Friday, December 30, 2011

Not The Drill!!!

Years back a good friend of mine was living on the Island, I was talking to him on the phone one day and mentioned that I was heading to Victoria, he said to me 'oh when you're here you should visit Miniature World'.
This made me laugh, I said, 'why, so I can be amongst my people?' He of course didn't mean anything by it, merely pointing out a tourist attraction that he enjoyed, but being only 5 feet tall it amused me that it was the first place he mentioned.
I've always liked miniature furniture, the fine details of these scaled down versions fascinated me. Even when I was a kid and watched The Friendly Giant, my favourite part of the show was the close up of his hand moving around the small furniture in front of the fireplace.
On a recent trip to Victoria I happened upon a shop window filled with miniature furniture and all kinds of doll houses. As I was looking through the selection on offer, I came across this little beauty. I mean what doll house would be complete without ye olde Victorian dentist chair?? One can only assume this would go in the dungeon room?? Thinking of it now, I perhaps should've bought this and put in on the bathroom counter as a friendly reminder for my kids to brush their teeth - probably be a good motivator. Just put a little post-it note on it saying....'this could be you!' Worth a shot.


WOW!! That's the reaction I have each time I pass this house....WOW!! There's too much for my brain to process in that moment, so I finally had to take a photo to better analyze it. I still think, WOW!!
This little gem of a house is located in Vancouver and I'm rather curious as to what the neighbours think about it. I'm even more curious about what kind of people live here. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all for people having freedom of expression - that's cool. I'm honestly interested in how their mind works...what makes you stand back, after the 200th ornament and say, 'hmmm, something's just not right, I know, we need more'. Obviously they must get a lot of pleasure from their display and I definitely enjoy things that make you pause and ponder and it does bring a smile to my face each time I see it.
It's clear to see that they put a lot of thought into it, colour selection, repetition etc, however my favourite detail is the small 'beware of dog' sign in the window. I mean do they really need a guard dog as a deterrent to theft?? If a burglar managed to make his way through the maze of characters and silk flowers and actually make it inside the house and grab one of maybe 60 TVs inside (assuming the more is more rule applies indoors too) wouldn't he be worried about making his way back through the maze with his arms now full of stolen goods and maybe limited vision!! Surely the risk of tripping and being impaled by Woody Woodpecker trumps getting a TV....I say, skip the risk and head to Best Buy - much safer!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fun With Strangers!

Some people absolutely love a fair, I can't say I've ever been one of those people. Though as an observer and a photographer, well you can't find much better of a location to watch and capture people at their finest.
I've never been one of those kids that loved going on rides - for the most part they give me a massive headache. However, I've always been intrigued by fairs/carnivals. There always seems to be something underlying all of that happiness - I don't know, I think it goes back to when I was about 7 and the circus was in town, me and my brother had free tickets for the show from our school... it was kind of standard issue to come with your report card back in the day. Of course my brother is never happy with just the nice circus show, oh no, he wants us to try and sneak into the 'freak show' which you needed to pay an additional fee to witness. While my brother tried to test the slack between the tent stakes to see if one of the panels had enough give to crawl under, I stood back with great concern running through my mind. I was relieved when some dude kinda shooed us away. I mean, God only knows what was lurking in 'that' tent. No siree, I did not need to see that, I was cool with ye olde trapeze! I like to think that I came through that Ray Bradbury moment unscathed - though it did leave a lasting impression on me.
So while the rest of you hit the fairs in the summer to get your thrills, know that I'll be there too....wandering and wondering what's behind 'that' curtain or 'that' trailer..yup, it's just how I am. I must say though, as a gal who is always inspired by colour, I am in Heaven at the fair. While I do my best to block out the crowds (it's an introvert thing) I am soaking in the sights and sounds and find that side of things pretty thrilling!
Here are a few of my recent people watching photos - the PNE edition. For your best viewing pleasure, click on each image to enlarge to get a better look - especially the first image!!

Here's a classic example of how people's enjoyment levels vary - check out the expression on the kids faces in the front of the car....and then check out the dude behind them - clearly he's not diggin' this ride!

Foam fingers - not just for sporting events!! C'mon, how can you not smile when you see a big foam hand like that! He was enjoying himself - her, not so much.

This lady watches her daughter preparing to go down the slide...then she actually tries to go back the way that she came from so she didn't have to take her turn, but there were too many people so she had to go down.

She makes sure her sari gets tucked in before she launches.... she speeds down she slide grabbing on for dear life, her daughter is almost doubled over in fits of laughter.....

...and she makes a safe landing!! To be fair, I went down this slide last year and it does go surprisingly fast!!

Even monsters get scared!! Here we see mini Hulk in line for the ferris wheel, it soon becomes clear that 'Hulk no wanna go on ferris wheel!' Click on that first photo and check out this kid's eyes....super Hulk like!!

Hulk sleepy.

I'm thinking this man likes garanimals - a perfect match every time!! Only natural he choose the red dragon...and yes, there were other colour choices.

Who doesn't need one of these around the house?? The rasta banana - all your friends will be so jealous!!

Talk about a fish story!! 'He was how big?' This poor woman, not only had this mega fish flung over her back but she also had an armful of other equally fab stuffies. We couldn't take our eyes off of that fish though....I mean, it was crazy BIG. We chuckled as she walked past and she turned to us and said,'what are the chances my kid would get this with one shot'....she looked less than thrilled to be cruising around on one of the hottest days of the summer with her new friends. Heat and plush - nasty!
So there you have it, more fun with strangers....and when the PNE rolls around again you can bet I'll be there...enjoying you, enjoying yourself!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Now That's a Nutcracker!!

At 85 years old, my nan gave up her apartment and spent the rest of her days living between my mum's house and my uncle's house. One day I headed up to her apartment with my mum, to help her sort through her things and start the packing process. My nan asked me to let her know if there was anything I wanted. Over the course of the day, I found a few items that I asked her if I could have for keepsakes, 2 of the items belonged to my grandfather, known as pampy to the family...he had passed away about 4 years earlier.
I had such vivid memories of these items from way back, when they lived in a house in Surrey. I'd often see pampy sitting outside playing a game of dominoes with some old crony from work, so I asked for the set of dominoes, still in the original box and I also asked for his nutcracker. For as long as I can remember my grandparents had 'his and her' chairs, very much in the way that Archie and Edith Bunker did. Sitting beside pampy's chair was always a bowl of nuts with this nutcracker resting on top. Now granted, thinking about it as an adult, it may have been considered a bit rude to some, but having a sense of humour runs in the family so I don't know anyone who ever took any offense to it. As a little kid I thought it was the coolest thing and my opinion hasn't changed, it has great lines and it's quite a heavy object. I didn't even like nuts back then, but me and my brother would ask if we'd could crack some nuts just so we could use it. So my grandfather would sit in his Archie Bunker chair while we took turns choosing nuts from the seemingly vast assortment in the bowl, all the while giggling at the 'lady's legs bustin' up nuts!
Aaah the simple pleasures in life - nut bustin'! I'm not sure if they brought it with them from Wales or how long they had it, but my memory of it goes back almost 40 years! This little beauty now sits on my desk, and word to the wise, if I ever need to bust some nuts, I'm well prepared!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lost in Translation Part Two (saying it wrong)

Ok, so part one of Lost in Translation dealt with how I've often heard certain phrases incorrectly as a result of my family's accent.
Well for part two, I'll explain how some common phrases that I grew up saying have often been taken the wrong way - and all of a sudden I feel more like Mae West, than Melanie May!

For the most part the British sayings that I grew up with would leave people looking puzzled but not shocked.
It falls along the same line though, to me they were just words and phrases that I grew up with, I didn't initially distinguish what was British and what was Canadian, I didn't ask the origin of each word I was taught to speak.
You got the tip off from friends either giving you that blank stare or laughing at you, then I'd backtrack and try to find out the 'offending' word.
Usually there wasn't really anything to be offended about, many were just simple adjustments face cloth/flannel, candies/sweets, hood of a car/bonnet, trunk of a car/boot etc. Some words seemed a bit more confusing, like telling my friends I kept my clothes in a tall boy, which no one else seemed to have a clue what that meant and saying things like I was chuffed, also had friends wondering if that was good or bad?! Many of these phrases are much better known now, so it's not such a mystery to figure out what I'm saying.
Though there is one word that my mum often uses when talking about me to others, that usually leaves the listener slightly confused. She is often heard saying, 'Melanie has always been chesty', now people obviously think she's referring to 'my girls', which granted, yes I have 'em, but this exclamation by her always provides a smirk to those who hear it - especially men! What she is actually trying to convey is the fact that I've always been prone to chest infections, I had pneumonia three times before I was 2 years old, so in her way she's explaining my early medical condition. It makes it sound like she's trying to pawn me off to some job that'll make the most of my assets!

Having said that, I have gotten myself in a few awkward situations by way of my own tongue - already that sounds wrong!
My innocent words have often left me feeling a little bit like Jessica Rabbit -
the line where she says, 'I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way', well I sometimes feel like, 'I'm not bad, I just sound that way'.

One such example finds me giving a whole group of people a good ol' chuckle combined with a few blushing faces.
The scene - Newport, Wales - in a living room filled with about 20 family and friends all gathered to have a visit with my mum and I on our first return to the 'old' country together in almost 10 years. To fit everyone in the room, we've formed a large circle of chairs, all is going well, teapot working over-time and everybody's having a good ol' chinwag. One of the guests is a adorable little boy who was about 3 years old, he's decided to go round and round this circle of people, passing each one with a twinkle is his eye, he's enjoying that everyone is giving him a little wave, or saying 'hello' as he passes. This goes on for about 5 minutes, and he's getting a bit cheeky (in a fun way) with and I always connect - for 2 reasons I think, one because I love kids and I think they sense it and two because I'm pretty much kid-sized and not intimidating. So he starts to get braver with each passing, tapping my knee, or grabbing my hand, then on his final trip past me he decides to just stick his tongue out and touch it to my knee....laughing all the while. I, in a joking way with him say, 'get lost you little bugger'. His mum who was about the same age as me says, 'oh what did he do, is he bothering you?'
By this time, everyone seems to be at a break in their conversations and listening for my reply. I say, 'no he's not bothering me, he just licked my pants'.
Yup...pants....aka the most common term in Britain for underwear!!!!
So um, yeah, kinda puts a whole different spin on the situation!!
For some reason, it's the one word that I never remember to (quickly) translate. When I was little, my mum did refer to underwear as 'little pants', but that phrase just didn't become the norm in our house.
So to everyone's ears there, I just announced to a (now quiet) room full of people that this little boy had licked my underwear!! Lucky for me, everyone had a pretty good sense of humour, so once I clarified my blunder all was good. Yay me, way to make a great impression!

Now back on this side of the pond, while at work is where I once again find myself in need of a little s'plainin'. I was in the backroom of a store to get my stock, it happened to be placed in the high steel, which means I needed someone there to get it down for me. I asked a young guy in receiving if he could give me a hand, and he was lovely enough to agree. We just had to wait for the area to be cleared so he could get a ladder in the area that we needed to work in. While we're waiting we start chatting...about all kinds of stuff, he tells me that he just quit smoking and he's trying to make some positive changes to his life, started to run again and is going back to the gym too. He further explains, that he used to play football, but got injured quite bad and because of the resulting back injury he could no longer play. I make some mention about his job being very physical, and continue to say, 'it must be hard on your back, humping boxes all day'. As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought 'ooops'!!! The look on his face was priceless. Before he even got to ask me to explain, I quickly said, 'oh man, sorry...that's an expression I grew up with, it means to move a lot boxes etc', my nan would always say that. He laughed about it, and just 'I wondered what you meant'. Really lost in translation!!

Another 'offending' phrase I use, and can't seem to find just the right replacement phrase is 'cock up'. I know, obviously that's going to cause me all sorts of trouble, but it's a pretty innocent phrase really. Used when someone makes a big mistake, when they really bugger something - I'll say, 'well that was a massive cock up'....or 'what a bloody cock up'. It explains the situation like no other phrase can and it's usually the first thing out of my mouth....again, that sounds wrong!!!

I do take comfort in knowing I'm not the only one who makes these kinds of 'errors'. When I was in high school, we had a new student from England, one day during consumer math (yaaaawn) he put his hand up, and when the teacher asked him what he needed, he said, 'I need a rubber, does anyone have a rubber that I can borrow?' Well you can imagine the roars of laughter that burst out of our classroom doors. His face went beet red from everyone laughing at him though he had no idea what was so funny....I headed back to him and explained in Canada it's called an eraser and that a rubber is a condom. He then turned an even deeper shade of red, pretty sure he learned to drop that word quick like!

And the last example I have to share with you also comes from the mouth of another. On the same trip to Wales with my mum, we stayed with her childhood friend Edna in a home that would become my home away from home several times over the years. On this occasion though her nephew happened to come to stay with her for a few days, I remember thinking with him there, the dynamic of our stay had changed slightly, it was no longer me and a few older gals hanging but we now had a 17 year old male amongst longer would I feel comfortable lounging around in my pj's etc. I was 21 so at least there was someone closer to my age so that was good, and I always get along well with men so it wasn't a terrible situation. While the women nattered into the wee hours, Stevie and I sat at the kitchen table and played cards and I started to warm to the idea of having him around. Then when everyone decided to turn in for the night, there was talk of what time we should get things started the next day...people and places to visit etc.
At this point, my mum's friend Edna turns to me and says, 'what time do you want Stevie to knock you up?' Wow!!! Um....I just met him!!! Lucky for me I knew this was an innocent phrase that merely meant 'what time should he get you up'...she figured we'd both want to lie in a bit, so he could wake me up later while the rest of them could work on downing vast amounts of tea. Even though I knew the phrase it still surprised me for a split second. I mean, yeah I like playing cards with him but let's slow things down just a little!
Funny enough, the following year I came over for a solo, 3 month stay, at the same time, Stevie ended up moving in with Edna and well as fate would have it, we became a couple!
And I can share with you that although he never had to 'knock me up'....he was nice enough to occasionally wake me up with toast and a cuppa to be enjoyed in bed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lost in Translation - Part One - (hearing it wrong)

This blog isn't about one of my travels to a foreign land where I don't speak the language and the trouble that ensued - though I do have a few of those to tell, but not at this time. This time, I share with you my troubles with the English language and to some extent my hearing.
I was born in Canada, and I speak English, pretty well for the most part, near fluent I'd stretch to say. However, my parents were both immigrants to Canada, my mum was born in Wales and my dad was born in England. Nothing too crazy as far as a language barrier really - or so you'd think.
However, I have found that having British parents has caused me a few issues over the years. Part of it comes from them being the ones responsible for teaching me to speak....I mean granted, that was their job and all but still. To be honest, I never really thought either of my parents even had an accent, it's not something I was ever aware of. In fact I didn't even clue in to the fact until I was in my teens and one of my friends was doing an impersonation of my dad and it came off sounding like Michael Caine!! I laughed and said, 'my dad doesn't sound like that, he doesn't even have an accent!'. To which my friend then boldly laughed in my face with a 'whaaaat?!'...followed by a 'yes he does and so does your mum!'
Hmmm....I was shocked - really. Two of my dad's brothers also emigrated from England to Canada and I could clearly hear their accents but not my own parents - weird.
I knew they used different slang words and sayings but that's about it, and even that fact only came to light as a result of my friends pointing them out when I said them.
When you learn to speak, you mimic the sounds that you hear your parents saying, so when I say, 'bloody 'ell' or flippin' 'eck' it's not because I'm trying to sound British and use an accent, it's because that's how I heard it said as a child.
I don't mean to give you the impression that those particular words were ones that they 'taught' me as a baby, but more words that I heard throughout my childhood.
Wouldn't paint the greatest parenting picture otherwise would it -
My parents - 'say doggie'....'good, yes, that's it doggie'
and say, 'milk'....'yes, what a clever girl you are, milk'
and can you say, 'bloody 'ell, flippin' 'eck, the dog just drank my milk!!' not quite like that, just more of repeating a word exactly as I heard it.

So without me really being aware of it, the way they said words (because of their accents - I now know that) has caused me to have certain things lost in translation at times. Combined with the fact that these are words and phrases that I heard - not ones that I had ever seen written down.

Take for instance, if I missed school because I was sick. I would go to my mum and say, 'I need to take a note today so they know why I missed school yesterday'. She'd reply (or at least what I heard), 'I'll tell them you were pauly'.
I'd say, 'don't put that!'...I was fully aware that my family wasn't 'full Canadian' now we're going to make it super obvious with that statement!' I'd say, 'just put I was sick'...the compromise was always a note saying I was 'unwell'. Even that made me feel daft! But 'unwell' was certainly less of a tip-off to our half Canadian status than me being bloody pauly!!!
Many years later, I was in Wales and heard someone saying that their son was 'pauly' and missed school and like a light bulb going on, I realized that the word was 'poorly'....not 'pauly'!!! Flippin' 'eck, now it made sense!!! For years I pondered why being sick was always blamed on pauly....was this Paul fellow perhaps responsible for the Great Plague of London?? Was he first one to be bitten by an infected flea?? How did they know it was him? Boggling of the mind now over - Paul didn't do it!!

Another phrase that I heard incorrectly for years was when my mother would say things like, 'headed to do some Christmas shopping on Saturday and it took ages to find a parking spot, (followed by what I heard to be) parfathecourse'...she used this statement all of the time as did I over the years. I understood it's meaning just fine - it meant 'what's to be expected'. One word, parfathecourse.
Once again, years later I was watching golf with Tony as I had many, many times and I hear the announcer use 'my families term' parfathecourse, I thought, 'how odd, I've never heard anyone else ever use the term!'
Then in that very moment, confused to why he's using it, my brain slowed things down for a moment. It's like I went into slow-mo mode....'course'...'golf'....'par'. Now though I don't play golf, I've watched more than my fair share of it, and I'm familiar with not only many of the players but most of the golf terms too, so the slowing down of the phrase continues in my brain...'par...for...the...course!!'
Not parfathecourse!!! Seriously, you have no idea how chuffed I was in that very moment - I exclaimed out loud to Tony...'I get it'....'it's 'par for the course'!!!
That's what I've been saying all of these years!!! I felt like I had made some great discovery...OK maybe not like Columbus, but for me just as exciting!! I mean I've used the expression for as long as I can remember but never gave much thought how that one odd word might be spelled.
At that point in our relationship Tony was well aware that I sort of spoke two languages - English, and something else...he was also well aware of the fact that I was slightly nuts, so he just watched as I beamed with pride from my new found knowledge.

The last and maybe most embarrassing example comes from a phrase that my Welsh nan (who also immigrated to Canada) always used to say.
First in my defense let me say going to church was not part of my upbringing though I wasn't completely clueless to the whole God and religion thing. My mum always told us a few key points, 'Jesus loves everyone...followed by, he was friends with the prostitutes and the thieves'. My nan also sometimes would sing a hymn or two in Welsh and had a picture of the Last Supper in her hallway. And yes I mean a copy of the famous painting, not a photo of my grandparent's last meal - which if it was my grandfather, better known as Pampy, the last supper would surely be a plate of spuds swimming in a pool of butter and covered in pepper. I digress...religion, God and stuff, I did have some insight. One of my most vivid visuals comes from my nan's frequent saying of 'Jesus swept'. I've seemed to have painted a clear picture of a non-stop cussing family! Anyways, my nan would say 'Jesus swept' often, as kind of a term of, 'Jesus swept, they ate all the cake!' seemed to come in handy for many different things. Once again, the accents and the speed of the speech had me hearing it wrong, but every time my nan said it, I'd picture his robe, not his bathrobe of course but one of those 'man dresses' of his time, also sporting a pair of sandals and with broom in hand I would see him sweeping. I must say, for such an important historical figure his house was not grand. He was always sweeping a porch that was in area, about a 5x5 foot square, wasn't even a raised porch, more of just a square outside his door. I've had that same image of Jesus sweeping up since I was about 5 years old, always impressed by his modest home and good housekeeping skills. Made me feel like I knew a bit about religion, granted I didn't know all of the characters in the Bible, but I felt like I had a bit of insight to Jesus - he was tidy, modest and non-judgemental - I like having this knowledge.
In my thirties I bought a few 'easy to understand' books about religion, well not so much specific religions, but more of stories from the Bible. I figured it would be good to know another character or two, a way to string the together the ones that I was aware of. I knew tidy Jesus, Joseph with his wildly coloured coat along with some of his brothers (this knowledge came courtesy of doing a production of Joseph in elementary school), Moses and his basket, I knew that some dude named Job apparently had a lot of patience, Adam and Eve - snake/apple/garden, Noah and his mega boat - lots of rain/saving animals and a few other tidbits like that. I thought it was time to put some of these people and events in order so I bought myself these books for my own kind of enlightenment.
And indeed I did find enlightenment when reading the story about Lazarus dying I read the phrase -'Jesus wept'. And again, my brain slowed down for a minute, and I actually thought to myself (albeit for only a second or two) reminds me of my Nan's phrase - 'Jesus swept'....'Jesus wept?!'....oooh, Jesus wept!!! He didn't sweep, he cried!!!

So in that moment I discovered that Jesus was a sensitive man. Was he tidy? I could no longer be certain.

Next time.....Part Two....saying it wrong. How certain phrases just don't translate well. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Everyone has their favourite.....

....but not even willing to explore?? Bit close-minded really.

What a Deal!!

I wonder how much Giant Dads cost??

Friday, November 11, 2011

I May Be a Nut??!!

OK, so the title of this blog may not come as a surprise revelation to those of you who know me, you may wonder why the use of question marks at all, surely this is a statement of fact, not a thought for contemplation. However, I do have one revelation to share with you that will come as big news to everyone, hold on to your hats..... I think Charles Schulz is my dad!!!
Yep, you read it right kids! I'm sure this may come as a shock to, well everyone! Having made that statement, let me also say, this idea is about as far from scandal as one can get, in fact, I write this blog as an ode to the Peanuts Gang, a fine group of round headed kids that I've loved since I first set eyes on them. I also write this as a tribute to Mr. Schulz, who I discovered really was almost a father figure to me - without knowing it. I only realized this myself a few years back.

Let me set the scene for you as to when I came upon this realization.
While my family and I were on a 10 day road-trip to California, I decide that en route home we simply must stop in Santa Rosa and visit, the Charles Schulz Museum.
In an odd way, it felt like a pilgrimage to me, I know, some people make their way to Mecca, some to the Temple in Jerusalem and others perhaps to Tennessee to check out Graceland. To each his own I say, for me though, I felt it would be wrong not to, at some point stop by the stomping grounds of Mr. Schulz. The museum is an absolutely wonderful place - I felt like I had entered Heaven, but a bit of a strange feeling stayed with me as I wandered the building. The museum houses an amazing collection of all things Peanuts and of course, Schulz, including a re-creation of his working area in his studio, complete with many personal items and the drawing board that he used for most of his career as a Cartoonist. I looked upon of these treasures almost as a walk down memory lane for me. While at the museum, I signed a guest book, you know the kind, write your name, where you're from and your thoughts on the museum. It was at that moment, while sat in a chair, contemplating what to write for a comment that I realized why this cast of characters had been so important to me since I was about 6 years old....eureka!!! Mr. Schulz, through his characters, had help to parent me and guide me through a life that at times, was a lot to bear for a little girl. These characters really did help to shape me into the person that I am today. I realized in that very moment why I've always identified so strongly with many of these personalities. Even to this day, in the 'about me' section of my blog, I describe myself as 1/3 Charlie Brown, 1/3 Snoopy and 1/3 Linus....the only thing I should now add to that is, with a dash of Sally Brown. This original equation is what I wrote in my comments of that guest book and from that moment on, it all made sense.

I knew lots of people who liked the Peanuts Gang, but only few, who seemed to love them in the way that I did. I'd even been asked at times, 'why do you love them so much, they're not even that funny sometimes'. Well on that point I agree, but I didn't keep coming back to them for the non-stop laughs, though there was plenty of humour to be found. I returned again and again, for almost 40 years, because I identified with them, understood their problems, listened to their solutions, felt their heartache, laughed at their madness and mostly, learned to deal with life in many ways, without the involvement of adults.

I am the youngest of 4 kids in my family and the only girl, that dynamic alone had me often figuring out my own stuff. Add to that, I was, within the walls of my home, an extremely quiet child....almost mute in fact, I'm sure my brothers may dispute that one, but ask my mum. I could sit for hours at a time alone, colouring away or heading outside for a few hours of kicking a soccer ball against the side of our house. I was also one of those kids who thought....a lot!! Where I lacked in speech, I made up ten-fold in thinking.
Much of my childhood was marred with the constant sound of arguing, far more than what would be considered normal. Unfortunately, my father wasn't that nice to us most of the time and in combination with that, the youngest of my brothers went through a lot of personal struggles that increased the fighting and tension in the home to an unbearable amount. I'd often head to a tree in our backyard, where I'd climb up to escape the madness.
All of this contributed to how I dealt with life, and one thing I rarely did was to bring additional problems to my parents. Not saying that I didn't have them, just that I dealt with pretty much everything on my own, a fairly heavy burden at times, especially when you start doing this as a little girl. I was in many ways like a small adult....haa, and at five feet tall, I still fit that description!

Enter Charlie Brown and the gang. While many kids just watched the specials and laughed at the crazy antics of Snoopy, I think, in a way without knowing how much, I picked up life lessons with each TV special, and I watched them every time they aired, so these lessons were reinforced over and over again.
I identified with the 3 characters mentioned for the following reasons -

Most of my friends know my Snoopy side best. That would be the funny, passionate...koo-koo crazy girl. Snoopy is a free spirit, who is enjoys his passions to the fullest.
Whether it be his fantasy life as the WWI Flying Ace, (yup, I have my war fantasies too...WWII spy etc) or writing a novel atop of his doghouse (hmm, writing...starting fiddling with that at about 9 years old)or perhaps just 'being' Joe Cool with his shades on.....I apologize to those of you who may have had a beverage in your mouth while reading the cool part and as a result now have a very wet screen from spitting out your coffee or the like, in mockin' my coolness. Snoopy really is my crazy side, he has mad ideas and never second guesses them, just lets them unfold with pure conviction. I relate to this trait, a lot.

Next is my Charlie Brown-ness. Truth be known there is always a part of me that feels like I don't fit in...oooh, but please don't feel sorry for me, I kinda like it that way. I like life under the radar, gives you the perfect position for observing others from. Good ol'Chuck is the eternal optimist though and so am I.
No matter how many times he 'got a rock', or how many footballs were pulled away from him he still believed in the goodness of mankind and would always give people another chance. He has a good heart, but isn't always treated with the same kindness. Although he sometimes wishes people understood him better, he isn't afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right - remember the sweet little tree he chose for the Christmas play...I would've picked the same one! He didn't listen to the advice of others, he went with what his heart told him to do.
I listen to my heart often too...even when my heads strongly disagrees.
Chuck is definitely an underdog, but that never stops him from giving it his all.
I like underdogs, always find the fight they possess far more interesting then those who go through life seemingly easily.

And lastly my boy Linus. The sensible, analytical, intelligent if sometimes, somewhat naive grounding force. He is for me the part of my personality that brings together the Snoopy and the Charlie Brown, makes them meet in the middle and doesn't let either of those sides get too out of control, he is my common sense.
One of my favourite parts of the show/strip was always when Charlie Brown and Linus would have their heart to heart chats on the bridge. They would together try to sort out the meaning of life, or at least the latest thing thrown their way.
Linus would always give Charlie his honest and sincere thoughts on whatever problems Charlie had.

My dash of Sally Brown comes courtesy of my age, I no longer hide my child-like kooky ways, the older you get, the less you give a rats arse about what people think of you. So yes, it's true I have been known to (almost) squeal with delight when I find something I like...say like the Incredible Hulk doll that I recently bought. I spotted him and squealed (yup!)'oh, look he's so cute, look at his crazy smile and messy hair - I must have him!!' Yes, people looked....and no, I didn't care. And yes, he now lives with me. Thank you Sally Brown for your unbridled enthusiasm for the things you enjoy - like all those times you've publicly declared your love for your 'sweet babboo'. I understand that sometimes you just can't hold those feelings in, you must shout it from the rooftops (or squeal it in a store)!

When you think about this group of kids, there is really very little that is kid-like about them. Starting with the fact that there is virtually no adult interference in their lives to sort through the problems that they face, the most we get from the adults is the occasional waa, waa, waa...which leaves us to interpret that advice however we see fit. Charles Schulz, through this group of kids manages to touch on war, religion, loss, coping, self esteem, doubts, fears, joy, bliss, commerce, friendship, teamwork, love and of course, unrequited love and a myriad of other issues. He manages to do this without sugar-coating things to the extent that you'd expect a kids show to do, he explains life's issues in an honest way, that shows you that though things don't always go the way you want them to, there are ways to solve and overcome life's struggles and that joy may be just around the next corner. A very important lesson at any age.

Mr. Schulz, you've been with me for most of my life, guiding me with your lessons and helping me to become a better person, and I'm proud to say, I am a nut!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strange Ways

Here's the next collection of photos that I've taken of strangers. Ordinary folks doing, somewhat ordinary things, but for different reasons, they've all captured my attention. A couple sharing a quiet moment together, though I have to admit, as much as I liked them, I also liked the repetition of the logs that led up to them! Then on busy Granville Street, I look up and spot the 'reading man', I loved how he looked up there, somehow he was going to do a little quiet reading on one of the busiest streets in Vancouver. Add to that, all the colours just seemed right....I even wondered if maybe he chose the yellow shirt on purpose to make for an even better vista. Not long after, still on Granville I spot the 'magician' making his way across the street - bit hot for a cape that day, but hey, to each his own. All I could think of when I looked at him was, 'No capes!' favourite line from The Incredibles movie. Taxi man wasn't a targeted hit, he was captured, purely by chance. I pulled my camera out of the bag, brought it to eye level and click - I was just testing my settings to see if I needed to adjust anything before wandering around the city taking photos - Mr. Taxi appeared right at that second, I liked the way the photo looked, hence he makes the cut. The man in the wheelchair was such a wonderful pop of colour that I just had to capture him! Onto the boy running past the fountain, for some reason it put me in the mind of the Sesame Street intro from way back in the day, kids playing in a city park...I don't even remember if that was in the intro, but in my mind it just fit! Next we have 2 females sort of playing opposite roles, we have a little girl wielding a sword - no princess lark for her, she's playing a much more grown up role of perhaps a dragon slayer - just my guess, and then we have a Harajuku girl, whose styles are often fairly child-like for their age - as we see with the stuffed animal tucked under her arm. Harajuku girls have been around for a long time, no Gwen Stefani didn't invent them, just made them more known to the general public. I think I first heard of them about thirty years ago while watching a travel show about Tokyo. The last two shots were both taken at Garry Point Park in Steveston. Once again, my favourite outdoor sculpture makes the cut. Wind Waves by Yvonne Domenge is such a stunning piece of artwork, it thrills me on so many levels and I love how inviting it is, making it the perfect resting spot for this group of people. I've just read that it was only to be a temporarily installed at the park until summer 2011!!! I was there on Canada Day, and it was still there - if it goes, I shall miss it terribly! The other photo of two people taking photos was just a reminder how different people see things different ways. I was sitting on a bench while they passed by, I heard one say to the other, 'let's stop a minute, I want to take a photo', 'me too' the other replied....and then they both turned in opposite directions. Both obviously shooting something completely different from the other, I guess it's true, opposites do attract!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dr. Strangelove

Here we go with the latest installment of stranger I started to compile the photos that would make the cut for this post, I soon realized that I owed it to the man in the bonnet to give him his own feature. I mean I was lucky enough to be there to capture his entire hamming it up session, and he was good enough to provide me with more than one good photo, so fair dues, this one is for him. Taken a few days ago on a visit to Harrison Hotsprings. We were chillin' on the elevated 'viewing platform', OK it's actually the roof of the washrooms where they've added a few benches and a railing, but saying, 'I'm hanging out on the roof of the washrooms looking for strangers to photograph, makes it sound like I should be wearing a trench coat if you know what I'm sayin'!! Having said that, my fashion heart does feel a little saddened for the trench coats of the world, originally made as a garment for the military, and later associated with cool movie idols and as a standard piece of clothing that every businessman had to have in his wardrobe, it's now become a garment that you almost dread seeing a man start to remove in front of you - chances are, he's either going to flash you or try to sell you a 'Rolex' for 15 bucks!! Or perhaps that's just my experience! I digress, anyways, as I was in bonnet walks into my sight line, I'm thrilled and left with no choice but to photograph him. Newsflash here - I've always been a little quirky...shocking revelation I know! But really, how can you not love a man who is not only willing to sport a bonnet and carry a parasol, but who is also willing to amuse his wife with a little show at the same time....God knows what they get up to behind closed doors - just sayin'!! I thank you Dr. Strangelove for giving me a good dose of happy medicine that day. Now you can enjoy him too, by reliving his antics through my photographs, and remember, a little silly is always a good thing.
One thing to first I thought it was cute that he wore his wife's hat to amuse her, it was only later when I got home and looked at the photos that I clued in, ummm, his wife already had a hat on, so perhaps this really is his hat!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strange Delights

Well it's that time again, time to share another collection of photographs that I've taken of strangers. Yup, my perhaps strange to some, hobby. For me, it's the story outside of the photo that I like to ponder. It's kind of like picking out a book based solely on it's cover then wondering what kind of story the pages might hold.
The beauty of this kind of photography is, we can all make up our own story based on what we see and how we see it. The first batch of photos come courtesy of my jaunt over to Victoria. My first victim/subject was 'the writer' guy on the ferry. This man appealed to me on many levels, first off, he appeared to be lost in his thoughts, something that I can relate to. I'm assuming he's sorting out plot lines for a screen play, or rethinking the last line of poetry he just jotted down or perhaps working out the melody to his next song. OK maybe he's just making sure the seagull on the railing doesn't use him for target practice, or he's trying to come up with the answer for 5 across....7 letter word for 'stalker', so far he has m-e-l-a-n.....hmmm, that's a tough one! I'm going to go with one of my scenarios though. Add to that story the great hat, jacket, bag and a fab beard to boot, what more could you ask for?! The next three shots come from day two in Victoria, when we were just wandering around town. I had to capture the dude putting up posters as it was a nice flashback for me. I remember way back in the day, going around with musician friends of mine and doing the same thing....aaah, the beauty of free advertising. And for those of you wondering, 'where's Waldo?' (or Wally to my UK readers), wonder no longer my friends. I spotted him in Victoria riding his skateboard. How can you not love a man in a striped sweater?? Impossible I say!!
The next grouping of photos were taken this past Saturday. I had a few hours to kill so I decided to take the boys to Garry Point Park for a wander. Of course, I was packing heat, aka my camera, as this has become a favourite spot of mine for photography. One of my favourite pieces of public art is here, 'Wind Waves', by Mexican sculptor, Yvonne Domenge, so it was in it's direction that we first headed. We were lucky enough to find a bride and groom having their photos taken when we arrived, and I'm sure the photos will be spectacular, great contrast with the white dress, black suit and red sculpture. I'm thinking they had better be spectacular, considering they had 3 photographers!! The whole scene was a little comical at times though as I watched from afar, one of the photographer's very animated moves to show the bride how he'd like her to pose. All very amusing to see a man pretending to be donning a gown and doing several twirls and faux swooshes with his gown's voluminous skirt. They were there at least an hour trying to create the perfect shot, sometimes on the ground, all positioned at different angles and distances, it was all very paparazzi! One thing did strike me odd though, you have three obviously, professional photographers all doing their best to get the perfect shot, and yet not one of them thinks to move the sweater that the bride rested on the inside of the sculpture. Sheesh my fashion stylist eye spotted it from a hundred yards away!! It eventually got moved but still, I'm sure that beige cardy is going to show up in more than a few shots - hopefully editing is included in their fee!! As you can see from the shots, the poor groom wasn't always needed, no wonder the guy looked bored. This park is known for it's kite flying and why wouldn't it be, tons of wide open space and the wind coming off the water makes for perfect conditions. In this group of photos you can see how the wind power is used differently by three men. The first man goes for the traditional kite and a pretty cool design too. Next we have the man with his set of wheels, you can tell how strong the winds get, as this man was clocking a pretty good speed, I'm thinking you'd get some pretty big biceps with this as your pastime. Lastly we have the man who is...well, I'm not sure what he was trying to do. It actually seemed like he didn't know either. Ok, so he kept get ready for take-off, but I'm not sure where he thought the wind would take him. It's not like he had wheels attached, or was hooked up to a boat. Was he planning on just trying to take flight? Would flying from the stump to the ground be that exhilarating of a rush?? I did make me wonder...'is this how Da Vinci looked to others when he was working on some of his inventions?' Maybe this guy had bigger plans and I just wasn't able to see it yet. One thing I did notice though....'note to self' - when attempting to take flight from a stump, wear pants that are 6" too long for you. This way, when that harness hikes up your pants, you can avoid looking like you're wearing floods when you do become successful in your attempts and the paparazzi from the wedding party rush over to capture it!
Last grouping is 1,2,3. One lone girl enjoying the beach - I just loved the happy face bucket! Two friends enjoying their fish n' chips on the rock. And lastly three beautiful 'Red Hat Society' ladies sharing good times. This organization was founded in 1998, a year after the founder Sue Ellen Cooper gave her friend a red fedora for her 55th birthday along with a copy of a poem, 'The Warning', by Jenny Joseph. I conclude this blog posting with a copy of that poem.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

~Jenny Joseph, 1961

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book 'em Danno!!

OK, for those of you who have asked or wondered, no, my book is not completed.
I was going to get my publicist to make this announcement, but then I remembered that I'm not famous, hence, I have no publicist. Having said that, I wouldn't want to be famous, in fact, I'd personally find it rather dreadful! The money that usually goes along with fame, I'd be cool with...all the rest, you can keep. For a gal that really feels rather uncomfortable with more than say umm, 2 people at a time looking at her, well yeah, fame would be an issue. Though a publicist would come in handy for passing on messages for me, like this one, that way I'd at least have one less thing on my to-do list.
When I say my to-do list, it almost automatically implies a single small scrap of paper with a few random jobs jotted down, I'd like that. If I were to actually write down my to-do list, I fear it would more resemble some tightly wound scroll, that once released, would stretch the length of the Trans Canada Hwy! So rather than have that frightening realization, I keep most of my to-do list in my head, and only commit a few selections to paper at a time, almost seems manageable that way. It's actually more like several bits of paper. On my desk right now, I currently have, 1 post-it note, 2 small note pad sheets and 1 old envelope all with things to do written on them, not too bad.
So the delay in the book is partly due to having a long to-do list, and really the rest of the delay is due to living - something which I find is essential in being a writer, breathing, 'it's a good thing'.
Life for me, like most everyone else, is busy. Aside from trying to write my first book, I'm also bringing up 2 lovely wee boys, I do hospital runs a few times every week for my mum, work part-time, try to see friends once in awhile, attempt to learn more about my other passion, photography, continue to add to this blog, run a household somewhat efficiently, and occasionally, I eat and sleep too. Most of the time, somehow, I manage to juggle it all fairly well, all things considered.
Unfortunately, I've lost pretty much most of November and December to either sickness or just the plain ol' busyness of Christmas. My poor youngest son, dealt with a terrible dry nagging cough off and on for about 6 weeks, which meant during most of that time, he'd call out several times each night for me, and usually ended up sleeping with me. So during that time writing had to be put on hold....also during that time, very little sleep was had for either of us. By the time he'd get better for a few days, I'd be so run down from seeing to him, I'd feel rough. Normally I can work through almost any pain, a gift I seem to have inherited from my Welsh warrior mother, but for the last few years, when I get run down, I get an intense sinus headache/earache combo that is pretty close to unbearable, even for me.
These little bouts of pain usually last for about 4 days and then by that time, Owen would be rough get the picture, round and round we went!
This is the biggest reason why I'm so far behind with things. That has been my night pattern for so long and considering night time is when I write, well you can see why no words have been able to escape from my head. Such is life.
So as much as life has been giving me it's fair share of interruptions, I refuse to throw in the towel. I will complete my book, that much I know for sure, but I do need to extend the deadline.
Life continues to throw me a few curve balls, but that's just the way it goes, I will just keep on truckin' until she's done.
So my lovely friends, please stick with me, and think of it as an extension for you too.
For I shall let you hold onto your cash for a little while longer before I have to start doing my best Oliver Twist impression, and beg you to buy my words....hey, I give you all of these words for free, that should count for something, right?
Thank you to all of you who continue to support my writing, it's more appreciated than you'll ever know. Please stay tuned!!
SAM xoxox