Thursday 31 January 2013

Edmonton Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune (X)

Interpretation: Drawing the Wheel of Fortune card indicates the occurrence of a big change or twist of fate. Life is full of ups and downs, but one must strive to keep the Big Picture in mind because the Wheel is always turning. Good or bad fortune will not last forever. All life is change and nothing is constant. That's the real lesson of the Wheel.

Image: Edmonton has quite a few two-lane traffic circles, thanks to some British ex-pat city planners back in the day who thought it was a good idea to have #@%$!! English roundabouts at certain intersections instead of traffic lights.

The problem, of course, is that not everyone knows the special driving rules needed to manoeuvre through multi-lane traffic circles. When I first moved to Edmonton, I had never seen a traffic circle in my life. The first time I found myself in one was a terrifying experience. I caused much honking, swearing and flipping of the bird by other drivers. It's a miracle that I didn't end up in a car crash.

After that, I avoided traffic circles like the plague and would drive blocks out of my way rather than use one. It was My Rare One who (thank goodness!) taught me how to correctly drive through them.

This traffic circle sign leads to the Edmonton intersection with the city's highest annual auto collision stats. Spinning the Wheel of Fortune, I drive through it at least twice a day.

[Photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Crime Doesn't Pay, Furball

So there you have it. Let this be a warning to all you disobedient kitties out there not to escalate your misbehaviour to the next level.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Why Won't Cats Obey?

I'm not saying that Her Royal Highness is misbehaving herself any more than usual, but this post seemed appropriate for today.

But where does all this disobedient behaviour lead? Nowhere good, my furry little friends, nowhere good. Tune in tomorrow for a cautionary tale.

Monday 28 January 2013

The Boys of Winter

Isn't it great that the NHL hockey lockout is finally over and a shortened season has been salvaged? I don't know about the USA, but here in Canada the fans are flocking back en masse. All is forgiven!

So now, let's get down to business so we can all start looking forward to the next Stanley Cup playoffs!

And how great was it that the first goal of the first game played after the lockout ended was scored by . . . ? Yes, the Winnipeg Jets! Yay!

[First cartoon by Malcolm Mayes of the Edmonton Journal. Second cartoon by Anthony Jenkins of The Globe and Mail.]

Saturday 26 January 2013

Poe 'n Raven Giveaway Winner!

Thank you, everyone, for entering this giveaway. I'm pleased to announce that, by random draw, the winner is:

Jane of Jane's Jewels!

I will contact you shortly by email, Jane, and soon The Raven will be winging its way to you! But here's a word of warning for when it takes up residence at your house -- don't listen to everything that bird says. Sometimes its advice sucks.

Friday 25 January 2013

Scotland Forever!

Well, it's Robbie Burns Day once again so what better way to celebrate than with a few Scottish LOLs?

Imagine your own sound effects for this next one:

"Only the French can create a word out of three vowels" . . . .

The Royal Family knows where to go to let loose and have a truly fun time!

Wishing you all a wee dram and a nice plump haggis tonight, och aye!

Thursday 24 January 2013

Last Day to Enter and Then: Nevermore!

Oh, my fine feathered friend, this is no time to be an apathetic procrastinator. Today is the last day to enter my Poe 'n Raven giveaway, so if you haven't yet done so, click here and submit your name!

The winner will be announced on Saturday. It could be you!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Another Gingerbread House Homage

Isn't this Grumpy Cat gingerbread house great? I laughed out loud with delight when I saw it! Whoever Sarah (its maker) is, she's one creative gal!

Of course, not everyone feels the same way . . . some critics are just grumpy about everything!

[Photo and illustration are from the internet]

[And don't forget about my Poe 'n Raven giveaway. If you haven't entered yet, click here to do so!]

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Shirakawa-go Gingerbread House

My Rare One had to do our annual gingerbread house by herself this year because I was away in Manitoba visiting my Mom. But she did a great job! She took as her inspiration this little Shinto shrine and its torii gate that we saw in Shirakawa-go Village in Japan --

Behold its gingerbread counterpart! Yes, My Rare One did bend the "everything must be edible" rule a wee bit by using a wooden model for the torii gate but who cares? We're not perfectionistic hard-asses about such things.

And of course, the Japanese original didn't have a Christmas wreath and red ribbons on it but again, artistic licence. The front door is a chocolate bar and the warmly glowing window panes are lemon gumdrops. I think My Rare One did a particularly wonderful job of the thatched roof, which she replicated using Sun Chips and heavy icing for the snow.

And I must point out that she bricked the chimney with genuine dry-roasted edamame (soy) beans -- you can't get much more Japanese than that!

A final shot of this year's creation! Well done, my love!

[All photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

[Reminder: If you haven't entered my Poe 'n Raven giveaway yet, click here to do so!]

Sunday 20 January 2013

Poe 'n Raven Giveaway

In December while I was Christmas shopping, I found this miniature theme box (3" x 3" x 2") that is just jam-packed with macabre Poe fun! There's a teeny-tiny booklet containing the full text of "The Raven." And even better, there's a small black plastic Raven who croaks Nevermore against a background of creepy-sounding gothic bells when you push the button on his base. Too cool!

So, once upon a midnight dreary, here are the rules for entering:

1. You must be an official Follower to enter. Old, new or just signed up in order to enter the draw, it's all good. And it doesn't matter where you're from in the world, I'll mail the package anywhere!

2. In addition to being a Follower, you must leave a comment on this post. If you leave a comment but don't want to be entered, just say so -- it's okay!

3. Only one entry per person please.

4. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) on Thursday, January 24, 2013.

5. The winner will be chosen by a random draw made on Friday, January 25 and the results posted here on Saturday, January 26.

Merely this and nothing more -- good luck, everyone!

Saturday 19 January 2013

Quoth the Raven, "Happy Birthday!"

Today is Edgar Allan Poe's birthday -- he was born 204 years ago on January 19, 1809. A master of mystery and the macabre, he is credited with inventing the detective fiction genre as well as being a pioneer of science fiction. Who hasn't read and enjoyed his famous stories like "The Tell-tale Heart," "The Purloined Letter" and "The Murder in the Rue Morgue"?

Poe struggled to earn a living as a writer and literary critic. He had lots of enemies and detractors. In 1845 he enjoyed his greatest popularity when his poem "The Raven" was published. Where did that inspiration come from?

In 1849 at the age of 40, Poe died tragically young from disputed causes -- was it alcoholism, cholera, heart disease, syphilis, rabies? We'll never know for sure. But after death, he eventually achieved the great success and fame which had eluded him during life. Poe is now justifiably placed in the pantheon of greatest American writers.

And hey, all you Poe fans, be sure to come back tomorrow for a special giveaway!

Friday 18 January 2013

Edmonton Tarot: The Hermit (IX)

Interpretation: The Hermit card denotes solitude, introspection and soul-searching. The person who draws this card may be at a crossroads in a relationship or in life. It is time to re-evaluate and seek something more.

Image: The Riverdale Labyrinth is my favourite labyrinth in Edmonton. This portable Cretan labyrinth is set up in a local community centre four times a year, once in every season. The labyrinth is made of long strands of golden beads stitched down on a large base of blue and violet broadcloth. I never miss a chance to walk this labyrinth!

[Photo by Sheryl Ackerman. Used with her permission.]

Thursday 17 January 2013

Shirakawa-go Village, Part 2

Near the old Japanese village mill with its turning wooden water-wheel . . .

. . . there was a small wayside shrine on the path. When I peeked inside . . .

. . . I found that some kind soul had outfitted the Buddha with a warm knitted coat and hat to fend off the winter's chill!

And there was a second surprise in Shirakawa-go for those who took the time to snoop around. Despite this village's dedication to protecting and preserving an ancient way of life, I discovered this tucked away at the back of the gift store -- a big honkin' shiny modern riding snowblower!

[All photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Shirakawa-go Village, Part 1

High in the Japan Alps, a UNESCO World Heritage Site called Shirakawa-go preserves traditional rural Japanese houses, barns, shrines and outbuildings in a village setting. Some of these buildings are 250 years old. When we were there in early April 2012, there was still a lot of snow on the ground.

In fact, it snowed while we visited. The big fluffy snowflakes falling gently to the ground made the village seem even more charming. But it wasn't particularly cold -- only about -1℃ (30℉).

The wooden buildings of Shirakawa-go all have thickly thatched roofs in a steep A-frame architectural style which was developed over generations. The roofs are designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow which the region receives. Here's a shot of the roof thatching method, which is done completely without the use of nails:

This roofing style is called gassho-sukuri which means "constructed like hands in prayer." It is thought that the steep roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together while praying.

Traditionally, the second floor of each house was dedicated to silkworm farming. The family would live downstairs.

Tomorrow: A couple of surprises in the village!

[All photos by Debra She Who Seeks]

Monday 14 January 2013

HRH Gets a New Gig

Ever since last month when my cat Her Royal Highness returned home from her adventures in England and Russia, she has been bored and restless. I guess my little blog world is just too small and dull for her now.

So HRH has signed up for fun and adventure with another blogger! That's right, she has ditched me for Anne of Anne's Attic.

HRH is going to be part of Anne's cast of characters in a couple of upcoming tales: Suzie Swagger and the Zombie Apocalypse and The Wyrm of Connemara. HRH will be a swashbuckling pirate queen with her own ship. So exciting! Anne has even provided her with a gorgeous set of piratical clothes to wear. Here's the front and back views:

Anne is a very accomplished painter of miniatures. Can you believe that this little HRH pirate cat is only 32 mm (1 inch) high? Anne swears that she does not use a magnifying glass while painting. But how she manages to paint these wee things so perfectly without going stone blind is a complete and utter mystery to me.

I will keep you posted about HRH's escapades as Anne's stories appear. Or you may want to follow Anne's blog directly and be the first to know!

[Photos by Anne O'Leary. Used with her permission]

Friday 11 January 2013

Edmonton Tarot: Justice (VIII)

Interpretation: The Justice card relates to cause and effect, to action and its consequences, and to karmic balance. It can apply to a person's inner dynamics as well as to those of the external world. This card teaches that what goes around, comes around.

Image: This portrait of The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada, hangs in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. An Albertan by birth, she was the first woman appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and has held that position since the year 2000. She is the University of Alberta law school's most famous graduate.

[Photo by My Rare One]

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Edmonton from Space

Hey, are you following Commander Chris Hadfield's twitter feed from space? He's the Canadian astronaut who arrived at the International Space Station on December 21st and has been regularly tweeting messages and photos since then. In March, he'll take command of the Space Station as the leader of Expedition 35, the first time a Canadian has been in charge.

Anyway, Commander Hadfield has been tweeting these fabulous photos of various spots around the earth taken from his special vantage point on the Space Station, with special attention to Canadian sites. On January 3, he posted this shot of Edmonton! That's the North Saskatchewan River running through the city.

Looks cold, eh?

Click here to connect with Commander Hadfield's twitter feed.

Monday 7 January 2013

Happy Ukrainian Christmas!

Chrystos rodyvsya, Christ is born! Today is Ukrainian (Orthodox) Christmas according to the old Julian calendar. This year My Rare One and I are celebrating by attending a performance of Edmonton's own Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. "Shumka" means "whirlwind" in Ukrainian and you can see why that's a fitting name in this short retrospective of Shumka's 50+ year history --

The event we're going to see is Clara's Dream -- a Ukrainian folk ballet based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. It's an international co-production which also involves the Virsky Ukrainian State Folk Ensemble and dancers from the Kyiv Ballet. Should be good!

A perogy or two may also be consumed.

Friday 4 January 2013

Edmonton Tarot: The Chariot (VII)

Interpretation: The Chariot card represents the ability to succeed and overcome obstacles by sheer force of willpower, ambition and drive. A person who has been given the gifts of the Chariot is in control of his or her own life -- someone who is firmly "in the driver's seat."

Image: Edmonton's beloved High Level Street Car operates as a summer tourist attraction. This vintage tram makes a round trip from Old Strathcona to downtown and back again. To make this circuit, it must cross the North Saskatchewan River on train tracks high atop Edmonton's High Level Bridge. It's a dizzying height from which to look out the windows and the swaying of the car when conditions are windy can cause passengers to feel distinctly uneasy. I speak from experience!

[Photo by Debra She Who Seeks]

Thursday 3 January 2013

Crop Circle Fun!

HRH, get down off that tractor right this minute!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

My New Year's Resolution

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. As I hope My Rare One thinks, "why tamper with perfection?"

But this year, I am making a resolution. A firm and committed resolution. This time I swear to Gawd I'll do it.

Here's a clue . . . .

No, my resolution is not to join a local community theatre group and stage massive epics on an obvious shoestring. But the photo is relevant -- my resolution is to finally finish reading Moby-Dick.

I've tried and failed several times over the years to read that massive tome. I usually end up defeated by the book's teeny-tiny print, by Melville's dense prose and by his desperate need for a good editor. However, ebook editions of Moby-Dick have solved the first issue so now I can enlarge the font size to a comfortable level. Alas, only sheer endurance can overcome the remaining issues.

Very, very long-time readers of this blog may remember that in the summer of 2009, I started my latest attempt to read Moby-Dick. I posted my progress and thoughts about the book several times. I got all the way to Chapter 87! And then, well, you know how it goes. Life intervenes. Other things come up. One gets distracted. My reading stalled and progressed no further.

But now, a mere three and half years later, I am bound and determined to finish reading the remaining 59 chapters. I will NOT be defeated by the Great White Whale in 2013!

Wish me luck!