Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflecting and remembering

Yesterday, the news was about the passing of Nelson Mandela. It is amazing to see the outpouring of admiration of his life's work and the collective mourning of the loss of a great leader for peace. I hope those who loved him can find their own peace as they grieve.

I am puzzled by the people who seem to feel whenever they read about someone who was renowned passing feel the need to point out their flaws, or create a some sort of proof that said person wasn't perfect. People who follow own beliefs to try and improve the world that was before them aren't going to be celebrated by everyone, but why try to smear someone's name - while people who loved them grieve? I find it mean and petty. That's an aside though.

Thinking about Nelson Mandela, my thoughts were pulled to some of the people I met, in South Africa, and their stories. In many ways, it feels like my journey as an activist for peace began on South African soil, or at least took a substantive leap into action. I was there with the Alberta Youth Animation Project on Southern Africa (AYAPSA) in 1996. I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people who had actively participated in creating change in their communities and country. Many of those people were the same age as me (16 at the time) and yet had done concrete things to create change. They gave me courage to ignore the people who told me I needed to wait until I was a bit older to participate. They articulated a desire for making the world a better place. They showed me how to live and work with hope, courage, and joy. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity that took me there, and even more grateful for the people who took time to share a part of their life with me. They helped create a change in my life, that was more profound than I could describe.

I think I am wearing 3 sweaters here, it was SO cold when we first arrived.
This Canadian is clearly spoiled by indoor heating.
Students from a school in Johannesburg

This is Miriam. I stayed with her during the third part of our journey.
She shared her story with me and challenged me to use everything within my power to create
change and act for peace. The day I left, she reminded me that I must always remember that we
work for a better world with joy in our hearts. If we loose the joy,
we loose our ability to truly create a better world.
It's been over 15 years since I was there, and I can still hear her in my head and heart.

Today, the news marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre where Anne St-Arneault; Geneviève Bergeron; Hélène Colgan; Nathalie Croteau; Barbara Daigneault; Anne-Marie Edward; Maud Haviernick; Barbara Klueznick; Maryse Laganière; Maryse Leclair; Anne-Marie Lemay; Sonia Pelletier; Michèle Richard; and Annie Turcottewere shot and killed at the l'École Polytechnique in Montreal. These young women were killed, because they were women, nothing more. Each year we remember these young women. We remember their families. We think about all the types of violence that continue - and I hope we make a pledge to find the joy in our hearts that will help build a better world.

peace to you~

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Over the long weekend - I headed down to dino-land again. While I was there something amazing happened. I was lucky to be there for the Birds of Prey demo put on by the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation. They had brought out a bunch of birds of prey which were pretty cool to see so close up. Really, how often do you see a giant bird (or a tiny one for that matter) mere feet from you?

If you have extra cash - this seems like a great place to make a donation. They are striving to rehabilitate these awesome creatures so they can return to the wild as well as providing sanctuary for birds who cannot. Pretty amazing. 

A barn owl, she (he?) kept preening, so was very puffed up the entire time.
I think they have super cool faces.
 At the zoo one of my favourite birds are the burrowing owls. At the presentation I got touch one - which was pretty cool. They're just so pretty - and SOFT.

This fella had one of the prettiest faces. I love all that I have been learning about owl's eyes - and his were just so cool, especially with that ring of beautiful feathers surrounding them. She (or he?) is a Short Eared Owl - which is a species that apparently exists on all continents apart from Antarctica and Australia.

Presently, the Foundation has a great horned owl, owlet. He still has his downy feathers and is this fluffy ball of curiousity. Throughout the time he was there he was memorized by the robins and other birds making a ruckus in the trees. We learned that as owlets they kind of dance their heads in circles, which they apparently outgrow, but it is part of the process of learning to listen and see prey - really fun to watch. His "horns" are just starting to come in. Looking at his face, I found myself thinking of Owl in Winnie The Pooh - who could raise an eyebrow just so effectively.

This is where he first spotted a robin. Complete focus. Very cool.
This was part of the head bob dance. It's pretty amazing to see just how far they can move their heads!

This little dude was the smallest (or at least youngest, he's close to the size of a burrowing owl already) fellow who came. He's quite clearly still a babe, learning presently how to stand up and stretch out his wings. His feathers are starting to come in - which makes him look kind of lumpy. He's a Swainson hawk - which according to the presentation we heard, is often that most common hawk that you see on tops of fence posts as you drive through Alberta.

The largest bird that was along was Spirit. Spirit is a Golden Eagle who came to the centre when he was found very injured. Someone had shot him - completely blinding him. Removing the pellets would have likely killed him, so he is a permanent resident at the sanctuary, adapting to living blind.

Cutest ranger I know - with Spirit
In the land of completely unexpected, I got to hold (or be a perch) for Spirit. Amazing! Not something I had guessed I would be doing. Pretty darn cool.

I joke with some of my dearest friends - that adventures with them involve looking down (with one who loves critters) and looking up (with one who loves birds). I find both quite interesting and have learned a lot travelling with them. I think Trish would have had a great time with this presentation.

Next time you're out walking, look up - there are some pretty amazing creatures up there! 
Peace to you~

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guess who's one?!

While we haven't had the fur-friend for a full year yet - Sitka turns one today. I still can't believe how fast puppies grow! I was a reluctant puppy-parent, but it's been great so far. She's stolen part of my heart and is a wonderful fluffy ball of love and companionship. I bet you were wanting pictures...

This is the first weekend we had her - how cute is she!?

Winter Begins! 

Everyone has an awkward stage it appears. 

Although awkward is the fault of her people... 

We went on an adventure to the mountains at one point. 
She's curious about everything! 
She's also getting super fluffy!

Starting to get bigger - and loving to sunbathe in the wintertime. 

This is one of the ways she sleeps that I think is hilarious and cannot be comfy, but she
 does it all the time, especially if she's waiting for Carly to come home. 

She's becoming a great cuddler! 

 She's discovered that she's a water-loving dog. Any opportunity to hop in, she's off.

These are from today - her actual birthday (or the best guest that anyone had 
in her rescue effort - and is on her paperwork)

So - happy birthday to a great puppy - I guess I need to start transitioning into calling her a dog, rather than a puppy...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dino-adventuring (a continuation)

Last weekend the kiddos came with me to see Auntie Carly and adventure around some hoodoos and dinos. Friends were also camping in the neighbouring site, which was fun. Unfortunately the mosquitoes sought to try our patience and coping skills and massive thunderstorms were a little rough on sleep, so we weren't our most happy the entire time...

BUT - if you were to ask the monsters, it was a great time. Thankfully kid memories are wonderful at focusing on what was great. I too shall try to do the same. 

Due to the crazy rain, we didn't get to go on the fossil safari we'd planned, but we went along on the alternative tour, which was fun too. 

The J-Man comparing his head to the size of the replica skull.

Our friend Derek was lost in the story or something... absent mindedly stroking the horns. 
The monster has been telling us for years that she's going to 'look at rocks' when she grows up. She's now
also considering bones. We were given a sample of stuff to sort through, to see what we see.
She's an expert sorter with way more focus than me. :)
Taking a closer look - fossilized poop is just SO cool, especially magnified.
In the exhibit hall, free from molesting mosquitoes, there was a chance for some more exploration.

Magnetic puzzles
Interpretive tent - where the walls talk!
In the afternoon we went to see Ali star in the Iron Stone Chef. It was fun. It teaches about the different kinds of fossils - and the kids were of course delighted with the trace fossil made from... you guessed it! Poop! The J-man was the applause master, which was also fun. It's great to see him all keen with a giant grin.

 The following day we had to go home, but thankfully the sun came out - and our very own guide took up on a mini-hike to find some dino-bones before going home. It was great. The kids were so excited by everything they saw.

Ironstone caps - so cool.
Pointing out the neat things he'd spotted.
Carly teaching us something cool. :)
The monster modelling a tooth. They're a smidge bigger than hers.
"Auntie Carly, what's this?"
Dino-faces again, taking by the monster. Scary, huh?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The flying of time

Sometimes it seems that time crawls, but lately it's flying, which is good in some ways. I've been working at the Nature Centre and the Zoo doing interpretation programs for kids for the last couple months and this week marks the shift from day programs, mostly with schools that would last a couple hours each, to week long camps. I can see the merit in both for sure, but I think camps are going to be a lot of fun.

When I was small - I participated (at least in my memory) in LOTS of cool summer stuff. I still have these vivid and delighted memories of making ice-cream, scones, and butter in my pioneer outfit at the John Walter Museum, or learning how sneak up on wildlife by walking silently through the forest at the Nature Centre. It's fun to get to be on the planning side now.

I'm working on a program this week called Forest Detectives. The small sleuths from the program have been presented their quandary - and now they are trying to solve the mystery of the missing garter snake! It appears he isn't lost - but has been kidnapped (or as a small sleuth pointed out - snakenapped!).

We made some log-books to keep track of our findings - all out of recycled stuff, with the exception of the binder clips. They're pretty fun - and it's great to get to watch them madly taking down their notes and compare with each other.

My log-book
 Just as we got our books made and started to try and track down some clues -  a somewhat menacing letter arrived! It confirmed it - Archie's not lost... he's stolen.

 We promptly created our: 

To record our findings. We've also been working on interrogating suspicious characters. Erin the Rabbit, the Queen Bee... It's just so hard to know who is telling the truth.

AND the letters keep coming! Who knows if we'll solve it... Poor Archie out there somewhere in the world, possibly all alone. I have faith in the little detectives though - even though keep accusing me of being a 'snake'napper.

I hope you're well - and enjoying your summer shenanigans! If you stole a snake... Give him back!

Peace to you~