Friday, September 30, 2011

Do or do not. There is no try.

Yoda may not think there is any such thing as 'try' but I certainly do.  I will do my best not to let Yoda down as I participate in Blogtoberfest.

A number of my fellow participants have already gotten started since they live in Australia, New Zealand or other countries that like to live in the future.  Fortunately for me, I still have a day to mentally prepare my first post.

Can I blog every day for an entire month?  If I do, will my posts at the end of the month consist of me just mashing my hand on the keyboard and then hitting 'publish'?  Let's find out!

If you want to participate as well, and get yourself the sweet Blogtoberfest button that you see off to the left, go visit Tinnie Girl!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Johnny Scofflaw...

I did something the other day that may or may not have involved breaking the law*.  At the very least, it probably wasn't all that ethical.  I...opened mail that wasn't addressed to me.

I admit, I'm a little fascinated by the mail that we receive that is addressed to the previous tenant.  Let's call him Bob.  Bob clearly wasn't too concerned about where his mail was ending up because it doesn't appear that he ever filed a change of address with Canada Post.  We've been getting mail for him from day one.  A lot of it is junk, some of it is bills or catalogues.  In my head, I've been recreating Bob's life, based on the information I've gleaned about him from his mail**.  That may seem weird but it's kind of a hobby of mine - there are always background stories about the people I come across whirling around in my head.

Anyway, Bob seems to be a patron of the arts - he gets mail from the Vancouver Art Gallery, from various theatres around town, and other events.  He's had mail from Saab and BMW.  Catalogues from Harry Rosen.  He may be a generous fellow, considering the mail he's gotten from various charities.  He seems like your average city dwelling man.  I had seen Bob once, when The Boy and I were looking at the apartment, and this assessment fits, I think.  His girlfriend/wife was pregnant at the time, so he's a dad now.  They probably moved on to a bigger place, or a house of their own, and are now living a life of domestic bliss.  Or are they?  Has Bob gone astray?

You see, an envelope slid through our mail slot the other day.  It was hand addressed to Bob but had no return address.  It was stamped and franked by the post office, so it wasn't hand delivered.  The sender had gotten his name and address from somewhere.  One would think from Bob himself.

At first glance, it appeared the envelope contained a letter and the writing on the front suggested it was written by an older hand.  I thought, 'How nice.  Bob is getting a hand written letter from his Grandma, or perhaps an elderly aunt'.  Then it struck me as odd that there was no return address.  Who's Grandma doesn't have those pre-printed, address labels that get sent out every Christmas?   If I simply wrote 'Return to Sender' on the envelope and re-mailed it, I knew it would only end up at the dead letter office (Oh, how I'd love to work there!), where it would end up incinerated, or shredded, or folded into origami  animals.  I didn't want to leave the letter to such a fate so I began debating (in my mind) what I should do.  My intentions were good - I would open the letter and see if there was a name that would help me to re-direct the letter back to the writer.

I didn't want to invade the privacy of Bob, or of his Grandma/Aunt, so while I was puzzling out what to do, I examined the envelope.  It's your standard white envelope, and therefore, somewhat see through.  When I pressed it down, I could see some thick, black print.  It didn't look like hand writing.  On closer examination, I could read ' Evangelical Tract Distribution'.  Ah ha!  So not from Bob's Grandma (I hope) but from a church goer, or perhaps one of those people who stand on street corners handing out magazines.  At this point, I no longer cared about invasion of privacy and opened the envelope.  It was re-sealable anyway, so I could still throw it in the mail at some point.

Inside there were three small pamphlets.  One was titled 'Are You Ready to Meet God?' and intended for anyone who is a newb to religion, another was titled 'The King is Coming' (bold font included) that talks about, you guessed it, the eagerly anticipated second Earth tour by the rock star himself, JC.  The third pamphlet was titled 'Blood You Can Depend On' complete with cover graphics of a blood bank donor bag.  It was within this pamphlet that things got interesting.  Maybe I was wrong about Bob.  Maybe he isn't such a nice guy.

This particular pamphlet was about sin, sacrifice and how the blood of Christ can wash one's soul clean.  It's the usual stuff.  However, one paragraph was singled out with a pen mark around it (in the same ink and wobbly hand as the address on the envelope).  It read as follows:

             But, thank God, there is a way to erase guilt and escape the wrath to come
             in the cleansing blood of Jesus.  His blood type is available and suitable for 
             all sinners.  One only needs to repent of his sin and come to Jesus for salvation
             now.  "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3), are Christ's
             words to the sinner.  "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: 
             though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be
             red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isiah 1:18).

The underlining was not part of the printing but was done, again, by the person who addressed the letter.  It suggested to me that the person who sent this was sending a very particular message to Bob.  '...though your sins be as scarlet...'  Bob.  What did you do, Bob??  Whatever it was, it must have been weighing on him enough that the felt the need to seek guidance...or forgiveness.

Or did he?  Surely, if he had been having a conversation about what ever it was that he did, or that he felt he had done, the person he was talking to could have given him the pamphlets then.  At the very least they could have directed him to some passages in the bible (King James version, just so we're clear.)

Maybe Bob was caught in flagrante delicto by some nosey do-gooder.  If so, how did they get his address?  More importantly, how did they get the address that he hasn't lived at in over a year?  Is Bob handing out this address to people he doesn't really want to hear from, and yet can't refuse to give the information to them?

My next thought was that maybe this mail was never intended for Bob.  Maybe it was meant for me.  Perhaps, there is an all knowing, all seeing presence*** who guided this particular missive into my hands, knowing that my innate nosiness would lead me to open the envelope.  Perhaps I was being admonished for opening other people's mail.  If that's the case then all I can say to God, Buddha or the Invisible Space Pickle (whichever of them was responsible) is this:

                     Curiousity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back.

Moral of the story:  Maybe I really know nothing about Bob and never will.  Maybe I shouldn't be opening mail not addressed to me.  However, it's curiousity about the world and the people in it that feeds my imagination.  If not for that, I wouldn't have a blog post for you today and you wouldn't have a slightly better (and scarier?) insight into how the mind of The Happy Ranter works.  Sometimes, you just  gotta break the rules.

*I've always heard 'it's a federal offence to open someone else's mail' but finding a law that clearly states that was pretty hard to come by.  The closest I could find was that it is illegal to take mail from other people's mailboxes, homes, the post office, etc with the intention of using the information found within to commit fraud or identity theft, etc.  It becomes a little more shady when the mail is addressed to your home but to the previous tenant.

** I'd like to point out that I always mark his mail 'Return to Sender' or 'Moved' and mail it for re-delivery.  Well, except this one time.  So maybe not 'always' but definitely 'usually'.

*** I'm an atheist.  I don't actually believe this.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Check-out Line Etiquette 101

I'm a firm believer that people should be given the same consideration in check-out lines as they are when using an ATM.  Most people these days pay with their debit card, and no-one wants some stranger hanging over your shoulder, watching you enter your PIN.  Even if a person is paying with cash, I think it's really rude to crowd someone while they're trying to complete their retail therapy.  So, here's my rant about check-out line etiquette and why I should be allowed to stomp on the feet of strangers.

*All of these examples happened to me yesterday in the space of about an hour.  I was beginning to suspect a conspiracy.*

Maybe I should have this printed on a shirt.
Image Via.

Invasion of personal space:  I was at a drug store buying some things for The Boy when I sensed, or rather smelled, the presence of someone behind me.  I barely had to turn my head to see the woman who had sidled up because she was only about 2 cms away from touching me.  I only glanced at her with my peripheral vision for a second but that slight turning of my head was enough for me to get a face full of the alcoholic fumes and cigarette breath that were pouring out of her as she slurred into her cell phone.  It was 10:15 in the morning.  Clearly, she was a class act.

Even though the lush was practically perched on my shoulder, I didn't really worry too much about her being able to see me entering my PIN because I was pretty sure that a) she was seeing double and b) she wouldn't remember it and, in fact, probably wouldn't even remember how she got to the drug store.  What bothered me the most was that I really didn't want to be able to smell her breakfast of Jim Beam, Cheerios and a Marlboro.  Surely, at the very least, she could remember to take others into consideration and swig some mouth wash before she ventures forth in search of nicotine.  Minty fresh for the general public and an extra hit of alcohol for her - win/win!

Moral of the story - if you're gross, or even if you're lovely, don't get all up in my business at the check-out.  Don't get all up in anybody's business.  Mind your own damn business and allow for personal space!

Any excuse to add a LOLCat.
Image Via.

Pretending you don't see me:  I carried on with my shopping adventure and went looking for a shirt at my local Winners.  I found a shirt, waited patiently in line for the next cashier, and then proceeded forward when it was my turn.  I noticed that the cashier acknowledged the presence of the next person in line, who must have waved or made eyes at her.  Keep in mind, the cashier merely nodded - she didn't make any 'come hither' motions.  Besides which, I was quite clearly making a purchase and she was serving me.

Within seconds of the cashier's fatal error of politeness, the woman who had been behind me in line was suddenly at my side, telling the cashier that she would like to make a return.  At this point the cashier was still ringing my purchase through.  I turned and stared at the woman who didn't even acknowledge my presence and I wondered if I had mistakenly put on my cloak of invisibility that morning.  The cashier simultaneously asked the woman politely to wait her turn while shooing her away dismissively with her hand.  I liked her a lot in that instant.  The woman, sounding as surprised as if I had suddenly jumped out from behind a tree yelling 'Boo!', said 'Oh!' and returned to the line.

Moral of the story:  Just because you choose not to believe that I'm standing in front of you, doesn't mean I'm not there.  Pull your head out of your ass, you self-centred twat.

Even if you're the leader of a nation, you're not line-jumping ahead of me.
Image Via.

Bullying in the check-out line:  This one mostly applies to grocery stores, or any store that has conveyor belts at the cash registers.  My second to last stop of the day was at a grocery store.  I picked up one item and headed for the express line (people who try to take full trolleys through the express lines also really piss me off but that's a story for another rant).  There were two people in front of me, both with items on the conveyor belt, so I stood at reasonable distance from the man in front of me and waited my turn.

 As the line moved forward, the man ahead of me placed one of those separation bars behind his items and I placed mine on the conveyor belt.  Queue the jerk behind me who appeared and began to breathe down my neck.  He placed his basket on the shelf below the conveyor belt and began picking things up out of it.  There were still two people ahead of me at this point so I was positioned at the end of  the belt.  I don't like grocery store bullies and I suddenly felt like irritating this man as much as I possibly could.

The people ahead of me moved forward and now there was only one other shopper ahead.  That meant there was plenty of room on the conveyor belt.  The man behind had now started making impatient huffing and puffing noises and was piling his items precariously at the end of the conveyor belt.  I started to reach for the separation bar and to move forward, but I made sure that I was moving at glacial speed.

Eventually, the only item on the conveyor belt was my one, small pack of yoghurt

Moral of the story:  Cashiers can only help one person at a time so there is really no point in trying to make people move faster.  Don't try and rush me at the grocery store.  The more you try and  push me forward, the slower I will move.

So, darlings, remember to play nice when you're out shopping.  If people won't play nice with you, feel free to mess with them.  It's kind of fun!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'll Try It. I Might Like It...

I don't usually participate in posts like this but I'm willing to try something new.  My buddy CC does this every Monday and I always enjoy her answers because she's just so entertaining.  Plus, it's always fun to learn new things about old friends.  For me, this is a bit of a cop out post because there was something I was going to rant about but I was hesitating.  It's kind of a bummer subject and you know, I've had a good day and don't want to bring myself down.  So, without further ado, here is:

FMM: All About Me
1. What are your talents? I'm pretty crafty and a little bit arty.  I'll give most types of craft a go, except maybe anything made with cat hair.  At the moment I'm a little bit obsessed with quilting and I seem to come by the skill naturally.
2. What is your best habit? I brush my teeth at least twice a day.
3. If you had to be stuck with someone in an elevator for 8 hours, who would you want it to be? Assuming I get to resurrect people from the dead, I'd say Edward Gorey.  I like to think we'd spend our time covering the walls of the elevator in creepy doodles and making up silly rhymes together.
4. Share one odd fact about you that we’d never know to ask. When I count to five using my hands (doesn't matter which one) I use my  thumb, index, middle, pinkie, and then ring finger.
5. What’s your latest project (work, home, whatever you care to share?) Building up my Etsy store and working at being a better, more consistent blogger.  It's an ongoing effort.
6. If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?  I'd like to lose some weight, which is something that I could change if I weren't so damned lazy, so I guess that doesn't count.  Other than that, honestly, I don't think I'd change anything.  Once upon a time, the list would have been long but I've learnt to accept  that this is my skin, this is who I am.  If I changed the shape of my nose, would I still  look like me?  I don't really want to risk it.  (Okay, maybe my hair.  I might change that.)
7. What do you do in your spare time? Read, craft, ponder, hunt down new blogs to follow.
8. What is your biggest pet peeve? Gigantic, non-folding strollers on buses.  And ridiculous over-sized flower headbands on babies.  I can't decide which bothers me more.
9. Why do you blog? I've always liked to write, and I enjoy the sense of community, particularly among craft/art bloggers.  I also find it therapeutic and who doesn't like free therapy?
10. Are you tidy or messy? I guess that depends on one's definitions of tidy and messy.  Let's just say I like the 'lived in' look.
11. What’s the last song that played on your iPod? Winter is All Over You - First Aid Kit
12. Do you cook?  If so, what’s for dinner tonight? I am an occasional cook but mostly I leave it up to the expertise of my (former chef) husband.  I do make a mean stir fry and pad thai, though.
13. Do you like sports?  If so, list your teams. I like hockey and I like Aussie Rules.  'My' teams are the Calgary Flames because I was born in Calgary.  If Victoria had an NHL team, I'd probably support them too because I love Victoria.  I currently live in Vancouver but the Canucks will never be my team because I consider myself to only be passing through.  As for Aussie Rules, the Melbourne Demons are my team, no matter how far down the ladder they are. Go, D's!
14. How often do you read and/or watch the news? We don't have cable anymore so I rarely watch the news unless I hear about something that I want to see footage of.  In that case, I find it online.  A couple of times a week I'll check out a few news pages but I find most of it to be either drivel, or too angry/sad making.
15. Did you stick to your new Year’s resolution this year?  If so, elaborate. I'd have to go back and check the archives.  I don't think I made resolutions per se, but goals I wanted to meet.  Again, I'll have to check to see if I've been successful!
16. What are you looking forward to most in the remainder of 2011? I don't have any big plans for the remainder of the year.  I want to keep working at the personal projects I have on the go and I'm looking forward to continuing to do so.
17. Shoes, sunglasses or handbags?  I used to have a BIG shoe fetish but that's faded a bit.  I still look at shoes everywhere I go but these days I prefer bare feet (not that I walk the city streets with bare feet!  Eewww.)  I only ever buy cheap sunglasses because it's inevitable that I will break them, or I'll lose the tiny screws that hold the arms on.  I do love a good handbag and have a couple that I rotate.  I'd like to start making my own so that I have full control over material, colour and style.
18. How do you feel about sleeping on satin sheets?  I've never had satin sheets.  Cotton is the only way to go.
19. Do you sing in the shower? I do if my husband isn't home.  No need to traumatize him.
20.Describe yourself in one word. Curious.
If you want to participate in Friend Makin' Monday, go here to find the deets.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


 As you know from my last post (lo, those many moons ago) I was gearing up for yet another poke at my lady bits.  That happened near the end of July and all went well.  I woke up from the anaesthetic (which is always a relief) and was fully recovered a day or so later.  I had a follow up appointment with the doc recently and I was given the all clear, meaning nothing untoward going on 'down there' and that the polyps that were removed and sent for testing were cancer-free.

So!  My freshly spackled and smoothed uterus is all ready for a new tenant.  No takers yet but the rent is reasonable and I'm sure I'll find someone willing to sign a nine month lease any time now.  Failing that, I'll be jumping aboard the IUI train.  Tickets aren't cheap and there are no guarantees I'll make it to my destination but I may as well try it before I decide to fly the friendly skies on IVF Air.*

The bigger reason for a portion of my bloggy absence is the trip I took to Australia.  It was kind of a last minute decision and it happened thanks to the incredible generosity of my sister.  (*waves* Thanks, sis!) She's been on my case to come out for a visit, and since it was my Mum's 70th birthday this year, and since I have two adorable nieces there, and since I also have other lovely family members there, I decided to give in to her pleading and grace them all with my presence.

In truth, I only went for the Devonshire Tea at Miss Marple's.
It had been almost two years since my last visit, when I went out for the birth of my first niece, Miss A.  Kids have a funny way of growing up over time, so I figured I should stop in for a progress report.  I'd post a picture so you could see how adorable she is, but I'm not really keen on displaying pictures of children that aren't mine on blogs with open access.  You'll just have to take my word for it - she's cute as a button (even her almost-two 'tude is cute).

Since my last visit my other niece was born and she and her mum went through the joy that is immigrating to Australia.  They were successful (yay!) and my brother is a much happier man having his girls with him.  Miss E is only a few months younger than Miss A and the two of them together is cute overload.  At present Miss E is still speaking Chinese (yes, I know!  It's either Mandarin or Cantonese.  I don't know which because I don't speak it!).  Tiny children speaking foreign languages?  Adorable.  Also adorable is the serious look Miss E gets on her face that is all my brother.

My sister and I decided to surprise Mum with my visit so everyone was sworn to secrecy.  There were a few moments where the cat was almost set loose from the bag, but it all came good in the end.  I hid behind a newspaper at the McDonald's my Mum frequents for her coffee (one of the rare places a person can get a drip coffee in Australia.  Seriously need to open a Timmie's in Melbourne!).  When she and my sister sat down at the table next to me, I lowered the paper and casually asked if they'd like to join me.  I had to ask twice because Mum didn't recognize me at first (probably because my face is a little, um, rounder these days) but once it twigged there was hugging and tears.  As a bonus, they were already planning on going to a craft and quilt fair that morning, so I got to hang out with my sister, surprise my Mum and go look at fabrics and quilts.  Nice.

The rest of my time was spent going to Gymbaroo, numerous parks, ordering vast quantities of babycinos and decaf soy lattes, playing games with my youngest brother, building block towers, washing dishes, and general basking in the happiness of being amidst my family.  It came to an end sooner than I would have liked, as it always does.  I really think airports need to pump nitrous oxide into the departure lounges - saying goodbye is too damn sad.

Before I spiral into tears thinking about that, I'd like to advise all of you, lovely readers, that I have a new system in place that will hopefully ensure my posts are a more regular event.  Now, you may be thinking 'Pffft.  Heard that one before.' but 'tis true!  Thanks to the efforts of Jess over at Epheriell (lovely gal who makes lovely things - check it out) who complied a collection of links for lists/organizational freebies, I now have a system for jotting down ideas and planning out posts.  Of course I could have been using a pad of paper, or post it notes, all this time but these are PRETTY.  Pretty shiny things make it easier for me to focus.

So, come back soon, or better yet, follow me or add me to your reader feed.  There will be new things!  Funny things!  Ranty things!  Odd, you-think-I-might-be-on-something things!  For reals.

*It's a lot more fun to talk about my struggles to procreate if I describe them in terms of property rentals and modes of transportation.  Got any ideas for funny/strange euphemisms I can use to talk about my lady parts?  The best suggestion might get a prize!