Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sage Advice

There are more than gardens at the garden show. There are hundreds of kiosks that sell everything from hand lotions for gnarled and weathered gardener's hands, to, well, garden gnomes. I thought a gnome was a gnome. Wrong. There are a multitude of shapes and sizes but they all look like they are from the same gene pool. I am studying them while trying not to look too interested in the hand-cream lady (for the sake of my 'winter itch' of course) when I hear a "Psssst!" I bent down and here was this gnome (pictured) trying to get my attention. I knelt down to hear what he was trying to tell me.

"You should have gone to Hawaii you dummy!"

A Seattle Beach

Now here we were in the middle of Seattle, in the middle of February, in the middle of the afternoon and it put me in the middle of a dilema. Was this the beach holiday we should have taken? Sand , surf, beach umbrellas, tropical sun, and flip flops? My 'winter itch' was causing me to stand on one leg while scratching that leg with the other leg ('cmon, use your imagination) and almost losing my balance. You see, the 'itch' always goes away when we go to hot sunny climates in the winter. It is the Vitamin D, the real thing, not the tablets, or gallons of fortified milk that solves the problem. Yuma just didn't do it. Not enough sun and not enough heat. So the dilema is : do I admit I made a mistake. ALL guys make mistakes. It's just us married guys that find out sooner.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lunch Is Served

These gardeners are funny people. Having lunch outdoors and eating a salad out of your own garden is totally understandable. But check out the utensils! And I wouldn't be surprised if there was dirt under that salad!

Carbon Neutral Camping

The assignment given me by my gardner wife was to capture the flowers on digital memory. But I am a guy and look what I found among the flowers at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show! This mini trailer sleeps two comfortably (?) and the hatchback opens to a kitchen complete with sink and cupboards. Sadly, there is no media room with big screen TV.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flowers on the brain

If you click on the picture to make it larger, and look closely, you will see that the vases are two glass heads with faces. They have flowers on the brain as did we on Friday when Lis and I went to the Seattle Flower and Garden show. As I am not the gardener in the family, merely the chauffeur, I was thrust into an alien environment populated by nothing but other gardeners and millions of plants. The outdoors is brought indoors in a very big way and I was impressed with the twittering bird calls, the waterfalls, the man-made rock formations and the infinite variety of Orchids. Somebodies batteries on her camera were not checked before we left home so my role as chauffeur was expanded to photographer as well. Actually it was the primary reason for me coming at all, so I enjoyed my duties.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Evening of History

Last night we attended the 'launch' of a book and film about the gulag letters, something to which I referred, in several posts, a while back. Dr. Ruth Derksen Siemens has finally completed her project and it is indeed a labour of love and an insight into a very difficult period of time for the Mennonite people.

During many years of informal polls, Dr. Ruth discovered that there was widespread knowledge of Hitler, the holocaust, and the six million Jews who were killed during the Nazi regime. However, almost nobody knew who Joseph Stalin was, nor had they knowledge of the millions who perished in the gulags spread throughout the northern former Soviet Union nor that it was going on until as recently as 1970!

The evening was inspiring as the packed house paid close attention to all that was said. After the video was done, Joel Stobbe played (cello) two of the favourite hymns from that era and a faint accompaniment was detected as those in attendance reminisced almost silently with their muted humming. By the last stanza of the final hymn, the sound had grown to a beautiful four part harmony as only Mennonites can do. It was an emotional moment and unforgettable. The stories must be kept alive and with endeavors such as "Through the Red Gate" and the book "Remember Us" the coming generations will have no excuse.

Click on the link on the side bar to access the website where books and DVD's can be purchased and you can get more information about the project.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Creating Art

An artist, with a blank canvas before him, must have a starting point and I would think that it would be his imagination, that creative spot in the human mind, that conjures up images and pictures, that then get translated into art via brush and paint. Because I have very little imagination, I have to start somewhere else. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying I am an artist. However, there are images that my eye picks up and in my own mind they are art or they are not. (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc)

We were at an art show of sorts yesterday, and with all the variety of artful endeavours displayed, I realised that what is art to some, is not to others. So, for me to create something that I consider art, is an amazing accomplishment for me because of my limited ability to see it in my minds eye first. And that is what is so great about Photoshop. I start with one of my photos and 'play' with it, using different techniques as a true artist would use different tools and mediums and when it 'looks right' I simply save it. There is much experimentation and mostly it turns out bad, but when it comes together, it satisfies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love Technology!

As some of you know, we have very dear friends from England who we met in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. Michael and Jan's tropical vacation was delayed this last year due to some a very serious health issues and subsequent treatment. They finally got to go to the Maldives this week. Michael sent me the link to the live webcam at Kuredu and told me that he would be standing with Jan, in front of the webcam, at 8am on Feb. 2oth, his birthday. Local time was 10pm. I waited by my computer this morning and you can imagine how thrilled I was to see it actually happening before my eyes. I called Lis over and we watched the picture 'refresh' a number of times. I 'captured' this shot and noticed that Michael was holding a cell phone to his ear. "How wonderful! He is phoning his kids!" says I. A second later, our phone rings. What an incredible thrill to hear Michael and Jan's voices as we watched them 'refresh' every minute on the computer screen. They received a chocolate cake from the waiter at dinner that night and were on their way to their home on stilts over the water to eat chocolate cake and watch the stars. How we wish we could have been there to share the moment with them! (Michael is wearing the traditional native garb, not a skirt. No, he is not a cross dresser) Michael and Jan, you really made our day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stolen Art

With all this business of stolen art masterpieces in Europe this week, I have a confession of my own to make. I found some pictures on my computer that were not taken by me, but by my better half. I felt justified in putting my 'terryography' logo on it because I spent considerable time with this image in Photoshop. It does not at all resemble the original. I have no idea of the significance of the statue, who it is, or what it represents, but I like the 'feel' of it. It was at the Van Dussen Garden show in Vancouver last year. I should consider attending this event so I do not have to steal photos any more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Tribute to Funk's Supermarket

The year was 1964. I was a punk teenager and had just moved to Clearbrook the day before. I went to check out 'downtown' and ended up in Funk's Supermarket. Being a wealthy guy from the prairies, I made a purchase. It was a 5 cent bag of salted and roasted Sunflower Seeds. They were all the rage back then. The cashier informed me of a contest that was closing that afternoon. All I had to do was fill out a slip of paper with my name and phone number and I would enter a draw for 'valuable' prizes. I felt a little guilty, having only spent a nickel, but what the hey. Nobody knew me. I was the new kid in town.

Only hours later I got a call telling me I was the lucky winner and could pick up my prize any time before Saturday. It was a valuable prize because in spite of having used it off and on for 43 years, this travel alarm clock still works like a charm.

This month, Funks Supermarket is shutting down. It is the end of an era, for sure, and the landmark of Clearbrook, a reference point for giving direction to just about anywhere, will soon come down.

I can here it now. "You want to know how to get there? Well, do you know where Funks used to be?"

By the way. Thanks for the clock.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Pain in the Neck

It was with a bit of apprehension that I pulled up to the address and gingerly exited my car. It was only a few hours ago that I had called to make the appointment and was surprised that I could get on so soon. I really had no idea what to expect, but was willing to try anything to get some relief.
A few days earlier I had been in conversation with one of my customers regarding aches, pains and chiropractors. I had been to my doctor several years ago about the pain in my neck, which was progressively getting worse. Anti-inflammatories and pain killers were what he ordered, never once concerning himself about the origins or root causes of the pain. My customer sympathised and then told me her story, also about a sore neck. She now had relief and suggested I see Mrs. Banman who could fix just about anything.
After having tried so many different therapies and spending literally thousands on chiropractors, I was willing to try anything, especially if it had worked on someone else with a similar problem. I had not even asked what it was, exactly, that Mrs. Banman did, that brought about such wonderful results. I was trusting, and desperate.
I was a bit surprised at who came to the door. She looked familiar, but probably only because she had that typical old Russian peasant look, which is so predominant in our community. With a heavy accent, she acknowledged me and ushered me into her front entry. I was confronted by a strong odour of frying fish and horse liniment. It was going to be a hot day and she had all the drapes pulled tight and windows closed to keep the heat out. It also kept the odours in.
I followed her very large frame down the hall, trying to avert my eyes lest she suddenly turn and see me staring at her huge maternal stores. She led me to her ‘treatment room’. Four treatments later, I would change the name of that room, but for now, it was a converted den with a very narrow massage table against one wall, a squat bookshelf, and an oversize leather recliner with a wooden chair facing it. On a small table beside the recliner was the source of the strongest of the two odours in Mrs. Banman’s home. There was an assortment of bottles, tubes, and jars, all containing various strengths of balms, oils, lubricants, and liniments.
I was still in the process of assessing my surroundings when she mumbled something about my pants. Having not caught the comment at all, I asked her to say it again.
“Take off you pants,” she said a little louder.
Naturally taken aback, I repeated the statement back to her and she said, “That’s vat I told you”.
“There must be some mistake,” I countered. Thinking she had me mixed up with another one of her patients, I said, “My name is Terry. I called you this morning about my neck.”
“Ja, take off you pants.”
“I’m sorry, but my neck needs work and I do not see what my pants being off have to do with that! If it is all the same to you, I would prefer to keep them on.”
Very assertively she replied, “Do you vant to get better? Then take off you pants. I have to massage your legs.”
By this time, I am laughing inside and telling myself that I really don’t have to be here. “What on earth has that go to do with my neck?”
And just as she was about to explain, I got it. I had not yet seen the chart on the wall in my peripheral view, but it came clear. It was a reflexology chart, and a large one.

“I vill verk on your neck, but from the bottom to the top.”
“ Aha. I get it. You will massage my feet and in that way you will loosen up my neck. Ok, next time I come, I will wear shorts.”
She sat me down on the big brown recliner and extended the foot rest. She slipped off the sandals I was wearing and I was glad I had taken a shower not that long ago. She grabbed the largest of the jars beside me and dolloped out a large quantity of grease. Immediately the strong odour stung my nostrils and instantly cleared my sinuses. She slathered the grease on my feet and up my ankles and then began massaging. I knew right away that she had done this before, and many times. Her hands were well practiced, powerful, and knew the exact spots, both the ones that tickled and the ones that gave sharp pain. She was just warming up. I knew the appointment was for one hour, so I settled in and told myself I was going to have to get used to it. I didn’t.
“Now I vill verk on your neck.”
Finally, I thought, we are getting to the nub of the issue. I was about to prop myself up so I could move to the massage table, but she made no indication that I was about to go anywhere. With a plump, greasy finger, she pointed to the chart beside her and showed me ‘the neck’. It was, according to reflexology, the outer, lower edge of the big toe. She grabbed it between her thumb and fore finger and squeezed mightily as the toe bone slid between her fingers. There had to be a big nerve right there because I just about jumped out of the recliner.
“See?” she said, “ That shows that your neck is not good.”
“ No, that shows that my toe is not good. My neck is up here,” I protested as I pointed to that part of my body between the shoulder and the head. Quickly glancing up at the chart I said, “If I break your middle toe and it hurts like crazy, does that mean you have bad kidneys?”
At that she laughed, and the excesses of her body rippled and swayed at the effort. At least she had a bit of a sense of humour, but I was getting worried, because to this point, she had yet to look at or touch my real neck, where the real pain was. As if she was reading my mind, she inquired about my neck and asked if I was feeling any relief. I was not and I did not hesitate to tell her.
With that pronouncement, she perhaps decided that she should placate me and at once told me to take my shirt off and to get onto the massage table, face down. I am sure it was a table designed for small children, because all manner of parts of me were hanging off the ends and sides. She struggled to squeeze herself between the recliner and the massage table and in the process was pressing her ample warm flesh against my arm, which was already crowded for room. I faced the wall, reluctant to find out exactly which soft parts of her were becoming familiar with the back of my hand. She did not seem to mind one bit and after a few squirts from the liniment tube, leaned over me even further and began rubbing the horse medication into my shoulders and neck. Ah. Finally my neck was getting some much needed attention.
But, far from soothing and relaxing the stiff, painful muscles, the discomfort was growing. I wondered at that point if she had ever heard of the real massage tables, the ones with a hole for your face? The big problem for me at that point was the fact that I was on my stomach and my head was twisted to the side, something that I had not dared to do for many years already due to the nasty after effects.
With her hands finally feeling my neck and realising the extent of the stiffness, she declared to me that she had treated necks much worse that mine and that she would be able to fix me in three more treatments. She was so self assured, and she was so good at telling people what they wanted to hear, that I believed her. So, when the agony was finally over, I consented to coming back in three more days.
Fortunately, I had an old blanket in my vehicle and was able to throw it over the driver's seat to keep from contaminating everything with grease on my short drive home. I slithered out of my clothes when I got home and with plenty of soap and hot water, was finally able to degrease my body. My feet were feeling tingly and good. My neck was stiff and sore. More that it had been in quite some time. At that point in time, I was desperately wishing that my toe and neck were interchangeable, like the chart said they were.
The next three treatments were similar with a few exceptions. She tried to defend her science by getting me to feel both my big toes for the sake of comparison. The left toe, according to the wall chart, represented the right side of the neck. The right toe, the left side of the neck. The almost imaginary lump on the left side of the left toe, was the wonky neck, and it was here that she concentrated her efforts. I maintain to this day that the lump was a result of trauma inflicted in the first treatment. The pressure and continual rubbing on that spot almost forced me to walk out several times. I will admit that it got my mind off my painful neck. In that sense, it did work, at least temporarily.
She would talk as she massaged. I heard about every alternative practitioner in our community. She knew them all, what they did and how good their results were or were not. I was warned about many other old Russian women. "Stay avay from them. They vill hurt you."
During the third treatment, she was perhaps suspecting that I was not going to get any better so she brought up the subject of eel treatments. She told me how first the Chinese, and later the Russians used live eels to suck the toxins out of a patients body and all sorts of good things happened as a result.
" Let me understand this," I said. " The eels suck the bad poisons right through the skin? Where do they go, these poisons? Is there a lot of blood that comes with the poisons? Do the wounds heal OK? And what about the eels? Do they then die because they are full of poison?"
The laugh came from the deep and almost caused a tsunami. I thought my queries would put the idea to rest but she surprised me when she asked me if I wanted to try it.
"You have eels? Here?" I was thinking of the smell of fried fish that hung around like a tiresome neighbour.
She bent forward, as far as her lap would allow, and reached down to the bottom of the book shelf. Red faced from the exertion of hoisting her upper body to a sitting position, she proudly thrust forth the box.
"Look. I ordered these from Russia and they arrived last week. I vant to try them."
"Surely not eels," I thought to myself, but deadly curious. She carefully opened the box and there in four rows of six, were perfectly identical, thick, rounded, glass cups, maybe two inches deep and two inches in diameter. These 'eels' looked innocent enough. I asked her how they worked and she explained that each cup was heated with a candle as it was held up side down. Then, quickly, the cup was placed on one's slightly moistened back, (with liniment, no doubt) and as the cup and trapped air cooled, it created suction, much like an eel would. My mind conjured up burn rings and massive hickies so I was hoping my question would deflect her enthusiasm.
"Where do the toxins go?"
"They are sucked out of your body."
"But to where? Do they have to be washed off of your skin? What do they look like?"
" It is OK. You no like to try them, I try them on somebody else."
She put them away, obviously disgusted with me for my lack of faith. "Stupid man!" was the look on her face.
On the fourth treatment, she asked again if my neck was better. She seemed puzzled at my negative answer, as if she had never run into this situation in her life. After the usual toe bashing, she suddenly grabbed my arm and began to manipulate it up and down, backwards and forwards. It was the arm (shoulder) that I had dislocated 25 years previously. She detected the 'thump' as she rolled the socket back and forth.
"Aha! Vy didn't you tell me you had a sore arm?"
" I didn't know I had one," I said apologetically. "Besides, that's my left arm and it is the right side of my neck that is sore."
She looked mystified and utterly forlorn. She had finally met a monster she could not conquer. I had planned on reminding her that she was going to fix me in four treatments, but I suddenly felt sorry for her. After the many stories she told me of her successes, I wondered if she would ever tell anyone my story. Probably not.
With my neck as sore as ever, I left the torture chamber for the last time. As I slipped my greasy feet back into my sandals, she told me I should maybe go see a chiropractor. But not Mrs. Quiring! She would hurt me.
"Besides," she announced, "me and my husband are going fishing and I cannot work on you any more this summer."
She had no trouble taking the twenty from my outstretched hand. I turned to leave, looking over my shoulder before I walked out the door, only to see her waddling to the kitchen, presumably to fry up some fish.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two Lips

I keep going back to my Tulip photos. They are my favourite flower, both to look at and to photograph. I see the Daffodils in our garden, in a sheltered spot tucked up agains the east side of the house, are shooting their spikes, heavenward. I saw a Magnolia tree today, with buds popping out all over. The Alder tree in our neighbours yard is dangling down with allergy inducing buds. Can we use the 'S'word yet?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Here is an old Indian proverb I came across.

On being Lazy: Sitting is better than standing. Lying down is better than sitting. But death is the best of all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Uncommon Winter

The last of the snow in the shady spots has finally reverted back to that which it should be, and we can reflect on a winter of unusually abundant snow falls. Fortunately, accumulations were not great, and I can take great comfort in the fact that I did not shovel one time. Should have, perhaps, a time or two, but did not. I can be stubborn. And on principle, I concluded that if the globe is warming, there should at least be a benefit of no longer having to shovel snow.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Slippery Slopes of Childhood

The distant memories of childhood eventually fade. I found this out as I reviewed my stories, looking for one to post today. As I read it, I was amazed that I had written it only a few years ago, but had already forgotten some 0f the details. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Life was not an endless summer full of adventure and discovery. Real life was interrupted every fall by the drudgery of school. On my first day of grade one, little did I realize that I and the kids in my class would spend the next nine years together. There were two classes of us, but there was little exchange in the make up of our group over that span of time. For the first two years we had silver haired Miss Bell Thompson as a baby-sitter / teacher. Right from the opening clang of the hand bell on the first day of school, with mothers in tow, we just knew she meant business. It was the pursed lips and squinty eyes that revealed her philosophy of teaching. Her blue and white outfits that gave off strong odors of deodorant and perfume looked too much like a uniform that indicated she would be more of a drill sergeant than a surrogate mother. She did, however, have a talent for conveying the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic that laid a good foundation for us all.

That is, all but the Funk twins. I suppose they were the only ones who were not intimidated. Their special genetic gift in life was a high pain tolerance. We just knew something was coming down when Miss Thompson let her agitation show by digging in her ear with a bobby pin. Douglas and Donald were identical twins and took great pleasure in confusing her. Being a self assured woman who had by that time amassed about a hundred years of teaching experience, she knew how to kill two birds with one stone. Rectifying the defiance and wreaking revenge for interrupting the class. The twins were masters of switch and blame, which only works if you are identical twins. They had probably mastered this technique at home. It was great entertainment for the rest of the class. We sat there, truly in awe, as both boys were punished, and punished severely for something probably only one of them did. The pain was meted out right there in front of all the students and it usually consisted of several very hard raps on the back of the hands with a wooden ruler, on edge. It was the 'on edge' part that kept me on the straight and narrow for most of my first two years under Miss Thompson. It happened on an almost weekly basis and the frustration on the part of the whip master was getting more evident as time went by. You see, the problem was that Donald and Douglas would not flinch a muscle during the ordeal, but more than that, they would look back over the classroom and actually smile as wood crushed bone and flesh, at least by the sound of things.

We knew for a certainty that no pain was ever experienced by these classmates, when we saw them get into their first fight. With each other. They seemed the best of friends, the way I and my brother would treat each other if, indeed, I had a brother. But I did not have a brother so I was so confused when I saw them turn on each other with hatred, usually only lasting until they had exhausted their energy tearing each other apart. And tear each other apart they did. Literally. Ears half torn off, bits of scalp pealed back, red and swollen eyes from the gouging, blood running down the chin from the cut lips and their good school clothes tattered and shredded and covered in grass and mud and blood stains. It was brutal. I suppose that a rap on the knuckles from a wooden stick doesn't hurt much when your ear is dangling on your shoulder.

The opposite extreme was Marion Rode. She was a pleasant enough girl, but my goodness, she knew everything. I had thought the purpose of school was to learn stuff. What was she doing there? She was at the top of the class for the rest of her life and we knew if we had a score on a test that was anywhere near her score, we had accomplished a near miracle. She came from a large family who had a very, very large mother. Rumor had it that she went into the hospital one day due to sever pains in her 'stomach'. She came out with a new baby in her arms, a complete surprise to her. She should have known though. It was nine months and ten minutes since her last one. At least it was a really good gene pool because every one of those kids was the pride and joy of Miss Thompson, whose favorites were always the ones who could ace the math quizzes.

I found it quite a coincidence that there were three Terrys in our class, but a really amazing coincidence that all three of us were left handed. It was a policy in those days to have one left-handed desk in each classroom. The educators of the day were finally giving in to the fact that some people are born right brained and there is not a whole lot they can do about it. It took several days, but we finally had three left handed desks, one for each Terry. Dragging a blotter behind the fountain pen was bad enough, but having your left arm hang down while you were trying to write was bad cause to give a failing grade in penmanship.

I got along with the two Terrys, but never became fast friends. There was a famous Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player named Bobby Bonn, whose claim to fame was playing in a Stanley Cup final with a broken leg. This was the stuff of true heroes and Terry Nackenascheny live in the actual house that Bobby Bonn grew up in on the east side of town. The old paint worn three story house became a sort of shrine for us young wannabe hockey players. This made that Terry somewhat of a hero too. By default. The other Terry had glasses at age six already, but we thought it was because his dad was a teacher at the local High School. If your kid had glasses, he looked more scholarly, and this was appropriate for a teacher's kid. The other theory was that he was a coward and wearing glasses virtually guaranteed him a spectators role only, when the after school fights broke out. His dad was an alcoholic and when the word got out, Terry was always making excuses for him. It was natural and I felt a little sorry for him, except when he beat me in chess.

Most of the students in the Lanigan Public School were farm kids. There eventually developed an 'us versus them' attitude between town and country kids. We were just jealous. The farm boys never came to school in the first week in September like the rest of us. They had to help bring the harvest in on the farm. Indeed some of them never ever came back to school at all. Like Gordon Turner who sat behind me and talked to himself when he was supposed to be doing his work. The front end of a combine fell on his head and killed him outright. Keith Vernard was hauling cattle with his brother when the truck left the road and flipped over, expelling both brothers and all the cattle. The ensuing stampede crushed Keith and he never survived. Kenny Shenko never came back one fall day either. He hung himself in his Dad's barn. He had just been on my team in a spirited game of Prisoner's Base in the school gym the day before. Kids' had tended to avoid him because his clothes were permeated with barnyard smells.

The farm kids were generally poorer than those of us from town but made up for it in smarts and in physical strength. They excelled in track and field competitions, but did not do well in team sports. But they got a ride in the bus every day. I thought it would be a pure pleasure to have a ride in a school bus everyday, twice a day. Some of these kids were a half hour drive out of town so I don't know why spending an hour a day on a bumpy country road in an old bus with no springs appealed to me. These kids, for the most part, had parents who shopped at my dad's store so I instinctively knew that I should be nice to them. Over the years I made connections between my dad's farm customers and which kids belonged to them and eventually knew everyone in town and most people within a radius of five miles. We, as a family, sat down one evening to do a town census. We named every man, woman and child in town, added them up, and came up with 575. We did not go beyond the town limits and knew many hundreds more in the farm lands.

Farming was what sustained this town and not until 1965 was there any other economic base. That is when the potash mine was developed.
The main school was a granite monstrosity with oversized halls and very high ceilings. Having been built in the early part of the century, it was somewhat ornate, much in the style of a government building. It was on a rise and was looking down protectively on several smaller one room school houses and a portable or two. There was no sanitation system as we know it today. The row of toilet cubicles were built over a cavernous septic tank and anyone who had the great misfortune of dropping something into the toilet was assured of saying good-bye to it forever. It could be a painful good-bye because you could see it and almost reach it, but the thought of doing so was too repulsive.

The gray water from the wash basins was collected from under the counter as needed, by the janitor, and dumped in front of the school so it could run down the slope and feed the fringes of grass along the third base line of the ball diamond. In winter, it became the frozen version of a water slide. You were not cool unless you could sail down the entire length of the ice sheet while standing. Being uneven and rough, it was quite an accomplishment and only the most coordinated boys could pull it off. On one such attempt, I fell half way down and instead of finishing the slide on my butt, I attempted to walk back up. My feet disappeared from under me and I landed on my face. Why my face? I was unconscious for while and I remember wanting to stay that way in order to avoid the excruciating pain around my eye.

What resulted was the most incredible black eye in the history of Lanigan Public school which was the topic of conversation for months. I hated it because those who saw it and were not aware of how it came to be, asked questions. "I'd hate to see the other guy" became so predictable. And, no, I was not looking through a keyhole. While the tough guy persona was enjoyable, it soon faded as the embarrassment of “I slipped on a slop pile" took over. While the colours eventually faded from black to purple to yellow, the hard swelling around my left eye took many years to gradually subside. It was a constant reminder to stay away from slippery slopes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Getting Through the Day

I sometimes wonder about the ducks that stay here for the winter. Do they have a 'one day at a time' mentality? If they do, then I was thinking like a duck today. My arm and neck were very sore from my fall and it was a very difficult day for me. One day at a time, and like a duck, I too will soon be enjoying spring. And having a strong left arm again. Lizzy, hand me the Tylenol, would you please?

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I slipped and fell on some ice yesterday. My left arm (I am left-handed) was not working well all day, but there was no pain or discomfort. As with many soft tissue injuries, the after effects were delayed. I would rather be out in nature taking photos than trying to function this way. I imagine tomorrow will be a real challenge. Oh well, there is no colour out there right now anyways. We must get out to the Mt. Vernon Tulip Festival again this spring.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Deterioration of Autumn

There are times when we see only what we want to see. We separate the nice words, the pretty pictures, the most vibrant coulours, and tend to ignore everything else, even though it is part of the whole picture. But this makes the picture incomplete as is the above photo. I isolated the best of the Autumn colours and left the rest black and white. Nice to look at but somehow incomplete and not real. As a Christian, I see this happening in the church. New, exciting, different, and revolutionary concepts, all to make the message relevant, attractive and contemporary. But beware the black and white elements, although not as evident and attractive, still need to be seen, to complete the picture.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Melt Down

Just having fun in Photoshop, but perhaps this is a world adjusting to Global Warming.

Monday, February 4, 2008


The Harrison Lake Sand Sculpting Competition brings some very talented people to the area. I do not know if this was an original piece of art, but it really caught my attention. It is not always easy to determine what the artist had in mind. I suppose good art evokes different things in each of us. There is a poignancy here, but I am not sure why. Giving the original photo this treatment emphasised that aspect of the child/adult interaction. I would find it interesting to hear some of your interprations of this sculpture.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Daughter

Today is my beautiful daughter's birthday. She is a bit older than this picture would imply, but in my heart she will always be my little girl.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Somewhat Puzzling

Camera against my face, I am lying flat on the patio, looking up into the inner workings of these wonderful Angel Trumpet blossoms, and almost being overcome with the beautiful fragrance wafting downward. Although this plant comes in peach also, it is only the yellow blossoms that will give off the evening fragrance. Now that is puzzling!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Either Or

I have gravitated toward some of my Black and White photos recently and it may have something to do with a conversation I had. We were discussing character traits and I was saying how I am a black and white person. I like things cut and dried. Either or. Simplified. But, life is not like that, although that would be my preference. It is actually all that 'stuff' in the middle ground that makes life complicated and interesting. I have discovered that in my new Photshop program, there is a tool for changing a colour picture to a B&W, but that tool has a myriad of options and slider bars that give me an infinitisimal number of choices regarding the tonal character of the black and white. How much like life! Even the black and white is not cut and dried.