Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Henri, The Existential Cat, Thinks Of Halloween...

Words of wisdom from one of my favourite felines...


Halloween Chortles and Chuckles

Well, it’s that time of year when witches and goblins and ghosts and mummies go from door to door for sugary treats. And Maxine is here to celebrate this day with her witty humour. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween, to all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Trivia - Origin Of Halloween

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays. It can be traced back several hundred years before the birth of Christ to the festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the last day of the Celtic calendar by the Druids, a pre-Christian Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe that we have learned about through Greek writers, the Roman Caesars and early records found in Ireland.

Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the veil between this world and the other world was so thin that the dead and some of the living could move freely between the two worlds. During the festival of Samhain, meaning ‘summer’s end’, the Celts gathered to sacrifice crops and animals for the Celtic deities. They also wore costumes, generally consisting of animal heads and skins, and lit huge bonfires in honour of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. They also considered it a time when the future could be more easily predicted and carried out the ritual of fortune-telling. In some Celtic traditions, men would run around the boundaries of their farms after sunset with blazing torches to protect their families from malevolent spirits.

Some trace the origins of the present day ‘trick-or-treating’ to this festival. Fearful that unfriendly spirits would cause damage to their properties and livestock, the Celts began a tradition of placing gifts and treats on their doorsteps as a way to appease them. (Cause an angry spirit can be a real mean spirit...) There’s no guarantee that this is true, but it makes for a really cool theory.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Humour Loving Family

“Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life's absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.”
- Lewis Mumford -

Apparently, we do not possess a ‘joke’ or ‘funny’ gene, and therefore, our sense of humour is a learned trait that is influenced by family and our cultural environment. It is all nurture, not nature, so if you grow up in a household that laughs a lot, chances are you will, too.

That was - and still is - the case with my family. My older brother tells very amusing stories about the experiences and encounters he has had with other people. My mother makes you laugh with stories of everyday encounters, particularly the animals that visit her garden. My father was very witty, and also had a very sarcastic sense of humour. But never in a mean way. His sarcasm was friendly and very comical. And my brother who died last year was, by far, the most entertaining member. He had us all roaring with laughter at every get-together, and we all looked forward to seeing him on those visits to listen to his side-splitting skits. He could easily have been a stand up comic, and at one point we told him he should have had his own comedy show. He smiled at that, obviously flattered, and said he would call it “Every hour, on the hour” because a lot of his humour consisted of reporting the news in a very funny manner. When he died, we wanted to print something on his headstone that defined him, guessed it...we added “Every Hour, On The Hour” to it. Wherever he is, he is smiling about that.

As for me, I could not imagine life without humour, as many of you who have been following my blog for some time have realized. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away, but a laugh or two. That being said, here are some comics to make you laugh. In honour of my humour-loving family who tickled - and continue to tickle - my funny bone regularly. And to keep all of you healthy. Don’t say I don’t care about you.


Although we’re not genetically predisposed to enjoying humour, had we been, my family would be primo candidates for it. In fact, we’d be carrying a supersized humour gene! A gene that I'm happy to report has been passed onto my children.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Single Photograph

"There is no season in all the year so beautiful, so radiant with glory, as the early autumn. There is no time when the human soul drinks in so fully the glory and beauty of nature. All objects of beauty are more beautiful while passing away from us. The closing up of a beautiful life—the fading of the holy stars in the dim light of morning—the ending of a quiet summer day and the passing away of the bright summer glory, are all more sweet and lovely as they are lost to us. The death-glow always beautifies anything that wears the trace of beauty ere it goes back to nothingness. We do not understand the secret of this principle, yet we know that it is some law of the infinite mind."
- Northern Advocate -

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tune Time – Lonely People

I really like this tune from Jars of Clay, a Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. The perfect song for when you’re feeling exceptionally mellow and in the mood for low key music.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sunny Side Up

“On Hallowe'en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin' scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it's Hallowe'en fun.”

This week’s sunny side up is a video tribute to Halloween costumes -- some of which are hilarious. The music is cool, too. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend.

Book It - Where Are The Children?

This week’s featured book:

Where Are The Children?
Author: Mary Higgins Clark


Nancy Harmon long ago fled the heartbreak of her first marriage, the macabre deaths of her two little children, and the shocking charges against her. She changed her name, dyed her hair, and left California for the windswept peace of Cape Cod. Now remarried, she has two more beloved children, and the terrible pain has begun to heal -- until the morning when she looks in the backyard for her little boy and girl and finds only one red mitten. She knows that the nightmare is beginning again....

My Comments:

Where does one start with the “queen of suspense”? I suppose at the very beginning would be a good place...

Where Are The Children? is Mary Higgins Clark’s debut suspense thriller, originally published in 1975, and the first book I read from her. I didn’t actually get to it until about the mid 80s, and by then she’d released a few more That suited me fine because I really enjoyed her writing style and was eager for more.

In my opinion, this is one of Clark’s best novels and the perfect one to start with if you’ve never read anything by her. The tension builds up quickly in this highly-suspenseful story that you won’t want to put down. You’ll want those children to be found so badly...but will they?

Read the book and find out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Majestic Swans

We took many day trips this past summer, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it’s been, and how many delightful sights I’ve captured through my camera lens. When you stop to look around, really stop, you discover a world filled with beautiful and miraculous things. And we certainly need some of that amidst the ugliness that humans bring to this planet.


One of the loveliest sights in the summer was the swans in the photos below.

One happy photographer!

I was glued to this spot for quite awhile.
Unbelievably, until this moment, I’d never seen swans in person. It’s true, so you can imagine my delight when we spotted this couple.

Swans are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks, both of which there is no shortage of in my city.

Swans usually mate for life, though 'divorce' does occur at times, particularly when nesting fails.

Swan nests are about a metre wide and are built on land near the water with leaves and twigs. Unlike some of their cousins, male swans help with the construction of the nest. They also aid in the incubation of the 3 to 8 eggs that the female lays.

The nests are aggressively protected by the parents. One man drowned after being attacked by a swan that probably felt threatened by his presence near its nest.

Baby swans, known as cygnets, hatch out of their eggs in just over a month, and are often on the water with their mother within a couple of days. They stay close to her for protection and warmth, and mama swan guards her babies with a vengeance against any animal that she believes is a threat.

In addition to being known as cygnets, young swans are also called swanlings. An adult male is a cob, and an adult female is a pen.

Isn't this just a beautiful bird?

Swans feed in the water and on land. They are almost entirely herbivorous, although they may eat small amounts of aquatic animals. In the water, food is obtained by up-ending or dabbling, and their diet is composed of the roots, tubers, stems and leaves of aquatic and submerged plants.

In a protected environment, swans can live up to thirty years or longer, but typically live less than ten years in the wild.

I waited very patiently for one of the swans to do this for me!
Is there a creature more graceful and lovelier than a swan? They are a reminder of everything that’s right in this world, and have inspired music, art, dance and literature. And, of course, this photographer. I am grateful for this moment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brothers Can Teach Us Interesting Things

“There's no other love like the love for a brother.
There's no other love like the love from a brother.”
- Terri Guillemets -

My brother who passed away last year has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been going through all my photos, sorting and organizing them, so I can create photo books. As I go through images all the way back to my childhood, I’m running across picture after picture of him, and I’m reminded of so many wonderful memories him and I built together. Some of them quite funny. Like the time he explained how babies are made. That’s right. I found out where babies really come from courtesy of my brother when we were quite young.

How it happened...

One day as I was heading out to play, I saw him off to the side, encyclopedia in hand, whispering to a friend as though they were conspiring about something. He called me over to share some newfound knowledge. He had, he explained, discovered how babies are made, and wanted to share that startling information with me. Because I should know. It was that shocking.

OHMYGOD! You mean babies aren't delivered by the stork?
With the help of the encyclopedia, he explained to me what reproduction is and how it works, how we came to be and what our parents had to do to get us there. We were all stunned by this information, staring at the pages with wide eyes and jaws dropped. Discovering that Santa Claus doesn’t exist was bad enough but this really took the cake! My brother’s friend was shaking his head, and repeating over and over again “No way. My parents don’t do that!”

That’s how I learned about sex – my brother told me. He learned about it because he was inquisitive and spent a lot of time reading about things in the encyclopedia. My parents never, ever spoke to us about that subject. It was taboo. There were a lot of taboo subjects in our home (this was true of many families during those days) and this was one of them.

So, that day I learned the basics of reproduction – the science behind it – from my brother, and anything after that I had to learn on my own, through books, chatting with friends or sharing with one another whatever information we had picked up somewhere. I don’t condone this style of learning. It’s a terrible way for kids to learn about such important subjects, primarily because there’s a great chance they’ll be misinformed. But that’s the way things were done back then. People were much more conservative, and a lot of subjects were not up for discussion. Whatever you learned, you learned on your own.

Thank goodness times are changing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today's Trivia - Lucid Dreaming

If you’re going to have a dream, have a lucid dream. What is a lucid dream, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you...

A lucid dream, a term coined by by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik (Willem) van Eeden (1860–1932), is a dream in which you are completely aware that you are dreaming while the dream is in progress. This typically happens when you experience something strange or completely unlikely in your dream, and start to question its reality.

Image found here.
You are able to exert some degree of control in this type of dream that can be very vivid and feel quite realistic, and you can even manipulate the imaginary experiences in the dream environment to some extent. Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established. It happens naturally, on occasion, and some people have them more often than others.

Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll make it happen, here are a couple things you can do to prompt a lucid dream:

- Write down your dreams as soon as you wake up, and try to notice a pattern in them that you’ll be able to recognize when you are in a dream state; these patterns will let you know that you are actually in a dream.

- Try to recall everything about your dream when you wake up, and repeat to yourself each night that you are going to remember that you are dreaming during your next dream.

Have you ever had one of these types of dreams? I have experienced this at least once or twice. One of those dreams was a nightmare, so it was a huge relief when I suddenly realized that I was dreaming. I was then able to kick the butt of whatever evil force was after me with my (never knew I had them) outstanding martial arts skills and my (well, would you look at that) ability to fly.

Oh, the places you will go, the things you will see and the butts you will kick...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hot To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You

In case you were wondering about this, too...

So, what do you think?
Always sleep with one eye open...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Single Photograph

“Cats were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man.”
- Paul Gray quotes -
My daughter's beautiful cat, Daeny.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tune Time - Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough

This very successful 1992 ballad performed by Patty Smyth and Don Henley is about a past relationship between two people (as narrated by the two singers) and their efforts to move on with their respective lives and make sense of the aftermath. I think most people have been there, done that. Yes, sometimes love is just not enough.

Saturday Silliness

Ever been confused about babies and all their needs? Well, no need to be. This week’s silliness gives clear cut instructions on how to properly care for a baby...

He he...don't you just love these?

Have a great weekend!