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Santa’s Village

Twas the day before Christmas and I’m going to tell you a story. So gather your cats and settle in.

One year just before Christmas when I was about 7 or 8, my mom announced she was going to take me and my friend Steph to Santa’s Village for the day.

Santa’s Village is a theme park in Bracebridge, Ontario, and it is exactly how it sounds. It is a Christmas amusement park. Santa is there, and I assume all his elves, Mrs. Claus, Christmas-themed rides, etc. In Bracebridge it’s a pretty big deal.

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And obviously if you’re a kid it is very exciting. I was already off the charts excited for Christmas, so add in Santa and Christmas rides and I was losing my mind. I had seen the Santa’s Village commercial. It sounded like a good time and I was PUMPED.

We piled into the minivan ready for our adventure.

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It was about a two and half hour drive from where we lived so we spent the trip singing Christmas carols and excitedly exclaiming what we were going to do when we arrived at Santa’s village. And what we were going to ask Santa for when we saw him.

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Now, it must be noted that this was before the internet existed, so one could not simply Google Santa’s Village to plan a trip. My mom had just heard about it and wanted to take us. She may have questioned this decision during the long drive there…but the trip was impromptu. My mom was flying by the seat of her pants.

We passed by the many signs leading the way to Santa’s Village, getting more excited the closer we got. Finally, we arrived. And this is what we saw.

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Santa’s Village is only open in the summer. The Christmas theme park isn’t actually open at Christmas. It was a total National Lampoon’s Vacation moment. We drove all that way only to find it closed, just like Wally’s World. I will never forget the feeling of disappointment. My mom was absolutely devastated for us. What kind of Santa’s Village isn’t open during Christmas?! WHO CARES ABOUT SANTA IN JULY?! It ruined Santa’s Village for me and to this day I still haven’t been (but I hear it’s crappy and rundown now anyway).

So what were we to do? Rather than break in and go on the rides, my mom took us to the dollar store, gave us $10 each and let us go crazy in there. It obviously wasn’t as good as seeing Santa, but it was still a good time. And I should mention that while not funny at the time, my mom and I think this is hilarious now.

The End.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! I hope you have a great holiday with your families and friends!

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Racquetball

Right next to our condo building (literally almost attached to it) there is quite a large rec centre with two cardio rooms, a huge weights room, an Olympic-sized pool (which is currently empty but they are fixing it and should be opening it soon), and a bunch of other good stuff. It’s free for the residents of our building and two other buildings nearby to use (maintenance, etc. is included in condo fees). I know, it is a huge score. It’s pretty awesome and super convenient.

I cancelled my Goodlife membership when I moved because of this gym, but I haven’t mentioned it yet because Sunday was the first time I have set foot in there. Whoops. Not like my Goodlife membership was getting much use either. I hope to step it up now that things at work are simmering down a bit.

Anyway, there also happen to be racquetball courts in the rec centre, and Evan happens to love racquetball. His 60-year-old best friend Bernie taught him how to play a few years ago while he was living in Alberta, and he has loved it since. I have never played before, but Evan has decided that he wants to play with me so he is taking it upon himself to teach me.

I’m pretty uncoordinated, and sports with balls have never been my forte. I love beach volleyball and I used to play tennis a bit (not well), but that is really the extent of my experience with ball sports. Well, I played on a dodgeball team when I was in college, but I am not sure that counts.

What I’m getting at here is that I am not very athletic. I’m pretty clumsy, and it’s pretty obvious when you watch me play a sport.

Here is what I think I look like while I’m playing racquetball:

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Just swooping in like a graceful ballerina

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Successfully diving for those impossible low shots

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Killer backhand.

And here is what I actually look like:

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Twirling on one foot as the ball flies over my head.

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Accidentally hitting the ball with my hand and not the actual racquet that is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR HITTING THE BALL.

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Actually successfully hitting the ball…

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Directly into the side of Evan’s face.

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Don’t worry, I only hit him once. And it was like five minutes into my first time playing ever. He’s fine. He’s a good sport.

So, I’m not great. But I am loving it! We played three nights this week and I have been getting better every time (‘m exaggerating slightly in the pictures above, I’m actually not horrible, though I really did hit Evan in the face, and I really did hit the ball with my hand instead of the racquet). Last night I actually came close to beating Evan, but he got me 15-12. It’s the closest I’ve come to winning. But I will beat him.

It’s a really fast-paced game and I like how it is a crazy good workout (don’t believe me? watch this video, it’s nuts), but you don’t even realize you’re working out until you’ve stopped. It’s the type of active that is my favourite. You sprint, sprint, sprint, break. Sprint, sprint, break. Kind of like HIIT, but actually fun.

Anyway, that’s all, I’m learning how to play racquetball and it’s a good time!

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The Time I Was Trapped in a Cemetery

Hey, did I ever tell you guys about the time I got trapped in a cemetery? Nope, because it was two nights ago.

I’ve been trying to keep up with the running thing lately, and one place I really enjoy running is the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It’s beautiful, really well maintained, and there are 14km of paved trails in there. It’s a designated Natural Historic Site of Canada, and there are statues, fountains, botanical gardens, and the “forest of memories.” Some parts of it are truly stunning, and it is the final resting place of many well-known Canadians, including William Lyon Mackenzie King and the Eaton’s.

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Eaton family crypt

So running in there is very interesting. Nearly my entire family on my mom’s side is buried in there as well, including my grandma and her parents, and their parents.

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Mom, this picture is for you!

Which was a weird coincidence that I discovered after I started running in there.

Anyway, to access the cemetery you can enter from three pedestrian entrances, or six gates connected to Yonge St, Mount Pleasant, or Bayview. To keep the hooligans out at night, these are all closed and padlocked, and the rest of the cemetery is surrounded by a tall, steel fence. With spikes.

I have run in there many times over the past year, and during the summer they usually close the gates around 9pm.

On Monday I hit up the cemetery a bit after 8pm and all was going well running-wise. Well, besides being a sweaty mess because it was insanely hot. After about half an hour I passed one of the gates on the furthest side of the cemetery from where I entered and I noticed it was locked. I thought it was weird, but I don’t ever use that gate so I thought it may have been unpopular and closed early. I kept running to the gate that I was planning on exiting from, while noting that I hadn’t seen anyone in a while and that was odd because usually the cemetery is busy with walkers/runners and cyclists. That gate too was locked. I ran to the gate I came in from. Locked. Uh oh.

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“What am I gonna do?” – I am saying this to myself in the voice we use to talk to my friend Dawn’s dog.

This was not a good sign. As much as I love the cemetery, it was starting to get dark and I did not want to spend the night in there (um, ghosts?!). But I figured I would get out somehow. I didn’t start really worrying until I came across a young couple who told me that if all the gates were locked we were probably stuck in there.

Awesome. Around that time, an older man on a bike rode past and said he was going to go check out the main gate and report back. We (the couple and I) followed The Biker on foot, and by the time we got to the main gate (locked), he had already hopped the fence with his bike and was on the other side on the street.

The fence was steel and taller than me. I can barely do a pushup with my knees down, so pulling myself up and over it would have been an impossible task with my lack of upper body strength. However, there was a brick pillar on the main gate, and a spot for a foothold on that pillar halfway up the fence. The only problem was at that spot there were giant steel spikes (to prevent people from climbing).

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It looked like this

The Biker on the other side of the fence pointed to the spot on the fence beside the pillar and yelled “HERE! You have to climb here!” and I didn’t see another option, so I stepped onto the pillar and began to pull myself over the fence. And here is how that went:

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And then The Biker appeared in front of me.

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I protested.

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I actually said this.

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So, I did.

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I managed to not impale myself or fall on my face, and I made it down safely. I don’t even think The Biker hurt his back too badly.

This all happened on a very busy street, so by this point a few people had gathered around (one other guy actually grabbed my hands at the last second to help me down), so that was not embarrassing at all. The couple was still inside the cemetery watching the whole thing, and when they saw my awkward fence jump, they decided to turn around and find somewhere easier to climb out. Kind of wish I stayed and went with them.

So what do you say to the complete stranger whose head you just wrapped your sweaty legs around? I didn’t know.

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Seemed appropriate. And then I walked home.

And that is the story of the time I got trapped in a cemetery.

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I Drew Some Stuff

Not much though, don’t get too excited. I had some extra time last night so I decided to play around on my new drawing tablet. Thanks for your suggestions the other day! I haven’t had time to do them all yet, but I plan to!

Here are a few for now.

My friend Catherine (or CathRON) asked for this:

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So here you go…

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Sorry about the machine gun. Drawing guns apparently isn’t my forte.

And then there was this request, which warmed my heart:

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So heeeere is the Winnie.

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She is tricky to draw because she has so random colours in her.

My blog pal Steph requested an evil squirrel:

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evil-squirrelIt’s coming after you Steph. And it has blood dripping from its fangs because it just ate a baby.

I still think it’s cute though.

And finally, Susan asked me if I could draw Evan:

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Nope, you have not missed it! I haven’t drawn him yet. So here is his debut!

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That is the most detail I’ve ever put into a drawing of a person. I actually think  it kinda looks like him…

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Little bit? I don’t think I really captured his essence though.

That is all for now! But after practicing a bit, I have to say that I am a huge fan of this tablet thing.

Although I am not sure what my plan of attack is going to be for this yet…

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Crotched.

A short comic about the time my friend Melissa was over for a sleepover and I accidentally crotched myself.

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It hurt a lot. The End.

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Salad

Ever since I wrote the story about Darryl the bully and smashing him in the face with my lunchbox, I have been thinking about bullying. That was certainly not the only time in my life that I have been made fun of.

High school was fine for me, but not because I was “cool” (I was not). I just went to such a small school that bullying was never really a problem. Grade 8 sure was though. I was teased pretty mercilessly. Almost the entire year, and at the time I remember getting so upset about it. Though when I think back about it, it seems silly now.

The biggest thing I was teased about, was my salad.

I will explain.

My Nana makes the absolute best salad in the entire world. It includes the same ingredients as any old salad: lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Though she does also like to add entire cloves of garlic to the salad. I’m serious. She will chop cloves of garlic maybe in half so then you are just basically eating a clove of garlic. Maybe that’s why it was so good…

But what really made her salad absolute dynamite was her oil and vinegar dressing. It was just oil and vinegar. That’s it. But it was magical.

(she just used white vinegar though)

I cannot for the life of me duplicate her dressing, even now. It will never taste like hers. Maybe her secret ingredient was love, I do not know. But that dressing, I could drink a bottle of it on its own. It was just so amazing. I loved it so much.

So my mom knew that I loved my Nana’s salad, and when she packed my lunch for me, she would make the salad and try to duplicate the dressing. It was very thoughtful of her (even though her dressing still wasn’t quite my Nana’s, but no one’s is).

I loved the salad, and I appreciated her making it for me and packing my lunch. But the dressing turned into a problem. She would put the dressing on the salad, in a container, and then put the container in my lunchbox. And no matter what container she used, or how tight the lid was, the container would inevitably leak. It would leak through my lunchbox and into my school bag, and sometimes onto my jacket. I would just smell like vinegar all day long.

And what does white vinegar smell like?

White vinegar, my friends, smells like pre-pubescent body odour. It smells like BO.

So, I smelled like BO. And this fact was not lost on the kids I went to school with.

And of course I tried to explain myself. Because it was absolutely NOT BO.

But I know even now how ridiculous it sounds to blame your BO on your salad. Suuuuuuure it was my salad. Of course no one believed me.

At first everyone just started calling me “BO”, but I was so adamant that it was my salad, the name changed to just “Salad”.

I would try to tell my mom no. Pack me a different lunch. I don’t want the salad!

It was ridiculous. But I eventually convinced her to just go back to packing me peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

But the name stuck for the entire year. And I’ll never forget it. Good times. I’m lucky I don’t have a salad complex now, but I still love it!

Anyway, parents, just a lesson for you. Don’t pack your kids salad with a vinegar dressing for lunch. It is just a bad idea.

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