I love Paper Planes…

I seem to know some really talented people. Friends I’ve made at school, at work, and believe it or not, on the train. I like to support my local musical friends, going to gigs when I can, clapping, and whooping my head off.

Then there’s one I can’t do that for. I can show my support by spreading the word. I’m so sneaky, she doesn’t even know I’m doing this.

My best friend has musicians in her family, particularly one beyond talented cousin from Liverpool. Shannen Bamford. This is “Left Behind” on YouTube: http://youtu.be/q5lU1XpqXqI. I caught myself humming this the other day, and thought this would be a nice post.

shannen-bamford
Source: liverpoolacoustic.co.uk

Shannen has more talent in her pinky finger than most people in their entire bodies after years of playing music (my other friends excluded, because they’re damn talented too).

Two years ago she put out an EP, which became my relax and unwind jam. She has this hauntingly beautiful voice. Let me make it easy for you, you can download it here: https://itun.es/ca/hWZiM

The CD release happened while my bestie was visiting the UK. Shannen wrote a sweet personal note to go with the copy my friend brought back for me. Did I mention she was 20 that summer?

She’s played at music festivals and around the local establishments in Liverpool. She gets written about all the time, last time in November: http://www.liverpoolsoundandvision.co.uk/2015/11/07/shannen-bamford-gig-review-studio-2-liverpool/

I’d like to see her play to adoring fans in Toronto. I even have guitars she can borrow so she doesn’t need to trust hers to the airlines. Heck, I’d like to sing and strum along with her. Maybe tweet Shannen and ask her to come play here.

I’m just tickled that she made the trek to Canada for a visit with family over the holidays. How many times do you get to say, “yeah, I listen to her all the time, and I had lunch with her!”

shannen-bamford
(not the best pic of me, but isn’t she a sweetie?)

 

 

I could be a gunslinger…

It’s no secret that for years John Cusack was at the top of my wish list. Dark, mysterious and broody John Cusack.

I actually talked to him on the phone once. My then boyfriend had told him that if he (John) said the word, I would leave him (the boyfriend) in a heartbeat. He likely doesn’t remember asking, but he invited me to Detroit that very weekend. I told him if he was ever in Toronto, and needed an “unidentified woman” to walk a red carpet on his arm, I was the one for him.

Then, as luck would have it, at the 2013 HHOF Induction, I did share the red carpet with him. I was standing at the edge with all of the other photographers and media, eyeballing the man of my dreams. Not sure quite what happened, but that wish dissipated like a fart in the wind.

john cusack boston arts diary
Souce: bostonartsdiary.com

He was wearing a tuxedo, of course, but it was just after he did the movie “The Paper Boy”, so he was looking a bit haggard. I still think he’s wonderful, I can’t help myself. But I no longer hope to walk the red carpet by his side.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been binge watching Netflix. I’m a bit late to this show I’ve been hooked on, since the final season is done. Ever watched “Hell on Wheels” ladies?

The show is set during the building of the railroad after the civil war, between Cheyenne, Wisconsin and Omaha, Nebraska. I’d have fit right in. I love history. I love horses. I love my cowboy boots. I can ride. I can shoot. I ain’t afraid of snakes or rats. Sleeping in a tent in the mud doesn’t bother me either.

The best part though is a character who has his own moral compass, Cullen Bohannon, played by Anson Adams Mount IV. Ask anyone, I’m a sucker for a southern accent.

anson-mount
Source: indulgy.com

Sorry John, but you’ve been replaced on the red carpet wish list. If this gun totin’ hombre needs someone, here I am.

Santa, if y’all could fix it to put Anson Mount under my tree for Christmas, I’d be much obliged. No wrapping necessary, just a big red bow would do. Please and thank you!

Where are you Christmas…?

Is it just me?

I’ve been having such a hard time finding my Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it’s work stress, or the pushy people shopping, or that this was always Mom’s holiday and she isn’t here again. I don’t know. I’ve been looking for it everywhere.

We decided not to put up the Christmas tree until the 23rd. Okay, not because we lack the holiday vibe, but because Stitch (otherwise known as “the damn cat”) will only try climbing it and knocking all the ornaments off it…again.

IMG_9273

This isn’t him, but you get the idea.

We’ve never put lights on the outside of the house either. They’d look really pretty, especially with a light dusting of snow, but then I think of the hydro bill and shudder. So instead, I rely on the neighbours down the street. They have holiday spirit, and decorations, to spare. You can’t hear it, but the house on the left has music.

IMG_9274

I will say this. I almost finished my shopping and the stocking stuffers last week. One last thing to pick up for my son and I’ll be done. I had enough energy afterwards to wrap for 3.5 hours. Mission accomplished. Stocking stuffers did however need somewhere to go. My daughter’s boyfriend didn’t have a stocking at our house last year. We don’t want him to feel left out. He’s been around for a couple years, so he’s become part of the family.

IMG_9262

We don’t have a fireplace, so I put four nails in the hallway outside the kitchen. Yes, that is spackling hiding behind them. I’m getting ready to paint, don’t judge.

Why do people hang the stockings on the mantle anyway? Granted, Santa comes down the chimney so it’s convenient to have them right there, but if you light the fireplace, all the tasty chocolate inside would melt. I like my solution better.

I found something that finally made me smile about the entire holiday ordeal.

IMG_9192
It’s a bit of childhood nostalgia, but the Abominable, “Bumble”, was always my favourite. I miss the days of settling on the couch with my mom to watch the old Christmas specials. The old stop animation with Burl Ives as snowman narrator. Maybe the holiday spirit can be found again on the island of misfit toys. We all want someone to love, and somewhere to belong.

There were two packages at the office when I got there today. My aunt had emailed that there were two on their way, with a reminder not to open them until Christmas. It was tempting, let me tell you. The one for my kids I wouldn’t dream of opening. I can’t wait for them to see they have mail from Germany for Christmas. Growing up that was the best part. Mail from grandparents, and aunts and uncles, that we knew would have chocolate of some sort in it. There’s something about the wrapping paper too. It’s thinner, and even feels different. Special. Doesn’t even matter what the package contains. It’s the fact that somewhere out there, someone thinks and cares about you.

IMG_9269
Maybe I found my Christmas spirit after all. It was in a reminder of when I was little, and that it was always family that made the holidays special.

I’ll be with my kids, my daughter’s boyfriend, my brother and Dad on Christmas Eve. We have loved ones both near and far, and that’s what matters.

It’s ALWAYS about the shoes…

There’s almost nothing better on a Saturday afternoon than going shoe shopping with a couple friends, except maybe going to the theatre…or going to see a theatre production based on friendship and shoes.

Wikipedia says: “Kinky Boots is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Tony, Emmy and Grammy-winner Cyndi Lauper and a book by Tony-winner Harvey Fierstein. Based on the 2005 film Kinky Boots by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth, which was inspired by true events, the musical tells the story of Charlie Price, who inherits a shoe factory from his father.

I’ll try not to spoil this for anyone who still wants to see it, but…Charlie becomes friends, and goes into a partnership with, a drag queen named Lola. Hilarity ensues. The two design and produce a line of high-heeled sexy boots that will support the weight of a man.

kinky-boots-2015
Source: 680news

It’s a story about being yourself, and true friends accepting you exactly as you are.

…and I’d like a pair of these boots please.

…and then knit happens…

Pardon me dear readers, it has been three weeks since my last post….or something like that. I have a good reason, as I’ve been quite ill. Back on track though!

After a couple of weeks of suffering I managed to get my fanny out of the house to go to the Port Perry Christmas Craft Show, to visit my daughter who was exhibiting.

Craft shows always end up only giving me more DIY ideas, and this one was no exception. I really think I need a Christmas ornament made of a cross section of birch tree that says, “everyone thinks I’m nice until they watch hockey with me.”

I digress. I was there to see my daughter. It was her first craft show ever, so all things considered it went really well.

knit-happens-2015

Cowls (infinity scarves like the one she’s wearing), dishcloths and cup coozies were on display. She shared a table with her boyfriend’s aunt Karen, who makes these adorable little wood ornaments.

Since there’s still time to get orders in and made before Christmas, I’m sharing the Facebook page (KnitHappens95) and email (knit.happens@outlook.com) again. You know you want a pair of these…

knit-happens-2015

The most wonderful time of the year…

I’ve posted about the calligraphy I do for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Well, last night the inductees signed it.

It’s fun to catch up with people you see once every year, but for me, the best is still witnessing the inductees signing “my autograph book”, which by the way is carried in to the room by an RCMP officer. How cool is that?

kris-schulze-hhof-2015
I couldn’t get any closer, and there was a disturbing sea of cell phones in my way!

First up, Sergei Fedorov. He won the Stanley Cup three times with the Detroit Red Wings, and was the first European-trained player to win the Hart Trophy.

sergei-fedorov-hhof-2015

Angela Ruggiero played for the USA Women’s team. With this four time Olympian (medals each time) and four time World Cup gold medalist, the boys are in good company this year.

angela-ruggiero-hhof-2015

I’ve actually met Bill Hay a few times and still managed to learn some things. He was inducted in the builder category, but he also played for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1960-1967. He played centre to Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in 1961, bringing home the Stanley Cup (the first Cup Chicago had won since 1938).

bill-hay-hhof-2015

Phil Housley played for Buffalo, among others. Part of the NHL Rookie Team in 1983 he also went on to play in the All-Star Games in 1984, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 2000.

phil-housley-hhof-2015

There are some years I am given the names, and there’s one I don’t recognize. Pretty bad to say I’m a hockey fan and admit that. Peter Karmanos Jr. was also inducted into the builder category. He’s the CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes. After the 1997-98 season he was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey. Who knew?! (Okay, other people maybe, but I didn’t)

peter-karmanos-hhof-2015

The next two guys are REALLY well known. Niklas Lidstrom was captain of the Detroit Red Wings at the end of his 20-year hockey career. Thank you Wikipedia for the stats. Four Stanley Cups, seven James Norris Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy, and voted into twelve All-Star games.

niklas-lidstrom-hhof-2015

Last, but not least, Chris Pronger. Bless him, he was suspended eight times. He must have been doing something right though, because he won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, and the Hart Trophy in 2000. He was the first defenseman to do that, since Bobby Orr (you may have heard of him) won it in 1972.

chris-pronger-hhof-2015
Once the autographs are collected, I have to be very sneaky. I pass my phone off to someone on stage to take my “after” picture. I have a growing collection. Feels pretty awesome!

kris-schulze-hhof-2015

…and it may just be me, but I think Borje Salming is just wonderful smiling in the background of all the pictures!

Of Love and Nature…

kira-braun-2015

Big shout out to my friend Kira Braun, for her CD launch tomorrow afternoon!  I wish I could be there, but am sending my best wishes for a huge success!

Kira is one of those people that I have met along my kaleidoscope road. We actually met on the train commuting, and as Scorpios (we even happen to share the same birthdate) we started talking. She’s one of those people who will do anything she can to help a friend. I know first hand, since she keeps posting on Facebook about a translation I did of my grandfather’s WWII notebook. But, I digress.

There are some people who sit on their butts at home, dreaming about things they want to do, and then there are people like Kira. She chases her dreams wholeheartedly, and those dreams become reality. This is her second CD. Kudos to my birthday buddy!

Tomorrow, as I said, is her CD launch. You won’t be there, because you’re reading this in the USA, or Russia, or Australia. You can still have a listen, and buy it online. There are a lot of ways to describe her voice, but I don’t need to. You’re going to love her. My job is to encourage you to support her like I do.

Kira Cover

The new CD was just made available: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kirabraunandpeterkrochak.

Her first CD is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewCollaboration?cc=ca&ids=933035503-878271023

Imperfection is beauty…

anna-pet

Everyone has that one friend. That special friend who makes everyone around them feel beautiful.

This morning upon waking, I learned that one such friend on my kaleidoscope road, Anna, was gone. My heart physically hurts and the tears just won’t seem to stop.

While she was careful to make everyone else feel good, she missed something. She didn’t see her own value.

IMG_9023

I wish she could have seen herself through our eyes. I swear she was a reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, vivacious, sexy and tragic. She was a modern siren.

I spent a bit of time reminiscing, looking at her Facebook pictures. I’ll never understand exactly what she was going through emotionally, so I’m sharing some of her posts this month. How did we miss her cry for help? IMG_9024

She didn’t know what a blessing she was to so many people. Hopefully over the coming years her children will hear all the good she brought to the world.

Anna and I met at work, about 14 years ago. We quickly discovered we had much in common. We went to karaoke every Friday night after work, to entertain “our fans”. She, and her sister, became the sisters I never had. She told us how pretty we were. Three hot girls out on the town.

This is the kind of person she was… I was in a particularly abusive relationship, and she and her family opened their home and gave me somewhere to stay. They gave me the time to heal. She helped me find my worth, to stand on my two feet again. I wish I had been able to do that for her. I wish I hadn’t let her push me away when she needed someone.

IMG_9026

If you see signs of depression, or a silent cry for help, don’t back away. Don’t let someone you love suffer alone. Let them know, even when they don’t want to hear it, that you’re there for them.

Anna is one more angel watching over me. In her memory, donations to the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health are appreciated. Please donate here: CAMH Give

A #PhotoWalk with Steve Garfield…

I’ve been looking forward to this week since last year at this time.

I’ve been in Boston for the #mpb2b all week (I’ll write a separate post about those shenanigans).

Last year, I missed out on an early morning walk with a local Bostonian, writer and photographer, Steve Garfield (Twitter: @Steve Garfield, stevegarfield.com). I was kind of upset with myself when I saw how much fun everyone had.

This year, I decided to haul my butt out of bed early to join the Boston Photo Walk through the Seaport District.  You’d be surprised at how many shiny, happy people showed up at 7:15 am!

It was such fun, I thought I’d share a smattering of photos from our walk.

kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
The most difficult statue to photograph
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun…
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
World Trade Center Boston
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
It was so early we wondered if they served breakfast. Slainte!
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
This was just part of the group. All that was missing were matching #mpb2b tshirts and a buddy system!
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Peace and tranquility down by the water.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
This guy was probably wondering why 60+ people were taking his photo. Shipbuilder on one of the side streets near the water.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Our halfway point, coffee break (sponsored by Vidyard), with a perfect spot to sit and look at the Boston harbor.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
I could have just stayed here all day soaking in the atmosphere, but we had to get back.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Jeff Julian (Twitter: @jjulian, CMO at AJi), the man behind the lens.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Group selfie by Rob Zaleski (Twitter: @robzie_ of MarketingProfs)
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
What a fantastic view of the city. The Boston “hawhbah”.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Fall colours.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
The cutest little skiff.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Behind the Barking Crab
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Under the bridge.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Boston Tea Party (it’s a museum now)
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
I’m not an American, but I’m pretty sure there’s a joke in here somewhere. At the corner of Congress and Sleeper.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
I was lagging behind at this point, so I didn’t hear the story to this little shot. I made up my own… The city mouse heard about the three little pigs, and when he moved to Boston, built his house out of bricks. After he moved out, the city bought the property and turned it into a police station. Knocked on the door, but I suppose they were out keeping Boston free of rats.
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
It’s a zoo in there?
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
I just really liked the look of these!
kris-schulze-photowalk-2015
Our fearless leader, Steve Garfield. I’ll be sure to join him again next year!

My son looks like Norman Bates, should I be worried?

bates-media2giphy

I just binge watched Bates Motel. All seasons. It creeped me out. Yes, because of the storyline, but more so, because every time I looked at Freddie Highmore on my screen, I see my son.

Okay, so we’re clear, my son and I do not have some weird Norman/Norma Bates relationship. He sleeps in his own room, thank you very much.

It’s more so in the sullen facial expressions, and the way Norman moves.

IMG_8504

It doesn’t hurt that they’re both tall and slim, and have similar fashion tastes (bow ties and all). They even have similar hair. My friends don’t see it, but my son himself does. He then gives me that Norman Bates blackout stare.

IMG_8502
Thanksgiving, and cutting the neck skin off the turkey, did point out one huge difference. My son was revolted, so taxidermy won’t be in his future.

Guess I don’t need to be that worried after all…