Friday, December 13, 2013

Procrastination Breeds Creativity

I'm writing my last paper for this semester...and obviously it isn't going smoothly. Writing on social action and social justice is ok, but the references I'm to use don't relate to my experience-which is what the paper is about. Or is suppose to be about. 
Now if I could figure out how creating Christmas villages and cards with my Silhouette or baking gingerbread cookies is a social action I'd be, well, still stumped. I just don't have a lot to say or at least 6-8 pages worth. Thankfully that is double spaced 6-8 pages.

So while I, um, mull things over I'm posting a card I made:

This card is the second one I made...apparently dripping water on the printing makes it all mushy and blurry.

I find that sometimes remaking things creates a better item and sometimes it doesn't. But that is only in the creator's eye because someone else may find it the other way around.

I volunteer at the local Children's Hospital and we wear red smocks so that is what the red top represents. It isn't dirt, it's gold ink that is on it. I pressed too hard in one spot so had to repeat that elsewhere so it wasn't so obvious a oops.

I've made a paper house I believe is called a puntz house. Eaton's and Simpson's Sears used to sell them in sets of 10 and were lit up with mini-lights. I made my own as a teen so when these showed up-or I noticed them-I decided to use my trusty Silhouette to create new ones (the original are long gone). I've made two and are sitting on the mantle now. With battery operated candles now I don't have to string lights between them or have them near an outlet. They are nestled among a number of paper 3-D trees I also made...all but two trees are from white cardstock. I'll have to add a photo to this after I buy more white cardstock and make more trees.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Laugh more than once a week!

I've been idly doing some "next blog"ging and came across a couple of blogs that were aimed at a 50+ audience. They were very different, one is by a 50ish woman who needs to relax and laugh more and the other by one in her 80's who knew how to relax. Both had husbands, the former's is still living with her albeit she states he's a bit bigger than he needs be. The older lady's husband is wheelchair bound with Alzheimer's living in a care centre (she called the other residents "inmates"). I suppose I must say that the older lady recently died at 85 and her daughter wrote the last blog posts telling us this. I read some of her earlier posts and she did enjoy life, especially with her children et al and at the lake in the Green Bay area.

The younger woman seemed to be a no-nonsense type of person-I'll leave it at that because I really don't know her, but she seemed to be very critical-and vocal about her views. I do know people like that and unfortunately that can be very alienating. I do so hope she really is more uplifting in real life-though she stated that laughing once a week is more than enough. Really? Gosh, I think it's a bad day if I don't do it once a DAY! Time to stop the starching of the undershorts!

Life is too short to laugh only once a week...and there are too many things that happen that could make you rip your hair out. Or the person's next to you. I prefer to hear a clerk say thanks for understanding than them thinking "she's really almost scary when she's mad".

Hubs & I are puppy sitting our 'grand-puppy' Diesel-dog (our pet name for him). He's a miniature dachshund and loves to give doggy-kisses...I've had a walk-by licking from him. He's sleeping on my lap right now. I love that. Our last pet, Alice the white Persian cat died last February (she would have been 20 in May)

Alice sleeping in a random box
and the year before Miranda the grey tabby (our son's cat who he chose in 1992) and Dakota the lab/shepherd/collie died about 5 years ago. So we've been pet-less for a while, there is less cat/dog hair found each month-er,  day, yes, I vacuum every room every day (riiiiggghht & the North Pole is a rainforest). No taking a dog for a walk in -30C weather or vet bills. Also no enthusiastic (or indifference from the cats) welcome when we come home or purring and stretching out on the fabric I'm cutting or newspaper I'm reading. Diesel-dog gives us that injection of pure unconditional love we sometimes crave. Even the standing out in the cold icy backyard wondering if he's going to 'go' then or we'll find a treasure somewhere in the house during the upcoming week is fine.

This is Annabelle, our 'grand-hedgehog' on her co-owner's birthday...I made party hats for both of them. Just a cute photo of up our weekly 'smile' quota.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yes, I actually DID ride in the Niagara Falls Gran Fondo

This is not me, just the view from the back of the pack. That is American Falls we see. It is just about 6:45am.

The front of the pack...not my category

My view of the riders in front of me.

And the riders behind me. I think the people in florescent orange are non-timed riders...official type people that did ride beside me encouraging me and just chatting before finding some other slow-poke to encourage & chat with.

My bike behind another in the St. John Ambulance mobile first aid unit. I rode about 89km out of the 124km route. At the fifth rest stop a group of us (about 15) were told we were being pulled off the course because the tunnel under the Welland Canal was opened to traffic was 11:50am and we had until 3pm to cross the finish line. Sooooo not happy campers (er riders) and anarchy works its magic. We are allowed to continue but with an escort and are suppose to stay together. Yeah, that 'staying together' didn't last at all. Like maybe for 10 feet. The 'new' route had us go north of the tunnel and around. I was tired at the rest stop but someone said it was only 35km to go & I thought, "I can do 35km more"...but this new route used up that 35km and I was falling farther behind the dude in front of me who was alone. The motorcyclist escort was staying a respectful distance behind me. 
I had told another rider earlier that I was going to ride until I fell over. And I did. Almost. I stopped and told the escort that there is a time when it is time to stop. I had lost the mental game. I was discouraged, the cara fina had passed me twice while I was going 20km/hr., the tunnel being inaccessible (we should've used it anyway), my wrist was hurting (the drugs had worn off), my inner thighs had tossed in the towel near the start of the ride and I was tired. I also had absolutely no idea where I was. Well, outside of the Niagara region. On the positive, I was able to get off my bike without falling over! 
The St. John unit was pulling up behind the motorcycle and so they loaded up my bike along with the one that was put there at rest stop #5 (that lady knew when to stop before it got hairy). An icepack and a ride to the finish line. 

I got out and wanted a photo with my 'first aider' (whose name escapes me). She rocked.

79.0 KM
Elizabeth OlsonCalgary, CAN
79.0 KM 
Then I hopped on my bike and rode over the finish line with my timing chip. My split time holds, as does the KOM (king of the mountain) but the final time isn't.

The after ride music rocked with Barney Bental,  

Jim Cuddy 
Luke Ducette

Who all rode then sang and played for a few hours. These dudes are definitely fitter than me! (and they can sing too!) A wonderful time in the sun.

With the exception of the politics around the need for the detour, I really enjoyed it. And I did really well for someone who was riding with a broken wrist, numerous bruises and a semi-stable knee. The landscape was amazing, so varied, unlike southern Alberta- ("oh there's a farmer's field. And another one. And I can see Saskatchewan"). 

I'll post the photos I took the next day of part of the route. Effingham Hill where the KOM took place does not photograph well, it's a deceptive hill.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

And the Countdown Begins--Gran Fondo Niagara Falls, Ontario

Five days and I ride my first Gran Fondo, in fact, my first big ride since doing the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2012. I was on track to be much fitter and prepared for this ride than that one but with a broken wrist that is gone. At least this is only one day. And I have about 8hrs. in which to ride 124km so I believe I can do it.

My wrist is healing according to the latest X-ray, it feels better too. Still is painful but that could be the sprain that most likely occurred at the same time. We never discussed if it was in fact sprained, but it is the same pain & area as my left hand. The ankle is still tender but no pain unless my medical team pokes it. The bruising is gone from my chin, thigh and knee.

I've only riden outside once since being told I can ride (and only once between riding immediately after the crash and being told it is broken). The other times I've used my trainer set up. The first day I set it up outside and watched "The Philadelphia Story" (with Katherine Hepburn). I then set it up in the living room facing outside. I find it boring so I don't seem to last more than a movie, which have been just under 2 hrs. That worries me. Endurance is a major need for this ride. There is also one nasty hill- Effingham. There is a jersey for the fastest time up the hill. Since it'll go to an elite cyclist, I was thinking that it should go to the person in the 6+ seed group who actually rode it up without stopping or walking!

I'm to stop in at the Medical trailer and say hi to the co-ordinator. He was hired to do all three Gran Fondos by GFCanada. Hopefully it will be a friendly visit and not a "need to" visit.  After viewing nasty ripped apart fingers, I'm going to wear my gloves with fingers. I can put the brace on over the glove. That is the joy of a brace and not a cast, I can remove it. Which is nice because it'll get sweaty under it during the ride.

Here's to the ride! I'm still pumped even with my health concerns.

Here I come Ontario! I love the Niagara region, so beautiful. So hope there are peaches left for me to eat.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Banff Gran Fondo 2013--views from the first aid trailer

While my husband rode the 144km route through Banff National Park I was at the start/finish line in the first aid trailer. I spent the first hour organizing it after the other team members filled their backpacks with supplies and the two other supply chests were taken to their locations. I had my first casualty around 9am--two hours after the first batch of riders (the elite) left. He was brought in by motorcycle.

The funny part (from my point of view) was when I told him that I would have to cut his shorts to expose the road rash on his thigh. There were two rather medium sized holes (3" across) with a small seam between them right over the injury. He says ok then asks his fiancee if she could sew them! She was silent and I said, "no, they don't think so". I heard a quiet release of breath behind me. So cute.
Points to give other riders: when in a tight group or just a group of cyclists, point out hazards on the road! This dude was about 6" from the guy in front & the guy in front just swerved without indicating a hazard so my cyclist hits the traffic cone & ends up in my trailer after ride! I told him that he needed to trash his helmet also since he hit his head.

I had a great vantage point for when the riders came in. The trailer was beside the dismount point where the timing chips were snipped off.
Shawn Bunnin (left) was first at 3:29:01 with an ave. pace of 41.3km/hr.
Mackenzie Gurvis of Calgary (left) arrived #14 with a time of 3:29:08. Ave. pace is also 41.3km/hr. Peter Wuerr of Vancouver (centre) #8 at 3:28:56
 Team Smartstop from North Carolina joined the timed mass ride as a training ride (!!) for the Tour of Alberta coming up September 3-8, 2013. Most of them did not have numbers so I can't match a number up with a name & time. The first rider came in at 10:29am-Shawn Bunnin of Calgary. I'm thrilled that I was actually able to catch the first batch of riders barrelling down the 'slow down' lane. Check out the time between #1 & #14! Seconds! Their average speed is amazing (for me) at 41km/hr. I only reach that speed going downhill on a smooth straight road!
Team Smartstop & other elite racers at timing chip removal area
I was alone until about noon or 1pm...and busy! I was amazed how many of the riders crashed early in the ride only to pick themselves up and finish the ride. One crashed 40km in and had smashed his fingers pretty good. In fact with the exception of the young rider (16yrs.) who didn't see the speed bump in the slow down zone, all riders I treated after the first had crashed but finished. Hmm the one with the busted helmet...did he finish wearing a broken helmet (I'm talking almost two pieces)? I think he told me he finished the ride.

I suppose I'm almost like them, my wrist has a broken bone (3mm fracture) and I want a cast that is molded such that I can grasp my hood & reach the gears/brake. I'm riding in the Niagara Falls Gran Fondo September 14 and, well, I AM planning on riding it! Other than all the money we've spent so we can go, it is the inaugural event and I want to participate. I don't want to end up being a spectator & watching my husband cross the line again. I want him to watch me (after he crosses a couple of hours before) cross the finish line.
Waiting for the final riders at the end of the day

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When SAHMs Need a Break

This article is insightful and gives a taste of what it is like to try to explain how it is to be home and on-call 24/7 for your children and family.

The comments are telling and really tiresome. It IS different being a working mom and a SAHM. I would guess some work-at-home parents could relate more with the article than the outside-the-home parents. It is the writer's perspective, not a generalized "everyone must feel this way" article even though she does say this is what SAHM (maybe I should say SAHParent) mean when we say we need a break.

One commenter said "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" which illustrates the need for 'mama' to take care of herself.

Do I agree with everything she says? No, sometimes staring in space/zoning out for a few minutes was a break. Our family is a big believer in when you are doing things you love to do, it isn't work (though it still is employment).

Yes you are a parent even when you aren't in the home for 9 or so hours but it is different when you are 'at your paid employment' and not at home with the kids during those hours. It would be similar if you worked with children and never left your place of employment. Just ask anyone who spends all day with other people's children! It is exhausting, physically and mentally to work with children and at the end of the day, no matter how much fun you had that day, it is nice to 'have a break' from it.

SAHM/P moms don't leave after 7 or 12 hours. They are there and on call for every hour of every day for years on end. Even as an empty nester I'm still a mom, but the daily pressure isn't there as it is for SAHM/P.

Soooo, if you know or are a SAHM/P, give them a break. That break can be whatever you two decide on is a break, there are no fixed ideas, just kindness to someone who needs to recharge their mental batteries.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Embarrassed" by Hollie McNish-- A Spoken Word about Nursing Babies

While some of the word choices wouldn't be ones I'd choose, they effectively point out the double standards and the crassness that nursing mothers endure from other people and when hiding in public toilet cubicles. They also illustrate the vulgarity of commercial ads and dressing choices made by women every day.

She also brings up points that is not often brought up, the sanitation  conditions that we expose our babies to when we are seated in restroom cubicles (which are NOT restful at anytime). If bacteria/germs can spread up to how many feet? three or more? when a toilet is flushed, what is landing on a newborn? I'm no germ-a-phobe but that is disgusting.

I nursed my four babies...often in public, even in church! It was week two of my first born's life that changed me from sitting in cubicles, balanced on lid-less seats to feeding in public. Not that people would know that is what was happening under the receiving blanket.

It was at the Calgary Stampede, July 1980. My newborn (b. June 25/80) needed to be fed. I walked into the public restroom, well, eventually I was able to walk into the main part, took one look around at the toilet paper & paper towel strewn on the floor, the general feel of unclean in there and turned and walked out. "Stuff this!" I said somewhat silently to myself. "What I'm doing is natural and healthy. Just try to stop me!" (I can be really feisty). I sat in front of the displayed quilts and quietly fed my baby. It wasn't in a main aisle or in a high traffic area, but I definitely had something better to look at than the graffiti of a toilet stall. Two older women (70's?) walked by and smiled at me, saying something supportive and positive about what I was doing. That was all I from other mothers that I was ok doing this. I knew what I was doing was ok, but the support in a time where nursing wasn't common enough, and definitely not in public, helped to relax me. I could take on the world! Well, my world anyways. Thanks to those two older mothers, you rocked my world!

BTW, I would sit in the back corner of the chapel with my two older children and only nursed enough to quieten the little baby. I'm not a large person so it only looked like I had a blanket (strategically) thrown over my shoulder. If hubbens wasn't there to be with the older two I stayed because they would follow me, they wouldn't stay with anyone else (I tried & got tired of trying to convince them to stay). It actually was less disruptive that way. In Sunday School it was more challenging because I didn't have the pews hiding me...metal chairs and all and I was self-conscious of the other men in the room even though I was quite well covered. Since my babies fed every 2-3 hours and church was 3 hours it wasn't often because I fed just before leaving for church (at that time a 3min. drive or 10 min. walk). After the newborn stage they lasted longer.

My eldest nursed for 18mos. the next two for less (12ish mos) and the last I said I'd wean when she could verbally ask for milk. Which of course happened in public! I'm sure she didn't get to nurse right then. When people hear that children are nursed to 3 or later, and think the mother is nuts, what they don't understand is that the nursing by that time is sporadic usually when the child is hurt or tired or just needs reassurance. Sometimes it was days between nursing moments.

Nursing is normal and gosh, a great & easy way to feed a baby! (I was six and washing my baby sister's bottles when I thought to myself that there must be a better way to feed babies. So I was all over nursing when I discovered that is what breasts are useful for).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Calgary Stampede 2013 will go on-- "Hell of High Water"

Calgary Stampede CEO Vern Kimball said that despite the devastation the flooding has caused, Calgary will party for 10 days, come "hell or high water". The Stampede grounds were completely flooded, in the Saddledome (our arena where the Flames play) the water was up to I believe the 8th row.

So this wasn't a flippant decision since there was a ton or two of water AND muck to remove. There are some cancellations and changes of venues for some of the events but overall the show will go on, come "hell or high water".

Marc Martel, a Nashville based singer wrote & recorded a song about the show, flood and resiliency of Southern Albertans. The Young Canadians were called in to back it and here is a link to the free download:

The Young Canadians is a group of youth who perform every year at the Stampede (44yrs!). Every year there are new members who join, so it is a fluid group. They were able to rehearse & record it in 48 hrs. while also preparing for their annual Main-stage performance that starts this Friday!

It's a cool song. Quite a good anthem. Canada rocks! (That's because people from outside of southern Alberta have come here to help with clean up).

Photos gathered from Googling "The Calgary Stampede 2013 will go on "Hell of High Water".

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Calgary Flood 2013

Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek flows west-east in the deep SW/SE part of Calgary. It may not be as affected by the flooding as it was in 2005, possibly because of better bridge building after that flood. 

Above is a log that was shooting down the creek Thursday afternoon. Below is the same or near the same spot as above, note how there isn't a shoreline anymore! And the current is still fast of course.

This is the train bridge just west of the previous photos, you can see the pedestrian/bike bridge just past it. It was also taken Thursday afternoon.

 This is directly beside the pedestrian/bike bridge (the one in the above photo) on Saturday afternoon.  The sign states that the path that was there is closed so that the vegetation can regrow. (As of yesterday it is now gone as well).

Elbow Park
Below is Elbow Park, an upscale neighbourhood of older homes. This particular street is not on the Elbow River, but is two streets over from the river, one of those streets being 4 lanes. There is a strip parkland between the river and the wide street (Elbow Dr.). The river is the small patch of murky water in the top & left of centre.

This is the pedestrian pathway under Elbow Dr. I think just beyond the black garbage bin is an garden owl. The blue beside the black bin is a recycling bin--wonder if they still have their addresses on them.

This is what is left of the suspension bridge that spanned the Elbow River. It was part of our route to downtown and up to SAIT and the UofC. It is laid out, deckless, along the bank. This bridge is to the left of the flooded Elbow Park neighbourhood pictured above.

An oddity and a moment of peace and tranquility amid the mucky mess. This is a garden along the banks of the Elbow River, it looks like the water hadn't touched it. It is still clean. The gazebo is gone, and no sight of it, yet this place is clean. Did someone spend hours cleaning it up or somehow it escaped the damaging waters as the gazebo was swept away?

The sidewalk is even clean!

The Glenmore Reservoir Dam releasing Elbow River (chocolate) water. I don't really understand the mechanics of dam usage but apparently if it weren't there the flooding would be worst.

The clean-up has begun. Few human lives where lost but vegetation and wildlife (in the zoo and in their natural habitat) were lost and will take about a decade to recover says the ones in the know. Calgary was fortunate, this flood didn't directly affect a large footprint of the city, but what infrastructure that was damaged, affects a tremendous amount of people. I have photos of the aftermath because my husband & I were looking for a new way for us to ride up to the post-secondary institutions we work/attend. Our leg of the LRT will be out of service for at least 3 tracks in one section and two tunnels were flooded. I'm adversed to letting my husband & daughter travel in an underwater tunnel in an electric train!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Day to be Awesome

I'm rather swamped right now but I spent time to create for the Silhouette weekly challenge. I need goals in order to really motivate me. I cut out the vinyl after the new challenge was announced and let it sit awhile. Today I finally decided to use the cookie sheet I had sprayed silver instead of cutting down the plywood piece that is painted black. A couple of months ago I had bought a new silver paint that was more sterling so this morning I sprayed the sheet again. Mid-afternoon I put the vinyl on and sprayed the stencil green. I then set it out in the sun to set/dry. Just before I left for tonight I peeled off the mask and discovered that some of the new silver paint came off also. And I had missed a spot that was now green. That is the lesson, the paint hadn't cured.

I think that having it hang in the backyard will be just fine and the blemishes won't be noticeable until someone goes right up to it. Which is highly unlikely since the backyard doesn't have a lot of traffic anyways. Well, not until my daughter's wedding this summer. The green matches the faded green trim on the house and compliments the green plants and trees in the yard. I want something unusual in the backyard and this is a good start. It'll weather and blemishes will become 'weathered'. Now I have to figure out how and where to hang it. Until then I think I'll lean it up against the fence by the table in the back corner.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Silhouette Challenge- condolence cards

Someone close to me just lost his "Grandbear" who was a very important person in helping him have a 'normal' life growing up. I really like the phrase that circulating around the Sil Facebook sites and so combined it with the shape of the week challenge. I needed to elongate it to fit the phrase but the shield shape needed no alterations. His Grandfather had dachshunds & I couldn't think/create fast enough on my feet how to incorporate them into the same item so made them as separate cards. I was going to frame them but I'll let him decide what to do with them. He loved them and apparently he showed them to everyone at the memorial open house.

A link to the home page The link to the actual challenge is on the right column.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Silhouette Challenge--Key West visit in 2009

For this week's Silhouette Challenge I created a layout for our overnight visit to Key West Florida in 2009. We wanted to visit it even though we only had one night before heading straight up to Orlando to catch our flight home. We fell in love with the creative atmosphere that permeates Old Town. My husband was writing his doctoral dissertation on that trip and in one evening did an amazing amount of work. He said he was inspired by the atmosphere.

I welded the zig-zags together to create a lattice which I felt suited the ambiance of Key West. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Silhouette Whale picture sound cards

The Silhouette blog has a weekly challenge where people can use the popular shape they chose or the free shape of the week. I used the free shape of the week to create picture sound cards for speech therapy use. I only created two for examples as I don't have a client at the moment so don't need all 20. I used the "w" sound and "l" sound because whale has both sounds in the word. I would laminate them to make them endure the repetitive handling by preschoolers (and me).
I'm late on posting for the giveaway but I wanted to show a different way that can make speech interesting for the child.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day and Gardening--Both can be rewarding

Mother's Day is this Sunday...a short video about us mothers.

I know that not all mothers are always like the ones depicted in this video, some just never figured out what they need to do to nurture their children. Some never even tried to figure it out, which is sad because they sure missed out on some great times.

We don't rake or remove dead plants in the fall so that our earth can be protected during the freeze/melt cycles we have as our winter so there is a lot of work to prepare our yards for planting and the 'not snowy winter' season we are entering. I was weeding/cleaning up yesterday, and as I was pulling the green grass (nice to see green again) out of the veggie garden I thought how it was like parenting.

If a lot of effort is put in from the start the rewards are great later on. For the most part because even the most diligent gardener cannot predict accurately how the environment will impact the seeds and plants. You just do the best you can with the skills you have. If your skills are lacking, you seek out those who have those skills and learn from them.

As it is with parenting, if a parent so chooses, they can spend a lot of time with their child(ren), teaching them the values and concepts that the parent believe are important.

Some parents believe that the child should decide for themselves about religion, values and other core concepts so they don't bias their child with their own beliefs and values. I don't understand how that is advantageous because how is the child to decide if they don't have anything to compare to? And how is teaching your child indoctrinating them when it YOUR belief?  I do understand why some parents don't want to "indoctrinate" their child about values and beliefs, as there are some very damaging philosophies being taught. But be assured that the "my way or the highway" philosophy of child raising is not compatible with teaching and guiding.

 Like a garden, a child needs to be nurtured, to be guided in learning about themselves and the world in which she/he lives. And to be taught to think. If they can do the 5 W's and How they will have a firm foundation to decide things. But to decide is to have a knowledge from which to compare new information. Pass onto your child your values and beliefs! If you don't, who will? Do you really want to leave it up to chance?

Most children are really forgiving of parental mistakes, if there have been some positive interactions and efforts of some type of love towards the child. And children love their parents, even severely abusive parents (that bond is deep!).

It's a balancing act, but with practice (& lots of trial and error!) and love there are rewards to parenting and gardening.

Soooo, Happy Mother's Day...let's celebrate our good practices and forgive ourselves for our missteps & the "oops, I hope nobody saw/heard that" moments.