Monday 30 January 2017

A Milestone

This is my 100th post. I know, I know -- I'm still in the baby stage compared to most bloggers. But, still, it surprises me and makes me feel like celebrating.

I wasn't sure what would happen when I set out in my little blogging rowboat on the big, big ocean of the internet last March. (If you're new here, and you're interested, here is my first post. It explains my blog name, among other things.)

But now, I'm so glad I set out on my big adventure. There was barely a ripple on that ocean, and I landed in blogland with both oars (although some might disagree) and a smile on my face. 

It's been fun, and educational, and heart-warming.

The fun has been finding my own voice, taking photos for illustration or as a jumping-off point, and searching for Pixabay photos to fill in where my own fall short. (Their library of free photos is amazing. And amusing.) I have to admit a sneaky pleasure in doing my "cheat" posts of pictures from, too. Research in university was never like this. 

The educational part of blogging came with learning more about my camera, figuring out how to edit my photos, forcing myself to cut out long rambling bits of writing (although I fail sometimes), and coming to the realization that not everything I write needs to be published -- sometimes writing for myself is enough and then I can get on to something else for a post.

The heart-warming part? Well, people are just so nice -- engaged, encouraging, clever, interesting, funny, full of compassion -- you are lovely people.

Thank you for reading! If I could send cake through the internet, I would. Instead, you get this lovely specimen:

I even sorta learned how to take a selfie! Believe me, it wasn't easy ...I'm all hooves ...

(Photo credit: Pixabay ... who else?)

How long have you been blogging (if you have a blog)?
Any advice, anecdotes, insights?
Do you plan to keep blogging for the foreseeable future?

I'd be interested in hearing anything you want to share.

Friday 27 January 2017

Almost Wishing For More Snow

Last week I used a Pixabay picture of a peace symbol drawn in snow:

See how round that circle is? I was impressed.

Coincidentally, only a few days later I was following a link from a newsletter email that I hadn't even remembered signing up for, but which had some fascinating articles, and discovered some really impressive snow drawings - actually they're called trampled snow art. Don't be fooled by the casual terminology; these are carefully crafted, precise, and stunning designs in snow, done by Simon Beck, a man who lives in England but creates his designs in the French Alps.

I would like to provide some of the pictures from the article here, but without permission I hesitate to do so.

Therefore, I will just put the link HERE, and you can take a look if you're interested.

Interestingly, on Mr. Beck's Facebook account he has a photo of one of his most recent pieces of art: a large peace symbol with smaller ones around the perimeter, which he made for the occasion of Donald Trump's inauguration. He encouraged people to share it freely across the internet in the name of world peace, and I am happy to do so.

Now that's a peace symbol! It makes me smile.

* * * * *

And yes, for those who may already know that I eschew social media, I do have a Facebook account now. I have three "friends" on there - all relatives. I've used it less than a dozen times. It's about the only way I can keep track of two of those relatives. Sigh ... I haven't sold out to crappy media, I've just "adjusted to my current reality" ...

Monday 23 January 2017

Strange Patterns On The River, And Strange Things Not In It

I may have mentioned a time or two dozen that I take my point-and-shoot camera everywhere with me now. You never know what you're going to see, even on a path you walk every day. That's part of the draw of walking outside for me. I don't think I'd stick with walking around a track or on a treadmill for very long.

Last week I was delighted to see these patterns in the ice on the nearby river. The currents in the river probably had something to do with these swirls and sworls. The first two photos were taken facing away from the sun, and have this ghostly blue-white cast. The rest were taken toward the sun, and look normal, but I still find them intriguing.

Do you see the open water at the left and right of the above shot? Below is a closer look at the water to the right, where some gulls had gathered to take advantage of the "liquid ice":

A few days later, the surface of the water had frozen again, but it was only a thin layer of ice as I could hear it moving and shifting, giving off cracking and crunching noises as I listened. The freeze/thaw cycle we have seen so far this winter has meant the ice is never very thick, and sometimes not there at all. That may change as we head into the coldest part of the season.

At least we don't have any of these in our river:

... although they ARE beautiful ...

And in the summertime, there are none of these:

Or these:

Or these:

... although I'm not absolutely sure about that purple guy ...

Have you ever been up close and personal with an iceberg? a shark? the Loch Ness monster? an octopus? Any other strange phenomena? Dig deep, and tell me what marvels you've seen with your own two eyes ...

(Final four pictures courtesy of Pixabay.)

Friday 20 January 2017

A Thankful Post

Today's memories were jump-started by this post from Delores, where she talks about helping her grandchildren learn to knit. As I commented to her, there's nothing as helpful as a hands-on demonstration of a new skill. Kudos to her for passing on her knowledge to some of the little people in her life.

That post reminded me of my early interest in handwork, but it also reminded me of how many kind people there were in my life as I grew up, people who helped me learn the things I was interested in knowing, and sometimes things I wasn't interested in but which were good things to learn.

My mother showed me how to sew on her treadle machine when I was quite little, and she provided me with knitting needles, crochet hooks, and other supplies to satisfy my crafting soul. She also let me bake on my own at an equally young age (probably seven or eight).

My father, an auto mechanic and fixer of all things with motors, allowed my brother and me to drive an old Jeep and an old VW Bug in the field next to our house when I was still so short I had to sit on a car parts catalogue to see over the steering wheel. (The catalogue was about four inches thick.) Dad also taught me to drive "for real" when I got my license a few years later and a few inches taller.

My grandfather showed me to chord on the piano so I could accompany his fiddle-playing, which I wrote about here. And although at the time I was as ungracious and ungrateful as only a teenager can be, I am glad to have that experience and treasure those memories now.

My grandfather's second wife gave me a hands-on demonstration of embroidery techniques, and the good advice to wash my hands before working on a project. I was a grubby eight-year-old and washing wouldn't have occurred to me without her input. The marriage to my grandad didn't last long, but I still remember her patient and kind help.

When I was twelve I took "plink, plank, plonk" piano lessons from a very nice teacher, but found them drearily dull. Then an accomplished musician moved to our community from the United States with his equally talented wife, they put down roots and had babies, and my mother babysat their children in return for piano lessons for me. Now that was a teacher who could motivate. He helped me learn numerous complicated pieces and I thank him to this day for understanding that I didn't need to become a concert pianist, I just needed to play something I loved.

That musician and his wife also formed a theatre group and a choral group in our little community, and his wife taught ballet classes. The amount of culture that they brought to my life, and the lives of many of my friends and neighbours, can't be overstated.

I am so thankful for all these adults in my childhood who helped me gain skills and self-esteem that have travelled with me throughout my life.

On a completely different topic: on one of my walks this week, I found a peace symbol formed by the cracks in the sidewalk. And I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn't because my fingers were freezing, and then we had more snow, and now it's all covered up.

Here's a Pixabay peace sign instead (which I could have made myself, if I'd been clever enough to think of it):

The next time I get the chance, I'll take a photo of that sidewalk crack peace symbol, and post it.

We can never have too many peace symbols, nor too much peace.

Monday 16 January 2017

Almost Ready For My Public Debut

We had to replace our washing machine a couple of years ago, and although we chose the simplest model - the one most like our old one - and it does a good job, there are still times it drives me nuts. It has some kind of electronic sensor that it uses to determine if the load is balanced, in terms of weight, and it also has a locking lid.

I understand the locking lid; it's a safety feature that will probably save my hand/arm/life at some point in the next twenty years as I develop dementia and forget to let the spin cycle stop before reaching in.

And I like the fact that it will decide if the load is balanced so it doesn't wreck the tub, banging and crashing into the sides of the washer - instead, it meekly stops and refuses to go until I redistribute the load and it feels mentally and emotionally prepared to proceed.

But it takes SO LONG to do its electronic wizardry. The wash cycle ends up taking about fifteen minutes more per load than a similar cycle did in our old washer. When the machine is started, it spends time whirring and clicking and whirring some more and clicking some more, and eventually - if it is completely satisfied with my offering - it allows the water to run in. Each time it starts to do something different, it's like the machine has to re-think whether it's happy with its life: is it really done swishing? is it ready to spin now? what about now? is it okay with the rinse water about to flood in? is it ready to swish again? is it okay to spin again? is it okay to unlock the lid now? because the spinning only completely stopped one full minute ago, and this lady doesn't always appear to have all her faculties ... okay, I guess it's okay to unlock, SIGH.

So yesterday one of my loads wasn't to the liking of the Great White Washing Machine (GWWM) and required redistribution. Done. Punch the start button. Silence, click, whir, weird chugging sound, click, whir, chugging sound ... it didn't sound good, so I hit the pause button, waited a dog's age for everything to process so the lid would unlatch, repeated the process ... except, THIS time I was more careful, actually taking everything out (quite wet) and placing things back in, piece by piece by piece, trying to judge with my hands how heavy each item was. Re-started GWWM, and waited while it went through the whole recalibration thing, plus this time actually spinning and draining, and finally, reluctantly, interminably, coming to a stop and one full minute later unlocking the lid.

But did I waste all that time being upset? swearing at GWWM? going back upstairs and then forgetting that the wash needed put in the dryer?

No, no and no. Although I have done all of those before, I admit.

NOOOO. This time, my friends, I decided I'd take advantage of the wonderful acoustics of the laundry room and the resonance of GWWM's lid, and I created a drum solo that was THIS CLOSE to sounding like this:

(It's easier to see the excellent handwork of the drummers if you click on the Youtube icon and view the video directly on Youtube.)

I'm thinking of getting a hat and a pair of chopsticks for my next performance. You know, take things up a notch.

(Photo credit: Pixabay. Yes, I know that's a turkey. I couldn't find a picture of a donkey playing a drum. Go figure.)

Friday 13 January 2017

The Weather is Like a Box of Chocolates; You Never Know What You're Going to Get*

After being out of commission with back and hip pain, and then with heel pain, for a total of more than six months, I am FINALLY able to go for pain-free walks again, with some restrictions as to frequency and duration.

It is an incredible feeling to walk without pain or limping. I am being very good about respecting the limits and have had no setbacks.

On the other hand, I have been very bad about eating properly. It feels like the more I know I shouldn't eat sweets or salty treats, the more I want them. And there are still far too many goodies in the house from the holidays.

For now, I'm doing my best, and trusting that as I begin to exercise regularly the cravings will go away, replaced by feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction (as happened last spring when I began walking with camera in hand).

So, a few pictures from some of my recent walks.

The river is frozen now. Except for the days it isn't. Our weather is swinging wildly between freezing and mild.

This was taken a few days later. The ice was melting and breaking up.

Someone (not me) was bored and the ground was soft enough to draw this picture.

A couple of days later, the puddles were frozen solid and the wind was bitter.

And then it snowed! It was fiercely cold, too; here is a video so you can hear how crunchy cold the snow was. (Apologies for the fact that it sort of sounds like someone chewing, which is not all that appetizing, is it? You've been warned: feel free to skip the video. If you still choose to watch, it's only fifteen seconds long.)

Our Christmas tree, which had been placed outside for me to cut off its branches for covering some of the shrubs, tried with great determination to get up the steps and back into the house ...

Alas - or maybe, thankfully - it did not make it.

This last photo was taken from the comfort of my own house, not on a walk. We are reasonably sure it's a female pheasant, who somehow ended up in our back yard (chances are, she flew, of course, but it's unusual see them in such an urban setting). She walked the back line of our property with slow, cautious steps, stopping often to peck at the surface of the snow. I hope she finds her way back to wherever she came from.

Long shot:

She is just about in the center of this picture.

And zooming in for a close up:

This is a good sized bird - as big as one of our cats. Who were indoors. Because they're indoor cats. Probably best for all concerned.

May you have a weekend of comfortable temperatures, and completely lacking in birds as big as yourself.

Unless you are visiting a zoo, or you are a farmer of emus or ostriches.

Then it'd be okay.

* Apologies to Forrest Gump for mis-using his quote for my title today.

Monday 9 January 2017

St. Bernard or Swimming Pool?

We got walloped by a snowstorm on the weekend.

We were warned well in advance, so I wrote a post that was scheduled to publish on Monday, in case we lost power.

It was a plea to send a St. Bernard dog to dig us out, and to have him bring us some good dark chocolate in a little knapsack, instead of the booze in the little keg around his neck.

I even found a picture of an intrepid St. Bernard so you could see that he'd be totally up for the job:

He looks like he's up to his haunches in snow, but I think he's actually just lying on the ground with his feet tucked up under him.

We got the snow. But, thankfully, we didn't lose power.

This has been a strange winter so far, but it's exactly what the long-range forecast told us it would be: snow/rain/snow/rain/snow/rain ...

The temperature tonight (Sunday) is forecast to be -29C with windchill factored in, but by Wednesday it's supposed to be +6C and raining. Those wild swings make for dangerous back roads, the ones that are gravel instead of asphalt. They become slick, icy sheets of peril. We are lucky to live where there are paved streets and highways but many in the region have to deal with sheer surfaces in order to reach grocery stores, schools, and work.

What is nature doing in your corner of the world? Do you need a St. Bernard dog and chocolate, or do you need a swimming pool and an iced drink?

Friday 6 January 2017

Who's The Boss?


I was travelling on Thursday (it involved seeing grandchildren, so it was for a good cause) and was so tired when I got home that I had to have a nap.This nap took place in late evening, when I usually write my post for Friday.

So it's the middle of the night and I'm composing a post.

Who's the boss here, me or my blog?

Anyway, thank goodness for cute pictures on the internet.

So relevant in light of my recent holiday eating.

That's strange, I got pie without a pie hat. Life is not fair, little doggy. Which you already know.

I made quiche and ate two slices before actually computing the calories and discovering I should have eaten only one. But it was delicious. Next time I won't cut the slices apart. Meal planning at its finest.

Yep, this is how I felt before my nap tonight.

I believe it also shortens one's employment.

This one is for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. Ahhhh ... savour the coolness.

My friends in the Northern Hemisphere, on the other hand, are probably tired of ice right about now.

What I will look like Friday morning, when I must get up extra early for an appointment time that was changed at the last moment but which I must attend unless I am nine tenths dead. Or ten-tenths; that would also work.

How I will feel by the end of Friday.

What is it about puppies and how cute they are?


Here's hoping your weekend is full of naps and pizza. Or whatever else makes you feel life is worth living.

P. S. Why, yes, I HAVE been experimenting with different fonts. And please excuse the spacing problems. Too tired to fix them .... zzzzz

P. P. S. All images borrowed, gratefully, from website. Saved me again.

Monday 2 January 2017

Fuzzy New Year

No, fuzzy does not refer to my head. I do not indulge, so New Year's Day is hangover-free.

And fuzzy does not describe any gifts I may have received, say, of the bear variety. I've always preferred chocolate.

Fuzzy DOES mean these fuzzy little faces. They are happy that the holiday rush and roar is over and they can once again enjoy a little lap time and peace and quiet.



And Lulu:

Oh, and this kind-of-fuzzy "face" ...

... which is just our composter, covered with snow. Is it just me who sees a face there? With a tall hat?

Okay, maybe.

I need to get out more.

How's your year going so far?