Friday, August 26, 2016
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:
Thursday, August 25, 2016
"To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." — Clara Ortega.
I love Throwback Thursday. I love looking at images of my friends' pasts and recalling my own. Thus, with a few minutes to myself last night, and since I hadn't posted an oldie on Facebook for some time, I took a little photographic walk down memory lane for something appropriate.
After sifting through a few albums I happened upon a picture of my two oldest with two of their cousins taken in late summer, 1977. These four had always been close, since only 3 1/2 years separated the oldest from the youngest. This moment caught them snuggled together on a big comfy chair watching Saturday morning cartoons while their parents sipped a quiet coffee. It reflects perfectly the affection and special bond they shared.
Time, distance and circumstance have changed the relationship over the years, yet hints of the bond are ever present. Though they don't see each other often, when they do there are many moments when you see a twinkle in an eye or hear a good-natured rib that speaks to the love and familiarity they share.
There is the same hint of mischief and spark of joy that is evident when my own four children meet up. Each assumes the role they always had in the family — the responsible leader, the devoted sub-matriarch, the loving, patient peacemaker, the impish comic — and the fun of having grown up together is obvious.
Watching my children I'm always reminded about my childhood and my relationship with my siblings. It was quite different than what my kids enjoyed since my sister and brother were 10 and eight years older than I. There was a camaraderie between the eldest two that was absent for me; my sister being more like a second mother, my brother a bit of a rapscallion when it came to our interactions. As we grew older, of course, the distance between us all closed. We share our past and our present; we have fun discussing both.
Yet as it is with my own brood, when we gather together the roles are still defined and I accept that I will always be the baby of the family.
Discovering the old photo last night, my mind strayed to my cousins. My first BFF was a cousin who, like me, was the baby. In this case by 11 years. I also had two others close to my age on my father's side, also with a much-older sister. Since my mom's sister married my dad's cousin, there were times when everyone from both sides got together. When this happened, we youngsters eagerly reminded the adults how much energy there is in little ones.
When I visited any of my cousins, the 'townie' in me went full-blown country. We roamed fields and raced through orchards. We fished in streams and climbed trees. We jumped in haymows and ate straight from the garden. In turn, on their visits to me, they delighted in seeing the Saturday matinee at the local cinema, going skating or swimming, visiting the Chainway and playing games of chase with neighbourhood kids until dusk settled around us.
With all of these memories floating around my mind, the decision on what to scope out for images today was easy. Whether cousins, siblings or friends, the people in these adorable illustrations exemplify the bond of love and affection that comes with any of the aforementioned:
iCLIPART.com Siblings and Cousins Illustrations
Clipart.com Siblings and Cousins Clipart
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
This morning was a different story, however, as an even earlier start was required. A routine hospital exam in a nearby town was set for a time that would ensure I got back to work with minimal time lost.
It was an appointment I would happily have avoided; I actually did once forgetting a previous one. However, when it comes to health I like to be proactive. I visit the doctor for a checkup as recommended and have all of the requisite tests as prescribed and advised.
Arriving in plenty of time this morning, there was barely time to sit and absorb the atmosphere of a hospital as it came to life. Where once entrance for radiology was straight through the emergency room, this has now been separated. Ambulances with critically ill or injured patients pull up at the far side, away from the rest of the traffic coming in for more minor concerns.
As I passed by the spacious waiting room I noticed just one person biding her time, a very different situation than any time I've been there.
Making my way to the cheerfully, bright radiology department, I paused at reception to hand over my shiny new Ontario photo health card, entitling me to these services at no cost, and was immediately sent down to the change rooms. Twenty minutes later the deed was done and I was back in my car heading off to work.
Given how hospital experiences can be, this one measured up pretty well. With the exception of the discomfort that typically ensues with any examination, it was oddly almost restful. The volunteer helping prepare me for the procedure was a lovely, chatty octogenarian, who eased any nerves. The technician was disarmingly young, but she handled the job with no-nonsense efficiency.
The areas I was in were deceptively hushed. It made one forget that in wards and wings throughout the building, there was bustling, immediacy and urgency. Life and death were happening, and everyone from housekeeping to surgery had a part to play.
I've been fortunate enough to not have spent a great deal of time in a hospital. Six days after the birth of each of my four kids has pretty much been it for me personally. In those days, doctors made sure they stopped by every day and nurses had time for plenty of TLC, including evening back rubs. They were so attentive with after care that we moms often joked we'd get more rest at home.
My most recent hospital experiences were as a visitor at the bedside of my elderly parents. This was when I really saw how different healthcare is. This was now a place where finding answers was a challenge. Nurses though accommodating weren't ever present. My siblings and I often had to go in search of them for assistance.
None of this is their fault, of course. As is typically the case government can be blamed. The healthcare professionals are worthy of our respect and often our gratitude.
Here to recognize that is a wonderful collection of images from iPHOTOS.com
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
The American comic doesn't say whether he ever combines his two passions. If he does however, it's a terrific, but tricky hobby that presents some unique challenges. Sun sparkling off shiny bodies can turn a much-admired colour into something unrecognizable. Also, given that those same gleaming beauties reflect everything nearby, it's quite easy to find yourself or some other unwanted subject in the shot.
And if it's action you're looking for in your photographs, cars will bring it on. Then it's up to the photographer to do the sport justice.
While unlike Mr. CK my materialism doesn't run to photography equipment, I do believe at the least that a good camera is a worthy indulgence. An amateur shutterbug, I enjoy taking pictures of the beautiful world surrounding me, and of the cherished faces of my family. Annual trips with my daughter and her little ones provide me with a plethora of opportunities, — shiny, happy faces that light my life, and gorgeous landscapes that soothe my soul.
These are the pictures I work to perfect.
There is, however, another subject that has been the target of my lens in the summers of the past several years. She's glorious, fun to be around and gets a lot of attention.
Way back in 1979, my husband was looking to purchase an older Mopar, something reminiscent of the ones his big brothers owned while he was a young teen waiting to get his licence. When he learned about a white 1967 Dodge Coronet RT, located only an hour away from our home, he decided to go check it out.
Excited by what he saw, he bought it that day and agreed to pick it up in the coming weeks. Fate dealt us a fair hand on this one since the day after he brought 'Artie' home, a tornado blew in and flattened the entire area where this car had been sitting. It reinforced the notion that this was going to be a special car for us.
Having decided that the white really didn't do justice to the personality of our beauty, we handed the car over to my father's body shop where a snappy red was applied. For a few years after that we enjoyed summer cruises, until my husband decided he'd like to make this a project. This time she was stripped bare and painstakingly restored as close to original as possible. Then ten long years later Artie was finally back on the road.
Every spring now I wait impatiently to bring her home from storage and get her ready for a season ahead. For a few months she takes us to cruise nights and attends car shows. Weather permitting, of course. In becoming a classic treasure she now commands respect and a lot of pampering.
For the few months she's with us every year, I try to take some new pictures, ones that capture that do justice to the work that was done on her, particularly the paint job. My husband spent a great deal of time ensuring that the shade of red was as close to factory as possible. Pretty pleased with the results, you can literally feel the grimace when it comes out wrong in a photo.
After noticing the difference in a series of pictures that I took this past weekend, I decided it was time to refresh my memory on how to get more consistent results. The following also provide other valuable tips on how to improve you car photography:
10 Tips for Perfect Car Photos
Digital Photography School's Tips for Better Photos
How to Take Photographs of Cars
Take Great iPhone Photos of Cars
10 Creative Car Photography Tips
How to Shoot Cars
10 Tips for Your First Outdoor Car Shoot
Monday, August 22, 2016
Which can often require a good deal of focus, especially when coming off a weekend high.
My Saturday and Sunday were perfect, spent at an annual event we never miss. A huge car show dedicated to all things Mopar, it's the highlight of the summer for my husband. After taking 10 years of his spare time to lovingly restore a 1967 Dodge Coronet RT, it's great for him to take it to the show and compare notes with those of like mind.
And as a sun worshipper, a fan of the awesome late '60s Mopar muscle cars, and a music lover who still thinks the best tunes came from that decade as well, I have no complaints spending two days there either. Checking out the vibrantly-coloured cars with enticing names like Road Runner, Swinger or Barracuda, while walking under a blazing sun and listening to tunes that make me feel like a 16-year-old again, albeit one with grandkids, is my idea of a good time.
The 2016 event lived up to expectations, another investment in the memory bank to be cherished for a long time. Family and friends stopped by to hang out in the shelter tent parked behind the beloved 'Artie'. We caught up with other classic Mopar owners we've come to know and met some new ones. Despite the promise of rain, the weather cooperated until the last few minutes of the final day. An added bonus was that I even found some time to relax and read a book.
Which really is unusually rare. There's typically nothing relaxing about this event. Spread out over two ball diamonds and a large fairground, it involves a lot of walking. When the grandchildren arrived, we were on the move for every minute, travelling from the playground to the facepainting booth, picking up homemade ice-cream and kettle corn.
Packing, unpacking, polishing are all part and parcel of the setting up, taking down and returning home. Not big deals but more than we want at the end. Sunday night we pulled into the driveway rather weary and kind of blue, sorry it was over and knowing there was work to be done. Thank goodness, our terrific neighbour took pity and invited us to join them for supper. We did take some convincing, but I'm a little abashed to say perhaps not as much as it should have.
After a great meal it wasn't long before conversation turned to the next day and the return to work. How swiftly yet another weekend had flown by, we agreed. How soon the morning would arrive. We joked about excuses to be absent on Monday, knowing we'd never use any of them, but sure wishing we could.
As the alarm clock jolted me out of a divine sleep this dawn, I struggled to shake off the residual effects of a weekend well spent and motivate myself for the job ahead. It was time to get down to business for sure.
I can feel the glow of the previous two days start to fade as I settle down in front of the computer. As I turn to the hundreds of emails that accumulated in the down time, I can feel the focus shift. Images of sleek cars, family and friends, move to the background as I ponder what images I might share here. Since it's time to get down to business, I've opted for these incredible collections of business clipart.
iCLIPART.com Business Illustrations
Clipart.com Business Illustrations