Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh Sweete Spring, where you at, baby?

In an effort to remind myself that spring will indeed arrive, someday, somehow, here are a few more shots from the greenhouse to boost morale.

I just love the rusty old window frames, but I fear they need some major TLC or the whole place might just collapse around our heads.

Ah, those darling buds of May, or in this case, February.

Later, gator.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something to Brighten your day

You've probably seen this by now, as it's gone viral, but in case you haven't, check out this video called T-Mobile Dance. If you liked the Frozen Grand Central, you'll love this. I defy you to sit still while you're watching it. I still have a smile plastered on my face.

And here is how it was done. I'm telling you, watching the non-professional dancers practice at home is hysterical, as is the older woman saying she was picked to do a waltz, because of her gray hairs, but "I can do the other stuff." And then she DOES! LOVE her:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Life's Funny Like That Party Day!

AKA Debby's Great Big Ole Kick Chemo to the Curb Party Day!! Her blog Life's Funny Like That is about lots of great and wonderful things, but lately it's been about Debby's battle with breast cancer. Her last chemo treatment is today, so we're celebrating, around the world. Bush Babe is in Australia in the midst of a hot summer, and I'm here in Montreal with a big snow storm about to hit, so join us in saying whoot whoot whoot to Debby!!

If you haven't had a chance to read Debby's blog, hop on over and you'll discover that even in the midst of chemo, she is funny, thoughtful, insightful, kind, truthful, and a damn fine writer. Some of us have been following her journey and today, her chemo is DONE. So pour yourself a glass of champagne, or chocolate milk or whatever tickles your fancy (me, I poured myself a wee dram of whisky in a pink elephant glass) and join us over at Bush Babe's place for our virtual shindig to toast Debby.

Buddy's already groovin', naughty dog....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Daphne Gray-Grant has some great tips

I love Daphne's newsletters which show up in my Inbox every Tuesday. They take just a few minutes to read, but they're pithy little gems of information. I also like the word pithy. Here is the latest one:

PW #159 - What the Japanese can teach you about writing

My family and I are moving house at the beginning of March. We're renovating our home and have to park ourselves elsewhere for full year. It's a mega-stressful undertaking -- made somewhat easier because we've found a house to rent in the very next block.

As you can imagine, I've been spending all my spare time thinning stuff. We wore our shredder to oblivion getting rid of old financial documents and we gave away 18 boxes of books last weekend. But I've also discovered a few treasures.

One is the short book One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer a professor at the UCLA school of medicine. I'm embarrassed to admit I received the book as a gift from a friend many years ago -- and the teeny tiny volume somehow buried itself in the stacks of clutter in my office. It emerged from hibernation last week and I read it for the first time. What a winner! And what lessons this book offers.

Subtitled "The Kaizen Way" the book presents the Japanese technique of achieving great and lasting success through small, steady steps. How small? Really small. For example, a single mother who was depressed, exhausted and 30 lbs overweight was instructed to lose weight by marching for one minute while she watched TV each night. One minute!

The woman became so enthusiastic about her success in achieving this modest goal she asked for more exercise. Maurer and his colleague then helped her build the exercise habit, minute by minute. Within a few months, the woman's resistance had disappeared and she enthusiastically embraced a full aerobics workout.

Maurer says Kaizen works because it:

· Unsticks you from creative blocks

· Bypasses the fight-or-flight response associated with fear

· Creates new connections between neurons so that the brain enthusiastically takes over the process of change.

So, how can this help you? Maurer offers six steps which I've listed here. And under each one, I've suggested a "how to" example that's specific to writing.

1) Ask small questions. Ask yourself, "how will I get my book written?" and your brain is likely to shut down. That's because big questions cause fear to arise. Instead, ask incredibly simple questions such as: "If writing were my first priority, what would I be doing today?"

2) Think small thoughts. Spend 30 seconds every day imagining yourself as a successful, accomplished writer. Picture sitting at your computer and seeing your fingers moving quickly across the keyboard. When you're comfortable doing this, imagine what happens when you run out of ideas and then see yourself successfully dealing with the problem.

3) Take small actions. Instead of vowing to write for five hours, spend five minutes writing.

4) Solve small problems. Look for small problems in your writing or writing habits. Perhaps you have a messy desk that distracts you? Maybe you answer email while you're trying to write? Perhaps your mouse is uncomfortable? Pick one problem and do something small to make it better.

5) Bestow small rewards. Big rewards tend to put your focus on the wrong thing -- big projects. Instead, you want to focus on something small. So reward yourself for achieving a small writing commitment. For example, write for five minutes and then reward yourself by watching a show on TV or reading a favourite blog.

6) Identify small moments. Look for what Maurer calls "hidden moments of delight" and note them to yourself. What pleases you about your writing? When does writing feel good? Look for the sense of pleasure rather than pain and celebrate it.

I know this may all sound flakey or trivial, but there's lots of proof that Kaizen works. Toyota reduced many of its automobile flaws with the small step of adding a pull-cord allowing workers to stop the assembly line if they saw a problem. Lance Armstrong uses "small thoughts" to improve his athletic performance.

Why don't you make reading One Small Step your small task for this week?


A former daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of the popular book 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better.

She offers a brief and free weekly newsletter on her website. Subscribe by going to the Publication Coach.


I'll let you know what small steps I'm making. Hint. It involves a piece of plywood with a stained glass lamp pattern on it. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with stained glass.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Close, but no cigar

Buddy did not win, but the lovely sweet Bear did. Congratulations BEAR! I almost voted for you myself.

Go to Ric Peterson's page here and check out the winner. Sadly, there's an honorable mention for a dog named Angel who just passed away.

All of this was to support the SPCA and to raise awareness about the problem of puppy mills here in Quebec, so it's all good. Buddy is okay with it. In fact, his appetite hasn't been affected in the least. What a good boy.

Thanks to all of you who voted for the Budster!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Next 5,000 Days of the Web or The One

I happen to love the TED lectures as does my buddy kcdyer. This one dates from 2007 where Kevin Kelly explains the Web is only 5,000 days old, and wonders what the next 5,000 days will bring.

I think about my grandmother, who lived to be just shy of her 100th birthday. Born in 1889 in England, she traveled by ship to Canada and over her lifetime, she witnessed the birth of planes, cars, telephones, electricity in everyday life, indoor plumbing (she still kept a chamber pot under my bed when I visited,) computers, space travel...boggles the mind, no?

What are we going to see in our lifetime? I admit that although I love technology (I sound like Napoleon's brother, and if you get that reference, you get me) too much of it makes me long for a simple cabin in the woods. And when Kelly talks about The One, well, it's exciting, but part of me wants to run for the hills.

Believe in the impossible, he says. Hmm.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

No News Yet Regarding Contest Results

The organizer of the contest is in B.C. right now, as we are starting the countdown to the next Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver in 2010, whoo hoo! So Ric Peterson has promised to do the tally this weekend and announce the winner on Monday or Tuesday of next week. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, here are some photos to amuse you while we wait.

This is Doug and me when we were first dating. Sheesh. We were babies! Doug looks about fifteen (although I think in this photo, he is closer to thirty.)

And speaking of babies, I found some old photos of me pregnant. Note the cool, giant red 80s glasses, oh yeah. And please excuse the wonky angle as this was way before digital.

This is literally right before Eldest was born. That's a baby bump and a half.

And this is the next day, right after I delivered her, all set to go home from the hospital. I miss having babies in the house, their sweet little feet like balls of dough, their tiny ears, the way they yawn with their whole bodies, and kick like frogs, the soft nape of their necks and fuzzy heavy heads....sigh. I miss all of it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Budster Appreciates All Your Support

Votes are coming in from around the world, but Buddy seems to be taking all the hoopla in his stride. This dog is not letting all this fame go to his head, no way, no how. For this pooch, it's business as usual from his corner in my office.
If you would like to vote for Buddy, it's not too late. Just check out the blog post below for details. It's as simple as sending an email to dogshow@cjad.com with "Buddy P." in the subject heading. That's it! You have until Friday the 13th.

Buddy thanks you. Or at least, he would if he had the energy. It's a rough life being a dog. All that snoozing and chasing squirrels and snoozing and eating kibble and snoozing and....

Monday, February 9, 2009


That's right, thanks to you, our Buddy is now a finalist in the dog show contest featured on Ric Peterson's Dog Show on CJAD! From over two hundred entries, the Budster made it to the top twelve. You can see all twelve finalists HERE

So, I'm asking for your support one more time to carry our boy all the way home to a win.

Vote the same way as last time:

Put "Buddy P." in the subject field of your email and send it to dogshow@cjad.com

(Unless you see a cuter dog, in which case you should follow your conscience and vote for that dog. Buddy can handle it. He might have a bit of a sniffle in his dog bed, but he'll get over it as soon as you can say "wake up and smell the kibble.")


Voting ends at midnight Friday February 13th so get to it!

Whoo Hoo! Look at our little guy go!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to find cheer on a snowy February day?

Hie thee to a greenhouse, my friends. Lucky for me I have access to a lovely old glass and steel greenhouse built in 1926. It's attached to my favourite library, a large red brick beauty founded in 1897 and just full of charm and character.

I beetled over there with a friend to take some photos because we were both craving some colour and just couldn't face another day photographing snow and ice. Just being around the lush green and the tropical flowers, the trickling water in the fountains and pond, with the sunlight pouring through the glass roof onto our heads.....well, it was like a tonic (the kind mixed with a shot of Tanqueray, a slice of lime and plenty of ice.) If you don't live in a northern climate with dry air and slushy streets and overcast skies and bone-chilling cold, you can't possibly know how much we Canucks need this sort of outing right about now. Cheaper than flying to the tropics, it's an instant fix for the winter blues.

This greenhouse, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, has a definite Victorian vibe to it. There are these cool cranks and wheels to control the upper panels, and I found them and the structure itself, to be as interesting as the flowers inside the greenhouse.

I used a fade technique here, to give it a kind of seventies vibe. Not sure if it works, nor why I bothered since I'd just as soon forget the seventies. Some of these photos aren't as sharp as I'd like to see. I actually remembered to bring my tripod with me this time, but then realized once I went to mount the camera that I forgot the little footing thingie that attaches the camera to the tripod. So many pieces of equipment, so many scrambled hormones that have abandoned the brain cells....

There are even little fish who aren't shy about swimming over to say helloooo.

My photo buddy Brenda tells me that water photos turn out so much better with a polarized lens. I don't have one of those. Coincidentally, Valentine's Day and my birthday are coming up this month.

You know what they say? Roses die in a week, but a Nikon Polarizing Filter lasts a lifetime. I read that on a Hallmark card somewhere and it's always stayed with me....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Buddy Needs Your Vote!!

Our local radio station, CJAD, is having a dog contest and Buddy needs your help.

That's right. Buddy is now entered in a dog popularity contest where people are asked to vote for Most Popular Dog. As you know, The Budster is awesome in every way. (Except for wigging out when left alone and assuaging his frayed nerves by shredding Kleenex. And swallowing thongs. And eating squirrels whole. And his breath smells like a corpse pulled out of a swamp. Other than that he's perfect.)

Now, as a rule, I don't enter a lot of contests (well, Pioneer Woman's are amazing) or support beauty pageants, for humans or canines. I would never, say, make The Budster wear a tiara and prance about onstage, unless of course he wanted to. There is a strong possibility he might because this is a dog who loves wearing dog clothes. When he sees his 100% wool, argyle patterned turtleneck sweater being pulled out of his pile of canine couture, he's got his head shoved into it before you can say Alpo. He likes dressing like a human, and if he could wriggle into clothes by himself, he'd be prancing around in Poochy Gucci every morning. (See here for a refresher.) This is a dog who puts the "king" in the King Charles Spaniel.

So, here we are in this contest, with the goal of creating a calendar to support our local animal shelter, so how can we say no to that? Now here's you all come in, and your part is easy peasy.

If you want to see the other dogs (and really, why would you, but in the interest of fair play, I'll give 'em to you) they're at cjad.com on Ric Peterson's page. There are three Youtube videos, and Buddy's is on the third one titled Ric Peterson Dog Show Part 3 at the 3:17 mark.) Go HERE.

Or, if you want to take the easy route, you can look at his photo below, know in your heart that there can't possibly be another, cuter dog than this guy, and just vote for him.

All you have to do is this.

Send an email to dogshow@cjad.com and put "Buddy P." in the subject line.

That's it!

That's all you have to do to register a vote. It has to be in by Monday to count. You're only allowed to vote once, so tell your friends. Come on. Support the SPCA by voting for Buddy!

Oh, and if he wins, we can't tell him. If you think he's insufferable now....

Thanks for your support! I know I can count on you guys!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

David After Dentist

Is it wrong that I find this funny? I really got the giggles watching this poor kid struggle to regain his equilibrium. I mean, I know how he feels. I've had sedation dentistry too, and you're pretty loopy afterwards.

Ah, he's just so cute as dad tries to explain what just happened.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How cool is this?

If I were still working in an office and had to take a lunch to work every day, I would bring this.

Confused? Go here and see what all the fuss is about. I have to admit, I think this is part genius, and part hysterically funny.