Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Whoo Whoo" Do You Love?

Yes, I know you've seen this recently. Despite my seventies owl nay-sayers (hello Valerie - sniff), I just wanted you to know how much joy this little fire trap has brought to the youngins in my class. Also, today the janitor was replacing my old paper towel dispenser. He was at the back of the classroom and I asked him if he could install a new pencil sharpener. "Where would you like it?" he asked. I pointed at our Fentex friend and said, "See that cute owl hanging? Just on the shelf below it." My $1.00 treasure made it possible for the janitor to determine where the pencil sharpener should go without either of us actually having to walk to the front of the classroom. Yes, it's a landmark in the making.

P.S. My student volunteer convinced me to leave the old industrial paper towel dispenser by the door for the garbage. He made some crack about me being on Hoarders as a senior and listening to me justify why I thought it would be a good idea to salvage it. I am feeling like I betrayed my vintage heart by tossing it. Still, he has a point. I'd be looking for the right size cheap grade paper towel that fits it for the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jumbo Good Time

We woke up to a short-lived winter wonderland this morning. Trudging up Coxwell, icy snow pelted our cheeks until we made it to St. Luke's Holly Berry Bazaar. It's always a well-organized sale run by friendly people. I wasn't tripping over treasures from yesteryear, but we still had a jumbo good time (see below).

These activity books are for Duncan and the kids in my class. There are several of these grid art activities which I can weave into Geometry.
The harsh light doesn't capture the delicate yellow beads in this $1 necklace.
Well-loved Snakes and Ladders for my class: fifty cents!
I recently had a bad experience with a not very nice person from Guyana. I'm sure there's plenty of normal, friendly people there. Perhaps this will be a "healing" puzzle. "Healing puzzles - today on Oprah!"
Great book about musical instruments. The lady who sold it to me pointed out that "It's a Caldecott winner." This reminds me of my childhood school librarian. She used to say the same thing and we'd always want to touch the embossed medal on the dust jacket. She got us so excited about reading. This book cost a mere quarter.

Owl chimes for fifty cents. They're already hanging in Duncan's room. Speaking of owls hanging, that seventies owl wall hanging I bought last Saturday is hanging in my classroom and the girls especially love it. None of the kids have commented on my seventies-ness yet.
I was amazed that they were bagging things in these very vintage Woolco bags. I can't even remember when this chain closed down. I'm getting all nostalgic just thinking about it. So what's in the ditty bag?
Needlepoint 0r cross-stitching? I'm bad with these sorts of things. My mother and one of my sisters are very good with needlework. I liked the fact that they made Coleus the subject. Cost: $2.00.
Curiously, the back side says "Display use only." This opens up all kinds of questions. Oh, the implications!
Four Christmas tree decorations selected by Duncan. $1.00.
I almost didn't buy this wooden Little Red Riding Hood puzzle. I thought it would be too easy for Duncan. He said he wanted it and the woman working that table said he could have it for a quarter. I wasn't about to protest.
It does have an old-fashioned charm to it.
Twenty-five cent smile. It was worth my hard-earned money.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Flossing

Well, I went to the dentist this evening and judging from the amount of time I sat in the chair having plaque jack-hammered off my pearly whites, I'm not doing something right - but what could it be? I'm not a sugar fiend, I use toothpaste and my electric toothbrush twice a day and still, there I was...

After the cleaning, I had to go back into the reception area while I waited to see the dentist for a full examination. "It's like a physical from the doctor, except it's for your teeth," said the hygienist, who was not doubt nursing aching digits after spending close to an hour scraping off my barnacles. She looked up from my file and earnestly told me that it's imperative to floss every night and rinse with warm, salty water too. Ohhh, flossing. That's what I haven't been doing.

I told her that I often go to bed after midnight and that I'm either too tired, delirious, or indifferent about the welfare of my teeth when it's that late. "Why don't you floss earlier in the evening?" she suggested. "You could do it in front of the TV when you're watching your favourite show." Laughter ensued as I imagined my husband and son sitting under an umbrella while itty bits of lamb and mango (or whatever I just ate for dinner) went flying all over the room, no doubt hitting the screen while Mike Roe was working on another dirty job. The hygienist got a little uppity when I pointed out the ramifications of this activity: divorce, parent abandonment, etc. "That might not be so hygienic," she conceded.

After calling me in, the dentist (whom I really respect, by the way), began giving my head a good old pat down. He began massaging my lower jaw, asking if it hurt. Hurt? Keep going! Don't stop!! My sinuses never felt better. I had to grind to the left, grind to the right, make my lower jaw extend beyond my upper jaw, and all kinds of other weird dental rituals, which his assistant studiously made note of.

The doctor mysteriously disappeared and I was escorted into an area that looked like an open closet. I moved into a chamber of dental sorcery and told to balance my chin on this little plinth while leaning forward on the balls of my feet and holding handles that I couldn't actually see. The assistant pressed a button and a camera began spinning around my head. I kept thinking of Eleanore Roosevelt so I wouldn't laugh. I had to stay still, but I kept thinking that any minute, Dr. No was going to walk in front of me shooting a laser gun at my kneecaps.

I went back to the dental chair and watched yet more repeats of the day's headlines on CP24. The good doctor came back and instantly put the ginormously enlarged photographs of my teeth on the TV screen. I recoiled. Change the channel! Change the channel! I'll watch anything: Dr. Oz, Reba, According to Jim... Alas, no luck. He thought I'd be interested in an OMNI MAX history of every filling I've ever had. Oh.

He then began analyzing each and every tooth with that mean little pick and then took another mean little pick and began the long and laboured process of measuring the gaps between my gums and teeth. As he morosely called out numbers, I quickly figured out that the lower the number, the better. It sounded like he was calling out primitive BINGO numbers in Finnish: 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2... Yes, I had a few twos. As for my fours, you'd think I was nursing small marsupials in these gummy pockets. "A four is very large, but you had some fives last time," he informed me. I told myself that if my gums were pants, I've gone from maternity pants, to a nice relaxed fit. My dentist expects me to be in skinny gum jeans next time. Sure. That's going to happen. I asked him if anyone has gums that measure as one. "Oh yes," he said as if I asked him if he filed his tax return last year. "It's very rare, but some people do have ones." I asked him what that means. "Their gums are tight. Really tight." My mind naturally shifted to George Hamilton visiting a gum tightener in Miami. This can't be real.

I'm going to go to bed now. It's late and I must floss and gargle with salty brine.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Looking For...

The ladies' binoculars I found at the Legion bazaar on the weekend got me thinking about those elusive things on my list of things I'm looking for. Here they are...

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#1 Blogs about mysterious places in Australia and New Zealand. I'm not so interested in strange places so much, but rather haunting or beautiful spots that are off the beaten path. Does anyone know of any?

#2 Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left album - on CD. My sister has always been surprised that I haven't had the Nick Drake breakthrough. I suspect that I've put it off so that I could access his music at a time when nothing else was moving me. I used his song "Day is Done" as a soundtrack to my most recent post on Five Ways to Disappear. It's the perfect soundtrack to a late-fall stroll around a crumbling cemetery in Toronto - or anywhere.

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#3 Ring watch. I'd settle for a pendant watch.

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#4 Time and resources to make homemade soap. I bought a bar of honey lavender soap at the Royal Winter Fair. I can't tell you how happy it makes me. Every morning, I open the medicine cabinet and poof! - the smell of French fields washes over me and makes me forget the morning routine just for a moment.

#5 Lunch in a London pub with James May and Kirstie Allsopp. You may not know of these two English television show hosts. James May is on Top Gear, but he's got a very cool toy show they've been broadcasting in Canada lately. He's droll in that classic absurdist English way. I love that he's always totally disheveled and yet, they let him come up with madcap show ideas and he pulls it off. Check out his Lego house. Kate from Love You Big would LOVE it. He got scores of kids to snap millions of pieces together.

I've blogged about Kirstie Allsopp before. She's the host of Relocation, Relocation, Relocation and Kirstie's Homemade Home. For someone who seems like she comes from money, she's very down to earth. I also like the fact that she's not a size 2 and that she's got a funky fashion sense and isn't afraid to wear skirts and floppy blouses. I also like the banter between her and Phil on the real estate show. I wonder how she'd get on with James May?

#6 A copy of Maurice Gee's Going West. He's a Kiwi. Is there a theme going on here? I think it was on the Love You Big blog that I first saw this brilliant short film. Sadly, the book appears to be out of print. I'd love to read it.

Well, I'll stop here. Maybe I'll add some other elusive things on another post.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Digital Dummies

A review of Ivana Lowell's Why Not Say What Happened? from this week's NY Times Book Review.
Last week, the CBC ran a documentary called Digital Dummies. I'll link it below, but I have a feeling that the CBC in their righteous need to keep everything Canadian in Canada, won't allow people outside this country to see it. Shame. It's very interesting.

Basically, the idea is that technology, especially BlackBerries and I-Phones are dumbing down society because they're preventing us from focussing on anything for more than a few seconds. I try to embrace technology when it's useful. I like to write and read blogs, I use email... so I'm hope I'm not a hypocrite when I say that I think the documentarian has a point.

Yesterday, I took my son uptown to get some classroom posters laminated. I had phoned earlier in the day. The man at FedEx sounded like he was multitasking. He told me they could laminate on the spot. When I got there, he told me that the laminating machine had to warm up and to come back in half an hour. I happily agreed. When we came back, he told me that his test run left bubbles on the paper. I told him I didn't mind a few bubbles. Then he told me that they'd run out of the laminating plastic and that they'd have to send them out. Long story short - I have to return mid-week to pick them up.

Fast forward to our trip home. We were walking through a very crowded Eglinton subway station. Duncan was running ahead of me. I notice a woman texting behind him. She's oblivious to everything. He stops on a dime. She smashed into him. Three other people were fiddling around with their gadgets and bumped into us before we made it to the subway platform.

At a birthday party for one of my son's friends last spring, a mother sat in the living room with other parents and spent the entire time checking her messages or updating her FaceBook status or whatever. It was incredibly rude. I gave up the notion of trying to start a conversation...

This morning, I was reading the NY Times Book Review. (It's been coming free with the Sunday Star). I began reading a review of Ivana Lowell's incredible life. I'd never even heard of her before, but I couldn't stop reading. She was born into English aristo-dom and her beautiful mother (see the above picture) was a complete disaster as a mother. Poor Ivana received burns to over 70% of her body when a hot kettle of water fell on her as a girl.

The review got me thinking about the time I worked at a book store. People would come in for their papers and I'd see them in the coffee shop across the street, nursing a cup of tea and generally lost in news and feature stories. I know people still read and buy books. I just think that everything in society has sped up so much that we're losing the plot, so to speak. I hear upper-grade teachers at my school talking about the fact that it seems natural for students to Wiki information and copy and paste references without considering the source.

I want to slow down. Whatever we're obsessively texting as we come out of train tunnels - is it that important? Am I just being an old crank? I don't know. I just feel like a little balance is needed before everything we read is reduced to the amount of characters allowed in a Tweet.

What do you think?

Here's the preview clip.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Red

I seemed to set off a small tsunami of Big Red humming on The Pyrex Collective. Of course, I had to investigate. Warning: earworm material to follow...

* I realized this original post was waaaay toooooo looooong. So I'm just leaving one jingle for your pleasure.

Saturday Vintage Booty

After a dry spell of thrifting due to progress reports, parent interviews, and a general lack of fun things at my local thrift stores, I'm happy to say I'm back in action thanks to the two sales I went to today. Come along now...
Duncan and I first went to the Royal Canadian Legion sale at Victoria Park and St. Clair - eerily close to the school I teach at. If any Clairlea parents happen to be reading this, I mean eerily in the best possible way. I found this charming owl wall hanging there for $1.00. Does it get any more seventies? It's a brown and beige Fentex owl tied on real twigs. Excellent. It's going up in our classroom. They'll start calling me That Seventies Teacher.

Alright, I promise you, I'm not making this next part up. Duncan was over at the toy table and I begin perusing the jewelry table. This in itself is unusual since I like jewelry but tend not to wear a lot of it. Just then I hear the opening of Pat Benatar's "We Belong." I've uploaded it for your pleasure. It's a sweet song, complete with an angelic childrens' choir.

I'm humming along in my head and I look down at the table only to spy one of the vintage things I've always wanted - collapsable binoculars from the sixties!!!!
I was blown away by the brand newness of them. The red is still as bright as when they came off the assembly line in Japan.
The make is Emson and yes - we belong together.
Here's the best part. Can you believe they were only asking $3.00? I was going to offer the woman more money, but then I heard my mother's voice saying, "Erin, don't do it!" I'd say "Start the car," but we were traveling by TTC.
I also found this working Gemstone watch for $1.00.
This mod-ish flower brooch cost .50 - another bargain.

On our way out, we noticed a sign for the Victoria Park United Church Bazaar. We ran across the road and ducked in. This was a classic church bazaar, complete with crafts and baked goods. I bought this old timey egg slicer for .50. Our old one bit the bullet when Duncan tried to play it like a guitar.
German looking wooden Christmas bell ornament for .25.
Sixties made in Japan elf that cost a quarter. We always had decorations like this around the house when I was a kid.
Mug shot profile.
I found this rusty old first aid kit. It only cost $1.00. When I opened it, it was a bit like that scene in the movie Amelie when she finds that tin box of memories in her bathroom. If you feel like having a good cry, watch this clip. Scroll on if you want to see what was inside.

Well, no surprises really. But the contents were definitely old fashioned.
I found gauze, little scissors...
tiny bottles of iodine...
And old boxes of bandages...
that still looked pretty clean on the inside.
This was also in the box. Consumers Gas stopped operating under that name years ago.
I thought these were matches, but it seemed weird that a gas company would be giving away matches. Here, go play with these by your furnace!
It turned out to be an emergency sewing kit that came with nail files. I'm just trying to think of the creative mind who decided to put this in the first aid kit. "Hmm, you may chip a nail or pop a button."
A tired and jaded looking couple were selling over-priced things on a table. They didn't look like friendly church folk - more like people who rented a table to sell off their collectables. I did buy this best of The Cure CD for $2.00.
Here's my laugh riot of the day - a ginormous Fonzie puzzle. It only cost a quarter, so I looked past the water stains on the box as well as the possibility that it might be missing pieces. The lady selling it was in disbelief that someone was actually taking it. "Are you sure?" she asked as she bagged it. "Oh yes. Quite sure." I did my best to explain who the Fonz was to Duncan.
Fonzie's famous expressions are emblazoned on the box.
"H-ee'ee Mrs. C." "Oh Arthur. Sit on it!"
The Fonze is cool. Don't forget it.
See? I wasn't making up the price. That's good Happy Days value for money.
Lastly I bought this Oxo cookbook. For a quarter, I couldn't resist buying this hopelessly WASPY cookbook. If you look closely at the bottom, it says, "Gives a meal Man-appeal. Even the Fonze?

This reminded me of my Oxo milk glass mug I'd garage saled a couple of summers ago. I still love it.
And here they are, reunited 'cause it feels so good.

Hope you enjoyed my finds as much as I do. What did you get today?

About Me

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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.