Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 - a really short recap


by Andrea Mulder-Slater

And boom! Just like that it's 2015.

Meanwhile, if you were one of the many several few people who stopped in to peek at my blog in 2014, thank you. And, I'm sorry. Especially to those of you who live in France,  since I'm sure you weren't expecting to find me when you went searching for "animal jungle tube", "sloth ears" and "tim roth" on Google. Because instead, you found this...

10)
The heart of the matter
I dedicate this post to hypochondriacs everywhere. Please hop on the anxiety bus and live vicariously through me. But watch your toes. No reason.

9)
If you can't take the heat, bathe in bamboo juice
Never let them smell your sweat. Speaking of which, what's that stench? Oh, never mind.

8)
Oh, crap
As I look back on 2014, I realize that animals and feces were a recurring theme in my writing. Here I tie those elements together, wrap them up and deliver them in one big package. You're welcome. Also, bears.

7)
Mushrooms aren't the only things that get mixed up
This is not at all about what you think it's about. Then again, maybe it is.

6)
He's a doctor and he plays one on tv (or the big screen, whichever).
Here's where I reveal which major motion picture star inspected my epidermis.

5)
These run on sentences have been written for writers. And mothers.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times... Writing is like waiting for a baby to fill its diaper.

4)
A poem for Opa
A lot of you liked this ode to poultry, which I penned approximately 34 years ago. Too bad y'all didn't know me then. I think I may have been a hoot.

3)
Click. Flick. Flush. Repeat.
Read all about how the flu caught me, kicked me in the back of the knee, cracked a walnut on my temple and knocked me flat on my back. This is riveting stuff.

2)
Peep goes the weasel
Remember that time when I was stalked by a bloodthirsty ermine?

1) 
The crow caws at 5am
Of course this was my most read post of the year. I mean, it's about a deranged animal trying to get into my house. This is the shit that horror movies are made of. But don't take my word for it...





No, really.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Oh, crap

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We were out for a walk near our house when we wandered through a cloud of stench at the top of the hill. The odor, which - over the past number of weeks - had become rather familiar, was the first clue that something immense, wild and sour was hanging around nearby.

The second, found further down the hill... this:



Now, since moving to the country, I’ve encountered a lot of wildlife including – but not limited to – a moose, deer, a coyote, raccoons, porcupines, rabbits, a turtle, a weasel, wild turkeys, ruffled grouse, eagles, chipmunks, squirrels, mice, June bugs…

And, to be clear, when I say I’ve encountered wildlife, I mean I’ve watched or heard creatures, doing things, outside… from the comfort of my living room. Or car.

Except the June bugs. The June bugs were under my bed. Thanks to the 5 year old.

But here’s the thing about living at the edge of the wilderness, next to a heavily wooded area. You know there are critters in the thicket (after all, you’re not an idiot), but you conveniently “forget” they exist, so you can still walk down your driveway, open your windows and barbecue potatoes on your porch.

I love potatoes.

Still, no matter how hard you try to ignore them, the signs of wildlife sneak up and whack you on the back when you least expect it. Not unlike that really irritating dude you knew in college who wore that one green t-shirt, chewed Extra gum and referred to himself as “Cheeks”.

I hated that guy.

However, like Cheeks, there are many ways in which a wild animal will make its presence known. If it’s a bird, it squawks, tweets or slaps its wings against the ground. If it’s a deer, it thunders in front of your car. If it’s a coyote, it howls into the night. If it’s a bear, it craps on your yard.

Two days after seeing the pile at the end of the road and one day after my friend Jessi informed me that she was pretty sure a bear had toppled our neighbor's duck house while they were away on vacation, we woke up to see this, at one side of our house.


And at the other side of the house, next to our playground fence and a ravaged garbage bag, was this:



Upon finding the evidence, I did what anyone in my shoes would have done. I posted the poop to Facebook, which prompted a therapeutic conversation with my friend Sharon.







Meanwhile, my friend Ashley who lives two houses away, sent me this.


Ashley won the bear scat photo contest with that entry because holy freaking crap, do you see the size of that pile RIGHT NEXT TO HER HOUSE?

But that wasn't all. Our neighborhood bear had a dark side as is evidenced by this picture of Ashley's duck house.

Oh the humanity.


So, Ashley called the authorities and shortly after, a barrel was dropped off in her front yard.

A barrel.

We had a killer beast with bad manners wandering where children play and now we had... a barrel.



Me: "So... you just wait?"

Ashley: "Yep."

Shockingly, early the next morning, this happened:


So up the road to Ashley's house we went - wearing pajamas and slippers and carrying a camera. Because, of course we did.

Once there, I proceeded to be helpful.
"Is he in there?" 
"I can't see anything." 
"Holy *&#% that stinks!"
"Don't get too close!"
"Don't touch it! Don't touch it! DON'T TOUCH IT!"
Geoff glanced at me briefly, hopped out of the truck, shone his bike light on the barrel and captured this - but not before grabbing the 5 year old to carry her over for a closer look.


Is it just me or does he look medicated?

Later that day, the Department of Natural Resources picked up the hairy hooligan who they estimated to be around 2 years old (a teenager in bear years) and drove him to a forest far, far away which made everyone very, very happy, except my daughter who - on our next walk - lamented, "I miss seeing the bear poop."

No really.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thaw

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I've opened up an Etsy shop (andreamsart.etsy.com) to showcase some of my artwork and  I'd like to share some paintings with you, starting with this one.

"Thaw" is an original abstract, painted with acrylic paint and molding paste on a 24" x 36" gallery style (2" deep) canvas. The edge of the painting has also been painted so it is ready to hang as is, or you can have it framed.

Here it is, from the front...

 
And here is what it might look like in your home, if your home has cement coloured walls, wood floors, a Scandinavian style table, linen-covered chairs and a lovely decorated bowl.


And this is what it would look like if you walked up - nice and close - to have a better look.



View this painting on Etsy: 


While I have your attention, from time to time, I've been asked my abstract painting process, so I thought I'd share a little bit of that with you today by showing you some (sort of) step-by-step photos of my "Thaw" painting.

I began by thickly applying some molding paste on the canvas using a palette knife. Then, I started to add some phthalo blue.


While I was mixing colors, the 5 year old stepped in to add a dash of turquoise in the lower left corner. I decided to run with it and continued to add more shades of blue along the bottom of the piece, after the following photo was taken.


But then, I stepped out of the studio and came back to this...


Don't get me wrong, I prefer to work alone when it comes to making art. 
 However, wet paint is pretty forgiving and so I try not to get too uptight when the littlest one decides to "help".

I took this.
And changed it to this.
 What follows now, is many hours, many palette knives full of paint and many brushstrokes, squeezed into a handful of photographs.






Thanks for looking!

View this painting on Etsy: 


Monday, October 13, 2014

The heart of the matter

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I watched the numbers on the dashboard clock change... 12:40pm, 12:41pm, 12:42pm. I was already officially late and was still at least 10 minutes away from my destination at the local hospital.

My mind began to sprint, along with my heart.

Why did I leave at 12:20pm when I know it takes at least half an hour to get to the hospital? Why did I agree to an appointment with a cardiologist? Is it possible for my heart to beat right out of my chest? Is this what a heart attack feels like? Will the painfully slow driver ahead of me notice when I slump over my wheel? I smell licorice. Calm down, calm down, calm down… 

Arriving 10 minutes late for my first ever meeting with a heart specialist, I was told by the nurse behind the counter to head to radiology and get an EKG before coming back to the waiting room.

There were at least four people ahead of me all staring at the Closed For Lunch sign. Like me, everyone in the queue was there to see the cardiologist. Unlike me, everyone in the queue had arrived an hour in advance of their appointments.

My heart was pounding.

The circumstances that led to my sitting with a group of senior citizens, discussing beta blockers in a cold hospital hallway staring at askew contagious diseases posters, may or may not have been brought on my tendency to exhibit irrational fears as evidenced by this fairly typical internal monologue.

Oh, what a beautiful sunrise. The sky is so intense this morning. Hmm, my left arm is hurting. I wonder why it aches so much. I don’t remember doing anything to bring that on. WOW my heart is really racing. I better check my pulse. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9………….. 10. HOLY CRAP my heart just skipped a beat! Calm down, calm down… ACK! It just did it again! This can’t be good. RELAX, relax, relax… Ok now my back is sore. That’s a bad sign. I better lay down before I have a heart attack. 

Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m a levelheaded person, not given to fits of unreasonable fretfulness. There was even a time in my life when I was blissfully unaware of dangers and death (case in point: the clog incident). But over the past number of years (since the birth of my daughter, the sudden death of my father and the arrival of my hormone-filled 40s) the sensible side of my brain has become mushy, not unlike my stomach…

"Andrea? Andrea Mulder-Slater?"

The EKG technologist was chatty and friendly as she instructed me to lift my shirt so she could stick electrodes on my chest.

“May I ask why you’re here?” she asked politely.

The truth was, I had become a well-informed neurotic, thanks to Google. My online research, combined with an uncanny ability to zero in on fear-provoking articles in Chatelaine Magazine’s heart-heath issues had turned me into a hypochondriac in training. All I was lacking was a mentor.

“I guess I’m just nervous.” I replied. “My family doctor thought it would be a good idea if I ruled some things out.”

http://people.rit.edu/rsb4660/jma3587.htm

“Have you ever had this test before?” 

I recounted the time, many years prior, when my love of caffeinated coffee resulted in having a holter monitor strapped to my body. The symptoms were alarming. I had palpitations, arm vibrations, full body jitters and an impending sense of doom. And it all went away, as soon as I followed my family doctor’s advice and stopped drinking 6 cups of caffeinated beverages a day.
  
“I’ve got the same problem,” she said, “but I just love my coffee too much to stop.” 

“I’ve been drinking decaf since February.” I explained as she began removing the sticky patches from my skin.

“Are you sure you didn’t drink a real one today because your heart is really beating fast!”

In spite of her kind smile and sweet demeanor, the technologist’s comments did nothing to ease my unease.

Back in the clinic waiting room, I tried really hard to think about unicorns and gumdrops as I listened to my fellow patients discussing who had recently passed away and which restaurant made the best fish and chips.

"Andrea?"

I was led into a little room and told to remove my clothes from the waist up. It was like the dermatologist all over again.

My heart was jumping. It might have been pole dancing.

Sitting in my hospital gown waiting for the doctor to arrive, gave me just enough time to glance at the sheet of paper I had been avoiding. I had no idea what I was looking at but I knew one thing for sure… it didn’t look good.

From what I could tell, there was a hole in my heart and I was pretty sure that it was beating backwards, rather than forwards – if that’s even possible. Also, because the words unconfirmed analysis and undiagnosed appeared on the page, I was certain I was dying.

Not my EKG results. I was too busy stressing about stress to take a photo of my own results.
The doctor arrived just in time because my heart was threatening to thrust its way through my rib cage.  At least I'm in the right place to have a heart attack, I thought to myself.


My examination was very thorough - albeit anti-climactic - with the words, “your heart is like a freight train” uttered more than once. In the end, talking with the cardiologist was as relaxing as drinking antihistamine tea (although I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed). He told me that my fixation on the area between my waist and my throat was completely normal - given my circumstances - and that my EKG and blood pressure results were completely fine. I was given a clean bill of health, but before I left, my new favorite medical professional said it wouldn’t hurt to have a cholesterol test and maybe – at some point – a stress test, just for his records.

Fast-forward two months. I’m feeling a little bit guilty about the French fries I ate two days ago. Also, the oven-baked hash brown I devoured yesterday and the sausage I just consumed.

The thing is, I still have yet to take that cholesterol test and ever since I received that yellow sheet of paper, I’ve abandoned my penchant for morning green drinks, afternoon salads and evening veggie platters (with almonds for snack time) and instead I’ve been eating like a glassy eyed, super-high fraternity brother on a weeklong bender.

Potato chips, pizza, deep fried vegetables. You name it. I’m craving it. In fact, a food psychologist would have a heyday with me right now. Which makes me wonder… are food psychologists for real? Because really, I think I can figure this out from here, on my own. No disrespect intended. And please pass the Cheezies because I need energy since, as you know, I'm in training for an upcoming stress test.

 No, really.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

See it work

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I love Dick and Jane books. 

I loved them when I was a kid and I love them now that I am teaching the 5 year old how to read.

Yesterday, I was in the office, busy writing about another one of my brushes with the medical community, when I heard my daughter reading aloud in the living room. 

She was going through a book we had recently purchased at a library sale. 

Then, I had a slow-motion conversation inside my head -- because, look at this.


Um... what exactly is this story about?


Oh shit. Did I accidentally buy a Dick and Jane parody book?


WHAT can work for her? Good lord Dick!


That's when I sprung into action.
 
I rushed to the living room, distracted the 5 year old with a box of raisins and grabbed the reader in time to see this...


I love Dick and Jane books.

No, really.


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