Saturday, January 31, 2009

PhotoHunt - Furry

"Try it on" she said, hopefully

"Look, it fits perfectly" I said, sceptically

"It looks good on you, matches your hair" she said, animatedly

"It is gorgeous" I said, fatefully

"Then you must have it" she said, determinedly

"But ... but ... it is so not me ..." I said, helplessly

"It could become you" she said, theatrically

"I would never wear it, where would I wear it?" I said, wonderingly

"I don't care what you do with it, wear it shopping, use it as a throw, cut it up into a teddy bear and a hat, give it away ... but it is yours" she said, finally

"I don't know about this" I said resignedly

And so I ended up with a fur coat.

It would have been insulting, finally, to not accept this generous offer. My friend was clearing out her late mother's house, and really wanted me to take this home. Getting rid of the three floors of a lifetime's collection of antiques, art, clothes, was an emotionally charged task for her I knew, and it was becoming awkward, my resistance.

And so even in this bitter cold, I have not been able to bring myself to wear my new 40 year old fur coat outside.

But it is the warmest coat.
And the loveliest.
For more furry photos from around the world go to PhotoHunt

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

it's snowing in my backyard, too

that dark spot is a crow huddling in the branches

my car getting a new cloak

Now, if you have to plough your driveway, have a thought for our poor maintenance man, Mike, who also has to get out the snowblower...

he has been at it ALL DAY and having to fill up the gas
many, many times.

because he has all this to get through.
(that's Mike way up on the top of picture)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

pop goes the stress

Recently, I needed to buy some bubble wrap for a parcel I was posting. Because, who has bubble wrap just laying around waiting to be used as wrap? How long would it last in your house before you started popping? And because you can't just buy this stuff by the metre (which would have been more than enough for my immediate need) I now have a whole roll of the stuff sitting there, taunting me.

Which is why I am so happy to have found this:
(make sure speakers are on)

So how do you pop your bubble wrap?

One at a time?
By the row?

Do tell. I like knowing these details about people!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Stills - Potluck

This week the challenge was eyes wide open.
This little guy holds my most valued possession.

Friday, January 23, 2009

winter daze

a public service announcement

if you are not going to clear
all the snow
from the roof of your car
you should perhaps not open
the sun roof
when you want
to let in some air
when you feel overheated

thank you

now stop laughing

Thursday, January 22, 2009

someone with personality lives behind this door

My neighbour, who used to live directly across the hall from me, liked to tell me of the cute things her three year old granddaughter would say. Things like: Oma, why doesn't that lady have something pretty on her door like you have?

Mine was the only one that stood naked.

After the second retelling, I took the hint and went out and bought some very large pinecones and attached them to a big red ribbon and hung it on a hook on my door. I went for drama.

This seemed to please the ladies on my end of the hall, and I got compliments and remarks like:
Well, it's about time you put something up
Bethany will be so pleased next time she comes to visit
Nice big pinecones
I like your new decoration
Very nice, but it's a bit Christmassy with that red bow and it's only October
(yeah, that would be Helen, the one who spoke her mind).

If anyone has spent time wandering the halls of a seniors' home you'll notice that almost all of the apartment doors are festooned with some sort of decoration. This at least helps break up the bleakness of a long hall of doorways. It also adds some personality. And is a good marker for finding your way home again. Though that can work for anyone, really. I once had some poor embarrassed woman enter my apartment by mistake. Had I my pinecones up, she might have noticed she was on the wrong floor before dragging her laundry into my front hall. (and yes, I keep my door unlocked when I am at home, as did she, apparently). Other apartment buildings seem to have door personality about them. I've been in buildings where every door has something up, and buildings where only a few are decorated. My building was definitely heavily on the decorated front when I moved here. Now, sadly, not so much.

Some of these door decorations are a little too cute and country-ish for my taste. Some are tacky. Actually, many are tacky. Many have fake flowers of some sort that are usually not in season. Occasionally, you will see some beautiful or elaborate decorations. I remember once seeing a doorway covered in a strand of fake wisteria draped as if growing over an arbour. Sometimes dolls or stuffed animals are strung up. Most however involve wreaths or hats with flowers. Not everyone goes all out to decorate their doors. Many are left naked.

Christmas is when the door decorations really have their best display. Large ribbons decorate the door as if opening a big present. Garlands drape the doorframe. Wooden Santas and sleighs hang onto hooks. Sparkly door knob rings jangle. The wreaths get larger. Berries, bows and bells appear. As do pinecones. None as dramatic as my huge ones, however. (which I do not have a photo of, and they are packed away)

It is all very festive and lively.

And then, around the second week in January, the festiveness disappears. And the fake flowers reappear.
I like the decorations. Even the tacky ones. It reminds you that someone actually lives behind the closed doors.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have just learned of the sad passing of a good blog friend, Mad Asthmatic on the weekend. She was a loyal and cheerful commenter to my blog and I, and perhaps many others, had become concerned by the silence following her last post which was very aptly and poignantly titled 'No Regrets'.

Everyone who read her blog knew that her health was not good and was deteriorating. Emma expressed frustrations of the limitations of her disease, but she was also so full of hope and plans and dreams for her future, whatever lay ahead.

When I travelled to England last summer we made plans to meet, for a day trip, or later, when it appeared she would not be well enough for that, for tea. Unfortunately she was still in hospital during my stay and the visit didn't take place, much to both our disappointment.

Be at Peace, Emma.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Stills - Colour


each week there is a new theme for a Sunday Stills photo
this week's theme is colour
go to
SundayStills to see more colour

Saturday, January 17, 2009

with the cold comes...

I had to race home to capture this sunrise this morning

sunrise beyond the trees
city beyond the sunrise

It's not as cold as you think, or is it colder?

It has been a little frigid in these parts lately. At first I don't notice the intense cold when I go outside, probably because I've already started to overheat in the elevator with my many layers of fleece. But once inside the car, the cold seeps through the layers from the leather seat and the steering wheel, and the icy blast of air envelopes your body while waiting for the hot air to come through the vents.

I become obsessed with the outside temperature gauge. I glance at it probably more often than at the clock or the rearview mirrors. Good thing it doesn't report the windchill.

What the ... -17? it was only -15 a minute ago.

I finally hit on the perfect solution to mess with my head.

I changed the setting to fahrenheit.

Immediately got rid of that nasty minus sign.

Didn't get rid of the -29 windchill, but 3 felt so much warmer than -15.
and I have no idea really, what fahrenheit means anymore

Last night, when I got into the car, I forgot that I had changed it and immediately thought I'd be overdressed for 6 and wondered what happened to the -29 windchill.

But then I saw the little F .

And remembered that it is always warmer in the parking lot, nestled under the trees.
And watched the temperature decrease to 0.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

just another cold winter's day

We in the northern hemisphere are experiencing a bitter cold snap. You may have read a few complaints, or observations, or thoughts about this on other blogs.

I thought I'd try to see some positive points of it being so cold.





You can leave butter on the counter and it won't melt into a liquidy, messy, softness.

Anyone else have a positive spin?

Then, I had a look at Russell's blog from Iowa.
He managed a photo of a sundog which I had completely forgotten about.

Beauty in extreme cold.

Then there is this photo of snow in Norway that looks almost blue from the cold.

For more photos see Ivar Ivrig's photo gallery

Monday, January 12, 2009

A bright, sunny, if cold, Monday it is, too.

A special Hello to all you visitors from A Majority of Two
(a well deserved Blog of Note, I say).

Some of you may remember that I started a photo theme of posting a daily shot of yellow from around my neighbourhood. That went well, on my other site Sightlines. Then I sort of lost the daily photo hunt habit.

There are many photo memes out in blogland, and I have been tempted to join, but obviously my discipline is a little lacking for such strenuous weekly commitment. But now, Drowsey Monkey has started a new photo meme, called Mellow Yellow Monday. And I thought, hey, this is great, I already have a lot of yellow photos I can post. And I can get in at the beginning, which is always exciting. Of course, I forgot that my best yellow photos had already been posted...

Anyway, I've joined and if you are interested, take a peek at Sightlines and at

for more great shots of yellow to cheer your day. You may even want to join on the fun.

Monday AMuse

Sunday, January 11, 2009

a television show can make me drool

There was just the teensiest bit of excitement in the household last night. A night for elegant voyeurism.

The return of Poirot.

Granted, it was a very old episode first shown exactly 20 years ago. And I understand there were new ones made in 2008 and that David Suchet wants to continue until he has done every single story written.

So far he has done over 60. That's right - bet you didn't realize there were so many. I certainly didn't, as we probably keep getting the same 2 dozen every time, repeated.


It is that 1930's decadence. The glamour. That art deco style. That apartment!
Much of Hercule Poirot's world is influenced by the art deco movement and the television series has been permanently set in 1936 to take full advantage of it. The architecture and artifacts are just as much a star of the show as Poirot, Japp, Hastings and the ever efficient Miss Lemon (with her curls on her forehead!). All of them play off each other beautifully as an ensemble and often with understated hilarious effects.
But it is the houses and the artifacts within that really hold my attention. Someone pours tea and I freely lust after that tea service. It is all a visual delight and the many closeup shots of the details only add to the feast.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

9 days on

Violet is still ... under the weather. Unwell. I thought I heard her say she was feeling "wretched" this morning when she came in from work. I'm sure she didn't mean it.

I am getting worried about her eating habits, though. She keeps picking at those candy dishes she has laid out all over the place. And her breath, well, it smells a little, weird. I keep trying to get really close to determine the various notes, but every time she starts coughing and wheezing and getting all drippy.

Yep. Must be those
Ricola candies she's constantly eating.

I think I'll take them away from her, one by one.

Abby is here to help you, my pet.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

stocking feet

Socks are an odd adornment. You'd think they'd suffer a little from identity as to whether they belong with outerwear or underwear. But they know how to make themselves shine. They seem to be just as comfortably aligned with outerwear as in "socks and shoes" as they are lined up with underwear while sharing the same drawer space. I don't really think of them as 'underwear', but that is usually where you find them in a department store: on the edges of the 'lingerie' department and not beside the shoe department. Sometimes they become part of the 'accessories' department which also usually hugs lingerie. But unlike other underwear, the waistband of the Fruit of the Looms, or the skinny bra strap, or the hem of the slip, socks are meant to be seen. They peek out cheekily from the bottom of the pants (trouser) leg and the top of the shoe. There is always that dilemma as to whether to match them with the shoes or the outfit.

And a wrongly chosen sock can destroy an outfit and certainly alter another's opinion of yourself in the process (especially if they don't match). Your choice of hosiery may end up saying more about yourself than you ever imagined. You can get away with the hearts, cheeky messages, hockey logos, or cartoons on your briefs secure in the knowledge that only those of your choosing will ever actually see them. But socks have a way of being noticed by others. Are you an all black or only white sock kind of person? Or do you like a bit of argyle, some pattern, or a splash of colour? Or a Hello Kitty draped over your calf?

My niece (who is 30) loves to wear fancy socks. She has patterns and themes and drawings and bows and sparkles on all of her socks. I would not be caught be dead wearing such things. I like mine to be plain. Preferably black or brown, or maybe a beige for the spring. When I am heading out to visit a client at their home I take particular care to the socks I wear. One does not want to discover that one has decorated feet with obviously faded, or worn out and pilled socks. Or the ultimate horror: holey socks.

Socks are made for comfort as well as for style.

And now there are scented socks. Chenille slipper socks infused with microcapsules of lavender, green tea, eucalyptus, mango, green apple, rosewater, chocolate. I'm thinking that for my massage appointments, I could bring a selection. While my healing hands melt away tension, aromatherapy from my feet wafts upwards.

I'm wearing Eucalyptus. Waiting for my flu to be drawn out though my heavenly scented feet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white ...

The fresh air, even the cold air of -9 can be a healing thing. Especially if you are dressed with flannel pyjamas under wind resistant pants and two layers of fleece and a wind resistant jacket. And two layers of warm socks.
(I don't know why people think I might be hard to buy for, I so obviously live in pyjamas.....)

XUP was hoping that I'd get socks to keep my feet warm - or was she concerned about my penguin (below: Monday AMuse)? I could share my chenille ones with him. Do you think he'd like the ones scented to make his feet smell like mangos?

And I gave Jazz a bit of a fright after her return from the desert. Snow falling on my blog. No, think of it as petals from a Lilly Pilly tree.
That's the snow that Meggie gets in Australia as you can see here. (photo from Meggie's blog)

And if we keep going

we'll eventually end up here. (beach photo from flikr)
Don't know where it is exactly, but mojitos all around, let's go find it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

comfort food to the rescue

Sick again. Headache. Fever. Sore throat.
A weekend of lounging in bed.
A friend brought some chicken soup from a German deli nearby.

I have cartons of orange juice (with pulp, with cranberry juice, with pineapple juice) which I cannot drink as it sears my poor burning, scratchy, tender throat.
Hot water with lemon and a bit of honey.
But, what I am really craving,
the comfort food that is,
I am sure, the cure for my ailment

I try to ignore it, but it will not leave. It permeates my thoughts, my dreams.
It is so easy to make, requiring only time, which I have lots of.
I check and I have rice. Milk, even coconut milk for that extra creaminess. I have sugar and nutmeg, butter.

What I don't have, and I know this without even looking is that one important ingredient that MAKES the rice pudding.

There is nothing for it, but to get dressed and venture out into the cold night air (which turns out to be not so cold afterall) and buy the vanilla.

And you know that with this much effort, I am going to buy the Pure Vanilla, not the Artificial Vanilla Flavouring.

It is all in put together and in the oven. I have been stirring at intervals. The smell is heavenly. It should be perfect by 9pm, which coincidentally is when I shall be draped on the chesterfield watching Desperate Housewives in a most un-Bree-like fashion.

I have just taken it out of the oven to cool and am clearing up the kitchen and pulling out the bowl when I see it. The little unopened bottle of Pure Vanilla Extract.

I did say I was feverish.
And un-Bree-like.

No worries. I pour a few drops in, put it back in the oven and wait ... I still have 15 minutes for it to do flavouring

winter skating

Few Dutch artists have enjoyed as much widespread renown and popularity for their work during their lifetime as Anton Pieck. His prolific works include etchings, book illustrations, watercolours, oil paintings, graphics, lithographs, woodcuts.

Anton Pieck is probably best known from his calendars and Christmas cards which made his art affordable and available to everyone. He lived from 1895 to 1987, yet his illustrations and watercolours evoked a nostalgic theme from a time he never actually experienced. Winter and fall themes are more favoured than summer and spring and many include skaters. His scenes of Dutch townscapes comprise of a surprising amount of detail depicting every day life.

This detailing in his images have made them a popular medium for paper-tole (3-D images of a painting, made by taking 4-7 copies and carefully cutting and layering).

His love of fairytale shows in his images that are full of soft edges and muted colours that make his work immediately recognizable.
In the 1950's the world's first theme park, the Efteling with the Fairy Tale Forest, designed from Pieck's drawings of fairy tales was opened. He was involved as the chief designer of the park for several decades.

You can see more of his work here

Saturday, January 3, 2009


One of the things I look forward to in the new year is opening up a new calendar. Not because it represents new beginnings or the promise of good things to come. No, I just like the pretty pictures.

And there are so many to choose from. Chapters and Indigo have the best selection of art calendars. There are kiosks in malls that have the biggest selection from the too cute for words puppies and kittens in hammocks, flowers and countryside drawings, castles and sunsets and gardens, to birds and animals, cars, firemen, faeries and eventually to the the tacky celebrity and tv shows.

Every year I head out with an open mind, never knowing or expecting what will take my fancy. It may be faces in food, or lightning, or dolphins or trees. Or Monet, Dali, Pieck, Man Ray, Colin Baxter, Paris or Tuscany. I love that with a calendar one can have twelve new prints of artwork to grace the walls of one's kitchen, hall, bathroom or bedroom or office. Just when you are ready to look at something different, a new month neatly arranges that for you.

This year, I already picked out a Jane Austin's Bath to remind me of my holiday.
I bought an Anton Pieck.
And one of chickens.

The chickens will go in the kitchen. I have become rather entranced by them lately, after reading a few bloggers who have written and photographed their personal experiences with these Japanese Bantams, Auracanas, Cuckoo Marans, Buff Orpingtons, Polish Hens, Guinea Fowl ... I must admit to not having put much thought into these creatures, I had no idea there were so many varieties, or that they were so gorgeous! But now, I honestly almost (almost) wish I had a house with a yard and lived in a sensible urban area that allowed backyard coops so I could raise a 'chook' or two. And probably bore, or entertain, you with photos and anecdotes and trials and tribulations, and maybe recipes for their marvelous eggs

Friday, January 2, 2009

day one

Rearranging the bedroom and changing the linens from my sickbed seemed like a good idea for a New Year's Day housekeeping chore.

The books I pile up beside the bed, but haven't read, were lined up on the bookshelf. The tops of dressers and tables cleared of useless detritus. The bed was stripped of the old linens and and new flannel sheets put in place. The duvet was finally stuffed into its fresh cover. The cat was dragged out of the duvet cover. I was standing on the foot of the bed to give the duvet a good shake to straighten it out, then another good shake to drape it over the whole bed.

It was the second shake that did it.

That knocked against the lamp, that toppled onto the poinsettia that fell, knocking over the newly placed tumbler of water. The lamp is one of those tall skinny rod shaped ones with a small shade that clips on to the light bulb. Somehow, the shade managed to pop off the bulb, which was good because I like the shade, but not so good because it may have saved the bulb from shattering as it hit the windowsill.

Abby and I peered over the edge of the bed, looked at each other, sighed. Then she settled down to watch me clean up the by now muddy rivulets snaking a path under the bed.

So began my first day of the new year.

Later, a friend and I continued our tradition of going to a movie on New Year's and this year's choice was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is a visually stunning film to watch. Leisurely rambling and blessedly unsentimental, it is a tale covering the reversing life of Benjamin who is born an old man as a baby and regresses to a baby as a baby as he "ages". The CGI effects of Brad Pitt's expressions put on the face attached to the various actors who play Benjamin are arresting (it is amazing that you can see Brad in the face of the 10 year old old-man-child). Humorous moments like when the true Brad Pitt appears and his childhood sweetheart, who meets up with him after a long absence, says to him: look at you, you're perfect, stop you dead as you watch him grow younger and younger. If you enjoy a plot less fantasy of life, and don't mind a melancholic, fatalistic moral, I urge you to see this film.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

from Scarlett