Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Black Friday at 25

Today, July 31, is the 25th anniversary of Black Friday, the Edmonton Tornado.
I was in downtown Edmonton that afternoon. My insights into this singular event are simple: I have none.
What I have is my story. It's not very exciting, but it is mine.
I downtown waiting for a friend to get off shift. I'd parked catercorner from the office building she worked in, had checked in to say I was there, and then went to a local market across the street.
It was sultry. The cool of the market was welcome. Nothing in the market caught my attention so I decided to do something else. I've long since forgotten what I was going to do.
It had clouded over. A few drops of fat, warm rain fell. I decided to change to running shoes before I went anywhere else. The pair I had on were suited to my job interview earlier in the afternoon and good weather, not a possible rain storm.
It was a block's walk to the parking lot at or near 103 St. and 103 Ave. During the two to three minutes I spent changing my shoes the wind came up, but it wasn't raining more than a drop.
I opened my car door.
The wind pushed it back.
I tried again.
I could not get out of my car.
I'm sure I could have gotten out the passenger side, but I decided to wait until the wind died.
For the next 45 minutes I watched as the sky turned dark and violent. Rain pelted down so hard I could hardly see though my windshield.
As it gradually lessened I watched cars on the avenue in front of me splash water over their tires and nearly to their windows. The vehicles were going slow. They still kicked up the water.
Was I scared?
We'd had several violent storms in the days leading up to Black Friday. I quite enjoy the power and might of nature during them. I thought it was just another grand display of Nature's temper.
Once it calmed I went to see my friend and learned it had been a tornado. At that point no one knew much. No damage reported. No deaths.
We learned later the extent of it. I have nothing else to say about it. You can read about the death and devastation in the link.
This post serves but one purpose. It speaks to my desire to scratch my initials in scarred trunk of time and announce to any who will listen: I was there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gratitude Monday --The Little Bastard

The following may offend some readers.
Such is life.

I had a hitchhiker in my energy for quite some time. I am grateful to have gotten shed of it.

For the last several months I've been somewhat lethargic. I wrote it off to the beta blockers, winter weather, general laziness.

Gradually I noticed specific problems. Writing wasn't the fun it had been. My characters weren't talking to me. When I can't hear them in my head I can't write what they say on the page.

I lost interest in plucking around on my guitar. I became indifferent to reading.
I still wrote and read and was grateful, but lacked fire.
I hadn't successfully meditated or performed autohypnosis in several weeks. Maybe longer.
Last week I looked at my assorted gems: emerald, sapphire, ruby, topaz, aquamarine, and tanzanite, all beautiful and twinkling in the light.
The sight held no appeal.

Something awful had happened.

I went straight to a self –hypnosis session realizing I had to try a different method. I lit a candle this time, sat up, closed my eyes, and brought in lots of light before bringing in spiritual protection and going through a progressive relaxation.

That's when I found The Little Bastard.

An entity had attached itself to my throat chakra. It had been there for several months, I realized, and it was sucking the energy out of me.
Several months ago this chakra had closed. I left it to rest and then thought I'd opened it.
I was wrong.

The throat chakra handles communication. This entity was the reason I lost interest in the written word and in music, a form of communication in its own right.
I'm a Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. I know what to do in general for clinical depossessions though I've no training in it. I'd done one on myself about seven years ago.
I was able to send The Little Bastard to the light early last week.
My love of reading came back strong. I'm back to doing a rewrite I've largely ignored the last several months.
My finger pads are tender from strumming. I am filled with energy. As I write this I have a ruby around my neck.
In don't know how The Little Bastard got attached to me. It was a misguided soul. It needed help.
I am grateful I was able to help it, and I am especially grateful it is gone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday -- From the Ruins

Antigua, Guatemala is a city filled with churches. Many of them stand in ruins such as the one on the deep right.
The ruins are due to earthquakes and they'll stay ruined as the city is a World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thought for Food

The recent rain meant it's been too wet for my husband to work. This has kept him home and in the house as it's too wet for him to do anything outside.
When this happens he bakes.
He made a rhubarb and sweet cicely pie in the morning. It is resting comfortably in the refrigerator.
In the afternoon he turned his attention to coconut custard. He used coconut milk in it and had some left over and what could I think of to use it in?
I was in the process of telling him I couldn't think of a thing when it hit me: carrots.
I added it to a pot of steamed carrots and let them gently simmer for a few minutes.
This is what it looked like:

They go very well together.

It made an interesting counterargument to the Greek salad and homemade pita bread, chicken souvlaki, and tzatziki sauce in the rest of the meal.
As for the custard:
 Husband outdid himself.
It was hard to stop eating it.

And so ends a rainy day well spent.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gratitude Monday --Golden Guest

I was busy at the computer yesterday when a flash of bright yellow outside the window caught my eye.
This goldfinch had perched on the cross piece of a pole we have outside and was sunning himself.
He got a bit more lively when I got my camera.

 He looked straight at me as I clicked away.

 He groomed a bit and posed some more and turned around a few times.

He looks quite pensive here.

I'm grateful for the visits from the birds and especially grateful this fellow perched close and posed for me.
The soft focus look is not intentional. I had to shoot through two door windows to not disturb him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vaccines, Autism, Whooping Cough, and Lies

Vaccines do not cause autism.
Not vaccinating can lead to death.
I've been moderately galled for a while now with the constant nonsense about vaccines being linked to, or rather outright causing, autism.
The doctor who trumpeted the link faked his research.
He admitted it.
He did it for money.

Now vaccines are out of favour with many. This has led to increased rates of whooping cough .
Now I am extremely galled as a  young child died . This lie led to fear which led to people not taking a simple precaution that would save lives.
 If you don't wish to be vaccinated that is your right. It's a free country, but understand this: there are consequences.
Others pay.
If you get sick and/or die because of your decision, that's fine. I don't care.
But when others get sick because of it, then as far as I'm concerned you've committed assault.

Why does this irritate me?
Because many people decide to forgo getting the shots for themselves or their children because some guy lied for money. His lie bred fear which is still being fed despite the fact it has no basis in reality. It'll be years before the anti-vaccination movement dies, if it ever does.

Negativity feeds on our emotions, and there's a great emotional pull to the idea that a shot causes autism. Fear is easy to believe.
The calm rational truth rarely has those kind of legs. There's no feeling accompanying it to hook on to.
Face it, this truth is dull.
Sadly, our only hope of getting the truth out that routine vaccinations are safe is to have more people get sick and/or die. It's horrible to contemplate, but without an emotional hook the truth will languish in a back room wondering when its turn will come to be heard.

Until then, all we have is the quiet, simple truth: vaccines do not cause autism and anyone who says so is perpetuating  a lie.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo - Finish Friday -- Quiet Cove

We went canoeing on  Birch Lake on the Monday of the Canada Day long weekend.
The lake is small and carved out of the forest. Few people bother with it unless they want to try for brook trout.
We decided to paddle around it, a trip that took about an hour.

Though small, it has a few islands and some quiet coves with plenty of birds. The water also featured plenty of stumps and branches to make for an interesting trip.

One of coves was a home for this Great Blue Heron.

We did our best to not disturb it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Diet Industry: Stop Insulting My Intelligence

Just once I'd like to see an honest set of before and after weight loss photos.
Is it too much to ask?
I suspect it is.
Before and after photos insult my intelligence.
The before pics are commonly blurry, often of poor, faded colour, and very badly lit. Our subject is usually well away from the camera.
She (it's usually a female) loses the weight with the fantastic new miracle product/diet that you can't live another minute without.
The after photo is a thing of wonder.
Not only is she a veritable sylph, her hair is a new style, often a new colour. If she had glasses, they're gone.
Her smile is bigger than her waist.
Not only is she standing closer to the camera, but she is posing with a slight turn of the hip to look even slimmer.
Could this really be the same person?
Anything is possible.
If the photos are good enough I try to compare noses. I can't say for sure, but I have an honest belief they rarely match.
So here's my challenge to diet industry purveyors:
Get yourselves a weight loss candidate.
Get professional, studio pics done before the diet.
Get them done after the diet in the same studio, with the same photographer, with the same lighting, and at the same distance.
Put the woman is similar clothing in each photo. Give her the same hairstyle, and ensure, as part of the contract, that it is the same length and colour.
Put her in the same pose for each set. If the before picture is of her entire body, so should be the after picture.
If she wears glasses in the before photo, put them on her for the after shot.
Stop insulting my intelligence.
I dare you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pussycat Dinner Theatre

We had a guest in the front yard last night. A neighbourhood pussycat found the perfect spot, warm yet shaded.

The great seating came with a live show and the possibility of dinner.
Here neighbour puss feigns disinterest as a goldfinch gorges itself.

 Interest piqued, but target gone.

I was going to refill the feeders, but decided to wait for kitty to give up and go home.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gratitude Monday --A House Finch in the Sun

We've been feeding the birds again this summer. It's good to have them in the yard. It makes the place more lively and interesting.
Among our guests we have house finches like this fellow.
I love their splashes of colour, both alone and how it complements their cousins the goldfinches at the feeder.
This fellow frequents the feeder, the fences, and some of the trees around our house.
I am grateful for his visits in general, and I am very happy for the 20 or so mintues he spent sunning himself in the crabapple tree one evening as it gave me time to take plenty of photos.
These two are my favourites

Friday, July 13, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday -- Guatemala Street Scene

This is a quick photo I took as we passed by. It is a simple scene of people going about their daily business.
I regret I do not recall which Guatemalan town we were in at the time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gratitude Monday - I Want To Ride My Bike

I've gotten out for a few bicycle rides lately and it's been good.
My husband and I used to go riding most evenings a few years ago. We'd been gone about two hours or so, and usually went about 12 miles.
But he got a different job that gave him odd hours and put him on call.
I got sick.
I did a bit here and there, but not far and not hard.
This summer I feel so good I'm out several times a week and am building myself back up to a point where I really feel I've done something.
It's not much yet.
I plotted out a 3.5 km route (two miles plus 307.6 yds) and follow it most days. I've been known to shorten it slightly on occasion.
Yesterday I added a bit plus did some of it in 12th gear. It's a 21 speed, so that's pretty good. Despite it being longer by about a block I did it nine minutes faster than I did the regular 3.5 km last week.
Bike riding is fun. It's like flying, or rather, how I imagine flying might be.
I'm grateful to own a bike, grateful I feel well enough and confident enough in that health to go out on my own and to give myself a reasonable workout, and grateful that I can see improvement.
As Freddie Mercury said

Friday, July 6, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday -- Has Time Stopped?

Downtown St. Walburg, SK.

I love small towns. They have such character and are usually peaceful and quiet, at least on the surface.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lettuce Lament -- A Guest Poem Post

I am very pleased today to bring you the following poem written by my husband Michael Mayrl.


Oh!  Let us lament for the lettuce. 
Let us grieve with the lettuce lament. 

Said the farmer to his youngest daughter,
"I wonder just where they all went?
For my prize heads of crisp, juicy lettuce,
Are reduced to stumps old and bent.
For buttercrunch lettuce is bestest.
It is practically a heaven sent."
His daughter, she knew not the answer.
She did not know what it meant.
The cat was the only one watching,
As the moon its radiance lent.
The night was a fair one in summer
With the lilies brightly in bloom.
A zephyr from south was breathing
The roses sweet scented perfume,
And lightning bugs blinked in the starlight
Lending their soft, gentle flame.
A mocking bird unleashed his poet
To the crickets' and tree frogs' refrain.
A whippoorwill commenced to stirring,
Calling over and over again.

Now this is what befell the lettuce
On the night of the dreadful event.
Yes this is what befell the lettuce
On a hare's misguided intent.

In her basket the pussy was dozing
On the porch at the back of the house.
A moth on her ear; wake up night is here!
Awake from your dreams of a mouse.
A family of bunnies was hungry.
For their supper they wanted some food. 
But when mother hare prepared sweet clover
They said that they weren't in the mood.
"Now what shall we dine on for supper?
I think we'll be needing a treat."
So father hare set off quite promptly
Bounced along on his big bunny feet.

His plan was forming just so,
And his mumbling were heard to repeat, 
"For lettuce, sweet lettuce, I'll go!
My kiddies need succulent lettuce.
They will not be answered with 'No!'"
He hopped out the door of the burrow
Through a maze of wild brambles and vines
Then along the banks of the wide river
That followed meandering lines.
At the elm tree he cut out cross country
Up the side of the slippery hill. 
Then he crept to the edge of the garden
Where he listened quite terribly still.

He was bound and determined for lettuce
On this were his purposes bent.
He was getting closer to lettuce
Near a garden most elegant.

He heard not a hound or a human
And of this he was really quite glad
For he'd have the choicest green lettuce
That the Mrs. And he'd ever had. 
Through the flower bed he gently tiptoed.
'Tween violets and Williams, sweet.
He peeked out from under the rhubarb,
And tiptoed on soft bunny feet.
Then he entered the vegetable section
His personal favorite spot
And he began to make his selection
Always hoping he wouldn't get caught.

With his mind fixated on lettuce
Could he be more impertinent?
With a big hill and a big lettuce
Disaster was most imminent.

As he hopped down the row his eyes started to grow
For each head looked more big than the last. 
At the end of the line was a lettuce so fine
On which bunnies could make their repast. 
He tugged on the head but fell down instead
For the root, it barely did budge. 
Then he gnawed at the stalk until it broke off
And with his tail he did give it a nudge.
He watched it roll down the hill
Here things turned really quite ill.

The big head it continued to roll.
It gathered up slime and did double time
And it rolled and it rolled and it rolled. 
With no one at the helm it bounced off the elm
Going faster than good lettuce aught ter. 
With a sickening splash the lettuce did crash
In laughing wild white open water. 
"Oh carrots!" Exclaimed the sad bunny.
"My lettuce.  It got clean away!"
"Whatever shall I tell the children?"
"They won't like to be dining on hay." 

He had already stolen a lettuce.
Of one more he wouldn't repent. 
Not thinking of previous lettuce
Of where the last head had went. 

So back to the farmer's garden
Back he did craftily hop
To nab the next biggest lettuce
But again the darned lettuce won't stop. 
All night the silly old bunny
Rolled lettuces down the big hill
But his family didn't think it was funny
When by morning they hadn't dined – still!
So if you only have clover for supper
But are craving sweet lettuce instead
And a cabbage head moon is high in the sky
'Cause the sun has long gone to bed
Remember the plight of our bunny
With your clover be quite contented
We all know going hungry isn't funny
So let missed meals not be lamented.

Oh! Let us lament for the lettuce
Let us grieve with the lettuce lament.   

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gratitude Monday -- Canada

This is three hours away from me.

Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, a farm heritage reminder. 
 Come, let me show you my country.
 Wildlife comes in many forms and colours.
I get to live in Canada.
I am grateful.