Thursday, January 31, 2013

Knitting Retreat

I am part of a knitting designers' group.  We meet once a month to network and help each other achieve our business/design goals.  Last spring we decided that we would like to host a knitting retreat. It's a fabulous get-together at a resort with exciting classes, great food and tons of fun from Friday night to Sunday lunchtime. Above is our information and here is the link to the website -  Nine of us are hosting the event - 8 teachers and an "ambassador." Great company at a fabulous price!!

Guests pay $550.00 to attend the retreat from April 12-14, 2013.  You may attend some or all of the eight classes, which are offered twice over the weekend. We will be hosting a fashion show on the Friday night, classes and/or relaxing activities on the Saturday and a PJ party Saturday night.  On Sunday, we end with a morning class and lunch.

I am posting this partly for promo - but also to let other companies know that this may be an option to help you grow your business.  There is nothing like people to people and face to face. I'm really looking forward to adding this weekend and hopefully many more to my business and social mix !!!

Have a fun day!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Three Blind Mice...

I was "doing" some poetry the other day. Obviously, I have let "the verse side" down because I came across a poem by a poet I hadn't heard of (of which I hadn't heard) - Billy Collins who was Poet Laureate of the US from 2001 to 2003. I really must "do" poetry more often.  Anyway here is the poem I saw when I "clicked" on his name.

I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey's Version Of "Three Blind Mice"

And I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.

Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
If not,
if each came to his or her blindness separately,

how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?

And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer's wife
or anyone else's wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.

Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, is the cynic's answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass

or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rising softness that he feels.

By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard's
mournful trumpet on "Blue Moon,"

which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better. 
Two blind mice

I love this poem!! To be able to take a children's rhyme and to squeeze so much meaning out of it, while doing the simplest of everyday tasks - chopping parsley, listening to music - takes a genius. Or maybe it just takes time and thought and looking into common everyday "things" to find a meaning, an emotion there, that others have missed because they are always looking for something more important.

But what if there really isn't anything more important and we find in the end that we have missed doing all these "things" because we thought that they were insignificant, daily chores, not worth celebrating!!

I am wondering now, as I write, what could be said about the rhyme "Three Little Kittens," while knitting mittens and listening to an old folk song about a spinning wheel.

Have a thoughtful day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bovine, Ovine, Porcine, Equine.......

For those of you who do crossword puzzles, you may want to commit to memory this handy list, to save thumbing through the dictionary and maybe spilling your cup of coffee or glass of wine, as a result :)

aquiline - eagle
asinine - donkey
bovine - cattle
cancrine - crab
canine - dog
cervine - deer
corvine - crow
equine - horse
elapine - snake
elaphine - deer
feline - cat
hircine - goat
leonine - lion
leporine - rabbit, hare
lupine - wolf
murine - rodent
pavonine - peacock
piscine - fish
porcine - pig
rusine - deer
serpentine - snake
ursine - bear
volucrine - bird
vulpine - fox

Somehow people who can link items to their generic groups have always fascinated me - not sure why, but as you may have guessed, I'm an obscure information hound and saying something like, "I see that he has lupine characteristics," sounds so much more educated than saying, "The guy's a wolf."

Many of these words, I didn't know existed and others I have used from time to time. I am sure that everyone has heard the term "asinine." Serpentine is a lovely adjective as is leonine. Feline and canine are pretty much in common usage and to a lesser degree equine, ursine and vulpine. I was surprised to see three different terms for deer - rusine, corvine and elaphine and the fact that you could transform a deer into a snake by removing the "h." :)

All of this may seem a little pedantic. The poet Ogden Nash had a great way of putting things in perspective.  Here's a favourite poem of his.

The Cow
The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.

Have an interesting day!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Fruits of Our Labours

I have written before about what we do in winter to survive. One of my "must haves" or "must dos" is to plant bulbs - the bigger the better.  I always say that the bulbs get us through to Valentine's Day and then we are very close to March with milder days above freezing. Spring is in the air.

Here are the fruits of my labours.  In late December, I planted up a load of bulbs that my husband had given me as a Christmas gift.  Here is the bountiful Amaryllis.

Amaryllis in bloom

And the Paperwhites...

Paperwhites in bloom

Close up

Paperwhites in bud

Have a blooming wonderful day!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I had to pat myself on the back the other day.  I don't do this often, but then again I don't do things often to warrant that "pat." I have taken most of the month to "move across the hall" to better space. Well, today the "phone guy" came to move the phone, fax and internet lines.  It took a while but finally I had a connection in the "other room."

So now it was my turn.  I had to move and reconnect two computers. I also had to link them and two printers to a D-link for networking and to a modem for the internet. This is not my calling. I am better at "artistic things." But my Dad was an electrical engineer so maybe some of that "stuff" rubbed off.  Anyway at the end of the day, I had physically moved 2 desk tops with huge monitors, separate keyboards and "mice" as well as two printers and a few other "things." I hooked them all up so that they were working and talking to each other!!

And it just took 3 power bars, 10 miles of cable :) and a wired configuration that would make Ben Franklin weep. I also had the wonderful opportunity to use a few of those gadgets, connectors and splitters that have been collecting dust, waiting for a day when they might be needed - their day had come!!

Connected here are:
1. 2 CPUs
2. 2 monitors
3. 1 set of speakers. I threw the other set out.
4. 2 printers.
5. 2 credit card terminals - US and Canadian
6. 1 D- Link
7. 1 modem
8. 1 Calculator
9. 1 Shredder

Plus the cables for two telephones, a fax and the internet. You are never to old to get "wired."

Have an amazing day!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Art in Winter

Today is Saturday and any day that isn't a work day, to me, is a holiday!!  It is unscheduled time.  Yes, there are chores, but they can be done - whenever, and I have to add - if ever!!

So with my unscheduled time today, I took pictures of the Art outside my window. I have done this before on other "free" days. This is today's picture.  I call it revenge of the Lilac :)

Revenge of the Lilac

Here are some more pictures that I have taken on other "holidays."

Winter Roses

And from the second storey...

Eaves Dropping

And finally from someone else's house

Winter Cascade

Enjoy your Saturday!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Calm Exterior.....

A calm exterior often masks a chaotic interior. Let me explain.

We have rented for a short time, I hope, a storage facility nearby to help us clear out the house and reorganize our space. My eldest has just finished four years of Art college and we have run out of walls on which to display his paintings. However, we still have stacks of canvases "hanging" around so to speak.

The initial trip to the facility was easy. We paid our money, got our codes, bought a lock and were shown our 5' x 10' space - on the fourth floor, somewhere on a grid of interconnected halls ....and... halls of lockers, which all looked the same. Fortunately their numbering system was fairly logical and my visual orientation not too bad, such that with a just few wrong turns, we could finally find our particular locker again.

The storage area is a sterile environment. On the outside it is serene, organized, emotion-free, possibly the antithesis of the chaos within each unit. Most of the lockers are rented by families relocating because of work, divorce, death or in our case - a transfer, as in transferring our mess inside our house to one of these tidy boxes.

I know what you see when you unlock our unit.  It's probably the same for other units. Behind this calm exterior is a mother lode of emotional angst - old photographs, mementos from loved ones now gone, children's toys, wedding dresses, gifts that can't be given away, equipment for crafts or sports that one "will come back to."

It's the physical equivalent of mentally not being able to "give up," not being able to "move on."  This is why I am hoping that the locker is a temporary solution to eventually dealing with what has to go, because it also costs money!!

In fact, as clean and organized as the building may seem, it is very eerie. I am usually on my own when I take things over to the unit. I rarely see anyone there.  I really feel much safer, if a few people are loading or unloading their belongings, when I'm dropping off my "stuff." At least, if I call for help, someone will hear me.

It's the days when not a soul is around, that the halls moan. The void is pregnant with a fear, that slowly grows. I fumble with the lock. The shriek of the door as it opens, takes my breath. I drop a box of ornaments. The echo shatters on the far walls. Now, they know I'm here. I work quickly. My mind is so busy shutting out the horror, that I don't see the shadow at first, it moves; I freeze.

"Is everything alright?" a voice says.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pizza and the Passing of Time.....

Yesterday our youngest turned 20. My husband said, "Now we have no teenagers in the house anymore."  I nearly cried.  It's the dichotomy of the human condition - you want them to grow and be successful, but you also want them to stay and keep the family together, as it were.

Anyway, when the kids were young, we always had for their birthday dinner something they liked, which was usually pizza and their favourite cake. We even extended the pizza and cake to the parents' birthdays, so that everyone got to enjoy a free evening! Hence five times a year, we marked the passage of time with pizza.

Occasionally the toppings changed. Mushrooms and green peppers were added to cheese and pepperoni as tastes matured. Cakes moved from traditional chocolate to more exotic mocha and finally to small delicate French pastries. The size of the party also changed. For years there was always five for dinner.  As the kids went away to university the numbers dropped to four or even three and some years we didn't even celebrate a birthday or two because the birthday person was away.  This year there was just three. My husband, myself and the birthday celebrant, Nicholas.

The pizza was different too.  This year it was a gourmet vegetarian pizza from Piazziolo. The toppings were mushroom, green pepper, herbed tomatoes and spinach. Although it tasted fine, it looked a little disgusting because of the wilted spinach. Fortunately, the French lemon tarte was fabulous.

Birthday trimmings also changed over the years.  The balloons and streamers went earlier.  The fancy candles and cards from the cats went a little later. We used to make an effort to at least get candles that represented the year, but as you can see this has morphed to one candle and I was lucky to find that one. There was also just one card and one gift - "lots of money."

Celebrate each day, even if it means wilted spinach and a left over candle. Make it rich!!

Have a happy Day!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Picture poetry...

Sometimes I just see an interesting picture right in front of me.  This is why I like to have my camera ready.  Today the photo op was in the dining room at about 6:00am. Light from an outside lamp was streaming in through the window, creating interesting shadows. I had to record it!

These are the times when I can be transported. This could be a movie set for some indolent film of the languid South. Or it could be the attic room of an ancient estate on the moors or in the highlands. The juxtaposition of the tangled vines and the rigid grid of the window and radiator creates an eerie effect, as does the absence of colour.

I have just finished reading a blog posting of some Haiku created by the author.  Here's my take.

The Room

Carry me away
To an artist's chamber. Then,
Let me think and dream.

Have a magical day!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wabi Sabi revisited

I loved Jenny Heston's post a few days ago on Wabi Sabi - the Japanese term for "celebrating the imperfect" among other things.  I totally agreed with Jenny.  Why wait for "the perfect" situation?  Why not enjoy what is here and now?  Maybe even enjoy it because of its limitations?

I have been looking for a focus for my photography - no pun intended. I thought, because of Jenny's post, maybe I could concentrate on celebrating the imperfect through my pictures.  Here is a photo of what I mean.

For example, I might never have taken a picture of this rusty gate in the past. But if I look at the rust as an added dimension, a real positive, then I think that the picture has more meaning. Maybe it tells a story of the years that it's been there and the people who have walked through it? Can you hear the creak of its hinges?

Pretty pictures, in a way, are easy to take.  There are no imperfections. The challenge with the not so perfect is to make it look amazing, to celebrate those imperfections as an aspect of life. They are part of the journey - the wrinkles, scars and rust spots of a life well lived!!

Have a perfect day!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

A home needs a name.......

I posted about Patrick Moore and his love of stars and cats - maybe one in the same :)  He lived with his mother in a 16th century home in Sussex England called "Farthings." I love the way some people decide to name their homes.  I know that it is often just large estates that receive really grand names. The fabled "Tara" from Gone with the Wind comes to mind. Tara was also once the seat of power for the ancient kings of Ireland. Castles are always named, but sometimes people name cottages and the name just "sticks."

I have a New Zealand friend who lived for a time in England in a large rambling house called "Spill Feathers" because of the doves that inhabited the house along with them. Another friend in Penzance Cornwall named her cottage "Martha's Garden." She and her husband renovated and sold 2 of the three buildings on a farm that they had bought.  They moved into the third building which was actually once the cowshed and Martha was the last cow in residence.

Casa Loma - Toronto

A family down the street whose last name is Beri, have named their place "The Beri Patch." Another have the name "Chepstow" over the door.  No doubt an area in England they know.  If I had the money to buy a "Get Away,"  I would name my escape "Innisfree" after the poem by W.B. Yeats - Lake Isle of Innisfree.

What would you name your home, your escape and/or your dream home?  Names always add an interesting dimension to things.

Have a phenomenal day!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Outdoor Gallery

We went for a walk through Burke's Brook ravine which runs under the overpass of Mt Pleasant Rd. near Blythwood Ave. It's an area that's very popular with graffiti artists.  My husband had read that the city was trying to control the amount of defacing there by making the area an outdoor gallery. Maybe they were thinking that if they made the graffiti "acceptable" then it would no longer be fun and the practice would stop!  Here's what it looks like now.

The city put up the "frames," which some people have used. However the real spray can bombers managed to avoid the frames and still do their work outside of the box..err square. The cement foundations, though, are aesthetically beautiful and lend themselves to the art gallery concept.

I can see that this might be an excellent venue for an outdoor Art exhibit.  It is sheltered from the rain and there's lots of space to move around and view. The slanted area up to the second wall might need some work, but other than that it would be perfect!

Create magic where you are and in the most unlikely places!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One Cool Cat

This is a little story about an incident that happened years ago. For some reason it just popped into my mind the other day and for lack of another blog topic, I thought, why not retell this one?

I was living, at the time, in an apartment in Port Credit and teaching at a high school about 40 mins. away. I was fortunate to be able to car share with another teacher who lived close by. Anyway, this time she was driving and picking me up at about 8:00am. I usually tried to wait for her in the lobby. However, I was running a bit behind this morning and I was frantic that I would make us both late.

As I was tidying up the breakfast things and putting the milk and butter in the fridge, my cat jumped into the fridge.  You have to know that I was young, rarely cooked at home and had the barest fridge on the planet. I tried to get the cat out, but she moved further back in behind a jar or two. I thought, I know, I'll close the door and open it in a minute or so and she'll just jump out!

I went to the closet to get my coat. Suddenly, the apartment buzzer sounded. OOOPS, I knew I was in trouble, because my friend had had to get out of the car, come into the lobby and call me. I grabbed my purse and ran.

I was in work mode all day.  This had to be done, that started and lots of general mayhem sorted. Finally the day was over and I got home about 5:00pm. My roommate had arrived back about an hour before me. She said, "Where is the cat?" I freaked out!!  I ran to the fridge, she wasn't there OMG!! What had I done?

Cat on Ice

Actually after my roommate had come home, she had opened the fridge for some juice and the cat just sprang out, covered in butter.  I could have died on the spot.  Fortunately, she was fine, but I was in the dog house so to speak for days after. Needless to say that has never happened again and it has never been forgotten!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's in a name..?

I was surfing the internet today looking for an interesting blog topic when I came across a site that listed some of the weirder phrases that people have keyed into the search engines. Anyway the one that stuck, was the woman who asked whether she could legally give her sons all the same name, "Jack," I think.

I have posted before about a country, Iceland, that limits your choice of first names for children to two approved lists - one for girls' names and the other for boys' names.  There is also a country which limits your choice of last names to about four or five approved names - Korea, I think.

I also knew of someone who named her first born, a son, Alexander and her second child, a girl, Alexandra.  She then went on to name the other three, all girls, Andrea, Angelica and Albertina. I know that a lot of families give their children names that begin with the same letter.  Often that letter is the same letter as their last name.  My cousin, whose last name started with a D, named her children - Darren, Daryl, David and Doretta. Actually her first name was Donna.

Amaryllis almost in bloom

Names are so fascinating. Wouldn't you want to give each child a very special name? I know that popular names go in waves and old names come around again with a fresh new sound - Stella - comes to mind. A few years ago, there was Kate and a few more years ago there was Jessica. I guess that there is hope for Hilda, Myrtle and Maud.  Maybe not.  Even with the TV series "Maud," there wasn't a rash of girls named Maud.

What is your favourite name for a boy or a girl?

How does the picture fit in? It's part of my 365 picture a day challenge and it's the best I could do today, other than taking a picture of my car jack, but then I would have had to go out in -5C temperature, dig through my trunk and find the jack. Even then you would have had a picture/name of another car part and I have done that :)

Amaryllis is the name of the Greek nymph who fell in love with a shepherd. As a result of her unrequited love, she killed herself and from her blood sprang the beautiful red flower - Amaryllis.

Have a wonderful day

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Will that be Campbell, Gordon or Macdonald...?

I was out for a walk the other day when I stopped at a stop light.  Well, right beside me was a gentleman in full highland dress - sporran and all. I said to him - "Campbell?" He answered, "No, Gordon." I was happy he didn't say, "MacDonald."

I went on to say, "This must be a busy time for you, with Robbie Burns' Day and all."  He answered, "yes, I have one this weekend and one the next." I said, "do you recite or pipe?" He smiled and answered, I do both."

Campbell Tartan

It's very strange when you meet a kindred soul, randomly at a stop light, in the middle of the city, somewhere, anywhere and you have this elliptical conversation because you can both read each other's minds.

Gordon tartan

Here is the background. I had asked whether he were wearing the Campbell tartan - I didn't specify if it were regular, dress or hunting Campbell.  He replied that it was the Gordon Tartan, not the Campbell and he also didn't specify - regular, hunting or dress Gordon or any other of the many variations of the pattern.

I was happy that I hadn't confused a Campbell with a MacDonald because of the ancient feud between the Campbells and the MacDonalds culminating in the massacre at Glencoe on Feb 13 1692 - it takes a long time for wounds to heal.

MacDonald Tartan

Here is an incredibly moving folk song about the tragedy.  Robbie Burns day is January 25. This year it's on a Friday and there will be much piping in of the Haggis and recitations of Burns' poems. Celebrate where you can, when you can, life it too short to miss a beat!!

As you can see the weaves of the respective tartans are very similar.  It's easy to make a mistake, if you haven't looked at a reference book in years. It's all in the details - sweat the small stuff and the rest will fall into place.

My reference book - found!!

Have a nostalgic day

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Catless house is a Soulless House

I couldn't help thinking about this quote, by Patrick Moore, which I posted in an earlier blog.  I thought, what does my particular cat situation say about my home's collective soul?

1. First I have three cats - do I have three souls - two to sell and one to keep :)

2. All of the cats are black - enough said.

3. Two of the cats are from the same litter, which I suspect was feral. So can I say that 2/3s of my house is powered by a wild and wanton soul!!!

Hunter feigning piety

4. The third cat is the smallest and I have to say the meanest, although he has the most angelic eyes. Add to that gypsy soul, an element of clever con artist and I have to wonder should I even bother to lock the doors - the enemy is within.

5. They converse at night - troubled souls have difficulty sleeping.

6. They are birders, capturing the souls of higher beings, perhaps.

Chloe conjuring

7. I know that they appear and disappear silently like poltergeist. Strangers in the home find it eerie, especially those who don't realize that there are three different cats and not just one cat appearing simultaneously in several different rooms.

8. If women are from Venus and men from Mars, cats must be from another galaxy altogether.  I often wonder if they aren't alien "plants," spiriting information to the next creatures who will inhabit the Earth.

9. My daughter is away at Teachers' College and her temporary home is inhabited by two cats - Waldo - named so because they could never find him and Mufasa because he is a cat of star status!!  Her home has two souls and three occupants - an interesting division.

10. Cats are "familiars" and muses.  Can we say that the more cats you have the more creative you are? I once knew an industrial psychologist who had 9 cats.  She drove a Jag with the licence plate "We Purr." She may have been both creative and rich at the same time :)

Zack the "eariest" (eeriest) :)

The pictures are of my souls - they don't like to be photographed.  They are better at haunting and hunting.

Have an inspired day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A late night call...

A while ago, I had to buy a new cell phone and get it added to our family plan, which is in my husband's name.  Things went smoothly, although we had to extend the contract again.  Every time you make a change, you end up extending your contract for another 3 years - urrgh!

I didn't give the transaction another thought and went about the usual to-ing and fro-ing of the rest of the day.  Well, sometime about 3:00am my husband's cell phone rang. He was sound asleep and didn't hear it, so I jumped out of bed, ran over to the other side of the room and answered it.  At first there was no sound and then the heavy breathing and the throaty "Hello" started.  I was about to wake my husband up to tell him that he was receiving an obscene phone call from some guy, when I decided that the whole thing was just too ridiculous!! I said "we're not interested," hung up and turned off the phone.

As I was trying to get back to sleep, I thought, I wonder if the fellow who did the changes to our plan and had access to our numbers, was really the late night caller.  Then I thought - nah - no one sends a women my age and obscene phone call - I should be so lucky :) and I guess so should my husband.

It was worth a chuckle and I did get back to sleep - you have to wonder though, if these guys just stay up all night or if they work in some super boring job and try to make it entertaining somehow. Maybe another idea for a novel - cell phone guy at local store, gets the numbers of clients and sets up some terrifying scenarios - just a thought.

Have an uninterrupted day!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Sky At Night...

There is always an obituary on the last page of the sports section in one of our daily papers, The Globe and Mail. The article is usually about someone who has made a significant contribution in their field or someone who was rich and famous now or sometime in the past.  Most are not sports' figures and I often wonder how they feel about being a footnote in a sport's section.

Well, this week one of the obits was about Patrick Moore a BBC personality who hosted "The Sky At Night." He was an amateur astronomer and had the world's longest running TV series by one presenter.  I don't think that I ever saw his show, but my husband had. Anyway, I loved his cat quotation,
"A catless house is a soulless house." I was going to stop there and then I started reading the obit and I thought, what an amazing person.  Here is what he accomplished in his life in spite of many cloudy nights no doubt.

Cloudy Sky at Night

1. His long running BBC series started in 1957 and went for 720 episodes. The last episode was broadcast on the evening of his death - Dec 9, 2012, at the age of 89.

2. He wrote more than 70 books.  His maps of the moon contributed to the US & USSR lunar explorations.

3. He personally met Orville Wright, Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong.

4. He was also an accomplished cricketeer, golfer, chess player, actor, piano and xylophone player, who once performed a duet for piano and violin with Albert Einstein.

5. He wrote more than 100 pieces of music, many of which were recorded.

6. He has an asteroid named in his honour and he was knighted by the Queen.

7. Another "Queen" associate - Brian May, guitarist of the rock group Queen and fellow astrophysicist, was also a close friend.

8. He lived all his life, except for a few brief postings elsewhere, in a 16th century home in Sussex England, called "Farthings," which he shared with his mother until her death in 1981.

9. In 2008, Brian May purchased "Farthings" and rented it back to Moore for a peppercorn.

Sadly Patrick Moore never married.  His fiancé, a nurse, was killed in 1943 when a bomb hit her ambulance. Still he was a man who followed his passion, astronomy, turned it into a career and made many friends as a result - a life well lived.

Have a fulfilling day!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

6 Blog Ideas

I just had a few ideas for blog topics, based on some blogs that I have read lately.  I thought, if I posted them here

a. I would remember them.
b. anyone could use them.

1. One blog I read recently did 5 Questions Friday. It seems that every Friday, the blogger posed 5 questions to her readers.  She answered them and then readers answered them.  It was fun. Here's the link.

2. I loved TOSK's post on ring tones. Maybe a list of calls at crazy times or crazy calls anytime. Or even a description of one interesting call.

3. A comment on ring tone choices - i.e. what is yours and why.

4. A description of odd or unique places in your area - shops, sculptures, people etc.

5. A blog about one obscure fact that you know and maybe no one else does.

6. Take a very random picture and write it up or offer it as a discussion on your blog.

Here's mine.

Curious Hanging Rope

This is not a trap for giraffes, in case any stroll by or very tall handsome individuals, again in case any stroll by.  It's definitely not a noose.  I don't have a roof garden so I am not transporting water up there.  I do knit and create cable designs, but this is not a model.  I like my neighbours, so I am not trying to make their life difficult.
- You get the idea.

Have a productive day.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Garam Masala

I am getting ready to make that curried lamb shank recipe that I saw in the paper the other day.  One of the ingredients is Garam Masala. It's a blend of a number of spices, such as, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon etc. all freshly ground in a spice blender.  The idea is that, when you add a teaspoon or so of Garam Masala to something, you are actually adding fine grains of a number of spices so the flavour is really interesting.

Gourmet oils and vinegars at Crescendo

I used to make my own, but this time I decided to buy some Garam Masala from a new vinegar, oil and spice emporium that has just opened in our neighbourhood - Crescendo.  It does save me from going out and buying a lot of spices that I may not use up before they go stale. In the shop, I was given a choice of 3 types of Masala - WOW and one even had powdered pineapple in it.  I chose the Asia Tandoori Masala - OK not Garam - which had the following ingredients:

cumin, coriander, paprika, tumeric, onion, garlic, cardamon, pepper, mustard seed, ginger, cayenne, pimento seeds, galangal, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.

The only spice I didn't recognize was galangal.  I found out that it was similar to ginger. I guess I don't cook a lot of Thai food.

I am always amazed that stores, which serve a very niche market, survive.  There now seems to be several competitive "chains" of these oil, vinegar and spice purveyors. Either tastes are becoming more refined, or people are looking for more interesting experiences from small everyday "things." I must admit that blended spices are really the micro of microcosms. Your enrichment for the day comes from tiny grains of a myriad of different tastes all blended together. And you can change the experience daily.

Blended Spices at Crescendo

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roofers from the Realms of Glory...

We are in maintenance mode.  First we had plumbing work done on Christmas Day and now we have the roofers in.  Actually we knew in advance that the roof was in trouble and we finally booked a company to come in and replace the shingles.

Well, of course, it's never just the shingles, is it? There is always something else.  This time the eavestroughs are a mess  We knew that, but we were pretending that it was something, such as too many leaves on the trees falling on the roof and bunging up the works - not so - or maybe partially so. Basically we need new gutters...Oh how I hate spending money on gutters, even if they are in the sky, or least over head.  Money down the drain or the down spout!

Winter Roofers

Anyway, if I have to spend money on the roof, I might as well make it a photo op.  Actually you have to ask yourself, what would it feel like to get up every morning and know that you were going to spend the day working outside, at least 2 or 3 stories above everyone one else, who is outside - highrise window washers excluded - then again that's another job that has its challenges.

There is something very surreal about people who work up above.  So different from miners and subway personnel who spend their lives underground.  What does a job say about your personality?  I work downstairs in a room without windows.  Although I love my work and the people I connect with everyday, I wouldn't mind doing it above ground!

January 10, 1863 the London Underground opened. It thrived in spite of coal fired trains, gas lighting and a general subterranean phobia. Think of the number of people who take subways to work. There are people who go to Paris just to travel through their massive sewer system. If I manage to get to Rome this year, I will make a point of going to the catacombs.  I guess things that are underground have a certain mystery about them.  But so do people who live in attics. OK this blog was about replacing a roof and not necessarily about people who live under the eaves and maybe need replacing - the eaves that is :)  I just got carried away!!

Have a surreal day!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Slow Food Made Slower

Really to get through winter, in Canada, you have to celebrate the activities that work best in winter. So you ski, skate, snowshoe, make snowmen, take snow pictures....and cook slow food. Last winter I invested in one of those enamel cast-iron Dutch Ovens. I bought one of the cheaper knock-off brands - $50.00 not $350.00. I try to use it as often as I can.  In winter I cook slow foods - stews that take several hours to simmer, pot roasts, beans, really anything that takes a long time to cook.

Blue Dutch Oven

Yesterday there was a recipe in the paper for braised lamb shanks in a curry sauce. This would be slow food made even slower, because after you have cooked the meat you refrigerate it for a day or two before reheating and serving. I haven't read the whole article to see if you actually marinate the shanks for 12 to 24 hours before cooking. If that were the case, then it could actually take almost a week to get this meal to the table - talk about slowing things down and savouring the moment - well maybe hour, day, week.

I know that foodies get together and "group cook." I remember a cooking teacher once, who said that she spent the whole day with a friend making puff pastry - a very long slow process - but beats anything you can buy.  I did it once.  Now if you were making vol-a-vent and had to cook the ragout that went over the pastry, this could turn into a week's "food" holiday,  just saying :)

Pot Roast
I'm still making it up as I go along.  This could use a little more colour, but it was delicious.

Savour your day!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Live to 100

I was reading an article the other day in the newspaper by some one who had visited the site Apparently, you can key in certain family or lifestyle characteristics and the site will estimate how long you have to live - just the cheeriest place on earth :)  Anyway, I have chosen not to go there.  My father is 98, still alive and functioning not too badly.  My mother died dancing, at the age of 84.  I don't actually like being told, what is going to happen to me, so I avoid all soothsayers, although I read my horoscope daily, just for fun!!

Well, since I ran across this site again in a post from my blogging group,  I felt that it was worth a mention. The article in the newspaper was interesting. The journalist had had some health issues recently and was starting to count the days!!!  He likened his situation to people on a diet or those wishing to get out of debt. Counsellors for these problems will tell you to "make a list."  Make a list of all the food that you eat in a day, if you are trying to lose weight, in an effort to identify the excesses and control them.

If you are trying to save money or get out of debt, make a list of everything you spend money on, in a day and try to cut out the frivolous.  So why not, the writer argued, make a list of what you do or intend to do, in a day, to see if you are maximizing the opportunities given to you, before your looming Armageddon.

This I can identify with. (with this I can identify) - for those who wonder why I rephrase words in brackets -  it's a hang over from teaching - often what is correct is not the vernacular and I like to pay homage to both. It's Churchillian English - never end a sentence with a preposition unless it means winning a war :)

So here is my war against the dying of the light, or those arbitrary missives that say you will end here or there.

Amaryllis - small embellishments to the day!!

1. I write this blog to record interesting "things" that have entered my radar. Writing about these blips, these signs of the existence of things real or imagined gives me time to pause and enjoy them. It's not so much about having busy days, it's more about having days of meaning - quality not quantity.

2. I am cleaning out the clutter, to free up my mind and my space to concentrate on what's important.

3. I am walking more, for exercise, yes, but also for moments of interest. Walking is one of the slowest ways of moving from A to B. When you zip by in a car you miss so much.

4. I am trying to connect more with people.  I often say that I am not strongly a people person. Don't get me wrong.  I love people.  I just don't always seek them out as energizers. I sometimes have to recharge my batteries by being alone and writing or knitting or walking.

5. Making 3 changes.  I was talking to a friend the other day and she is following a writer, who has suggested that you can improve your life through small changes. He recommends that you try to change just three things, at a time.  Presumably when the first 3 things are ingrained, you move onto another 3 things and so on. Well, my friend plans to cut out junk food, soda pop and wheat. I thought OK, I don't eat junk food, or drink pop, and I plan to keep my addiction to pasta for another year or two.

So, I have to come up with some other ideas. I do want to read more and I was thinking of getting an audio book system set up. I also plan on keeping a better filing system, once I have cleaned out the clutter. And finally I will step up my "Dale Carnegie" approach to life and its challenges - never criticize or say negative things - everything can be re-phrased with a positive spin!!

I hope that I can keep all these things going for the second half.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


On Saturday I got to enjoy my Christmas present from my eldest son. He had bought tickets to see Andrew Lloyd Weber's "The Wizard of Oz." We went together with his partner.  I was thrilled. My husband isn't a great fan of musicals so he may get tickets to a ballgame in May or June.

For years, when my son was young, we went to the theatre together.  We saw The Magic Flute,  another Wizard of Oz,  Macbeth, Cats, The Nutcracker and many more. He attended  musical theatre camps and when he was 8, he was accepted by the Canadian Opera Children's Chorus. The highlight of all the practising was that he got to sing, as one of the street children, in Carmen. It was magic!

We stopped going to theatre, when the two younger children arrived, not only because of time and money constraints, but also because my son was moving into a age when it wasn't cool to go to theatre with your mother.

On Saturday, it was wonderful to re-visit those earlier times. The performance was excellent, the seats, perfect and the company,  just the best!! Sometimes, I worry that when they grow up, they will forget their childhood.  This Christmas, he didn't.

Here's my son's partner, Alex with the Ozmopolitan, a fancy liqueur drink with melon liqueur, curaçao and perrier.  It was fun.

Have an entertaining day!!

Monday, January 07, 2013

On the naming of parts...or something like that...

Here are some more ideas for naming children after cars or their parts :)

I just had to explore this idea of choosing names for children a little more.  Celebrities often select their stage names for effect - "Lady Gaga" is one. "Madonna" happens to use her own name and some people think that Englebert Humperdink uses his real name too.  I wonder if you can sue your parents for a really awful name.

Perhaps celebrities chose names for their children based on the same criteria they apply to their branding - shocking effect!!  Here is a site that lists the names or at least the more unusual names some celebrities have given their children. I can't get over Frank Zappa's choices - Dweezil (son), Ahmet Emuukha Rodan (son) Moon Unit (daughter), Diva Muffin (daughter).

I know that people make minor name changes, such as legally changing a name from Audrey to Heather - not sure why. My sister changed her name from Maureen to Rene (Ree nee) because that was what everyone called her. I often wonder why some people get nicknames that just "stick." I have a friend who was "Tinkerbell" in a school play and she has been called "Tinks" every since. I also know an Elizabeth called Buffy and a Carol Jean called Cookie. Coco Chanel was really Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel.

I can understand why transgendered people change their names.  I know of two Kates who are now respectively Ben and Brodie.

I always joke that my in-law's had identity issues. My brother-in-law was named Bernard, called Brian and changed his name to Ben. My sister-in-law was named Rosellen and changed her name to Rosa.  My husband has no second name and has never changed his name - perhaps the most stable!

There is a house down the street which changed hands regularly, however before the respective families moved on, they each managed to have a child called "Evan." (3 in total). The family who lives there now have a girl, Eva. If her second name were Nancy then she would be Eva N.

Names are fascinating and may determine your personality. Are Emmas quiet readers? Are Chantels performers? Are Michaels macho and Jullians studious?

Now back to those car parts from an earlier post.  Mustang Sally lives!!  The photo is courtesy of Kevan George from the I Love Photography group.  Thank you Kevan.

Please post any amazing names or name related stories!!

Have a phenomenal day!!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Icicles and the things that drop from eaves

Eavesdropping is an interesting word and an interesting action.  At one point in history people were fined for listening in on the conversations of others, which happened when one stood very close to another's home in the area where "things" dropped from the eaves.

Historically, there was also a hole in the home, near the eaves, for the benefit of the homeowner, so that they could listen to conversations outside of the house before people were admitted - perhaps a little like that small magnifying glass that we have in apartment or hotel room doors. It was a way of identifying friend from foe.

Today with electronic devices, eavesdropping, is much more subtle.  There are wire taps - legal or illegal - Watergate comes to mind. There are surveillance cameras every where it seems and many people have installed "nanny cams"  just to keep an eye on things when they're away.

If you enter your name in the google search engine, you may find out more than you really want to know about yourself!!  What is now admitted as evidence in trials, is where people have searched for information on-line, what web sites they have visited, and what phrases they have keyed into various search engines. Your cell phone not only logs the numbers you have called and when, it can also track your whereabouts at all times. Big brother lives!!

A little scary when you think about it.  Especially if you are worried about identity theft.  Someone can now know so much about you, as to become you, and how could you prove that they weren't - maybe only through DNA.  Now I can see there may be a need for DNA banks to prove that you are you and he/she isn't.

Icicles - frozen fangs of winter.

These days, it seems that the only benign forms of eaves dropping are from the pesky squirrels who live in the roof and icicles, those frozen fangs of winter. There were simpler times and as chilling as they may have seemed, they will never match the eeriness of the electronic robots that haunt our personal devices and may one day exchange their being for ours!! (The basis of a sci-fi novel perhaps)

Maybe, I should just ask the squirrels to move over, while I hibernate until things get better  :)

Have thoughtful day!!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A rose by any other name......

I am following the story of a young woman in Iceland who wants to legalize her name - her first name. Apparently in Iceland there is a list of approved names for both male and female children - 1,712 for males and 1,853 for females - this may be grounds for another post. I sense that it will be a long time before a list of unisex names is approved.

Anyway "Blaer" is the first name of the 15-year-old girl.  It was given to her by her mother and approved by the priest at her baptism. It has never been approved by the government. Her first name as far as the government is concerned is "Stulka," meaning girl. Incidentally, "Blaer" in Icelandic means "light breeze," a masculine noun. Both child and mother plan to take the issue to the supreme court.  Their stand is that parents should be able to name a child anything they want - it's a basic human right!!

Now we all know that some people have given their children some pretty dramatic names.  The article I was reading mentioned Pilot Inspektor and Audio Science. There have also been some very memorable names as a result of challenging what's expected, such as River Phoenix and Forest Gump.

I wanted to name my daughter "Mercedes." I told my husband that it might be the only way he would get one :) I was overruled at the table, so we settled for a classic "Katherine." Not without complications, though.  Her birth mother had named her Lilian Elizabeth, which we changed to Katherine Elizabeth, however, her legal documents were never changed so legally she was still Lilian and every September, every teacher in every class had to be reminded that her name was really Katherine, and so she joined the ranks of the other 4 or 5 Katherines, Catherines, Kathryns, etc in each room. Her friends call her Kat.

In her last year of university we paid almost $2,000 to have her name changed to - Katherine Lilian (she had grown attached to Lilian over the years) so that her degree would be in her chosen name - not so, she either forgot to tell the university or told them too late; she is still Lilian on that document!!

My mother had decided to name me either Penny or Carol, (after my father, Charles) - Carol won out. I actually wanted to be called "Charlie" - also the name of a perfume, a few years ago.  In Quebec all female babies are named legally "Marie" and all males "Joseph." Given names are second. Hence you have wonderful titles like "Marie Claire" and "Marie France". I even knew a "Marie Joseph" (pronounced yo-sef).

 A civil name for a child - male or female

My one claim to fame with my children is that I knew how Nev Campbell (Scream movies) got her first name. She was given her mother's last name, Nev. I just happened to be friendly with Nev's parents in the small town in southern Ontario where she was born. I remember vividly having a conversation with Nev's father on children's names - we said  - what if you named a child after car parts, such as, "ball joint" or "crankshaft" - Nev was very lucky her mother stepped in :}

Here is my photo take on naming kids after cars. I'm sorry that all my photos of the Spirit of Ecstasy came up blank because I had forgotten to insert the card!! But you could still name a child Ecstasy - Just not Rolls Royce. OOPs I can hear the nay-sayers now - "What's wrong with Royce or Rolls?" - nothing, if you have the money :)

Have a memorable day!!

Friday, January 04, 2013


Since we are still hovering around the changing of the years, I thought that I would sneak this one in quickly before we are well into 2013 when everyone will be saying 13 - get over it!

This is why 2013 is going to be a special year!!!!

1. 13 degrees is the distance the moon moves around the earth each day. Lunar is so different from solar and worth a try for a change!!

2. It takes 13 days for a full moon to change into a new moon, and another 13 days for it to change back again. See what I mean :)

3. The last supper had a table set for 13. There are people who believe that you should never set a table for 13 - it should be either 12 or 14.  Enough said.

4. Tradition states that 13 witches are required for a coven. How many warlocks, I wonder?

5. A deck of cards has four suits of 13 cards each - not including the joker, again enough said!

6. Bakers need 13 to make a dozen and I am not sure why? Anyone remember the family movie series "Cheaper by the Dozen" ?

7. 13 is a prime number, a happy number and a fibonacci number - but you knew that!!

8. 13 was a lucky number for Wilt Chamberlain, Mats Sandin and Alex Alomar to name a few.

9. For those suffering from triskaidekaphobia, number 13 is not good. All phobias taken into consideration, including the phobia of long unpronounceable words - "trisk" - for short, tops them all!! Any bets on the number of children, born this year, who will get the nickname trisk?

10. 13 is the start of the terrible teens and a time of transition from childhood to adulthood in a number of cultures.

11. Many apartment buildings avoid using the 13th floor - the elevator skips from 12 to 14 - time to grow up or put the gym on the 13th floor. 

12.  Ireland this year has changed its car licensing practice.  Instead of having cars bought in 2013 begin with 13 - they will begin with 131 - There was a concern that fewer people - read nobody - would buy a car in 2013, if their license plate began with the number 13.  Maybe a good year to negotiate a great price for a car in Ireland!!!

13. 13 is a emirp number - a prime number that gives a different prime when its digits are reversed. Now 31 is something I hadn't considered!! It has to be one of those totally overlooked entities. In fact I can't think of anything that sets 31 apart.  Why wasn't it considered as the meaning of life instead 42?  Given that so many people go through life having missed it's meaning, I would like to propose 31 as the meaning of life!!

Emirp is "prime" spelled backwords and Tink is "knit" spelled backwords, as in taking out stitches because of a mistake.  This brings me to the brink of a new post - how many words can you reverse and still have a meaningful discussion.  In fact, how many "things" can you reverse and still have meaning of any sort and how many mistakes can you correct by moving backwards.

Then there are all the words that do not change their meanings in reverse like - rotor and radar - handy to know if you do cryptic crossword puzzles or want to avoid reversing, for whatever reason!!

Have a super/repus day!!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Winter Gardens...

When we first set out to plant our inner city garden about 30 years ago, we decided that we wanted a garden for all seasons. Planting for Spring to Fall was easy, given that we already had a full sized Sugar Maple growing there. A winter garden would take some thought, as the garden was narrow, but fortunately quite long.  So, although we had a white birch, we had no evergreens, essential for keeping green of any sort all year.

Finally after many trips to the garden centre, we planted several Yews, a few Cedars, one False Cypress, a Blue Spruce, four Juniper and a White Pine. They all looked very small and I would have planted more, but the money had run out.

Well they grew as did the noses of the garden centre experts that said, when asked about the final height of several of the trees, "maximum six feet." The White Pine has to be 20' high and the False Cypress about 12' - the others fall, or rather stand, somewhere in between. As a result, I have very little space for flowers that need full sun in summer, however, I have a winter garden that blooms, with a little sprinkling of snow.

Here is the white (well, almost white) birch, rhododendrons and holly, with snow.

And the Rose of Sharon, with the False Cypress to the left and the Blue Spruce, with maple above - a winter garden in bloom.

Plant today for a fruitful tomorrow.  Plant for all seasons, to make the best of each and never rule out the ability to create beauty in the most difficult circumstances.

Have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Of Paradoxes, Ironies and Oxymora

In an earlier post I suggested that I would look up the origin of the word Oxymoron, because it contained the word "moron." So hear's the scoop!  "Oxy" comes from the Greek word for "sharp" and "moron" comes from the Greek word for "dull." Put them together and you have "sharp/dull" or words of opposite meaning, such as - bittersweet, deafening silence, jumbo shrimp - you get the idea. Please post any you have come across.

Paradoxes are larger oxymora (the plural of oxymoron), such as "Less is More" or "More is Less" and from an earlier post "In my end is my beginning" or "In my beginning is my end."

Ironies are large events or states that seem to be in contrast, such as the concept of being in a huge crowd but being alone, or having a lot of money, but not really having anything of value. I am going to repost here a post from the comedian George Carlin on the many paradoxes that form the irony of our "advanced" civilization.

    The paradox of our time in history is that
    we have taller buildings but shorter tempers;
    wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
    We spend more, but have less;
    we buy more but enjoy less
    We have bigger houses and smaller families,
    more conveniences, but less time;
    we have more degrees, but less sense;
    more knowledge, but less judgement;
    more experts, yet more problems,
    more medicine, but less wellness.
    We drink too much, smoke too much,
    spend too recklessly,
    laugh too little,
    drive too fast,
    get too angry,
    stay up too late, get up too tired,
    read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
    We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
    We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
    We've learned how to make a living, but not a life,
    we've added years to life not life to years.
    We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have
    trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.
    We conquered outer space but not inner space.
    We've done larger things, but not better things.
    We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
    We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.
    We write more, but learn less.
    We plan more, but accomplish less.
    We've learned to rush, but not to wait.
    We build more computers to hold more information to
    produce more copies than ever, but we communicate
    less and less.
    These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion;
    big men and small character;
    steep profits and shallow relationships.
    These are the days of two incomes but more divorce,
    fancier houses but broken homes.
    These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers,
    throw-away morality, one-night stands,
    overweight bodies, and pills that do everything
    from cheer to quiet, to kill.
    It is a time when there is much in the show window and
    nothing in the stockroom.   A time when technology
    can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose
    either to  share this insight, or to just hit delete.
My children and their cousin

    Remember, spend some time with your loved ones,
    because they are not going to be around forever.
    Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up
    to you in awe, because that little person soon
    will grow up and leave your side.
    Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you,
    because that is the only treasure you can give with
    your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
    Remember, to say "I Love you" to your partner and
    your loved ones, but most of all mean it.
    A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes
    from deep inside of you.
    Give time to Love, give time to speak, give time to
    share the precious thoughts in your mind.

I think that this message is worth contemplating from time to time, just as a way of slowing down and asking ourselves, "What's it all about?" and to quote from a wise neighbour - "The days are long, but the years are short!!   

Family Christmas 2011
I took pictures of pictures already in a frame. I think that they suggest fading memories. Good to have, but better to have the real thing, if you can for as long as you can!!

Have a thoughtful day!!