Saturday, June 30, 2012

Some happy thoughts, and Canada Day

(I would just like to edit here, and express sadness  for the people in the Eastern states, who are experiencing high temperatures, and storm conditions.I have just learned of this from the news.)

Our weather today is lovely, 23 Celsius - sunny with a good breeze. I am enjoying my first weekend after working for a full week.

The past three and a half months have been  difficult. I had been making a change in jobs just as I became sick with the C. difficle bug, and had to be in the hospital for abit, and stay off work til June.
Unfortunately for me, my new employer could not hold my job for me for that period of time. I applied for several other jobs, some in child care, and some in other fields.However I was also constrained because I was unsure when my doctor would give me the o.k. to return to work

I did accept a position working as a cashier at a drugstore, with a major chain, and had begun training, just last week, when a position was offered me at a daycare center. I was thrilled because my heart really prefers working with children, in a job which I know well.

I believed that the position in the drugstore was one I could be happy with, once I got a handle on the job. I will say that after a full day of standing on my feet at the drugstore, I was exhausted - but I enjoyed the customers, and the person who was training me was a kind woman. She told me at the end of my first day that she felt I was brave to try something new, after so many years in child care. I developed an understanding of what a difficult job it is to work in retail, and so I'm glad now I know how it feels to be on the other side of the till.  I do know that if I need to in the future, I can try it again.

I loved my first week back in daycare. I like learning new ways of doing things, and I think change can be good. I have found that early childhood educators are like a club of people with a similar language, based on childrens' songs, stories, and ways of doing things. The routines in a child's day are very basic, and it doesn't take long to feel at home in almost any daycare center

Today I went to the public library and borrowed childrens' books. Here are two Big Books, by favourite authors. I tried to get the cats into the picture to show how big the books are. Herbert didn't want to be in the picture, but I did finally catch him. :)

I also borrowed three books for myself, as I have found that some of the books I would like to read on Kindle can be more expensive than I want to pay. So, I think I will continue the Kindle with the free books, and some for more reasonably priced books, but use the library for the new books by authors I like.

Presently I am reading a well written book on Kindle called The Girl Who Came Home, by Hazel Gaynor (for the awsome price of .99), and I am loving it. It is a fiction based on an actual group of 14 passengers from Ireland, on the Titanic, and one young woman who survived.
I haven't watched movies lately, but might watch this one which I borrowed from the library. I love the comedies of Shakespeare and this one looks like a good version, with Helena Bonham Carter, and Ben Kingsley. The year my son went to Montreal for university was 1999, and as a project to help me with this transition, as well as to recognize the milleniuim, I chose to watch as many of the plays of Shakespeare that I could. So I borrowed the plays on  VHS  produced by The BBC, from our library. I thoroughly enjoyed everyone, including the histories. Recently I discovered that these BBC plays can now be found in DVD, so I'm happy about that.

I have a liking for the quirky in life, novels, and movies. Here is a small bit of quirkiness in my own kitchen.
We presently have two coffee makers. My son recently convocated from university with an education degree, and will be moving to Calgary to substitute teach. Being a substitute teacher requires one to wake up very early in order to answer calls to work, and it has been promised that he should get work almost every day.

So Paul mentioned he would be looking for a coffee pot for his new apartment.He would buy a programable one, and have it make him his coffee for 5:30 A.M. every day. I bought him this one for his graduation, and since then he has been enjoying programming it to brew his coffee when he wakes up. I still use mine (the white pot) to make my coffee when I wake up - so we have two in operation. It is so like my son, who since childhood has had a love of electronic gadgets and appliances. :)

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and it looks like our weather will be nice here for the celebrations which take palce at the park. There is a 21 gun salute at noon, boat races, food, childrens activities, and fireworks in the evening.

This video may seem to have nothing to do with Canada Day. However it is from a Vlog, by a young Canadian, who now lives in Thailand. I discovered his Vlog some time ago when looking for a childrens' song, and have enjoyed his versions of songs from the Rise Up Singing songbook. I think there is something very Canadian about a young bilingual man from Montreal, Canada who now lives in Thailand teaching English, and who travels about the world comfortably.

I also like his comfort with himself, and you will find if you listen to this video (which is a little long) that he is also comfortable with conflict. It is a good lesson.
As well the hymn is very lovely, as is the sunset.

Wishing you a good weekend, and to my American friends a Happy July 4th as well!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A storm, and some amazing clouds

Our weather has been very hot and humid for the past three days. The temperature has been up to 30 Celsius, (86 F)  but with alot of humidity making it feel much hotter.

This evening our city was under a tornado watch, as well as severe thunderstorm warnings. We have now had a short severe thunder storm, and our tornado watch has been lifted. We opened the windows to allow the cool fresh air in, and noticed that our sky had amazing clouds - shaped like balls or globes.

I headed outside with my camera to take a few pictures. Several neighbours were outside enjoying the sight as well. I felt I had never seen clouds like these before, but one older neighbour told me thay are quite common - perhaps I just haven't noticed them so dramatically before.

Paul was finding many of his friends on Facebook had posted pictures right away, and one friend had already found the name of these clouds - Mammatus - they  most often form on the bottom of an anvil cloud, and are associated with severe thunderstorms.

While outside taking photos, I wondered out loud about what kind of formation these might be, and one of my neighbours said - "Casper" - and yes that seems like a good name for them.

We are fortunate that our temperatures are forecast to be cooler in the next few days, around 23 to 25 Celsius. I prefer it cooler as we don't have airconditioning, and live on the top floor of our building, so it can get very hot, and close. I worry about Herbert and Arthur in the apartment when we are gone all day. But I leave fans on, and they seem to drink water and stay well. As well they find cool places to be, such as the bathtub.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blackbirds outside my window

I enjoyed watching three blackbirds outside my window, this evening.

Their bodies seemed roundish and their posture seemed unsteady, and so I wondered if they were baby blackbirds. They seemed to fluff up their feathers now and then,  giving them a ruffled look, as though they were not experienced at this.

I watched them take off from the line and fly to a tree, back and forth repeatedly as though, they were young birds practising flying.

According to the information I read this evening these birds must be adults, as the fledglings tend to be rounder, with brown feathers. Perhaps these are 1 year old birds, and still like to stay close. They seem like siblings somehow due to the way they huddle together.

Here is a lovely video of three chicks leaving the nest. It is abit long, but very sweet!

Watching these birds lifted my spirits this evening. Their bravery in spite of uncertainty - is a good tonic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Changing Sky, followup on Herbert and Arthur, and some good reading

We have had mixed weather for most of June, with mostly rain, interspersed with lovely bursts of sunshine. This evening the temperature is just 17 Celsius, with rain forecast for the next 7 days, with some sun. According to The Farmers' Almanac, it looks like a combination of rain, fair weather, and some hot temperatures in July and August.( Interestingly, the Farmers' Almanac can be purchased as an E-book, for a reasonable price. I have just googled the almanac this evening, but for someone who would like this information in more detail, downloading it as an E-reader might be nice.)

Our Environment Canada weather man, David Philips had been talking about severely hot and dry weather this summer, but he always reminds his readers that the weather is unpredictable, and forecasts can't always be depended on. I am hoping that our summer will not be too hot and dry. Fair weather, with rain occasionally sounds good.

The air in the apartment was "close" and warm last night, and the cats seemed exhausted. I have a lovely ceiling fan, and they found comfort in sleeping on my bed under the fan. They look like pretty good companions here.

I've enjoyed a few very different books this past while. Bridget Jones Diary, by Helen Fielding is quite funny, and offbeat, and does have some references to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. I found this book slow reading at first, and discontinued it for several months, but did enjoy the writing, and now have completed reading the book. There really were some wonderfully funny scenes in this book. Thanks Ann, for recommending this book. :)

Must Love Dogs, is a funny, sweet book by Claire Cook. The story involves a large Irish American family, and some of the family interactions reminded me of the Blackie Ryan books by Andrew Greeley. I felt disappointed when the story ended, as I was enjoying the book and the family so much. I think I will have to read more of Cook's books.

Billie Letts', Where the Heart Is, is a powerfully, beautifully written novel. It follows a young woman, Novalee Nation, who finds herself abandoned by her boyfriend by the side of the road, and with the love and help of a group of unlikely friends, raises her daughter in Sequoyah, Oklahoma. The book has some very heartbreaking, terrible events within, and can be unsettling. Many wonderful books do cover the worst of life, along with the good, and for the most part the book conveys hope.

Novalee, learns the art of photography, and finds her life's passion and work in taking pictures. I love this line from the novel, "What was important to her [Novalee] was that at the moment of taking a picture, she was seeing something in a way nobody else ever had."( p. 171).

Letts' book feels to me like  The Dolllmaker, by Harriete Arnow, an American classic published in 1954. In this book, the main character is another strong woman, who experiences terrible life events, but endeavours to  keep her creative spirit alive.

I'm now just finishing Kaleidoscope, by Gail Bowen. Bowen writes a riveting murder story, and I find myself reading her very quickly. This is the most recent of the Joanne Kilbourn series, which take place in or near Regina, Saskatchewan, and I enjoy them for the good writing, and as well because they take place in the city where I live.

Just a note - my son just called me to see Arthur, who was reportedly watching the T.V. Our local football team, The Riders, are playing a first pre-season game against the British Columbia Lions, and are being trounced. The score at this point is 34 to 3. I'm not a fan of watching football on T.V., and my son isn't really either. We did enjoy going to the football games a few times when he was a child. We would get free tickets in the "rookie" section through the Big Brothers Association, and had fun in those days at the games, with the noise, and crowd, and food. Going to an outdoor game is always exciting I think.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Herbert and Arthur

Awhile back, in early January I wrote a post about Herbert my ginger tabby cat, describing him as a patient, accepting older cat - The Boss. At the time I felt that my younger cat, Arthur tended to defer to Herb. Lately however, I have noticed more pushing of the limits by Artie, and I find myself wondering if he is growing up, and needing to challenge the hierarchy.

If Herbert is snoozing in a favourite spot, Arthur will often jump up and attempt to take the spot over. Herbert will often just move to a new place, or sometimes they will end up sharing.

I have a sense that it is better for me not to interfere, as the cats will work things out. Herbert is no pushover and weighs several pounds more than Arthur.

As well they sometimes seem to become more serious in their play together than I like to see, with definite hissing, and fur flying. Arthur is quicker and more agile, but Herb definitely has an advantage in being able to hold him down if needed.

Once this past month I did intervene  and put Arthur in a closed bedroom for a cooling off time, as Herbert seemed tired and harrassed by the fighting.

For the most part the cats are happy together. I often see them grooming one another, and they often will choose to sleep near to one another. I think it must be abit of maturing on the part of Arthur, that causes him to try to best his older friend.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

University convocation

I had the pleasure of attending the convocation at our university yesterday to witness my son, and his classmates graduate.

Paul graduated with a Bachelor of Education, to teach high school science and health.The university holds convocation over three days, and three faculties convocated this day, but the education students were the largest group. A laugh went through the crowd when the education students were asked to stand, due to the large number of students compared to the rest. 

Here is the Chancellor of the university. The three ornate chairs were donated to the university by a chancellor emeritus, who got them from the church he had attended as a child. The church, Carmichael United had had to close doors and he was able to acquire them. They are now always used for university functions.
 Here my son, is being "hooded". The Dean of Education drapes a hood or scarf over each graduate as they are called up, and the Chancellor says, "I accept you".

The faculty and graduates were "piped out"  at the end of the 2 hour ceremony. Those on stage must have been hot under the lights. I noticed the university President, an amazing woman, who has done wonderful things with the university, and spoke so encouragingly to the graduating classes, slump in her chair and wipe her forehead. I'll bet that she was glad to have come to the last day of convocation.

This was a lovely day! And the weather was great as well, warm and sunny, after days of rain.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

There's something about June

Here in Saskatchewan, June is one of our nicest months. The temperature is warm, without being oppressive, and the flowers are just beginning to come into their beauty. We can anticipate several months ahead of lovely weather, barbecues, baseball games, outdoor picnics, vacation time, which for some may mean camping in several wonderful national parks...beach days...and of course for school children the imminent end of the school year. One can almost sense a collective sigh of satisfaction that summer has arrived.

In the condo apartment where I live, we have a casual sort of system of yard maintenance, based on personal choice.One of my neighbours, Dorothy, and I decided to buy the flowers for the front, and we chose pansies. So yesterday evening I spent time weeding, and planting, and then felt inspired as well to cut the grass.

I'm not good with a gas powered lawn mower, and struggled abit, almost ready to return the mower to the shed, when a neighbour across the lane, looked over her very tall fence. She said she'd help me but couldn't get over the fence, and then suggested I prime it 5 times again, and it worked. This is another nice thing about summer - we get to know our neighbours!

I enjoy cutting grass, as it is satisfying to see the result; in a way similar to shoveling snow in the winter. I'm so glad that I now know the secret to starting our mower!

I made a happy discovery in the backyard, while cutting the grass - a healthy bleeding heart plant!!!  In the fall, I hope to divide it and plant some of it in front of the condo. I'd been dreaming of getting a few bleeding hearts for the front, but didn't want to buy them.


Here is an amazing clematis. A neighbour told me that it was planted some 30 years ago, and has been pulled out, and neglected,  over the years,but here it is!!

 This neighbour and another neighbour joined me to chat while I was planting the pansies, and explained that clematis are generally difficult to grow here - we discussed giving it more water and some dirt, but in the end they laughingly suggested benign neglect, as it has done so well on it's own resources. Still, I think it deserves some attention. :)

I do plan to spend more time weeding, and giving more TLC to the plants in the front of our building. I think there may be some milkweed though, and will look this up, and if it is plan to leave it to grow for any monarchs that may use it for laying eggs. If it isn't I might even look for milkweed to transplant somewhere in our backyard.

Well, thanks for following along here with me. How is June beginning where you are? This evening has been humid, with thunderstorms predicted. I have my windows open and can hear such glorious bird songs, including some quite loud chirk-chirk-chirking of blackbirds awhile ago.