Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Happy Holidays to all my online friends who have made all my blogs so successful! You have no idea as to how special this has been for me. I'm wishing each and every one of you all the peace and joy for the holiday season. May 2007 be a blessed as 2006 for you.
I will be offline for the next few days or more as we celebrate the holidays and await the arrival of out first grandbaby. For the second time in almost 30 years we will not be celebrating Christmas day in our home. While I will have internet access, I'm going to take the time to enjoy my family.
I look forward to sharing with you in the new year take a step back and say, hey this is what it is all about. So take care everyone, have a wonderful holiday season and check back here to read all about our new grandbaby!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The door at JK Rowling's site is now open. Once you figure out the trick, you will see what looks like the title to book 7!
Go to The Leaky Cauldron if you need help.
I got it!!!! Was it ever a question when I'm sitting at the computer in my Harry Potter pj's? I think I will celebrate with a little butter beer.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I'm always looking to the sky not only to see what is to be but to reinforce what I am blessed to have. As a gardener I know the sky reveals a lot about the day's weather but as a person the sky reveals more sometimes. Sunrises give hope and faith that that day will be fine. Sunsets give peace and comfort in a day well spent surrounded by those I love and cherish. Then there is the night skies! They are so fascinating that I could easily spend hours outside watching them with the telescope pondering about those who went before us and those who will be. So for me, the sky is God's church where all are welcomed but it is also a connection to my ancestors and my past.\
Monday, December 18, 2006
I love blinkies but wanted to design my own except the most I've used Photoshop for was a bit of tinkering with pictures mainly resizing and I had no idea I had Image Ready! So last night I went online and found three tutorials then proceeded to try working my way through them. I managed to get the gif to flash between two colours but no text or anything else. That brought a whole new meaning to pulling out my hair so about 3 am I headed off to bed. This morning it dawned on me that I might not be linking the layers correctly so set about trying again. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my very first, custom made blinkie! It's nothing fancy but it is a start. Now I've taught myself the basics, I'll be able to fine tune for sizing and blinking style. And who said you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The inevitable time has of year has arrived where procrastinating Christmas shopping is quickly coming to an end. Last year this time we had long finished shopping, all the gifts were wrapped and tucked under the tree in anticipation of Christmas morning. What a difference a year makes! Most of the homemade gifts are finished and we've at least started the shopping. The hustle and bustle of shopping this time of year combined with irritable shoppers is not all that appealing. We had planned on spending most of this weekend shopping but took yesterday as a lazy home day. Today was grey and drizzling, not exactly a nice day for shopping so we stayed in again. We really needed these home days because we are both exhausted. We'll be doing two or three shorter shopping trips this week and have everything finished up by Saturday providing the stork co-operates. The countdown until our first grandbaby makes her début is now officially anytime now!
Friday, December 15, 2006
Frankenmuth, Michigan is a wonderful town to visit with its quaint, country stores and horse drawn carriages. The quiet, laid back atmosphere allows you to unwind while you visit the Christmas Store. Dinner is always at Zehnders for their world famous chicken. This is a must stop at restaurant!
Over the past couple of weeks we have had a lot of visitors and one common highlight is always my canning rack. Fully loaded it is very impressive to say the least but then when guests wander through the house they notice other things like home made soaps, handmade candles and other things that get them thinking about the past. Now I'm likely an oddity in that I love to garden and do a lot of cooking especially canning. The number one comment I get in real life and even online is how wonderful it is to simplify your life, followed up by I would love to live like just like the pioneers. Say what! Have you ever seen my life? My Dayplanner is always within easy reach and even canning sessions have to be planned usually a few days in advance if not more. My general weekly planning is done Sunday afternoons and from that point I basically know how my week should unfold barring any emergencies. It is far from a simplistic lifestyle!
I know the work that goes into anything I make myself and that's using modern conveniences. I know a lot about the lifestyles of my early ancestors and believe I do enjoy a lot of the modern conveniences. I wouldn't even begin to try and kid myself that we will ever be totally self sufficient because there is simply no way we could grow everything we need where we live nor could we raise much more than rabbits and even if we could raise animals, the chances of us doing so well is like slim to none. I like to fish when I have time and my husband goes to hunt camp once a year. That's like the adult version of summer camp meaning he's out of my hair and since he doesn't hunt can't get into any other trouble. This suits us nicely. See, I'm being very pragmatic even though we do a lot ourselves and lean towards alternative energy and likely lead simpler lives than some, but sorry I like a lot of modern conveniences.
That nice modern bathroom looks pretty dog-gone good when I'm sick. I can't even begin to imagine what our ancestors went through having to make a mad dash to the outhouse. We heated with wood for about 15 years and if we ever figure out how to fit a wood-stove in this house we will but for now that nice little programmable thermostat does just fine! Wood is a lot of work and no longer cheap in most areas. I'm also rather fond of flicking a switch for lighting and while we do use CFLs, LEDs, candles and oil burning lamps, electric lighting is just really nice. And let's just think about the cooking issue. I love cooking over an open flame including a campfire but on a regular basis because I had to, in the middle of summer? Forget about it!
Going back to the old ways is nice now because we always have the option to revert to modern methods. Our ancestors did not have that option and that is something those who want to glorify pioneer living would be well advised to consider!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Most of us are so very, very fortunate. While many deal with minor to almost insurmountable problems, there are always those worse off than us. So this holiday season take a few moments to truly count your blessings and please give generously any way you can. Remember, you do have the power to make a difference!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
To redeem myself from yesterday's pointless pondering this entry is on a more serious note. I think with all the current threats to our food coupled with and endless bombardment of chemicals both indoors and out, that we as humans are the most toxic species living. I've thought that for a long time but still was surprised at the statistics given by Randall Fitzgerald in The Hundred-Year Lie, How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health. We certainly are not the people our ancestors were and if you really put things in perspective despite a shorter life span our ancestors were likely a lot healthier than we are.
I subscribe to the Canada Food Inspection Agency for potential problems like food recalls, health hazards and allergy warnings. Yesterday four notices appeared in my inbox, three were for health hazards including Samonella and lead contamination, the fourth was for allergies. On the heels of the E.coli and Listeria outbreaks, we may as well have Samonella added to the mix. At least we don't have Botulism at the moment but as a home canner that is always a concern. See it is not that we have enough to deal with in life right now! Take one walk through the supermarkets and take a moment to really carefully read those nutritional labels. There are few problems I have with these labels and the first begins with agencies that govern them and why certain things like flavourings are exempt from disclosure due to trade secrets and the myth these agencies are correct. They want us to put this crap into our bodies and pay through the nose to do so but cannot have the decency to tell us what it is we are ingesting and whether it will harm sometime in the future? I'm sorry, this just does not cut it with me. Now that is just the supermarket but what about the fast food industry?
Personally, I refuse to buy into the fast food industry since most of their products are so fat and salt laden it is ridiculous! Taco Bell® is experiencing a nice bought of E.coli in their green onions right now but I'm sure there are other fast food restaurants experiencing problems. It is my opinion that if we truly value our health we avoid these establishments entirely!
As if that isn't bad enough, we bring countless toxic chemicals into our homes, the very place we should be safe. The manufacturers have convinced us we need whiter & brighter laundry, heavenly smelling homes, synthetics, and oh gosh the list could go on forever. Do you know in most homes the indoor air is significantly more polluted than outdoors? When I use the word significantly I am using to indicate hard, cold figures not just as a figment of speech. On any given day we are breathing in the toxins from the cleaners, air fresheners, laundry products, personal product and off gassing from home furnishings. Is this what our bodies were designed to do? NO! Our bodies simply cannot hold up to this total, unending bombardment of toxins.
I am a very, very careful consumer and I strive to avoid toxic products. I preserve our own foods as much as possible. I garden organically, another myth and another topic. We eat healthy foods, avoid fast food restaurants, and don't buy commercial snacks or processed convenience foods. Think back to the land but still dependant on society for some things and that describes us. The other day I heard a burb about propylene glycol being a suspected carcinogenic so decided to investigate as to exactly how many products in our home contained this chemical. My very first thought at the tally was "what the heck?" and I am very careful with what I buy. I guess it wasn't good enough!
I give you, the reader a challenge to take my quiz. Armed with a pen and notepad, go through your house and simply make a tick for each time propylene glycol comes up in the list of ingredients. This is stuff you are using or putting on your body, often on a daily basis that has the potential to cause cancer. If anything it will make you more aware that you, the consumer has to take pro-active measurements to reduce the amount of harmful chemical exposure at every level of your life!
Monday, December 11, 2006
We've all seen them, the cutesy depictions of mice. There are cartoons about them showing humorous human-like qualities. Who can resist such sweeties as Micky and Minnie Mouse or the antics of Tom and Jerry? Then there are the cartoon mice with superpowers like Mighty Mouse who's always ready to save the day. One thing the cartoon mice have in common is they all love cheese. They will go beyond human capabilities to get cheese!
But let's do some pointless pondering just because. Where does all the cutesy stuff about mice come from and what about the idea that mice like cheese? I have a theory about the cutesy stuff. See, I don't like mice whether they be wild or laboratory and having had experience with both, I still don't like them. I don't like them outside or inside my house! In fact, I simply don't want anything to do with mice, the real kind but even I can get a chuckle or two out of the cartoon variant of mice. So my theory is some well meaning parent at sometime made up some cutesy tale about mice to calm the fears of their kids. Those kids told other kids and the whole thing snowballed. Artists and cartoonists got wind of this tale and jumped on the bandwagon. The rest is history! So what about mice liking cheese? Really, why would mice like cheese? It's not part of their natural diet and given their druthers would prefer not to eat cheese. The myth that mice like cheese likely came from some parent telling their kids to eat their cheese before the mice got it and since the kids had more fear of mice than cheese they complied confirming the idea that "it's always the parent's fault". The perpetuation of this myth was enabled by fairy tales, artists and cartoonists as well. Then Hollywood got a hold of both myths and made heros of the disease ridden little varmints! What were they thinking?
Well that's my pointless pondering for the day, I'm off to do something a bit more constructive.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I am fascinated by wall art on buildings! It goes beyond just societal approved forms as I have to admit to being fascinated by wall art done by street artists aka graffiti. One form of wall art that I am very interested in are old ads painted on historical buildings. So I take pictures every time I can. I have a nice collection of images with dates, locations and other interesting information such as building. People have such an inherent desire to share and express themselves in whatever form they can. Wall art fills that need while expressing individuality.
I thought this wall art on an apartment building in Windsor, Ontario was impressive. The art is complicated in that it shows four pictorial views in post card format from historical views, something I truly appreciate. The artist takes advantage of subject, depth and movement in a very effective way. The attention to detail is beautiful as are the colours. Kudos to the artist for creating such a wonderful piece of wall art!
From a historical perspective, wall art has been used for many reasons. In my genealogy research much of the wall art was used as an inexpensive way of advertising. Some of the old wall art was amazingly detailed in design. My communities have recognized these special paintings on buildings and have untaken restoring them. Sadly some do not appreciate the beauty of the art or the painstaking time it takes to restore them not to mention the cost. Recently in a nearby community one such restored painting on a historical building was vandalized. What a horrible shame and act of cowardice!
The next time you see wall art whether societal approved or graffiti, take a few minutes to marvel at the uniqueness and ponder what it is the artist was trying to convey. Marvel at those old ads painted on buildings. These are part of our past, a bit of a legacy left to us from those who went before us!
Friday, December 08, 2006
It would so much more pleasant enjoying this view than today's weather. This photo was taken in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) right in the middle of urban sprawl. The owners intend to keep this portion of their property as natural wetland. What is not shown in the photo is the diverse water fowl we enjoyed. It is truly wonderful seeing these little pockets of natural areas!
The sun is shining brightly today but after last evening's dropping temperatures coupled with snow it is anything but mild out. The ground is not frozen enough for the snow to last so despite the nasty road conditions last night, they are now dry. There's a hint of snow in sunnier spots with heavier coverage in shaded areas. Those in the GTA having had considerably more snow than we did last night would likely scoff at our little amount. However, it was enough to cause slippery roads and cold enough temperatures to have everyone talking about it.
The wind was just perfect last night and this morning to help identify a corner by my desk that needed caulking. This presented the problem of having to empty a large bookshelf, move the bookshelf, do the caulking, wait for it to dry then do the touch-up painting. I've been caulking on and off since October trying to do at least fifteen minutes of winterizing daily. Sometimes that may mean a fifteen minute detection walk marking locations that need attention but most times it is actual winterizing of some type. This is an ongoing sealing project due to the age and design of the house as well as location. It helps that we are into energy conservation so are always looking for ways to lower our energy usage.
I don't mind caulking as it is an easy to do, low cost maintenance that results in greater indoor comfort with good energy savings paybacks. It also seals out insects and other small pests. The only problem with caulking is sometimes you have to wait for the right wind conditions. Another trick that works at detecting drafts is locating cobwebs. Spiders spin their webs where drafts are so that's a sure sign that area needs to be sealed. Of course the old cold air blowing on the feet is always a good sign of drafts but thankfully after a few years of persistence, we are beyond that. With the wind died down this afternoon I may be able to finish up a bit of winterizing outside. I'm using spray expansion foam to seal between the foundation and sill. A couple of spots needed just a bit more so I had to do a walk around to see if there were any more spots before opening a new can. The foam can be tricky to use and I've found the best results with not trying to keep partially opened cans.
Well, back to my winterizing projects for today,
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The significance of this photo is quiet being combined with knowledge. This is kind of a funny post because it came about from an online discussion regarding education. I currently have advanced degrees. These official degrees mean I have advanced knowledge in some disciplines but they do not take into account the self learning or simple life experience. There is something to be said for earning Doctrate in the School of Hard Knocks. My first genealogy book is scheduled to be published early 2007 and even that comes with misled feelings because it represents I've learned everything I could about those particular ancestors. That is an invalid conclusion. As technology advances the possibility of learning more and more about this ancestral couple will become increasingly possible. Honestly I firmly believe the day you stop learning is the day you start dying. My degrees say nothing about me as a person. They don't say anything about my love for learning, my tenacity to teach myself, my willingness to walk outside the box to try another method and my love for life. My husband says I should be very proud but my view is pride always goes before a fall. I am thankful for having the opportunity for higher education. I'm thankful for it making me a better person but it is not the only thing I'm about. I want to be known for what I do, the people I touch in life and the difference I can make while I'm living. I think that is the truer knowledge.