And as promised – my homework:
I can no longer be considered a terrified beginner, a beginner, definitely, but not so terrified.
However, I think every class is going to have its own challenges and therefore terrors. This week we finished, or mostly finished, our “ribbons” of the week before. This was an exercise in shading and shadows.
Then it was time to move on to using conté on construction paper. The idea was to use black conté for the shadows, white conté for the highlights and the colour of the construction paper for the medium tones. I was going to do the still life, but Kathy seemed so disappointed that we were both going to do the still life, I thought, what the hell, you’re terrified of trying the other option – GO FOR IT!
But can you tell what it is?
As we were wrapping up the class, a young woman walked in who is a potential new “terrified beginner” and we chatted. I think her name is Reesa and I really hope she joins us next week – she won’t be terrified for long. There’s no doubt in my mind that our wonderful teacher, Kathy will put her at ease as quickly as she did me.
But I digress.
Now, I’m determined. On the way home I stopped at the dollar store and picked up not only construction paper, but also some newsprint. Daughter Olivia lent me some coloured conté and chalk and I just hope I can find some black and white in there to give a still life, of my own creation, a try. If not, I’ll improvise.
And speaking of creating my own still life, Kathy even taught us how to go about doing that! One of the neatest things she said was “have you ever looked at a piece of art and felt that to see it properly you had to tilt your head? It’s because it’s not balanced”. So not only am I going to try again with the conté, I’m going to try the creation process from nothing to finished.
Wish me luck!
Have you ever taken a picture in a grocery store so that you could remember something, possibly research it, or in my case call a friend and say “what the heck is this and how do you cook it?”?
I’ve done it lots of times. I used to drive my friend Bruce buggy because I figured he should know what to do with bok choy…being oriental and all. But no, Bruce was born in Canada and doesn’t have any more idea what to do with pigs feet than I do.
So imagine my surprise today when I went to check out a relatively new store in my ‘hood called either A-1 Premium or Al Premium (owner’s name could be Al, I suppose) and found some stuff that I thought grandson Jaden would love to see, although frankly it was making me a little queasy. In fact, I commented to husband Joe that I felt like I’d walked into another country, the food was so varied and different. Next thing I know I’ve got some goon following me around yelling at me “no pictures…no pictures”. Husband Joe of course jumped to my defence before I had a chance to open my mouth. “Why can’t she take pictures?” he asked. “They’re just to show to our grandson”.
“No pictures!” insisted our goon. “You talk to Manager”, pointing to the very front of the store (we were at the very back). “Nope”, said Joe. “You want us to talk to the manager, you go get him”. Well this deteriorated into “you do it” “no, you do it” and we walked away – with a goon shadow. Next thing we know we’re being followed by our goon and a man in a red jacket who finally approached us and said “you no take pictures in store”. And then he said something about the pictures ending up on the internet (of course, I thought “hey, great idea” – that had never been my intention).
Joe again explained they were only for our grandson – as I plotted Facebook and a blog – and red jacket walked away smiling.
As we finished our shopping – still under the watchful eye of goon – I started wondering if the fuss was about illegal aliens as employees. What else could the big deal have been?
Still in this day and age of instant communication (have you seen the commercial where the man falls off the treadmill?) where a story of poor communication and therefore poor customer service can be spread in a heartbeat, this was very, very poorly handled. Joe reckons we may be barred from the store for life. I’ll have to check that out later this week.
And what was all the fuss about? Well, here are the infamous pictures:
On Tuesday, March 19th I dragged myself through the door of LucSculpture and Studio to start my Drawing for the Terrified Beginner. And boy was I terrified; I actually cried with fear as I drove down Greenwood Avenue. In the classroom, I held so tightly onto my Starbucks tea, it’s a wonder I didn’t squish the cup and end up with scalding tea all over me and everyone near me.
But Kathy, the instructor, is an absolute gem! She’s got the biggest smile in the world and is incredibly encouraging. Unlike my last instructor who basically said “draw this” or “draw that” with no instruction or explanation, Kathy is the exact opposite. So we started with the basics – the materials.
What fun! Chalk, conte, pencils, graphite, pastels, hard pastels, greasy this and not so greasy that. Newsprint, Cartridge paper, paper with bumps that’s good for chalk, expensive paper, cheap paper and everything in between.
Then we did contour drawings to “tighten up” our eyes. Well this is the silliest thing – you have to draw your fist (or anything else I guess) but the paper is folded over the hand with the pencil so that you can’t actually see what you’re drawing. Well, no one can be good at that, right?!
Eventually we sketched some simple shapes and learned about putting axes into the sketches to help with proportion and before I knew it the class was over. But what a difference it makes when you know the steps and the reasons!
I was having great fun until Kathy said “okay, now we’re going to do a still life” and I froze! She showed us how to block the proportions – figure out the bottom, figure out the sides, etc. That was okay. So was drawing the teapot and bottle. But those flowers? OMG, there are so many details! Where to start? I sat and stared at them and started getting worked up (tears on the way) when she came over and said “just draw a circle where you think this flower is”. Well that wasn’t too hard and that was it, I was off to the races. She really liked my lying on its side, squished flower.
So, I’ve done my first still life sketch! Not in a rush to do another one, although I’m sure Kathy has that in mind for us (did I mention there are only 2 of us in the class?). Can’t wait to see what next week has in store.
Other random pictures:
Back in the fall, our friends, Wendie and Hugh, came down to Toronto and we went to the Cottage Life Show. While we were wandering around, I saw a booth displaying various types of insulation and I stopped to chat. One of my questions was: is your insulation mouse proof? The response: Are you kidding? Nothing’s mouse proof. They will eat anything…wood…steel wool…insulation laced with arsenic. Nothing keeps mice out. But there will be a presentation at 3:30 pm over there about how to mouse proof your cottage.
Fabulous, I thought and wandered “over there” at the appropriate time. To my surprise, the presentation was by Jennifer Cambray, the President of JNC Innovations and she was talking about Oust-A-Mouse Bait House. I say surprise because I had already had an Oust-A-Mouse Bait House at my cottage for a few years and I couldn’t say that it had really helped. I still had mice everywhere I’d ever had them. Jennifer’s presentation was both very interesting and quiet scary (Deer mice, Hantavirus) and she was fielding questions as the expert she is.
One woman was being quite rude in her challenges to Jennifer and Jennifer handled it like a pro. Never having been one for confrontation, I decided to wander over to the Oust-A-Mouse booth and speak to her quietly. She was held up for some time after her talk so I spoke to her husband who gave me Jennifer’s card and suggested I contact her directly.
This is where the incredible customer service comes in. I contacted Jennifer a couple of days later (after the Cottage Life Show was done and she was home). I told her that we had seen no appreciable difference after using an Oust-A-Mouse for a number of years and going through copious amounts of poison. After a discussion of where it was, how I was using it, how much poison, etc., her response: Then you probably have such a large infestation that you need another bait house which I will send to you free of charge. If it works, you can pay me for it!
But that wasn’t all. As she visits Bracebridge regularly, she dropped the bait house off at Wendie and Hugh’s for me. She also included some rat poison – just to make sure I was using the right stuff – and gave me instructions on exactly where to put it.
Now this is where it gets even crazier: If I’m not mistaken, she also offered to drop by the cottage in the spring to help me make sure I had everything set up right and make sure I had bleached everything that needed to be bleached, stopped up holes, etc. I was already so blown away by her offer to send me a bait house without payment in advance that I could have misunderstood that part.
In any event, between Xmas and New Years off we went to the cottage with our 2nd bait house to place under the bathroom. Topped up the poison in Oust-A-Mouse bait house number 1 while we were there and then couldn’t get out of the driveway (a whole other story).
So, the days are getting longer and it’s only a matter now of a few weeks (okay, maybe 7 or 8) and we’ll be able to go see how the mice did over the winter.
But in the meantime, I have Jennifer’s card on my desk as a constant reminder of what truly exceptional customer service (not to mention standing behind your product) is all about and I strive daily to give the same to my clients.
It’s been a very tiring week. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. Not so with a 9 year old in tow and theme parks to do.
Theme parks every other day should be doable, right? And physically it wasn’t bad (okay, I lie, my feet were killing me at the end of each day). Thank goodness for the special pass we could get at both Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios, which probably saved us 8 hours in various line ups over 2 (and a bit) days.
It was more the angst and anxiety which were difficult to deal with and exhausting. Between the bragging “I’ve done Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland” (I don’t think it’s true, I don’t think he’s tall enough) to the fretting “is this fast? Does it drop far? Does it go upside down?” to the “I’m scared, I don’t want to do this…are you sure it doesn’t go upside down?” to the eventual “I wasn’t scared…that was boring”.
Didn’t seem to matter that we were at Disney…”everything here is for children buddy, nothing is going to be too scary” (okay, okay, Space Mountain was pretty scary – but other than that…) followed by Universal where the scary rides were pretty darned obvious and a certain 9 year old would say “you guys are SO chicken that you wont go on that” (The Hulk, Drop Zone).
But I got to try Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade; Jaden enjoyed Jurassic Park (particularly the water ride), Harry Potter (he has an official wand), Shrek, something about Minions and Gru, the Cat in the Hat and all the other lovable (and not so lovable) characters that inhabit the wonderlands that are the Orlando theme parks.
And so it ends. We had a visit with Auntie Olivia, Bryan, Uncle Bruce, Aunt Betty, all day rain, all day cold and a couple of days that were warmish and sunny. No relaxing by the pool, no sitting quietly in the sun, but a little boy who had a very memorable adventure in Florida.
And that’s what it should be all about.
This week, I went to see my surgeon at Toronto East General Hospital for my 4 week check up on my restructured wrist. I didn’t really know what I expected; I had been told I would be in my splint for 3 months so figured this was just to make sure my hand was still attached and the right colour.
When Dr. D walked into the room and took a look at my hand and arm, her mouth dropped open and she stared! So, not knowing what was going on in her mind, I wiggled all my fingers and bent my wrist forward and backward.
She continued to stare at me agape! When she finally collected herself she exclaimed “you are so far ahead of any of your peers, it’s quite amazing!”. I asked what she meant and she said “when did you have your surgery, December? No one heals this fast!”.
I had to smile and give credit where credit is due, “My naturopath prescribed Arnica 200 ch starting the night before surgery and then Arnica and Ruta [graveolens] 200 ch alternating after the surgery. That and rubbing castor oil on my arm since the cast came off”.Dr. D’s reaction? “Whatever it takes. It’s still amazing. Oh and you only need to wear your splint from now on if you’re outside and there’s a chance of a slip/fall or if your arm gets tired and you need support.” So much for 3 months in a splint! Woot Woot!
Where has the month gone? I can’t believe I actually managed to type a blog back on January 5th, what with my hand still being really sore from surgery but I guess being pissed off helped. Thanks to Witchy and some homeopathic remedies, I’m healing well and will be back into the blogging chair soon.
Since then, I’ve had a blog running around in my head about a company that displays customer service that is the antithesis of my recent bad experience with Pizza Pizza but have not written it yet as I’m trying not to strain my wrist more than I have to.
However, I saw my dear friend Witchy yesterday and my new instructions (aside from increase this dosage, keep doing the other, rub castor oil on your arm, etc.) include: stop for a bit every day and either call a friend, write a blog or do something creative …well, I guess writing a blog can be creative but she meant draw a picture or do something artsy.
Well, I would love to pick up a pencil or piece of charcoal or conte and do just that, but I am intimidated. I don’t have a problem using a pencil to try to draw an image of a person, but that’s not what Witchy wants. She wants me to be expressive and uninhibited and boldly creative and I am, to quote the title of an art course at Luc Studio, a “terrified beginner”. Therefore, starting in March, I am signed up for the course “Drawing & Painting for the Terrified Beginners“.
It’s funny that I’m so intimidated as I come up with creative solutions for my clients all the time, but pick up a piece of charcoal and apply to paper….shudder. So for now, I will call a friend or write a blog …or possibly just journal and keep my thoughts to myself.
But as soon as I feel able, you will receive my blog about Oust-a-Mouse and it’s incredible President, Jennifer Cambray. I hope I emulate Jennifer’s level of customer service at The Virtual Alternative, but I’m not sure that’s even possible. More on this soon, but for now, back to fixing a database.
Last night husband dearest and I decided to order our usual pizza from the same store we’ve been picking up from for 7 years. Got there 20 minutes later to pick up and the pizza was wrong – as in it was not the pizza we had ordered.
“Oh” said the clerk, “that’s head office’s fault”. On close inspection of the order/receipt it was clear that no, it was the store’s fault – they had been given the correct instructions. Now this is a question of food intolerances so taking any old pizza is not an option. We requested that they correct the problem and make us the right pizza.
So we waited.
Less that 20 minutes later we were handed the correctly made pizza. “That will be $14.68 sir” said the clerk. Now this has happened to us before and we’ve been given both pizzas and told “have a nice night” so we were flabbergasted that they were asking for payment. “What happened to 20 minutes or free?” asked husband dearest. “Oh, that’s not the store’s policy” replied the clerk. At that point, I would have walked out on both pizzas but no, husband dearest decided to pay and take it up with head office.
So, after dinner, the call was placed to head office. “Well, did you get your pizza?” they enquired. “Well, yes, but not in 20 minutes”. “Was a pizza ready for you in 20 minutes?” enquired head office. “Well, yes, but not the pizza we ordered” replied husband dearest.
“Sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do. You got your pizza and there was one available within the 20 minute time frame”.
As you know, I make a big deal about customer service in this blog and in my business (The Virtual Alternative). Last night’s experience with Pizza Pizza was the worst kind of customer service considering that Pizza Pizza makes a big deal about “20 minutes or it’s free”. If you’re going to advertise a guarantee, you must live up to that promise – whether it’s head office’s fault or the man on the ground’s fault…a guarantee is a guarantee. And good customer service is worth its weight in gold as good advertising.
Shame on you Pizza Pizza!
We moved to our condo a year and a half ago. At that time, I took the opportunity to switch from Rogers (who I had always hated dealing with) to Distributel DSL. Turned out that Distributel was no better (ISP-wise) but they were nicer to deal with. So in October, out of desperation to get my VOIP phones working, I tried again…with Acanac. They were advertising a great price and their “line” was that everyone else inflated their prices and it really wasn’t necessary. They sounded like the Little Engine that Could. So I took a chance.
Bad move. I failed to read the small print which indicated that they would bill me for a year up front. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to pay a year up front to an untried and true source. So, the day I signed up, I cancelled the contract (they have a 30 day no fault cancellation clause).
And then the fun began. Rather than cancelling the order immediately, they said “oh no, we have to charge your credit card but we will refund the money within 30 days”. Right! When I called the credit card company to challenge the non-reimbursed charge, they wouldn’t talk to me because I’m not the primary card holder (I still haven’t managed to get hubby dearest to call them).
So I kept nagging Acanac. On December 1st, I finally got an email from them saying they had reimbursed the money – 2.5 months later!!! Needless to say, the credit card company has charged us interest on the outstanding amount. I have emailed Acanac repeatedly saying that in my opinion, that interest would not have been charged except for their actions (there’s nothing else outstanding on the card) therefore I want to be reimbursed for the cost of their unauthorized loan but nope, they maintain it’s not their fault. I’m not sure whose fault they think it is, but they were the ones that had the use of my money for 2.5 months.
At the end of this week, post surgery, I will get hubby dearest on the phone to the credit card company to challenge the charge if I have to nag him the same way I nagged Acanac. And if Acanac thinks they are finished here, they are wrong. I will make sure everyone I know finds out about their disgraceful behaviour and attitude.
This is the antithesis of good customer service. Had they never charged my card or reversed the charge immediately, I might have good things to say…as I did with Advantage Car Rentals.
At the Virtual Alternative, if a customer isn’t happy, work is redone – free of charge; money is refunded – even if not really necessary; money paid in advance for work that is subsequently not done, even if it’s the customer that calls a halt to the work – is returned.
For Acanac to have held my money so long that it cost me money is unconcionable and just plain bad business.
And for the record, I ended up with Tek Savvy but that has been worse than the DSL, so I’m looking for an ISP that will work …again.
A QUICK UPDATE: Acanac finally refunded our money on December 1st after 2.5 months of nagging and interest being charged on my credit card which they would not cover. Shame on you Acanac!