Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Have a look!

Last night I took some photos of the flowers that dress up my yard. I thought I'd share some with you, just because they're pretty, and colorful, and such a beautiful part of life on this earth. I have many more flowers but some have passed their most photogenic state.. I should have been out sooner in the season taking pics. 

Red White and Blue.. or Red and White in Blue. The white one is a simple variety called "bocopa". It's bloom is small, not larger than a woman's index fingernail, and grows as a trailing plant. I put it in an old, deliciously blue metal pail with brilliant red geraniums. It's probably my favorite planter this year.

Asiatic Lily, orange. Some people would say this is a tiger lily, but it's not. It blooms mid summer, and is a wonderful pop of color. There are countless varieties of asiatic lily, all with different colors and bloom times. Totally worth having in a flowerbed. I love the lily's stamen and pistil. Isn't it cool that flowers contain both male and female reproductive organs?

I have no idea how this happened. See the ultramarine blue in the background here? That's the color this delphinium is supposed to be.. a violet-blue with black centers.. and most of it did turn out that way. But somehow, it grew a few stems that have these soft pastel pink mixed with blue flowers. They are so pretty, even prettier close up and in the end of day sunlight. The blossoms are an inch large and rise up the length of the stem a good foot or more each stem. Careful if you plant them though. They need protection from the wind and they need to be supported or they'll fall over.

Every year, I can't wait to see this one bloom. It pops open mid-summer and lasts for a few weeks. It never seems to spread, staying in a nice tidy clump. It's an Aglaia Shasta Daisy. How pretty.

Speaking of stamen and pistils.. Check out the center of my portulaca flowers! I planted these in metal buckets lines with mulch at the bottom, and I hang them from my fence in the back yard, three of them. Holy smokes, do they ever like that treatment. It was my first year with them, I'll do them again, but maybe next time in an assortment of colors. This year, they are all this hot hot pink color. Their blooms are about one inch in diameter and they never stop blooming all summer long once they start. But they have to be dead-headed or they begin to look terribly messy as the old blooms dry up and turn brown.

A surprise began to grow in my front garden bed this year. As you know, I'm a fan of moss. I don't know if that's what this is, but it's adorable and doesn't seem to spread too much, so I'm keeping it. Accompanying it is a fern of some sort that I never planted which started to grow last year suddenly, between some of the rocks in my rock bed. I'm keeping that too. I love ferns. This one, though, is adorable. It's like tiny little palm trees. This was super macroed, the little "trees" aren't more than 1cm tall (less than half an inch). Too cute to get rid of.

I already showed the portulaca bloom, but this was fascinating. As I pulled off all the dead blooms, they revealed these little pods and buds where new flowers will grow in. It almost looks like a pretty red star forming, if you count the succulent-like leaves.

Now, I really ought to get off the computer and go water these beautiful little babies before they wither in this terrible heat wave we're having!

Jules :Olovely!
My photos are copyright only to me, you can't take them. Ok!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wide Open..

Here's the thought that crossed my mind this morning while sitting in a Tim Horton's surrounded by middle aged and older men:

"The older a man gets, the wider he has to spread his legs to sit."

Then I looked closer, and texted my friend about it and then I wasn't so sure. I saw an elderly man with his legs crossed, and one directly across from him of like age with his legs wide open. Therein disproved my thought completely. So then I thought, that it has to be something to do with how much junk a guy's carrying around with him, combined with age. The more junk, the more room there needs to be and the older a man gets, the lower the berries hang, right? So they need to spread their legs in order to be accommodating when sitting, correct?

I don't know why I even have thoughts like this. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. All it does it provide a basis of understanding about why men have to sit with their legs so far apart, and why some sit wider than others.

I don't usually post about thoughts like this on here anymore, but I'm always thinking things like this, and if I can't express myself on here, where can I?! Deep down, we're all just a little bit curious, immature and perverted. Even if we don't want to admit it.

Jules :Oopenwide!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some randoms for your enjoyment...

I enjoyed sipping my morning cuppa java while I watched this little beetle walk it's way over the railing of the deck at the upper cabin at Flathead Lake. I think its antennae look cool! 

This was one of the hundreds of birds that flew around while I was at the cabins. What an interesting bunch to watch. They are very social creatures. I didn't know if they were telling each other off or trying to be playful, but often you'd see them flying in pairs, as if they were trying to attract a mate. I think this is a purple martin? I don't know. Such fun!

Only about 4" long, this little fish didn't live a very long life, but it sure did become something's tasty treat! I like the lines in this photo, with the peeling paint and the skeleton. I suppose, however, that if I inked this subject matter, it wouldn't be all too well received.

Someone asked me if the water was crystal clear. Here's the answer, yes.. yes it is. This is Lake MacDonald. It is clear as clear could be and it is cold as cold could be. But given enough grime and sweat and dirt, nothing stops you from dipping in, eventually!

Jules :O)
As always, photos are copyright to me! :) 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That touches a soft spot...

I started blogging with a private blog that was intended only for myself as a journal about motherhood. It's a tough thing, motherhood is. Parenthood is, in general. Probably the hardest thing that a person has to endure. I say "endure" because it's full every day with challenges and situations to navigate. It's hard because it brings forth every emotion known to man at any given moment and can change on no more than a second's notice. It requires you to be completely adaptable and flexible. It means that you are solely responsible for a human being. You will shape them, teach them, provide for them, give them an understanding on everything they will need to know to grow into moral, intelligent, sound people with proper judgement and good values. You become a teacher, best friend, confidant, guidance counsellor, disciplinarian, judge, nurse, and playmate from the moment your child is brought into the world. There is no other job that is as 24/7 as parenting. You don't get sick days, you don't get days off and you can't just quit it if you don't want to do it anymore.

So when my son said this to me the other day as we cuddled before bed, it really meant the world to me:

"Oh Mom, I just couldn't live without you. Not because you feed me and give me what I need to survive, but because you really love me."

As I choked back a tear, I kissed him softly on the forehead and told him he was 100% right, that I truly do love him deeply. More than anyone else ever could.

I must be doing something right in this complicated maze of parenthood.

Jules :Owow)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vivid, just like me!

What do these photos all have in common? 

This was a Montana Sunset that was incredibly eye catching.

This was the Super Moon that filled the July 12th night sky.

This is a Glacier Lily in West Glacier National Park, elevation approx 7200 feet.

This was a beautiful mountainside I saw while trekking down to The Loop in West Glacier.

This was the rainbow I saw just outside of Red Deer as I drove to my place.

They all exhibit outstanding pops of color. No matter where you are in the world, there are colors around you to brighten your spirit and stimulate your senses. Take a moment when you see them. Study them, and recognize how they make you feel.

Jules :Obeauty!
These photos are mine, copyright to me only. Thanks! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning, Trying, Growing...

New hobbies are fun.. especially when they just sort of fall into your lap and become something you enjoy, and even more so when you can tie them in with another hobby you already love. Recently I started to do sketches on canvas. First, I photograph something and then using that for reference, I draw them in with a pencil, then ink them in for a permanent effect, shading and adding to them as I go. So far I've done 8 different drawings on canvas. The first 4 were to commemorate my 4th anniversary with Thor (I know, can you believe it?!). I showed those to my coordinator at work and she loved them so much she remarked "Oh! That style would be perfect for this photograph I have of my parent's old farm!" So I told her to send me a photo of it and I'd play around with it and see what I could come up with. I finished that one in about 7 hours, on a canvas much larger than the 4 small ones I did for Thor. When I gave it to her, as a gift, she was speechless and tears welled in her eyes as she took it in. She said it was one of the most precious and beautiful things anyone had ever given her. She said I should do more. I showed a photograph of my drawing to my friends and family and they agreed that I should do more. For my 38th birthday, my sister gave me a gift card for Michaels, specifically so that I could go get more canvases and supplies for this new journey. Since then, I've done 3 more, but one of them failed miserably. The other two are really good though. They appeal to people who can relate to perfectly imperfect things in a grayscale sort of world.

Maybe someday I'll get up enough of a collection of works that I'll take them and see if I can get on display at the local art rooms around the city. I doubt I'll ever sell any of them, but they sure are well received by the people who've seen them so far. And maybe someday, I'll decide to display them online. Until then, you'll just have to use your imagination.

Jules :Ogrowing!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Children have settings! Well, mine does...

In case you don't already know, if you have a son between the ages of 7 - 12 who plays the video game Mine Craft, he may have settings that you aren't aware of. I learned of one of them a while ago, then I needed to know the second setting. Now I've been introduced to the all important third setting. I wish I knew the third one about 4 years ago. This discovery came about one day when I was bathing Thanan and I neeeded him to close his eyes, hold his breath and sit still so I could rinse out his hair and face without splashing water in his mouth or eyes.

It went like this:
"Mom, if you want me to sit perfectly still, or stand still, or not move at all, all you have to do is say the word 'iron' and then I turn into iron. Iron doesn't move at all, so neither will I."

So in the spirit of this somewhat logical explanation, I went along with it. I soon discovered that he does indeed turn perfectly still when I declare "Iron!"

The second setting was called "butter" which is what mine crafters refer to "gold" as in the game. Gold can of course be melted into liquid form, but eventually it hardens and returns to its normal solid state. Butter, in the realm of the bathtub meant that he would return to normal, it shuts off all other previously engaged settings.

Recently, I learned of the almighty "coal" setting. Coal is wonderful. Of course, coal was used to run furnaces, the more you added to the fire, the hotter the heat got. Well.. coal in a child's setting runs him much the same way. If I say "Coal!" he will speed up. If I say "Coal, coal, coal!" he becomes something like 3 times as fast as his normal speed would be. I suppose if he ever becomes the Olympic Sprinter that he wants to become, I'll be the only person jumping up and down shouting "Coal!!!" from the stands.

So, an important recap...
Iron - turns an 8 year old boy into a motionless and silent little human.
Coal - speeds the slowest of the slow into fast machines.
Butter - reduces the child to his normal state of life.

I wonder how many other elements I will have to memorize over the next year.

Jules :Ofunny!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Awareness Matters!

"I was wondering if I could ask you a question" is how this begins. Of course, in this day and age of the internet creating an atmosphere of mistrust, I hesitantly replied, putting my faith out there that this wouldn't be some sort of indecent proposal or scammer. It wasn't.

It was a request from a man named Cameron, who's wife (Heather) had been diagnosed, received treatment, and overcome pleural mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure). He and his wife, who is now a cancer survivor like me, are doing a campaign to increase awareness of the completely preventable disease. So, after reading his email, looking at his blog, and reading information on the website, my eyes watered and my heart felt heavy. How could I not do my part in increasing awareness. I don't know how many people really pay attention to my blog, but like Cameron said, maybe putting the information out there will help save a life.

Mesothelioma is caused by the exposure to and inhalation of asbestos particles. The use of asbestos throughout history is overwhelming and as I read about it, I couldn't believe what places and products could contain asbestos. I read that in Ancient Rome, they lined their suits of armour in asbestos, that more recently it was used in every day products like toasters and hair dryers, and of course in homes, public buildings, schools, and ships up until the 1970's. The list of where it was used is endless, really, and the scary part is that according to the website, in some cases, even though it's a banned product and known carcinogen, it is still being used today.

Exposure to asbestos doesn't mean an immediate cancer diagnosis. In thousands, and probably millions, of cases, the exposure took place decades ago and only now is showing up as cancer in those who were exposed. There are 3 types of mesothelioma: pleural (lungs), peritoneal (abdomen) and pericardial (cardiac). The treatments vary widely and have been known to show great promise in patients diagnosed with these diseases. Of course, as with all cancers, early diagnosis and early, comprehensive treatment is key. You can read all about the types of mesothelioma here, so I won't go on repeating their information, except that I would like to point out possible points of exposure that you may not have been aware of. Exposure to asbestos doesn't mean a 100% chance that you will develop cancer, but it does increase the risk.

Military Exposure: Asbestos was used across all branches of the military. Chances are if you worked in the military you were sitting amongst or sleeping with the enemy all along. It was used on a wide variety of ships, aircraft carriers, submarines, battle ships, etc. It was found on military bases in military vehicles, aircraft and ships. It could even be found in galley kitchens.

Commercial and Industrial Exposure: Factory workers are/were at high risk for developing mesothelioma. It was commonly used in job sites such as oil refineries, power plants, steel mills, chemical plants, etc. It was used as a insurance for fire proofing building materials and clothing. Chances were that if you had to wear fire resistant clothing or gloves, you could have been wearing asbestos. I had no idea it was used in clothing. That boggles my mind.

Commercial Product Exposure: Asbestos was used in many commercial products, especially those that would be considered building materials. Insulation, roofing materials, siding, joint compound, flooring, ceiling tiles, etc. If you are currently a DIYer or ever involved in renovating an old house/building, you may have been exposed to asbestos particles. I had no idea it was in so many different commercial products. How many times have I not worn proper protective clothing or masks when sanding joint compound! That one's particularly scary because that dust goes EVERYWHERE.

Second Hand Exposure: Because particles can go everywhere, it gets on clothing and can be transferred from site to site that way. A person working in a place with asbestos can get it on their hair or clothing and without thinking can bring those particles home with them. They can be transferred when someone else goes to put the clothes in the washing machine, or washes with a washcloth. They could have had asbestos on their shoes, and that could get all over the floor. Unknowingly, family members of those who have had asbestos exposure could also become exposed.

So this is definitely something that people need to be aware of. I send out many thanks to Cameron for contacting me and opening my own eyes to the matter. The next time you go to renovate something old, think twice and get it tested for asbestos first. If you have asbestos, hire a professional asbestos extraction team to come in and get rid of it properly so no one will be at risk of it again. If you're thinking of buying an older home (built before 1970 at least) get it checked for asbestos first. These are just a few warnings, please educate yourself on the matter and go read the website. Educate and be aware, for your sake and the sake of others around you.

Jules :Obeaware!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Stories are told...

Two photos, you would think they tell the story of captivity. But actually, they tell a story of rescue, rehabilitation and second chances. I took them today at the Wildlife Discovery Park in Innisfail where they look after orphaned or abandoned animals, or adopt them after other zoos have closed. 

Incidentally, just before I took these photos, a different monkey woke up, popped a finger in it's butt, then proceeded to jack itself off until it had a spastic orgasm. The look of pleasure on it's face was undeniable and totally priceless. It actually licked itself clean too. No need for an old sock.

I can't be all serious all the time.
But that did happen. Seriously.

Jules :Oj

I retain the rights to my photos, they are copyright to only me.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Joy is in the little things...

One of my favorite lines of the day coming from the back seat of the car, as I eavesdrop on my son and his best friend:

"Hey, imagine if you were like the oldest person on the planet but you had a baby's head..!"
They both look at each other and pause.
Uncontrollable giggles ensued.

Thanan's best friend, Cledan, is being moved to a new school next year. At the end of the school year, Thannan was suppressing tears and choking back the lump in his throat as he looked for Cledan to say goodbye. Nothing else mattered except saying goodbye. It was heartbreaking and I had to choke back tears too. It was even more difficult when we finally found Cledan and for a moment he didn't even get that Thanan was sad. I said "Hey Cledan, how about saying goodbye to Thanan and we'll promise to stay in touch, k?" and then Cledan snapped back to reality and threw himself into Thanan's arms. There they stood. An 8 year old and a 9 year old, standing amongst hundreds of passers-by, holding eachother as a tear shed down both of their cheeks. I'm sure a full minute passed like that, and then they looked at each other, said a teary goodbye and we walked on home. It made Thanan feel better, and I promised him I'd do my best to organize play dates for them and keep them together.

So today is the first time since school let out that they've gotten to hang. It's really cool. I love how well they get along and play together. And frankly, the stuff they come up with just cracks me up. Thanan's a kid who can make temporary friends with anyone at the park, but at the end of the day when you give him the choice of who to hang out with, it's always Cledan.

I hope they can stay friends, even though they'll be in different schools and will make new friends. I look at Thor and just love that he stayed in touch with his school buddies and many of them are still in his life today. I don't have anyone like that, personally. It's something rare and valuable.

Jules :Ojoy)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Celebrating with Red...

Two photos, taken the day before Canada Day. She's either a Common Dragonfly or a Red Veined Darter Dragonfly. Attached to her is... well, what does it matter? If you look reallllly close you will see...

... the look of satisfaction on her face. 

Hopefully your Days of Celebration are just as pleasing!

Jules :Oeeee)

I retain all rights to my photography. Yessireee, I do!