Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Window or Aisle?

What type of flyer are you? Are you a window person or an aisle person? I have recently had occasion to travel in an airplane. I booked my ticket and selected my aisle seat. It caused me to wonder. Does anyone ever deliberately book the middle seat? Are there travellers who say " I´d better hurry and book my seat lest I lose out on a chance at the centre." or " I´m travelling alone and I sure hope there´s still a seat available in between two strangers."

To me, the middle is the default seat. It´s the seat where a family puts their kid. It´s the seat where the wife of a couple often sits...her spouse, being either a window or an aisle person. It´s the seat that you get if the aircraft is full and you have not prebooked.

I assume that window people enjoy the view which of course consists mainly of clouds and darkness. They are obviously not too shy to request that a stranger undo his headsets, seatbelts and other paraphernalia. Then go ahead and balance their snacks precariously and fold up trays in order to allow the window person, to visit the facilities.

Aisle people on the other hand, tolerate being rammed by carts, whether they be of the  food, duty free, drink or garbage variety. They particularly like it when someone squeezes between their seat and the cart, pulling whatever loose clothing item they are wearing half way up the airplane, only to allow it to shoot back, mishapen, seconds later.

I am an aisle person. My reasons include the following:
     Firstly, an innate need for freedom and not wanting to feel captive between a person and a wall.
     Secondly, being able to visit the tiny toilet at will without having to climb over strangers or ask them to do any of the above mentioned things.
     Finally and most importantly, "FEAR"! I have the crazy notion that were something to happen, I´d be one of the first to follow those lighted aisle floor strips whilst attached to the oxygen mask and wearing my not yet inflated life vest.

I hate looking outside. I do not want to know how far from the ground I am. What is it about window people that they need to share this information?  They would shout things like "Look...the Grand Canyon", and I would of course pretend to be asleep, all the while imagining the now much greater distance between the plane and the ground.

So, recently,  as I flew by myself, I lucked out. Nobody had prebooked the middle seat. Shocking! There was an empty space between me and the window person. As I observed him, I learned that some window people have no interest in the view. In fact, he was engrossed in paper work during the whole trip. Some people do not need to budge from their seat...perhaps that´s why he selected the window...not to be disturbed by the aisle person, me, who needed to get up 3 or 4 times during the eight hour flight.

So, what are you? Window person, aisle person OR  are you one of the people who sits in the highly covetted centre seat, willingly or not?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Run Fauja, Run

I enjoyed the movie "Forrest Gump", although I never did quite understand why he did all the running. "I just felt like running", he responded when asked. He ran for three years. One day, he stopped. By then, his hair and beard had grown down to his chest.

Running is solitary. Even when it takes place in a large group, it's an individual activity. For some, this sport seems to be very liberating. For others, covering a prescribed distance in a certain amount of time is considered a major personal achievement. Then there are those who simply enjoy the "runner's high" attained from the rush of endorphins in the body.

There was a brief time when I considered running in a marathon...not a full one, a partial one. It seemed like a worthy goal, something else to add to the list of things I'd done in my lifetime. For a variety of reasons, I lost interest, although I did manage a 5k run. It was just five kilometers, but nonetheless an accomplishment. I was 60 years old at the time and it was January...brrr. It satisfied me. I was done.
 I know there are professionals who run in every marathon possible. Some participate in quarter and half marathons for added training or competitive opportunities, although to many, those races are more like a fun run or a walk in the park. How frustrating it must be for the newer competitors who are huffing and puffing to complete a run, as experienced racers zoom past, pushing baby strollers as an added challenge. On the other hand, perhaps it provides them with inspiration...a goal to aspire toward. 

According to Wikipedia, there are over 500 marathons that take place in the world each year. The official marathon distance is just over 26 miles or 42 kilometers. Runners travel from far away places to participate in the more prestigious and challenging of these events. The most well recognized North American marathons take place in Boston, New York and Chicago. In fact, shortly after crossing the finish line of the most recent Chicago marathon, one of the runners started having contractions. She gave birth a short time later. Amazing!
Not to be outdone by this very newsworthy event in Chicago, Toronto's recent Waterfront Marathon captured media as well as Guiness Record Book attention. This past weekend, over 20 thousand people from many parts of the world took part in the Toronto marathon. There were olympians and world record holders. There were ordinary citizens, young and old. Among them, was another bearded runner, Fauja Singh. What made him unique was the fact that he was 100 years old, the oldest person ever to complete a marathon run. It is said that he began training and running marathons when he was 80. For some, it's clearly never too late. He completed the Waterfront Marathon in just over 8 hours. Dare I say that there are many half his age who couldn't even stay awake that long?

Appropriately, his participant number was 100.

So this blog is dedicated to Fauja, an inspiration. May he keep on running well into his next century.

***Thanks to R. Piat for the photo of Mr. Singh

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mid to Late October

I have to say that I love the summer. I enjoy being warm, having barbeques, eating watermelon, drinking beer, wearing minimal clothing and all the rest of what summer brings. Next to the summer, I like the time between Thanksgiving and Halloween the best.

Thanksgiving weekend has just ended. The leaves are changing colour. Orange pumpkins and dried corn husks are bountiful. Fall crops are abundant. The definitive colours are oranges, reds, browns and yellows. Lovely. With each special celebration, I enjoy decorating. I pulled out my "Autumn" bin and spewed seasonal items around my house.

Croton, not crouton

A friend of mine recently said, "I can't believe you have seasonal bins". She should have seen them before I downsized! On my porch, there are scarecrows sitting on a hay bale, a wreath and a lovely plant which I placed outside because of the fall-like colours. I have to be careful of frost but there appears to be no threat of any for awhile. In fact, we have had pretty nice weather.  

Thanksgiving in Canada has a long and varied history. Before it became established in its current form, Martin Frobisher celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Newfoundland, in 1578. This was followed by Samuel de Champlain in the early 1600's. Celebrations accompanied by large feasts came about for a variety of travels, wars and rebellions ending and so on.  
Some decor such as pilgrim statuettes are more of an American tradition dating back to the arrival of the ship, the Mayflower. On the other hand, many Americans who eventually moved to Canada brought their traditions with them. We have gladly adopted some and melded them with ours.

I'm not certain at what point the cornucopia, or horn of plenty, was added to the Thanksgiving decor mix, but it represents abundance and has become a meaningful part of our celebrations as well.



And finally, the best part of Thanksgiving of course, is getting together with friends and family, remembering those who are no longer with us and being grateful for those who are.

Soon, Halloween will be here. I love Halloween...but that's another topic.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Primitive Designs

One of the official greeters...the other is an elephant
Four years ago I visited a place called "Primitive Designs". I found it somewhat barn like but nonetheless fascinating. It had unusual and exotic items for sale. I have not had an opportunity for a return visit until this past week. What a surprise to see the expansion and the wonderful, unique items that had been amassed. It is great for photography, beautiful for browsing and fabulous for gift shopping. The furnishings, the art, the sculptures, the pottery, the odds and ends could keep a person entertained for hours. The grounds are filled with totem poles, pottery, statues and more. By more, I mean wildlife....bunnies, chipmunks and the like. Thanks to Rhonda for encouraging people to take photos. It's pretty hard to really "see" it all in one trip. I will definitely be visiting more often after my most recent experience.  Here are some of the highlights.  

A very small overview of a very overwhelming space
Guardian of all things glittery

Masks, masks and more masks
Gorgeous carved door
They even kept their own teeth and hair.
Wouldn't want to meet him on a dark street.


They even have items for royalty.
Peace and Calm
Jumbo fish for a giant lizard
And finally, amongst the treasures, where's da weal wabbit?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Masses of Monarchs

"Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."   Nathaniel Hawthorne

Today, I went to the lake with a friend. We took some photos. I know monarch butterflies like milkweed, but was really surprised to see so many butterflies on fragrant flowers. I experimented with some editing effects. How about ye olde fashioned black and white? Same yellow flowers.
And now for the purple posie population of butterflies. I actually think this is some variety of late blooming lilac but I can't be sure. They were very fragrant and monarchs are known to use lilacs as a food source.
 I've heard it said that butterflies are considered good luck in Germany. If this is the case, I certainly saw my share of lucky "schmetterling" today. Or perhaps, the luck is in the opportunity to view so many of these lovely flitting and floating creatures.