Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Muddle of a Post---Miracles, Cats, Comas, Old Friends and a Lakeside Retreat

From E's enchanted house.

OK, this is an advanced warning of the muddled and convoluted nature of this post.
If you get fed up with my story-in-a-story thing, you may want to click NEXT about now.
But this story has a few sub stories that I find interesting and feel relevant to this blog/journal of mine.

Last Thursday evening, I went out walking with my camera, hoping to get some shots of the marina near my house.  I live in a town of 260,000 people.  It is on Lake Ontario and has 2 major creeks (rivers) one on each end of the town.  Each end of town has a marina.
Here's a shot of the creek.  My mum used to live in that condo right here, before her stroke.
I ventured down towards the marina,
but ended up spotting an old family friend sitting on the terrace of one of the few original cottages left by the marina.
E's creek side retreat.

E. used to live in my mums old apartment building.  Although much younger than my mother, E became good friends with my mother.  Despite having 9 cats (5 inherited after her mother died), E is not a crazy cat lady, and is indeed a stylish and lovely local restaurant owner.  My mother became her cat sitter, and would make my dad carry a tray of 9 little dishes of tuna on the elevator to E's apartment when she was cat sitting.

When my father died, E. hosted my entire family at her restaurant the night of his funeral, closing one whole part down,
 and providing us with dinner and wine all as her gift to us and my mother.

E and I have a special shared experience.  7 years ago, my poor mother suffered a debilitating brain hemorrhage. She slipped into a coma and we were told she was brain dead.  We were advised to (and did) remove my mother, not once but twice, from life support. 
 Each time, she seemed to get a little better......more aware.  After the second time, we were really just sitting in vigil for her, at her bedside, knowing we had days or hours only left with her. 

One evening, I was walking the hospital halls, when I spotted E and another friend of my mums, walking down the hall with a basket, looking kind of guilty and stealth like.  Turns out, they were sneaking into my mothers room with mums favourite cat.

What happened next can be described as eerie, weird, unexplainable or if you are religious....miraculous.  When Girly was set on the bed, my mother in her coma, reached out and started petting the cat.  I have pictures of this, but can't publish them out of respect for my mums privacy.

Amidst much confusion and sadness for the next few days, we planned her funeral and met with the hospital clergy and staff for advice.  One Friday, whilst conferring with my brother and hospital Chaplin, my mother came out of her coma and started speaking (with a much more proper English accent). The Chaplin and nurses were crying, my brother and I stunned.  We then had to telephone the rest of the family who were all set be coming to her funeral and tell them she was now alive. 

Phoning my brother in the UK to tell him that his mother was not really brain dead, but now alive and talking, was one of the most surreal things I have ever had to do.

My mums journey from there is a long and complicated one, but she now lives in a nursing home, enjoys her favorite TV shows, visiting, trips out and can dial the phone on her own. Although not a perfect life, she certainly has all her wits about her.

So back to E.  E's own mother passed away a few year ago and she inherited a bit of money that she squirreled away knowing the perfect opportunity would arise.
After New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, the fellow that owned this house, wanted a quick sale, so that he and his boyfriend, who had just lost his home to the Hurricane, could move to Costa Rica and start a new life.

E. drove by, knocked on his door and after a look around fell immediately in love with it.  She went to the bank and lawyer that afternoon and spent her inheritance.

Over the past few years E has lovingly brought this "shack" back to life.  Everything has been done with Craigslist or garage sale finds.  Everything.  It is quaint and lovely and unique and charming. 
 Just like E.

This night that I walked past was the anniversary of her mums passing.  She invited me in and we reminisced about her mum, and my mum and Girly and the "miracle" .
She let me take pictures of her special "RETREAT". 

Her home is called Shangri Lili.  She has used a lot of black matte paint and mirrors to visually expand the tiny space.
Garage sale finds with her Shabby Chic touch.
Candles and chandeliers.........
Everything here is rescued from garage sales and road side trash....she loves a little animal print.
Pretty chandeliers....
The view from her makeup table
A found chair in her dressing room.. 
Her bedroom should be in Romantic Homes Magazine
Chalkboard paint in her kitchen.
Her restaurant vibe is apparent in the tiny kitchen.
The faux fireplace composed on garage sale bits....
Her glamorous living room.......
Bits and pieces reflected in the mirror

Black and White E's on the mantle.
Her workshop
The view from her patio
You can see here that she has a little spot of peaceful tranquility here by the river, with the town moments away.
The town beyond.
So E. got her piece of paradise, knowing that by keeping her mums money (who could do that for 4 years) the purpose for it would be found.  She said she knew deep down that there was a reason why she shouldn't spend it at the time.  All of her family members spent theirs right away.  She thinks it was fate that she would hold it till this little cottage became available, and that only did because of the fateful events from hurricane Katrina.

It is a very odd and special thing that E and I shared with my mum.  We don't often mention it, but that night seemed the perfect night to talk and marvel at the whole thing. Alignment of the world again.

I returned home hours later, Mr. Raz not knowing where I was, with my lips and teeth all stained red from wine.  "Just out taking pictures" I told him.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Photo Challenge

This weeks challenge was to photograph something that showed
the use of repetition, either on its own, or used as an element of design.

I chose to show it as a design elelment. Repetition is one of the core elements of design.
Repeating an element in a room or vignette or even  the fascade of a building
gives it

  • Balance

  • Energy and movement

  • Rhythmn

  • Continuity
This room above was photographed in an Toronto Bar.
A series of tall thin windows flanked the one wall.
Here the designer has divided the bench seats,
Hung panels of drapes
Pillows, pillows pillows.
A row of tables, nicley lined up with the pillows
A candle on every table
A glass wall with glass horns for vases with fresh roses.
You can create symmetry in a room that lacks it, by using repetitive elements.
And a series of chandeliers inside square ceiling recesses.

If you wonder why it matters, picture this room with a few tables of varying sizes, an assortment of pillows tossed on the bench and flowers on one table, a candle on the next. The use of repetition here makes it smart and edgy and modern and fresh.

I know that was more than one photo, but I wanted to show the whole room.

Next Weeks Challenge for September 3rd.

Photograph an egg or eggs (in it's shell) in any way that you find artistic.
Eggs can be hard to photograph, especially a white egg on a white background.  (a good test of your lighting skills.

Have fun

Add your link here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Doggie Catcher

My Mooch Boy

A boy knocked on my door today.  He had a chocolate lab with him.

"I found your Mooch in the park he said."

I told him that Moochie was in heaven, and had been for a few months, and this very fat, overheated and distressed dog did not belong to me.
I invited the dog in and offered to call the Humane Society.
He was clearly overheated and exhausted.  He lay right down on the air conditioning vent.
He was very hot and stressed

I gave him some biscuits and and a drink.   

I wet a towel and wiped him down,  all around his face and back and tummy, which he loved.
He put his face in the fridge, sat with the cat, and took a loaf of bread from the counter.
I stroked him and scratched his ears and chatted with him sweetly, reassuring him him was ok and we would find his owner, and that he should cut down on his food intake.  He was so FAT.

Then, he walked around the house, feeling a bit more settled, calmer, happier.

and peed

The longest pee I have ever seen a dog pee, right on my lovely Indian wool rug.
Then the doorbell rang again.  It was the doggie catcher. 
Then he was gone.

Mad Men

A spanking for not serving him fresh coffee.

Do you watch Mad Men?   I love it.  I love seeing the chauvenism and roles of women, and of course the 60's decor and fashions.
The set and costume designers must love doing this show.

I will say that some of the plastic closures today are hard to open if you have nails!

It's always fun to see what the folks at Sterling Cooper et al. are up to, and get a glimpse of the advertising world back then.
Not to mention the smoking and all that free flowing Jack Daniels in the office.
Does anyone remember having a bottle of liquor in their desk or office?

When I worked in rural Kentucky,
parents on the farm had weaned their baby from the bottle
onto Cola.

I did actually have a Dualit toaster on my wish list,
but my husband was too scared to buy me a toaster for Christmas,
so I bought it myself.

How soon is too soon to rot his teeth and his gut,
give him an extra 10 pounds,
 and  a
hit of caffeine

The gift of Pleasure
May West said to her husband
"I can be your cook, your maid, or
your lover?"

Because that is sexy.........

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hannah Cat

When we first got our little feral cat Hannah, she was recovering from a C-section delivery of 2 kittens
(to the surprise of the vet who was spaying her.  She was the thinnest cat I have ever seen and had been traumatised by the man whose barn she inhabited.  She wouldn't let anyone near her, especially men.
She almost died from a bee sting soon after we got her and her head swelled to twice its size.
We have had to rush her to the vet once more for a sting, and twice for the dog who is also allergic.

Over the past year she has started crossing her legs hen she sits.
She is firm friends with Gracie, but kept a respectful distance from Mooch, although she did lick him and lay near him when he was very ill before he died.

She actually thinks she is a dog. 
She goes out with the dog, never leaves the yard and waits at the door to come in like a dog.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Please Do Not Shoot The Moose.

I was asked not to photograph The Moose.
But it was too late.......
The shutter click-clicked........He was already captured ...........again.....
I thought since he was on public display............
 I wasn't really inading his privacy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why You Really Should Travel With Me.....A true story

A couple of years ago, Mr Raz and I took a trip to London, England to visit my brother and his family. Unable pick us up at Heathrow, my Sister in Law suggested she send the driver that my brother uses for business.  Arrangements were made and she told me to look for him at the Starbucks just outside Arrivals.   He would have my name on a card.

We cleared customs very quickly and arrived at the Starbucks. 
 There was a very well dressed chauffeur with a suit and polished shoes.  He was holding a sign.

Air Canada 787

Hello, I said, we're the Allen's.

With a swoop and almost a bow, he welcomed "Madam" and took my case and escorted us to the most gorgeous, polished Jaguar within a few metres of the terminal.
He handed me a newspaper.
"Your Newspaper Madam"
And offered Mr. Raz a paper also.

I must say I was quite impressed.
  With the car. 
 With the Chauffeur. 
 With my brother for having a job that provided such luxuries.
At the time he worked for WARNER MUSIC.
He's been to P-Diddy's party.
He gets invites to the Grammy's.
This guy had probably driven Michael Buble and Madonna.
Par for the Course!

As we exited the airport, the Driver confirmed our destination.

"Prince's Gates Madam?"
"Let me check", I said, now frowning and fishing for the scrap of crumpled paper from my purse, which I was now starting to feel should have had a Prada label.

"No...Park Farm Road" I say,,,,

Him. " I was to take you to the Prince's Gate"

Me:  " No you must have been given it wrong"

All of a sudden, everything seemed to feel wrong.....
The Polished Chauffeur
 the Dazzling car
 my Newspaper
my Husband Bag....

Mr. Raz. sensed it too and gave me the "The Look" and started shaking his head.

"You are the Callens?  the Driver asked?

"We're the Allens, the C Allen's" I said, in a now small and rather squeaky voice.

I must say, the British formality ruled.  He was very bothered, and quietly steaming, but did his best not to be all out hostile with us.
His main concern being his "Intended Party" still waiting at the Terminal for a driver from HMS or God know where.......

He hurried us back to the terminal, refused a tip, and we were unceremoniously dumped on the Terminal sidewalk, muttering embarrassed and very red faced apologies.

We dragged ourselves back to Starbucks, where a very agitated man in running shoes and jeans and a Tshirt was standing holding a sign.

  C.  ALLEN.

In his heavy accent he reprimanded us.
"You are wery, wery late, Plane come long time ago. I vait long time. I charge you more."
We followed him through what seemed like a mile of parking lot to a grubby blue minivan.
"Park Farm Road" I said before he had even started the car.


A lot of things had to align in the process of this happening.  First , it had to have been feasible that a fancy car and chauffeur could be sent for us.  Given the nature of my brothers job, it could be possible that Warner Music had a driver on staff.  Secondly, we had to clear customs before Mrs. Callen and get to the Starbucks first.  Given she was in first class, she would have excited the plane before us.  Third, there were two drivers with signs, Callen and C Allen.  We only saw one.  Fourth, the driver had to be well trained enough not to have shown his surprise (or alarm) that his Intended Party were dressed down in jeans and carried Walmart suitcases.
 After telling our story to our various relatives over the week, to which they all keeled over with belly wrenching laughter, we discovered that the Prince's Gate is home to many of London's foreign Embassies and Consulates.
 I had assumed that the car was a "Warner Music" car and driver, and given the Celebrity nature of the business, I did not find it the least bit odd that my brother, who had a high position in the Company, would have access to their driver.
 I hope our poor "chauffeur" was able to have a chuckle when he retold that story when he got home.
  My brother still shakes his head and says
"What made you think I had a chauffeur?"