Monday, March 31, 2014

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy Monday, bloggers. I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Can you believe that it’s the last day of March? Because I can’t. I woke up to this yesterday morning:

Yes, it snowed. Again. In spring. We’ve had snow since November. Since before winter began. And as much as I love having four seasons, I don’t think one season should hog up so much time. Winter’s time has come and gone. It. Has. To. Leave. And make room for flowers. And grass. And warm days. And colour. Much-needed colour.

Now look at this photo:

You know what’s in front of the basement window? Bulbs. Tulip and daffodil bulbs that have been trying to grow since mid March. And every time they poke their little heads out a little bit more, trusting that winter is finally over - WHAM – they get clobbered by more snow.

Now, what I’d really like to know is who is responsible for this? Which one of you has been praying for more snow? Don’t make me come there...

Well, we might as well keep a sense of humour going, so let’s start the week – and end the month - with some silliness...

Have a great day, everyone.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Says Young People Aren’t Courteous?

Yesterday evening, we walked over to the mall to have coffee and get out of the house for awhile. My daughter’s boyfriend was here for a few hours, so we forced invited the two of them to come along. Because we weren’t going to leave a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy alone in the house for an extended period of time. Teenage hormones, people, teenage hormones. I may be liberal and easygoing, but even I have my limits.

Anyhow, the kids are a joy to spend time with, and we are very fond of my daughter’s boyfriend. He is very polite, and well mannered towards us, which is a pleasure, but what is most important is that he’s very good to my daughter. He is very devoted to her, and treats her with respect. Seeing these two young people behave so maturely and thoughtfully with each other is very gratifying.

Speaking of young people, we were served by some very friendly and polite teens at the coffee shop. Who says young people aren’t courteous? Come to Kingston, and you’ll meet plenty of them. I so love this city.

Well, that’s a wrap for this week. Below is a fun video to kick start the weekend, which I hope is a great one for all of you. Our weather should be warming up, and this snow may finally melt. It’s the end of the month and I’m still wearing boots and a winter jacket. This is so soooo wrong...

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hometown Memories: The Neighbourhood Fire Station

Because it’s an old area, there are quite a few historical buildings in the neighbourhood I grew up in. This is something that appeals to me deeply, particularly from a photographic point of view. The architecture of these old structures is unique, and there are stories behind each one.

The fire station seen in the image below is one of those historical buildings:

My heart beat a little faster every time I walked by here as a teenager.
Station 41, which was just a few minutes walking distance from my family’s home, opened in 1924. At the time, it only had horse-drawn carriages to serve the people. Because it was rarely used for several years, it was decided that the motorized vehicles at a station in another section of the city would be able to accommodate the area, and station 41 was shut down in 1933.

During that period, the building was used in different ways: as a protestant church, as a garage for police vehicles, and even as a paint shop for the fire department. But floods became frequent in the neighbourhood, which made it difficult for the distant fire station, and because of that, along with pressure from a municipal councilor, station 41 was reopened in 1939, albeit with only one truck in its possession. Renovations were finally made in 2004, and the fire station now has two fire trucks, one pump truck and one ladder truck.

Today, station 41 stands proudly, having served the area for many years.

Incidentally, every year a fireman from the station would go door to door selling calendars to raise money. Needless to say, I always bought one. Because I’m one of those women that love firemen. Typical, I know, but oh so true. And I don’t apologize for it!

How can you not love people who do things like this?


Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You’re Soaking In It

Ah, Madge, the chatty manicurist who worked in the 'Salon East Beauty Parlor' in the classic Palmolive commercials.

Do you remember her? If you’re around my age, you probably do.

She would secretly soak her customer’s fingernails in Palmolive dishwashing liquid, and tell them to use it because it “softens your hands while you do the dishes”.  Then she’d shock them by saying “You’re soaking in it”, her trademark line, which became one of the most famous and parodied television commercial quotes.

Here’s a clip of that commercial:

The Madge character was popular around the world. In France she was “Francoise”, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria she was “Tilly”, and in Finland she was “Marissa”.

The Palmolive ads featuring Madge the Manicurist appeared in print and on television for 27 years, from 1966 to 1992, and were played by actress Jan Miner who died in 2004 at the age of 86. She was a radio, television, film and stage actress, but she was best known as ‘Madge’ the wisecracking manicurist.

Till this day, I still catch myself using the quote “You’re soaking in it”, now and again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Photo Dump

“The intention of a photographer is to capture the beauty in places, obvious or hidden,
in which modern age and technology cause us to dismiss.”
- Kassadi Collins -

One of my favourite things about photography is how it forces me to pay attention to my surroundings, how it encourages me to notice and discover things that I may have otherwise missed in this excessively fast paced world we live in. As soon as I step into that creative mode, I slow down, and the beauty and wonder that was previously blurred comes into sharp focus.

Here are this week’s random photos...

Sunset over Lake Ontario.

The view at the top of the ferris wheel must be spectacular.

Posing for the camera.

Nap time.

Enjoying a swim on a hot summer day.

Murney Tower's construction dates to 1846.

Water birds walking instead of swimming on a frozen Lake Ontario.

One of the cutest critters I've ever photographed.

Curious country critters.

In the country in June of 2013. I'm looking forward to this year's round of country photos.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chuckles and Chortles

Happy Monday, everyone. Was it a good weekend? Ours was pretty laid back. It was snowing when I woke up Saturday morning, but the day warmed up and most of it melted away. I can actually see the grass now!

When I was on spring blog break, one of the things I did was convert an unused bedroom into a photo studio/arts and crafts room. I want a space where I can practice my photography year round no matter the weather. I also built myself a lightbox , which will be great for doing things like this:

I’ve been having fun photographing scenarios with miniature figures. I hope to put together many more over time, which will accomplish two things: 1) I’ll get plenty of practice with photography and 2) I’ll have fun while doing it. I plan on creating quite a few imaginary scenes that I’ll share with you in the future. Hey, we all have to do something that makes us happy, right?


Well, since we're all here together, let’s get to this week’s funny stuff!

Wishing you all a beautiful day!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A This and That Week

And so another week is coming to an end. How was it for you? Mine was busy. I got quite a few things done, and I even got a chance to get out a little. I did some clothes shopping yesterday, which is an accomplishment in itself. Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time know that I hate shopping for clothes, and only do it out of necessity. Well, I reached the point of necessity and off I went.

I always end up with the defective one.

I also finally cut my hair. It was in desperate need of a trim. So I trimmed it. A lot. I cut most of it off and went rather short. Not as short as I’d planned, but certainly shorter than it’s ever been. It’s much easier to maintain, and I’ll appreciate that when I start spending more and more time outdoors. The only downside is that I don’t look as commanding as I used to (if I ever even did). When I was huffing and puffing about something earlier this week, my husband cracked a smile and said “it’s hard to take you seriously when you look so cute with that haircut”. I may have to grow out my hair to resume my authoritative persona. Hahaha...


Yesterday, I had a really nice chat with a cashier as she scanned my groceries. Listen to this. About 30 years ago, her father was in a lottery pool, and the group won $10 million dollars. They were one of the first groups to do so. Not sure how many people were in it, or how much money they received individually (I did not ask), but it was enough for him to retire from his job. Her parents have been married for 60 years! What a fun story.

Story of my life...

Well, let’s end the week with this heartwarming video.

Did you make it till the end without feeling like your heart is being squeezed? I didn’t.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Technically, it’s spring today, although you wouldn’t know it looking outside my window. In and around the city, we still have snow. And it’s chilly. And there’s snow in the forecast.

When people are cross country skiing on Lake Ontario, you know that spring is not quite here yet.

This has certainly been a long and hard winter. Now it’s being stubborn and doesn’t want to leave. And everyone is exhausted. And fed up. And a little irritable.

We had a very mild spring-like day last week, and some of my bulbs poked their little heads out of the warm soil. Foolish, naïve little things. The next day we had a snowstorm, and that pretty much shattered their innocence, and their faith in this world.

Okay, it's not this bad around here. But still.

March came in like a lion, and has continued to act like one throughout the month, so I’ve given up hope on it. But we’re 2/3 through it, and I trust that April will give us better days. It has to. Or I will go stark raving mad!

So happy (technical) spring, everyone. Start wishing for good weather. If I find out any one of you is hoping for more snow, I will come there and beat you with my camera strap.


A lovely day to all!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hometown Memories: Remembering ‘Mr. Jones’

(This is an old post from 2011 that I wanted to share with you because it brings back so many memories from my childhood. Some of you may have already read it. Sorry!)

When I was a kid, there was an older couple living right next door to us who had a small, well-maintained backyard. I don’t remember the couple’s family name (or even their first names), so I’ll just call them Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Anyhow, I can’t recall much about Mrs. Jones because I hardly ever saw her. Even though there was a lovely garden in the backyard with a variety of vegetables and an assortment of pretty flowers, Mrs. Jones didn’t seem to take much interest in it. Mr. Jones, on the other hand, was an entirely different story; he was very passionate about gardening and ventured out into the backyard quite often. Much to our (the neighbourhood kids’) dismay...

Tomatoes always bring 'Mr. Jones' to mind.

You see, Mr. Jones was so passionate about his gardening hobby that he couldn’t restrain himself from sharing it with everyone. And I mean everyone – including the neighbourhood kids. If you happened to be walking by his yard while he was tending to his garden, he would greet you (that was nice), but when you stopped to say hello (because he was your neighbour and you’d been taught to be polite), it was his cue to begin the ‘all about vegetable-growing’ lecture (and that was not so nice). If that happened, you were trapped there for, possibly, the next half hour. And while Mr. Jones rambled on, always about his tomatoes (his pride and joy), you snuck a peek at the other kids playing outside who returned sympathetic looks (or amused ones), along with smirks and giggles and snorts. And no kid came to your rescue, not even your own siblings, if you had any. You were completely on your own; everyone kept a safe distance from the ‘unlucky’ kid who got ‘nabbed’ by Mr. Jones, the ‘tomato guy’.

When I was in Montreal a few months ago, I took photos of the tomato guy's home.
He lived on the lower level of this duplex. My family and I lived on the
lower level of the building to the left, which I'll write about in the future.

Sometimes, while playing sports, some kid would kick or bat a ball past Mr. Jones’s yard while he was working in his garden, and one of us had to go get it. But no one would volunteer. Some poor soul ended up going because it was his or her turn, or because she or he was the youngest, smallest or weakest of the group. And sometimes the turn was mine. When that happened, I ran as fast as I could past Mr. Jones’s yard to avoid being ‘nabbed’ by the ‘tomato guy’. Sometimes it worked and I got away, sometimes it didn’t and I’d find myself smiling stupidly while Mr. Jones rambled on about his tomatoes.

Other times, we accidentally kicked or batted a ball into Mr. Jones’s fenced yard, and a) if he was in there, you’d stand at a safe distance and hope he’d throw it back out or b) if he wasn’t out at that moment, you hoped he’d throw it out when he was in his yard. The worst case scenario is that he didn’t know a ball was in his yard and you had to approach him another day or later that day when he came out, and ask him for it. That was not something any of us looked forward to doing. If it was your ball, you had one of two choices to make: 1) ask for it and hope he wasn’t in the tomato-lecturing mood (which never happened), or 2) just forget about it. Many times, balls were written off if they weren’t important enough to retrieve.

I snapped a photo of the backyard that Mr. Jones grew his tomatoes in. It looked much nicer when he cared for it. We lived on the right, and whenever I ventured out to play, I'd check to see if he was in his yard to avoid being spotted by him. Sometimes I'd forget to check and get nabbed! And so the tomato marathon speech would being...

I had forgotten about Mr. Jones; after all, it’s been so many years. It was my brother that reminded me of him a few short years ago. I laughed heartily when the memory of him was brought to mind. But, just so my readers know, Mr. Jones was a very nice man. It’s not that we didn’t like him, we did, but we were kids and gardening, flower growing and plant grooming was, well, for ‘old’ folks – people over 30. So he was nice, but his hobbies (and lectures) were boring. Then.

Many years later, I realize that I now share Mr. Jones’s love for gardening, both indoors and out. And I can just as easily talk the ear off of anyone willing to listen to me ramble on about houseplants and spring bulbs and perennials and annuals and rose bushes and everything and anything belonging to the world of gardening. Because somewhere along the way I became one of the ‘old’ folks – people over 30. And I now share Mr. Jones’s passion for gardening.

This post is for you, Mr. Jones, wherever you may be...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Photo Dump

“Photography is my meditation.”
- Czar Anthony Lopez -

Life can be busy and stressful and exhausting, and we all need to do something that relaxes, re-energizes and re-balances us. Photography does that for me. It is my form of meditation; a simple, peaceful and enjoyable pastime that replenishes my very soul.

Here are this week’s random photos...

A friend I made in the country.

Sweets for the sweet tooth.

Sunset at Lake Ontario Park.

Blooms and bees coming soon to a garden near you...and me!

A peaceful winter scene in the country.

My cat, Mocha, when she noticed the red light on the camera. Red dot playtime!

A country scene in the fall.

Our sweet ferret, Spaz, all tuckered out after running around exploring.

Having fun with colours. If it's too cold to go out and take photos, find a way indoors.

Shoal Tower, which is located in the harbour (Confederation Basin) of Kingston, was built in 1847.

What is your form of meditation?