Saturday, June 27, 2015


I've been thinking about flags a lot this week...

I just read an article about the creator of the Rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker. He was talking about the contention surrounding this flag in many parts of the world. He said, "That's what flags are for. Flags are about proclaiming power ... that visibility is key to our success and to our justice." 

The other bit of flag news was the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House, sparked by the murder of nine black Christians during a Bible study. Regarding the flag, Gov. Nikki Haley said "This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state."

Flags should not be waved carelessly.  They are powerful; they are important.

Flags are a more than a visible, symbolic representation of a group of people. Flags are powerful declaration of the values and principles, the goals and ambitions and often, the authority and dominion of a group or a country. These are part of group identity.  These also help to form personal identity. 

The flag a group chooses to fly should represent the present and, most importantly, the future of the group. The flags an individual chooses to fly should also represent his or her present and future.

Waiving a colourful piece of cloth around is one very visible way to proclaim identity. The identity we have or want to have can be taken-on by the way we speak to ourselves, the way we speak to others, the principles and values we hold and the things we want for our futures.

Which flags are we waving? Which identities are we claiming? Which principles and values are we aligning ourselves with? 

This is the flag that makes my heart sing:

"His banner over me is love..." -- Song of Songs 2:4 NKJV

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

No time for words...

Fireworks and Floods

Canada Day in Winnipeg was rainy and cold but it cleared off in time for a great fireworks display. We were a bit too tired (and probably lame) to go out to The Forks to watch them so we just stood out in front of the hotel. We could mostly see the whole show, there were a few low-flyers that we missed. 

The next day we left Winnipeg for Echo Valley Provincial Park which was just north east of Regina, Sask. Because of heavy rains over the past few days, there was overland flooding in western Manitoba and Eastern Saskatchewan. We had to take a detour down a minor highway because the Trans Canada was flooded for a chunk of our route. It was neat to go off the beaten track; the prairies are beautiful. We saw some deer and a mother moose with twin calves. We also saw lots if canola, sky, grain elevators and farm houses. It was amazing to see so much land and sky unfolding in front fo us as we drove. 

Echo Valley provincial park is in the Qu'Appelle Valley. It seemed like the banks of the valley just popped up out of nowhere or maybe that the valley floor just dropped out from underneath the prairie. Either way, it was beautiful! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A whirlwind end and a mellow start

The school year wrapped up like a crazy whirlwind this year. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised--it was a crazy whirlwind from the beginning so it finished like it started!

As soon as Commencement at OTHS was over on Friday, I paid a visit to the SCHS Science annual summer party then set off for North Bay. 
(This is just outside of Geralton, ON the town where I was born) 

Mom, Randi and I left at 6:30 am to drive to our first stop, Thunder Bay. We visited my sister Andrea and her family, ate Finnish pancakes at the Hoito and planted a garden. We also enjoyed some delightful coffee talks out on her back porch. 
(Baby Iris enjoying Gran and Randi)

After a Thunder Bay, we drove towards Manitoba. We saw lots of black spruce trees and a few pretty little lakes. We also passed into the Central Time Zone: 
After entering Manitoba, I glanced down at my knitting for a second and looked back up to find the forest had disappeared and the prairies had started. (No pics if the prairies yet...knitting was happening...). 

Here's what I was knitting: 
It's called Lintilla by Martina Behm. I knitted it in BFL Sock by Fleece Artist in the Gateway to the North colour way (made especially for North Bay, ON)

As we entered Winnipeg, we listened to One Great City by The Weakerthans. If you haven't heard that song before, I'm sure you can youtube it (haven't figured out how to add links from the blogger phone app yet so you'll have to do it yourself). 

Today we wandered around Winnipeg and checked out The Forks and the St Boniface Museum. We learned about Louis Riel and all the different people who lived here. Interesting history in these parts. 

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Looking for something to read this summer?

I recommend you head on down to your local bookstore (or click on over to your favourite online bookseller) and pick up a copy of INK by Amanda Sun.

Not only is Amanda a good friend of mine from back home in Deep River, she is a great up and coming Young Adult Fiction Author.

The story is about Katie who moves to Japan to live with her aunt after her mom dies.  As a first-timer in Japan, Katie needs to adjust to a lot--new language, alphabet, culture, food--not to mention life without her mom.  In the middle of her adjusting, Katie befriends Tomohiro a  boy with a mysterious secret.  Katie feels like an outsider in her new country and Tomo is an outsider because the things that he draws have a tendency of coming to life and trying to hurt people.  The powers that Tomo finds himself with are due to his connection to the kami, the ancient rulers of Japan.  Katie's presence in Tomo's life and their developing relationship has made his ink drawings more difficult to control.  Tomo and Katie must work together to prevent an already difficult situation from getting even worse.

INK is Amanda's first novel and it is also the first in the Paper Gods series.  There is also a prequel called SHADOW that was published as an ebook on most platforms.

When INK was first released, Amanda asked people to take pictures of her book in the wild.  Here are some:
SHADOW ebook in my iBooks bookshelf

INK in the Coles at Bayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa

Some reading and knitting on a summer's day

My niece playing with Jenga blocks and INK (it doesn't get much more wild than that ;-)
Every once in a while I come across an image in a book that stays with me or that makes me think differently about something.  This can be for better or for worse (Mordecai Richler, I'm looking at you and your description of orange juice drying and sticking on Duddy Kravitz's feet...).  In INK, Amanda describes the sour sound of rain hitting an aluminum roof.  I have never thought of that sound as being sour before but it totally is! 

 Some other things I will take away from reading Ink:
1.  Tomo puts the hero in Tomohiro
2.  I want to try Japanese really a lot.
3.  I want to see the cherry blossoms some day.
4.  I got in the habit of looking up the Japanse words in the glossary at the end...that brought me back to my French class dictionary days...
5. My only regret is that the next book in the series, RAIN, is not out yet...

If you're looking for a great summer book or wanting to do some couch (lawn chair, or beach towel) travelling this summer I think you should check out INK!

If you're wondering what that green bit of knitting became:
...a Milo Vest! 

Milo is a cute pattern written by Georgie Hallam.  It ranges in size from newborn to 6 yrs.  I figured that this little number would be perfect to knit for the many, many babies coming into my life this year (seriously, nearly everyone I know is expecting and if they're not expecting, they have just given birth!).  
I knitted this lovely in Berroco Vintage DK, an easy-care wool-acrylic-nylon blend (colour: #2175).  I used a US 5 needle for the yoke and hem and a US 6 needle for the body.  The cable pattern is called Aran Braid and is one of many different options included in the pattern.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ad Hoc Gardening

Hello All!
I suppose it has been a while since I last blogged...oops!  This has happened to me before...

Since we last spoke, I had a nice Christmas with my family, hung out at home for a while, went back to teach at 2/3 time and have been in regular physio to get my body back into the habit of listening to my brain after my back surgery.  My back is still sore, it fatigues quickly and I can't lift or carry anything that weighs more than ten pounds.  It has improved drastically though and I am very thankful for the ability that I have re-gained and for how it is increasing all the time!

Because of my back, I was essentially banned from any heavy-duty gardening this year.  I was initially quite disappointed by this since the most I could do was pick dandelions from my front yard with a picker that was designed for people with arthritis and bad backs.  I can't even mow my own lawn!  Doing things like digging and carrying/spreading large amounts of weed-preventing mulch were out of the question.

This has lead to quite an ad hoc garden this year.

Some friends of mine gave me some of their surplus tomato and chives which I was able to get into the ground.  The birds and squirrels inadvertently planted some sunflower seeds over the winter.  Some perennial yellow daisy-like things came up.  There are white bell-like things growing where there's not even a garden.  Some stowaway purple things and day-lilies came through the fence from the neighbour's side.  I have a "wildflower" garden happening under the spruce trees in the back.  Until Canada Day weekend, I had a pretty good crop of milkweed growing in the front garden.

Some of my family came to visit over the long weekend and my brother Rory was inspired to make my gardens more reasonable.  He was excited to do some gardening on someone else's dime and it has made me so happy to put up that dime!  He pulled out the milkweed in the front and put in a pretty blue hydrangea to compliment the other plants in the front garden.  The hydrangeas were on sale so I got a second one to add to the random assortment in the side garden in the back yard

I was able to pull out the weeds that were growing between the actual plants in the side garden and plant some lettuce, carrots and beans.  They are a bit late on the scene, but I figured that they should produce something since the planting instructions encourage staggered planting throughout the summer to provide a continuous harvest.

The back garden remains a wildflower haven!

Here are some pics:
Window-well Sunflower

Sprouted Lettuce

Stowaway Purple Thing

Surplus Tomatoes

Wildflowers Under Spruce Trees

Yellow Perennials

Side Garden.  Foreground: Sunflowers, Yellows, White Things, Wildflower Garden

New Blue Hydrangeas 

I'm going to link up to the wonderful blog my friend MaryMary shares with her sister, Outside At Home.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Looking for something to watch?

Bird Feeder Update: Since we last spoke, I have seen four tiny birds eating from my feeder.  They are not feasting there just yet.  From what I have observed, they have been fly-by eating rather than flocking and feasting.  I have put black oil sunflower seeds in the feeder which is a favourite of many Ontario birds according to multiple websites.  Hopefully the feeding picks up as the weather gets cooler.

In the time I have been off work, I have gone through quite a few Netflix tv-series and some movies as well. I will list them now with brief reviews:

Bones: I watched this show years ago when it first started but I stopped during the writer's strike of '07-'08 when I also got very busy with teaching.  Netflix currently has Seasons 1-6 which is great for playing catch-up (Bones is now in Season 8 so I still have some watching to do).  I like Bones becasue of its mix of science with character development and humour.  If find the cases interesting and I love the emphasis on experiments to find the answer.

The Office UK: A very funny look at office life in Britain.  Of course, this was the inspiration for the Office US and it shares similar characteristics: documentary style, awkward boss, rediculously out of control colleague, engaged-receptionist/office-worker love triangle.  This show is much more awkward and inappropriate than its American counterpart.  I found it very funny, but my sense of humour does tend to veer into the realm of mean, British and inappropriate.  If this isn't your cup of tea, you should stick to the American version.

Sherlock:  There are only a few episodes of this great show available.  I understand that more are in the works.  It stars Arthur Dent...I mean Martin Freeman (who forms one third of
 the love triangle in the Office) as Dr. Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and takes place in modern-day London.  I'm pretty sure this is the inspiration for the American series Elementary that takes place in NYC (also worth watching).  Like the Sherlock Holmes stories, each case is a complex puzzle that often involves interesting science and leaps of logic.

Lie To Me: This one ran for only three seasons.  I think it could have gone longer.  Tim Roth plays Cal Lightman, a behaviourist who specializes in detecting lies based on minute facial changes.  This is a case-by-case crime show that has good characters and lots of humour.  My favourite part was the relationship between Cal and his teenage daughter Emily.  Imagine having a dad who is a human lie detector!  As a side note, Monica Raymund (Ria Torez, naturally talented at lie detection) now stars in Chicago Fire on Global (here in Canada).

Better Off Ted: A sitcom that ran for two seasons.  Ted is an executive in charge of R & D for a multinational corporation.  The corporation has an evil soul but the people don't.  Because of the R & D component there is some science stuff in this show too--albeit much less plausible science than in Bones.  It's humour style is similar to Arrested Development and it even stars Portia De Rossi  as Ted's boss. There is also a sweet-ish love story in it and being a sucker for romantic comedies, it made the show even better for me.  It's certainly worth the watch!

Life: A cop is put in prison for triple murder of his best friend, his wife and their son.  After twelve years, when the case is re-opened, Charlie Crews is declared innocent and awarded a huge settlement package that includes re-joining the police force as a detective.  Between solving regular homicide cases, Charlie tries to work out who murdered that family and who set him up to take the fall.  Watching this show was like reading a very good book--I wanted to find out what happened but I didn't want it to end. The characters are solid and the Zen attitude that Charlie found in prison adds just enough quirkiness to be hilarious.

Running Wilde: This one didn't make it to one full season.  I watched it because it stars Will Arnett and I was feeling nostalgic for Arrested Development.  David Cross (aka Tobias Funke) also makes some appearances.  This show is narrated by a girl named Puddle whose mother, Emmy, is a really big hippie trying to protect an ancient culture in the jungle of Peru.  Arnett's character Steve is Emmy's high school sweetheart and she and Puddle end up living in the treehouse on his property so that Puddle can attend regular school.  This show has some funny moments and isn't a bad option if you're looking for a 20 minute episode to fill some time.

MI-5: A British spy show about the lives and loves of agents in Her Majesty's Security Service.  Since the show is British, the seasons are shorter but the episodes are slightly longer (50 minutes instead of 43 minutes).  I am currently partway through the second season.  I am enjoying this show immensely.  It features many things that one expects from spy shows: awesome spy music, neat spy gadgets and great walking-away-from-things-after-tense-moments scenes.  There are fewer walking-with-guns scenes in this show than in American cop/secret agency shows.  I find a this bit nice--I always just imagine how silly the actors must feel during all those walking-with-gun scenes.  This show explores the issues of living life as a spy with a consealed identity which is interesting to consider.  The lead character, Tom Quinn is played by Matthew MacFayden who also played Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (!) in the newer rendition of Pride and Prejudice (need I say more?).

I think I'll leave the movies I've watched for another day.  I don't want you to think I'm long-winded or something.

Are there any Netflix shows you would recommend?

Sweet Streams,

PS: You may notice some lame-wad themes in my tv show is likely to become much lamer when I tell you the movies I have been watching...

PPS: All images have been pulled off the net, I was hoping that by adding them by url, a link to their sites of origin would be automatically was made.  I was wrong but now its supper time I am too hungry to bother re-tracing the internet steps and make proper links.  I do not intend to steal copyrighted information, and I do value and admire the work of the photographers who created these images.