Friday, August 30, 2013

How Will You Spend Labour Day Weekend?

So today is the last workday before the final long weekend of 'unofficial' summer.  With Tuesday's arrival,  school will be back in business and while there's still plenty of good weather and outdoor enjoyment ahead of us, there will be a return to routine.

Until then, however, we can kick up our heels for this Labour Day weekend and enjoy an extra day from our labours to have some fun and relaxation. What that translates to is different for everyone. Some party like fools,  others relax by pools.  For some its fun and games,  for others just more of the same.

At our house it's going to be a combination of it all. It kicks off with a car show and dinner with friends Friday night. The next day is dinner with family,  babysitting Little Missy while my daughter and her husband get a break. Sunday is golf and a beanbag toss in cottage country. Monday, after returning our granddaughter to her parents, my husband and I will finally find some time to relax and ponder what the heck just happened to our long weekend.

However, you plan to spend it, make the most of it.  And if you're not sure what to do with the extra free time, maybe you can find some inspiration in these collections of illustrations: Vacation Illustrations Vacation Illustrations

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tips on How to Photograph the Stars

One of our favourite places to spend a summer night is by a campfire. From social gatherings at our vacation spot to quiet evenings in the backyard, we have idled away many a dark hour.   It is part of the fabric that is our family.

The appeal of the campfire is like a kitchen table, it draws people together to converse and relax.

Yet the blaze isn't the only star attraction.  Where we live, away from the glare of any urban centre, there is nothing so perfect as a starlit sky.  Between conversations and staring at the fire, it is common to find one's self gazing quite literally off into space, into what seems like heaven and beyond.

Several years ago,  our daughter and her new boyfriend came home from Toronto for a visit.  My husband and I were away when they arrived, and when we returned they were comfortably seated, of course,  by a campfire.  Joining the party, I was nonplussed to see that the young man was not remotely interested in the show at the centre of our gathering,  but with head bent back was looking to the stars for his entertainment.

When I mentioned to him, that the stars were particularly bright that night his response, to my amazement, was that he had never seen anything like it before.  A born-and-raised cosmopolitan, with no need to travel outside the urban area for anything,  he explained that the city lights dim the potential for such wonder.  A glimpse of one or two on a clear night perhaps, but a spectacle such as this he had only seen in pictures.

That took my head in a different direction as I began to puzzle out if you could possibly capture with camera a night sky that would do the real thing justice.  For those wondering the same, I have scoped out these informative sites offering some suggestions:

National Geographic Photographing the Night Sky

Digital Photography School How to Photograph the Stars

Nikon Photographing the Night Sky Photograph the Night Sky

PetaPixel How to Photograph the Night Sky

Dave Morrow Photography Shooting a Night Sky

Pop Photo Shoot Epic Landscapes of the Night Sky

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Celebration of Labourers and Labour Day

In the United States and Canada, we're coming up to Labour Day. This long weekend, rooted in the labour union movement, celebrates workers and the jobs they do. It also unofficially marks the end of summer as many children and teachers will be heading back to class the following day.

The origins of Labour day in Canada, trace back to December 1872 and are strongly tied to the labour union movement. According to UFCW Canada's website nearly 30% of Canadian workers belong to unions. While this includes people of many professions, including, nurses, musicians and journalists, for this particular holiday none comes to mind more for me than those in skilled trades and factories.

Probably because my husband, a sheet-metal worker, is among them.

Now, I'm not going to get too political here and debate the pros and cons of unions, though just for the record I'd say plenty of the former, not so much of the latter.  But I will say what history and experience have shown me — we can all, union member or not, thank the unions for the rise of the middle class, for decent pay and a reasonable work week.  And granted the unions aren't perfect, but having lived the life, I'm proud to say my husband belongs to one and recognize what the fight achieved for us.

As for those people eager to see the dismantling of the unions, I shake my head in perplexity.  I suggest they take a look at the world the way it was before unions,  at our current crop of dishonourable politicians and cut-throat corporate honchos and think again.  No matter what side you're on you have to know by now it's never a good thing to let the pendulum swing too far the other way.

So this weekend, while I'm stretching out on the deck, relaxing with a drink and a book, enjoying the fact that I've got an extra day to spend at home and with family, I will also take a minute to think of how good I have it and why.

And to celebrate the labourers for Labour Day, I give you these collections of illustrations: Illustrations of Labourers Labourers

ClickArt Online Illustrations of Labourers

ClipartGuide Illustratins of Labourers

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Clipart for the Heads of the Classrooms

Many children, teens and young adults return to school this Tuesday. Yet, while the vestiges of summer vacation linger for students, the reality of back to work is already here for most teachers.  At least for the ones who care.

Whether it's a mindset, an obsession, a commitment or a need to know what's ahead,  a lot of teachers jump in early in the school year.  Of course there are a handful less dedicated, but the majority know their best effort ensures a better education for the young people they're teaching. 

My oldest two are educators, and preparations for another school year began days ago for the one with the Grade 7/8s, and later this week for the one returning to help shape the young minds of Kindergarten tots.  They will shop for classroom needs, a long list that would, to utilize an old idiom,  choke a horse. They will be at the school to organize and set up,  to plan and schedule, to familarize and prepare.

In short, they are among the many teachers who care about what they do and how they do it. They care about the young people entrusted to them and while they may not always be successful in reaching every child that comes their way, they know they have done all they can.

Here are some clipart collections to say thanks to those at the head of the classroom: Illustrations of Teachers Teacher Clipart

ClickArt Online Teacher Illustrations

TOONClipart Teacher Cartoons

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beautiful Photos for Cat Lovers

I'm not a cat person. I've never been a cat person. But I appreciate the friendship one can have with any type of pet and  have even developed a certain fondness for a few 'grandcats. 

Three of our kids have cats and despite one's best efforts it's  easy to be charmed by the antics that highlight their unique personalities.  There is  Duff the dignified,  Stirfry the scamp and Gibson the gorgeous.

Today, our daughter is having to say goodbye to her beloved Gibson — a  fluffy black fellow with plenty of charm and character.  As all pets are, he has been a friend and ally for our girl, a comfort and solace, entertainment and company.  He bounced in the passenger seat beside her over some of life's bumpy patches and shared the fun when the road was smooth. 

I know how much she is going to miss him, but a life plagued with health woes has finally won and the decision to keep him with her much longer would be a selfish one.

So in honour of Gibson, in recognition of all the people who will understand, who appreciate the independence, grace and style of our feline friends, here are some photos celebrating the enigmatic cat: Cat Photos Cats


BuzzFeed Perfectly Timed Cat Photos