Look Up, Waaaaaaaaaaay Up

I know what you’re thinking. This is a blog about Bob Ross Day, which was observed last July (2016)  in my kitchen. And there you’d be right, which means all the action here takes place in July 2016 (or earlier, except for this writing here, right here, which is March 5, 2017).

Look Up, Waaaaaaaaaaay Up

(if you’re Canadian and over 50, you may get that reference).

Stardate: 160828.5

Whilst I’m recovering from miscellaneous injuries and ailments (both physical and metaphysical), I decided to take up something which doesn’t require my running my mouth or my clicking a mouse button or a keyboard (I’m dictating this, which believe-you-me is a bugger when you have kids). That was a tough one. I can run my mouth better than most people, in several languages, no less—some of which I can legitimately speak. And I click better than a cockroach (oh, look it up).

Despite the frenetic pace of my recent days, weeks, months, and years—somewhere out there Bob Ross (R.I.P.) was always lurking. His silky tones of “God bless” and “happy little trees” and my most beloved “beat the devil out of it” were music served to soothe my savage breast. Bless Netflix’s buns for bringing Bob Ross back into my life. The Bob Ross YouTube channel, it turns out, posts a new/old video daily. Keeping my paint-veins open and my days, each day, get a little brighter.

I have not painted since 1984.

This is true. I have carried paints and stretched canvases around, randomly, for a decade or two before finally bestowing them onto my semi-sister (we made that term up between the two of us, don’t ask) Caroline. Don’t mourn for me: I wasn’t ever really a painter. I didn’t have some tragedy befall me which emotionally prevented me from slapping some cadmium red gouache apples onto black gesso. I enjoyed mixing paint and fancied myself as having some vague promise of producing something reasonably ok, at best. My forté in the arts plastiques was more my ability to do very quick sketches. And frankly, I couldn’t commit to anything requiring more than 10 minutes. And let’s face it, cats rarely pose for more than ten minutes. Sure sure, they may sleep 20 hours a day but the kitty-code fine print says: until you wish to capture their image.

To a cat, the sound of a 2B hitting paper is like an air-raid siren. You gotta be fast.

In short (too late), don’t mourn. I haven’t painted since 1984 because I’m not really a painter qua painter.

My husband paints.

He paints for real. As in: he can paint and it is pleasing to the senses. I paint for pretend: I can put paint onto a surface ergo I paint. It is pleasing to the senses in a finger-painting mess kinda of way. That delightful explosion of Id you hear tell about. No, I’m not disparaging myself. My husband has real talent; he also works at it. I, like any cat, lose interest (some could say this is protectionist self-defeating behaviour) after ten minutes of anything. He’ll spend hours and days and weeks on a painting. He sees beauty everywhere (which is one of the many reasons I married him… because I see dead people… all the time….) and he’s inspired and when he isn’t, he actively looks for inspiration.

Opposites attract.

I’m hoping this rubs off on me (get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about his outlook on life).

I don’t work it. I don’t try to hone my painting… and surprise surprise I’m disatisfied with my results. There’s a discourse on results-based vs process-based joy, but let’s skip that for another blog.

Hubs sent me this photo so I could work my still life chops. I'm afraid. I'm not quite there.... yet. (ever.)

Hubs sent me this photo so I could work my still life chops. I’m afraid. I’m not quite there…. yet. (ever.)

Hence the appeal of Bob Ross.

I can paint for 30 minutes and that’s kinda it. What I didn’t factor in: that Bob Ross didn’t get up one day and go “ok, I’ll just poop a painting out in thirty minutes.” Apparently, he completed (what a concept, to someone like me) some 30,000 paintings. So his 30-minute painting technique took a while. I need to remember that.

My first effort is here:

My first painting in 22 years.

For those of you following me on IG, this is old news….

I won’t show you the painting my husband made because it’s so beautiful you will cry for three days, shave your head, and join an ashram. Chances are, your spouse(s) (singular, plural, I don’t judge) would be mad at me. Hard enough to get blog subscribers these days, without inspiring them all to turn their backs on the material world.

The more perspicacious of you will figure out DH’s painting is the one next to mine in this post’s featured image. Staggering what one can do in 30 minutes. I can’t even get a pizza in 30 minutes.

May I tell you I hate my painting? I tell everyone I’m pleased with it but I hate it. What was in my head definitely did NOT come out and land, elegantly, onto the board. Not even remotely.

Here’s my fourth painting. I like this one:

This is when I transcended the paint.

I stepped on my canvas board and made my first declaration of my artistic manifesto: Verily my feet hurt all the effing time, I cried out to the heavens (singular or plural, I don’t judge).

Get thee to a Podiatrist!

oh look it up, it’s Shakespeare (kinda)… and another post for another day is how much I always wanted to punch Hamlet (et ipsum) in the face. Yeah, I said it, whiny little doofus, coulda handled THAT better. Anyhoodle… 

I was inspired by my painting. I actually saw something in it. I wanted to paint trees and skies (still do). But what I was feeling was my feet (they suck). I wasn’t painting what I felt, I was painting what I thought I’d see if I actually had a bucolic setting (I’m suburban). My first painting was a lie (but a good experiment in getting past the blank canvas thing… and mixing acrylics and so on… all is not lost).

Bob painted what he saw, real or imagined. Memories. Hopes, perhaps. It’s your world, he’d say. I realized, in July 2016 (ok, now it’s March 2017), my world was starting to focus on my (now diagnosed, like I didn’t know…) osteoarthritis. I’ve only been ignoring my feet forever. All I had to do was get them x-rayed, get a report, get them fixed. Three easy steps (see what I did? Steps. Feet). Simple.

But no, like Hamlet, I whined around like a pathetic little doofus for a million years. Hamlet, though, didn’t have the benefit of Bob Ross. If it weren’t for Bob Ross Day, I’d still be trudging around on arthritic toes which ultimately need to be fused.

My kingdom for cartilage (Richard III. Poor guy really gets the shaft in this play). Unlike the fake Richard III, the real one turned down his chance for a horse (according to  Jones, Michael (2003). Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-1-84854-909-8.)

I was taking no such chances. If you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it. While I got my Xray done the next week, it took me another six months to book the doctor (and they took me in the same week). So I’m getting there.

X-ray: August 2016

X-ray: August 2016

3D Scan: March 2017

3D Scan: March 2017


Next stop: orthopaedic surgeon. Mebbe. That’s soooo another blog.

Bob Ross. You give and you give.


Look Up, Waaaaaaaay Up


Kitty Condo Update (and some Plants vs Zombies)

This was originally written in July of 2013 under another pseudo whom I killed off. This was also written before I had a decent camera on my phone… and these pix just didn’t merit analog (at the time, or ever). Sorry. I originally wrote How to Bring a Man to His Knees when my pseudo had a syndicated weekly blog, so this post is the second part of that first blog. I’m sad to say that both cats mentioned here have since passed onto to the Great Big Catnip Party in the Sky. This is the last of a collection of old blogs which have been sitting on my desktop. My New Year’s Resolution for last year was to get them off said desktop. One week late to finish that task but I’m nonetheless proud. 

Kitty Condo Update (and some Plants vs Zombies)


Lucy. 16 pounds of love


It’s truly shameful what one will do for  cat. Doubly shameful what one and one’s husband will do for two rescue cats. Throw an exuberant 6 year-old and toddler into the fray and you get a kitty condo which took three weeks to make.

But man was it fun.

First: the cats. As some of you know, my two fur babies passed away within two weeks of each other, leaving our family heartbroken. My wonderful vet found us two cats whose owners had, essentially, bailed on them. Lucy and Waffles.  Both are tabbies. Lucy is definitely at least part Maine Coon. She’s the size of an adolescent yak (Google it). Both are adorable sweet kitties. Waffles, though, was abused and is very shy still. She currently has moved from behind the boiler to the living room, under the sofa.

So we have made them a little scratching post/kitty condo. You saw the beginnings of it. Well, a lot has changed.


Waffles (yes yes yes, I didn’t name her.. hubby calls her Sophie) and my honkin’ huge hand stroking her little cheek.

Here’s the report:

  • It took us three weeks and 11 bucks to make the cat tree.
  • I had slight plans which grew as the project wore on and I changed a few items as I found them. I’m a big fan of Surrealists and “found objects”. What can I say? With the except of rope, I made this from what my self-indulgent neighbours pitched. Love my neighbours. I don’t exaggerate when I say I furnished our entire living room from their recently purchased castoffs. Except the piano. That’s ours.
  • Power drills are fun. Do not underestimate the joy of a good power drill. Ditto a compressor and staple gun.
  • CaulkING gun. Do not go to Home Depot and ask for a caulk gun. Yes, I did this. I knew better and kept saying to myself as I talked to the dude at HD do not say caulk do not say caulk. I said it. There. I said it.


Warts and all, here it is. Yes, we could have bought one. And we may still. But we did it. And the cats have looked at us strangely ever since. Ungrateful flea bags.

This was an insanely fun project for a family. My little guy (not the littlest guy) really contributed. He’s pretty good with a pair of scissors. Learned some fractions, the proper way to measure. And he had a sense of pride in building something which took more than five seconds to build. And build. Nice to do something with tangible, palpable results. I don’t want my kids growing up with nothing but ephemeral Zombie vs Plants accomplishments (see, I told you I wrote this three years ago….).


Plants vs Zombies

If you’ve played to the end, you know that this is from the Zen Garden. Yeah baby yeah we got there. (Remember, three years ago this was cool).

…And now, my last 2016 New Year’s Resolution is done. Except for the lose 25 pounds one. That’s still ongoing.


How to Bring a Man to His Knees

This was originally written in June of 2013 under another pseudo whom I killed off. This was also written before I had a decent camera on my phone… and these pix just didn’t merit analog (at the time, or ever). Sorry. I originally wrote How to Bring a Man to His Knees when my pseudo had a syndicated weekly blog, so this post is in two parts. 

How to Bring a Man to His Knees

It’s not what you’re thinking. No metaphors running amok here. I’m talking about touching my husband’s tools.

drillFor starters: his power drill. Or as I call it: his battery drill thingie. Yes, I really do talk like that. Sorry. I forget words all the time unless I’m writing them.

My Mission

… and yes, I chose to accept it.

I wanted to build a cat condo. And until the day power tools got fancy, I could have made one. In fact, I have. Already. But it was sooo 2002 and the condo was destroyed (well, exposed onto the curb for the gleaners to dismantle and wheesh away) three moves ago. Although we move about every two years, that condo I built using a staple gun and old-fashioned screws (yes, all by hand) stood the test of time until 2010. By then I was pregnant at 45 and not really feeling like building much more than a Nutella salad. So my cats were bereft of condo and had to sleep on the piano, laptops, and rads.

Shift ahead a few years and I had two new kitties (both, at this edit three years later, are now deceased but they lived beautifully pampered lives, let me tell you): Lucy and Waffles.

They hated each other. 

Actually, my husband called Waffles “Sophie” (and a very few of you reading this will laugh because you’ll get the reference).

New kitties. No condo. But I was intrepid and finally back in town from far afield in the Great White North, so decided this was the day.

Or so I thought.

You see, in this marriage, my tools ended up being appropriated by my sons. My husband’s good stuff (and it’s all good stuff, apparently) is his. Mine is theirs, his is his. But I want to build a new condo but realized in the old days I’d just hammer and tong it manually. Now there’s some lithium battery packed thingie looking scarier than grandma’s hair-dryer .



The original condo, sporting Bing, Bob, and Gregory Twinklebear

I had to call him. It went badly.

Me: “Hi Sweetie. Just curious. How do I load your drill thingie?” I don’t waste time. I need to build and clean up before he comes home and sees what devastation I can create–or worse AND more likely–before I get distracted or lose interest.

He: “What? My drill? Why are you using my drill?”

Me: “Not using your drill sweetie. I need to know for a story.”

He: “Where does a power drill fit into the story?”

Me: “Uh, the heroine has a thing for her carpenter.” (I am truly the world’s worst liar and besides, back then, I was only writing historical).

He: “What are you building?”

Me: “Nothing. But as long as we’re talking hardware, how do I cut a sonotube? Will, say, a jigsaw do it? Or just a carpet knife? Do we have a jigsaw?”

He: “You are scaring me.”

Me: “I’m building a cat condo.”


He: “You don’t say.” He sounds frightened unsurprised. “Do you have plans?”

Me: “Of course I have plans.”

He: “Drawn in crayon?” He’s not being rude. He knows I use the Crayola Planner for Pantser Builders. I built a shelf under the kitchen sink once (before the world changed and we photographed our every move or I’d share it here… it was awesome) plotted out with dry eraser markers on two sheets of paper towel.

Me: “Maybe. I have an ingredient list.”

He: “How did you get the sonotube into your car?” Two kids, small car. 

Me: “It wasn’t pretty. Have we maxed out the chiro?” Don’t ask. I had to get the neighbour to pull me out because I pinched a nerve in my neck driving with the seat pushed forward so I could have the seat pushed forward and lay the sonotube on the diagonal. I’m talking about Satan’s Chiro, of whom you’ve heard.

To be continued…

Sorry about the drill bit, Sweetie. I didn’t know they could shatter like that.