Stop, thief. Or not.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was 14 years old, someone snuck into my mother's office, plucked the wallet from her purse and walked out the door.

Evidently, the thief was a nomadic gypsy or a migrating goose, because for several months following the robbery, we received widespread phone calls from distant strangers who had stumbled across my mom's personal belongings in ditches, on sidewalks and in public restrooms.

The whole experience made me queasy, angry and – apparently – supernatural.

I say this because from that day on, I became a wallet magnet as the damn things started appearing around me like fruit flies in the science lab at my high school.

My teenage years were spent tripping over lost pocketbooks – at the park, on the street and in parking lots. It was truly inexplicable. So much so, that my parents started to question my acquisitions.

“Tell us again how you ‘found’ this wallet? (and please don’t say you took it out of someone’s car, back pocket or house).” 

But I wasn’t stealing. Honestly. I was just living in a community where people had absolutely no concept of keeping their personal belongings on their person. Also, I was a wallet genie – dare I say… the “chosen one”.

Folks were always thrilled to get their misplaced money back and the resulting rewards were generous. One fruitful summer, my wallet-finding job netted me $14 in bills, $2.80 in change, a bag of potato chips and a $10 gift certificate – for a restaurant in Georgia, 1500 kms away.

Okay – maybe I just thought the compensations were princely. Remember, I was a rural route kid, who grew up without cable TV. It’s all relative.

But then, as quick as it began, my stint as a lost wallet detector ended and my billfold radar remained dormant - until many (many) years later, when I moved across the country and had a baby.

Evidently, my kiddo inherited my aptitude for honing in on misplaced credit cards and teeny, tiny family photos. Together, she and I found wallets like dogs find deer poop as we strolled down the streets of our sleepy little town. She would point to the forlorn leather cases on the ground; I would pick them up, return them to their rightful owners and call it a day. Strangely enough, the rewards didn’t follow. But we didn’t care – we were crusaders.

Then, the inevitable happened. We were witness to a crime.

A wallet crime.

My mom, aunt, sleeping daughter and I were stopped at a gas station on our way back to Canada from the US. The station was situated next to the border crossing with a clear view of the bridge that traverses a river and connects two countries.

There were several people lined up waiting for the pumps that day, but one girl in particular caught my eye. She was sitting in her car, alternating her glance between her lap and the security cameras on the exterior of the convenience store. Then, she got out of her vehicle and headed for the trashcan.

“Stop!” I shouted at my mom as she began to drive away from the station – our gas pumped and paid for.

“Why?” she said, pulling into a parking spot.

“That girl” I whispered, “She just shoved something into the garbage bin. It’s a wallet. I can feel it.”

My heart raced as I ran through all of the crime drama shows I’d ever watched. I asked my aunt to go into the store under the pretense of needing to use the washroom – you know, so we wouldn’t draw attention to ourselves.

“Pretend we’re waiting for her.” I said to my mom we watched Wilma wander inside.

“We are waiting for her,” sighed Jan as she looked at the crazy in my eyes.

Meanwhile, I wrote down the girl’s license plate and waited for her to drive off, across the bridge, towards the border. Then, I nonchalantly made my move.

“I knew it!” I shouted as I rescued the wallet from the outdoor wastebasket.

It was a well-worn billfold… light brown with some flowers carved into the leather. I opened it up to search for the name of poor, violated owner.

It was empty. Almost.

Everything had been removed -- except for a Walmart® receipt for a pack of Lifesavers®, a Life & Style magazine, a bottle of nail polish and… a black Buxton® three fold clutch.

As it happened, the only felony committed that day was a crafty cross-border shopper, switching her old wallet out for a new one, before heading through customs.

It was a little more difficult to explain to the gas station attendant and a gaggle of fellow customers why I was throwing that same wallet in the trash a few moments later. Also, I am no longer allowed to purchase gas - or use the washroom - at any and all CITGO locations. At least for another year.

No, really.

Sketchbook snapshot

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Wanna peek... at my new sketchbook?

Here you go!

Caked-on paint: stubborn love

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I've been resting my writing muscle lately. Not by choice you understand, it's just worked out that way. I kind of feel as though the part of me that makes words appear, has wrapped itself up in tin foil and thrown itself on the $40 barbeque we picked up at a yard sale last month.

I blame Geoff. Of course I do.

The thing is -- while searching for buoys in the basement (this makes sense if you live with us), Geoff found my magic apron.

Discovered in an abandoned garage more than 15 years ago, my magic apron is fully caked with paint, modeling paste, matte gel and god knows what else. Evidently - as soon as I put it on, my writing brain goes to sleep, but not before it injects my artmaking brain full of caffeine, or amphetamines. Whichever.

The point is, this blog post is about art.

Jan and I have been preparing for an exhibition of sorts which is taking place this summer and while I'm trying to maintain an air of mystery, I'm happy to share snippets of a painting I've recently completed.

I think I'll call it "Stubborn Love" - mostly because that's the last song that was playing on the radio as I stood back, looked at the piece and called it a day.

Stubborn Love - by the Lumineers

This is a tutorial, but not for boy scouts

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

It arrived yesterday.

As part of Apple’s ongoing 1st Generation Nano replacement program*, my old device was replaced with a smaller, less flammable and apparently far more powerful – little fellow.

Hi there cutie pie.

I was so excited. All I needed to make it work was a set of headphones. Cinchy, right?

My search began in the office.

You know how some people have a junk drawer? Well, I have a thingamajig purgatory. It’s a place where a child’s glue stick, a tray of coffee paint, a roll of 35 mm film, a bag of beach glass, a wrist watch, a fake one million dollar bill, a stapler and - quite possibly – the equivalent of an entire box raisins all reproduce quietly in the dark. Did I mention the zebra-patterned dishcloth? Not exactly what the designers at IKEA had in mind for my workspace. In fact, my desk drawer looks a little bit like my kindergarten teacher’s classroom threw up on itself.

Sorry Mrs. Warnica. But it’s true.

From the office, I moved through the rest of the house, searching frantically for earpieces. I looked in the bowl on the dining room hutch, inside the pantry, on the bookcase, under Geoff’s jeans and in that extra special secret hiding place where we keep the chocolate bars. What?

Rifling through everyone’s private things was exhausting, but I did eventually locate a set of earbuds in the pocket of Geoff’s bathrobe - which didn’t strike me as weird at the time, but now…

Nevermind! I had the final piece of my iPod puzzle. But, there was one teeny tiny little problem.

The headphone knot.

Now, I may not have been a Boy Scout, but I do know that there are many different types of knots...*

The Half Knot

 The Overhand Knot

 The Figure Eight Knot

The Slip Knot

But no knot is as strong... as powerful... or as ubiquitous as…

The Headphone Knot

According to Outdoor Life magazine, “Knot tying has always been one of those key skills that the inexperienced take for granted.” Well, I'm here to tell you that anyone - inexperienced or not – can make a headphone knot.

Even if you have no thumbs. 

The headphone knot is a cousin to the Christmas light string nexus and the extension cord tangle. And while other knots require two, three – or, in some cases – twenty steps to complete (pffft!), the headphone knot is ridiculously simple to tie.

All you need to do is place your earbuds in a pocket, drawer or computer bag. Any confined space will do. In fact, in most cases, just setting the little bastards on a table will achieve the desired results. Then, go pour yourself a cup of coffee, or scotch, or wine. Whichever.

That’s it. You're done! Your headphone knot is now secure and you are ready to perform many useful tasks.

Need to pull a monster truck out of a ditch? 

Use a headphone knot.

Want to help bring the space capsule back home to Earth? 

Use a headphone knot.

Have to tow a stranded cruise ship back to shore? 

Use a freaking headphone knot!

You can count on your headphone knot to work it like an American Idol contestant in the final round while attempting to undertake the following:

Attaching a line to the head of a sail.
Giving a gorilla something to swing on.
Safely hanging a baby’s jumper in a doorway.
Securing an arrestor cable to an aircraft carrier.
Hanging a tire swing from a tree.
Securing a giant boulder to the roof of your car.
Pulling a distressed and disoriented cow from a cresting river.

You get the idea.

In fact, you can do almost anything with your newly found knot knowledge. Except for one thing.

You cannot, under any circumstances, listen to your new iPod.

No, really.

But seriously:

*Have a 1st generation iPod Nano? Want a new one?
Go here:

*Need to know how to tie a "real knot"?
Go here: