Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Who said unicorns don't exist?

As some of you may recall, Chris and I moved in with my parents last March when COVID hit and relieved us of one of our incomes.  We decided to take the opportunity for both of us to go back to school -- Chris to teacher's college and me into an MBA program.

So the plan was to finish both these things (target November and October respectively), and give Chris time to find a full-time job.  Meanwhile, I would look for a remote job that would let me not have to commute to the GTA.  And once all those pieces aligned we would move -- sometime between next fall and next spring.

Right.  You're not new here ;-P

So first of all, Chris got his job months before finishing school.  He was only guaranteed part-time though, so not quite solid enough to commit to moving to that area.  But still, well ahead of what we expected.  Now I was interviewing for a job that was "just a job" but would've given me that remote position, when I was offered a non-remote job that had a high potential I would love.  Yeah, I went with that one.  Job satisfaction for the win.  Now, pre-COVID, this role would've been 100% in-office, non-negotiable.  However, since everybody's been remote more than a year, polices are changing.  It's looking like I'll have to go in either 2x/month and 2x/week.  I feel I have a strong case for the former, but if my boss really wants people in the office...  Well at least it's only 2x/week.

So to put the timing in perspective:

  • Our house money is tied up in GICs till Sept;
  • Chris is likely to have full-time work lined up for Sept (we should find out next week);
  • I'm *hoping* for two days / wk in office -- I should find out about that next week as well.
Now with 90 days being a standard house closing, one would think that assuming Chris does get his ft offer, and I get confirmation that I don't need to be in the office all the time, we could potentially start looking for a new house in June...

As to the house...  Honestly, I was really dreading the search.  I had three priorities: a big yard with privacy, a bathtub (or the ability to put one in), and a space for an office.   In an ideal world, I'd also prefer a house with personality.  I'm not so much a cookie-cutter kinda person.  But that was not a "must have".  Chris had a very long list, but the vast majority of it would be met by purchasing a new house (although he was theoretically open to a house more than 100 yrs old, it was going to be very hard to find one of those that would meet his many other criteria).  The problem, of course, is that they don't put new houses on big properties anymore.  So this could potentially be a very long search.

And then Chris did the impossible...  He found our unicorn.  We weren't even 'officially' looking.  More just seeing what was out there in our price range to see how much we were going to have to negotiate or reconsider our shopping criteria.  So on Saturday of the May 24 weekend, he sends me a few links of possible houses (before I woke up - Saturday ams are for sacred sleep).  So when I woke up and was mindlessly browsing I clicked through them.  There was one I really strongly disliked; of the others, nothing particularly stuck out but nothing that would make me hate my life either.  So okay.  

But Chris tells me he *really* likes the last one.   Well okay, if you like it that much, let's go see it.  And while we're out there we may as well check out the other ones on the list and the ones I'd found the other day.  So we tag our realtor (who helped with the last purchase and sale) and ask if she's up for a road trip.  She was busy on Sunday but could do Monday.  Perfect.  Send her the list and let her do the organizing.

Now keep in mind, this is 1-2 weeks before we know if Chris has FT work, and 1-2 weeks before we know what my commute is going to be.  And, well, we both know we don't window shop well.  If we're going to look, there's a very good chance we're going to purchase.

So on our road trip, the first couple houses were definite "no"s.  They were in St Catherine's, and when we moved to Thorold (which neither of us know anything about) there was a definite shift in neighbourhood and we had a few strong possibilities.  Not strong enough to bump up our timeline by months, but at least to give me hope that one day we'd find something.   The house I really didn't like was even worse in real life, so that was a bit of a relief ;).

Then we got to the one Chris was waiting for.  And while it doesn't have the character I might've liked, it wasn't a sad box either.  And it's a new subdivision, but the houses aren't super cramped on top of each other.  So first glance is positive.  The downstairs is okay...  Nothing spectacular, but nothing wrong with it.  It'd certainly suit our needs.  Connected garage is very civilized.  And the basement was a HUGE space.  Unfinished, but future potential for sure.  And a home for the gym and my Oculus.

But upstairs...   The master is huge and the ensuite has a lovely soaker tub (win! - that wasn't in the pictures, so I was concerned), and good sized rooms for both C and I to have our own offices looking over the back yard.

That back yard.  A - it's a great size (I could have a pool some day!), and B - it doesn't back on anything?!?!   I mean there's a road there, but across the road is protected wetlands, so what would be my office has an amazing view.  Esp if we planted some trees along the back fence that over time would block the view of the road...   hmmmm - potential ;)  

This is the view from the living room; 
it's even better from the office

And did I mention that yard?!?!  One of two in the subdivision that have good yards.  AND it gets sun all day.  Amazing.

Now it's really in the middle of nowhere...  But apparently there are some good trails, so at least Sasha and I would have somewhere to adventure.  

So we go look at the last house on the list and it was awful.  Alright then...   Go back to the unicorn.  Yup, really is a unicorn.  In the mean time, our realtor was feeling out the other agent...  Yeah - they're expecting a bidding war and figure it'll go $150k over asking.  Frig.   Did I mention it was already at the top of our budget...?  Ugh.

But...  Unicorn.

So we drive home and think about it a bit.  The house is empty atm, so it suggests they'd like a quick sale (tricky with our $ tied up till Sept).  Okay well what can we do...  We could put the deposit on the line of credit, but to get the house before it goes to a battle, we probably need to offer a quick close.   Well thanks to both sets of amazing parents we were able too borrow the money for the downpayment until our money frees up - which meant we could, technically, close whenever...

May as well at least try...  Put in a strong offer, although likely well under what they think they *might* get, but with a three-week close, no conditions, and a super-quick expiry.  The realtors went back and forth a bit and they wrote it back at a price we agreed to.  Ran a few things past the lawyer and by EOD Tues, the deal was done.

And then there's the whole moving thing...  So both of us are in school and C has a big exam mid-July...  Knowing what my schedule is like, my options are to move the wk of June 20th (with no stress - I'm off school that week), or July 15 (more stress - 2 papers hanging over my head but that's the longest break between papers), or mid Aug.   Really didn't want to wait till Aug if we bought the house in June soooo....

Of course we're doing the super-speed one.  Internet and fencing people are coming the day after we take possession (which I've booked off work to go deal w stuff).  Hopefully will hear from the movers tomorrow about if they can do the date we'd like for the actual move.

And if the world is good, this'll be the last move for a very long time.   A few more weeks of chaos followed by a couple more months of the painful school and work combo.  And then life becomes dramatically calmer.  Until I find the next thing ;)


So the boxing program I was doing released a new HIIT program.  I've been curious about it for a while and finally got to try it today.   A few things, first - I was wondering how good a workout it was likely to be?  I've been enjoying my VR Fitness journey, but other than the bike games, I haven't found any program that I feel I consistently get a good workout from (in a reasonable amount of time.  I don't have several hours a day for this).  And second - I usually hate HIIT with a passion.  Could they make it fun?

Ok step one - could they make it a good workout?  Short answer - yes.  Definitely.   I did the 7 minute beginner level and I would say the first 2 minutes were figuring out wtf was going on.  So in the 5 min workout remaining, I got my heart rate up to the top of cardio level and did many many squats ;)  If I had done a harder level, a longer level, or even known what I was doing at the beginning, I could likely have gotten into the high zone with no difficulty.

Now is it fun?  Moderately.  One of the things I hate about HIIT is how repetitive it is.  You do something hard, then you do it again.  I'm up for almost anything - once.  Repeating it though...  Questionable.  Repeating it multiple times?  No interest.  This is why weightlifting has never been my thing.   This has that same repetitiveness.  It was essentially two exercises that were done together and repeated four times. Now - those exercises were entertaining - punching things and making them shatter essentially.  The high ones were quite a stretch so they encouraged a fair amount of movement, while the low ones required a decent squat.   However, while repeating things is boring, I found I was trying to beat my last score each time which is super motivating.   The software would be improved (imo) by having a tracker of your previous score or extra points for beating it on subsequent rounds.

The one significant frustration I had was that a few times the targets just disappeared.  Which is a speed round (which HIIT generally is) this was SUPER frustrating.  Not only did it throw off my rhythm, but it also impacted my score.  I only got to level nine instead of level ten - 100% because this happened on multiple occasions.  So yeah.  I'll try again tomorrow - that could definitely have been an internet blip or something.  But if it's a regular occurrence, I'm out.

I'm starting to appreciate C's frustration when
his game glitches at inopportune moments

I've seen other complaints about the music -- honestly, I had no issue with this.  I didn't even notice what was playing.  In the boxing or dance options I'd say it's more important, but in HIIT -- where speed is of the essence -- I legitimately don't even notice the music.

I'm looking forward to playing again tomorrow - I'm going to pick a higher and longer level and give it a solid go.  Looking to see what variety there is in the exercises and how significant a workout it gives me.  And hopefully no glitching.  

Grade 4 Science

So this evening I tried a "shower steamer" for the first time -- which, from what I can tell is really just a tiny bath bomb, made for the shower.  And honestly, was not super impressed.   But what DID amuse me is that when I was done said shower and it was still going, I decided that instead of leaving it there, I'd melt it -- the package had lots of warnings about not putting under direct water cause it'd fizzle up.  

So I'm thinking - well that could be fun (remember, this is the woman who has bubble baths at least a few times / week ;)) - so I hold it under the shower stream...  And no dramatic fizziness (I was hoping like shaking can of pop drama) but then for whatever reason, probably cause I'm still 12 at heart.  Actually I think I was more mature at 12 than I am now *g* But anyways I decided to see what happens if you trap the fizziness, and squished it between my hands.  

Well it felt kinda like pop rocks - no big deal.  Except...  And here's the fun part I never realized...  Apparently shower steamers (and my guess is also bath bombs, except I've never felt the need to try and melt one of those) are actually endothermic???  My palms, under the hot running water of the shower, but surrounding this little fizzy, were getting cold!   It was the coolest thing (sorry, not sorry).  

Anyways - I realize this is essentially the equivalent of the volcano from the Grade 4 science fair, but it amused me so I figured I'd share ;)  What can I say, it's been a LONG few weeks.

I hope this kid got extra credit for the dino!

In other news, my change management paper is due this week.  Hence the procrastination blog post.  The paper's no problem but I'm super disappointed in the course, especially as I was *really* looking forward to it :(   Ah well.

Work has been...  crazy.  12h+ days most days and some weekend.  Meetings all day and then work all evening -- and even that is tricky cause my Vancouver people don't clock out till 8pm our time, so even "uninterrupted" work time often has, well, interruptions.   Would like to say, this is not a complaint, just a level setting of why everything else in my life is how it is atm.  πŸ˜‚  I'd far rather be busy than bored.   And most of what I was doing in the evening was content creation.  There's still a TON of that to do (honestly - it'd be faster to write another book!), but I finished the last of the time-sensitive content on Friday.  So I'm hoping that means I can dial back to almost normal-people hours starting next week (also - term paper due Wed πŸ˜‚ so, you know, Mon and Tues night kinda have to be school rather than work); will be a long while before it's actually under control, but the fires should be down to a controlled simmer by next Friday.  Either that's accurate, and I'll have a lovely long weekend, or I've jinxed myself and I'll have fodder for a blog post ;-P

I've cancelled my VR cycling for end of May, partially cause I wasn't using it a lot lately and partially  cause the weather is finally suitable for outside cycling.  Which, may not be as exciting, but I feel is prob a good mental health thing.  It's also more fun.   I would like to get one more decent ride in between now and then though -- although that's prob dependent on how the above two paragraphs go *g*.  I'm keeping Supernatural for now though - it's good for that short "just get off the couch" level of exercise.

First sunburn of the year today -- writing my paper in the backyard.  Like being in high school again!  lol - it'll be faded to tan by tomorrow except my feet...  My poor lobster feet.  Someday I will learn.  Or maybe not ;)

Okay back to the paper.  Night!

A fantasy break

"You're a wizard, Harry" -- a line that spurred the imagination of a generation.   Alas, the invites to Hogwarts are few and far between.

However, today...  I had my opportunity to be a wizard... the VR game aptly named "The Wizards" lol.   It is a "fight the bad guys" type game so not sure how far I'll make it; traditionally this kind of game doesn't hold my attention for long, but we'll see.  But the actions are kinda fun -- flip your hand over and a fireball appears.   Push both hands forward and you shoot lightening bolts.   All the drama ;)   And - at least in the first level - you have a disembodied mentor of sorts who offers advice and training in a reasonably facetious manner.   Lol made me laugh a few times.

Okay the pic is atrocious and all pixely (which it was not in the game), but DRAGON! 

I got through the first level with no problems.  Actually played it a few times, mostly by accident, as I was figuring out the controls (eg - if you stop for dinner in the middle of the level, you start over again at the beginning.  And at the end instead of selecting the next level, I replayed this one once more -- MUCH faster - and injury free - on the second effort for sure).

I died promptly on the second level.  Suffice to say there's a definite difficulty jump.  I also, to be fair, forgot I can shoot lightening bolts (now there's a sentence I never thought I'd type!) which would have definitely taken care of that issue so will try again another day.

The actions at times fail to register which is super frustrating, but when they work, they're all kinds of fun :)

Anyways - it's my week off class, so thought I'd try something new.

Another two done :)

So Wed night I submitted my last papers for Corporate Governance and Business Consulting.

Corporate Governance I went into expecting, well, very little from in reality.  I expected to be bored out of my mind and check a few boxes.  And in reality I really enjoyed the class.  Learned a ton, and all of it immediately relevant as RBC was the company I chose to use for analysis.    So this one was good.  The papers were relevant and I learned a ton.  I'm not super confident on the last paper - mostly cause life was chaos (between new job and pita other course not nearly as much got done), but at least it's submitted.  We'll see in a couple weeks.

Business Consulting, otoh, was a frustrating waste of time.  Instead of being, as the description suggested, about consulting - practices, frameworks, dealing with consultants, engagement models, etc...   The whole thing was about setting up a consulting business.   So I had to spend many many hours creating a business plan that I have zero interest in pursuing.  Learned next to nothing since A - I've done it before, and B - most parts are covered in other courses already.   The final "paper" felt more like a high school assignment, because the volume of questions they wanted answered meant within the required wordcount you could only provide the most superficial of answers.  And two of the parts were cut and paste duplicates of the first paper - like that's both time and word count that could've been better spent potentially learning something.  The whole thing was a waste, and even more frustrating in that work was SO swamped that I bitterly resented having to give time to this.   But it's done.   I have no idea how it'll score since the requirements seemed to contradict each other.  I'd be interesting to see the course feedback on this one since I was on three different whatsapp study groups for it and all three seemed to feel the way I did.   I will pass, just not sure if I'll maintain my HD (85+) average.   Which in reality doesn't actually matter for anything, but still nice to have lol.

Have a week off and then Change Management.  Only one this term as the second would be Project Management I got exempted from that.  Good timing for an easier term for sure.

Double Digit Day

lol my boss today mentioned that it was my "double digit day" (10th day on the job) and it made me laugh.   So now I have a couple "triple digit" goals ;)

So right - the last two weeks have been INSANE.   Primarily because it was not ideal timing to take on a new job the week before both term papers were due *sigh*  But here we are...

Right - so the work aspect; I had the advantage that a long transition meant I had time to meet my team and a bunch of stakeholders before ever beginning (to put in perspective - I had 90 pages of notes) but even though I had some idea of the workload awaiting me, I didn't *really* know.  

When I used to have the opportunity to teach riders to gallop for the first time, I'd tell them they're going to think they're galloping, be pretty sure of it actually, and then they're going to *know* they're galloping.  This...  This was kinda the work version of that.  Albeit somehow not nearly as much of an adrenaline rush lol.

So yeah, there's a lot more than I'd expected...  I mean - the words "blank slate" had been thrown around, but while I theoretically got it, some baseline assumptions I'd made were proven dramatically false.  On the plus side -- I'm a builder.  I *love* creating things and so I'm super excited about this whole concept.  The only slight stressor is how much of it we need yesterday.  It really is playing catchup and slightly insane.

And then on Day 8, I got to present my plans to my boss' Town Hall.   To steal a line from Rebecca: "Here's the deep end, start swimming."   And you know, other than that writing a speech for a few hundred people wasn't really what I wanted to do to kick off week two, that part - sure.  Don't ask too much depth, but I can give you the theory.   The challenge came with teh Q&A.   πŸ˜‚   It was to cover the *whole* Townhall, so honestly I'd entirely dismissed it.  I mean who *really* cares about what the PMO is doing in the grand scheme of things...   Uh a bunch of people apparently.   "I'll let Lauren answer that", "Lauren would you like to take this one?"  "Oh look, this one has Lauren's name in it - I'll read it out and then let her answer" *sigh*.   To be honest, none of the questions were unreasonable, and I got through it, and the feedback I got back was pretty good.  But OMG.

But in two weeks -- the team has come together and created a vision statement that they're all aligned to, I've prioritized which order we need going to put fires out (the ones people are enjoying roasting marshmallows over can wait a bit ;-P), I've met a ton more people, and I'm slowly learning how things work at GAM (which is very much it's on little world).  It feels like my old job was a lifetime ago, and yet at least a few times a day somebody will say something that will make me realize how very new I still am.

But I am super excited about it.  Like to the point that I keep getting up in the middle of the night and making notes of things I've thought of and things to do...  Fortunately next term I only have one class and it's change management, so lots of time for the extra hours work's going to require for  a few weeks.

Ghost Kitchen

A kitchen that's invisible that magically makes yummy goodness appear in front of me?  Sign me up!

So tonight's adventure began when Rebecca texted me about the existence of Ghost Kitchen's - and more importantly, that they come with Cinnabon ;)   And I googled, mildly interested cause, well, Cinnabon...  And really didn't find what exactly it was beyond shared kitchen space, but okay - there's one in Burlington.   And they also have Cheesecake Factory?!?!   What is this craziness of wonderful expensive calories?

But it's Friday night after an INSANE two weeks (that'll get its own post) and Chris was settled into a night of gaming...   A drive out to Burlington, by my own, tunes rocking...  AND a survival treat at the end?  Suddenly that seemed an excellent idea.

So off I go with Spanish Alexa giving me instructions -- I'm getting much better at understanding those now.  Although honestly, all I wanted was the last few blocks to tell me which of a ton of stripmalls it'd be in ;)   And when I got there, I realized the instructions were entirely unneeded.

It's neither small nor hidden

I definitely had a moment when I pulled in to park as the store was empty.  In fact, other than that the lights were all on, it didn't look much like a store?  No people, no cash register, no...  Anything really.  I think I had in my head that'd be like a gas station convenience type store with diff types of fast food in different sections of the store.  Suffice to say it was not.   And the parking spaces all had a QR code for car pickup.  But of course, I hadn't ordered anything.  hmmmm

So I was about to go to read all the COVID type signs on the door and find out how I should acquire food when two young women pulled up and parked next to me, seemed to have the same discussion, but much faster than I (admittedly I may have been still rocking out a bit - ME time, remember ;) - decided too try to go in the store.  They also paused at the door but then went in, so I deemed that was probably the right solution.

Inside there are two ordering screens and one marketing wall mostly showing ALL the yummy things.  Then at the far end an old-school (think Blockbuster movie rental) popcorn machine and a tiny counter.   There were just the three of us there, so I stayed well back while they made their choices.   Honestly - perfectly laid out for social distancing, that's for sure.

LOTS of space - IDK what the marketing wall was showing here? 🀷‍♀️ 
When I actually bothered to look at it while waiting for food, it was all food.

When it was my turn to order I learned of just how big the range of yummy  goodness is (or will be anyways).   All kinds of options and very easy menu to navigate.   Alas, they were all out of Ben and Jerry's, but I did successfully acquire celebratory cheesecake and tomorrow's breakfast complements of Cinnabon ;)

Lots of things to pick from

Then I waited all by myself for a bit - no signs of life anywhere...  But I figured food would magically appear as it had for the two women ahead of me.   And sure enough, a disembodied voice announce my number, then a person appeared for a second or two to deposit my bags on the table and quickly disappeared again.

And it was done.  Total human interaction = brief sighting of another human and that's it.   AND the Cinnabons were warm!   I mean, not super helpful as they're for breakfast and honestly just made me want to eat them now.  But conceptually it was a lovely touch ;)   Even when you get them actually *from* Cinnabon, they're not usually warm.

So yeah.  Not a bad, if very unexpected, way to spend my evening.

Beware of the Monster

So with work and school both being chaos last week (drinking from not one but TWO firehoses simultaneously) my workouts became...  Essentially nonexistent.

This week is going to be similarly crazy - until Thurs am.  But I decided today it was important to get at least one workout in, and because it'd been a while, it should be a *good* one.   πŸ˜‚ 

Right.  So I picked one that was 34 minutes long, Hard, and a "Monster".  hmmmm maybe that last category should've given it away.  Oh - and then I decided to wear my weighted boxing gloves.  Cause, why not.

Well cause my arms aren't that strong - that's why not!  Lol I lasted two songs.  Two.  Honestly I lasted through one and suffered through the second.  My "power" scores -- usually in the 90s -- were in the 50s.  Yikes.  

Okay so ditched the weighted gloves and went for weighted vest instead.  Let my legs take the workout.  Although right atm, I kinda wish I had stalls to muck and hay to throw - I'm missing the casual fitness for sure.

The weighted vest was good.  Had a great workout, was sweaty and tired at the end, and probably will be sore tomorrow - we're deeming that an all-round win.

For perspective - with gloves, my power dropped to the 50s,
even after taking them off I was only in the 70s.

In other news - Facebook/Oculus introduced new subscription models this week which caused quite the furor...  But of the games on the list, I'm not too concerned.  The ones I have included:

- VZFit - this is the cycling app, it's been subscription all along (there is a free option that I'm pretty sure still exists) the only thing that changed here is now it's "legal" - on the Oculus store - as opposed to a side option.  I pay for the subscription in the winter, cancel it in the summer.  Pricing and offering didn't change so all good.  They do constant updates and I like being able to leave my basement, so all good.

- Tripp - this one I personally don't think is worth a subscription.  The free version is moderately interesting.  I bought a "lifetime subscription" at one point when they were super-cheap, and they're honouring that, so I'm good to go either way.  But really, I almost never use it so don't see any great value.

- FitXR - this is the boxing / dance app.  I would be concerned about the subscription model since the original game was not cheap (the others the original game is free) - BUT they're honouring prior purchases.  So anybody who currently has the game gets to keep it and any added packs they purchased as well as a 90 day trial of the subscription version.  So for me that's perfect.  I'm moderately interested in the HIIT portion of the subscription and will try that out, but for my handful of workouts a month, the content I already purchased will last me for years.   And if I wanted to do it more seriously, the subscription might be okay.  My issue with this game is I was starting to hurt myself by putting too much power into punches that never hit anything...   So I don't play very often anymore.  It's still a better workout than SN, but I was afraid I might do something serious...

So yeah - for me personally, no big deal.  I appreciate the approach FitXR took in honouring prior purchases so that's good.  I'm a little concerned if more games go this way, I won't be able to afford to play very much :(   But we'll see how it goes...   Most of the games I play are once and done, they don't evolve, so I'm hoping that means they stay flat rate.


Next day follow-up, so that workout was just about right.  I definitely feel in my shoulders, abs, and butt (those 117 squats!) but not so much that it impact function.  I'm aware I did something but not dying.  Just did a short one today to make myself move (and fit it in with food), with no weights of any form, and the scores came back up.   I was actually really enjoying it, so may do a longer one later when I have more time.  Class tonight though so we'll see.  

For comparison - this from today is where my scores are more normally;
This was a medium, non-monster, and much shorter.

The next adventure begins

So tomorrow I start the new job.  The only time I've been this excited about a new role was when I started GRS.  lol and tbh, I suspect it's a little for the same reason -- not anywhere near the whole 'thing I've dreamed of doing all my life' of course, but essentially, I'm getting to build something.  While GRS was solely a figment of my imagination, this one comes with at least an expectation of where it should end up.  But what we do and how we do it to pull that off....   Pretty much a blank slate.

I'm also inheriting a team of 10 -- all of whom appear to be exceptionally good at their jobs, and none of whom currently consider themselves a team *sigh*.   So yeah - coming up with a common vision, goals, value statement, etc is pretty high on the priority list.   And then the internal marketing to sell whatever it is we decide we do for a living ;-P

I've met with a LOT of people over the last few weeks...  Team members, extended team members, stakeholders, random people somebody said I should talk to...  lol and through it all a picture is emerging. Everybody (even those who've left the org) speak highly of the culture.  So that's an exciting bonus.  Also, everybody seems pleased with the people they work with.  Another win.  Not that there aren't a TON of opportunities ("tell me what you'd like to see happen" or "tell me what you wish was different" or "tell me how my team can add value" lol lead to some very detailed feedback of what could be different ;-P), but... All of those things are structural.  They're process issues or technology issues.  And while they're certainly not super-easy to fix (let's be honest, if they were, they wouldn't be problems), they're definitely easier to fix than low-moral, general dissatisfaction type challenges.  So yeah - it's going to be a very busy few months and I'm really looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, I'm so *not* into my MBA courses this term *sigh*.   I have Corporate Governance and Business Consulting.  I expected to have zero interest in Corp Gov, but am actually really enjoying it???  lol who knew?  And learning a ton of moderately relevant info.  If nothing else, I use RBC for my analysis so the stuff I'm digging into is all at least connected to work.   And Business Consulting I was really looking forward to.  I was expecting to be about consulting - frameworks, expectations, types of engagements, etc.  Instead - while there was 1 module about that, all the rest is about creating a business.   Which I have zero interest in doing.  For one thing, I've done it before -- I know intimately what's involved.  And for two, I actively have zero interest in being a consultant at this point in my life.  So this is proving to be a TON of work that's adding no value and no learning.

I kinda wish I did have a company just so I could use the logo again!

The only fun part is that for my fictional company I got to reuse the GRS logo.  So I was pleased about that :)   Also, once again, my powerpoint presentation skills significantly upped my grade.  πŸ˜‚  I know I can write, but I never realized that after three years in a role where I did nothing but powerpoints, how far my presentation skills have come.  But that's two in a row now, so I'll go with it.  I no longer dread presentation assignments.

Honestly I've done so much work on this ridiculous fictional company I almost wish I *did* want to be a consultant just so I could use it!  Also, I miss the GRS logo.  It's awesome :)

I am, however, actively avoiding writing the two papers I *need* to be doing right this very minute.  So I guess that's enough of this.

Right so I built a Dragon Library, what did you do this weekend?

Honestly, what could possibly be more targeted at me.  Dragons and books are among my top three favourite things (Sasha always takes the number one spot :)

ETA: As you can imagine, this turned into a novel length post.  TLDR: I made a thing.  Scroll for pics.


So there exists a miniature dragon library?  Designed to fit on my bookshelf?  Take my $$$!!!  πŸ˜‚   But because it's me and A - I don't actually have any $$$ and B - I never got over the toddler phase of wanting to "do it myself" I did not, in-fact, just buy a new toy.

Instead, I bought the kit to make the new toy.

So on the plus side, the kit arrived super-fast -- like weeks ahead of the expected delivery date.  Win (down side - I was supposed to write a paper this weekend.  Oops).  Opened it and it appeared to be of excellent quality materials.  Double win!

Now - I knew before ordering that said kit would have zero instructions re painting.  I reached out to the seller to see if he had any pics or examples or suggestions re paint, and while he responded immediately, it was to acknowledge his own lack of painting skill.   Lol so fair game.  As I also have zero painting skill, I was slightly concerned, but I figured Google could give me the 101.  

However, the other instructions were also not as idiot-proofed as I might've liked.   Keep in mind, in my entire life, I have built a grand total of ZERO models.   And while I'm pretty self-sufficient when I have to be, I'm not in any stretch of the imagination, handy.  More of a duct tape and binder twine kinda gal.  It'll stay together, but it might not be the "correct" way of doing it ;-P   So yeah, instructions would be necessary.

They *did* say if you're going to paint, do that first.  I too had already come to that conclusion, so off I went to Michael's to find paint.  Also brushes, sponges, and whatever else I might need πŸ˜‚   Now it turns out that as with most hobbies, there is a wide variety of price range for these supplies.   Given that it's my first attempt, I went with cheap.   And you know what - for me it worked.  I found a little package that had a few sponges (including one that looked like a plunger?!?!) and a few brushes.  Perfect.   Also a $2 plastic painter's tray.  OBVIOUSLY I need one of those.   Lol my inner voice was being completely sarcastic and mocking me as I gleefully bought that (clearly I'm a painter now!) and honestly, it turned out to be my single best purchase of the trip.   Classic eh?   And while I definitely understand why anyone who did this more than once wouldn't want the cheapest option, the only thing I had to buy a second set of was equally cheap plunger sponges cause I destroyed the first one.


So this is a library, which means there are a LOT of books.  I decided to colour rather than paint these (thanks to seller advice!) and set about to work...  And then I decided they didn't look enough like books and needed to be decorated.  Now keep in mind, I knew the whole time that when this was complete nobody would EVER see them again.   This is the part that still astounds me.  I willingly put hours into these little books knowing full well I could've painted all but a couple all one colour and been done in seconds.   It was this week's meditation.   And when it came time to give them titles I had a blast -- some are just scribbles, but most are things that have importance to me.  My immediate family members each have their own books, as do the pets, and some of my closest friends.  GRS got a wide book, while my favourite horses over the years are one set of books and my favourite schoolies are another.  Some favourite fantasy books and movies are there, as is the one I wrote.  Some phrases I use a lot or that mean something to me got books (even one or two in Spanish).   One series is places I've visited that are top of my list, another is just random things that matter to me.   So yeah - who needs a therapist?  πŸ˜‚ 

Tilt your head left cause it's late and Blogger doesn't have rotate abilities
and I can't be bothered to fix and re-upload ;-P  Maybe in the morning.

Now, I wanted my library to be stone.  Of course I have no idea how to accomplish this.  Googling gave me all kinds of non-relevant answers and a few suggestions that involved shades of grey and a sponge.  Fortunately, thanks to my earlier shopping adventure, I had these supplies.  Unfortunately I had no idea what to do with them.  Fortunately, the way the pieces were stamped in the wood left lots of scrap.  Woohoo - trial and error for the win.   I tried flat dark with sponged light and got a mess.   Then flat light with sponged dark and got a different mess.    I covered both of those with medium.  Cause, why not?  Maybe it would look better when it dried?   Nope.   


Chris suggested using a wash -- which tricky since there was no texture but at this point pretty much no harm in trying.   And it helped -- still wasn't quite what I wanted but it definitely helped.   So with that new knowledge I found the magic sauce, and I'm writing it here not cause I think you could care less but because if some day decades from now I decide I want to repeat this foolishness, I'll have a record of how I did it!   Feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph.   So  - it starts with using a big square sponge to apply a medium grey.  Using the sponge like a brush and a fairly light coat -- a little bit of the wood showing through is actually a good thing as it adds variation to the colour in the end.   Then a round sponge (yeah plunger!) to dab the darkest grey.   Trying to get it to dab somewhat evenly but not too stressed about it cause adding texture isn't a bad idea.   This isn't a full coverage event but most of it.   And then with the lightest grey, a wash.  So severely watered down, using a big flat sponge, painted the whole thing.   Then with a plunger or the end of the wedge, dabbing it for texture and to break up the lines.

Ready to go....

This looked *awesome* in the end.   I was so pleased with it :)

So I had stones and books and needed shelves.   These would be brown.  But I didn't love my brown so I mixed it with black -- much better.  Not sure where I randomly decided mixing colours was a good idea, but why not?  lol it's fun and there are literally no rules.   So pure paint on the shelves, but there are dragons with the shelves and I didn't want them to be brown, nor did I want them to lose the detail engraved in them...    Okay so back to the wash idea.   I went with red, but it was coming out pink...  So I added black and got... purple?   Sure - why not?  lol   Watered it all down and did the book shelf dragons that way.  Now there are also 4 wall dragons and 2 front dragons.   So I did the four wall dragons like that, then mixed another colour to get it less pinky purple for the two front dragons.

Shelves, with assembled arches in the background

Right - for future note, make VERY sure you know exactly how things go together BEFORE painting.  Sure enough, I had two dragons facing the same way of the front colour and I needed two dragons facing alternate ways.  Fail.  I considered just using two purple dragons instead and burying the mistake, but I decided to honour it.  I made it slightly less obvious with a grey wash on top, but if you look closely, the front dragons do not match.  And that's okay.   There's a tradition in sewing crafts to always leave an intentional "error" -- I feel it can carry over here too.  And I mean, dragons obviously aren't all identical, so it's more realistic right?

ALSO under the category of making sure you know how things go together -- there were parts on the arch board that I merrily painted with my new stone technique, only to realize much later when I tried to put them together that, while they actually weren't horrible in stone, they'd look so much more stunning if they were wood colour.   Fail.   Fortunately that was a 30 second fix with some brown/black mix paint. AND I got to mix more paint ;-P

AND - if you still haven't learned the lesson about making sure you know how things go together - after finishing all the stone and thinking it might be time to put stuff together, I realized the tall arch pieces (of which there were 3 -- arches had way more pieces than you would imagine) needed the backs painted as well.  *sigh*   Rinse and repeat the stone painting.

And while I was at it, the stone section I had painted to go behind the bookcase, wouldn't go all the way up the wall...   Okay - go locate walls, and while I'm at it roof and floor, to turn them all stone too.   Also - there were NOT good instructions for this.  All the finicky parts (bookshelves, arches, etc) were exceptionally well labelled.   The walls, floor, and outside casing - not at all :(   It took longer than I'd like to admit to figure out how that was going to work and which pieces actually needed to be painted *sigh*.  But I did!  So please about that.   And I got all the extra pieces painted.

Bookcases ready to be assembled. 

Okay so with everything painted, it was time to put things together.  I started with the arches (in reality, I did these while waiting for paint to dry on the bookshelves ;).  I still didn't entirely understand the instructions and there weren't useful pictures, so I sent a message to the seller about both that and a question I had about the bookshelves.   To his credit, he answered almost right away (and acknowledged his instructions might need some work).  His message clearly answered my question so I was good to go.  Put the arches together and put them off to the side.   Put the book cases together and load up the books.  hmmmm more books than bookcases.  That seems too real life for a fantasy library πŸ˜‚  But it did allow that I could choose not to use some of my earlier designs / colours that didn't really work out so well.

All the best libraries have too many books

Okay so still with me?   By this point I have bookcases, filled with books, and with dragons attached.   I have walls, 2 floors (cause why would one be sufficient?), ceiling, and arches that have been painted stone.  Arches are assembled.  And stone floor has been washed and turned into stone.   Time to put it all together.

Okay so that's roughly how it'll work ;)

Right.  So attach mirror to back wall, and floor to floor.   Then centre arch to side wall, then side wall to back wall, and we get:


The instructions don't really say when or how to insert the book cases so I deemed this was a good time:

Then a second wall and some more bookcases:

And then very cool - the lights!!!   Dragon's fortunately don't require qualified electricians.

I love the eerie green tinge they give everything.

Then the outside box, which was way more of a challenge than it should've been, and the front arch attaches as the final item.
It amused me more than it should to have a dragon
helping build the dragon library
And in the end...

I'm really pleased with this

In-situ.  Alas, all my fantasy shelves are currently in storage
so the dragons will have to suffer in Spanish for a while
Rest assured, it will one day have a proper home.

In darkness...

And at a distance for size comparison