"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Your Monday Mews

'Good Morning' Brian Rodgers

Happy Monday, I hope your weekend was interesting. Our daughter (a 4th year Nursing student) moved over the weekend, so as you can imagine we were busier than usual. She was renting a home with a few friends and has now moved to an apartment on her own - she's even closer to the University than she already was. The weather was so fabulous (certainly a blessing when you are moving) that I couldn't resist posting a few pics on Saturday (see We're Getting Spoiled).

We went to a dinner Saturday night held at our daughter's church, which was an art show/fundraiser for the Edmonton Dream Centre for Women; a group home for women in crisis. The speaker and video presentation were both very moving. I really enjoyed the evening and appreciated all the talent represented. The painting above is not from the show, I just like it.

The artists

Not Just For Hobbits Anymore

I'm really just looking for an excuse to live in a Hobbit house!
The roofs in the slideshow (link below) are amazing, especially the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Sustainability is no longer just a trend, a buzz word or even a preference, when it comes to architecture and design. It's the standard. It's vital. And this "greening" of cities continues to take new, exciting forms, as well as adopt old ones.
Consider green or "living" roofs. Forward-thinking Germany (where reportedly 10% of roofs are green) led the pack in the 1960s, and the trend spread throughout Europe. And why wouldn't it, when you think of the advantages? Lower heating and cooling costs, the ability to pull pollution from the air, and increased real estate values and the creation of intimate spaces in the environment are just a few. And, well, what's more aesthetically pleasing--a concrete expanse or a lush landscape? Green roofs can be minimalist, dramatic, landscaped or wild.

Here's a link to the article and slideshow:


Here's a few others:



Why are green roofs such a great idea?
First, they help to reduce roof stormwater runoff. In some cases, this can help reduce the size of stormwater pipes, and the amount of stormwater that needs to be treated by municipal water treatment. In a light rainfall, a building with a vegetated roof can have no stormwater runoff at all.

Green roofs also protect the roof membrane from sunlight, which breaks down the roofing material. Having even a couple inches of soil helps to greatly extend the life of the roof, and a longer lifespan means less material ends up in landfills from re-roofing buildings after the membranes have failed.

Green roofs keep the roof cooler, which helps to reduce the heat-island effect, which contributes to cities being hotter than the surrounding countryside. This can be beneficial to the building in reducing its summertime cooling load.

A green roof is also a source of oxygen and provides a habitat for some birds. Birds and insects can find homes much more readily in the living environment of a green roof, where an ordinary roof is nearly barren. And yes, it's even possible to graze goats.

More Visions of an Organic Future

What if we lived in a green future? Cities that didn’t just have green space, but cities that were green space. Trees and plants make up the structure of the city instead of concrete and plastics.

Luc Schuiten thinks up cities using Archiborescence – the designs are cities that are grown and tended. Prairie parks, houses that hide under leaves, and skyscraper trees.

These images are amazing

Child at Heart

When pawing through second hand stores, I try to look over the children's books as well. I purchased Everybody Needs A Rock 3 or 4 weeks ago. It jumped out at me immediately for a number of reasons.

Foremost for the illustrations, which have an obvious Native (American) influence. I have always loved Native art and this love continues to grow stronger with each passing year. Native art exudes a tremendous strength and connection to the earth and a higher power (whatever this higher power may be, you sense a respect for each person's individual interpretation). I remember the first time I was exposed to Egyptian art/iconography (& The Group of Seven to a lesser degree), I was filled with an awe; I feel much the same way about Native art.

Secondly, I like the simple, straightforward way the author's message is conveyed. Everybody needs a rock, and as you carefully pick out your rock following the ten rules Baylor outlines, you begin to (re)connect with your true self and the earth.

I recommend this book to all grown-ups and kids, 
and all grown-ups who are kids (you know who you are)!

A brief biography of Byrd Baylor found on the net:
Byrd Baylor lives and writes in Arizona, presenting images of the Southwest and an intense connection between the land and the people. Her prose illustrates vividly the value of simplicity, the natural world, and the balance of life within it.

Illustrator Peter Parnall:
From the desert Southwest to the Coastal Northeast, Peter Parnall's work explores the natural world. With stunning attention to detail, his more than eighty books survey the many complex relationships found in the wild.

When I was looking at numerous websites, it was interesting how many adults praised this book as one of their all-time favourites children's books.

Bend over.
Even more.
You may have to
on the ground
with your head
the earth.
You have to look
a rock
in the eye.

don't blame me
if you
can't find
a good one.

Don't ask anybody
to help you choose.

I've seen
a lizard
pick one rock
out of
a desert full
of rocks
and go sit there
I've seen a snail
pass up
twenty rocks
and spend all day
getting to
the one
it wanted.

You have to
make up
your own mind.

A few other Parnall projects:

This one looks enchanting

I'm hoping to come across some of these books now that they have come to my attention.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We're Getting Spoiled

We have been having the most amazing weather the last 3 days. Temperatures are in the plus range, and after braving our recent week of -20+, it's feeling practically balmy! Unfortunately we know better than to get used to this.

This was Thursday, it was gorgeous, but very windy.
Our neighbor two doors over flies the Canadian flag year-round.

I'm thinking that maybe I need a weathervane

These grasses look amazing set against the snow 

Everyone is outside enjoying the mild temperatures

Friday, November 26, 2010

Everything & the Kitchen Sink

November 26 has a lot going for it!

Sinkie Day - The day after Thanksgiving in the United States is celebrated as Sinkie Day. Are you a "Sinkie" (one who occasionally dines over the kitchen sink)?


 Shop 'til You Drop Day - It is "Black Friday" because most merchants are in the black today. It marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Ironically, it's also National Buy Nothing Day!

Now for something which makes much more sense:

November 26 is National Cake Day
I motion this be changed to International Cake Day

The Master of Horror

I've been sidelined this week with a book that's not on my 'What I'm Reading' list.

I purchased Stephen King's latest book, Under the Dome, in September and it had been calling to me from the shelf I'd set it on ever since. I try not to have too many books on the go, but find when chatting with other 'readers' that they also have 3, 4 or even 5 books they're working on. I am approximately halfway, it's 1074 pages, and it's been fair (not great) so far. In true Stephen King fashion, it's way too long and far too many of the characters are loathsome - I give it a 6 out of 10 so far.  I read that it's slated to be turned into a TV mini-series and can see this being a very successful venture - the premise is very original and the tensions between the towns folk under the Dome certainly are beginning to strain. No one knows what the Dome is, who is responsible for it's existence, or how long they will be trapped underneath it - the US military just fired a cruise missile hoping it would budge, to no avail. I'll give you my final analysis once I'm finished.

I've read a number of King's novels in the last 2 years.

You know it's a good book when you pick it up
and basically don't put it back down until it's done.
It got kind of wet in the shower lol!

Did not enjoy this one at all - way too long and (I hate to say it but) corny.
I read the entire book, except the final chapter - I just didn't care anymore. 

After Insomnia Stephen redeemed himself with this one.
It was part autobiography and part how-to.
Both humorous and touching throughout; I plan to read it again. 
Remember this one?
A true classic, this is the first 'adult' book I ever read.
I remember how truly terrified I was; the covers tucked up under my chin.
It certainly set the bar for me in horror.

The Latest Buzz: Caffeinated Popcorn

(Nov. 24) -- Next time you find yourself dozing off in the middle of a boring movie at home, there's only one logical solution: stuff your face with popcorn -- caffeinated popcorn, to be precise.

For the past several months, Amanda Fitch and her husband, Matthew, have been generating quite the buzz from a business they started on a whim right in their own kitchen.

Tired of drinking endless energy drinks, coffee and diet soda to stay vitalized throughout their busy day, the twosome experimented with adding caffeine to their favorite snack -- popcorn -- as a little afternoon pick-me-up.

What eventually popped up was BioFUEL, tasty, caffeine-infused popcorn meant to give fatigued folks a jolt whenever they need it most.

"A regular bag of BioFUEL has as much caffeine in it as a strong cup of coffee," Fitch told AOL News. "It's sweet, salty and loaded with energy."

Here's how it works: Fitch said each bag of BioFUEL is loaded with a special, top-secret "proprietary blend" of all-natural ingredients, including caffeine derived directly from coffee beans. 
However, the popcorn itself tastes nothing like a cup of Joe, so therein lies the mystery.

"It took us a really long time to figure out how to get the caffeine into the popcorn without it tasting bitter. We tried over and over again, making tons of different batches in our kitchen until it finally tasted good. We worked really hard figuring out the formula, so we can't share all the secrets," Fitch teased. "But there are no preservatives in there at all, it's all-natural." 

For the whole article: 

The Facts Behind the Folklore

It warmed up considerably yesterday and today it is supposed to reach 0C, (certainly a far cry from the -20+ temperatures we have been seeing) - but have no fear, we are expecting temperatures back in the negative range by Saturday!

There are many weather proverbs, often as rhyming couplets and colorful statements linking a natural event with a meteorological condition. They of course originated centuries ago when people watched the skies, oceans, plants, and animals for clues of what to expect weatherwise. Interestingly, scientists now finally admit that many of these proverbs are true.

Proverb: If there is thunder in winter, it will snow 7 days later

This is Thunder, he's a winter-white dwarf hamster
This is actually true 70 percent of the time, especially from the east coast to the plains. Thunder in winter is an anomaly often caused by a big dip and a big rise in the jet stream. As cold air moves south, it replaces warm air and lifts it up, often causing thunderstorms. The cold air behind the front settles in. Depending on the strength of the front, it may hang around for many days. When the next weather system arrives several - if not exactly 7 - days later, temperatures may still be cold enough to cause the moisture in the system to fall as snow.

Proverb: Wind in the east, good for neither man nor beast

During summer and winter in mid-latitude regions, the prevailing wind blows from the west. When the wind comes from the east, a low-pressure system accompanied by precipitation usually follows. The belief behind the proverb dates from ancient Romans who would not conduct official business when the wind blew from the east. They thought it made people more irritable and unsettled.

Proverb: A ring around the Moon means rain will come real soon.

A ring, or halo, around the Moon is caused when the light of the Moon refracts through ice crystals present in high-level clouds. Although these clouds do not produce precipitation, they often occur in advance of an approaching low-pressure system, which often brings precipitation in the form of rain or snow.
Proverb: A year of snow, crops will grow.

This one is pretty obvious, but I appreciate it's positive spin!
A several-inch layer of snow contains more air than ice. Trapped between the interlocking snowflakes, the air serves to insulate the plants beneath. When the snow melts, the water helps to keep the ground moist.

Very Interesting

Gordon Restoule has lived on the Dokis First Nation Reservation near Sudbury, Ontario for 73 years. His father and grandfather taught him to watch the animals and the skies and use his observations to predict the weather. For most of his life, his interpretations have been nearly 90 percent accurate.

He now claims that climate change is interfering with nature and the traditional habits of some animals. As a result, some proverbs have become unreliable. For example, years ago, if owls were heard in a swamp at night, he was reasonably confident that rain was coming. "A screeching owl indicates cold or storm" Now, he hears them so frequently that he claims they don't signify anything. In the article he further relates other once-reliable signs which can no longer be depended on. At one time deer would head for cover among low-branched trees, such as hemlocks and pines during a cold spell or in advance of a storm. Now, deer gather under hardwood trees with higher canopies, such as oak, which do not provide as much protection. He attributes this change to warmer winters.