27 May 2014

it's just stuff, right?

Someone said to me today, after offering to buy something I am particularly fond of, "It's just stuff, right?"  Well yeah, sure, it's just stuff... stuff I've spend the last 25 years accumulating.  If I had written a love song for my stuff, this would be it:

The emotional attachment isn't sentimental - I'm not pining over certain items and reminiscing about that one time at band camp.  Like my Dad's things, which have no personal meaning as individual items, my things represent something that was once whole but no longer exists in a form I can touch, see, hold, smell...  The stuff I'm getting rid of isn't representative of single moments or milestones but adds up to a physical manifestation of my life's work, tangible things I can see and touch and feel that say, "I did this..."  

Dismantling my studio piecemeal and scattering the contents to the 4 winds is on one hand heart wrenching.  Props, costumes, backdrops, baby stuff, all my pretty pretty furniture and pretty pretty things.  How can I show people what I have done or prove what I have accomplished if I don't have stuff to demonstrate it?  That logic makes about as much sense as saying, "How will I remember my Dad if I don't have his stuff?" and is about as deep as a plate - anyone who is actually measuring my life by the quality or quantity of my stuff is definitely not anyone I care to impress in the first place.  Our culture has us programmed so deeply to want stuff that it's inescapable without conscious choices to shut it out and ignore it.

On the other hand, getting rid of stuff is very freeing.  It's almost addictive.  It's cathartic.  Maintaining the studio would continue tying me down to the "I have stuff therefore I am" paradigm that my head and my heart are both eager to reject.  When I remain conscious, it really is just stuff.

So, adios, beautiful white sofa.  You're going to a good home where you will be well-loved and much appreciated.  Good Riddance.

rain, holey bumpers, and the prison barber

Of course we can't just get some light sprinkles or maybe a nice little spring flurry here.  No, we have to get 3 days of intermittent torrential downpours - at one point yesterday I could barely make out the house across the street it was coming down so hard out there.  So despite the fact Clementine is all fixed up and ready to come home, all this rain has turned the back yard into a giant mud pit.  Had we been able to bring her in the yard last week we would have been able to figure out where to put the boards she's going to sit on to prevent her from sinking into the garden but alas, until the ground is a wee bit drier, she will have to stay at the mechanic's as I am pretty sure right now we would accomplish little more than getting her stuck.  And I don't want to pay for another tow because she's buried up to the bumper in mud.

Speaking of the bumpers, it looks like we have the wrong one.  Ours is solid, like this:

But we need one with a hole in it for the exhaust, similar to this:

That leaves us with 3 options.  1, try and track down the correct holey bumper.  2, find someone to cut the hole for us.  Or 3, since when she was getting towed I noticed a hole right at the end of the tailpipe that would indicate we need to replace some of it anyways, we can just pimp her out like this:


I think one of the most challenging aspects of taking the bus on the road will be generating a day-to-day income, without buying a business license for every city we hit.  I'm hoping that most places have something similar to a Farmer's Market permit that we can grab, or that we can find some way to be of no fixed address and still able to provide services.  Obviously while we are still in the Edmonton area we will just continue to have a regular business license like the one I have now, but the whole "mobile business" thing is actually quite popular these days so hopefully there will be precedent set by the time we hit the open road.

We all know about food trucks - apparently here in Edmonton we have currently have 22 licensed food trucks.  (You can find out more at www.whatthetruck.ca)

Snap-On Tools has been franchising mobile businesses for years:

 But there are in fact a whole schwack of mobile businesses thriving around the globe.  Here is a look at a few of the ones that piqued my interest.

Ian Ruhter turned his entire truck into a camera:

From French tips to fake tans, haircuts to couture, make-up to make-overs there are all kinds of fashion and salon service trucks for him and her out there:

(My favourite is the prison-van-turned-mobile-barber shop (lower right corner below) which you can read about here.)

Also found were cigars, flowers, vinyl records, kitchen kitsch, yarn junkies, knife sharpening...

And even a dedicated (dog) food truck.

We live in an economy designed to cater to mega-corporations with billions to burn.  The idea of big being better still rules supreme but small business owners who would otherwise find themselves unable to afford skyrocketing rents on the mega-sized box store locations are fighting back by taking it to the streets (literally) and recreating a viable cottage industry one truck at a time.  Huzzah!


Bill and I are still debating what kind of mobile business(es) we can set up.  I (obviously) will keep photographing everything I can and I recently signed up for some freelance writing gigs - we shall see if anything pans out on that front - and I can maybe do a bit of sewing to sell, but I think the real money will come from Bill, who should learn to do 3 basic men's haircuts.  I genuinely think he could make some pretty decent coin specializing in these...

The standard short:

The standard medium-length:

And of course the ever-popular hipster haircut of choice, the pompadour.  (I'll post a video of Bill getting this haircut later...)

The hot shave would be a nice addition to Bill's cuts, but that means we have the wrong kind of salon chair, dammit.  (I'll post a video of Bill getting a hot shave later, too.)

I had actually debated the reclining barber chair but backed out at the last minute in favour of matching retro burgundy ones.  Who knew it would be the wrong choice?  Maybe I will have to make use of the burgundy chair doing fabulous girly hairstyles while on the go, which with a little more experience I think I could really rock.  Specifically, I am a master-braider and can do some pretty wicked vintage styles.  Here are looks I know I can do:

All these braids are a snap for me...

And I can twist, curl, and pin like the dickens...

Here are looks I would never even try because a) I lack the patience and b) they sell wigs for that shit.

Until next week...

20 May 2014

Sometimes no news is just no news

Last Wednesday, we went to get Clementine (her temporary handle because Clementine's an orange and orange is the new black) and attempt to get her in the yard so we could have a dumpster delivered and get busy over the May Long Weekend.

She made a funny noise when we were backing her in, so Bill shut her off and when we tried to turn her over again, the battery was dead.  We tried boosting her.  Then something under the doghouse started smoking.  Then this happened:

Now.  I am not stupid enough to think there isn't work that will need to get done on the bus.  It will need mechanical and electrical work.  I get that.  But really?  Literally, in the driveway at our house, she dies?  Another 40 effing feet was too much to ask?  WTF is THAT all about?  ~sigh~  SO, we have no news yet from the repair shop but w are hoping it's something simple like a loose wire.  Cross your fingers for us, would ya?


So, we spent the weekend working on things like moving all the plants from the front flowerbed to ~anyplace else~ so that we can deal with the creeping bellflower problem we have and removing the sidewalk from the side of the house so we can put in wells and regrade it.  It's a slow tedious process, yard work.  And I am very impatient and have ADD when it comes to projects that take too long.  That makes Bill my hero, because he is both patient and focused.

The final crunch is also upon me for North Country Fair and Relay for Life happens next weekend (as usual) and of course in the midst of this there are still so many things that need to be removed from the Studio and brought home before May 31st.  I feel like I may have to take some of my banked up holidays or I'm going to be pooched.  If we can just make it through the next 3 weeks, life will be sofa king jolly, though.


I need to keep my head together.  Cancel class and refund money.  Shoot Relay for Life.  Finish NCF program.  Kill weeds, build window wells, and shovel dirt.  Replant garden.  Lay stepping stones.  Hook up water barrels.  Get bus.  Gut bus.  File taxes.  Sew.  Clean house.  Clear out back bedroom.  Empty studio into back bedroom.  Get dumpster.  Fill dumpster with shit that can't be sold in garage sale.  Have garage sale with shit that can be sold.  Find new staffing for my little sister.  Go to work.  Hug kids.  Exercise.  Eat.  Sleep.  Wash, rinse, repeat...  This is what swims in my head.  I want to stick my head in the sand - it all feels so overwhelming.  Every year my ass is kicked by May and commitments I swear I'm going to divorce myself from every year but never do.  So, I'm signed up for three more solid weeks of sheer insanity.  Oh, give me strength.  The show must go on...

14 May 2014

11 frickin' years

So much has happened this week...  ~phewf~

The people interested in taking over the studio FINALLY committed and are now actually bugging ME for paperwork and information instead of the other way around.  This is good news - it means I get to keep my studio space sat a reasonable monthly rate - BUT it does make for a crapload of work.  Namely, all the stuff I am not getting rid of (beanbag poser, lighting gear, backdrop stands, props, etc.) will need to find a home in the back bedroom in the basement, which means another heavy duty round of purging needs to take place.  Thank goodness it's a long weekend - the bin should be delivered on Friday and some friends of ours have invited us to put stuff in their garage sale so since we have to do the studio and the back bedroom, this will hopefully encourage us to do similarly in my and Bill's bedroom and the garage, where as a family we have accumulated unthinkable amounts of stuff for the past 11 frickin' years...


The upstairs bathroom has been functional for about 18 months of the past 11 frickin' years.  After ripping it out right after we moved in it took about 5 years to get a new one put in.  After the first super shitty quality bathroom install (we went to sue the guy for deficiencies and apparently he was deported) we had to gut it again.  We started rebuilding it again but never got any further than tiling the floor and painting the top half.  There was apaprently some confusion about where the tile was being laid that was holding production up and since I'm not one to nag other people to do stuff I feel seriously underqualified to do, I never bothered pushing.  Now I'm just fed up with the whole situation and last night took to FB looking for a solution to what seemed to me a very simple matter: centering the goddamned bathroom light over the pedestal sink by using the box on the right WITHOUT having an ugly "access panel" to the live wires on the left.

CHALLENGE: remove box on left and make box on right ready for sconce
Now, I'm not an electrician and there are some things I am just NOT comfortable screwing around with, power being one of them, and because we were told we needed the access panel I was at a complete loss of what would be safe and OK to do, but the sheer ease with which I removed the "pigtail" from the box on the left and got the main box (right) ready to accommodate my oh so pretty dripping-with-real-crystals wall sconce made me want to bash my own face in with a hammer.  Now all that's left to do is drywall over that hole and finish painting.  Then we can install the tub and the last 42 tiles and call it a functioning bathroom that WON'T grow mushrooms in the walls due to shoddy workmanship by an illegal drunk contractor.  HUZZAH!

All I have to say is, we should have done that 11 frickin' years ago.


I have a mountain of pictures to share, but since they are stuck on the memory card in the camera I have yet to finish backing up before I can process them, I will instead share the text version and update with (more) pics later.

For the last 11 years at our house we have dealt with poorly graded everything, starting with whatever crackpot decided to over-fill the garden and "contain" it with 9" x 12" stepping stones set in the ground horizontally along the sidewalk (the short way of course) in the yard, and along the parking pad with a sloped pile of asphalt.  The result was a grade that directed all the water from our winter run-off both in the garden and on the parking pad onto the back sidewalk - some years the giant puddle was so deep there would be water in the garage; every rainfall we would end up with a layer of mud on the sidewalk that couldn't be washed or swished away.  We had talked about topping it several times - Bill wanted to just do the work by hand - but year after year it just got put off again and again.  After spending a day digging up Manitoba Maple suckers from the perimeter of the hard by and being physically incapable of lifting a cup without pain in my carpal tunnel riddled wrists and having a need for a bus-sized parking space in the yard within a week required no more farting around.  So I admit I bullied my way into hiring a bobcat.  Bobcat comes and in under 45 minutes we were looking at:

1) fence posts popped out so we can put in a vehicle gate
2) garden levelled
3) asphalt ready for disposal in the aforementioned bin
4) pile of dirt for re-grading side of house made
5) tree stump removed and hole backfilled

All I have to say is, we should have done that 11 frickin' years ago.


There is now a giant pile of dirt displacing all of our swings to the open lawn beside the trampoline (and of course the trampoline itself) there are piles of branches and stumps that are slowly but surely being clipped, chipped, chopped or sawed into kindling and firewood.  The crab apple tree has had baking apple tree branches grafted on but we have yet to see if they will catch or not.  As a safe measure Bill started a few potted twigs in the hopes they will root and I can at least have one elsewhere, later.  Because the back fence is (and will be open) frequently over the next several months and because I also want to not have dog shit in what little areas of lawn and garden we have left so I constructed a dandy little fence around our concrete patio using the girls' old Ikea bedframes, the kids' crib slats, the packaging from our bathtub, and some scrap wood.  It's held together with duct tape, zip ties, twine, and whatever other hillbilly fastening/shimmying/propping method you can muster up in your mind...  The dogs are still a little freaked out when they first go out the doggy door but they have already figured out where to do their business and having an area less than 50 sq feet to poop scoop from makes me SUPER happy!

All I have to say is, we should have done that 11 frickin' years ago.


I find it ironic how quickly we have gotten things done in preparation for getting rid of the house.  It's almost depressing really - why did we not do these things for ourselves?  Did the lack of work getting done on the house and yard contribute to my hatred for it?  Hard to say.  Really, I never loved the house itself.  We bought for three reasons: location, location, location.  Now that I've completely emotionally detached myself though I doubt a coat of fresh paint a better grade on the flower beds and garden will convince me I want to stay.


One of the things we salvaged from the cabana when we lost it last fall was the super-long string of lights that earned our lot the nickname "Little Vegas."  Serejane, Kaelan adn I spent some time last night hooking them all up and replacing the burnt out bulbs.  So, despite the fact the yard is mostly unusable right now, I am loving how functional (and magical!) it looks and feels already.

All it's missing now is a bus.  And provided we've guesstimated the turning radius right, that will happen tonight.  Onward onward!

07 May 2014

our bus in our town

The trip back from Airdrie with the bus was harrowing, to say the least.  For starters, it's May.  MAY.  I'm not stupid enough to expect +30 but this?  This was a bit much...

Despite the temperatures hovering around freezing and a steady drizzle of sleet-y precipitation, the roads were surprisingly good.

Unfortunately, the good roads couldn't make up for the fact poor Bill's inaugural voyage as a Q-endorsed bus driver was fa-fa-fa-FREEZING!!!  Between the cold and wind, the missing chunk of bus where one of the former emergency vehicle lights lived, and the heater not working (we don't know if it's busted or we just didn't figure out how to work it) it was a chilly drive.

We stopped in Leduc for a pee break and to get Bill some coffee to help warm him up.  While in the parking lot, we had no end of fun playing with the intercom... which still works...  and hopefully will continue to work after we start ripping up the electricals to find a) whatever short keeps draining the battery and b) to create the clean slate we're going to need when we start doing a complete overhaul...

About driving Bill said, "It's fun, but it's like I want more hours of practice..."  Aside of a tendency to favour driving WAY to the right (which is fine as long as whatever road we're on has shoulders) he managed brilliantly, maneuvering the bus safely into the driveway of our lovely hosts, who will babysit the bus until we get our fence sorted out.  

I got to re-park the bus today, so I've officially driven her, too, but I'm excited to get some real hours in practicing, real soon!

02 May 2014

So, this is happening.

On Wednesday Bill got his Q-endorsement.  Yesterday we measured out the yard, planned the gate in the fence, debated how close to dead the almost dead apple tree was and whether she should be trimmed back to accommodate parking the bus or just put out of her misery and cut down entirely.  Looks like we are saying farewell to my favourite apple tree, who last year didn't have the ability to blossom much less bear fruit.  Poor tree.  We are going to try and graft a couple of her branches onto one of the two remaining healthy trees in the hopes of salvaging enough to at least a make couple of pans of apple crisp, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

Today, once we get the last piece of paperwork in place, we will have insurance and get registration done, pick up a plate.  Tonight we collect the bumper and pack the car up to head south in the morning, where we will spend the weekend visiting with friends, partying it up at the roller rink, and of course bringing home Helen.  We will have to park her at a friend's place for a couple of weeks until the fencing and tree are dealt with at our place, but at least she will be in the city and not some remote acreage where we have to drive an hour to visit her.  I can hardly wait to have her home, in our own yard, where we can begin the transformation.

Sidebar:  I found this killer trailer that would make an excellent portable studio.  Unfortunately, we are out of funds right now or let me tell you, this bad girl would be coming home to us, too.

Honestly, I would take her for the appliances alone and just convert the shell...  how sexy are these little babies?!

But if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, right?  So, I'll be responsible.  Property taxes first, bus renos next.  ~sigh~