Monday, June 27, 2011

The Finished Pirate Product...(3)...Arrghh

I was on my way to transport the almost finished pirate costume to where my son works. We still needed to create some type of vest. On the way, I saw a sign. It said 50% off at Value Village. My car seemed to veer off in the direction of this particular thrift shop. It was crowded and chaotic. I found vests. In fact, I found I fabulous vest. I located a Danier leather, black, longish vest marked at a mere $5.99. I got it for half price...$3.00...awesome.

We already knew that the pants would fit, so it was a matter of trying on the shirt and the new vest. He put it on over his tee and I demonstrated how the "bib" and the sleeves functioned. He has enough tattoos and facial hair to look pretty realistic. Here's what he looked like after he added the hat and belt.

We decided that since he would now turn into a more elegant type pirate with the velour and fur hat, the lace shirt, the leather vest, the shiny pants (still in the bag), and the leggings, that the bird was no longer necessary. This solved the problem of how I was going to attach the toucan/parrot squeaky dog toy to his shoulder. In fact, it solved several problems.

Amber is examining her new squeaky toy.
Final cost of complete costume. Shirt $3 plus $1 for doilies. I already had buttons and snaps in my collection. Pants $3 plus $1 for elastic. Leather vest half price $3 at Value Village. Leggings with large buttons $2, eye patch $1 at party store. Pirate paraphernalia...rubber knife, coins etc.were on a large cardboard in the kids' toy section of Dollarama $1. The stretchy belt, bandannas, pirate hat and other  items not necessarily seen here were in mom's costume collection. Total pirate price $15. 
Party Time

Pirate Progress (2) Argghh...

Back to the thrift shop I went. There were no frilly shirts available but I found a strange, meshy kind of thing in the men's section. It looked expensive "Sunveil Sunwear", made in Canada. I spent $3. I also trekked to the dollar store for some doilies. Having found some white lacy ones...4 in a pack, I headed home and got out the sewing needle. I made a removable bib with snaps for the front of the shirt. Then, I created some poofy sleeves with velcro attachments and sewed on more doilies around the wrists.

I cut the shiny pants and shortened them to knee length. Then I stitched a hem, inserted elastic and pulled it tight to create puffy pirate pants. Again, I was fortunate. During one trip to the dollar store I located long socks, a patch and fake sword. I already owned a suitable studded hemp and leather belt and had a pirate hat in my clothing and costume collection. I will take it to my son's today and make sure everything fits and works as planned. I still need to create some semblance of long vest/cover. This morning, I had an idea as I was eyeing my nightie. The belt can be worn on the outside of the not yet created vest.
This is what I have so far.
In the back of my mind I'm imagining a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder. I have been searching for one of those stuffed feathered friends that is usually available everywhere, but I have been unsuccessful. I'm wondering whether what I did find (below) can pass for a parrot. It squeaks and would be funny. I like a touch of humour. Anyhow, I also have to work out how it would "sit" on the shoulder of the soon to be created vest.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Piat to Pirate - Part 1 - Arghhhh...

My son recently texted me and asked for a large favour before next Thursday. Uh oh, I thought, remembering a friend's warning words. "When they ask for a favour, they always want money." Not so on this occasion.

"I don't have time, so can you help me make a pirate costume?" he asked. The words "help me" and "I don't have time" told me that I would be tackling this project myself.

"Err...sure, I can try," I responded, trying to recall whether any of my three costume bins contained pirate items. "This isn't the best time of year to try to assemble a costume." I said.

"Yeah, I know but I'm going to a party and I need it. Can you make it kind of like Captain Hook?"

My head started spinning. Suddenly this project took on a whole new dimension...long red coat with gold braiding and buttons, monstrous hat with feather, boots, white leggings, shiny pants and a "Seinfeld" puffy shirt.

"Sure, I'll try." I responded wishing that he had just requested something simple... like money.

I picked up a couple of pairs of black sateen pants at a thrift store and headed to my son's house for sizing.

"Pirates wore shiny pants?" he questioned.

As I tried to explain Captain Hook and his elegant wardrobe, I realized that "the boy" was in fact unaware of what he was asking. I had once again failed as a mother. How could he not know what Captain Hook looked like? I quizzed him further to become more clear on his thoughts and plans.

"Ok, you're wearing slip on brown plaid running shoes, no boots?  Perhaps we needed to go for a less formal pirate...shredded zig zags at the bottom of the pants, stripey socks, a vest, a bandana but still the puffy shirt," I suggested.

I left his place with pants, just pants and no further idea how to proceed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Canine Clamour

All winter long, hubby pointed out that our bird feeders were left untouched. I am happy to report that the birds have gradually returned. Not only the birds, but all manner of wildlife is showing up in our neighbourhood. I know this is not unusual for some of our family and friends who live in more rural, northern or wooded environs. We, however, live in a town near a super highway, in an area that appears to be turning into a rainforest. Trees and plants have morphed into monstrosities. It's still been a bit cool but we've had maximum humidity and lots of fog and precipitation for much of June.

Recently, there was a large, long legged bird on a neighbour's roof...either a blue heron or a pterodactyl. There have been foxes, cougars and deer sightings in the area. Our feathered and furry backyard friends, along with a few frogs make our yard look like a forest scene in a Disney cartoon.

One critter which we have noted on a daily basis is Charlie the Chipmunk. He lives below our back porch and frequently opts to walk across the deck, much to the dismay of Amber, our mini dachshund.

Amber, has been very active especially when she spots her buddy Charlie crossing her territory. She barks and barks as Charlie taunts her by clinging to the wall above her head or hides between an inaccessible pile
of bricks, a ladder and a wheelbarrow. She is not to be deterred from tracking this sunflower seedy-breathed rodent. She yips and yaps until hubby finally retrieves her by dislodging her nose from between the folded up ladder rungs.

I'm not certain what Amber would do if she ever got close enough to Charlie to consider capturing him. So far, there is no likelihood of any white flags being dangled from any chipmunk housing development. Charlie definitely has the upper hand.

As I write this, Charlie is sitting on our bedroom window ledge looking down at the ground. Amber is staring up in disbelief. As usual, it's a standoff. Charlie is holding firm while Amber is barking, barking and barking. Charlie has no intention of relocating anytime soon. Our neighbours on the other hand, have decided to move.
"Hey Amber, catch me if you can."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The End of the Tail

I drove to a Mennonite farmers' market with my stepmom this week. For lunch, we went to a small town called Heidelberg. In the past, I have gone there once or twice a year, usually with friends and family for one of my all time favourite meals (don't gag)....pigtails. It's not something I would eat all the time, or even frequently. Pigtails are special. I discovered this delicacy during my youth. My university choir went to the pub following practice one night. A fellow chorister convinced me to try a bite. I was hooked.

Fond recollections are associated with the consumption of pigtails. That's part of the appeal of food isn't it? Many of our most pleasant and memorable times with family and friends are connected with celebrations involving food and drink. Our choir has had reunions at Heidelberg. Tables have been shoved together and we have imbibed, reminisced, laughed and eaten.

I remember going to Heidelberg several times with my friend Karla and her family members, some of whom lived in that area. Her father, Richard, loved pigtails so much that he ordered two or three dinners and then a few more individual pigtails. We called him "the pigtail eating champion". On one occasion, he consumed nine tails at one sitting. My own dad who was along for one of these feasts was in awe. Another time, Richard ordered "a pigtail for dessert" after having already finished a few meals. It didn't arrive. The waitress thought he was joking and we all had a great laugh as we kept trying to convince her that he was serious.

My parents liked the Heidelberg pub. They would sometimes arrange to meet with grandma Rose and grandpa John at this location. This ensured that grandma Rose would not go to her usual exhaustive efforts of cooking and baking for days upon hearing that my parents would be in the vicinity. Mom and dad also went to Heidelberg with visiting family members, grandparents and cousins from Europe, an aunt and uncle from Winnipeg and so on. It was a novelty since "Heidelberg" was also the name of a city near their hometown in Germany. From time to time, we'd go during Oktoberfest to hear the small town pianist attempt to play "Ein Prosit" and "Roll Out the Barrel". It all sounds fine after a few of pints of their hausbrau beer.

I've made countless treks to Heidelberg over the years. I've even been there with hubby who passed up the tails in favour of pork hocks. This week, as I mentioned, I went with my stepmom. We celebrated our family and friends, some of whom have gone their separate ways and many of whom are now deceased. We ate with gusto. We ate pigtails.

Yesterday, I looked at the photo that I had taken of my dinner. I realized that another chapter of my life has passed and that I don't ever need to consume pigtails again. It's not because of the fat and calories,although it should be, but rather because I realized that the meal really wasn't that special.

I had the revelation that it's not about food. It's about the experiences and the company that go along with the meal. The memories of the fun times, the people and the enjoyment of past visits are images that can only be remembered. They can never be replicated.

Two tails, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, hold the gravy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sing with me..."I'm Dreaming of Some Clean Storage..."

I am cleaning the storage room. This is good because it's only June.

Every year as Christmas approaches, I dig out my strings of lights, my beautiful fake tree, my skillfully collected ornaments, my bins of wrap and ribbon, my antique ceramic cherubs, my lovely scented candle tapers and my fine linens and I say, "I'm going to clean this stuff up and sort it out after Christmas."

Then, every year after Christmas, I rush to put away the strings of broken lights, the less than lovely fake tree, the junky collection of ornaments, my disorganized bins of wrapping and ribbon scraps, my faded, chipped ceramic angels, my half melted warped candles and my semi clean, somewhat worn, slightly stained linens. "I'll sort it all out before Christmas next year", I say.

And so the cycle continues.

An opportunity has arisen. It is a great chance to rid myself once and for all, of the regrets that I would normally unearth some time in November. The local hospital shop is having a "Christmas in June" sale. They are looking for seasonal "stuff". Boy do I have "stuff"!

Today has been a dull, dreary day. Zumba is finished. Lunch is done. Excuses have run out. I have just over one week to organize and clean the storage room, sorting out and delivering the Christmas materials to the store. So far, I have only cleaned the bins and outlying floor and shelf areas containing ribbon, tissue paper, gift bags, package toppers, tape, glue sticks and other assorted wrapping materials. I have one bag of ribbon to donate. It took me two hours.

I need a break.  I'm tired of this. Maybe I'll take a nap. I think I'll write a blog, then go for some zzzz's.

I wonder whether many people will take this opportunity to sort through their Christmas paraphernalia. I suppose, there might be those trendy folks who will be changing their theme colour for next year. They might welcome this disposal opportunity. How many people will take advantage of the sale to shop for Christmas items thus ending up with more things in their house? Is this a great money making idea or will the hospital shop get stuck with their own shelves upon shelves of unwanted Christmas items? So many questions.

Should I go back to work on the storage room now or not? Perhaps after I walk the dog. I need to go to the mailbox. I want a cup of tea. I haven't checked the tv all day. There might be some important new health information from Dr. Oz.

Maybe I'll just wait until November and sort out the rest of my Christmas items when I'm ready to use them. In the meantime, I'd better mark the 24th on the calendar...never know what seasonal essentials might be available for sale.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Passion For Purple Posies

I notice that I have gradually gone in a more purpley direction with my gardening. Nice colour. So many shades and nuances that some might call these hues pink or blue. I prefer to think of them as purple, amethyst, violet, plum, lilac or even puce. Here are a few samples of my plantings.



Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things My Mom Taught Me

I remember the last words of wisdom my mother ever shared with me. "If you don't have your health, you have nothing."

Today would have been my mom's 80th birthday. She died at a young age. Sadly, the times I think of her are becoming fewer. I do remember her voice, her mannerisms and gestures and I have memories which are becoming increasingly difficult to retrieve in any sort of detail. As with everything else, there are "triggers" that cause me to recall comments and events. Sometimes, they make me chuckle, other times, I realize how they have shaped my life.

One obvious example happens each year as Good Friday approaches. I can usually hear mom's voice in her 'Woinemer' dialect. "Karfreitag is de heiligschte Dag im Johr". Good Friday is the holiest day of the year.

Even before my parents became devoted church goers, they refused to do anything which seemed like "work" on Good Friday. They had been taught, and now, so have I. Good Friday was always elevated several notches above Sunday's "day of rest " status. If you had no clean clothes to wear, too bad. No laundry was to be done on this day...tough lesson especially during my teenage years.

I got to thinking about and appreciating some other things that mom taught me: thoughtfulness, kindness, consideration and common sense. To this day, I do not slam a door, but I turn the knob and close it gently behind me. I know that it is rude to shout, point or use an excessively loud voice particularly in public places. Persons older than myself are to be respectfully addressed by their title and surname. When cooking, turn the pot handles toward the back of the burners for safety. Do not eat raw dough because it will give you worms, and of course, always wear clean underwear when going out even if it has the wrong day of the week written on it.

My mom taught me about the environment, before it was in vogue. Be sure to thoroughly boil the lake water before drinking. When being followed by a bear, keep walking and don't bother trying to climb a tree. Always put trash in your pocket until you find a proper place for disposal. The chewed gum that became lodged in my jacket one day turned into a whole other learning opportunity.

When I was a child, mom read to me. I gained knowledge of German stories, poems and songs and I am pleased that I still remember most of those. She cured me of many ills using a simple remedy... camomille and peppermint tea.

I know that mom had countless friends. She cared about people and went out of her way to get to know them. There wasn't a person she had ever met that she didn't like or remember. I think it worked both ways.

Mom died when her only two grandkids were very young. My fondest memory of all is when she used to bounce them lovingly on her lap, start chanting a rhyme, then tip them backwards causing them to giggle with glee.                                    

"Hoppe, hoppe Reiter
wenn er fällt, dann schreit er
fällt er in den Sumpf
macht der Reiter plumps."

Today, I learned something new about my mom thanks to 'Google'. I learned that she used to recite Goethe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why Do Some Things Just Seem Wrong?

My friend gave us this flowering plant in December. It's lovely and it's still blooming. Lest there be any doubt, it's June now. The plant looked passable in the midst of my red and white Valentine's motif. It appeared out of place with my pink, turquoise, purple and yellow Easter decorations. It seemed downright strange when the tulips and daffodils bloomed outside the window and now that it's almost summer, well, it's just wrong.

One of my favourite Robert Fulghum short stories comes to mind. I remember learning about his poinsetta (he insisted on spelling it that way) adventures from the book "Maybe (Maybe Not)". I was sitting in a waiting room at the time of reading and getting some strange looks as his words made me laugh out loud. He described his many efforts and lack of success in attempting to dispose of his annual poinsettia. The only difference was that his was gone one way or the other by March. Ours is here. It's June. Did I already mention that?

I have "googled" poinsettia to find out what to expect. There's site after site giving details on how to care for this plant and how to prolong its life. Not what I had in mind. I could have written those myself. There are mutitudinous photos of poinsettias. I know what they look like thanks. I have one in my living June! Finally, I found it. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you wikipedia. Once I got past the biology, the history and the folklore, it was all spelled out for me, right there. "Daytime temperatures in excess of 21 C tend to shorten the life of the plant." We have now had two consecutive days in the upper 20's. May the heat continue.

Finally, I can stop obsessing about the out of season poinsettia and get on with thinking about some serious June playoffs. First game tonight!