Monday, May 28, 2012

Bird baths

Is there anything more chirpy and cheeful as a robin having a full on spa treatment in a bird bath? I get the plump ones, the young naive ones and the families. They can empty the bowl in a day with all their activity.

My birdbath, located behind lovely ostrich ferns, beside a David Austen rose and in front of peonies, is beautifully sheltered and protected for my neighborhood birds. It has been one busy spot in my garden for the past couple of months, with spring arriving extra early this year.

I love watching all the activity, and you can believe Lily and Gretel do too, from the safety of my front door. I was eye to eye with a mourning dove this evening as I watered the garden. Who was going to out-stare who? I just moved my hose further down the garden and let him, or her, carry one.

And on warm day like today, I can see why there is so much action — a comforting relief for them I'm sure — not to mention the squirrels going for a sip or two.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Black's Photography has let me down, big time!

In February, I happily sorted through an array of my Dad's slides. They had been lovingly stored away for decades.

Black's Photography, a large Canadian chain,  had, what seemed like a great deal in the winter, "bring in 400 of your slides, and we'll convert them to digital for $100." It seemed well worth it, for the time it would take for me to scan them. I went to my local Black's at Humbertown plaza, and handed over my precious memories, that were a smattering of my family's hi-lights, since the 1950's. I asked if they would be safe, since they had me sign something. I was reassured that this was just a formality, since Black's were handing them over to an outside source, in Barrie, to do the actual work. I thought it was dubious, but let them go, after all, if Black's was using them, they must be ok.

I was told it would take six weeks. Well, nine weeks later I dropped in to see where my slides were at. They were finally ready.

With great enthusiasm I went to pick them up, dying to see all those old images on my computer screen. I popped in the CD and started scanning random images. Fun times that I had forgotten about and the memories of the time came flooding back to me, until, I started seeing images of people I didn't know. It happened once, then again, then more times than I can tell you. Who were these people on my CD? I was the one that picked out the slides, and I knew everyone in the slides I had picked out for scanning. I saw I had more than the "400 images" on my CD. In fact I had 435 images, of which 76 images were not mine. That is crazy. How could this happen? I then thought I better check my slides. If the scans are wrong, I was getting the sinking feeling something too could be wrong with my lovely slides, and, in fact I was right. Black's had given me back 442 slides, of which 74 were not mine, and 32 of mine were indeed missing. I was livid.

My worst nightmare about this exercise had come true. Black's had lost my slides. No, not all of them, but almost 10% of my slides and 10% of the images were missing. I was upset, hurt and miffed over the whole ordeal. I lost sleep about Black's losing my slides.  

The next day I went back to Black's, armed with the 74 slides that did not belong to me, in hopes that they may find their rightful owner. I told the staff as to what happened, and she said she would pass it on to the "smile centre" at Black's head office. Smile Centre? What a dumb name. Not smiling here Black's.

I too followed up with a letter to as what had happened to the "Smile centre." The response was basically, "sorry, I don't know how this could have happened." Yeah, me too! "Do you think you can remember what might be on those slides?" "Are you serious?" I sorted them out ten weeks earlier, and did not think I had to take note of each and every slide. I have since been asked that three times by the Smile Centre and their "people" who did the botched job. When I say botched, I mean severely mismanaged without any consideration. The scans I did have were done haphazardly — images were upside down, sideways and with heads cut off, when in fact, the heads were intact on the slides.  The 74 I took back, those poor people actually numbered their slides, presumably 1-400, in the hopes of keeping their slides safe, yet that system failed miserably for them too.

Really, this should have been a simple job, it's not rocket science scanning in one order at a time and keeping it straight. I had scans in the middle of my order that weren't mine, not just a couple at the end.

The "Smile centre" offered me a refund for this debacle, and an investigation - well that's the least they could do. As I went to pick up my refund, I saw orders had been brought back due to "bad scanning." I asked if others had lost their slides, and in fact, yes, I was not alone.

Shame on you Black's, for not taking responsibility for this, or following through on what you said you would do. Black's sent me 7 images, to see if they were mine.  Seven? Really, that's all you have? I know they must have more than 7, and was assured that I would see them today, and still, have not. This is hardly being "investigated" in a timely manner. I received a call from the "outside source", again, with a pathetic "I'm sorry, I don't know how this could have happened?"

Does no one do their due diligence when picking labs to represent themselves. This lab, has made Black's look more than bad. I have lost my faith in the company.

I have lost images, that can not be replicated, and, what's worse, I don't know what they are. What are the chances of someone actually going through all their slides, like me, and them having them all, and bringing them back. Pretty slim I would think.

So, beware, when you see a deal that is too good to be true, chances are, it is.

I have lost my confidence and respect for Black's in the way they handled this "special offer" from the hand off, to , well, the hand off again.

The "smile centre" should be given a shake up, for taking such a back seat to this mess. They have kept quiet and covered themselves for the most part, not admitting any accountability.  And the moral of this story is, know exactly who you are dealing with when you send precious memories to an outside source. I sure didn't know them, thought I knew and could trust Black's, but clearly, was let down by them & their suppliers. Another lesson learned, unfortunately the hard way. I was actually going to use Black's for their conversion "deal" of 8mm film to digital. Are you kidding now? I'm sure that too is being farmed out to who knows who. Beware people of who you let handle your precious memories & make sure due diligence is done, by you.

Does anyone want to use my Black's pre-paid Image card?

A sample of one of my sideways scans from Black's.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

The second Sunday in May, can only mean one thing, Mother's Day.

My Mom and I have a pretty special relationship. We actually like each other. Yes, we love each other, but, we really do enjoy each others company, trust each other implicitly, are there for each other through the good and the bad, and, are best friends. Now I know some people may find that odd, a mother as a best friend, but, she really is. My Mom knows all my skeletons, and never judged me. She has the capacity to embrace all life has thrown at her, and taught me how to cope, reason, indulge, note, enjoy, acknowledge and embrace life too.

My Mom has always had a "joie de vivre." People notice it and remember that about her, including me. She smiles easily, can strike up a conversation with anyone, about anything from the mundane to hardcore politics. She is always willing to help me, even when I don't ask, or think I need help. My Mom is a mean pastry chef, great cheerleader and one of life's optimists.

I am very lucky that my Mom is still a part of my life and that we can still find pleasure in each others company, whether it be sharing our weekly coffee at Java Joe's or planning our next vacation.

Happy Mother's Day Genia!
You have been a great role model.
Love and big hugs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Carnage has struck...

And that can only mean one thing. I am officially at war with the squirrels in my neighborhood.

This morning I went to work with a lovely display of tulips in my flower box on my porch. I had at least 18 full, beautiful flowers. As I drove up my driveway this evening, and saw an empty flower box, and tulips strewn across my driveway, and on my porch,  I knew it could only be the work of one critter, the squirrel.

I have resisted planting my favorite spring time flower, because of such antics, but love the cheeriness of the tulip, so caution begone, and tulips were here. In the past I have ensconced the tulip bulbs with blood and bone meal, to keep the vermin at bay. Unfortunately, they got me with my guard down, and I forgot to add the mighty mixture, and they let me know who's turf this was. The tulips were actually dug up and ripped out.

I now have a tiny bouquet of the few tulips I could salvage from my porch, brightening up my kitchen's window sill.

Noted, one for the squirrel. This war is not over yet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


How I have grown to love cashmere more each year. I mean, what's not to love? It is luxurious and practical at the same time.

Each year I have upgraded my knowledge and quality I've desired. Once upon a time I was happy with Old Navy's cashmere hoodies. Now, I want the best — fine quality cashmere from Nepal. A  great by-product from my trip to Nepal last year, was my contact in Kathmandu, whom I import cashmere from. He educated me on the different qualities, who likes what (the French only want black and the Italians only want the best) and supplied me with a quench for my addiction.

And now, I'm spreading my knowledge and fine quality cashmere. Cashmere was once thought of as a winter staple. Now it has become a year round staple. Scarves, ponchos, sweaters, socks and dare I say a robe, are all things cashmere I have acquired. I throw on a black cashmere sweater around the house, like most people put on a sweatshirt. I love it. Why shouldn't I feel cozy and still look chic. If it's good enough for the French, it's good enough for me.

A sampling of  scarves I recently imported & sold.