Bentley - possibly the cutest little town in Central Alberta

So now that I work in Lacombe, and its getting warm-ish (currently hailing), that I should start riding my bike to work. My bike has been sitting for awhile, so I figured it needed a tuneup. This morning, my sister and I headed out to Bentley, so I could take my bike to Bentley Cycle. 

We stopped at The Cross-Eyed Giraffe for a fantastic breakfast of homemade cinnamon buns, pan scramble and coffee. It was super yummy!

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After breakfast we stopped by Past Connections Emporium, an antique shop. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside which was unfortunate. They have a beautiful collection. 

Then we headed across the street to Queen Bea Clothing Marketplace (also on Instagram), an adorable little clothing shop. Sheila, the owner was super friendly. She has fantastic assortment of unique clothes, including a wide selection of natural eco-friendly fibres. She also has a great selection of accessories like purses, scarves, and really unique jewelry. I bought a pair of bamboo leggings for $27. I'm excited to see how comfy they are, bonus that they're bamboo. It was such a cute shop, I'll definitely be returning!

After Queen Bea's I dropped my bike off at Bentley Cycle, a super friendly family business, with a great selection of bikes. I'm hoping to take my mom back and convince her to buy a bike when I pick mine up next week.

After dropping the bike off we drove around some of the back streets of Bentley, checking out all the adorable little houses. There is so many small, cute houses in Bentley. I'm thinking I might like to live there someday when I can buy a house, such a cute little down. Bently is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. 
On our way home we stopped by to check out Sandy Point, on the west side of Gull Lake. It looks like a pretty nice beach so we'll definitely head out there again when it warms up.

Central Alberta has got some great little communities and small businesses, hopefully I can check out a few more this summer. 

Cheers, 
Briana

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. In honour of that (and also because, lets face it, I'm running out of time to come up with two blog posts this month) heres a poem I wrote several weeks ago. 

Swirling

A swirling mass of indiscernible thoughts
Fragmented and whirling in a brain hurricane
Anxiety exhaustion
Jumpy restless lost
Confusion and frustration are the wind from no direction
Insecurity is the eye of the storm
Calm, quiet, proud of what it has accomplished
Insecurity will rule
As long as there is something to feed on

 

 

There is always fodder

Books that I have Loved: James Herriot

I like books.

That is a slight understatement. Throughout my childhood I was a veritable bookworm. I have memories from long before I started school about books and libraries. One coming to mind right now is about a school library. Before I started school, my mother and her friend cleaned the school that my brother and sister attended. On the days they cleaned the school I often went with my mom. My mom’s friend had a girl nearly the same age as me. We were best friends at that point and basically had the run of the school while our mothers cleaned.

One night we learned how the colour photocopier in the school library worked. I have a fuzzy recollection that maybe my older brother showed us. We loved books. And we wanted to take all our favourite library books home, but we couldn’t (I don’t know why exactly since that is the point of a library). So we put this newfound photocopier knowledge to use, and with plenty of time to kill, we started photocopying our favourite books like mad. My brother, or whomever else it might have been, had failed to mention that photocopying cost money, per page, and that colour photocopying cost a lot more money than just black and white. Or, maybe they mentioned it, and our kindergarten brains just didn’t quite comprehend it, I don’t remember.

I’m quite sure we got in a fair bit of trouble, my family was pretty poor so my mom was probably understandably angry at the expense we racked up. I don’t remember the punishment, though I’m sure there was one. All I remember is feeling ecstatic that I could copy all these things I wanted to read, particularly Sally Dick & Jane and some sort of ‘modern’  encyclopedia type book that had cool pictures in it of all the things it described, and take them home with me.

I also recall, in first grade at that same school, my teacher helping me clean out my desk once. There were 31 Berenstain Bears books crammed into my desk. I distinctly remember reading those books, tucked halfway into my desk, during class. Clearly I thought I was being quite sneaky about it, looking back I’m sure it was not even slightly discreet. Those desks were fairly small and children are never as discreet as they hope to be.

So, books and me go way back.

There are plenty of books that I have loved enough to read multiple times in my life. But there is only one set of books & stories that I have read over and over and over and over. I’m not sure where or when I found them, I assume it must have been the library here in my hometown. It started with the children’s books Bonny’s Big Day, Only One Woof, and Moses the Kitten by James Alfred Wight writing under the pseudonym James Herriot.

I have loved the stories Herriot told since the first time I read then. I have gone back to them many times in my life. At some point in my life, when I was still quite obsessed with horses, my sister bought me a giant hardcover copy of The Best of James Herriot for Christmas. To this day it is probably the most cherished book in my collection. Those stories held the most amazing commentary about the things I loved most: animals. I believe those stories also planted the seeds for my current obsession with England and my desire to live in the English countryside. Though now that I’ve visited England, I’d happily stretch that desire to include the Welsh, Scottish, or Irish countryside, just to keep my options open.

In 2012, when my sister took me to England, we visited Thirsk, where Alfred Wight actually practiced as a country vet. I am quite sure I slept for most of the drive to Thirsk, which is a shame. When we got to the James Herriot museum I was quite awake, and I remember being totally enthralled by all of it. That afternoon is probably my clearest memory from the whole trip. I think I took more pictures of that museum than of any other place we visited on that trip. I also learned, as you can see in the photo above, that technically, in a perfect situation, I am strong enough to pull a calf.

More recently my dad has read the boxed set I brought home from that trip, and so I’ve gotten to share some of my enthusiasm for the books with him as he read through them.

Of all the books I’ve read so far in my life, those have stuck with me the most.

A few months ago I pared down my book collection and took a large stack to the used bookstore in town. After giving my books to the staff person, my sister and I browsed through the stacks. In them I found a few more Herriot books, and old copy of  All Things Wise and Wonderful, and James Herriot’s Yorkshire. The latter is a beautiful photo book, with wonderful stories, of his beloved Yorkshire countryside. The photos are accompanied by historical information and stories about his experiences in each place. I’m slowly working my way through that one right now, and as I go, adding place names to my “need to visit” list. I also find myself looking up many of the places on Google Streetview and exploring them after reading the stories.

Herriot also has a wonderful writing style. It is simple to read and understand and just flows beautifully from one page to the next, drawing you in. His stories are filled with the full range of emotion, and I feel like I experience every single one of them as if I had lived the moments myself.

I aspire to write as compellingly as him. James Herriot’s stories fill my heart with joy, curiosity, laughter and peace. What more can you ask of a book?

Cheers,
Bri

Remarkable Women in History

In honour of International Women's Day 2017, this past week, I thought I'd post about a few remarkable women I've discovered.

Jane Addams
Renowned as the Mother of Social Work, Jane Addams was inspired to open Hull House in Chicago after a visit to a London settlement house. Hull House provided daycare and kindergarten, adult education, and health care services. Hull House later grew to include many more important community services. Addams worked tirelessly to improve working conditions, labor policies, and education standards. She acted as chair of the Women’s Peace Party during WWI. In 1931 Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first time it had been awarded to a woman. (Women Who Dare, Library of Congress, 2008.)

Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson, Baby Contralto, was a successful singer, and the first black regular member of the New York Met Opera Company. She travelled across the US and Europe, performing for a wide variety of heads of state. in 1939 she was banned from performing at Constitution Hall in DC because of her race. An alternate concert was organized for Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, by Eleanor Roosevelt. Anderson performed for over 75,000 attendees, and innumerable radio listeners. Anderson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Centre Honors, National Medal of the Arts, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. (Women Who Dare, Library of Congress, 2008.)

Valérie André
Valérie André, a french neurosurgeon, served in the french volunteer forces where she also became a licensed helicopter pilot and parachutist. She flew 129 missions in the Indochina war. She rescued 165 wounded soldiers from the jungles of Vietnam from 1952-53. She also flew 356 combat missions in Algeria. In her career, André logged more than 4200 flight hours, and in 1976 she became the first female General in the French army. (Women Who Dare, Library of Congress, 2008.)

Constanza Ceruti
Constanza Ceruti is the worlds only female high altitude archaeologist. In 1999, with Johan Reinhard, she performed the highest altitude archaeological excavation at more than 5,800 meters, on Misti volcano. At age 26, Ceruti was named Argentina’s woman of the year. in 2005 National Geographic chose Ceruti as one of its Emerging Explorers. (Women Who Dare, Library of Congress, 2008.)

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first female president to be elected as leader of an African country. In 2006 Johnson-Sirleaf took office as the 24th president of Liberia. She promised women a government to “restore their dignity and deal with the crimes that dehumanize them.” She also promised to promote education for girls. Never afraid of a challenge, she has been dubbed “Iron Lady”. (Women Who Dare, Library of Congress, 2008.)

Kenojuak Ashevak
Kenojuak Ashevak was a notable Inuit artist from Baffin Island. Her Enchanted Owl may be her more renowned piece. It was featured on stamps in 1970 to celebrate the NWT Centennial. Ashevak became an artistic icon, and a role model or Inuit artists. (CanadasHistory.ca)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was the first black newspaper editor in North America. She founded the Provincial Freeman, a paper focused on women’s rights, temperance and abolitionism, based in Windsor, Ontario. She was the second black women to earn a law degree in the us, at the age of 60. (CanadasHistory.ca)

Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew
Ethel Dorothy Blondin-Andrew was the first indigenous woman to be elected to the parliament of Canada. Blondin-Andrew is Dene. She was an MP for the Western Arctic and NWT, as well as Minister of State (Northern Development) in PM Paul Martin’s Cabinet. (Wikipedia)
 

have a great weekend!
 

I <3 MOOCs

I started a new (read: AWESOME) job in January. As part of my training for this job I’m working my way through two MOOCs. What the hell is a MOOC you say?
MOOC stands for: Massive Open Online Course

Most MOOCs have an audit option, where you can take the course for free, you just don’t receive a certificate for completion. Lots of course have an option where you can pay around $50 and then you will get a grade and a certificate.

I love MOOCs because they allow me to continue learning new things about the world. I really miss that aspect of being in school. It gives me exposure to new ideas and perspectives which helps me adjust my own views and beliefs. MOOCs also give me the opportunity to explore some of the interest areas that I discovered in uni, but was unable to pursue in depth due to other class requirements and scheduling conflicts.
As Henry Ford said, “anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  Similar to any other practice (yoga, meditation, running, working out), it becomes somewhat easier if you do it regularly. I’ve included a list of some of the MOOC’s I’m currently taking, as well as a few sites to check out if your interested in taking a class.

Library Advocacy Unshushed
Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education
Indigenous Canada (this one starts in March, so I haven't gotten into it yet)


U of A
edX 
Coursera

Go do some looking, theres bound to be a free course somewhere about a topic you're interested in!

Cheers,
Bri

I LOVE Google Streetview.

I really really really LOVE Google Streetview. It is definitely in my top 10 favourite things ever. Why?

  • You can armchair travel to places you may never have the opportunity to visit.
  • You can explore a place you may be visiting before you go, so you have an easier time navigating while there.
  • You can hike some pretty cool places all over the world. 
  • You see curious every day life things sometimes (my mom is on Streetview, crossing the road in our hometown).
  • It's free.
  • You can contribute to Google’s visual network by submitting 360’s with the Google Streetview app.

I can waste days on end in Streetview. This is probably mainly responsible for my obsession with the UK and intense desire to visit again. I spend, at minimum, 1 hour per week exploring some random area of the UK on Streetview.
If you’ve never tried Streetview, I highly recommend giving it a shot. It's an amazing way to explore a place, without the actual cost of travel. It may be enough to satisfy your wanderlust, or it may just feed the fire…

  1. To get into streetview you simply locate your desired location on Google Maps in your browser. Zoom in enough that you can see individual roads, and the click on the little yellow human figure in the lower right hand corner of your screen.
  2. This will highlight all viewable areas in blue. This may also offer a variety of blue or yellow dots on the map. These dots are 360 photos that users have submitted. Blue usually signifies outside, yellow usually means the inside of a building.
  3. Simply click on any of the blue lines, and it will plunk you down into streetview in that spot.
  4. You can click and drag left, right, up or down, to look around you. Then if you hold your cursor over a section of road or path, an arrow will show up, if you click on that arrow, you move in that direction. If no arrow is showing up, shift your view one direction or the other and try again.
  5. In the bottom left corner of your screen there will be a small window showing your location on the map. It will show the little yellow figure at whatever location you’ve picked, and will show your progress as you move. There will also be an arrow in front of the yellow figure, this denotes what direction you are currently facing. This can help you navigate. If you mouse over the map box, the view gets slightly larger, and you can click on any of the blue highlights to relocate to a new place.

Disclaimer: The whole world has not been covered by streetview yet. So there are areas you may not be able to explore. There’s not much done for gravel roads in Alberta, but most paved roads are available. Sometimes very small towns will only have the main road through town available, or they won’t be done at all.

Here is a list of a few cool things to check out on Google Streetview, there is many more than this short list I've compiled.
Parks Canada has a whole list, organized by province, of awesome places you can visit with Streetview
England has 15 trails planned, you can find a complete list, and map locations, at the bottom of this article
Llyn Idwal in Snowdonia National Park is done:
I discovered a few hikes around lakes in the Lake District recently as well, though I can’t remember the names of the lakes right now.
The Grand Canyon 
New Zealand trails
Mental Floss put out a list of "16 Amazing Places to to Visit Via Google Streetview" 
 

GO EXPLORE THE WORLD!

Cheers,
Bri

366 Reflections & December Photos

When I first started this challenge last year my purpose was to figure out what I wanted to do with photography. I don’t know if I figured out what I wanted to do with photography. But I did learn plenty. Some of the key highlights that have come to mind recently are: 

  • I don’t love editing. I’m doing more work in camera so I can spend less time in post-production.
  • The more work I do in camera, the happier I am with my shots.
    • Manual: I’ve been shooting in full manual for something like 3-4 years now. I think this has been a huge contributor to my satisfaction with my photos. 
  • I don’t love shooting portraiture. I like to have a human element in my landscapes, but I do not like posing groups, or individuals in formal portrait type settings (EXCEPT: Yoga photography, I will always love doing yoga or dance portraits). I do like environmental portraiture.
  • Flash photography is not as difficult or scary as I originally thought. 
  • I do like landscape photography. 
  • New gear does not make you a better photographer. I have not, and probably will not ever truly outgrow the gear I have.
  • There is ALWAYS something new to learn.
  • There is ALWAYS something beautiful or interesting in your immediate surroundings.
  • There is ALWAYS another perspective from which to shoot an item. 
  • Hanging your work up at a local event, in an art display is incredibly gratifying and sort of makes you feel real.
  • Look over your work occasionally. Collect your favourite shots in an album. Try to think of keywords for themes you see in your favourite work. Try to keep those in mind when you go out to shoot. 
  • Personal projects or bodies of work are fun. They don’t ever have to see the light of day, but they are motivating. My projects this year were a timelapse of City Hall Park in Red Deer, and my ongoing collection of before/after development photos of my home town.
  • No amount of book reading, research, or youtube tutorials, can replace or make-up for time spent shooting. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.
  • Like I’ve learned in yoga and meditation, this is my practice. There is no comparing myself to others, because their practice is not mine. 
  • There is no value in judging or criticizing someone else’s work. Offering constructive ideas and suggestions can be ok, if the person is interested in hearing it. 
  • Printing your own work is great, too a point. There’s only so much wall space in your house. I started with printing some small stuff, 4x6. I have these hung on wires with tiny clothespins so I can change them out. I’ve only done larger prints of shots I really love. It is great to see and hold your work, but storing 12 large canvases when you only have wall space for 2-3 is pointless. 

In December 2016 I took 724 photos, and posted 65 to Flickr.

Here is the December shots. I'll do another post soon, maybe next week, of all the 2016 photos I've posted. Enjoy December for now!

Cheers,
Bri