Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thankful Thursday - Thanking You In Advance.


I'm here to remind you (of the mess you left when you went away)  that there is less than one month left until I do my walk for Farm Sanctuary and I am, once again, asking for donations.

People have been so generous, some people giving more than once! People I have never even really met. I am so honoured and humbled by your generosity, everyone.

But those of you who have yet to donate I am looking at you straight in the eye and saying:

Pleeeeeeeeeeeease? Come onnnnnn! Pleeeeeeeeeease? Pretty Pleeeeeeeeeeeease?

Seriously, though. Ten bucks. Five. Three. Whatever you can afford. 

Imagine I'm a Girl Guide on the street selling cookies, but instead of cookies, I'm selling Not Pooping on your Front Door Step. You'd give that Girl Guide 5 bucks, wouldn't you?


You don't have to be a vegan or a vegetarian. It's all about compassion for animals and the way we humans treat them. Farm Sanctuary is a place for abused animals, a new beginning for animals raised in the horrors of the factory farm. 

Imagine your cat or your dog being in a cage, not allowed to turn around. For years. 

Imagine your pet bird having it's beak seared off.

Imagine spending your own days in an overcrowded cage where you eat and defecate.

Farm Sanctuary looks to end that kind of cruelty.

I want to be part of that change, and I'm asking for your help.

It's not about being a crazy vegan pseudo hippie like me. It's about compassion and decency. Please help me support the work done by  Farm Sanctuary. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Yoka. How do I love thee?

I am a serial monogamist. In terms of shopping.  In every other way, I am pretty indiscriminate. 

Once I find a store that I like, I pretty much will stick with it until they no longer carry my size or the staff stop treating me like the super-entitled-to-everything person that I am. This rarely happens because I continually funnel money into these chosen stores, and most retailers are smart enough to recognize a cash cow when she waddles in the door. 

To that, I say "Moo".

And to be clear, no cash cows were harmed in the creation of this super interesting blog post.

I used to be fickle. I'd shop at Le Chateau one day, Holts the next. I'd do Express and BCBG in the same day, even. I didn't care who knew. I was spreading my money around like a whore, or like a very conservative investor, but only I was investing in disposable fashion, and not in, say, gold or stocks. 

When I am old, I will eat no-name cat food, but I'll have a super fabulous, super out of date wardrobe. Can you say Grey Gardens? 

I used to shop exclusively at a store on Queen St. West here in Toronto. It carried a lot of club wear, but also slightly more conservative stuff, say for the business lady who also wants to make people wonder if maybe she's a dominatrix. A friend and I would go there all the time. On more than one occasion, we would show up at closing time, the owner would lock up and pop a bottle of champagne. Champagne shopping. This is what I freaking love people. I felt very Rodeo Drive.

Then I gained weight and couldn't fit into any of their clothes and they didn't seem to stock anything past the occasional size 12, if they were feeling magnanimous. After a while I stopped going there altogether. I went back, on a whim, about 5 years later. The owner didn't even recognize me, or pretended not to.

Then I found a store in Toronto's Leslieville that catered to more mature women, without being Tan Jay, you know? Beautiful pieces mostly by Canadian designers. The owner was very sweet to me. Always phoned when there were new things in (she wasn't stupid). I spent more in this store than the yearly Gross National Product of Bangladesh. 

I will have to admit to something very sucky here. I stopped going there 1) because I'd gained weight and was embarrassed, and also 2) there just wasn't enough obsequious slobbering going on to suit me. The level of attention diminished in direct proportion to the amount of cash I handed over.

After awhile, I lost a bunch of weight (again) and was looking to bedeck my fine ass in some new duds. 

I found a new store. 

A new love. 

Yoka, on Queen St. East, in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood.

It started with one piece. A stretchy, high waisted leopard print pencil skirt that screamed Naughty Secretary. It did not end there. But you knew that, didn't you.

Below is a photographic true representation of SOME of my Yoka purchases laid out on my bed. There are many layers of clothes. My bedspread is white. 

I have worn some of these clothes items up to one time.

Yoka is owned by this vision of Nordic blonde excellence named Carla. 

She brings in lines that are tough to find elsewhere in Canada, let alone Toronto, many of them from Netherlands and Denmark. 
There are some Canadian lines as well. She cherry picks the best from each brand, only bringing in things that she, herself, likes. She has an excellent eye. She also carries a human range of sizes, from XS to XXL, and a range of styles, from sensible and comfy to "if you can breath, it's not tight enough".  I love Carla.

Another favourite at Yoka is Ashton, currently on leave. He's an actor who you've seen in actual TV things. He's the son I never had. The kind of son who tells you when you're ass looks too big in those weird green pants. But tells you without saying one word. Just that head tilting to the side and a slight pinched nose movement that speaks volumes. 

Now, I love Carla and Ashton, and I always will because I'm just that way, but my heart belongs to Amanda. I'm sorry Carla. It's just the way it is.

Amanda works for Carla. She is half my age. She listens to weird French pop music. She has perfect skin (freakishly so). And she knows exactly what will look good on me, and if something doesn't, she'll tell me. Nicely, of course, but I need honesty, people. 

Amanda could present me with a really full kitty litter box, and if she says "sooooo cute", you gotta know I'm going to buy it and wear it. She's that good. She and Carla have dubbed a couple of items "the Ellen" in their inventory list. This makes me happier than it should, as a grown up.

Now that I've gained some weight back onto my previously fine ass, Amanda has the ability to make me truly believe that it is actually the clothing's fault that things look... um... different, now. For this, I thank her.

I stopped going in for a few months (yah, I know), and when I went back in, Amanda greeted me like a long lost friend. I told her I was trying to save money and wouldn't be able to buy clothes for awhile (the truth) and she still engaged in conversation with me. She is stylish, fun and kind.

But I have returned to my overspending ways. I can't resist the siren song that is Yoka. 

The change rooms of fate.

As a new vegan, I am well aware that part of the whole being a perfect vegan is to not participate in rampant unnecessary consumerism.

I am not perfect.

I will have to answer to my conspicuous consumption sooner, rather than later, I'll bet.  It's an addiction, though. I'm in the contemplation stage.

But for now, it's either Yoka, or meth. I chose the option with better teeth.

Going to Yoka makes shopping so much fun. I mean, more fun than it already is to spend my money on clothing instead of, say, saving it for when I will eventually have to replace my roof, or furnace, or pay for retirement. There's always something perfect for me there. Always something that fits. And at reasonable price points. 

I just bought my entire fall wardrobe there. I am sitting here, cursing the bloody humidex because I have an amazing sweater dress that I want to wear. 

Here are some things I got there:

But for now, I know the sweater dress, and all her many, many friends, is waiting in my closet, patiently for the mercury to dip to a normal, livable temperature. And when it does, I will amaze you with my fabulousness.

So thank you, Yoka, for being my happy place. For taking me in when other stores denied my hip girth or stopped recognizing me by anything other than my visa card number. You've stood by me through thin and thick. You've got the prettiest colours and the stretchiest leggings.

I can't quit you.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Guest Blogger - Sarah: The Texas Diaries.

Ellen’s blog has been hijacked today by me, her carnivore pal, so I can share with all y’all the story of how I met my new bad-ass boyfriend: Texas. This blog is rated M for "May contain Meat". *
Tex-ass, on paper, is ALL WRONG for me - or at least the version of me I would answer on a questionnaire: modest, small carbon footprint, liberal. Oh stop laughing Ellen.  Texas is none of these admirable things, but I still got a big ole crush on him. 
The setting: 3 university pals reunite in a Houston suburb for a girlie weekend sans spouses and spawn. This meant liberal amounts of  f-bombs in every sentence (why say it just once?), spying on your teenage kids’ facebook pages from 5000 miles away and fighting the urge to comment on their half-naked photos.
There was much flatulence and reverence of English period dramas – YES ELLEN THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE!!
We also watched the Honey Badger 100 times on You Tube. You’re welcome: 

Chapter 1.  The New Boyfriend has a Security Detail:  Ye Olde Scrappy Delta Flight Crew
A Pilot who commandeers the PA system to announce that he’s a seasoned vet who is ‘Gonna fly this plane like I stole it!’ plus a Delta flight attendant loudly reprimanding lady in front of me and my travel buddy for asking us ‘Why the hell we would want to visit Houston?’  

I’m intrigued…. and I haven’t even met him yet!!

Getting kicked out of first class


Arrival at He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (OK, I’ll say it - George Bush Intercontinental Airport), the new boyfriend knows how to treat a lady.


Chapter 2. My new Boyfriend is HOT! 
Being outside in Houston in July is like breathing soup.  Ellen and I do NOT like to be hot and sweaty. Ever.

The only souls outside are pool boys and gardeners who tend to my friend’s home:


Now I know some of you are thinking girl weekend plus pool boy = meat (as referenced in opening disclaimer).  We’ll get to the meat.  As an aside, let’s talk about how our Houston hostess, a transplanted Canadian, camouflages herself to blend in.  My new bf does loves to play dress-up:

Camo for Canucks in Texas
  1. Do NOT say ‘about’. Ever. Yes we know it sounds normal to you.
  2. Semper Ubi Spirit Ubi! Always wear spirit wear while attending your child’s football or baseball game! My hostess pal the big rebel did not do the patriotic thing and ‘jingo-ize’ her sprit wear with a US flag but she does get points for using a bedazzler:

  1. Say ‘restroom’ and not ‘washroom’. Are you a savage?
  2. Do not drive a Prius or compact like some pinko commie. Gas is good.
  3. Do not declare your love for Obama.  Or helmets.

4. Casually mention that all y’all were fixing to go Buc-ee's. 

Chapter 3.  Is it just a crush? What turned ‘like’ into ‘love’: BUC-EE'S.

IF they ever invented a shrine to Texas excess it could be encapsulated in the 68,000 square feet of fabulous and unfathomable that is Buc’ees – a small chain of roadside convenience stores (do not make my mistake and call it a truck stop) that we hit on our journey to San Antonio.

                              Crush-worthy facts:
1.There are 80 soda fountains. 
2.Two words: Jerky Bar

Yes. Jerky Bar.

3.Three words: BBQ brisket Sammy:

4.Three letters: BLT

5. Shitter’s full!  Not at the Buc-ee's …34 individual stalls with green and red vacancy lights and local artwork.  You have not truly enjoyed a truck stop throne until you have arrived at the Buc-ee's Beaver.
No giggling toddlers peeking under the stalls here, each pod is fully contained, spotless and I think I detected a waft of lavender.  

Chapter 4. Other things I love about my new boyfriend:

  1. The original lazy river, complete with camo coolers and rednecks.  This was truly awesome.

Camo Cooler

  1. San Antonio.  It’s like finding out that your new Harley-riding-redneck-boyfriend can also speak ITALIAN!  San Antonio is like Venice got dropped in the middle of the biggest ranch in the world.  Oh and it’s home to the Alamo where I guess something famous happened.  History shmistory. We didn’t go to there, why would we go there when we could stay here?? 

Mokara Hotel


                                  2. Fried things.

deep fried pickles

Chapter 5. It would never really work. Why my parents/wonderful friends will NOT love my new boyfriend

Ellen would only include him at dinner parties begrudgingly.

antler utensils

He lets bumper stickers speak for him.

Some other little things that my boyfriend did that sort of irritated me: 

I had no actual sightings of Texans with Big Haarr. This may be a dealbreaker. 

Mariachi bands.  Does anyone actually like Mariachi?  Or mimes?   

Chapter 6.  If dreams were reality and Texas took on a human form….
While on the road to San Antonio, our Houston hostess suddenly looked in her rearview mirror and said ‘Holy Shit!!”  We all spun around and this was the view from the back of SUV. Well, ok this is a re-enactment of the blond rock star god we all three witnessed. No helmet, natch. But this is this best I could do since I could not get my jaw off the floor and my camera out fast enough. Note to self: ‘riding’ not an awesome search word for Google images. *shudder*.

Anyway, this is exactly how I will remember my new bf Texas…

you may hate his politics, his morals, but this Honey Badger don’t give a shit.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Chipsy Caravan

When I was 15 I took a summer job working in a mobile hamburger/french fry truck. We went to fairs and Pow-Wows all over southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The stand was owned by my friend's mother and her partner, two brash, very round and hard working lesbians. I remember visiting my friend's house for the first time. She showed me her mom's bedroom where there was a King sized bed and a hot tub that they'd built themselves. When my friend told me that her mother and Sher were "partners", I'd assumed she meant business-type. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, as it were. It didn't even occur to me that my friend's mom was a lesbian. I mean, it's usual that two grown women, who are business partners, would share the same bed and have a hot tub in their room, right?

Anyway, I took the job, which was just on weekends, and it paid, I think, $50 a day. Back then, this was an amazing wage for a 15 year old kid. It turned out, though, that I worked 12-14 hour days and it ended up being about 3 bucks an hour, quite a bit less than minimum. I ate so much food from that damed chip cart that I'm sure they lost money on me, even at that wage.

protecting the innocent.

We travelled around in a converted school bus (yes) that had a big bed in it. Ma (my friend's mom) would drive. Sher would drive the Chip wagon. I slept on top of the the big freezer in the back if we stayed overnight. But when we drove at night, the other workers and I (my friend, and her boyfriend) would sleep in the big fold out bed in the bus. They made out a lot. I felt awkward and pretended to sleep.

I saw a lot of small towns that summer. A lot of teenage girls with hickeys. Like, every girl. To the point where it was kind of weird. I mean, I'd never  imagined there could be so many hickeys given in one small town. There wasn't enough time. How was it possible?

I made myself countless snacks of toasted hamburger buns with fried onions and processed cheese. And french fries. I was working in my gluttonous dream land.

One time, I woke up from a deep sleep on an overnight drive and I felt really awful. I went outside and threw up and was very dizzy. Turns out we'd all got carbon monoxide poisoning. We were all a mess.

We were told to sleep it off (while Sher fixed the leak). But a few hours later we were shuffled back to work. It was crazy. We could have died! I don't know how I managed to function, lugging those canisters of soda and hooking them up and then flipping burgers. I just knew I wanted my mommy.

So I quit after that weekend, citing a family emergency. A lie. My mom backed me up in that lie. Sorry, to you my friend and her mom. It wasn't your fault I got carbon monoxide poisoning. You were working very hard and trying to make a go of a business and that can't have been at all easy. But I had to lie. It's how I handle awkward situations. It's for the best.

While I think of that summer job as the worst summer job I ever had, it did, I suppose, prepare me for living on a bus, as I would 10 years later. And while the travelling was a little easier on a tour bus than in a converted school bus, it was still a bit of a grind after awhile.

But at least I didn't have to listen to people getting it on right next to me.

Or at least not that often.

It is not sexy.