Friday, September 23, 2016

3 Delightfully Charming Collections of Autumn Clipart

"The older you get, the faster it goes."

This well-worn phrase speaks to time's swift passage. To coin another adage, if I had a nickel for every time I'd heard it  I would indeed be a millionaire. My mother, who spent 95 years on this earth,  used some of her precious time here to share this gem with increasing frequency as she aged. I once responded to her that if that was indeed the case I might soon just stay in bed since the minutes between day and night had shrunk enough already.

You definitely don't have to be elderly to notice that time appears to be slipping past with breakneck speed these days. I was shocked to hear my young grandson remark on this very thing at the age of 13 and my kids have commented too at various points in life.

Which I admit has been unsettling. Never in my youth did I think of days and weeks slipping by quickly.  Hours seem to drift by languorously, like a raft on a gentle river, going nowhere fast.

There was a minute sense of that vibe in the first part of this past summer as an early arrival gave us extra enjoyment of long sunny days steeped in humidity and blazing sun. But something happened with August's start and in the blink of an eye we'd come to September. Then we blazed through those weeks too until October now sits squarely in our sights.

And while we might think summer moved on far too fast for our liking, there is so much to celebrate in this first full month of autumn.  The nearby city of Kitchener pays tribute to its  heritage with Canada's largest Bavarian festival. Oktoberfest is an event replete with traditional German fare and fun. Think lederhosen,  polkas, beers and brats.

Pumpkins come to mind when we recall  two other upcoming occasions. In just a few weeks Canadians will give thanks for the season's bounty and for the many blessings that exemplify life in the 'True North Strong and Free'. Like its American counterpart, Thanksgiving here is a time for reflection and family.  Outdoor decorations depict the season's colour and harvest with vibrant mums, straw bales and cornstalks setting the stage for guests of honour — the aforementioned pumpkins. Dinner tables are laden with favourite foods. At the heart of it all is squeezing out one of life's moments to ponder good fortune rather than bad.

Given time's hasty pace, we know that in a blink October 2016 will also be history. But not before we enjoy one of its most  entertaining celebrations — Halloween. Tiny little ghouls and witches, princesses and fairies, storm troopers and ninjas crunch their way through fallen leaves and onto porches festooned with candlelit jack-o-lanterns, plastic spiders in wispy batting and hanging skeletons enroute to delightful treats.

Summer has passed, as quickly as ever. But as we look ahead to summer we can think about the many gifts of autumn. There is changing foliage, the last burst of energy before flora and fauna sleep. October brings us reasons to party before we tuck in for winter too.

And as I ponder all of this, I decided to share some of my favourite autumn clipart collections from iCLIPART.com

A Country Collection of Autumn Images from iCLIPART.com

iCLIPART.com An Autumn Collection

iCLIPART.com Autumn Image Collection

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Celebrating Agriculture With These Wonderful Photos

We have reached summer's end. Above us verdant leaves begin to take on their autumn aesthetic with crisp golds, rich russets, velvety crimsons and vibrant yellows replacing lively green.

Though temperatures are still pleasantly warm throughout the day, a subtle nip has worked its way into my morning bike ride, inspiring the donning of a thick hoodie for the commute. The fading sun sinks below the horizon at an ever increasing pace, a reminder of how soon the majority of our day will be spent in darkness.


Living as I do in a rural community, I have a front-row seat to the activity taking place in fields and gardens right now. Pops of orange dot pumpkin patches; heavy machinery with laden wagons travel the roads. It's the culmination of a growing season for farmers and signs are evident all around.

Various events highlight this, celebrating agriculture and its contributions. A neighbouring community annually hosts a homey, but huge, homage to country living of yesteryear with its Thresher Reunion and Steam Show on the weekend following Labour Day. Thousands come out to see the big machines that once toured the communities with crews to get the work done. There is a gigantic craft sale, and an antique car and tractor show. Demonstrations range from the archaic — belt-setting — to the entertaining — bag tying and log sawing.

Then there are the plowing matches, both local and international, held before the end of the month. From the Queen of the Furrow contest to competitions on the field, from displays to entertainment these events are much-anticipated happenings, attended not just by country folk but urbanites too.

Of course, no September would be complete without our fall fairs. Though changing lifestyles have seen many of these struggle to survive, in the true spirit of coming together that is synonymous with a rural community, they always manage to wrap up with their sights aimed fiercely on the next year.

Tomorrow is the annual fair in my town. When I first moved here 40 years ago, this was the biggest thing to happen in the area, excluding Santa Claus's annual visit of course. It was a big deal, and everyone participated. Children marched from the school to the fairgrounds, having practised diligently for days prior. There were contests galore, a huge midway, games and animal shows. Exhibits filled the charming old building which for decades served as the venue until the powers that be determined in the late 1970s the new arena would be a far better place.

And that seemed to begin a change. Sadly. Participation and attendance numbers started to shrink and the decline has been slow but steady ever since.

What has never changed, however, is that for the many faithful who support it every year with entries of flowers, pies and handiwork, or simply with their presence,  this is the epitome of the agricultural social life. All of the aforementioned events gather together people who understand a way of life, who enjoy visits with their neighbours and new friends, who appreciate and understand the work ethic and the bounty that comes as a result of that.

As we move towards the final week of September we look ahead to the greatest celebration of harvest — Thanksgiving, recognized on the second Monday in October.  This is the time to give thanks for the bounty we enjoy here and count our many blessings.

With all of this in mind, today's photo collection then will pay tribute to agriculture and the people who bring us our daily bread:

iPHOTOS.com Agriculture Photos

Thursday, September 1, 2016

4 Stunning Image Collections of Amazing Inspiration

In social media's trending world there are hashtags for every day of the week. Probably the most popular for today, Thursday, inspires people to post a "Throwback" photo — an opportunity to roll back time's film and share some charming, or not so charming pictures of anything as long as they were taken before today.

Then we have #ThirstyThursday, the prelude to Friday night's traditional weekend 'wine-down'. Popular with college students fortunate enough to not have early morning Friday classes,  it provides an excuse to get the party started.  As if life on campus required justification for alcohol consumption and socializing.

Of course, there is also #Thursdate, an Instagram favourite, which I suspect needs no explanation. Can't say I've ever been a participant here. Date night at our house is Friday and I'm fairly certain pictures of my guy and I sipping beer and wine, scarfing pizza and watching a movie while munching popcorn wouldn't be images anyone was interested in seeing anyway.

All harmless, all fun in their way. For today though my focus is on #ThursdayThoughts, an opportunity to spread some wisdom. The notion of sharing inspiration is so popular it actually has its place every day in social media with messages for #MondayMotivation, #TransformationTuesday, #WisdomWednesday, etc. coming our way courtesy of posts on a variety of websites.

We all have thoughts. Impossible not to. I spend a lot of time thinking to be honest. Not necessarily about anything particularly worthy or brilliant. Just thinking.

Introspective by nature, my mind frequently fills with thoughts as I look inward to my emotions, views and feelings.  My ruminations, too, extend to outside influences and ideals — the actions and reactions of others — and how they affect those around them. While my views on controversial subjects might lead to an instinctive, decisive response initially, once given time to ponder shades of grey will overtake the sides of black or white.

Words of motivation or wisdom do tend to inspire me, therefore. At least until they're lost in the morass of nonsense that pours itself down upon us with regularity.  Then I must dig down and try to bring them back. There are phrases that fill my mind during times of contemplation or meditation. For example, paraphrasing Buddha: What I think, I become.

When my children have needed bucking up for one reason or another, I've often fallen back on the old adages  (All good things must come to an end.", "Absence makes the heart grow fonder.".. ) . When these were met with eye rolls I was swift to point out while these sayings might be banal and trite they exist for a reason.  That they lack freshness is a result of the fact that their truth has been proven over centuries.

It seems that everywhere we turn these days people are looking for spiritual, emotional and mental guidance.  Self-help books promise to bring us to the best me we can be. Motivational speakers strive to  point us in the right direction, to focus our energies and minds towards our goals. Inspirational quotes posted throughout social media might just reinforce wisdom often lost amidst life's turmoil.

I know I appreciate the reminders that come my way when I see examples of the latter posted on Facebook et al.  The thoughts they share should be quite obvious. Yet,  a gentle prod to push them out of the chasm of where common sense is hiding is occasionally necessary.

Needless to say I was quite excited to discover some thoughtful words of wisdom in various image collections at iCLIPART.com and iPHOTOS.com.  Check them out and find your inspiration for every day of the week:

iCLIPART.com Clipart with Inspiring Quotes

iPHOTOS.com Inspirational Quotes

iPHOTOS.com Inspiring Quotes

iPHOTOS.com Inspiring Quotes on Nature Photos



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2 Colossal Clipart Collections of Workers for Labour Day

Hump Day has arrived. We're mid-way through the week and on the home stretch towards the weekend. What's even better this time is that there's an extra day off for us. Labour Day arrives on Monday. It means the final long weekend of summer and the last day before kids here return back to school for another year.

This holiday has always been rather bittersweet. It's nice to have an extra day to relax, socialize or catch up on household tasks and projects. Yet, though there are still a few weeks remaining before summer's official demise, it already feels like the end.

Rather than the heavy warmth of July's intense temperatures and humidity, now in the early morning it's a damp cool that lays across the skin. Sitting on the deck for some quiet moments last Sunday, my husband and I remarked on the absence of birdsong.

Or for that matter birds. Where just a month ago they were flitting to and fro or serenading us from treetops, now there was nothing. No cheery trill to brighten the silence, no stopping by in search of seed, bug or worm. Though it will be some time before they really leave, it always feels as if they're preparing us in stages for their long goodbye.

While I enjoy quiet evening twilights these days I'm often reminded about summers at our trailer. For several years when our kids were young we spent golden months there.  They were carefree times — lazy mornings, afternoons at the beach, long walks at sunsets, parties and campfires at nights. Our brood of four had a tight little circle of friends and they each had the others' backs. As such they were able to enjoy a freedom beyond the norm even for those days.

The Labour Days of then were melancholy times as the children said their goodbyes to each other and to the wonderful life they'd been living. Their parents were equally blue as we contemplated the return to reality. As such the decision on when to close up was always a dilemma. Opting for Labour Day weekend was painful, so we would all decide to leave it and find some opportunity before Thanksgiving. Many a cabana was taken down with snow swirling, many a window boarded while standing in freezing temperatures and chilly puddles.  May a promise was made, and ultimately broken, that we wouldn't do this again the next year.

Once our kids got summer jobs, my husband and I decided the time had come to sell the trailer. Its loss hasn't changed my feelings about the Labour Day weekend, however.  If anything I rue the farewell to summer even more.

With the camaraderie of a group setting no longer surrounding me that day, though, I have come to think a bit more about the actual point of the celebration. While the attention of its placement before the start of a new school year has given it the honour of being the last long weekend of summer, there is a far greater significance to Labour Day.

Traditionally the day's focus is on a long ago fight for workers rights. Trade unions organized parades and picnics to raise awareness and support. The first notable Canadian demonstration was held in April of 1872 by the Toronto Trades Assembly. At the heart was the fight to have 24 imprisoned leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union. Since these organizations were considered illegal at that time, their arrest came about as a result of a strike.  Members were crusading for a nine-hour work day.

Public support was high. The next year government repealed the laws against trade unions.

Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September in both Canada and the United States. Similar celebrations honouring workers are held throughout the world at different times.

As the wife of a union worker, I'm proud of the history which is the foundation of his employment. It's great then to celebrate their accomplishments in improving the life of workers everywhere. So, in honour of the folks who brought us not just Labour Day, but the weekend, here are some clipart collections of people on the job:

iCLIPART.com Workers Illustrations

Clipart.com Worker Illustrations

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

4 Helpful Resources for Delightful Back-to-School Photo Ideas

It's a day that millions will record for posterity. It's a milestone to look back on, bittersweet in the emotions it stirs. When we do return to these moments, there are smiles for the way they were, heart tugs for how quickly the years have passed. We will grin at the strange fashion choices, the ever-changing hairstyles. We will yearn just a little for the little boy or little girl we see here.

Unquestionably, those first-day-of-school pictures are a series of images that evoke the passage of time as much as any birthday ever could.

A week from today, students in our area will be heading back to school. There will be bustling to get back in the rhythm of a routine that was dismissed with the final ringing of the school bell in June. Early out of bed, new duds donned, there are struggles for bathroom dominance,  debates over breakfast choices,  hurried gulps around the tables.  Last-minute scurrying to cram lunches et al into backpacks precede the mad dash to buses.

And in the midst of all of that, Moms and Dads are trying to organize the precious back-to-school photo. Caught up in all the scampering, these often amount to little more imagination than shiny, smiling faces. Tots to teens are lined up against suitable backdrops for a quick photo before they tear out the door.

I remember the days. In retrospect, I suppose the photographs I took aren't all that mundane. They were made more interesting by our younger girl's precocious posing, by the incredibly awful fashion choices of the 80s and by the youngest's colourful hair in the 90s. For my part I did strive for some creativity, seeking different places to pose them, adding the odd prop or two.

Generally, though, it was more about catching the moment, preserving the event  and having a tangible recollection. Looking back at them is always a welcome break in modern routine. Despite the lack of artistic interpretation, these images are a cherished part of my photo collection.

They're a visual growth and development chart. For example we can see when baby brother started to pass all of his siblings in height.  We see his older sister transform from her awkward caterpillar summer to a beautiful butterfly by Grade 8. We know what year her big sister cut off her waist-length hair. We can even see that the solidness, the maturity and reliability of her older brother were always evident.

For these reasons there is no fault to be found in my efforts. They are adequate, enough. But when I look at some of the ideas people are putting forward now, I wish I'd thought of them then.

There is the beginning-of-the-year/end-of-the-year collages, for example. Or the chart of favourites, so that looking back in time will reveal not just the changing appearance but the changing trends and attitude.  Just reflecting on what I can remember of the passing fancies within my brood over the years makes me think the latter would have been an entertaining memento.

Since my little granddaughter is starting junior kindergarten next week, I thought I should send some of the examples I've seen along to my daughter. Foolish of me. As an ECE she's already got it covered and has created collages for the first and last days of JK. Besides the requisite picture, the former will include a photo of something our Little Missy loves, what she wants to be when she grows up, her age and her teacher. The latter includes summer plans, what she wants to be when she grows up and the name of her best friend.

In this day and age, finding terrific ideas on the internet for creating the back-to-school keepsake is a breeze. Here's a compilation of a few terrific lists I've discovered:

6 Fun Back-To-School Photo Ideas

25 Must-Take Back-To-School Pictures

iVillage's 10 Creative Photos Ideas for Back to School

9 Fun Ideas for Back-to-School Pics

Monday, August 29, 2016

In the Market for Outstanding Shopping Photos?

It was a great weekend.  Such a perfect mix of many things that mean so much. There was family and entertainment, surprises and shopping. Some of it was planned, some unexpected and at least in one circumstance, contrived.

Setting the right tone, came with a little inspiration, shortly after checking out of work on Friday. I was by then, a woman with a mission. It had been one of those weeks when the weekend really needed to begin and I was eager to start things off with pizza date night with my guy.

The only problem was that someone had forgotten to pick up the meal on his way home from work. Hearing this and determined to set the weekend off on a good note, my feminine wiles took over. Scheming, I formulated a plan for what I realized would  be an even better start.  Since it was a lovely night I decided it was a good time to roll out my favourite ride, our classic Coronet RT, go for a cruise and partake of dinner out.

It was obvious this was a really great idea. It only took a little persuasion to convince my guy to get back in a car again and rumble down the road in our 'Artie'.

The ride was great, the supper good and it offered a nice opportunity for us to catch up on the week that was and ponder what the weekend would be offering.

Returning home we decided to grab some wine and head out on the deck for a  quiet nightcap. As is the way of life in a  tight-knit, friendly community, however, plans changed. What was going to be an intimate end of day,  became instead an impromptu gathering of friends for some socializing under a summer evening sky. Fun conversation ended the day on a light-hearted noted, just the right set-up for a good night's sleep.

Another surprise visit brightened Sunday too. While we knew we were attending a special dedication for my parents at their church with my sister and her husband, followed by a country club brunch, we didn't know that they were going to detour back to our house for a while. It was a relaxing afternoon and by the time they left, it was too late for my husband to get in to any projects, so the much-needed down time continued. Summer songs drifted from the speakers as we enjoyed sunshine and easy conversation for a couple of hours before supper.

The highlight of the weekend, however, was sandwiched in the middle of this plethora of pleasure.  Saturday was a day replete with family and entertainment.  It culminated in my attendance at Stratford Festival's production of A Chorus Line, followed by a night on the town to hear our boy and his band.

The first part of the day, however, was a rare treat. A few days ago I had mentioned in a post how much I used to love back-to-school shopping adventures with my kids. I talked about my little granddaughter starting Junior Kindergarten after Labour Day, and how I wish I could be part of that experience. Shortly after, my daughter  messaged me asking if I'd like to go shopping Saturday with her and the babies. Her hope was to spark our Little Missy's enthusiasm.

My affirmative response was immediate, of course. We met bright and early for coffee and as much as I love shopping, I've never had this much fun doing it. Finding clothes and accessories that brought delight to her eyes quite simply made my morning. Given carte blanche amidst bracelets and bows, she gently, in silent wonder, perused and considered the selections before settling on her favourites. If something, like earrings for her non-pierced ears, wasn't appropriate, she accepted her mama's veto with grace.

Though her mother assured me that clothes weren't really a requirement, let it never be said someone went shopping with me and didn't indulge in fashion. After an hour in the store we departed with nifty new outfits, including shirts and sweaters bearing images of her beloved 'neigh-neighs'.

Youngsters and teens will be tagging along with Moms and Dads this week in our area to stock up for back-to-school next week. It's the wake up for retail, as consumers get off the beach and return to malls.  Images of happy shoppers will grace advertising and promotions. Here are some terrific photos perfect for business projects:

iPHOTOS.com Shopping Photos

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Spectacular Collection of Amazing Photos for Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day, an appropriate time for a retrospective journey through the years with the dogs who hold a special place in my heart.

First was an ill-tempered chihuahua-fox terrier cross who gave canines a bad name. Tiny joined our family when I was a youngster after my aunt and uncle gave this irascible fellow the boot.

With the exception of my mother, who taught him quite early she was boss, the rest of us followed the rules defined by our miniature meanie. From when he'd cuddle to where he would sleep were decided on his terms. Sadly, nights found him under my covers and, like it or not, he would let me know in no uncertain terms if my foot had disturbed his slumber.

One might question why we put up with him.  But, despite his surliness and the occasional nip that was more startling than sore, Tiny was oddly charming. He could be affectionate, bouncing on to laps to deliver some sudden kisses. He was extremely protective of his family keeping strangers off guard and quickly issuing warnings to those he found threatening.  He loved to sing along with my dad at the piano and play tag in the backyard with my friends and me.

Bottom line, he was a friend, albeit a temperamental one.

Next came Angie, a German shepherd-husky cross who was the antithesis of her predecessor. Gentle of nature, she barely barked and loved people. She sat close when we sat and loved our attentions, though never demanded them. Her protective nature was strong. She never strayed from the sides of my young children when they were playing outdoors and was respectful, but wary, of strangers.

Angie was perfect — loyal, gentle, obedient and gallant. Her loss was overwhelming.

Then Buffy, a border collie-cocker spaniel mix. She arrived a few years after Angie's sad and unexpected passing. Since tying dogs wasn't required then in our town, she was the grande dame of the neighbourhood wandering from house to house for treats and in one case a regular feed of pork chops.

Devoted to my husband she kept him close, making trips by foot and car if he was going along. Not quite as amenable to the proclivities of small children as Angie was she could be a tad impatient and a little snarky with them. Generally though, she tolerated the love and affection they bestowed upon her.

Despite the character flaws, however, when her heart failed her enroute to the neighbours for snacks, it was as sorrowful as one would expect.  Recovery took so long actually that it was a while before my husband and I agreed our house wasn't a home without a dog. Along came Ani, a pretty husky cross. And let me just say, people who want a dog with personality would have adored her.

This girl was mine from day one. If I moved, she moved with  me. Wound tighter than a cheap watch, she was a bundle of energy, who rarely stopped to relax. Squirrels and cats were the bane of her existence, taunting from just beyond the reach of her chain. She was a big fan of alcohol and needed to be watched closely when drinks were set down.

Ani was fearless and protective too. For many of the years we had her with us, my husband worked away from home.  Without question I never felt alone or unsettled. I knew she would have fought for me to the end if necessary. Saying goodbye to her when cancer struck was one of the hardest things I've done.

All of these faithful friends had the intuitive instinct that seems to be a trait common to dogs — the link to human emotion, sensing what we feel and what we need. Dogs are the most devoted animals, the most loyal and trusted of friends. They deserve their day. And here are some amazing photos to honour them:

iPHOTOS.com Dogs