29 April 2007

Hair Complaints

Freshly cut bangs = happiness.

I need a little happiness, I need a little bang trim. Badly. My bangs have gotten to the point of no return. I am forced to sculpt, if you will, my bangs in place with my bare hands. With this method, my bangs will stay in place for a good hour. A minute past that hour, it collapses like a house of cards. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will get my bangs trimmed and then I'll stop growling at the mirror. Speaking of my hair, I think I can honestly say that I am officially sick of it.

Back in the day, when I had money to toss around carelessly on whatever I pleased, I had some pretty cool hair. And when it wasn't "cool", I was trying fun things with it regardless of the outcome. I guess it comes in handy to work in a salon, like I did back then. As well, I knew some pretty amazing people in the hair business. I had so much fun with my stylist back then. Not only did she do a fantastic job, she had a heart of gold. She was one of those people that you just had to smile with. She saw the beauty in a lot of things, in a lot of people. She always made me feel beautiful and it wasn't because she was an awesome stylist. It was more than just that. She simply was a beautiful person herself, inside and out, who got herself into a bit of mess that I cannot elaborate on.

I haven't really let people mess with my hair since her, other than my mom and a few others. Needless to say, my hair has done nothing exciting for a long time. It's long. It gets caught in things. It strangles me in my sleep. My bangs look fine when they are cut but the rest of it is just there.

I don't like depending and becoming attached to hair. I just want to chop it off without having second thoughts (it's easier to do so when your hair isn't long). I don't like to be caught in that cycle where you wonder and obsess on what-if-it-doesn't-look-good.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things - this means nothing. It's just hair and I'm just complaining. I've let only about three people in my life cut my hair - my mom, my wonderful stylist, and the stylist at the salon I worked at. Truth is, I just don't trust anyone when it comes to hair.

I'm thinking about finding my old stylist when I go back home this summer. I sincerely hope life is treating her well again. I sincerely hope she is brimming with wonder and beauty again.
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26 April 2007

Balcony Cats

Lately, our balcony has been the meeting place for all the neighborhood cats to hang out. I have to admit, it's delightful for me. I love cats and it took a lot of getting used to not living with one, when I moved here. Recently, a handsome big tabby has decided to live on our balcony. I originally thought this cat was our neighbor's cat. Well, they thought it was ours and started feeding it. Now, they put a little box with a blanket inside for him to sleep in. He's very well behaved, very handsome, and I can't help but be happy that he has befriended us. I do hope, however, he has a home. I like to think that he just likes to beg at our door and then returns home at night. My partner has started to call him Chester, as well as lazy. We were hanging out on the balcony last night with Chester and a big kitten came by and the mangy local stray. My partner said that there is no way that Chester would protect the balcony from mice. Well, Chester proved him wrong this morning...when I caught him with a dangling mouse tail in his mouth.

Enjoy the pics!

Sleepy Chester the Tabby



Protecting the balcony from mice.

Sleepy Chester

Making sure Blackie doesn't cross any lines!

Blackie, who lives across the street with the caretaker.

Mangy stray cat. He's a scrapper.


Chester waits on our welcome mat.




"This is my balcony. Feed me."








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24 April 2007

Pixel-y Goodness?

My television is junk. I don't watch television though sometimes, I admit, I long to. I moved here without understanding how much I relied on television as a source of entertainment. Now, I only use it to watch news on the one clear channel that we get in. We watch the vast majority of movies on the computer. It kind of gets tired after a while. Sometimes I wish I could watch movies in a fancy pants home theatre. And along with that wish? A microwave for the sole purpose of making popcorn.

I guess it gets complicated once you have a home theatre system or a big, shiny television like most people have nowadays. I recall going to my sister's place in the summer and seeing how pixel-y her fancy television became at moments. I suppose what is the purpose of owning a fancy new television when it becomes all pixelated?

With plasma tvs, I learned that often you get "ghosting" and "image burn-in". With LCD tvs, you get pixel drop out and trailing. There is, apparently, a simple solution to all these issues. With this special DVD called Pixel Protector you can fix all your worries with your fancy pants television set. It's actually kind of interesting to read over. I'm far from being an expert in these matters, but see for yourself. This DVD might help your pixel-y set.

14 April 2007

RIP June Callwood

Last weekend, I watched the last interview with June Callwood on CBC's The Hour. It was beautiful, touching - what a marvelous lady she was, full of grace and wit. If you want to watch the video of her, this is the LINK.

Last Updated: Saturday, April 14, 2007 | 10:28 AM ET
CBC Arts

June Callwood, the remarkable Canadian journalist, humanitarian and social activist, died early Saturday after a long fight with cancer. She was 82.

She was first diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2004, but refused treatment and continued to be active, most recently on the campaign to end child poverty, until a few months ago.

Callwood blazed trails for women's rights, gay rights and the rights of the underprivileged in a history of activism dating back to the 1960s.

The author of 30 books, she was also the founder of a breast-cancer support centre, Nellie's hostel for abused women, Jessie's centre for teenage mothers and the AIDS hospice Casey House.

"The Casey House community is deeply appreciative to the Frayne family for sharing their precious mother and wife with us for so many years," said Jaime Watt, chair of the hospice's board of directors, in a statement. "We send them our love and deepest condolences."

Callwood was a founding member of the Writers' Union of Canada, the Writers' Development Trust, Canadian PEN, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, the president of a prostitutes' community organization and a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

A tireless campaigner who harangued politicians, wrote letters and organized lobby groups, Callwood fought poverty and injustice wherever she saw it.

"She was gentle to a fault ... She wasn't called Saint June for nothing," said friend and writer Sally Armstrong.

Always dressed chicly and known for driving a sporty car, Callwood approached social justice with a smile and joyful, optimistic demeanour. Even living with cancer didn't seem to get her down.

"As a companion, June is self-aware, witty, non-judgmental, sophisticated, informed, passionate, available and loyal — all those special qualities, leavened with her own brand of quirkiness and self-deprecating irony," friend Sylvia Fraser wrote in Toronto Life in March 2005.

Takes on journalism challenge

Born June 2, 1924, in Belle River, Ont., a French-speaking community near Windsor, Callwood remembered the deprivation of the Depression years and a father who left the family when she was 13.

She found her way into newspaper writing during the Second World War, initially at the Brantford Expositor and later at the Globe and Mail.

At the Globe, she met and married sportswriter Trent Frayne, and quit her job at age 20 when she had her first child.

She and Frayne had four children — Jill, Brant, Jennifer and Casey — losing the youngest, Casey, in 1982 in a motorcycle accident when he was 20.

After a period spent raising her children, Callwood began freelance writing, starting with a magazine piece on her flying instructor, a woman named Violet Millsted. She wrote for Chatelaine and Maclean's, tackling such subjects as the sexual abuse of children, birth control, test-tube babies and the battle of the sexes.

It was later, when her children were adolescent hippies, that Callwood began her social activism.

"What brought me on to it was during the '60s in Yorkville — that was my watershed," she said in an interview with CBC Radio.

A hippie at heart

Callwood said she was "entranced by the hippie movement," but noticed that when hippie kids from the Toronto suburbs went home there was an underclass of homeless, poor youth remaining in Yorkville.

"Everyone thought it was a middle-class kids' revolt. What was going underneath [was] that despair of thousands of teenagers who've never had anything and thought for one brief crazy moment that there was a place for them," she said.

Already a founding member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, she tried to get help and health care for the poor homeless youth, and saw doors slammed in their faces.

"That politicized me — that did it," she said. She founded a house, Yorkville Digger House, for them to live in.

In the summer of 1968, Callwood was arrested for protesting against police conduct in Yorkville. "I thought I was ruined," she recalled in an article in Saturday Night magazine.

"In my generation, you didn't get arrested unless you were an awful person. One year later, I was B'nai Brith Woman of the Year!"

Founded shelter, hostel for teens

A prominent voice against sexual violence and domestic abuse, she was founder of Nellie's Hostel for Women, a shelter for abused women in Toronto, serving as its first director in 1974. She also founded Jessie's Centre for pregnant teenagers.

She continued to write prolifically on feminist topics — penning Love, Hate, Fear and Anger (1964), Canadian Women and the Law (1974) and The Law Is Not for Women (1976).

Other books from this period include Emma: The True Story of Canada's Unlikely Spy, the story of a young Doukhobor woman from Saskatchewan convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and imprisoned in the late 1940s, and Twelve Weeks in Spring, about the last months of a friend named Margaret Fraser, who died at home with the help of a group of friends and volunteers.

"Someone in that group said to me that being with Margaret was like studying — we were boning up for our own deaths," she said in a 2004 interview with the Globe and Mail.

"It was a huge gift to us, in fact, because there's a great pleasure in providing palliative care, in surrendering your own ego totally in order to stay in tune with the person you're trying to help. You're not calling the shots for once. You're not doing anything except getting the ice cream."

Callwood's next big project was Casey House Hospice, for people dying of AIDS, which opened in 1988 at a time when there was little effective treatment for the disease.

Faced accusations of racism

With her direct, shoot-from-the-hip style, Callwood was described as better at founding organizations than at running them.

She was disparaged by public accusations of racism in the late 1980s, a period of extreme political correctness.

A conference she organized for the Canadian branch of PEN International was picketed by local black writers for excluding writers of colour, despite PEN's plan to bring in writers dedicated to freedom of speech from Ghana, South America and India.

The bad vibrations around the dispute spilled over into her term as a director of Nellie's, where an employee accused her of racism and the board boycotted a fundraiser it had asked her to organize.

There followed months of accusations in the press, with Callwood portrayed as an insensitive WASP, despite her years of activism and Métis background.

"Except for my son's death, nothing in life had hurt so much," she said in a Toronto Life article.

Callwood had two TV programs, In Touch on CBC (1975-78) and Callwood's National Treasures (Vision TV 1991-96), and also a column in the Globe and Mail that highlighted social issues.

She continued writing about AIDS in Jim: A Life With AIDS (1988) and Trail Without End: A Shocking Story of Women and Aids in 1995, the story of 20 women infected with the AIDS virus by the same lover. She also wrote Callwood's National Treasures, a book of portraits of great Canadians.

She has been an awards judge for Governor General's Literary Awards, National Newspaper Awards, 1976-83, and National Magazine Awards.

Callwood was made member of the Order of Canada in 1978 and officer in 1986, and has won numerous humanitarian awards and honorary university doctorates.

She points out that her effectiveness in leading change evolved from her energy and work, instead of privilege.

"I don't have power — I have influence," she said. "Power and privilege? It's an ability to help to change. My prominence is a trust."

A park in Toronto's Fort York neighbourhood has been named after her.

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13 April 2007

Wish I could go...

...to Amsterdam!

Sigh, the travel bug is in me...and I just can't seem to shake it. I wish I could go away from all this snow and winter than won't ever end! Anyway, for those readers of mine who actually have the luxury of travelling - I found a good website geared towards vacationing in Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Rome. Oh, the thought of it even feels great as I keep warm inside!

EasytoBook offers information on hotel rooms and accommendations, as well as lists the tourist attractions in each city. I was most impressed with that feature. There is a lovely description of each tourist attraction, complete with a Google Earth map - good job!

For kicks, I compared EasytoBook with Expedia. I don't know if I am blind or not web-savvy or not well-travelled, but it looks to me as though they have Expedia beat by a long-shot.

Poker Party

I've been asked to write a quick review of a poker website by a sponsor. I'll be completely honest with you, I am not familiar with poker websites nor am I a participant in poker games. My view is simply the opinion of someone who browses websites on a frequent basis.

First of all, I like the use of color on this website. Of course, the color of poker is green and the color of money - however, it is also my favorite color so it makes me want to linger about. The use of the MAC logo within their poker logo is cute - I don't know if that is a good thing or not. What you can tell right off the bat is that this is MAC Poker Online. And that's a good thing, as I assume it is a bit difficult finding an online poker site geared toward owners of MACs.

What I can appreciate about this website with even my inexperienced eye is that there is a lot of informative updates and information on the main page of the MAC Poker Online website. It is written in a way that respects the readers intelligence without making it overly complicated, especially regarding the rules of poker for newbies like me!

10 April 2007

The Big White Cat with a Small White Head

I don't need to tell anyone that I am secretly a crazy old cat lady in training.

This afternoon, I peeked out the front door window to see my neighbor feeding her tabby cat (the one I recently blogged about) and the squirrel. Yes, they were sitting side by side. I never met her before - only her husband, who is a bit standoff-ish but generally a nice man. I heard from Zak that she is a nice older lady so I thought I would say hello and introduce myself. Heck, we've been neighbors since November afterall.

I had other motives though. I wanted to find out the name of her old tabby cat and what happened to her other cat that hasn't been seen outdoors in many months. I've been waiting to photograph this cat that I affectionately call "the big white cat with the small white head". Everytime I saw this cat, I'd get a chuckle. He'd be sitting outside on the balcony tied to the railing with a small string, while sitting on a small piece of cardboard. The tabby was free to roam...but no, the big white cat with the small white head clearly had special needs. We'd imagine that white cat with a white ruffly satin clown collar, just sitting there tied to a string on his small piece of cardboard while saying a humiliating "meow".

Unfortunately, I did not like what I heard. She told me that the (big) white cat (with the small white head) died. He was poisoned. He was on his string (sitting on his piece of cardboard, I imagine). He ate something. He went inside the apartment and died a short time after. This made me rather sad, I have to admit. For months, I have been waiting to photograph this silly looking (but adorable) cat. And now he's gone, died without a name. At least, he had love and a warm home to sleep and a lovely piece of cardboard to sit on.

I asked her what her tabby's name was. He has no name, she said, she did not know. She takes in stray cats and feeds them and, clearly, the tabby decided to live with her and husband. It made me smile - I have a neighbor with a good heart, which is a big change from my last neighbors who piled dog shit in front of our living room window and waist-deep garbage in our fire escape. She seems to feed all the stray cats, as well as the squirrels and pigeons. She seems like a sweet lady, even though sometimes there are about 20 pigeons on the balcony.

I like to believe the big white cat with the small white head died of natural causes, in his sleep where he was dreaming of eating fancy cat food out of foil packets or chasing a delicious bird. May his kitty-cat heaven be lined with cardboard. Godspeed, big white cat with the small white head, godspeed!


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09 April 2007

Green

In hopes of spring finally arriving, I colored my eyelids with a lovely combination of bright and dark green. Why won't spring arrive??? Le sigh!

I was also inspired by another gal's makeup I saw last night on an online dating site. No, I wasn't looking for a "prince charming" - I'm happy with the one I've got. Every once in a while, I browse online dating websites to find eligible ladies for my wonderful and single friend back home. As well, to have a bit of a chuckle.

So in the midst of hilarious, desperate, and a few sincere profiles, I was taken aback by this one woman's profile pic. Her eye makeup was amazing! I can't even describe it, it was that stunning. Her eyeshadow looked like a dewy meadow - such a beautiful emerald green that lit up her face and made her look intoxicatingly mysterious at the same time. Ah, I totally had makeup envy! I could never wear green like that!

Anyway, besides being green with envy - I had a few laughs while browsing this particular website. There are A LOT of makeup disasters going on in the world of online dating. I'm sure they all have hearts of gold but they could definitely use some tips on applying black eyeliner. Yikes!

07 April 2007

Saturday, I am grateful...

This is a post from my other blog - 365 Days of Gratitude Photoblog



...for the beauty in reflection and being struck by the words of someone who is strong and fearless.

I could not find a photograph to express how touched I am today. So I ask you today, not to look at this photograph or just read my simple words. Today, I ask you to watch this video of an interview I watched on television last night. I haven't turned on the television since November and I was glad that when I did turn it on - I saw something that touched me and brought a tear to my eye. It made me think, life is worth living to the full. Take every moment and appreciate it. And I hope that I will come out this strong and this graceful in the face of death.

Please click HERE.


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Flood

I miss home - Selkirk, there's no doubt about that. I miss my family, I miss my old friends. I miss sitting at the crummy old coffee shop, complaining about feeling stuck in such bleak little town we affectionately call Selkatraz. It's funny how it takes moving far away to an exciting, fast-paced city can make you appreciate the slow moving town you grew up in.

I like hearing stories from back home. I like hearing the gossip, the small-town news. Sometimes, it is hard to connect to a community when you live in a big city. I can't even admit that I was connected to my community when I lived there, but at least I knew who my neighbors were and they returned my hellos and my good morning smiles.

My hometown made the fark.com headlines yesterday, as well as the other news sites and national news programmes. The ice has broken in the Red River and there is a jam, which caused the dike to be breached. I feel a little left out. I wish I could see the river. There's something hauntingly beautiful when the ice breaks. I remember years ago, standing by the bridge in the silence of the night and listening to the sound of ice breaking, the water flowing. It's peaceful, calming.

Of course, it's a little different once it is all said and done. Here are some photographs that my lovely cousin took.











(Sometimes, I feel insecure - that I am too rural, too "small-town" for the city folk that surrounds me here. My stories are a little different than yours, maybe a little more naive - maybe a little more plain. Rest assured, my heart is made of gold too - but as the color of a prairies sunset, the color of the fields of wheat).

Here's a LINK to the news story/video.
Another LINK, with photo of the stupidest location for an apt.building.


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05 April 2007

Like Snow in April...

I love the first snowfall of the year. I love walking down a lonely street in December, with big snowflakes swirling all around me. It makes me feel at peace, it makes me feel romantic. I love the color of the sky when it snows like this.

However, come April...I'm just sick of the damn stuff. Here are a few shots of last night's snowfall from the view of my front door.




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04 April 2007

Broadband

I know I have a few loyal readers from the UK here, so I thought I would bring this broadband provider website to their attention. I'm not too familiar with cheap broadband providers or their prices, to be honest with you.

It's a pretty thorough website that shows you a list of different broadband internet options and providers. They offer a list of different links and deals, as well as reviews for you to browse over. To my inexperienced eye, there looks to be some fairly good deals out there.

This site also has a section that gives you some explanations on broadband providers, ADSL broadband, and the like. It's pretty informative for people like me!

Anyway, I thought I would let you know in case you are looking for different internet broadband options!

03 April 2007

Books - March 2007

It was a modest month as far as reading goes. I find I don't read as much when I am working a lot. I save my reading for the subway ride and work breaks. If I feel decadent, I'll draw a bubble bath and read there.


1) Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada - Stuart McLean
I liked this book a lot. It is far from a "classic" novel and it isn't the "coolest" book to be seen with, but it appealed to me. I spent a lot of March being homesick and wanting to surround myself with smalltown folk. You know, the kind of people that talk about random smalltown happenings at the local coffee shop. People who say thank you and look you in the eye. I miss that. I read this book and it warmed my spirit. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about smalltown Saskatchewan and British Columbia. What I made me smile was the mention of Chinese food restaurants in the middle of nowhere in the prairies. I remember being a kid and going to one in rural Saskatchewan, as my Gedo always gave us a dollar for ice cream when we visited. As an "adult", I went to one in rural Manitoba. It was probably the highlight of that summer - having a cup of super cheap coffee in a restaurant that looked straight out of the 50's, where you could actually buy a single can of tomato soup for fifty cents.

2) Love Life - Zeruya Shalev
This is a book about a woman's obsession with a much older man, a friend of her father's. It is what it is. It is all about obsession - the obsession in wanting to discover someone's mind and body, the obsession in all the questions being asked and never answered, the obsession in the wonder of why you are obsessed with someone who often disgusts you, the obsession in the distance and closeness of bodies. It is a richly written novel, with beautiful words and intensity. I have to admit, it is a little too intense at times. There were moments when I wanted to shake the character in hopes she would quit obsessing about this man. There were moments I didn't want to read any more, I was tired to listening to her. If I felt her feelings of obsession - that means, it was an effective novel. It made me feel her emotions.

3) Elle - Douglas Glover
This was another interesting read. I picked up this Canadian novel for a dollar at the used store down the street. It is a take on a historic story of a woman who was left alone to survive in Canada before it was settled in the 1500s. I appreciate the fact that the writer is male and not once did I think her character was written by a man. It is intense, sad, funny. There are slight sexual moments. There are spiritual moments that are hazy and desperately lonely. The background is bleak and lonely, but Elle is complex and intriguing. It was a good read, especially in a hot bath.

Until next time...

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