Fall Fun Fridays: The Failing Grade Edition

Tree Collage

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another beautiful autumn Friday!  As of late, the weather around my neck of the global woods has been quite uneven – one moment it’s so cold, we’re all breaking out our toques and parkas, and the next it’s so dank and humid, we’re firing up the air conditioners for one last summery go-round.  But there’s only one way this all ends, and that’s with snow.  I suppose that’ll be here soon enough.

So being the end of the work week and all, it’s time for another edition of Fall Fun Fridays, the casual little blogging challenge I’ve been, let’s face it, whiffing hardcore with my friends Jay of The Scented Library and Julie of The Redolent Mermaid, who are decidedly not whiffing it.  Excuses, excuses, but my Fall has been rather disrupted by ongoing renovations to our apartment.  They’re not going super well, I keep injuring myself (I’m looking down at a throbbing cut on my thumb right now for which I probably should have sought stitches) and I haven’t been able to put out any of my usual decorations, including my beloved Halloween town.  Here, let’s take a peek at it from two seasons ago; that’ll make me feel peppier.

Halloween Town

Anyhow, all that to say I haven’t exactly been feeling the Fall this year, as the kids might say.  Looks like it’ll take another emergency infusion of Disney’s absolutely bonkers approach to the season to set things right – fortunate, since we’ll be back in about two weeks’ time. 🙂

This week’s prompt contemplated hands-on activities – your favourite Fall recipe, craft or some other DIY-able.  I’m actually right in the midst of putting together some fortifying chicken stew for dinner tonight with my parents – that seems like a very autumn dish.  But it won’t be ready for – *checks time* – oh, another five or so hours!  So until the timer goes off, I’d kindly direct you on over to my friends’ blogs, where they’re sure to have pulled out all the seasonal stops.  Happy weekend, friends; hope you get a few moments to get out there and enjoy all it has to offer.

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Woefully Unprepared

Blackout 1

That was my husband and I this weekend after back-to-back tornadoes struck our hometown of Ottawa, Ontario on Friday evening.  The storms – a rare, although not totally unheard of occurrence – tore through the city in a matter of minutes, leaving utter destruction in their wake – flattened homes, uprooted trees and a completely decimated power station, which knocked out electricity to nearly 180,000 homes and businesses, ours included.

In the eerily still moments that followed the lights going out, it began to dawn on us that we were not in the best of positions to ride out anything longer than half a day’s power outage.  In an effort to curb mindless munching, we keep precious little “emergency” food in the house – crackers, granola bars – or even easy to prepare things like salad and sandwich fixings.  So we had no food, and a rapidly thawing freezer full of things that could only be heated up.  We also live in a condo apartment, so we have no barbecue, gas stove or hot water heater.  Also a multi-storey walk down to and then back up from the garage in order to check the news on AM radio because neither one of us carries a data plan on our phones, choosing instead to tap our home or public wifi, which is great practice in terms of saving money and curbing poor phone habits, but terrible in the event of an actual emergency, because when the power goes out, so too does the wifi.

On Saturday evening we braved the roads – signal lights out, all intersections down to the mostly respected honour system – and went over to check on my parents, who were having a veritable blackout party when we straggled in, weak from a diet consisting of nothing but dry Mini Wheats straight from the box.  Bustling about their gas fireplace-warmed kitchen in a cozy-looking jewel toned robe, my mother laid out their bounty of “eat this now”s, expressing concern that it wasn’t much (my mom’s definition of “not much” being wildly skewed, of course; their granite-topped kitchen island was crammed with a tantalizing assortment of salads, deli sandwiches, dips, heaping bowls of leftovers and half a chocolate cake!  I nearly burst into tears, but crying would have gotten in the way of all the eating; we fell on this unexpected feast with gratitude.  My parents are pretty awesome.

We rode out the remainder of the weekend in our apartment doing what we did all weekend long – cramming as much reading as we could into the daylight hours before passing out from boredom about two hours after sundown.  When the power came back on, I nearly cried, again.  It was a bit of an emotional weekend.  Having the power off was its own challenge, sure, but it was the weekend-long information vacuum we were plunged into that made the whole situation that much worse – I was utterly furious that for all our expensive devices we have jacked up in our faces at all hours of the day, when it really comes down to it, we’re still just sitting in the dark, clueless.

And the silence – it was deafening.  I never realized before how much white noise I like to have in my life.  I have slept with a full box fan bearing down on me virtually every night of my life.  I score nearly everything I do – cooking, cleaning, blogging, driving, personal care, working out, travel, socializing – to a vast assortment of playlists and favourite music.  I work on an asskicker of an Alienware gaming computer that pumps out a low, never-ending hum.  I nearly always have a movie or a show queued up on our TV; extra white noise points if it’s one I’ve watched hundreds of times before (jest not, I’ve definitely seen Beetlejuice and The Lost Boys more than 250 times each.)  At one point Saturday night as I lay in bed struggling to fall asleep to the deafening din of nothingness, I thought, “Is this what Simon and Garfunkel were singing about in Sound of Silence?”

In our defence, I will say we weren’t completely lost souls in all of this.  We actually had a very productive weekend – my husband, who fought off an emerging cold all last week, finally gave in to the germs and allowed himself to just rest.  I used the downtime to finish one book, start another (on the Wall Street implosion of 2008, for pity’s sake!) and take up the entirety of our second bedroom floor.  And last night, in something of a stroke of waste-not, want-not brilliance, I cannibalized three different Hello Fresh entrees that I was utterly crushed at the thought of having to dispose of, cobbling together a rather posh and large feast of Tex Mex-inspired salad and balsamic-drizzled caprese salad with naan bread, by candlelight.

The power came back on about 10:30 Sunday evening, and we were beyond thankful for it.  Then we started to get a picture of the true destruction to our city, of which we were mostly spared.  Aggravated and inconvenienced for two and a half days, yes, and I had to throw out virtually all of the contents of our refrigerator (once again, I nearly cried; I absolutely loathe wasting food) but thankfully spared the indignities of so many of our neighbours – leveled homes, flattened cars, uprooted trees and lives.

But this entire incident has taught us a few crucial lessons.  First, Mother Nature hates us, and she has good reason to.  Climate change exists; you simply can’t deny the negative impact our wildly wasteful lives have on the environment.  And if you do, boy howdy, do I have a one-way ticket to Mars for you right here, my friend.  But secondly, and most important to our immediate lives, we discovered, as I stated off the top, that we are wildly unprepared for any emergency situation, big or small.  So we’re formulating a more responsible plan for next time, because there will be a next time, because see above, re: climate change.  And also something about history something-something and being doomed to repeat it.  Unless we learn our lessons, to close off this circular argument.

And now we rebuild and heal up and try to return to something approaching normal.  Get better soon, Ottawa.

Blackout 2

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.) 😉

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