Friday, April 29, 2011

An Image of Hope

Origami cranes are often used to signify hope. This origami crane was made by a university student, who created 1000 (and more) of these cranes to raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Japan. All money was donated through the Red Cross to relief efforts.I was so glad that she did this, and I chose one and it is hanging  in the room where I work. I thought it would be a good image as well  to post here for the people who are suffering through spring tornados in the southern States.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Children's Art

I work as an early childhood educator, and enjoy providing my kids with many creative art experiences
I come by this honestly, having begun my career as a very young child encouraging my younger brothers, to wake up with me in the very early mornings on weekends, and surprise our parents, with our artistic endeavours. Often there would be a holiday to celebrate - New Years, Valentines, or birthdays. Whatever the occasion we coloured, cut, and glued our wonderful  creations, and then scotchtaped them to the kitchen wall above the table.

I know Mom would have been aware of us, and probably listened to ensure all was safe, while also enjoying some extra time to stay in bed. She was always quite appreciative of our presentations - we were lucky children!

I thought it might be in order here to share a few paintings here by three of my daycare children. I think they're quite beautiful!

Monday, April 25, 2011

To share some images of my Walk Home Today

Today the temperature was 19 degrees, which is the warmest day yet since spring started.
I decided to walk home from work, and hope to continue to walk home most days now. It just takes under 1 hour, and the walk follows a creek and just some beautiful sights.

A sculpture
These rocks are part of a medicine wheel created by students from the First Nations University

I walk past the First Nations University. Just a beautiful building, with a teepee structure at the front if you can see it.I believe this is the first First Nations University, and now one of only two in Canada.

Here is the basic structure of a sweat lodge, used by students from First Nations U.  

I walk along this creek which also is a natural site for birds of all kinds. We always have many blackbirds.

Just before turning to the street on which I live.
I moved to this area just over one year ago, because of the natural park environment so nearby, and to hopefully walk to and from work as much as possible. I think I'm very blessed to live in an area with so much beauty. The walk takes just under one hour, and now that our weather is more springlike I know I'll enjoy this.

I just thought it would be fun to share what this little part of the world looked like today!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Crochet Baby Blanket, a New Camera, and Easter Day

I have been able to purchase a new camera, my first digital, and so I've spent this afternoon, learning and experimenting with posting my photos here, and on my early childhood blog..Last evening when my son and I came home with the new camera, we thought we had a problem with the software, but today I tried again, and presto!, it worked. So I've posted photos of Herbert, and Arthur and also an old childhood photo. (I am the child on the right who looks abit opinionated.) :) 

I've spent a quiet Easter Day - my son is working at his part time job in a pizza restaurant, and I am enjoying finishing up projects, taking pictures, etc., and have had my windows open, listening to the sounds of birds, as to CBC  radio (public broadcasting), Sunday programming which I always find interesting.

I finally have finished sewing in the ends of the baby blanket I've been working on since January, so thought I'd post this. Geraldine, at Take a Happy Break, recently wrote a good post on the joy of knitting and crocheting, and encouraged her  readers to post any thing we may have been working on, so this is for you Ger! The colours don't show as vividly as they really are.They're really a bright aqua background with  variegated squares. Any way, it will be great to parcel it up and mail it! This afternoon I've begun a new baby blanket for a friend of my son who lives in Montreal.This one should be a quicker project, with just a simple single crochet pattern. I think it's quite pretty with variegated tones of brown, grey, aqua, and cream.

It's been a quiet, comfortable kind of day. So restful.

Conviction of the heart - Kenny Loggins Video

I enjoy the music of Kenny Loggins, ever since I purchased his children's cd's Pooh Corners, and Return to Pooh Corners. I find that his selections in these cd's were soothing and just right for my children to drift off to nap with at daycare.

A few weeks ago I posted a link to his song, Danny's Song, just because I really like it. So I thought I might choose another of his songs just because I enjoy him. This one is quite nice, and although a day or two late for Earth Day, the message is appropriate. This video was apparently made by two children for a school project.

It may be abit dated, but still quite good I think
Click on the link below to view and listen.
Wishing you a good day..

Conviction of the heart - Kenny Loggins Video

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Day Herbert Came Home

As I sit at the computer I have an 18 lb. ginger coloured male cat lying over my wrist, with his head resting on my hand. This is how I generally sit to type at this blog. Sometimes I get abit tired of the effort to type this way,  and push him away, and other times I pick him up and move him to the floor. He comes back.

His name is Herbert. Here is the story of how he came to live with me.

It was in August 2004, that I first noticed I was getting mice in the house. I mentioned this to Mom as we were visiting in the pleasant courtyard at her nursing home, and she sympathised with me . One of the ladies sitting with us recommended I leave poison for the mice. Mice in the house multiply, and I could be in for an infestation if I didn't  take action immediately.

Poison wasn't an option for me, because I lived with a wonderful older Sheltie, and I couldn't risk him eating the poison .I looked into mouse traps. Interestingly, I learned that this year many householders all over the city were buying mouse traps. It seemed that the city had a mouse problem.

I chose the simplest wooden spring operated kind of trap, as they were relatively inexpensive, and I planned to throw them out. I didn't intend to re-use mouse traps, being very squeamish about catching mice to start with.

The weekend I bought the traps, I also spent clearing the kitchen cupboards , throwing out things which were showing evidence of mouse visitations, and washing everything I could with bleach solution. Next came setting the traps with peanut butter, and cheese for bait.

The first morning I needed to check my traps, I looked in a cupboard to see a small killed mouse. I closed the door, and just danced around with my hand over my mouth, feeling terrible. However I soon established my routine of disposing of these mice. I did consider it might be more humane to use a trap which caught the mouse live, and then I could send it back to the  field, but at the time this seemed the quickest answer to my mouse problem.

After several weeks I had to conclude that my mouse problem was growing. Possibly because my old house had several cracks and holes in it's foundation, the mice kept coming in from the field, just behind the house. Larry, a wonderful older neighbour, recommended that I stuff any holes with steel wool, including any under my sink, so I did this.

By late September I began to wonder if a cat might help me in my fight to rid the house of mice. I'd been without a cat for 2 years and missed feline company. Mom, who also loved cats agreed this might be a good idea.

The first weekend in October I headed to a local pet store which hosts animals for adoption through the Humane Society .I thought I might look for a small, black female cat.There were four beautiful cats available for adoption. A largish ginger cat, given the name Benny, appeared to be patiently resting. He jumped up to greet a woman, and young girl, who talked with him and he batted a ball playfully. The woman said she'd been visiting him for some time, and that he needed to be adopted because he'd been there for weeks.So I decided, that he'd go home with me.

I didn't have a carrier, and asked the store if they might have a box I could use to transport my new cat home.  So he growled quite fiercely all the way home in this box. We got home, and I cautiously opened the box, and this lovely animal graciously jumped out, and stood taking in his surroundings, with as gentle a demeanor as you could please My dear, old Sheltie seemed unalarmed - and then the ginger cat did quite a remarkable thing. He jumped up onto my shoulder and purred. 

That evening I decided on his name - Herbert seemed to me a dignified kind of name, and this cat seemed to possess a quiet dignity and gentleness.The next morning Herbert led me to the basement, and showed off his catch - there on the basement floor lay a small dead mouse. I was in business.I felt as though he was telling me, he would be happy to be the resident mouser. That year he killed many mice for me, but his real value lay in his gentle spirit.

Herbert likes people, never running to hide when guests arrive. My sister and I were shocked when he jumped onto her shoulder the first time they met. He has made friends with quite a few humans, and always seems to get along with any animals who come to visit. - and has accepted two new pets to come into our home in the last two years.

Herbert is about ten years old now, and has gained some pounds, and doesn't jump onto my shoulder now.
We now live in an apartment building, with no mice to hunt - and Herbert spends his days looking out the window, wrestling with the young cat, and is always ready for cuddling. I feel blessed to live with this benign, gracious creature.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Acts of Kindness

Last Friday, on my bus ride home from work, I witnessed a wonderful moment.

I was feeling abit tired, and grumpy -  it was a busy time with high school students jostling one another to get off, and several of us passengers sort of trudging on the bus. One of the those times when all I wished to do was get home, change, and curl up with my book, and forget the outside world.

Across the aisle from me was an older man dressed in a suit, and cap of the sort war veteran's wear when attending official Legion functions. Across his chest was a row of at least 8 shining medals.
He was a smallish, gentle sort of man possibly in his late 80's.

A young woman, who I believe to be a university student, because we travel to the university on the same bus, mornings suddenly got out of her seat and sat down beside the older man.

She thanked him for his service, and let him know she recognized several of the medals, as her grandpa had had them.

For a moment the man seemed abit surprised, and then he smiled gently, listening to her as she thanked him again, she asked him where he had been stationed during the war, and when.

I saw a far away look in his eyes,  as he remembered, and this I think was such a good moment.

That a young woman should acknowledge his service, and sacrifice in the war which we all know to have been so difficult.

Because he did fight for our freedom, and rights today..

I felt so proud of her, that she spoke up in gratitude.

Today in a post by a man named Tom, who is an early childhood educator, and writes the  blog Teacher Tom, he talks about teaching his children to give compliments, and how the children just embrace this idea, spontaneously complimenting their peers on almost everything, even "I like your t-shirt". This is wonderful I think as the children are learning to reach out and say something encouraging to others. Adults have trouble being quite as free and spontaneous, and I know I've lost opportunities to make someone feel good by saying a positive remark, or word of encouragement, just through being overly reserved.

One of the comments on his post today, quoted Leo Buscaglia, and I think it's appropriate - "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential of turning a life around."

I have been the recipient of of many small acts of kindness in my life, and can attest to the healing power of kind words.

This is a simple, profound way to live better, and it doesn't require much effort, just being open to the moment - and seeing the opportunity to say the good thing.

I'm just so grateful I had this opportunity to witness this one wonderful moment in time.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Arthur walked into my home and stole my heart

In August 2009, one evening, I happened to glance out the window facing my garden, and noticed a fluffy, cream coloured cat running through the garden towards the lane. Quickly, I decided to walk over to my neighbour's and let them know I'd just seen a cat resembling their Grace in my yard. A month before this, their beloved Grace had gone missing for two weeks to be discovered in the garage of the neighbour across from my lane, so I wondered if maybe I had just witnessed Grace returning to the garage.

It was a beautiful August evening, and just turning dusk , when I walked down the street to the older home on the corner. I carefully reached across a small sleeping cat on Myrna's doorstep to knock. For a few minutes Myrna and Bob looked for Grace, and not finding her we decided to head back to where I'd last seen the cat. With a bit of envy in my voice I asked Myrna about her new cat, indicating the black cat comfortably curled up. No, this cat was a stray, first found by our elderly neighbours Larry and Elizabeth, and she was just sleeping on the step for now. Myrna didn't want to bring her in, as she had Grace; their dog Abbie; as well as a new kitten named Stella. Presently the cat seemed content to stay on the step, and the weather was good, as well .

We began our walk across the street, and the small black cat trailed us across the street, through a neighbour's yard and out to the lane where we were looking for Grace. Well I just had to swoop her up, and feeling that light, soft little body, I said I'd take her home if this was okay with Myrna.

I brought the small black creature into our house creating a bit of an uproar, with Herbert my ginger cat hissing, and Sam my sweet tallish dog barking and leaping about. However, this cat preserved her equanimity, and once I placed her on the floor she held her ground and allowed my two animal friends to sniff her, and that seemed to settle things satisfactorily

Herbert is a gentle older soul, who seems to believe the world is big enough for everyone, and Sam just had a sweet heart.The two older animals seemed to understand that this cat was a young one and behaved quite tolerantly of her playful behaviors.Sam allowed her to chase his tail, and eat from his bowl, and steal his treats.

Herbert wasn't immediately affectionate, but did allow the little one to ambush him, and engage in a little rough housing.

That night the little black cat curled up under my chin and slept.

Myrna and I  watched for notices for a lost little black cat but it seemed this was a stray.

By the end of the week I took the little cat, now named Alice, to the vet with Myrna and her kitten, Stella  for first shots and checkup, to learn  that they were both boy cats. My vet seemed to want me to change the name to Alex, a nice name she said. However I needed some time to think. After one day of thought, and observation of this guy, I chose Arthur, thinking that as he was an orphan, like one version of the King Arthur stories, that Arthur would be his name.

Arthur did endear himself to all three of us - Herbert, Sam, and me. His temperament tends to be affectionate, and he seems to really want connections. I learned that when Larry and Elizabeth, first noticed this little cat, he had jumped up into Larry's arms. This kind. elderly couple provided him food and water, but didn't take him in because of their older dog.They enlisted Myrna's help after a few days of the cat staying close, and this is how I came to find him on her step.It seemed like he knew he needed a home and he would patiently wait until he found it.

Arthur is an inventive and active cat - he keeps himself quite occupied with various toys. I've never observed another cat play as methodically as him. He likes to take his toy mouse or ball, and carry it from place to place, keeping sometimes a collection of treasured objects. He also seems to enjoy throwing his objects a distance and then retrieving them. Another amazing thing he does is to launch a toy through the rungs of a chair, and then chase.

Herbert and Arthur aren't the kind of cats who sleep cuddled together, they both like their space, but I believe Herbert is happier now than he was before Arthur came to live with us. They play, and sometimes fight, and that is how cats are I think.I think Herbert finds Arthur's playful antics entertaining to watch.

Arthur is an all black cat, but twice a year he has grown a ruff or mane around his neck of a tawny hue which I just find remarkable - as well he has a crook in his tail. When his ruff grows, his coat as well just becomes fluffier and more luxerious, and it is soft and silky and apparently does not mat When he loses his ruff, and thick coat he looks more like a domestic shorthaired cat - then slowly, subtly he is transformed into an elegant long haired beauty in both spring and fall.

We have moved away from the old neighbourhood where I found Arthur, and now it is just Herbert, Arthur and me.When I remember how Arthur came to live with me, it always brings back warm thoughts of wonderful neighbours and another time.

After note: It is now 2016 and the cats and I have moved to Calgary. We live in a slightly smaller apartment.Herbert is 15 years, and  Arthur is 7 years. Arthur is still very affectionate but less playful. I miss the antics of the kitten, but it is fun to look back and remember.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sam's Story

In February 2009, I decided I had been without a canine companion too long, and so ventured to our local humane society to see about adopting. My sister, and her husband came along to help me in my choice, and because they are avid animal lovers always interested in the possibility of a new friend.

I'd never been to the shelter, and my first impression was of an orderly front office, with a few animals lounging about, and being made much of, friendly office workers, and then back to the kennels -  the dogs generally stood and came to the front to see who was here. And so we made our way through saying hello, murmuring endearments, and encouragement, patting noses - I had one dog in mind. I'd seen the story of an Aussie shepherd, and had planned on the possibility of her - but she had already been taken that morning - however all three of us were immediately taken with a young shepherd mix , with sad, sweet eyes, medium height, and a soft glossy coat.Taken out of the kennel he danced, pranced, and lept - and I was soon signing papers, and out we went to go home.

Herbert my large ginger cat, accepted Sam quite readily - he is an amiable, easy going cat, who had lived with our Sheltie for some years, and has no prejudices about dogs, so this went well. Sam promptly ran upstairs, and curled up on my bed.

Sam turned out to be a wonderful dog, friendly to cats, all people, and other dogs we met on our walks.

Our vet felt he wasn't really much of a shepherd, more of a true Heinz mix - with his slender body, long legs, long pointed ears, and deer like face.My intuition was that he may have had some hound in him such as coon or beagle.

When people came to visit, he would press his whole body against them as if in a hug, and win them over with his gently face.

Sam soon made a best friend. A neighbour, it turned out had adopted her little Allie, a rescued young Australian shepherd, on the exact same date as I had brought Sam home. Allie had many issues related to fear, and it had taken her some time under the care of her rescuer to get to the point of being ready to be adopted. But with the love and care of her new owner, Wendy, she was blossoming into quite a social butterfly at the local off leash dog park.

Allie loved Sam - when her "mom", Wendy started out for their evening walk, Allie always led her to our house. There Allie barked briskly - adoring Sam ran to answer her bark, and Allie and Wendy came in to visit for a few minutes before we joined them for a long walk, no matter what the weather. Allie also loved my cats, (by this time Arthur had joined our household - another story) - and part of the visit involved Arthur chasing Allies lead about the house. Really this was a remarkable show of animal love, and community, initiated by Allie

But although Sam was the quiet one it was obvious he was an important companion to Allie. Now and then she would prance and dance on our walk, and bark excitedly, and Sam would just stand looking at her as if to calm her down.

Remembering this wonderful bond, between Sam and Allie fills me with gratitude that I had the chance to witness this, and to have the beautiful Sam in my life for a time.

My life circumstances changed, and I had to do what I had considered unthinkable. I needed to find Sam a new home - because I would be moving out of my house into an apartment which didn't allow dogs.

I tried on my own through many means to find him a home, but as my move date was arriving quickly I knew I had to surrender him back to the shelter.  I did this with several people's disapproval, and as well not liking my decision or myself much.The few days before we would be going to the shelter I tried to fill with love and kindness.We lay together on the couch, and I stroked his gentle face telling him over and over what a good dog he is, and that I would love him forever.

The Sunday I took him back I packed his favourite blanket, toys, his food, and favourite dog chews, as well as his bowls.The individuals who processed the surrender were extremely kind, and understanding. They said his special things could be kept until he found a new home.They couldn't take the food, as they fed all the animals a certain kind of food.

I was allowed to say goodbye to Sam, and sat and held him for sometime telling him he is a good dog. When I handed his lead over to the attendant he turned his face to me with a look I will never forger - with a quiet question, in his gentle eyes.

I had to turn and walk out.

I phoned every day to find out how he was, and was so saddened that he wouldn't eat, and had diarrhea.

However, he went home with his kennel attendant within four days, and she gave him a home with her dog.

I think about Sam every day, and have his photo up at work. This is at least what I can do for my dignified, wonderful dog.