Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Post is called “Habit.”

I have plenty of those.  But, like most people and like they say in the prompt post, most people don’t consider their habitual things photo worthy.

I walk or drive by a few places every day on my way to and from work, coffee, the movies and other places that I know are beautiful, but I really don’t take the time to enjoy them.  This morning, in the midst of the first snow of the year, I opted to stop and take a few pictures of things that I see habitually.

I see this old fort, this department of national defence memorial display, these fences and trees every day.  Every single day.

I am glad I am free to walk past them or drive past them and not have to worry about my safety and security.  It is nice to stop and think for a bit.  Habit shouldn’t take away thought or gratitude for freedom.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

I love colours.  Especially bright colours.  Particularly orange.  But yellows and greens and purples are also delightful.

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Post is called “the hue of you” and asks you to share a photo that includes the hue(s) of you.

And thus, my photo for this week is from one of our adventures last Fall (I love Fall!).  This makes me realize I need to get out more this Fall… And take pictures.  Must get through next week’s exam and presentation, then I will do that.

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Things That Make Me (Patrick) Thankful

It is time for another Patrick guest post.  For you new folks out there, Patrick is my husband.  Every once in a while, he feels so compelled to write a blog post of his very own.  Today, I am sick with a cold and he was not working, so he volunteered his blog post writing services.

Yes, I know that I’m a little late for Canadian Thanksgiving, which was this past weekend but I’m more than a month early for American Thanksgiving, so I think it balances out.  In all seriousness, I don’t think Thanksgiving should be the only time people are thankful any more than Valentine’s day should be the only day people are romantic with their significant others.  God has blessed me with far too much to contain my gratefulness to only one day. So here is a list of the main things of what I’m thankful for.

Disclaimer: If you don’t like mushy stuff or would rather focus on the things you don’t have than this post is not for you. Side effects may include warm fuzzy feelings and overall better moods.

Family:   

The first person I need to mention is my best friend, biggest fan and only person I can spend inordinate amounts of time around without needing a break……..my cat.   Just kidding, I’m referring to my wonderful wife. I couldn’t imagine my life without her and am glad we can still make each other laugh hysterically, cheer each other up and drive each other crazy.

As she mentioned last week my older brother D came to visit us for the first time in our semi-new location. It was nice to show him around town and treat him to a meal at one of our favorite restaurants. But more than that it was great to simply hang out together doing things we’ve always enjoyed like playing basketball, watching hockey games and talking about our childhood shenanigans.

We then went home for the long weekend and saw all of our family there.  We drove up with Trisha’s parents to visit her Aunt and Uncles’ farm, which includes a goose (well did until this weekend…), chickens, goats, rabbits, barn cats and dogs. Not to mention 3 fun kids who we played with and helped carve Halloween pumpkins. As we ate a delicious farm fresh Thanksgiving dinner, I thought about the saying “when you marry someone you marry their family” and how glad I married the family that I did.

We had another Turkey day dinner with my immediate family the next day which included my 91 year-old “Granky,” who is always a pleasure to see. Before we started eating my sister insisted we take a family photo, which was carrying on my Grandmothers’ tradition only Grammy usually suggested it just as we were taking our first bites. Our family has a lot to be thankful in the past year alone including my sisters new/better job, multiple pay raises, and my brother finding a special someone who recently started a new job herself.

We had a third turkey day dinner on Monday with Trisha’s parents and her two grandmothers to conclude our family dinner tour.

Of course I have to mention our crazy cat Jeter because he has brought a lot of laughs and aw moments since we got him last Halloween. He’ll soon start the terrible twos but that doesn’t apply to cats… Right?

Friends

While we were home, we also managed to see one of our best couple friends L & C and catch up on how their recent move and C’s new job has been going. We stuffed our faces and laughed a lot.

This time last year, we were just starting to get settled here ourselves and barely knew anyone. Since then another one of our favorite couples moved near us for a job, which has been great. Trisha now has someone to share her coffee addiction with I have a movie buddy again. We also share a lot of other interests including our love of cats, which comes in handy as we can cat-sit for each other when we go away.

As an introvert, I don’t make friends easily but thankfully our church has fun events such as bonfires and men’s events, which help a lot. I’m also excited that our new small group has finally started up and the new friendships that will spawn as a result. I’ve also joined a Recreational basketball league with total strangers and am getting to know some cool people as a result. We are possibly the worst team in the league but that’s okay because we are named the “Honey badgers”. I still believe that to make a friend you have to be a friend and I’m confident that when we look back a year from now we will have a lot of great memories with both new and old friends.

**If you don’t know where the name Honey Badgers comes from, check out this YouTube video that inspired their name (heads up… the narrator does swear).  

Jobs

For the first time ever when someone asks me what I do for a living I can answer, “I am a Teacher” and just a teacher.  Up until this year I’ve worked many different jobs at the same time including teaching but this year I decided it was time to finally focus on my actual career.  There are many reasons for why I did so and that’s a story for another time, but I know I made the right decision. Yes, I am a substitute teacher, not full-time but that is still a decent job in itself. In fact, I didn’t even realize I got an almost 5 % raise in my pay until I got my first pay cheque because the Teachers union signed a new contract.  September was busier than expected for the first month of school and October has been slow so far. But up and down is how it goes and as bad as it sounds I am looking forward to cold and flu season which is coming up fast. The fact that I “just” substitute teach confuses many well-meaning people who don’t fully understand why I can’t get a full-time teaching position or why I would do something that isn’t a guaranteed job every day or. The reality is that there are far more teachers out there than jobs and I can’t work a normal 9-5 job that would prevent me from taking teaching jobs that come up.  I have applied to a couple tutoring jobs that wouldn’t interfere but haven’t had any luck so far. I could work retail or other unrelated job as long as they understand that teaching is my priority. I’m thankful that I have the luxury of not having to work multiple jobs because of Trisha’s job, which also confuses people.

Both our careers have very dismal job market projection for the next few years but I’m glad that unlike many careers, we are still able to work in them in different capacitates.  Plus as the Biblical proverb says worrying will not make us any taller or live longer. We can only trust that God will take care of us has he always has in the past.

Everything else

I could keep going on and on about things like good health and Canada and material things, but I’ll give you a chance to think about what you are thankful for instead of reading more about me. I’ll end with an illustration that personally really put things in perspective and I should think about more often instead of focusing on the negatives.  After all, there are far more positives and it’s much more fun to focus on them!  We once did a video series that talked about how if you have a fridge or a car you are rich compared to most of the world.  This is along the same lines.

Image from sendmeusemechangeme.blogspot.com

Top Ten Books On My Fall (2013) TBR List

It is the last real week of Summer.  That means it is time to compile my to be read list for the Fall as the top ten Tuesday list with the Broke and the Bookish

I am excited to say that I acutally read everything on my Fall to be read list last year by this Fall.  Very exciting.  I also accomplished reading most of my Summer TBR list (minus the Tolstoy and LOTR/Hobbit duo that seem to crop up on my list every season or two… One day I will read them!).

I am trying to choose realistically (books that are actually available to me, but I will probably put down some that are on my list that I still need to track down somewhere, somehow.

  1. Looking For Alaska by John Green.  This is a “need to somehow acquire” book, but hopefully I can track it down this Fall.  I have loved everything John Green that I have read/watched.
  2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  I read the first two books of the series this summer and am now excitedly awaiting the release of the third.
  3. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  I am intrigued by this one, so one of these days I will track it down to check it out.  I hear it is good.
  4. The rest of the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia.  Feel free to judge.  I borrowed Beautiful Creatures from the Child this summer and as ridiculous as it was, it was one of those books that took you somewhere else and felt kind of fun to read.
  5. Exit Papers From Paradise by Liam Card.  A plumber decides to get out of a rut and go to med school.  I am intrigued and it was on sale for the Kobo for a ridiculous bargain.  Win!
  6. The Truth About Luck by Iain Reid.  A story about a 28 year old writer and his 92 year old grandmother.  I am a sucker for books with old people in them.
  7. And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.  I always seem to love his books, even if they often crush my sould. I am sure this one won’t disappoint.
  8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Powell.  I keep seeing it on lists.  Plus, it is set in my birth year and they are misfits.
  9. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak.   The Book Thief was excellent.  This sounds very different, but the concept of taking an ordinary guy and having him complete certain tasks to help people seems fascinating.
  10. Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel by Lauren Graham.  I don’t recognize the names of most actors/actresses, but Lauren Graham is one of my favourites.  The novel sounds entertaining, plus the Child has it in her possession, so I can actually borrow it!

What are some of the books on your Fall to be read list?

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is entitled “From Above.”

I love looking at things from another perspective.  In life and in my random photo taking.  So, this challenge is pretty cool.  I have come to realize that I very rarely actually take a photo from directly above anything.  This is partly because I am short and partly because there is often something just below and afar.

As usual, I can’t settle on one photo.  So, I have two, both of things I saw on the ground while on a walk this past Fall.

I am aware that I shouldn’t walk around looking at the ground, but it is amazing what you can see when you admire it from time to time.  Especially in the season full of leaves and such hitting the ground all over the place.

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Remembrance Day

We went to a Remembrance Day ceremony today.

It is something I have done for most of my life minus a few years of illness or extra severe weather.

I considered briefly last night in my overtired state not going.  But really, that isn’t an option.  An hour of time to go to this service is extremely important.

First of all, I am grateful for our freedom and the sacrifices people made back in the day.  The thought of living with the consideration that my spouse or I may get shipped off to a foreign country and put in significant danger is not something that comes up for me.  That has not always been the case for some people.  I have never lived in a country that had wars or excessive violence.  There are people who helped make this happen.

Plus, it is awesome to go out and support the veterans who are local.  Not just the adorable elderly men and women who still come out with their walkers and wheelchairs and do the march past with help.  But also the people who are my age who go overseas on peacekeeping missions.

It seems mind blowing, but I know two people who died while on missions overseas.  One was a guy I went to high school with.  We were in the same 9th grade class.  Another was a guy I went to cadet camp with.  I was really close with his younger sister.  Both of them were young men with bright futures who died very young because they put their lives at risk to help protect others.

The thing that rots me when I think about these guys I know and the adorable elderly people who survived so much and the fortune we have living in a free country is that there are people who don’t seem to care.  Many of them are my age.  They just carry on like it is a normal day.  Some argue they don’t like going to the ceremonies because they are too “Christian.”  Who cares.  You can show gratitude and ignore God if you want (not that I recommend it).

Where Remembrance Day was on a Sunday this year, our home-home church decided to still have a service, despite the overlap because some people can’t stand to have their routine changed.  I like worship, but it is one day.  And an important day.  A day I am pretty sure God is cool with us honoring.   Because He hates war as much has we do.  And loves people more than we do.

I don’t think Remembrance Day is pro-war.  I am not pro-war at all.  In fact, despite once being a part of a para-military organization, I am not a big fan of the military, although I think given the state of our world it is necessary (unfortunately).  I do, however, support the people who are brave enough and committed enough to be in the military and serve in those capacities.  I wish that wasn’t necessary, but where people need to protect our nation and also people in other nations, I support them in doing that.  It isn’t fair to go against those people, even if you don’t agree with government decisions.  The people are doing their jobs.  Just like we do.  And being in the military is more commitment than I have.  People die.  People sometimes kill people.  Sometimes things like that had to happen.  Sometimes they are unfortunate accidents.  Either way they go through a lot.  They need encouragement and honor because this isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Remembrance Day is a day to remember what we have, who we lost and what we have gained and the people who brought all of it about.    It is only one day.  We need to be grateful all the time.  But at least give them that day.

Here is a video they played before the ceremony.  It kind of projects my exact thoughts on the whole issue.  

Thanks to our military, their families and friends for what they do.  We remember them and the unfortunate victims of war the world round.

L’Halloween et un chat

In medical school, a few of us in the class developed a strange obsession with these creepy puppets from the francophone TV show tete a claques.  There was just something about them that would crack you up. and then the dialogue was also priceless.

A favourite was the Halloween clips.  In them, these two boys are out trick or treating and have an obsession with, well, Pop Tarts.

I thought what better way to celebrate Halloween than watching these clips and waiting to see if we get any Trick or Treaters despite the tropical storm.

That and hanging out with our new cat, Jeter.

Hello there, Jeter. I like your green eyes… They match your bowl and your litter box.

We just got him this morning with much angst from me. I did a bunch of research and hemming and hawing over the whole thing.  But, in the end, Patrick being happy and me having the experience of a pet seemed to outweigh my fear of messes and the extra expense…Which we calculated to be minimal after his initial check ups and adoption fees (yay call stipend).  Plus, it may help to dampen my biological clock screaming for another while.  Nonetheless I am nervous about having a pet.  I apparently was acting like a crazy father just before a child came home from the hospital… Nesting and all.

His new favourite place, I suspect, on the ledge of the living room window watching the tropical storm go down.

He is apparently one year old (although we wanted an older cat and were under the impression he was 2 or 3 until we had already had him in the carrier on the way out the door… fail).  After visiting what felt like a ton of cats and inadvertantly letting one run loose around the SPCA, we decided on Jeter.  Big selling point for him… He ate his nametag off the front of his cage last night.  And he likes to be picked up.  He also wasn’t as huge as another boy we looked at or as timid as many of the others.  We will get along just fine.  Once I stop freaking out that we have a cat.  That part may take a while.  This is, of course, my first real pet (Patrick always had cats, so he is thrilled we finally got one, especially after our practice run cat sitting this summer).

Happy Halloween!

Top Ten Books To Get Into The Halloween Spirit

The last time we dressed up for Halloween (both of us). A pirate and a nun. Last minute costume conglomerations.

Halloween is fast approaching.  ‘Tis the season for ghouls, candy and costumes.  Patrick is pumped.  For the last three years, we lived in a basement apartment at the back of a house that didn’t give out treats on the top floor.  As a result, we never had trick or treaters.  Despite Patrick buying candy every year and being ready for them.  This year, we are in a big apartment building and his hope is that some of the kids living in the building will come around.  He is excited.

I have never been a Halloween person (at least not since I was old enough to trick or treat).  One year, when I was in Nuc Med, I dressed up as a Christmas tree to spite the holiday.  It was a big hit with the patients.  The last time I dressed up for Halloween was the first year Patrick and I were married for a Christian Fellowship event.

This weeks’ Top Ten Tuesday challenge with the Broke and the Bookish is the top ten books to get in the Halloween spirit.  I am on the Halloween bah humbug side of things, but I will play along.  The issue is that I am scared of a lot…. Commercials freak me out.  I still have nightmares from the Grey’s episode when the hospital was shot up.  So, truly scary novels are almost a non-option for me.  But, when I was a kid, I loved them.  Funny how things change.  So, a lot of these are going to be suspiciously for children.

  1. The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.  These are awesome books.  The right level of suspense and spooky to keep kids reading, but not so much that I have ridiculous nightmares when I remember them.
  2. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.  Yes, lame a bit, I know… But vampires and werewolves.  That is Halloween, right?
  3. The Witches by Roald Dahl.   Witches that off children and the kid who helps take them down.  Very Halloween-y.
  4. Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.  I was out sick a lot from school in the 9th grade.  I missed the day when people got to choose from a whole stack of curriculum novels to write reports on.  I ended up with this book.  I was unimpressed, but in the end, I am grateful because it is a great book and a Halloween classic.
  5. Wicked by Gregory Maguire.  I love this parallel to the Wizard of Oz and I love the musical soundtrack even more.  Again, witches and all things that make me think Halloween, but also so much more.
  6. The Remember Me and Final Friends series by Christopher Pike.  This was another set of books I read when I was far too young to be reading these sorts of books.  I borrowed them from my friend’s older sister or the YA section in the local library.  They were pretty scary.
  7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  I also read this in the 9th grade.  This book is far beyond its time when it comes to looking at science and ethics, but also gives a sufficient dose of suspense and horror.
  8. The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn.  My grade four teacher used to read us really great mysteries and ghost stories.  This is one I remembered in particular.
  9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Yes, this is indeed a stretch.  Part of the book takes place around Halloween time and there is talk that Boo Radley is a ghost.  It works in my head.
  10. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness.  To be honest, I haven’t read this one yet, but I have heard fabulous things, so I thought I would pop it on.

I struggled to get ten books (though I suppose I could have thrown on all of the Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children and Babysitter’s Club books on ghosts and the unknown).  It was fun to look back at some of the ones I read long ago.

What are some of your favourite Halloween reads?

A Walk in the Park

Like a toddler, after my post call nap and feeding me lunch, Patrick took me to the park to play.  Okay, really, he took me to the park to wake me up/cheer me up, but still.  

I have been feeling indoors-bound.  I go to work in the dark, I come home at sunset and by the time we eat, it is dark.  I worked all day yesterday and although my plan was to walk around the front yard of the hospital, it was too busy to squeeze that in (plus it rained).  So, when I woke up to realize it wasn’t cold and wasn’t raining, I was pumped to go on a field trip.

I brought my camera and got some lovely pictures of the Fall leaves while Patrick laughed at me and intermittently threatened to throw me in the heaps of leaves in the bushes (which I would have loved had it not been all soggy from last night’s rain).  We watched the dogs run around the off-leash area and talked and enjoyed the fresh air.

Cute pond with ducks… No swans though. Disappointing. Safer for unsuspecting dogs and small children, though.

You could see this patch from far down the path because it was so vibrant. The tree above was just about bald. It clearly lost its leaves earlier than some of the others.

We found mushrooms. And sang “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth.”

Some people say they don’t need church because they can worship God in nature.  I still feel strongly about going to church because I feel like I need the fellowship and accountability and such.  But, given my need for sleep this morning (because I had almost none last night), I had to miss out, nature was a good second church.

So much beauty!

This bench looked super pensive to me. I wanted to sit in it, but was at risk of not getting up again.

It was the best hour I have had in a while.

Thanksgiving Happiness

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Press is entitled “Happiness.”  I don’t really consider myself a photographer or a photo blogger, but the post I was going to write for today actually goes well with the challenge to post photos of things that make you happy.  So, I am posting it and saying it is also part of the challenge. **Thanks to my Dad who took all of these pictures.

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  The thing that made this particular Thanksgiving awesome was that not only were we home with family, but we actually got to spend Thanksgiving with both of our families, something that we haven’t been able to do in a leisurely fashion since we have been together.

We had a lovely traditional turkey dinner with Patrick’s siblings and his Mom’s side of the family complete with watching football (I thought that made us a little multi-cultural with the American football tradition) and crazy pet stories.

We had dessert out with my three best friends from home and their husbands.  It was one of the first times we all hung out as an entirety in ages not at a wedding-related event. We actually closed down the restaurant (mind you, it was a Sunday and Thanksgiving, so the restaurant closed at 10).

And then, we went to the lovely farm where my Aunt, Uncle and cousins live for Thanksgiving there with my family.

They have been having Thanksgiving-like festivities together up there for a while.  This was the first year we got to go and it was sheer happiness.  The day came complete with lots of talking, food, a grand tour of the barn (with the ENTIRE group of us… If you knew my grandmother, the fact she came would blow your mind) and lots of playing around.  The pictures tell the story well on their own.

It is wonderful to be close to family and friends to actually get to do these sorts of things together.  Also, having some vacation time helps.