record collecting

My Crazy Summer 2018

It’s taken me a while to get back to posting on here this summer, ’cause like last summer and the summer before: I am too damn busy in the summertime. There hasn’t been a whole lot of gaming, but a lot of other stuff happening…Rust never sleeps, and apparently neither are we at the House of Sim! This here is an abridged update of what I have been up to. It was monumental to say the least!

Part 1: A trip back home.

First stop, Sudbury, Ontario. This time last year, no one thought we’d be cleaning out a house that has been lived in for 42 years, with the plan to put it up for sale. Alas, that is what happened. My husband’s mother, newly widowed, recruited a team (us “kids”) to help her downsize and pack. Her hope is to move away to the Ottawa Valley this coming Fall to be closer to the grandkids. The majority of our time up north was spent on this emotional task, and mission accomplished; we were successful! The house is currently up for sale…but it was a backbreaking (and heartbreaking) haul. A lot of beer and chocolate were consumed. The ordeal was mostly unpleasant, but it emphasized the importance of family. Thankfully, the house was equiped with a pool so we would be able to cool off. Damn, I’m gonna miss that pool…

It wasn’t all a slog, however. We managed to step out and have some day trips around the city, including a stop at Dynamic Earth, Sudbury’s tourist destination on the history of mining in the region. I hadn’t been here since a class trip in grade 6…And, it appears they polished up the Big Nickel just for us!

I was also thankful to spend time with my family which I needed desperately. We planned a day trip that saw my whole fam jam loaded up into a mini van and embarked on a brief stint to Manitoulin Island, the geographic epicentre of my maternal heritage. This might sound morbid, but we spent our time visiting grave sites. Grimesthorpe cemetary in Spring Bay basically holds a large portion of my maternal lineage, including my Grandparents. It’s so peaceful there, the only thing you hear are the squirrels protesting you are around their domain. Then, my great uncle is buried in another quiet cemetary that has the cleanest outhouse. We rounded out the day with ice cream from Farquhar’s Dairy. These things might sound mundane, but this is the kind of subdued activity I needed.

Part 2: Get out get out get out of my house!

Clearing out my husband’s childhood home got us to thinking about our own “stuff.” Let me put it out there: My husband and I collect things. We love video games, books, movies, music and other sorts of pop culture memorabilia. We got stuff. But, after spending 12 days straight pitching other people’s stuff, it got us to thinking about our own cherished items. Are they really cherished?? We both conceded how anxious we were feeling about our own stuff cluttering up the house. A proposal was given from the hubs – let’s go through our stuff. Let’s decide what is important, let’s pitch what isn’t. Let’s lose the stuff meant for “one day…” If you haven’t touched it in 5 years, you don’t need it. We’ve lived in our current home for 12 years; we have STUFF.

My name is Sarca and I hoard books. Things haven’t gotten much better from this 2014 post, except I read around 5-10 books a year now, which is an accomplishment. Last summer (2017) I activated my Markham Public Library eBook account, which is another avenue to read…I just never stopped buying the physical copies. I know Mr. Books will have a heart attack (brace yourself Aaron…), but I packed up the majority of my books, and sent 10 boxes to the junk shop! Yes, 10 boxes. I have kept key ones from my favourite authors as well as graphic novels that will never be digitized…the rest went. It wasn’t easy, but I feel a weight lifted and some control over my stuff. I found myself looking around my house critically and asking, “What else can I lose?”

Part 3: Get out get out get out of my house!! (part 2)

Time to catch that guy!

But before the purging of our stuff began, imagine coming home exhausted from a trip up north only to find your house scattered with mouse scat. This happened. I noticed poop on the kitchen counter, and then in the living room. We then noticed our Ikea couch had been scratched up a little. We sprung into action immediately, cleaning and disinfecting every room. I wanted to clean under the beds while on vacation, I just didn’t want to clean them in such an emergency! We discovered through trial and error the little guy was living under our kitchen sink in the space between the cabinet and the floor. We can only suspect he got in through the door to the garage (we have had some issues in the past with mice on our property getting into our garage looking for seed). No food was ever eaten from our kitchen, and the mouse was eventually caught. Talk about the best case scenario of what could have been a disasterous situation.

Part 4: Chicago!

After spending less than 6 hours in Portland, Oregon and the ordeal behind such a short trip, I developed some adverse reaction to travel. I didn’t want to go anywhere, nor drive, nor navigate anywhere unfamiliar. An opportunity presented itself that would allow me to be a passenger on a trip to Chicago, Illinois to attend the inaugeral Cartridge Club Con, and I jumped at it. I rode in a van with my husband and 3 other guys and it was good times.

There were several highlights from the drive up:

A pit stop in Detroit, Michigan to Third Man Records was pretty cool. This is Jack White’s pressing plant and storefront. It oozed coolness.

We stopped for supper at a diner in Toledo, Ohio that had 20 different kinds of pie; I tried the Scutterbotch pie, which was a butterscotch pudding filling and whipped cream. Delish!

Along the way we stopped in to a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee. Let me give you a short “For the Love of ‘Fee”…Dunkin’, your ‘fee ain’t worth the $2.50 U.S. for a medium. It tasted burnt, and what is with the price point; are you trying to be Starbucks? An interesting side-note – the coffee cups were made of styrofoam, which is not something we see in my area any more (ours are paper; styrofoam is not recycled).

Did you have any doubt there’d be coffee-drinking?

We stopped in to a Walmart in Elkhart, Indiana. Cheap liquor, weird sugery cereal and Chicken in a Biskit crackers couldn’t keep us away. I was most pleased to find Downy fabric softener balls which are no longer sold in Canada; I picked up three.

This pic doesn’t do it justice – over 600 cabinets!

It was exciting to go to Chicago. I got to meet up with some friends from the Club, try some Chicago deep dish pizza, and go to Galloping Ghost, a legit arcade. The unfortunate part was that there just wasn’t enough time to do any Chicago sight-seeing. We were only there for 2 days. We’ll have to go back…

Giordano’s stuffed crust pizza rocked!

Part 5: Montreal

Two weeks ago, we went to Montreal. Planning this trip was like, “It’s a long weekend…Let’s go to Montreal!” Alrighty then! The plan was to go record store shopping. I’d only driven past Montreal on the way to Old Quebec City (grade 8 class trip…), so this was going to be fun.

The hubs lined up the Hotel Brossard, a hotel off the island. We managed to get there with only one detour away from the toll road. It was a lovely hotel – King sized bed and terrycloth bathrobes! Our first night, we had sushi from a local joint; it was awesome!

The next day, we embarked on a full-day record store shopping spree. We just had to wait for the record stores to open! So, we went to see a Picasso exhibit at the Musee des Beaux-Arts. Picasso is my favourite, so I had a good time…

The record store pictured upper right is Beatnik’s

We then walked to three record stores. It was a hot one that day and none of these places were air conditioned; I never sweat so much! But, it was loads of fun and we picked up a good haul (pick up video to follow on the hubs’ YouTube channel).

The hubs also wanted some Montreal Smoked Meat. We tried to get into Schwartz’s deli, a world-famous joint, but the line was a mile long. We went across the street instead to the Main Deli. He had his smoked meat sandwich, and I had a chicken sandwich with fries. So good! We rounded out the day with some ice cream from a parlour close to our hotel.

I tried to practice my French a little while in Quebec, but no one in Montreal would have it and would speak to me in English (I suppose it was my mangled Anglicized accent that gave me away!). Overall the trip was successful, and we hope to go back soon.

And there you have it. It’s been a short summer, with a lot of stuff crammed in. I hope you enjoyed reading! What have you been up to this summer?

Just When I Thought I Was Out, The Music Pulls Me Back In…

I have had a hankering to listen to some tunes from my collection of CDs for a long while now. I never realized it would be such a big deal, but when you store your collection in large Rubbermaid containers, it can become a pain. To pull out the ol’ bin from the dark corner of the basement seemed like a very daunting task. Overwhelming, in fact:

So much good music in this bin, but it weighs a ton…and…oh man, forget it. I’ll just listen to music on YouTube…

When my iPod went belly-up two years ago, at the time I said to myself I was going to do something with those CDs once and for all. Rip ’em onto the terabyte so I could reacquaint myself with them. Well, it hasn’t happened, folks. For years, we have been concentrating on gaming and house renos – putting the CDs away, favouring instead other avenues to get music – Sirius Satellite radio, online streaming services like Google, Groove Music and Accuradio – and plain ol’ .mp3s fulfilled the need. Whenever I’d think of reacquainting myself with the CDs, the thought of moving around furniture again to make room to display them seemed impossible.

It was one Sunday in August when the hubs and I were at the mall on the hunt for the game Spot It (highly recommend!) when he said he wanted to go into Sunrise Records. Understand, we don’t do the mall. The last time we stepped foot in a mall was back in March when coincidentally, HMV, the only record store for miles was closing its doors. Sunrise has since opened in its place, and this August was the first time we checked it out. I haven’t bought physical music in a long while (I purchased Man Machine Poem by the Tragically Hip last fall).

Honestly, I have been out of the CD-buying game for a LONG TIME! I have been gleefully watching from the sidelines as Mike, Bop, Aaron, Geoff, Deke, 1537, J., JHubner73 (see blogroll for a who’s who), and the rest of you great music bloggers search, buy and review music. I haven’t bought music on a regular basis in years, partly because of my own self-imposed austerity, partly because of gaming, partly because of the wave of digital media, and well, I seem to get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that accumulates versus the lack of time and energy to enjoy it. I have written on this blog how music changes my mood; it inspires, it entertains! And I have been feeling like I need to connect with my music again! So when we set foot into Sunrise, I found myself perusing the racks. And you wouldn’t believe what I found:

What?! U2’s The Joshua Tree, remastered!?!

I was in awe. The hubs said, “Well, that’s it, I don’t care what you say, we’re buying it.” Boy, am I glad we did.

The reissue was crisp-sounding, and since I hadn’t heard the Joshua Tree album in a long while, it was fun getting reacquainted with all of those songs. It brought me back to 1987 when Where The Streets Have No Name was hitting the charts. The first half of the album is well known to radio, while it’s also the last half – Trip Through Your Wires, In God’s Country, One Tree Hill, Mothers of the Disappeared – that I love the most. Yes, this is good! Yes, it inspired me.

Following that trip, the hubs and I have since pulled out our three bins of CDs, alphabetized them, and catalogued them using Discogs. Now, I am looking at my current collection more critically.

Lotsa CD-Rs…

Not so amazingly, when we went through the collection, we discovered at least 1/3 of it is burned CDs created from downloading! Looking back, I can’t believe how much effort went into downloading, printing covers and burning the CDs – a whole large Rubbermaid container full! Granted, some of the music were bootlegs or hard-to-find collections, but certainly not all of it! I couldn’t help but feel a bit of guilt.

I have started to legitimize my collection by acquiring the actual physical media of my favourite albums. My preference in media is for the CD (more accessible to me – I can listen to it in the car!), while the hubs is getting the vinyl fever (natch!). Regardless, if there is a remaster available on an album of interest, I will certainly consider that purchase. The ones I have purchased lately have been worth it.

The Majesty!

This newfound interest in my music collection has led me to explore some albums that eluded me back in the day. While I can freely peruse the stacks at Sunrise, the thriftin’ bug also catches my attention. What with CDs as little as $0.50 to $2.99 at the junk shops and used media stores, I have managed to gain some headway on this front, quite cheaply. Many people are dumping out of their physical media, which works out great for me. I’ve been using my two-hour daily commute to my advantage too, by taking my music spoils for a spin in the car and have discovered some really awesome new-to-me albums…and I have also found some no-so-great albums…which I can cast aside, guilt free!

I hope to talk more about my love for the tunes here on the blog. For now, I am just really enjoying this experience.

[Video] Vinyl Record Collecting

I thought I would post this for those fellow bloggers that write about music collecting and appreciation (Hey Dudes!).

My hubs, Buried On Mars, has just posted a YouTube highlighting his vinyl collection for a contest run by fellow YouTuber, Round2Gaming.

Many a vinyl record profiled in this video was found on trips made together searching on hands and knees in smelly and dirty record store basements (good times!). I don’t go out of my way to collect vinyl myself, although I browse and…well…if I see something cool I can’t pass it up, like that Genesis Abacab vinyl (such a great album!). But, my collection of vinyl is nowhere near as big as the hubs’.

I still have a stack of old 45 singles from when my sis and I would buy them in the mid 80s. A lot of great Canadian music nostalgia in that pile…and showcased our questionable taste in music (okay, yeah, I’ll still listen to some of it..).

Anyways hope you enjoy the video!