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The olympic torch passed through Orillia today.  I pretty much had to kick D and P out of bed to get us to the place where we could see this moment in history, something they didn’t appreciate too much.  One day, though, they’ll be able to brag that that they saw the torch as it made its way on the longest torch run ever.

A lot of people braved winter to join us.

There was a bit of a lead up to the actual torch bearer running by.

There it is!


I’ve been putting my camera to good use lately, snapping wildly and often to everyone’s annoyance at family functions.  The pictures are personal and will make for good memories but they aren’t the sort of shots that get me excited.  What I really like to do is take artsy shots.  You know, those sort of pictures that are useless really but look ever so pretty.

I coaxed DA to come outside with me to try to find anything photo worthy.  It was tough.  We have snow here but it’s crept above the freezing mark and a lot of it has melted.  The world around me looks more weary than anything else.

We did manage to spot some beauty in the trees.

I like the randomness of branches.  No doubt many a modern art piece has been inspired by winter tree limbs.

This crazy shot, a super close up of frozen water droplets on the end of pine needles, is one of my favourites.  I think something like this would make a fabulous large size painting.  It’s funny to me how drab the world looks in its winter garb until you look at in photos.  Then you see all these beautiful yellows and mauves and greens and it’s subtly striking.

At first glance the trees looked rather plain but a closer inspection showed that they were sporting winter’s version of jewellery.  Aren’t those tiny “diamonds” quietly stunning?

There is no purpose to any of these photos.  I took them just because I like to focus in on beauty.  I marvel that it’s all around me and yet so easily missed if one doesn’t intentionally look for it.  Had anyone told me winter is actually quite a colourful season, I would have scoffed but looking at the few pictures I took today, I’m seeing the prettiest of hues and smiling at how unexpected that is.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have so many agreeable men in their lives.

This is DA’s grandpa.  He used to be a professional photographer so I had to show him my new baby.  He was wonderfully indifferent when I started snapping pics of him while he talked to his grandson.  If only everyone was that easy!

Here’s DA.  He normally cringes when he sees me pointing the camera his way but he didn’t fuss during our visit with Grandpa.  For once, I got some shots of him relaxed.  Usually his anxiety about being in photos really shows up.  The relaxed shots are SO much better.

My dad’s a good guy to take pictures of.  He doesn’t ask to be in any shots but he doesn’t try to avoid the camera either.  He was enjoying dinner with his children and grandchildren in this photo.  I like how happy he looks.

My father-in-law is a good sport when it comes to my photography experiments.  I don’t think he really likes having his picture taken but he’s wonderfully cooperative when his daughter-in-law is the one holding the camera.  This is one of my favourite shots of him.

I’d like to follow this entry up at some point with the women in my life but that’s REALLY going to be a challenge.  The gals don’t like having their pictures taken and at least one of them truly isn’t photogenic.  For now, I’ll rejoice in the successes with the guys.

I can’t promise that I’ll be blogging much in the next few days.  The library in Orillia has reopened at its new temporary location and I found a slew of magazines and a few good books when I went to check it out.  When I’m not delivering papers, attending to household duties or driving the boys around to this, that or the other thing, I’m immersed in a book.  Lately, it’s been “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.  While the boys went to Air Cadets, I snuck off to a corner in the McDonald’s at WalMart to slurp back a Coke Zero and dive back into the story.  The cover of the book says, “Unforgettable…extraordinary…powerful”.  Very true.  I can’t wait to get at it again to see how Amir, the main character, finds a way to be good again.  Having said that, I’m sneaking upstairs to get reading again.

There’s a reason why blue and white is such an enduring and pleasing colour combination.  It’s the palette the eye takes in after a snowstorm, when the sun comes out to play with what the wind and the clouds left behind.

If a sigh of relief could be represented by a colour scheme, this would be it I think.

It’s been snowing steadily almost all day.  D and P were over the top joyful to have their first snow day of the year.  I listened to the warnings on the radio, took one look out the window at all the white blowing around and decided it wasn’t worth it to risk my life to deliver a few newspapers.  It was DA’s regular day off so we were one medium sized happy snowed in family today.

The snow let up a bit at different times during the day so I snapped a few pretty pics.

I also snapped a few of the boys though they weren’t too happy about it.

D tried hard to block this one by waving something in front of his face.  I thought it made for a cool shot.

D took this one of himself.  He’s quite talented.

P looked so cute out there with his Santa hat on.  I gave them a tip.  I told them to build their fort with snow from the driveway.  That way they could get paid for shoveling and have enough snow for a decent addition to their previous fort.  D actually was climbing inside this monstrosity before I put a stop to it.  There’s a lot of snow above that hole and if it were to come crashing down it would be bye bye D.  I can’t believe I still have to tell them stuff like that but every year it’s the same.  Boys just seem to think they’re invincible and that nothing will ever happen to them no matter how stupidly they behave.  It’s scary sometimes.  It’s a good thing they’re trained to obey.  They dug more wisely after mom’s motivational speech.

Amazingly, it’s started snowing again.  D just informed that the local farmers have gotten to our little dead end road.  They do such a good job of digging us out.  Different neighbours pay them to clear their driveways but they go above and beyond and do the road too since the plows don’t get here very quickly.  Looks like we’ll be back on the routes again tomorrow.

Every now and then you go through something and your eyes are opened in ways that they weren’t before.  It happened to me yesterday.  The weather conditions were horrible for delivering papers door to door.  The wind was gusting at 70 km per hour and when it hit you full in the face you actually had tears streaming down your cheeks.  The vast majority of people had not ventured outside and so the driveways and steps leading to their mailboxes had not been cleared.  At times, I was wading through knee deep snow to get a paper to a house.  The bottoms of my pants froze solidly.  Ever walk around with the weight of ice on your pant legs?  It’s the weirdest feeling!  To say that I had a hard time was an understatement.  What was supposed to take me six hours in reality took me seven and a half to do.  I didn’t come home tired.  I took a shower, got into dry clothes and collapsed into a heap.

What was maddening to me was how little people seemed to care.  They wanted their flyers or their crossword puzzle and what did it matter if the paper girl had to risk life and limb to get it to them?  Their world was so small that I wasn’t a person at all.  I was a delivery system that was expected to work so that they could have some small pleasure, especially on a day where the weather was frightful and they had to stay home.  Of all the homes I bravely visited, only one man was kind enough to say, “Please be careful, my driveway is slippery.”  I was more than a machine to him; I was a person who could fall and hurt herself.

This got me thinking.  How often am I so absorbed with myself and my agenda that I fail to see the people around me?  People like cashiers at grocery stores.  Do you realize they have the same conversation with thousands of people a day and most of it is gripe about the price of things or how long people have had to wait in line?  These people work hard for hours on their feet but they get so little appreciation for their service.  They get paid for what they do and the rest of the world assumes that is enough to keep them going.  It is but barely.  The same goes for the gal at the gas station.  We could just press “play” on a tape recorder each time we meet.  That’s how predictable and same our “talks” are.  I don’t treat these people like people.  I treat them like I got treated yesterday – like an automaton who must perform so my little world goes according to schedule.

Today, I called in and told my empoyer I wouldn’t be delivering.  It’s snowing hard here, the school buses have been canceled and just down the road from us the police had closed down a section of highway because of white out conditions.  Even a snowplow didn’t make it through last night.  This is the sort of day you only go out if you absolutely must.  The woman on the other end of the line almost went into panic mode and pleaded with me to reconsider; they were already short delivery people.  I tried to be calm and explained to her that no one would die if they didn’t get their Friday paper today but that someone might very well end their life if I ventured out on the road in the severe weather watch system that was hitting our neck of the woods.  A few papers wasn’t worth risking life and limb for in my opinion.  Again, I felt that what was most important was that the machine worked flawlessly and efficiently, not my safety as a human being.  I just can’t justify driving today so that a few people will have their crossword to do.

Having seen this, I’ve decided that I need to be part of the solution instead of remaining part of the problem.  I’m going to try and engage the gal at the gas station in conversation the next time I go.  I’m not going to revert to automatic like I normally do.  Maybe I’ll offer to buy her a coffee since she stands by a door that opens and closes often letting in a blast of cold air.  In other words, I’ll try to treat her like she’s a person and not just someone who has to service yet another unappreciative person.  Ditto for the cashiers.  I’m not going to complain.  I’m going to go out of my way to be kind to them.  It’s nutty in most stores this time of year and most of them are run off their feet.  And for what?  Usually, a lot of unhappy people.

I started my change of attitude yesterday.  I went off the road and got stuck in the snow at one point (it was nothing major by the way) and had to call CAA to get me out.  It was the same guy who had towed me just a few days ago.  Despite the horrid weather he was working in, he was cheery and did a good job getting me out in record time.  He would have just driven off to his next call had I not run back to profusely thank him for doing his job.  I quickly ended with “I hope I don’t see you again for a l-o-n-g time.”  He laughed and said, “No problem, dearie.  Take it easy.”  I pay for CAA but I didn’t want to treat this fella like it was his duty to help me out.  I wanted to treat him like a person and let him know that I was grateful that he was out when so many other people weren’t.

I can’t say I was glad to deliver yesterday but I can say that I’m glad for the eye-opener.  People are so much more important than my little schedule and my little two-by-four world.  I really need to get things in proper perspective and be more compassionate and understanding.  The few times people have shown care for me while delivering, it’s really touched me.  Imagine how much better the world would be if we could all step outside of ourselves more than we do and think about others and what they might be going through.  It certainly would have made yesterday better for me.  I hope to make it better for someone today and tomorrow and the day after that…

D and P came home from school yesterday and popped inside just long enough to drop their book bags and yell, “We’re home!”.  With the snow finally here, they couldn’t wait to get outside and start building a fort.

I think you could have offered me buckets of money and I still wouldn’t have gone and played in the snow.  Delivering in it was enough for me.  My muscles feel like I scaled Mt. Everest and I’ve already had enough of the cold.

I had my fun later in the evening.  I met up with a girlfriend and the two of us took in our first ballet, “The Nutcracker”, at the Orillia Opera House.  How nice to sit in a warm building, listening to classical music, while watching pros do what I could never do, dance with grace and beauty.  The show finished a little earlier than we anticipated but we decided to continue the fun.  We walked over to a nearby restaurant and gorged ourselves on BIG desserts.  That’s fun my style!

It was so nice that the snow held off until my day off.

Almost everything looks so much prettier with a light dusting of the white stuff, even dead grass.

I couldn’t help photographing the homely remains of summer’s beauty, Queen Anne’s Lace.  They looked so festive sporting their little snow caps.

Almost everything looks better because of the snow.  Even the white stuff couldn’t beautify the wad of gum stuck to my bush out front, at least not in my eyes.

I look forward to Saturdays, the day I get to deliver papers with the boys.  D and P have a way of making me laugh and laughter with the ones you love is a good thing.  This particular Saturday had its share of moments and adventures.

As usual, we had a lot of routes today.  One of them was completely new to me and I didn’t have a clue where I was supposed to be delivering.  Not having GPS or even a map, I did what I normally do – I stopped and asked for directions.  Today, there were fireman collecting at grocery stores to stamp out hunger.  I figured a fireman would be a good person to ask.  Turns out two of the three fireman didn’t know where the drive I was searching for was.  They’re pretty dependent on GPS it seems.  Heaven help a little out of the way street if GPS for some reason fails.  But GPS never fails right?

Wrong.  Later in the day, I found myself with a flat tire.  This surprised me because it was only two weeks ago that I had a flat on the other side.  I turned to my good friends at CAA for assistance and they speedily came to my rescue.  The first time I had a flat, the assistant could not get my spare tire to come down.  Dodge Caravans have a terrible spare tire design that just doesn’t work for the Canadian climate.  Fortunately, that time Mr. CAA was able to inflate the tire and send me on my way to Walmart where no leak could be found.  An explanation was given for this phenomena and I was sent out the door owing nothing.  Isn’t it great when it works out like that?

This time around, inflating the tire didn’t work nearly as well.  This particular tire had a hole in it and needed to be either replaced or repaired.  I had a different CAA fellow and warned him that he likely wouldn’t be able to get my spare tire down.  He tried unbelievably hard to get that mechanism to release the needed captive tire but to no avail.  He went so far as to lay on his back and double kick the thing and then take a hammer and clang on with some force but it proved impenetrable.  The only other option was to get towed.  As soon as I got in the CAA truck, I could see why the fellow had tried so hard to get at the spare.  His boss had decided that morning to put not one, not two, but three brand new air fresheners in the truck.  It was like someone had doused the cab in cheap cologne.  Even though it was below zero, we drove with the windows open just so we could breathe.  The poor guy apologized over and over again for the not so sweet aroma we were swimming in.  Despite the odorifous haze, I noted that the CAA truck didn’t have GPS.  Turns out two had already burnt out and the guy was awaiting investigation before purchasing another.  So those nifty things can fail.  My guess is that they’re smell sensitive.  Not much functions well in cheap cologne fog.

Things got funnier when we pulled into the first garage and the attendant told us in all seriousness that he thought he might be able to fit us in on Wednesday.  CAA guy just looked at him with incredulity and then said, “Ummm, we’ll just tow it somewhere else.”  Back into the smell mobile we piled and headed out across town to garage #2.  This one was more accommodating.  We had to wait but they would get us in and fixed up.  The wait proved to be pretty tough.  There were no magazines in the waiting area, just a TV blaring ultimate fighting.  The guy and gal in there seemed pretty absorbed with the show but watching two grown men covered in tatoos pummeling each other isn’t really my idea of entertainment.  All I could think of was what kind of mothers produced sons that became ultimate fighting machines.  Scary thought.  Turning to watch my vehicle being hoisted up and examined wasn’t a whole lot more interesting.  Mr. Garage Man must have saw something akin to boredom on my face because suddenly he was my best friend, chatting on and on about everything including the length of my son’s hair (we were on our way to get it cut when we got the flat), tatoos, body piercings and his best parental advice from years of experience.  Somehow he didn’t register that I wasn’t terribly interested or maybe I’m just good at faking small talk with complete strangers who want to give me advice from years of experience.  Thankfully, the repair didn’t take too long or cost too much.  Not so thankfully, the only shop where D will get his hair cut (did I mention he’s a teen now?) was closed by the time the tire ordeal was over and so D still has that long, shaggy look that gets complete strangers commenting to me about it.

So if you can’t get your hair cut go to the pet shop and get ready to buy a ball python, right?  If it’s Saturday and you’re part of our family that’s the next logical step.  P’s now got the tank, figured out how to heat it, has it lined with shavings snakes are particularly fond of  and figures he’ll have enough money by next week to actually buy a baby snake.  Oh joy!

I failed to mention that the boys taught me a new game today.  We punch each other when we see Volkswagen Beetles and now we blurt out “Yellow car” whenever we see, you guessed it, a yellow car.  I got pretty good at being the first to blurt.  Trouble is I didn’t turn the blurting off in the tow truck.  I saw a yellow car, called out loudly and clearly “Yellow car” and then saw the CAA fellow give me that “you’re kind of weird” look.  It was actually quite funny (to me, at least).

O.K. Enough with the funny moments of the day.  I did make it home and did get some work done and now have some pictures of P’s greatly improved bedroom.  Bear in mind that these were taken in the evening in low light without flash and therefore the colour looks a little more golden than they do in real life.  Other than that, enjoy the improvements.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.