Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday with Alan Watts - Live in the Moment

“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.” 
- Alan W. Watts

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you're all enjoying your weekend.

Today I want to share with you the excerpt from Alan Watts lecture which I find very powerful and thought provoking.

We are born into this society, we grow up and go through our lives often not questioning why things are the way that they are.

Our whole lives we are working towards the future.  First we work towards first grade, then the second, then we're working towards high school, then the college, university and grad school. When we finally join the real world and get a job, we begin working towards professional success, our first house, then the bigger house, better car , bigger TV, etc.

It never ends.

Our lives on this beautiful rock are set up in such way that we rarely fully enjoy the present. We rarely appreciate what we already have and always strive for something better, something in the distance, something that once we get to it, will make us feel happier.

Only it never does. By the time we complete our goal, another one pops out on the horizon and the whole cycle begins anew.

Honestly, it's mind blowing to come to this realization. When I look back at my life I see it so clearly. My whole life used to be focused on the future and the pursuit of happiness never realizing that happiness was all around me if I only took my time to slow down and see it.

You see, life has no great purpose.  The purpose of life is to live.  Now.  Not tomorrow and not thirty years from now when you pay off your mortgage.  Life is now.  And it's beautiful.  Don't miss another moment of it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Everyone, meet Oliver

There is something about the presence of a cat... that seems to take the bite out of being alone. 
~Louis J. Camuti

Happy Friday everyone!  I am thrilled the school week is over and tomorrow morning there will be nothing but a glorious sleep in time. I've been going to bed pretty late every night this week and I'm beginning to feel a little sleep deprived.

Now on to the topic of today's post.  So who exactly is Oliver?

Oliver is my son's cat.  Few days ago my son moved in with us after years of living with his father - my ex-husband. I'm really happy to have this happen after all these years and the added bonus was that he didn't come alone.

Moving in with my son is his cat Oliver. Oliver was born on May 24, 2011 to a Siamese mom and unknown dad making him half Siamese and incredibly adorable. He is solid grey in colour, slim and moderate size.  He'll be turning four years of age this spring.

If anything stands out about Oliver it's that he loves his food. He eats everything in sight and then some more. In contrast to Hercules who is picky, Oliver eats everything that can be chewed and swallowed. He is a real go-getter in this regard as I find out sometimes when I catch Oliver jumping down from the counter in the kitchen. I don't think he got the memo of the rules in this house yet.  We'll have to work on getting him caught up I guess. :D

Undoubtedly, Oliver comes with his own set of quirks.  I guess all cats have them and I'm excited to learn them all now that he is here full time.

For one, he loves to be stretched. Whenever he wakes up from a nap, my son always picks him up by
the shoulders and Oliver stretches his long thin body like a wet noodle. It's really fun to watch.

Another one of his pleasures is to have his armpits scratched.  That one I just learned about yesterday.  I was around when this little session was going on and snapped a quick photo.   He was really enjoying himself.  Isn't that adorable?

Now I hope that with another kitty in the house, Hercules doesn't get too jealous.   He knows Oliver very well because my son visited very often when he was living with his father and he always brought Oliver with him for sleepovers. Although they are both very different cats, Hercules and Oliver get along very well.  Still, I'm sure that a little extra attention I can give Hercules will be appreciated.  After all, having another kitty living with us full time will be an adjustment for Hercules who is very much to himself kind of cat.  Now he will have to share his space full time, not just on weekends.

In the spirit of extra attention, here is a snap of Hercules sleeping beside me on the chair at this very moment.  Maybe he's dreaming of spring time when he can go outside and chase critters and birds around the yard?  Maybe he is dreaming about snacks o'plenty? Or maybe he is dreaming about Oliver taking too long in the litter box.

Whatever his dreams are, he looks very peaceful indeed.

Now, let me switch the gears for a moment.

Yesterday I put together and uploaded a short snapshot/video montage of my hiking on Wednesday and I've updated yesterday's post to include it.  I'm also posting it down below.  Take a look if you have couple of minutes to spare.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hiking at Princess Point again

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” 
- John Muir, Our National Parks

Good afternoon beautiful souls, I hope everyone's day is going great so far. I'm a little sore today, courtesy of my hike yesterday which took me up and down the hills of the local woodlands. That was quite an exercise, I've woken up muscles I didn't know I had.

I was torn on where to go for yesterday's hike. It was such a gorgeous day, I wanted to make the most of it. In the end I decided to return to Cootes Paradise, more specifically Princess Point, take a walk on the other side of the lake and then pick up where I left of last time at the long bridge.

Thermometer was showing -11°C when I was leaving so I bundled up well. Just like last time I had my snow pants, four layers underneath my coat, scarf, hat, two pairs of wooly socks. Once again I was ready for Alaska.

When I got to the trail I realized I overdid it a tad and I ended up shedding one of the layers as well as taking off my hat. My scalp and my hair surely appreciated some sunlight.

The weather was simply amazing. It was cold but the sun was really strong. Come to think of it, we haven't had sunshine like that in a while. Most of the time these days the sun is dimmed, behind foggy clouds. Yesterday it was a force to be reckoned with. I even wondered if I'll come back with a tan if I stayed there long enough.

There were a lot of people enjoying the ice on the lake. Adults as well as children were seen skating around, many others taking walks.  Everyone was enjoying themselves.  I took a walk along the paved side of the lake, looking for any signs of life, other than human.

Gorgeous ice and snow covered lake

Cattails and skater 

Squirrel eating delicious sumac

As I was returning from my walk around the lake I snapped the photos of American Sycamore tree. There are few of them here at Princess Point and they've always intrigued me.  They look so extraordinary with countless spiky balls hanging from their branches.  Their white spotted bark is unlike any other tree that I know.  Yesterday I researched more into these majestic trees and found out that they are full of sweet, drinkable sap.  Their light coloured wood is hard to split and historically has been used for variety of purposes including making of safe wooden utensils.  The tree grows so incredibly large with age that a human could make a home inside its hollowed trunk. Jeromesville, Ohio is a home to one such large Sycamore tree which is nearly 50 feet around at the base (582 inches at 4 1/2 feet high.) It is 129 feet tall and has a crown spread of 105 feet.

American Sycamore

American Sycamore seed pods hanging from the branches
After my walk around the lake it was time to head out to the long bridge and continue where I left off couple of weeks ago.  There was a quick shortcut to the bridge so it only took me few minutes to get there.  The trail was completely covered in snow now and the slope leading to the bridge was rather steep.  There was no usable branches around to use for the walking stick so I made a mental note to find something as soon as possible.  It didn't take me long.

This part of the trail is very hilly, it either climbs or goes down the slope all the time.  The walking stick was a great friend to have to hold on when I needed to or feel the surface ahead of me for any potential holes covered by snow.  It was a great walking stick, as tall as me which adds to the safety in case of slippage.

I made my way through the woods for some time until I decided to go off the trail for a little bit.  Just sticking to the trail is not really taking in the whole experience in my opinion.  Off the trail, surrounded by nothing man made is where magic happens.

I found a suitable log, cleared it off the snow and sat down to enjoy the pristine surroundings, the hot sun and the divine solitude.  Lunch made of a piece of cornbread and some almonds didn't look like much but it was plenty.  I could have sat there forever.

If you've read my blog on regular basis you would know that I'm a huge fan of the Walking Dead.  I was just wondering how would it feel to be in the middle of woods with apocalyptic danger lurking behind each tree and hill.  Just as I was thinking that, I heard a snap of the branches behind me and felt the movement.  A little startled I turned around to see this.

This is the magic I was talking about.  Few minutes of absolute silence and the deer made an appearance.  The one in front kept moving towards me and came probably about 20 feet from me or so.  I grabbed my camera and started snapping, holding my breath at the same time so as not to scare this beautiful creature off.  This was the proverbial icing on the cake of an already wonderful day.

Can't wait till my next hike.


Ps.  I've put together a short slideshow/video of yesterday's hike.  I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Of Sunny Day and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear? 

First rays of sun early this morning
Good morning everyone and happy Wednesday!! I hope today finds you in wonderful health and spirit.

As New Yorkers are digging out from the "storm of the century" that never was, here in South Eastern Ontario all the signs are pointing to a beautiful day. We supposed to be blessed with plenty of sunshine and milder temperatures hovering just below the freezing point.  Right now it's still brutally cold with the wind chill somewhere around -25°C but the sun has began inching above the horizon and there is no sign of clouds. The temperature should rise considerably by mid day.

There is only one thing on my mind today and that is to go hiking. I've been waiting for this since last week and I'm glad the weather didn't stray much from the forecasts. So many times I plan for a great day out only to be disappointed when the weather turns rogue. Today I think we hit the jackpot. :)

Now on to the cookies.

Couple of days ago I told you about the oatmeal raisin cookies I wanted to bake as per request from my youngest offspring, Angelina. I was originally going to bake them on Sunday but I realized I was out of rolled oats.  Yesterday I finally got my oats and found a good recipe to try. It had great reviews but many people were complaining of things not going right with the recipe, mainly that the cookies were going flat in the oven. I followed the recipe closely with only couple of slight adjustments and mine turned out great.  Below is my adjusted recipe.

Ingredients that you will need:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)

2. In large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually fold into butter mixture by hand.  Do not use the mixer as you might overwork the dough.  Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, remove from sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

The original recipe is available here with a lot of great reviews.  The only changes I made is that I did not use the mixer when adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  I folded the flour in by hand and then added the oats and the raisins.  I also added a little bit less sugar, 1/2 cup each of of white and brown instead of 3/4 cup.  My cookies came out picture perfect and are so delicious!

Now if you'll excuse me I'll finish my yummy hot green tea and head outside.  The sun is shining, it's a gorgeous day and I don't want to miss a minute of it. 


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Love Affair with Books

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
- Charles William Eliot

Do you like reading?

I do. Very much.

My love affair with books began when I was a little girl.  As hard as it is to believe, back then we didn't have computers or internet. My favourite pass time was grabbing few apples, lying on my bed and reading.

One of the first books that made an impression on me, that I can remember, was Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I must have read it a million times.  Oh, how much I wanted to be on that island!  Ever since I read that book, my secret desire was to once find myself on inhabited land. I guess my introvert qualities were speaking to me back then and I didn't even know it.

Good books were not easy to come by in communist Poland. My dad had special connections at the local bookstore and every once in a while he was able to score me a great book or two. Many other adventure books followed Robinson Crusoe, names of which I don't even remember but the stories are still deeply engraved in my mind. The more he brought, the more I read, my imagination running wild with images of heroes and heroines on distant indigenous lands. I remember I made a promise to myself to visit Australia at least once in my life time. I still haven't done that.

Today I still read as much as I can. I have bookcases filled with books both fiction and non fiction. At any one time I have couple of books on the go.  If I could have a choice of my own little room it would be a room with bed on one side, computer desk at a window wall and a third wall full of bookcases filled with books. I can already imagine this room in my head and it's beautiful.

This brings me to digital books.

How do you feel about them? Can you read books on the tablet and enjoy it?

There are so many books I want to read. I know I can't buy them all and some of them I can't find in the library. There are tons of digital books available online for free these days so a little while ago I decided to give them a try to conserve the wallet and the library space.

I found something amazing.  While I'm able to read digital non fiction, I can't say the same about novels.  I just cannot get into them when they are in digital format.  I don't know what it is but a good story has to come to me through pages of the physical book.  Any time I find a PDF copy of a novel I like, I have to print it out in order to fully enjoy it.

I guess for me there is really nothing like a physical copy of the book.  It's reminiscent of a magical portal that takes my soul into a different dimension where the story takes place.  Tablet or smart phone simply cannot do that.  I find that ironic because it's the non fiction that I would like to have physical copies of, and novels that I would like to be able to enjoy digitally.  I guess it's not meant to be.

I'm happy to say that my love for books and reading has blossomed and proliferated into some of my children.  I'm deeply grateful for that.  It makes me smile and my heart fills with joy when I see one of my younglings with her nose deeply buried in a good book.

Charles William Eliot's quote at the start of this post is one of my favourites.  Books really are our most loyal friends, wisest counsellors and most patient of teachers.  I want to walk the rest of my life with them and I hope my children will too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Beeswax Candle Making

Nobody will deny that the art of making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved. 
- Samuel Johnson

White world greeted me this morning when I woke up. I got my wish. We are having an active weather system going through, bringing us some snow. I'm guessing that's the same system that is pummelling Buffalo and New York only we are getting about 15 cm of the white stuff while they are supposed to get a meter. How about some middle ground Mother Nature? I would love to see some real snow visit my neck of the woods.

Saying goes that you must stop looking in order to find what you lost. Maybe if I stop looking for the snow, it will find me?

Just like I mentioned in my previous post I took time to make home made beeswax candles yesterday. I thought it would be a great idea to share my process with you. It's really easy to make your own candles and it feels like such accomplishment when it's done.

I get my beeswax at the local honey shop. I usually buy it in bulk and get a small discount that way. Beeswax candles are more expensive than paraffin, so any discount I can get is very welcome.  The wax doesn't go bad and I just stick the box in the storage and have a surplus for some time to come.

Heating the wax is kind of like heating the chocolate.  You have to do it through indirect heat.  For that I have an old camping pot to which I pour water and then I have a wax pitcher in which the wax is going to melt.  Once the water is boiled in the old pot, I put in the pitcher with the solid wax.

The wax takes a little while to melt and while it does it smells wonderful.

The reason why I use the old pot for the water boiling is that over time you might get some wax dripping into the water.  I don't want to be stressed out about removing wax from my good pots.  This old camping pot is dedicated for just one purpose: candle making.

My candle forms consist of both store bought (for the tall candle and the votive candles) and recycled forms from the tea lights I bought or burned in the past.  Whenever I need more tea light forms, I just buy some cheap candles in the store, remove the tea lights from the forms and I'm ready to go.  The actual tea lights I store away just in case I run out of my beeswax candles in the future.  Once I make my beeswax tea lights, I recycle the forms over and over.  They might get a little out of shape but that's ok.  My tea lights are not picture perfect but they work just fine.

I usually make one big, drip candle, several votive candles and whole bunch of tea lights. For the votive and tea lights I use the regular, small washers which I pick up in the hardware store, to hold the wick in place.  For the wick, I use either hemp or cotton, depends on what I have available at the moment. Yesterday I used cotton.  The wider the candle the thicker the wick will need to be so for my big candle I'm using much thicker string.  The votive candles use the same size of wick as the tea lights.

I tie a short piece of cotton wick to the washer, as close to the middle of the washer as possible.  The washer takes the place of the metal piece that you would usually find at the bottom of the store bought candle. What I like about the washers however is that they can be used over and over.  Candle making supplies are not cheap, so anything recyclable is gold.

When the forms are ready and all the wicks are cut, I dip the wicks in the melted wax and place them in their forms.  This will keep the wicks standing up straight while I pour the wax.  For taller candles I also use a piece of stick or toothpicks to hold the wick in place as I pour.

When the wicks and the forms are ready, I remove the wax from the heat and let it cool a little bit. For the tea lights it doesn't matter much, but for the big candle which I will have to remove from the form, it is very important. When the wax is too hot, it will stick to the sides of the form and removing the candle will be very difficult.  When the wax is cooled before being poured in, it separates from the walls of the form almost immediately.

I let the beeswax cool just enough to see the beginning of solidification around the edges inside the wax pitcher.

When the beeswax is cool enough I pour it into the votives and the tall form.  As you can see from the picture, the wax begins to separate from the walls very quickly.  I took this photo only minutes after I poured it in.

The votives will take about an hour to set and cool while the tall candle will take several hours.  At that time all I have to do is to tap the bottom of the form on a hard surface and the candle should pop out of the form.

Once the tea lights and the votive candles are cooled and out of the forms, all I have to do is cut the wicks.  For my big candle however I have one last step.  I pour the cooled wax over the candle to create the drip effect. This last step is a pure art form and I enjoy it thoroughly.  You could do this with your votives as well if you like to.

Now all there is to do is light them up! There is no better feeling that lighting up your own home made candle.  It puts a smile on my face every single time.  Cheers!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Reflections

“When sad she brings the thunder 
And her tears, they bring the rain
When ill she feeds a poison
To us all to fell her pain
Her smiles they bring the sunshine
And the laughter and the wind
And the birds they go on singing
And the world is whole again. 
"Smile, sweet Sunday," Wednesday whispered in her ear. "The birds need your love so they can lift their wings.” 
- Alethea Kontis, Enchanted

Good Afternoon everyone and Happy Sunday!  I hope today finds you in great health and spirit.  We have a beautiful, sunny but very cold day in our neck of the woods so the plan is to stay in, keep warm, drink tea and have fun.  Hercules of course will be napping most of the day.

It's been snowing last night and I was full of hope that we might get some substantial snow coverage. Unfortunately I didn't quite get my wish.  All we got was about 1-2 cm worth of snow, which is not enough to cover all the ice that formed about a week ago.  I went out earlier this morning and it was still quite slippery out there.  All hope is not lost however, because they are calling for more snow tonight.  That would be lovely.

Today I'm enjoying a very special tea.  Up until two days ago I didn't even know this tea was possible.  I'm talking about the pine needle tea.

What is a pine needle tea?  Exactly what it sounds like.  It's made by steeping pine needles. From the moment I heard about it I was intrigued.  I wasn't sure what it would taste like so I grabbed couple of twigs of the pine tree in my backyard to try it out.  It's actually not too bad.  Stop by my Paradise In My Teacup later for some details.

Today is Sunday and that means that the weekend is almost over.  That's always a sad thought.  Both my little girl and I love weekends as we stay up late and sleep in late.  Sunday also means that the outside errands are done (I always do them on Saturday) so the only things left are laundry, dinner and fun activities.

One of the fun activities I have planned for today is making my very own beeswax candles.  I only have one big candle and three tea-lights left so it's about time to make some more.  You never know when the power goes out and these candles have been awesome every time we have a power outage. Of course, I use them for other occasions as well.  Below is a pic from a previous candle making session.

The beeswax is already on the stove and is starting to release its wonderful aroma.  I wish I could relay in the blog post what my house smells like.  Best air scent ever.

I will probably set some time aside for baking later on as well.  My little girl has asked that I make her some oatmeal raisin cookies for school this week.  I've never made oatmeal raisin cookies so I guess I have a challenge ahead of me.  Have to find me a good recipe.

Have a great day everyone!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Afternoon with Terence McKenna

"The soul is the vehicle that you do take with you into whatever dimensions of continuity exist beyond this mortal coil, so instead of balancing and replacing the tires on your Porsche, you should be balancing and replacing the tires on your after-death vehicle. After all, that's the one that's going to have to serve you well in the clinches, you see."
- Terence McKenna

I've seen and heard the clip below so many times but I never get tired of it.  It contains a great dose of mystical realism and emanates wisdom which is severely lacking in the modern world.

We need more Terence McKennas out there appealing to our sense of humanity which undoubtedly fading.  Materialism got its grip, money is the God everyone bows down to and the end result is that some people have way too much material wealth and some not nearly enough. There is so little willingness to help one another that I find it heartbreaking. I don't have to go far either, there are plenty of examples in my immediate environment. Greed is all around me staring me in the face.

Just yesterday I found out about the severance packages that Target will be paying out to their soon to be ex-employees. Just in case you haven't heard, Target is closing all of its 133 locations across Canada. After two years of business they've lost few billion dollars and decided to throw in a towel.

Now for a doozy.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel walked out last May with 61 million dollars in severance pay after a disastrous performance that saw him resign.  On the other hand, Target's 17,600 regular employees who are about to lose their jobs, will get 56 million in severance pay collectively.

Let's go over that again. 

One person gets 61 million while the other 17,600 people get $3181 per head.  This is only one small example of a world gone seriously wrong. Why we are not out there with pitchforks yet, I will never know.

Target is only one example but there are many all around us.  Those that have enough material wealth don't want to share with those less fortunate and we can't just blame the filthy rich.  We do it to each other too.  We push and shove our way through life thinking that those who die with most toys win. We perpetuate and defend this madness.

Massive change in mentality is long overdue.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My Skin is My Canvas

A lot of my friends have tattoos; I realized that it's not only just a part of pop culture, but a bit of a map on someone's body, which says something about people. A part of their life, like an armor or a crest.
- Christian Louboutin

Every once in a while a topic of tattoos comes up in the family conversation.  The topic is quite a loaded one where it comes to my husband however.  Whenever I mention that I would like to get one, he gets that face my grandma would give me if she caught me swearing in church.

Oh no!  You don't!

Yes I do.  

What can I say.  I was raised in respectable, Christian family and taught that only questionable element of society decorates their own skin in art.  Sure enough, growing up I never saw any tattoos on teachers, priests, government officials or other respectable professionals.  It was widely accepted that if you wanted to get a good job, you had to keep your skin clean.  I never said anything, just politely accepted elder wisdom.  Something tells me my husband was brought up exactly the same way.

Today I have a much different view on this topic.  Unlike my husband, I broke through the conditioning and the stigma.  I don't see anything wrong with tattoos. They are nothing but a piece of art on a human body canvas. Why should it be wrong for people to express themselves by decorating the only thing they truly own - their skin?

I find people with tattoos interesting and I live vicariously through them.  The time is quickly coming, when I'm going to get my own body art and when that day comes, no one will be able to stop me.

Two of my adult daughters already have tattoos.  Sara, my oldest one, got her tattoo several years ago, as soon as she turned 18.  I still remember the big day, how excited she was and how proudly she showed it off.  She still feels the same way today.

"Each day I am born again"

Sheila, my third oldest one, got a tattoo of her own couple of years later, when she also turned 18. For her too, it was a big deal and the day she did it, just like Sara's, is etched in my memory.

"Believe in the best of people"

I like what both of my girls have done.  Their tattoos are a tribute to their personality, phrases taken straight from the journal of their lives.  They live by them every day.

Now I feel is my turn.  I've been thinking for a long time what I would like to express on my body and where.  The back, where the neck meets the shoulders, has always been my top pick. Another spot could be the tops of my feet, even though that is quite more painful and difficult to heal.

As to tattoo design, the sun and the moon is at the top of my list.  If the tattoo is on my back I would merge the sun with the moon, but if it's on my feet it would be separate; moon on one foot and the sun on the other.  Below are some examples taken from the internet.

I don't know when this day is going to come; I guess when the time is right and when I work up the nerve to do it.   It's not that I'm scared, but to me, just like it was for my girls, tattoo is a big deal and I want to be absolutely certain of all the details involved.  Where am I going to do it, who will be the artist, what is the design and what part of the body.  These are all important questions for which I don't have a solid answer yet.

Feet Tattoos

Back of Neck Tattoo

By the way, the first photograph in this post is of Rick Genest aka the Zombie Boy and the most tattooed man on the Earth.  The video below is of his Dermablend commercial.  Pretty mind blowing. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Of Life's Simple Pleasures and Visit to the Waterfalls

“A lady once offered me a mat, but as I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare within or without to shake it, I declined it, preferring to wipe my feet on the sod before my door. It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.” 
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Sometimes I wish I could have a remote control for life. Sort of like Michael in the 2006 movie "Click". Press the button and stop life. Stop the traffic, stop the hustling, stop the rush and madness that human life has become. Wouldn't that be something.

The older I get the more I realize that I'm not made for the world humanity created. I'm not interested in expensive cars, big houses, fancy clothes and all other bells and whistles.  I couldn't care less about the money and what "happiness" it could buy me. Progress to me has a different meaning and I dream of a simpler world.

If you gave me a whole wad of cash and told me to choose between going on a shopping spree or giving up the cash and going backpacking into the woods, you know what my choice would be?

Without a doubt, backpacking.

There is something magical about the nature and our connection with it and with every passing day my understanding of this connection grows deeper.

You see, nature is our remote control of life. The time stops amongst wilderness, everything and everyone becomes suspended in the moment.  There are no stressed people rushing by to get to whatever they need to get to.  There is no traffic speeding by.  There is no sound of cash registers and shuffling of money.  There is no tomorrow, there is no yesterday, there is only NOW and right now, in the dead of winter, all wild life rests and recuperates.

How much I wish humans could do that.

For now I'll have to make do with temporary escapes, like the one yesterday into the local waterfalls.

Hamilton has over 120 waterfalls hidden all over the city and on the outskirts. I've seen many of them but not all and some are pretty special.

Borer's Falls are one of these. Spectacular 15 metre falls meeting no less spectacular gorge. In the summer I usually bring lunch and sit near the edge of the falls for a little while while I eat. It's nerve wrecking to be so close to the edge and yet so very serene at the same time. That's what I call simple life, simple pleasures.

In the winter the falls turn into a breathtaking ice sculpture.  Drop after drop falls and freezes over time adding its contribution to this magnificent art project.  Nature is the most creative artist, don't you think?

I could stand there and admire the falls all day long and listen to its hypnotising song.  It's always hard to pull away.

The gorge has couple of trails running along side of it.  For the last couple of years I've been trying to find a side trail that leads into the valley and gets close to the bottom of the falls but I don't think there is one.  Instead it seems like I'm going to have to find a safe passage off the beaten path.   I think I might have found a potential good spot but it will involve a little more investigation.  With some rope it appears to be doable and I could go for it as long as it doesn't require any mountain climbing.  I'm not quite that advanced.

As I was walking yesterday, I came up with an idea to record little snippets of my walk and put them together into a video montage when I get home.  It's not my finest project but I think it adequately conveys the emotions.  Next time I go hiking I'll do it again and it will probably be a bit better.  I'll have better idea of what to record and for how long.  Yesterday when I started putting my video together I realized that some clips could have be been shorter and some could have been longer. Also, I have to remember to speak more clearly although when it's really cold out, you think you speaking loud and clear until you hear yourself during the playback.  Ha ha ha .. Hopefully next time I'll get it right.  As I always say, practice makes perfect.  I hope you enjoy it.  Cheers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mechanical Tree Canvas, part 1

“Sometimes you have to close your eyes to see more clearly. Magical things are easier to see if your eyes are closed.” 
- Maxwell Grantly, Runs Like Clockwork

Happy Wednesday everyone!  I hope today finds you in a great health and spirit.  As I'm waiting to see if the elusive sun is going to come out and allow for a gorgeous hike this afternoon, I thought I would share with you a project I started.

I've mentioned in previous posts that I was working on the canvas which will mingle oil painting and the steampunking elements.  The painting stage of the project is almost complete.

I love trees. I love drawing them, painting them, photographing and looking at them.  I have several small logs and branches decorating my home office and in the summer, one of my favourite morning activities is to go outside and hug the tree in my backyard.  I'm sure there are some neighbours that think I'm bonkers.  :D  I don't care.

I've always wanted to do a series of art pieces involving trees but I didn't quite know how to approach it. I think now I have a good idea on how to go about it.  Hopefully it turns out the way I plan and this canvas will be one of several to come.

So far I've put around three layers of paint into the background and another layer for the tree.  I will let it rest for couple of days and add another, thicker layer to the tree to make it stand out more.   When the paint portion is done, I will begin to add steampunk elements to the canvas.  I can't wait.  This should be a lot of fun.

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to enjoy my amazing Dragonwell green tea while wait for that sun and watch some living simply videos.  I find them very inspiring.  I really hope that some time in the future I can persuade my husband to downsize to a smaller home, deep in the country with enough land to grow our food and raise few chickens.  :D  Some people dream of bigger things in life, I dream of living simply.