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So, not sure where time goes. It’s like it’s infinite and finite all at the same time. Does it really even go anywhere? Or are we just so used to gauging everything we do on this elusive yet structured concept of time, that it becomes our only way to monitor our lives?

Whatever…I feel like I’ve been so busy in the last 2 years that I haven’t had time to think.

Here’s me trying to make an appointment.  “Do you have any appointments on Saturdays?”, I ask. They usually answer with “No but we can get you in at 8am”.  “That won’t work, I start work at 7am”, I respond.  “Oh, ok that’s no problem, we have someone who works until 7pm, I have an opening with her at 6:30” they respond. “I don’t get off work until 7:30pm, I wouldn’t be able to get there until 7:45pm” I conclude with “thanks, maybe next year”.

Here’s a snap shot of my week while I’m working on a show.  My alarm goes off at 5:30, I jump up, brush my teeth, shower, dry my hair and dress. Go to the kitchen, make a smoothie and a lunch, feed and water my cat. I put all my stuff by the door and start doing my physio exercises.  When my alarm goes off at 6:45, I jump up throw my boots and coat on and run out to the car. Luckily, I’m usually only 5-10 minutes from work, depending on the show. I get to work at 7am, lunch at 12:30, snack around 5pm and I leave at 7:30pm. Come home, make some food, answer emails, fill orders, and visit with my cat and daughter and then off to bed. Repeat for 5 days. Saturday usually consists of a combination of two or more of these things…. a physio appointment, pilates, hair cut, grocery shopping visit with friends, trip to recycling depot.  Sunday, sometimes it’s a social thing, or staying at home and cleaning or hanging out with my daughter.

An 8 hour a day job would feel like a part-time job to me as I’ve worked 12 hour days for the past 20 years.

Time doesn’t really go anywhere…we do.

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I think I was in grade five when I got frost bite on my toes while skiing at Monte Ste. Anne in Quebec.  What I do know is that I’ve had cold feet ever since.

Yeah, yeah you’re probably thinking, “Why does she always have to make these posts about herself? Get to the story already.”   … because it’s MY blog…and I’m getting to it…ok?

What’s the one thing in my closet I can’t live without? My sock drawer! Bet you didn’t see that one coming.  My sock drawer has the most amazing collection of hand knitted wool socks you can possibly imagine. Although I love ‘open toe’ season, I also really love my wool socks. Every time I go anywhere that I have to take my shoes off I immediately get compliments on my socks. I’m not kidding you! It happens ALL the time. And for good reason. I have memorable socks.My socks are amazing. Opening my sock drawer you will feast your eyes on an array of multi-coloured socks the likes of which you will probably never see anywhere else.

What's inside my sock drawer.

What’s inside my sock drawer.

Many years ago, my mom started knitting.  I was alway envious of that particular skill. I’m a lefty and knitting, although I have tried, always made me feel as though I had 6 thumbs and no fingers. So, when my mom started gifting me with not just wool socks, but hand made wool socks, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. My first pair were a heavy pair of cream coloured ones, and then another pair of cream ones followed. (sadly, one of those cream pairs has since gone to sock heaven… and I don’t mean the washing machine. I always take good care of my socks washing them by hand and rolling them in a towel to get the excess moisture out before hanging them to dry.  That way they last and last. Pretty sure that pair that’s now deceased was at least 20 years old. Mom’s socks aren’t just great because they’re wool. They’re great because they fit so well. They are shaped exactly to my foot when they are given to me. They aren’t tight, but never fall down or work their way down into the toe of my boot.   Genius!

My mom’s always been really busy for as long as I can remember. She’s an amazing cook, and her house, even though it’s almost always under renovations, always seems to look like it’s about to be photographed by ‘Martha’ herself.  When I was a little kid she bred dogs, trained them and even showed them at dog shows.  She has also been an artist for as long as I can remember, painting the sweetest acrylic on canvas paintings of houses, farms, animals etc.   She’s also painted many miniature pieces as well. Very charming. I really love her work, she has a great eye. She was an antique dealer when we lived in the east and I arrived home from school many afternoons to find her ‘stripping’ …furniture, that is. She was working out and doing yoga back before either were fashionable.  We always had a dog, a cat or two, chickens, sometimes goats, once a cow?, or did I dream that?  She’s even been a real estate agent.

These are only about one inch across!

These are only about one inch across!

Can you believe how cute these are?

Can you believe how cute these are?

Square Miniatures about an inch and a half wide.

Square Miniatures about an inch and a half wide.

   

Mom and dad now live on Salt Spring Island. A place I often equate with paradise. You know… the place on the brochure where you wish you were, but just never seem to get there.  It’s always so nice and relaxing! Obviously, I don’t get over there as often as I’d like for this reason. Going to SSI means driving 45-50 minutes to the ferry terminal, waiting there for an hour at least (if you want to get on the intended ferry) 3 hours crossing (milk run) or 1.5 hours non-stop. There’s only one non-stop on Friday, Saturday and Sunday….any way, you get my point. It’s really time consuming…to go there and come back uses up half of your weekend.

We talk on the phone often though.  When I called to chat one afternoon a few years ago (I call more than every few years btw) my dad answered. He usually doesn’t answer the phone. We were chatting for a while before I asked where mom was. Imagine my surprise when he told me  “Oh…she’s hooking in Nanaimo”.  Ok…. I’ve been to Nanaimo a few times. Driven through really, so the first thing that came into my mind was this hotel that my brother and I used to joke about because it was called the “Ho”…short for the Tally Ho.

Well I know my mom’s an original and always an adventurer, but, I guess my mind was going down the wrong road altogether. Turns out mom and  a few of her ‘hooker’ friends from SSI were attending a rug hooking seminar that weekend and I don’t think it was at the Tally Ho… although if I’d been planning it, that would have been different.

Bug Rug

Bug Rug

Bugs

Bugs

Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly

Beatle

Beatle

And now for the Rooster series….

Rooster and Egg

Rooster and Egg

Brown Rooster

Brown Rooster

White Rooster

White Rooster

And some more little treats…

Lily

Lily

Frog on Leaf

Frog on Leaf

House

House

Kitten

Kitten

And finally one of my personal favorites…

Farm Animals

Farm Animals

My mom’s been hooking rugs for many years too. Just another of her many talents. Her work is absolutely impeccable, again, because she has an amazing ‘eye’, as I call it. It’s the ability to see things with clarity and recognize balanced composition and colours etc. making it seem natural to create beauty around you… at least that’s what I think it is. Anyway, that’s what mom’s alway done with everything in her life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

It used to be that you could buy something, and, if it was designed and manufactured with thoughtfulness, it would work for a very long time.  And the great thing about it was the fact that, if it did malfunction, you could either take it to someone to get it fixed, or you could fix it yourself. I have repaired many things myself or taken them to someone to be fixed. For instance, my watch… St. Moritz, made in Canada, I have had it since 1989, it is still stylin’. I’ve had many new batteries put in it, and I’ve had it serviced a few times… It’s great quality, built on the old style mentality of quality is best. Yes, this company has never sold me another watch, but, I think that the number of watches that I’ve sold for them by boasting about the quality of mine probably makes up for that. This is a company that can be proud of what it makes.

I notice a lot of people have a multitude of knives in their kitchens. None of them, work for any one job as well as my one knife… that’s right folks, I only own one knife. It’s quality, so it is possible to sharpen it to a razor sharpness without it chipping and breaking. Everyone that uses it says the same thing. “Wow…. is this knife ever sharp”. “Yes” I reply, “that’s how you get them to cut”. My knife can go from cutting fresh baked bread to tomatoes  to roast beef without any problems. That’s because it’s a good quality knife. A fool abandoned this knife in a house I moved into, so I didn’t even pay for it, but I will tell you that that knife is worth a lot to me. The weird thing about this knife is that it doesn’t even bear a stamp, or logo, so I have no idea of it’s origin. I will guard it with my life.

I have so many fantastic tools in my studio as well. Guess what?…. All the good ones that actually function as they should and live up to daily use are old. Some belonged to my grandfather and some I picked up in antique shops or found in garage sales. Any  other top quality tools I paid top $ for. No regrets. And again, I boast that quality to everyone I work with or they borrow the tools and end up buying the same quality because we know that in order to do our jobs well, we need good dependable tools.

I do appreciate that some things just keep getting better. Like technology, for instance…. I remember loading all my important possession into the back of my truck in 1988 when I moved to Vancouver from Kingston. I had my Vector Research Amp, Tuner, and Tape Deck and my B&O Turntable, my speakers, which took up at least 6 cubic feet, my 300 albums, and of course… my clothes. That’s it. That’s all that was important to me. There were no personal computers, no iPods, no cell phones (not unless you wanted to carry around an extra purse). There were CD’s but, vinyl still rocked best.  It was the year after I moved out here that my brother started telling me that some day I would be able to carry those 300 albums around on a unit no bigger than a credit card. I was doubtful.   He also predicted that quality would start to decrease in favour of profit, and that fine skills and trades would slowly disappear. He talked of ‘bartering’ skills in the future, because there would be few solid goods worth as much as skills.

Turns out, he was right…. it’s now very difficult to find anything that has the quality of goods produced in years gone by. If you can find them, they are only available to the very wealthy.

This is where things start to look crazy to me. It seems like a lot of the things that I’ve bought lately have had one of the following issues.

1) Built as though it could be fixed, but, when it does break, the part that breaks and the labour to fix it makes the repair  worth more than the original product purchase price.

2) Built to be taken almost directly to the landfill… but, first a quick stop off at home, so you can destroy any evidence that you actually purchased this seemingly quality product.

3) Things that just simply don’t work because the manufacturing is not precise enough

ie. tweezers that won’t grasp a hair

Some might argue in this case that you get what you pay for… I beg to differ….I payed for tweezers and what I got was a useless piece of metal that will end up in the landfill because it will not perform the function it was intended for…. or perhaps it  is fulfilling it’s function, by allowing a company to get fatter off people that just take it for granted that nothing will ever work! We live among a generation of consumers that have no idea that things used to tooled with precision and that there is no reason to put up with this crap that companies keep selling us to fill their pocket books as well as the landfills.

And, last… but, far from least….

4) Whoever manufactured it, had absolutely no idea of its’ end purpose

the BBQ brush that melts

the clapper with screws in the bottom (completely defeating it’s purpose by allowing condensation to build up on the screw heads only to drip back onto the fabric)

notchers that won’t cut on one side

These companies think they are so clever, “knocking off” tools. I can almost hear their thought process… “hmmm this tool is very expensive, if I change this aspect, I can reduce the price”… only thing they don’t know, is that that one aspect of the tool that they changed was the part that made it function for it’s original intention. They make the change, virtually rendering the product ‘useless’.

I happen to have examples of every one of these issues in my life at this moment. I call frustration and disappointment!

Bob Dylan said it best with his song ‘Everything is Broken

A wee bit of catch up to do here I’m afraid. First off, in my own defence, I’ve worked on average 75 hours per week since my last blog post. To put it in perspective, that’s more than twice what the average person works in a week. When I work an eight hour day, I feel like I’m getting off at lunch time. So, think about it… what does that leave time for? Well, I have to sit down and pay bills, make invoices, go to the bank, and get groceries. I have to make meals for my daughter and I, clean up after, feed my cat, do laundry, and vacuum. I have to shower, dress, sleep and do pilates. I have to fill Buggy Bag orders, tweet and post to the Buggy Bag fb page. Yeah… you get the idea…there’s not been a whole lot of time left to blog! I’ve been off now for 2 weeks. Some of that time was spent recuperating from the last 5 months. Some of it was spent blowing off steam with my friends. I went to the Cloverdale Rodeo, several parties and over to the island for a night.

I’ve sold out of Large size Black Lap Blankets! I’ve put in a new PO with the factory and should be receiving the new shipment by September, just in time for the cold weather.  Toys ‘R’ Us (.ca) has increased their re-oder amount steadily since they took on the stroller and jogger blankets, so that’s good news for me, however, I still can’t for the life of me find the product through any search on their site!!! I wonder how they’re selling them.

I missed the Abilities Expo at the Roundhouse this year because I was working on a movie, which upset me, because I really enjoy that event.  I did get to go to the Recreational Resource Fair at GF Strong

though, which was really fun. The pic above is of David from Vivify. It was nice to see his big smile from where I was sitting this year. I also, had a great chat with the author of a blog called Priority Seating. Check it out.

I have done more than that, obviously, but, it’s past my bedtime, so, that’ll be for another day.

I lost my joy last year. Someone took it from me. I’ve been trying to get it back ever since. As Lucinda Williams says, ‘You took my joy, and I want it back’.

Yes, I’ve had a profile up on a dating site for a while now. It seems like the easiest way to make connections with guys who are wanting to meet women and are local. Maybe not as easy as it seems.

I’ve always been fairly open-minded when it comes to meeting new people and my philosophy has always been that you never know when or how you’re going to meet your new best friend.

I tackle the dating sites in the following manner.

1-The Picture. As shallow as this may seem, I look at the picture. If there is absolutely no attraction for me, I move along. If all the pictures are long shots that you really can’t make out a face in or if all the pictures are of their dogs, cars, bikes, tattoos, or showing all the stuff they’ve done, I dont’ like this. The dating site is for determining whether you’d like to spend an hour of your precious time to go and meet the person or not. I don’t need to see the details of their lives (let’s save that for later), just a few good head shots and a body shot to show posture and appearance.

2-The Profile. Next I read the profile. I look for warning signs. Some of the signs I look for are spelling and grammar. If there are a few type-o’s, no big deal, it happens. But, if there are more than a few, I see this as a problem. First of all, if you’re on a dating site, that means that you have access to a computer. If you have access to a computer, then you should also have access to spell check. Grammar, on the other hand is a pretty good indicator of whether or not the person was paying attention in school, if, indeed they even attended. If there is more than one reference to hockey of other spectator sports, I move on, because I can’t see myself enjoying watching sports. If they say they’re Vegan, I move on, because I’m a meat eater…. you see how that works? It’s just common sense.

3-The Plan. If we are both interested, I try to set up a meeting as soon as possible so I don’t end up wasting too much time with endless emails, etc.

4-The Meeting. This is the part I love the most. It’s so fun to meet new people. Sometimes you have a great time, but,  you just don’t feel the all important chemistry that is essential to a long term relationship. Other times you don’t even have a good time. Other times you feel their was a connection, but, it obviously wasn’t reciprocated, because the guy never asks you for a second date.

I’ve put off writing about this experience that I had, for several reasons. I guess mostly because I felt like an idiot. My screening process went sideways when I was faced with what seemed to be an intelligent, suave, gainfully employed, handsome man who was pursuing me passionately.

The day after we started communicating, was the day that he left for a job. He would be gone for 3 months on an oil rig off the coast of Scotland. He was a Director with the oil company Chevron and his pictures showed me that not only did he look amazing in an Armani suit, but that he had a real sense of style in his casual dress as well. He was handsome.

After he left for his job he told me he was glad to have the time to get to know me in the old fashioned, letter writing way before meeting me in person. It would give us time to learn about each other and ask many questions. Early on, one of the questions that he posed was this. “Are you really willing to give yourself wholeheartedly to a lifelong relationship”? I actually didn’t even answer him for a couple of days. I had never been asked that question before. Was I willing to do that, really? Or was I just looking for someone to date? After thinking for a few days I realized that I would have to be, otherwise, I would never be able to be 100% open and honest. I would not be open to receive the love of this man. I told him I was ready to work at building a relationship.

He was seemingly ecstatic upon hearing this news and began really telling me about his life. His childhood, his parents, his university days, his travels, his job, his daughter, the loss of his father when he was 18 and the loss of his wife just 10 years ago. He really opened up to me and I felt very close to him, although we had never met. After about a month of communicating every day, I didn’t hear from him one day and was worried. Two days went by and I was more worried. We were communicating on IM and he was offline. Finally, he came on line and told me his mom was sick in the hospital. His daughter was 16 had been living with her since her mom had died. She was now all alone in Spain with her grandmother in the hospital and he was worried sick and on the phone with her for the last few days. He didn’t want to worry me with it. He was trying to get off the rig he was on but, the helicopter would not come to pick him up until the following Monday.

By Sunday, he called me crying… his mom had passed away and he hadn’t made it back in time to say goodbye or to be there with his daughter. He would be heading there tomorrow and would make funeral arrangements and then bring his daughter back to Canada to live. It was very sad. I spoke to his daughter on the phone and she sounded like a very sad, sweet girl.  I felt so bad for both of them.

He informed me before he left that his company wanted him to come back to the rig to finish his contract because there was a problem and they needed him to solve it. He asked me to help him decide what to do because he wanted to take my opinion into account. I told him he should do what he needs to do… we would meet whenever he got home.

He went back to work and then within the week I didn’t hear from him again, and again knew that something was wrong. The next day he told me, that he had gotten word that his daughter had run away from the house where she was staying because she was upset to be left there while he worked for another 2 months. Having lost her mom 10 years earlier, she was not taking the death of her grandmother well at all. I was very worried about her. I have a 15 year old daughter myself and I know how it would feel if mine were to runaway and I had no way of getting there to look for her. Finally, the next day he let me know that she had phoned and was at her friends house safe and sound. All was good. He could not wait to finish this job and be on his way back home to meet me.

All the time we would message each other, he would call me at least every couple to days just to say hi and he would send me more pictures of himself. With stories to go along with them. Once, I asked what his room was like on the rig. He told me it was really pretty good because he’s a Director. About half an hour went by and he sent me a picture of himself looking right into the camera. Said he looked all over for candles to make it look romantic for me. It was so sweet of him.

The following week the problem at work had been determined to be a part that he and a team would have to go to Beijing to replace. They would leave next week, make sure the part got on a boat back to the rig and he would then have 5 days where he would be able to come home and visit me, before returning to work. I was ecstatic. I could hardly wait.

They were in Beijing for about a week. He said they were just about to wrap it up and he’d be here by the weekend… that’s when I stopped hearing from him. I thought maybe I would get a call that he was here in Vancouver. He would surprise me. Three days went by, before I got the call that something was terribly wrong. He had gone to make the transaction for the part on his own instead of waiting (he was in a hurry to get home to see me). When he came out with the money, he was attacked and robbed. He was stabbed by one of them with a broken bottle. His company was holding him responsible and the authorities found it suspicious and took his passport until an investigation could be done. A week went by. He was a wreck… he was deserted there by his company, he was out of cash and had no access to any money, he was kicked out of his hotel and hadn’t eaten in days… He needed me to send money. If I had any I would, but, I’m so sorry I can’t… I looked up the address for the Australian Consulate  for him and told him to go there to get help. He was offended by this and I thought it was because he was so distraught and not thinking straight.

I called the Consulate myself and explained what was going on with him. I asked what the best plan of action was in this situation and told the woman that I was extremely worried. That’s when the helpful woman on the phone asked me if I had ever met ‘this person’ in real life. I admitted that I had not. She asked the name and I gave it to her  with his date of birth. She was gone for a few minutes and when she came back on she explained to me that this person did not exist. There was no record for this person.

I didn’t let on that I knew this and I didn’t want to believe it, but, in the back of my mind, I knew, I’d been had. I didn’t go back online for about a week. He came on IM immediately and told me he had a big surprise. He was at the airport and on his home. He told me that he wouldn’t be seeing me though, because I had not stuck by his side. I had disappeared when things got tough. He was right. I was a bad friend. I had left him when things were tough. Surely, there must have been a mistake with the consulate… maybe, I had spelled his name wrong.

That’s when he became abusive to me for the first time. I said there was nothing I could do about the way he felt and could not make him care about me. He said he was sorry but, he had fallen in love with me and I had let him down. He said that I had loved him too, but, I would never get to meet him now.  I replied that he had indeed, fallen in love with me, but, that I had fallen in love with an idea. A fantasy. I told him that I had found out he didn’t exist. He admitted that it was true… he was a scammer. He told me his real name was Gerard and that he lived in Ghana. He told me that he had no other way to make money.

This man created a story that was so rich and full of emotion… he preyed on my soul and entangled himself into my heart by using his own mothers death, his daughter, his wife’s death, his tears.

It’s been 5 months since my joy was taken. I think it’s now slowly returning, but, I’m not sure I’ll be as open to trust in the future.

I was running late. Had to drop off a costume to Sanctuary first and then whip over to Costco for some chocolates. I thought it would be nice to be able to offer visitors a treat when they stopped in to chat. I had put together a little slide show loop of pics from photo shoots, and had that on the end of my table playing on my laptop. The other end of the tabel had a list I had made up of all the retail locations where you could buy Cairns Technical Gear, some brochures and business cards. In the centre was a sample of the Cairns Full Protection Lap Blanket for wheelchair users and the Cairns Rain Protection Apron for scooter users.

I was a little disappointed by the location of my table. It was in the middle of the east side of the room, and because there was a projection screen in that corner, the lights were off. This wasn’t an issue for any of the tables around the outside of the room because they had spot lights aimed at their tables. In between presentations they would turn on the ceiling lights and cast some light onto my table… this is where the bowl of chocolates come in….

...all that glitters... and smells like chocolate...

I had some past customers come by to visit me and see the new product, which was a real pleasure for me. One of the customers who dropped by already owns two of the Cairns Full Protection Lap Blankets, one in each colour. It was the first time that I met her and it was such a treat. She was using her red one that day.

See how dark it is?

She was the second customer, that I had not met before, who approached my table for a chat. I just love that part of the Abilities Expo. I get to meet the people after they’ve been using the product for a winter and find out what they think, get their views and talk about new ideas.

I even had someone I’d been chatting with on Twitter come by and introduce himself. He writes a cool blog ‘Priority Seating’ about accessibility on transit in Vancouver. His Twitter handle is @nextstoporbust, if you’d like to join him. It’s so nice to be able to put a face to a name.

I had Rina Liddle and Prophecy Sun stop by from LiddleWorks to chat… we would be meeting up again later in the week to do a photo shoot.

Me and Rina

Me and Prophecy Sun

The afternoon was a whir of visitors and lots of people that came by 3 and 4 times to grab one of the chocolates. It was fun to watch as some people would saunter by for the 2nd time and act like they didn’t notice the bowl, only to turn back and grab a few more for later.

The entertainment was really good. The CanDance Team performed to a number by the Black Eyed Peas. And there was also a singer/guitar player that I really liked, Glenn David Loft. I’ve looked all over for the info and can’t seem to find it. Here’s a picture of him. If anyone knows his name, let me know in the comments.

For the last month I’ve been trying to find an active, younger guy who would like to assist me in my design process. I’m designing a pair of adapted street-wear pants that would be appealing to younger hip guys, that don’t want to look like they’re wearing adapted pants. Then, from across the room I spotted the best looking man I’ve seen in years. I started having one of those moments where I was thinking…”I can’t approach him… he’s WAY too good looking”. I’m glad I did because he was not only interested in helping me, but, he was full of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to having the time to work on this new project.

Our friends Ken and June showed up for a chat as well. They have modeled for us in the past and are much fun to chat with. They have both been so supportive of what I’m doing.

Ken and June

The afternoon was a whir of visitors and lots of people that came by 3 and 4 times to grab one of the chocolates. It was fun to watch as some people would saunter by for the 2nd time and act like they didn’t notice the bowl, only to turn back and grab a few more for later. Can’t wait til next year. It’s a great event that ConnecTra Society puts on at the Roundhouse in Vancouver.

I was at a dance class last night.  At the beginning of the class one of my amazing teachers humbly asked us to each tell our name and one thing we love about Vancouver. Having only a few seconds to think about it, compounded by the fact that I was feeling a bit down in the dumps at the moment and adding that it was pouring rain outside… I said “My name is Leslie and I love the rain”.

Truth is, I do like rain. Do I love the rain, though? Not as sure. I just couldn’t think of anything else at that moment. And, that is why these rituals are so very important. By the time everyone else had said what they love, I too was reminded of some of the blessings I have derived from living in Vancouver. Yes, it does rain. It rains because Vancouver is in a would be rain forest. It would be, if all the trees hadn’t been removed over 100 years ago. In fact, it was once part of one of the very few temperate rain forests on the planet. This rain that creates months of ‘dull’ is the same rain that gives us the lush seasons filled with green and flowers that no one else in Canada can enjoy in the same abundance. This is the same rain that washes our dust away and keeps our Vancouver sparkly for all to see. Anyway, it’s all good if you have good rain gear.

Sure it rains here, but, only a 20 minute drive gets my daughter to the bottom of the Grouse Mountain Gondola where she can go up above it all and snowboard to her hearts delights. I pick her up and she smells like she was visiting heaven, fresh with ozone, and she has healthy colour in her cheeks. This is the same mountain that we enjoy, as it’s lights twinkle in our night sky. The same mountain lets us know that winter is here, by turning white, and that summer has finally arrived, by turning brown and green. Alway being carefully watched over by the Lions just to the north/west.

The sea air that comes wafting in from the Pacific helps us to keep perspective and to appreciate the water and its great power, as the tides go in and out with the moons. Each changing tide uncovers new hidden treasures. Living on the ocean I have met many people who sail and have even had the opportunity to join some of them on sailing trips. On a sailing trip you may be fortunate enough to spot a whale, a sea lion, or any number of other creatures.

The cultural diversity of Vancouver is just wonderful. With it comes the variety of restaurants, dancing, music and events. Anywhere you go in Vancouver you’re likely to hear a variety of accents, and see different types of dress. When I first moved here, I was fairly closed minded about trying different foods. I came from a small city in Ontario, where the most exotic culinary experience I had ever had was Chinese food from the China Doll Restaurant and Tavern. Now, I enjoy all kinds of foods from every country any time I feel the desire. There are so many great restaurants in  Vancouver, that it’s often hard to choose.

The night life here is really fun too. I saw 3 live bands last weekend alone, and will see Raphael Saadiq tomorrow night. There are all kinds of dance things happening all over the city. I like Cuban Salsa and there’s alway something I can go to every weekend if I want to . The Georgia Straight is a good place to look for up coming events in Vancouver , and it’s free. Often, I can be found enjoying the night life from my apartment. I have a fantastic view of Vancouver from my couch and the lights sparkle and twinkle and help me to remember the huge number of wonderful people and things to do that this city holds.

This is my favourite time of year… the street in front of my apartment is lined in cherry trees that are in full bloom. If it’s a sunny morning you could swear that it had snowed over night, before looking out the window. The light is so white from the blossoms.

Cherry Trees

I live very close to a crow rookery and every evening when the sun goes down the crows flock over my place enroute to their night spot. Crows are such amazing birds. If you head down to the rookery at sundown it’s just like a scene out of ‘The Birds‘. I wonder if Alfred filmed that in a similar area.

 

I probably shouldn’t go ahead and post this because it’s likely that I’ll kick myself for forgetting something. I just write off the top of my head, so, I often miss points that I later wish I had thought of.

Oh, yeah, did I mention the fact that there are bike routes all over the city and that you can actually ride all year round in Vancouver?

Last Friday I got my insurance renewal notice. Of course I got the notice that I have to go through Air Care, as my car is what they would consider a ‘throw away’. I decided that I should go right away, because I’m not much for procrastinating and I don’t want to be having to rush around at the last minute, if it doesn’t pass. I just had the girl in to see her mechanic and he had mentioned that she had a hole in her muffler. I decided to give him a quick call before heading over to the Air Care Station. He said not to worry about it… just go and see what happens… ok, I will.

Here I am in the line up at Air Care. It’s such a beautiful day… nothing could go wrong! I decide to tweet about the fact that I’m the sixth car in the line up. Low and behold, somebody was actually manning the Air Care Twitter account and I got a response immediately!

Got up a bit closer… the line moves fairly fast and they started letting cars into bay 4.

I decide that I would not keep my car running and I only moved my car after each two cars moved ahead…. I was having fun, listening to the radio, tweeting and taking pictures with my iPhone.

I got right up to the next one to go in, when the unthinkable happened…

Apparently too much of a good thing. I walked into the bay while people in all the other cars in the line were sitting there wondering, ‘what’s this woman doing WALKING in?’

He assured me that it happens all the time. Not sure, but, I’m thinking he was just being nice.

She started up and purred like a kitten. I pulled up to the first section where I was told to present my papers and $ and put on my emergency brake.

Looks like I’m in for the $45 dollar deal. Thank goodness they have the in-car ATM machine!

All he needs now is my Odometer reading….

Now, I’m allowed to pull ahead… The guy at the next section is beckoning… but, something is wrong. My car isn’t moving. Turns out he isn’t beckoning after all… he’s motioning to me to release my emergency brake!  I never use my emergency brake and I didn’t remember being told to put it on only minutes ago… now I feel silly…

I’m now in the booth watching my girl go through the rigorous testing that is done a BC Air Care. I can’t help but wonder… will she pass their careful scrutiny?

You can see the monitor above the big fan, that the technician has to pay attention to as he holds her petal to the floor.

I’m in the room… I can see her, but, I can’t get to her! she’s under a great deal of stress!

Finally, the door opens and I’m allowed to get back into my car. The next step is to pull up and get the print out of the results.

As you can see, the result is, that I get pretty bad gas mileage. Gee… I already knew that!

Turns out that my 92 Honda still has lower emissions that a brand new Ford Taurus! Compare!

I love twitter! I love my iPhone! I love my Honda! I love my mechanic! I think I even love AirCareBC!… although it may not have been such a good experience without Twitter and my iPhone!

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m listening to my favourite Canadian Singer/Songwriter, Bob Rylett. His music makes me feel happy and soft.  I’ve started four different blogs in the last two months and haven’t finished any of them so, I’m starting a fifth right now, only I have to have it complete 20 minutes from now so I still have time to play my guitar before going out to meet my friend Rina for dinner.

Last night I made a dinner for my friend Kai and myself. She actually does a food blog, so, she’s a bit of a ‘foodie’. The meal turned out so well that I wanted to write it down for you to try, and for me to remember what I did!

This is something that I just made up from a bunch of different recipes I had looked at. It’s kinda like my own version of a ciopinno, but, I’m pretty sure I broke a whole bunch of rules. Doesn’t really matter because it was absolutely, mouthwateringly, amazing!

INGREDIENTS

1 bag frozen Mussels (Costco)

1/2 bag frozen Scallops (Costco)

1/2 bag frozen Prawns (Costco)

1 full chicken breast (local meat market)

6 skinny hot Italian sausages (local meat market)

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 can coconut milk

1/2 bottle of white wine (something cheap, I used Fuzion)

1 large red pepper

1 fennel bulb

2 celery stalks

3 shallots

6 cloves garlic

1″ piece of ginger

3 tsp hot chilli sauce

1 tbsp oregano

1 bunch of cilantro (coarsely chopped)

First sear the chicken breasts in the coconut oil. Don’t cook them too long just get the outside browned and then pull them out and slice them into small pieces and put aside.

Put the sausages into the same pan and cook them, then pull them out cut into 1/2″ pieces and set aside.

Finely chop the Celery, Fennel Bulb, Red Pepper and set aside.

Finely chop the Shallots, Garlic and Ginger, saute them in the butter, just until they are soft. I used a great big huge Wok for this. Add the tomatoes, and coconut milk and wine and get it bubbling, then you just start introducing the other stuff in this order: Chicken, Sausage, Fennel, Celery, Red Pepper, Chilli Sauce, Oregano. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then introduce the Mussels, Scallops and Prawns. When the Prawns are cooked, throw the Cilantro on to and serve it up!

Leslie's Seafood Soup

Hope you enjoy this! Any questions…. feel free to ask!

Leslie

I’ve been having a really hard time posting anything lately…. I’m always trying to keep it ‘light’ and ‘positive’, so when times are tough, I find myself with very little to say.

Time to lay it all out there… to bare my soul, as they say, or as close as I can get to that.

Last Christmas, my daughter and I kept a really low profile. We stayed home by ourselves. We went out for dinner one night and saw a movie with coupons someone had given us. We put up our tree and enjoyed our new little kitten, who entertained us by running up the centre of the tree, over and over again.

As this year winds down, I’m asking myself, how the heck I ended up here… more broke than last Christmas, wondering how on earth I’m going to pay my rent.  I feel like I worked every second last year and really didn’t have time to even stop to evaluate my finances. I just had to keep moving ahead with my goals with little time to stop and reflect on my personal situation.

I’m just going to start by trying to remember all the things that I did accomplish or put into action.

In the fall of 2009, I started working with Teresa, from Blacklake, who I’ve been working with ever since to establish quality manufacturing for a price that would make it possible to start selling Buggy Bag® at wholesale to retailers.  The manufacturing costs here made the price untouchable at that level, so I was only able to sell  the product one at a time, directly to end users… I wanted more people to be able to find it and use it.

The year 2010 started out with work for the movie ‘A-Team‘, going to a local theatre to fix a velvet stage curtain, and the construction of some Fencing Jackets for the Arts Club Theatre.

Much work with Rina from Liddleworks, and a photo shoot with the lovely Jessie Claveau for our new flyer which Rina designed.

Got my first set of samples back from Hong Kong. They looked pretty good, but, I wanted to make some changes to the fabrics, and components, and see what the prices would be like….shipping costs $350

My generous friends took my daughter and I to Whistler for Easter weekend where I was able to prove to my self that I could still ski. That weekend was such fun!

Went to the Dragon’s Den auditions and was told I didn’t have enough sales to move ahead. That was fine, and it was a benefit to me to work on the numbers etc. with Rina before hand. These exercises always shed light on the value of planning ahead and setting goals. My friend Wendy from PumpEase made it through the auditions, and onto the show which aired in October.

I was contacted by LandMark Direct, who do TV commercials like the ‘As Seen On TV’ ads. I decided to have them make a 1 minute commercial for me that would run in 150 spots across the US. The purpose being to test the market to evaluate where advertising $ are best spent. I sent some samples of the Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair weather blankets, and the process began.

Received another round of samples from the factory … shipping $340

I met with the SCISN Board for the Rick Hansen Institute where I met with Gary McPherson about designing some custom wheelchair weather protection for him. I made a few sales there and met some lovely and inspiring people. It was through my work for former Vancouver mayer Sam Sullivan, that I ended up there. I had done a custom wheelchair poncho for him in the fall of 2009.

I did a bit of work for a friend who had a contract to do some costumes for the Olympics. Then, an old school friend of mine moved back here from Singapore. She needed a place to land while she settled back into the Vancouver workplace and found a place to live. It was really nice having Kai here for that time and we had many fun times and good meals together. We went to many free Olympic festivities. It was really fun being in Vancouver at that time!

I shortened many, many sleeves for a TV show called ‘Human Target‘, did some pattern work for two local women’s wear designers, then I headed over to my friend Deb’s studio to help her with a bunch of gaberdine 50’s styles she was manufacturing for a TV show called ‘Fringe‘. I think I spent a few weeks over there. Nice to get out of my place… even though my place is like heaven, I still get lonely… I know I talked her ear off… I miss working with people.

Got another set of samples back, decided to focus on just the three main products for now, because of the minimum order quantities. The zippers and fabrics now looked good, but we still have to work on the reflective logo…. shipping costs $275

Found a US Patent and Trademark Lawyer and started to proceed with this process…$2500 later, I find out that even though, I have the trademark Buggy Bag Registered here in Canada and have owned the buggybag.com address since 1998, and I make and sell mobility accessories…. they feel that there will be some ‘confusion’ with the other company that makes shopping cart covers and uses my name only with an extra “g” on the end….I should have applied for the US TM back when this company first offered to buy my URL…. who knew they would just add another ‘g’ to the name. The patent is still in process… and the cost is unknown, but a fair guess would land it in the $10,000 range.

Had Lawyers read contract with Landmark Direct… $500

Found out I need some very pricey licences to be able to sell a ‘stuffed’ article in Ontario, Quebec or Manitoba. One for each province and for each year at $500 each! Ouch, there goes my rent for that month.

Next, I stumbled across a blog written by the mom of a beautiful little guy by the knick-name of Bugg. I was moved by her ability to document their life and the wonderful quality of her blog photos. http://thebuggslife.blogspot.com/ I sent this little guy a Buggy Bag Stroller Blanket to use on his tiny wheelchair. I was so happy to meet this family and help make Bugg’s outings a bit cozier. We still keep in touch and I hope to one day meet them in person.

I then built some leather dresses for the character ‘Ginn’ on ‘Stragate Universe‘, and started working on another dog movie called ‘Treasure Buddies‘ featuring lots of cute children’s costumes, and also squeezed in an alteration of a down jacket for the movie ‘The Big Year‘, hemmed some shirts for ‘Ice Road Terror‘, and a bunch more custom work for ‘Stargate Universe’.

Got some more manufacturer samples still with issues …. shipping $400

It was around this time that I met a great guy by the name of Brian Bell, the founder of Interfit in North Vancouver. Some friends and I went to their fundraiser, which I also blogged about.

Got many different script revisions over this time and finally approved one and then had to get the money together before the commercial production could begin…. $3000

I made 9 pairs double layer fleece leg warmers for Sam Sullivan to give out to his associates, the moved onto yet more alterations for ‘The Big Year’, much more work for ‘Stargate Universe’ and the leather coat I made for ‘Sanctuary‘, which I also blogged about. It was right around this time that I got the sad news that Gary McPherson had passed away.

More one on one work with Liddleworks… business plan.

Got a first copy of the actual commercial. It looked great and I was really happy with how our conversations went. I was so apprehensive about the whole thing to begin with and the amount of $, but, if everything went well we would be getting lots of sales and valuable information about the marketplace, not to mention the commercial to use in whatever way we liked…$3500

More work with Liddleworks… hangtag designs…. three tags with usage illustrations. Had a friend help with the french translations and found a hangtag manufacturer close to the factory in China.

I made a dozen various aprons for ‘Red Riding Hood‘ before starting on the years fun show…. ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’ I always have fun working for Angus Strathie and this show was no exception! Many wonderful costumes for this show.

More work on business plan…more $$$ I owe Liddleworks.

Right after that I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Byrnes and making him a pair of trousers and an overcoat for ‘Sanctuary’.

A man I  spent two years trying to forget, suddenly appears in my life again, only to vanish again two months later.

Another photo shoot featuring 5 wheelchair models and one stroller model, a mom and a sweet working dog…$600

Pay for hang tags… $1100

September finally rolled around, the commercial was ready to air, the production was in place and would be ready to ship at the end of Sept. I had to decide where to have the product shipped to, and decided that most of the sales would likely be from the US, so I found a ‘pick and pack’ place in Blaine.

Volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. So fun, met lots of athletes and got to see some of the games.

Commercial aired to no sales and therefore no stats… frustrating, but, must keep looking ahead.

Landmark proposed an agreement to sell the product through catalogue sales.

Lawyer read another contract…. $500.

Chris, my brother and I head down to the ABC Kids show in Vegas to see what the competition is like, what to expect when we go to the show as a vendor, evaluate what kind of a booth we need,  to look for sales reps and get a bit of R&R. We walked hundreds of miles that week and most of it was in the convention centre. We also, visited just about every hotel in the  city, we won $76, and we had some fantastic meals.

Launched new version of the Web Site that has been in the works for many months… it looks great and it’s only Phase I! Was immediately “de-friended” on facebook by the fellow that did the last version of the website.

Went on a sailing trip to Molly’s Reach with some friends, which was another stellar weekend!

Product is ready to ship, need to get financing… bank turned me down… evidently I should have bought an apartment instead of trying to make this great product available… at least that’s what they would have me believe!

Went to a private investor, who saw the real reason I’m doing all of this and wants to help make it happen…. $17,000 debt

Landed the product in Canada and the US and took delivery the same day that we had our Buggy Bag reception for friends, customers and media…$550. Had a blast even though no media showed up, the important people were there. Including David Rountree, who I met when I volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships back in September. He brought his ‘Floor-Board‘ for all of us to try. Sylvi MacCormac was a special musical guest at our event, who was also one of our models at the last shoot. We felt so honoured.

Inspected the shipment that arrived here in my living room with Teresa from Blacklake. We realized there was a small QC issue with the shipment and had to look at our options…. do we send them back? I’m totally against that idea. I try a few different methods to deal with the issue and discover that I can solve it 100% with the use of my commercial iron.

One of the perks of working in film is the ‘wrap party’ at the end of the show. I went to 4 wrap parties and a gala benefit for Spinal Cord  Injury. I wore the same outfit to 3 of them!

Got an order for the stroller and jogger blanket from Babies’R’Us… a small trial order for the Canadian web site.

Had to buy a Universal Bar Code number for the company… $500

Dear friend Barbara passed away, which left me in a blue funk for some time. Sadly missed.

More work for  the TV shows ‘Stargate Universe’ and ‘V‘.

Teresa and I head down to the States to deal with the QC issue on that part of the shipment. One day and two very sore backs later and we are back in Vancouver, satisfied that the product is 100% perfect.

December rolled around with no movie or tv work for me, so I started making phone calls. I always said I wasn’t a sales person, but, one call led to another and another and by mid December I had already shown the wheelchair weather blanket to at least 7 places and got it into 4 stores and 10 locations in the lower mainland. This is the easiest thing in the world to sell. It just makes sense because it’s easy to use and  it helps people stay warm. I’ve been focusing on the  wheelchair weather blanket, but, also got the jogger weather blanket into two stores as well.

I read a blog that really touched me and I responded by sending a wheelchair lap blanket to the autor, Patrick, for his wife Patti. The response I got was worth every bit of the hard work I’ve done this year!

I put 2 paid ads on Craig’s List one in Seattle area and one in NYC, looking for commissioned sales reps to rep the wheelchair weather blanket… $50. There may be a few potentials among the responses… I sure hope so. And it looks like I may have a rep in the Chicago area, who is a friend of Teresa’s…. Yeah!

Ok… now it makes sense!  As a single mom, with no financial help from anywhere, I’m just getting deeper and deeper in debt. This year of business has cost a lot. I’m financing my business with my income from film work, my lines of credit and those kind enough to help me.  My coffee maker, my kettle, my watch, a computer, and my hair dryer have all become incapacitated in the last couple of months… not sure if I’m just noticing all of this because I can’t fix or replace them at the moment….but, it just adds to my anxiety levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the quote I put up on my facebook wall a while back:

‎”I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” — John D. Rockefeller

I sure hope that’s true… because my intention is to keep on keeping on, no matter what, because I believe that it is the right thing to do, and to continue to count my blessings.

This year I:

posted 171 times on the facebook fan page….

tweeted 684 times….

wrote 28 blog posts….

responded to 479 emails about the offshore production….

did work for 16 different production companies

responded to 275 emails from Liddleworks….

added a store front to my FB page as a way to sell old stock…

had 750 Buggy Bag units manufactured

took 49 guitar lessons….

spent 60 hours in dance classes….

got to 99% on Brain Challenge….

hugged my daughter 730 times….

toilet trained my cat….

After reflecting on the past year, I know what my blessings are as clearly as I know everything is going to turn out great.

I’m thankful for my daughter, my brother, my parents, my friends, my guides, my supporters, my vision, my health, my atitude, my customers, my humour,  my suppliers, my teachers, my dance partners, my employers, my mentors and everyone who has crossed my path for whatever reason…..please know that every single one of you are responsible for at least two of the things I’m grateful for.

buggy bag® mobility products

Buggy Bag® Mobility Products is dedicated to helping loved ones stay warm and dry while on the go. Buggy Bag® Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair blankets protect against the cold and wet, while offering visibility in low light conditions.

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