Champagne Explosion of Brain Bubbles!

(i.e. a rambling post about everything. Except anything useful. Though that does depend how you define useful.)

So, me and Photoshop have been getting to know one another. It’s a multilayered being, and I’ve been playing with Youtube to help me learn. As my friend was saying the other day – it’s a really powerful platform, but with power comes complication. Man, it’s so complicated.

Being the Lady McGuiver I am, and never ever investing more than twenty minutes into learning anything, I’ve been bouncing between photoshop, picmonkey, paint and occasionally powerpoint to design the elements for my new Claire Never Ending cover.

Geez, I love designing stuff. I love, love, love learning stuff and getting hands-on. But I just hate, hate, hate, studying. This contrast is a real flaw in my system of creativity.

Anyhow, all this internal jabbering to sayyyyyyy: The Cover is Coming Along!

CNE New cover1

Preview – I am going with this image, and have now bought it from istock.

Out there amoungst the papers on my desk is a list of TO Dos before 2014 ends. One of them is to finishing the Claire’s redesign. Another is to apply for Zsolt’s citizenship, although I really haven’t gotten that far yet in my productivity.

There are a couple other points, but I’ve completely forgotten them. Hmm. I’m trying to remeber now. Nope. Oh, crowdfunding videos! I remembered one more! I want to finished my crowdfunding series. That’s nearly done to be honest, and just requires a few more late, late nights or early, early mornings for editing.

YouTube is fun. This is another area where I don’t really want to study too much, but do really want to create content.

Where is all this content creation going? No idea where yet. J Zsolt says I need to make a business plan. “Make a business plan?” I asked him, like he was speaking a different language – is “Makeabusinessplan” Hungarian for “You are the best wife and I love you like crazy?”

Probably not.

He is right, actually, plans are good. Structure is good. Strategy is even better. And then, action. That should come along too at some point: Structure, Strategy, Action. Not my strong points, but probably useful.

And that is that.

Now for a story:

Last night I was lying in bed with the Zsolt Man, and he was relating the story of a business meeting he recently had – where he saw the fellows walking down the street, and it reminded him of being with the fellows at the ORC when they would go for lunch.

That got me thinking. Those lunches not too many years ago were a lovely daily tradition. So I began telling Zsolt why they were so lovely. Zsolt would come down to the staff club cafeteria for their lunch. Since I lived & worked on campus, I would very often join them. And after about 5 years of this, it was a comfortable, happy routine. We’d all get together, I’d get to kiss my husband, and then they’d talk about this and that – often around the stresses of being a PhD student, but not always. The conversation always ended on a very similar note, around the lines of: Let’s search it on Wikipedia. And they’d go back to their lab to look up whatever the heck they’d been discussing that day.

And through that group at the lunch table, I not only got to enjoy their company, but also the company of their partners who would arrive occasionally for the meal – girlfriends, children and wives. So we would pull two tables together, and have a great big lunch meal.

It was really nice. Friends, support and food wrapped up into one nice hour.

After I’d finished relating those memories, Zsolt asked me if I missed it.

So I thought about it. And you know what? I don’t miss it. I’m just very glad to have had it. I’m very glad to have been there then. I’m very glad to be here now.

And that had me thinking – several years ago, I missed everything. It was this deep homesick pit inside of myself. Something has changed. Maybe realizing you can’t ever have things as they were before. Or maybe it’s realizing that there are always wonderful people there somewhere to connect with. I don’t know. Maybe it was coming back to Canada – but I’ll tell you, this hasn’t been an easy transition either.

Whatever the reason. I didn’t miss anything in the sense of longing for those day. It was simply nice to have had them.

And that is when I realized, between Zsolt and I, we have friends all over the world. Amazing individuals who we’ve connected with at one point in the moving and travelling and life-living. None of them are congregated in a single spot, and we’ll never have again what we had before in those moments of laughter and friendship.

Even if all those people and all those moment are scattered across our past, and across the world – that is okay. It is better than okay – it’s awesome. Knowing each of them, doing all of that life stuff, has been a pleasure. We have this beautiful gift, and I’m grateful for it.

And I don’t miss them, because to me, they are still there somehow. Whether it’s in my memory, or on my Facebook page. They are there, doing well, and that makes me happy.

Happy picture2P.S. Over on Ottawa Writes this week (in the process of being rebranded) we have an episode about quotes you stick on the front cover of books. There’s also a nice interview around writing and community. Listen here. This sideshow passion project is one of those things that could probably use a business plan . . .

A Nice Little Life

Life has been nice these past 2 weeks. When I think back to this time last year . . . well, let’s not do that right now. Instead, let me tell you just a little about how awesome it is to take a holiday for real.

First some friends got married. Oh my goodness, that was lovely. Funny, I can remember going to a wedding last year and feeling a strange moment of . . . something. But this time it was far more about laughing with friends, and hearing touching speeches, and seeing a very happy couple united. So that was the start of the good times. Right after the wedding, we took off for a cottage.

"Photo booth"

“Wedding Photo booth”

My parents rented a beautiful cottage not long ago up at Lac Blue Sea for about 6 days. They invited all of us to go up and stay with them at the cottage for some R&R. There’s zero internet at the place, and that’s really good since the only time I seem to stop working is when I literally cannot access my work. So, we went to the cottage and unplugged.

It was fantastic. From kayaking to beautiful food to swimming at dusk, to pretend cottage shopping, to multiple cups of tea, to laying on the sofa reading books, to playing board games, to laughing, to napping . . . it was heavenly. Last year we went to the very same place, and Zsolt and I spend some time at this place last autumn as well. It’s a good place – a very good place.

But it doesn’t stop there. As you may know, I pushed my scan back this year. It took some juggling, but we got there in the end. So, for Zsolt’s birthday – he turned 33! – we celebrated his birthday. He received many video games that I hope he one day plays. . .

(We are playing The Walking Dead together at the moment, a game produced by Telltale Games and based on the comics The Walking Dead. It is seriously intense and emotional stuff – but also fun since we’re really playing together. He kills the zombies while I hide in the other room, and I help him solve the not very difficult puzzles. Also I choose the responses in the dialogues, and Zsolt kills more zombies and shoots stuff in general. Good teamwork.)

Zsolt had some special birthday waffles, and then we just hung out the entire day. It was honestly a bit of a knackering day since we also left the cottage that afternoon, but it was a happy day nevertheless.

Then yesterday was Canada Day. It was so, so, so good. Last year had the weight of a hundred bricks on my chest. This year we were so busy going downtown and snapping silly photos, meeting friends, eating awesome food and watching fireworks, that I hardly had time for heavy emotions.

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And then on Saturday it will be my turn to have a birthday. Thirty two years old J I’m so freaking happy about it that I could just cry all over this keyboard.

The week following will be, very likely, a challenging week. I’ll have a CT scan, and then wait another week for results, and then . . .I don’t know. I could cry all over my keyboard thinking about that too – but would much rather not at the moment. For the time being, it is far better to enjoy the summer weather and summer mode of life.

It was a good decision to push back the scans. This has been a beautiful time.

Human vs Squirrel

This started late last week, but if I really think about it – it’s been going on for quite some time. I’d look out the back porch door window at the fire escape stairs and see them hopping up and down the steps. It was fun to watch. Squirrels going up and down during the winter. It’s a glimpse of urban wildlife, like spotting a raccoon or getting to know the neighbourhood cats.

Then about two weeks ago the gutter came crashing down in the middle of the night. The BANG woke us up for about two minutes before we fell back asleep. (Thank God it wasn’t a burgular, geez.) Apparently – according to my landlord – the gutter had simply rotted away, and it needs to be replaced by a professional.

squirrelAnyhow, that’s all back story.

Early last week I was outside on my back apartment-building-porch, enjoying this amazing weather. With weather this good, I take the mobile phone outside and do my social media’ing’ from there in my $10 Sobeys grocery store chair. It works really well.

Anyhoo, I’m on the back porch when a squirrel makes its way down the stairs above me. So I did what you do – I stood up and stomped my foot, thinking the squirrel would bolt. Except it didn’t. The little bugger came at me! Or not at me, but it came toward me, so I’m up and jumping around, and it’s up and jumping around, and I’m like “OH Sh8T this squirrel must have rabies to be this crazy!” and basically hug the wall, when it – thank God again – ran past me and somehow disappeared.

At this point I began calling out for Zsolt, since for some reason that’s my gut reaction in a situation of panic.

Eventually I settled back into my $10 chair, and then promptly left again when I heard more little noises I couldn’t place. I had crazy squirrel fear.

THEN just the other day, Zsolt informs me that we have a family of black squirrels living under my spice planter that has been sitting around since last summer. Apparently, according to Big Z, they just moved in and he has been watching them run in and out. The potter has a gap in the bottom so it could, in theory, sit on a railing.

Four teenage squirrels, who were obviously birthed in the apartment roof, had moved onto our porch. And for some reason, none of these squirrels have learned fear. They are freaking fearless. The cats don’t even chase them!

But you can’t keep squirrels on your porch, can you? One second they are all cute looking, and the next they are reminding me of black rats with long tails. Normally I’m cool with squirrels because they show respectful fear and avoidance. But not this little pack, oh no, they have no fear.

So, we decided to bust up their little nest. Putting on his tall green rain boots and carrying the broom, Zsolt carefully snuck around behind the planter on the porch, and tipped the thing over. They ran outta there.

But here is the problem. They still have the family home in the roof. I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of dead squirrels if the pest control is called in. But I also really want to be able to go outside and not freak out with every little noise or ambush of black bushy tail.

Therefore, we are keeping the broom on hand at all moments, and Zsolt has been repeatedly running outside with it chasing them down the porch stairs and out of the yard.

I’m not actually convinced this is working, but we will see.

And that is yet another adventure from the land of apartment rentals.

Anyone know of some non-killing squirrel deterrents? Maybe we need to adopt an owl?