Sunday, November 30, 2014

A "Nosegay" of Thoughts

One of the books I came across at the SSJD convent when I was there a few weeks ago was this one called "Strength for the Journey: A Guide to Spiritual Practice."

(I confess I'm always drawn to books that refer to life as a journey. I ended up perusing and purchasing it!)

One of the ideas I've gleaned from the book so far is this prayer suggestion of St. Francis de Sales: After praying in the morning, intentionally take away a few simple thoughts that come out of the prayer. He compares this to picking a nosegay of flowers. When problems or stress arise during the day, turn to these thoughts (as one would smell the fragrance of a nosegay of flowers).

I guess one would write the thoughts down...

I haven't tried this yet - intentionally summarizing or pulling out ideas that emerge when praying...  But I'd like to give it a try!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My First Chinese Massage

I injured my left knee - somehow - during an exercise class in August. Ever since, I've had pain - sometimes more, sometimes less. But always there...

Finally, in October, when things weren't improving, I went to see my doctor. An Xray confirmed that I didn't have an arthritic knee, which was a relief to discover.

I decided to try physiotherapy, and - a month later - things are getting better. I have become more aware of "listening to my body," more aware of moves that irritate the problem (which the physiotherapist thinks is a torn cartilage). His approach is to try to strengthen my leg without irritating it, until it heals.

There is a diagram in the physio office. Studying it, I realize that a lot of muscles and tendons come together in the exact spot where it hurts. Perhaps that's why it gets irritated so easily.

The physiotherapy clinic also houses a massage office where, once a week, a Chinese masseur treats his patients. When he's not busy, he sometimes watches us doing physio exercises nearby.

One day last week, he approached me when I was trying - with difficulty - to walk up and down steps. Stairs are my most painful movement.

"Let me treat you for 15 minutes, when you are done here," he said. "Maybe I can help."

After my physio session, I walked over to his office. He felt my left knee, asking where I felt pain. After examining it carefully for tender spots, he went to my right elbow and began to massage it. He must have been massaging linking nerves, because, amazingly, I could feel changes in my left knee!

After a few minutes, the pain lessened and I was able to walk the steps in the physio gym almost painlessly.

I wish I could say that my knee was magically cured, but the next day the pain was back. However, a few nights later, I awoke with a dull ache in my knee. Lying in bed, I was suddenly aware that my right elbow also had the same dull ache. I gently massaged the elbow... and soon fell asleep.

All this has left me with a profound respect for what I don't know and understand about the workings of the human body!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pet Peeve: Shampoos...

One of my pet peeves is: Companies that discontinue making MY favorite shampoos!

Whenever I grow attached to a shampoo, it is discontinued. Years ago, I loved Revlon's Flex shampoo - but for some reason they chose to discontinue it. (It appears to be available online - but is it the same product?! I'm not sure that it isn't a knockoff.) After it was discontinued, it took me years to find another shampoo I liked!

The same happened, when I started to use Halsa Merigold Shampoo. My hair was beginning to turn grey, and the merigold in the shampoo made it look less silver, more golden! One day I could no longer find the shampoo on the shelf... I rushed around to all the drugstores nearby and bought up the few remaining bottles I could find, but eventually they were all used up!

I don't currently have a "favorite shampoo" - not for lack of looking!

I recently decided that the time has come for me to use up all the shampoos I have here in the house. Samples from hotel stays...

Unfinished bottles I have bought but been dissatisfied with: the smell is too strong, my hair doesn't look right... It's always something!..

In my collection, I have two bottles I don't know quite what to do with: this "caffeine shampoo" I bought in England and haven't had the courage to try, even though I bought it because it claims to "stimulate hair roots," preventing hair loss... It sounds a little drastic!


And this other bottle I found upstairs in my son's bathroom. He brought it back from Russia when he was there 10 years ago. Is it shampoo? It's in a Nivea bottle that says "hair care" - but other than that, nothing is written in English!

One of these days, I'll have to try it and find out!

(But I don't dare get attached to any of these brands. Whenever I do, they will surely be discontinued!)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our Winter "Garage" Goes Up

Now that the first blast of winter snow has melted, we rushed to put up our winter "garage"... no easy feat!

As we worked on screwing it together, we remembered how our 85-year-old neighbor, Bill, would immediately come over to help whenever he saw us pull out the pieces!

He loved to work outdoors.

But Bill passed away a few years ago, and in the intervening years, Terry used Bill's garage in winter for our second car. But last spring their house was sold and his wife moved away. They were good neighbors for over 30 years, and we miss them.

The wind picked up as we were finishing up. No point on putting on the cover yet... It will go on when our next snowfall arrives.

(There! Another "winter ritual" complete!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thinking About How We Learn...

Recently reading an old Macleans Magazine (from September 2013), I came across a fascinating article about an American family with exceptionally bright children.

It was interesting to me, as a parent, as a teacher (for many years), and as a lifelong learner.

Jacob Barnett, a physics genius who was once diagnosed as autistic, owes a lot of his intellectual development to his mother, who intuitively let him study and focus on whatever interested him, instead of insisting he follow the school curriculum. She believed in "muchness" - "encouraging children's passions" rather than trying to remedy their flaws.

Did I do enough of that as a parent? I wonder, thinking back on my children's childhood years. I enrolled them in programs that interested them - or that I thought they would benefit from. But I never withdrew them from school to home-school them so that they could simply follow their passion. (Would they have ended up playing Nintendo all day?!)

I'm also fascinated by 15-year-old Jacob's comment in the article: "instead of being a student [in a] field, be the field..."

What does this mean in a practical sense to a learner - to me, for example, in my art courses? Does it  mean to trust my intuition?

It's not the way most classes work at school. The article has definitely left me with a lot to think about!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Boxes... of Pottery

How did you get started selling your pottery? I asked the local potter whose "fish plates" I bought at last week's fall fair.

I have so many boxes of pottery in my basement, I have to get rid of it somehow! she replied.

Boxes of pottery...?

I'm a step away from packing up some of my stuff up and storing it in my basement. I wonder if I'll ever set up shop, too!

Monday, November 24, 2014

First Winter Meltdown

After our first major snowfall, it's always nice to get a major "meltdown"!

Temperatures today are supposed to rise to 17 degrees Celsius (or 63 degrees Fahrenheit).

I, for one, am not complaining - I'd be happy if it stayed this warm for weeks (if not months) to come!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Strong Shoes - A Blessing!

"If God sends you down a stony path,
may he give you strong shoes."

(A Celtic Blessing)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Fall Fairs

Our weekly treks to Farmers Markets have been replaced with weekend visits to fall fairs...

There are a lot to choose from in local churches and community centers.

We stop for lunch in one...

Move on to another where I know a potter has set up shop.

I admired her fish plate last week at the studio. If it isn't sold yet, I think I'll buy it.

Terry is always on the lookout for delicious honey.

This honey producer makes candles as well!

I could do all my Christmas shopping here (and support local artisans at the same time)!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Physio: The Hardest Part

I've been doing physio for about a month now - and I wish my left knee problem were gone. It's better, but still not perfect... Maybe things heal a lot more slowly the older we get!

The hardest part?

Motivating myself to do the exercises I've been given to do - twice a day - at home!

(Why is exercise always... so BORING?!!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pottery...What Now...?!

My current pottery class - and studio time - end in two weeks.

As I survey my latest creations fresh out of the kiln, I realize I'm not a quick learner! I have made progress - (fewer wonky pots) - but I still haven't mastered making a mug with a handle. The elusive mug! It seems so basic. I've made a few round cylinders, but they're neither tall enough - nor light enough - to use as mugs. 

Should I take a break or continue with pottery again next session? 

(I had originally planned to take a painting class in January.)

But there is still so much to learn! I have begun to think about color and design. I just discovered the use of colored liquid clay ("slip") to add designs before the first firing... (as seen in the bowl in the front on the right).

I've made a few faces - like this one, meant to be hung on a wall. (It should be hung outdoors, with a light behind to shine through the eyes! my daughter tells me.)

Pottery ("playing with mud") is so much fun! And it's not something I can do at home... (Too much mess.)

That settles it: I have to sign up for pottery in January again!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snow Day 1: Sewing and Organizing

It's hard not to spend time outdoors when the weather is warm.

Snowy days, on the other hand, make me want to hibernate!

Why not get at some sewing repairs I've been thinking of doing...? Like my mother's three skirts that need adjusting.

While looking for elastic in a big plastic catch-all bin, I decided to sort it all out.

Several hours later, I've created mini-bins of elastic, Velcro, ribbons... and so on.

And the skirts got done, too!

(If I could keep this up all winter, the house would look totally different by spring!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here to Stay?!

It was snowing when I walked to and from physiotherapy yesterday...

It wasn't bad for walking.

Later in the day, I looked out the window. It had been snowing all day...


I hate to say it, but the snow may be here to stay!

On the other hand, our first blast of winter last year was freezing rain, which created an ice base that made roads and sidewalks slippery all winter long. So I'm thankful for soft, fluffy flakes this year...

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Snow

I've seen flakes in the air - but yesterday I woke up to a bit of snow on the ground. And today we're expected to get more...

Is this the beginning of winter?!

I hope not! I still have a bit of gardening to do!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Day

Thank you for...

"This new day you give to me
 From your great eternity..."

(David Adam, The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime, p. 153)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lansdowne - Almost Done

After visiting the Glebe pottery sale (mentioned in yesterday's blog post), Terry and I headed over to see what was new at nearby Lansdowne Park.

Previously known mainly for its football stadium - and as the site of the annual "Ex" - Lansdowne Park is undergoing a major transformation.
(It was a construction site when we were last here, last February...)

A lot has happened since then. Now newly-added shops and condos are beginning to open.

We checked out the renovated football stadium...

... (two college teams were playing)...


I could live in one of these condos, Terry said. One facing the field.

We can't afford it! I reminded him.


I'm looking forward to exploring the city's new shopping destination when it is completed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pottery Show

November is the month of craft fairs in Ottawa.

Last Saturday Terry and I ventured out...


Our first stop was a pottery show in one of our favorite Ottawa neighborhoods.

(I wonder what this magnificent domed building housing the Glebe Community Center was before it became a community center!)


The pottery at the show was beautiful...

Lots of inspirational designs! I ended up getting a beautiful pottery statue - my Christmas present from Terry. (It may have been done by the same potter who did this one.)

Terry insists: No peeking till Christmas!

(I'll take a picture of it then.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Toronto Brick Works Park

Terry and I lived in Toronto for eight months prior to moving to Ottawa. Terry had decided to study counseling, and wanted to take a few courses with a Toronto professor he admired.

We lived in an apartment near the Don Valley - and enjoyed taking walks in this forested area. I remember passing the smoke stack of an abandoned brick factory.

In the intervening years, this site has been developed and now houses a few shops, a weekly farmers market, a restaurant or two, as well as facilities for educational programs and meetings.


During my last visit to Toronto, my son and I drove over to check it out...

We saw the old ovens used for making bricks... (not much different from a pizza oven!)

We also wandered along some nearby paths.

Hard to believe that all this is a short drive from downtown Toronto!

A perfect place to spend a few relaxing hours!