Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fog, a Fortieth, the Fairmount and Finally ... Frost

Nothing like an awesome alliteration for a snappy start to a blog post, eh?

Last week, the insomniac  took a break from packing and flew to Vancouver to attend Salmagundi's fortieth birthday celebration. Vancouver was shrouded in fog for much of the three-day visit. Which Was Also Awesome. Here is her attempt to capture a few artistic fog shots, aptly entitled “Things in Fog”.

Sylvia Hotel ... in fog.

Pacific Ocean ... in fog.

Ornamental Grasses ... in fog.

Canada Geese ... in fog.

Granville Street Bridge ... in fog.

Gazebo ... in fog.

Bizarre Sunlight Effect ... in fog.

Large Leaves ... in fog.

Not that you can tell from this picture.

Knowing how much the insomniac  dislikes having to walk into a party by herself, Mme.  Polaire agreed to accompany her, as she has been shopping at Salmagundi since she was an infant. She arrived at the hotel in the morning, dropping off bags and suitcases full of clothes, makeup and accessories suitable for the party's theme, which was Flapper Day of the Dead, and for which the insomniac  had absolutely nothing to wear. Before leaving the hotel for a bit of shopping, Mme. Polaire presented the insomniac  with an abundance of goodies; the insomniac  again making out like a bandit and Mme. Polaire ending up with one lilac petticoat. Although she put it on under the eyeball dress she was wearing, and it did look pretty terrific.

Obviously, the chocolate bar never made it
to the photo shoot again this time ...

We went to Dressew, where the insomniac  (who has been so very, very good since January and hasn't bought any new fabric due to the whole downsizing thing) finally caved and purchased six metres of 100% thick black cotton jersey, which had to be forced into a carry-on bag and stuffed in the overhead bin on the return flight. To date, the bag is still sitting in the closet, as it has not yet been determined whether it should accompany the insomniac  to the rental and be made into something suitable for wearing during long moonlit walks in the Spooky Forest, or whether it should just be put into storage with the rest of the fabric.

We stopped in at Salmagundi later in the afternoon for a quick look before returning to the hotel to ready ourselves for the party. And because the insomniac  has been so very, very good and hasn't purchased any many new things for Ten Whole Months, she caved again and bought a little red leather pen case, a tooled leather notebook holder, and a Victorian cake cooler.

All safely packed away in their storage box. Short-lived enjoyment.

Since she was obviously on a roll this trip and felt the need to accumulate just a teensy bit more, and as a sort of reward for having done so well with the downsizing, she also purchased one last item; not quite small enough to cram into the overhead bin on the aircraft but requiring truck shipping to Calgary, where it will arrive at the Gothic Mansion just in time to be hustled onto another truck and sent away to the storage facility for six months. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Mme. Polaire kindly did the insomniac's  hair and makeup for the party, but unfortunately NONE of the pictures turned out. Isn't that right, Mme. Polaire? NOT ONE SINGLE PICTURE TURNED OUT. She looks amazing though, doesn't she?

Mme. Polaire in the lobby of the Sylvia ...

Very Flapper ...

Very Día de los Muertos ...

Anne, the Proprietress, lighting the birthday candles ...

As with all good parties, it eventually spilled out into the street ...

The insomniac  returned to Calgary Friday afternoon, threw everything from her suitcase onto the floor, chucked in some clean clothes, and headed off to Banff an hour later with her family. As the cake pans have already been packed away, we decided to celebrate our birthdays, all of which occur during October and November, at the Fairmount Banff Springs Hotel. We hadn't been there since they quit offering that really good deal in the slow season for three days, two nights, plus the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

And although this is not the insomniac's  picture of the hotel (which is glaringly obvious because it's such a good picture, and also because in order to get this shot you'd have to walk halfway up a mountain), this is probably what it would have looked like by Sunday afternoon - after the blizzard.

It would have been the perfect hotel for The Shining ...

We stopped at the Trading Post in Banff to visit the merman ...

Seeing him just never gets old ...

The Legend of the Merman ...

The primary reason for staying at the Banff Springs was to celebrate birthdays (unlike Salmagundi, it is NOT the insomniac's 40th), but also provided much-needed inspiration to try to get back on track with her decorating plans for the Little Gothic Cottage, which started out with visions of crudely plastered white-washed walls, dark timbers and minimal furnishings, but keeps reverting back to dark wallpapers, tin ceilings and other Victorian overabundance. White walls? Minimal furnishings? You're not fooling anyone, insomniac ...

Mount Stephen Hall

We need us one of these ...

We also need these chairs ...

This suit of armour ...

And that owl.

Minimal does not come easily to the insomniac ...

And now that the all-too-brief holiday is over and one has returned to her seemingly endless packing (due to her having not yet embraced a minimalist lifestyle), life in the Gothic Mansion is back to what passes for normal these days. Because there was no Hallowe'en decorating this year, the insomniac thought to share pictures of last year's decorations - taken the day after Hallowe'en and a hard frost. That cheap imitation spiderweb looks much better after a good frost, doesn't it?

The House Gargoyle is now in the Spooky Forest.

Buried somewhere under all that snow ...

This year, even though the veranda is bare and empty of Hallowe'en decor, there are plenty of toys and candy waiting inside. And hopefully our six faithful trick-or-treater's will make one last trip down that dark alley and long unlit driveway to the Gothic Mansion, so we can say a proper farewell.

Excuse our bubble-wrapped mess ...

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Of Birdhouses and Mycological Specimens ...

Today's post is for Linnea-Maria of Linnea på landet who requested pictures of the spouse's birdhouse creations, and Tilda of Tea with the Squirrels who requested pictures of mushrooms.

The spouse originally started making his birdhouses with the intent of having one on every single fencepost surrounding the Gothic Mansion. His first houses were rustic in style, made from hollowed out stumps and scraps of wood, of which there was plenty to choose from - leftovers over from past projects, neatly **cough** stacked in the garage. The Scrap Wood Collection was so vast, back in January when we started downsizing, the spouse spent a solid three months burning stuff to avoid having to pack and move it. Although we did save the really good pieces and they are coming with us.

If a person didn't know better, they'd swear the insomniac  and her spouse grew up in the Great Depression - that's how loathe they are to throw anything away that might prove useful at some point.

Rustic Birdhouse I

Rustic Birdhouse II

Rustic Birdhouse III

Once he grew bored of making rustic houses, the spouse started adding small bits such as cabinet knobs, taken from his Collection of Useful Stuff he stores in the garage. The insomniac  seldom sets foot in the garage - she doesn't even have a key. If she requires something, she simply remarks, “Need a hammer.” or “Need a screwdriver.” and waits for it to magically appear in her hand. She worries if she were to attempt to look for an item in there herself, there's a very good chance she'd become disoriented and lose her way - never to be seen again. The spouse, on the other hand, knows exactly where everything is and also how to find his way out.

A drawer on the bottom for cleaning out old nests ...

Because there's a waiting list in the spring for the birdhouses, they will remain behind. Only two of the spouse's more recent and much larger creations have been relocated to the Spooky Forest. The Squirrel Jungle Gym/Birdhouse is a compilation of old door knobs and plates, cast iron statuary, pine cones, empty wicker suet holders, and pretty much anything else the spouse deemed Collection-worthy.



It was dismantled for the move and is now displayed separately. The Jungle Gym portion is awaiting repair to the verandas damaged by over-exuberant squirrel acrobatics before finding its permanent home.

This is the insomniac's  most favorite piece to date, having a sort of Bavarian Steampunk vibe. Pieces of old lamps, what appears to be a foot pedal from an old piano (the candelabra off that piano will probably turn up on something eventually) - many items from the Collection have found their way onto this birdhouse; although the chipmunks seem to have already laid claim to it. 

And while the spouse has been finding just the right spot for his creations (with only a few helpful suggestions from the insomniac), she herself has been attempting to gain some expertise on the local mushroom population in the Spooky Forest, using as her guide “Mushrooms of the Boreal Forest” by Eugene F. Bossenmaier. To summarize what she's learned thus far in this single, but extremely important, sentence:

“There are mushrooms in the boreal forest that, if eaten, can cause sickness and others that can cause death. Some safe mushrooms have deadly look-alikes; an error in identification can be fatal.”

The spouse has already indicated he will not be relying on the insomniac's  sound judgement as to whether a mushroom is edible or not. Who can blame him, really.

Following is a small **coughs again** sampling of mushroom photos - there were literally hundreds to weed through. One has tried to showcase only the more unusual, eliminating any resembling those commonly available at the grocery store - even if it was the size of a dinner plate and looked to be the perfect spot for a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

Eat me. I look Toxic.

So do I.

Me too.

We originally thought the squirrel joined us every day at 3:00 p.m. for Happy Hour because he enjoyed our company so much - it now seems more likely he simply passed out from too many 'shrooms ...

2:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.

You've heard the expression, “Can't see the forest for the trees.”? In the insomniac's  case, she couldn't see the maggoty insect for the mushrooms, until she started sorting through the photos for this post. Probably a good thing, too.

Hopefully you've enjoyed today's rather hastily thrown-together post. Although the insomniac  felt she'd done an admirable job of downsizing, after receiving the storage estimate last week for the remaining items in the Gothic Mansion, has now decided a lot more work in that department is definitely needed - by the end of next week. Although she prefers to blame the spouse for the astronomically high quote. It doesn't seem as though any of his Collections in the garage have been reduced in the slightest; hence the delivery of a twenty-foot sea can to the Spooky Forest on Thursday.

In his defense, it is a large  forest and there's always a need for more  birdhouses ... and realistically, there's no such thing as too much scrap wood. You just never know when it may come in handy.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.