Preparing to Leave – Voyages – Story Cube Challenge #3 – Feb 4 to 18, 2018

Preparing to Leave

Voyages – Story Cube Challenge #3 – Feb 4 to 18, 2018

As the sun slowly rises above the emerald waters of Lake Mirabel, Finnola, the young queen of the small country Miravan, lifts the heavy bejewelled crown from her head.   Catching the flickering candlelight, the rubies and sapphires sparkle as she gently places it upon the purple velvet pillow resting in a glass case on a shelf in her jewel room.  Running her fingers through her thick blonde hair to smooth the tousled curls, she wonders how many weeks or months will pass before she can return to her beloved home snuggled here on the quiet shores hidden deep within the mountains, to once again wear this crown.

On the 10th anniversary of her coronation, as every ruling Monarch of Miravan has done since it became an independent country, she prepares to leave the turrets and comforts of her castle to embark on a census tour of the country. To anonymously visit every hamlet, village, town and city within it’s borders, to return to her roots, so to speak. The first decade tour is undertaken as a way for the Monarchy to re-acquaint themselves with their subjects, what they want, and need to be prosperous and happy, and to determine the state of the country, it’s needs and strengths.

The people of Miravan live in either the capital City – Miravanshire, or in one of the three towns, six villages, five small hamlets or the multitude of individual family homesteads scattered throughout the lush countryside. The towns and villages pose no hardship to reach, it will be the hamlets and the small sporadic settlements that will be difficult to access, where the landscape and roads become unpredictable.

To maintain her anonymity, she will travel disguised as a merchant searching for new trade partners and to purchase artisan crafts to sell abroad.

The glad-handing and posturing for the cameras always takes second place to the primary objective, usually a clandestine government investigation or research.  This year, samples of soil, and river, lake and rainwater will be scooped up into various flasks and beakers to be sent to sterile labs in the capital to determine the health of the environment. Over the past three decades the climate has been changing, the full effect on the environment needs to be investigated.  Additionally, selected farmers will be provided with seeds developed by the royal horticulturalists to flourish in any climate.  The experiment is to cultivate and establish the viability of these hybrid beans as an environmentally stable food source.

Planning for this project has been on going for the past 2 years. The Royal Designers have fabricated a Coat of Arms, shields, banners, and insignia for her company to display and wear.  They will be a small tight knit group able to move freely throughout the country, following wagon tracks and deer trails when necessary. She will be attended by Gillian – her personal companion, Cyrus – the Purser/Administrator, Thomas the biologist and four well trained guards, David, Brian, Melissa, and George. Each traveller will be mounted high upon a magnificent black war horse followed by a string of sturdy pack horses transporting their personal supplies, food, and camping gear, in addition to gifts significant to each municipality’s Trade Minister.

The journey is expected to take just under six weeks but could stretch to three months or more depending on the weather, unexpected events and who and what they may encounter along the way.

Her hair finally smooth, Finnola grabs her riding gloves, buckles her sword belt and leaves her private room looking forward to the thrilling adventure of meeting her beloved people.

 

Cheryle     February 2018

Story Cube Dice VOYAGES for Story No 3 due Feb18 2018

Beans or Seeds, Coat of Arms, Crown

Ax, Mountains, Flask

Camera, Sunrise over Water, Rain

STORY CUBE CHALLENGE 2 – JAN 21 TO FEB 4, 2018 – The Life of a Sports Writer

The Life of a Sports Writer

I want to be frank.  I lead a pretty glamourous life.  As a sports writer I get to see all the action. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I have to attend meetings, stand up and talk about what I have been doing, what articles I want to write, and occasionally I have to push my own point of view. Duke it out in the press room, so to speak.  I read a lot of newspaper articles to keep abreast of what’s happening where and who is up against who and when.   I cover the gamut from wrestling, acrobatics, Nordic walking events to community and school intramural activities.

I work for a small local newspaper, freelance on the side and have written a couple of books.  These jobs keep me busy and I skip all the way to the bank.  I can pay my bills and enjoy some of the finer things in life; drive a good foreign car, wear expensive clothes and spend my holidays somewhere hot where the water is warm, the days are long and the nights longer.

On a good day I watch a game, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, from the best seat available or if I’m very lucky, from a VIP suite with the owners and other press reps.  These are usually pretty sweet deals as they are catered and I can scarf down some wings and appetizers and enjoy a beer or two, before I head out to the sports bar down the street from my apartment.  I enjoy taking in tennis, curling or golf on the tube.  I can talk with the armchair critics and get their take on the players, teams and coaches.  The word of the man on the street always makes for good copy.

After the bar I take my notes back to my apartment, write up my article and sleep in my king-sized bed.  In the morning I email it to my boss.  Usually he prints it as it is but once in a while he makes changes, which drives me crazy, it makes be feel like I’ve been burgled, but what’s a guy to do?  It’s my boss.

I love my job writing for the newspaper, it gives me the freedom and the action I crave.  Sometimes it is a little like jumping off a ledge, not always knowing what the day will bring or what I will say before the article is finished.  Writing the books is more like bricklaying.  There is a formula, as long as I follow it I’m laughing.  All in all, as I said I lead a glamourous life and I love it!

Story Dice for Story No 2 due Feb 4 2018

ACTION CUBES

  1. Burglary – stealing
  2. Sleeping ? I’m not exactly sure what this Icon represents
  3. Fighting, Wrestling
  4. Bricklaying
  5. Reading
  6. Jumping or skipping down stairs
  7. Talking
  8. Walking
  9. Acrobatics, Summersaulting or skateboarding

Cheryle – February 2018

THE FIRST STORY from Story Cubes Challenge – January 7 – 21, 2018

Lily Loves Scotland

The iron key, heavy in her hand, slid easily into the ancient lock. Lily cocked her head heard it unlock, turned the knob and gave the wooden door a gentle push. Nothing happened.  She leaned in and pushed with more authority.  The door gave a loud slow squeal opening into the small stone cottage that used to belong to her Great Aunt Flora.

With her luggage in hand, Lily steps through the threshold into the past and her future.

The last time Lily stood in this sitting room she was six, preparing to return home to Canada after 3 months running wild in South Ayrshire Scotland. It was the year her mother died.  Her father sent her to Straiton to stay with her mothers’ aunt while he finished his work in Egypt before settling into a new position at Brock University as Head of the Archeology Department. When she received word her aunt had died last winter her mind instantly returned to the last kiss and hug they shared, then through all the years in between that day and the day she held the letter in her hand.

Time hadn’t moved forward in the 20 years since she left.  The room was exactly the same, except the fireplace was cold and an electric heater had been installed on the back wall.

It was late, she could re-acquaint herself with the rest of Rose Cottage tomorrow.

Lily woke to a crack of thunder; a flash of lightning and raindrops sliding down the bedroom window.  She would get wet going into the village for groceries.  Until then breakfast would consist of the 1/2 submarine sandwich she put in the fridge last night and the unused teabag she had in her purse.

During the 15-minute drive into Straiton, the rain stopped and the fulgent sun peeked out to brighten the day as she wound past lush pastures, grazing white sheep and rock fences. Rounding a particularly sharp corner she had a spectacular view of a stunning rainbow shining above Monument Hill.  The countryside colours were brilliant.  Her eyes couldn’t take in all of the shades of green in the grasses, trees and shrubs, or how the blues in the sky and sparkling in the river set off the rainbow like a jewelled setting.  What a sight to see on her first outing.

In no time she was in the village scanning for parking.  Lily had her choice of spots on Main street and parked close to both the fresh market and the pharmacy. Everything was within easy walking distance, her shopping wouldn’t take her long, she could begin the job of sorting through Aunt Flora’s things earlier than she thought.

The bell above the door jingled as she walked into the market.  “Good Morning Miss, how may I help you?” asked the smiling clerk as she wiped her hands down the front of her Kelly-green apron and stepped away from the floral arrangements displayed in the front window.

“Hello, thank you, I am just picking up a few things. I may need some help finding some items, I have a list” Lily replied pulling the list out of her purse pocket.

“Here let me see what you need”, the clerk offered as she reached for Lily’s list.  Lily followed the clerk to the back of the store where the clerk moved in behind the meat counter and selected the chicken, pork, ground beef and bacon Lily had listed.  Each item deftly wrapped in butcher paper, tied with twine then handed to Lily who put them in the handbasket she had picked up by the cash register counter.

The clerk, looked down at the list then quickly but briefly glanced up at Lily and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?  “I’m not being nosy, it’s your accent that gives you away”.  She moved up and down the isles efficiently filling the basket with cans, jars, boxes, fresh fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee, bread, juice, butter, oil, garlic, basil, ginger tea and honey.   Lily smiled, “Yes, you are right, I’m not. I’m Lily from Canada, I’m staying at Rose Cottage.”  “Oh, you must be Flora’s niece from Calgary.”  The clerk reached over and took Lily’s hand in hers ” Your Aunt, she spoke very highly of you. I am so sorry for your loss. She was well loved here and is very much missed – God rest her soul.”  “I’m Heather and it is a pleasure to meet you Lily” She smiled again and continued to fill Lily’s shopping list.

As she collected the items and placed them in the basket, she showed each one to Lily who nodded her head in agreement.  Picking up a package of tea Lily commented: “Everything is so different here, even the Tea”.  Heather giggled, “Oh yes, everything is very different here in Scotland, I have a cousin who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario she says the very same thing about Canada every time she comes to visit my Auntie” Gently taking the package of tea the clerk turns the container over and points to the manufacturer.  “See this one, Wee Tea is grown right here in Scotland, it even won awards in Paris” “Imagine that tea from Scotland winning awards”.   She was so happy and proud of the home-grown tea, Lily grinned “That is so awesome! I’ll try the one you have in your hand.”  Heather’s smile stretched from ear to ear.

Wiping her hands on her apron she moved to the register with the basket “Well, that’s the lot. I’ll ring it up and see what the damage is”.  As she tallies the purchases and puts everything into crisp paper bags Lily wanders over to the front window breathing in the heady scents of the various flowers on display.  With a sense of accomplishment, Heather announces “There it is, a total of 50 pounds 30 pence”.  Lily looking confused turns and walks back over to the counter, Embarrassed, she apologizes “I’m sorry I forgot to convert my Canadian money into Scottish money.  Would you take Canadian cash?”  Reaching under the counter and bringing out the calculator, Heather laughingly responds “Oh yes Lily, I will calculate the conversion and sell the Canadian money to my cousin the next time she visits”.  “That works out to 85 dollars 40 cents Canadian.  Is that OK with you?”  Thank you, Heather, I will have to go into to Dalmellington and convert the rest of my cash – I appreciate you taking my Canadian money” “You are very welcome, it is my pleasure to help you out”.

She moves out from behind the counter hands Lily the two bags, picks up a small wrapped bouquet of jonquils pops it into one of the bags, reaches over and holds the door open for Lily, the bells jingling merrily.  ‘Welcome to Straiton Lily – I do hope to see you again soon”.  “Thank you for all your help this morning Heather, take care, see you soon.” Once outside the market Lily turns right down the sidewalk to the Pharmacy.

With her errands complete and ready to return to the cottage, Lily balancing two large fully stocked grocery bags, the aromatic bouquet of jonquils and a first aid kit inside a small handled shopping bag walks down the sidewalk toward her car.  Twenty steps from her car, she is stopped her in her steps by the sweet scent of cinnamon buns wafting out of the Buck Tea Room.  She can’t resist cinnamon.  It is her favourite sweet spice.  Five minutes later she is on her way back to the cottage with a cinnamon bun in a small bag.

Before she reaches the cottage, Lily pulls off the road at Tairlaw Linn, the Water of Girvan runs through the northwest corner of the Rose Cottage property. She was glad she wore her runners it will make it easier to walk down to the beautiful double waterfall. As she had done dozens of times during her Scottish summer Lily bends over and slides smoothly between the fence rails and follows the animal trail down from the road to the meadow and the stand of alders beside the river.  The air cool and crisp after the rain is full of the scent of wet earth, leaves and thistle. She takes it all in, breathes deeply and listens to the laughter of the water as it tumbles over the edge and splashes into the pool below.

Lily’s Aunt Flora died while Lily was in Thailand teaching meditation.  She didn’t learn of her Aunts death until she returned home and read the letter from her Aunts attorney, two months after Aunt Flora was buried.  Flora had left everything she owned to Lily; a few stocks; a large nest egg; and Rose cottage, including the 12 acres of property it sat on.  This waterfall was on that property. How many afternoons had she spent swimming in its deep pools before returning to the cottage for tea and sweets?

Sitting down on a fallen log Lily carefully pulls out and unwraps the still warm cinnamon bun. The icing generously slathered on the glaze is gooey, the glaze sticky in her fingers and palms. The bun is oh so delicious.  Her mouth waters as she eats leaving her wanting more.  It certainly makes up for the poor leftover sandwich she had earlier.  Savouring the cinnamon and sugar she licks and sucks every morsel from her fingers then knees down to swish her hands clean in the bracing water.  Too bad she couldn’t enjoy a quick dip today.  Something to look forward to when she needed a break to clear her head.   Returning to the car she allows herself to make plans to stop by again, next time with a bathing suit and a full picnic.

Back at Rose Cottage Lily unlocks the bright blue door and gives it a hard push picks up her groceries and once again steps into the home where she will discover the secrets of her past and the truth of her future.

1 – Globe – travel

2 – Scarab – death – funeral rites

3 – Flower – nature

4 – Abacus – ancient calculator

5 – Key – Access – secrets – truth

6 – Building – Cottage – Family

7 – Letter L – Lily – Linn

8 – Lightning Bolt –

9 – Rainbow? Waterfall?, River?  (Wasn’t quite sure what the icon was)

 

Cheryle – January 2018

PBC – July 2017 – Point of View

PHOTO BLOGGERS CHALLENGE – JULY 2017 – POINT OF VIEW

This month’s challenge is Point of View.  It took me a few days to figure out what that meant for me.  Inspired by    GeoKs June 2017 Photo Blogging Challenge submission of a columbine from behind, I had fun photographing my subjects from underneath, a very different perspective and I believe an interesting “Point of View”.  All but the last photo were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone.

20170710_130712 c

From underneath the rose bush, shooting to the sky, I can see the many shades of rose bush green as blue-sky peeks through the branches.

20170724_105740 a

Since the camera was in “Selfie” mode I had difficulty keeping myself out of the picture.  As is evident with the shot of the Monarda, common name – Bee Balm.

20170710_130807 c

The ripening raspberries happily hang hidden away beneath the prickly canes.

20170724_111634

This year I grew zucchini in what I call “the Mediterranean Garden” located on the south side of the house. With its’ ruffles and veins, the translucent yellow flower looks so much more delicate when seen from underneath.

garden july 12 to 14 2017_0046 a

This “underneath” photo was a bonus of pure luck when I stepped outside and just happened to glance up, I was greeted with the graceful flight of a dozen or more Pelicans enjoying the cloudless day.

I want to thank PJ for hosting these challenges.  I am grateful for the stretch outside my comfort zone and the enjoyment and ideas I get from  checking out the offerings from the other members, which you can check out here:    A ‘lil Hoohaa Photo Blogging Challenge – July 2017 – Point of View

Cheryle July 2017

 

The Community Associations’ Winter Carnival 2016

Today was a day filled with children and activities definitely outside my comfort zone.  Today the Community Association held its Winter Carnival.  Today I played with children of all ages. Some were three and some were eleven and the others were all the ages in-between.

20161211_115212

Yes, I helped out at the colouring contest table sponsored by the Ogden Seniors 50+ Activity Club.  We had a multitude of Christmas pictures to colour, crayons, and prizes to be won.  The kids lined up at our table excited to spend a few minutes shading stockings, wreaths, and Christmas trees with the waxy crayons. A chance to win a five dollar McDonalds gift card was an easy enticement for many of the young people tagging along behind their Mom or Dad as they wandered from booth to booth.  Alone in their zone, they chatted quietly about their schools, their ages, their siblings and in some cases current world events. “Yes, I am good with colour and drawing”, “My favourite colour is pink”, “I don’t live around here”.  One young artist didn’t want to enter the colouring contest, he knew he wouldn’t be back this way again.  Another so intent on her art, didn’t say a word.  Quietly, she slid the crayons back and forth transforming the white paper to green, yellow and red.

vendors

The carnival, so much more than our little colouring corner tucked into the back of the hall. It is a gathering place.  A place where old friends can reconnect after months or years of not seeing each other.  I ran into a young woman I hadn’t seen is 10 or more years.  I knew her as a cashier at Safeway working part time while in high school.  It took me a few moments to shake off my past image of her and accept a new one. So grown up now.  She has two children and is the imaginative creator of unique candy bouquets.   This event is a hub where local entrepreneurs  set up business for an afternoon, hand out their business cards in the hope of a future sale or commission.  Where home based artisans can share their artistry, adding to the vibrancy of our community.  The hall was filled with the soothing scents of peppermint soaps, chocolate arrangements, and the sharp aroma of herbal oils.  My eyes were treated to the sparkle of semi precious stones strung into bracelets and necklaces, and the bright warm colours of knitted winter hats and scarves.

Christmas carols hung on the air and kids acted out their favourite Christmas messages on the 80 year old auditorium stage.  The floorboards creaked as a Taekwondo team kicked and jabbed their way through their sparring program.  Little girls dressed in mukluks, their faces painted as Hello Kitty,  turned and twirled as they worked to figure out the hula hoop moves so easily managed by the older more flexible teenage girls.

20161211_123038

The Calgary Multicultural Orchestra treated everyone to a selection Christmas songs including winter wonderland, jingle bells and the first Nowell. (that is how it was written on the sheet music)  A beautiful and inspiring arrangement brought the sound of Christmas to our hearts.

20161211_105604

At the end of the day everyone had fun, Christine and I tried our own hands at colouring, and four young aspiring artists won gift cards worth the price of a McDonalds Happy Meal.

 

December 2016   Cheryle

WHEN SHOULD WE MEDITATE?

The question of when to meditate can be answered with a quick “whenever you can”.  However that is an answer easier said than put into practice.  In an ideal world our lives would have sufficient unencumbered time to do everything we want, when we want to do it.  Today, that is hardly the case, we rush, from waking through the day keeping up with all of our obligations until we fall into bed at night and hopefully a restful sleep. With all of this busyness, when do we find time to create and maintain a meditation practice? 

We have all been told how important it is to meditate daily.  The benefits are well documented, the reduction in stress, anxiety, an increase in a calm wellbeing and the achievement of a tranquility we cannot obtain any other way. What wonderful attributes to aspire to.  Unfortunately, aspiration alone does not bring about peace of mind.  We have to exercise our intent through consistency, determination, confidence and patience.  

Deciding to meditate or setting the goal to meditate daily is the very first step to creating a successful practice.  Bringing that decision to fruition involves all of the steps we normally follow in order to accomplish any endeavour we undertake.   

How long will you meditate? 5 minutes 3 times a day,  15 minutes, 1/2 hour an hour?  How long do you want to meditate, how much time can you dedicate to meditation?  How much time will offer you the benefits you are looking to cultivate?  Once you determine how long you want to meditate make that an agreement you keep with yourself.

Decide when the best time would be for you to meditate.  Does your lifestyle offer you the opportunity to meditate at the same time in the same place every day?  Some people prefer to begin their day with a quiet meditation practice to gather their energy before facing the chaos.  Others find that calming the mind before bed works wonders for a deep restful sleep.  Would taking time during the middle of the day recharge and refresh you, make your more alert for your work and business?  

 Answering the when question occasionally involves answering the where question.  Where can you meditate during your day? There are many opportunities during the day,  many places that offer the quiet time needed to meditate in your room at home, your office, the bathroom at work, while waiting for a Doctors appointment, as a passenger in a car, taxi, on a bus,  

bench-for-meditation       or in the park outside your office at lunch.

Granted the Doctors office is not the optimal place to meditate, however it can offer you a quiet time to slow down during a day that is running on fast forward.  Rarely do patients talk to each other while waiting to discuss their personal health concerns with the Doctor. You don’t need to sit in the lotus position.  Quietly, sit in the waiting room chair,  close your eyes and begin your practice.  I usually keep my sunglasses on.  Nobody even knows my eyes are closed.  Set an alarm on your phone and place it in your pocket, it will silently alert you when the appropriate time has elapsed, without alerting anyone else.

While creating your meditation practice you may wish to consider if you prefer to meditate on your own, with a group or a combination of the two choices.  Each option has it advantages.   Give yourself the opportunity to attend a group meditation at one of your local meditation centres.  See how meditating with others may expand and enrich your own private practice. 

Be diligent and consistent in your effort.  Return each day to your practice.  Sit for the agreed time.  Maintain your focus on your chosen object, gently bring your mind back when it wanders off to finish the shopping list, or think about that email you need to send to a colleague. 

Follow the teachings you have been taught,  give yourself time to develop and grow within your practice.  Understand there will be days you will be frustrated, your mind won’t cooperate.  It will open a multitude of doors, releasing all sorts of thoughts and images to crowd out any attempt at calm.  Be patient.  There will also be days when your concentration will be like a sharp knife you steadily hold on the object of your focus.  Recognize and be aware of these small victories they will build your determination to continue, your confidence in yourself. 

Be determined not to give in to procrastination, laziness, or other attempts to avoid your practice.  Our mind can play many tricks on us in an effort to lure us away from meditation.  Meditation is a way for us to exert control over our mind, over our emotions.  It is a way to rein in the chaotic or looping thoughts.  Our Ego doesn’t want this,  it wants to be in charge, allowed to do whatever it desires with emotional abandon all the while wrecking havoc on our lives.  Each time you overcome an obstacle to your practice you strengthen your confidence.  Honour yourself –  Keep your promise to yourself meditate everyday.

Be confident in your ability to continue, have faith in yourself.  Practice daily.  Step by step your initial attempts will become an anticipated and appreciated daily habit. You will overcome any barrier you may place in your path.

Be patient. The benefits won’t be noticeable right away.  It will take time to build your practice and to see the positive results. Your friends and family may recognize the benefits before you do.  Keep at it.  Little by little you will become calm and experience more of the beauty in life.

Only you can experience your practice, reap its benefits, overcome the challenges.  Only you can appreciate your effort and only you can know when is the best time for you to meditate.  The first step is to decide to do it and then follow through. 

Bring harmony into your life, begin your practice. 

Cushion or Chair.jpg      Your meditation chair or cushion awaits you. 

 

Cheryle, October 2016

COME DRUM WITH ME

Drums on a Blue background   An unusual event took place in the Ogden House auditorium on May 5th, 2016.  For those members sitting in the lounge at the time, they heard and felt a rumbling never before experienced at the club.  What could it be?

a drum circle begins

A drum circle, of course.

As we arrived, each of us looked around the auditorium, skeptically, and wondered what had we gotten ourselves into?  The chairs were arranged in a large circle with a drum sitting in front of each spot.  Jamie Gore,  a Drum Circle Facilitator with Circles of Rhythms, greeted us and invited us to select a seat and a drum.  There were colourful Cuban Tubanos, shapely Djembes, and graceful Frame drums, all waiting to release their voices with just a touch from a drummer.

Each drum style, is unique in the way it looks, the sound it makes and in the way it is played.

A cuban drummer a   The Tubano, a tall floor standing drum, is played by used two beaters to hit the drum skin and by striking the hard straight side of the body with the beater handles.

A couple of djembe drummers   The Djembe, a goblet shaped drum from West Africa, is held between the legs, and is tilted slightly forward to allow the voice of the drum to escape through the bottom of its hollow body.  The drummer beats the drum skin with their open hands or the drum rim with their fingers.

a community drum with two frame drums  The community drum and the frame drums are used to keep the beat and set the pace for all the other drums.  Historically,  the frame drum is believed to have been styled after the original drum, which was developed from the grain sieves used by ancient agricultural communities.

a bunch of percussion

As the short hour flew by, everyone had an opportunity to try out each style of drum, and to play one of the percussion instruments which had been laid out on the floor in the centre of the circle.

a painted drum  We drummed for ourselves, we drummed for each other, and we drummed for those fleeing the fires in the north.  We energized our bodies, our minds, we played with our hearts and our spirits.  The room vibrated and bounced to the sounds we made.  Our faces broke out in smiles, our feet tapped in rhythm while our arms beat in time to each other.

a djembe quartet

 

A flute soars    Karin Foster, a musician and a Circle of Rhythms drum circle volunteer generously treated us to two haunting melodies played on her American Indian Flute.

A mother listens to her daughter play a  We sat quietly and meditated as her energy and love filled the room.

I had a drumming good time and look forward to the next drum circle, but from the looks on the faces of the members sitting in the lounge as we left, the next circle will need more chairs and more drums.

a gourd sound

Cheryle – May 2016

Originally published in the  Ogden House 50+ Seniors Activity Club – June Newsletter

 

 

ALBERTA THAI CANADIAN ASSN 2015 STAMPEDE FLOAT

This year marks the first float entry by the Alberta Thai-Canadian Association into the World Famous Calgary Stampede Parade.

final preparations 2

The parade kicks off the city’s 10 crazy days of its’ western heritage celebration.   During good years, businesses shut down, parties rage, bulls are ridden and Stampede Park hosts thousands of visitors each day.  During poor years, businesses slow down, parties pop, bull is spoken and Stampede Park hosts thousands of visitors each day.

Participation in the Parade is a triumph for the businesses and non-profits who are lucky enough to be approved entry.  It means millions of people will see your float live or broadcast on TV.  The possibility of increased business because of the exposure can be translated into additional clients, revenue or membership. Not to mention the bragging rights that come with the acceptance of entry and the anticipation of receiving the coveted Best Float designation given by the Parade Judges.

Final Meeting 1

The current President of the Alberta Thai Canadian Association (ATCA) is an intelligent, tour de force woman, who has a definite vision of what the Association can achieve and the road map to its success.  She is able to rally the membership to whole heartedly strive to execute new ideas in order to deftly move their organization into the diverse cultural arena that makes up Calgary’s multi-national population.

ATCA Entry on the way

The ATCA entry, conceived out of love for their homeland Thailand and their desire to share it with the world, brought together over 100 people to create. Visionaries, organizers, planners, designers, builders, choreographers and audio specialists spent months working to achieve their dream of the beautiful float following the 80 people representing different aspects of Thai culture.

final preparations 9da

The Thailand Sign Bearer, a young Thai woman dressed in a gold Thai Chakkraphat, led the way gaily waving, smiling and enjoining the audience to visit Thailand, if just for a moment. Next came the ATAC Banner adorned by the Serpent of Thailand and carried by four ladies.  Dressed in traditional Nung long skirts and Sabai shawls, they walked in front of two young men also in traditional dress who carried the Canadian and Thai flags.

final preparations 9h

Following the Banner and the Flag Bearers were Thai and Canadian ladies in traditional dress carrying gold and silver Pan Pum offering statues.

final preparations 9g

Next in line were the talented Thai and Canadian dancers who like fluid colour flowed along the parade route.  Their colourful outfits sparkled and jingled in the hot Alberta sun as they moved through the intricate dance steps to the music booming from the speakers mounted in the float.

final preparations 9a

The last performers, the Muay Thai Boxers, like the protectors of Thailands honour, walked before the float.  Men, women and children throwing kicks, popping punches and entertaining the audience with their fighting antics.

final preparations 4

The last vision of Thailand on the parade route was the ATCA Float, drawn by a well camouflaged truck covered in fabric, ribbons and glitter.

final preparations 9p

The float was adorned with a large triangular Golden Stupa, strategically placed amoung colourful exotic flowers and beautiful Thai ladies representing the 4 corners of Thailand. The lovely ladies, each outfitted in the traditional dress of their area waved and proudly exemplified the loving and generous nature of the Thai people.  A golden goddess waved from the centre of the float, representing a unified Thailand shining like a bright light out of the east.

final preparations 3

The passing of the float signaled the end of the ATCA entry, the audience members fondly waved and smiled as they watched a small piece of Thailand move further along the parade route.

final preparations 9r

The Alberta Thai Canadian Association entry may not have won any official awards from the Parade Judges, but the award of confidence and success they won in their hearts is untouchable and immeasurable.

Cheryle July 2015

A DAY AT THE ZOO

A Day at the Zoo

Summer is here.  I know we haven’t yet reached the solstice, but the weather is summery and so are the outings coordinated by Ogden House 50+ Seniors Club.

What says summer better than a day at the Zoo?  On June 11th, a group of 50+ members journeyed through, the Canadian Wilds, Eurasia and Africa.

It was a sunny day.  A light breeze batted around the white seed packets of fluffy fuzz which fall from The Cottonwood and Poplar trees prodigiously growing around St. Georges Island.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0002

Upon arrival, our little group of 17 was dwarfed by the sheer number of school children, all walking in orderly lines holding hands while being directed by teachers and volunteer parents.  Their excitement was palpable, it propelled their tiny bodies forward so fast they appear blurred in some of the photos I took.

Zoo w Ogden House_0007

Our first stop was the Penguin Plunge, where we enjoyed the antics of the Penguins playing in the outside pools while we waited in a short line to get inside the Penguin enclosure.   Lucky us.  Once inside we were treated to the overwhelming smell of fish and the chaos of feeding time. They don’t receive all the nutrients they need from the lifeless fish, so are given daily supplements to compensate for the lack of nutrition.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0014

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0013

The sleek black and yellow birds swam, jumped and vocalized as they enjoyed their lunch of dead fish.  .

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0026

After the cool air of the Penguin Plunge the heat of the sun felt extra hot, as we trundled our way across the bridge to the picnic site.  Happily, we picked out two green tables shaded under the protection of the huge fully leafed trees.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0028

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0031

We sorted ourselves and took a few moments to decide where we wanted to visit first.  We had an hour and a half before lunch.  Everyone set out on their own adventures, some with buddies others on their own.  I was on the lookout for possible Calendar shoot spots. I had no preconceived plan of action, just to wander where my whim and the animals led.

The surprise of the day were the Peacocks.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0053

They were everywhere.  Each and every one was displaying their beautiful plumage fans. Everyone once in a while one would call, that eerie piercing caw of theirs, sending shivers down my back.

One in particular was a camera star.  He must be in love with the camera.  I observed that as long as a camera was focused in his direction, he flaunted his feathers. At one point, I put my camera down to change the lens, he brought in his fan and dropped the feathers into the beautiful trailing train.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0069

When I had finished the lens switch and brought the camera back up, he turned toward the camera, fluttered and fanned this tail out as wide as it would go.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0047

He was such a poser I had the best time snapping more shots of him than I should have.

As I travelled the African continent I encountered many of the favourite animals taking naps in the shade, walking about, relaxing with their babies or working on fixing their homes.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0079      Resting Hippo

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0075   Red River Pig Mother with spotted baby

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0063       Sleeping Gorilla

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0086   Zebras strolling around their enclosure

Zoo w Ogden House_0035          A  Misty Waterfall in the Rain Forest

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0108       Yellow Bird tending to its’ home

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0107          Turtle taking a stroll

It was hot on my journey through Africa, so I was happy for the break when lunch time came around.  Back at the picnic table, we were treated to Subway sandwiches, chips, cookies and Juice.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0112

It was a yummy meal and a welcome opportunity to sit in the shade, catch up on where the others visited and what they saw.

After lunch we had another hour and half to explore more of the micro world of the Zoo.  Since being out in the sun walking around is not my natural habitat, I chose to stay and chat with a few of the others who also enjoy a quiet visit in the shade.

Zoo Trip w Ogden House_0136

By the end of the day we were tired but satisfied with our adventures.  We piled into our vans for the short drive back to Ogden House.  Everyone had an exhilarating summer day at the Zoo. One I am sure we will want to repeat next year.

Cheryle Baker   June 2015

Day 17: Your Personality on the Page – Blogging U – Writing 101

Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s Twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Monsters

Donny is asleep in bed, tucked in nice and neat.  A few stuffed toys are laying on top of the blanket draped across the bottom of the bed.  The room is dark and quiet, you can hear the gentle breathing of the 4 year old.

A few seconds pass.  Off in the distance a train whistle goes off.  The wind outside has picked up a little, the tree outside the 2nd floor window rubs against the glass, causing a squeaking scratching sound followed by a short tap tap.

Donny begins to whine a little and move about in his bed. His breathing starts to quicken. Over the next 60 seconds he moves more frantically and his breathing becomes erratic.

Donny takes an automatic deep breath as if he is rising out of deep water.  He opens his eyes, which dart around the room until they settle on the open closet.

A rustle is heard, coming from the closet.  Donny gasps, holds his breath, and squeezes his eyes shut.  As his he does so, out of the closet steps a Giraffe, head first followed by the body.

Still holding his breath, Donny opens one eye, the other quickly opens in terror.  In front of him reaching to the roof is the Giraffe. Behind the Giraffe peeks a Gorilla, and out from under the Giraffe’s legs walks a lioness, sniffing the air with caution.

Donny lets out a whimper and pulls the covers over his head. He is shivering and crying quietly, so as not to be heard by the animals.

The Giraffe checks out the light fixture on the ceiling, spinning the fan as he tries to nibble the wooden blades.  The Gorilla picks up a stuffed monkey left on the bottom of the bed and holds it to her chest as if it were her own.  The Lioness leaps up on the bed and pads up to the head where Donny is hiding under the covers.

Crying loudly now, Donny is visibly shaking through the blankets.  The Lioness sniffs around Donny’s head, then gently paws at the blankets. The Giraffe leans over grabs the blankets with his teeth.  He pulls them down exposing Donny’s teary face while the Gorilla lumbers up to the far side of the bed still cradling the stuffed toy.

A brave little boy, he opens his eyes, one at a time. When both are open the Lioness steps closer, gives Donny a big wet lick, lays down beside the startled boy and lets out a quiet gruff. The Gorilla tucks the little stuffed monkey in beside Donny and curls up amoung the other stuffed animals at the end of the bed.  The Giraffe takes a moment, folds his legs, settles down comfortably onto the carpet and rests his long neck and head on the bed.  His face nuzzles Donny’s.

Wary, Donny reaches out from under the blankets, touches each animal in turn.  As he pets them they let out small murmurs of contentment and soon begin to snore.  He takes long looks of disbelief, from the Lioness, to the Gorilla and to the Giraffe.  Little Donny falls asleep with a huge smile covering his face as the tears he shed dry.

Off in the distance a train whistle blows long and slow, the wind dies down and the sun starts to filter through the closed curtains.  Donny begins to rustle himself awake.  As he opens his eyes he looks around in expectation.  He is tucked tightly in his bed, alone.

Cheryle – May 2015