Monday, April 30, 2012

"C" is for Camisole

It seems to me that if someone professes to be a tailor, he should have some knowledge of all types of clothing. Either that, or when it comes to alterations on a female garment, make the simple statement, "I don't do women's clothing."

Since I have learned that it's sometimes difficult to find clothing in my size, "ample petite", I have on occasion had special items shortened locally...not a problem. 

Recently, I took a Linda Lundstrom camisole/tank type sleeveless shirt to an establishment of alterations which I have previously frequented. Lest there be any question, I would not own such a fabulous garment were it not for the hospital thrift shop where I volunteer and occasionally strike shopping gold.

I should have walked away when the gentleman in the shop asked "What is this?"

He stared quizzically and I responded, "It's a tank top or camisole."

"A what?" he inquired.

"A camisole." I repeated.

Insert 15 seconds of awkward silence here whereupon he said, "Could you spell that please?" I proceeded to spell the name of the garment as he wrote it on an invoice, then commented, "I've never heard that word before."

I explained that I wanted the white plastic zipper removed from the front. That's all.

"But it would be open," he commented.
Lundstrom outfit with offending plastic zipper
"Yes, that's fine." I answered, held up the top and demonstrated that the removal of the zipper would in no way cause a wardrobe malfunction which might frighten the town's elderly. "The zipper is up here on my body, so it's no problem. I just prefer an open space to wear a  pin or necklace rather than have a zipper there. So, just remove the zipper and do whatever needs to be done to clean up and make the seams on either side look good. Are you able to do that?"

"Oh yes, we can do it. It will be ready on Friday."

Today, hubby picked up the top and brought it home. My mouth agape, I stared in disbelief. The zipper was gone, yes. However, the entire front was sewn up and the seams at the top had been removed and were resewn over top. Not only that, they were resewn badly. There are loops of mismatched thread showing across the front of the shirt. I could have,(and frequently have), done that amateurish job myself!

I was perplexed. In fact, I was fairly confident that the camisole would no longer fit across my anatomy. Obviously, when a zipper is removed and the fabric is then sewn together, it makes the piece of clothing smaller. Shouldn't a tailor know that?

Here's how it looks now. The colour hasn't changed, it's just that I didn't use a flash so that the stitching would be more easily visible.
Lumpy bumpy stitching adds a nice touch....NOT
Close up of bad stitching loopies across the top
It occurred to me to go back, complain and/or try to get it fixed. I could even demand a refund although that's the least of my distress. The truth is, I don't want to go back. I'm afraid of letting him touch it any further. I don't even know if it still fits. I suppose I could always wear a different shirt with the outfit. Or, I could try to cover the flaws with my jacket and perhaps get a giant brooch for the front. If worst comes to worst, I could donate it back to the thrift shop where I got it.

What would you do?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Just "Stuff"

It seems as though we spend half our lives trying to amass "stuff". Then, it takes almost as many of our older years to rid ourselves of these same items. If we don't downsize early enough, it becomes overwhelming. If we don't bother at all, the daunting task of cleaning up after us is a burden that is eventually left to family members.

By "stuff" I'm referring of course to all those inanimate treasures we thought we had to have...those valuable knick knacks, the once trendy silverware and dish sets, the vcr and dvd movies, the mountains of books, the travel souvenirs, the obsolete electronic devices and random power cords, the world's largest ball of twine, the foil pie plate and plastic container collection. You get my drift. Besides all that, in recent years, the draw of the dollar store has been powerful. It's amazing all the bargains that we didn't know we needed but sometimes purchase just because we can't believe the price. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would realize that there are very few items in our possession which we can't live without. The larger the house, the greater the area of the property, the more "things" we seem to "need" and amass.

Statistics show that most people only use twenty percent of what they have. The other eighty percent of possessions are taking up space. Fengshui philosophy is helpful and clear, "if you don't use it or love it, get rid of it." The problem with having too much "stuff" is that it creates chaos in our lives. It drains us of energy. We often waste time looking for things we need, or we spend money replacing things we already have and can't find. So instead of taking care of and respecting what we have, we value and appreciate nothing.

The argument that "it's a keepsake" or "I'm saving it for my kids", often doesn't fly. Rather, it's an excuse for us to hold on to things. In fact, our children rarely want any of our outdated furnishings, household items or clutter. My own have made it clear to me what they'd like. It isn't much...a piece of art, a musical instrument, a tree ornament. To this short list I have added a small sculpure from a great aunt, coin sets from the years of their birth and some jewelry from each of their grandmas. Nothing large, nothing meaningless and hopefully nothing that will be a burden. In addition, I will dispose of mountains of photos and slides to create a simple album with a family history for each of them. I will not put anything on an electronic device which may become oudated, get lost, tossed out or never be viewed.

Some people find it difficult to give things away where there's an emotional attachment or when there are strong personal memories. We have to detach ourselves when we look at the objects. And that's just what they are...objects.

We've all heard the saying "take a picture, it lasts longer". Perhaps that's true. I have in fact done this in the past. I've taken a photo of something which had particular meaning for me prior to disposing of it. Interestingly enough, I've never had the need to look at any of those pictures.

Downsizing, trash and recycling companies are becoming big businesses as they help relieve us of our "stuff",  and of course, our money. It costs to accumulate the "stuff" then it costs to get rid of it.

How do we figure out what we really need and love and what we can in fact live without? Here's a start. We've all heard variations of the question "If you were taken to an island (I prefer a desert island), and could only have 10 personal possessions, what would they be?" I doubt that many of us would select a Death Valley snow globe, a yogurt and pasta maker or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.

So, now, I leave you with the question. "If you were sent to a desert island and could only take along 10 personal possessions, what would they be?"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Memories of Mississauga

In my early adult years, I learned that there are eastern people and there western people. Lest anyone misconstrue what I'm saying, I'm speaking of those persons who opt to live east or west of Canada's largest city. I'm not certain why we have these preferences. I have observed that it does not always have to do with where we were raised. Often, someone living in the city will choose to leave and venture in one direction or the other. Those who move to towns just north of the city, are in my opinion a conglomerate of both.

I am an example of an easterner. I have always lived in one of the many boroughs, suburbs or small towns east of the city. As such, I had not done much more than drive through the west side while on my way to points beyond.

During my annual few weeks of work out by the airport, I try to go on an adventure. In the past, I've taken public transit for 90 minutes just to attend a Blue Jays game. Now that, was an adventure! Another time, I just drove, heading west along one of the main roads. I wasn't lost...well, perhaps I was slightly lost. All of a sudden there it was! How could it be? I saw a massive landscape of skyscrapers and towers. I knew there was no way this could be downtown Toronto. I was going west. Besides, it was all new and spectacular. "Welcome to the City of Mississauga", I read. I was certainly familiar with Canada's oldest and most famous mayor and all of her accomplishments, but this caught me by surprise! I explored and I was impressed.

Chalk it up to fatigue, added responsibility, old age or just plain laziness, but this year, my adventure didn't amount to much. In fact, I generally preferred hanging around my hotel room, the pool, hot tub or sauna in the evenings.

One day, after work, I remembered my previous trek to Mississauga. I decided to go to 'Square One' even though I didn't really need anything from a shopping mall. I drove past this very large sign and then I realized that something new had been added to the City Centre Drive area.
 I viewed a spectacular architectural sight. There were two brand new buildings that looked like something right out of a Dr. Seuss story book.

After some research, I discovered that they're luxury condos called "Absolute World" completed in 2011. A design competition was held. Potential submissions were accepted from all over the world. The winner was Yansong Ma, a young Chinese architect who created the unique towers. Beautiful and unique. I discovered later that one of the towers is nicknamed "Marilyn" (as in Monroe...can you guess which?).

After locating a prime parking spot, I walked through "The Bay" store where I learned something else. Gone are the days of unisex mannequins. The skinny, shapeless, faceless clothing models are no more. In fact, I found a few that seemed to be sporting heads, but ample body parts. No mistaking these for males.
I asked a sales clerk for some information and noticed that a man walking past with a Timmy's overheard me. I knew this because he stared and instantly spewed coffee through his nose. I'm not certain what was so funny about "Do you have a fat lady section in this store?"

I continued into the mall to check my location on the "you are here" map. I happened to notice something unusual under the services list. The fourth last item caught my eye, "Peace Lutheran Church". Fascinating. A church in a shopping mall?  This has possibilities I thought. I sought it out and discovered that it was located near the rest rooms and across from the food court. Brilliant! What a great way to reach the community...a church in a shopping mall.

The ornate glass entrance was just past the "Disney Store", beside "Burger King" and down a short hallway.

Sadly, when I searched for more information about the church, I found this article.

I learned that it will be soon be gone. The mall 'powers that be' plan to eliminate the space and use it to create a larger food court at the end of April.

Alas, it has been decided, that it's more important to overfeed the body than to nourish the soul.

As I said goodbye to Mississauga for another year, I realized why some people like being westerners. I wonder what will be new and what I'll see and learn if I go back again next year.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gross Man Noises

I have noted that some men have 'unusual' if not disturbing habits. I was so disgusted yesterday morning that I felt the need to share my experience.

It was the last day of my annual two week job near the airport. I had packed up, checked out of the hotel and had a lot of extra time. It was a good day to take advantage of the breakfast buffet in the  dining room. The waiter seated me at a lovely small table. I was impressed with the white linen table cloth, fresh freesia in a vase and soothing background music. It seemed to be a spot that would afford me some privacy and peace. What a great way to start my last day of work.

First, I lingered over my tea. Then, I went to the buffet and carefully selected delicious roasted mushrooms, ***porridge, raisin muesli toast, milk ...well, no need to reiterate all my menu choices.

When I got back to my table, I noted that there was a fairly well dressed 'gentleman' (the last time I will use that word) seated two tables away to the right of me. As I began enjoying my porridge, I heard it!

I heard the sound of snorting! Snorting, as in loudly sucking up snot and down your throat type of snorting. I looked up. I looked over. It was him. It happened once. It happened twice. I thought that it would eventually end. It didn't. I assumed that he would pull out a tissue or request some extra napkins to blow his nose and solve the problem. He didn't. Did he not notice?  Did he think he was in the privacy of his own home? Didn't he realize he was in a public dining establishment? Was this a habit so ingrained that he was unaware he was doing it?

The snorting went on throughout my entire breakfast until it got to the point where the sound overwhelmed everything. The background music, which was supposed to create an atmosphere of dining tranquility, was drowned out by the sound of snort, snort, snort. My head became a loudspeaker for this man's bodily noises.

It's interesting how something like that can escalate, become the centre of your focus and no matter how much you try, you can't distract your attention from it. It consumes you. An airplane flying overhead could have come through the room and I wouldn't have heard the engine sound at that point...only the snort.

I considered abandoning my meal, but wasn't completely done. I returned to the buffet for some grapefruit. As I headed back to finish my breakfast, I couldn't believe my eyes, or for that matter, my ears. Another man had arrived and was seated at a table to my left. Not only that, there was now a duet...not one man snorting, but two, one on either side of me. Stereo snorting!

I thought about blowing bubbles in my milk or slurping my grapefruit pieces. Would that even be some kind of revenge or hint? Not likely. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't think of anything I could do that would be equally offensive. I was now almost completely nauseous and decided to make my way to the exit.

On my way out, I spotted and immediately entered an empty computer room. With no sounds other than the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard, I created the rough draft of this blog.

*** See blog "I Say Porridge....April 1, 2012.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Captured! The final tail.

The blog "Raccoon Rivalry" of March 27th now has a conclusion. Depending on your point of view, it has ended happily or sadly. Mother raccoon never did leave the attic in search of her babies. The kits were taken away and are being bottle fed and raised by some animal loving rescuers. The neighbours heard no further sounds from the roof area of their house.

This morning, hubby announced that mini dog ran over to the neighbour's driveway to sniff at the smelly raccoon.

"What? There's a raccoon on his driveway?" I blurted.

"Yes. It's in a cage next to his car," he responded.

"How did it get there? Where did it come from? How did it get in a cage? I thought it was gone. I thought there were no more sounds. What happened?" I was full of questions.

"How would I know? Go ask them," hubby said. "It's in the driveway in a cage. It's stinky and it's snarly."

"Hmmmm," I muttered, "I'd be pretty stinky, snarly and unhappy if I had lost my babies and been trapped in an attic with no food or water for two weeks."

As always, I grabbed my camera and scooted out to take advantage of the photo opportunity.

"Awwww," I thought, as the mother raccoon lay trapped. Her face looked sad and her chin was hanging down...a depressed raccoon if ever I saw one.


She didn't stink and she didn't snarl. She just stared straight ahead. I took her photo. She didn't flinch.

At that moment, I understood. It was the look of defeat. She was frightened and she didn't understand what she had done to deserve this.

No matter what we might think about some animals, the mess and the damage they may cause, living things are all alike. They just want to make a home for themselves and their families. As people and houses keep encroaching on their forested areas, this is becoming more and more challenging for wildlife.

Hopefully, this raccoon will find a new and better place to live and raise her future generations.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Say Porridge...You Say Whatever

I eat porridge.

It's the stuff with large flakes made from the Quaker Oats package. Well, not the package exactly or it would be called a veggie burger. It's made from what's inside the Quaker Oats package...the one with the pilgrim on it. No wait, it would make more sense if he's a Quaker. The package with the Quaker on it. As you can see, I like it so much that I even have a much coveted collector's item cannister wherein I store my precious fodder.


Porridge is what you cook into a glob and then, depending on your preference, add to it milk, yogurt or nothing. It's the stick to your ribs warm, cereal mush, which you eat in a mounds in the winter time. It's the crowdy which can have fruit flung on top if that's what you want. I personally prefer berries, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Porridge originated in Scotland and has been around forever. Children's stories such as "The Magic Porridge Pot" abound. I know because I've read porridge stories and poems to hundreds of youngsters. In fact, I've even explained that people used to own pots particularly for the purpose of cooking porridge correctly. I must admit, however, that I neither own a specific porridge pot, nor do I have a "spurtle", the proper utensil for stirring the gruel. I do use a wooden spoon and I do stir the mass in the correct, clockwise direction before adding a sprinkle of salt at the very end. My mother taught me well. In fact, when I was a child, this was sometimes a dinner substitute for meat and veggies. I thought it was quite the treat, not knowing that my parents were in fact somewhat low on funds when serving up this offering.

Now that we're clear what I'm speaking about, why do people look at me as though I have horns, when I say, "porridge"?

Case in point. Since this stuff is now available in individual serving pouches where you just add water, it's a perfect emergency item for taking on trips "just in case". Most hotel rooms provide some form of water heating device. Last year, I put a few packs into my luggage and headed for the airport, Las Vegas bound with my daughter. The young U.S. border agent asked whether we were carrying any food items. I responded with "just porridge". He raised his eyebrows curiously. I repeated, "porridge, you know, a few of those pouches where you add water."

He responded in his best invented British accent (either hoping I was a casting agent or trying to impress the cute girl I was with), "Porridge? Porridge? Porridge like the three bears?"

"Yes exactly," I answered, resisting the temptation to elaborate on my history with Goldilocks.

He chuckled, winked at the girl, told us to have a great trip and we were on our way.
Recently, my gourmet chef American hubby asked what I wanted for breakfast. My response? "Porridge", of course. As he proceeded to remove a cream of wheat package from the cupboard, I yelled, "No, no, not that. I want porridge!"

He seemed baffled. "It's the same thing, hot cereal."

A short conversation ensued. We discussed the differences between oatmeal, cream of wheat and grits (don't get me started on cooked sandpaper). He understands now, that not all hot cereals are created equal. When I say "porridge", I mean my favourite flakey, globby, mush.

I recently saw the following shelf in a store. I had to take this photo. I feel vindicated.