A New Toy

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November roses
A few pics I took today via Instagram

When I woke up today, I actually stayed in bed for several hours (something I NEVER do unless I’m sleeping) and whiled away the time on Instagram. I guess that counts towards my “creative activities” time. Does anyone here know about Instagram? It’s a free app you can get for iPhone or Android, which allows you to take pictures and use a bunch of artistic filters, which you post on their site and others like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Flickr, to name just those (you can also mail them to friends and such). Then people can “like” the photos and/or comment on them, and “follow” you, just like you can with a blog. I’ve started following some pretty creative photographers, which I found by doing searches for tags like “travel” or “cityscape” and so on. It’s all pretty new to me so I’m still figuring out what you can do with this, and want to find a way to post my photos here on From Smiler, with Love. Though wondering… should they go on createthreesixty5 instead? I’ve taken some 125 photos with the app so far, but you can also post photos taken from you camera—though I haven’t figured out exactly how to do that yet. I also don’t know how to send anyone to my photo stream yet…

WAIT! I just found the web link! http://instagram.com/smiler_69/
Most of my pics can also be viewed on Facebook and on my Tumblr page, The Stolen Child.

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Favourite Reads of 2011: Part Three

Had you told me in 2010 that a year later I’d become addicted to audiobooks, I would have laughed you off. I used to think that audiobooks were either for people who’s eyes didn’t permit them to read comfortably (or at all), or for those who were too ‘lazy’ to read ‘a real book’. This was until I joined a group on LibraryThing, among which Mark, a postal carrier with very good and eclectic tastes, said he listened to them while working, and assured me that many audio productions were of excellent quality and at least worth looking into. So I tried one or two very short ones—children’s books; The Gruffalo and A Bad Case of Stripes. I thought those were fun, but of course, they were supposed to be, considering who they were geared to. Then I tried something quite a bit longer, Oliver Twist, and found that my daily walks with Coco suddenly became more interesting as I listened on my iPhone. When my concentration drifted away—which it frequently does—I pressed the nifty auto-rewind feature as many times as I needed to. Suddenly, I found myself wanting to do things around the house which I usually have little taste for, such as… well most things one should do around the house, such as cooking and cleaning—because they made for perfect listening opportunities.

I discovered I could borrow recordings from the library, download free ones recorded by volunteers on LibrixVox.org, and purchase them from a huge selection and the frequent sales at Audible.com. Quite apart from the quality of the book itself, I found that what could make or break the experience was whether or not I liked the narrator’s style and voice, and being able to sample to recordings on Audible helps to avoid disasters. Most productions are fairly simple, but some employ multiple narrators and combine music and sound effects, with varying results. Since I live alone, and my pets don’t seem to mind my attention being divided, I tend to be plugged into an audiobook much of the time, which is one of the reasons I usually get through them quite fast, which in turn, has dramatically increased the volume of reading I do in any given week. I won’t deny that I get quite a lot of satisfaction from being read to… after all, wasn’t that one of our greatest pleasures as children? Links lead to my reviews.

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Art & Crafts (among my many other hobbies)

As I usually read in bed and tend to fall asleep well past midnight, it’s most unusual for me to rise before the sun, which is what happened this morning. I thought: “Great, now I have lots of time to work on arts & crafts projects before my watercolour class!” Then I came to the computer to check on my emails and read another chapter from my mother’s latest manuscript which is delightfully engrossing and which I pray will reach an intern or an agent smart enough to see what a gem it is and make sure it gets published (about high time for that small miracle to happen!) Then I donned my ski-wear and warm (recycled) fur hat and favourite cashmere mitts and took Coco across the street, and we chased each other up and down the snowy alley, my peals of laughter egging him on so that he practically fell over himself while running and simultaneously wagging his nub of a tail. I could swear he was grinning from ear to ear too. By then I must say I felt better than I have in a long long time. Taking in bright morning sunshine and air, and a loving and (almost disgustingly) cute little dog following you around will tend to have that sort of effect.

Coming back inside, I thought, Ah! L’embarras du choix! what project shall I work on now? Make another wax model for a ring to add to my new series? Draw that organic red onion that’s sprouted such large tentacles it’s now fit to be a circus freak? Start that series of paintings I’ve been thinking about for so long? Go back to bed? Blog about it all? Well, maybe you can guess which option I chose in the end. Still, I’m hoping I can get this post done quickly and still have time to paint and draw so I have something to put on the wall when I show up to class.

Here are a couple of quick snaps I took of my latest ring design—the first of that new series I just mentioned—even though there’s a bit of work left to do on it. I’m so happy with it, I decided to equip myself with the minimum of necessary tools so I can make wax models at home and not depend on classes to make more rings (don’t know to what end, but just the pleasure of making them is good enough for now!) I’ve taken a few photos of the step-by-step process too, which I’ll post on createthreesixty5.com along with better photos once it’s all finished.

Silver rings & iPhone pics by Smiler (click to view full size)

Caught in the Act

We’re all doing just fine. I had to leave Coco in his cage today for quite a while because of a painting studio class from 9am-4pm. So far I haven’t made it there before 1pm so I figured showing up at 11 would be fine and mean less time in solitary for my newly adopted pooch. He barked a bit when I left, which is kind of normal at this stage, so on the way down I asked my landlady if she could hear him and she said no. Perfect, that leaves us a bit of leeway as far as noise goes.

Mimi is growing more and more curious about him and now gets pretty close to sniff him out. Fritz is being his normal self and hissing at Coco every chance he gets, but he’s still friendly with me which is a great sign—when I brought Mimi home he wanted to kill me for the first month—all in all, this transition is going well. Both cats are curious about the cage and Fritz tried to settle in there a few times… I actually had to pull him out so Coco could get in! Of the three, Coco likes the crate least, but I make him spend some time there while I’m in the room so he’ll understand it’s his own little home to help reduce anxiety when I need to leave him there when I’m gone. I’ll probably be able to let him roam free soon because he really is quite the little prince and knows his manners, but I’m not giving him any leeway right now—that way there’s no chance for him to fall into bad habits and it also helps to quickly establish who the alpha dog is around here. I’ve started giving him his food there so he‘ll make pleasant associations with it, so he now goes in (more or less) willingly and naps there with the door open until I tell him he can come out. This evening Mimi walked right up to him while he was laying there and sniffed him out for a while, so I snapped a few pics for evidence. I’m guessing those two will become fast friends in no time at all.

As for mum (i.e. me), she’s pretty tired; the new early to rise routine, the many walks per day and the excitement of newfound love… but it’s a good tired of course. There’s nothing on the agenda tomorrow and up till now I’ve used those days to catch up on sleep and get much-needed rest, so we’ll see how I handle the challenge of putting the dog’s needs before my own. Something tells me my maternal instincts will kick in whether I want them to or not. :-)

Speaking of Activism…

This is just a placeholder for now since it’s very late and I’m about to crash after a very (too?) good day. I just happened to be walking down Peel street around lunchtime today. It was a beautiful day and everybody was out and the downtown area was positively buzzing. I heard the protest before I saw it when walked by the Mexican Consulate. Of course the Spanish-speaking person on the loudspeaker caught my attention what with the super cool getup. I know it’s typically Mexican, but we don’t get to see a lot of that here in Montreal. I spoke to one of the organizers and got some info about what they were protesting about—snapped a bunch more pics on my iPhone too—will be posting more about this event soon.

Pic by Smiler

Mistakes, We’ve All Made a Few

I want for this day to be over with already. I’ve never equated being alone with being lonely before, probably because as an only child, I’ve always had a knack for entertaining myself with whatever happens to be on hand. But I have to say truly and honestly that there is no other lonelier day to spend a day alone than Christmas day. I did wake up late this afternoon feeling quite excited about a vivid dream I had just had and thought: “wouldn’t it be the best Christmas gift of all if this dream actually prompted me to write a novel??” But then when I switched on the voice memo application on my iPhone and started taking verbal notes, those dream sequences which had seemed so full of story potential just fizzled away into random incoherent sentences.

Eventually, I decided to surf around the net to distract myself from all the unpleasantness going on inside my head. For some unknown reason, I had a Wikipedia page about Chlöe Sevigny up on my web browser. I’ve seen her in the movie Boys Don’t Cry and in the HBO series Big Love, but other than that I can’t say I’m a fan of hers, or that I know anything much about her and her body of work. I’ve never quite understood why she acquired fashion icon status (though I do know she was one of the original icons of all things fuggly back in the early days of the very funny site Go Fug Yourself). Reading on out of sheer boredom and curiosity, I found out that she sparked controversy with her lead role in a 2004 movie called The Brown Bunny, which involved Sevigny performing unsimulated fellatio on co-star, writer, director and producer Vincent Gallo. After the film’s release at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, the William Morris Agency dropped Sevigny as a client, one source stating: “The scene was one step above pornography, and not a very big one. William Morris now feels that her career is tainted and may never recover”. Ever the trouper, Sevigny went on record after the Cannes screening saying “It’s a shame people write so many things when they haven’t seen it. When you see the film, it makes more sense. It’s an art film. It should be playing in museums. It’s like an Andy Warhol movie.” I viewed the scene in question—all in the name of research of course—and I must admit that I couldn’t help but wonder what drug cocktail might have convinced Miss Sevigny that taking part in this project might be a good idea. That being said, I will not join the ranks of Sevigny-bashers based on that performance. Not today. Instead, I wish to thank Chlöe Sevigny for the fact that she still continues to make a living as an actress and a public figure, and to this day defends her performance in a project which would have been best left to die in Vincent Gallo’s mean little egomaniacal head.

Mistakes, we’ve all made a few. On this lonely Christmas day, I can always console myself with that fact that in this, I am far from being alone.