Saturday, May 30, 2009

oh dear.
am sick ... with virus,

TROJANS are invading,
cough, cough, HACK, HACK, wheeze
off to computer vet ... again

Thursday, May 28, 2009

a reality show before television

In a stunning display of insensitivity and greed, the government of the day declared the parents of the Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne unfit to care for them and they were made wards of the crown. The official reason was to "ensure their survival". The girls, who were born 75 years ago today made medical history as the first identical quintuplets to survive infancy. They are also the only set of five identical females ever recorded. They were born in a very small farmhouse to Elzire and Oliva Dionne 2 months prematurely. The five girls were so small they all fit into a wicker laundry basket and were kept warmed by the open door of the kitchen stove and hot water bottles. They also were given a special formula of cow's milk, boiled water, two spoonfuls of corn syrup, and one or two drops of rum for stimulant.

By the time they had survived four months, they government took the girls from their poor family (and their father, who had allegedly already considered exhibiting them for money) and guardianship of the girls was given to Dr Dafoe (who attended their birth). A specially designed hospital across the street from the family farm was built where they spent the next nine years of their lives, seeing nothing of the outside world and little of their parents who were made to feel unwelcome. They were tested and studied and examined, with meticulous records kept of everything. Once the government realized this could be a tourist attraction where they could make money there was no stopping the number of souvenirs, endorsements, and apparently tourists. More people came to visit what became known as 'Quintland' than visited Niagara Falls. The girls were put on display for 30 minutes two or three times a day as they were brought to a special 'play area' where tourists could watch them through a one way screen. Even in the Depression, 6,000 tourists a day made their way to this little Northern Ontario town. Souvenirs with their identical likeness (they were always dressed the same, why would anyone want to see identical quintuplets not dressed identically?) included everything from postcards, calendars, dolls, spoons, plates, cups, plaques, to special chocolate bars. Anything that could have their picture imprinted on it was and sales of Quaker Oats, condensed milk, toothpaste, corn syrup, soared as people bought into the cuteness factor and aided the economy and the exploitation.

A whole new Quint industry sprang up and provided employment for thousands. The Quints helped millions of people feel happy during the depression and forget the hunger and unemployment for a moment. - from the website of the Dionne Quints Museum North Bay District Chamber of Commerce

All was not rosy when they were eventually returned to their family. The girls felt alienated from their five older siblings and their father continued to use them as a source of income.

Emilie died at age 20 of an epileptic seizure, Marie died at age 35 of a blood clot, and Yvonne died in 2001 at age 67 of cancer. The two remaining sisters, Annette and Cecile live in Montreal. The girls all left home when they turned 18 and had little contact with their parents after that.

"We hope your children receive more respect than we did. Their fate should be no different from that of other children," Annette, Cecile and Yvonne Dionne wrote in an open letter published in Time magazine (1997) to the McCaughey's after the birth of their septuplets. "Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products."

Jon and Kate take note.

Happy 75th birthday to Annette and Cecile.

See here for more Archival pictures
For more on the Quints story including video footage see here

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

dreaming of ...?

When I woke up, I was editing a story in my head. A post about ... something. I remember it was witty, because at one point I also woke up laughing at my wittiness. My dream swirled and morphed and bounced around (as dreams do). It somehow involved Chatelaine magazine. And then it suddenly occurred to me that I should have a photo to go with my post. I actually got out of bed and looked up Chatelaine to find an cover photo to illustrate my witty post about ... something. Then I searched for my post.

Of course, there was no post. Not in drafts. Not even in my head anymore.

I'm going back to search my pillow. Maybe it is there.

In the meantime, here is a look at Chatelaine magazine. It is essentially Canadian and used to be much more important than it is now.

Oh, damn, now I really wish I remembered my dream.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

SundayStills - yellow

Today, I and a friend went out for breakfast. I love going out to eat at the best of times, well most of the time. Sitting in a booth on a bench seat at a table, where people come by and place things like coffee and water and food in front of you, what's not to like? And there was a new restaurant that opened up here a few months ago I had heard so much about, so when we noticed that there was going to be another location opening up, even closer to where we live, we knew it must be another success story and had to find out for ourselves. Don't you wish you were here with me this weekend? This is the ingenuity of a woman named Cora in Montreal.
It is only breakfast (open from 6am-3pm).
and you must love fruit, because everything on the menu is laden with piles of fruit
It is very country kitchen yellow insidewith fun signs to entertain while you are waiting
the menu is HUGE, making it difficult to choose
but after finally deciding, I broke my vow and took pictures of food in a restaurant. (still trying out the different settings)

my friend tried to think healthy with the eggs to go with the fruit

I gave up on any pretense and went for the waffle with fresh cream

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

sitting days ahead

Feeling a tad uninspired of late. The weather has made me feel a little dreamy and a touch lazy. Content to sit outside with a coffee and a notebook, I write a few words, then simply wander off in my mind about nothing and everything. The sky has been cloudless, the trees getting thicker with leaves, the blossom petals swirling around, the damn midges getting into your mouth, your eyes, going into attack mode in your face. I tear a page out of my magazine and fold it into a paper fan and genteelly swat at them. People turn and stare, knowingly, and smile. Or snicker, I'm not sure which.

In other news... we have four new baby peregrine falcons up in the Sheraton Hotel nest in Hamilton. Their scrape was cleaned out (after the mess they made last year!) for their arrival and they have acquired a lovely Weed strategically placed in the nearest corner for the chicks to sit under. Looks very homey. Here you can see Madame X looking around for mate Surge and screaming at him to get home with dinner because "I'm getting tired of sitting on these four kids who are squirming with hunger and the midges up here are just not enough food".

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday AMuse

Victoria Day
first unofficial long weekend of summer
a tradition since 1845

Friday, May 15, 2009

where I get a little intoxicated

The day started out promising enough.
Lots of rain, severe winds, with thunder storms to come.
Such was the forecast.
(embiggen for full effect)

Sixty-seven minutes of idling here and I was off - directly into more rain, more wind, even darker skies. Oh yeah, this was not going to be a good hair day. But, at the end of my journey would be fellow blogger and night worker Mr Nighttime. My second blogmeet, his first. (I am his first!!)
We ate, we laughed, we listened to music, we shared stories. We didn't take photos of each others feet or backs or obscured reflections as proof of our meeting (though it was suggested). And we didn't discuss other bloggers (much), mostly because we don't share too many blogfriends - though that may change, as you will all want to read his version of events, won't you? Mr Nighttime generously drove me around some of the most scenic parts of Rochester, and I generously did not make him stop every 100 yards so I could take a picture of the most scenic buildings and views the city has to offer. We had an agenda. Mine was to see the lilacs and his was to let me see his theatre. A tour of his soon to be no more theatre, a chance to stand on stage and gaze out over an empty auditorium... an insiders' view, an actor's enthusiasm... what a treat.

Then the day turned more promising.

We both live in Wine Country and in cities reknowned for Lilac Festivals. So a little comparison was in order. I deliberately chose this, the only wet-windy-forecasted day of the week for my visit because of the Lilac Festival and it being Wine and Blues Day. And it did not disappoint. Though, would it be uncharitable to complain that the brilliant sunshine was a little too brilliant for photos? One of the disadvantages of a point-and-shoot. The wind however, swirled the scent of the heavenly lilacs to almost giddying porportions at times.

After sampling several of the wines on offer in the free wine tent, and sampling the heady aroma of the several (hundred) lilacs on offer in the free park, I have to say that Niagara wines are far superior to Finger Lakes wines, but the Highland Park Festival just may be superior to our Royal Botanical Gardens Lilac Festival.

Afterall, this is a city that even paints her streets purple in celebration of the lilac!

Meeting blog friends though, is incomparable.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

SundayStills - black & white

This week's challenge is black and white.
With a twist. We were to go back to a previous theme and produce a black and white photo for it. And then do it again with another previous theme.

So here I've chosen architecture and picked two photos from NYC taken last January.

These are some gorgeous homes near Central Park West
(those horrible new windows certainly pop out!)

I wanted to make this one look a little sinister. And I like how the detail in the brick shows up in this corner tower.

Now, the easiest way to have created these would have been to simply convert to black and white. But I then played around with the colour and hue levels and the tones and kept layering until I got the detail I liked.

Then thought about my second theme:


The original was taken in very bright light at midday, so I wanted to tone down some of that brightness. I tried to accentuate the colours of the squares and the variety in the trees. Am not sure about the yellow, ended up compromising there to get the leaves in detail, but the three squares do look very colourful in B&W.

This photo challenge is growing in participants every week, check out SundayStills to see who they all are and what they have come up with.

Friday, May 8, 2009

There is a new game of tag going around the blogosphere, all about thinking happy. Finding joy in the little things in life. Interestingly, the blog that just this week won a Webby for best personal blog and the People's Choice Award is 1000 Awesome Things. Check it out and see if you don't find yourself smiling in recognition at some of the insignificant awesome things in life that just seem to make you happy, even if only for a moment. It's more than a list, with interesting perspectives thrown in. Started almost a year ago, he updates daily with another of life's little pleasures, giving one pause for thought and laughter. Or cynicism.
“A lovingly beautiful blog. It’s like being a three- or four-year-old and looking at the world for the first time again. Read it and you’ll feel good about being human.” – Jim Hedger, Webmaster radio

I'd like to say that waking up refreshed and rarin' to go after a good deep sleep is one thing that makes me happy. Well, it is, but I don't think it falls into the 'unimportant things that make you happy' category. which is the point of this tag. That is a really important thing. This past week has been especially trying, for some reason. The mere act of waking up has exhausted me. Walking over to the kitchen then the computer, I'm glad of the chair. Even the computer has been a bit trying of late, taking so long to upload some blogs, that I give up and go lay down, where my desire to read fights with my need to sleep. Neither one seems to come out a winner.

But, with the birds singing and the sun shining I headed outdoors today. And thought about the Six Unimportant Things That Make Me Happy.
A tag from reflecting Susan over in the 'Swamp. I won't tag any of you, but if anyone else feels like playing, "you're it".

1. A good hair day
2. The smell of laundry fresh off the line. Especially bedsheets. And pillowcases.
3. A brilliantly painted sunset after a dull day.
4. A really, really, good cup of tea in the afternoon.
5. Ducks. Playing, waddling, quacking, swimming, diving. How can you not smile when you see them?
6. When a young child, who is not yours and you've just met, reaches up and puts her hand in yours. Of course, I get this same warm feeling when a cat climbs onto my lap and curls up to sleep. It's a tie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

where I can see evidence of my younger self

Whew. Found the commemorative magazine supplement. I was wrong about the size of the crowd photo at Dam Square, and am now not sure if Gerrit, our Dutch friend, was even there with us. He may just have known that we went. So, because Geewits asked...

There we are - can you see me? In the bottom right ^ corner. I've long blonde hair, wearing what looks like an orangey jacket. There is a young, skinny, bearded man in a brown suede jacket looking up - that's Allen. Don't know who those other 1,996 people are.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I think, I remember

I thought about having a beer the other day. Not an unusual thought. Then I thought about what glass to put it in. That is more unusual, as I usually just grab whatever one is handy, depending on the beer. I have beer mugs, which I never use, and pint glasses which I use for dark ales. And I have smaller glasses for anything else.

This time, I thought I'd use my special little glass. It is a delicate Heineken 6oz and sits on the top shelf because I don't use it very often. Which means it needed a bit of cleaning before pouring the Hoegaarden into it. So, I washed it and with a teatowel in both hands, grasped the base with my left hand and proceeded to wipe the rim with my right hand. And immediately broke it. It shattered like a light potato chip.

I was proud of myself for not crying.
And for having that teatowel wrapped around my hand.

It did make me very sad, though. I have had that glass for 30 years. I know this because that is how long it's been since I lived in Holland, where I got it. The shattering of a 30 year old memento and then realizing how long it has been a memento has a way of making one reminisce and feel nostalgic. And wonder what the hell happened to that 20 year old's free spirit? It also made me sad, because, as I said, I rarely used it for fear of it breaking, which now seems a waste. I have another glass from my stay that has a picture of the newly crowned Queen Beatrix, from 30Apr 1980. I'm pretty sure I would have cried if that had broken. Not because I particularly like it, but for the memories it holds.

We were warned at the time of the Coronation, not to go into the city centre because of the crowds and the threats of riots. But, after watching on TV, we decided to head on in anyway and see how far we could safely get. And we saw no rioting, no teargas, none of the water cannons aimed at the protesters (and there were many, but not as many as the cheering people). We managed to get into the square in front of the palace and I remember one very happy older gentleman pushing us forward and explaining who all the people on the balcony waving at us were. It was my first sighting of any Queen and I got two in one day.

Later, a Dutch friend of ours came by with several copies of a popular magazine, Margriet, for us. He had been looking at the special edition and in particular the centre spread of the crowds of people in the square as the Royal Family waved from the balcony. And somehow, in that photo of thousands of people, he found us: two Canadians, one American, and himself.

My heart goes out to the Dutch people and the recent act of violence aimed at the Royal Family that killed and injured so many cheering bystanders. At least in 1980, you knew what the protesters were about; this will forever remain unexplained. Yet, will change everything.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

SundayStills - flowers

Some gardens just really know how to party
(hmmm, this looks way better if embiggened on your screen
so click away on all images)

I pass this house every day while at work
and finally stooped to take some photos in the early morning
creating a shadow of myself in the process

It's mostly tulips and daffodils that are out now, though I have seen some hyacinth and yesterday saw the beginnings of a purple iris.

Some flowers just don't know where to stop

Here we have a Sakura Cherry Blossom Tree grove that was donated to Burlington in 1997 from Itabashi Japan as part of our twinning.
It suddenly came into blossom last Thursday after all the rain.
Sakura is the name of the flower from the ornamental cherry tree. The cherry blossom is an omen of good fortune and is also an emblem of love, affection and represents spring. The cherry blossom symbolizes feminine beauty in China and in Japan cherry blossoms also symbolize clouds due to their nature of blooming en masse, besides being an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral and fleeting nature of life.
The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality. For this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic, and have been utilized often in Japanese art, manga, anime and film.
source: Wikipedia

See SundayStills for more interesting flowers