Monday, September 29, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Friends and Laughter

I spent the weekend with my best friend Sylvia (centre) who insisted on taking me for an early 50th birthday celebration. She’s going to be out of the country until just before my real birthday in November and schedules made this the logical weekend.
Our friend, and her workmate, Gwen (right) was there for the celebration, too, and it was wonderful. We laughed. We ate for about three hours. I so enjoyed being with loving, kind, secure women who are happy with where they are in life.
I am deeply grateful for the time I get to spend with my friends and for the laughter and the love they bring.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Autumn in the West Country

Abraham Lake along Highway 11.

Fall has touched the trees and has brought a crispness to the morning air.
I want to stay in bed while it's dark, but the stars this time of year are magnificent. If I go out in the early morning, especially before 6 a.m., the bull's head greets me from above the neighbor's spruce trees.
I can often see a satellite tracking high in the sky and hear the sharp, rustling eeep of bats in the otherwise still morning.
I breathe deeply of the cool, invigorating air and feel it tickle my lungs. I am more awake in those first few moments outside than I often am the rest of the day.
Morning is my favorite time. It readies me for the day.
What about you?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lighter Moment

This has been around a while, but it's a personal favorite. I play this one whenever I need a laugh or a lift.
Fire up the speakers. Crank the volume and enjoy.

Have a great day.

Edited to add: Credit where it's due.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Peace and Contentment

I accomplished something today which gave me a great sense of peace and contentment.
I felt as though I had mastered something. Perhaps even conquered it.
I reasoned out and properly set up some speakers on our computer.
Yesterday my husband had the day off and decided I needed a belated anniversary gift. I’d been wanting proper speakers so he came home with Altec Lansing (shameless product naming) surround speakers. Five of ‘em and a subwoofer. Monday morning I didn’t know what a subwoofer was. By noon I had one.
Instructions? Oh, yeah. Pictures. In order of use. With numbers 4a and 4b. It said to determine what system we had and go to that section.
I don’t know anything, but I hooked stuff up mostly according to whatever directions suited my fancy.
The rear speakers worked.
I left to do an interview for a freelance piece.
In the evening we tried all manner of things to get all the speakers to work and Mike put some speakers up on the wall. We gave up and watched television.
We tried later on, but gave up in favor of a fresh start in the morning.
Today I re-reconnected things then went to the store to ask. Fella there hadn’t hooked up a system like this, but we discussed what the back of my computer looked like. That is, do I have a 6-channel or 2-channel sound card?
Went home, tried the auxiliary connection. Nothing. Checked a portable CD player. Nothing.
Gave up. Hooked up rear speakers and left to make stew and do other household things.
Put in load of laundry. Realized there’s an “Aux In” button on the wireless remote for said speakers that really ought to be pushed.
Re-hooked green cable to aux on subwoofer.
Sound. Glorious surround sound.
I had chosen 4a when I should have chosen 4b.
Now I know.
I had help, but ultimately I did this myself. I figured out the problem and took care of it.
It has given me a great sense of accomplishment and mastery. It has also given me a great sense of peace in that I sorted something out and took care of it.
What about you? Does mastering a task give you peace, contentment and accomplishment?
Or does it simply mean a task is done?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Threshold to Autumn

Today is the autumnal equinox, the day we cross the threshold to autumn.
Fall is the gathering season. The time of harvest and the collecting of the summer’s abundance and the time of shutting down for the cold sleep of winter.
Nights are cold and crisp and days a mix of sun and gray. I can feel myself slowing down and wanting to stay indoors. It’s a time for the last flurry of warm weather work before the other flurries come to drive us indoors.
I’ve always loved this time of year. Harvest on the farm was a busy, exciting time. Bringing in the grain from the field was dusty, but fulfilling. I love the smell of harvest, especially on the warm days that held an edge of frost.
I used to climb in to the grain bin and shovel the barley as it poured in through the auger from our five ton grain truck. I used to hold my hands under the shower of grain from above. It’s a rough, sensual feel.
I miss it and I miss spreading the grain around to the corners and then sitting in the big, square granary window for the next load.
Barley itches. It did not bother me then.
I miss those days, but I have my memories. They cannot be taken from me.
For the times and the memories I am grateful.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Some days we just need to see cute.

We saw this chipmunk along the boardwalk on the shore of Lake Louise. He was busily chewing away on a discarded bit of photographic film.
It bothers me to see wild animals feasting on our garbage. We shouldn't be randomly discarding anything.
There's proper food out there for all critters. Oh, well. Maybe the poor thing thought he could get some colloidal silver out of it.

Oh, Unspectacular Me!

Lake Louise, Alberta, in late afternoon.

Blog buddy Thomma Lyn at Tennessee Text Wrestling offered the Six Unspectacular Quirks meme recently to anyone who wanted it.
I have many quirks and the bulk of them are unspectacular. I’ll try to narrow it down.

1.I like to read the newspaper when I eat breakfast and lunch. I think it improves my appetite. I’ve associated reading with eating most of my life. Food for the body requires food for the mind.

2.I have to put my left shoe on first. I honestly believe I have a better day when I follow this rule.

3.I really hate to throw things out. I do it, but I know I’ll eventually wish I had it.

4.I like chew toys. If I need to concentrate I’ll stick a toothpick in my mouth. This works especially well when driving.
Once years ago I fell asleep with a toothpick in my mouth. It was my best sleep ever.

5.My favourite book is the dictionary. It distracts me no end, though. I open it to look for a word then promptly forget when I was looking for because I’ve stumbled on a fascinating word.

6.If I don’t exercise before breakfast it simply does not get done. I’ve tried to convince myself I have the rest of the day to do it, but it seldom works.

The point of the photo?
It's spectacular.
My quirks are not.
I’m glad no one’s presented me with a meme for listing the dullest things about me.
Hmm, maybe we should try it one of these days. What do you think?
Anyway, this one is fair game for anyone who wants it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Fave Five Addictions - Meme

Thistles in the sun.

I took up this challenge from Reb at Sibu Pegasus Power who issued it to persons sporting a “J” in their real names.
It’s my middle initial and I use it publicly. No way to pretend it ain’t there.
The meme is simple. I am to list five current addictions.

Here they are:

1. Writing – I’ve been hooked on it since I learned the alphabet. It’s to the point that I get weak and shaky- and sometimes mean-if I go to long without it.
2. Photography – I can go long periods without it, but I eventually need a fix. I can get by with a point and shoot, but I didn’t realize how much I missed using a camera with adjustable lenses, shutter, aperture, and ISO until a few months ago. I was used to a 35mm Nikon FM. I now have a Pentax K20D with 18-250mm lens. It feels good to play again.
3. Bacon – I love it. I have for as long as I can remember. I’ve switched to beef or bison bacon with the occasional foray into turkey bacon. It’s all good. I write better when I’ve eaten bacon.
4. Sweets –I have low blood sugar. I get weak and shaky–and mean-if I am deprived of sweets, especially chocolate.
5. The stars and the early morning– I have to go out in the early morning and see the constellations. I feel the best when I’ve seen Orion and followed it to Taurus and the Pleiades. In summer when the sun is up early I often miss out on the stars, but the early morning stillness more than makes up for it.

Under the rules of engagement I am to entice two others to play along.
I’ll leave that open for anyone who wants to join the fun.

P.S. Thanks, Reb. I enjoyed playing.

They have their own beauty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Leah Meets Missicat's Eighties Challenge

Circa 1982.

Bit of background: I had a friend who sold Mary Kay Cosmetics. Would I mind posing for her so she could show potential clients the potential in her product?
Another friend took the pictures with my Nikon.
I'm very pleased with them.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Ten Years Later Edition

Ten years ago today Mike and I got married.
It was an outdoor ceremony on a warm, lovely late summer afternoon in Police Outpost Provincial Park in southern Alberta.
The woman in the far right background is my mother.

Chief Mountain in the background. The Park is one of my favourite spots. I went there in the fall of 1985 or 1986 and looked around. It was then I decided if I ever got married that would be the spot.

We were together for eight years before we got married.
I am grateful for each and every day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Think Day Works

A red-tail hawk circles high above a wild meadow.

I took another think day yesterday and it took. I went for long meandering drive out west of town to enjoy a warm late summer day and see the early changes in the colors.
I went down some roads I hadn’t been down in years and stopped along the North Saskatchewan River a few times. Running water is good for the thinking process.
I realized on a much deeper level the problem I had with writing my memoirs was structural. It’s a story and like any story it needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.
This was my problem. It has no end. I had absolutely no clue how to close off that particular story.
I thought it over as I ate my lunch. I was standing near a spruce forest along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The sky was a clear, magnificent blue. Sunlight danced off the gently rushing water. Two empty vehicles were nearby, but I was gloriously, magnificently alone.
The sun’s warmth was calming and soothing and I breathed deeply of the fresh air.
I don’t have a middle either.
This was my second problem.
Structure it like a novel, I told myself. Well, sure. But I don’t write novels.
You studied how in English class. Sometime between Grades Eight and Eleven.
And that’s where the hawk came in. On my way down from the highway to the river I’d seen a hawk circling intently. As I drove closer it widened its circle but still seemed quite intent on finding something on the ground.
It was up high so it could get a good look over a wide area. It was taking an overview of the situation.
The hawk is my totem bird. I’m sure someone was trying to get across to me that I need to step back, be objective, and take an overview of my story.
I’d never set down what goes in Act One, or Two, or Three. I know the story. At least I think I do.
Last night I set down a few scribbled notes for Act One and the characters. I'd never set anyone down as protagonist or antagonist or supporting characters or anything like that.
I know have a notion where Act One ends and what should happen in Act Two.
I finally have a reasonable notion as to where Act Three ought to end.
I had a lovely think day yesterday and a productive one as well.
Now to put all that thought to good use.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Gentle Brush of Water

Our words should be the gentle, constant brush of water over the rock-strewn beaches of human interaction, especially during those moments when we'd rather use a diamond-tipped drill.
For as much as I try to live that way the drill is necessary sometimes. It’s more fun and less of a challenge, too.
What about you?
Do you lean toward gentleness in your interactions or do let ‘em have it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Let The Mainstreeting Begin

Main Street Rocky looking south to a green area.

We’ve been plunged into yet another tepid Canadian political campaign. Prime Minster Stephen Harper pulled the plug on his own government in a surprise move he’d been orchestrating for months. So they say anyway. I can’t prove it, but I suspect it’s true simply because he kept making votes matters of confidence and then daring the Opposition to make them fail.
He made sure the government couldn’t govern and then blamed the Opposition for being intractable.
He’s using an interesting approach. Harper has himself said he expects a Conservative minority again.
Then why would he go to all this trouble and expense to engineer an election?
I say the cold, calculating actuary (Seems to me that’s what he did for a living. He joked he didn’t have the personality to be an accountant.) is manipulating us into a good voter turnout. We’re sick of elections, especially federal ones. We were promised by Harper that he’d govern until October 2009 unless his government was defeated on a non-confidence vote. He wrote it into Canadian law by a fixing an election date of the third (I believe) Monday in October every four years.
By holding one early and breaking his own centerpiece law, and then galling us with predictions of a minority that could fall at any moment, he expects us to say: “No more!”
I say he’s banking on us being so disgusted that we’ll get out and vote in droves thus providing him with a smug majority.
Ewww. I hate being played. I’ll vote of course. It wrong and insulting not to. I think of people who walk for miles and risk their lives to be able to cast ballots. We can’t be bothered to cross the street.
Meanwhile, the mainstream parties are a wee bit scared of the Greens. The TV networks won’t let Green Party Leader Elizabeth May play when they have the leaders’ debates. The claim is some of the other leaders won’t debate if she’s there. These other leaders cry it isn’t fair because, they claim, she is essentially another Liberal.
Last time out the Green Party then- Leader Jim Harris wasn’t allowed to debate because his party had no sitting members in the House. Recently an Independent moved over to the Greens thus ensuring they had a seat and could be at the debate.
Now this reason is pulled out of a political butt and I call it desperation at its best.
The Liberals and Conservatives talk a good game about protecting the environment while it’s the Greens raison d’ĂȘtre.
They’re scared of looking bad, and they will if they have to take on the Green Party.
As to the other parties, well, Jack Layton, NDP, doesn’t have a hope in hell of forming a government. He does need to be kissed up to a bit so he can shore up a minority.
Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois gets to debate even though his party is separatist and exists only in Quebec. He’s not a threat.
Even though the Greens are perceived as being practically Liberal themselves, and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is all for having May at the debate, she’s still a threat. And Dion can say whatever he wants because he’s said he’d debate her. Since she’s already not allowed, this just makes him look good.
Meanwhile May is thinking of taking the matter to Court.
Perhaps this election won’t be so tepid after all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Autumn Grace

Autumn is touching the land once more with its gentle caress of changing colors.

For as sad as we may see it, the season brings the harvest. Soon the land will rest in the cold sleep of winter to be reborn in the promise of spring.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Soothing Edition

The play of sunlight on water reminds us that beauty at its best is simple.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Linked Like A Sausage

A hawk waits and listens for a morsel.

I’ve been blessed to have a few more freelance pieces published.
They range from UFO Digest to New Age Journal to the local newspaper The Mountaineer.
Some will not be to everyone’s tastes, and that’s fine. You’re under no obligation to click over, but if you would like to here are the links:

Here’s some channeled info at A Conversation With The Earth
Adding a physical component to altered state work at Reinforcing Your Altered State
A story on the local Fish and Game Association.
Fighting the gray realm with love to avoid material seduction.
Why we should choose kindness in dealing with others.

I may have put in a link to the altered state article at New Age Journal already. If I’ve repeated myself, I’m sorry.
Like the hawk looking for something to eat I hope these links give your mind something to feed on for a bit.
Enjoy them or not as you see fit.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

At Home With Myself

Are you at home with yourself?
This thought came to me the other morning while I was working out on my stationary bike.
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Taken literally I was home alone, ergo, logically, I was at home with myself. Who else would I be with?
Then I understood I was being asked if I was comfortable in my own skin. Did I feel at home with myself? Am I “at home” with my body.
I have to say yes to that.
It has taken a long time. I’m of average height, looks, and intelligence, and have an average build though my hands and feet are small. So much so that I’ve bought canoeing gloves sized extra-small and I have some leather work gloves I use for gardening that are child-sized. Perfect. My absolute favorite socks are from a children’s store. Boys' size seven if memory serves.

It takes a while to get used to ones’ self, and once you’ve done it there’s no guarantee it’ll stick around.
For instance, lately I’ve noticed an extra layer of prosperity around my abdomen. It doesn’t belong there and is serving no purpose. It’s existence nags at me a bit, but there’s no real issue with it.
I’d like it to be gone simply because I’m not used to having it. It’s new and it’s change and that’s what’s nagging at me about it.
Now if someone else had it, then it would be fine. But it’s me and I have trouble thinking I look fine with it.
Frankly, I don’t know what to make of it.
Most of the time I am “at home” with my physical presence. I could stand a wee bit straighter and I do work on it. I keep myself clean and in good repair.
I certainly need more exercise. I hardly got out for any bike rides this summer so I’m back on the stationary bike in the mornings and I’ve gone back to doing the chakra sounds as I pedal.
But no matter how I look at it I am starting to believe that this extra layer of prosperity has to go.
Objectively, it’s not bad, but the constant barrage of health, fitness, and skinny messages with which we are pummeled every day wears away at the even most centered of psyches.
It makes me question whether I’m quite as at home in my body as I think I am.
Doubt is wrong and serves nothing although in some small way it may keeps me on the bike a little bit longer. Maybe I pedal little bit harder.
Perhaps not being quite at home is good. It gives me an edge to get in better shape.
What about you?
Can you put the nagging about health, fitness and skinny to good use? Or does it wear away at you until you eat another batch of brownies to dull the barrage?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Young Beak

We have two young male rose-breasted grosbeaks visiting our feeders this year.
In the past a lone male stopped by at the feeder once per season. He ate for about 10 minutes then flew off for parts unknown.
This summer the adult male was by once or twice and then a female came by a few times in July.
Last week this fellow and his brother became regular customers.
It's quite a treat. We're hoping they like our hospitality so much they'll come back every year.

Here's little beaky in profile.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If Today Were A Flower…

If today were a flower would it bloom or wither?

Would you care for it and love or would you callously step it as you go about your day, never giving it another thought?
Would you look at it and bend down to inhale its sweet, subtle fragrance?
Would you look at it deeply? Or would you reach down and snap it off at the base because it was in your way?
If you carelessly trod on it would you stop and apologize and gently right it? Or would you keep going to do your important business?

If today were a flower in your path would you appreciate it for what it is or would you demand to know why it hasn’t produced any seed for you yet?
Would it be pretty enough for you? Would it measure up to your idea of what a flower is?
Or would you pick it and take it inside and put it in a vase for your own personal enjoyment until it died?
If today were a flower would you be satisfied with it? Or would you long for it to be a different flower?
If today were a flower, what would you do?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gratitude Monday - A Local View

This is the view to the west from a few miles north of town.
Gratitude is easy when this sight is so close.