Are you sharing an elevator with an arachnophobe?

The most difficult part of commuting by bicycle isn’t traffic, or pedestrians wandering off the sidewalks, or squirrels darting under my wheels or the weather. It’s getting an elevator in my apartment building with my bike. The apartment building has the worst elevator service I’ve ever enjoyed in my renting life: slow, often one is broken and out of service, the freight elevator is usually busy, and they are rather small in size. I can handle drivers who haven’t mastered the concept of signalling turns and I wear layers of cottonless clothing on chilly damp days to avoid hypothermia but waiting for an elevator is agony.

Last week I had a new and unique elevator experience. I was waiting with my bike in the lobby for an elevator along with a woman and her chihuahua doggie. It was a cute little doggie and she was wearing a rather fetching (ha! — oops corny joke, sorry) pink and grey argyle sweater with matching leash. I cooed at the dog for a moment but returned to the important task of staring at the elevator doors, coaxing it to the lobby.

When the elevator arrived, the door opened to reveal a middle aged woman holding a shopping bag. The dog lady and her dog were about to board  when the shopping lady screamed in shock and horror. I flinched. The dog lady flinched. Heck, the chihuahua flinched. The shopping lady hid in the far corner of the elevator until the dog lady decided to wait for another elevator. I got on with my bike and spent the next few seconds standing awkwardly with the cowering shopping lady. Considering the large number of dogs who live in our building, it must be sheer hell for this woman to get on an elevator and I felt bad for her, the dogs and the dog owners. I can’t imagine how awful it is standing in the elevator and hoping that a dog, even a tiny sweater wearing chihuahua, won’t get on the elevator.

I guess shopping lady felt the awkwardness and decided to break the silence and ask me some questions about my bike. Yes, I commute with my bike nearly everyday. It’s a lot more fun than riding the TTC. I have clothes for cold days, wet days, and sweaty humid days too. I think helmets are great too. Yup, my lights are bright and shiny.

Then she apologized for  screaming and panicking when the dog got on the elevator. I told her it was okay and I understood  she is afraid of dogs. She said a dog bit her badly as a girl and has never gotten over it. I made comforting sounds and asked her if she liked cats. No, but she does like birds and has a pair of finches. I cooed appreciatively.

I should have ended it right there. It was a good moment for the two of us and I absolutely wrecked it. The next thing out of my mouth was “At least she wasn’t walking a huge hairy spider on a leash” with a big grin. That drove the poor woman into a state of twitches and she slapped her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream. I’m guessing huge hairy arachnids are far worse because she was still twitching when I got off at my floor.

I guess that’s why people I know come to me last when they need solace, comfort and advice. I drive everyone to the therapist’s couch.

Here is a photo of some cookies I baked this weekend.

Choco-Oat Nugget Cookies

I made these tasty nugget shaped cookies from whole wheat flour, oatmeal flakes, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, and a crumbled 70% dark chocolate bar. I save them to eat on my bike rides instead of granola bars or energy bars. Super tasty and cheap to make.

Dear Neglected Readers,

Winter. I hate it. I have such a hard time being interesting or interested in the world around me from November thru March. That’s why I haven’t written much here lately. Sorry but snow, gale speed winds, snow, and ice covered sidewalks, and snow really do a number on my creative forces. 

 

Stupid Crummy Snow. Grumble...

Stupid Crummy Snow. Grumble...

I took this picture with my Lomo Fish Eye camera. And once again – if you want to upload a lomography photo to your computer you need to ask the photo developer store to burn your photos onto a cd. (In fact, you may save a few dollars if you burn the photos rather than print them. I don’t bother printing anymore. Only the really really good shots that I want to frame.) Then just pop the cd into your computer and copy to whatever photo library app you use. I have an Apple computer so I use iphoto. It’s easy! 

 

But since it is March I’m trying hard to do right by vingada.com and write something current. Let’s see…

First off, I’m thinking about taking a digital photography class sometime this summer. I quite thoroughly adore my Nikon D40X and want to take better, more creative photos. And my Flickr account is looking kind of bare so I should head out once the thermometer is showing temps on the plus side. I also need to work on my Photoshop Element skills — they are seriously weak. One big BIG advantage about taking a photo class at a college is I can get a student card and then purchase the real live honest to goshness Photoshop with curves, levels and rendering for a song. 

I am looking incredibly forward to riding my bike. Oh my God! I miss bike riding!! My poor bike looks more like a coat and towel rack with the sweaters, hats, quick dry towels I use for swimming covering her sweet Shimano geared frame. And her tires are flat, the chain needs lubing, the brakes adjusting, and a general going over with my allen key collection to tighten all of her bolts. Then I will ride like the wind! Not much of a wind since I haven’t ridden since November turned into one of the snowiest Novembers in living history. So, it also looks like I will have to cut back on Starbucks Apple Fritters (mmmm, donuts – just typing that makes me drool) and start walking up stairs instead of looking for an elevator or escalator. 

Cats have been high on my mind the last few months. My mom’s cats Freddy and Belle make me laugh hysterically whenever I visit. I bought them catnip and a couple of paperbags and had much fun watching Freddy enjoy his cat high while destroying a Whole Foods bag. The Freddle takes much pride in his destruction prowess. You can see him measure up a bag or a box and watch as he decides just how he will render it into a pile of paper shreds. 

 

Freddie versus Bag. My money is on Freddie.

Freddie versus Bag. My money is on Freddie.

 

 

My best friend Jane suffered a terrible blow this January. Her beloved cat Whitney passed away at the age of 14. She was a great kitty. Whitney was truly a regal cat – she was a lovely deep black colour and she adored sleeping on her mom’s pillow. I got to babysit her a couple of times and she ignored me in a truly elegant manner. Her sister Jasmine has been doing her best to comfort Jane this past while. Jazzie is a truly bonkers cat — she has a great and terrifying hiss, and her fangs sink deep and hard into any annoying fleshy parts that pat her too much. Hey, I was warned. And my thumb is better now.

 

Jasmine in her carrier.

Jasmine in her carrier.

I went with Jane to the vet with Jasmine a couple of weeks ago. Jazzie needed her vaccinations and a general check up. She hissed like a demon cat and wouldn’t let the vet and technician examine her. They did manage to give her the vaccine shots but that was it. Yeah, she’s pretty fierce. Jane and I had a great afternoon and we managed to ignore the furious hissing cat sitting in the back seat of the cat.

So, this is a re-start to vingada.com!  I will end this post by listing a few of my latest obsessions:

1) Questionable Content. Is a great webcomic by Jeph Jacques featuring a fantastic cast of characters. I love their misadventures and I love Pint-size the very naughty robot. 

2) My ipod Touch. This thing is a miracle! I’ve had it for months but I can’t get enough of the apps. My latest favourite is TumiNeko or “Tower of Cats”. Basically you take cartoon cats out of a basket and stack them up as high as you can. Then they topple meowing and hissing! Yeah, I don’t get out much…

3) Starbucks apple fritters! Oh my goshness, they are deep fried delicious apple, sugary, frost dripped bundles of fatty happy goodness. And I have to give them up so I can fit in my bike shorts… crummy stupid tight shorts. 

4) My terrible and inept attempts at vegetarianism. I can’t call myself a vegetarian by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. But I’m going to try — how about a carnivorous vegetarian? No? Well, it’s constant work. I started really well in late September of 2008, had one lapse in October (Chipotle’s Carnita burrito, who could blame me?), did really well in November, December, and most of January. But failed miserably in February. I’m pretty sure a solid 2 weeks worth of steak and burgers knocks me out of the Vegetarian Club (if there’s one, I don’t know). I will try harder from now on. Just have to keep out of Chipotle and South Side Burger (oh heavens!).

Here is a nice series of photos I want to share with you. But don’t tell my mom, she hates these photos. I love them!

 

Mom holding up Freddie. I don't think he likes this.

Mom holding up Freddie. I don't think he likes this.

 

Freddie is soooo going to lose it. Heh heh heh!

Freddie is soooo going to lose it. Heh heh heh!

 

 

 

Freddy hates cuddling.

Freddy hates cuddling.

Oh God! That cracks me up every time I look at that shot. I took the photos with my cell phone (2 megapixels, not too bad) and I was completely involved with holding the phone steady and didn’t realize that Freddy was tired of posing. He went nuts and started savaging my mom. I have never laughed so hard in my life!

My Christmas Tree

christmas-tree-2008
Go on, laugh.

Feel better?

Story regarding tree starts now:

So my apartment is a small two room plus kitchen, bathroom, and a few closets. Not miniature by any stretch, but it’s a challenge to fit a full sized Christmas tree (whether it’s real or plastic) for the season, as well as to store decorations and the tree (if it’s the fake kind) for the other 11 1/2 months.

I went with my imagination and made this tree out of squares of felt I sewed together in a Christmas tree-like shape. The ornaments I bought at the dollar store with the exception of the pewter wolf and pewter cat. I purchased those at the recent One of A Kind Craft Show and Sale a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to add a small and interesting ornament each year, but I have to be careful not to buy anything really delicate like glass balls or fragile wire creations.

I got a kick out of making the Christmas tree. It’s a little out of the ordinary and easy to change each year. Next year I’m going to pick up some LED lights to brighten up the room. I still need a tree topper but haven’t had much luck finding or making something that I really like. I found a few craft books that had instructions on how to make angels out of clothespins and tulle, or stars out of styrofoam and glitter paint. But none of them hit that happy craft spot. I’ll just save that spot on the top of the tree until I see something I love.

As far as gift giving goes I limit it to those nearest and dearest. My best friend is getting some treats and so is my mom. The Sweet Baby Cat and I decided to buy a 32Gb Ipod Touch for each of us when the Apple Store had their Black Friday sale in November. Ahhh! No puffy sweaters! Life is good.

Oh, the Ipod Touch is excellent. I love being able to listen to music, watch videos, have my favourite photos, and my contacts, calendar (oh disorganization, I’ll best you yet), and get to play games, roam the internet, have free apps galore (my current fav is VeganYumYum’s recipe collection – free! Go look!) and not have to pay for the accompanying cell phone costs when compared to the Iphone.

I’m tolerating the snowfall and cold weather with as much good cheer as a summer worshipper possibly can. I don’t like riding in snow and ice so my bike has slowly turned into a glorified coat rack. Geez, I feel guilty typing that out. I’m going to clean up my bike as soon as I sign off. But once Christmas passes I’ll be back to my winter whining. In the meantime I have to stave off the winter fat (and burn off the stubborn fat) by swimming, assaulting the walk/run track and the gym at the nearby communty centre. I’m already salivating at the thought of conquering the hill on Poplar Plains Road this spring!

Busiest Day EVAH on vingada.com!

50 Vistiors today at vingada.com!

50 People have visited vingada.com today! The most people in one day! Wow!!

One thing I noticed in the “Search Engine Terms” listing, y’all have an obsession with cats and gelatin salad. Me too! Preferably in separate bowls, please. Also, many people do click on my blog links especially http://www.cuteoverload.com and http://www.icanhascheezburger.com. That’s great! These are two of my favourite sites. The people running them are hilarious and always find the best cat pictures. I should be so hard working.

The only search engine term I didn’t understand (and I don’t want to, I think) is “hamster cake”. Ewww! I hope this is a line of cute Japanese manga or anime characters because I really don’t think hamsters belong in a cake. Maybe given a nice cake-like treat, but definitely not actually baked in one. If you or someone you know wants to include hamster in a cake recipe, please, drop the nice hammy and call PETA. They will talk you out of it.

Anyway, thanks for visiting vingada.com! I have a bunch of photos I need to upload but have been lazier than a cat since Christmas. I’ll get to those very soon. Hopefully I can include some cats and jello and possibly even hamster pictures to my flickr account. This year I plan on including more of my bike commuting adventures in Toronto. I hope to even have a road trip! Ooooh! I’ll bring my camera and band-aids.

What are you doing right now?

Right now I am:

  • Making supper
  • Getting lunches for tomorrow ready
  • Contemplating a bubble bath
  • Browsing through a Scott Kelby book about Photoshop Elements 4 (learning, learning, always learning)
  • Looking forward to New Year’s day. The SBC and I are spending it with my best friend Jane! Yeahoo!
  • Double checking I have everything in my backpack for tomorrow (except lunch. That’ll stay in the fridge until I’m ready to leave.)
  • Wishing the TTC ran the subway on Sundays before 6am instead of 9am (I mean, honestly, the Yonge bus is always busy. Open the subway for pity’s sake, already!)
  • Wondering why my left heel hurts. Dickey achilles tendon! Old war wound… 
  • Recharging and syncing my ipod.
  • Deciding whether or not I’ll add sliced carrots to tonight’s supper. Just decided…. I will!
  • Swapped freshly recharged batteries in my digital camera
What are you doing right now?

I’m Feeling a Little Blah Today

The weather has finally changed from happy sun-filled summer to chilly, dreary, damp autumn.

And it makes me feel like…. blecch!

It’s taking longer for the sun to appear in the morning, and it’s diving beneath the horizon much sooner. I don’t like it. I’ve never liked autumn. It reminds me that winter will soon be here and be here for a long long stretch. Autumn is disappointing. I know people love watching the leaves change colour, enjoy the crisp afternoons and the smell of hint o’ winter in the air. I, on the other hand, see the dying and dead leaves, and the mess they create, the crummy chill makes me feel miserable, and my allergies become unbearable.

It also reminds me that this is the end of another year. No more new spring grass, no fluffy green leaves on the trees, no cute baby critters and birds. Gone is the sense of newness and the long wonderful days of summer heat and sun.

Nope. All gone. Autumn is the season of the old, the decrepit, and the dead.

So, I today I am mourning the death of summer. I’ve decided to remember and mourn it by playing this Youth Group video “Forever Young”, and sulk.

OOOOOOHHHHHH! It’s Halloween! Here’s a pumpkin.

2007 Work’s Pumpkin Carving Contest

Every year, my work has a pumpkin carving contest. Each section carves and decorates a pumpkin. Customers vote for a favourite. The winning section gets a prize. This year it is breakfast either cooked by our manager or he’ll take us out for breakfast.

This is the third pumpkin I’ve carved for my section. We’ve never won. Usually we come in second last. Probably because my pumpkins tend to be a little, um, odd. The first pumpkin had a pair of hands holding a blood filled chalise sticking out of the top of the pumpkin. The second, I cut up a toy stuffed cat and nailed the head, arms, legs and tail to the pumpkin. Then I removed a squeeze-activated voice box from the toy’s body and stuffed it in the head. Added a sign telling people to squeeze the cat’s head. They did that all day long, and each time a tinny cat’s voice cried “mew mew mew”. It came in second last.

This year I’m hoping the more whimsical “Pumpkin Miranda” will get us a better result.

I’ll let you know how it works out!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I am not only a year older, I am also the proud owner of TWO lomography cameras!

Yep, birthday presents are great.

Wish it happened everyday. Especially if cake is involved. (Actually, anything involving cake is delightful.)

My Sweet Baby Cat (hereby to be known simply as SBC) bought me a Fisheye Camera and an Oktomat Camera by the Lomographic Society International. And I cannot wait to pop a film cartridge into each one and be let loose in the streets of Toronto.

But first, a description of each camera….

1) Fisheye camera.

The fisheye camera has a wide wide wide lens – 170 degrees of vision. I’ll set the camera really close to my subject (cats, flowers, cats, interesting architecture, cats, bugs, cats, expressive faces, cats, etc. cats), press the button and bammo! Well, after I finish the roll of film and have it developed, bammo! A picture that looks like the image is bulging out at you from the centre while receding back at the sides. It’s like looking out from a fishbowl.

2) Oktomat camera.

This takes eight pictures in 2 seconds. Great for action shots. Say, your best friend is terrified of bees. A bee shows up and your friend starts to spin and jerk away from the vicious bee. Meanwhile you point the camera in her direction and press the shutter button. After you’ve recovered from the series of sharp punches in the arm, and have taken other equally amusing and awesome action shots, the kind developer hands you the envelope filled with treasures. The first shot will of your friend dancing, hopping, and spinning defensively away from the bee in eight mini poses on one picture. Cool!

Yes, my friends, the SBC has done an admirable job at choosing my birthday presents this year. I think he deserves at least two big kisses.

Now, where’s my cake!

Hello, today I googled myself

So geeky, so true!

Before signing up this blog, anytime I googled “vingada” I’d get some listings for a soccer coach named Nelo Vingada. We Vingadas are a quiet dull lot. Except for the soccer guy.

But I just entered my name in Google to see if my site would come up, it did! Yippee!

Now, I won’t make a practice of googling name. Not regularily anyhow.