Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 Cannes Red Carpet - days 1 and 2

Here is the first of some number of Cannes red carpet posts. I've got a whole bunch of images and I'll post what I have as I get through them. I'd wanted to put up all the images at once but with the garden and stuff I've been busier than I wanted to be.

Still, I don't want to deprive you of gorgeous (and wacky) red carpetry, so here are the first two days.

Enjoy them after the jump...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Work on the yard

Let's take a short break from the red carpet posts so that I can talk about my weekend. I was hoping that we were going to have a boring weekend where we sat around and I watched Ian play video games but that isn't what happened at all.

Our neighbour had given us some topsoil a while ago and we wanted to use it, together with some other soil we had at the top of the hill, to re-grade the yard at the side of the house. Ian bought a wagon/cart thingy with which to transport the soil and he started working. I joined him after a nap and we spent a few hours scooping, moving, and raking the soil to grade it. Half of the soil came from the top of the hill and half from the bottom. Ian did most of the moving, which was hard work, and I did the raking which was also hard work.

This took a few hours and both of us were very tired when we were finished. We were so tired that we didn't even bother making dinner but ordered pizza - something that we haven't done in ages - and we lazed around watching tv for the rest of the evening. Both of us slept very well after all that work.

We told ourselves that we would definitely take it easy today after doing so much work yesterday. We started off by cleaning up the pepper pots in the greenhouse, clipping off some dead birch tree branches, and talking about what we wanted to do with the side of the house. We'd pretty much decided that we wanted to put a vegetable garden at the top of the hill in front of the greenhouse, and wouldn't it be great if we could use the sod from that area to cover the fresh soil we'd put down yesterday.

Our neighbour came by to chat with us and after telling him about our thought, he offered to bring over some power tool that can be used to cut the sod into strips about 18" wide. Those strips can then be cut to make manageable bits of sod. It took about an hour and a half to cut up the sod from our proposed vegetable garden area (about 12 by 16 feet). We spent that time rolling and moving sod.

We also spent time killing grubs. We have about one grub per square foot and since it isn't even the time that they'll be in their greatest numbers, we'll need to keep an eye on them. We might need to get ourselves some nematodes. We also discovered a third species of ant in our backyard in some of the decomposing wood. So now we have the little brown ants; the larger, black, aphid-herding ants; and the little red ants that like wood.

When we finished rolling up the sod, we spent another two hours putting it into our cart, taking it down the hill, and laying it out. We got the whole side of the house re-sodded and by the time we were done we were exhausted. So much for taking it easy. I think almost every part of me is sore from all that bending and lifting and carrying and moving it around.

There's a lot more work to be done in setting up our vegetable garden. We need to get more topsoil and choose some vegetables to plant. We'll put some of the peppers out there as well as some carrots but we're not sure what else we want to grow. Right now we're both so tired from all that work that we don't want to even think about doing anything else out there.

2011 amFAR Cinema against AIDS gala at Cannes red carpet - part 2

Here are the rest of the outfits worn to the amFAR gala at Cannes this year. There are many, many more dresses to look at from Cannes but I wanted to keep this post amFAR gala-specific.

Let's go and look at some dresses, shall we?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 amFAR Cinema against AIDS gala at Cannes red carpet - part 1

There will be three or possibly four posts about the events at Cannes. In this first post we'll have a look at what the celebrities wore to the amFAR gala at Cannes this year. This is a formal event and many of those who attended wore some fine clothing. Not everyone wore something formal, however, and not everyone wore something flattering.

One of the most interesting things about this and other Cannes events is that there are many international celebrities in attendance. I may not have a clue who all of the people are but that doesn't mean I can't critique their outfits :)

We'll get started after the jump.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Odds and ends

I`m still working on my Cannes red carpet posts for you. I received a request to take a look at those fashions and at the time I thought it would be easy to just look at everything once the festival was over. I didn't count on there being a couple of gala events with lots and lots of pictures. That'll show me :)

By the way, yes, I do take requests for red carpet posts. If there's an event you'd like me to take a look at, just let me know.

Anyways. Today in my stress management group over at the cancer support center, we were talking about control. Realizing what we can control - and what we can't - goes a long way towards reducing stress. We talked a bit about where we have control and one point that came up is that our thoughts control our feelings. I know that this is true at least some of the time - when I'm thinking negative thoughts, I feel unhappy - but I didn't think that it was true in every case. For some reason I thought that feelings just happened and that they influenced thoughts. I have to think about this some more.

In other news, our patio furniture was delivered today. We got a yellow umbrella instead of the tan that we thought we purchased but I think I like the yellow. I snapped a not-so-good picture with my phone for you:

Nice, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Billboard Music Awards 2011 Red Carpet

I'm working on posts looking at the outfits from the recent Cannes festival. In the meantime, I thought I'd do a quick post on the fashions at the recent Billboard Music Awards red carpet. The outfits are split between mostly normal and crazy, and who doesn't like to look at some crazy outfits?

The pictures are after the jump..

Monday, May 23, 2011

More about our garden

We made up some aphid-killer with oil, soap, and water and sprayed it on our pepper plants and our basil plants. I wouldn't have expected the aphids to like hot peppers most, but they do. We'll check and repeat the process each day and hopefully it'll work... and the plants won't be burned or unable to photosynthesize.

The neighbourhood birds love our waterfall! It's like a bird bath only so, so, so, much better. The birds are drinking from and having baths in the little ponds that form along the length of the waterfall. One male cardinal was having a lovely time splashing himself until his wife (who had been eating under the bird feeder) told him it was time to go. We've even had a mating pair of bluejays come by for a dip.

We'd thought about getting a birdbath but the waterfall is less work and the larger birds like it. A birdbath might still be a good idea if we can put it under some trees in the shade. The waterfall doesn't have much in the way of protection from predators and the finches might prefer more shelter. It's a lot of work to clean it each week, however, so we'll see.

We'd also noticed a bird that we didn't recognize and we think that it's a female red-winged blackbird. We didn't realize that the females were so different than the males. While the males are black with the red and yellow wings, the females are brown with white streaks and white streaks on their heads. We have pictures of them but we haven't yet processed them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden is coming along

And here I thought we were supposed to get rain all weekend. Well, it rained this morning but it was gorgeous and sunny and warm all afternoon. Oh, it was beautiful.

We finally got out to buy ourselves some patio furniture today. We knew we wanted wood patio furniture and we'd heard of this ipé wood which is supposed to be eco-friendly. At Sheridan Nurseries they carry a whole line of patio furniture made from it and we bought ourselves four chairs, a round table, an umbrella, and an umbrella weight stand thing. We brought home two of the chairs and assembled them ourselves and the rest will be delivered on Friday afternoon. They're very comfortable.

After assembling our chairs we repotted the pepper plants we'd bought. We discovered that several of them are covered in aphids. One of the repotted plants has aphids on the soil, too. There are no ants with them so we don't have any ant herding going on - and that's good (the ants are all over the fruit trees instead). We're going to try spraying them with a combination vegetable oil, soap, and water solution and see if that works. If not, I guess we could try and get some kind of insect to eat up the aphids. We'll see.

Puttering around the yard is quite satisfying, as it turns out. I love to look at the new growth, to see what's coming up, and to take out the weeds. It isn't the same as really doing work in the garden or doing chores - it's more just wandering around. I used to watch my grandmother and mom putter around the garden like this and I never really understood the appeal of doing this... but I get it now.

Hopefully tomorrow is just as warm and nice so we can enjoy our backyard and our new chairs.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We're all still here

Well, that was a bust. No earthquakes, no Rapture, nothing. We're all still here.

I almost feel sorry for the guy that made this prediction about today... from all accounts, he really believed that the world was ending today. Even though so many people knew that he had to be wrong, he thought he was right.

We spent the day exploring some of the nearby paths through the woods and working in the yard. It was such a beautiful day, nearly 20C and warm and sunny. Even though we have no patio furniture we sat outside and soaked up some more sun.

Ian bought himself a new video game called L.A. Noire. It's a game set in 1940's Los Angeles and you play a cop solving cases and working his way up through the police force. It has a noir-ish feel to it, which makes it interesting. The hard part is that while you solve cases, you interrogate people and have to determine whether they're telling the truth, you doubt what they're saying, or you know they're lying and you can prove. You do this by reading their faces and gestures.

The developers of this game used a new facial motion-capture technique that enabled them to catch the small muscle movements in the face so that you can really see the character's facial expressions. This means that the people playing these characters really had to act out the different scenarios. It also means that the characters look like the actors who play them so there's a bit of "name that actor" going on with the minor characters. At least with me.

It's a fun game so far and I'm looking forward to watching this one through to the end.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The world is ending.... or not

Apparently someone has calculated that the Rapture is going to happen tomorrow and about 200 million people will ascend to heaven. Something about earthquakes at 6pm local time and the world ending in October. The fact that this same guy previously thought the Rapture would happen in 1994 - but insists now that he's right and he was mistaken - doesn't fill me with confidence, even if I believed that a Rapture might actually happen. Which I don't.

Someone Ian knows thought it would be hilarious to buy hundreds of inflatable dolls, fill them full of helium, and set them free. I agree: that would be hilarious, unless the Rapture actually happens, in which case that guy (and me) will be left behind.

I very much doubt that if a Rapture actually does happen that it'll happen on anyone's schedule.... and I really don't think it'll happen tomorrow. I guess we'll see, won't we?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day of surprises

Our first surprise was bad: ants.

Ants can be found in most houses and we've seen one or two in the kitchen over the last month or so but didn't think much of it. We (meaning Ian) had repotted our Brugmansia plants a few weeks ago... and this morning he woke up to find a two-inch wide trail of ants running between the pots and the bag of peanuts for the birds. I'd already left for my Pamidronate appointment and I'm happy that I wasn't there because I would have freaked out.

As it was, I did freak out when I got home from my Pamidronate appointment when I saw more ants - not as many as Ian saw, but lots. I didn't really know what had happened - all I saw were ants and the vacuum cleaner. I thought about vacuuming up the ants but I was worried that they would somehow crawl out of the vacuum. It's a central vac and upon reflection, I see that this is was a silly idea but I was panicking a bit. So instead I grabbed the cinnamon and sprinkled it all over them. We'd used it for an ant problem before and it worked.

Once all the cinnamon was gone and the ants still weren't dead, I turned to the chili powder. The first kind was too lumpy and so I chose another chili powder. After I sprinkled all of that chili powder on some of the remaining ants. When I noticed that the two powders worked to kill most of the ants I saw that I was sweating like crazy and I was shaking. So I took a bath to calm down.

Fortunately, my trick with the powders worked on the ants I could see and I vacuumed up them and the powders. Every once in a while I'd move the bags, find more ants underneath, and kill them by squishing them.

The second, great surprise: our waterfall pump.

The waterfall guys had been by to set up our waterfall for the season and it turned out that our pump wasn't working. Instead of working continuously it would cycle on and off. It had been doing that at the end of last season but we thought it was due to the low water in the system. We called Grand Valley Garden Village (or centre; the name is different in different places), the company who'd contracted out the work to build it in the first place, and he said that the pump was no longer under warranty but to bring it in anyway and see what he could do.

And what he could do was get the pump replaced for free under warranty!! We went down this evening and picked it up... along with some ant traps. And pots and stuff.

The I-don't-know-if-it's-a-good surprise: a neighbourhood cat left a dead robin at our patio door. Uhhh, thanks?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Metropolitan Costume Institute's 2011 Gala Red Carpet, part 2

Here are the rest of the outfits from this event. It's just as well that I split the post into two because there are so many outfits to consider. Many of them are beautiful and there are some amazing outfits but there are still plenty of WTF? moments to come in this post.

We'll continue with our outfit evaluation after the jump.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Metropolitan Costume Institute's 2011 Gala Red Carpet, part 1

Here is the first of two red carpet posts for this event. There are so many pictures that there was no way for me to get them all done for today, but I wanted to put some up for you anyway.

This red carpet is a little bit different than an award show red carpet. Award show red carpets tend to be isolated to a particular industry like movies or music or television so the styles of dress on the red carpet are fairly similar. Most award shows are also held in Los Angeles.

This event was the gala opening for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute exhibition called Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty which is by all accounts a huge success. The annual gala attracts people from all industries; it's like the red carpet melting pot. There are designers, models, actors, singers, and socialites that attended this event. While the dress code is formal, "formal" means different things to different people: people in the music industry tend to be a bit more flashy and people who don't often appear on the red carpet tend to be a bit more subtle.

Stella McCartney was one of the co-chairs of the event (Colin Firth was the other) so many people were wearing one of her designs. Since the event was opening an Alexander McQueen exhibition, many other people wore his designs.

There was a lot of gold, allover sequins, white, and black on this red carpet. There was also a lot of texture with lace and feathers and quite a few 30s-inspired looks. Sadly, the mullet dress (short in front and long in the back) made a strong appearance here. I think this means that we're going to start seeing mullet dresses on the street and for other special events which isn't a look that I'm looking forward to seeing.

There are a LOT of pictures after the jump. I don't know who some of these people are but that's not going to stop me from critiquing their look. Shall we get started?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Video game watching

I'm working on a red carpet post from the Met Costume Institute's Gala that was held on May 2 but it's not ready for today. I know that the event was a couple of weeks ago and I'm super-late for my red carpet post but I was out of town. It'll be up tomorrow.

While I was working on this post I watched Ian play Portal 2. If I was any good at playing proper video games (like with a controller for a first-person shooter game) I'd probably enjoy playing the game myself because it's a puzzle-playing game. You get a gun that shoots two holes onto walls and floors so that you (or an object) can go through one of them and come out the other. In this way you can move yourself and objects through rooms and areas to get access to new areas.

What makes this game fun to play and watch is that the dialogue is hilarious. There's an evil AI which was killed by the player in the first game and a bumbling funny robot who is apparently trying to help you escape from this facility. The lines from both of them are very clever and witty. And just plain funny.

The only drawback to the game is that it's fairly short at only about 10 hours or so. I'm used to Ian's epic games that take days and days and days to play. This game has a cooperative two-player option so if I can figure out how to use the controls I might give it a try.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We finally bought theatre chairs

Some months ago you might remember me talking about buying theatre seats for our entertainment area in the basement. We knew we wanted to buy Palliser's Rhumba theatre seats with power recline (instead of manual), and we knew that we didn't want to buy them in leather. What we didn't know was which covering or configuration we wanted. Instead of going in and just making a decision, we put off buying the seats.

Lucky for us, the store from which we wanted to purchase these seats is having a sale this month: buy one item and get 40% off the next item and 25% off the following items. We finally decided to bite the bullet and buy them this weekend so that we could take advantage of the sale. These things aren't cheap, after all, and while we're willing to pay a lot for a quality product (like these), we don't want to spend more money than we need to spend.

We figured out the optimal configuration for the room by cutting out cardboard in the size of the seats and moving them around. We settled on four seats. The outer two have a straight armrest on the outside and an angled one on the other side. The middle two have no armrest between them so that we can cuddle up. According to the spec sheet this is a 4-seat curved configuration.

Choosing the fabric turned out to be a lot easier than the last few times we've chosen fabric. There weren't quite as many fabric choices as we've had before and there were a couple of clear favourites. We ended up choosing a velvety fabric with a sort of crackled effect called Jumanji in the chocolate colour. It doesn't show a nap and it's really, really soft so we think it'll look great in our entertainment area.

Of course the seats won't arrive for eight to twelve weeks so I'll hardly remember what they look like by the time they get here. Until we looked at them today I'd even forgotten how comfortable these seats are! Whether we remember everything about them when they arrive or not, I think we're going to love them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Movie: Triangle

I've been taking it easy (read: being lazy) for the last couple of days while I come to terms with what happened in the counseling session earlier this week. You could say that I'm huddling in a corner and licking my emotional wounds.

Even I get bored wallowing in my own emotions so today I watched Triangle, a movie about a woman who goes sailing with friends and then people end up being killed. Netflix has been recommending this movie to me for a long time but I thought the movie sounded kind of boring based on that description.

Was I ever wrong. This is a great movie. The protagonist does go sailing with friends and people do end up being killed, but there's so much more to this movie than just that. I don't want to give too much away so let me just say that there's a time-shifting element to this movie. It's really, really good. The plot, the cinematography, and the acting all combine to make this a compelling movie.

I hadn't really been paying attention for the first two-thirds of the movie and it was so interesting that I ended up going back to the beginning and watching it again. I could watch it at least one more time, too, because there were bits that I think I missed and because the later scenes put the earlier ones in a new light

There is a bit of gore in this movie but it's more of a psychological thriller than a serial killer or slasher movie. I highly recommend this movie if you're at all interested in this type of thriller.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An eventful trip

I made it home safe and sound yesterday evening. I connected through Calgary and the flight between Calgary and Kitchener was a bit trying because a screaming 16-month-old baby was seated directly behind me. It's twin was seated directly behind it and the twin also screamed. At least I wasn't seated in the same row as either baby - the people who were looked less happy and more frustrated than I did.

For this trip I stayed with my youngest sister and her family and I really enjoyed staying there. I felt completely at home and totally comfortable there and  I never felt that I was intruding on them at all. I'm so grateful that they opened their doors to me.

While I was in Edmonton my sisters and I met with a lawyer about our mom's estate. There's just a couple of things to settler and then it'll all be wrapped up. The estate has been a source of conflict between my sisters and I and I'll be happy to see it all wrapped up and done.

My sisters and I also met with a counselor as part of developing our relationship. This counselor was really, really good and I wish she practiced here so that I could see her here. I've been wondering if I was pushing too hard to be close to sisters and also whether I'd been unrealistic in my expectations about what kind of relationship we could have. Yes and yes.

I was also shocked to discover that my relationship with my middle sister is not at all what I thought it was. I knew that our relationship was rocky but I had no idea what she was thinking or how she saw me. I know better now. Even though I prefer to hear the truth it was definitely painful to hear what she really thought and I felt blindsided by it.

Knowing the truth is a relief because it means that I can stop trying so hard to have this relationship. Accepting the way things are is easier and less work than trying to make things into whatever I want them to be. I've been putting her needs and wants ahead of my own and trying to guess at her motivations and reactions so that I won't upset her and so that she'll like me. I don't have to do that anymore: I can put myself first and to do whatever I need to do for my own well-being. This is very freeing.

Of course I still have work to do. While it's freeing to think of putting myself first, clearly I need some help putting this into practice. I also need to let go of needing my sister to be close to me and this will be trickier because I'm not sure why I felt I needed to have a closer relationship with my sisters in the first place. Although I have a huge support network already, for some reason - possibly because if my mom's death - I really wanted my sisters closer to me.

I also still need to work at dealing with my own past. My sisters and I had a traumatic upbringing from which we need to heal. Our counselor pointed out that because the trauma and its triggers bring up the fight or flight response in us, it's really hard to deal with it all on our own. She recommended that I see someone who's experienced in helping people heal from childhood trauma.

Yes, there's lots of work ahead for me. I think I'll spend some time resting and enjoying the new growth in our garden before trying to find myself a counselor.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm still recovering from the sunburn I got the other day. We have aloe with lidocaine in it and I've been applying it onto the burn and I think it's helping. Last night I couldn't sit on the sofa to watch tv but I'm ok tonight - which is good, because I get to sit on a plane tomorrow.

Yep, I'm traveling tomorrow: I'm going to Edmonton for my sister's birthdays (which are yesterday and tomorrow) and to do some stuff related to my mom's estate. I'm only there until next Tuesday morning so I don't know if I'll have time to visit anyone else while I'm there. I'll be back in a couple of months for a couple of weeks so I'll definitely have time to visit with everyone then.

I was quite tired today, in part because I didn't sleep well last night or the night before, thanks to the sunburn. Because I'm traveling tomorrow and I was so tired, I decided not to go to metalsmithing class tonight. I'd really wanted to go because I love the work and the people but I was just so, so, so tired. Lucky for me, Ian came home early, too, so we're spending some time together before I leave.

I'm really looking forward to spending some time with my sisters in Edmonton. I don't know how often I'll be updating my blog until I'm back so don't be surprised if there isn't a new post every day.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Election day

The election results aren't finished coming in but they're calling it to be a Conservative majority. Boo! I don't like Stephen Harper or his government because of the number of ethical issues they had during their last time in office. I don't trust them to do the right things by the people of this country. Tax cuts for business and rich people (not to mention extra fighter jets and maximum prisons) aren't going to help the people who need it. And I'm so worried that they're going to start stripping women's rights by, say, removing funding to Planned Parenthood like the US is trying to do.

I'm sorry but I can't help but think that the Canadian people have been suckered by the Conservative party. My worst fears about this election have come to pass: a Harper majority. I don't understand what people see in these candidates or this party. How could they have responded to the smear campaign? I'm so disappointed. I don't even fully believe that it'll be the will of the people to have a Harper majority because I don't know that the number of seats they'll get will equal the percentage of people who voted for them. And I don't know if the people know what they're in for.

Honestly, I didn't like Michael Ignatieff (the Liberal leader) either, and I can understand why people didn't want to vote for him and his party. But to vote Conservative instead wasn't really a good choice, either, and I suspect that a lot of people just didn't vote (or everyone showed up and voted for the Conservatives). Oh, Canada, what have you done?

At least the Harper majority will be tempered by the NDP, who, in a very surprising upset, will likely form the Official Opposition. We in English-speaking Canada don't pay so much attention to Quebec because it's voted Bloc Quebecois for so long, but it looks like we should have at least remembered that they're there because Quebec has pretty well ousted the Bloc in favour of the NDP. Yes, the NDP! Think back to only a few years ago when they almost lost official party status, and now they're (likely) the Official Opposition.

As an aside, technology has played an "interesting" role in this election; apparently we were the highest or second-highest trending topic on twitter. We Canadians aren't allowed to give the election results to any area that hasn't yet finished voting, presumably because it could influence the votes there. But Elections Canada can't control the international interwebs and non-Canadian people were tweeting results for the world to see before polls closed across the country. I expect that Elections Canada will change the rules so that no results can be broadcast until polls are closed across the country... if it matters that people in BC, say, know the results from Ontario before the polls close in BC.

Update: it looks like over 60% of eligible voters came out to vote. If that's not a mandate for the Conservatives, I don't know what is.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Gardening is hard work

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day that we decided to spend the entire afternoon out in the garden. Ian finished the back lawn and I managed to get the major flower bed weeded and trimmed and cleaned up. We definitely made an impact on the backyard.

Of course that impact comes at a price. It was very sunny out and my top rode up on my back a bit while I was kneeling there weeding and clipping and cleaning up. I kind of knew that it was happening but when Ian was putting on sunscreen to protect his skin I figured that I would be ok.

It seems like every time I think that something will be ok... it isn't. It wasn't ok this time, either. I have an asymmetric open smile burn just below my waist on my high hip extending from side to side. It's kind of in the tramp stamp position. This is skin that's never been burned before so it's quite tender.

As well as being burned, my back, bum, and legs are quite sore so I'm hobbling around today. Normally a hot bath would take care of those muscles but there's no way that I can sit in a hot bath with the sunburn. I'd massage the muscles in my lower back that hurt the most but they're right underneath the sunburn. Good one, huh?