Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blog Break

Look what happens to a Morning Glory when a ray of light hits it from behind!
It is Morning Glory season and every morning we wake to a brand new fresh batch of blossoms, unscathed by sun, wind or insects. By evening, they are withered and fall off of their stems. Lis has planted them all around our home and they intertwine with other trees and flowers, creating unending photo opportunities.
Today we are packing our beach wear and heading for the hot interior for a much needed vacation. I just realised it is one year since we have left home for any kind of a break. Part of the reason has been my immobility and the other part is our conflicting and overlapping schedules. This must change in the next while and just may, because I think I am on the right track to solving the pain issues in my hip. When there is conclusive evidence, I will tell all.
Meanwhile, I will be taking a blog break, but not for more than 5 days. I know that so many of you count on me for your daily insights into life, your laugh (or groan) for the day, and you all need someone to just shake your head at. I am hoping that when I return, I will have fresh and wise things to say, but will probably only come home with a sunburn, and the trots, from eating too much fresh fruit. There now, that thought should hold you over.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I got dragged to a 'chick flick' tonight. The above photo is a clue as to which movie it was. But then I have already given it away with the title of my post. It was called "Julie and Julia" or maybe the other way around. I was not paying attention, neither does it matter.
Julia Child is famous for bringing French cooking to America, not Mexican, such as is portrayed in my photo for today. The story is a juxtaposition of two eras and two lives intertwined with cooking and recipes. What the story is really about is finding purpose, seeking a goal worthy of enduring effort, perseverance, escaping tedium, blogging, recognition, and love. And the food. Oh, the food. Often the eyes will leak while watching a movie, but in this case, the salivary glands are squirting. It is funny and at times endearing and although I am not a huge Meryl Streep fan, the woman can act. Just one warning. If butter turns you off, do not go see this movie.

Monday, August 24, 2009

All Boy

Here is a photo of my second Grandson, Chad. He is all boy. Why do I say that? It is obvious, is it not?
Apparently it is not always obvious, and sometimes the gender of an individual is in doubt. Take the case of Castor Semenya, a South African athlete who has taken the world track and field competitions by storm with her outstanding performance as a runner. Indeed, she is now undergoing two weeks of intense gender testing to see if she is a female. One would think that a five second check could straighten this out nicely, but there are some underlying factors that make it a little more complicated than that.
Performance enhancing drugs (steroids) became an issue in the '72 Olympics, but the '68 Olympics were witness to the very first gender testing, and it involved a Canadian swimmer, Elaine Tanner. She proudly displays the certificate to this day that states she is a female, but will Castor have the same outcome? This becomes a moral, ethical, sport, and now a racial issue and regardless of the outcome of the tests, there will be one or more of these areas that will remain an issue. There are many people holding their breath on this one. By outward manifestations, my guess is that she will fail the test, but fortunately for Castor, there are other criteria that will ultimately reveal all. Her/his future is at stake.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More Hot Summer Days

My young grandson, Liam, doesn't seem to mind the heat so much as us adults, especially when he has a bit of water to splash in. I was expecting him to do a face plant in the water any minute as he kept reaching for the green ball.
The days get shorter and the heat is more bearable because of the shortness of the day, and to be truthful, the days have not been that hot. It is a nice time of summer and we will soon be going on a little holiday. These are days of corn on the cob, fresh garden cucumbers, and zucchini, sauteed with onions, deep fried with a little batter, or my favourite, Lis's own famous Zucchini Relish. I actually eat hot dogs when the relish is available. The blueberries are winding down and I am sorry I have been unable to get out do an annual wild Blackberry pick. The fresh Okanagan nectarines and peaches are in our fruit basket these days too, but not for long. The Italian Prune Plums on our tree in the garden are blue and almost ripe. The Red Delicious Apples nearby are turning from bright green to rosy cheeked red but there are so many of them that they are a bit on the small side this year. I always gain a little weight this time of year because I love all the fruit. Did I mention the abundance of the sweetest cherry tomatoes we have ever grown? It is the only time of year I do not crave chocolate, probably because I am too busy eating other things that are just as good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walking in Circles

Some 'scientists' in Germany were given a grant to do a study to find out how various stimuli to our senses causes humans to do what they do. This study focused on the ability or inability of people to walk in a straight line. It was discovered that when the sun was out and visible, whether walking in the desert or in a dense forest, most people walked a fairly straight line. When it was dark, overcast, or blindfolds were applied, people tended to walk in circles.
I think scientists are really hard up for things to do if they are studying this. Ask any working person if they are walking in circles, or for that matter, spinning their wheels. This is a common occurrence as life is a series of cycles, or circle if you will. We do the same thing day in and day out, always coming back to where we started, so why not do it when we are in the forest too. But, when we are goal oriented and find purpose (can see the sun) we become focused and walk a straight line to the destination we have deemed worthy of our efforts. I know these two concepts are not really related except as an allegory, but still worth thinking about.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Money Needs Laundering?

When I was about 10 years old, my mother asked me what kind of birthday cake I would like at my birthday party. I remember saying that the kind did not matter so much (I loved any kind of cake) but I would really, really like to have money in my cake. The reason, of course, is that all my friend's moms did that at their birthday parties. We never had much money, so getting a coin in your piece of birthday cake, even if it was just a nickel, was a thrill.
She would have none of it because, in her words, money was filthy. And, I suppose it was. Her and my dad ran a cash retail business and they handled money all day, so I suppose she knew what she was talking about, and from a purely logical view, she was right. Of course, she could have boiled it, wrapped it in tin foil, or plastic wrap, or wax paper, but no, it just did not belong in a cake because money, probably in more ways than one, is just plain dirty.

She would have sat up and taken notice at the finding today, that 85% of Canadian paper money is tainted with cocaine! Only USA surpasses us at 90%. This is quite shocking. They have tested the money in various larger cities to track where the drug trade centers are. I was thinking that this does not bode well for those of us that like to carry cash on us. What if a random check was done at an airport or at a border crossing and cocaine was found on your money? Could an innocent person be incriminated by this evidence?
I guess maybe it proves my mother's theory correct in a way she never would have thought of. I do know that she would say, "I told you so".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Party

It is so much fun writing about personal health issues, because of necessity, one must inject a lot of humour into the story. I feel so inspired to write after I have had a medical procedure done to my aged and deteriorating body. I will have some stories soon, but for now I would like to write about a very fun party we attended on the weekend. Sadly, this too is about aging.

In the last few months Lis and I have reconnected with some friends from our teen years. Yes, that was back when Dinosaurs roamed the earth. We had a great time well into the evening over coffee and dessert, and then did not hear from them until we received an invitation to his 60th birthday party. Lis and I both knew the families well and were looking forward to seeing some old familiar faces. Well, we certainly did that. There was a band, lots of food, and no end to visiting and catching up with everyone. During a short lull in the proceedings, I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling that I was having an 'out of body' experience. I looked all about in what seemed like slow motion and what I saw was a glimpse of the past when we were all young again. And in that state, I was able to peer into the future and see all sorts of strange things. Of course that 'future' was the present but strangely enough, I was seeing it from my youth. I almost felt like I did not belong. What had I missed in the last 40 years? How did these dear people all get so old looking and why are they all surrounded by their adult children and several small grandchildren each? When was this time machine invented where we step into our lives and without our knowledge someone pushes a few buttons and the next thing we know 40 years are gone? Why does that person look so fresh and young in spite of the years, and that other one look like death is around the corner?
It frightened me to think that the others were probably looking at me the same way. To make matters worse, I was limping along with my sore hip, just as an old man should. My only consolation was that I was able to hide behind my beautiful and youthful wife, just when my feelings of inadequacy were peaking. And just like the old fart I am, I talked my party loving wife into a discreet exit before the rowdy part of the evening got under way. Fortunately there were more that sixty people there and it was an outdoor event so nobody heard the door slam or anything like that.
Now my friend, the poor birthday boy, is bemoaning the fact that he is sixty and his life is over. Hey, for me, that is 'old' hat. My life kind of ended then too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Through the Roof

One thing I can count on when I go to see my doctor is that he will take my blood pressure. I had an appointment for a few days down the road so I began to monitor my blood pressure at home. We have a fairly new monitor that was not cheap and every three or four months I check my readings for a week or so, every day, under different circumstances and at different times of the day. I am always greatly relieved and quite pleased to see that my blood pressure is consistently in the 'Optimal' range.
I took one last reading before heading to the Dr.'s office and it was 117 / 77. We discussed the reason for the visit and then he asked me how I was feeling. I told him I was feeling quite good and told him my blood pressure was good but I did not know what my cholesterol levels were. He asked me what my BP was, I told him, and then he set me on his table and proceeded to take his own reading. It was 145 / 95 ! We were both taken aback. He wrote it off as 'white coat syndrome', but I knew better. I had to wait for 20 minutes for my appointment, he is a new doctor for me and this was a first time visit, and he had just told me that I had something that had to be removed and sent in pretty quick. On top of that he is talking to me and asking me questions and all I have ever read about taking BP reading is that you will get a high reading if you talk while doing it. No wonder I had a high reading! When I arrived back in the sanctuary of my own home, I took the reading again and it was back to optimal.
I will blog about the other thing soon. And, my blood is in the lab as we speak, to get the cholesterol tested. You can probably deep fry your onion rings in it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Defying the Odds

Aerodynamically speaking, the Bumble Bee is not supposed to be able to fly. I wonder if anyone ever told the bee that? Perhaps, if as a child, it was drilled into the bee that he was destined for a life of crawling, that is exactly what he would do, and he would not survive. After all, science says he cannot possibly fly, and science is .. well, scientific and to be believed.
We are all conditioned throughout our lives as to what we can and cannot do. Those that rise above this conditioning have either ignored it or have had some encouragement along the way that gave them the hope and the courage to achieve great things. There is no doubt that we rise, or fall, to the expectations of those around us. We all hear so many things about ourselves and our world on a daily basis, that we eventually believe it. Not all things are said in truth and it takes an effort to separate the truth from the lies, but the key to this is critical thinking.
Those of us in our church who are paying attention, are having our thinking turned around on several fronts with our sermon series on the book of James. There are some very simple but profound life changing truths in the book that are making us look at commonly held concepts in a very different light. I am feeling a bit like the Bumble Bee who heard he cannot fly so is not even going to try.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tag ... You're 'It'

*Warning: If you are squeamish, just look at the photo and go back to Facebook (or whatever)

More that 50% of all people have them, some more, some less. I am talking about Acrochordons. Those are those cute little tags of skin that just hang there and do nothing but aggravate their owner. Commonly found in the armpits, neck, groin, and eyelids, they are benign and quite harmless. Their removal is quite simple, but most people are too squeamish to do it. Years ago I had a large one in my armpit and it got irritated one day and started changing colour. At that time there was no Internet to check things out on so I got myself in a lather and made a doctor's appointment to check out the cancer growing on my body. There were wait times back then too and a few hours before my appointment, which was days later, the thing just fell off and everything looked normal and healthy in its place. I called to cancel the visit.

More recently, I had one that was itching me like crazy. With the help of the Internet this time, I took a piece of dental floss and tied it off at its base. Within days, it changed colour and fell off, with no pain or discomfort except for the string hanging down for few days.

The most recent episode has given me renewed courage in my battle against the tags. They tend to grow where there is skin rubbing together and I guess there was a little to much irritation for my favourite skin tag and it got a little inflamed one day and was getting ugly looking. "Enough", said I. and got out my special little scissors for snipping hair out of unwanted places. I grabbed hold of it, pulled it away from my body, and snipped it into oblivion. There was the ugly little thing between my fingers, the constant companion for many years, severed and bleeding. I flicked it into the toilet and never even said goodbye.

They say that skin tags are common in folks up to the age of sixty. That is good news because now the number of my little friends will only decline instead of increase.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Living Bouquet

Because one of my hobbies is photography, I find myself continually looking at things as if through a camera lens and in a frame. I often suspend this habit during the winter months because although I do not photograph or see in black and white, that is mostly what the world is during those dreary months. In winter I find even a yellow rain coat on a dark and overcast day to give me inspiration and wish I had my camera with me, but this is only triggered because of the presence of a small splash of colour. As spring approaches, colour increases and throughout summer we are surrounded by it. Everywhere I turn I see photos. Flowers, for me, are the best that colour has to offer. The variations, intensity, and variety of shapes and shades are a never ending source of photo opportunities. And then there is the light. The above bouquet takes on a different look entirely in the morning, midday, and evening light, each offering a unique opportunity to get just the right shot. Whether the frame is awash with a riot of colour, or there is just a splash of it in one corner of the photo, colour brings and represents life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I have written a few stories of my childhood and my work experiences and have posted some of them on this blog. There are more. I have a distinct advantage of having been the only one present during these experiences so none can dispute their veracity. However, there was a small thread weaving through those times that I have been remiss in exposing. I am not proud of it, nor should I probably even write about it, but as I was choosing a photo for today, this flower, standing tall and seemingly alone, in sharp contrast to its surroundings, reminded me of a few things. ( I don't really know how this works, but I choose a photo and then I depend on it for a wee bit of inspiration. It often works.)
As part of a fallen world, we all have our flaws and those aspects to our personalities that we battle with, trying to overcome those urges that we know are counterproductive. One of my battles was, and is to a much lesser degree today, with my short fuse and caustic temper. I am not sure what the root of this is, perhaps pride, or even a deep seated anger that has not been resolved, but it can be deadly. I rarely took it out on my family, but I am ashamed to admit that I did on occasion. I did take it out on a few of my customers over the years and I cannot believe that my business survived such bad behaviour on my part. I remember several times getting into an argument with a client, usually when they questioned me on something, perhaps in an accusatory tone, or criticized my work. I would try to gloss it over, but if pressed even a little, I would blow up. On more than one occasion I simply cleaned up my tools, told them to get somebody else to do their work, told them they did not have to pay me, told them to never ever call me again, and simply left. Well, not simply leave, but leave with an exasperated and angry comment over my shoulder. If I hired someone today and they carried on like that in my home, what would I think? Yes, I would think they had a real problem and probably write them off as a jerk and certainly never recommend them to anyone else.
But, one of the advantages of growing older, if indeed there are any, is that we become a bit wiser. Some may call it becoming mellow, but for me there is a deliberate attempt to keep a level head. Because I am a passionate person by nature, as I am sure my regular readers have discovered in my frequent 'rants', I continually fight the urge to raise my voice and yes, even get angry. I have learned though, that a cool and level head accomplishes much greater things. In fact, if something is said quietly enough and slowly enough, most people will listen and nod in agreement. Anger begets anger and should have no place in our lives. It sows seeds of bitterness and then later, remorse. Any of you have permission from me to remind me of this post if you see me angry.
PS I also believe that what comes out of me, comes out of my heart. God is in the business of changing hearts and I have been slowly letting him do that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

So You Think It's Over?

It is no secret that I am a student of the current economic conditions. No matter how things seem to be improving, I still say we are 'in for it'. Instead of me ranting away on this subject and you thinking I am off base, my post today is a quote from Bill Bonner of "The Daily Reckoning". He is a colourful and insightful writer. See what you think. 'bout this rally!

The Dow was up 120 points yesterday. Now, we're beating the bounce of 1930. The post-crash bounce in 1930 lasted five months. Ours began on March it is now in its sixth month. And like 1930, people are coming to believe that recession is almost over...and happy times are here again.

Heck, we're sure the trouble is behind us now; 53 economists said so!

According to Bloomberg:"The economy will expand 2 percent or more in four straight quarters through June, the first such streak in more than four years, according to the median of 53 forecasts in the monthly Bloomberg News survey. Analysts lifted their estimate for the third quarter by 1.2 percentage points compared with July, the biggest such boost in surveys dating from May 2003.
"'We've averted the worst, and there are clear signs the stimulus is working,' said Kenneth Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board in New York. "'Cash-for-clunkers was the icing on the cake,' said David Greenlaw, chief fixed-income economist at Morgan Stanley in New York. 'It's well- timed stimulus syncing with cyclical forces leading to a ramping up of production.'"

Yes, now the economy is firing on all cylinders...or just about. Yep. No doubt about it. Still, there are some nagging doubts.
The latest figures show foreclosures still increasing - up 7% in July from a year before. And house prices are still going down. And unemployment is still going up. And consumer prices are falling...indicating a Japan- like deflation. And business profits are falling. And consumers are cutting back. But except for that - housing, jobs, sales, profits and deflation - everything is working out beautifully. Now that we mention it, all the indicators of real economic activity are down.

So, the feds aren't taking any chances. Yesterday came news that the Fed would continue buying bonds at least through October. And they are not likely to raise rates either. The banks can borrow at practically zero interest...and use the money to buy Treasury bonds. The 10-year yields about 3.7%. In effect, they're lending the money back to the people they got it from...and earning 3.7% for their trouble. But, take away the stimulus spending...and the stimulating low interest rates...and what have you got? You've got is an economy entering a depression.

Oh, there's the rub, isn't it? If the feds hand out money so people can buy automobiles, people buy automobiles. If they don't give out the money, people don't buy automobiles. If they buy automobiles, of course, it looks like the economy is recovering. But take away the giveaways, and the recovery disappears.Solution: keep giving away money!

Hold on...something wrong here. If you could generate economic prosperity by giving people money so they could buy things...why not give them money to buy everything? Why just autos? Why not give them money to buy financial advisory services? we're talking!But let's keep this serious...well, as serious as we can be when we talk about programs designed by knuckleheads.
So, the feds are encouraging people to buy autos. Set aside the fact that buying too many autos and other things is what got them into trouble.....if giving people money so they could buy things actually made people prosperous, welfare recipients would be the richest people on the planet. Obviously, it doesn't work that way.
What makes people rich is the ability to earn money...not their ability to get handouts. And remember, too, the feds don't really have any money to hand out. They can only get money by taking it from its rightful owners - either in taxation or loans. Or, they can print it up themselves. In any case, the money adds nothing real or extra to the economy. It merely distorts the economy...twists it...misleads it...and makes it a bigger mess than it was already.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cell Phones

Cell phones have been in the news a lot lately. We are on the verge of seeing new laws regarding the use of cell phones while driving. I have seen and experienced enough to know that it can be dangerous driving and using one at the same time, especially for texting. How can anyone even do that?
On Tuesday, some interesting stats came out regarding the cost of cell phones in Canada. Only the USA and Spain pay higher rates in all the world for using their wireless devices. Users in Finland, The Netherlands, and Sweden pay the least. In terms of penetration of wireless devices, Canada comes dead last, which surprises me. Does it not seem that everyone, everywhere has a cell phone pasted to their ear at all times? Not so. There are only 67 cell phones for every 100 people in Canada compared to an average of 100% in every other country. As I was wondering why, because Canada ranks pretty high in high speed Internet connectivity, I continued reading and here is the answer. Canada has the lowest land line phone rates of every country in the study. So, higher cost for Cell phones and lower costs for land lines result in us Canadians just being prudent with our hard earned dollars. If you call me, please do it on my land line.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bugs 'n Things

We have noticed more bugs this year than in other years. I think they thrive when it is warm and dry. Fortunately, we have had very few mosquitoes and we attribute that to the dry spring. When we sit in our garden in the cool of the day, the flowers are vibrating with many varieties of bees and wasps, and here, as in this photo, also a colourful moth. I have never seen this before. The humming birds like red, but also flowers with long dark tunnels that conceal their nectar. The bees, on the other hand, need the pollen right out there so they do not get trapped inside. Their long legs are often hanging down with yellow pollen and still they drone over to the next blossom.
And then there are the black dragon flies. I have never seen them before but we have them now. They are strange in that they do not like the flowers so much because one usually sees them sitting on some piece of concrete somewhere. I guess there are some people who have no appreciation for flowers either.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Page from the Photo Album

Anyone walking past our house will come within inches of this beautiful bouquet.

Lis has many amazing talents but all revolve around her artistic and creative nature. Again this summer, she has done an amazing job of making our garden the most beautiful on the block. I could not count the times that folks, walking by, will stop and just stare. Many will make comments, if one of us is outside, and they spot us. It is fun watching from the window some days. There was a Japanese lady who used to stop and talk all the time. We eventually got to know her and over time she found out my line of work and asked me to come to her house down the block and do some work for her. She was a retired nurse who looked after a young grandson and spent time decorating her home. We worked for her many times and became friends. Recently, we were shocked to see her obituary in the local paper. There was no service and we did not know her family, but only knew that it was very small. We miss seeing her and chatting with her as we admire the bouquets in Lis's garden.
Regarding the YouTube video that got those good old prairie boys in a heap of trouble. I can easily remember a time when shooting ducks was legal and abortion was outlawed. Now it is the other way around. The world is turned upside down.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back Yard Birds

We spent a lot of time in the cool shade of our back yard garden during the hot spell last week. Where there is water on a hot day, the birds will eventually show up. We have a small fountain and a few ornaments with standing water, and these attract birds as well as insects. For those of you who have seen Lis's handiwork in the garden, you will know that there are flowers everywhere and of every shape, size and colour. Humming birds are usually attracted to red and these last few days they have been attacking the Fuchsia with a vengeance. That is why I was surprised to see the Hummers in the blue flowers in the hanging basket. I have always wanted to take a photo of a humming bird and this was my first opportunity. If you ever see a good quality photo of a humming bird, be amazed because it takes patience, know how, and really good equipment, set up just right. My lame photo is the only one that even had the bird in the frame after shooting many images. They dart in and out so fast that you either miss them or they are just a blur.
The chickadee was cooling himself on the hottest day of the year. We had a misting hose in the hedge to keep the backyard breezes cool and this little bird sat only a few feet from us, caring not about the danger, but only basking in the cool mist. He later brought some friends and it was so joyful to watch them play in the mist.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

International Friendship Garden

Our city is in a time of great fiscal restraint. They are clamoring for more revenue and are now threatening to impose a city gas tax that will be on top of the federal gas tax, the provincial gas taxes, and the carbon tax. The price of gas could drop to a few cents a liter and we would never be aware of it. Just before the world wide depression hit, approval was given to build this garden which is next to the fire hall pictured in yesterday's post. The budget was for $1million! We have been there twice. The first time was just after official opening and there were maybe three people there. Of note was the fact that the waterfall/fountain was broken and gushing water down the main path and washing bark mulch to the lowest spot in the garden. The next time we were there was a few weeks ago when I took these photos and the fountain was not working at all, bone dry. It was not because of the watering restrictions, as circulating ponds and fountains were allowed to continue operation. I think the thing is broken and there is no money to fix it. Nor are there any people to enjoy it. Public spending at its finest.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fire Hall #1

I just renewed my home owner's fire insurance policy. On the form there is a question regarding distance of my home from the nearest fire station. This is the main fire hall and it is only 3 blocks from our house but that does not translate to a discount on the insurance premium. I guess the question is there so they can charge a premium to those who live an excessive distance from any hall. It is comforting to know they are so close, but the downside is the noise, although one does get used to it.

This is also the hall where Keith, our son-in-law works. He just got a promotion and is now in charge of education and information as well as being a fire inspector and investigator. His plate is full and he has plans to improve the way the system works. He is not one to accept the status quo and that will bode well for him as he progresses up the ladder of success. Congratulations, Keith! We are proud of you, even if you will not let us have a wiener roast in our back yard. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Aw Nuts!

A number of years ago we planted a Hazelnut tree in our garden. After years of nurturing, it is finally starting to produce a good number of nuts. Enter the squirrel. Or squirrels. Daily they sit in the tree pigging out on the nuts even thought they are green. I suppose they are easier to break open and eat before they get hard. They are so intent on this blatant act of robbery that they pay no heed to the photographer standing only a few feet away. I can remember not so long ago that one had to drive to Stanley Park to see a squirrel. No longer, as we have many of them in our neighbourhood of several varieties. There may soon be so many of them that they will be seen for the rodent pests that they are and will be fair game to traps or pellet guns. Oh yes, they are cute, but they are also decimating the song bird population as they love bird's eggs, and, considering the agility of the little rats, there is no tree safe any longer, for a bird's nest. I would sooner hear the house finches singing in the trees, and get to roast the Hazelnuts at Christmas, than see all these squirrels. (Sorry, all you squirrel lovers)

Thursday, August 6, 2009


We had a great time in the back yard on Sunday, staying out of the heat and working on some grandson bonding.
Is Liam just curious about the hose, or will he be an avid gardner like his Nanna some day?

The many faces of a 10 month old boy. He is highly entertaining to watch.

Like an Angel, but for how long. If he is like his older brothers, he will be just fine. The times we are together are sometimes too far apart for him to remember that I am not a threat to him. But, we made some good progress on Sunday. By this time, I had won over his brothers because they spent so much more time at our house without their mom and dad. This will change in September.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Poppy Red

Getting to know my new camera has been a fun experience. I learned the hard way, over the years, that it pays to buy quality and in this instance, I am convinced I did the right thing by getting the Nikon. There are a number of basic principles in photography that remain the same whether shooting with film, in digital with a point and shoot, or finessing your way through the myriad of options with a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex). I am experimenting, and referring to the manual many times, but it seems that when I compose the photo the way I want it, the camera does an amazing job of taking over to make sure that the image is as good as it can be, with the settings I choose. I very often drop my photos into my PhotoShop program to see what I can do to enhance them. When I do that with my Nikon images, I find that there is very little, if any, manipulations I can make to improve on the quality and clarity of the picture. All I did with the Poppy photos above was crop them to remove extraneous subject matter. When I shot the photos, I made sure I chose the correct exposure as all these were taken with back light, in other words, shot into the sun.
Tomorrow I will post some portraits of my grandson that were taken with the best portrait lens I have ever owned, the Nikon 55 -200 zoom lens. Again, quality pays.
I think I am having too much fun.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Goose Plus

In man's endeavour to protect wild life, there have been some nasty consequences. There are two wonderful walks in town that are very popular, in fact this one has just been voted the best place to take out of town visitors. Both walks have a goose problem in fact the other one is mockingly known as Goose Poop Loop. But, as you can see, there is a problem here. Not only are these geese arrogant and nasty, but they leave a very unsanitary coating on the pathways that sticks to the bottom of the shoe like glue. For those who have never seen a Canada Goose, they appear to be elegant and even majestic birds. They also make good eating and that is where the solution may lie. There are homeless shelters in town as well as food banks that could use a tasty goose every so often. That would be killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Roll Reversal

The Lilly Pads on Mill Lake.

Young children have a number of qualities that make them lovable and at times just irresistible. Because of their youth and inexperience, they are gullible and naive. This makes them fun and interesting as these are also characteristics of innocence. We feel protective over them because there might be those who want to take advantage of them. Children also need us to care for them because there are so many things they cannot do for themselves, either because of physical weakness or just a lack of awareness or ability. Young children left to their own devices will eventually harm themselves. We all need to be needed and when the little ones are with us, we are needed for sure.
Now let us jump ahead 80 years. After a life fully lived, a human being reverts back to these very characteristics they had as a young child, however, not in a sweet and lovable new body. The feelings that were elicited by these characteristics now no longer endear but often repel. It becomes difficult to accept that a grown person who has had a lifetime of experience can be so vulnerable. The person who gave you protection and guidance as a child now needs the protection and guidance of his child. It is a roll reversal and it is difficult. Just as a child does not understand nor appreciate the interference in his life as his parents are raising him, nor does the aged person understand nor appreciate turning over the reins of decision making to his children. A lifetime of independence is not given up easily and so conflict can arise.
We can learn from this, that this too will happen to us, and when the time comes, with graciousness, accept help and advice where we once only dished it out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Group Photo

A trip to Shady Grove cannot happen unless you get together a group of 10 or more people. Here is the rag-tag gang we threw together in order to pull this off. They are an independent lot and even getting them to co-operate for a group photo is difficult. Note that very few of them are paying attention to the photographer ......... until.....

I called out the magic word to get everybody's attention. "Faspa!" *

And no group photo would be complete without every single member on the picture, so yours truly snuck into the back row for this shot.
These fine looking people are our Care Group, a collection of like minded folks who get together semi regularly because of shared values, interests, and primarily, our shared faith. Wonderful friends, each and every one of them and they mean the world to us.
Standing, left to right: Terry, Lis, Jan, Elma, Frank, Ella, and Bill.
Sitting, left to right: Ken, Heidi, Henry, Delores, and our fearless leader, Erv.
*Faspa: An ethnic traditional late afternoon Sunday meal typically consisting of cold cut meats, various salads including green, fruit, or Jello, home made buns, preferably the two decker ones called zwiebach, Strawberry and/or Raspberry freezer jam, a veggie platter, home made dill pickles, coffee and tea, and a multitude of very sweet desserts, home baked and in ample supply.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

These Guys are Dummies

Shady Grove has more than cars. Here is a one room school with those desks that some of us used to sit at. Slates, pot belly stove, wooden floor, and a pump organ for music appreciation classes round out this institution of learning.
The whole museum is populated by mannequins of various sizes and shapes, but beautiful people all.

My mother had one of these and my job was to run the clothes through that wringer on top. She put the fear in me when she told me to keep my fingers out of the rollers or it would eat them up. There was a wooden spoon handy to get the clothes started, thank goodness. I still have all ten fingers, but I still see that contraption as a big mouth waiting to eat a small child's hands.

What 50's museum would be complete without a pink (I believe it was called Coral back then) bathroom. Actually, there is a whole house in the upper barn area complete with this bathroom, a kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom, all filled with stuff your grandma had, or if you are a pack rat and do not do garage sales, you still have. Remember the sleek black panther table ornaments, lamp stands, and book ends? They have an a abundance of them there.