crew and then cute came dressed as an army guy and then he was dressed as a judge and he said that humans are a savage race and you wanted Chad put up a force field so they couldn't get any farther in the universe and up Mccard Said No Way, José that is not fair at all. Thank you told them that their mission at FarPoint would be a perfect test of whether or not they were astonished right so they went to Farpoint Station and then that Ryker there and Card showed in class of the previous episodes we would be up to speed and then they went down to the planet and Cassie trying started feeling so sad because you fell sadness for Madroad all and then there was a spaceship they came and started shooting at her. Thank you told in the bay should be Montborne the station and check it out and selling again and when they got there they found that counts actually got really really mad and she was super super angry like the whole time she was there and then they realize that they shed and dad station on the planet we're both aliens once they realized that they shot the aliens alien on the planet full of energy so that it would be not sick anymore and they flew in love into the sky and turned into two really weird looking jellyfish and they found joy and gratitude according to count to Troy and Q said that was a good you passed the test see you later and that the and of encounter at five.

Also, today I went to the Zoo.  I plan on posting two videos for your enjoyment but youtube is taking its time uploading them and I'm beginning to lose interest. I'll post them here later.  Maybe. I'm tired.

Here are the videos!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My friends and I are in the paper!

When I began attending Improv Bootcamp on Monday nights at the Staircase Theatre, I had no idea that it would bring me fame and notoriety so quickly. My first show is a distant fleck on a possible horizon.   And yet my name, along with friends Columbia and Rebecca, is mentioned in the Spectator this morning:

The article, by Jeff Mahoney, is all about "the Mothers of Improv". Jeff talked to the three of us for all of five seconds, during which Becca came up with an awesome quote. Despite the short time he talked to us, you can tell he gets it, the draw of improv, the fun of it, the magic of the Staircase Theatre. For those of you who get the Spectator (or will get it knowing I'm in there), the article is on A4.  My picture is in the print version, but not the online version.

I don't know if the idea of improv "appeared in a balloon over our heads", as Jeff puts it.  It would be more accurate to say that I wanted to try it, and I dragged my friends along. I like Jeff's version better. In any case, all three of us fell in love with it.

One of my favourite characters to play is very much like my daughter, cute to the point of being obnoxious. I've thrown tantrums to rival my son's.  It's all very therapeutic. I always thought that I'd be a good mother, because I'm silly and fun-loving, but it's hard to be that way while in mom mode.  I can't let loose when I have to be the one to say "don't hit, don't throw, don't jump," and sometimes, believe it or not, "don't laugh." At improv I can be myself and, at the same time, I never have to be myself.

My favourite line (other than Becca's quote):
"Hugh MacLeod, originator of The Staircase, can’t quite explain the influx [of improv Moms], especially in recent months, but it makes for a lively dynamic, especially as the other demographic bulge in local improv is young men." No Hugh, I can't imagine why a group of stay-at-home Moms would want to spend the evening playing pretend with young men, especially when so many of them are so adorable.

In other news I gave birth to Hugh MacLeod, originator of The Staircase, on Monday night during an improv scene.  It was his idea.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sometimes Persistence is Just Silly

An unseasonably warm March is upon us.  A time of year that usually gives us our last great snow storm of the season has instead come with summerlike sunshine and confused birds. Yes, I'm talking about the robin who stars in the above video. We have lived in this house for three years and the robins take up residence every spring.  The first year they nested in that cedar tree in front of the window, the year after that they made a home above our exterior light, last year in the small pine tree beside our driveway. This year apparently they've decided to build their home in our living room.  Unfortunately there's a pesky window in the way.  This is more than a run of the mill "oops I thought that was thin air". This bird is persistant. It has been crashing into that bay window over and over, all day long, since Thursday.  It is making the dog crazy.

In an effort to discourage the bird, my offspring and I have plastered the window with artwork. I hoped that having something on the glass would let the creature know that yes, there is something there, and no, you can't fly through it. Allow me my proud mama time and check out my personal favourites:

The above drawing, by Jadzia, depicts an elephant, a giraffe, a monkey, a dog and a cat, and a zebra (note the stripes).

This one is from William, who thought that the best way to scare the robin away would be to draw terrifying monsters, which this is. Look at all those legs and spikes!

William drew a few more monsters and Jadzia drew many more animals (mostly elephants). So our window now looks like this:

Definitely an improvement in a decor sense, but unfortunately has done nothing to deter our visitor.  The bird apparently has no fear of creatively drawn zoo animals or grinning monsters and continues systematically testing our forcefield for weak points. I admire this creature's bravery and persistence, but I question its motives.

A walk with the dog revealed that the neighbourhood is full of similarly dopey robins, who Worf has decided are the ememy. They are a little too slow to fly away and my loveable mutt came close to catching one or two (also came close to ripping my arm out of its socket from pulling the leash so hard). I suspect that the early spring means that these birds aren't yet old enough to be street wise.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Clearing the Dungeon

If you're thinking to yourself that's not that much stuff, keep in mind this picture was taken when we were three quarters done clearing out the crawlspace. Taking up half the basement, this storage dungeon is characterized by a convenient waist-high ceiling, and unsealed concrete floor.  The latter kicks up so much dust that everything in there, including the air, takes on a whitish-gray hue. After about a minute of being doubled over in this junk-collecting abyss, my lungs and nose become clogged.  Note, it took significantly more than a minute to clear out all this stuff. If I develop lung cancer later in life, I no longer have to blame the solvents and charcoal dust I breathed in my art school days.

While my husband swept and vacuumed the dust, and applied the first coat of sealant, I was supposed to begin discarding items we no longer needed or wanted. Unfortunately I have the mentality of a hoarder. What looks like a mass of junk is actually a trove of treasures.  If I kept every item that triggered a pleasant memory, or that might have some future use, I would keep it all.  Part of me thinks I could keep it all, if only I organized it properly. After several minutes of staring at the pile I didn't know where to begin, so I took a break.

Later, I was in charge of putting on the second coat of sealant, a liquid the colour and consistency of skim milk. It claims to be odourless, which is code for "it doesn't smell all that bad." The canned fresh air smell brought to mind a swimming pool full of moss. I'd rather breathe that than the dust at any rate.  Before I started, my darling husband reminded me to paint next to the door last, so as not to paint myself into a corner. I was mildly irked that he would presume such stupidity on my part, but that's probably exactly what would have happened had he not mentioned anything.

After a few swipes of the roller the milk quickly foamed into beaten egg whites. I rode around on little red wheeled stool, my retractable-handled roller zipping across the surface. I was feeling pretty efficient when bang, the end of my handle knocked the energy saver light bulb, which promptly caught fire.  I'm going to say that again.  The light bulb caught fire. My first thought: the house is going to burn down. I attempted to blow out the electrically fed flame burning so close to the wood supporting our entire house. Then I called for my husband. Then the damaged burning lightbulb crashed to the ground right in front of me. Then I screamed.

The fire extinguished itself fairly quickly once the bulb fell and my husband turned the lights out. I got a flashlight, an extra bulb, and a broom to sweep up the glass.  Apparently, the energy saver bulbs are bursting with toxic mercury, but I feel okay anyway having not burned to a crisp.

After that I finished the second coat without incident, and added a third coat yesterday for good measure. Now all that remains to do is to fill this pristine space with junk.

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