My Canadian Roots

My Canadian Roots

Here on the final evening of the Canada Day long weekend, I wanted to do a manicure inspired by Canadian manufacturer Roots, designers of one of my favourite items of clothing of all time, my pink Roots Athletics sweatshirt.  Considering there was not a Canadian kid alive in the mid-1980s who didn’t have one of these sweatshirts (including yours truly!) there are no photos of me in my beloved baby pink, mint green and white pullover, because we didn’t run around with cameras all jacked up in our faces at all hours of the day.  So I have no “adorable” throwback photos to share with you, just my nostalgic memories of an iconic Canadian trend (really, everyone had a Roots sweatshirt; they came in an assortment of bright rainbow hues – my best friend’s was a gorgeous indigo blue – and some people had one in every colour.  And they were not exactly inexpensive either.  Not bad for a sweatshirt bearing the silhouette of a chunka-butt beaver.) 😉

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Northern Humidity Sends Its Love

Happy Canada Day, friends!  Because it’s hot as beaver balls in my neck of the Canadian woods (hotter and more humid than Orlando, Florida, whose summer weather I’m convinced occupies its very own circle of hell) I am celebrating this national drinking day holiday indoors, as close to my air conditioner as humanly possible.  I see a lot of Trailer Park Boys in my immediate future, as well as the possibly ill-advised plan, given the humidity, to have a roast turkey dinner at my parents’ house tonight, because apparently we are masochists (or are we?  My parents’ house boasts some very nice central air, and I think there’s no foodstuff more Canadian than gravy; we will put it in and on anything, including, but not limited to, toasted sandwiches, fries and cheese curds, and pizza.)

I didn’t do any new nail art to commemorate the 1st this year, but I thought it would be fun – and, let’s face it, easy! – to look back at these Canada Proud manicures I’ve done over the years.  They feature a wide range of beloved Canadiana, from Timmy’s and 50s, to traditional maple leaves (not to be confused with the Maple Leafs) and the almighty beaver.  Happiest of days, Canadian pals!

Finger Candy Gets a .ca

Trailer Park Mustard Tiger

Timmy Ho

Beaver or Dog?

Team Canada

Mr. Dressup’s Tickle Trunk

The Tickle Trunk

One-Fiddy

Northern Lights

Northern Lights 2

Rainbow multi-chrome styles.

I’ve actually never seen the Northern Lights.  Supposedly they’re periodically visible in my neck of the eastern Ontario woods (literally; the Gatineau Hills are staring at me from directly across the Ottawa River) but never have I ever.  I’ve also visited the way-up-north of the Great White North, Nunavut, home to little else but mile upon mile kilometer upon kilometer of endless sky, and still no Northern Lights.  I also didn’t see a polar bear, but for that I’m more grateful than disappointed (not for lack of hype; when I stepped off the plane in Iqaluit, the very first thing I saw was a poster advising me to please NOT feed the polar bears.  Hey man, done and done – you don’t need to tell me twice!)

So, one of these days.  But for now, nails. 🙂

Northern Lights 1

Meow, That’s Hot!

Hot Sauce Main Collage

Hot sauce, made here in Ottawa, Ontario by Meow! That’s Hot, and plenty of it.  With a matching manicure, even if I think their label cats look totally demonic.

Mr. Finger Candy and I are both big fans of the web show Hot Ones (great, in-depth interviews with celebrities as they attempt to form coherent thoughts while eating progressively hotter and hotter chicken wings) and a weekend marathon some while back inspired this massive order of locally-sourced hot sauce.  I don’t know what to say, apparently my husband was feeling quite passionate about burning his face off.  You can find Meow! That’s Hot hot sauces at Chilly Chiles stores, although you can also order direct from the source (and if you’re within Ottawa, the completely nice dudes who work at Meow! That’s Hot will refund your shipping, and deliver it to your door with a hilariously withering, “Giant box of hot sauce for (Mr. Finger Candy)?”  And it WAS a giant box of hot sauce.  Enough to seriously screw up your sense of taste and smell for at least the next four months.

Hot Sauce Bottles Collage

Except burn-yer-face off is not exactly what Meow! That’s Hot does.  Oh, they bring the heat alright – Ghost Kitty, studded with nuclear hot ghost peppers, and Manx Mangler, loaded with both habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers, are particularly fiery – but there’s also a good deal of taste to these hot sauces, which are packed with all sorts of yummy things like garlic and pears and tomatillos and blackberries.  So if pain and delirium ain’t your thing when it comes to a hot sauce (or if that’s only occasionally your thing, I don’t know your life!) Meow! That’s Hot might be a good choice.  Give ’em a shot!  And also check out these nails, still with that demonic cat.

Hot Sauce Hand

Polkadotaroo!

Dots 1

Like most Ontario kids who were born in the 1970s and came of (childhood) age in the 1980s, I watched A LOT of The Polka Dot Door.  A production of TV Ontario (holy crap, when’s the last time you saw that name?) The Polka Dot Door was a children’s television show for the seven and under crowd that featured host-led songs and skits and play-acting, and this nutso recurring character by the name of the Polkaroo.  The conceit of the Polkaroo was that the male half of the girl-boy hosting duo would step out for a moment to perform some mundane errand – nip on down to the store for more apples, take out the trash, replace the broken round window in the actual polka dotted door.  Anything to get that guy out of there (toward the end of the show’s run, I remember thinking they had run out of things he just had to do right that very minute, because they were just, like, “Oh, him?  Um, he’s in the can!”)  Anyhow, a few moments after the male host stepped out the door, the Polkaroo magically appeared.  And the Polkaroo was pure nightmare fuel – weird, saggy, baggy plushie body, garish colours, inability to say anything other than “Polkaroo!”  I think he was supposed to be a polka dotted kangaroo, but I just thought he was tacky.

And also CLEARLY the dude half of the hosting team, because after the Polkaroo had blundered about for a bit, knocking things over, pissing off the female host and then learning an invaluable lesson about teamwork, he’d clear out and the male host would sweep back in, all “WhadidImiss?” and the music would hit this “wah-wahhhhhh” cue and the female host would look on in indulgent exasperation.

I really liked The Polka Dot Door – it was one of the better early childhood morality and socialization nudgers of the time – but the Polkaroo never sat well with me, I think because I knew I was being talked down to.  And just because it came with a little wink didn’t lessen the sting of feeling like adults were having one over on me.  Kids – they don’t like to be made to feel like dummies any more than you do!

Anyhow, these polka dotted nails, in a range of Fall-perfect holos, got me thinking about The Polka Dot Door, so that’s how we wound up with this post that has nothing to do with the manicure at hand (and on my hand.)  That a good enough tangent for ya?!  Tangentialicious!  And Polkaroo!

Dots 2

Blue Curacao

Blue Curaco nails

I joked yesterday that after doing two back-to-back manis inspired by alcoholic drinks (Tuesday’s frozen strawberry daiquiri nail art and Wednesday’s cherry-garnished Manhattan mani) it was clearly cocktail hour here at Finger Candy HQ.  Now that I’ve done another – these citrusy blue curacao nails – I’m just running with it.  Cocktails are a surprisingly fantastic inspiration for nail art; there’s actually quite a bit to draw from there.  For these nails I layered blue and turquoise jelly polishes one atop the other, and then added a sweet, fruity garnish.

Wanna hear a story about blue curacao?  Growing up as a teenager in Ottawa, Ontario, THE thing to do once you turned 18 (or earlier if you had the borrowed ID of an older friend or sibling) was nip across the river to Hull, Quebec to take advantage of their lower legal drinking age.  And THE place to do that was The Strip, a three or four-block stretch of bars and restaurants and dance clubs and resto-pubs that was pretty well overrun with drunk and horny teenagers every Friday and Saturday night.  With my birthday coming toward the end of the school year, I was one of the last of my friends to make the journey across the bridge.  Also because I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to go; The Strip had some very nice establishments – Chez Henri looked like a Victorian castle, and Campus was a hole, albeit a hole with fantastic music – but it also had a (deserved) reputation for being rough, a $2.50 cocktail-fueled debauchfest that spilled out into the streets every weekend, bringing with it fights and altercations and just generally crap behaviour.  But I suspect that’s just what happens when you get a whole bunch of drunk and horny teenagers together in one place.

So I had my reservations.  As did my parents, who never, ever prevented me from joining in on the reindeer games, although they did have some concerns.  And so one day after school a trusted friend swung by my house to talk to my folks and put their minds at ease – “No, Mrs. Lewrey, it’s really not as bad as everyone says.  We’ll be safe and we’ll look out for her; we always look out for each other” – we really did, good cab-taking girls that we were – “I swear I’ve never even seen a bar tussle.”  Which was good enough for my parents, and so off we went that very weekend to the Land of Midori melon ball shooters.

No word of a lie, guys, I had taken maybe three steps into a dive called Ozone, struck dumb by the sight of an entire dance floor of sweating bodies embarrassing themselves to the Macarena, when a bottle of blue curacao arced gracefully above my head, crashing to the tequila-soaked floorboards and igniting a 30 second fistfight between a number of the flailing group dancers.  Then it was over and *I* was suddenly embarrassing myself to the Macarena, and certainly not for the last time…although that bar fight was also the first and last time I saw one of those.  Also the first fight my friend had ever encountered – she really hadn’t fibbed to my folks; it was just a stupid coincidence.  This is also the first time I’m sharing this story publicly, so this should come as a fun surprise for my mom should she be reading this (hi, Mom!  Aren’t we glad I turned out more or less okay?!)

 

September Band of Bloggers

BoB Sept 2017

Welcome back to the September Band of Bloggers! It’s that time of year again. School is starting back up. Trees are starting to turn. North America is recovering from the apocalypse brought on by the eclipse. Wait, what?

The eclipse that visited most of the United States on August 21st has been described as a once in a lifetime experience. The next eclipse to cover the US from coast to coast will not come until 2045.

That brings us to our question this month. What is your once in a lifetime experience?

Fifteen or so years ago (so another lifetime; in the case of my friends with children, many lifetimes) I was floundering.  Fresh off a journalism degree I wasn’t using and wracked with grief over the end of a four-year romantic relationship, I had moved downtown with some dear high school friends for a fresh start.  Except (probably much to the annoyance of my friends) I was having a terrible time starting over, at least for the first couple of months.  I’ve always been one of those serial monogamy types, and this was the first time since I had started dating at 16 that I didn’t have a boyfriend.  That the relationship had never been a grand one was totally besides the point, and despite the best efforts of my too-patient pals and parents, I was determined to be lonely and miserable, and I was obviously going to die alone and then be eaten by wild dogs.  It was all so very Bridget Jones.  I clearly needed to get the hell out of town.

At the time I was working as a court reporter.  Bored, terminally frumpy woman (they’re always women) clacking away in the corner of the courtroom?  That was me (except I liked to think I was fashionably frumpy.)  I worked out of an office that acted as a sort of neutral courtroom for the lawyers and their clients doing pre-trial examinations – that’s the deeply boring, paperwork-intensive side of the law.  They’d also frequently send reporters on out-of-office cases to such exotic locales as three blocks away, but sometimes to places a bit farther flung.

And THAT is how I wound up standing in the pitch black, -25 degree chill of a frozen Iqaluit afternoon three days before Christmas, contemplating the seriousness of the gigantic “DO NOT FEED THE POLAR BEARS!” sign that greeted me on arrival.

Iqaluit, for the unaware (and that would be everybody; Canadians barely know it’s there) is the capital city of Nunavut, a territory in the far north that used to go by the name Frobisher Bay.  It’s Nunavut’s largest city – nay, its ONLY city – and bears a population of about 7,500 people, most of them employees of the Government of Canada (that’s why I was there, to take the testimony of some people involved in a lawsuit with the GOC.) Despite sitting well outside the Arctic Circle, Iqaluit’s climate is a tundra one – lots of snow, little vegetation and no trees (the permafrost won’t allow their roots to take hold.) During the winter months (so everything that’s not June, July and August) it’s not unusual for the temperatures to dip into the -30s or -40s, and when I was there at the end of December, the sun had set to full black by two in the afternoon.  There is an ice road that leads out of town that is literally called The Road to Nowhere.  It is, by virtue of the unforgiving climate and its remoteness, a rather ugly city.  Also, there are apparently polar bears, and we are not to feed them.

Road to Nowhere

So what once-in-a-lifetime things does a fish out of Ontario water do when she’s thrown head-first into the frozen, turquoise waters of the far north?

Well, I did my job, for one, but even that came with its own “Only in Iqaluit” moments, such as when I stood outside the courthouse in the deep, snow-muffled silence of an early Arctic morn, sharing a cup of coffee with the courthouse clerk as he explained how this frozen spit of land had captured his formerly city-dwelling heart.  Or when I glanced out the window of the courtroom later on that day and saw a mangy dog dragging a severed caribou head down the street.

Three photos

In hindsight, the entire trip was an exercise in surrealism.  My flight in was a delight, the likes of which I will probably never enjoy again – totally empty plane, save for maybe nine other passengers, three seats to myself, a really fantastic lunch, nice little post-nosh tipple(s) and a low, low approaching altitude that allowed me to gaze out the window at the wonder of all that neon turquoise water showing through the cracks in the ice and snow.

I walked the town in snowpants and Kodiak boots for three hours until I realized I had already seen everything.  I bought a $9 bag of potato chips at the North Mart (not making light of the very real problem of food deserts in the far north.)  I stood in a 6 a.m., two-person scrum (which itself was considered quite the turnout) as an accused murderer was brought to the courthouse.  I watched the sun rise at 10 am, cutting a weak, low path across the horizon, before setting to pitch blackness again three hours later.  I sat in my hotel room one night, blissfully crunching overpriced chips and watching silly teen movies on cable, and put together a scrapbook gift for a friend.  Every cab ride in the city cost $5, no matter where you were going or how long you were in the vehicle.  I shared a delicious breakfast of Arctic Char eggs benedict with a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in the diningroom of a four-star hotel at 6:30 in the morning.  Later on that day we marched up to the Subway together for lunch; at the time it was the best performing franchise in Canada, and was a top five contender for all of North America.

Hotel

On the day I headed out of town, two days before Christmas, I joined a city-wide exodus of bureaucrats fleeing the frozen north for (barely) warmer holiday climes down south. It seemed like the entire city emptied out in about five hours.  After checking my bags and securing my seat home, I spent those five hours in a nearby coffee shop/karaoke parlour/tanning salon, where I sipped tea, ate a scrumptious blueberry scone and contemplated asking the proprietors if they’d be willing to rename their establishment the Fake ‘n’ Bakery.

On the flight home – no empty plane this time, that’s for sure – through a massive snowstorm, I experienced turbulence so extreme, I really thought my end had come.  I suppose that’s normal when your plane is bucking wildly from side to side and dropping what feels like 20 feet at a time.  Also when the cargo hold is packed full of howling dogs and screaming cats and the flight attendants suspend all food service when your chicken cordon bleu flies up to the ceiling and then just sticks there.

My favourite part of the trip, though?  Like everybody, coming home.  Seeing my parents’ smiling, relieved faces at the airport, and then walking through the door of my apartment late on the evening of the 23rd to find that my friends had prepared an amazing holiday dinner and decorated the molting ficus.  Home really is where the heart is.  No place like it, as Dorothy might say.

Christmas on Cooper

That, coincidentally, was the moment I decided to drop my whole “woe is me” romantic bullshit and rejoin the human race as something other than a mopey dick.  The people I loved were making every effort to boost my fragile self-esteem, and I could certainly do likewise.  Besides, I had just conquered the far north!  Severed caribou heads, man – that kind of thing changes a person!  Four fun-filled, glorious, halcyon months later I met Mr. Finger Candy, and the rest is happy history.

So there we have it, that once-in-a-lifetime event that I was actually fortunate enough to experience firsthand.  Never saw a single polar bear, though. 😉

If you’d like to play along at home, please feel free to answer this question in the comment section below, and we hope you’ll visit these Band of Blogger blogs and help support the blogger community!

Amanda at Thrifty Polished

Jaybird at The Candle Enthusiast

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

Lauren at LoloLovesScents

Liz at Furianne

Sandra – me! – at Finger Candy

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