21 April 2012

April 21 Photo: Bottle

Lots of bottles to be found at the Calgary Farmer's Market. I met a friend and her daughter for a breakfast catch up there. After we had our blintzes from Margarita's Dishes, caught up on her trip to Moab, Utah and puzzled over our choices for the provincial election, I did a bit of shopping for some fresh vegetables, tulips and a gift for a birthday. One stop I always like to make it at the Cookbook Co. Cooks. Always new yummy marinades and sauces to discover. I picked up my favourite from Stonewall Kitchen - Roasted Apple Grille Sauce.

I didn't realize we had picked the 1st Anniversary of the relocation to their new home on Blackfoot Trail. As one of the first 365 visitors, we got a new totebag.

Tulips from Red Deer
Pussy willows are the mark of spring I love the most. But I didn't pick up any this visit. I also love honey sticks in different flavours. Again, resisted. Something new is Cruffs. (Lower right hand corner). It specializes in Cream Puffs that they fill with flavoured custard creams and a variety of toppings.

So many things to browse and try. I miss having the market close by in the Currie Barracks but I was glad to meet a friend and make the trip.

April 20 Photo: Something I Drew

 Something I drew - I heard about a game at the Technology Testdrive from a number of students and I had to try it out. It is called "Draw Something" and is basically Pictionary as an app. Some people are really good but I typically keep it simple - since drawing with my finger tip onto an iPhone screen is a bit tricky if you want to add any detail. This would be easier on an iPad. But despite the challenges, it is a relaxing little diversion once in a while. I don't typically have a chance to just play a game on my phone. There aren't many times when I am waiting around and looking for something to do. So I have not been playing as much these days. But I have a couple of friends that I have games with and so I check in to take my turn.

Ages ago I took art lessons from the Marion Barker Studio that was on the corner of Northmount Drive and Brisebois Drive. A nice walk a few blocks from our house.  I took them with my Dad. He worked on oils and I worked on pencil sketches. A favourite memory from my youth.  Obviously those skills do not translate to drawing with my finger on an iPhone!!

Here's the first little sketch that I did at the age of 13.  I did a lot of sketches of animals - a mountain goat, a raccoon, a polar bear... eventually I did one of a barn and farm equipment. It found a home on the family farm with my aunt and uncle and years later, it was included in the town history book (Page 9 of "Champion and District"). Does that make me a professional?? Ha - absolutely not! But I enjoyed it at the time. It's been years since I sketched but it was fun looking back at what I did.

20 April 2012

April 19 Photo: Orange

I feel like half of my pictures have featured the colour orange! Pictures with the walls in my house or my tablecloth have always had orange in them. I already shared a picture of my little orange bird - one of my favourite orange items in my home.

Here's another one.  When I was in Beijing and visiting the Forbidden City, I saw the Chinese guardian lions, incorrectly called Fu Dogs in the west,  in front of the Imperial Palace.  I have also seen these featured in design magazines and for a while it seemed like every magazine would have at least one set somewhere in a photo shoot. They are always in a pair  - and for a while every pair I saw was turquoise.  I loved the turquoise - that was the main colour of my apartment back in Brentwood and my kitchen growing up. But I had just moved into my new townhouse and turquoise wasn't the colour I went with. So when I saw this little pair in the Winner's in West Edmonton Mall I was very happy!

Do you follow Nienie's blog? Well, today's post also has her pair of "ShiShi" - just scroll down to the picture of her husband crashed out on her FABULOUS sofa and look on the table piled with books! She must figure that they are good guardians over books as well.

Sorry for the picture quality - poor lighing at midnight with an iphone makes for a stark flash and a bad pic but it is what it is!

Getting ready for Summer?

With the promise of warm weather this weekend, this video made me smile and want to visit Switzerland. But I think our Rocky Mountains will do! Have a great weekend everyone!

18 April 2012

April 18 Photo: Hair

How often do you think about your hair? I bet it's pretty often. At least as often as once a day and probaby every time you are in front of a mirror and sometimes even more (do you carry a small mirror with you?) And how out of sorts are you when you are having a 'bad hair' day? Honestly, I never feel my best if I'm not happy about my hair.  Today, though, I love my hair! Just fresh from the salon and I didn't leave with one of those "I'll just fix it when I get home" treatments. I booked this 8 weeks ago! Little did I know it would be the photo challenge assignment.

I sure appreciate my hair so much more after knowing there are people I love who don't get to have a bad hair day right now - and whether that is a temporary situation which I'm certain it is for one, or a new way of living which I've been part of sharing in with another, it is something that makes me appreciate the fact that I can have a bad hair day once in a while.

How brave does a woman have to be to face the fact that it is time to just shave it off and accept the situation? I think it is a very brave step - to take control of it and face the bald scalp.  I am so glad I was there with a girlfriend as she had her first wig shopping experience. And now try and stop her - how many wigs is it? 

Another friend was dealing with thinning hair and decided to mark a significant birthday by having a party and inviting us all to help her shave her head. She looked fantastic bald!  Her hair is back now but she wears it much shorter than she did before - it really suits her.

And I love it when I see those who are supporting friends and family shave their heads to raise funds to fight cancer. I'm not brave enough to do that myself but happy to donate to those who do!

Now - this is a different story when it comes to men. I know some have their own anxiety about losing their hair, but really, can anyone believe that the Trump comb-over is a good look to hold on to?  My Grandad was a bald man, my dad has a shiny pate and my brother is going the same way. Everyone has their preferences, but maybe you agree with Christine Lavin. Captain Picard didn't need hair and neither did Peter Garrett (that is testing your 80s knowledge - I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall!)


Did you think I might include a picture of my new hairdo in this post? Well, since you scrolled to the very end, okay, here it is.

April 17 Photo: Something I do not like

It's sent out invitations and moved its family into every drawer of my dresser!
Ha! I once again wasn't sure about my opportunity to capture something I don't like in a photo. I was thinking about getting a picture of wind. I really don't like the wind and it is the main reason I left Southern Alberta. But it wasn't particularly windy today.

Then my work colleague came over to show me a page in a book. New books had come in again at work today and as she was looking at the selection, she flipped open directly to this page. If you know what I went through in December, you would understand why she HAD to bring the book to me.

I came home from a month traveling to a house that had been taken over by mice!! They left reminders of their visit EVERYWHERE! Particularly unsettling was finding nests they had created in my dresser drawers.

I got the news while cruising on the Mediterranean (if you have to get some bad new, I recommend getting it while sitting on a cruise ship balcony). Just a quick mention in an email - my nephew had dropped by to use my washing machine and saw some mouse droppings on the basement stairs. So I expected a mouse or two in the basement and wasn't too concerned.

I arrived home a couple days later for a short 6 hour stopover before flying out again for one last week away. I was deposited at my door missing a suitcase, over-tired from traveling for over 24 hours (that is a different tale of woe) and handed a bag of poison and mouse traps by my mom who is deathly afraid of mice. I've had mice before and never felt too bothered by it. Set traps and plug up the entry point. Easy Peasy.

I saw a few mouse droppings here and there - it was late and dark and I didn't look too hard. I was exhausted so I put down some poison on the basement landing and in the kitchen on the main floor and headed upstairs. More droppings. Just a few here and there. More poison and off to bed (after changing the bedding). As soon as the lights were out, and I began to nod off, I heard the scratchings in the walls. Then running back and forth. And then more and more and I switched on the light and one was sitting on the floor by my bed - I screamed and he ran and I freaked out. I knew he wasn't alone!

I really couldn't get to sleep now so I got up and packed up for trip number 2, noticed a LOT of the poison was already gone (how many were there???) and so I put some more out and I got out of there.

One week later, back home and in daylight, saw the full evidence of what they had been up to. In EVERY room, on EVERY piece of furniture and in EVERY cupboard and drawer. Nests! They shredded clothes and towels, a bit of tissue, and mixed in some of the poison pellets from all three floors (I had a couple of different brands) and rice (I had a bag of wild rice in the kitchen on the main floor but they moved it to the upstairs tower block which I call my dresser and the downstairs condo project which was a chest of drawers I used for storage)

I am grateful for the extra hands that helped me scour every surface and wash every piece of clothing, every bowl, dish and spoon. I had an exterminator come and he confirmed they were no longer in residence (whew!) and Dad found their likely entrance (the dryer hose was chewed through) so I feel like I can claim my home as my own again.  I've re-claimed the main and second floor but I haven't gone through my basement yet.  Anyone want to come hunt for mouse nests with me??

So - mice, especially a picture of one in a drawer, brings up some fairly strong emotions of DISLIKE.

Okay - keep calm and go to your happy place... before the infestation...

17 April 2012

April 16 Photo: Flower

When I saw that the assignment was FLOWER, I had no idea that I would have such a photo opportunity present itself! Serendipity again.

The flowers are beautiful inside the renovated Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo.  It was a work day but I was lucky enough to be excused so that I could spend some time with family. We spent a lot of time enjoying the butterfly garden and some of the pictures  above were taken by my nieces.

My niece looking for butterflies.

It was a special occasion because my brother's wife and children were in town. I was excited to spend more time with my four nieces who live so far away.  So glad to get to know them better! Here they are (okay, the cute baby doesn't belong to my brother - she belongs to my sister Belinda)
My brother's sweet girls.
And not just those four but a whole crew of nieces and nephews also made up the ranks!  Getting them all to line up for a picture was a bit like herding cats, but we got most of them to stand still for a minute.  Lots of energy!!

A crew of nieces and nephews!

I enjoyed letting them show me all their discoveries as we looked around the conservatory. They pointed out all butterflies they could find and what they thought were the prettiest flowers.  And kids will be kids --they noticed all kinds of crazy features of the plants! How about this scary look underside of a plant?


But mostly a trip to the zoo is about the animals. They didn't disappoint.Although I think I saw more backsides than animals facing forward.

The highlight though had to be the new Penguin Plunge!!The line was moving well in the morning but we let groups go ahead of us as we collected everyone coming from different directions.  They let 60 people go in at a time which seems like a lot, but it has a good viewing area and didn't seem too crowded. You are right up next to the glass and I can see how some penguins could get some momentum and end up swimming/jumping right over the glass. We didn't get to see that happen though, but there was plenty of splashing going on - one penguin in particular is apparently a fan of directing a good splash at the visitors.There are four kinds of penguins at the zoo - King, Rock Hopper, Gentoo and Humboldt. All fun to watch!!

Rock Hopper and Gentoo Penguins
Feeding the Humboldt Penguins in the outside viewing area

One last flower to end the post. The orchids in the Conservatory are gorgeous!

16 April 2012

April 15 Photo: Sunset

Yep - this is a NON sunset picture. The sky was just grey - then a darker grey, then black. No sign of the sun setting at all - just a loss of light somewhere behind all the cloud coverage.

Days like this make me yearn for a fireplace, a good book and a blanket in a comfy chair. It wasn't how I spent it though.  I did get to spend some time with extended family today. More on that tomorrow. And time on my computer. The marking didn't get completed but I made a good dent. More time this week will need to be spent on that. Almost there!

15 April 2012

April 14 Photo: How I Feel Today

Today I feel Pfanntastic! Actually, the word I had decided on was Optimistic as I was having a yummy breakfast with a friend on a snowy morning in April but I saw Pfanntastic on the menu and decided it fit just as well. And even though it doesn't necessarily fit the reality of my schedule today, it really does capture my mood.

It has been a crazy week and my life has its own share of challenges right now.  Nothing earth-shattering but enough to create some obstacles and hold me back in some of the things I would rather be pursuing. And there are people I love and care about in my life who are dealing with some much bigger battles and they are in my thoughts and prayers.  So not all smooth sailing.

The here and now has its own specific demands on my time and energy. I have a crazy amount of marking to plow through this weekend and my eyes are not cooperating. It would be easier with better lenses but that involves money and priorities don't include that right now. So I approached the weekend knowing that I would spend it tied to my laptop and not able to do much else.

But in spite of the bad weather, the heavy work load, other personal challenges going on, I am calm, relaxed, and feeling positive and optimistic. It's been my mood for a while. Maybe ever since the great start to the month with four wonderful sessions of conference. Maybe extended by the Easter weekend which included service, friendships, family and accomplishing a few personal goals. Maybe it was the positive energy I felt during the round of student interviews the past two weeks and hearing some amazing and interesting students share their own goals and dreams that brought them to study English with us. Maybe it was the unsolicited complimentary feedback I've had from students in the Education Technology course I wrote and teach as I had been somewhat less than confident in how their experience had been going. And then reviewing and grading that work and seeing some great  and creative examples of what they have been able to achieve this term.

The challenges are still there and very real and I have to deal with those at some point but today, life is good. I'm tired but with a smile.  And when a day begins with hot chocolate and whipped cream, it really helps!

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