Thursday, July 31, 2008
That’s a day where I don’t get anything substantial done, but I think deep thoughts and am content to be in my own company.
I call it a “Think Day” because it’s better for the ego than “Sloth Day.”
I don’t normally schedule them. I rarely know they’re going to happen and am therefore surprised when they show up unannounced and demand my attention.
Today is different simply because I don’t have much time to do anything else. We’re off camping with friends for the long weekend. (To my wonderful international readers: The first Monday of August is Heritage Day in some provinces.)
We head out tomorrow and will be back sometime Monday. That means we need food and water and camping gear and all manner of other stuff that I hope I remember.
The Baking Fairy possessed me for a few hours yesterday morning so we’ll at least have dessert. Today I have to sort out the gear and do a bit of shopping and whatnot.
Because I won’t have much time to do it, I know it’ll feel like a good writing day.
I’ll also feel like catching up on some reading, and even cleaning.
But because I’ve set it aside as a think day I probably won’t be able to do it.
For now, I’ll go with the fact that I have declared it a think day and I’ll do my best to follow through.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Have you ever had one of those moments where you wake up and realize that you are here?
I know reads rather oddly. Where else would you be but where you are?
What I mean is the moments of exquisite life when you are fully awake; when awareness of yourself and your world is at its sharpest.
I’ve had a few of them over the years. Two that I recall were while I was all alone in my car. It was as if I’d awakened after a very long half-sleep and realized who and what I was.
I recall being tickled silly: “I’m all grown up and driving!”
It was good that I was alone on both occasions. I am sure I grinned like a cheerful idiot, and I’m equally sure I would not have given a sensible response if asked why.
I had another one recently. Just the other day I realized that I’m doing the things I said I’d do.
Years ago in junior high school I thought I’d like to be a freelance writer. I had no clue what that would entail, but it sounded good. It made use of two of my favourite words: free and writer.
Also during those years I saw a photograph in a magazine of a street, a fence with a loose board, and a tabby cat half-hidden by said board and I thought I’d like to be a photographer.
“Anything I can’t say in words I can say in pictures,” I thought that day.
When I was eight I told my dad I was going to be a reporter and I was one for nearly 20 years.
Today I am a freelancer. I’ve taken pictures to go with my stories and in the past I've done a few freelance photos for a former newsmagazine, Alberta Report.
I once did a freelance article for another magazine that was based in Edmonton back in the mid-80s. I’ve forgotten the name, but I recall it was run by women.
The other day I was out on my deck enjoying the summer when I woke up to myself and my life and realized I was doing what I said I’d do. I am doing what I want and I am here and I am alive.
That bit of exquisite wakefulness wasn’t as sharp as the ones that came to me while driving, but it was still an exquisite moment.
Has it happened to you? Have you had an exquisite sense of your life and what you've done?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
These shapes are the simple products of river grape leaves growing on our house and sunlight at play on the bird condominium out front.
It caused many interesting things in the mornings from the creatures of Seussian whimsy:
to the horrors of the nightscape.
What do you see when you look in the shadows?
Monday, July 28, 2008
Gratitude Monday – Seeing Things
I’m grateful for how I see things, both in the literal sense of physical vision and how I interpret the world around me.
It’s different from the way many others see things, initially at least.
I like to turn things over and tickle their tummies. It lets me come at life from a different angle and I like to think I bring this difference to conversations. It isn’t always appreciated or understood, but I so what? It’s me and it’s what I do.
Seeing things differently opens you up to a whole new world of interest, enjoyment, and understanding. It also means you’re less likely to take offence at a remark. And you get laughed at a lot and called weird. For the record I’m proud to be weird and I’m good at it. So there.
Thick skin is important. I’m grateful for that, too.
How about you? Are you grateful for how you see the world?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Again With The Bragging
The Mountaineer newspaper has seen fit to put up my latest freelance piece on its website.
It's a story on two sisters, Lane and Amanda Green, who left Rocky when they were young to study ballet at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. One is now a member of the professional company while the other recently joined the Alberta Ballet after several years dancing in England.
I did several stories on them over the years and was very pleased to catch up with them.
The photo above has nothing to do with the story. Even though it's a wee bit fuzzy I like it.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The Moon and the Mountain
Thursday, July 24, 2008
As swallow surveys his domain.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Obey The Muse
Here’s what happened:
When I visualize the flat Marie-Josee lives in I see a cot on one side of the kitchen-living room hard by the wall. Philippe is sleeping. He is on his right side with his back to us. He snores gently on occasion and he sighs. He is wearing Kahki shorts and nothing else. He is lithe, well-built, perhaps 30 though hard to tell from the back, with a thatch of dark, recalcitrant straight hair. Even though I don’t see it I know the dark hair on his chest has a touch of early grey in it.
Marie-Josee looks at him hungrily.
“Philippe will soon be awake.”
It sounds like a warning.
"You have much work to do,” Marie-Josee tells me. “You should go and get to work. I will attend to Philippe.”
My Muse is kicking me out?
“I need to re-juice,” she said. “You should not be here when I absorb energy. You will not know what to do. It will be too much for you. It must be filtered through me.”
“Why else would you have a Muse?”
“Go now.” She kisses me on the cheek and turns away toward Philippe.
I am bemused. I trust my Muse. She needs to recharge. Philippe is her energy source.
I leave her be. In the distance I hear the sharp crack of a whip.
The next day we had this exchange:
My Muse is staring at me. Large, limpid pools of soft velvet. Love, understanding and more than a touch of exasperation.
“Why aren’t you having more sex?” she demands. “Are you trying to forget how?”
What an odd thing to say, and no.
“You aren’t connected to the physical world and that’s why your energy isn’t traveling right. It’s trapped in the lowest chakra. Sex is the most efficient way to release it.”
“You should do it. Soon and often.”
“See Philippe? He is smiling the delicious half-smile. You are not.
He rests and sighs until I need him again. I can’t do this for you. Not really. Help yourself in this, Leah.”
Marie-Josee has a dynamic, crackling energy about her, electric and snapping.
The snapping energy that I need she has. How to get it from Muse to me?
She is exasperated. She’s just told me how and it seems I’m not believing her. I do. I need other ways tho-
“No, you don’t” she shouts, cutting me off.
Her arms raise as she implores the heavens and then she flashes her velvet brown eyes on me. Sparks jump and race through them. The brown eyes are on fire.
I can see the conflagration in her mind. She is beyond exasperation. She is angry with me and wants me to respond in kind.
“Stop watching ABBA videos and get to work!”
“Lovemaking and writing. I’ve spelled it out for you. There’s a point where I… well, I won’t give up but I will ignore you for a time. I don’t know how long. Until you learn. Or beg. Or… I don’t know… until you tell me the truth of your life and why you write.”
“Have you told yourself why you write? I believe you have not.”
Philippe has rustled a bit under the sheets.
“He is fine,” said Marie-Josee. “He must rest, and he will.”
“Do you know what you want? You say guidance from the Universe, guidance from the Higher Self and me – The screech and clanging of a train covers the rest of what she said.
She smiles. “You don’t want to know, do you?”
She leans over and kisses me on the cheek, quick and dry.
She always kisses me good-bye to signal our time is over.
“I must rest now, she said. “Phillipe.”
I don't quite know what to make of some of the things she tells me, but I have a Muse for a reason. It is best to heed her.
Tell me, do you obey your Muse?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
July In Bloom
He has degrees in forestry and botany so a walk in the forest is like a trip down Nature's produce aisle with him.
Wild Onion in bloom. I haven't tried it, but I have used Wild Garlic to flavour some campfire escargot on a camping trip a few years ago. I'm a bit reluctant to collect these by myself as a similar plant, Death Camas, grows in the same area.
Wild Blue Flax.
Vetch. Enlarge it and see the bug on the left side on top. It looks annoyed.
I found these lovely blooms at Wild Horse Creek along the David Thompson Highway. I was east of the Banff National Park gate so this is still my back yard. I consider the whole area west of Rocky in Clearwater County all the way to the National Park boundaries as my back yard.
I must make a correction. I recently listed The Weeping Wall as being in Jasper National Park. It is located in Banff National Park below Sunwapta Pass. Jasper Park starts just north of the summit of Sunwapta Pass.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Gratitude Monday - Time Together
Summer is my husband's busy time of year. Unless he's booked the time off or the weather is lousy we hardly spend any time together.
His work was rained out for a few days the other week so we took a spur-of-the-moment day trip up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.
We saw several bears that day in about half-a-dozen "bear jams." That's where several vehicles are stopped along both sides of the highway congesting traffic.
I was quite content to let my husband take care of the bear shots, but mostly I was happy to spend the day with him.
Taking the time to play together is important.
--photos by Mr. Goat's Lunch Pail
Friday, July 18, 2008
What Do You Have To Do?
Lately I haven’t had time to read the paper. Oh, I’m not so terribly busy. And it’s not like the Edmonton Journal is so thick that it takes forever to get through it.
No. It just seems like other things have gotten in the way.
Generally, the other things take precedence for a reason. They’re either way more interesting or time–sensitive, like taking a day trip to the mountains.
That has to be done when the opportunity arises, the weather and light are right, and specific to last week’s adventure, when Mr. Goat’s Lunch Pail is available to spend the day with me. Take the chance to do things together when you get it.
But when I’ve got plans and need some time it’s my time with the newspaper that gets sacrificed. This is my choice so in that respect I am not complaining.
My point is when I don’t read the paper I feel as though I haven’t gotten anything done. It sits there folded on the table taunting me with its promise of quiet information.
Somewhere back in the 80s a friend mentioned she’d learned that we have certain things we need to do each day in order to feel as though we’ve accomplished something. If memory serves it was three things we needed to do to get this feeling.
I have from time to time asked myself what I needed to do. I don’t know that I have three things, but I have one and it’s reading the daily paper.
I read it with breakfast. I eat. I read. I relax. It’s time dedicated to immersing myself in the outside world while remaining quiet. I need quiet. I get ruffled when surrounded by noise.
When I was working I’d read some at breakfast and finish the rest with lunch. I like to eat while I read. I find it satisfying.
Now, when I have all this time I find I don’t get the paper read every day. Last week I finally finished Wednesday’s newspaper on Sunday, along with Friday’s. I did it outside on the deck in the morning sunshine. It gave me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
What about you?
What do you need to do to feel as though you’ve done something?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
A Question About Big Words
Do you want the speaker or writer to go ahead and define it without your needing to ask? That is, do you want it assumed that you need it defined?
Or would you rather have it assumed that you know what’s going on around you and that you know the word, too.
I love words and I am quite pleased with the big ones. I’ve been reading the dictionary since I was seven. It never lets me down.
Today I have on my desk the most wonderful resource ever: The Writer’s Digest Flip Dictionary, Writer’s Digest Books, copyright 2000 by Barbara Ann Kipfer. It lets you look up the definition of a word to find the word you need. It lists various alternate words for the one you think of using. It lists 80 types of fruit. If you need to know what to call the front of building you look up “front of building”(p. 268)and learn you have the choice of façade or frontispiece.
Here’s the issue. I wanted to describe someone as “aunt like” but didn’t know the word. Given that we have “avuncular” I knew there had to be the female equivalent. I looked up aunt in the Flip Dictionary and found “amitular” and used it.
We hear the male side of the language all the time: avuncular, virile, etc. But the distaff side? Not so much. Few people have in the normal course have heard amitular and how many of us know the female equivalent of virility is muliebrity? As an aside to my distaff readers, if you’re ever called mulish I say smile and say thanks.
The only exception I can think of to male-focused language is cattle are collectively and rightly called cows although it does specifically refer to the female.
Anyway, back to my point. My reader didn’t know the word so had to ask. That’s fine. But it’s made me wonder how to approach the use of unfamiliar words. Most of the time I’d rather let it be assumed I know and let me ask if I don’t.
How about you?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Got My Goat!
I finally got my goat. I have been wanting to get a proper goat photo to go on the blog for quite some time now, but it has taken me awhile.
Mr. Goat's Lunch Pail and I took a trip up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper last Friday and were blessed by many bear sightings and a small herd of goats. Mr. Goat took care of getting the bear pictures and I'll be posting them at some point.
Said caprines were nuzzling the gravel at the pull out. The point of the trip was to get goat pics and we'd expected to find them at a salt lick along the highway near Mt. Kerkeslin close to Jasper. It's so common to see them there it's listed on tours.
Instead we found them on the way home and much further south. It was after 7 p.m. and the sun was getting low behind the mountains which gave some interesting back lighting.
I was thrilled to get these pictures.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Say What You Are
In short, we are ripe for the picking.
When you know yourself and are comfortable with it, then using definite language in expression is a natural extension of the way you speak.
When we’re not comfortable we vacillate.
It shows up in a myriad of ways including the seemingly polite “I would like” when ordering something as simple as ice cream.
It might be okay in ordering food although I prefer to go with “I want” or “I’ll have a double scoop with Black Forest and Caramel Pecan please,” but in life in general it sets us up as being not quite sure of our footing.
To a degree “I will be” or “I want” is suggestive of vacillating, but I say it’s okay often their use means setting a goal.
Many spiritual declarations direct us to affirm what we want by stating that we already have it.
That’s good, too, but if you’re just starting out on the affirmation trail you’re going to argue. How can you say you have something when you clearly don’t?
In this instance, declaring “I will have” is a good place to start. Get yourself used to the idea and then move on to “I am” and “I have.”
Don’t leave it too long, though. Saying “I will have” always leaves the results somewhere in the future. You want it now, don’t you?
I say use the definite declaration. Feel the power of the words inside you as the clear statement is made.
For instance, yesterday I wrote about my freelance stories being published.
No more of this “I’d like to freelance” nonsense.
I am a freelancer.
I write. I am published.
Start out simply with “I think.” Leave it at that. Not “I think I’m …” or “Gee, I think that’s the case.”
No. I mean declare the fact that you are able to give thought to you actions.
I have thoughts. I am able to think. I exercise this ability.
Try it. Build from there. State your purpose and stand your ground and feel the difference it makes.
Stop looking over the fence at what you want and go get it.
Mountain Goat along the Jasper-Banff Highway.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Gratitude Monday – My Name In Print
I’m grateful for so many things. From the mundane to the weird and from the plain to the sublime everything has its place and its reason for being. It should be celebrated.
Today, I’m grateful for a publication credit.
I’ve been doing some freelance work lately. Most of it has been directed to the local newspaper, The Mountaineer. Although the paper has a website, my features haven’t been posted on it.
Seeing my name in print again and being read re-activated an old, dormant bug. I like to be read. This blog is awfully darned gratifying, but I want a publication credit along with readers.
After looking around the internet I’ve settled on a few places to try. I sent something to FATE Magazine recently. It will likely be months before any yea or nay comes my way.
I also found UFO Digest which deals in a wide variety of paranormal phenomena. Very cool.
I submitted something last week and it’s up and waiting to be read.
If you are interested, here’s the link to The Phantom Hitchhiker:
Read it or not as you see fit.
I’m just grateful it’s there.
Friday, July 11, 2008
He took this photo of a mariposa lily in his garden at his mother's house outside of town.
This is a lupin with columbine behind it. It's growing in the flowerbed on the east side of our house. This photo and the other two were taken by me.
The peony at the bottom of our front steps. Yes, it's a repeat photo, but I like it and the flower is very pretty.
Old berries set against new leaves on the hawthorn tree in the back yard. Beauty is where we find it.
Summer is in full bloom. It lasts only a short moment and must be enjoyed.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
After our visit there we went to the Hoodoos and climbed a bit. The road to the lake is near the hoodoo site and rises behind it.
The highway in the distance in this picture goes right by the hoodoo site. This was taken coming back from the lake looking westward. That's the Red Deer River by the highway.
Looking south over the Red Deer River.
The hoodoos are popular. The Drumheller area is a great dinosaur area and the city has the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology.
Hoodoos have such personality.
They look like space aliens to me. Really cute space aliens.
We didn't go to the top of the ridge this time. It looks like an easy enough climb. But then you have to come back down.
The gravel road at the right of the photo is the road to Little Fish Lake Provincial Park.
I hope you've enjoyed this look at Alberta's Badlands.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Naked Came A Stranger
Another view of the lake
Shorebirds, possibly whimbrels, enjoy the water.
We took a trip to Little Fish Lake Provincial Park about 10 days ago. It a wee bit east of Drumheller about three hours away and it makes for a nice day trip. It takes us through the Badlands and past the hoodoos.
Between that and the rolling prairie it’s pleasant change.
The lake is small, but attracts plenty of bird life and there are hardly any humans around. I’d wondered why. I no longer wonder.
A motor home was parked at the far end of the campground. It was the only other vehicle at the place.
We walked down near the water and wandered a bit when I turned around to see a pink-clad figure wandering by said motor home.
When we got back to our car I could see the fellow a little better. As he walked toward the motor home I thought, “My, those are form-fitting shor- oh dear dog he’s naked!
He walked around his motor home and came back into full view. I thought I’d checked again so I scanned him from the top down. Pink. Pink. Pink. Dark patch. Yup. Naked.
I dug out my binoculars just to confirm this, but he’d stepped behind a tree. Just as well.
It was a hot day under a blazing sun and there were plenty of mosquitoes and flies. He must have been very dedicated to his cause.
Although a bit startling on the whole it was fine. He kept to himself, did nothing to draw our attention, and stayed close to his motor home. Maybe he’s used to having the place to himself and this was his time of day for his regular sunbath. Maybe he just wanted rid of us.
We left shortly afterward as there wasn’t much else to see.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Good. That's what I need. I can take my time and learn about the shutter and aperture priorty settings later. I can set the ISO if I want. I can set it to manual focus it if I like.
I can pretend it's a fully manual SLR. That's going to be fun someday. For now I like the fully automatic idiot-proof setting. It lets me take adequate pictures while getting used to the feel of the new camera.
I bought a lens for it that is so sharp and clear I swear I can get the expression on the faces of the insects in the flowers I've shot.
It'll be great, I thought. I can't go wrong.
Oh, how wrong I was.
If you're curious, that's a brown-headed cowbird along the shore Water Fowl Lake in Banff National Park. It was the point of the picture
Monday, July 7, 2008
Gratitude Monday - Mundane Is Good
My car in the mountains
I’m grateful for a great deal of things. I have a good life and I live close to the mountains. They make me feel good.
I can jump in my car and go for a drive whenever I feel like it.
a)I can drive.
b)I have a car.
c)I am free to go as I please.
It may seem very simple and basic and it is. But tell me, how many of us think to be thankful for the mundane?
We can do so much. We drive and shop for food and take a nap. We have the freedom to work hard at a job we love or do nothing at all.
I remind myself that not everyone in the world enjoys even these basic, mundane freedoms. I am grateful for these simple pleasures.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
You Are 40% Weird
Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!
Oh, yeah? Well if I'm so low on the weird scale how come I like watching birds bathe?
Friday, July 4, 2008
Friday's Child - Out On A High Note
It's a meme and therefore a change from the usual fare. It's a pleasant change and lets Friday's Child end on a positive note. That's always good.
Thanks for reading.
From Saturday, December 29, 2007. The final post at Prozac Palace.
Five Things About Me
Blog buddy Polly Kahl at Recovery Reconnaissance tagged me recently for this. I’m supposed to give out five things about me which are odd, interesting, different, and/or obscure. I am odd and different to begin with so those aspects are covered nicely. I’ll try to be interesting.
1. I was a journalist for nearly 20 years. Following a column on my new age beliefs I was mentioned in the sermons of five different churches on the same Sunday. It’s a career and personal high point.
2. I once took photos of Canadian military parachuters as they jumped out the gaping maw of a Canadian Forces jet. I was thoroughly strapped in with a bit of lead line that let me wander a few feet. I’m terrified of heights and could barely look out unless I was looking through the lens of my camera.
3. I wrote a play in high school that was produced at a provincial drama festival and earned an honorable mention.
4. Part of my left thumb is missing. I had ringworm of the nail and had the nail bed removed when I was 13 years old. The remaining flesh was flipped over so it has a rounded end.
5. I was nearly kicked out of the largest beer hall in the world for making too much noise.
I’m supposed to tag five others, but I’ll do this instead: You’re it!
And thank you Polly for letting me play.
We now return to regular programming.
Happy Independence Day to my US readers.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
My Senior Moment
I am hardly in the first flower of youth.
I suppose it was the moment that had to come some time. I have posted in the past about age and how old one feels. I certainly don't feel my age and I have no idea what 49 and almost three-quarters is supposed to feel like.
That said, I don't think I look it either. The face that greets me in the mirror is somewhere in its 40s but doesn't really speak to a specific age.
I'm getting a few more grey hairs. I will keep them and wear them proudly. They are paid for.
However, because I still feel young the following caught me quite off guard.
I was in a local grocery store on Canada Day. That particular store has senior's discount day the first Tuesday of each month. Good for them.
The young woman behind the till asked me, "You're not a senior, are you?"
"You're not a senior, are you?"
She smiled and said something else that made no impression on me whatsoever. My mind was still reeling over her question.
Granted, she phrased it in the negative which helped soften the blow, but still I wasn't expecting the question for many more years.
Both my parents were young looking. Mom did not get grey hair until well into her 70s and dad did not have many wrinkles until he got sick. In fact, he was in the U of A Hospital for a variety of ailments when he was in his mid-70s and the nurses marvelled at his complexion and begged him for his secret.
"I moisturize," he told them. And he did. Ever day after shaving he put Noxzema skin cream on his face. (I am not shilling for Noxzema.)
I use sweet almond oil on my face every night and it has probably helped considerably.
Perhaps it was just the grey that prompted the question. It's hard to tell ages, too, so maybe she was just playing it safe so I wouldn't get all upset and demand my 10 per cent and her head off for not asking.
Anyway, I hadn't anticipated the question. Not yet. Not this early.
On the bright side, at least it's out of the way.
But neither am I setting seed.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
An Abundance of Wild Tea
Crunch up a tablespoon or so of the leaves and steep in warm water for 5-10 minutes, or simmer on the stovetop for a few minutes. It smells fresh and inviting like you're walking in the forest. It's fine on it's own, but a bit of honey makes it memorable.
It grows on the edge of forests and among evergreens and there appears to be plenty of it.
Today is the new moon. It's time to write your abundance cheques. Find out the time of the new moon in your area then write yourself a cheque signed by The Law Of Abundance. You have a 24 hour window to do it.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Mountains and Marshes --Happy Birthday Canada
Here's a view of a magnificent mountain scene. It's looking west on the David Thompson Highway from Abraham Lake.
This is a buckbean in flower and reflected in the wetland on the shore of Twin Lakes.
Another view of the buckbean because I really like this picture.
Canada is known for its mountains and the unspoiled beauty of nature.
This is why.
Happy Canada Day.