Daily Post – Photography

Daily Post Up Turned Noses

Less is More

 

I am not a snob about many things at all. I will drink any wine, wear clothing my grown children have left in the closet and I’ve stayed in some questionable hotels, however, I am a photography snob.

I am not pretentious about the equipment, I think great photos can be taken with any equipment. Nor, am I a great photographer, really. But I do not understand why people don’t take a moment to look at the scene they are shooting. Is there clutter that should be removed? Would turning the camera angle 20 degrees give you a significantly better backdrop? Are the subjects of the picture blurry?

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Taking the bad photos is not the real offense. It is  posting them on facebook, twitter, youtube and blogs. Why post blurry photos or redundant photos. If there is one bad photo of you and your cousin in front of an out-of-focus statue (snore), bad enough, but posting 4 versions is painful.

I feel bad ranting, but I must confess I do have an up turned nose about photography.

What about you, does it drive you crazy when people post blurry, redundant, crooked or cluttered photographs?

For the Love of Christmas Cards Sent By Snail Mail

I am, undoubtedly, in the minority, but I just love Christmas cards (the old-fashioned, send-in-the-mail kind). In my 27 years of marriage, I have always sent cards via Canada Post. For some of those years, in my keen, scrapbooking days, my girls and I made our cards. Those memories will stay with me forever.

But even in my, less creative years, everything about Christmas cards are a beautiful tradition. In my house, cards are the official kick-off to the holiday season. The first holiday baking launches the event, with carols playing in the background (often Johnny Mathis).

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The ritual involves hand-written notes in each card. I begin in November, and only do a few each day (especially important when doing the Dutch ones). I reflect upon the past year and devote some quality time writing to friends and family that I really care about. I refuse to let this tradition fall by the way-side. For most recipients, this is the one time in the whole year, I take the time to connect.

The Christmas card ritual continues over the following weeks, as I anxiously check the post box. I love receiving an envelope that is not an account statement or a marketing flyer. It is a throwback to former times and I must confess that pure mail, from a real person, brings a certain excitement. The cards are carried home, unopened. I make a fresh cup of coffee and settle in for opening and reading the treasures Canada Post just delivered. I love them all, the mass-produced bragging letters, the family photos and of course, the hand-written notes.

People say, cards are outdated, but somehow, the genuine letters I get from my friends around the globe are better than the singing Santa e-card that arrives in 250 mailboxes simultaneously. I genuinely care about what your family has been up to. I want to see the photos and know what career little Johnny is pursuing. I am thrilled to know that my children’s childhood friends are now getting married and having children of their own. I just love the annual up-dates.

The cards stay on our kitchen island, until my husband has read them, after which, they are displayed for the remainder of the holidays. The messages will be reread one final time, before I take them down in January. It is a routine that continues, year after glorious year.

I fear that the tradition of sending Christmas cards is becoming obsolete. But that would be unfortunate, because this old tradition makes us pause for a moment, in this world full of busy people and new technology. It is a conscious decision to connect with friends and family. After all, in the end, all we have left is the relationships! As I age, I realize the importance of stopping in for a coffee or taking the time to write some sincere sentiments to friends and family.

How about you? Do you send cards at Christmas? Or is there another way you connect with family and friends during the holidays?

Daily Prompt – Imagine All the People – Best Game Ever!!

Daily Prompt- The next time you’re in a public place — a coffeehouse, a park, a store — observe the people around you. Pick a person, a couple, or a group, and imagine what their lives might be like.

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I was excited when I read the daily prompt today. It reminded me of one of our favourite family games. We taught our children at a very young age to play this game. Spot a person, family or couple and guess/speculate their story. Occasionally, stories were a little crazy, but generally, they were well scripted, based on various clues in the person’s clothing or demeanor. There are so many advantages to this family game.

1) Location – this can be played anywhere; a mall, a park, a restaurant or in the car
2) Time – this game can occupy a few minutes but it can also last hours
3) Entertaining – this game never gets old, and always makes us think and laugh
4) Anyone can play – the younger children are not disadvantaged, like they are in intellectual games
5) Teaches observation skills – they notice details that may someday make them good witnesses to a crime
6) Teaches empathy – imagining stories about where people came from and where they are going, makes one reflect on people’s different hardships and situations
7) Makes boring times pass quickly – many a car ride has seemed shorter just by guessing where the other car passengers were going
8) No equipment required – no game boards, electronics or cards

I think every parent should teach their children to “Imagine All the People”

The Years Are Short

I have had a long absence from writing. Quite frankly, I was in a funk. I had an unsettled sensation, one I couldn’t really label. I felt preoccupied and not particularly happy. But then, this morning I saw this video. It reminded me of my husband. Two weekends ago, he helped our son move from New York City to Toronto. He ended up sleeping three hours in a 48 hour period. They worked tirelessly, packing boxes, scrubbing the apartment and driving the U-haul moving truck all through the night. Things did not run all that smoothly, with late moving men and blocked bridges and roads. But….. my husband returned from the weekend with a big smile and said, “That was such a great weekend!” I didn’t get it, until I watched this video.

I think I had allowed myself to forget about the joys in everyday life. The flowers in my garden, the conversation with friend, cooking a meal, my peaceful haven of a backyard and my walk to pick up the mail. I forgot to appreciate a call from my daughter or a visit from my parents. I needed a wake up call and am happy to have received it in the form of Gretchin Rubin’s video.

My daughter has returned to live at home after graduating and I am treasuring every minute we have together, even times that seem mundane. We don’t have to be taking shopping trips or going to the movies, we can be setting the table or folding laundry. I will treasure it, because all too soon…. she will find a different job and move far away. The years are short and this is it !!

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Daily Post – Natural World

Daily Prompt: The Natural World
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Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city?

From birth, all I really knew was nature. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, on 100 acre farm in rural Ontario, in Canada.

Many fields of rocky soil were held within the borders of our land. My dad managed to cultivate a few acres of the soil for agriculture, but the majority was left to be my playground. My after school hours and weekends were spent in my imaginary world, in the best playground a kid could know. There was a field that had small boulders scattered in such a way, that if I hopped just right, I could travel for a good distance, without touching grass. Abandoned farm machinery were props in the imaginary skit of the day. A creek meandered under a bridge just in front of our white farmhouse. The snakes and frogs would be my friends for the day.

My brother had built a cabin in his wild teen days, in a remote spot back in the woods and I was thrilled when I was permitted to go solo, in search of the cabin. The tree house of my youth was six planks of wood nailed precariously between the branches of an old Maple tree. No walls, no roof, but I sure spent tons of hours up there. In the winter, there were always low spots in the fields that seemed to provide natural stating rinks and toboggan runs. When I was old enough to take my bike and disappear for the day, I’d pack a snack and ride for hours, sometimes checking out corner stores miles from home. It was the kind of freedom I am sure the boys felt in Stand By Me.

My youth on the 100 acre farm made me the person I am today. My love of nature came from my days frolicking in the open air, but it also influenced my character and all that I value. It was the best playground going, and I wish more children had the opportunity to just explore and experience nature in its purest form.

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Daily Post : Dream Destination

Today’s daily prompt “Tell us about your dream destination”.

I love travel and I believe there are many dream destinations for me. I don’t travel to rest or relax, I travel to explore new natural wonders, people, cultures or activities. I have been to Peru, New Zealand, Morocco and Belize and they have all been fabulous destinations. I just returned from Puerto Rico, though, so I thought I would feature PR, since many people would not think of Puerto Rico as a dream destination. My husband and I went for a birthday trip

Seriously the best snorkelling ever, rainforest, caves and nice people. Puerto Rico surprised us with its beauty and we always felt safe.

Leather back turtle tracks

Leather back turtle tracks

Swimming with Sea Turtles

Swimming with Sea Turtles

Kayaking around Culebra, PR

Kayaking around Culebra, PR

Clear Blue Water on Nearly Secluded Beaches

Clear Blue Water on Nearly Secluded Beaches

Amazing Coral Reefs

Amazing Coral Reefs

Eco Lodge in the Middle of the Rainforest

Eco Lodge in the Middle of the Rainforest

Coqui Frogs Singing to You at Night

Coqui Frogs Singing to You at Night

World Renowned Lecheron (Pig on a Spit) Just ask Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmerman

World Renowned Lecheron (Pig on a Spit) Just ask Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmerman

Caves with Awesome Views

Caves with Awesome Views

I am always excited about my next trip and spend hours researching and planning. It is my passion and I am continually driven to explore. Where should I go next??

Mother’s Day Reflection: To Advise or Not to Advise??

I love my mom dearly, I admire her and aspire to be like her. But there is one way in which I am definitely different from my mom. As Mother’s day weekend approaches, I sit and reflect on that difference, is it good or bad??

Sand drawing my daughter and I made  in New Zealand on our road trip

Sand drawing my daughter and I made in New Zealand on our road trip

The deal is….. I am much more involved and attached to my children (particularly my girls) than my mom was with her 5 children. Part of that is generational, I don’t think parents read to their children so much 30 or 40 years ago. They didn’t go to “meet the teacher” nights or have to check nightly homework. I never had movie or breakfast dates with my mom. I certainly never discussed boyfriend issues with her, that was reserved for sisters and best friends.

Mom and daughter in Machu Picchu

Mom and daughter in Machu Picchu

I really believe, though, that even if my mom raised kids today, she would keep a healthy distance. She is on Facebook with all her children and grand-children and never, ever passes judgement on any of one of them, no matter how scathing a photo or comment may be. I have never heard her offer an opinion or give advice to any of her five children on any of their life choices.

Contrast that with me. I just can’t help myself, I have this innate need to dole out advice to my kids all the time. Being a silent, supportive bystander is pretty-much impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I am super supportive, but I hate seeing anyone unhappy, so I always try to “help” with a hundred ideas and solutions. So I asked myself which style is better? My mom’s or mine? Or are they just different.

Pros to Helpful Parenting – I think the bond I have with my kids is amazing. I like knowing all about their lives. I love that we can talk about anything and love offering suggestions and resources to them. Isn’t that what moms do? ….. Help their kids.

I have always had wonderful one-on-one dates with my children: out for lunch, the movies or long walks. I have taken big trips with them. I highly recommend mother-daughter adventure trips. I can’t tell you how connected you feel when the two of you have climbed a tough mountain together, apartment-hunted in Manhattan or slept in a car because you couldn’t find a hotel. Crazy times we will remember and treasure forever.

Cons to Helpful Parenting – People learn from making mistakes, their own mistakes. So backing off is going to allow them to do that. It is like the saying goes, “Sometimes the best help, is no help at all”

Children should be following their own heart! If you continuously offer answers and ideas, they will end up following your heart.

In the end, weighing the pros and cons of my “helpfulness”, I think my mom had some wisdom I should learn from. I have amazing kids and I need to trust them to figure out all of life’s issues. I need to listen and support and not be so quick to want to be the “all-fixing” and “all-knowing” mom. So on this Mother’s Day, I owe a big Thank You to my mom for the many lessons she taught me, but most importantly to be a listener, not an advisor.