Clogs float, don't they?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

As kids, my cousin Glenna and I had a knack for getting into trouble. We often spent summers together and though while apart, we were both fairly levelheaded people; together we magically morphed into a couple of numb-skulls.

Case in point… the clog incident.

We had a certain amount of freedom at Glenna’s house. We could walk to the corner store, to friend’s houses and to the Wendys restaurant. All were within minutes of home. But, we were forbidden to go near any of the nearby waterways and we were never, ever permitted to wander close any bridges.

We were no more than 10 years old when we set out on our adventure. It was a spur of the moment scheme that was unquestionably ill planned. We had no money, no snacks and I was wearing slip-on-clogs… Abba (yes, that Abba) clogs. It was the early 80s. Cool looked different back then.
There was a footbridge that Glenna knew about. It wasn’t big, but the drop down to the water below sure was. To protect people from their own lack of common sense, the city had installed fences to separate the walkway from the aqueduct. Clearly they hadn’t considered the thought process of a pair of dim-witted cousins.

Yeah, it looked a little something like this.
After we had squeezed our way past the barriers, one of us suggested a game of chicken. The concept was simple – hold on to the fence, lean back, let go and see which dumb ass would grab for the fence first. It was kind of a "nature's way of weeding out the stupid" moment. We made one or two attempts, when one of my clogs slipped off my foot… a blessing in disguise.

Within seconds, the wooden soled shoe hit the water and was instantly sucked below the surface. Glenna and I both froze and clung to the fence as we took a good look at the sheer 40-foot drop below us.

We stared at one other – our eyes wild with fear. “We can’t go home without your clog,” reasoned Glenna. “If we do, my mom will know we were up to something.”

“Clogs float, don’t they?” I wondered out loud.

“Yes!” Glenna yelped as she grabbed my hand. 

The plan was simple. We would get the hell off the bridge and scoot down the embankment to see if we could liberate the clog from the rushing water.

It didn’t work. We saw my shoe a few times as it bobbed and dipped in the current. And we even thought briefly about jumping in after it. But in the end, I walked home with one sock foot.

Our parents - understandably furious - were thankful that we both survived, in spite of our own foolishness. 

Since then, clogs have held a special place in my heart. I think the following people must feel the same way…

Artist Halle Riddlebarger creates lovely designs on shoes of all kinds. Drawn in black India ink on the white leather upper of a wooden clog, this pair features a variety of abstract designs and images from the artist's imagination.

Lee Lynden likes clogs and Christmas. What a festive combination! Here she has created the ultimate hostess gift. Best of all, when you order your own custom pair you get a free Holiday card. It gets better and better, yes?

If Day of the Dead is more your style, than you will appreciate these functional works of art by Lisa from Coral Springs. Mind you, the clogs were pre-owned before she painted them which makes me feel a little less than enthused. You pays yer money and you takes yer chances...

Perhaps you are more fashion forward, in which case you will probably long for footwear like this. Then again, maybe not. Like my husband says: "Sure, you can put glitter on it, but it's still a clog."

Miu Miu Glitter Covered Clogs

Then, there are these puppies designed by whimsikalwood. They are the real deal - a genuine pair of fully wooden clogs. Although, I don't think you'd find too many Dutch tulip farmers sporting toenails like these. How do you say "yuck" politely?

And finally, while we're talking Dutch (my favorite language), here is a delightful painting by one of the world's most well known artists. Enjoy and remember, clogs save lives. 

A Pair Of Leather Clogs by Vincent Van Gogh
No, really.

Yeah, that's a puzzler all right

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My daughter is an inquisitive child. 

From the time she was born, her hands were moving – grabbing hold of anything and everything within her reach. When she learned how to walk, baby proofing became a full time job. At times, our dog's life depended on how diligent we were. (I still remember seeing her chubby hands clutching mounds of  Bodie hair).

We recently stayed in a holiday rental home in Florida where the owners had provided guests with oodles of books, board games and puzzles to help pass the time on rainy days. 

My then 2-year-old was busy playing in the living room with her toys while we were in the nearby kitchen unpacking a load of groceries. The milk wasn’t yet in the fridge when it occurred to me that the girl  was being awfully quiet. 

With good reason...

Within a matter of minutes, she had attacked nearly all of the puzzles and games and mixed the pieces up sufficiently enough that there was no hope of ever matching them to their boxes. 

We made a valiant attempt to assign the pieces back to their proper containers. However, in the end, we abandoned the project and instead went to the nearest Family Dollar store so we could restock the holiday home shelves for $10 or less.

In hindsight, we should have saved some of the pieces. If nothing else, we could have sent them off to the following creative folks...

Doug Powell of Orlando Florida makes "Duzzle Art". These are large scale mosaics created with puzzle pieces. Here's his take on Gaga.
And good old George Burns.

Rupert McKelvie is an industrious fellow who hates getting to the end of a puzzle, only to find that there are missing pieces. Rather than shove the incomplete sets aside, he decided to create a line of furniture that makes use of discarded puzzle bits. This table is made up of 4800 puzzle pieces - a compilation of the Arc de Triomphe, Winnie the Pooh, a night sky and  the Taj Mahal.

Fantastic, don't you think?

No post of mine would be complete without a touch of sparkle. So, here's the shine, from InfusedDesigns... Necklaces crafted of puzzle pieces which have been adorned with glitter and beads.

If you are bold enough, you might consider these funny and shiny puzzle accessories by GlamLifeEarrings.  Then again...

And while we're on a glitter high, meet Erica Roni , a gal who likes nail polish and regularly posts her latest designs on her "Practice with Polish" blog. Here's her ode to puzzles.

And finally, because Halloween is near, I have for you a puzzle mask made by Paula from Texas. I like this guy. He reminds me of an old boyfriend that I was lucky enough to ditch - y'know, before it was too late.
No, really.

A cluster of flies on a sunny afternoon

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We've had many nightly rituals at our house. In recent years, they have included everything from baths, books and nursing to snacks, pjs and dance-a-thons (don't judge).

Lately though, with all this warm fall weather, our evening ceremonies have expanded to include hunting.

Some folks around here hunt deer - others fire off at ducks. We prefer prey of a smaller sort. And within our walls, we don't use guns - we use bug whackers (and vacuum cleaners).

Things will become perfectly clear once you read below...


Houseflies have become a hot topic of conversation at our house lately. It all began a number of days ago when, after spending the morning away, we arrived home to find a sold out housefly convention taking place in our living room.

The place we are living (a rental while we build new) is a recently constructed log home with large south facing glass. It is here where the flies congregate. I’m not certain but I think our bright and cozy windows have been featured in a recent issue of Housefly Travel magazine.

How else can one explain the sudden pilgrimage?

Once we got over the shock of the buzzing black beasts, we started sucking as many as we could into the in-wall vacuum system, sending them to the sealed container in the basement. But as soon as we put the hose away, more flies appeared. It was a vicious cycle involving many coffee breaks and several expressive expletives (likely far more than necessary).

At last, the mass execution was over.

Where the flies came from is still a mystery as we are really very sanitary people. Really, we are. We bathe, we vacuum, we scrub, we bag and dispose of our garbage and we don’t have any of those designer dogs who poop behind the sofa. You might find a cookie crumb or two on our floor and sometimes the odd Popsicle drip, but other than that – squeaky clean.

Flies on the other hand are dirty. Did you know that they are known to carry more than 100 disease causing germs? There’s a lot more you don’t ever want to learn about “musca domestica”. If you’ve got a cast iron stomach, go ahead and look it up. I guarantee you will regret it.

Then there’s Magnus Muhr, a Swedish photographer who had an idea. It was a disturbing idea, but an idea nonetheless. Magnus collects insect carcasses from windows and lamps around his house and uses them to make comical cartoons. I'm loving these. They make me giggle (and squirm, a little bit).

Who needs realistic fly stickers? You do! That's what Etsy seller chewytulip thinks...

 If I wear this t-shirt designed by Paula Goodman, will the flies think I am their leader?

And finally, Georgia Ryan loves flies and the way they move and look. She says, "This fly is unfortunately deceased, but most of the flies I paint are quite lively." I like this painting because (unlike Georgia), I prefer my flies dead (see Magnus Muhr).


I looked it up and apparently, our house guests are known as "cluster flies". It's true. Here are the details, according to Small Farm Life:
"Not the typical house fly or filth fly, the cluster fly is often found in rural areas on the warm side (south and west) of a building during fall afternoons.  The worst part is, these flies crawl up the side of the building and look for the smallest crack to gain access to warmer environs inside.  Their plan is not to reproduce, but to hibernate. Which would all be well and good until a warmish day when the congregate at the highest window in the home, banging against the glass trying to get out.  It’s not unheard of for hundreds of flies to gather."
Somehow this knowledge makes me feel better. But only slightly.

No, really.

Ticky Tacky

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was a little girl, my parents used to sing a song which has forever stayed in my brain.

Little Boxes, written by Melvina Reynolds in 1962 (and later made popular by Pete Seeger), is an anti-conformist ditty which makes reference to suburban housing as little boxes made out of "ticky tacky" all looking just the same. I can trace my desire to "go against the flow" directly back to the lyrics.

Geoff has been singing this tune to our girl from the time she was born and now that she's nearly three years old, she is regularly reciting the words. It's not uncommon to walk around the corner to hear her singing, "There's a green one and a pink one, and a blue one and a yellow one..."

My dad would be so proud.

The other day, the kiddo spotted a colorful card in a British craft magazine. "Can we make that mommy?" she asked. "Of course," I answered.

We cut, we glued, we colored and when we were finished, I immediately thought of Little Boxes...

Here are the lyrics to the song and below those, the original version performed by Melvina. Enjoy!

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

No, really.

Never bite a skunk's trunk

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was a kid, it was not uncommon to see wildlife wandering around the country roads. When this happened, we just turned around and walked away slowly, giving the animal a chance to find its way back into the woods.

But on one particular morning, my friends and I were mesmerized while - when waiting for the bus - a skunk appeared, with an empty soup can stuck on his head.

Someones parents called "animal control" and within minutes people came out to "help" the skunk as us kids watched the action, now from the safety of the school bus.

"It was just a tranquilizer gun," said our parents. And we believed them, until we became older and wiser, at which time we mused... why didn't they wait until the damn bus pulled away?!

This potentially scarring childhood memory (we were in kindergarten - what were the adults thinking?), along with a recent roadkill sighting and the strong smell of Tim Horton's coffee inspired my latest blog post. It's not as depressing as my lead up would suggest, although our deceased dog Bodie does makes an appearance. Rest in peace old guy.


When I married Geoff, his dog was part of the package.

A 100-pound, purebred malamute with a stubborn but intensely sweet temperament, Bodie was true to his breed and always on the hunt. The prey itself was of little concern - a mosquito, a fly, a dog biscuit – all were equally exciting conquests.

Not to say that he was incapable of more significant captures…

I still remember the time he (while still a puppy) zipped stealthily across the yard and scooped up a gray squirrel in his mouth. My mom immediately screamed at him to “let it go, let it go!” The rest of us stared in disbelief, as Bodie obliged and carefully set the stunned rodent down on the grass. I swear I saw that little bugger check to make sure all his parts were intact before he bolted up a tree – chattering the entire time.

Then there was the porcupine. In that case, no one was immediately present, telling him to “let it go, let it go!” and the end result was four separate surgeries to remove more than 250 quills.

With this, we thought he had surely learned a valuable lesson – never bite a wild animal in the rear end – but alas, he was a dog.

We had just re-tiled our kitchen and decided to put off sealing the grout until morning. It was closing in on 11pm when we let Bodie out one more time before bed. By the time we saw the flash of black and white, it was too late… Bodie’s head was drenched. 

Animal Planet
Skunk stench is like no other scent. It’s rather indescribable really.

“Holy Mother of God, what is that smell!?!”

By this time the house was fully awake, as Geoff, my parents and I jumped around like boxers first towards then away from Bodie, taking turns dabbing the oily odor from his face with paper towels. Meanwhile, Geoff jumped in the car to get tomato juice from the gas station before they closed. It was a reasonable decision.

What happened next was not so well thought out.

Rather than pull the smell further into the house, it was decided that the kitchen was the best place to administer the antidote. By the time Geoff was finished dousing Bodie with 6 cans of tomato juice, our kitchen floor looked like a crime scene involving a blind, chainsaw-wielding monkey.

After the tomato massacre was over, the sulfur smell was tolerable (though not nearly eliminated) and our white and silver coated masculine malamute was pink… for weeks.

I've always thought skunks were kind of cute. This no doubt stems from watching Pepe Le Pew on television with my dad during my childhood. Even so, it never crossed my mind to create art inspired by the little stinkers. However, the thought has occurred to some...

Michael Devost makes decorative mailboxes. I wonder how the postman feels about sticking the mail, y'know, there.
Laurie from Florida makes lamp worked beads. She likes skunks, I can tell. "This is one sweet and chunky little skunky" is how she describes this tiny fellow.
This skunk pin is appealing to me because hey, there's glitter involved. It's creator (lisart29) says that it would brighten up any hat or outfit and you know, she's right! Nothing says fashionista like... skunk accessory.
Should I be disturbed by this costume created by BeastWares - Purveyors of Furry Finery? After all, I'm just a rural girl. My neighbors never dress up as woodland creatures (or, do they?).
And finally, Jeanie from Arizona (aka DarkHorseStore) has a dark sense of humor. Case in point, this ceramic spoon rest:

"This little skunk did not make it across the road! Despite his calamity, he still looks cute and will definitely liven up your kitchen, bath, desk, most anywhere you want. And the best part - no skunk smell!"

Hey, at least he is dishwasher safe.
No, really.

Don't stick that junk in your mouth...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

As a youngster, nothing was more exciting than watching Harry the hardware store man divvy up flat headed nails.

Moving with the grace of a newborn calf and the speed of an earthworm, Harry, who was approximately 125 years old, would spend his days counting, sorting and color coding his nails. "Yeah it's a good day, no rain coming soon." he would say whenever anyone entered his happy hardware emporium. Of course, he also said that when someone asked him where to find the sand paper.

Harry was a smart man, known to all the neighborhood children as, "that crazy guy who cleans his glasses with paint thinner". Harry was our hero, mostly because he was the only grown-up we knew who enjoyed Silly Putty as much as we did.

Hanging on a peg, between the electrical plates and the washers, were always three packages of the wonder goo. It didn't matter what day you went into the hardware store or how many times you bought it, Harry always had three packages of the stuff ready for resale. "Now whatever you do," he would say, "don't stick that junk in your mouth." Then he would proceed to do just that... pop a wad in his cheek, chew for a while and pretend as though he was about to empty his stomach right there between the paint rollers and the floor cleaner.

Harry taught me the many uses of Silly Putty such as making impressions of comic book characters and removing remnants of dog poo off the bottom of my shoe.

Fortunately, there are people out there who have come up with infinitely more creative uses for Silly Putty.

Travis Childers is an artist who decided to use Silly Putty to "lift" faces from newspapers. That in itself isn't so unique - we've all done that, right? It's what he did next that made the gesture so memorable. He placed the faces in Petri dishes and stacked these dishes on a metal medical cart. Borderline creepy.
Steve Esqueda has made a number of Silly Putty sculptures and, as it turns out, this is no easy feat.  Evidently, as Silly Putty is not a hard material, it begins to "melt" as soon as it is put together and within minutes it is a blob again. Steve's works of art stayed put long enough for him to take the following photos.

Meanwhile (there are no words)...

And finally... once upon a time, the fun folks at Google placed a bulk Silly Putty order. When it arrived, they stacked the stuff up into a giant pile. The problem was (according to staffers) that once together, Silly Putty doesn't like to come apart, and none of them had any idea of how to deal with this effect. After several hours of trying to cut the stuff with scissors and wire, they resorted to twisting, pulling and breaking. Eventually, they freed up enough giant bits to distribute around the office.

Was there ever a better reason to covet a job at Google? I think not.

No, really.