Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May....

I obviously woke up "brain dead" this morning because I didn't have an idea for a post. So I went back to my "word of the day" site to try and trigger a synapse or two in that lobe of the brain assigned to writing and other verbal creativity. The word for April 28 on Word of the Day was "temporal." Today's was "nebulous." I decided not to use the latter because I was already in a bit of a fog and I thought that I might get foggier writing about it. I know I would be writing from experience, but who wants to wade through three or four sludgy paragraphs? Yesterday's word was "exacerbate" and although I was in a bit of a fog, it was a kindly one and I wasn't going to get all riled up about it.

Dwarf Red Tulips

No, I decided to choose "temporal" partly because I hoped that this vagueness would pass quickly, but also because it reminded me of another favourite word "ephemeral" - lasting only a day. It's finally Spring up here in the north, which means that the flowers come out quickly and fade just as quickly. It is often said that Canada has two seasons - Winter and Summer. Spring is just a fleeting fantasy. When the temperature can go from 0C to 24C in 24 hours, those precious first flowers, that need cooler days, shrivel in the heat.


I know this and so I was out in my garden on the weekend trying to capture those fleeting moments on camera, to hold them just a little longer.


The title? It's from a poem by Robert Herrick - 1591-1674 entitled "To The Virgins To Make The Most Of Time"

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
  Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
  To-morrow will be dying.

Just as an aside, back then Herrick would have been an old man at 83, maybe a wise old man, however, I think that he should have chosen a better title for the poem :) All thoughts welcome!

Enjoy the day - tempus fugit - time flies!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Abacus

I decided to do a little more research on the Abacus. The device is ancient and is found in cultures from Asia to Africa and parts of Europe, with a similar idea, found in South America, using string

The abacus is a testament to a) the cleverness of the human mind, b) the inventiveness of societies who want to be quick, as well as accurate, in free market trading and c) the complexity of tasks which can be performed by seemingly simple gadgets. Some abaci could even calculate square root. Here is probably more than you would ever want to know about an abacus from Wikipedia.

This is a really quick post, because I'm sorry, I don't have an abacus story. I did though pick up the charm shown in the picture in London years ago. I bought it because I really enjoy the concept of business. When I left teaching I did some part time bookkeeping for a few companies including my husband's. It was a dramatic change from high school teaching. For the most part accounting is black and white. You are either in balance or you're not and then you have to find the error. Teaching has a strong creative side to it with lots of angst. There was always that feeling that one could have done a little better.

However, with accounting the numbers speak for themselves, unless of course you are into "creative accounting" and then that's a whole different ballgame :)

Have a great day!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Ablet

I distribute a small bracelet called an Ablet. It's actually a counting device based on the Abacus. There are two rows of 9 beads each. The first row is the ones and the second row, the tens. If you are using it to count rows or stitch repeats in knitting, every time you complete a row or repeat you move a bead from the "ones" row along the row a little to separate it from the rest. When you have moved all 9 beads along, with the next row or repeat, you move one bead from the "tens" row along and you know that you have done 10 rows or repeats. You then start the counting all over again from the "ones" row.

Ablet and Shadows

I was at a show and sale on Saturday and I was wearing one to demonstrate the technique. I was also trying to broaden its uses from just knitting. I said, "for example, you could keep track of boyfriends on it." I got some laughs, some curious looks and I also realized how dated the comment was. I was still presuming that partners would be of the opposite sex. Given my family configuration, I should have known better!

Anyway it did get me thinking about how people have counted "things" over the years - you know the notched belt and worst of all shrunken heads!! I believe that there are cairns in desolate byways where travellers leave a rock or stone to record their passage there. I am sure that there are others- please comment, if you know of any.

I have always been fascinated by abaci - fortunately my spell checker told me that it was a latin word and therefore the plural would not be abacuses or would it. That word also passed muster! The plural of abacus warrants another post as does the premiss that the abacus was the first computer. I am not a math person and therefore, I will have to do some research - but not today!!

Have a day that really counts :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

WD - 40

I always feel a little guilty when more than half of a post is "lifted" from a listing of "things" somewhere. One of my friends posted these uses for WD-40 to my FB wall. Now, I use WD-40 often, but have never tried it for even half these chores. Here's the list and at the end is the main ingredient in WD-40.

WD-40 Uses:
1. Protects silver from tarnishing.
2. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3. Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4. Gives floor that 'just-waxed' sheen without making them slippery.
5. Keeps the flies off of Cows, Horses, and other Farm Critters, as well. (Ya gotta love this one!!!)
6. Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7. Removes lipstick stains.
8. Loosens stubborn zippers.
9. Untangles jewelry chains.
10. Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11. Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12. Keeps ceramic / terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13. Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14. Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15. Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.
16. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17. Lubricates noisy door hinges on both home and vehicles doors.
18. It removes that nasty tar and scuff marks from the kitchen flooring.
It doesn't seem to harm the finish and you won't have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off.
Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19. Remove those nasty Bug guts that will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly!
20. Gives a children's playground gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21. Lubricates gearshift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers...
22. Rids kids rocking chair and swings of squeaky noises.
23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25. Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29. Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31. Removes grease splatters from stovetops.
32. Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
36. Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain.
37. Florida's favorite use is: 'cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.'
38. The favorite use in the state of New York, it protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
39. WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time. Also, it's a lot cheaper than the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose.
Keep in mind though, using some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states.
40. Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41. It is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray it on the marks and wipe with a clean rag.
42. Also, if you've discovered that your teenage daughter has washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and rewash. Presto! The lipstick is gone!
43. If you spray it inside a wet distributor cap, it will displace the moisture, allowing the engine to start.

Time to get to work :)

As for that main Ingredient.......
Well.... it's FISH OIL....

I'm posting this today because I am doing a show. About 50 or more vendors gather in a huge indoor space and sell knitting supplies to the 2,000 or more knitters that show up. Collectively there is millions of dollars of merchandise on display. I'm sure I'll come home with some of mine :)

Have a great day!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Random, Eclectic and Idiosyncratic Blog Ideas

I have a few ideas for blogs "brewing," but they need a little more time. Since I like to write about things that are random, eclectic and idiosyncratic, I went back to www.portent.com's idea generator to try out a few things. I like it because it is the epitome of randomness - key in a word and they give you a random sentence. Keep that word in the "slot" and you can keep generating as many eclectic sentences as you like - well maybe you will reach the end of the loop at one point, but not without a mother-load of ideas. Here is what Portent suggested for -
Random Kitchen Tool

1. How to be unpopular in the random world. Do a post on all those people who "plan" their lives very carefully.
2. How randoms are making the world a better place. This needs a little massaging, but one could generate a list of everyone who set out to prove/do/be something and ended up proving/doing and/or being something else.
3. What everyone is saying about randoms. This one is a challenge.

Cherry Pitter

1. Why no one talks about eclectics anymore. Maybe a post on how eclectics by any other name would still confuse people. - beatniks, hippies, hipsters, goths, indies... etc.
2. 15 facts about eclectics that everyone thinks is true. It would help here to know a true eccentric. Or maybe a post about those eccentric characteristics in all of us.
3. The unconventional guide to eclectics. Again having first hand knowledge would help with validity, then again making things up never hurt.

1. Why you shouldn't eat idiosyncrasies in bed. This needs a little massaging too, but it's right up there with the cracker crumbs.
2. Why Holden Caulfield thinks indiosyncratics are phony. Now this could easily turn into a post about those who are just trying to be different and those who really are different.
3.  5 Problems with Idiosyncratics. Do you live with one? Have one for a relative? Does it run in the family?
Cherry Pitter for those times when life is the "pits."

Of course I couldn't just suggest these ideas without doing one myself.
Here goes -

How to be unpopular in the random world

1. Always know where you are going, when you leave the house. This takes a lot of the serendipity out of life. There are no surprises at the end of the day and no one says, "How did we end up here? This is a cool place."

2. Take a map with you even when you know where you are going.  Then you may actually get there, and on time. This also takes a lot of fun out of a trip. You never get to meet unusual people because you aren't going to be asking for directions and you never end up in strange places lost, because you didn't ask for directions.

3. Leave the house with money. This negates the need to figure out how to get some money, when you suddenly find that don't have any. You also lose out on an opportunity to play the game of "Let's see how much we can get for free!"

4. Wear suitable clothing. Again, when you come prepared, you can walk in the rain or worse, however,  you spoil the fun of - OK, we can't do this because we aren't dressed for it, let's see what else we can do.

5. Have an agenda. Yes, you get more done, but again there isn't much room for let's just sit here and see what happens.

6. Never speak to strangers. Probably a good rule in a strange place, but I always love seeing people start a conversation with absolute strangers and have amazing things happen!

7. Always have "things" in order - gas in the car, extra tire in the trunk, jumper cables, jack, plane tickets, current passport, active credit card, house repairs done, remittances up-to-date, obligations met. You will never have to exercise your creative thinking by dreaming up wildly entertaining stories about why you haven't done these things!!

8. Read the instructions a.k.a. "know what you are doing." C'mon what's the fun in that?

Then again if you don't read the instructions, you end up using the tool incorrectly and if you used my first three photos of "the pitter," as an example, you would defintely sustain a serious injury from those pits :) I haven't used it in such a long time, that I managed to photograph it upside down - maybe an interesting metaphor on the blog :)

What "random" situation have you found yourself in?

Have a great day!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life and the Peeling of Hazelnuts.....

Skybluepinkish commented on my post yesterday that life was too short to peel hazelnuts. Her comment got me thinking about all the things that I omit doing because they are too fiddly or time consuming to be bothered with. For example:

1. I never seed tomatoes and rarely peel them. When the recipe instructions call for  3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, I skip over the "peeled and seeded" and go right to the "chopped." It's roughage right.

2. I don't seed cucumbers either. I guess one could say my Gazpacho is a little "seedy"  :)

3. I rarely make desserts. I don't mind the fuss of making a dessert, but that has to be the event of the day - no other cooking, cleaning etc is done just The Decadent Chocolate Cake from "The Silver Palate" or any one of their other desserts.

4. I don't clean silver, so I guess it's fortunate that I don't have any. I used to work with a woman who took a day off every December to clean her silverware for Christmas.

5. I don't collect "things" because you have to maintain your collections. If it's ceramics, they have to be dusted. I had a friend who collected those beautiful painted Easter Eggs - lovely though they are, the dust still collects on them.

My only collection

I am sure there are more and I have reserved the whole concept of "ironing" for another post. Here is what I do make time for in my life which many would consider a waste of time:

1. I knit. It's not so much about the finished garments, which are often cheaper to buy. It's about the rhythm of the activity, a kind of marathon for the hands.

2. I weed. Where others may put down grass for easy maintenance, I dig it up and put in gardens that require weeding. Again, it's an outdoor marathon for the hands and knees.

3. I write. Sometimes people ask me how often I blog and when I say daily, they look stunned. Now I know most people in this group blog daily. But there are a lot of people who do not write a blog, never tweet and aren't on Facebook. For them, these activities are a huge time suck!!

4. I cook from scratch. Given that I really dislike the taste of processed foods, I make most of my meals from the basics, even though a lot of the basics today are preprepared. I am seriously thinking of cooking with beans from their dried state and maybe freezing tomatoes in the Fall to avoid using the tinned ones.

5. I do crossword puzzles. Time wasters, yes, but they are absorbing and I almost never watch TV.

What do you find that's a waste of time or what do you like wasting your time doing :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Daily Grind :)

Well, I don't use this little gadget daily. In fact I haven't used it in a long time. I keep it around because my son uses it. It's a small rotary grinder which I bought for the sole purpose of grinding nuts, most specifically, hazelnuts. I was taking a series of cooking courses years ago and the teacher highly recommended this kitchen tool, used it in a lot of her cooking and just "happened" to sell it in her shop. I decided I had to have one!!

Fast forward 20 years. The other day I decided that I needed some breadcrumbs and since I had just used my blender, it was in the sink - dirty - and since I can be really lazy at times, I couldn't be bothered rinsing it out. I thought, I'll just use this little tool and grate a few bread crumbs. I never seem to "get it," though. It took me a lot longer to grind a cup of crumbs with this mill than it would have taken me to rinse out three blenders.

Anyway, it did give me time to think about the recipe that I had originally bought the grinder for. (For which I had originally bought the grinder) It was a recipe for spinach. Now, vegetables for me are usually side dishes. You know the dishes that round out a meal, but you don't fuss over that much. You just boil them a little, add some butter or lemon juice and they go with the main part of the meal that you have spent all your time preparing.

However, for some reason years ago, I felt that I needed to make this spinach side dish, and I made it often, even though it took ages to make and could be eaten in about a minute. It's spinach with hazelnuts and it goes like this:

1. Clean a bunch of fresh spinach. This usually takes me about 10-15 mins because I rinse every leaf.

2. Place a cup of hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and put them in an oven at 350F to toast for about 15mins.

3. Take out the nuts and allow them to cool a little. Then with a tea towel rub each nut to remove the skin. You will also have a very messy tea towel at the end of this.

4. Grind the nuts in the the small nut grinder - another 15 mins.

5. Steam the spinach. Put the cooked spinach in a food processor and grind. Add 2 tablespoons cream, 1 tablespoon butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

6. Place in a bowl and top with the nuts.

It looks lovely, tastes great, but takes about an hour to make. It dirties a pot, a blender, a cookie sheet, tea towel and various other implements, which then have to be cleaned.

No wonder Popeye just squeezed his spinach out of a can!!

Have a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Yin of Yesterday's Yang...

...or maybe it's the other way around. Anyway in yesterday's post, I was bemoaning the fact that we have lost some ground in cooking with the basics or from scratch. We no longer do what a generation or two did before us - make our own preserves, bake our own bread, do our own processing of whatever is needed. Instead we have left the processing up to huge conglomerates, who are more interested in the "bottom line," to decide what we will eat or not, as the case may be.

I was also concerned about the fact that, if this generation has lost so much ground, what will subsequent generations lose!! Cooking our own food maybe a thing of the past and more and more we will be handing ourselves over to big business, who will feed us with fast and/or processed food, thereby controlling what we eat, who we are and how we think - Big Brother lives!!


Enter a ray of sunshine. Another item in the paper the next day - and maybe that's all it takes, as they say "tomorrow is another day" - I read another article about a 30 something male who loves cooking from scratch and carries with him for his morning commute - "The Joy of Pickling." He also studies "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing." The article by Rebecca Zandbergen was in the Sunday Star and explained how she and her partner - said cook - had befriended a couple in their 70's who also shared a love of cooking. The article wove its way through common delights including a fascination with a Swedish Chef who opened a restaurant on a farm and serves only food from this farm.

The article ended with a wonderful "challenge." The cook a.k.a. "Kitchen-man" was going to spend a day with the woman, mentioned above and together they were going to make their own sausages. This is my idea of food, cooking and community!!  People of all ages coming together, to share a common love by getting back to their roots with real food and real fun!!

Bring back the communal oven!!

The picture? When we moved into our home 30 years ago there was an extensive garden and I added to it. The first summer I preserved the fruits that we didn't eat in Rum. We had black currents, strawberries, raspberries, plums, peaches and cantaloupe. It was delicious. Must do it again.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Guilt is in the bag....

....or box or tin..etc... I was reading a review on the weekend of a new book by Michael Pollen. His first, "The Omnivore's Delight," is an expose of the modern industrial food chain - think corporate farms, with a huge eye on the bottom line. His second, "In Defense of Food," moved the ideas developed in book one, into the main stream, from the alternate lifestyle fringes. We can credit the rise of local organic markets, backyard livestock, and the general idea of cooking and eating from scratch to a lot of Pollen's research.

The reviewer went on to suggest that much of Pollen's brilliance may be lost though on a large portion of the population, because many don't know how to cook, or at least how to cook the fairly unprocessed foods at these sustainable markets. In other words, if your idea of cooking from scratch is Bar-B-Q-ing a pre-packaged frozen hamburger, then you need to go back a generation or three.

I was feeling pretty smug, because I do make my own hamburgers and try to buy as much humane, ecological friendly product as I can. I stopped polishing my nails on my lapel, though when I read the following -

"In the next generation, cooking a meal from scratch, will seem as exotic and ambitious or extreme as we, today, regard brewing our own beer, baking our own bread and putting down our own preserves."

I was stunned. I realize how much I just take for granted. I think that I may be cooking from scratch, but I use tinned tomatoes and a few other basics all the time. I did not "can" these, someone else did. So I have given control of what I eat over to a company who harvests and preserves these ingredients for me.

I remember my mother and grandmother "doing down," in mason jars what they would need for the winter - pears, peaches, apple sauce, beans - green and yellow, carrots etc. This was a time before freezers, when canned goods were expensive and not a lot of fresh produce was available at the supermarket in January and if it were, it too would be very expensive.

My reason for not doing all this labour intensive work now is because all of these foods are readily available and not that expensive fresh, frozen or tinned. However, there is a hidden cost. The food is plentiful and cheap because it is grown thousands of miles away, in countries that don't strictly legislate the use of commercial pesticides and fertilizers. Food varieties are cultivated or created to withstand transportation, produce high yields and are generally corporate friendly. We are losing control over what we eat and subsequently who we are.

Now I realize what my generation has lost - it's so easy for us to pick up the ingredients - in a box, bag or tin -  to cook from "scratch." How far away from the basics will the next generation move. In the future, will cooking at home, be considered unusual. Will something like mashing our own potatoes be deemed as quaint as curing our own sauerkraut or making our own sausage is today?

I'm not sure what the answer is. Time restraints and the need to earn money outside of the home prevent many, myself included, from doing all the basics that my grandparents did. However, how do we curb this control over "what we eat, how we cook and maybe even how we think?"

My rant for the day.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The "fat" lady has sung....

The old saying goes, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." Maybe no one considered that one day the lady wouldn't be there to sing. I must apologize for using the adjective "fat" however, it is one of the obstacles, among many, that Rita MacNeil overcame in her long struggle to be a successful singer.

On April 16, 2013, in Sydney, NS, a piece of Canada, Rita MacNeil, died at the age of 68. Prior to her late-in-life fame, Rita surmounted obstacles, such as, a cleft palate, an impoverished childhood, sexual and physical abuse, depression, addiction and obesity to become a recognized entertainer at the age of 42.

Her forte was folk songs, particularly those of her beloved Cape Breton. She often sang with a choir of former miners, The Men of the Deeps.  Like many, who struggle, she found that music was a great escape.

Here is a favourite of mine.

The songs she wrote and sang are her legacy. She will live on in them. The music never dies.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

To seep or steep...?

I had started a while ago celebrating "things" around the house in an effort to enrich the daily slog. I  decided that I didn't have to actually go out and "buy" something to give me a lift. I could just try to lift up something that I already had, thereby making my life a little "grander"  :)  My first post was on my garlic keeper, which happens to be bilingual, but that's an aside. Today's post is on sieves!!

Now, I have always liked sieves. My mother never owned one - she had this idea that they were superfluous - why can't you just drain things by moving the lid of a pot a little to the side and letting the water out, while holding back the food. Yes, you can, but you can also get scalded, especially with a cauldron of pasta.

Possibly, as a reaction to my mother's way of doing things, or not as the case may be, I happen to own several sieves and I find each one of them fascinating - really. However, I usually don't use this line as a conversation starter at cocktail parties. No, I reserve it for blog posts on creatively "dry" days.

Still Life with Sieves

First, I have a small sieve that fits over a cup. I fill the sieve with tea leaves and pour boiling water through it to make tea.  You can actually move the sieve along and make several cups of tea this way, yes it drips, but that's the nature of sieves. I actually learned this trick when I lived in the British tea capital of the world - London, where I "flatted" for a few years, many years ago, with four English girls. One of my flatmates, Tinks, was actually a descendant of  the "owners" of the East India Tea Company.  I have the sieve technique from a good source and incidentally I still keep in touch with Tinks, who is also in touch with Teresa, another flatmate. We will get together again for a cuppa.

My second sieve is a slightly larger version which I use for rinsing fruit, lentils or draining poached "things" like salmon.  This one has a fine mesh, which is ideal for washing away chemicals, froth, grit, etc. without losing the food it's meant to drain. With a lot of imagination this sieve can be re-purposed as a fencing mask, but only on those days, when you are totally cabin fevered because it is snowing in late April, like today. Now, I will have to go and find those "foils." This could be fun.  :)

It's my large plastic sieve that gives me some grief.  The holes are a little larger and I think that some small grains like rice or couscous may slip away through them and I hate waste.  But I also use it to drain Aubergine and other foods that need to just sit and seep.  Then I think of a sieve as draining away the "life blood" of whatever is in it.  OK, I maybe shouldn't be that sensitive about Eggplant or cheese curd or all the other items that you place in a sieve for the purpose of extracting their liquid.

But I can't help thinking of all the times that we give of our own "life blood." Maybe it's to blood banks or the lab for a blood test. The metaphor, "sweating blood," comes to mind for when we have really struggled and feel completely drained.

Now, if I really want to turn up the angst, I can relate all this draining, to life just slipping away. No, I need to pull back from the brink and think of the positives, after all for the moment the snow has stopped!! I need to think of sieves as a way of getting rid of what's not needed and keeping only that which is rich and nourishing. The essence of the healing tisane or the comfort of cooked pasta - a sieve can do so much!!

Have an enriched day!!

Friday, April 19, 2013


This is a really short blog today. I was skimming through my FB wall and came across a post by another knitter, Annie Modesitt. She was mentioning that her daughter had shown her Gizoogle. Go to the site. You may have to wait. Key in your blog address and see what comes up. You'll be surprised.

It has nothing to do with knitting :) It just scrambles things up a little. This is knitting.

Crazy Quilt Sweater by Carol Tomany

OK it's a little scrambled too.

More Crazy Knitting by CT

Have a fun day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Content Marketing Tools Can Be Fun!!

This is a list from another blogger, Ann Mullen, who had asked about content marketing and was directed to this site -


I was blown away by the number of links in the list that are designed to help people with both writing and sharing their blogs. There are 55 links conveniently organized under headings. I don't think that I have heard of any of them, but you may have.

I tried the idea generator from - http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker/. It took me a while to figure it out and it is a little "silly," but it does the trick. For example I keyed a word into their idea generator, which actually creates a sentence. The word clouds around it are a little confusing at the start, but add to the answer.

The first word I used was "blog." Their suggestion was "12 facts about blogs that'll keep you up at night." I then keyed in "idea." The new sentence was "How ideas are bringing sexy back." One of the comment clouds noted that "Justin Timberlake can only bring it back a limited number of times." :) Finally I keyed in "fun." The generator created this line - "12 problems with fun."

Cards are fun, when you are winning!!

I decided that I could actually write a blog on this topic.

1. Everyone's idea of fun is different. What's fun for you might totally suck for someone else. I had a fun weekend knitting - any takers :)
2. Fun is often left to the end of the day, after all those things that are not so much fun are done - like taxes.
3. Sometimes fun is hard to do in the morning before coffee - but maybe that depends on your definition of fun ;)
4. Fun can be complicated, such as, taking a video of a raccoon walking on wires and having that video go viral and then being interviewed by CNN as a result.
5. Fun is often short lived - like ice cream.
6. Fun can become addictive like ice cream or worse.
7. Experiencing others having fun can sometimes not be that much fun, especially at 3:00am next door.
8. Fun can be expensive - Paris for example.
9. What starts out as fun, may end up otherwise.
10. Fun changes as you age (read mature) so you are always having to adjust. When was the last time you forced a friend to eat a worm?
11. Fun may only happen after an event - sometimes years after, so you would need a strong memory, or all those awful things that happened to you then and could be fun now, will not be fun because they will have been forgotten - still with me.
12. The need for fun in itself can force people to try to create it on a regular basis. These people are often called idiots!!

Have a fun day!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If all else fails....

.....don't read the manual!! I found myself again this morning without an idea - duh - this is happening too often...Zombies come to mind - that's if I have one left :) Anyway, I had a thought the other day - just one mind you - and it did return this morning - just in time for the blog.

I realized that I hadn't read much information about "Dream Machines" lately. I have written about them before. They are small devices about the size of a table lamp that spin. They are meant to stimulate the creative processes in the brain and give you lots of ideas. I thought, "I'll just look them up." I googled "Dream Machine." Wired.com was one of the sites that surfaced. I thought, wow, they are writing about Dream Machines. Well, not quite.

Though fascinating, the article was not on the Dream Machine that I had in mind. It was on computer gaming and how this phenomenon is going to change our society for the better. Very sophisticated computer games, the author maintains, are changing our society from one that is consumptive, to one that is creative.

How so?

1. Most gamers never read the manual. They just start pushing buttons to see what happens. They experiment, learning through trial and error.

2. Video games let us actively explore imaginary worlds. While books and movies fire the imagination, there isn't the structure for role play and interaction, as there is in videos games.

3. Video gamers build their own societies, a bit like bloggers do. They create groups, set the rules, invite those they like to join and then interact within a certain mindset.

4. More and more the games themselves will be modified by the players. The players will actually become the developers of the games. These games will then be played by others and more interactive societies will emerge.

Old Video Game

Here is a quote from the article written by Will Wright the creator of The Sims and other games -

Games are evolving to entertain, educate, and engage us individually. These personalized games will reflect who we are and what we enjoy, much as our choice of books and music does now. They will allow us to express ourselves, meet others, and create things that we can only dimly imagine. They will enable us to share and combine these creations, to build vast playgrounds. And more than ever, games will be a visible, external amplification of the human imagination.

Good when the societies created are good. Not so good when evil ones are.

I have to worry about my youngest. He's 20 and when I asked him to help me fix my projector for a power point presentation I was doing last weekend, he immediately went to the on-line manual. I was prepared to push a lot of buttons. We never did get it to work.

Have a productive day!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I came across a blog today by Dannie Wallace, that asked me to describe myself in one word. I took about a minute to come up with the word "determined." My life, in general, has been easier than some. I don't struggle with a major medical condition. I was able to go to university, get a job and change careers, when I needed to. Fortunately, I married a wonderful person and life has been good, but not without its challenges.

I had my bucket list:

1. Hitch through Europe - I left Canada after a few years of teaching to spend two years on the continent, living from time to time like a nomadic free spirit, going where the wind took me. I have never regretted it.

2. I returned to teaching, married, bought a house and settled down.

3. Determined to raise children, we adopted three!!! That journey has been wonderful.

4. I was determined to have my own business in a field that I enjoyed. I have had a few businesses - all enjoyable.

5. I have a few things left on the list and I am determined to realize them. One is being a published author. This is one of the reasons I blog daily.

The post that I was reading suggested other headings you could respond to with one word, for example:

Rug Bag from Istambul

a. Your body and their suggestion was "shapely." My answer is yes, if you like blocks.
b. Your cooking, again their word was "interesting." Mine would be more eclectic or re-purposed - I do a lot with leftovers.
c. Your career - the suggestion was challenging - that might be an understatement - how about "life-threatening."
d. Your hobby - enjoyable - nice but I think that, if you have a pastime, you should really be passionate about it, unless you have made it your career and you now need to escape into a hobby, which may be just a way of taking your mind off your full-time passion - still with me?
e. Your style - colour was their suggestion. OK my car is red. I like bright colours, but my style right now is tending to minimalism, except where my garden is concerned.
f. Your blog - heartfelt. It's not the word that I would actually use. Although I am committed to writing, I like to comment on the randomness of life - the eclectic and the idiosyncratic!! How about "warmly insane."  :)
g. Your house - maximized - there is not an inch of free space and I de-clutter regularly. Five people and friends live in a three bedroom inner city home...and did I mention the three cats!!

Rug Bag Souvenir

The pictures are of one of the souvenirs that I still have from my days as a nomad in Europe.

Have a wonderful day!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Wicked Witch....

I was a little surprised to hear that the song at the top of the pops in Britain or pretty close to the top anyway, was “The Wicked Witch is Dead.” The song itself is from The Wizard of Oz, however, it ‘s being played a lot in Britain these day because of the death of Margaret Thatcher. It is also a testament to how much the country hated and still hates the Conservative Party's platform of privatizing industry, diluting the strength of the unions and generally moving Britain from a strongly socialist country to a more central position, politically.

Thatcher had to put in some pretty tough legislation and clearly she was hated for it.  She was obviously a person who didn’t have to be loved. She created for herself the role of the “wicked witch” and seemed to find opportunities to enact the character again and again.

I know in the theatre some actors can become synonymous with a role, so much so that they seem to become that character in their real life, off stage. Perhaps, this is what happened to Margaret Thatcher. I always remember when she brought in the “head tax.” It was never scaled to a citizen’s ability to pay. If you were a pensioner on limited means, you paid the same as someone of virtually unlimited means.

My mother-in-law was in the former group and I remember the family breathing a sigh of relief when the tax was abolished. This tax also signaled Thatcher’s demise. It might have been the equivalent of the bucket of water thrown on the Wicked Witch in the classic play. Eventually leaders fail, regimes collapse and society gravitates to a middle ground.

I do like the song that Andrew Lloyd Webber added to his production of the Wizard of Oz – “Home is a Place in Your Heart” – presumably with out witches.

Have a magical day!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Fern

I am just winding up a weekend at the Fern Resort near Orillia ON. It's a delightful place with great accommodation, excellent food and wonderful company. A group of us helped organize a knitting retreat - 3 days of teaching, eating and FUN. Here are some pictures.

Lyn looking lovely as always

Jennifer looking lovely in lace
Robin in one of her lovely creations
This is a short post. I'll put up some more pictures tomorrow!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Acrostic Poetry

This is a fascinating topic. I love structure, especially in areas where there is often very little structure, such as the arts. Although I like free verse, I also really admire poets who can work within the "rules" of structured poetry, such as, the Haiku, or certain rhyme schemes.

Caro Ness, in one of my other blogging groups, writes all her posts in poetry. She wrote the other day about another poet Linda Ann Nickerson who writes Acrostic poems. These are poems where the first letter of each of the lines eventually spells a word. When you become good at this you can start using the last letter of each line or letters within a line. It's a great way to start writing poetry, but it is also a fun way to simply create a poem. For example,


Saturday for me is a holiday.
A vacation from all that is drudgery.
Time for shopping and cleaning, or
Unexpectedly sealing, a
Really bad leak or a scratch on the
Door, plus the latch needs a screw
And the grass needs a mower
Your holiday starts when the chores are over.

The first letter of each line, when put together spell Saturday.

It's a short post today. I'm away at a knitting retreat with 24 other fibre artists. Great food, wine, wool and crazy outfits :) Today I'm enjoying my Saturday!!

Hope you have a good one too!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Purgatory Thy Name is Spring

The word of the day, the other day, was "placate" - to appease or try to please. Well, obviously we, up here in the North, have not been living properly or something, because the "gods" are not happy with us. Therefore, they are withholding Spring.

We need to placate them, some how. Human sacrifice used to work. In fact, I have a brother-in-law or two, that I would gladly offer up to the powers that be. However pleased the gods may be with them, (not) there are laws now against this type of appeasement.

What now? Well, I guess I could clean the house - but I did that for Easter - yes it warmed up a little. OK, maybe there is a message here. Also, I have been dutifully making interesting meals, thanks to all the people in my blogging groups who post such wonderful recipes. However, I've a sneaking suspicion, that the powers that be, are vegan so lamb roasts won't cut it.

Hmmm. Look we still haven't put away the snow shovels, so we shouldn't be punished for the hubris of believing that we could predict the weather with a few warm days. I swear I haven't planted a thing - just ignore those potted daffodils - they're for someone else :) I am still wearing my winter coat and I haven't put my gloves, hat or boots away!  What other penance is needed?

Snowdrops - a promise of Spring

We recycle, we compost, I even sent my daughter to Thunder Bay (boreal country) in September for the winter and she swears, she loves it!! OK, so maybe I haven't given you my first born, but she is my only daughter.

I am really at a loss for what else is needed to invoke your mercy, placate your anger and call a truce to these winter storms, so that we can start weeding the garden!! Yes, there are other powers, that also need to be appeased, lest with the lovely weather, we are overrun with ugly weeds and hordes of bugs..... Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Have a promising day!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to be unique in 1 easy step.....

A lot of people don't necessarily want to be famous, they just want to be unique - you know a little different from the crowd.  Here is how you can do it -

1. Learn to play the Hydrocrystalophone.

That's right. There are only about 5 or 6 people in the world who can play this instrument and that fact, alone, would make you very unique - probably as unique as the instrument - or maybe more so because you could actually play it and not just stand around and gawk at it.

Here is a link to a video of the Hydrcrystalophone a.k.a. Glass Harmonica or Armonica.

And here is the background. You know when you first discovered that if you had some liquid in a wine glass (read wine) and you wet your finger, then ran it around the rim of the glass, it made a sound. You also discovered that the sound varied depending on how much liquid was in the glass. It also varied according to the quality of the glass - crystal had a nicer ring to it and generally speaking, the wine might have been better too. The sound also varied according to how much wine you had in you :)

Well back in 1761 Ben Franklin, that mother..er..father.. of all inventors became fascinated with this phenomenon and set about to invent the Hydrocrystalophone. He actually called it an Armonica. (He was also good at marketing and knew a bit about branding.) Essentially it's a series of glass bowls that are filled with water and then linked together. The musician wets his fingers, which must be squeaky clean and then moves them over the spinning bowls making them "sound." Some bowls are edged with gold - the equivalent of the black keys on a piano.

I wonder why so few people have learned to play this instrument. Maybe, it would take a very persistent parent to make a child study the Armonica. A piano is something you can still play with dirty hands and not compromise the quality of the sound - not so with this instrument.

So why this sudden interest in the Hydrocrystalophone? Well, The Canadian Opera Company is staging Lucia di Lammermoor, this season and there is a passage in the opera - the mad scene - that was originally written for the Armonica. Most productions substitute a flute - probably easier and cheaper. However, to get the real sense of madness, as the musician in the video suggests, you really should use the Glass Harmonica. This year the opera company is doing just that.

Many years ago, when we went to visit my mother-in-law in Scotland one March break, we rented a little cottage in the Lammermoors. Well, they had had lovely warm weather the week before and all the blossoms were out. However, the week we were there, it snowed.  All I had to say was - "Lucia, I share your pain!" The softness of a flute could never evoke the angst of madness or the pain of snow, when all you really want is sanity or Spring.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

No Title!!!!

I read a post the other day that talked about the importance of "titles." Not the regal kind - "sir - such and such" or "dame - whatever." They were talking about the titles that you give your posts and how important that is in attracting blog traffic etc...etc...etc.

I can generally do the hooks pretty well. I often get published in letters to the editor and I have had a few articles published in periodicals. I don't submit many, so what I have submitted has generally been published..Oh.. except maybe the one on ironing - meh, who irons these days anyway - well that was my point - maybe we should do more and extend that to ironing out the wrinkles in our lives - but I digress.

Anyway, I was looking for an idea for a blog, so I was skimming my wall posts on FB - which now are way more than they were before - another FB liberty taken, I think - anyway, when I got to the 13th or 14th post about 10 things to do - 8 things not to do - 5 things to make you rich and 7 things to bring you peace - I choked!!

My horoscope, which I read in the daily paper and promptly forget, said that I could say whatever I wanted to today and that would be OK - we'll see. So I decided to buck the trend and eliminate the pressure for a compelling title. I also decided that I didn't need to be serious and try to save the world in one important post - I did that yesterday :)

I am going to borrow the headline from the other daily that I read which is "Who was that masked man?" It's about a video taken by a woman in Toronto of a raccoon that has learned to walk on power lines. It has probably gone viral by now, as did the monkey one from Ikea, also taken in TO. It's all happening here, as far as animals are concerned anyway and yes we are getting the Pandas!!  Here's the video.

Now I did a video of raccoons last Spring. Somehow it never went viral. Maybe I needed a better title. Here it is again.

My screen is still intact - these were very small raccoons. Oh well enough frivolity. It's back to the grind tomorrow. Join my blog, so as not to miss my post on the hydrocrystalophone :)

Enjoy your day!!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Is there an insurance adjuster in the house....?

I read in the paper the other day about a woman who had to be rescued by helicopter from a ledge on one of the the hiking trails near Sedona. She had been on the ledge for about 30 hours, before a crew got to her.  She was lucky. She might never have been found, if it weren't for the fact that she was supposed to check out of her hotel the next day. When she didn't, staff checked her room. They found her belongings, including her cell phone and keys. Someone remembered her asking about hiking trails in the area, so they called the authorities.

She was also lucky that a dog, Pebbles, heard her cries for help. His owners were within "hearing distance" and were able to give her coordinates to the helicopter rescue team. As it turned out, she was the chief Ophthalmologist at Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital. This is a smart person, but I think that there were several things that she had overlooked.

1. She went hiking alone.  This is a little like swimming alone - not a good idea.

2. She failed to take her cell phone with her. Now it might not have worked in a remote area, but there still might have been GPS functioning and someone might have been able to track that.

3. She had somehow gone off the main trail - also not a good idea, especially alone.

4. She didn't take water with her.

I do hope that she had taken out travel insurance before leaving Canada, because she may be billed for the rescue. More and more authorities are recouping their costs by asking, for those needing their services, to pay.  Then again, I wonder to what extent travel insurance actually covers this type of situation and whether there might be "riders" suggesting that if the incident is your fault, you won't be covered.

I know that a lot of people don't bother to take out travel insurance. However, it is a small amount to pay, to cover what could be huge costs, should your plans change. When the volcano erupted in Iceland a few years ago, a lot of people had to make alternative arrangements. My neighbours were in the Czech Republic at the time and were virtually at the airport, when their flight was cancelled. Everyone was scrambling for train tickets. The overcrowding was horrendous. They finally got a train, with standing room only, to Calais. The journey took well over twelve hours. Then they had to cross the channel. All of those trains were full. My neighbour spotted a guy in the line to the ferry with an empty van. She asked if she, her husband and daughter could hitch a ride with him to London. They had to get to London a.s.a.p. because their daughter had to resume her teaching job there the next day. He agreed, for a small sum.

Once in London, they had to make alternate flight arrangements to get to Canada, as soon as the planes were allowed to fly - of course everyone else was doing that too.  They had insurance and got a lot of their expenses back. Others were not as lucky.

I guess that I am a "cover your downside person." I always take out a lot of insurance. I am well aware that the "axe man cometh."

Have a wonderful day!!