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Some days you just have to laugh.  Today was one of those days. 

It was pouring rain when I woke up so I pulled out an old pair of jeans for delivering papers (the kind that I knew would stay up even if I got soaked).  I guess this particular pair of jeans hasn’t been washed since our washer had trouble rinsing and draining.  As I got thoroughly drenched, soap started oozing out of my jeans and gathering mid-leg.  I looked like a drowned rat with sudsy  kneecaps.  It was hilarious and embarrassing at the same time. 

Coming home and hopping in the shower was pure joy.  So was throwing my old pair of sudsing jeans into the now working washer. 

DA’s family came over to feast with us tonight.  Yesterday was his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.  Great reason to wine and dine in my opinion.  As our guests were heading out the door, it was discovered that “Wasn’t Me” had left the garage open and an uninvited guest, namely a skunk, had waddled in.  DA and Uncle G tried in vain to gently coax that friendly skunk out but he decided he wasn’t going anywhere.  Our garbage is now sitting in the front entryway.  We hoped that no garbage out in the garage would equal no skunk in that part of our home.  Wrong.  Twinkie (that’s what the boys have dubbed him) seems to want to stay anyways.  Yup.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.

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I’m still in an unusually artistic mood.  Even after delivering papers, I totally felt like going for a walk and taking pictures.  It’s been quite dry around here and the temperatures have cooled off a bit so I tried strolling through our back woods.  Normally they are too flooded and mosquito infested to be enjoyable.  Today I blundered through there like I had discovered a whole new world.  I say blundered because I’m sure I stepped on every twig possible and made more noise than those woods have heard in a long time.  I took a lot of photos but none of them turned out the way I hoped they would.  I kept this one as a possibility for the fair category “roots” but I’m not entirely enamored with it.

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Not having satisfied my artsy longings with photos, I turned to drawing.

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I really enjoyed sketching this little girl.  The easel – not so much.  The drawing is based on this photo that I found in a recent publication.

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It was very challenging but I’m happy with how it turned out.  My camera didn’t do the greatest job capturing it.  The paper is actually white and the pencil is a little darker than it shows up in the photo.

Seeing my artwork and photos hanging on display at the fall fair did something to me.  Suddenly I feel like pursuing art again.  As a kid, I drew often but as an adult I’ve done precious little to add to my portfolio.  When there are more demands on my time, I feel I need a reason to do something as frivolous as wile away an hour of my time on art.  Entering pieces in the fair is just the excuse I needed to get back to something I genuinely enjoy.  I don’t know what the categories will be next year but if there is a portrait group, I might enter this:

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It’s supposed to be Louis Real.  I found this picture in a beautiful book on Canada I purchased when the boys and I were studying our fair land

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and thought to myself, “I think I can draw that.”

Here’s a closer up of the picture on the front of the Louis Real statue:

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I’ve never used white pencil crayon on black construction paper before but was pleased with the result.  I spent close to an hour on this piece and was amazed how quickly the time passed.  Time does fly when you are having fun!

I’ve also started taking photos, that instantaneous form of art, for next year’s fair.  My neighbour passed on to me the categories; the first one was simply “red”.  I don’t have a lot of red in my home.  I’m more drawn to earthy, subdued colours, but when I saw these red tomatoes shining in the sun on my kitchen windowsill, I thought I’d try to capture this invigorating hue.

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I put a red tea towel underneath since my kitchen windowsill isn’t the prettiest and was pleased with the colour saturation.  I will likely try photographing a number of red things but these tomatoes were a good start for that category.

I haven’t written about books much since we stopped homeschooling but that’s not because I’ve stopped reading.  D brought home a book from school called “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld that totally got my attention and held it.  I practically had to fight him to read it since we both really got into the story.  He just announced to me that he got book 2 in the series (called “Pretties”) a few days ago but intentionally didn’t inform me about it because he wanted to read it without trying to pry it away from me.  Aah!

He’s O.K. on that front for now.  I took out “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” by John Gray from the library and am finding it quite insightful.  I am a typical Venusian and the guys in my household are typical Martians.  I find I often just don’t get them.  This book, though it’s not new, is new to me and I am finding it helpful.  I am learning what I am doing wrong and why it’s getting the reactions it is.  The way women communicate and the way men do it are quite different, like we’re from different planets.  Knowing this can really aid in understanding the opposite sex and lead to more effective and peaceful living.  It will be a challenge to implement the ideas presented.  They really go against my natural way of doing things but I’m excited to see if they really work.  I have a feeling they will and everyone in my home will be happier for me having read this book and going “Oh, now I see.”

My neighbour popped over for a few minutes with my art and photo entries that I was supposed to pick up on Sunday but didn’t.  Oops!

I found out that one of my photos did get a ribbon.

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My shot of an old barn (this is a picture of the photo) took second.  I’m quite flattered.  There were a lot of entries for each category and there were many excellent shots.  DA is also quite  pleased.  He drove me around looking for old barns and had to put up with me as I took picture after picture in drizzling rain.  This was his favourite of all my entries.

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Here’s my new collection of ribbons.

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That big one’s my favourite.  Apparently I was the exhibitor earning the most points in the art division.  Think I’ll start drawing a bit more now.

DA just drilled holes for me and together we put the knobs on what will be our master bedroom dresser.  I still need to do some touch ups but here’s one project that’s just about finished.

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We probably won’t be able to get it up the stairs any time soon.  There’s a lot of P’s things on the stairwell landing congesting the way to our bedroom but it feels good to scratch another project off the to do list.

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The drawer fronts are covered with Debbie Travis textured wallpaper and the Egyptian brass knobs came from Walmart for anyone who cares to know.

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The last couple of days have been about stories.  There have been happy stories of winning prizes.

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I picked up my third prize gift certificate at Ecocentric yesterday but couldn’t spend it before I had a picture taken of it.  After all, photos are a way of telling a story.  Since it was the grand opening for the store, everyone also got a free tree to plant.

Here’s another picture telling the happy story of winning a prize.

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D’s name was randomly drawn at the Teen Survivor party he attended yesterday night at the library.  This little card is worth $50 at Future Shop.  P also came out a winner.  He got a Dairy Queen coupon good for one free sundae.  Not a bad night for our little family!

Then there are the funny stories.  While delivering newspapers this morning, we all had tales to tell.  P’s first route was right beside a golf course.  Some golfer whacked a very errant shot and a golf ball flew over the fence and narrowly missed P’s head.  He wasn’t looking for projectiles coming at him so it totally took him by surprise.  He came back grateful that it missed him.  It would have been quite the owie if it hadn’t.

D’s first route was a new one.  He totally got lost.  I sent him out with only 14 papers to deliver.  He came back with 8 still in hand.  We ended up doing the route together and I have to admit it is one of the more complicated ones I’ve done.

While the boys were out doing their first routes, I headed out to do one of my own.  I didn’t get very far when a large plastic shield under my front bumper came off and started dragging on the ground.  What to do?  I put it back as best I could but of course it just kept falling off.  By the time we all got back together we were laughing about all our absurd problems.  Things only got better when I managed to drag my sorry vehicle into the Dollarama parking lot.  I was hoping to pick up some duct tape and do a sort of Red Green style temporary fix.  That didn’t happen.  Right beside Dollarama is one of those outdoor flower markets.  The lady working there came running out assuring me that she had had the same problem (and many others) and could fix it.  The Florist Mechanic made good on her word.  She deftly grabbed some tie downs, strung them together and tied that piece back on good as new.  We talked as she worked.  Turns out she’s a single mom and to save money has had to learn to do a lot of things herself.  I could relate to that.  I told her a bit of my story and she shared a bit of hers.  We ended up shaking grimy hands, hers from plants and mine from newspapers.  I pray that God will bless Florist Mechanic for being a Good Samaritan today.  It’s interesting to me that the whole time she was busy working under my van no one came to look at her flowers.  As soon as she was done though a customer came.  I’ll tell DA the story tonight and he’ll marvel once again how God looks out for me.

You would think that would be the end of funny stories for the day but it wasn’t.  While driving around to pick up the boys from their next routes, Mr. British Columbia, who was cruising along in front of me, stopped, put his van in reverse, and came straight at me.  I couldn’t believe it so I layed on the horn.  He didn’t react quickly enough and backed right into me.  I must have been driving along in his blind spot because he came out swearing that he didn’t see anyone behind him.  I drive a fair sized bright red van so that seemed a bit hard to believe.  He must have been really focused on finding his sister’s house because he didn’t hear me honk either.  The long and the short of it was that there seemed to be almost no damage done to either vehicle so I told him not to worry about it.  Maybe that’s not anyone else’s idea of a funny story but after all that had already happened that morning, the boys and I kind of laughed about it.

Then there are the happy ending stories.  After our delivery adventures the boys convinced me to get KFC.  We pigged out on greasy food and soda on the drive home, got cleaned up and then D and I headed out to the Bracebridge Fall Fair.  P decided he just wanted some time at home.  It turns out that all of my art entries won ribbons and that I took the big ribbon for most points earned by a new entrant.  Woo hoo!  My neighbour tells me I have some prize money coming my way.  My photo entries didn’t win but that was understandable.  There were A LOT of photo entries and some of them were very good.  I’ll have to try again next year.  With the number of entries for each category, it would be exciting to place.

Of course, I took my handy, dandy, little camera with me.

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D made a few friends in Bracebridge.

He also convinced me to go on a few rides with him on the Midway.

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This one freaked me out a bit.  I now know where P gets his fear of heights.  I was feeling a wee bit nervous in these rocking pods up so high.  That’s my embarrassing story of the day.  Little kids were doing this ride with ease and I was hanging on the sides pretty tightly and closing my eyes at the top.  D found that kind of funny.

My proud story of the day?  The Tilt-A-Whirl didn’t turn into the Tilt-N-Hurl for me.  I spun with the best of them and held on to my cookies.

About three weeks ago, I entered a short story writing contest sponsored by a new store in Orillia that officially opened today.  I just got home from delivering papers when I got the call.  I won third prize, a $50 gift certificate.  Woo hoo!  I have to bring the boys to the library tonight for their Teen Survivor party so since I’ll be downtown anyways, I’ll get to pick up my moulah and look around Ecocentric all by lonesome.  I’m sure that $50 will be spent pretty quickly.

Speaking of money, the boys have dollar signs in their eyeballs too.  They let the neighbour’s dog out today and found that the owner had left $20 for each of them for their “hard” work.  I’m pretty sure those dollaros will get spent lickity split too.

It’s been Project City around here for the last couple of weeks.  I’m happy to report that I’ve made progress on each of the projects I’m working on.

Project #1:  Bracebridge Fall Fair Entries

My photos got mounted and tagged this week and I managed to get all of my art pieces framed and capable of being hung by wire.  (That’s a requirement.)  My neighbour hauled them all off in a cardboard box tonight, assuring me that they’d get put in the right places and that she’d fix anything that I had done incorrectly.  She also handed me a list of categories for next year’s photo contest.  Guess she thinks I’ll make this an annual thing.  I’m just glad to get the bristol board, scissors, tape, stapler, hammer, art work and picture hanging stuff off of my bedroom floor.  Does it ever look nice in there now that it’s not being cluttered up with fair hopefuls.

Project #2:  P’s Bedroom Makeover

This project isn’t getting accomplished quickly but it is turning out nicely so far.  That icky window got a good cleaning and some fresh white paint and looks A LOT better.  The tops of the walls are now Sico’s “Amazing White” and the bottoms have been wonderfully transformed with Sico’s “Cloak” which looks just like melted chocolate when you pour it out of the can.  Around the middle of the wall is a Ralph Lauren stripe the same colour as P’s comforter.  It took a lot of measuring and taping to get the look but I’m really pleased how it turned out.  This is going to be one great looking room!  I hauled out all the furniture and creatively found places to put it temporarily.  The trim is off so now I’m set to start ripping out carpet, underpad and carpet track.  I have never installed laminate flooring before but I’m going to give this DIY option a try.  Yes.  I’m actually going to use power tools.  DA has graciously agreed to help me.  I’m really excited about this makeover.  So far, it’s been a lot of fun.

Project #3:  The Dresser

Last but not least is that amazing dresser I found on Kijiji.  The body has had three coats of white paint and is looking quite nice.  The drawers are another story.  I started out taking off the trim that was dating them and filling in the damaged parts.  I did my best to sand them smooth but when I painted them I could see that I hadn’t done the greatest job.  A second coat of paint didn’t make them look any better.  By the next day, the wood resin bled through the paint showing exactly where the old trim had been.  Those drawers really looked bad so I went to plan B and bought a roll of paintable wallpaper in an attempt to create textured drawer fronts.  Once I got the wallpaper cut and pasted I was feeling much better about the whole thing.  Then the next day I felt like crying.  The wood resin bled even through the wallpaper!  So, today I went to Home Depot and got some B-I-N, a shellac based primer that’s supposed to seal stains.  So far, I’m impressed.  It went on easily, dried in just 45 minutes and seems to have covered those wood bleeds.  I’ve already put on a layer of paint and I’m back to being excited about this project.  Those drawers will get one more coat of paint and then we’ll start drilling holes for new hardware (which I don’t have yet because I haven’t yet found anything that I like.)  I’m really impatient to get this project finished.  It’s cluttering up my entry way and living room and I’m over the top about finally having a dresser in our room.  I won’t show you what our closet looks like right now.  It’s too shameful.  That nine drawer dresser is going to be a blessing.

I’m looking forward to home being just home again.  Project City is fun and all but it kind of gets on your nerves after a while.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.