Tag Archives: travel

Kids’ Summertime Fun with Inukshuks and Rock Art


Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect day to spend doing an indoor activity with the girls. The rain finally came down in thick sheets after weeks of a heat wave and dry spell.

With our bag full of rocks which we recently collected at our local ‘Cherry Beach’, we decided to create our very own miniature Inukshuks (also known as Inuksuk and Inuksuit (pl.) by the Nunavut and Government of Canada through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada).  To be culturally respectful, I will refer to them as Inuksuk (singular) and Inuksuit (plural) from here on in.

According to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk, an inukshuk, for those who are not already familiar is a:

‘..stone landmark or cairn built by humans… used by the Inuit…. and other people fo the Artic regions of North America for [the purposes] of navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps, hunting grounds, places of veneration, drift fences used in hunting or as a food cache… The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person”. ‘

For more intorductory info on the Inuit usage of Inukshuks/Inuksuit, you can check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuksuk as well as http://www.inukshukgallery.com/inukshuk.html.

J’s kindergarten teacher introduced her class to the ‘Inukshuk’ and other rock art in the last few days of school, after they had gone to the beach for some fun in the sun and sand. Here is a piece of J’s personal rock art that she created with some of the collected rocks.

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Unfortunately, we missed the original ‘Inukshuk’ building activity as we were returning from a camping trip in Killbear (more on this later!) with the family around that time. However, we did happen to see a lot of examples of ‘Inukshuks’ along the driving route, and were eager to make our own when we returned.

Here are some examples of Inunnguat (pl.) or Inunnguag (sing.), which is essentially a rock sculpture depicting a human figure and that is commonly mistaken as an ‘Inukshuk':

Inukshuk, 95. Photo credit: www.cbantlerart.com

 

Inukshuk – Kuujjuaraapik January, Inuksuk in the vicinity of Kuujjuarapik, Canada. Photo credit: Nicolas M. Perrault

Before we started creating our own ‘Inukshuks’, I was not aware of all the potential types of rock sculptures that are often misrepresented as Inuksuit (e.g. the Inunnguat pictured above). For a more complete appreciation of Inuit rock creations that the Inuit of North America have created and used as markers for thousands of years and what the Inukshuks are, you can watch this short clip by Peter Irniq, an Inuit cultural activist, which explains the meaning of an Inukshuk in What is an Inukshuk here: : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKQ97rOwBH0&feature=related 

 

Here are some photos of the miniature Inuksuit we created:

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If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to build your own Inuksuit , I also found this clip 2010 – How to build an Inukshuk (@hofstadlyceum.nl) quite enjoyable to watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf25KoI6CnY&feature=related

Happy Inuksuk building!

- “You are on the right path.” (Traditional meaning of Inuksuk.)

 

 

International May Day Celebrations Renewed


Well here we are. May 1st. Some exciting things are happening this month! While typically here in Canada we think of Mother’s Day and Victoria Day celebrations as the highlights of May, it seems that there has been a resurgence in the popularity of celebrating the very first day of this bright and cheerful month all over the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day

May Blossoms from the May tree. Photo Credit: ceridwen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Queen_of_the_May,_in_June_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1346819.jpg

May Day, also known as the Gaelic festival of Beltane (May 1st) and the German Walpurgis Night http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night (which is celebrated on the night of April 30 – and leads into May 1st),  is  typically observed in areas such as England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, France, and even Hawaii (where it is more commonly referred to as “Lei Day”).

Historically, May 1st was considered the first day of summer in some pre-Christian pagan cultures.  This day was celebrated in pre-Christian times as the festival of Flora in honour of the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Following the conversion of Europe to Christianity, many pagan celebrations were either dropped or given religious undertones. In Roman Catholic cultures, May is considered Mary’s month and May Day is usually celebrated as a tribute to the Virgin Mary. Flowers are used to adorn her head in a May Crowning represented in works of art such as plays, sculptures and figure drawings. 

For many other people, May Day is recognized as a secular tradition where spring and fertility is celebrated with events such as dancing around a Maypole decorated with colourful ribbons, and the crowning of the May Queen.  

Maypole in Munich, Germany http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Viktualienmarkt_Maibaum_Nahaufnahme_1999.jpg

Queen Guinevre’s ‘Maying’ by John Collier. Photo credit: Andreas Praefke http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre%27s_Maying.jpg

If you are looking to make your own May Pole check out this amazing blog on spring festival celebrations and Maypole ideas at Kleas: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

DIY Maypoles with dyed silk ribbons. Photo credit: http://kleas.typepad.com/kleas/2011/05/spring-festival.html

Here are a few other great sites to visit for creating a Maypole and celebrating May Day with your children:

Maypole with Beads. Photo credit: www.gardeners.com

Maypole Nature Table. Photo credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com

Fresh flowers and Ribbon Maypole. Photo credit: http://stillraisingthenextgeneration.com

Stone-tipped Fairy Ribbon Wands. Photo credit: http://paintcutpaste.com

A sweet tradition in the past (that is likely to gain new momentum) was to prepare May Day baskets filled with flowers or treats, and to leave them anonymously on the front door steps of a neighbour or friend. For tips on how to make your own May Day basket, visit Ben Partridge’s excellent post on The May Day Basket Refresher at Apartment Therapy at http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May Day Baskets. Photo credit: Ben Partridge http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/may-day-basket-refresher-how-t-118478

May 1st is also International Workers’ Day  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day which was officially recognized in 1891 and celebrates the International Labour Movements and marks the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago and the subsequent 1894 May Day Riots in Cleveland, Ohio when people rioted against the ineffectual measures the city officials carried out to reduce the skyrocketing rates of unemployment at the time. While this day is officially reconized elsewhere, here in Canada and the United States, Labour Day is recognized on September 1st (a move that was favoured by the then governor of Ohio so as not to commemorate the riots).

Currently, there is a resurgence in the United States and elsewhere to celebrate this infamous day in the context of supporting the 99% of the population who are not as well off as the remaining 1%. This planned day of protest is fuelled by the Occupy Wall Street (and other Occupy movements around the world) .

So what will we be doing this May 1st? Since I’ll be at home with the girls, we will be celebrating this special day as a tribute to spring and all its glory. My litle ladies love dressing up in their most desirable princess gowns and dancing around the living room or out in the front yard. So we will likely be doing some dancing (as per usual!) Not sure if we’ll have a little May Pole set up to dance around…although we could make a makeshift May Pole using our beautiful white hobby horse which would also double as a perfect companion to my two lovely little May Queens.

And perhaps a flower garland for their hair, or pansy flowers pressed into shortbread cookies in a basket would be a welcome activity to add to our day.

For a great shortbread recipe with pressed flowers to celebrate spring, here’s a great article on Stonegable: http://stonegable.blogspot.ca/2010/05/pansy-shortbread-cookies.html

Pansy shortbread cookies. Photo credit: http://stonegable.blogspot.com

Here’s to a very Happy May Day and a great start to your month! What does the month of May mean to you? Will you do anything special this May Day? Please share your thoughts.

How To Trim The Fat Off Your Laundry Load


Do you love housework?

Do you love that your weekends are often spent sorting and folding and colour blocking your laundry?

Or does the sight of your laundry loads, whether dirty or clean, often end up overwhelming you, frightening you, or sending you into a state of utter panic?

The last statement definitely applies to me. And for years now, I’ve been threatening to do something about the never ending pile of laundry that seems to be growing exponentially as my kids get older and as each day passes with me in an increasing tizzy.

The other day, I neglected all household duties and day- dreamed about another time and place when things were briefly much more manageable. I thought back to last summer when we we gave ourselves a ‘6 weeks without-a-home vacation’ and travelled to the mid-northeastern frontiers of Quebec and visited the beautiful St. Lawrence River, Charlevoix and Tadoussac regions (will post more on this later). We were waiting to move into our new house and our old house had closed several weeks before. Therefore, with no home, we were forced to put away all our possessions in storage and minimize our daily necessities and belongings. All of this “storing away” felt incredibly liberating. And we managed to live very happily in those six weeks with nothing but a few essentials. When we finally returned and moved into our new place, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could actually do without most of the things we had placed in storage.

So…yesterday, I finally did something about it. I commited to reducing our laundry load to something more manageable. I decided to purge ourselves of all unnecessary items of clothing and limit the number of options. Already, I can breathe deeper knowing there are at least two laundry loads less to do! We are by no means living a completely simplified lifestyle yet. But I consider it one step in the right direction.

To pare down your wardrobe, start with what you love and ‘really need’ and work from there. For seasonal and hand-me-down clothing, label clear plastic storage bins with season, gender and age to refer to for future use, or consider passing along items to someone who may need it. For all other items that you’re not sure about, place in a very dark black plastic bag or dark rubbermaid bin. From here you have three viable options: Either store away and look at these items again in two weeks (and let me know if you actually decide to keep all of these items!), give to friends who may be in need of such items, or donate the clothing to a charity of your choice that picks up used clothing such as the Diabetes Foundation or Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Essentials for each family member (this also serves as a great travel essentials list for those that don’t want to pare down their clothing list permanently….yet!):

-4-7 underwear tops

-4-7 underwear bottoms

-1-2 long underwear (for winter consider polyproplene/wool)

-4-7 pairs of socks (1-2 sport, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressy)

-1-2 pairs pajamas/nightgown

-4-7 tops/blouses (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 of each of your favourite colours (approx. 3 colours), 1-2 dressier tops)

-2-4 shorts/pants (per season; 1-2 active wear, 1-2 everyday wear (e.g. jeans/khakis, 1 -2 dressier pairs)

-2-4 skirts/dresses (per season; 1-2 everyday wear; 1-2 dressier ones)

-2-4 cardigans/knit sweater/fleece (change according to season)

-1 blazer

-1-2 ties (men)

-1-2 jackets/coats (1 nice coat, 1 all season jacket/parka; change according to season)

-1-2 pairs rain pants/ snow pants (chnage according to season)

-2-5 pairs of shoes (1 runner/athletic shoe, 1-2 everyday, 1-2 dressier pair, 1 pair of slippers/warm knit socks, 1 pair rain boot/ 1 pair winter boot; change according to season)

-1 toque/sunhat (change according to season)

-1 scarf/neck warmer

-1-2 pairs of gloves/mittens

-1 pair of sunglasses

-1 pair of goggles

-1 swim vest/PFD

-1-2 swimsuits

-1 towel

-(1 toiletry kit) non-clothing related but essential!

-(Family First Aid Kit)-non-clothing related but essential!

Kasama-Yaki (Made in Kasama)


Follow the life of two potters Katsuji and Shigeko Kokubo and how they and the people of Japan have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear radiation disasters in this beautiful documentary filmed by their talented daughter, Yuki Kokubo. Please share with your friends and also consider making a donation by clicking on this link:

http://kck.st/wlFez3

by March 31, 2012 so that she can receive additional funding through www.kickstarter.com to complete her project. – Fay Meling

SYNOPSIS

The triple disasters of March 11, 2011, shook Japan to its core. It claimed over 18,000 lives, with 3,000 still missing. Many thousands were displaced by the tsunami, and those who lived near the Fukushima nuclear reactors will probably never return home. It has been a year since the disasters but the people of Japan are still coping with the emotional trauma of that day. The disasters brought forth many truths about the power of nature, the limitations of the government, and the unpredictable nature of life. “Kasama-Yaki” is an intimate portrait of two potters, Katsuji and Shigeko Kokubo, filmed by their daughter, Yuki. Heartfelt conversational interviews are woven throughout the film, as they reflect on life, death, family, and art. The film is a journey into the minds of two individuals whose outlooks were inevitably touched by the disasters, and a glimpse into the heart of Japan. 

http://kck.st/wlFez3

Milkshake anyone? The Amazing Chocolate Milk Adventure


Had any gravity defying experiences lately? My daughter’s chocolate milkshake sure did!

Last week, as we were driving home from our Ontario-mandated Family Day Weekend in Ottawa (which I fully aprove of, btw!!), we made a much needed lunch stop in Brockville. About an hour after, one of my lovely little daughters needed to make an extra stop. So we pulled over at the next rest station, got out to tend with business, and low and behold, what did my husband find? Perched above the roof of our car, looking ever so innocent with both straws and an open spout was my daughter’s unfinished chocolate milk drink from lunch! How the chocolate milk managed to stay steady on its feet while we traversed Hwy 401 at speeds that dared to go close to the legal  limit (mentioned ‘close to’ so as not to risk incriminating myself!), is beyond me. What was even more incredible was my dear husband who was clearly not concerned about what the chocolate milk had just been through and was considering drinking it still! Those Scots!

Have a wonderful day!