24 March 2012

March 24 Photo: an animal

Okay, now I remember why I questioned the wisdom of sharing a personal blog. Is the polite word to describe me "quirky"?  Here is a small part of my miniature menagerie. I collect small things. Mostly small animals and birds. Mostly sheep, cats and birds of all kinds. The sheep are just an extension of my sheep postcard collection. (so if you are ever anywhere that you see a sheep postcard, please keep me in mind!)  The cat - well I can't have the real thing and don't intend to go the hairless cat route (shiver!), so I have a few. And the birds. Aren't they fun! But small and I don't want this to become a "thing". You know how you find out someone likes monkeys so then every time they have a birthday or it's Christmas, you buy them something else MONKEY. And then how what was a small monkey statue becomes monkey pajamas and monkey backpacks and monkey dishware and monkey towel sets? Yeah, like that.

Because this is just something I do. And it is small. And when I do get the OCCASIONAL small animal, I can be happy, instead of thinking - "oh not another one... where will I put it and will he like the other monkeys".

That said, this little collection above as most things in my home, comes with some stories. Only I've forgotton some of them. So if you gave me either of these two sheep, please remind me of the story because I remember the stories of the sheep from Sam and the sheep I bought in Jerusalum at Jimmie's Bazaar (not pictured). 

The cat is from a bazaar in Egypt - just as we were leaving Alexandria, I spied it in a corner of the shop in a cubby hole with packing materials and some pricier - out of reach items. It was so tiny and looked like just the kind of treasure I would like to take home. Who knows where it came from. The shop keeper kind of scratched his head and said it was very old and had been there a long time but it could just be the kind of story they tell a tourist. I was already buying papyrus and pens as souvenirs for the nieces and nephews and I asked if he could just add it in to the price I had already negotiated. He did and I slipped it in my pocket to be my own Egyptian good luck charm. 

The little felted owl was a special Christmas present from my niece. (or should I say my sister?) It was a fun thing Madi and I had found as we were browsing around Etsy together and she remembered and got her mom to order it for me for Christmas. Isn't he great? Made by Lauren Alane who has all kinds of sweet birds and other crafts that you can check out on her blog (which will lead you to her shop) Take a look at the little valentine owls! They go SUPER fast so if you want one, you have to be quick!

Oh no, I can't remember the story of my little orange bird. Utah? Seattle? Banff? As I go to write this, the memory just snuck off to have a peanut butter sandwich and got stuck somewhere in the back of my brain. Oh well, he's awesome too.

Tomorrow's challenge is Breakfast. Better go grocery shopping or all you will be seeing is Cheerios!

23 March 2012

March 23 Photo: Moon

Cloud cover tonight and no moon to take a picture of. So here is a moon that is on my living room wall. It is from a pair of pictures that used to hang in my grandparent's farmhouse. I smile when I see these too.

March 22 Photo: the kitchen sink

22 March 2012

March 21: Delicious

Photo challenge today was "delicious" and I figured that I would have to be creative since I was going to be eating pretty simply after that buffet the night before. But you can always count on the kitchen island at work. Our office is pretty consistent in having temptations close at hand but this is over the top. A student had brought these to class (her husband had made them!!) and the extras made it back to the office. I resisted but it fit my photo assignment perfectly. If you are wondering - mango mousse deliciousness in a marble chocolate cup. How tempting is that!!

March 20 Photo: Before / After

Photo assignment - before and after was perfect for our Stage West night out and the dessert buffet. Only this isn't really the after, the staff replenished the food so that there was never a truly "After" shot for me to get. And I wasn't going to wait next to the food to see the end result because the play was starting!  (Photo note: taken with my iPhone and then set up using an app called PicFrames. I also use Instagram for many of my photos taken on the go)

The play was The 39 Steps - a favourite of mine since I saw it in London and then again at Vertigo theatre last season. This was the same cast as Vertigo - 4 actors playing 150 roles and a lot of fun. I enjoyed picking out all the Hitchcock references - most were fairly in your face.... but I am a fan and it was fun to make note of them throughout!

One of my favourite scenes for the physical comedy below!

March 19 Photo: Funny

Photo assignment: Something funny - and boy I love hearing the fun things that kids say. This one - on Facebook today as I was trying to think of something to take a picture of - is my witty niece. I love that I can share in these moments when their moms post it on facebook. Love it!

March 18 Photo: a corner of my house

Photo for today is a corner of my house. The art on the bottom right is from our girl's roadtrip to Vancouver Island - "Jodi in Disguise". The picture is stitched and then the frame is painted (stylized sunglasses). That was a fun trip! I keep my necklaces on the wrought iron hook and the tin pail is holding magazines - Anthology, Mingle and Uppercase.

March 17 Photo: Green

Participants in the Parade

A birthday party of parade participants

Today's photo challenge was green. Pretty obvious, eh?

Is the Smallest St. Patrick's Day parade is in Carmangay, Alberta?? Or is it in Enterprise, Alabama.  Well, the fact that their parade is only one person - I guess you could say smallest, but then Carmangay must be the Shortest. Shorter than 98 feet - which is the distance of the parade over a bridge in Hot Springs, Arkansas? Or is it shorter than 72 feet, 8 inches? That is the distance of the parade in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Well, this parade has been going on for 26 years now and locals insist its status as the shortest parade is uncontested. For 2012, it had more participants in the parade than ever before. I think the press coverage helped as well as the fact that St. Patrick's day fell on a Saturday.  I was visiting in Magrath the night before and heard about it. Since I was heading to Champion in the morning, the next town over, I knew I had to stop! 

Participants began in front of the post office and walked the 100 metres to the Grange Hotel for a green beer if you so choose. The parade consisted of musicians including bagpipes and a bodhran, followed by every town member who put on some green and then a green truck labelled "The Paddy Wagon" and a pair of miniature ponies pulling a wagon with hay bales (the kids enjoyed a ride after the 1.5 minute parade).

Shortest in the world or not - it was certainly a fun stop on my drive. 

Some wee participants!
The CBC Lawnchairs

March 16 Photo: Sunglasses

Sunglasses are the assignment today. Shall I now step up on my soapbox and talk about the dangers of NOT wearing sunglasses? It isn't the reason I have the challenges I now have but I know that for a couple of years I went without and it was during this time that my symptons appeared. 

I have worn eyeglasses since I was eight. For a while in junior high I even had some of the older version of treated lenses that went darker in the sun and then lightened again when you went inside. Only in the past, they didn't work that well and they always looked a bit orange. Then I started with contact lenses. And with the contacts, I could wear fun sunglasses. I never paid for prescription sunglasses and so if I knew I would be outside for extended periods of time or would be driving into the sun, contact lenses went in. And then I got old. And I got my first pair of progressive lenses. I bought them with a friend on a two for one deal to help with the cost, not thinking that that would have been smart to use for a pair of prescription sunglasses.

Two years later and the spots begin to appear. My left eye was really having problems focusing and the spots actually impeded reading. I go to have it checked out and in time learn from the specialist that I have macular degeneration - in both eyes but the left is the one causing the most problems now. And that while I can't reverse the damage that has been done, I can work on slowing down the process. SUNGLASSES are key. I find when my eyes are sensitive, I even get some relief wearing them indoors. I think of all the years as a kid before I got contacts when I never wore sunglasses and then the extra damage I did when I got my progressive lenses. I know it is more complex than just wearing sunglasses and that the real cause of my MD is the shape of my eyeball (so genetics - what do you do?) but I don't go anywhere without my sunglasses now! Lesson learned!

March 15 Photo: Car

Another photo assignment which was well timed. I planned on washing my car today for my drive south and so I could take this picture without you having to squint through the dirt to see the lovely detail in the stitching on my back bumper!

A couple of years ago - on a snowy and extremely cold evening, I backed out of our Condo AGM and my bumper hit into a pile of snow. I didn't think anything of it - the snow was packed but I hadn't hit hard and it was just snow, right? Nope - there was a metal post in that snow and the cold temperature shattered the bumper.

That April, when I drove out to visit my Dad on his birthday, he did the Dad thing and came out to look at my sad car. "I can fix that" and he grabbed his drill and was off. The main focus was to stop the bottom piece from sagging and getting broken off any more but once that was tied up, he kept at it, piecing together and stitching up any two broken sides that he could find. It is VERY secure now. And I smile every time I see it. It may not be the most attractive look for my Honda but it sure has personality. And a new name. Meet Frank! Short for Frankencar.

March 14 Photo: Clouds

Sometimes these photo assignments are lining up perfectly!  Today's assignment was "clouds" and I was scheduled to give a presentation at the University on using Soundcloud.  It is a way to record and share audio and others can make comments on your audio track using either a mobile device or a computer. I can think of a lot of ways it can be used with students learning a language and this is what I shared.about.  On my ESL blog "The ESL Tickle Trunk" I will post the essense of the presentation (it's not up there yet.) but for now - it is my daily photo (the screenshot of my iPhone).

March 13 Photo: A Sign

The day's photo assignment was "a sign". I immediately thought of the time when I was driving from Calgary to Jasper to Edmonton and back with my cousin Lalainia and we weren't absolutely certain of the road. (no maps in the car and first time taking this trip). I had figured it would be fairly simple. Go west, go north, go east, go south. How hard is that? On day one, we had managed to miss the turn off to the Icefields Parkway completely and only realized as we neared Golden in B.C. that something was wrong. We shouldn't have been leaving the mountains, should we?  So after correcting that, we were finally on our way to Jasper. The next morning we headed out to Edmonton. Without a map. We had been driving for a good amount of time and hadn't had any confirmation that we were on the right road. We began to feel less confident as time passed. Had we made another error in our navigation? Was this road going to get us to Edmonton? As we discussed our concerns, we called upon the heavens, please send us a sign! Around the very next bend, our sign appeared.  "Jesus Saves!"  

The sign in my picture was a Christmas present a few years back. A very happy present. It lives in my upstairs hallway.  If you have not seen the television show "Coronation Street", do not suppose it has much of any resemblance to American soap operas. Well, sure, it has the extreme elements of the occasional murder or the revolving door on relationships on the cobbles, but in 51 years of storylines, a television program rsometimes falls back on these types of events once in a while. Mostly though, it is that you become a part of the neighbourhood on the street. Ask any Corrie fan which family they would most like to join, and they can probably tell you who they most identify with. Who they would be friends with. Who causes them "aggro". Corrie fans are fiercely loyal to the show. I have been watching since I was a little girl (so a few years then). Whenever I spent my summer vacation on the family farm, all work in the fields stopped so that lunch could be eaten during that afternoon broadcast of Corrie. When I lived in Lethbridge with Lalainia (the cousin in my story above), we would settle in on Sunday nights to watch the omnibus episode for the week. And one of my favourite conversations with my Uncle David would be to talk ahead of the Canadian schedule about what was happening on the British episodes.  (Aunt Myrna would always cover her ears - she never wanted to hear what was coming up next!)

I have family roots in the US since the Mayflower, in Ireland, Scotland and Sweden. But my English heritage is the most profound influence on my life. Most of my introduction to English television happened when I visited the farm. And my first big trip away from home was to England with Lalainia and included a visit with the Gillhams, family friends from England who spent some time in Calgary and were back home in Weston-Super-Mare.  I've made it back there a couple of times now and wish I could spend more time there. Especially to do more family research!

My love of this country comes from early inculcation which is even documented in film. The pictures below are of me talking onto a tape recorder making a tape to send to my Uncle David while he served his mission in Great Britain. I know - I had not much hair for the longest time! The second is of me with my Uncle before he left. (Don't you just love the barn in the background!)  Indoctrinated early!

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