Saturday, December 18, 2010

"K" is for Keeping Family Traditions

Many of us have family traditions, those special and unique customs that we have either started ourselves or that began long ago and have been handed down from generation to generation.  Whether it's a game of Uno every saturday afternoon or going on a cruise every year for a birthday or an  anniversary, these traditions are very special to us and are meant to be kept and passed on.

Many of the most sacred family traditions take place during the Christmas Season when we all get together to spend quality time with the ones we love the most.

My family has a very unique tradition that my relatives have been taking part in for many Holiday Seasons.  It means so very much to us, and I hope it continues on for many generations to come.

While I was growing up we never had a Christmas Tree.  When my friends would talk about what kind or what colours their trees would be decorated with, I couldn't wait until they asked me about mine so that I could tell them that we didn't have a tree, that we had something we thought was better, we had "Our Santa" instead.  They would be a little confused and would have to see him to understand.  But when they did, they would all love him, almost as much as we did. 

The black and white pictures above are of "Our Santa" in his early years soon after his inception.  The additional pictures of him were taken more recently, and the one below was taken last year at my little sister's house where he now resides.

I wasn't yet born when "Our Santa" was created so I asked my Mom to tell me what she remembers, and she told me that years ago in the 1940's my Great-Grandmother, who we called Nanny, became a Grandmother and wanted to do something special for her Grandchildren for Christmas, something to make the holidays jollier. She decided to make them "Our Santa".  She had an old dress form that she put my Great-Grandfather's old pants and jacket on.  These were stuffed to make the shape of the body.  The head was also stuffed and attached to the dress forms neck.  His hat was sewn and had cotton batting for trim and a pom-pom, his face was a full piece cotton mask with hair and a beard.  It has been replaced over the years, and he sometimes wears glasses.  Pieces of red fabric were hand pinned over the clothes to make the pants, cotton batting was pinned as trim and my great-grandfather's old gum boots gave him feet.  The same was done to make his arms, yet gloves were attached for hands.  Fabric was draped, pleated and pinned to make the shirt of his suit.  It was all done in pieces, pinned on by hand.  Cotton batting trims the shirt and his black belt was added around his belly which is made as fat or as slim as you want it to be by the amount of stuffing added.  At one time there was an object in his belly that when pushed would make "Our Santa" HO HO HO.  Sometimes the sound startled people, but us kids pushed it so often I think we eventually broke it.  My Great-Grandfather's old service bag was used, and has been ever since, as Santa's sack for toys.  To remember the real reason for celebrating Christmas my family had always had our Nativity Scene set up under, beside or near him.

"Our Santa" was passed down from my Great-Grandmother to my Grandmother, then down to my Mom and all of my three siblings have had their turns setting him up in their homes for Christmas.  I have had the Nativity Scene passed down to me, and as I am sitting here typing this I can see it, and I get a warm feeling inside.

Growing up with our family tradition of having "Our Santa" watch over us at Christmas and knowing he will be put up and loved for many more years makes me smile and very happy.  I want to thank my Nanny for creating him, for putting all of the love and care into a project that has given so much joy to so many of us.  And a thank you to my Nana and Mom for carrying on the tradition that I have cherished for so long.

Do you have any family Christmas traditions that you have had passed down to you, or any new Christmas traditions that you just started or want to start?  I hope you do and that those traditions make you very happy and continue to do so,  Merry Christmas!    

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"J" is for Judging Others, Too Much I Think

People judge eachother everyday, we have all done it.  We've judged and we have been judged and judgement can come in all shapes and sizes.  There have been stories in the news about children being judged and bullied by their peers so badly that they are killing themselves.  Who is to blame?

Is it the bullied child for taking things too seriously, the bullies for being so cruel, the bus driver that ignores the bad behaviour on the bus, the school officials for not penalizing the bullies, the parents of the bullies for not teaching their children how to treat others or the parents of the bullied not teaching their children how to stick up for themselves or that nothing anyone can say or do to them should matter because they are good and kind and that they are loved?

Or is blaming anyone just judging people all over again?

Who do people think they are to be judging anyone anyway, why do they think they have that right?  Don't the old sayings "take a walk in someone else's shoes" or "those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks" mean anything anymore?  Or for those of us that believe in God, why don't we follow the Golden Rule and "Treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves"?  Or like my Mom used to say "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"

There are so many more ways and places to judge people nowadays.  The social networks, forums and chat rooms run rampant with judgements.  People tearing eachothers clothes, looks, beliefs or ideas down seem almost common place in these days with so much technology.

Honestly I find it all depressing.  I think there are better things for us to do with our time and voices, more constructive things, more positive things.  So the next time you want to put someone down, think how you would feel if someone did it to you, touched on a vulnerability of yours, and stay in that unempowered moment for a few seconds and feel the weakness it provides.

There is a quote from an Unknown source that I find fitting for this topic:  "The tongue weighs practically nothing, but so few can hold it".  I urge you to be that someone that does.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"I" can't wait.......

This is going to be a different post than usual, but this topic has driven me nuts for years.

Other than a few "tweets" here and there, I have pretty much kept this to myself.  But the ugly truth is that:
"I can't stand Oprah and I can't WAIT for her to go off the air!"

I know this is probably not a really popular opinion as she has so many fans and viewers.  I may even catch some flack for writing this but don't particularly care.  If I can't speak my mind on my own blog, then where can I?  I learned that lesson from a very special person and friend of mine.  She says it like it is, and damn those that don't agree with it.  This one is for you, TL.

It's not that I don't think Oprah hasn't done any good in this world, because she has.  She built all of those house for families that lost everything in Katrina, she brought the world Dr. Phil, Dr. OZ and Nate, and is giving educations to girls in Africa who would never have had those opportunities otherwise.  It's not like I haven't given her a chance and tried to like her, because I have, I really have.  I have even tried to watch her show on a daily basis during my hospital stays.  But there are things that she does that make me want to pull my hair out, so I end up having to change the channel.

Sometimes when she asks guests questions, she cuts them off or interrupts them and they don't always look happy about it.  It's worse when after she asks the question, she herself answers it or quotes someone else's answer.  She has done that so much during one show that the show should have been all about her instead of the chosen topic for the day.

I have also found her to be hypocritical at times, such as her comments about never eating beef again, and then having a show a couple of years later about where you can find the "Best Burger".   People with food issues go on her show and delve down deep as to their reasons for their food addictions, break the cycle, do the work and lose the weight.  We know she has food issues, we know she was molested but she tells the world she has a thyroid problem.  It seems to me that is a crutch and that if she really wanted to she could break the cycle, do the work and lose the weight too.  She only wanted to have her face on her magazine because she didn't feel good about showing her whole body,  I thought that was really honest until I found out that her pictures of her face are air-brushed.  She goes on and on about being your "Authentic Self", but she doesn't stand behind it so why should her audience invest in it for themselves.

I hope in the last year that she is on the air that she can deal with her issues better and do the work, and really become her own "Authentic Self".


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"H" is for Hope!

I asked my friends on Facebook to help me with suggestions for a topic for the letter "H", and "hope" was the most chosen subject matter.

This tells me a few things: Either many people have a lot of hope and want everyone to know about it, OR things are so bad in our society today that people need some hope that their lives will get better.

Incredibly, as I sat contemplating this post and what I would write about, I saw quite a few commercials on television about this very topic, not hope exactly, but the idea that the future could be improved, a reason to give a person hope.  Health issues, Social Services, and Politics were just some of the ads I saw.

The number of ads for research and medications to help various illnesses were high.  In about two hours of watching t.v. I saw that there are many research studies going on to try to find cures for various diseases.  Having a chronic and incurable disease myself, I could only imagine how wonderful my future would be if there was a cure to make me healthy, and more able to enjoy my life by being able to do the things that I can only dream about now.  I have hope that day will soon come.  Can you imagine how much better your life would be if you could just take a pill and have your diabetes, high blood pressure or whatever ails you be under control for the day, giving you the freedom to do whatever you want?  New medications and procedures are being discovered everyday to give people the chance to do just that, and with those discoveries comes hope for a brighter future.

There were ads for Big Brothers and Sisters and other children's groups.  These programs bring joy, happiness and acceptance into a young persons life.  Their self-esteem blossoms from the friendships that they make and the new opportunities they have give them hope for a better life.  For kids from broken or single parent homes, the programs they can get involved in are priceless for their future.  Being in at risk situations sometimes, these kids don't generally have the same benefits as others, but having great programs for them to get involved in can make a huge difference in their lives.

Right now in Canada we are getting ready to exercise our right to vote on City Council and Mayoral races.  We hope that we check the right box and make the best decision about who's hands we are putting our Municipality in.  We also hope that we get the things that we need in our communities to help the citizens and get the things that were promised to us during the race.

There are many things that are going wrong in our world right now, from big problems like Global Warming, the Gulf Oil Spill and the economy to individual problems that we all have and want to be resolved.  In some cases we may be able to do some things to help ourselves out of undesirable situations, but other times these problems are just out of our hands.  When we can't do anything to help, at least we can HOPE.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"G" is for God, What must He think?

While watching TV shows, listening to the news and reading current events on the Internet I have come across situations where people do things that just blow my mind and make me wonder what God must think.  I imagine Him up in heaven just shaking His head and wondering how the humans that He created in His image could act so unlike Him.

Some people do immoral, illegal and definitely cruel things in His name, and they really believe He told them to do these things or that he would actually be pleased with their behaviour.  There are other people that take His word, verses from The Bible, and pick out single sentences using them out of context, twisting the words around to make them fit their cause.  And there are others that remind me of young kids playing in schoolyards, because they haven't grown up or matured enough to be able to interact with others without situations escalating out of control.  These people and situations really make me angry and sad at the same time.

There was an Oprah repeat on the other day about a man named Tony Alamo.  He honestly believes that he is God's prophet and that He speaks directly to him.  He had a ministry with his wife, which seemed more like a cult, until she died.  He placed her body on a table in their home and had his parishoners pray over her for six months.  He said that God told him she would rise from the dead, be resurrected.  She didn't, but for some reason the people still followed him and "his word" anyway.  Alamo had many "spiritual" wives that he wasn't legally married to, some of them were as young as eight years old when they had their "unions".  A few of those brave young women were on the show.  They escaped from the compound, spoke out and he is now serving an over one hundred year sentence.  These women said that he told them that God spoke to him and told him who to marry and when.  The idea that some people think and believe that God speaks to them is not a new phenomenon, it has happened before and someone else will convince others that its true again.  Being a Christian this concept really bothers me, but the seriously disgusting and blasphemous thing about it is that this guy has sex with, rapes little girls and believes that God told him to do it and actually approves of his behaviour.  That's not the God I know.

Then there was the pistol-wielding preacher from Florida, Terry Jones, that wanted to declare September 11th of this year, nine years after 9/11 the "International Burn a Koran (Qur'an) Day".  Another piece of work.  When I first heard about it I thought it was some sort of a joke.  But then an image of the Pope came on the television and the news anchor said that he and other religious leaders from around the world were very disturbed by his plans and begged him to put a stop to them.  But he wouldn't be swayed.  Eventually someone got through to him and the event was cancelled.  I actually said out loud  "What is wrong with this person?" while I was watching the story.  This guy is a Preacher and wanted to burn a book that is just as sacred to Muslims as The Bible is to Christians.  These people that profess to be Christians yet turn around and behave so intolerantly aren't pleasing God.  Do people not take the idea of  "The Golden Rule" seriously anymore?

Other situations that I wonder what God would think about are the story's of people like Bethany Storro, the girl that threw acid on her own face yet blamed it on a fake African-American woman and Ashley Kirilow, the girl that faked having Cancer on Facebook and bilked caring and compassionate people out of close to $30,000.

I just find myself wondering what this world is coming to and what can be done about it.  If everyone thought and cared about other peoples feelings, beliefs and opinions as much as they think and care about their own, would be a really good start.  Don't you think?  


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"F" is for Forgetting Children in Vehicles?

I heard a story on the news recently about a family from Toronto, Ontario visiting relatives in Houston, Texas.  I was really angry at first and could barely hold myself back from blogging about the subject.  Now I am conflicted about how I feel.  I'm sure you have heard the facts, but bare with me as I repeat them and let me know where you stand.

There were seven people in an SUV, all relatives going home from the grocery store after picking up supplies.  When they arrived back in the driveway, the Canadian couples eldest son, who is autistic, had a seizure prompting the parents to give him aid.  All of the bags of groceries were removed from the vehicle, yet the couples other child, a sweet two year-old boy, in the commotion of the moment, was left in the SUV for two hours to perish in the heat. He managed to get out of his car-seat, but due to the child-proof locks he couldn't save himself.  The temperature in the car was twice as hot as outside of it.  His body temp. was over 120 degrees, sixteen degrees hotter than when the bodies organs begin to fail.  No one is being charged.  Apparently in Houston, Texas alone, there have been thirty-six cases of children dying in super heated vehicles this summer, which is up from last year.

Now this is the tricky part..... Should the parents or other care-givers of these children be held accountable and be punished? or is losing their child (which seems to be the way it goes) be punishment enough?   I don't have kids, I don't understand all the fuss and commotion in a busy parents life and don't know how hard it can be.  But I also don't understand how anyone can forget a child in a car by accident.

There is not much debate about this, in the news all that is being said is how sad the event was.  I'm sure I'm not the only one that doesn't seem to get it.  I have heard people in the Health profession advising parents to leave something important in the backseat that they will need when they exit the vehicle, like their briefcase or purse.  Then as they grab that important object, they will see their child, remember he or she is there and take them out of the car as well.  Important object? Isn't their child an important object? Isn't the fact that your kid is in the car enough of an incentive to be responsible for them?  Don't most parents watch their children in the rear-view mirror while they are driving or interact with them?

I just don't understand.  People become outraged when a dog is left in a car in the summer in the sweltering heat, they call the police, smash through the windows, and make sure the owners are charged with cruelty to animals.  In England the other day a woman picked up a cat and put her in a garbage can, and the world is going crazy with her having to have police protection in case someone decides to throw her out.  The Police and Animal Protective Services are involved in this case about a cat, and people are up in arms.  But when children are dying in the alarming numbers that they are, nothing is done.  Why aren't these parents charged with child endangerment, accidental homicide or manslaughter?

As I have stated I'm conflicted about this topic, losing a child is obviously so much worse than anything I could possibly imagine, but doesn't that mean that you would be more careful with your kid's welfare.  Maybe if someone was punished and brought to justice, the number of these incidences would lessen instead of rise.  I feel for the family, but this was a preventable death.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"E" is for Elephants

I can't remember when my fascination with Elephants began, it was that long ago.  I have always loved them, but I remember the first time I saw one up close and was lucky enough to ride one.

When I was in grade five at John McRae School in Guelph, Ontario, where I grew up, I was a Safety Patrol, or Crossing Guard  (I remember feeling so grown up then, lol).   All of us kids in the Daminato household were involved in the Patrols, and have won awards.  My older sister was a Captain, and I was a Lieutenant.  I had won a couple of  "Gold Belts".  There were some Guelph Police Officers that worked closely with us patrols back then.  They chose a group of gold belt winners every year and took them on a trip to our Nation's Capital, Ottawa.   On that trip we went to a Circus and that is where my first Elephant ride took place.  I couldn't believe the size and majesty of them, and was touched when I looked one right in the eye.  I was so happy.

As I grew up I started collecting anything with Elephants on them and went to see them whenever and wherever I could.  I watched programs and read books and magazine articles about them.  For my birthday, whenever I was hospitalized and for Christmas my friends and family always gave me Elephant stuff.  My user name for most on-line sites is Phanti because of my love for them.

That love has changed over the years.  In my early twenties I went to a circus and saw the way the handlers were treating them.  They were using sticks with sharp pokers on the end to have them move around and do their tricks.  I was so angered by their behaviour, and at the circus owners for condoning it, that from then on I never went to a circus unless it was to protest against the horrible treatment of the Elephants.  I began to be an activist for the humane care of these gentle giants.  I fostered an Elephant from an African Reserve that I named Ishtar from infancy to seven years old, they sent me pictures of him and footprints yearly so I could see how he was maturing and changing.  It was a wonderful experience.

Then I found out about "The Elephant Sanctuary" in Hohenwald, Tennessee.  It was founded in 1995 and they operate on 2,700 acres.  It is the "largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants".  It is a non-profit organization, and it costs $125,000 a year to take care of ONE elephant.  Their goal is to rescue 100 elephants in need.  Their website is incredible, it introduces you to every elephant in the family on the property, gives in-depth information about elephants, there is a gift shop and there is even an "ELECAM" where you can tune in and watch them any time day or night.  But the most important part of the site is how you can help them raise money to give their herd all that it needs to grow and stay healthy.  There are many different ways to do this, and if you are interested in learning more about these beautiful, gentle-eyed angels on earth, or helping them rescue more of them, take a look at their site.  You can find it at  They do great work there, and as a Phanti-lover, I ask you to make a pledge to these big, beautiful trunked beasts and help to rescue them from danger, and to bring them home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"D" is for Disturbing, and Disgusting Behavior

Alleged Cancer Faker Gets Attention of Different�Sort

When I first heard this story on the news tonight, I immediately turned on my computer and knew what my next post would be about.  I had been thinking about what I should write for the letter "D", and the word disgusted just popped into my mind.  I had just written a post about Cancer, so the topic was still fresh in my mind, what this woman did really hit home.

For someone to fake being sick to get a day off school or work is understandable, everyone has done it at one time or another.  But to pretend that you are terminally ill and close to death to scam people out of their money, that is really disgusting.  Supposedly she called her family in 2009 to tell them she had bone cancer, needed a bone marrow transplant and asked them all to be tested for a match.  Her father called the hospital that she mentioned, only to find that they knew nothing about her.

Since this story emerged, there has been much discussion about why someone would even think of doing something so dishonest and immoral.  Ashley's reason to her father was that she did it to hurt him and her mother.  She has told newspapers and others that she wanted the attention, needed the money and plans on paying back every cent.

She had so many people fooled.  She went so far as to shave her head, eye brows and twease her lashes out to look like someone going through chemotherapy treatments.  Ashley found her victims on Facebook, where she was involved in a non-profit organization called "Change for Cancer".  She is now in custody awaiting a bail hearing, which when it comes, it appears there is no one to pay it.  Her family wants nothing to do with her anymore.

I find the saddest and most disappointing thing about this, is that other people that have legitimate illnesses or needs may not be helped now, as hearts become hardened by one bad apple's deeds.  Please don't let situations like this stifle your basic human need to want to help others that are in distress.  If you do, she and others like her end up winning.

As I was looking for updates to this story, I found another article that was deeply disturbing and disgusting.  Buffalo Police pulled over a man on sunday night for running a stop sign.  They could hear a cat meowing in the trunk, so they asked him to open it.  Inside was a cat "marinating" in oils, onions and peppers.  An alive 4 year old cat named Navarro.   He was planning on cooking him and eating him!

I just thank God that those "angel officers" were there to rescue him! Navarro is now up for adoption and that evil man has been charged with Animal Cruelty.  I don't understand what some people are thinking.  Maybe that's the problem, they aren't.

UPDATE:  August 12, 2010

Ashley Kirilow was initially charged with three counts of fraud under $5000.  Yesterday while she was in court another charge was added, fraud over $5000.  This charge stems from an incident in 2009 where a Real Estate Agent raised thousands of dollars to help her with expenses due to her fake cancer.  Her family was still abscent from the courtroom, but there were a few supporters in attendance.  No one has yet to post her bail, however a Newmarket man may be interested in being her surety.  He is a blacksmith and a father that feels that something is wrong with the tough love that she is getting from her parents.  He feels that she should be under the care of doctors instead of being in jail.


Monday, August 2, 2010

"C" is for Cancer

Most of us have had Cancer touch our lives.  If you haven't, consider yourself very lucky.  It has already hit my life hard, and taken people I love away from me, and I am sure it will strike again.

Cancer can be a sneaky and insidious disease, that can just lightly brush up against you by knowing a friend of a friend that has it, or it can smash you in the face, when you, a family member or a close friend are it's victim.

One of the worst parts about Cancer is that in most cases you don't even know that it's there.  It hides in the body among your organs, and in the blood stream biding it's time, like a sharp-shooter awaiting it's target to attack, and then when you are in it's cross hairs, BANG, it rears it's ugly head.

The types of Cancers are many, and the way the disease effects someone is as different as there are people on the planet.  Both my brother and I have had cancerous moles removed (melanomas).   It was a very easy procedure, and I was sent home armed with information how to help prevent it from occurring again.  I was told to use a higher than 15 SPF sunscreen, and was taught how to check my moles myself at home for earlier detection from then on.
It's as easy as:
A) Area- If they are too big, anything bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, get them checked out by your family doctor or dermatologist
B) Border- If the border is jagged or scalloped, get them checked out by a doctor also, and
C) Colour- If they are not one shade of brown, but have spots of lighter or darker colours on them, they too need to be checked out.

My Grandmother passed away from Pancreatic Cancer.  My Grandfather, her husband, and his son my Uncle, both died from Pancreatic Cancer also, before they both were 40 years old.  My Brother always assumed that he would follow suit, but fortunately he is very healthy and gets screened often.  I have lost three Aunts, two from Bone Cancer and one from Brain Cancer that spread to her Liver, she fought hard and lived five years longer than her specialists thought and told her she would.  She took me with her to buy her wigs.  We had so much fun trying on the most outrageous wigs, like pink ones, or ones that were made to make you look like Marilyn Monroe, or other celebrities.  We had such a blast and laughed so hard we cried.  Those are some of my favorite memories.  My Step-Father and his son, my Step-Brother are both Prostate Cancer Survivors.   A dear member of my Twitter family just recently had a bone marrow transplant to treat her Bone Cancer and to give her the best chance to beat it.  With God's help and all of the prayers said for her, I know she will.  Having Crohn's Disease leaves me with a higher probability of developing Stomach, Colon, or Anal Cancers, therefore I am screened on a regular basis.

In some ways Cancer is comparable to addiction, or other diseases as it does not only effect the patient,  it is a family disease.  Everyone should be there for each other, and to help and support one another.

The causes of Cancers are still being hotly debated.  There are some things that Doctors and Specialists say each one of us can do to lower the risks of developing Cancers, but there is no guarantee that any, or all of these things will work.  Even the healthiest people can develop it, and some Cancers feed off of estrogen, a naturally occuring hormone, in their host's bodies.
But you can:
  • Have regular tests such as Colonoscopys, Pap Smears, Mammograms and self-breast exams, Prostate exams etc. so that if you have a Cancer, at least it will be caught fast and treated before it becomes deadly.
  • Stop using tobacco products, and cut back on alcohol
  • Avoid the harmful rays of the sun by using a high UV Sunscreen
  • Exercise regularly (Dr. Oz suggests that we each walk 10, 000 steps a day)
  • Change your diet to eating whole grains, less fat and more fruits and vegetables.
  • Practice safe sex and get vaccinated for HPV
  • And include all of the proper vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your routine.

If you are asking yourself how you can help, there are many ways.  You can:
  • Give generously to The Cancer Foundation in your area, the monies received go to research not only to find cures, but to discover causes of the different kinds of Cancers
  • Take part in walks or runs, like the Terry Fox run to raise money
  • Spread Awareness by purchasing or selling merchandise and use/wear it proudly
  • Educate yourself by reading about and researching the topic
  • Take part in programs in your area like "Meals on Wheels" or others that help patients that need it, whether it be driving them to and from their appointments, doing yard work, cleaning house or watching their children after school
  • Be a true friend, be there any way you can be to a friend or family member with Cancer.  Sometimes just knowing a patient has someone there they can count on makes all the difference in the world.
Get creative, and figure out what you can do to help the cause and become part of the solution.  This post was written in loving memory of those that have been taken from us, those that are fighting the good and brave fight right now, and those survivors that give them all hope.  God Bless you all.  ♥

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"B" is for Bravery

There are many brave people in this world.   And there are many different degrees of bravery.  I bet you have been in a situation where you have been, or felt that you have had to be brave.

About ten years ago I found myself in a situation where I put myself in harm's way, but never even thought about whether or not I could have been hurt.  Afterwards people said that I had been brave for doing what I did.  But it wasn't bravery to me, I just did what I had to do, people were standing around doing nothing, and I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I hadn't acted.

There was a fire in the apartment building that I lived in, an apartment was burning up and the whole floor was full of acrid, black smoke.  People were standing around waiting for the fire fighters when this woman came up to me and said  "There's a baby in that apartment!". Well that just got my blood boiling that she wasn't doing anything to help that child.   I asked the crowd if anyone lived on that floor, and one guy said he did, so I told him to run and wet me two tea towels.  He came back, I took them and ran down the hall with one of them covering my nose and mouth.  A man was near the apartment trying to get the fire hose and extinguisher off of the wall.  I tossed him the other tea towel, felt the door and doorknob, and stupidly opened it, which was unlocked, and entered the apartment.

The smoke was so thick that I couldn't see anything.  After feeling around, bumping into things, calling out to the child and unable to hear any response or crying, I decided to get out of there.  I ended up being all turned around, not knowing where the door was when a fire fighter found me and pushed me out of there.  I had smoke inhalation and second degree burns on my feet which they treated at the hospital.  The next day I found out there never was a child in there, and the woman that told me that there was one, was the person that started the fire.  She was angry that the woman that lived in that apartment declined her sexual advances.  She was seriously messed up and ended up going to jail for it.  But I didn't think twice about trying to get that little one out of there.

Fire Fighters do that everyday.  It takes a lot of guts to walk into a burning building when everyone else is running, panicked out of it.  Police Officers also put their lives in jeopardy on a daily basis.  They could be shot just by pulling someone driving a car over because their tags are expired.  Those men and women that choose those careers, to do that everyday for a living, that know they might not make it home ever again, that's bravery.  I don't think they get thanked enough for standing up and being there whenever anyone needs their help.

But it is our men and women in another uniform, the defenders of our rights and privileges, the soldiers that fight for our countries freedoms that are the unsung heroes.  They could have done anything else with their lives, yet they chose to enroll in the Army, Navy or Marines to stand up and protect the rest of us from our enemies and keep our country's citizens safe from harm.

These men and women leave everything familiar to them and everyone they know behind, including parents, wives, husbands and children.  We have soldiers right this very second fighting and dying or losing their limbs trying to stop terrorists from killing innocents and ruining societies.  I can't imagine being in a foreign country knowing, even inside their safe boundaries, that they could die at any moment. They are the bravest of the brave.

Everyday here at home we take for granted how dangerous going for a walk or driving in a car can be.  Snipers and IED's are killing our soldiers over in Iraq and Afghanistan, just by doing those same activities.  I am sure that they are afraid, but they do their jobs for the greater good despite of it.

If you are on Twitter, I would like you to join my friends and I to salute these heroes by adding #SS to your tweets on Saturdays (Saluting Soldier's Saturdays).  Hopefully we will start a trend showing these brave men and women that we are proud of the job they are doing, that we stand firmly behind them and that we will never forget the lives of the ones that died sacrificing everything for us.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"A" is for Art! What is it anyway?

Art is everywhere. The world is one big revolving art project. You can see art in anything as long as you keep your ears, eyes and mind open. I think that art is anything that arouses some sort of emotion in you. Whether you like a piece of art or not, it's because of the feelings, or lack there of, you experience when you see or hear it.

I believe that art should be personal and subjective. When we each encounter art, whether it be a painting, sculpture, music or any other medium, our own opinions about what we see, hear or feel about it shouldn't be wrong. I don't subscribe to the belief that however the Artist intended for you to feel about their artwork is the only way to feel, or even that all the "Great, Classic" Artists were great. As long as the artwork speaks to you that's all that should matter. And it speaks to each of us differently.

The word "Art" encompasses many different mediums such as the ones listed above and music, theatre, poetry, crafts and more. We don't all enjoy or partake in the same types of art. That is what makes art so great, there is something for everyone. I love most art mediums, and enjoy making art, but that doesn't mean I like all art.

Photography is one type of art that I really enjoy taking part in. I like the idea of seeing something that appeals to me, taking a picture of it and being able to look at it again over and over. Here in Levack, Ontario there are many gorgeous sights that I have been able to capture in a second. Forever.

The above picture is of a creek that runs next to my house. One of the very cool things about photography occurs when things show up in your pictures that you didn't notice when you were taking them. The sun was shining that day, but the effect of the rays of light and the purple colour weren't noticeable at all to me at the time.

Architecture and Interior Design are two other art forms that I am interested in. This Log Cabin is my "If I Had A Million Dollars" house. It's vacant and doesn't even have hydro leading to it.

If I won the lottery I would try to salvage the logs where they are and build my Dream home around them. That would keep the historical aspects of the house in tact, and the new design would be my artistic creation.

Fashion is also a form of art, and I don't mean just designing clothes. Picking out and putting together what outfits you are going to wear every day is artistic creation, as well as your choice of hair style. How you dress makes a statement, just as any piece of artwork does.

I went to University and studied Theatre. Acting was part of the curriculum and I really enjoyed those classes, however I specialized in Costume Design because artistically I found it more fulfilling. I learned so much about clothes and the time periods that they came from, how to make some very interesting things like a Bishop's mitre for example. For some productions I was lucky enough to be the Costume Design Assistant, working very closely with the Director and the Designers for lights, sound, props and set making. It was a thrill to see your designs come to life in the shop, and then end up on the actors on stage.

I also design and make jewelry, but that is for my "J" post so stay tuned! What art mediums do you enjoy? Do you have a favorite Artist? What do you consider Art, or what does Art mean to you?