The Importance of Family

You are not meant to get along with every individual on the planet but when you choose your friends you are likely to choose those that see eye to eye with your ideology than not.  You do not have that luxury when it comes to family.  Most often than not they are completely different from you and actually not someone who you would choose to be friends with but sometimes you do end up having an appreciation for the differences between you and a respect for that different viewpoint.  That is one of the reasons I feel sorry for only children.

For one thing, they are the oldest and the youngest child at the same time.  They don’t have anyone to look up to or have mentor them throughout the complexities of growing up.  Mind you, they don’t have anyone to beat them up either or tease them mercilessly and humiliate them in front of friends so there are certain benefits to going solo.

There were several occasions when I wished I was an only child or that I at least had a sister to confide in and ruminate about how beastly my brothers could be but they also came to my rescue on more than one instance and talked me out of doing some stupid things in life and I always could depend on them if something serious was happening and I needed guidance or strength at the time.

I still do not understand the lifestyle choices of some of them but there is something to that “being blood” bond that if they needed me I would go out of my way to help any of them because I love them – I may not always like them but we all had the same great parents and have some wonderful memories to share of growing up and becoming the people we are today because of that love.

Family helps define you and shape you and keeps you sane … or maybe I’m mistaken and it’s pets that help keep you on an even keel.  At least they don’t argue with you!

Why hire movers when you can do it yourself?

Once upon a time as a teenager leaving the familial nest; moving myself was easy, as I didn’t own very much to begin with.  The longer you live the more you accumulate and if one doesn’t purge on a regular basis you end up with a lot of stuff.  Recently, I helped my brother sell his home, pack up his belongings and get rid of a bunch of junk.  I learned a valuable lesson, albeit a little late in life, I think.

Hire movers!

Why? – less stress, less physical pain after heavy lifting, less bickering and less time wasted sorting and throwing things out.  The movers will ensure the boxes are uniform, strong and packed properly in the truck or pod or container and that nothing will shift during transport to your new home or storage facility.

Let’s deal with the first thing hiring movers relieves – stress!  You merely pick up the phone and book a date for an estimate which you get in writing and on that day, you greet them with a cup of coffee and supervise the packing of your valuables.  Piece of cake!  In the above case, we shopped around for a mover and decided to get a container which we would pack at our leisure and when done simply call them and have them pick it up and take it to a storage place to await shipment.  Problem is – you don’t know when they are going to deliver that container so you have to be there till they bring it and when they do you then have to learn the complex system of opening the back doors so you can start putting your things into it.  Therein lies a second dilemma, how to pack those different size boxes you got from the liquor store or grocery store, taping and labelling them and stacking them tightly so they don’t shift.  It was about this point that I thought to myself – why the hell didn’t you just hire somebody to do all this.

Which brings me to my second point of relief – less physical pain after heavy lifting.  After you have moved things from the attic to the main floor and brought up heavy boxes from the basement a few times, your back and legs are screaming at you – “hell, no” and this is repeated over several hours and several days and all the while you are up and down stairs and beginning to take several extended breathers in between loads to catch your breath and give your knees a rest.  With movers, you simply ask them if they’d like a water or pop while sitting in a rocker on your porch overseeing the proceedings.

To all those who have siblings you will certainly relate to the bickering part from how to lift and carry an item down a tricky set of stairs to how that truck or container should be packed and don’t put that there or throw that out I’m keeping it running dialogue you will have.

Lastly, the time factor.  Most movers will have your house packed up and gone within four to six hours because they bring lots of big strong men to do it.  We, on the other hand took 7 days to sort through, pack and stack everything.  That was after having the Junk Guys come in with their truck and taking away all the junk – from useless paper to old computers, receivers, broken furniture, mattresses, etc.  Three big truckloads later you would think you wouldn’t have that much to actually take with you but you’d be sadly mistaken, my friend.  Box after box of VHS tapes and DVDs were packed away and taken to storage.  Again, I thought – why bother, you can see most of these movies, musicals, concerts, etc on Netflix or other streaming computer sites but what do I know.

I do know I am glad that is over and I will never, ever move myself or anyone again!

That’s what you call your famous last words………………….

Two adirondacks in garden 2

 

 

 

 

Snowball tree on side of garage

Gardens and their importance

For many years my mother kept a beautiful garden filled with tulips and peonies and roses and poppies and plants and the most beautiful snowball tree I have ever seen. When the scent of the lilacs filled the air you knew it was Spring.  When the jack in the pulpit broke ground you knew that scores of trilliums wouldn’t be far behind and that a walk through the woods out back would be filled with a carpet of white making you marvel at the artistry and beauty provided by Mother Nature.

This was the biology/botany lesson where you could witness rebirth in the perennials or see the results of the bulbs/seeds that you planted the previous fall and know that you helped the flower to blossom and show off its splendour and radiance of colour.

Of course that would be looking back on the scene through rose-coloured glasses as six kids ran roughshod through the gardens while playing games in the front yard be it badminton, baseball, croquet or Red rover, Red rover.  We never really appreciated all the hard work and effort that went into working these gardens and when our mom had a spare moment (and I don’t know how she found one) that is where you could find her.

It was only when I began gardening myself as an adult that I appreciated the pride and satisfaction she must have derived from all that effort.

I’m pretty sure she was totally exasperated with us when we rummaged through a bush looking for a lost bird or ball while she admonished us to stay out of the garden with an ever increasing sharp tone.  I can remember the one Spring when my older brother and I planted firecrackers in our neighbour’s tulips and blew them up, just for fun and then having to go over after our mom found out to apologize and pay for the damage out of our allowance.  These are the lessons you learned while growing up.  I have provided a few examples from the many, many life lessons learned.

1. Don’t chew gum with your mouth open as you look like a cow chewing their cud.

2.  Don’t threaten to poke a neighbour child’s eye out with a stick  though you wouldn’t have actually done it because it isn’t nice to pick on someone younger than you even though my older brothers beat me up on a regular basis – not that I’m sure I didn’t provoke them on occasion – I was definitely no little angel.

3.  Don’t try to burn down your school by lighting the field behind it on fire as it wastes the fire department’s time to come and put it out and your parents will be less than thrilled.

4.  Don’t play in the swamp without your rubber boots or you’ll get a soaker.  Be careful where you go swimming that you don’t bring home leeches.

5.  And don’t taunt the boys calling them sissies unless you can outrun them.

There are plenty more but I digress from the Garden and the refuge it must have provided my mother from the goings on while dealing with her stubborn, willful children with more personalities than Sybil.

She also had pea bushes, rhubarb and grew lettuce and other veggies in the side and back gardens to supplement our grocery bill and reused and recycled long before it became di rigeur.  Sometimes I think people forget the simple things in life that can bring joy and happiness.  I miss my mom.

 

ch002

 

 

10 Fun Facts about Robins

Parents tell their children not to handle eggs in a nest or pick up the fledgling bird who has fallen from the nest (most likely in its first attempt to fly) because the parent bird will know that a human has touched them and will then abandon the nest … which is not the case for the most part.
Why should you not immediately bear young birds away to a safer place? Primarily because the last thing you want to do is separate baby birds from their parents. Don’t consider picking up such finds and bringing them into your home to be cared for, because their parents will do a much better job than you ever could. Chances are very good that mom and dad are close at hand, even if you don’t see them.
  1.  Robins are found on every continent and are one of the most common songbirds.  Often they are the first bird you will see in the Spring
  2.   Besides earthworms, robins also eat berries, fruit, nuts and seeds, and other insects
  3. Most robins only live about six years
  4. They have up to 3 broods (or hatchings) each year and can reach up to 5
  5. Robins are territorial and will fight with other robins if challenged
  6. Robins are not born with their red breast but acquire it after their first moult (shedding)
  7. Though they don’t usually breed until March, if weather is mild it can be as early as January
  8. Robins are members of the thrush family so related to nightingales and blackbirds
  9. The robin is the official state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin
  10. Not related to Robin Hood, Batman’s sidekick or Robin Williams but featured on the 1986 Canadian $2.00 bill.

You’re Fired

Thankfully not everyone gets to hear those words in the workforce and for some once is plenty but I have the unique privilege(?) of hearing those words quite a few times in my life.  It doesn’t seem to have affected me adversely but as my husband has pointed out on several occasions, it’s not the kind of thing you brag about either.  Attached is an article I wrote about being fired.

You’re Fired

Laid-Off-Packing-Up-Office

Incidentally, my office never looked this neat – ever!

Bruno's Sculpture Gardens

Must-see Gardens in Marysville, Australia

Lady of ShallotOn our travels within Australia one of the places I wanted to visit just outside of Melbourne was the Bruno Art and Sculpture Gardens.  Unfortunately, we never made it there.  It is the one regret I have as getting back to Australia isn’t likely at this point.  If you are one of the lucky ones to traverse Australia and you are in the neighbourhood you should definitely check it out.   Please google for link to their site for a glimpse into a magical world.

South American artist Bruno Torf’s eclectic sculpture garden near Melbourne began with 15 life-sized terra cotta sculptures set in sub-alpine forests, and a gallery of smaller artwork. In 2009, the sculptures just barely survived devastating local fires, while the artist’s home and gallery were completely destroyed.  Bruno has painstakingly rebuilt his sculpture gardens and a bigger gallery.  Nature and art at its best!

 

 

 

Ladies Powder Room at Radio City Music Hall

The essence of travel

You may think that travelling is an adventure, a journey to a destination where you can uncover cultures, art and nature that you have never seen before….and it is; however, when you get older there are certain requirements needed when one travels.  For instance, I need to know that the plane trip is under 8 hours as my legs cannot handle the cramping one has to endure for that time period and I do not possess the kind of wealth that would allow me to travel first class.  Secondly, the place I am staying can’t be more than an hour from the airport especially if I am travelling by bus.  And last but most importantly, I need access to a bathroom on a fairly frequent basis.

This is why I don’t like to go to the theatre that much either as I can stream or rent a movie, make my own popcorn, enjoy a glass of wine AND pause the movie anytime I feel the urge to go so why leave the house.  Plus there is nobody behind me to give away the plot or kick the back of my seat not to mention the tall guy in front blocking my view.

When I was in my youth I didn’t worry about finding a bathroom so much as I had greater restraint and we could always pull over to the side of the road and go in the ditch if we needed.  Nowadays, I’m not sure I’d be able to recover from the crouching position.  Below is the toilet for visitors to Napier, New Zealand.  Top of page is one of many powder rooms in the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  So, you can go to the lavatory in style in certain environments.Napier2012 117

DRAGON BOAT RACING IN BC

false-creek-areaDRAGON BOAT RACES take place each June in False Creek in Vancouver, B.C.

Dragon boats are long, teak-hulled canoes; propelled by 20 paddlers. Racing dates back hundreds of years in China but was introduced to Vancouver during EXPO 86. It became an annual event the next year when leaders of the local Asian community launched the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival as a way to promote good relations with the non-Asian majority.

Some years ago when we lived in B.C., Ken (my husband) and I joined a dragon boat race team from the hotel where he worked – the Pan Pacific – you know the one with the sails down in the Harbour.  We didn’t have any experience but we were in the amateur, ‘fun’ category where you were participating to enjoy camraderie with fellow staff while getting some exercise and enjoying the great outdoors.  It seemed like a great idea at the time!

You practised on the course two times a week for a month before the competition so that you could be in shape for the races.  Race day you were lined up with six or seven other boats and you had to keep in your lane to avoid collision with another boat or risk not only disqualification but actual injury to life and limb.

Now, these races were probably no more than four or five minutes long which doesn’t seem all that difficult but you are paddling at a frenetic clip for the whole entire time while (theoretically anyways) being in sync with everyone else in the boat.  At one end of the boat you have a drummer who keeps the beat and you dip your paddle in – keeping time to it while the steersman who in our case seemed to be a sadistic escaped lunatic screamed at you constantly to “Reach, Reach, reach you bloody bastards”.

And that’s just what you wanted to do.  You wanted to reach up and grab that mofo by the neck and throw him overboard – and that fantasy is what kept you going for the next few minutes as the muscles in your back and neck were screaming to stop that instance and go find somewhere where you could lay down and die.  And that was only the first heat.  You had to go out again and repeat this insanity later that afternoon.  And twice again the next day.  We never participated again but we did actually have a lot of fun that year and we are glad we had the opportunity to do something we’d never tried before.

FAMILY GAMES NIGHT

family-games-night-clipart

To hold a family games night as a means to spending quality time with your children is an adorable premise – a Hallmark moment of polite entertainment interspersed with laughter and learning in a secure and nurturing period of time.  In reality, it can be utter and complete chaos.

Please read  for our version of family-games-night from long ago.

Festivals in 2017 every month – for when you win the lottery.

  1.   Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China -on now!!

    From January 5, 2017 to February 25, 2017, come experience the world’s largest ice festival in beautiful Harbin city.


  2. Carnival in Rio De Janeiro – February 26, 2017
    Related image
    The actual annual dates of Carnival differ and depend on the date Easter falls in that particular year, as Carnival will be 40 days before Easter. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon in Spring.


  3. Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Mardi Gras 2017 is on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
    New Orleans
    Mardi Gras always lands on the Tuesday that is 47 days before Easter. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. Carnival season refers to the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, and officially begins on January 6 every year. Although Carnival season lasts more than a month, the parties, parades and fun kick into high gear on the Thursday before Mardi Gras.


  4. The date of Holi is different every year in India!
    Related image
    In most of India, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the day after the full moon in March each year. On the eve of Holi, large bonfires are lit to mark occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan. In 2017, Holi is on March 13, with Holika Dahan on March 12.  Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It’s fun, safe, and free. Just remember to BYOD (bring your own dye).


  5. Coachella, California | 14-23 April 2017
    Image result for coachella california 2016The first major music event in the annual festival calendar, Coachella – California’s glossy, glam, palm-tree-peppered answer to Glastonbury – returns. Expect clear skies, designer-hippie ensembles and not a squelch of mud under foot.  If you can’t get tickets for this perhaps the next one might interest you.


  6. Songkran Water Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand – April 13-16th, 2017

    Stay indoors on the 13th of April – if you happen to be in Thailand. Or step out if you love water… and getting wet! For it’s a given that you won’t escape the water pistols, the water balloons and buckets of water as the Thais celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.


  7. The Ottawa Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada is the largest tulip festival in the world and it is held every year in May.  It will be held on May 12-22nd, 2017
    Tulips
    This festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

    The Canadian Tulip Festival is also a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dow’s Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.


  8. Glastonbury 2017, England – Worthy Farm – June 21st – 25th, 2017

    Glastonbury. This five-day bonanza offers dozens of live stages, attracting almost 200,000 people every year. The event hosts the absolute best of the musical world – names like Radiohead, The Smiths, Kanye West and Beyoncé have previously played here. The event also supports upcoming acts and promotes dance, comedy, theatre, cabaret and arts. ( I think tickets for this may be sold out).


  9. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, Tennessee  June 8 – 11th, 2017.
    Related imageThe name of the four-day music and arts festival is one of the most recognizable in the world. Founded in 2002 on a sprawling farm an hour south of Nashville, Bonnaroo has since become synonymous with positive vibes, eclectic music, 24-hour programming, camping and high fives.  U2 will make its first-ever US festival headlining appearance at the festival alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Weeknd.


  10. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
    Image result for running of the bulls 2016The  Running of the Bulls is a part of the San Fermin Festival, which runs in Pamplona from July 6 to July 14 in 2017 and every year.


  11.  Edinburgh International Festival , Scotland – 4 August 2017 to 28 August 2017

    Image result for edinburgh festival 2016 imagesEvery August, the Edinburgh International Festival transforms one of the world’s most beautiful cities, presenting three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers from the worlds of the arts.

    Edinburgh’s six major theatres and concert halls, a few smaller venues and often some unconventional ones too, come alive with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.  The Royal Edinbugh Military Tattoo takes place at the same time.


  12. La Tomatina in Spain 2017 – August 30, 2017
    Image result for La Tomatina in SpainLa Tomatina is the most popular tomatoes throwing festival in the world. It is being observed in the town of Bunol, Valencia, Spain each year on the last Wednesday of August. It is a festival held purely for fun. The festival attracts a large number of tourists in the town of Bunol during the celebration.


  13. Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada
    Related imageBurning Man 2017 takes place August 27 – September 4, 2017 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community.


  14. Oktoberfest –  Munich, Germany
    Image result for oktoberfest 2016On Saturday, September 16th, 2017 the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Runs until October 3rd.


  15. International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, NM -Saturday, October 7th – 15th, 2017Image result for balloon festival albuquerque new mexicoThe Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual October festival that takes place in New Mexico. It was first launched in 1972 with just 13 participants. Today, more than 500 balloons take to the skies over Albuquerque each year, making the Balloon Fiesta the largest event of its kind worldwide.

  16. Day of the Dead, Mexico is celebrated from October 31 till November 02, 2017.
    Image result for day of the dead images
    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed.


  17.   Lantern Festival in Taiwan – LOY KRATHONG / YEE PENG, Nov 1- 4th, 2017
    Image result for lantern festival in taiwan 2016 images
    Join us at the spirited and lively Yi Peng festival of Chiang Mai to witness the timed release of thousands of beautifully coloured, candle lit Lanna-style lanterns into the sky and local river.


  18. Christmas Markets Dates – all over Germany
     27th November to 23rd December, 2017

    Image result for christmas markets in berlin 2016 imagesThere is an air of  festivity that fills the air the end of November and continues till Christmas. Heralding the approach of the festive season, the streets are brightly lit, Christmas trees adorned with tinsel and little red bells and stars line the streets and people are out late doing their Christmas shopping. Concerts are staged, both outdoors and indoors, classical and modern. Street plays performed, musicians show off their talent and generally there is very festive and happy air around. This is when Germany is at its colourful best – white snows, green Christmas trees, red tinkling bells and families out on the streets. Come, join in the festivities!