Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Take on Fifty Shades of Grey

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you'll have heard about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and the other two books in the series.

Here's what I know or have heard about them:

They're about a young woman and a powerful man who have a bondage/S & M relationship.

Sales of the series have gone through the roof.

The story started out as fan fiction based on Twilight.

The movie rights have been sold.

It's basically a romance.

They're not very well written.

The last two points really bug some people. If those aspects are true, what's the big deal?

Well, folks, I've been in this business long enough to know that some books just take off, and it doesn't matter if they're spectacular or flawed.

Sometimes, it only takes one unique element to lift a book to the best-seller lists. For instance, the plot in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO wasn't anything that I haven't seen on Law & Order: SVU. But it had one of the most interesting and unique female characters to come along in a long time.

Sometimes savvy and/or persistent and/or effective marketing by the author or publisher or both get a book noticed. A large print run helps.

But sometimes it's just timing. A book hits the market at a certain point and touches a nerve. It gets "buzz" and word of mouth. Then the media get hold of it, and the social pundits start weighing in. People feel they have to read it, or they'll be missing something. THE DA VINCI CODE, anyone?

So I'm not getting my knickers in a twist about whether it's "fair" that a book that may be "unworthy" is a best-seller.

For whatever reason or reasons, it just is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Cabinet of Margaret Moore

I have finished my latest Craft Project - painting a china cabinet. I had some basic steel shelves in the mudroom at the cottage, used for extra beach towels, beach toys, sports equipment and laundry supplies. However, this is the most used entrance to the cottage, so I wanted something a little more attractive. I bought a used china cabinet for $80, which was certainly a tad nicer. But as the picture illustrates, it was not in the greatest condition.
The door stuck and the legs were in really sad shape.
Since it was pretty clearly not an antique and so not worth refinishing, I decided to paint it. I've seen many a decorating show where the designer advocates getting furniture sprayed. Fine, if you want to spend the money. I'm sure it's a harder, more durable finish. But I didn't want to spend very much money on my cabinet, and I already had left-over paint. I had two different colors and decided to use both.

First, though, I had to sand it. I hate sanding. It's hard on the hands, it's dusty, it doesn't show. Well, it shows if you don't sand, but it's not often you hear anybody say, "Wow, was that thing well sanded!"

Here it is sanded. I took the door off and took the glass and decorative bit out. I took off the handles of the drawer, too.

Next came the primer. I have become an old hand at painting paneling now, and let me tell you, any primer I've used really doesn't cover dark wood all that well. I knew that going in, though, so I wasn't disappointed when the first coat came out like this.
I did a second coat, always sanding between coats.
Now came the more interesting part, painting with the two different colors. Both paints were Behr's Premium Plus Ultra, white for most of the cabinet and light green for the decorative bits, door and drawer. As I said, these were left over - from the paneling in the sunroom and the kitchen. I love this paint - it goes on well and it has almost no odor. I didn't have to buy any brushes, either, as I had some unused from other paint jobs.
In the interest of full disclosure (because I like it when the pros admit their mistakes) - I made a major error at this point. When painting the decorative bit from the door, I used too large a brush and didn't realize the paint was seriously dripping on the reverse side until I turned it to paint after letting the first side dry a bit. This piece of the cabinet was very thin - no more than an eighth of an inch - so I found it nearly impossible to sand. I've discovered the hard way that trying to fix a mistake can make it infinitely worse, so I decided to carry on, using a smaller brush the next coats, and putting the least drippy side showing. Upon completion, however, I discovered that by painting the decorative door bit, I had made it thicker and I simply couldn't get it back in the door without risking breaking the glass, or the door.

Which brings me to another slight disaster. As I was painting the door frame, it shifted and came, quite literally, unglued. I managed to bang it back together. Since it already had issues with sticking, it's a bit dodgy. I may wind up removing it completely. The cabinet will look a little strange, but still a lot nicer than steel shelving or the old, chipped wood.

I also forgot to paint the wooden knobs for the drawer. Since the paint was "free", I bought new porcelain knobs. Total cost: about $5.

Here is the cabinet, all finished and put back together. I'm quite pleased with it, despite the dodgy door.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Some Thoughts on Motherhood

I've been a mother for just about thirty years now, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and observations about motherhood, based on my own experience but also observations of other mothers over the years.

When your children are small and people tell you the time will fly by, believe them. Even on those days when the house is a wreck, the kids are running wild and you would kill for a coffee break, believe them. One day, you will look back and wonder how those days passed so swiftly.

Say yes, say no, but use "maybe" sparingly and only when you really do mean "maybe." Otherwise, kids may think "Maybe means yes if I whine enough."

You are always teaching by example.

Occasional silliness will not mean your kids don't respect you.

Follow your instincts. Somewhere, there will be a parenting book that says you're doing the right thing.

Of course every family and family situation is different. Not everyone has been as fortunate as I to have parents to teach by excellent example, or to have as wonderful a partner to share child-raising responsibilities. Nor am I a perfect mother - far from it. I've made mistakes, many of them. In spite of that, my kids are happy, successful adults, and my family is, without doubt, the greatest joy of my life.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking back

Recently my son was involved in job interviews. He wasn't being interviewed. He was doing the interviews.

My maternal mind was boggled. How did he get so...grown up?

I was told many times when my kids were small that the time would fly by. There were many days I thought that was a crock. I yearned for just a simple coffee break or one night of uninterrupted sleep.

But you know what? I was wrong.

The time flew by. And now I'd love to be able to turn back the clock for just one day, with no time for a coffee or a full night's sleep.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a movie...

Happy Star Wars Day! I was in university when Star Wars was first released. I remember lining up around the block at one of the largest movie theaters in Toronto, now defunct, to see it. I also remember my reaction to the movie and it wasn't just "Wow, that was good!"

I felt not just excited and happy when the movie ended, but relieved. Star Wars was, in many respects, a throw-back to classic story-telling and characters I enjoyed so much when watching old movies on TV, the ones that often starred Errol Flynn. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. It had good guys and bad guys.

This may not sound so fantastic in the era of blockbuster "popcorn" movies, but back in the '70's era of films, "films" were the thing, movies that were arty and, much of the time, depressing. Apparently many film fans consider the 70's a Golden Age of film, but if you were like me and longed for old-school stories and characters and feeling happy at the end of a movie, not so much.

Then, like both a blast of the past and into the future, came Star Wars, with its classic story elements, like the hero of mysterious origins, and excellent characters. And I'm not just talking about the main characters but the outstanding sidekicks and villains, too.

But those weren't the only things Star Wars had going for it. It was, in many ways, new. The moment I realized that opening shot was from underneath a spaceship, I knew I was in for something different and, well, neat! The other scene that amazed me was the bar scene, especially the band. It was funny AND cool.

Star Wars amazed me because it combined classic, old school elements with what was then new and unexpected. It came at a time when other movies were trying hard to be artistic and deep and so often ended on a "down" note.

For me, Star Wars was like a feast after wandering in the desert.

Have a great Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you!