Friday 21 December 2012

Croup, Basement Blues, and a Puffer Fish...

Sure, she looks benign. But she
is a petri dish, like all children.

I’ve had this terrible head cold, which mid-week decided to move into my upper chest. It morphed into some sort of voice distortion virus, so suddenly I sounded like Marge Simpson. A day or two later, it sank further into my chest and became a terrible barking cough, so I went to the doctor, who informed me I have croup. Yes, croup is normally found in tiny children, but my doctor explained that all it would take is for some snotty kid to cough in his hand, touch a doorknob, and voila!—Jordan touches the same knob, touches her face, and is infected. It was kind of my doctor to offer this explanation, but I distinctly recall pretending to ‘eat’ the nose of a sick little girl named Blueberry just a few days before. I would wager that direct contact with toddler snot is even more effective in transmitting the virus than a doorknob. 


Anyway, in an effort to feel less like a sick, disgusting beast, I decided to have a shower and shave my extraneous body hair, which I’ve been ignoring for a little too long. I shaved one armpit and came away with almost no stubble, but the other one clogged up the razor. So now I’m trying to figure out how many times I forgot to shave just that one armpit, and who would have noticed. 


I also made a stop at the pharmacy to pick up the medication my doctor prescribed, and figured I’d look at lipstick while I waited because I recently lost my favourite tube. I haven’t had time to hit a store for new lipstick in weeks, so I was kind of excited to have a few minutes to finally pick some up. I found the display, pulled open the drawer, and discovered that they were entirely sold out, except for this one tube:

Label reads: 'Go Fig'. Yeah. Go fig.

Too funny. Har har.


It’s important to know your limitations when you’re sick. For instance, maybe leave the laundry for another day. I mean, it’s up to you…but you may get ¾ of the way through a load and suddenly remember that your laundry room sink is plugged, and you may run downstairs to find you’ve flooded your basement. I mean, maybe that would happen. You know…to a total dork.


I also had this great Facebook chat conversation with MJ, which I am just sharing straight-up with ya’ll here.

Jordan Danger

I have a cold but I also have croupe!





Coupe? Because you're 6 months old? lol

Jordan Danger

Weren't those the turtles in Super Mario?


I remember on Anne of Green Gables they had ipecac for it.

Jordan Danger

Yes, I am apparently a toddler. Croup is for babies.


 Well, good job going and getting diagnosed. What now?

Jordan Danger

Doctor was like, "People cough, then you touch the same door, then you get it." I was like, hmmmm Or you get it much more directly by, oh I dunno, MUNCHING A CHILD'S SNOTTY FACE.


So now you can’t eat your friends noses either.

The world is limiting.

Jordan Danger

True say.

So I have to go dig out the car [from our giant snowstorm] and get a puffer.

I mean, like an inhaler, not like an inflatable fish.


A fish would be amazing

Jordan Danger

Yes, that would be a much more interesting remedy.


I'm picturing you yelling at it to make you well.

Jordan Danger




It puffs up and then.... nothing.

So he deflates in defeat.

Jordan Danger

Then I squidge its sides so it blows into my mouth?


Please draw this.

It's gold.

Jordan Danger

lol I will try

Hope everyone else is having a healthy, catastrophe-free start to their holidays.

Monday 17 December 2012

Mini Post: Waiting Room Blues

I am stuck in a waiting room right now, so I'm blogging.

I fell down the stairs last week (more on this later) and am now in for my second set of X-rays. The first time I had them done, my technician was a cute scruffy Irish guy with an accent. Naturally, I did not complain about anything and was very well-behaved. This time, my technician was small and nerdly and did NOT have an Irish brogue. He tried to get me to take off my shirt and bra, which was overkill because it's my elbow we're looking at, and I told him that the cute Irish guy didn't make me do that, so why should he? Thinking back, I'm hoping I didn't actually say 'cute Irish guy' out loud. Anyway, instead I just whisked off my underwire bra while his back was turned and kept my shirt on. You know, in case the wire magnetized to the machine or whatever. Wait...that's an MRI. Oh, well; now I'm sitting here braless because there was no discrete way to get the bra back on.

I also have a head cold. It's day 5, and the nose-running has increased--one can only hope this is because my body is pushing the germs out faster than ever. I have surrendered to the virus and am unabashedly mouth breathing. Everyone in the waiting room keeps staring at me when I blow my nose. I don't get it, people. You're in a doctor's office. Surely you knew there'd be sick people here.

Between my face melting and my elbow aching, and my belly rumbilng (because I forgot to grab breakfast and I'm afraid to leave in case the doctor calls me), I'm a ball of grumpy snotty achy mess. So if you see me today, pat me on the back. Or feed me.

Saturday 15 December 2012

MAKE STUFF: DIY Christmas Tree Ornaments of Dough

This Christmas season, I showed my two mini-human friends Blueberry (2.5 yrs old) and Max (8 yrs old) how to make their own Christmas tree decorations. This is a very simple craft, but can make for some wonderful 'fails'--the kind you hold onto forever because they're just so bad. (I have, just for fun, posted some of my other ornament fails at the bottoms of this post for your gratuitous enjoyment.)

Note that I take no credit for this recipe: it's as old as time.

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1-ish cup water
Cookie cutters
Craft supplies including acrylic paint (tempera will be too wet)

Mix the dry ingredients together, then slowly add the water. You're aiming for a bread dough consistency, because if it's too wet, it will be too sticky to work with.

Roll out handfuls onto wax paper or tinfoil until the dough is about 1/8" thick. Don't go too thin, because your pieces will crack. On the flipside, if they're too thick, they tend to puff up quite insanely.

Use the cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Stab holes into the tops so they'll bake up with a hole to hang a hook or ribbon. You'll get a ton of ornaments out of this quantity of dough.

Bake the ornaments at 325*F for 60 minutes. The baking takes so long that we left the decorating for the next day.
Blueberry's masterpiece involves wooden
farm animals she found in my craft box.
And red and army green paint. And more.

Decorating can be whatever you want. I will let Blueberry's masterpiece speak for itself here: you can call this a Pinterest Fail waiting to be posted, but it's wonderful in a terrible way. I won't even show you the others, because the important message here is that you can have fun and create keepsakes even if they all come out completely insane.


Okay, as promised, here are some of my other past ornament fails that, because they're so terrible they made me laugh, have maintained a place on my tree...

Made from Sculpey with a mini female gingerbread-man cookie cutter, these might have been okay if I hadn't done the eyes with puffy paint. Now they look like hula girls that were jettisoned into space and are now imploding.

Desirous of an entirely tropical-themed tree, I figured I could just paint a bunch of shells silver and gold, and put gems on them. Well, I could and did do that, but should have? You be the judge.

I had green feathers and a cardboard box. I cut out the trunks, made palm leaves of the feathers, and stuck gems on as decorations. My former roommate's cat ate most of these ornaments. The last couple are hung every year as an example of what can be done when you have limited crafting supplies and no taste.

MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Christians & the Pagans, by Dar Williams

DIY: Craft a COOL Christmas Stocking


Most of us (who celebrate some form of Christmas) have a Christmas stocking of our own. For many, the norm these days is to have a store-bought stocking where a parent has written our name onto the cuff with puffy fabric paint, and that's about it. But I grew up with a crafty mom, and my stocking was made from scratch--and when it eventually became so moth-eaten that all my tiny oranges would fall out the toe, I replaced it with another handmade stocking, made by my best friend MJ. Much like Hallowe'en costumes, I still believe that Christmas decorations should be handmade whenever possible, so I'm going to show you a fairly easy--and very nerdy--stocking tutorial you can try yourself.

I made this Captain America for a 41 year-old kid named Rob. You can follow this tutorial using different colours, shapes, etc, and make any other superhero or theme you might like. Here we go:

-a 1/2 metre of flannel or flannelette (or some other thick, non-stretchy soft fabric)
-about a 1/4 metre of flannel or felt (or fur, etc) for the cuff
-crafting felt squares in the colours that suit your project
-glue gun and glue
-really sharp scissors
-sewing materials and/or a sewing machine.

This is easier than it looks, people. Just draw a big sock shape onto the backside of your flannel, cut out two identical sock shapes, and sew them together. Be sure to sew them with the pretty sides facing in towards each other so you can pull it right-side out when you're done, thus revealing the pretty side again. With some fabrics, this won't matter, though. Rob's stocking, for example, was accidentally sewn inside-out, but luckily this flannel is nearly the same on both sides.
(We'll do the cuff in a bit.)

I used various dinner plates and bowls to make the rings of Captain America's shield. I traced a star onto the white felt for the middle of the shield by holding the slightly translucent felt over my iPad screen like a light table. I love cheating like this. I cut out the wings for the toe freehand, but you could easily find something to trace on the internet. Google things like, 'Mercury messenger wings'. 

If you're a sewer, you could sew these layers onto the stocking (ideally before you sewed the sock pieces together in step 1); but I'm a glue gun fanatic, so I just glue gunned the layers down one-by-one. Generally I recommend that you cut out all your shapes before you start gluing, make sure everything is perfect, and then carefully glue each piece down. If you screw up, you can usually yank the felt off, but you may damage your fabric or your felt, so get it right the first time instead.

Cuffs can be easy, but I made mine the hard way for no good reason, really. I took a square of white craft felt, glued it onto itself to make a tube, then flattened the tube by applying pressure to crease the felt. Think of it just like making a tube out of a piece of paper and tape, then squishing it flat. I had to make two of these flattened tubes in order to go all the way around the stocking. I just glued it to the lip of the blue sock. On the back side of the stocking, I tried to hide any seams by folding the end of the flattened tube so that the 'raw' edge would be glued down under and wouldn't be so obvious that I'd used two pieces.. It worked pretty well.

Cut a strip of fabric or felt to make a sort of bracelet; glue this inside the lip of the stocking to make a loop for hanging the stocking.

Puffy-paint on your friend's name, or cut out the letters in felt. Or use gems to form letters. Or anything else you can dream up. I like the control I have with puffy paint, and I'm a natural with lettering so I don't need a stencil. But you can always cut out letters from a printed sheet of paper and use them as a stencil to trace. If you totally mess up, you could always tear off the cuff and start again. No biggie.


If you've mastered this relatively simple stocking, you may be ready for some more elaborate projects.  
For Kaia here, I used basically the same technique, except I did a much more complicated series of felt pieces--these little Totoro characters were harder to cut out than the circles for Captain America's shield. I freehand drew the characters out, but you could print and cut out the characters to again use as a stencil.

For Karter, I made a basketball by gutting an old teddy bear (sorry, I'm a re-purposer without a conscience) and used his stuffing to fill up the little basketball I'd made from corduroy. I used puffy paint to draw out a basketball court...and then we get really advanced with the score board. I remembered I had these little blinking LED lights that were intended for a mini Christmas village. I salvaged them, cut the strand to the right length, then glued them all around the edge of a charcoal-coloured rectangle of felt. I then made a slightly smaller rectangle and glued that one on top to make it stiffer and hide the wires a bit. I used puffy paint to draw on my scoreboard. I made a little pocket on the back of the stocking to hold the battery pack for the LED lights just by gluing an extra piece of felt onto the back. The end result is something that Karter will LOVE and other crafters will go crazy over, but really it's exceedingly easy. The hardest part was deciding who Karter would be defeating in the basketball game; naturally, I went with the Galactic Empire. 

Be creative, play with your materials, and don't worry about mess-ups! My first handmade stocking is the ugliest thing you'll ever see, but MJ refuses to let me remake it for her because it's made with love. And that's what your family will feel every time they see their special personalized mini-orange-carrying-sock.

Separation Anxiety: the mattress misery

As soon as I knew that I'd be asking The Boy for a separation, I went to IKEA and bought a cheap mattress for him to use in the spare bedroom. I wandered through the store til I found the beds on display, pinpointed the cheapest mattress they had, then lied down on it. I figured that I might use the mattress in the future for guests who might stay over. I also knew that The Boy would demand he get to take our brand-new bed with him when he left, so I needed to know how comfortable this temporary one would be. I lay back and sunk into a brief moment of self-pity as I thought about my life, my situation, and the end of my marriage. Then I looked up and saw this ever-so-helpful sign:
"It's important to try out the mattress together."

I sighed.
I went to the warehouse and found the mattress, eerily compressed and wrapped up into the shape of a  giant eggroll. The IKEA website had said that the entire thing weighed a mere 23 pounds, which is less than my pug, so I figured I'd have no problem carrying it. Turns out the website was wrong. As I dragged this 60 pound springroll through the warehouse like a dead body wrapped up in a carpet, I sighed again. It's the little things, like not having a helper for heavy lifting, that can make you feel the most alone.
After I broke the news to The Boy, I spent a lot of time lying in my bed staring into nothingness. I would start off cleaning my room or getting dressed, then just find myself getting closer and closer to the  sheets until my face was buried in them. 
In bed.

When The Boy finally moved out, I thought things would change, but for a while, all that changed was the comfort of my mattress--from big squishy one, to tiny pokey one. And I didn't even really care, until my back started freaking out. So, advice for those who are looking at mattresses: the $70 mattress at IKEA is exactly as good as a $70 mattress should be///suitable for corpses and people who thrive off the feeling of bare springs stabbing them in the back like skeleton fingers. 
On the mattress of shame.
It didn't take long for me to go out and find a new bed. There was a major sale on at a local furniture store, and for the first time in many, many years, I chose a bed based solely on my own comfort. On the first morning I woke up in my new bed, I thought I'd accidentally rolled onto my pug because it was so squishy and soft. 
It was harder to have pity parties in my bed after that. A new quilt meant my bed was very pretty and lifted my spirits, and having incredible sleeps meant I wasn't so miserable. So the horrid $70 'mattress of shame' was stuffed into the spare bedroom again, and there it can wait for some house guest I secretly want to get rid of.
SONG OF THE MOMENT : Lily Allen, 'Smile'

Dear Me: a note to 25 year-old Jordan


The next 5 years are going to be a wild ride, so I thought I'd throw some advice back your way. Don't be afraid. We're gonna get through this.

Stop cutting your hair so short, and go find a stylist named Deborah in the Glebe. She's fantastic and will help with that transition phase. Without this advice, you won't find her 'til you're thirty. In the meantime, you'll let a different stylist dye your hair a honey yellow that will make you weep, and another one will cut your hair like a drunk Vulcan. Stop the carnage and go find Deborah.

Buy yourself more things. There are way too many things that you want and don't buy, and then you pine over them and talk about them like fishermen talk about big fish that got away. You will eventually become known for this. It's okay to treat yourself, and it's okay to have nice things. Oh, and: that scarf you lost recently, the one from Mexico that was the perfect shade of ocean blue? You won't find another one, at least not in the next five years. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you will drive yourself crazy looking for one. Maybe one day in the future, you will see a woman in Winchester, where you left your scarf, wearing it; and maybe you will push her over and steal it back. But not anytime soon.

You're going to play roller derby for a couple years. It's going to be hard, mostly because there's a whole world of politics there that you're completely unprepared for. I can't protect you from most of this--it's part of the experience you need to have--but if I could, I'd tell you at the very least not to trust the chubby one. She'll scorn your affections and backstab you to the others, and all your genuine hard work will be for naught. But hey, you'll still have skates, and you'll still have been awesome.

You're going to meet a boy with a motorcycle, and you're going to get married. I can't stop this, either; it ends up becoming an important part of your journey of self-doscovery. Through this, you will learn about blogging, and social media, and you will meet over a hundred cool people you would never have met otherwise. 

But when the marriage ends, not long after it begins, you will feel stupid and naive. Stop that. Don't be hard on yourself for being a trusting person, or for loving a little blindly. Your love is one of the precious parts of you that is still innocent, not jaded. As you go through this separation, balance out his cruelties by feeling deep gratitude for the people who stand by you. 

You are going to wonder if you made the right choice. I assure, you, you did. After he's moved out, you will find an entry in your journal from ten months back that is full of lonely sorrow and desperation, and you will know when you reread it that you've made the right choice. People will judge, but you've been through judgment before and you are stronger than they know. Live for yourself, not for the self-appointed jury.

You're doing a great job, Younger Me. These next five years will be transformative, and by the end of them, you will start to know you are pretty great.  If there's only one thing I could tell you, it would be to assure you that you are working towards greatness. It may be a longer path than you envisioned, but it has some beautiful, tragic, and spectacular detours. Stop rushing around and appreciate the ride. 

Oh, and that time you decide to buy a red and yellow sari for that fancy dinner, and you also shave your head? Yeah, you end up looking like a monk. Put the sari away, friend. Or the clippers. Or both.


SONG OF THE MOMENT: Jimmy Eat World, 'In the Middle'

WHAM! I'm single! And Welcome!

If you just came over from my old blog, this is going to be a bit of a surprise...

WHAM! I'm single!

Yep. There it is. Right there on the page. Behold, I am Jordan's tattered broken heart. You're going to want to ask why, and what happened. I'm not going to answer you directly, because a) there's no bloggable way to explain how a marriage breaks apart, and b) it's irrelevant. This blog is not about the end. It's about a new beginning.


source: Morguefile
There's a process certain plants have evolved, called pyriscence: the opening of seeds by fire. Some things can only grow after a destructive heat, proving that not all destruction is an ending. I took the steps, one by one, to my life's pyriscence, and I waited for the seeds to open...for that new me to begin. The one I thought would immediately pop out of its shell as the flames razed my world to the ground. 

But nothing happened. Too soon, perhaps, to expect such growth? Maybe. Or maybe an ingredient was missing. Weeks passed, and I found myself feeling frozen in place. Nothing new began. Nothing changed inside me, though I stayed strong through the fire. I felt static.

But slowly, I can feel little changes happening. I've stopped being afraid of time alone in my house. I did laundry down in the basement even though my pug Mr Darcy wouldn't follow me down. I went to a workshop one night on creativity instead of staying in my art room and introverting. Well, even then, painting again was a step in my new beginning. And the key seemed to be tears. I never had (not so far, anyway) the massive meltdown that everyone expected; instead, I found myself tearing up over a kind word sent by tweet, or the latest hiccup in the legal processes. A few minutes of tears at a time. One particularly good cry was had when I threw out my back and went to microwave a bean bag, only to discover that The Boy had taken my microwave. Lying on the floor, my pug eating my hair, I wept for my lost appliance, my lost hopes, my lost plans.

When I was looking up the scientific term for those seeds that pop in the heat, I discovered something helpful: there's another family of seeds that requires water after the fire hits. Their process is called pyrohydriscence: the seeds won't grow 'til they get good and wet. After the destruction must come a cleansing, a watering, a welcoming to begin again.
source: Morguefile

So I weep after the fire, and find myself growing. tiny seeds in a big, barren field.


Well, I invite you to check out the ABOUT page, because it will offer you a good overview. But in a nutshell, this blog is about doing life DIY-style. Sometimes that’ll be literal: crafts, and home repairs, and cooking, and travelling. Sometimes that’ll be metaphorical, like learning to sit in a silent house without screaming. Whatever is blogged on a given day, however, it’ll be an adventure, and one I did myself. 

SONG OF THE MOMENT: Alannis Morrisette, 'That I would be good'

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