Monday, September 30, 2013

Marriage - The Sign of Love

Recently we had the privilege of witnessing the most amazing wedding.  I knew it would be different, but I didn't know it was going to be so incredibly special.

A young friend of ours is an interpreter for the deaf. That put her in position to meet her new husband who is a member of the Canadian Deaf Curling Association.

I knew there would be sign language at the ceremony, but I didn't expect it to be quite the production it turned out to be.  The ceremony was conducted in English, but as the groom's friends and family were French, there were two  interpreters. One signed ASL to interpret the English being spoken, while another signed for the French people in attendance who could not hear.

The bride and groom both spoke their vows, but also signed them.  I have never seen vows exchanged in such a beautiful manner before.  Hands and facial expressions can convey so much more than a nervous voice can.

When it came time for the rings, the groom turned to his sister, who was acting as the "best man" but she just ran her hands down her dress and shrugged her shoulders.   There were no pockets in the dress, of course.  She turned to the groomsman behind her but he just raised his hands skyward, to indicate he didn't have them either. He turned to the next in line who did the same, and so it went all the way down the line of five groomsmen. The final one searched his pockets and looked a little panicky before also indicating he didn't have them. I sat there thinking, "Oh, oh, he was supposed to have them and forgot them someplace." But no, he produced them and the rings were sent back up the line up to be put on the fingers.  The minister, quietly said, "I think that was planned."

Then it came time for the minister to introduce the new couple to those in attendance. Music was playing in the background.  Suddenly one of the bridesmaids,with her bouquet clenched in her teeth, seemed to have a bee in her bum and started wiggling around.  Pretty soon the rest of the bridesmaids were also in motion.  It spread to the groomsmen and then the bride and groom and finally even the minister got in on the act. It was a flash dance!
 At the reception, when it came time for the new couple to arrive, the other members of the Canadian Deaf Curling Team donned their curling shirts and swept them into the room..  That was a surprise for the new couple, but it was a wonderful way to usher them into the reception.

During the evening, at both the wedding and the reception, there was a lady who would gracefully use sign language to "sing" a song. She used exaggerated graceful flowing motions to sign the words, and effectively sing without making a sound.

  At one point the bride and groom actually got up and "sang" a special song to each other, in this same manner.

As the minister so aptly put it, everything went off with only one hitch....the bride to the groom.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 Discovery Tour

This is definitely the season for artist studio tours. There were several available last week that we didn't get a chance to see, so we decided to take in one of the ones that was on this weekend. We got off to a late start though, as we got called in to perform some grandparently duties first. So when we did set off, I chose to head for Kars, as that's the end of the Discovery Tour that we missed out on last year.  While we only managed to stop at 3 places, we got to view the work of nine different artists.

The first one was Barb Desroches, who paints in watercolour, acrylic and oil. I had met her at the North Gower Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago but what I didn't realize until we arrived at her home was that I have known members of her family for a very long time. Her brother-in-law and his entire family used to come to our karate club, and we were thrilled and surprised to run into them in her home.  I loved her work, and took note of some of her techniques to try for myself. I found her prices quite reasonable too, and would have loved a long conversation on how she comes up with these figures but the place was popular and I didn't get a chance.

At our next stop I did have a very good chat with artist Marie Paquette, who hand builds clay objects and does free-form brushwork with some fascinating results. She took the time to explain the wood firing process to my hubby, who asked specific questions, and gave me a very animated talk on how she accomplished some of her paintings.  This woman really enjoys her artistic processes, and it shows in her work.

In the back room the whimsical glass pieces of Frantic Farms were on display. While there were definitely a couple of things, like the chicken and the fish, which could happily live in my home, they were, after all, made of glass, and would not last long around here.

By the end of the day it was the work of Moira Law that inspired me the most.  I saw the techniques she employed, and know how to do them, but have never attempted to put them together in quite the same manor.  Now I'm itching to find just the right photographs to play with and perhaps take my art in a totally different direction.

I really appreciate the artists I talked to this weekend, as they were willing to share freely their ideas and talents.  As one of them put it, "It's always great when we can inspire each other."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Geocaching from Cornwall to Kemptville

I mentioned that we went geocaching last weekend, along with visiting some Doors Open sites the Cornwall area. I had hoped to get back to you about all that earlier this week, but I've been a bit under the weather. Hopefully you will forgive me if I post a lot of pictures.

Across from the Cornwall Jail was another Doors Open site at the Cornwall Community Museum.  It had a strange mix of stuff among it's collection.  Some of it was really old, while other things were very familiar to me. For instance, while there was some furniture that was likely from the early 1800's,  the bedroom set was the exact one that my parents had, all the time I was growing up, so it was more like something from the 1940's.  I really could have used the apple peeler that's attached to the front of the table in this picture this past month or so.  My apple tree has had me very busy.

We started our geocaching in the park there, where we found a real assortment of birds gathering by the shore.

Being in a park, they must be pretty used to people, as you could get pretty close.

 They were probably all waiting for someone to throw them some food. 

Up the trail a bit, after we had turned away from the St Lawrence, we discovered a nice clear little stream..

We followed that upstream and found it quickly turned into a series of pretty little waterfalls.

And it wasn't long before we discovered the source of this nice clear water. It was all coming out of a culvert.  I'm not sure how far the water flows underground from here, or where it actually comes from as we couldn't go much further in that direction.

We discovered that there was construction under the Cornwall bridge, and that's where the GPS wanted to take us.  We decided we had found enough treasures at this site anyway, and moved on.

Our next stop on the Doors Open tour was the St Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre. 
While interesting, it doesn't actually let you anywhere near the big power dam.  So after exploring their displays, and looking at the dam through binoculars, we went downstream just a bit to the site of the old canal....the one that was in use before they flooded the seaway to make the current shipping route.

If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will see that the old canal gate has long since rotted out.  The water is all at one level through this canal now anyway, since the flooding of the seaway that put villages underwater,  got rid of the rapids in this area.

The old dam at the canal is still there to walk across though.

And the old gears that used to control the water flow are really quiet interesting to view.  There is a series of them, all across the structure.  I love that they have been painted turquoise.

We did locate the cache at this location, by the way, and went upstream a bit from there to look for another one. However there was a fisherman right where we needed to go to hunt that down, so we'll look for it some other time.  I'd happily explore this area further some other nice day that we happen to be in the vicinity.

On the way home we picked up a few more. There was one at a site in Winchester Springs, where there used to be a hotel and spa, because of the healthy natural spring waters.  That's all gone now, which is a bit of a shame, since reportedly Sir John A. MacDonald even gave a speech from the balcony there at one point. The area where the cache is hidden is a bit of a mess, so I don't have a picture for you from there. There is a lovely mural and plaque there though, to fill you in on the history.

We stopped and found another cache  in Winchester, at a hidden graveyard.  My hubby, who works in that town, and actually lived there for several years in his youth, didn't even know this place existed.  The graveyard is tucked into a field behind a local business.  There is no outward signs to tell of it's existence. While some of the stones are standing in the field as one would expect, there is also this row of stones tucked under some woodland growth. They seem too close together and were probably moved there.  One wonders if someone planned to use the field for another purpose, and if the bodies are still where they were originally planted.

We took a back road to Hallville, to avoid the ongoing construction on County Road 43.  We decided we might as well try for the Hallville Hollow one again, though we had no luck last time we went looking for that.  Just about when we were going to give up again, it suddenly made it's presence known.  This cache manages to evade many seekers, but really, it's just where it should be, and it is not even a tricky hide.  I guess it just blends into it's surroundings rather well.  It wasn't me that found it.

Our last cache of the day was a quick little park and grab along the highway on the way home.  That would be a great way to end the day if we had not stopped and looked for one near Walmart.  Basically there were too many people around, and I suspect this one is in some kind of sneaky container.  We'll have to check that out some other time....though I doubt there will ever be a chance when there is nobody around.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Doors Open at Cornwall Jail Produces A Spirit Orb

We took in Doors Open event in Cornwall on Sunday.  We were also prepared to do some geocaching along the way.  That basically means we didn't see as many Open Door sites as we might have otherwise, but we had a really good time and saw a lot of interesting stuff,  most of which I'll tell you about later in the week.

What I really want to tell you about was our first stop at the Cornwall Jail.  That was a bit of an eye opener.  It was in operation until just 2002, which I found rather amazing,  as it's very primitive.  If more jails were like that, perhaps people would try harder to stay out of them.  I'm sure anyone who was in there at the time that it closed felt like they were being sent to a resort when they got transferred to a newer facility.  I'm very sure people in that area didn't noisily break into homes at this time of year with the idea of spending the winter in jail, like they used to around my village before the local minimum security jail was torn down.

Many of the cells in the Cornwall  jail are just wide enough for the bunk....a thin mattress on a wooden platform. There was no space on either side of that, and only enough room to stand between the end of it and the cell bars. 

As horrible as that sounds, I think I might prefer it to the ones meant for two. That had a bunk bed set up, a toilet and a space narrow enough for one person at a time to pace the length of the bed.  What if you got locked in with someone who was likely to torment you, or perhaps someone who was criminally insane? The shortage of jail space in those days meant everyone, even juveniles and women, where thrown in together. 

This jail was built in 1833 and used to be a maximum security facility, but later became a place where the prisoners would spend two years less a day.  I'm sure such an experience straightened out the lives of anyone who survived it. Because of the conditions though, many didn't. Rumours of restless spirits within the walls are plentiful. 

Let me show you around a bit.  This is the main operations room.  The three panels on the right must have let them know where alarms were being set off, back in the days before 911.

The exercise yard isn't very big either. And though the prisoners had access to the open air, they were also still totally walled in and had no place to see the outside world.  I'm pretty sure that courtyard could get pretty hot during the summer, with more heat radiating off those stone walls.

If a prisoner had a visitor, the prisoner was locked in this little cage and used the phone to talk to the person on the other side of the wall.

A paranormal group did some research there, and there are photos posted on the wall of some of the phenomena they spotted.  Orbs seems to be fairly frequent, and when I was looking over some photos I took, there, without doubt was one of those orbs.  I'm fascinated, and will be doing some research on the subject.  Some people say they are caused by reflections off the dust motes in the air.  If that were the case, I'd expect to see them in many more in the pictures I took, rather than just the one.  Others say the appearance of spirit orbs in a photograph may indicate a spiritual being attempting to communicate with the photographer.

The one I captured was near the floor, in a deserted corridor. If you click on the picture you should be able to see a larger version of it, which might help you see what I've circled there.

Let me zoom in on that a bit.

 I'm not sure why I pointed the camera in that direction. Something told me too, and I'm certainly glad I listened.  Maybe something was communicating with me after all.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wedding Gifts in the Digital Age

Once upon a time, when a couple got married, they were young people just leaving their parent's homes. People showered them with wedding gifts as they had a new household to set up and needed just about everything. Today things are different.  While many people are marrying for the second or third time, even new brides are often in or near their thirties, and have been living in their own homes (with or without their intended husbands) for quite some time.  Their household is already set up, or they are about to combine two. Either way, they don't really need an influx of new stuff, so wedding gifts are much more difficult to buy.  Of course, you can always just write a cheque, but what's the fun in that?  Somehow giving money has always felt so impersonal to me.

Of course, I've heard of gift registries before, but I've never seen any evidence that anyone ever used such a thing until just recently.  The digital age has made wedding planning and gift giving so much easier.

A young friend of ours is about to get married. While we still got the traditional invitation by snail mail, it came with  a card directing us to a website at .  There we could see the whole story. We could read about the proposal and see pictures of the engagement. Not only does the site tell you where and when the wedding will be held, there is a list of who will be taking part in the upcoming wedding and a complete schedule for the activities of the day.  I wouldn't be surprised if the actual wedding photos ended up being displayed there also.  In this digital age, you can also RSVP right there, online.

There was also a link to a gift registry that was set up in a way that made it so easy for us to give a gift without ever having to actually go shopping. Couples can simply list the things they need, and you get to choose the item and how much you want to contribute towards it.

This couple is one of those that already have well established homes and didn't need a lot of stuff that would likely just go into storage. They decided that they would like to go on a lovely honeymoon, touring Europe. The registry listed such things as airfare, hotel nights, romantic dinners, a boat ride, a train pass, and even wine and cheese.  The only things for their home that they put on the registry were a new couch and a washing machine.  Dollar amounts ranged for $8 to $75 with a box to choose multiples of these dollar amounts if you wanted. So all you had to do was choose how much to give and what you felt like aiming it towards.  I wondered what would happen if not enough money was directed at the airfare or the hotels.  Would the trip still be on?   As it turned out the money went directly into the bride's Pay Pal account, where it would accumulate, separated from any actual bank account for the time being. This means they can likely spend the money however they choose when the time comes.  We at least had the chance to participate in their dream, and contribute to which ever gift idea appealed to us most.  That was much more fun than just writing a cheque.  I highly recommend this site to all of you who are now planning a wedding and don't need that extra toaster.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Geocaching Helps Us Find Real Treasures

 It's been a strange summer. Normally we do a lot of geocaching, but this year it was either too wet, or the mosquitoes were in attack mode, or the poison parsnip was everywhere we looked and we didn't want to take the chance of brushing up against that. We did get out a couple of times though.

Yesterday we went to visit friends at their cottage, and picked up a few caches on the way back. Nothing special about any of them. Except for one at a totally unkempt graveyard, they were all along the fence line on the road we were traveling. 

But last time we went out, we discovered a few treasures, and I don't mean the ones they hide in the caches. Just outside of Brockville we found a  beautiful garden that's open to the public. They call it the Garden of Hope and Serenity, and if you visit, you will quickly learn why.  This is someplace we have driven right by many times in the past, without knowing it was there. It was well worth the stop, and I'm sure we will return again in the future. 

Closer to Lyn, on the same day, we made another amazing discovery. Tucked back in the bush, out of sight, is a beautiful waterfall that we would never have even guessed existed, if we had not found it on one of our geocaching treasure hunts. We found ourselves at the top of it, but you can be sure we will go back and find a way into the bottom sometime, as I believe there is a cache down there that we didn't get to.

The waterfall and the garden were both wonderful treasures, and one of the main reasons we love to go geocaching. It's not what you find in the cache, it's what you find along the way.