… You might as well make a dandelion chain. Or…
… Play with the macro option on your phone (my new favourite pass time)
This fluffy post brought to you today by the letter D. Happy Thursday.
Every spring here in Ottawa we celebrate the beginning of the season with the blossoming of the tulip at the Canadian Tulip Festival. Of course, you have to understand that I’m not talking about a small grouping of tulips like you would find in a home garden. I’m talking about the largest tulip festival in the world! At Dow’s Lake (Commissioners Park) where I was today, there are 30 huge beds filled with 300,000 tulips of 60 different varieties. Citywide, there are nearly a million tulips in full bloom. I’m sure you can imagine how extraordinarily colourful and beautiful it is here at this time of year (despite the cold).
The tulips are a special gift from Holland to Canada. During the second world war, Canadian troops helped to liberate the Dutch people and to give safe harbour to the royal family during the German occupation creating a close bond of friendship between the two countries. The tulip is a symbol of this friendship and every year since 1953, this symbol has been celebrated at the festival. The National Capital Commission (NCC) is responsible for planting and maintaining the tulip beds. The displays are no less than stunning. Their gardeners effectively preserve the heritage of the festival by attracting and impressing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
If you would like to read more about the history between Canada and Holland, please click here to go to the official Canadian Tulip Festival website.
Once again, I had only my lowly Samsung phone with me, but I managed to capture several nice shots of the beauty that surrounded me today. I thought I would share them with you. Enjoy.
We all know mothers. Whether they are our blood, adoptive, or even surrogate they all hold special places in our lives. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have a multitude of wise and loving older women in our lives who give us wide range of perspectives and support. I am lucky this way. Being adopted as a newborn I grew up in a tight-knit family with a very loving and wonderful mother. The same year I lost her to cancer, I found my birth mother with whom I’ve developed a very close and loving relationship. I have also known several women in my life who became like a Mom-away-from-mom and they are loved and appreciated for their significant roles in my life as well. It’s amazing how these bonds are formed and can never be shaken throughout our lives.
About a month ago I was travelling in North Country New York state in the quaint and lovely villages just south of Syracuse. While perusing the local artisan shops, I came across an artist whose work I could not ignore (nor did I want to ignore it). Bright, lively, and happy is the only way I can start to describe Lori Portka‘s work. Her mixed-media paintings bring colour and warmth to any room. In fact, I bought two prints for my office which, as soon as the space is ready, I can’t wait to hang. These days, when you find an artist whose work you admire, you look for their website which I did with Ms. Portka. Her most recent posting highlighted her newest painting called “Love Always” which she had copied and printed as Mother’s Day cards. This beautiful painting (shown below) and its message was the motivation behind this post.
The inspiration for this post is, of course, all the women who came to mind when I saw the painting. To my mothers who have loved me without reservation or condition, Happy Mother’s Day. I love you always. To the women who took me under their wings and cared, you’ll always be in my heart. To the rest of you who are mothers and have mothers. Happy Mother’s Day. Celebrate well and love always.
I got a chance to get out into my garden this morning to capture a few of the first bloomers so I thought I’d share them with you. I just used my Samsung phone to photograph them as my DSLR battery is charging. I never realized until this morning that there was a Macro option on the Samsung and BOY! for a phone, it’s pretty darn good!
Nice to see some colour, isn’t it? Have a wonderful day.
No…not Wham!…Wake me up before you go-go. Wham! The ball is out of the park! Softball season has arrived once again much to the joy of my son, who played last year, and also my daughter, who is playing for the first time. Each of them has already had one practice and we’ll be out for my son’s first game tonight.
I used to play ball when I was a kid and absolutely loved it. In my late 20′s I also got into playing on a mixed adult slow-pitch team. That was great fun and did it for quite a few years. So, in a city full of soccer kids, I rather delight in my children’s choice in softball instead. Oh, don’t get me wrong! I very much enjoy soccer but the leagues here tend to fill up quickly and cost a pretty penny too. The other thing is that I’m much more knowledgeable about skills in softball than in soccer so I can help my kids to learn.
As I was watching my daughter’s first practice today, a woman in her 60′s passed by walking a dog. She stopped to watch the other little girl on Anna’s team learning to hit. It’s a mixed team but mostly boys and I think the woman delighted in seeing the young girls giving it a go. We struck up a conversation and she told me she lived in the neighbourhood near the diamond and always saw groups of young kids learning to play various sports. She had coached soccer and we marveled together how wonderful it was to see how quickly kids pick up new things and to watch their progression over a season.
Anna came up to practice her batting. The coach gave her some instruction and then came the pitch. Wham! Another pitch. Wham! And another. Wham! “Your daughter’s a natural! I’m actually full of pride right now.” the woman exclaimed and, naturally, I beamed with pride. She’s very athletic, I admitted. “Well, good for her. She’s going to do very well.” I decided immediately that I liked this woman whom I would probably never see again. She had a great spirit. Of course, we’ll play and practice at the same diamond again so she and I may cross paths another day…I hope.
Later that day, as the evening sun glistened through the new spring leaves and cast a magical glow about the park, I watched my son hit a triple at his game. The smile on his face made me very happy. One because it’s satisfying knowing that this was not something I pushed my kids into. They chose the game for themselves and are learning to love it for themselves. And two because I remember how it felt when the ball came in contact with that perfect spot on the bat and it just seemed to fly and I’m glad my kids can experience it too. It’s not something you can ever explain to someone. I guess it’s just another cherished connection between us.
Can you tell I’m looking forward to the rest of the season? Enjoy your “season” whatever it happens to be, sport or otherwise, and making meaningful connections between people.
Hello dear readers. It’s been a while and yes, this seems to be the norm lately, but I’m glad I have a fairly forgiving audience. Thank you. I was going to get on here and write a snide post about world affairs but to be honest I don’t feel very snide today and what good does it do anyway? Sure, it makes us feel good to get sarcasm out of our system but it doesn’t really change anything. So, since changing the name of my blog to “Close to Home” I’ve learned to focus more on things I can change and I’m doing a pretty good job in my little world.
My biggest change of late is weaning myself off of Facebook. Whoopdie-do you might say but it’s a relief for me. Over the years since I started on Facebook I’ve gone through varying degrees of addiction from posting multiple times a day to deleting my account entirely. I quickly learned that deleting my account was not really worth while since, sadly, it’s the only real way stay in touch with people. No one emails any more and I’m terrible at mailing letters (not writing…just getting the letter into the mailbox). So, I’ve decided to keep my account but not to post unless it’s an absolute necessity, ie trying to get the word out about an event, etc. I haven’t posted in over two weeks. I could get into my reasoning but do you really care? Well, okay, I’ll give you one reason. The things I really like to talk and think about, no one wants to read or respond to on Facebook. Good enough?So instead of clicking away on my Android Facebook App, I’ve turned my energies elsewhere. Mostly to creative endeavors. This month has been particularly busy with children’s birthdays and visiting family and friends. Both of my kids were born in April. One at the beginning and one at the end. Great planning, eh? Well, in one way it is…I get everything over-with within a few weeks. But in another way, it’s exhausting. I put a lot of effort into their birthdays. It’s fun for me to apply my creativity and I love for them to have memorable events every year but…and this is a big but…I do not want to spend a fortune. My son’s birthday was at the Canadian War Museum. They have a wonderful venue there and three really fun birthday theme options. Anastasi chose the one called “The Ultimate Fort” where they spent time, in two teams, building forts out of massive cardboard blocks and then competing in bean bag tosses of various sorts. They also did a scavenger hunt in the massive vehicle room of the museum where there are tanks, missile launchers, a jet, and various vehicles including one riddled with bullet holes. For a crowd of 10, ten-year-old boys, this was perfect! And all this for $120. Aside from mailing the invitations, all I had to do was to produce a cake which took me the better part of the day before. It was a really cool cake, if I do say so myself!
My daughter’s birthday party was at home. We decided on a camp theme which was really fun to put together. Naturally, being a control freak, I put the onus on myself to do everything. Previous to the past week I collected inspiration photos and pinned them to my boards on Pinterest (a very useful Social Media app) so that by the time I needed to organize and create I knew what I needed. I spent the entire week (during my “free” time), running from the dollar store to the craft store to the party store and back again. Then creating, printing, cutting, pasting, and stringing various banners, water bottle labels, and craft ideas. There was even a makeshift tent and a fake fire pit (wood, red tulle, and a cool burning lightbulb) thanks to my friend and neighbour, Karen. A small group of 6 girls made for a very calm and fun party. The girls split into two teams and did an outdoor scavenge hunt, collected items for and created fairy homes, made dragonfly and s’more crafts for their camp hats, and played camping with their wonderful imaginations. A two-hour party turned into a four-hour playdate. I enjoyed every moment and I think the girls did too.As the month comes to a close, I finally have a day to relax and enjoy the weather. It’s been a long time coming, the warm weather, and I am LOVING it! It’s 20 C (68 F) and sunny…a perfect day for putting around in the garden and getting rid of winter. I focused on my little herb garden. I pulled out the dead herbs, namely rosemary and oregano (it’s really a shame they can’t survive the winter), marveled at the robust herbs that seem to thrive in the cold (chives, mint, and thyme), and transplanted my raspberry bushes to make way for a small extension on the deck. Sometimes I’m surprised we Canadians actually survive the winter and they don’t find us curled into little pasty, starchy balls in the far corners of our basements by the television, muttering and drooling to and on ourselves. But we are definitely more like chives and less like rosemary (my deep thought for today). As I sunk my fingers into the fresh, cool earth, I felt alive again. Thank goodness there’s always spring and it’s here without a doubt. Yay!! Enjoy it fellow Canadians. For those of you in warmer climes…be happy for us, will you?