Thursday, October 29, 2009

two cats, two televisions

Before I have my key in the door it starts. The meowing. An incessant meowing. Not a me-e-ow here and there, more like a staccato, with no pause for breath and definitely not drawn out. meowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeowmeow. Then, she flops down in front of my feet with no warning, no change in her meowmeowmeow. We play for a bit. She may or may not eat, now that I am here. She grabs a drink of water, then ... pounces. I don't think this cat knows how to retract her claws. She kneads your neck. your neck!! I found some teatowels and learned to drape myself; the claws get through but not as sharply. We finally settle into a routine and I bring over an old toy of Abby's that she no longer bothers with. It is a flexible wire with bits of cardboard on either end. You can hold it with one hand and let it flop around and watch the cat do amazing pirouettes, flips and triple salchows and stretch every single muscle her body owns. I sigh as I think how I can barely straighten up after tying my shoes.

My cat, Abby is almost 15 years old. Maggie is a little over a year old. I often wonder what I will do when Abby is gone - will I get another kitten? an older cat? or maybe two cats?

I have noticed within the last couple of weeks that she no longer follows me every time I head for the washroom. She now barely even deigns to open one eye when I move. Lazy beggar. She's fine and healthy, just... old, I guess.

So, babysitting Maggie was an interesting reminder. I have heard, from my friend Brian, that she has become much more affectionate since he returned after two weeks away!

While we are playing with towels and bits of cardboard and wire, I watch TV. I soon started timing my visits to coincide with certain programs. That big screen ( 27", 32", I forgot to measure, but certainly way bigger than my 17") with HD and satellite almost had me gasping. I don't watch an awful lot of television, so never pay much attention to the latest innovations. I soon started rethinking that. Wondering just how much a satellite dish cost anyway... and now that my television has decided to be most unco-operative (it turns itself off whenever it feels like it and has a fuzzy reflection on the screen and I'm told: it's better to just buy a new one...)

So now, I am sitting here with a cat who may or may not have moved from her (my) bed since I came home from work at 4:30AM and no tv at all. I feel a little lost. Yet liberated at the same time. I have no idea what shows I am missing because I only check the listings if I know I can be at home and watch it. I can at least scratch behind an ear or two without having my neck scarred. And we both seem to have a lot of time to stretch out the massage. I should think about charging her for the hour. Nah, I'm getting my pleasure in reflective contemplation and warmth from a heavy cat stretched across my stomach and chest. It's lovely really, this slow, steady non- moving sleepy cat.

I went to the store to check out new televisions (if I am paying for cable, I should at least have the choice of watching it or not, yes?) and am still undecided. Then I wandered next door to the pet store. The kittens were sleeping.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a totally made up story with real pictures

Hello, my name is
and I will be your guide through this
Chrys an' the Mum Show (not a registered trademark name) that is on here at my greenhouse in the park. I know, the signs plastered all over town just say MUM SHOW, I have lawyers working on that.

Keep up and take photos, but do not touch the flowers, because they are art and well, I said so.

This year's theme is Autumn Harvest.

See how this truck that looked like scrap metal in the field has been transformed by the addition of a few dozen pots of pretty mums onto its bed? I have to guard it from stray squirrels who think it might be a bed of roses and set them straight.

Now inside, my kitties, and feast your eyes.

Don't mind the cow, she is tame and friendly.

She even has a pet chicken. There is a treat if you can guess the correct number of mums covering that cow.

Did you know that there are over a hundred and fifty different varieties of mums? No, well try telling your friendly floral buyer that at your local grocery store.

And see all the farm implements decorating the walls, some of them even have notices telling you young city folk what they were used for. Now you can feel thankful that you have more advanced tools to work with.

That is my loft up there, where I keep track of everything a good barn cat keeps track of.

Okay, I know, closeups of the pretty, pretty flowers... (licks paw, while waiting)

Keep up, we're going throught the bit where they try to sell you stuff, but we'll hurry on through to the tea room, where these cheerful and hardworking ladies (wearing great big corsages) will serve you tea or coffee (with a snack). Darn, looks like that bus tour of seniors just left.

If you find out who made these interesting tea cosies, let me know, because if I ever get a day off, I might like an evening with them...

Oooh, look, turtles!

yeah, that mouse you are holding onto? you know, I'm a barn cat and can see it? I'll let it live so you can use it to biggify the photos...

There will be more photos every day this week on Sightlines

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Amuse

Some Hallowe'eny cakes

(although these cakes are a divergence from the usual wrecks)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SundayStills - landscapes fall foliage

Last Sunday, when Ed suggested fall landscapes as a challenge even though "by now most of the north has passed peak for the year", I sighed and laughed at the same time. We had barely begun. Waiting patiently and wondering...
Then suddenly, sometime between Tuesday and Thursday, the leaves exploded with colour. The sun has not made much of an appearance since, and it has been windy and rainy - which has blown off many of the coloured leaves.
I figured, since most of the other SundayStills contributors are rural, I would give an urban feel to the fall landscape.

This is the road that leads up the escarpment in Dundas towards the views in my previous post
Port Credit

Scenes from my balcony
Some of you may remember my favourite art deco house
which looks almost dwarfed by this flaming tree
here is the lake on a cold, blustery day, with a burning bush not providing any warmth
and turn around and across the street from that burning bush
(with a spot of water spray on the lens)

as usual, visit SundayStills for more fall landscapes from various parts of the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

a tease

I went for a walk the other day.

Found a house for sale.
Pretty, no?

You haven't seen the view yet.............

and this was on a cloudy day


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the second five random words

It's time for the second set of five random words, this time offered up by Geewits of Trying to Fill the Unforgiving Minute.

I have never seen a bear.
I have been to Banff and Jasper and even Yellowstone National Parks. I have camped in Algonquin and Killarney Provincial Parks. I've driven the Trans Canada Highway from Toronto to Vancouver 2 times and to Winnipeg 3 times. I've seen salmon swimming upstream to spawn. But nary a bear. It seems almost un-Canadian.
It's probably for the best.

My best memories of Switzerland are in the fog. I know - what a waste of beautiful, amazing scenery, THE ALPS, in the fog! And yet, it was all so beautiful. To wake up in fog and watch it shift and move. To be on the train and feel that you are climbing up, up, up, until suddenly the fog lifts and the clouds part and you see... mountains. All around you. I think we entertained the other Swiss passengers on the train with our squeals of delight and racing from one side of the train to the other to drink in the views. My friend Denise was from Kansas and we were living in Holland, so the peaks of the alps were a wondrous sight after so much flatness. I don't think it would have been quite so exciting had we seen them all along. Or if every day weren't first enshrouded in fog so that we didn't know for sure if would ever see them again.

There are a lot of grapes near where I live. The Niagara Peninsula is the largest grape growing area in Canada. This means there are a lot of wineries, too. If you come to visit me, I will take you on a wine tour. We will drive down roads beside fields and fields of grapes. I will not be able to tell you what kind of grapes they are, but we can visit any number of wineries for tastings and ask. Driving around in September and October is the best time to see the vines laden with grapes before harvesting. And we can stop in at my favourite bakery, The Pie Plate for some grape pie. Quite possibly the most expensive pie I have ever bought. But I had to try it, and without asking the price, the last one in the shop was boxed up. You don't see grape pie very often, so the 14.99 was maybe worth it. Once. Or for a very special occasion.

Most people don't seem to like their feet. I don't really think about whether I like mine or not, but I do like to take care of them. Having a pedicure is more than making your toes pretty and colourful, though if you don't like your feet, I say get a good polish. Polished toes will detract from the rest of your feet, because once there is some colour on your toenails, that's what everyone will be looking at. I have small toenails. So small, that there is barely anything on my baby toes. I figure I should get a discount for only needing eight toes polished.

Not a day goes by without more news being written about H1N1 and how we should not only wash our hands every minute of the day, but stop that disease ridden practice of shaking hands. Trust me, no elbow bump will ever become a part of my greeting. So, I'm guessing that the kiss hello is definitely out forevermore. As uncomfortable as I can feel with the kiss hello, I sortof wish I didn't feel uncomfortable. I wish I knew exactly what to do - left cheek peck or right cheek peck or right, left, right, or air kiss... it is all so confusing. Unlike the handshake which is direct and formal and polite without invading anyones personal space. I was walking behind two little girls yesterday; they were holding hands and kicking the leaves on the sidewalk and laughing, when one of them spontaneously put her arm around the other's shoulder and gave her a kiss on the cheek. It was all so sweet. As all kisses should be.

So far, Meggie and Susan have also played from the first set of words. If you wish to check out their post, click on their names. And if you wish to play just ask for five words.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SundayStills - 'C'

There was a time, way back in another century,
when one could eat with a little bit of class on an airplane.

Each airline seem to have its own preferred style

notice how the British Airways knives got smaller and narrower?
These made excellent camping CUTLERY.
Sadly, while gathering these for the photo (this is but a sampling), I could not find my Wardair set of which I was particularly proud. It was the one time I flew Wardair about a year before they were absorbed into CPAir. I was moved into a First Class seat so a baby could have the bulkhead seat I was assigned. No one was in First Class, so I sat in the back row and slept peacefully all the way to London. It would have been too obvious to steal that cutlery, so I had to wait until the return journey.
This was actually quite a challenge to get the silverware showing nicely without too many distracting reflections or shadows.
This week's challenge was for anything beginning with the letter C - visit SundayStills for other views.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

a view to remember

It was cold and almost rainy and the colours still not spectacular, but we wandered down by the Niagara River while waiting for the theatre to open for our play.
There weren't many other people out enjoying this blustery day and we were rather quiet
when suddenly, in the trees
a rustling
and then this
I was so excited, I could barely hold the camera steady.
And believe you me there is a rather huge drop into the gorge that I was not anxious to experience...
that hawk would likely come after me

I think I am ready to upgrade to a camera with a better zoom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the first five random words

It is time for another meme!
I like these kind of free flowing ones where you ask other bloggers to supply you with questions or, in this case, FIVE random words chosen specifically for you. All you have to do is write anything that these words make you think of. These five random words came from mrwriteon of And I Still Think So.

Everything seems so much bigger in the tropics. Bigger and more intense. The sun is hotter, the rain is more frequent, the flowers are huge, the greenery more lush, the birds more colourful. The humidity more exhausting. The spiders and other bugs way too frightening. So, not quite paradise.
I used to think a holiday on a beach would be the most boring thing. I needed a little more stimulation. I now know better, the sand and sea are so mesmerizing and the heat so draining, I don't want to go anywhere but sit with a cool drink with one of those umbrellas. They are talking about snow and frost on the weather channel at the moment....

The first time I sent a donation to PBS (public television that relies on funding "from viewers like you") was after seeing the Bill Moyers interviews with Joseph Campbell. I had to have that book. I was devoted to his writings and soon my bookshelves were heavy with all manner of books on mythology and comparative religions. About a year ago, when I needed more space, it was my books on mythology that were redistributed in the laundry room. I kept a few, most definitely Joseph Campbell, and Bullfinch, though I will likely never get around to reading it. But I now have a few more feet of space for other genres. It seemed, at the time and still, a strange passion for someone who tends to take things literally. Maybe it was my creative side that needed to be explored.

Seriously overrated. Oh sure it looks so slinky and sexy the way it drapes and flows and shimmers. Until it hugs a bulge. Or snags. And you know that if you wear that gorgeous outfit to a party you will come home with some kind of stain decorating your front that will not come out.
Satin is perfection and who among us can attain that. Who can wear perfection well? Who among us can eat bruschetta without dripping? Yes, it is wonderful to have those sheets floating over your body as you sleep, until you see the wrinkled mess in the morning.
No, satin is annoying.

When I was very little I wanted to be a streetcar driver when I grew up. I always liked sitting in the very back to watch the cable that attached to the overhead electrical wires. It would swing back and forth when the car turned corners and sometimes, if we were lucky, the driver would have to get out and prod it back into position with a long stick. Then there were the areas where several tracks merged and he (for it was always a he back then, though that never occurred to me as a young girl, I still thought I could grow up to be one of their exalted group) would again need to get out with a different long stick and do something magical with the tracks so we'd be going in the right direction. These things never happened on the bus. Then I grew up and had to take the 504 car every day to work. The novelty soon wore off. Though I still feel a certain nostalgia when I see streetcars and am ambivalent at the newer designs that look like mini futuristic trains.

I love cities. I was born in Toronto, although technically it was a suburb and felt very suburban. When I was young, going 'downtown' was a major event. It required getting dressed up in your almost Sunday best. "I am not going to be seen downtown with you wearing that outfit" was often heard in my house. I love the energy that comes in a city. Seeing the streets full of life and restaurants with patios full of people makes me feel happy. The noise and the smells are another story, one that comes with city life that needs to be endured but not enjoyed. I moved a lot while in Toronto and managed to always live within walking distance of the subway each time. That is almost as important as being able to walk to a coffee shop, grocery store and book store. The idea of living out in the country with no neighbours for miles around sends a minor panicked feeling through my bones. Way too much enforced quiet and solitude.

If anyone else wants to play, just let me know and I'll choose five words for you to be creative with.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday AMuse

"Don't Panic"

And Another Thing as reviewed here and here

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
Part Six of Three:
The Sixth in the Increasingly Inaccurate Hitchhiker's Trilogy

H2G2 is officially 30 years old today.
October 12 is the launch of the unexpected and highly anticipated return of Arthur Dent.
Anyone out there with a copy of this new book?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SundayStills - photoshop

This fountain at the Royal Botanical Gardens was touched up with some sepia, some more tint for depth, then topped off with some graduated tint for a hint of colour.

Farther along in the RBG, as part of an art and sculpture display, this tree was a red oak that had been destroyed by gypsy moths. It was cut down and the "resulting work is the entire tree, from the largest sections of the trunk to the smallest branches cut into cubes and packed as a solid block in its original location".
The original picture turned out a little lifeless (no pun intended) and this effect is the result of it being warmified and sharpened, then a lot of soft focus was added to add concentration to the stump and the block.
I'm not generally a huge fan of photoshopping. Sometimes a photo could use a little bit of help, but I find too much saturation annoying rather than enlightening, and often these 'soft focus' ones just make me want to rub my eyes and squint.
BUT, there seems to be some amazing techniques out there that I knew nothing about, which make my attempts here look very basic and simple. I urge anyone who is interested and who doesn't normally check out the other SundayStills contributers to do so and see some of the creativity that photoshop can produce - if you have the right program!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

second post in an irregular new feature that involves me walking

It is fall festival time and I have been out most weekends enjoying the craft shows and fall fare. And, may I gloat say, I have all my Christmas shopping done! YES!! Now, I don't have that many people to buy for, but I don't always know what to get for these family members I seldom see (and for the extended in-laws we share the holidays with who I don't know at all). Sometimes though, you get inspired and see things that seem exactly right. And I love buying gifts from crafts people - supporting the local artists and getting to meet them and possibly hearing a little about how they make their craft, or in some cases actually seeing the art being made.
I fell in love with these bird houses. I don't have a yard for them, but I do think this will make a lovely housewarming present for someone I know. I hope she likes it. You can bet I'll be checking their yard at Christmas because I am like that - I need proof that my thoughtful gifts are being used and enjoyed.
The first of the fairs I went to was the Peach Festival, which unfortunately was held on a weekend of a massive overnight storm. About 16 tents collapsed under the weight of the rain and a few artists had to abandon the remainder of the event when their stock (boxes and other papers) were destroyed. The next day bloomed sunny, if a little muddy.

Last weekend found me at a studio tour in the lovely artists' town of Dundas. The regulars were there, plus a few new artists from outside the immediate area. I fell in love with these fish.....

and bought myself a walking stick. Purely on a whim. Before I knew what had happened, it was measured for me and a rubber tip put on it and my wallet was out. No less than three people came up to me, so excited for my new purchase and later I was approached by another couple wanting to know where I had bought it. I thought I should give it a little test drive. Just a short walk, as the day was already waning. The colours aren't at their best yet. But, with walking stick in hand and camera in pocket I shall return to this spot next Saturday and we'll see the difference in the Dundas Valley.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SundayStills - happiness is

Those of you who read this regularly know that I work nights.
My quitting one of my jobs last month didn't pan out quite as expected, well, not as planned.
And trying to be helpful for a friend this past week hasn't been as good an idea as I thought.


Happiness is...
one of the bonuses of working nights is seeing the sunrise as I am finishing and heading home. A sunrise over the water. A view that, sadly, is threatened with development. So, every time I get to wander through to this favourite spot, I am happy.

Happiness is...
a nap in a warm, sunny spot, with my favourite chenille throw
(and my cat Abby)

Happiness is...
hanging out with someone beloved where you can be yourself

Happiness will be a far flung family getting together for a feast and a gathering and a housewarming...
but that is next weekend for Thanksgiving (Canadian style)
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see more happiness at SundayStills