Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Day of the Year


As 2013 draws to a close, 2014 lies before me full of possibility. Although I don't particularly like the holiday of New Year's Eve, I do like the thought of a new year stretched out, waiting for me to fill the pages.

This year was full of ordinary events, nothing really notable. However, it is those everyday moments that make up the tapestry of your life. How you react to and savour those moments make them what they are.

A trivial thing like sharing a salmon sandwich and a cup of tea with my Aunt Peggy might have been common place 20 years ago. This year, it was worth me tucking that into my memory. I have learned to treasure those "ordinary" moments.

Life does not go according to plan, that is guaranteed. So you just need to follow the puck and enjoy the game. (that's me using a sports analogy - weird!)

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

It's Christmas Eve. My favourite day of the year. For me, the anticipation of something special is better than the event itself.

I've been realizing my affinity for Christmas this year. I truly love the decorations, the music, the movies, the traditions. I'm not a fan of "Christmas creep" and the commercialization of this holiday but I do love that the festivities last for several weeks leading up to the big event. You might say I'm a bit like Buddy The Elf. :)

This year I have had my tree up for weeks. I love the way  my livingroom looks, full of twinkling lights! I've enjoyed lots of Christmas music, baking, movies, gingerbread house decorating, gift creating, gift wrapping...I've squeezed in a full festive season.

And now the big day has arrived. It's time to pack up my sleigh I mean Beetle and head out to spend the holidays with family and friends. Have a wonderful Christmas and don't let the meaning of the season get lost in all that tinsel.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vinyl Cafe

It has become somewhat of a holiday tradition. No, actually it is a Christmas tradition for Laurie Lane and I to connect for dinner and attend Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas. Last week was our 4th annual.

Laurie picked me up and we headed to Prince Albert's diner downtown. She had watched an episode of "You've Got To Eat Here" that featured this little gem and wanted to check it out.

We stepped inside this tiny diner and unbundled ourselves. One of the pitfalls of winter is the layers of clothing required for heading outdoors! All of the booths were taken, so we settled for a double table by the wall. I commented to Laurie as we sat down that you need an extra chair for your coat, hat, gloves, purse, etc. when the weather calls for such items. A tiny table for two just wouldn't do.

As we started to check out the menu, our waiter approached the table and asked if we could please move so he could seat this larger party. Poop. We decided on sitting at the counter so as to still maintain a spot for our "stuff". As we settled in, I commented to Laurie that I felt like we were in a movie! Some great movie scenes take place at diner counters and how often do you ever get to sit at one?

It was a great burger (I had peanut butter and bacon on mine!) and funky atmosphere as we caught up on life's events. And soon enough it was time to trudge through Victoria Park and get to Centennial Hall for the show. We settled into our seats and agreed that this is one of our favourite Christmas-y things to do. It's always a fun night.

Stuart McLean took to the stage and assured us he had three Dave & Morley stories for us. The Good Lovelies were, indeed, lovely as they sang songs of the season. Over the 20 years of Vinyl Cafe, it has acquired quite a fan following and the audience was full of people that knew the characters of the stories just as well as their creator. As he was reminiscing of past-Christmas stories, amid shouts from the audience, I looked at Laurie and exclaimed "these are our peeps" with a fist to the chest. It's true. We are both long-time CBC fans and were with like-minded people that night :)

After the show, we were fortunate enough to meet Stuart and have him sign a book for us. We heaped appropriate praise on him for his work over the years and said good night. What a wonderful evening and Christmas tradition with my dear friend.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza 2013

Last year I started a new Christmas tradition, and I believe it has become my favourite.

Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza builds on the idea of my "special days" for birthdays and an effort to put some meaning back into Christmas. As the Grinch said "Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more."

After seeing the endless boxes, wrapping paper and the mayhem that ensued in my parents basement each year, I decided to change the way I do Christmas with my nieces and nephews.

This year's Extravaganza was even better than last. We took a horse-drawn wagon ride to Victoria Park, made gingerbread houses and watched Elf. I wonder what I'll do next year?

The horses/wagon ride was the clear favourite of the weekend. It was awesome! A team of Clydesdale horses pulled a wagon, fully decked out with lights and Christmas songs through the streets of London. As we headed downtown to see the lights in Victoria Park, curious people came out of their houses to snap pictures, wave and wish us a Merry Christmas! The kids loved it, bee-bopping and singing along as we went.


We got home and had some hot chocolate before snuggling into sleeping bags for the night. The next morning started a little early with some anxious boys ready to start the day!

After our pancake breakfast, we decorated gingerbread houses. I was amazed by the creativity that was on display during this activity! They all turned out fabulous. Unfortunately, Josh was sick and couldn't come to the party so, I created a candy house for him. It was fun. Inspired by the kids, I made a mailbox, fish pond and a little dog in the back yard. Cute! We also made festive cupcakes and watched Elf after lunch.

I have such awesome kids that call me Auntie Janice. Each one of them is unique and precious in their own way.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reid in the (coffee) house


Glen & Linda (EVC) Me, Reid, Carolyn, John, Toby
So, my #ReidInLdnOnt campaign really paid off. Well, perhaps the twitter campaign never took flight, but Reid did, indeed, come to London. As I explained previously, I had been working with Reid & Carolyn and fellow Londoner Toby on making this show happen. What a lot of fun to pull the details together and make it happen!

I knew East Village Coffeehouse (a local favourite) would be the perfect location for such a show but they have been renovating for a few months and I wasn't sure what their timeline was like. When I suggested this idea, they jumped at the chance. If the place wasn't ready, they would open for the show regardless. Their new location is a great open space with tons of character and repurposed/reclaimed furnishings. I love it!

On the night of the gig, I met up with Reid, Carolyn, drummer John and Toby and his daughter Nora for dinner. As the majority of that group are vegans, we picked The Root Cellar. (also a great spot for all you locals!) Although I feel like we already know each other from Facebook chats, etc. it was fab to meet Carolyn for the first time. They are such sweet folks and down to earth to boot.

When it was showtime, I stayed at the door taking tickets and welcoming everyone. It was a packed house and when Reid started to sing his first song, the place was silent. His voice really is enchanting. Beautiful! Carolyn and John joined him on stage and they had some adorable banter back and forth. Lots of stories to tell and original songs to share/sing.

As I stood watching the show, I marveled at the fact that this really happened because of little old me. Just someone that heard a song on the radio and liked it. Followed an artist on Twitter and shared some music. Connected some folks on the left coast with some people here in London. It was a pretty cool moment. And this wasn't lost on Reid & Carolyn either. They properly thanked Toby and myself with a couple of song dedications. My favourite Beatles tune In My Life and my favourite Reid tune Rail.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

This year, while decorating my Christmas tree, I finally felt like it had a story to tell.

Every year when we put up the tree at Mom & Dad's there were ornaments that would cause us to pause and say "oh, remember this one?" or "oooh, I made this one in kindergarten!"

Since moving out and getting a tree of my own, I've had nicely coordinated coloured balls, but nothing that had "history". This year, I finally feel like I have history!

Here are just some of the ornaments that tell my story:
 

New Home 2011 - gift from Jo-Anne
memories of Mackinac Island - gift from Mom
Smokey Mountains 2012 - gift from Jo-Anne


my love of photos
Christmas in Paris 2012
Need I say more? Gift from Kim
Yellow Submarine - obviously

Monday, November 18, 2013

Reflections on Paris

One year ago, I was preparing for my first Christmas away from home. My fruzzin Carol Ann had invited me to join her in Paris for the holidays and I decided to go for it!

What a fantastic experience. It is, by far, my favourite trip. The combination of spending time with my globetrotting, super cool cousin, the world class city of Paris and the magic of Christmas made for the perfect adventure.

Neither of us had an agenda and we spent our days lazily wandering the cafe-lined streets, sampling the amazing food and experiencing Christmas abroad. The commercialized hustle and bustle was replaced with elegant lights and sophisticated shoppers. It really was the trip of a lifetime.

I'm so thankful Carol Ann invited me to step outside my box and join her. I shall tuck those memories away and carry them with me to enjoy every Christmas to come.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reid in the East Village

On November 29th, Reid Jamieson will be playing a show at London's East Village Coffeehouse. If you're in the area, you should plan to attend!

I discovered Reid while listening to CBC's Vinyl Cafe a few years ago. I was drawn in by his voice and soon hooked on this Vancouver-based artist. After following him on twitter and sharing his music with my friends, he tweeted a song to me. Oooh, cool! A Simon & Garfunkel song, no less :)

I was determined to get Reid to London last year and it's finally happening! After some collaboration with Reid's wife Carolyn and a fellow Londoner Toby, we've cooked up a show at East Village Coffeehouse. It will be their first show at the new location and things are looking great after months of renovations.

It's been a lot of fun planning and promoting this concert. It's great supporting talented artists and community initiatives. I'm looking forward to a great night. Hope to see you there!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Loss

This week, my friend Laura lost her mom. I can't even begin to imagine the overwhelming emotions that accompany such a loss. And though death is a natural part of life, it is not something you can ever prepare yourself for. My heart goes out to Laura, Trevor and Luke and the rest of the family.

xo

Saturday, November 02, 2013

My First Half Marathon

Well, I survived my first half marathon. It was a cool, damp morning and I wondered what it would be like for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon/Half Marathon, but I pushed on. I had come this far, I would see it through.

It was an early morning as we made our way downtown to find parking and get to the starting area. Wow, there were so many people! As I made my way to the starting line, I pushed through some eager people. This was my first time and I wanted a good spot! I waited nervously as they played the national anthem and listened to an indistinguishable voice relay what I imagine were instructions.

And then... they were off. I waited with my camera poised, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. Oh wait...did you think I was RUNNING? That's silly.

My friend Char has been training for months for her first half marathon and I agreed to be her cheerleader. It turns out that two of her cousins (+ one spouse) were also running in the same race, so we all headed there together.

I was on my own for spectating, but I was able to connect with my friend Amy who ran the 5k and was there to cheer on her hubby doing the half. Just after I met up with Amy, she was checking her stats on her phone and realized she had placed first in her age group! Way to go! We headed over to the medal tent and she picked up a pretty hefty piece of hardware.

We arrived at the finish line in time to see Patrick breeze past us. That's where we parted ways. I stayed put and Amy went to connect with Pat. For a while, there was a woman with a child in front of me. The kid was holding a rather large Batman balloon - which I'm guessing was so his Dad could spot him when he ran past. However the balloon kept finding its way in front of my face.

Ironically, I did not see any of my group cross the finish line. I watched thousands of people run past and I guess the faces started to blur together! And the balloon probably didn't help. Gathering everyone up after was a bit of a gong show, but we eventually found each other AND the car.

Congrats to Char on a great accomplishment. Congrats also to Lisa, Steve, Eve, Amy and Patrick.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stories

During a recent trip to the Greater Petrolia Area, my cousin Josh and I went to visit Grammie. She is always a delight to spend time with.

I started asking questions about when she met Grandad and although I knew she was loving it, she kept looking at Josh and saying "well, she's really digging tonight!". Josh just responded with "Keep talking, I love these stories!" And, away she'd go.

I have heard many of these stories before but there were a few gems that emerged that I was unaware of. For example, Grammie lied about her age when she met Grandad! She was just 17 when she, a British Milk Maid, met Grandad - a Canadian soldier in Manchester. But, she lied and said she was 18. He discovered this when they signed their marriage license and she was barely past 19!

When I asked her what it was about Grandad that drew her in, her response was adorable. She said "Truthfully? It was his accent. I just loved that Canadian accent." I'm guessing his uniform helped too!
That night we heard about how Grandad remembered the dairy she worked for and showed up the next day when she was finishing her shift. We heard about their first date (she got free movie passes from one of her milk customers) and eating fish and chips right out of the newspaper while walking down the street.

Grammie's Dad, although not a religious man himself, thought any soldier that would carry a Bible in his kit bag was worth having as a husband.

Many many times before I had heard that they only got ONE EGG A MONTH during the war. When Grandad came to visit once, he brought a full dozen, carefully wrapped and arriving safely. He was staying on a small hobby farm and they provided him with the precious commodity to bring to his mother-in-law.

Josh and I listened intently as she told us about various trains she had to take to visit Grandad and how one time he failed to meet her at the station. He had not gotten her telegram and she was all alone in Euston Station. Fortunately, she located an info. table for soldiers and things got sorted out.

Although Grammie has the best stories from many years ago, she is so unassuming and can't imagine why we are so fascinated by her tales. For her, it was just day to day life she was living, but to us it was the adventure of a lifetime and the beginning of our Murray clan here in Canada.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Turkey Time

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite weekends. The leaves turning, warm days and crisp nights, plenty of yummy food and time with family & friends. Does it get better than that?

I enjoyed all of the above during my Thanksgiving weekend.

Kids Table!
family dinner
The Pie Lady
Look at those adorable faces!


Classic moment: Scrabble with Mom
Country roads, take me home.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Junior Foodie

I recently spent the day with Liam for his 6th birthday. As a junior foodie and future chef, I decided to focus our day on the culinary arts. What a blast! 

Our first stop was the Western Fair Farmers Market. I knew Liam would love wandering and exploring the sights and smells that it had to offer. Of course, his left arm in a cast really added to the cute factor when he was chatting up the vendors!

He was thrilled to sample all kinds of yummy food and decided on True Taco for lunch. (smart kid!) We ordered a papusa and three different tacos. Mr. Taste Bud gave them all an enthusiastic thumbs up. He even discerned there was pineapple mixed in with the pork one. I was impressed.

After lunch we were on a mission to pick up some veggies for mom, a bag of apples and a treat for later. Liam picked out two red peppers and a big cauliflower (his favourite vegetable). The vendor was quite impressed when he handed her the money and figured out how much change he should get.

After cruising the market, he had his eye on a giant chocolate eclair for his treat. He seemed to be quite pleased with himself that he got the last one in the display. When it was safely nestled in a take-home box, we were off to our cooking class.

We joined about 10 other kids his age for a class at the grocery store. On the menu: blueberry pancakes and chocolate dipped strawberries. With his chef's hat on, Liam was in his element. He just loved the class and was the teacher's special helper at the stove and serving the drinks.

When we got home, we did a little more work in the kitchen by making an apple upside-down cake. We had a lot of fun while exploring the many aspects of food and this little chef went home happy to share his cake with the family!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Bye Mr. Dressup

Twelve years ago today, I was working in the newsroom. I had finished the morning show and was preparing our noon show. It was one week after 9-11 and things were still surreal. There were so many stories coming out of NYC and all over the US. Stories of tragedy. Horrific images that I never expected to see.

I'll never forget when I heard the little "alert" notification go off on the computer and our producer Chris say "Mr. Dressup is gravely ill." Before I had time to process what she said, I heard her say "Mr. Dressup has died."

Mr. Dressup was my absolute favourite childhood TV show. His show was full of a great cast of characters, music, crafts and imagination. Even as I got older, I would still enjoy an episode if I happened to turn on CBC at the right moment.

My mom had taken me to see him at Petrolia Playhouse when I was six and it was beyond my comprehension that I could say hello and get an autograph from my hero. I nearly wore out that cassette tape Wake Up Mr. Dressup (and could probably still sing all the words to all the songs!)

In my college years, I was fortunate enough to score an interview with him when he retired. What a highlight!

And yet, here I was, in the middle of a working newsroom when I heard of his death. A newsroom that really could care less about the passing of a Canadian icon, given the situation happening around us.

During the days that followed 9-11 my emotions were on alert. Swinging from panic and fear to sadness and disbelief. It was a traumatic event for everyone. When I heard about Mr. Dressup, my eyes welled up. I had to get out of the newsroom before anyone saw me. So, I went to the staff lounge and called my mom. (really, who else would you call in such a time?) I had a little cry and it felt good to release some emotion.

What really surprised me was the reaction from my coworkers when I went back to the newsroom. Everyone knew of my fondness for Ernie Coombs and expressed such kind words. Even when I got home that day, I had several messages on my answering machine. Everyone had thought of me when they heard the news.

As I realized today was the anniversary of this event, I wanted to share my thoughts on a man that inspired so many children. A Canadian legend that taught us songs, talked about feelings and asked advice from an owl hanging on the wall :) A time when children's television didn't have to be loud and obnoxious and last 2 minute intervals. A time when the tickle trunk opened a world of possibility. Thanks Mr. Dressup.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Matters of the heart can be a complex thing. You see, when you give your heart to someone, a little piece of it will always stay with them.

While it is true there is always more love to go around, sometimes, long after the fact, that little piece causes you to wince. Maybe not an overwhelming pain, but a twinge of melancholy and thoughts of what was.

Giving your heart to someone leaves you wide open and vulnerable. And while the payoff of love can be huge and well-worth the risk, the hurt can sometimes pop up when you least expect it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Homeward Bound

I'm sittin' in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination.

Anyone who knows anything about Simon and Garfunkel will recognize those words as the opening of Homeward Bound. (Quite possibly my favourite S&G song)

And, anyone who knows anything about Janice Mills will know that Paul Simon and his partnership with Art Garfunkel rank at the top of my favourite music.

So, imagine, if you will...

The year is 2000. I've just completed a three week tour of Europe and am now in England meeting up with my Grammie in Manchester who is serendipitously also in England. I've decided to take the train to Liverpool to see the birthplace of the Beatles.


The train inexplicably stops. There is a garbled message on the loudspeaker and everyone starts disembarking. I wasn't sure what was going on, but another passenger informed me we had to switch trains. I gathered my belongings and stepped off with the others. We had to wait a good 20 minutes to half an hour for the next train to arrive.

In the meantime, we all waited. There was not a lot to this train station, just a platform for waiting. Actually, there was supposed to be something else at this train station that would have caught my attention, had I seen it. But, it was missing. Literally...it had been stolen recently. (I didn't realize this until I returned to Canada and heard about it in the news) The commemorative plaque claiming that Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound at this very train station. Can you believe it? I sure couldn't!

It was while we were waiting that I discovered this amazing tidbit. The gentleman next to me commented "Of all the stations to be stuck at, of course it would be Widnes. There's not even a toilet here. No wonder Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound here." [insert record scratch sound effect here] I was astounded at his casual comments and immediately demanded more information. Unfortunately, it was just as the train was pulling in and my camera was packed away in my bag.

Some stories just deserve retelling and this is certainly one of them. Hope you've enjoyed my tale.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Power of Power Washing

This summer my big project is re-doing my porch. As part of the process, my dear ole Dad came with his pressure washer and spent the day with me. This might not seem like the most exciting thing, but it was quality time spent together that meant all the world to me.

We worked the better part of the day scrubbing my eavestroughs and power washing my porch in preparation for painting. It was hard work and at the end of the day I was tired, sweaty and satisfied. There's just something about a little hard work :)

My favourite part of the day, however, was the snippets of conversation we had as we worked and over lunch. A day spent with Dad = priceless.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1000 Dixie Cups

There's nothing quite like a family wedding to hold a mirror up to your singleness. This very thing happened to me recently. Watching the bride walk down the aisle, I wondered if I might do something similar. I long for the day that my Dad can share in that special moment with me.

It is in situations like this that I find myself reflecting on the life I thought I would have and examining the one that is my reality. It has always been my intention to get married and have a family. However, I find myself unintentionally single. I wish I knew why. If I did, I could change the situation or fix whatever is wrong. But, I don't know if there is an answer to that question.

Just when I feel like the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together and it all makes so much sense, I realize that in fact, I was mistaken. What I briefly thought could be mine is once again snatched away.

I no longer feel like going out every weekend. Yet, I feel society's pressure that I should be out there every weekend. I have grown tired of this. What I long for is someone to "do life" with.

I recently heard it summarized this way and thought it was so accurate to how I feel. You thirst to drink from a deep well (that one meaningful relationship) but instead you are forced to satisfy that thirst with 1000 dixie cups.

I have some really amazing friends and people in my life and I am truly thankful for those awesome relationships. But, they are like dixie cups. I am waiting to settle in to my life with a husband and stop the temporary fixes. By this, I mean meeting someone for coffee here, dinner there, a movie this night or a concert that night. These are all great things and I treasure my time spent with my friends but it just does not fulfill what my heart aches for.

You may be reading this and you have been married so long you forget what it's like to be single. If that is you, please let me give you some advice. Asking a single person why they are not dating someone or not married is not only not helpful, but it's hurtful. (I can imagine this is similar to asking someone when they are going to have a baby) You cannot know what is happening below the surface and unless you have been brought into that inner trust circle, you really shouldn't have much to say about the matter.

And so, I carry on. I have a pretty great life and as mentioned above, have some fabulous friends and family. I have a lot to be grateful for. But, sometimes there are moments when the thoughts expressed here wash over me. It's good to write them down and get them out. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fields of Gold

No, not the Sting song.

For as along as I can remember, I have had a poetic fascination with wheat fields. Once the wheat ripens and turns golden brown, the way it sways in the breeze just seems so beautiful to me. I always preferred the years that Dad planted wheat in the front field rather than the back so it was right behind/beside the house.

It makes a great backdrop for photos.

Dad - circa: 1995
Abby - circa: 2002
Janice - circa: 2013
 
The wheat harvest was one of my favourite times on the farm. When helping dad move wagons or just being on hand for helping with whatever, I loved watching the combine make its way across the field, taking in the grain and spitting out the chaff. I can still smell that smell and even taste what it was like to pop some kernals into my mouth as they were moving from the wagon into the auger boot.

Even now, I love to see all the combines making their way through the fields. When they are done, everything looks so neat and tidy and sometimes you'll even see bales of straw dotting the fields. A few trips to the farm in recent weeks produced some great photo opportunities for capturing these moments.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reunited

The last time I saw her, we were parting ways in Paris at Christmas. But last week, my cousin Carol Ann made a brief stop in London on her whirlwind tour of SW Ontario this summer!

We did a couple of road trips last summer, which were fun, but she had never been to my place in London! It was just 38 hours but we sure squeezed a lot into those hours!

She joined me for my Wednesday night yoga class (which, because it's outside, was stinkin' hot yoga) and then we went to music trivia night at Morrissey House. Olga's Yogis did not fare so well with this hipster crowd but we had a great time.

After much discussion about our respective Early Bird Cafes, we lunched there and relaxed with manis and pedis at Tetherwood. A movie, and ice cream rounded out the night with plenty of catching up, stories, laughing and reminiscing.

So good to see this girl. Can't wait for next summer :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Questing

It's hard to believe, but 14 years have passed since Abigail Elizabeth made her way into the world and I became an aunt. I have always loved that title and loved spending time with this little bundle of joy. We've done some pretty cool stuff over the years (including seeing the Wiggles - a first time for both of us!) and this weekend we continued that tradition.

To celebrate Abby's 14th birthday we did an Urban Quest around London. Urban Quests are kinda like a scavenger hunt/amazing race-type deal. It's a really fun way to explore a new city or the one you live in. It took us about 2 hours to make our way around downtown, solving puzzles and searching for answers hidden in the architecture. Along the way I got to hear stories about what's happening with this recent grade 8 grad.

What a fun afternoon! We finished off with a late lunch on a patio and frozen yogurt on the way home.

I love these special days, set aside for celebrating my favourite kids. It gives me a great chance to spend one-on-one time with them and make some great memories too.

Abby, you have become such an amazing teenager! Don't change, my dear. Love you!




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beetle Beatles

So, this just happened:



I'm not sure what is cooler, the Beetle Beatles? Or the fact that VW tweeted to me. Ya, pretty freaking cool I'd say.

I'm thinking I should really print/hang this up. The only way it could be better is if the yellow one was "Paul" and if they were classic bugs.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Photo 101

For the past 5 years, I've had a digital SLR camera that I've been meaning to get acquainted with. This summer, I decided to do it. My friend Jackie & I signed up for an intro to photography class through the city's Spectrum program. I've been really looking forward to it and last night was our first class.

I stopped at Starbucks on my way and picked up an iced chai latte. I had been wanting to try one and I had a free drink reward for being a loyal customer. Why not? Well, it was pouring rain for starters. But a little rain never hurt anyone, so I carried on.

Hmmm, well I kinda had to go pee. You see, I had just purchased my first watermelon of the season and that is all I had for dinner. Watermelon. A lot of watermelon. So, I thought I'd use the washroom at Starbucks and be on my way. That is, until I walked towards it. Eek. There was a man just coming out and the stench nearly knocked me over. I decided to wait until I got to the community centre.

I arrived at the same time as Jackie and we ran in together to avoid as many raindrops as possible. We were chatting on our way up to the classroom and I did not make a pit stop. Drat. Now I was in the classroom with a colourful cast of characters and feeling a little trapped. How could I leave after arriving and introducing myself? I would wait. Oh dear. I sat through the first hour of introduction to how the camera works and just as we were getting to ISO speed, I decided I could not wait any longer. I missed the bit on ISO so Jackie will have to catch me up. :)

Now, back to that colourful cast of characters. I know this is going to be an interesting six weeks. We have hobbyists like Jackie & I, travelers, a dad that wants to take better pictures of his daughter ...and the annoying lady. You know the kind. There's one in every class. She interrupts all the time to ask questions specific to her camera. Should be fun to watch her "develop" her skills.

However, I have saved the best part of the evening until the end. I honestly thought I might be on Candid Camera or was being Punk'd. We went around the table and introduced ourselves, including what our favourite picture is that we've taken and what our worst picture was.

Enter Crazy Cat Lady. Her intro went something like this: "My name is _____ and I have three cats. I just love taking pictures of them." The teacher asked if she used Mac or PC at home and she let us know that she does not have a computer. Hmm, ok. That's interesting when you're taking digital photos.

The piece de resistance was when she told us about her favourite photo that she's taken. That sounded like this:

"Well, I had crocheted a gingerbread house and I took some pictures of it. I'm not sure what I did, but the way the light hit the colours was just beautiful."

WHAT!?!?! She sounded like she was describing a sunset in Istanbul. Yet she was actually describing a crocheted gingerbread house. Why would you crochet a gingerbread house in the first place? It was a really surreal moment that I just had to capture and share here.

Perhaps she's going to crochet herself a computer to use with her camera throughout the course. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Country Roads, Take Me Home

This weekend I made a spontaneous trip to my parents farm. That old Joni Mitchell song came to mind "you don't know what you've got til it's gone". Now, while it's true that it's not really gone, I no longer live on the farm. And that got me thinking...

When I return, I always realize how much I miss it! The wide open spaces, the stars that come out at night, the waving fields of wheat...it's all very nostalgic for me.

After dinner with the folks and a game of Racko, I hitched a ride on the three wheeler with Dad to take a look at the crops. As I climbed on the back of the tattered and spattered "Big Red" I felt like I was 12 again.

We took a spin back to the wheat field and splashed through some mud while we were at it. I have always loved the wheat fields in July when they are ripe and golden. It's just so beautiful!

After washing the mud off with the hose, I took a walk down memory lane. I found my name scratched in the cement from 1990. Dad was putting his grain bins on hoppers and when the cement pad was being poured, he told me to go out and write my name in it.

I always loved our mailbox. It was a bit of a landmarker before the 911 number system. Mom & Dad would always tell people "it's the house with the pig on the mailbox". This, of course, was because Dad used to be a hog farmer.

I think it's important to remember where you came from and appreciate your roots.

Last night reminded me of this and I drove home with a smile on my face. My parents are 2 of my favourite people and I loved my evening on the farm.