Blossoms

Every year I can’t resist taking photos of my plum tree in bloom. This year it seemed to go from just budding to full blossoms in one day. It’s in full glory right now. The problem for me was trying to find a new and unique way to capture the blossoms. I mean, how many ways can you photograph plum blossoms? Well, happily I think I found one. What do you think of this?

Plum Blossoms

This morning I was up early and enjoyed the view out back of the rising sun capturing the freshly forming maple leaves. Interestingly, living in Canada my entire life, I’d never noticed that maple trees have blossoms too! I know. For shame, for shame. They just happen to be green and they’re quite lovely!

Maple Blossoms

These were taken with my cell phone and I continue to be impressed with the camera on it. However, hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to take a foray into the blossoming park-lands of Ottawa with my DSLR and capture some more.

Until next time, enjoy the nature around you whatever the season!

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10+ Years

Today would have marked my mother’s 75th birthday had she lived. It seems strange to me that it’s already been just over 10 years since she passed away. Recently I read a quote which really resonated with me. It simply read “Grief changes shape but never ends.” (Keanu Reeves) When someone dies you wonder how you’ll live without them. Then, as time passes, you learn that you can go on but you cling to the memories. I doubt a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom. It may be a fleeting thought or it may be more deeper and longer…a memory of something we did together. Although I miss her very much, I don’t really feel the stinging pain of loss anymore. It’s kind of morphed into something gentler, softened still more by the warmth of the memories.

This photo is one of my favourites. It was taken about 2 years before she passed away. She had come to visit and to see her first grandchild. She was unable to hold him without the aid of the pillow, but, as you can see from her smile, she was absolutely thrilled. I remember that moment like it was yesterday and I’m so happy to be able to hold on to it.

momwithanas

Love you, Mom. Happy birthday.

I See Spring

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Ottawa today. After work I sat on the back deck, sipped a beer, and soaked up the sun. It was so wonderful after such a horrible winter. Sadly, the weekend will be a bit nippy but I got some photos today that will remind me that, despite the set back over the next day or so, spring and warmer weather are definitely on their way.

Signs of life in the garden.

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Until next time…enjoy the little things. They’re often a sign of bigger and better things. 🙂

Procrastination and Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone

procrastination-whyHell ya.

I do both. A lot…and not in any particular order. And they are, theoretically, diametrically opposed. I’m better at procrastinating but I’m working on the other.

Actually, right now I’m eating a bag of chips.

Actually, right now I’m procrastinating. I’m supposed to be doing work for…work…

This whole going back to work thing is, believe it or not, going beyond my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I love people, I love being challenged, but I also love being under a blanket on my couch. BUT…You can’t make money doing that. Not really…not like the ads that tell you you can. Nope. You really can’t. Unless you have a really high interest on your savings account (does that even exist ANYWHERE?).

Anyway, my new job involves calling people on the phone. Lots of calling people on the phone. No matter how social I may seem, talking on the phone has never been my forte. I mean, I would just rather text or email. But I don’t like that about myself and so, I’m pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. At work, I try really hard to find more important things to do than call people…you know…procrastinate…but phoning people IS my job so I’ve brought myself to the edge, I’ve forced myself out of that comfort zone and said…you have to do this so do it NOW!

At work there’s not time for procrastination and I always function better under structure. Give me all the time in the world and I’m screwed. NOTHING…and I mean nothing…will ever get done. Light a fire under my ass and I’m the most productive person you’ve ever seen. I suppose a lot of people are like that but some are better at self-motivation than others. Anyway, the gist of all this is that I’m right where I should be and procrastination is becoming a thing of the past.

Well…almost. (I’d better get to work)

Until next time…tell me about your work habits (corporate or otherwise) in the comment section! You can procrastinate a little…but come on! Tell me NOW!! 🙂

Sliding into the Wild World of Business Travel

toronto_downtownI know I haven’t been “around” lately and I do apologize for that. My new life as a career person has created the need for re-prioritization of my activities…especially this week. The company I work for is, simply put, a train the trainer company. We train people how to be efficient and effective trainers. My role in the company is sales and customer support and, in order to do that effectively, it was decided that I should take a few of the workshops our company offers. Makes sense. The only workshop that was convenient both time and location-wise was in Toronto soooo this week I slid, head first, into the wild world of business travel for the first time of my life.

A week ago Sunday, I hopped the VIA Ottawa-to-Toronto-milk-run train for the 5 hour ride over hill and dale. For the most part, I don’t mind trains except that the older trains provide no lumbar support in the seats and wow! UNCOMFORTABLE. Also, I ate a ham and cheese sandwich which VIA should have paid me $7 to eat. It was truly the worst sandwich I’ve had since the last time I ate one on a VIA train (probably more than 10 years ago). Aside from those two complaints, the ride went smoothly and I was at Union Station before dark. Not that it really mattered whether it was dark out or not…

torontoI recently discovered that Toronto has a huge population of mutant mole people. They commute between work and transit in a large maze of underground tunnels. I had no idea, as a tourist, that this “underworld” existed but I found out all about it this time around. I was staying at the Sheraton on Queen Street which is accessible from Union Station through these tunnels. Now, lest you are envisioning me clamoring through dark, damp, stone tunnels, I’d better set your mind at ease. It is like walking through a very long mall (30 km to be precise): shiny tile floors, bright lighting, and lined with more stores and cafes than you’ve seen in a month of Sundays. The phenomenon is aptly named “The Path“.

Now, I know that many large cities have something similar so it’s likely not a “new” thing to everyone. Being a hick from Ottawa, though, where we have to bear the brunt of mother nature at every turn, The Path is quite an intriguing experience. I wouldn’t say that I love it, but it was convenient. It was much easier than trying to wheel my suitcase up Bay St. around construction and hoards of people and over all the bumps and cracks in the sidewalk. It was also a great place to grab a meal during our workshop one-hour lunch breaks and, with several Irish pubs sprinkled along The Path, we were able to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style.

suite_cotThe worst part of the trip was arriving at the Sheraton and discovering that I didn’t have a room booked. This was likely due to a miscommunication at work, which I’m sure will be ironed out, and really, in the end, was not a big deal. BUT for a first time business traveler, facing a hotel receptionist with the deer-in-the-headlights look, it’s a bit unnerving. Luckily for me, the hotel was very accommodating and, although they were fully booked, they put me in a suite room and I slept on a cot. No…not a cot…a COT with a 12″ mattress.  On Monday morning they got me into a nice cozy room and I enjoyed it for the rest of the week.

Overall, I’d say that business travel would be fun once or twice a year but that’s about it. I suppose if one had to do it all the time, you would get used to all the inconveniences of not being home, but it’s not anything like travelling for fun with your family and friends. In fact, the biggest thing I had trouble with was trying to find the inspiration to eat. I really had no desire to eat alone or to grab yet another tuna wrap from the cafe downstairs. I was happiest, after a day of training, to go back to my room, get into my pj’s and crawl into bed to watch TV.

The nice thing about trying something once is you get to see all the aspects for yourself. You get to make decisions on what you liked and what you didn’t, and, if the opportunity presents itself again, you know how you might handle it differently or what you might keep the same. If I got asked to travel for work again, I’d do it for sure. I love adventure. 🙂

Until next time…tell me about your business travel experiences in the comments! I love a good story! 🙂

Sublime Photography

I appreciate the art of digital photography very much. I also enjoy taking pictures for which I think I have a good eye but I don’t have the greatest equipment. I do what I can with what I have but I really admire those who can create gorgeous imagery. There are a lot of photos online these days and it takes a while to sort through them all to find the sites of those who have risen above the sea of mediocrity. I follow a handful of amazing photographers on their blogs or Facebook and I thought I would mention them here in a post so that you, too, can enjoy their work.

Leanne Cole from Australia who creates the most stunning black and white images.

Waves Crashing on Rocks - Leanne Cole Photography
Waves Crashing on Rocks – Leanne Cole Photography

Willie Ford (Balrath Photography) in Ireland whose HDR photos are both dynamic and serene at the same time.

Foggy Morning at the Boathouse - Willie Forde
Foggy Morning at the Boathouse – Willie Forde

Sven Fennema from Germany whose architectural shots (both interior and exterior) are exquisite.

Monumental - Sven Fennema
Monumental – Sven Fennema

Olga Viarenich whose images can only be described as exquisitely luminous.

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Olga Viarenich

Aren’t they amazing?

Until next time… Seek out the gems.

Pictures from a Year Ago

We Canadians here in Ottawa were celebrating joyfully these past few days as the temperatures rose above 0C (32F) for the first time in a long time. It has been years (20, to be precise) since we’ve had such cold temperatures and for such a length of time. In Ottawa, February was the coldest ever recorded! As Brackenreid (from one of my favourite shows, Murdoch Mysteries) would scoff “BLOODY HELL!”.

Occasionally, I’ll look back at my photos from the same day a year ago (or more) just to see what I was up to or compare weather, etc. Interestingly, I discovered my photos from March 8, 2014 revealed a scene not unlike that of yesterday. I remember taking those photos and how thrilled I was to see the results of the thawing snow forming large puddles on the walking path. I took a similar delight this year…and probably have every year of my life!

It will likely be a bit of a temperature roller-coaster until May, going above 0 and then dipping below again but I won’t be surprised to see most of my compatriots running around in T-shirts by the time it hits PLUS 10C (50F). We’re a hardy and slightly “off the rocker” bunch…and we LIKE it that way!

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Until next time…be sure to dress appropriately for the weather! 😉