Living in a Bubble

…..it’s Good Friday and most places of business are closed today

As I sit here I wonder how many people are going to church today. It’s miserable outside, grey and raining. I suppose that’s fitting for Good Friday. It’s suppose to be the most important holiday on the Christian calendar but most people confuse it with Easter bunnies and eggs and forget why they have the day off. Perhaps people are living in a bubble today; happy to have the day off but not really knowing the significance of the day.

My writing this post, however, has nothing to do with Good Friday. Recently on one of my walks I was reminded how a few brave souls literally choose to live inside a ‘bubble’ all winter long. These people are called liveaboards and they actually live on their boats, moored in a marina, all year long. I call it living in a bubble because the boats are literally surrounded with a big bubble of plastic to keep the wind, cold and snow at bay. It requires having a special aerator going 24/7 to keep the ice from forming around the boat and of course they need generators to keep the lights on and heat the place.

I was surprised at the cost of doing this. It isn’t cheap. In fact it costs more in the winter to moor your boat than in the summer. To learn more about living on your boat year round you might find this article by the CBC of interest.

This is what the marina looks like during the winter after all the boats have been put ashore for the season…..

IMG-2015

….and here are the brave souls who winter here
IMG-2017
IMG-2018

Fandango’s One Word Challenge – Natural

….thanks to Fandango for hosting FOWC

Since January I’ve experienced the death of 7 friends and family members. It’s only April and more people that I know have passed in the last three months than I’ve experienced in the last 10 years. Is that natural? Probably.

Is it natural to feel sorrow or surprise when you haven’t had contact with people for over  20 years and then find out that they’ve passed? Probably.

Is it natural to take pleasure from fond memories of people recently deceased? Probably.

People say that we’re at that age when this will happen more often. I suppose that is probably true but I’d rather not think about it. I still think of myself as being only in my 30s or 40s. Is that natural? Well for me it is.

As I look around I see beauty in the most unusual places, especially in nature. I love the look of dried leaves and isolated berries. For many it signifies ‘death’ but it’s just the natural part of the circle of life. I suppose it signifies that new growth or rebirth will soon happen.

IMG-1935
IMG-1936

Signs that new life is about to rise up:

IMG-1909
IMG-1964

My Personal Christmas Challenge

….every year for as long as I can remember I’ve struggled to get ready for Christmas

I used to blame being a full-time teacher as the problem. December is always a busy month with interviews, concerts, parties, more assemblies and when there’s time shopping for Christmas presents.

Now that I’m retired things haven’t gotten much better but for very different reasons, especially this year. One thing that has helped somewhat is being able to do 80% of my shopping on-line. The one thing, however, that I didn’t count on was illness.

Twelve days ago my sister from Calgary came for a three day visit. Our first day started off nicely with a lunch with both sisters and my Dad that I wrote about in my last post. Dad had been under the weather with a cold and cough but he felt he was up to a short visit to our local ‘seniors’ mall where he wanted to use up his credit at one of the retail outlets. It’s not really a senior’s mall but there is a high high proportion of white haired people that sit around the mall drinking their Tim Horton’s coffee. So Cathy, Dad and I drove to the mall and tried to find Dad something from the store that would fit him. He had a credit in the first place because this particular store doesn’t give refunds, only exchanges or credit towards other merchandise. Unfortunately, Dad is a large man and the merchandise fits on the small side. I think between the two of us we exhausted our Dad by making him try on at least a half dozen sweaters or more.

In the end we weren’t able to use up his credit in this particular store but the manager assured us that in another mall there were three different stores that would honour his credit voucher. Before we left the mall we went to the drug store and bought Dad some cough syrup to tame the rattle that came from his chest. When we got home he excused himself and went down to his apartment in the house and sat in his special chair to rest.

Later that night while while watching TV we heard my father call us from his basement apartment. When we went downstair we saw he was in distress so we called 911 after consulting with TeleHealth. Very quickly a firetruck and two ambulances arrived at our door. I couldn’t believe all the people who were trying to fit into my small house with all their special equipment. To make a long story shorter it was decided that Dad should go to the hospital due to his age and low oxygen levels. The fire department left first when they were sure that Dad could walk out of the house on his own and the one paramedic team handed over the reigns to the other team at shift change.

In the end Dad stayed in Emergency in an isolated room for fours days until they were sure that he wasn’t contagious. We waited for a single room in the hospital but all the beds upstairs were full. On the fifth day a room opened up but the attending doctor felt that Dad was well enough to go home and rest there. Turns out he has RSV, a respiratory viral infection. It is very common amongst children but can be quite dangerous for people in their 90s.

So with going to the hospital every day and having my sister here, nothing much got done. Cathy did volunteer to help me put up the Christmas tree but when she left on the fourth day the tree was still outside. I didn’t even have my door wreath up.IMG-9880
IMG-9881

Once Dad got home I had a new set of responsibilities. Ironically while my Dad was in the hospital my neighbour next door was also admitted and she has a new cat. Now I had to feed the cat and take in her mail and go shopping for my father. A few days after he got home I took him to the bank and while he was there I treated myself to a Christmas planter to put in front of the house. Things were starting to look up.IMG-9882

I was on a roll. My husband helped me bring in the Christmas tree and we got it set up in the living room.IMG-9886

The next day I pulled the old door wreath out from under the stairs and decided it needed a bit of cheering up. I put a new ribbon on it and added some white flowers to freshen it up. Then I added some battery powered LED lights for fun.IMG-9888
IMG-9890
IMG-9920

This whole time I could feel that I had a cold coming on. Not surprising with all the illness that had surrounded me in the last week but I felt well enough to go to a party Monday night and to make bread dough at the Inn the next day. I knew I would only be there for a few hours. That evening I even attempted to bake some cookies and I packaged up a small gift for the bakers that I work with.

From here things went downhill very quickly. That night I woke up with a very sore throat; something I don’t experience very often and in fact the last time I felt that bad was when I was in high school and I ended up with Strep throat. The next morning I texted my baking friends and told them I wasn’t coming in. My husband drove me to the doctor and sure enough the tests came back positive for Strep throat and a sinsus infection. I left the office with  a few prescriptions and headed straight for the pharmacy and then to bed.

Since Wednesday I’ve been taking it easy and doing things in small spurts but I was surprised how much could be accomplished with taking baby steps. I managed take all my decorations out and over the next three days I slowly started to place my treasures around the house and put lights and ornaments on the tree. Late Friday afternoon my oldest daughter arrived and helped me finish the tree and together we strung the outside lights on the Yew in front of the house.IMG-9925
IMG-9926
IMG-9927
IMG-9928
IMG-9930
IMG-9931

It truly feels like Christmas now. Only the stockings need to be filled and a couple of last minute gifts need to be purchased.

The Mighty Charles

….Charles is a wild born western lowland gorilla who resides at the Toronto Zoo

Charles turned 45 this fall and has sired 15 offspring while living at the Toronto Zoo. He came to Toronto in 1974 when he was only 2 years old. In the 90s he created quite an uproar because he wouldn’t interact with offspring that weren’t his own and wouldn’t allow the prodigy from other gorilla groups to socialize.

In order to allow the others to interact Charles was sent away for a brief period of time each day in solitude. In an effort to keep Charles contented during these intervals away from his harem, he was given access to large sheets of paper and non-toxic coloured paints. His painting were sold for $400 to $1000 a piece and the money raised ($37 000.00) was used for a new gorilla exhibit. Check the link below to see some of his work.

Charles the Painter

On our visit Charles rested comfortably at the base of the enclosure looking over his harem and the other families. He is clearly the dominant male there. The other large silver back males have to be kept away from him. When his own male offspring reach maturity they have to be sent away so that father and son don’t fight each other for control of the harem.

As Charles watches the females guard their offspring and the young ones climb and play with each other.P1050110P1050109P1050106P1050105

Computer Woes

….it’s been a strange couple of weeks

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in over a week. I took my computer to the Apple store to see if there was anything that could be done to fix the lack of speed and the freezing problems that I had to endure. This is how the journey began. I say journey because after the initial visit I returned at least four more times and spent countless hours on the phone with Apple Support.

None of this is a criticism of Apple. I’ve always loved their products and their service is very professional and friendly. The staff at the store and on the phone spent at least  8 hours with me and it was all free of charge.

After the first visit it was decided that a cable would be replaced, the hard drive would be wiped clean and the newest operating system would be installed. This should have fixed the slowness and freezing problems. My job was to back up the hard drive. When I went home I had to find the external hard drive that I bought three years ago. Just as I was about to give up I found the never opened box in a most unlikely place. I quickly opened the package and plugged it into my laptop and the process began. Four hours later the job was done.

The next day I returned to the store and left my computer with the technician but the job wouldn’t be done until the next day. It was odd not having my computer that night. I even returned to the store close to closing on the off chance that it was ready. No such luck!.

The next day after work I went back to the mall to pick up my computer. Now I had to transfer all my data back into the computer. I thought I knew how but soon after starting the process I ran into difficulty. One more night without my computer.

On the following day I made another visit. This time I had to wait to see a technician. I walked around the mall and grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat. After an hour and a half of waiting my issue was resolved. Well, at least I thought it was resolved. Before I left the technician explained all the steps I had to take to complete the transferring process and then how to log back on.

Once home, I started the transferring process right away so I wouldn’t forget the steps and then I waited for the data to be brought back over to my newly refurbished  and improved laptop. Success! Not so fast.

After the data was returned, I tried to log back on and this is where a whole new set of problems started. I typed in my password, pushed the return button and waited. All I got was the spinning wheel and it didn’t stop. I phoned Apple support. They guided me through a recovery process which would take a few hours and they told me if that didn’t work I needed to go back to the store.

Of course, it didn’t work, and I went back to the store again. This time I stayed there for four hours. I was the last person to leave. To the credit of the three technicians who tried to help me, they were determined to find a solution to my problem. I was so afraid that I had lost all my photos (over 4000), even though I had them backed up. In the end they put a screen shot on the laptop so that I could see  the steps I needed to take when I went home and they they arranged for Apple Support to call me next day to make sure I was able to carry out the steps.

I wish I could say that was the end of it but it wasn’t. When Apple Support called they were given permission to visit my computer so that they could see my screen and together we tried numerous other options. I’m happy to report that we were able to retrieve all my data. When I saw my original desktop screen saver come up and all my folders I was relieved. I’m not sure if the slowness issue has been resolved but right now I don’t care. I’m just happy to be able to write on my blog again.

The reality is that my computer is almost five years old. I know that I’ll need to buy a new one in the near future but I was hoping to put it off for at least a few more months. Hopefully, all this effort will have been worthwhile. I certainly learned a lot about computers over this past week.

Time to catch up and share some more stories, art and photos.

Cheers!

 

“Thinking is the Enemy of Creativity”

…the kids loved this quote by Ray Bradbury

For the last two weeks we have been discussing the concept of creativity in our art classes. Once we established that having artistic ability and creativity didn’t necessarily go hand in hand I shared some quotes from a few famous people.

“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on!” – Albert Einstein

“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

“Great art picks up where nature ends.” Marc Chagall

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

The students were then directed to print their favourite quote or part of it onto a white sheet of drawing paper with pencil. Then they were to turn it upside down and start drawing by extending the lines in the quote. Once the page was full they could outline the whole piece in black Sharpie and add some colour.

At this point the quote is almost unrecognizable so to remind us how the art started the child was directed to rewrite the quote somewhere on the paper where there was open space. The grade 3s really got into this assignment. A few forgot to turn the quote upside down. The first photo is the sample that I created so that the students would have a visual when I explained the process. I would encourage any of you to choose a quote from the ones I’ve posted or come up with your own and get CREATIVE. I would love to see what you come up with.

img_1005

Thanks to Carla Sonheim for the idea of gathering quotes about creativity and Stefanie von Hoesslin for the drawing activity using the quotes.

Nature Art at Camp Kawartha

….environmental messages from our grade 5s

Last week I spent 3 days in the Kawarthas with 59 grade 5 students.  The days were filled with great learning opportunities about the environment, survival practices from the past, games played by indigenous peoples and songs sung around the campfire. Most of the activities were outdoors and involved scavenger hunts, archery, night hikes, fire making and a game of survivor amongst herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. During free time the students could continue playing outside or pick up one of many games that were available to them in the lounge.

Every meal, students took turns setting the tables, serving the food and cleaning up, including washing the dishes using the large industrial dish washer. There was lots of food (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) and no one needed to go hungry. The kitchen was impressed with how much salad this group ate.

After supper two of us were responsible for organizing hour long activities for the students to participate in before the evening program began. I took on the role of planning an art lesson. During the day I had students pick up things from the ground to use in a nature collage. Days before the trip I cut up about 80 pieces of cardboard to use as our background material and I brought bags of magazines and pieces of assorted papers.

I instructed the students to come up with a piece of art that gave some kind of message about protecting our environment from global warming or saving wildlife from poaching and/or loss of habitat. They were free to use any of the materials that I brought and the things that they found in the forest. The students were completely engaged and came up with some very interesting  works of art. Here is a sampling of their creativity.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.