Friday, January 22, 2016

Day of Discoveries!

If you recall, a few blog posts ago I indicated that I was going to try to embrace winter and attempt something new .... like snowshoeing. Well, today was my first day on snowshoes and it was great! A group called "KV Walkers", organized by two local women, arranged a snowshoeing trek along some of our local trails. The day was cold but sunny and after a few practice circles in a soccer field we were off on the trails.

Our snowshoeing group
I must say that this group activity was a great way for me to begin my experience with snowshoes. As we made our way through the trails it was nice to meet new people and even get some tips on gear and other trails to try. One person told me of a "moonlight" snowshoeing event organized by a local company   Elmhurst Outdoors  ...... sounds like fun!  So I am really trying to embrace winter! Aren't you impressed!
Actually, after all my raving about my wonderful winter outdoor activity, I came home and packed bathing suits and sarongs in a suit case! (I'm going south in a few days) I know I'm a big cheater! I even painted my toenails! But in doing so I made a wonderful discovery. The headlamp that Santa brought me to use on a hiking adventure, came in very handy for do it yourself pedicures!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What's the matter with, "happy", "upbeat", "positive"?

So it's midish January, and my "resolution" is to try new things, and "try" to be upbeat and positive. My quest has been to find a new "good read" and a new series or movie to watch that does not depress me. Trust me ... that's not easy! My other (perhaps better) half has been watching Fargo. I really tried to get into it but the mindless cold blooded killing was just too much! A good friend gave me a new book to read that takes place during the hard times of WWII. Sorry Cathy, but I just can't bring myself to invest the time in that sad situation (no matter how intriguing)! At the moment we are watching Luther on Netflix ..... interesting, suspenseful, but so violent and depressing!

I picked up a little book at the library the other day Called Traveling While Married, a very cute read about couples traveling and the silly things they encounter. One thing she (Mary-Lou Weisman) mentions is that most people don't want to hear about your trip unless something bad happened. She suggests it's human nature to pass up the headline in the local paper "COUPLE CELEBRATES  60 YEARS OF WEDDED BLISS" in favor of "BOY TRAPPED IN REFRIGERATOR, EATS OWN FOOT"! [p.146] I hate to say it but I think she's right .... we prefer to hear about, read about, or watch the "awful"!

Speaking of "awful" I recently saw the movie The Revelant. Before you gasp, I have to say that the movie (as the critics say) has great acting (I think?), fabulous scenery and cinematography as well as an incredible story .... I just didn't like all the blood and gore! Nobody seems to win in this movie and the mail character just can't catch a break! He is ambushed by Indians, sent through rapids and a huge waterfall, mauled by a bear, his son is killed and he (the main character) is left to die by his comrades! Really?
I surmise that the movie is also supposed to draw attention to the terrible treatment of the native American people during those times. However, in the movie, it was the "French" soldiers/explorers, who killed the nice "Indian" who helped Leonardo Di Caprio and raped the "Indian" girl ... not the Americans! ... again, Really?

I heard about a very "nice" movie that I would like to watch. It may not win any awards but I don't care! At least it would give me have an hour or so of enjoyment as opposed to closing my eyes to avoid the sight of stab wounds or chopped off limbs!

Check out the link to the trailer below for "What We Did On Our Holiday". I can't wait to see this movie!

Image result for movie our holiday

What We Did on Our Holiday

Sunday, January 3, 2016

In With the New!

Just a few of my favorite gifts from under the tree this year! Delicious consumables, a gorgeous cutting board that Joel made, a sweet pottery cup in my favorite colour, a selfie stick (to help me document my adventures) and snowshoes! Santa done good!
In keeping with a New Year's theme, I am going to embrace the "in with the new" aspect and aspire to try to learn or experience some new things...... starting with snowshoeing!
My goal of becoming a "snowshoe bunny" is twofold ...... 1. to experience something new and "embrace" (cringe, cringe) the winter. And 2, to keep up my walking/activity level in preparation for my Camino!
At this point I have only tested out the snowshoes that Santa brought me around the yard on fairly level terrain for a short period of time (like 10 minutes!) One shoe kept coming off, so I will need to learn how to adjust the straps better. I also need to rethink my winter footwear: boots? hikers? ?? I already have a plethora of boots .... high ones, low ones, fun in the snow ones, going to the mall ones. The entry to our house looks like a family of centipedes lives there! In any case, I am likely going to have to don my "going to the mall" boots and look for a pair of footwear appropriate for snowshoeing and winter plowing through snow type walking.
I'm not looking forward to shopping for footwear. Bathing suits, pants that fit, and practical footwear are three items that I dread shopping for! A website that I found some good information on, suggested wearing old hiking boots or sneakers with some water proofing and gaiters before investing in expensive footwear. Definitely worth a try before I hit the dreaded mall! (website with great info below)
So, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!
 Get inspired to try something new! .... (even if it's only a new Netflix series)


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Our group photo taken by Joel with my new selfie stick! First row: Alicia, Joel, Scott, Courtney, Khloe.
 Back row: me, Candice, Ross

Well the big day arrived and we "rocked it" Christmas Eve. Well .... that might be a bit of a stretch, but it was sooooo nice to have everyone at our place! I guess Christmas Eve has always been "my thing" as I started the tradition of having a bit of a "do" at that time. Being a teacher, I was usually off work a few days before Christmas so had the time to plan a Christmas party and invite friends and neighbors (since we didn't live in the same town as our own families). Now, many of our friend's families have expanded as spouses and grandchildren are added to the mix, so the tradition evolves into something new.

Fun and Games!

The new tradition in the Carr house on Christmas Eve is to don a festive hat and proudly wear it for a photo shoot. I got a bunch of hats and headbands from the dollar store, but I plan to keep my eye out for more unique ones throughout the year to add to the collection. The deal is ..... I put everyone's name in a bowl and we draw names to determine who gets to be first to pick their head gear. The last guy gets the least popular one. This year we had the lovely Khloe Kilpatrick (on the right with elf hat) drawing and reading out all the names and then leading each person to view the display of hats. She did a great job!


A topic of conversation around this time of year is, "what do you eat Christmas Eve"? My mother always made tourtiere  (meat pies) Christmas Eve. In the past our family has had a buffet style feast with meat pies, meat balls, sausage rolls, potato and cheese casserole, cold cuts etc. Some of our east coast friends have lobster (now your talking!). This year I made seafood chowder and appetizers. I haven't decided if that will be the new traditional menu for Christmas Eve or not. I rather prefer the casualness of a buffet as opposed to a sit down meal. I'll have to survey my kinfolk!

In any case as our family grows and changes, so will our customs. Can't wait to see the pics of next year's hat parade!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Strumming the Pei Pa

This fall I enrolled in a beginner's Tai Chi class. I had always heard of the benefits of this ancient art, with moves called, "Grasp bird's tail", "Carry tiger to mountain", and "Strum the pei pa", so I wanted to give it a try. I enjoyed the class but most of the time I had no idea what I was doing! The moves engage most parts of the body and are a lovely form of "meditation in motion" .... but they are not for the "stupid"!

 Remembering the moves and how they flow together was very challenging for me. Just when I thought I had it right, somehow I would mess up. This has always been my problem when it comes to physical activity that requires rules, strategy or choreography. When I was teaching art to middle school kids, I used to say, "Just because you are in the art room, doesn't mean that you can leave your brain outside the door!" ..... in other words, art making requires careful thought. estimations, and decisions about colour, line, materials etc. Likewise, playing basketball, ballet or doing a "step class" means you need to have your wits about you!

Me and my dance class, I'm 3rd from the left ... cha, cha, cha!

When I was young my mother enrolled me in dance class ..... well that was a s--t show! As much as I wanted to wear cute outfits and tap shoes with the big bows on them, I performed like a total klutz and was always out of sync with everyone else. Later, in high school, I could be found hiding in the equipment room to get out of playing basketball. Games like that have rules and you have to know when to throw the ball and to whom ..... and your teammates yell at you when you put the ball in the wrong net! As an adult I like to keep fit and have tried "step classes". Although no one yells at you, keeping up with the pattern of where your feet are going was too much for me and I spent most of my time during the workout stopping to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing!

I have learned over the years that any physical activity that requires more intelligence than a nit is not for me. Walking, I can handle, lifting a weight up and down is okay too .... as long as there are no complicated rules or patterns I'm okay (I could always do a mean somersault or cartwheel though!)

I may revisit Tai Chi someday ..... more to exercise my brain than anything else!

(As a side note, when I was in high school we had this big event. It was a "Folk Dance Festival". The gym teacher taught all the girls different dances from around the world (Balkan, Mexican, Irish, Russian etc.) and the girls involved performed dances from different countries complete with costumes. The PE teacher knew I was a loser in the dance department, but asked me to design the cover of the program! Very sensitive for a gym teacher in the 60's!!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Pedestrian Point of View

The word "pedestrian" refers to a person walking on a street or road. It also means dull. lacking in excitement, uninteresting, ordinary, boring .... you get the picture. While the dictionary definition contains two meanings, I can't help thinking about how very similar they are!

My "pedestrian" shadow

As a pedestrian I am boring, ordinary, dull ........ perhaps not even worth noticing when I am walking along the side of a road. I know how drivers think, because I am one myself. Boring and dull may even be an understatement. Pedestrians may be downright annoying! After all, as a driver, I am usually in a rush to get somewhere and having to slow down for those pesky, "boring" pedestrians is just a nuisance! What are they even doing out on the streets anyway? Cars rule right?

Well, since I have been doing some serious walking I see things from a new point of view. There are local trails that I could use, but I don't like to walk alone on them. I'm not crazy about walking in subdivisions and neighborhoods where there is less traffic because of the abundance of dogs (who I'm sure are very "sweet" to their owners, but their barks scare the crap out of me). So, that leaves walking down main roads (some with sidewalks, but some without) .... and of course. dealing with traffic.

So there you have it. My rant about being a pedestrian. Recently, my brother, was walking in the town where he lives and was hit by a school bus! He was in the pedestrian crossing area and he had a green light. The bus was making a left turn and hit him! Since then I have heard of several other people who have been hit while out walking on city streets!

My hubby has gone so far as to purchase me a neon vest to wear when I am out walking. I admit that I feel a little ridiculous wearing it while walking on a sidewalk, but he insists. I am also much more aware as a driver when I see walkers out and about. While the rules of the road are much better than they are in places where I have been in Asia (where traffic lights are often just a suggestion!) we still need to be reminded to be vigilant and SLOW DOWN!

Even though winter is approaching I intend to keep up my walking regime as much as I can. Dressing for the weather, layering, good footwear even hiking poles might be in order. I always carry a backpack with chap stick, tissues, water etc. and to use in case I want to take something off like a hat or scarf. Here are a couple of sites below with some good walking tips .... most we already know but it doesn't hurt to refresh!

Canadian Living Tips for Winter Walking

Great Walking Safety Tips

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WWI Silks

This past weekend I was visiting my husband's brother and his wife and admired something interesting they had in a frame. I had never seen these before! (please excuse the poor quality photos, the photographer wasn't so hot!)

My fascination with these led me to do a little research. According to my sister-in-law, these little embroidered gems were post cards from World War I. They came from her grandfather who fought overseas. Some of them have little pieces of paper with notes on them behind the embroidered designs. Thanks to Google I learned that they were created by French and Belgian women, embroidered on patches of silk and then sent to factories to be mounted on cards. They were very popular with British and American service men and often sent home to a loved one adding a little beauty to an otherwise grim situation.
When I saw examples of well preserved post cards I was surprised to see how colourful they were. I guess putting them in a frame was not a good idea since it caused a great deal of fading. (While the well preserved ones are nice, I kind of like the softness of the faded ones!) Below is an example of what they looked like about a hundred years ago. Check out the link for the Toronto Public Library!
Tous Unis WW1 silk postcard
View more cards from the Toronto Public Library
This video describes the history of WWI Silks and the popularity of them as collector's items.