Monday, 29 October 2012

Pumpkin Carving

This year, my favourite retailer ever, Lee Valley Tools, had a special on a pumpkin carving kit.  I've bought several over the years, but they were of such poor quality they didn't survive their first cuts.  Knowing Lee Valley's commitment to quality, and their generous return policy, I couldn't go wrong.  So I picked up a multi-blade tool and a book entitled "Extreme Pumpkin Carving".

While the Bean and I were in the store picking up our purchase, they happened to have a pumpkin carving demonstration with their resident carver, John, presiding.  An affable and chatty guy, he picked up his pumpkin and in about 15 minutes and after several judicious cuts had transformed the squash into a really cool freaky face.  This, along with our new book, inspired the Bean and me.  Our pumpkins would not be the hackneyed triangle eyes and nose of years past.  No, this year we would be artistes and produce something a little more creative, a little more outré.

John at Lee Valley made it all look so easy.  No transferring patterns from paper to pumpkin for him.  Right from his mind straight to his carving tools - ad hoc carving.  More than thirty years of carving experience let him do this, he said as he deftly wielded his tools.  If John could do it this way, then the Bean and I would do it this way as well (though we did draw rough outlines of our designs on the pumpkin with marker).  For the novice, this way of carving is HARD.  Below are the results of our efforts.  Mine took me an hour, the Bean's, three.  I'm not altogether pleased with my result, though, in fairness, this was my first time.  I do like the Bean's though.  We have two more pumpkins to carve, and I think we will stick with the cliché of triangles for those.  Next year, I will plan ahead a bit more and tackle the project over a couple of days - do a more detailed drawing or work from a pattern transferred to the pumpkin.

Smiling Mad Man by Geoff Burrows
October 2012

Witchy Woman by Lena Burrows
October 2012

I am self critical by nature, but I have to say the pictures don't show the details very well and they do look better in-person.

May you and yours be haunted by many ghouls on All Hallows Eve, which for my American friends should be near certain with the upcoming election, but I digress.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A Lost Blogging Month

I can't believe I haven't written a post in over a month.  Quite a bit has happened in that month though.  For one, my little girl started back at school and that has come with a bit of adjustment for all of us.  For the Bean, the new school year has brought new challenges.  In particular, her fourth year sees her starting a French immersion program, where half of her classes are taught in French.  Seems a little thin to me to be considered immersion, but that's the way they've structured the program and I guess it will have to do.

Also, the Bean is starting a one-day-a-week program for gifted learners.  She gets pulled out of her regular classes every Wednesday and has to commute to another school for her class.  Though I was excited this past summer when we learned that Lena would be attending the program, I have become a fair bit less enthusiastic.  For one thing, the Bean is having a hard time adjusting.  Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings are anxious times for her has she contemplates her day at the program.  I'm not sure why this is case.  I know she hates being singled out for special treatment.  She fears her friends finding out that she has been identified as "gifted", a term I am becoming increasingly uncomfortable with as well.  This explains some of her anxiety, but not all of it.  We'll see if she settles into the program a bit better as time goes on, but if not, I'm not averse to taking her out.

Also on the Bean front, we spent some time searching for a winter development soccer program for her.  Originally, she wanted to try out for the Ottawa South United FORCE Academy, which is probably the most respected program in the area.  Tryouts happened over three days and two weekends.  She went for the first day, but the girls were split into two groups - those who played for OSU and those who were from other clubs.  During the scrimmages, the Bean was frustrated by the lack of organized play among her teammates - she was playing a forward position and was often caught upfield alone with the ball with no support.  Plus, we were in a position where we couldn't make all the tryouts, so we ended up dropping out of the process.  We signed her up for the Nepean Hotspurs program instead.  I hope this is adequate to develop her skills and prepare her for competitive tryouts next year.

My depression has also kept me from the keyboard.  All my life, I've worked hard - in CEGEP, university, work.  I've seldom taken the path of least resistance, always preferring the greater challenge.  Now, though, I find even the most mundane tasks to be unbearably daunting.  I was awake at 5:30 yesterday morning worrying about getting the fall yard work done, and the laundry and shopping and all the other little things that maintaining a home entails.  Oddly, little ends up getting done as a result.  I don't often get those profound feelings of sadness that characterized my depression before, but they have been replaced with deeper anxiety and feelings of anger and frustration.  Oy!

On a happier note, another reason I haven't written in a while is because we spent a week at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  Disney is an amazing place for a number of reasons.  For the kids it's fun because it's Disney.  But for me, I was impressed with what a well-oiled machine the place is - everything from how you line up for attractions to the merchandising and marketing.  They are very good at what they do.

At the end of September, the family and I participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  The event has a real party atmosphere and I'm proud of the job my girls did in raising funds for the event and for completing the 5 KM route.  I am also extremely grateful for all the moral and financial support I got.  I hate singling anyone out for special praise because all the kind words and donations were equally appreciated, but I was especially touched that many of my donations came from old elementary and highschool friends who I really haven't seen in 25 years.  What a great bunch of people.  Throw in my university friends and colleagues and neighbours, and I was a very humbled Geoffy indeed.

Anyway, I've been feeling a little more inspired to write lately, so I hope I can back on top of my blog.  Although coming up with topics has been difficult, I hope to able to write about my search for quiet, my abiding interests of art and craft, the upcoming holidays. 

Til the next time.