Friday, September 30, 2016

If You Love Oktoberfest You'll Love These Incredible Images

He was an uncomplicated man. He knew little of life but struggle and hard work. His days began before dawn and ended as dusk crept through the sky.

Each morning he set out to the fields and animals he loved, speaking little, expressing less.  He spoke little bowing to the formidable personality of his stalwart wife. He was a man of the land, leaving the day-to-day aspects of life in her cracked, dry, capable hands.

She was unquestionably the strength, a woman toughened by the realities of raising a family through the Great Depression. She loved her kids like a tigress, yet sentimentality was a foreign condition.

These were my paternal grandparents. Solid, honest people who kept emotions at a premium, they thought less about happiness than they did about labour and its rewards. She was the dominant force in this partnership, the one who faced adversity without emotion, who rose each day putting one step ahead of the other. My first memories are of her sitting playing hymns at the big pump organ in the parlour, of hands working through rich garden earth,  or of her standing for hours in the kitchen. For her there were no other places.  There was no television. The only book she read was the Bible. And relaxing was an incomprehensible concept.

When I think of her husband, my dad’s father, I think of a man who showed little by way of affection, yet who was never impatient or unkind. He would sit in the chair at the kitchen door, gnarled hands planted firmly in his lap as he waited for the evening meal to be served. He rarely smiled, but never growled. Though he seldom acknowledged us in a tender way, his tolerance, whether my cousins and I ran screaming around him, or chatted incessantly behind him as he walked to the barn, was admirable. He allowed us to follow noisily behind and we were thrilled to tread in his footsteps.

This pair were both grandchildren of German immigrants. And it was that which indirectly provided the most cherished memory I have of my grandpa. Both of my grandparents were fluent in the mother tongue of their forefathers.  Conversations between the two often were a combination of their two languages.

I have no recollection of how it happened, but at some point I expressed an interest in learning the foreign words they exchanged between themselves and their children. I was quite small but remember sitting on his lap as he counted, recited poems he had learned as a schoolboy, and taught me the most important words in any language. Ich liebe dich might not sound as elegant as Je t’aime or even I love you, but it was lovely to me.

Those times with him raised an interest and pride in my heritage. Some casual research in recent years has disclosed that my maiden name is Bavarian — the land of lederhosen and dirndls, food and drink, folk music and gemutlichkeit. That I have married a man of German descent as well,  has tightened the connection to our past. We plan a trip following retirement to the our ancestors' place of of birth to see what we can learn.

Were we there now we would be in the midst of the annual Oktoberfest — a celebration of heritage and culture, an expression of the Bavarian informal love of life. However, staying close to home soon brings the same, as a neighbouring city  to us hosts the largest North American Oktoberfest in the days following our Canadian Thanksgiving.

As a girl with pride in her German ancestory, it's only fitting then that I honour these occasions with some wonderful clipart collections: Oktoberfest Illustrations Oktoberfest Illustrations

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Love These 180 Amazing Images for America's Upcoming Election

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." — Groucho Marx

In 21 years as a small-town journalist, steering clear of politics wasn't an option.  I watched politicians from local to national governments discover problems and as the inimitable Mr. Marx pointed out, never actually fixing them.

Municipal elections brought up issues close to the heart which filled commentary and editorial space. Giving each candidate the opportunity to have their say involved connecting to them and providing a platform for their agendas.

When provincial and federal elections arose, it was more of the same. There were debates to cover and forays into the big leagues as national and provincial leaders stumped their way into our area to glad-hand and support the local candidates.

Through it all the job of our editorial staff was to be the eyes and ears of voters in our modest, rural community. We reported on the impacts of government decisions, we provided a forum for and offered opinion.

The newspaper publisher was staunch in his conviction that his little newspaper had integrity and politics would be approached with an unjaundiced, unbiased eye. State the facts, but keep your left or right leanings out of the equation was the understanding.  Which could be exhausting. I had convictions, knew who I believed in. Too boot, I soon wearied of the rhetoric, grew jaded by the broken promises.

Thus, when I changed careers close to seven years ago and began filling space in this blog,  it was with the intention to steer clear of politics as a topic. Having too often seen the hypocrisy, heard the lies, been a victim of the ineffectiveness and experienced disappointment over and over again, I was ready for something a little more positive.  Given that the world in which I work now is all about the visual and what it can do to enhance or improve virtually any project,  I didn't suspect I'd be having any problem holding myself to my promise.

However, it's getting pretty difficult to ignore what's happening south of the border in the United States at the moment. And having watched the first presidential debate last night, there's no question that the eyes of the world are interested in what's happening now and in the outcome. The opportunity to elect the first female as leader of that powerful nation has historical significance. That the politically savvy Democratic nominee is Hilary Clinton, while the Republicans have chosen a somewhat controversial figure in brash, billionaire businessman Donald Trump has seriously upped the entertainment value.

Since balance in my viewpoint is no longer a requirement of my job I fear that to linger too long on this subject might reveal what I really think of the candidates. Yet. given what Nov. 8's decision will mean for the rest of the world, it's the hot topic for today with far-reaching repercussions long into the future. That is difficult to ignore.

Weary of cynicism and controversy, though, no longer willing to open myself up to commentary that will never sway my opinion any way,  I offer instead to bring attention to this major event with a view on images. In this collection, there is no bias, just simply some terrific illustrations with a focus on both sides of the United States presidential election. United States Election Illustrations