Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Card(s)...

Our writing word for today is "card." It's my suggestion, because last week was a week of "cards."

First my husband finally got a Presto card. Our local transit system, the TTC, is phasing out money and tokens in favour of electronic cards that you top-up on-line and then use to board trains and buses, Oh, yes, and streetcars. We are still one of the few cities in North America that has genuine electric powered streetcars!!



Secondly, I also, finally, got a library card. Well, over the years I have had one or two, but they were the old cardboard ones with no on-line access. My new card is electronic and lets me do self check-out and return of books. I also have an on-line account, which lets me order books that are not available at my library. When the books come in, I am sent an e-mail and given a week to pick them up!! This is so civilized!!


However, the system is not entirely flawless. I was notified a day or so after I had set up my account that a book I had ordered, "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist," was in. Well, it turns out it wasn't. Somehow, in my account was a request for a film on disc. I was so disappointed that it wasn't my book, that I didn't even take a look at the title of the film. Wait a minute, maybe I should have. Perhaps the cosmos was trying to tell me something? Now I will never know what it was.



Anyway, the librarian sorted it out, however, I'm still waiting for my book. I'm sure it will come in, eventually, because I have two other books in mind to order. One is old and maybe out of print - It's about $60.00 on Amazon and the other is very new and about $40.00 in Indigo.

The whole idea of using the library is not only to save money but also to stop stockpiling books!!

The pictures? I have used my library card. I have yet to use my presto card!!

Have an enriched day!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

I am committed...

Our writing word for today is "commit." It reminds me that I am committed to enhancing and enjoying whatever time I have left on this amazing planet. I work, for example, at keeping my mind active - I read, play the piano and write. I take on projects - I design and sew clothing, I keep a garden, and go on adventures with friends. I also keep physically active - I walk a lot and bike.



Sometimes, I think, I do too much. I reached a point the other day, when I realized that if I started a new sewing project, I wasn't working in the garden or out walking. Again, if I'm writing, I'm not reading or playing the piano. I think I might have reached an overload and the hot, humid weather wasn't helping. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I also run a small company!!



Time to slow down, be mindful and enjoy something simple! Enter the couscous salad!! I may have become addicted to couscous because it takes 5 minutes to make - boil water, add couscous, remove from heat, cover, wait 5 minutes and fluff!! In that 5 minutes, I went into the garden, snipped parsley, coriander, and mint, picked four small tomatoes and found a zucchini that was almost a foot long!! How did that happen!!



Yes, every once in a while, I have to remind myself that's it's not a race. I need to slow down and enjoy the process and/or the products. The salad was delicious. I have written 3 blog posts in two days. Started work on another piano piece - The Rose of Tralee and I am about to look up the meaning of two words I found in my latest novel - Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Here they are -

Plangent - loud, reverberating, melancholy.

Vertiginous - causing vertigo.

Now what can I commit to today!!

The pictures? Some of my commitments.

Have a dedicated day!!

Fantasy...

Our writing word for today is "fantasy." I often say that I never read fantasy fiction. I will never read Lord of the Rings, for example, and I have never watched Game of Thrones or Outlander. For years, I never even read regular fiction. I only wanted to read true stories.



Somewhere along the road, however, I decided that I wanted to write a novel - now this may be the ultimate fantasy! I followed writers on Facebook and I joined an on-line "indie" publishing group. What I understood from all of this is that, if I wanted to write, I had to read what others had written. I had to learn the writing process by example.



Also, somewhere long the line, I came across a list of the 100 best books to read. Well, actually there are several lists. I decided to blend them together on an excel spreadsheet and keep track of the ones I had read. Yes, is was partly a contest and partly chagrin - most of my friends had read almost all the the 100 books. I was somewhere around 25.



I am now up to approximately 50 novels, having read an extra 15 or so books that are not on any list. I can honestly say that my life has been enriched by fiction. For me reading is partly about the story, partly about the characters, but mostly about how the author uses language. I am a "wordsmith." I love how people use words, how they construct sentences, and how they create imagery.

You see, for all those years I wasn't reading novels, I was reading poetry. Poems are pure fantasy!!

The pictures? Just a bit of fantasy in photographs.

Have a fantastic day!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Rich....

Our writing word for today is "rich." I've never felt the need to be rich in the sense of monetary wealth. My idea of a rich life is having many varied experiences, embellishing and adorning what I have and finding a motherlode of wealth in the freedoms many have fought so hard to protect.



We are very fortunate in Canada. We still have a working democracy. We have freedom of speech, free (for the most part) healthcare, free use of a good deal of public lands, free education to a point, the list goes on. I notice that I have had to qualify some of the "freedoms" on my list. The wolf is always somewhere waiting to take away what he can, as soon as he can.

We have seen public lands go to developers. Public education decline, healthcare compromised and journalists silenced. The middle class is disappearing, rapidly, soon there will be just the very rich and the very poor.



Maybe our enrichment should be to ask ourselves - what we can do to keep and expand the "freedoms" we still have. Certainly we should read more, particularly responsible newspapers, that keep us up to date and put events into perspective - now + then = the future.

We should also write. Write to our government representatives, send letters to the editor, keep a personal weblog. We need to voice our "educated" opinions and the opinions of experts in their fields. I share a lot of posts on Facebook. These posts are from people who are part of a dedicated resistance to current conservative governments' people and policies.



Yes, I believe in levelling the playing field. I believe in taxing the rich and spreading those dollars around to enrich the general public. Let us all be able to have many rich and varied experiences. Let us all be able to embellish and adorn what we have and let us all enjoy the freedoms, we still have.

The pictures? Some things that make my life rich!!

Have a "free" day

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Key...

Our writing word for today is "key." It's a word I gave to the writing challenge and it came to mind because I am "key" challenged. I have more keys than locks. I have little tubs of keys, scattered throughout the house, which belonged to locks at one time - but damned if I can remember which ones.

I even carry several keys on my current key chain that are orphans. I couldn't tell you which doors they open and yes, why do I still carry them around with me. I wonder, in more wistful times, if they opened doors to a Narnia somewhere. Maybe I secretly dream of escapes, so I keep keys to open those doors, should the opportunity ever arise. I do not, however, horde maps - my husband does, hmmm.



Actually we both had a "key day" last week. My husband was looking for a key to the front door, which we never use - both the door and the key. Somehow opening the front door or at least finding the key to the front door became the challenge of the day. None of the keys worked. We threw them out. Then in the middle of the night, of course, nothing sane ever happens during the day, I remembered that the reason the keys didn't fit was because the lock gets "bunged up" with dirt. I didn't bother to ask how or why.



I then remembered that on another "key day" I had cleaned out the dirt with a paper clip and Voila! the key worked. I wish I had remember this earlier, I could have saved us a few bucks, well maybe quite a few, because the lock is an antique and the door is not a standard size and so to replace the lock is a custom job!!

Mundane matters like, saving money, aside, I can see the plot of story, unfolding - You just happen to have the key to open a mysterious door and an adventure begins - Alice in Wonderland comes to mind.

Have an awesome day!!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Implications....

Our writing word for today is "implications" - a word that covers so many different areas that I feel I have to narrow it a little. For years I have been fascinated with the implications of body language. There are so many subtle signs we make daily that send so many different messages. We all know the implications of a weak hand shake, a rolled eye or a quick wink.

There are, however, many more unconscious gestures we make that may mean even more than our words. A quick Google search lists a number of sites that will tell you arms folded in front of you suggests you are wary of the speaker. Or a head turned slightly away indicates some disinterest in the person or topic and fidgeting with jewellery or clothing anytime suggests, anxiety.



Actually, I spend a good deal of time looking at what people wear, rather than what they do, and what their outfit says about them. Obviously a person that's neatly dressed in clothes appropriate for the season, especially if the colours and fabrics are co-ordinated, suggests a person with attention to detail, who is pleased with him/herself and is ready to believe in an harmonious world. However, I often think that these people, although, beautifully turned out, might be a little too meticulous. Does their world have to fit together perfectly? Do they reject anything that doesn't fit into their view of life?



On the other hand, I wonder about the person who appears in a chaos of mis-matched garments, fabrics, and colours. What were they thinking? Or were they even thinking at all. Perhaps, they were thinking too much about non-material (no pun intended) "things." Were they trying to incorporate all the divergent philosophies out there into some sort of meaningful whole, rather than just rejecting what doesn't fit?



I do admire people who can dress well in black, with some amazing adornment to set it all off. These people are canvasses or stages for some artistic "action." They are content within themselves and open to engaging with any idea that comes their way. "Let's see how things play out" may be their by-line.



My favourite people, however, may be those who dress "insanely" on purpose. They wear wild, almost, but not quite, co-ordinated colours. They may seem to be out-of-fashion, but in fact have set their own fashion. They wear bow ties, mis-matched earrings, something hand-painted or handmade..... They are unique and I feel that they are open to accepting the many unique aspects of this world - overt or implied!

Have a meaningful day!!


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Willow

Our writing word for a while now has been "willow." I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to find time to write up a short post on a tree with long leaves and longer branches, especially since it was my word.



I offered "willow" as a word because of the concept of the "weeping willow." The various political parties controlling and destroying much of the peaceful existence we once knew has thrown many of us into an emotional turmoil, much like a savage wind that wrecks havoc with the landscape. Now is a time of weeping and gnashing of teeth for many.



Our institutions are being ripped apart - healthcare, education, diversity support groups, the list goes on. Soon there will be nothing left of the rich forest that sheltered and protected us. We will live in a wasteland scrabbling to survive.



And then there is the willow tree...weeping, yes, but still standing. Her deep roots anchored to the ground, her dishevelled branches, bruised but not broken. She has survived because of her ability to be flexible, to roll with the punches, so to speak and to come back!



The willow is the image of survival in difficult times. Yes, we must resist these political onslaughts, but we must also survive. We must find a way to stay optimistic, in spite of the oppression. We must weather the storm until peace and tranquility are restored.

The pictures? Trees for all seasons. Must take a picture of a willow.

Have a peaceful day.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Power of Wisps!

Our writing word for today is "wisp." To me much of what makes life enjoyable are small "wisps" of "things." I am sitting here beside two pink peonies that are very fragrant. I inhale a wisp of their perfume, from time to time. It is subtle, like the spray of lilac that nods across my window or its scent that infuses my walk up the driveway.



Mundane activities can be raised to the sublime, I think, by wisps. The flash of a red Cardinal across the lawn, while weeding, exalts the moment. A few notes of a song, while shopping, transports the soul, and a wisp of lace or silk, anywhere, enshrines the moment.



Just a shot of sun on an unsettled day raises the spirit, too. Also, a sip of coffee, warm and fragrant, calms a frenzied moment and silence, the complete absence of sound and its companion, stillness, is magical.



These interludes do not happen often, especially in the city. I plant a garden to give me some wisps of Peace. In a crazy world of plastic, concrete, construction and mind screaming noise, I find solace in a fringe of ferns, a cluster of columbines and a patch of primrose, to ease the bleeding heart.

The pictures - my flowers and my lace.

Have a peaceful day.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Say not the struggle naught availeth.....

I think I must have done, today, the most complex Wordpress/Woocommerce configuration in my life. OK maybe the last 5 years, because I've only been working with these two applications for a few years, so far. Now, I have been working with HTML since 1995.

Oh and btw my younger my sister is a great-grandmother, just to put things in perspective.

Here's what happened.

1. I got my first retail order on my new Wordpress site - www.feltedfibre.com today! However my shipping system didn't recognize her address in Alberta. Got the order sorted out and now I had to get the site sorted out!

2. Did my usual Google inquiry. Got lots of suggestions - nothing worked except I did pick up what I thought were "peripheral data." You now something that could be used in a rain storm maybe.

3. Spent two hours reading rather useless - non-rainstorm data.

4. Finally saw in a forum a note from a Canadian struggling with the Canadapost template in Woo Commerce. I had been too - between taking a break from reading google useless data and trying to work "things out on the site." Her magnificent phrase was, "I finally realized, I had to download the Canada Post plug-in." Who would have thought!

No where, believe me, no where was there any information that said: First download and install the plugin!

5. The revelation, although miraculously sent, (these are the days I believe in God) did not prepare me for the even more obscure information offered by the Canadapost plugin.

6. In attempting to configure the settings, I was told I had to join Canadapost - well at least it was FREE. I already had a Canadapost acct. My usual username & password did not work in these settings, however, I clicked a link and used the same username and password to get yet another user name and password, which I wasn't told were the ones I should be using in the plugin settings.

No where does anyone say - "Use these." In fact in desperation I entered the first set of numbers. Yes, I was given 2 usernames and 2 passwords, with no instructions. You got it! The first pair didn't work. I didn't immediately use the second set, because I was convinced I was barking up the wrong tree - not exactly the right metaphor, but after 3 hours of confusion, I could have used worse analogies!

Finally, with nowhere else to go, I entered the second set of numbers - Behold!! they worked. Well, sort of. I could now order from my site, get a connection with Canadapost and ship a 1 pound box to myself for $1.00. Hmmm...more work.

7. I deleted the snail mail option. That worked. I could now ship to Ontario, sensibly! But, I couldn't ship to Alberta. However, in all the useless information I took in today, I remembered that one of the problems could be that I hadn't set up a weight for this product. I checked. Sure enough there was no weight listed. I entered .01 of a kilo and Voila! I got an updated shipping option to Alberta.

Computer programming is not about logic. It's about intuition and my ESP was working overtime today!!

It availeth-ed!!

Have an applied day!!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Art....

I haven't given up the idea of exploring Art more fully. I did take a few Art classes, as I mentioned in an earlier post and did some sketches. Here they are -


I love leaves - even dead ones have life.


A live plant on the subject of death - Crown of Thorns.


Nature is such a wonderful study......


With or without colour

Seeing through the glass



Finally a study of childhood - my son when he was 7.

Photos are great, but sketches let you get inside the subject. These are photos of sketches - what can I say.

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 04, 2019

The Luck of the Draw...

Our writing word today is "draw." Again a word with so many meanings. All my life I have wanted to draw real-life pictures. I particularly like pencil drawings with shading. I like the fact that you can create 3-dimensional pictures on a flat piece of paper.



I admire people who can sit outside and draw the landscape or sketch people as they sit on a park bench. I marvel at their talent. I am so envious. Yes, I do work at getting closer to my goal of being a better artist. I have taken courses and I make time, occasionally to draw.



However, I am not driven. I don't carry a sketch book with me all the time. In quiet times, when an artist would draw, I read or do needlework. Drawing for me is not relaxing. I have to concentrate, focus, and erase too often, to consider it restful.



Maybe that is what separates an artist from a "wanna-be" artist. Drawing for an artist is an escape. It's their restorative time. Drawing is their raison d'ĂȘtre. They live through their Art. Whereas, I live through a list of various activities - gardening, family, knitting, needlework, reading, writing, cooking and even cleaning.



In the luck of the "draw," I did not come up with a pencil. I drew a needle or maybe several different kinds of needles...and a lens. I forgot to mention photography.

Have a creative day!

Friday, May 03, 2019

Specialty...

Our word for today is "specialty." Everyone has a specialty. You're a great speaker, a fabulous artist, a  wonderful cook....the list goes on. We seek out people and places to enjoy their specialties. We go to restaurants to savour certain dishes that are unique to them. We read authors that are particularly good a writing in certain genres. We travel to places because of a special way of life they have preserved. Again the list goes on.



What is your specialty? Ironically people spend most of their lives discounting their specialties. Yes, I'm a good cook, but I would never open a restaurant. OK, I paint really well, but I could never earn a living as an artist. I'm a great storyteller, but only family wants to listen to me, Sigh! So many specialties that rarely rise to their full potential because of other demands, other situations.



What does it take to have a specialty "flourish?" Money? Time? Desire? Stability? These are often commodities beyond our control. If we live in a politically unstable country, how do we chose between art and survival? If we have no money or little time, how do we begin something? If we don't have the desire or the belief in ourselves, where do we even start?



So many questions and so few answers. Perhaps only the very special specialties are given a chance to thrive. People with overwhelming desires push everything else aside to create. They manage to "rise to the top" with very few resources. It is a fixation, a madness, perhaps.



Does this mean that sane, pragmatic people will never glory in their specialty? Maybe we need support groups. Others to say that we can be "special" from time to time.

The pictures? Some special "stuff."

Have a special day!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Collusion

Collusion is our writing word for today and it's right up my alley, even if it isn't my word. I'm a great believer in conspiracy theories. In fact, if the truth were known, I believe that almost everything is a conspiracy.

I'm not even going to talk about how governments, drug companies, water suppliers, even various religions manipulate people to "buy" their propaganda, their products or their beliefs. I'm going to start with the small things, the day to day "smoke and mirrors."



Let's start with thrift shops. I shop at some occasionally to work on my slow-clothing projects. Lately it's been harder to find outfits in better fabrics, better condition and classic designs. I then realized that there is a plethora of new re-sale shops around and I think "aha" these shops have a link with the thrift shops and are creaming off the better cast-offs for their own profits.

Then there are the storefronts that are either never open or have sketchy merchandize. They must be "laundries" for illegal trade. Even the ones who are open and sell real "stuff" can be mis-leading. Really, you have to sell a lot of cupcakes to pay the rent at $3,000.00 a month.



How many young women in nail salons are actually forced labour and never paid? How many second floor massage parlours are actually brothels and how many jewellery repair places swap out your real jewels for paste and charge you for doing it.



Then there's the door to door solicitors for various worthy causes. I wonder how many of them have "faked" the ID and are pocketing the donations.

Well, when most of the products we buy are actually produced by less than a dozen companies worldwide, you have to wonder how we are being "set-up" for the sting!!

The pictures - out-foxing the fox and the warning signs.

Have a cautious day!!


That's the trick!!

Our writing word for today is "trick." It's my word and I thought of it after spending an hour or so on-line looking for something that would outsmart or trick a groundhog. Last year, a groundhog ate all of my strawberries, most of my eggplants and too many of my tomatoes. Sigh!

I wanted to be ready for him this year! There was a lot of "ammo" on-line. In fact -

1. I could buy a solar-powered sort of siren that would make an annoying noise every few minutes to scare him off. But then, I would hear the noise too and that would put me off!



2. I could build cages around my plants and have a really ugly looking garden. What's the point of that. I need a "pretty" garden.

3. I could buy some decoys. In fact there was a rather unique alligator's head resting in a pond that might work. But then I would have to have a pond and somehow, I don't think the fear of alligators is instinctive to northern groundhogs.



Somehow, I think the groundhog may have already won. And even if I did scare him off, there are still the raccoons, the squirrels - yes they eat "stuff" and the rabbits. Have you ever felt that nature may be against you - something there is that doesn't like vegetables, or maybe likes them too much!

Have a rewarding day!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Nine Pipers Piping

Our word for today is "pipe." Again a word with so many meanings. Given the mood of today and the ugly people who have been voted in to "rule" us, the first image to come to mind is "pipe bomb." An angry populace revolts. They make weapons at home, pipe bombs, to throw at the enemy.

I can't dwell on anger very long. It will destroy us! I have to turn negative thoughts into positive ones and wait for an election or an early death for these perpetrators of hate. Here are my positive takes on "pipe."



Years ago, I thought that a man who smoked a pipe was distinguished. They were thoughtful people, philosophers, perhaps. They took a puff and pondered. We now know better. Even so I still remember a man, a friend of my father's, smoking a pipe on his veranda under a lattice of Dutchman's Pipe, a pretty climbing vine, like the smoke from his pipe. It was a poetic moment!



Nothing stirs my heart like a piper. Once when we were travelling back to Scotland to visit my mother-in-law, we landed on the tarmac at Prestwick and a piper piped us down the gangway - home. I was in tears. Again, once and only once, I was treated to the scene of the lone piper, practising, while walking in the highlands. I can understand how you can't really practise piping in a confined area - there are Philistines who hate the noise. Nature is more accommodating!



I love cathedrals with pipe organs. Religion, at its worst is a destructive force, at its best, an inspiration, which has given us the finest art, architecture, poetry and music, we will ever know. Years ago I had a LP of organ music. I played it in my room and read poetry. My mother told me to turn it down. Something there is that doesn't like a fugue.



Pipes are conduits. They facilitate the passage of air, water, sound and more. Our bodies are an intricate lacework of arteries and ducts, to keep us going. Houses are plumbed with pipes, for our convenience. Cities bury their piped infrastructure and the world hides cables and gas lines, while it digs tunnels to underground laboratories.



Birds pipe. Their piercing trills add music to a summer's day. They are given names like Sandpiper or Piping Plover. Musicians pipe. Blowing air through a reed and a tube, they make sounds to save our souls. People pipe. They force air over voice chords to sing songs, such as, "nine pipers piping."

The pictures? The best I could do for piping. Yes, I know, swans don't pipe, but they're pretty.

Have a musical day!!

Grass...

Our writing word for today is "grass." For me, nothing says Spring more than grass, at least, up here in Canada.  When white is all we see covering the ground from December to March, the sight of some green grass is a welcome change. The problem with grass is, there is often not enough where you want it, on a lawn and too much of it, where you don't want it in a flower bed.



My husband and I have spent most of Sunday digging up a daylily bed to remove some ugly twitch grass, which was taking over. Some of the roots of the grass had actually penetrated the roots of the day lilies. Given time, the grass would have won.



Grass has its own predators, of course. Dandelions, wild clover and a vicious invader known as "Creeping Charlie," all lie in wait for the first few blades of grass to mature and then it's war. We
re-seed our lawn every year and have to re-sod every three or four years. One year I just gave up and planted tomatoes near the house, where I could never keep a blade of grass alive - the tomatoes survived.

I was hoping to be able to leaf through "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman for an appropriate poem, only to find that I had somehow mis-placed the book - "Something, there is, that doesn't like grass."

The pictures? Grassy places adorned with flowers or weeds, except for a well tended swathe in my backyard.

Have a wonderful day!!