Monday, May 27, 2013

Artistic Challenges Are Always Good

As I said earlier this year, I'm trying to push myself a little further into the world of art, and hopefully improve as I go along.

This month I discovered a forum called Florals and Botanical on Wet Canvas. They host something called the Plant Parade. Each month they put forth some photos of a specific plant, and everyone paints that plant, either from those photo references, or one of their own. Then, on a specific date, everyone reveals their painting.  Any medium can be used, and all sorts of artistic license is taken. On the reveal date, everyone posts their finished work, for the rest of us to see.  I'm glad I didn't look at the posted pictures before I uploaded my painting as I may have chickened out. Some of them were amazing. This past year I have painted a couple of flowers in acrylic, but this particular project was a Parrot Tulip, and I just felt I'd have more fun trying it in watercolour.  I don't normally paint this quickly, or under a deadline either, so I wasn't sure if it was going to be finished on time, or how it would turn out.  It does seem to have been well received by the group there though, and also on Paintings I Love, where I often post what I've been working on.  I don't know if I'll have time next month to take part again, but I will certainly be back to play with these people again sometime soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's Finally Geocaching Time!

The Thousand Island Spring Arts Show and Sale was held in Rockport Victoria Day Weekend. We decided the weather was nice enough to finally get out to do some geocaching, so we headed in that direction, armed with a GPS full of coordinates.  

Rockport is always a busy place, but it was over run with people on Saturday. We found an area designated as event parking and set off to see what we could see around the village.  I found John Shea, whose art I've admired for the past couple of years. His paintings are uncomplicated, and striking because of it.  Nearby was another artist whose work taught me much about the use of colour.  Tricia Wilmot Savoi has mastered the art of getting my attention, and that of many others. What more could an artist ask for?  I'm ready to abandon watercolour for a while, and see if I can apply what I learned just from looking at her paintings.  Somehow, I doubt be able to duplicate the effect, but I'm stirred up and willing to try.

We would have stayed in the village longer, and even done some geocaching there, but the people were so desperate for parking spots, they didn't care if they blocked each other in or not. We decided to make our escape while we still could. 

We crossed the 1000 Islands Parkway and explored a few other artists, including a photographer, a glass artist, and a guy who made concrete plaques and mushrooms.  He reported that sales were going very well for him.

We hunted down our first geocache nearby, near, but not in a cemetery. It was just a micro though, and so, after signing and replacing the log, we journeyed onward.  We found two other caches on this day, but found more interesting things where we didn't actually find the caches.  As I've said before, it's not the treasure, but the hunt that makes it all so much fun.

We made a rest stop at the Jones Creek property of the 1000 Islands National Park.  It's too early in the season for the main building to be open, but signs directed us to a compostable toilet along the nearby trail.  I think this site was worth the stop. I know of a two story outhouse at a nearby museum. This one in the woods is not a two story one, but rather just a second story one. I've certainly never seen that before. I might add that it's a great idea though as it's a very clean place, unsmelly place..

View from the top.  Notice the trail well below.

 Traveling back along the 1000 Island Parkway, we saw a couple of families of geese, as well as some interesting islands. Some of them were not far from the mainland.

 While looking for geocaches, we found this old drain. It is inscribed "The Kings Highway 1938".  It's big enough I suspect the area wild life use it go get to the other side of the road during certain seasons. 

One of the great things about geocaching is you often learn something you didn't know before. We found out that the 1000 Island Parkway was originally built to be Hwy 401.  After the eastbound lane was completed they abandoned the project and completed it further north, leaving us with the beautiful scenic roadway we have today. There is a bike path on the north side of the road, which would have been the westbound lane and runs between Gananoque and Long Beach. The path was laid by Bell Canada and covers a Fibre-Optic line that runs through the area.

There is a place where it is very obvious that the bike path was supposed to have been a roadway as both bridges were built before they the people in charge of this project changed their mind. 

The parkway is on the right, and the bike path is on the left.  Enlarge the picture by clicking on it for a better view.

 From the right hand side of this bridge, there is a view of where an older one once stood.

We finished off our day at Tim Hortons.  So did everyone else, from the look of things.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Living With Borrowed Furniture

I am not what you call pleased, but I'm not sure I have a lot to complain about either.

We bought comfy new furniture on March 23th. We had only been looking for something to replace our old set with for about two years.  My hubby likes high backs on the furniture, so he can rest his head against it. I just want to sit comfortably on something that is neither too hard, or so deep that I need a multitude of pillows behind me, just to keep from falling backwards.  We also knew the range of colours that would work in the existing space. If we had found something we loved that was some other colour, we would have given it some consideration. Two years is a long time to look, especially when the current set was starting to fall apart.

We happened to be going down a street in Ottawa that we had not been on in quite some time. I remembered there was a furniture store there that we had not tried yet, so we stopped in.  There was a 50% off sale going on and we quickly found just exactly what we were looking for.  With such fantastic luck, we decided to take all three pieces...the couch, the chair and the loveseat. The couch and loveseat each came with two accent pillows as well, at no extra charge.  The salesman tried valiantly to sell us some tables too, but everything they had was too big for our existing space, and the furniture we purchase was already larger than what we had at home.  We did sign up for the protective spray though, to help keep the new furniture clean.

The delivery was made a couple of weeks later, and I was told that we would have 3 days to look it over and report any problems to the store.  I mentioned that our new furniture had arrived on Facebook, and someone asked me what colour it was, etc.  I figured it might be easier to look it up online and show them a picture than to try to describe it.  I found the set easily on the store's website, and discovered that they had a further deal on than what we knew about.  The website indicated that if you purchased all three pieces of this set, you got a further $314 off the purchase price.  I showed that to my hubby, who then phoned the store and asked if this deal was only good if the purchase was made through the website.  He was told that it was also in effect at the store. So this discrepancy was brought to their attention, and we were told to bring in our credit card so they could make the refund.  That was, of course, going to require another trip to the city, but in the meantime, I discovered that there was some damage to report anyway. It appeared as if each piece of this furniture had been taken off the truck, set down on one corner and then pivoted. This scuffed up the fabric on those corners, and definitely weakened the material. While it didn't actually show, we feared that the weakened fabric would let go and the corners of each piece would just curl up.  When we went in for the refund, we were within that 3 day period, so we reported the damage.  There were a couple of other little issues with seams and such as well but it was the shipping damage that most concerned us.

The salesman told us that should never have happened and that we were entitled to new furniture. The customer service department, however, thought they would send us out an assessor first, before making any offers. 

I have been told, by my father while growing up, and others since, that I lack tact.  My hubby, on the other hand, works with the public, and is very good at calmly dealing with problems and often people bent on giving him a problem.  He can stay cool and deal with it.  I decided it would be best if he were at home when the assessor came.  He took the day off, and waited most of the day before finally phoning the store to find out where this guy was. Well, it seems the fellow also does the protective spraying and was off in a totally different direction on this day when he had an appointment to be here.  Hubby explained that he had taken the day off specifically for this purpose, and the customer care person quickly gave him a further $150 refund.  We waited until the next time we were in the city to present the credit card once again.  We also had to wait another two weeks before the fellow could make it out this way.

Well, he came, and quickly assessed that the damage was done moving the furniture off the truck.  We asked if they didn't have one with a hydraulic tailgate, so this sort of thing would not happen. He said it was too difficult to use trucks like that in many of the city situations, but that it was the job of the guys hired to move the furniture to do it safely and without damaging the goods. He took pictures and said that he would submit his report and we would hear back from the store.  That took about another week, and they made three offers from which we could choose. One of them was to replace the furniture. That's what we wanted.

Stock was checked and they had a couch and chair, but no loveseat. The set was being discontinued, but they said they would check their other stores and see if they could find us one.  They found one out west and had it shipped to Toronto. Once all three pieces were together, they would come to us.  Last week we still had not heard anything, so hubby phoned he store, and oh yes, they had them and would send them out "next Thursday"

I suggested to the delivery guys, when they arrived, that they could bring in one piece, and I'd check it to make sure it wasn't worse that what was here (my worst fear at this point), before they removed the damaged one.  They brought me in the couch and took out the original one.  They didn't even bother to bring in the other two pieces as they said they were both scuffed up even worse than what I had.  One guy scrawled this info on the delivery sheet, and had me sign it, and they drove off leaving me with the new couch and the two still "borrowed" pieces.

I call them borrowed because they aren't mine if I'm planning to send them back.  I've left the tags on, the past two months. We put blankets on them if the grandchildren visit, or if we have been doing something that may have added any dirt to our clothing. We don't eat in the livingroom and I didn't feel that I could even invite company for Easter this year.

The store has gone out of it's way to try to make us happy.  They have even apologized and thanked us for being so patient.  They said things like this are not supposed to happen, but sometimes they do.  Today's delivery guy will tell them that this furniture is also damaged and someone will call us.  I'm not sure what will happen next, especially since they had to hunt for that loveseat they didn't leave here with me.  It might mean a further discount if they figure it would cost too much to pay for more delivery guys and gas from the city. I'm not sure they will make anything off of this sale by the time we are through.

Whether the remaining furniture gets replaced or not, it all still has to be sprayed with the protection formula. I understand that will take a few days to dry properly before we can sit on it.  This adventure isn't over yet.  After two months, I still feel like I'm living with borrowed furniture. And, as I said at the beginning, I'm not what you can call pleased yet, but I don't feel that I can complain about the service.  They do seem to be trying.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

There are all kinds of handicaps. Some people are born with them. Other people acquire them though illness, accident, or aging. Some handicaps are visible and some are not.  Most people are ready, and willing to help people who are having difficulties due to most of these problems, in any way they can.  The problem is, certain handicaps actually have the opposite effect. 

Deafness is an invisible handicap. People often have no patience for it.  My audiologist offered me a tiny little hearing aid that would do the job of helping me hear very well, and nobody would even see it. She laughed when I told her I would rather have a bigger one that people could see.  I prefer people to understand why it is that I make them repeat themselves, or face me when they talk. I figure that if I give that visual reminder, they wouldn't forget.  I was wrong, of course.

Let me lay out a few rules for those of you who know people with a hearing loss:

1.  Don't talk to them from the far end of the house.  They will know you are talking but they will not know what you said.

2.  Don't start talking and then turn your back and walk away before you are finished.  Many of us rely on being able to read your lips, and even if we can't, your sound waves are going out in front of you.  What flows back toward the person you walked away from is distorted and hard to understand.

3.  Keep your hands away from your face.  Like I said, it helps if we can actually see you talk.

4.  If you normally talk a mile a minute, do try to slow down.  It's hard to catch what you are saying if it's all jumbled together.

5.  Get the deaf person's attention before you start to speak to them.  Simply calling them by name would likely help.

6.  If there is another sound in the room, like a TV or a radio, make sure that other sound is not between you and the person with the hearing loss.  That other sound will be picked up more easily than your voice when you are beyond that sound.

7.  If you want to have a conversation, it would be greatly appreciated if you turned off any competing sounds first, if that's at all possible.

8.  If you are being met by a puzzled look, even after you have repeated yourself several times, find another way to phrase what you are trying to say. Hearing aids may make sounds louder, but understanding what those sounds mean is not always as easy as you may think.

9.  If you know the hearing impaired person can hear better in one ear than the other, try to position yourself accordingly.

10.  Don't snap at us if we don't respond.  We have a Hearing Problem!

Please try to help us the same way you would if we were blind, or missing body parts, or had other more obvious difficulties.  We are doing the best we can with our particular handicap.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Birthday Deals

Each year, as my birthday approaches, businesses reach out to make special offers as a way of helping me celebrate.

Yves Rocher sent me two different birthday deals.  Actually it does that every year, and while I think I may have two separate accounts, the deals are never the same.  The first one offered me a free product, but they chose it.  They said it was one of my favorite products, but I've only ever used it once before. I'm sure it was a gift then too, as it's not the product of this type that I normally buy from them.  They would also give me a multi-strand jewelry set, which was pretty, and kind of tempting.

The second offer was for a new pair of sunglasses. I don't need those as I already have three pair.  I could have had three trial sized products instead, but I don't know what they would have been and I've probably had a sample of just about everything over the years. Now, if my purchase hit the $25 mark, they would also have included a beautiful tote bag, with some pretty flowers on it.

The thing is, to get any of this free stuff, you need to send an order. There was only one thing I wanted and it wasn't offered in either of these campaigns.

Oh, and while I was trying to figure all this out, Yves Rocher sent me a third offer, but I would have had to make a purchase in an actual store to get that one.  And though I could pick the category of products, it would still be a mystery until I got it. I was not even tempted.  I seldom shop in their stores anyway, as I really think I get better deals through the mail, postage and all.

What I wait for each year, though, is the restaurant birthday deals.  So far I've heard from Buds on the Bay, in Brockville, where, if I make a reservation for four, I can eat free. They will even supply the cake.  Joey gives an age discount.  They will take a percentage equivalent to your age off the entire table's bill, up to a maximum of $25.  They'd likely lose money on me these days, but that deal has only been offered to me at the Cornwall location. I don't expect to go there before the expiry date. Quiznos will generously give me a free cookie with the purchase of a sandwich, while Boston Pizza always thrills me with the offer of free pasta or dessert.  Their pasta dinner that I like is around the $16 mark and I've taken them up on this deal a few times over the years.

This year there is an even better offer from one of my friends. She is baking me a cake and has told me to invite a few of my friends to join us at her place to share it.  That might just be the best birthday offer I've ever had, and I'm really looking forward to it.