Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Closer I Get, The Further I Have To Go

A few weeks ago, the day after the big GTA flood & resulting blackouts, Daisy and I had our first ever pro photoshoot with the amazing Sandra Stephenson.

I wanted a few Clark Kent-style photos with The MediaHaus logo shirt for the website, and Sandra wanted a shoot that showed a different, girlier side of me - a dress, heels, a 60's housewife vintage feel, and Daisy dragging me around Roncesvalles.

Here are some of the photos:

Who was on the other end of that call? I'm not telling. (But it might have been Egon Spengler.)

Daisy did surprisingly well, stopping & sitting for the camera.

Usually she refuses to stay still while pictures are being taken.

After these shots, I headed home to drop off the dog and do an outfit change.

My power had gone out and my apartment was a sauna. The humidity that day was crazy, my hair frizzed out, my makeup melted, my clothes stuck to me. And somehow Sandra managed to downplay all of that when she took the photos.

I call this my "Realtor Pose".

Except maybe it's just "Business Owner Pose", but that doesn't have nearly the same ring to it.

I kept feeling like I was flashing passersby.

But hey, Clark Kent had to show the S, right?

Back in my apartment, Sandra told me to throw on some comfortable clothes, grab my guitar, and head out on the balcony for some relaxed shots.

So I did, gladly.

The most photogenic by far was Daisy.

This chick did so well. Sandra's not only awesome at making people feel comfortable in front of the camera, but apparently dogs too. I love this photo.

Speaking of talent, recently Sandra was chosen as one of  Photolife Magazine's Top Emerging Photographers - pick up the August/September issue to see her winning photo, and learn more about her.

Visit the Sandra Stephenson Photography website and Facebook page for info and more of her fantastic pictures.

Monday, July 29, 2013

When This Train Ends, I'll Try Again

Just got back from an awesome week up north, my first vacation in many years. Other than one brief visit to the nearest town (45 minutes away), I was without internet, cell service, and connectivity of any kind. I have to say, it was important to be off the grid - much-needed. And as we made our way back into service areas and the notifications started popping up on my phone, my anxiety built at a staggering rate.

Kinda makes ya think.

But this post is not about that. No, it's a continuation of my recent blog about how trips up north helped fuel my music obsession. So what better way to outline my trip then with a taste of its soundtrack?

The Soundtrack

The Song: Jimi Hendrix - "Voodoo Child"
The Scene: Sitting on the dock with a beer and a book, watching the dogs (Daisy & Roxie) attack flies hilariously.

The Song: Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit"
The Scene: Being surprised with a birthday cake for my 30th. That was fun.

The Song: Fleetwood Mac - "Rhiannon"
The Scene: Getting in the kayak. And immediately tipping it over. I am the very picture of grace.

The Song: Smith - "The Weight"
The Scene: Fishing around the calmest, clearest lake I've ever been on. I hardly caught anything (mainly the tiny rock bass in the photo below, named Bernard), but I got to reconnect with my old favourite left-handed closed-faced reel. I grew up using that reel.

The Song: The Doors - "Peace Frog"
The Scene: Swimming with Daisy, then realizing that she's a much better swimmer than I am. I could not keep up. No wonder I failed my swimming classes as a kid.

The Song: The Moody Blues - "Nights In White Satin"
The Scene: Reading in the living room with huge windows that overlooked the lake. It's apparently called "relaxing", and I usually don't know how to do it.

The Song: Simon & Garfunkel - "The Sounds of Silence"
The Scene: Driving into the nearest town to get groceries, and so I could use the internet and check in on work. The only place I could go was in the Bancroft Library, where a man vehemently warned us of the dangers of Wifi. Sorry, dude. My job is the internet.

The Song: Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Tuesday's Gone"
The Scene: Hammock discovery. I want one for my living room.

Good times, overall. The city feels strange right now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Know I Dreamed About You For Twenty-Nine Years Before I Saw You

Tomorrow ends my reign as a twenty-something chick... 30 is comin' for me.

It's funny how people react when they hear you're turning 30. For some reason that age in particular has become a big deal, as though we're all supposed to have accomplished amazing things by now. Truthfully, I'm not at all where I planned to be by my thirties. Not even remotely close. And I've recently (finally) decided that's just fine.

Me at 30. And 25. And yeah, 20.

30 is not a death sentence. It doesn't mean I'm getting too old to get married, have kids, get tattoos or go bungee jumping. (Though, let's be honest, I will never go bungee jumping. I'm going to try rock climbing, let's not push it.) I'll be saying the same thing about 40. There are no strict rules or guidelines we have to follow, our only real limitations are the ones we continue to put on ourselves, and each other, and I'm getting pretty tired of that.

See? I'm a grouchy old broad already!

People seem to like any opportunity for a fresh start - a new year, new age, new month. Sometimes even just a new week, to say "everything changes now." Well, I'm doing the same. Turning 30 means putting all the bad decisions & situations of my twenties behind me and hoping not to look back, while still appreciating the really great parts of the decade. And although it's just another date on the calendar and truly means nothing, it's as good an excuse as any to be symbolic, if only for myself. Live 'n learn, and other cliches.

So check ya later, twenties. Bring on my thirties, I'm friggin' ready.

Age is... precious.

And for the first week of my thirties, I'm going off the grid. Headed up to a cottage with no internet, no cell service, nothin'. My first actual vacation in many, many years, so here's hoping that I remember how to relax. I'm sure beers, bonfires, fishing & swimming will help me remember quickly.

Have a great Kris- free week, folks!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Your Life You've Never Seen A Woman Taken By The Wind

Through my years, people have often asked me where I got my taste in music. Growing up, my friends didn't listen to the same things I did (like that boy I once mentioned whose mother told him I listened to the Devil's music), so where did it come from?

I often credit my sister with my musical tastes, especially due to the awesome mixed tapes she used to make me that were, and still are, among my favourite playlists ever. But even before the mixed tapes, there were trips up north.

Weeks at the cottage meant (along wish fishing, swimming, etc) sitting around a campfire while my dad played his guitar and we did our best to sing along. For many years, I knew certain songs strictly from my dad playing them up north. Years later, when I finally heard the actual versions, it was pretty funny. We realized that my dad is a bit tone-deaf, so the songs as we we knew them were slightly off, and for sentimental reasons I kinda prefer them that way.

But I digress. The songs he'd play around the fire, the tapes we'd listen to on the ride up & during our poker games, they all became some of my favourite music. Even the bands I don't necessarily listen to much now still take me right back to my favourite weeks up north.

We haven't had a week at the cottage for a few years, but this Saturday, the day after my 30th birthday, that changes. And as my sister, brother-in-law and I have been putting together an Rdio playlist for the trip, I'm taken back to the old campfires and up north mix tapes that I love so much.

These trips, and therefore my dad, are what started my love for what I've now listened to all my life... The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Van Morrison, and a slew of classic rock that became some of my favourite bands.

That's where it all started. That's what became a lifelong music obsession.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Can You Keep Them In The Dark For Life, Can You Hide Them From The Waiting World

Recently I was having a conversation with someone about the things you learn as you get older, and how the tough times and struggles bring about more lessons. Twenty year old Kris would never believe this conversation was happening, but near thirty year old Kris welcomes it.

I was asked about the advice I would give my future children - if I could write them a letter right now, what would I want them to know?

And so, here is my response:

Ron Swanson's advice is better than mine. Always.

Dear mythical yet likely awesome future children;

I'm writing this before you ever exist, so bear with me if this version of the English language is no longer in use. Just tell your friends that your mom was "old-school", if that's a relevant term. And if you're on a hover-board, wear a helmet. I worry, ok?

There are a few things that I'd like you to know, some information I can arm you with that may help you throughout your life. Some of it will seem overly-sentimental, some might seem useless. But one day, they will all have meaning. At least, they do for me.

1. First and foremost - time passes. There's nothing you can do about that. Whatever you want to do "one day", do it today. Humans spend so much time waiting for the right moment, that they miss out on the "now". Live in the moment as much as you can, so you won't look back with regrets about time wasted.

2.  The older you get, the more important your family will become to you. There will come a time that you miss your parents, siblings, cousins, etc, constantly and wish you had spent more time with them earlier, or that they had the chance to know you better. So don't wait for the older version of yourself to wish for more time with family - do it now. Those bonds are important. (Though I'm sure, as your future mother, I will embarrass the crap out of you quite a bit - it'll make you better able to handle that from others. You're welcome.)

3. You will experience heartbreak. Maybe a lot of it. And if you're anything like me (which I'm sorry for), this affects you more than anything else because you love deeply and fall hard. It's ok. You will learn so much from each heartbreak and gain a better understanding of who you need, what you want, and what you truly deserve. Let yourself feel that pain, but come out of it stronger. And no matter how badly you've been hurt, be good to those who love you when they do.

Me a week before my 30th birthday, and Daisy. (Since she'll live forever, you already know her.)

4.  I can't begin to imagine the kinds of technology and entertainment you'll have. Robot friends, TVs in your eyelids, virtual reality magical crap... who knows. But none of it, I promise you, is as important as nature. Sounds like idiotic tree-huggery, yes - but if you spend a lot of your time hiking in a forest, sitting by a pond, and swimming in the lake, you'll have a better sense of self and the world around you. So get your ass off the couch and go outside.

5. Any child of mine will likely have the same music addiction that I do. If not, you're hereby disowned. (Just kidding. Sort of.) Embrace that music love. Soak it up like a sponge, listen to everything and anything, learn about older generations through song. And if you think you may want to play an instrument, start as soon as you can. Your future mom is still a beginner guitar player at 30, and wishes she started at 5. But I can still rock the hell out of a melodica.

6. I never used to exercise. My favourite foods were (and still are) deep-fried, fat-filled and delicious. But along with a slew of health problems has come the knowledge that vegetables are not the devil, and exercise won't make me psycho. A healthy lifestyle is about balance. I hope to bring you up with that balance, but in case I don't - eat healthy foods and get regular exercise. Your older self with be thankful that you did. Your body is the only one you'll ever have, unless your technology has advanced in crazy ways. In which case, go buy me a new one.

7. Relationships of any kind are important and take work. That includes friendships, significant others, and so on. The people you surround yourself with have a great affect on your life, so put the work in and make that effort to keep the good ones around. But at the same time, learn to be alone. Throughout your years, you spend more time with yourself than anyone else - if you don't love who you are, that's not going to make for a happy life. So be alone. Learn to dig that. And then having great people around you will be an amazing bonus.

Now go clean your room. And make me a sandwich.


Future Mom

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

All Five Horizons Revolved Around Her Soul, As The Earth To The Sun

In case you didn't know, Toronto had a pretty major storm the other night, causing severe flooding all over the GTA and resulting in a great deal of blackouts. As internet-savvy as all of you surely must be, you've probably seen the photos.

Me? I got too cocky. As people all over were experiencing the blackouts, I maybe boasted that I still had power. My Facebook status said "I'm lucky to still have power (knock on wood). Hope everyone is safe."

Spoke too damn soon. Knocking imaginary wood is useless, in case you weren't aware.

The next day Daisy & I had a fun photoshoot with the amazing Sandra Stephenson (more on that later), and when I came home to drop off the dog and change outfits, the power was out. Whoops. And since my cell battery was also dying, I was about to be completely disconnected.

So, as someone who was absolutely unprepared for any type of blackout, here's what I did to pass the power-less time:

- No TV and no internet make Kristen something something. But wait... books! I love books. So I finished two, and started a third. You guys can have your E-readers - I like pages.

- There was no beer in my apartment, but there was a cranberry vodka drink from Black Fly Booze. (Thanks Black Fly!). It was delicious. Not over-sweet, and what goes better with a blackout than vodka? Nothing.


I shouldn't be allowed to wear white at all, never mind consuming things while wearing white. This happened with the first sip. Power outage outfit change! Hell, at least it passed some time.

I was smart enough to know that I should only wear clothes that matched the drink. Lesson learned.

- Since I was a mess and not being entertained by technology, I did one of my secret favourite things. I cleaned my apartment. Yes, I have a deep love for cleaning products. Shhh.

- Daisy was unamused by everything I did, especially since my apartment was so hot.  She stayed in her dead dog pose for most of the night, except when I ate food.Then I suddenly became incredibly interesting.

- Assuming that my power would be out all night, I tried to eat the food that would go bad and move other things to the freezer. This made for the weirdest dinner ever, and a bunch of strange frozen items (that should not be frozen) since I forgot to move them back once the power came back on.

I blame the heat for my stupidity lately.

 - Y'know what's good during a blackout? A flashlight! Y'know what I do not own? Yep. No flashlights in my apartment anywhere. So I turned my place into a fire hazard instead.

 Luckily the power in my neighbourhood came back on by 10pm - I was very fortunate.

Others were not so lucky, and some are going on three days without any power in their homes.

If you are one of those people and you need anything, please be sure to let me know.

Fingers crossed that everyone's power is returned today.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What Might Have Been Lost

Anyone who has visited ye olde rambler site lately and read this post has said the same thing - "move immediately!". I hear ya loud and clear. And trust me, I'm trying.

But I had forgotten how frustrating apartment hunting can be when you actually HAVE to move. It's a fun pastime while you're sitting in a place you like living in. Whole different story when you need to get out as soon as possible and nothing seems to fit right.

Toronto skyline from years ago.

While the majority of my searches still seem to focus on the Toronto neighbourhood that suits me most, there's still part of me that wants to get the hell outta dodge completely.

And so I hit Padmapper and start in Niagara, making my way up the QEW to hunt for apartments along the way, mainly in St. Catharines and Hamilton (note that each city has a pretty good music scene), before stopping in Toronto and wanting to punch my laptop screen when I see the rent costs.

Sunset in St. Catharines. Took this photo last night.

A bit of perspective for ya. I can get a 3 bedroom house on a nice St. Catharines street for only slightly more than what I pay for my cute little one-bedroom in a great neighbourhood in Toronto. 

And in Hamilton, a much bigger 2 bedroom apartment is a couple hundred dollars cheaper than my current one.

Did not take this one. Stolen for interweb's sake.
So I get frustrated. Do I stay in the city/neighbourhood I'm in and pay the stupid high costs so I keep
what I'm familiar with? Or do I move somewhere cheaper and save money for things like a car, old debts, a pet giraffe... but lose out on the great Toronto stuff and have to travel into the city every so often for work?

I'm doing my best to welcome the challenge, but this is when being solo makes things tougher. Having someone in this with me to weigh in on a big decision would be fantastic. Sadly, Daisy has still not spoken up.

Rock, paper, scissors anyone? I'm serious. Best outta three.

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