Saturday, May 28, 2011


A couple days ago the Dude and I went to see our officiant. I had no idea all the processes that go into getting married. Kind of blows my mind now how easy it is to go to Vegas and say screw it.

For example, we're not using an officiant from a company like Kettle Creek or All Seasons. We're using the justice of the peace we saw perform the Dude's stepbrother's wedding last October. We thought she was lovely and dignified and we enjoyed her service. So to use her services, we have to write and mail a formal letter to make a request. She then passes it off to a higher up, who will approve it.

Then we have to come back around August with $75 for the fees associated and our outline for what we want in our service, and a license in hand from City Hall, which will have its own fees and we'll have to go and show our ID and answer questions about ourselves and our parents.

So to think that in Vegas people can meet a stranger and marry them that very day all willy nilly is wild (and yet the country thinks same-sex marriages will degrade the institution). Frankly, I think it makes good sense having to go through hoops. If it seems like too much of a pain in the arse, then it might be a good idea not to get married. I'm comfortable with it not being easy. I just didn't realize how not easy it really was.

So there are five items on the agenda now to take care of: going up to my hometown to design invitations, writing a formal request for our officiant, writing up our ceremony, buying a license, and getting engagement photos done.

This fashion photographer that the Dude has worked for, who's newly into wedding photography, is shooting our wedding as a gift (generous guy!) and he offered to do engagement shots. So we're thinking of doing something offbeat that would be useful to him for portfolio pieces. I'm not terribly photogenic. I have a nose that doesn't cooperate with cameras. But all the same, I'm still looking forward to it.

I'm just not comfortable unless I'm ahead of schedule with this stuff. I don't want to fall behind and get stressed out. Eventually I'll be at the mercy of people's RSVPs, but until then, I'm all over this bidniss.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Make Your Own Wedding Ring

So, we all still here? Yes? Who would have thought that a guy who's already made a false claim before about the end of times via the return of Jeebs based on Bible math could be wrong? I know, it's wild. But since the Earth is still here and we have to go on with our lives, looks like we'll have to go on paying our credit card bills, sticking to a healthy diet and going to work.

Speaking of life, this is Victoria Day weekend, or as us Canucks call it, the May two-four. If the Toonie doesn't convince you about Canada's love of silly wordplay, the May two-four should suffice.

Most people were out having a beer on a patio or camping or some other worthy day-off activity in the glorious sunshine, which had eluded us all week. The Dude and I, however, had a date at a jewellers called The Devil's Workshop, where we made our wedding rings.

Yes, we made them and it was awesome. You wouldn't think forging metal and sanding it down would be a great time, but somehow it was.

This is what we started out with.

The entire thing took about six hours, with a 45-minute break for lunch. We had to spend the first chunk of time finely sanding down the ends of each piece of gold so they would fit flush together when we started hammering them into shape.

This was actually the second step of hammering, and it was really difficult.

I learned during the initial shaping of the rings that I am no good with a hammer and I have very little in the way of upper body strength. This is not new information, but I really forget how weak I actually am on a regular basis. Possibly my daydreams and fantasies of being athletic or a superhero cause me to lose touch with my physical realities. The Dude had to help me more than once. And since I was making his ring, it was harder and thicker and required more muscle. He had my dainty little number done much faster.

This is how they looked after
we were done hammering them the first time.

This was the soldering part. Fire makes me nervous, but I was hungry and wanted to go to lunch, so I volunteered to go first.

After lunch, we had to hammer the misshapen, medieval-looking gold into actual rings. This was another hammering challenge and I really had to let the ring have it. I wish I'd thought of something angering at the time; I really could have gotten some good aggression out. Plus it would have helped, as I have a hesitant and nervous hammering hand. I was basically giving the thing love taps and they required a good hate hit.

This was when it finally started to resemble jewellery.

Then we had to sand. The sanding essentially took up the rest of the afternoon. We had to use sand paper, four pieces of different refining qualities, and work out every ripple, edge, nick and scrape. And when we were done, we had to use the power tools to sand in the centre, again using four grades of sanding. And then buffing. And then buffing again.

But it was worth it. They look seriously amazing. And along with the experience of making them, after the cost for the workshop, gold materials and tax, we got them both for under $1,000. Men's wedding bands start at around that much (though after today I can totally understand why).

The finished product. Shiny!

All in all, not a bad way to spend the day. Maybe not so much on the most beautiful day of the year on the holiday weekend, but I regret nothing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flower Power

The Dude and I are gardening. Of course one of the reasons we moved down here is for the yard. A yard in this city is a major premium. You're lucky to get a balcony or a deck, never mind a damn yard with grass and such. So a few days ago we spent our day off getting our hands dirty.

The previous tenants had a dog, albeit a nice dog, that destroyed the grass with her many trips outside. So there was a massive brown patch in the back. There was also a strip of weeds lining the fence and wild violets everywhere. The grass had started growing uncontrollably from the rain and it's been too wet to cut. We had so much work ahead of us.

We went out for our supplies using Zipcar and were nine minutes late returning it and were charged an extra $35. We picked up a shovel, spade (Which I've already broken), shears, grass seed, top soil and all sorts of plants. We're going to grow us some dang veggies. We tried the potted garden route on our old deck last year and it went okay, but I was a little disappointed with how small the plants were, and we didn't have enough room for more than a few things.

So we went to Fiesta Gardens and bought onions, lettuce, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, strawberries, garlic, zucchini and pumpkin, plus herbs. I also got some sweet pea flowers for the old weed-ridden fence.

It was hell to get it all together. While digging out the flower bed I found all sorts of bulbs, presumably from a garden that once was, long ago suffocated by weeds. There were piles of roots and growth to sort through and throw away. I couldn't discern what was what, so everything went in the compost so I could start from scratch.

The Dude got to work weeding out the wild violets and digging up what would become our vegetable garden. There were old wooden slabs piled in the back of the yard and he used them to block off the soil. There was a bricked off area we chose as our herb garden.

It was so difficult. For some reason we didn't eat before doing this. We didn't eat all day, in fact. The Dude held up a lot better than I did. Eventually I ran out of steam and was merely out there for moral support in the misty gloom while the Dude finished planting the flowers and more of the herbs.

The next day there was even more to do. The Dude was off while I was working, so he was out there again, shearing the grass, planting the rest of the produce and cleaning away all the dead weeds and grass littered all over the yard.

And there's more to go. But! Here is the current state of affairs:

You can see the patches where we had to plant new grass.
The compost bin is crammed full with more to come.

Here's a close-up of the garden.
The herbs are in the corner.
The pumpkin and zucchini are to the left.

Here are the carrots, onions, green beans, lettuce, and peppers.
Straddling the two sections are the strawberries.

Monday, May 16, 2011

High Tea

Today was a day of adult pleasures. And I don't mean XXX pleasures, I mean some friends and I went out to the Windsor Arms for high tea. It's not the sort of thing you do in your early twenties. Sundays then are for greasy breakfasts at dives to recover from the night before, where you'll recap your evening with hungover friends over a plate of bacon and hashbrowns. Been there, enjoyed it. But that era of my life, such as it was, is over like Grover.

It was really fun and charming, and I think we had some of the best conversation possible. How could you not while drinking pot of aromatic looseleaf tea in a delicate butterfly teacup? I gave myself a mini facial and then dressed for the occasion in a retro-inspired green dress and a delicate sequin-collared cardigan and the wrongest shoes I could have selected for a rainy day. I had a soaker in both shoes by the time I got there and my feet were going squish-squish.

There's no classy way to dry your feet in an expensive hotel lounge, so I had to go to the bathroom, remove my sopping shoes and dry them with paper towel. This is probably the third or fourth time I've worn these inappropriate shoes to the wrong place and suffered the consequences. I wore them on a walk through High Park and got them filthy. I wore them on an excursion in Mexico to Coba and climbed a monument and my arches ached. I wear them out in the rain and they always get waterlogged. I really don't know why I keep doing it.

But anyway, the tea, back to the tea. The tea was wonderful. The waiter brought out the layered tea trays with scones and treats and these cylindrical sandwiches that resembled sushi. The scones were what all scones should be. They melted. There was cream and jam. McPal's boyfriend said his grandma called the cream the food of the gods. I said if I were God, I'd eat that cream every day. There was whipped cream and strawberries. We were there for two and a half hours and I'm still actually full at 12:30 a.m.

I can't believe there was an era of time when people just did a tea every day. Perhaps it would lose its lustre if it was a mandatory daily thing, but I can't see how. What a sad thing more people don't have the time to sit down to some tea and treats and talk. The four of us were wishing we could always have high tea. McPal and his boyfriend wanted to throw a tea party. Hell, I want to throw a tea party.

I know this means I'm getting old. I don't even care. High tea and my friends makes me happy. Getting older and maturing means doing what you really want to do instead of what you think is cool. Speaking of which, we have a craft club coming up. I love being 28 and I love being a nerd. I also love that being 28 frees me of any self consciousness I ever had about embracing that.

Friday, May 13, 2011


The Dude and I got a new TV a few days ago. Was this terribly wise, considering we're saving for a wedding? Yes and no. Dude's been wearing me down for years on this topic. I had this tube TV that's about 7 years old, which was obsolete when I bought it. It was all of 26 inches, heavy as ass and it still worked. And that's all I cared about.

I'm the sort of person who doesn't upgrade. I will use anything until it breaks. I have the same toaster I bought to take with me to college 10 years ago. It was bottom of the line and it has no special functions. But damn, it makes toast. My electric kettle came from my late grandmother's house 10 years ago.

I had a touch tone phone with a cord that I was given for Easter when I was 13. That was my home phone until I was 23. I finally threw it away when it stopped hanging up properly and I missed calls, the last one notably a person I'd invited over and who could not buzz me because the phone didn't ring. I've never fully stopped feeling bad about that one.

My laptop I bought refurbished at the end of 2007 to replace the eMac I bought in 2004. Apple had stopped making eMacs by the time I bought that bad boy, so I got a great deal. Only when it stopped working and died on me did I consider getting a new computer.

I had the same futon bed and mattress for about six years, which I had bought to go away to college. By the end it had developed a deep grove in the centre and we'd fall asleep on an angle. In the morning the Dude and I would wake up on top of each other. It also smelled funny. So I cracked and splurged on a new bed, a proper adult bed with a pillowtop mattress. But to the Dude's dismay I didn't get a queen. The double seemed more practical.

So I was ready to hold out getting a TV for quite some time. But this living room is so dang small compared to the last one and the TV stand takes up too much valuable real estate. But such a large stand is needed for such a bulky old TV. So the Dude won and step one of making more space was getting a modern flat-screen TV.

And okay, it's pretty amazing. We didn't get the very best TV (of course) and we bought the floor model. We didn't get the 42-inch or the newest model. We stuck in a budget I could live with and quality the Dude could live with. And this was our first big shared purchase.

And it occurred to me that doing this before the wedding was actually kind of a good idea. We breezed through our decision making, sorting out the pros and cons and came to a consensus. It was the same way with choosing paint colours and it's been this way with making wedding plans. It's nice to know our communication holds up for large purchases for the home.

And I guess it's nice to have something up-to-date in the house. Such a rarity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother love

I generally like the concept of Mother's Day. But on a personal level, I find it painful and sad.

I had a dream about my mom last night, one I can't remember. It wasn't a happy or a sad thing. I just know she was there, probably because she's been on my mind.

My mom and I looked a lot alike. Not as much when I was a teenager, when my face was rounder and I resembled my dad more, but very much so now, now that I'm a little older and my baby face is starting to age. Yes, I still have a baby face at 28. Only a couple years ago I was still being carded for lottery tickets.

But as the years go by, more and more I see my mother's face when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself and it's a shock. But it's not a bad thing, just an emotional jolt from time to time. And then I feel good. It's hard to be too critical of my facial features when they remind me of someone I love. It's not exactly a feeling of being beautiful, so much as it's a fondness and affection for the little quirks in my nose that my mom had.

I think she had a little more grace than I do. She was a kook in her own subtle way, but she was more ladylike, more likeable to more people. She was gentle and firm in her opinions, but she listened. She was gullible and a salesperson's dream. She was sometimes naive and ideological, but a strong feminist as well. She knew how to stick to her guns. She was a poor cook, didn't stress about housework, but my brother and I had all the attention from her that we could want. She didn't miss games and recitals. She made me pursue physical activity (Against my nature) and didn't care how well I did, so long as I did it.

She was often blunt with me when I fell short, and warm when I made her proud. She had high expectations, but not so high I couldn't make her happy. The thing that drove her the most crazy about me was my critical words for things I didn't like and my lack of motivation. Though I was very motivated to articulate when I didn't like something.

My mother and I didn't have a friendship. She was the parent. She never lost her temper with me if I wanted to talk to her about serious things, though she got very embarrassed about sexual matters and generally seemed shy and juvenile about them, her tone growing less mature and assured when questioning if I needed a bra, after having let me go many months too long without one, uncertain how to broach the issue.

But when it came to body images and the media, eating disorders, abusive relationships, and many other problems facing women, she had confidence and wisdom and shared her ideas about those things with me often, usually in her bed. Whenever I saw her reading when I was a teenager, I'd crawl into bed with her and talk. It was the sort of dick move teens pull when seeing attention diverted elsewhere from themselves. But she made herself available, eyes always on her book, so I could continue to feel like I was interrupting her while pouring my heart out.

I miss her. I regret a lot of things. Mostly, I wish I could have come of age when she was alive. I could have gotten to know the woman behind the mother. I never reached a point in my life where I could see her through an adult lens and see who she really was. I only saw her as the dependent I was at the time, with my needs and my wants and all my projections of who I thought she was based on my mood that day and whether or not I had gotten my way.

16-year-olds are capable of loving deeply, but they lack the maturity and depth to love selflessly enough to really appreciate another person. I lost my mother during the most selfish era of my life and I never got the chance to grow out of it and be the sort of daughter I wish I could be to her now. I like to think we'd talk often and I be able to ask her all kinds of things about her life. There are a lot of blanks.

All I've got now is my life to live, hopefully in a way she'd be proud of. In the absence of a living mother, this is the best I can do.

Mother's Day hasn't really gotten any easier, to be honest. But that's just because I love my mom and she's gone. There's some comfort in that. Love sometimes hurts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Majority bull

The fucking election.

You know, my stance on the Tories is pretty much a given. My stance on our electoral system is just as poor. A government in this antiqued system can be given total power with 40% of the vote. That minority of support grants over half the seats and delivers a majority government. Or in this case, less than 40%.

That's right, folks. 39.62% of the country elected a disproportionate number of MPs who now speak for 100% of Canada. The rest of the MPs have little voice now. Their policies and ideas and questions can be ignored.

When a system grants over 50% of seats for a 40% showing in support, the system makes no sense. The Green party focused on getting their first MP elected, and they succeeded. But due to a lack of campaign efforts across the country in order to do so, they lost half their support. But with half the support, they have a seat with around 500,000 votes total for their party, whereas with nearly 1 million they had zero seats.

Toronto is thoroughly undersupported. We have 2.5 million people in Toronto. Prince Edward Island has 140,000. We have 22 ridings and they have 4. Doing the rough math, PE Islanders have about 1 MP for every 35,000 people and Torontonians have 1 MP per 113,000 people.

Saskatchewan has about 1,050,000 people and 14 seats. That's 1 MP per 75,000 people BUT! Let's take a look at Rural Alberta ridings, shall we? 590,000 people, 12 seats. That's one MP for every 49,000 people.

The more rural you are, the more sparsely populated your area, the more your vote counts and the more you get heard in the House of Commons. But then again, we have a first past the post system and not proportional representation. So who the hell even needs to bother counting up these numbers. Roughly 60% of Canadians cast votes which elect nobody.

We live in a broken electoral system and that's a fact. Who's going to fix it? The party that just rode a majority off of the existing system? Probably not.