Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo Vault

I've been digging through my external hard drive, and have stumbled upon some forgotten photos.  It's like cracking open your brain and discovering a memory.

Our niece Elise takes a private moment to survey the area after the birth of her little brother.  Perhaps protective?  Sealing the perimeter?  Maybe a feisty toddler's realization that life as she knows it has changed, now just a girl and her balloon.

Small Cool 2010: Still in the Game

I want to thank you for your votes, your re-Tweets and your general support - I'm moving on in the competition!  On May 4th I'll be harassing you once again for votes.  Yeah, this won't get annoying at all.

And trust me, I'm as shocked by my new-found competitive streak as you are - I watched the "scores" like some kind of beer-swilling hockey fan, and at midnight I started gaining on him.  It was thrilling.  I mean, my heart gets to palpitating during Wimbledon or a number of Olympic events, but I always thought it had something to do with grunting and SpandexLycra©.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Small Cool 2010: Bracket Eliminations!

Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest continues, with head-to-head competition each day.  I'm up against a solid vote-getter, the lovely Joaquin from Argentina.  For the first time in my life I feel like some sort of athlete, never having been involved in anything to do with brackets or head-to-head anything of any kind.  Part of me wants to strap on a sweatband and do squat thrusts in preparation.

Please do me a solid and head over to the site to vote for me.  You only have 24 hours!  It'd be great to advance a little further, even though International entrants aren't able to win the prizes.

But let's be honest, I'm in it for the blog hits, praise from strangers, and sense of accomplishment only the internet can offer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Tour of the Lake

Jeff and I took a very crisp (It was 12°C!) cruise along the lake today.  I wanted to capture some of the lovely little cottages that dot the shoreline.  Most, on this lake, are modest and quaint, lived-in and just the slightest bit worndown.  From what I can gather, the lake is fairly old-school, most abodes passed down within the families who started here decades ago.  It feels historical and lovely.  Primary colours.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beautiful Spring Day, Nights Are Cold

My Grandma writes me letters once or twice each month.  I've written about it before, as it really is one of the great highlights of my life.   I imagine her perching at the kitchen table, looking about the house, noting all the little details, taking stock of the simplest things around her.  Sometimes, buried within seemingly pointless tidbits, there are moments of great reflection, tiny references to wonderful moments we've shared.  I don't want to imagine a day when I don't hear about her DIY projects or her accidentally-poetic prose.

Dear Jason and Jeff,
      A beautiful Spring day.  Nights are cold.  Everything so green, clean and bright.  My daffodils are pretty.  I am favouring yellow, am looking for a yellow and white plastic tablecloth for my kitchen.
      Heard you had some of my favourite people for a visit.  Wouldn't that be fun.  Too bad I didn't live far away and they could visit me and stay over nights like you and Becky used to.  Am so glad I had those days.  If we had of known Jeff at that time, he could have come too.
      How did you like the chili sauce and mustard beans?  
     I'm cooking up a recipe: salt, vinegar and just a few drops of liquid soap to try and kill the Creeping Charlie in the backyard.  It takes grass and everything, but have to get rid of it.
      You will be getting into your busy time or is it always busy all the time?  Enjoy it and have fun.
      Love Grammie

Friday, April 23, 2010

I've Got Some News For You

Robyn has returned, peppering us with new tracks from her three-part album, Body Talk.  In a brave new world of music marketing, she's released three official singles (from an 8-track album) well-ahead of its June 7th release date.  A savvy move, really, her name and sound becoming ubiquitous on the blogosphere and beyond.  She's going viral. 

And it's only the beginning.  Sweden's electro-dance-alterna-pop queen will hit us with three mini-albums in 2010, so far displaying the same incredible range as her 2005 self-titled slow-burner which took her from 90s pop write-off to street-cred-laden international arthouse superstar.

Body Talk Pt. 1 has trickled out over the last couple of weeks, and yesterday the four remaining tracks made it into the world.  Fine by me.  There's no better time for Robyn than summer, long drives to the cottage made effortless with her glitchy soundtrack, a constantly-astounding mix of beats and heart, few artists exhibiting this wide a scope.  Even at her poppiest, there's a current of darkness running through all her songs, a healthy dose of cynicism in every track.  And the voice.  It's a bizarro mix of innocent and powerful, sometimes white-girl-rapping ("Fembots") sometimes straight-up heartbreaking ("Dancing on my Own").  When I listen to Robyn, the skip button does not exist.

If Body Talk Part 1 is any indication, 2010 will take Robyn from popular to agonizingly popular, reaching everyone from tweens to soccer moms to all the gays God ever made.  Mark my words.

Sidebar: Earlier this year Robyn released a remix of the El Perro del Mar song "Change of Heart", under her alter-ego moniker Rakamonie.  Listen here.  It was on constant-replay all winter, like Tegan + Sara and Robyn had a lovechild with social anxiety.  Fantastic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cottage Life

We made our long-awaited return to Cottage Country this weekend.  Because we're water-access, the options for winter-cottaging are slim and require walking, driving, or snowmobiling across the frozen lake - All activities I will not be participating in.  

So, once closed in the Fall, she'll sit quietly until our return each Spring. The lake thawed in record time this year (signs of a hot summer ahead?) so we got here a month earlier than anticipated.  While beautiful and scenic and quiet, it's still a bit freezing fucking cold.  But it was glorious.

The main house has a lovely wood burning stove, which keeps it toasty warm no matter what's happening outside.  We, however, sleep in the bunky near the shore.  When we bought the place last summer with Jeff's brother and his wife, we staked our claim there, thinking ahead to the godawful hour at which children wake and a need for a quiet refuge from all that comes with a Family Cottage.  

The Uncles need their rest.

The Unky's Buncle (as it's known) is huge (as far as bunkies go, maybe 20 by 12) and we've it set up to sleep six, when necessary.  It's a magical place to lay your head, the water lapping underneath, coaxing you to sleep and then waking you again.  It's breezy and quiet, cozy and gentle.

We got the cottage mid-summer last year, so didn't do much in the way of fix-ups - We just wanted to enjoy it for its brief (yet rainy) maiden season.  This year we've got some plans up our sleeves.

Much of the main house is paneled in tongue-and-groove knotty pine.  I don't mind it, really, the cottage being a place where my mind and body tend to shut down completely.  The things that might normally grind my gears don't seem to: sticky drawers, tacky furniture, and that tongue-and-groove pine paneling.  But I think we'll white-wash the whole place.  A murky cloak over the knotty wood will work to brighten and tidy the whole joint.  

I've also thought a lot about blowing out the ceiling in the living room, opening it up to the peaked roof above.  I'd love to hang cool vintage lighting fixtures up among the rafters.  As much as I like the ceiling (not sure what it's made of, but it's divided by thin strips of wood, creating a paneled ceiling of sorts.  I love the way the light hits it on an overcast day.)

We're also going to do some stuff to the bunky.  Its paneling is one-worse: that shiny, horrific faux-wood sheet nailed onto the studs.  A bit of scuffing and some priming will allow us to paint that shit out.  If we take it to the rafters too, the place will surely double in size. 

A big task is replacing the very child-unfriendly railings on the deck.  In order to preserve the openness and keep the views intact, we're going with glass and white vinyl railings, which will match the siding.  Gates will make the whole thing a giant playpen for the kids, perfect for boozy and neglectful summer afternoons.

Purely decoratively, I want to turn the little corner below into a giant photo gallery, years worth of cottage-photos on the walls above a card table.  Gin and tonics, a bowl of pistachios, and outrageous amounts of fun for the next 50 years.

I also want to swap out the kitchen knobs with something more interesting, something old school and ceramic.  The cottage is the place to explore all the decorative nooks and crannies of your brain, a place to try the things you'd never think to put in your downtown apartment.  

And I can get real country if I put my mind to it.

I love few fabrics more than flannelette.  My grandma has dozens of blankets like these all over the house, tucked into drawers to be pulled out on cold winter nights or hot summer ones.  Every bed in the bunky has one.

Our family photo wall slowly grows.  Jeff (bowl cut, overalls) and his brother Billy in the early 80s, their picnic-perfect Tupperware© bowls and Elise above (Billy's daughter, our zany niece).  Two generations already.