Friday, 23 June 2017

Dinnertime

High drama amongst the runner beans.
I think this is a zebra jumping spider about to dine on a green stink bug. Yummy!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Wedding in the Sunshine

Last Friday was a hot sunny day, almost too hot to be ouside in the sun, but a beautiful day for a wedding.   My DIL's lovely sister and her handsome new husband.
The wedding was at Dyment's Farm.... a working farm that hosts weddings, corporate events, private parties, Halloween pumpkins.... the perfect location high up on the Niagara Escarpment overlooking the city of Hamilton and Lake Ontario in the distance.
My grandies were a very important part of the family celebration. Isaac and Max carried the rings and Emma was joined by two other little girls to scatter white rose petals in the bride's path.
She wore a string of pearls that my auntie gave me when I was around 10 years old. Not sure if they are real or not, but I hope so!
The bride arrives with the proud Mum and Dad.
The view across the fields from where the wedding took place. There was a slight breeze, and the sound of birdsong in the air. A few misty clouds blew across the sky during the wedding ceremony, cooling the effect of the bright sun.... perfect!
The happy bride..... ready to party! 
And the handsome bridegroom. 
 The first dance.
Not my picture, but borrowed from the Dyment Farm web page. Three large barns around a central courtyard with a fire pit, chairs, and tables with umbrellas. The bar and dance hall are to the left, central barn is where the appetisers and then the buffet dinner are served, and to the right is the dining barn. 
Not shown..... the chip and poutine truck!
Not my picture, this is the dining barn. 
The food was yummy.... roast beef, chicken, loads of salads and assorted veggies, garlic mashed potatoes, tasty gravy. And for dessert, assorted fruit pies and a Tower of Butter Tarts!
SORRY..... The previous 2 pictures may not show. For more info. go to the farm web site.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Off the Beat

Arrhythmia. It's very unpleasant, as anyone who suffers from it will tell you. It suddenly started for me back on my 60th birthday.... a thumping irregular heart, tachycardia..... what a lovely birthday present.

I went to my office the next day as usual, and as I'm a person who prefers to climb up the stairs to the 5th floor rather then use the elevator, that's what I did. Or at least I tried. By the second floor I was gasping for breath and hanging on to the handrail. An ultra fast heartbeat of 200 beats per minute caused me to collapse with dizzyness and difficulty breathing. The company nurse was called, and off I went in a taxi to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital.

That was a few years ago. Since then, the arrhythmia was managed successfully, first with medication and then, when it became constant 24/7 making my life a misery, with synchronised eletro-cardiversions on three occasions and a catheter ablation.



No abnormal heartbeat for 3-1/2 years.... yippee! It's fixed! But then three weeks ago, I felt the familiar vibrations of a fast irregular heartbeat. It didn't last long but managed to land me unexpectedly on the ground a couple of times and has since got a lot worse, so last week another trip to Emergency was necessary.

This time the doctor tried chemical cardioversion, which is an IV drip with anti-arrhythmia medication, but it didn't really work, so the decision was made to put me to sleep, attach the electrodes and run 200joules of electricity through my body for cardioversion number 4. And it was successful, and I'm back in sinus rhythm! Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Anyone out there in blogland suffering from the same problem?
The worst part of this whole process is peeling those sticky ECG and electrode pads off my tender skin.

Here's a fascinating computer animation of various types of arrhythmias....
http://watchlearnlive.heart.org/CVML_Player.php?moduleSelect=arrhyt

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Revel

I don't really know why it's called Revel, but the installation in our local Art Gallery by Canadian artist Ed Pien is fascinating.  And dreamy. And haunting. And more than a little weird. I want my grandchildren to see it.

Here's what the gallery curator says about it:
Revel is like a dream. Upon entering the gallery you become immersed in that dream. Projected light fills the space through a large transparent spiral structure and within the light you catch glimpses of a figure in silhouette. The figure is the shadow of a young woman who gently attends to floating objects that resemble tiny houses and buildings, all within a cloud of organic forms and all appearing upon the gallery wall. As you move deeper into the space you literally become part of the scene as your shadow starts interacting with the shadow of the figure before you. If there is no-one else in the gallery with you it is a little unnerving to be shadow dancing with a ghost.
For Revel, Pien has created an eight-foot high, clear Mylar, spiraling screen that has been meticulously cut into a jungle of branches and organic forms. Several 3D sculptural forms are nested within a web of lines that are suspended from the ceiling at the center of the screen, casting their own shadows.

I walked between the spiral layers to the centre of the transparent labyrinth, with the image of an ethereal woman dancing around me and reflections like shimmering water on the walls. Quiet music was playing. My photos don't do the room justice. I think this is an installation where you have to be there and experience it in person!






The creator of this piece, Ed Pien, will be giving a talk at the Gallery about his work at the end of June. I'm definitely marking my calendar and intend on being there, just to find out what all this means.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Very Sad

On Saturday morning I was honoured to take a tour of the local Mosque, as part of the Doors Open event. We were greeted with welcoming smiles by members of the Moslem community. The imam is a lively, personable and knowledgeable young man, and he explained the beliefs and traditions of Islam to us, so many traditions are so close to both Judaiism and Christianity. One of the congregation demonstrated the prayers, and a lovely young lady told me about her childhood in Dubai and how happy she is to live here in Canada.
On leaving we were offered traditional foods.... mmmmm I love dates!... and each person was given a gift of information about Islam.
Then on Saturday night the awful stories of horror and terror unfolding in London.
I am so sad for the people who have lost loved ones, and all those who have been hurt or frightened by these despicable acts. And I am sad too, for the kind and gentle people who I met at the Mosque earlier that morning.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Tie Dye

A different challenge for my Art group this week.... tie dye!
We dyed some Tshirts last year successfully, and this time we tried traditional Japanese fabric dying technique of shibori, the art of folding, twisting or pleating fabric and then dying it to create a controlled pattern.
Fabric should be a natural fibre, we used cotton, cotton/linen mix, cotton artist canvas and silk. The fabric was folded or pleated and then tied tightly with elastic bands or string to hold the pleats in place, and then fabric dyes were added with a pipette in a controlled pattern.
The floor was covered in a huge tarp, and lots of newspaper and paper kitchen towels used to soak up the excess dye.... and don't forget to wear your oldest clothes and you definitely need latex gloves or you'll end up with interesting colourful hands.  Everyone used a different colour combination on their fabric, and a different technique.

One of my pieces of fabric was dyed on a pole, tightly secured at the top of the pole with string, and then crumpled and wrapped around the pole and tied tightly in a spiral. Dye was injected on a random basis. The fabric is wrapped in plastic and left for 24 hours, then rinsed in cold water until the water is clear. The piece can then be washed in warm soapy water and the colour won't wash out.
Now I have some pieces of pretty tie dye cotton..... no idea what I'll do with them, but I'm sure I'll find some use.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Sold

I belong to a couple of creative art groups... the Monday morning group which is only 9 people, and the Thursday group which has 19 people. The Thursday group held our annual Art Show and Sale last weekend. The constant rain and cold weather turned out to be a blessing as people can't garden in the pouring rain, so they came in droves to check out the art at the Community Centre. Between 19 artists, there is a huge variety of style, subject matter and medium, size, shape, etc, in fact something to suit most tastes, and a lot of art changed hands. I didn't expect to sell anything, but sold seven pieces.... I was very pleasantly surprised..... in fact... gobsmacked!



I'm still amazed that people actually want to give me money for my paintings!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Yellow

A little bit blurred because the photo was taken through glass, but I think he's either an American Goldfinch or a Yellow Warbler. He didn't stay long, just long enough for me to grab the camera.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Raku

Our Monday morning Art Group meets in the back room of the Gallery every Monday morning and we aim to try different techniques and media.... so one of our number is an accomplished potter, and he fires many of his pieces in the Raku style.
You can read about the Raku process here.
Our first task was to make a pinch pot, starting with a shapeless lump of clay, shaping it into a ball, then making a depression into the middle, and working the sides until it looked sort of like a cup. Here's mine. This was after it had been fired once and I had added white glaze inside, and blue glaze on the outside with a couple of black blobs. I had no idea what this would turn out like.

 This was the kiln, home made and fuelled with a propane BBQ tank.
The items to be fired were lined up on the table and there was a selection of different glazes to be used. Our resident potter was there to give advice, as I'd never done this sort of pottery before.
 The items were fired in the outdoor kiln, and then taken out and put into a metal can that had lots of newspaper and other combustible materials in it, which of course caught fire right away. This is what gives the raku finish it's blackness and the metallic sheen.
 A clay mask that had been in  the kiln.... still cooling on the grass and covered with soot and ashes. I didn't see this one cleaned up.
 We also made small animal shapes to be fired but sadly mine broke in the kiln on its first firing. This was a sheep? bear? cow? whatever it was, our potter made it.
 My pot, once it was cleaned up, looks great, well, I think it does anyway, pretty good for a first attempt. When it first came out of the kiln it was completely black and had to be cleaned with a rough kitchen scrubbie and scouring powder.
 A selection of the items we fired that day. So they are not museum quality, but I don't care, we had so much fun and learned about a new process.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Cross Country Adventure

It was quite an adventure, driving from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Approximately 2,220 miles along America's highways, or if you're Canadian, it was 3,600km. We packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car, including V's little dog..... you can see part of the dog carrier in the bottom right corner.
We were on the road by 7:00am aiming for a good first travel day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining on the previous day but clouds started rolling in and it had rained a bit that night. But we were glad of the cooler weather for travelling.
We drove north from Phoenix towards Flagstaff, partly tracing our route we had taken to Jerome a few days earlier. Then V said "Is that snow on those cars coming towards us?" Oh, I hope not....  but as we climbed higher and higher.......
 I couldn't believe my eyes! And this was really heavy snow. Luckily the road surfaces were clear as we didn't have snow tires on the car..... well, you wouldn't think you would need them in Arizona! We drove from 32C in Phoenix to 0C as we climbed to 7000 feet above sea level at Flagstaff.

 Lots of traffic on the road. We encountered some snowplows and some salters, which were a welcome sight, especially when it started raining freezing raindrops. And I was still wearing my summer T-shirt and capris! Thank goodness for a warm car.
 
As we headed west from Flagstaff towards the New Mexico border, the temperature rose a bit and the freezing rain became regular wet rain.... but bringing with it very high winds. We were battling with the steering to keep on the road in some of the really exposed areas.
We stayed the first night in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, having travelled 850km (528 miles) and of course, next to the hotel there was a Mexican restaurant. Who can resist tacos, burritos, fajitas, refried beans, and my favourite, poblano rellenos.
The road next day led us over the New Mexico border into Texas, where the wind was still blowing a gale force but at least the rain had stopped. We made quite a few rest stops, mainly for the little dog to get out and have a run round and let Nature take it's course. Well, we needed to stop too.
I wasn't going to investigate any further than this notice outside the nicest highway travel rest stop in Amarillo, Texas. We went inside and met the janitor staff who keep the place clean and tidy, and they were so proud of their facilities. The building was built 13 years ago and .... well.... what can I say, for a public washroom the whole place was spotless!
 And this was the tile mosaic in the ladies washroom, commemorating Route 66. In the words of the song: "It winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way." We were following Route 66 much of the way across the country as far as St Louis. The strong winds continued across Oklahoma, and I was amazed at the thousands of wind turbines installed in the western part of the state, making the most of those high winds. Too bad I didn't take a photo of them. Our only heavy traffic was going through Oklahoma City.
This picture is included to amuse my Chandler relatives. We spent the second night in Joplin, Missouri, having got just over 1000km (645 miles) behind us that day. Joplin is mentioned in Route 66 lyrics.... and I have since found out it's where all those tornadoes head. We had thunder, lightning and heavy rain, but no tornadoes, thank goodness.
Our third night was in Anderson, just to the west of Indianapolis, Indiana.... this was 920km (572 miles) from Joplin. It was fascinating to see the changes in the surroundings as we travelled north.
 And the rain continued through Illinois, Indiana, and then over the border to Michigan.... now we were getting close to home. When we got to Detroit, we followed the instructions for "Bridge to Canada" and there it is, the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
We sort of expected trouble at the border crossing, as we had such a full car, and also we were travelling with a dog, but the Border Guard just swiped the passports, asked a couple of routine questions about what were were bringing in duty free (a couple of bottles of wine each) and how long we had been in the USA (V had been there since October 2016, and me just for 10 days), and waved us through. Phew!

And then were were back home in Canada..... Hooray!.... and as soon as we crossed the border the sun came out!
We were home by that afternoon..... so 3 nights and 4 days on the road travelling 3,600km, and yes, we are still friends in spite of being trapped in a car with noone else to talk to (except the little dog) all that time. Yes, I'd do it again, it was fun. But I'd like to stop and do some exploring next time. And I'd plan for better weather.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Lady in Waiting

In the back parking lot of the local physiotherapy office...
Mrs Goose is waiting patiently for a happy event. I wonder where Mr Goose is? I'll be going back next week, so I'll report on the family's progress then.
UPDATE ... sadly the nest was raided by unknown intruders, and all that remains are broken eggshells. I hope Mr and Mrs Goose have better luck in a more secluded nesting place.