Monthly Archives: March 2013

Notes from a good friday

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Oye! It's Friday!

Oye! It’s Friday! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the first day of the Easter weekend. Since it’s a statutory holiday, everyone was at home. It was sunny and since all the stores were closed, we had to make our own fun (as opposed to grocery shopping, cleaning the house and running errands).

We were dog-sitting a friend”s dogs overnight  – a very busy young beagle and an older female, a sweet mixed breed. Add in our 7-year-old standard poodle and that made 3 dogs. Poodles don”t shed but the other 2 dogs did. They were both a bit nervous about being away from home, so they shed even more. Sometimes, in large clumps. Being small dogs, they need to go for frequent walks, so M and I took all 3 dogs out for about an hour this morning. Having a couple of canine visitors was good motivation for M to get off the computer and outside.

A friend of M`s called this morning to ask if M wanted to come and play at this house. M was a little unsure about the time, so we`d planned to planned to drop him off after lunch. To M and mine`s surprise, his friend was waiting at our house when we got home from dog-walking. Change of plans.

Two energetic 11 year olds + 3 dogs = busy. To get a little break from our furry friends and to get them outside, the boys and I wandered over to the local Dairy Queen, so they could each get a treat. Given how long it tool to get their orders filled, DQ did not expect the store to be very busy today. I don”t think the harried young woman behind the counter was enjoying the day as much as were. While both boys had been pushing and shoving each other on the walk to DQ, they were too occupied with their ice-creams on the way back, so kept their hands to themselves. Apparently two 11-year-old boys have more energy than 3 dogs.

All the visitors (canine and human) were gone by 4 pm. M played on the computer for 20 minutes or so and then headed up to his room to listen to his iPod. His dad and I did a few chores around the house and eventually went upstairs to our room to read. M was cuddled up under his covers, yawning so widely that I was sure he”d fall asleep. I know I napped for a little bit but not sure whether M and his dad actually slept.

We all got back up around 7 pm and had home-made pizza for supper. A quiet conclusion to a leisurely day. Tomorrow the stores are open and on Sunday, M”s grandparents arrive for a couple of days.  Tomorrow will be filled with errands and tidying the house, so it was nice to have one day when we didn”t have to do anything in particular. A good day was had by all.

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California dreamin’

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This year, we decided to go away for March Break. Our destination of choice was California. Not only do we have family there, but we knew there would be much less snow.

The vacation gods were certainly smiling on us, as it was warm (low seventies) and sunny the entire time we were away, including in San Francisco. Even the locals admitted the weather was unusually warm and dry. We didn’t care and took full advantage of the fact that we didn’t need boots and heavy coats. Most days, M and his dad wore shorts and t-shirts.

The highlight of our first day was a trip to Alcatraz. We took a very informative tour of the jail itself and listened to one of the Park Rangers talk about the history of the island, starting with its origins as a fort. The cell blocks themselves weren’t too bad, but I imagine on a foggy, cloudy day, they’d be down right gloomy and possibly creepy. Unfortunately, none of my interior photos turned out, but I took lots of pictures of the exterior, including the gardens, which were originally installed and tended by prisoners, but are now maintained by volunteers.

View from the road running around the prison block

View from the road running around the prison block

The Warden's house

The Warden’s house

One of the many gardens at Alcatraz

One of the many gardens at Alcatraz

View of San Francisco from Alcatraz

View of San Francisco from Alcatraz

Another day, we explored an amazing Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park (which, to my surprise, isn’t all that close to the bridge). Since the garden was in a relatively small, enclosed space and not very busy, we let M explore on his own. He ran around checking out the various nooks and crannies, including several Koi ponds, while his dad and I toured the garden at a more leisurely pace.

Stone latern

Stone lantern

Zen garden

Zen garden

Early iris

Early iris

From San Francisco, we headed in-land to Yosemite National Park. A family member suggested that March was a good time to visit the park. I`m glad took their advice, because it was spectacular. Beyond breathtaking. M’s dad likes to take pictures and we made numerous stops along the way yo our various destinations within the park. M was very patient and got very creative at entertaining himself – throwing rocks into the river, climbing on rocks, finding sticks. My habit of reading every interpretive sign became a bit of a running joke throughout the entire trip.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Big rock, little boy

Big rock, little boy

Sequioa toes

Sequoia toes

Tunnel tree

Tunnel tree

The last leg of our trip was spent visiting family and exploring the Monterey area. We spent an entire day at the amazing Monterey aquarium. Although the otter area was closed, M and I spent some time outside on the terrace, checking out the otters in the Bay.

Jelly!

Jelly!

Portrait of a jelly

Portrait of a jelly

Another day, we walked on the beach at Carmel – I walked; M played in the surf. He was plenty happy until he realized he’d have to get in the car with wet, sandy pants.

Boy on the beach

Boy on the beach

On our final day, we went hiking in Pinnacles, a brand-new national park.

Volcanic rock formations at Pinnacles

Volcanic rock formations at Pinnacles

Pinnacles

Pinnacles

We arrived back to snow storm that dropped another 6-10 inches on top of the 2-3 feet already on the ground. However, having spent a week in the sunshine, we knew spring was on its way. Lucky us – we had an early taste on top of a great vacation.

Bead soup update

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My Bead Soup finally arrived! My partner, Marina Kosovic, received her package a couple of weeks ago. Although I was waiting until my goodies arrived, so I could share pictures of what we sent to each other.

Before I decided what to send Marina, I checked out some of her designs on her blogmachoopko-design and on her Facebook page,  She makes the most amazing creations with seed beads – flowers, animals, insects. She also makes gorgeous jewelry. While I use seed beads in my own jewelry, I would never have the patience to make a whole piece with them. Plus, whenever I work with seed beads, no matter how careful I am, they tend to end up everywhere. From a creative and practical point of view, I have tremendous admiration for Marina’s work.

In putting together Marina’s Bead Soup, I was very conscious about the total weight. On more than a few occasions, I’ve gone to the Post Office to mail a small package and been gob-smacked at the cost. Since Marina lives in Serbia, I was fully prepared to pay $10-$15 in postage. I was also concerned about whether the package would get to her in sufficient time. It wasn’t just the distance, Not only was but my city seems to be the black hole of mail service. In the last few years, I’ve lost count of the number of letters or packages that have gone astray or just never arrived.

There aren’t a lot of rules for Bead Soup. However, each participant has to give her partner a clasp and a focal bead.

I decided to send Marina a simple copper toggle clasp that I oxidized myself, using the hard-boiled egg method.

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I decided upon a round porcelain focal with a Celtic-inspired design from Nancy E. Schindler’s Round Rabbit Extra. Since focal was predominantly blue, I looked for other beads that would complement it.

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I spent a couple of hours playing around with bead combinations. In the end, I selected a couple of pieces of hand-dyed ribbon from JodyPosey, some glass beads in varying sizes in different shades of blue and topaz (a nice contrast to the blue), some seed beads with a nice sparkle, glass pearls and three medium-sized hand-made ceramic beads that my mother brought back from New Zealand for me several years ago.

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I made a little card and wrote down what was what on the back and packaged everything up into the sturdiest but lightest envelope I could find.

To my great surprise, the postage was quite reasonable. According to the Post Office, it could take 6 or more days for the parcel to arrive on Marina’s doorstep. It took just over 2 weeks and arrived in one piece. I consider myself lucky on both counts. Marina posted a few photos of the contents of her package on the Bead Soup Facebook page.

When I opened my package from Marina, the first thing that struck me was how many different textures she’s managed to include in one little envelope.

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She’d made some really cute polymer clay beads, including a nifty little grey heart that I’m going to use as my focal bead. Plus a fun flower toggle clasp.

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There was a bag of  long thin black glass beads, plus small glass beads in different colours and shapes. In addition to an assortment of metal beads and charms, there were several different varieties of wood beads, including some very cool squares with rounded corners.

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I haven’t had time to actually sit down and play with my new beads. We were away on holiday and last week and most of this week was taken up with getting back into the school/work routine. But I’ve been playing around in my head with different designs and this week, I’m going to start working  on the pieces themselves. Both Marina and I will reveal our creations on April 13, 2013.

The cold came back

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The Cat Came Back?

The Cat Came Back? (Photo credit: gordasm)

There’s a wonderful short animated film called “The Cat Came Back.” A cat turns up on Mr. Johnson’s doorstep and no matter what he does, he can’t get rid of the cat.

That’s how I feel about this cold. M was sick earlier this week and gave it to me. On Thursday, I spent the entire day sniffling and blowing my nose. I was away from the office, on training, and I’m sure I wasn’t very popular with the other participants. I didn’t feel sick, just stuffed up and soggy (that may have been all the damp kleenex in my pocket). I dosed myself repeatedly with Echinacea (a liquid form recommended by my naturopath – tastes awful, but it works) and went to bed early.

On Friday, I felt much better – still a bit sniffly, but better. The ladies in my training group were greatly relieved.

On Saturday, however, I woke up with a headache and a tickle in my throat. The cold had come back. This time it’s more than just a runny nose – I feel downright crappy. I’m still taking the Echinacea, but it seems like this cold has settled in for a prolonged visit.

So I sympathize with Mr. Johnson. At least the cat was cute.