we have snow!

Woke up a short while ago to a Winder Wonderland, and I better enjoy it while it’s there. Won’t last many hours as the temperature is +5C, but for now, Saint John’s Old North End looks really spiffy. I wish it would though … at least for the two, coming days.

Tomorrow is [obviously] Christmas Eve and it would have been cool (!) to have snow, while watching Donald Duck on the computer at 10AM [on the Atlantic Time Zone].

I’ve been cleaning and scrubbing but not at all the way I used to in younger days. This time, I decided that Christmas will come, regardless of if I’ve dragged out the whole linen cabinet and scrubbed the walls there. I’ve set up a few, little projects for myself each day, and most of them are completed. Last night, I took out the drawers in the kitchen and cleaned them … the fridge is up to snuff.

Gerry and I decided, this year, to give ourselves one, really useful, Christmas gift so I now have a black, gleaming, external harddrive sitting here on my desk! What a treat! 1TB and I’m slowly but surely transferring photos there. I was so behind, burning DVD:s and my own harddrive was filling up.

My sister-in-law, back in Sweden had one too. I showed her, that she could select many files at the same time — she didn’t have to transfer them, one at the time — by pressing either CTRL or holding down the SHIFT-key. She thought that was just a marvellous revelation! The thing was, she was constantly sitting and playing around with the touch-pad on her laptop, sort of moving it round and round, which caused her ending up with 30,000 duplicates at one time! Imagine the job to sort that out!

gratitude

When you’re feeling really «down and out» … when you’re really sick … when there’s something terrible that you know you have to endure … Does it help you to think about all the ones in much worse conditions/circumstances than yourself? The ones with no feet, when you have feet but no shoes?

I often think of things that I’m really thankful for and I even wrote a blog post about the little things in life [http://wp.me/p1xrrk-1QN], but question is … does it make me happier to think about all the people in worse conditions. I think not. Gratitude is one thing, but were I in a state of depression, it sure wouldn’t grant me any brighter outlook, thinking about all the misery in this world. Rather the opposite.

Now before Christmas, there are always two ‘commercials’ appearing on TV and both of them make me equally sad. One is about starving children in Africa and they play John Lennon’s «So this is Christmas» in the background. The other one is about abused and neglected animals, with Sarah McLaughlan … there they play «You were always on my Mind» with Willie Nelson.  Both of them break my heart.

Thinking about all the misery can help you to put things in a different perspective. I really am happy and thankful for this warm apartment and this computer with Internet connection, where I can sit and type instead of dragging a shopping cart around the streets of Saint John, checking out garbage cans for stuff. I’m happy enough … not in any state of euphoria, but reasonably happy and content. I have all that I could possibly wish for and I don’t go out chasing happiness. If I can make a difference in someone’s life — I will.

The soggy day outside doesn’t affect my mood at all, but I’d enjoy a bit of snow.

This post was merely an experiment. I typed it up without stopping or hesitating … not knowing if I’d post it or not. Just wanted to put my thoughts down on the screen and it was inspired by this post, that I’d just read.

PS: And since this is an experiment, I’d like to add something after having read it through. Those two commercials are only put out before the Christmas season … never in June, for example. They’re about money/giving, but the only effect they have on me is that they make me want to sit in a dark corner and cry my eyes out. Cry, over the meanness of the people of this world and the fact that there’s is nothing I possibly can do about them.

new theme

I’m very pleased with this nice, new theme they just announced. When I read in the email that it was Justin Tadlock who had created it, I immediately thought it was one of those premium themes, but not so! It’s free! Click the link for more info about it. I like also how my little Christmas animal came out in the header 🙂 Doesn’t take much to keep me amused!

I remembered his name from back when I had self-hosted WordPress. For a long time, I used one of his themes, called Structure. It was quite awesome, but somehow it all turned into a pay-site, and I found another good one. I like themes that have lots of features and options.

In connection to last night’s post about Christmas traditions, Swedish national TV announced today, that DonaldDuck will be streamed live online LOL. Only in real time, so I won’t be able to watch it at 3PM but rather 10AM due to the time difference.

Are you ready for Christmas?

That’s a question that Joss brought up in her blog yesterday. I started to write a comment there; it was getting longer and longer …almost turning in to a blog entry of its own. The question has lingered, brought up memories, today as I was doing some cleaning here. Christmas evokes many memories and emotions with people and I’m no exception.

We all have traditions with regards to holidays, and they vary throughout life. I don’t have the same traditions now as I had as a kid, sufficeth to say, as my mom is no longer alive, but back then we celebrated a rather typical, Swedish Christmas. Getting out of bed on Christmas Eve morning was wonderful. The tree was dressed — it was never lit until Christmas Eve, the house smelled good from all kinds of cooking and baking. Even though my mom wasn’t all that interesed in cooking normally, certain things just had to be done for Christmas — that was just ‘the way things should be’. Breakfast would be rice porridge with sugar and cinnamon, a certain dark brown bread. Later on we all had dinner together with her brother and his lady friend, but we had to be back home for 3PM when Donald Duck was on TV. This is (was?) a rather strange, Swedish tradition ever since 1957 I believe it was. The whole country came to a stand-still on Christmas Eve at 3PM because of this. Everybody watched it and knew it by heart because it was the same show each year. Recognition can be powerful. We all watched Santa’s Workshop and waited for some little santa to paint chess boards with checkered paint!!!

When that was over … that was about the time Santa would arrive. I don’t remember how old I was when I realized he wasn’t really ‘real’, but I do remember one year when I got convinced he existed! Santa was late … I kept nagging my mom, wondering WHEN he would show up, so finally she told me to call him and ask. She gave me a phone number. That was it! If Santa had a phone and even picked up, then there was no doubt any more!

Now the anticipation of receiving gifts had been building up for a long time. To be honest, as a child I think gettings gifts was the peak of the Christmas. I can’t speak for everyone but I think it is for many kids. Strangely enough now, thinking back, I can’t remember any particular gift that really stands out in my memory, but I do remember one that my brother got! Maybe because how happy he got and how unexpected it was. He’d been wishing for a certain kind of leather jacket that was popular at the time … perhaps he was sixteen … but he had never expected to  get one.

Early on Christmas Day it was time for Church. 6 or 7 in the morning, depending on which church you went to. We always went to my mom’s ‘home church’, quite a ways outside town. I might add that in Sweden, it’s Christmas EVE that is the big thing.

As I got older, started to work and had a home of my own, things changed slightly. I did all the things that you, as a woman, should do — I cleaned my little apartment as a maniac, regardless of whether it was necessary or not, I cooked most of the foods, I baked even though I didn’t like to bake, but I did cut back on a lot of stuff. On Christmas Eve I had my Mom over, most of the times, and later on we went to my brother, who now had a big family of his own. Then it was all over and I was back with my friends doing what we usually did.

I remember my co-workers, who were all older than I … they were married and had families … talking about all their plans for Christmas … how they were going to either visit with, or having relatives over all the time …lots of events for each day of the holiday. Sometimes when I listened to them, I could feel a slight twist of … not envy, but perhaps longing. It all sounded so nice but also somewhat stressful. Later in life, I’ve talked with one of them about this … she who had the most to do … and as she thought back at these times, she said that she used to feel envious of me!

The last Christmases before I left Sweden, I was living alone and was perfectly happy with that. I’d come to terms with my life and with Christmas too. At that age, I’d cut back a lot … thought it over … and only had the foods that I really liked, brought out a few but dear Christmas decorations, went to midnight Mass in town. I was content with that, but I could sense that I was being pitied by some. One of my friend’s kids … he felt so sorry for me so he asked his mum if they couldn’t invite me for Christmas Eve! She knew better, and explained to him that I was happy with my way of living … she knew me that well.

Little did I know back then, that I would meet Love and move to another country … create new Christmas traditions … having different foods … different decorations, except one that I brought with me 🙂

Challenges

This year is coming to an end … twelve days left now. This WordPress challenge was a great idea and it has meant a lot on many levels. I’ve connected with people I wouldn’t have met without it. It’s been tough, at times, to come up with topics, hence there have been many crappy posts here.

As I’ve written about before here, December 31st will be my last post in this blog. January 1 I’ll go back to Blogger and my newly set up blog Colder Weather. I will not take part in Post-a-Day 2012. I will go on posting the same way as I’ve done here, but without the pressure of posting once a day.

I will probably lose readers, and that’s sad, but I really like it over there.

This post is inspired by Marge, over at Inside Out Café. She wrote today about a few other challenges that are out there, and a few more appear in the comments section. There’s a lot of fun stuff to take part in if you’re up for it.

The year before this WP-challenge, I took part in Photo-a-Day, and failed miserably … twice, even, so I doubt I’ll do any challenge at all next year. I’ll just keep purring along to the beat of my own drum.

A friend back home has started to take daily walks around town …basically to feel better, I think. Anyway, he sent me those lovely pictures of my town and I’m sharing them here with his permission.

Facebook

Most of us are on Facebook these days. Very few of the people I know have chosen to ‘refuse Facebook’. I never had much fun there before the group for my hometown started. Now I understand a little more why many people like it so much.  It’s all good, if you know what you’re doing there and how to set your privacy.

Yesterday they released a new feature … the «Timeline». That’s alright too, it used to be very cumbersome to scroll back in time, if you wanted to find some old posting.  The fun thing is … when they introduce something new … to read all the comments they get on their own page. People go totally berserk … use all kinds of foul language, even ‘threaten’ them that they will leave Facebook *gasp!*, if they don’t take back the old design. I looked in there a few hours after they’d released this ‘timeline’, and there were already two thousand comments that bascially said «this sucks!». Facebook themselves never say a word, and after a day or two everything is back to normal …it’s all forgotten.

It’s an amazing phenomenon really … the words largest, social network, and they don’t care one bit of what people think about them. They have no support, there’s no way of contacting them when you have a problem. All they do is tell you to go to the help forum, where other members hopefully will find a solution, but most of the times they don’t. There is a way to post to them to report a bug, and then you get a kind of snotty, automated email in return that tells you that they will never respond to email.

Just a few reflections on the Timeline 🙂

I had a minor problem that I reported three times. I tried to fill in the URL [address] to my website in my profile at FB. It just wouldn’t take. It told me my settings were saved, but they were not. It vanished as soon as I hit save. Eventually it was fixed but they never said anything … I just kept going back, trying, and finally it worked the other day.

Sometimes I wonder where it all will take us and for how long it will exist. The enormity of it all is almost hard to fathom. MySpace was big in their hay-days, but not like this and not in the same way, considering the number of people and corporations that are connected.

old building

For three years we’ve lived here, and for three years I’ve been meaning to shoot a picture of this house. Finally got around to it, the other day. Struck me, at the same time, how long it has been since I took a walk downtown with the camera. This building … Caverhill Hall … is on the south side, in the northeast corner of Sydney and Mecklenburg St.

It was built during 1879-81 to replace the former home of Simeon Jones which had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1877. Jones was then mayor of Saint John and a prominent businessman.

It’s built of limestone from the area — not red brick like most other buildings in the area — and looks really different. There are columns of red granite [not visible in this photo]. The Jones couple had seen a house in Montreal that they liked, got a hold of the architect and had him draw a very similar house for them.

Over the years it has had various usages … during WWI it was used as  military headquarters, for a period it was a recreation centre for Royal Canadian Air Force but today it’s a residence again.

Source: Heritage Resources and New Brunswick Community College – Saint John 

topics

When I exported this blog to the new place, everything came with it — meaning, comments and tags too, not only the posts. Noticed that I had more than six hundred tags. I knew that they were numerous but not that many. Very few tags with many posts [except the postaday2011-tag, of course]. I made a point of it, from the very beginning, to tag them thoroughly as it makes it so much easier to find an old post, and also to be found. The only ones that had a few posts were ‘rockwoodpark‘ (9 posts) and ducks‘ (10 posts). Oh, and I see now that ‘blogging’ appears thirteen times also. Apart from that, there’s pretty much one post for each tag.

Tagging is an excellent system, perhaps even moreso for photos. My system, for storing pictures, isn’t very good; I must always make sure to tag them properly otherwise I never find them again.

I admire a guy like Quotidian Hudson River, who started out with a topic and stuck with it, even though he’s sometimes strayed away from it just a little bit, but always managed to keep the blog interesting.

 

awakening

Woke up five minutes before 6 A.M. this morning. That’s a little early for me.  The moon’s rays were trickling in through the blinds in the bedroom. It’s one day after being full moon, so it still looks pretty full to me. I got up, thinking I might get some good moon shots from the balcony. Turned on the coffee machine, which I prepare each night before going to bed. Looked out and saw that the moon was still way up in the sky. Decided to wait a while so that it would get closer to the horizon and hence look bigger. Also nice when you can get some kind of foreground. Drank my coffee, did my web stuff … looked out every now and then. Even got out and shot a few, but I was not happy with them. It was cold out there … only nine degrees below freezing, but the blustery wind made it bone chilling, and the tripod would hardly stand still. The closer it got to the horizon, the more daylight there was and after three mugs of strong, black coffee there was no point in going back to bed.

We went out later today and I saw two bald eagles in the sky. That’s always a treat! Too high up for any good shot, but just seeing them is enough for me. In Rockwood Park I shot this gull.

Rockwood Park sent out an email the other day. They wanted photos for various publications, to attract (even) more people to the park. They stated that they needed pictures with people kayaking, from the golf course, from the camp grounds et cetera. I went over to my Flickr albums, searched for all photos tagged ‘rockwood park’. Got close to 2,000 results, but only two, three with people in it! Had they asked for ducks, furry animals or morning mist I could have supplied them with oodles. Shooting people is really not my kettle of fish.

I’ll sleep like a log tonight.