Sunday, August 31, 2008

pne - the best part of summer

...at least that's what the ads say. We went to check it out on Saturday - along with at least half of the greater Vancouver population. Considering all the rainy weather we've been having lately, it appears we all had the same idea.

We'd planned to get there when they opened the gates at 11:00 but, silly us, we dragged our feet. That meant circling in parking no-man's land for about 45 minutes till we found a spot (on the first street outside of the "Residents Only Parking" area), then walking about 20 minutes to the fairgrounds.

Once there we walked right in (online-purchased tickets clutched firmly in hand) and began taking in the sights and sounds. The nice thing is that every attraction is available with a day pass. The down side of that is thick crowds at the street events and long lineups for the indoor ones.

Some of the things that wowed us -

The Flying Canucks



Wheels of Steel





Peking Circus


And of course, the mini-donuts!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

new gadgets

Blogger is developing more and more things for us to play with (gadgets is the official name). Now it's blogrolls. I've added one again - two actually. One is the friend blogs I read when I read blogs (not nearly as faithfully as I used to). The other is a list of writerly blogs.

The very cool thing is that the blogroll lists constantly reorder themselves according to who has posted last. When you publish a new post, some web crawler or bot senses it and puts your name at the top of the list! Very cool.

Oh yes and check out the mural blog. I've installed a new template that lets me post pics in the hugest format - very effective with murals. It's here:

http://muralmania.blogspot.com

wheels



Recycled

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: TOOLS (Hammer, Saw, Frying Pan, Fork, Spade, Rake, Broom, Duster, Paint Brush, Pencil,...)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

book review: Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life by Mike Nelson


Title: Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life -- Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop
Author: Mike Nelson
Publisher:
New Page Books; Revised edition (March 1, 2008), Paperback, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1601630085
ISBN-13:
978-1601630087

Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life
-- Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop (2008 edition) is not just another book about ways to pare down and organize your stuff. Author Mike Nelson states in his introduction,

“This book is about more than just decluttering. It’s about balance … It’s about not having to buy more and more stuff to fill a hole in our souls. It’s about learning what’s really important in our lives and not using stuff to hide from life.”


In the twenty chapters that follow, Nelson delivers on the promised insights. In easy-to-understand prose and a voice that is both helpful and encouraging he tackles topics like what is a clutterer, common traits of clutterers, reasons people clutter, medical and mental aspects of cluttering and hoarding, and many more. He supports his persuasive views with numerous examples and stories, including his own.

Appendices explaining the use of a decluttering diary, a list of affirmations, a bibliography of resources (books, websites, organizations and professionals in the field), and an index follow the main body of the book.

Several things make this a valuable resource for clutterers and those who love them. The book’s central message, that cluttering and hoarding are only manifestations of deeper emotional and spiritual issues is a slant that was new to me. Nelson not only shows how that angle makes sense but supports his thesis with a multitude of stories and case studies gained from therapists and organizers as well as his own experiences first as a clutterer and then a clutter-buster.

Through these anecdotes I began to understand cluttering’s complexity and why it is so difficult to overcome. The multi-pronged approach he advises (self-help groups, getting medical help, tapping in to spiritual resources,* etc.) seems realistic. I also like the courtesy and sensitivity Nelson advises and models when dealing with cluttering family members and friends. Needless to say, he is not in favor of the heavy-handed, TV ratings-imposed tactics used by clutter and hoarding reality shows.

Wherever you fit in to Nelson’s clutterer continuum from mildly disorganized to pathological hoarder, you’ll find something of help and interest in this book. The chapter “Forty Ways to Leave Your Clutter” alone makes it worthwhile. If cluttering is not your problem, get Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life for its advice on how to deal with cluttering parents, teenage children and business partners. This book will help you understand how clutter is a lot like an iceberg. What you see may indicate that under the surface there’s a lot more to deal with than simple laziness and disorganization.

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*Some personal reflection about Stop Clutter

The central message of this book supports the fact that we are spiritual beings with deep-seated hungers. It gives many examples of what happens when we feed those hungers with what can never really satisfy (in the book 'things' but people also use drugs, food, sex, work, gambling etc. etc.)

Nelson suggests that using spiritual beliefs is one way to get over the need for things. His chapter on this was interesting, but pretty weak, in that he equated all religions as equal.

I would go much further and say it's the only thing that will finally work-- if our religious beliefs are grounded in truth. It's only as we recognize that hole inside as a hunger for God and give ourselves to Him (by trusting in Jesus to save us and living our lives for Him) that our gnawing hungers will be satisfied.

This book reminded me of two Bible passages. Both are Jesus speaking -- first about thirst:

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." - John 4:13,14

and then about hunger:

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." - John 6:35

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

puppets shivering in the park


When Paul lists the things he's suffered for the gospel, I don't think he mentions freezing temperatures. He surely would have if he'd had any experience in Grande Prairie, Alberta at the end of August.

My friend Maralee Dawn (ventriloquist, minister to children) is there right now, doing a series of evening outdoor meetings sponsored by one of the local churches. Her blog this morning tells of last night's frigid temperatures and winds that nearly blew over the speakers. Two hundred were there despite that. Many made decisions for Jesus!

I just checked today's weather forecast for Grande Prairie. If anything it's even colder (predicted low of plus 3 - brrr) a veritable early winter! (Where's global warming when you need it?!)

Join me in praying for my friend, that even the cold and wind will work for God's glory - or that He will create a little pocket of warmth right over that park.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

feather paintings

Earlier this week I got an email with some stunning photos of feather paintings - but no artist's name given. Here are three of them.


A little sleuthing on the internet brought me face to face with the artist - Julie Thompson, formerly of Alaska, who now lives in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

She paints on naturally molted peacock feathers with acrylic paints. Each feather painting takes weeks to complete. She started this form of painting in 1990 and has built up quite a collection in her internet gallery.

Her work is often sold at local craft fairs and is on display in some galleries. She has also sold to collectors across U.S. and Canada as well as Germany, Ireland and Japan. Find out more about her and her work here. Check out her various galleries: Wings, Hooves, Paws, Fins and Miscellaneous.

(I'm annoyed, though, that someone would lift the feather photos off her web site and circulate them in an email without acknowledging the artist. Whoever put that email together in the first place without crediting the artist - SHAME ON YOU!)

Friday, August 22, 2008

some blog competition you'll never have

Christie Blatchford - Globe and Mail journalist:

We all have a limited number of things to say, informed opinions, funny lines, quirky observations. We have only so many words in us. Do we really want to spend them on something as ephemeral as a blog?


Read entire "I'm not blogging this, mark my word"

My question -- are newspapers much less ephemeral?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

festival



Aldergrove Parade

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Thursday Challenge


Next week: WHEELS (Car, Motorcycle, Bicycle, Tractor, Cart, Ferris Wheel, Things that are Circular, Skateboard,...)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

take me out to the ball game

That's where we were last night - watching the Vancouver Canadians (NWL affiliate of the Oakland As) play the Boise Hawks at Nat Bailey Park. It's close enough to son's basement suite that we walked from his place.

Enroute to the game he took us to Splitz Grill, where we had the finest gourmet burgers ever. Mine was Lentil, all decked out with hot peppers, garlic mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, pickles, red onions, cheddar and Swiss cheese. Yum!

Nat Bailey is a beautiful little baseball park, right in the middle of Vancouver. We got seats ten rows up behind home plate, which gave all the boys (E. son and his roommate) a chance to jeer the ump whenever he made the wrong calls.



Between innings we were entertained by BirdZerk, his offspring BirdZerk Jr. (or something like that) and a few other mascot-type characters. Here is naive-looking Jr. trying to get something going with the plate ump. They were funny enough one didn't want to miss the between-inning shenanigans.


The best thing was that Vancouver won 6-5. That killed all pain - even the fact that the evening turned damp and chilly with rain for our walk back.

Ah baseball - the perfect way to spend an evening in late-summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

summer blogging

One of the pretty gardens around town; I wish it were mine!

Don't you just love summer? We're at the end of a heat wave, and I haven't even minded the heat, except that I have little extra energy to do things like blog.

Some posts I have put up lately are here and here. Of course, I blog here every day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

outdoors


Twilight on the Pier

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Thursday Challenge

Next week: FESTIVAL (Fair, Exhibition, Circus, Midway, Parade, Party, Amusement Park,...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

is there a botanist in the house?


Last week I photographed this tree which is growing outside the local library. Does anyone know what it is?

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Update

Thank you Anonymous for identifying it as Mimosa. Looking at other photos I'm sure you're right.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

book review: The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee


Title: The Rabbit and the Snowman
Author: Sally O. Lee
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing, June 2008, paperback, 36 pages
Age: 4-8 years
ISBN-10: 1419656252
ISBN-13: 978-1419656255

After the children build the snowman, they never come back to play. The snowman wonders why. Is it something he’s done? Is it because of his crooked smile or holey scarf? He’s sad until rabbit comes along and becomes his friend.

One day after it begins to get warm, the snowman isn’t there when rabbit comes to visit. Now rabbit wonders if he’s done something wrong. Does snowman think he’s too furry or that his ears are too long? Will he ever see his friend again?

The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee is a beautiful picture book story about enduring friendship. It’s told so simply, competent readers in the four- to eight-year-old age range should be able to read it themselves (several paragraphs put through a readability tool came out at a Grade 3.5 reading level).

The watercolor and pen and ink illustrations are gorgeous and their soft colors complement the gentle story. Lee also designed the “snowman” font in which the story is printed. It goes well with the overall look of the book (but is a little difficult to read on the one or two pages where it’s at its smallest and printed in black ink on a dark mauve background).

The only disappointment for me was the story’s ending, which seemed manufactured. The author could easily have made it organic by showing what was happening, without rabbit’s knowledge, in the illustrations.

Nevertheless, the sweet characters and wise insights about friendship in The Rabbit and the Snowman would make it a valuable addition to the bookshelf of any four- to eight-year-old.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Book Review: The Tiniest Tiger by Joanne L. McGonagle


Title: The Tiniest Tiger
Author: Joanne L. McGonagle
Publisher: BookSurge, March 2008, 52 pages, paperback
Age: 4-8 years
ISBN-10:
1419684671
ISBN-13:
978-1419684678

In The Tiniest Tiger, Joanne L. McGonagle tells the story, in words and pictures, of a kitten who can't find his way home from the zoo. As he goes from the enclosure of one big cat to another, he discovers what makes them different from each other - and from him. He doesn't belong with any of them. Will he ever find a home that's right for him?

The illustrations in The Tiniest Tiger are beautiful. McGonagle renders eight large cats in colorful double-page spreads with detail and accuracy. She also slips in key facts about each cat (its native habitat, weight, life span, litter size, and status on the endangered species list) in drawings of the signs at each animal's enclosure.

The story is interesting with its kitten on a quest and cast of large cats. McGonagle has done a good job of giving many of these cats personality, even in their brief appearance. But the ending felt contrived to me. And the kitten, with whom I think the reader is meant to identify, doesn't ring quite true. His way of talking is super-polite and a bit too formal to feel as young as he is supposed to be.

The book's information says its target audience is four to eight years. I felt the often-sophisticated vocabulary ("organized social groups," "coloration," "intimidating," proportion," "exhausted") and long sentences would make it a better read-aloud than a self-read book for this age group (several typical paragraphs I put through an analysis tool came out at a Grade 4+ reading level). The intended adult co-audience is also borne out by the subtle adult humor in the text (e.g. "We are not chubby. We are big-boned and muscular. Stocky is the preferred term" and "Cleopatra eyeliner") and the quotes at the beginning of the book.

Also in the age suitability department, there were places where the author introduced words but failed to explain them (e.g."canine teeth" and "cheek ruffs"). Four- to eight-year-olds don't typically do research on their own, so a glossary defining special vocabulary would have been helpful.

Under the guise of a story about a lost kitten, The Tiniest Tiger delivers lots of valuable information about big cats and a message about the importance of preserving endangered large-cat species. It's sure to be a popular choice with conservation-minded teachers and parents.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

blue


Blue and Surreal
Mural on the north side of the Recreation Centre near the Surrey Central Sky Train Station
(Click on photo to enlarge)

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: OUTDOORS (Park, Garden, Campground, Beach, Forest, Backyard,...)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Happy 150th - BC!

Today is B.C. Day and our province celebrates its 150th birthday. One of the best places to celebrate is Fort Langley, where it all began.

The Fort was busy on Saturday when we visited. The grounds were full of people dressed in costume, going about their pioneer business. We took the self-guided tour and learned a lot about B.C.'s history.


Fort Langley was founded in 1827 by the Hudson Bay Company. It was first a little further west on the Fraser River from its present site and moved to where it sits now in 1839. It was in a good location, in the middle of a large Aboriginal population and prospered first as fur a trading post.

Furs were bound together and pressed into neat bundles using this press.


The HBC encouraged its employees to intermarry with Aboriginal women. This helped them break into the Aboriginal trading networks and soon the HBC in Fort Langley was also trading farm products and salt fish (mostly salmon).

The storehouse is the only original building left on the site. It is full of typical supplies - fur pelts and barrels...


Hudson Bay blankets and sacks...


packages ready for shipping



After the U.S. border was fixed at the 49th parallel in 1846, Fort Langley became the depot for the summer "fur brigades" which carried fur from the interior posts through the mountains to Fort Langley. They returned with winter supplies.

Blacksmith shop


Kitchen in the Servants' Quarters


Cradle, churns and broom


Servants' sleeping quarters


The hearth with hide rugs


In 1858 gold was discovered on the Fraser River. That changed everything. Fort Langley became the starting point for the hordes of gold seekers, most from the United States. The British feared an American takeover. Thus in late 1858 (November 19th) James Douglas, a Hudson's Bay Company manager and Governor of Vancouver Island, read a proclamation of the British government.


It declared the territory a British colony. The proclamation named the new territory British Columbia and installed Douglas as the first governor on the condition he sever his fur trade connections.



Douglas recommended Fort Langley be the capital city of the territory. But the British Royal Engineers overruled him in favor of New Westminster which they thought easier to defend. Later, when Vancouver Island joined the province, Victoria became the capital.

Carving canoe paddles.



Women showing how to card and spin wool.

On our way back to the car we passed the bannock stand we had resisted earlier and bought two large hunks of this delicious Aboriginal pan bread. I figure if you're partaking of history you might as well make a thorough job of it and engage all the senses!

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More reading for B.C. Day - Articles about the contribution and faith of some of B.C.s fathers - by Rev. Ed. Hird (excerpted from Battle for the Soul of Canada):

- Governor James Douglas was strengthened by Scripture.

- Mapmaker David Thompson: a godly figure

- Frederick Seymour: the forgotten governor of B.C.

- B.C.'s first war and its Common Prayer warrior

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday thought


"Roll your works upon the Lord -- commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and so shall your plans be established and succeed." - Proverbs 16:3 (Amplified)

Friday, August 01, 2008

promptings' potpourri


Doctor check-up

Check up on your doctor anywhere in Canada or the U.S. Rate him/her or find out how he/she rates.


Window shopping

Hema is a Dutch department store which first opened in Amsterdam in 1926. There are now 150 Hema stores all over the Netherlands as well as in Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. In June this year it was sold to the British company Lion Capital.

Take a look at Hema's product page. You can't order anything and it's in Dutch but just watch...


Cell phones popping corn

Have you seen the video that shows several switched on cell phones popping popcorn?

Well, here's the truth about those popcorn-popping cell phones.


Water on Mars


As you've no doubt heard on yesterday's news, champagne corks are popping in Nasa because water has been found on Mars.

My newest gig

I'll be writing a monthly column ("Poet's Classroom") at Utmost Christian Writers for the next little while. The first one ("Who'd Want to Read Your Poems?) came online today. It's here.

frivolous friday

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