Festivals in 2018 every month – for when you win the lottery.

  1.   Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, January 6th-8th, 2018!!

    From December 22, 2017 to February, 2018, come experience the world’s largest ice festival in beautiful Harbin city.


  2. Carnival in Rio De Janeiro – February 9-14th, 2018
    Related image
    The actual annual dates of Carnival differ and depend on the date Easter falls in that particular year, as Carnival will be 40 days before Easter. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon in Spring.


  3. Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Mardi Gras 2018 is on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
    New Orleans
    Mardi Gras always lands on the Tuesday that is 47 days before Easter. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. Carnival season refers to the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, and officially begins on January 6 every year. Although Carnival season lasts more than a month, the parties, parades and fun kick into high gear on the Thursday before Mardi Gras.


  4. The date of Holi is different every year in India!
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    In most of India, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the day after the full moon in March each year. On the eve of Holi, large bonfires are lit to mark occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan. In 2018, Holi is on March 1st and ends March 02nd.  Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It’s fun, safe, and free. Just remember to BYOD (bring your own dye).


  5. Coachella, California | 13th-15th-and 20th-22nd April 2018
    Image result for coachella california 2016The first major music event in the annual festival calendar, Coachella – California’s glossy, glam, palm-tree-peppered answer to Glastonbury – returns. Expect clear skies, designer-hippie ensembles and not a squelch of mud under foot.  If you can’t get tickets for this perhaps the next one might interest you.


  6. Songkran Water Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand – April 13-15th, 2018

    Stay indoors on the 13th of April – if you happen to be in Thailand. Or step out if you love water… and getting wet! For it’s a given that you won’t escape the water pistols, the water balloons and buckets of water as the Thais celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.


  7. The Ottawa Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada is the largest tulip festival in the world and it is held every year in May.  It will be held on May 11th-21st, 2018
    Tulips
    This festival is a celebration founded on international friendship with the 1945 presentation of 100,000 tulip bulbs from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, given in appreciation of the safe haven that members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II in Ottawa and in recognition of the role which Canadian troops played in the liberation of the Netherlands.

    The Canadian Tulip Festival is also a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dow’s Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.


  8. Glastonbury 2019, England – Worthy Farm – 26th -30th June – no date for 2018

    Glastonbury. This five-day bonanza offers dozens of live stages, attracting almost 200,000 people every year. The event hosts the absolute best of the musical world – names like Radiohead, The Smiths, Kanye West and Beyoncé have previously played here. The event also supports upcoming acts and promotes dance, comedy, theatre, cabaret and arts. ( no dates for 2018 – field has to fallow).


  9. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Manchester, Tennessee  June 7th- 10th, 2018.
    Related imageThe name of the four-day music and arts festival is one of the most recognizable in the world. Founded in 2002 on a sprawling farm an hour south of Nashville, Bonnaroo has since become synonymous with positive vibes, eclectic music, 24-hour programming, camping and high fives.  Artist line-up revealed in January.


  10. Running of the Bulls, Pamplona, Spain
    Image result for running of the bulls 2016The  Running of the Bulls is a part of the San Fermin Festival, which runs in Pamplona from July 6 to July 14 in 2018 and every year.


  11.  Edinburgh International Festival , Scotland – 3 August 2018 to 25 August 2018

    Image result for edinburgh festival 2016 imagesEvery August, the Edinburgh International Festival transforms one of the world’s most beautiful cities, presenting three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers from the worlds of the arts.

    Edinburgh’s six major theatres and concert halls, a few smaller venues and often some unconventional ones too, come alive with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.  The Royal Edinbugh Military Tattoo takes place at the same time.


  12. La Tomatina in Spain 2018 – Wednesday, August 29th, 2018
    Image result for La Tomatina in SpainLa Tomatina is the most popular tomatoes throwing festival in the world. It is being observed in the town of Bunol, Valencia, Spain each year on the last Wednesday of August. It is a festival held purely for fun. The festival attracts a large number of tourists in the town of Bunol during the celebration.


  13. Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada
    Related imageBurning Man 2017 took place August 27 – September 4, 2017 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Participants joined in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community.  2018 dates TBA


  14. Oktoberfest –  Munich, Germany
    Image result for oktoberfest 2016On Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Runs until October 7th.


  15. International Balloon Festival – Albuquerque, NM -Saturday, October 6th – 14th, 2018Image result for balloon festival albuquerque new mexicoThe Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual October festival that takes place in New Mexico. It was first launched in 1972 with just 13 participants. Today, more than 500 balloons take to the skies over Albuquerque each year, making the Balloon Fiesta the largest event of its kind worldwide.

  16. Day of the Dead, Mexico is celebrated from October 31 till November 02, 2018.
    Image result for day of the dead images
    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed.


  17. Christmas Markets Dates – all over Germany
     27th November to 23rd December, 2018

    Image result for christmas markets in berlin 2016 imagesThere is an air of  festivity that fills the air the end of November and continues till Christmas. Heralding the approach of the festive season, the streets are brightly lit, Christmas trees adorned with tinsel and little red bells and stars line the streets and people are out late doing their Christmas shopping. Concerts are staged, both outdoors and indoors, classical and modern. Street plays performed, musicians show off their talent and generally there is very festive and happy air around. This is when Germany is at its colourful best – white snows, green Christmas trees, red tinkling bells and families out on the streets. Come, join in the festivities!

 

Live the Life you’re given

A few months ago, I had to empty, donate, distribute and clean my niece’s apartment.  She had been found dead by the police whom I had called because her brother and I were worried about her and hadn’t heard from her.  They came to my door just before midnight and you just know when you open the door what they are going to tell you.  The funeral arrangements, service and few weeks after are pretty much a blur though you manage because you have to.  She died from complications of diabetes and other medical issues.  She had spent a year trying to find out what was wrong with her and why she couldn’t eat, etc.  She spent most of that time in and out of the hospital becoming more depressed with each visit.

I have been blessed with relatively good health most of my life and even though I have abused my body with alcohol, etc. it ticks on like the ever-ready bunny and I take it all for granted.  The hard part about life is knowing that sooner or later it will end – guaranteed!  You can talk all you want about cryogenics and other means of extending life but in reality you only get the one chance to live.  Depending upon what you believe in, you might come back – either as a human, an animal or plant.  You might go to heaven or hell.  You might just return to dust, again; it doesn’t matter – you’ll be dead!

Don’t be that person who says I wish I’d done more, been there for people, helped that homeless person on the street, loved more!  Make that happen!

While carrying out stuff from the apartment to the garbage bin outside, I dropped something on my foot and still have a blue bruise on my big toenail.  Every morning when I have a shower I look at it and remember my niece and the good person she tried to be despite all the tragedy in her own life.  She looked after people who were dying.  Talked to them, helped them with bathing and taking medication and bonding with them even though she knew their time was short.  She ensured that there would be someone with them in their final moments and let’s face it – that’s what most people are afraid of – dying alone.  It takes a special kind of someone to do that week in and week out and I’m grateful that they had her there.  I only wish there had been someone there for her when she took her last breath.

It is comforting to know that she is with her grandmothers and grandfathers and all those close to her who went on before her.  While I grieve her loss because she was still young and I miss her even though we weren’t particularly close and I wish we had been better friends, I feel guilty that I didn’t reach out to her more when she needed someone.  Why is it so hard to let people you love know that you do love them!

swimming

Road Rage – not so much

I have come to realize while driving my car today that I just don’t have the energy for road rage anymore.  Now, once upon a time, I was up there with the Rock (Dwayne Johnson), Jason Statham and that English granny who whacked the hood of this guy’s car with her brolly because he honked at her for crossing the road too slowly and his airbag went off.

I was the one who refused to let you edge into the designated lane as clearly marked 1/2 mile back just because you didn’t feel you should have to wait with the rest of us poor schmucks when you whizzed on past us – yes, I’m talking to you BMW and Lexus drivers – your time is so much more important than the rest of us.  You are the same people that don’t bother to turn on your indicator light to signal a lane change on the freeway, you just do it and we are supposed to psychically know that was your intention.

However, today I didn’t get the least bit perturbed when a guy who was in the left hand advance green lane decided he was going to veer to the right and go straight through the lights for whatever reason I could not discern.  I merely sighed with relief that no one hit him and caused me to be delayed.  At one point in time, I would have at the very least given him the finger.  I’m not sure if this new calm will last or whether it’s because I’m not in a hurry anymore to get where I’m going so I drive in a much more relaxed state of being, not that I do yoga or anything while behind the wheel – I find I do have to pay attention to what is going on around me, and I have performed a few scary maneuvers in my past my own self… but not purposefully…no-body’s perfect!

Perhaps I am maturing finally as there was a time when people pulled bone-head moves on the road that I wished fervently that I had a machine gun installed on the front of my car so that I could blow the tires out and watch the twit try and control the car as it headed toward the guardrail – now we’ll see how well you drive, my friend!  Those were mere fantasies played out in my head, I don’t think I would have carried anything like that out but it is probably a good thing that we don’t carry guns in Canada.

For the present moment you are safe out there on the road doing the stupid crap you do because I am zenned out; unfortunately I’m not sure how long it will last.

1931 Cadillac Fleetwood

The Perfect Day

What constitutes “The Perfect Day”.

For me, it is sleeping in late without waking to an alarm clock or being interrupted by the telephone or doorbell ringing – stretching and easing myself out of bed.  Having a breakfast of hot cocoa spiked with a little Bailey’s to give it that creaminess and topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon accompanied by a delicious chocolate croissant.

Taking all this outside to the patio and reading the paper while soaking up the sun.  No running errands, going grocery shopping, or doing projects around the house but listening to my favourite tunes and just relaxing with my feet up.  Taking the time to watch the birds at the feeder, or seeing the chipmunk dancing lightly around the fence or the young rabbit who has taken up residence nibbling peacefully at the vast amount of clover encircling the grass in our yard.

Later in the afternoon, we might take a drive to the beach or cottage country and stroll along the waterfront or hike a trail with no hills and sing songs along with the radio.  We might then stop for a picnic lunch or stop in a small town cafe and converse about future plans or debate the merits of our baseball team and why they are having the year they are or world order.  It doesn’t really matter as long as it is friendly and not to complicated.  Save the drama and what needs to be done for another day.

Or we might take in a concert, go canoeing, visit friends and enjoy the environment and ambiance.  Once the event is over and we are on our way home, we might stop for an ice cream cone – a reward for just being us.  Once home we will spark up the barbecue, have a nice, light dinner and a glass of wine and arrange the patio so we can have a fire and relax while watching the flames consume the wood we picked up on our way home.

Doesn’t get any better than that, folks! The end of a Perfect Day.  What makes yours a perfect day?

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How I became a member of the IBBA

Map of Costa del Sol

After graduating from the fine arts program in 1986, I decided to take a three month trip to Europe to visit all the museums that held all the paintings I had to study to attain my degree.  It was a trip I would relish (more on that later) but this only explains how I arrived at the Costa del Sol in Spain, not how I became a member of distinction in the International Bum-Biters Association – no small feat I assure you!

This dubious honour was bestowed upon me by a publican who owned a bar in Torremolinos.  From England, Bill and his wife June operated a fun establishment that we called home for three weeks.  I had hooked up with two American girls at the train station in Portugal and as we were going to the same place decided that we would rent a villa with a pool and a gardener while we were there.  As luck would have it there was another English publican who offered us his condo for free as he was going back home to England and all we’d have to pay for was the hydro.  We gave up the villa and pool for a highrise condo on the beach… an easy trade really!

Since the pub was on the way to the beach, we would stop in for a jug of sangria which we took with us whilst we were suntanning and we would return the empty jug at the end of the day.  The hosts were a lot of fun so we often ate there as well and continued our drinking.  One night, Bill bit me in the bum and told me I was now indoctrinated into the exclusive realm of the International Bum Biter’s Association; however, I would not be granted full membership until I had bitten the bum of a complete stranger of the opposite sex who came into the bar.  Being somewhat shy in nature, I didn’t know whether I would be able to do this but coming out of the bathroom one time, there was a gentleman standing at the bar and I just went for it.  Even Bill and June were surprised by this but I hurriedly explained everything to the astonished patron and he good naturedly took it in his stride.  Thank Goodness!

As a member in good standing of the Spanish chapter of the IBBA, I often considered establishing a Canadian division but then I got married and well, had to grow up really!

Just kidding, I’m not sure I will ever do that!

 

 

The Importance of Family

You are not meant to get along with every individual on the planet but when you choose your friends you are likely to choose those that see eye to eye with your ideology than not.  You do not have that luxury when it comes to family.  More often than not they are completely different from you and actually not someone who you would choose to be friends with but sometimes you do end up having an appreciation for the differences between you and a respect for that different viewpoint.  That is one of the reasons I feel sorry for only children.

For one thing, they are the oldest and the youngest child at the same time.  They don’t have anyone to look up to or have mentor them throughout the complexities of growing up.  Mind you, they don’t have anyone to beat them up either or tease them mercilessly and humiliate them in front of friends so there are certain benefits to going solo.

There were several occasions when I wished I was an only child or that I at least had a sister to confide in and ruminate about how beastly my brothers could be but they also came to my rescue on more than one instance and talked me out of doing some stupid things in life and I always could depend on them if something serious was happening and I needed guidance or strength at the time.

I still do not understand the lifestyle choices of some of them but there is something to that “being blood” bond that if they needed me I would go out of my way to help any of them because I love them – I may not always like them but we all had the same great parents and have some wonderful memories to share of growing up and becoming the people we are today because of that love.

Family helps define you and shape you and keeps you sane … or maybe I’m mistaken and it’s pets that help keep you on an even keel.  At least they don’t argue with you!

Why hire movers when you can do it yourself?

Once upon a time as a teenager leaving the familial nest; moving myself was easy, as I didn’t own very much to begin with.  The longer you live the more you accumulate and if one doesn’t purge on a regular basis you end up with a lot of stuff.  Recently, I helped my brother sell his home, pack up his belongings and get rid of a bunch of junk.  I learned a valuable lesson, albeit a little late in life, I think.

Hire movers!

Why? – less stress, less physical pain after heavy lifting, less bickering and less time wasted sorting and throwing things out.  The movers will ensure the boxes are uniform, strong and packed properly in the truck or pod or container and that nothing will shift during transport to your new home or storage facility.

Let’s deal with the first thing hiring movers relieves – stress!  You merely pick up the phone and book a date for an estimate which you get in writing and on that day, you greet them with a cup of coffee and supervise the packing of your valuables.  Piece of cake!  In the above case, we shopped around for a mover and decided to get a container which we would pack at our leisure and when done simply call them and have them pick it up and take it to a storage place to await shipment.  Problem is – you don’t know when they are going to deliver that container so you have to be there till they bring it and when they do you then have to learn the complex system of opening the back doors so you can start putting your things into it.  Therein lies a second dilemma, how to pack those different size boxes you got from the liquor store or grocery store, taping and labelling them and stacking them tightly so they don’t shift.  It was about this point that I thought to myself – why the hell didn’t you just hire somebody to do all this.

Which brings me to my second point of relief – less physical pain after heavy lifting.  After you have moved things from the attic to the main floor and brought up heavy boxes from the basement a few times, your back and legs are screaming at you – “hell, no” and this is repeated over several hours and several days and all the while you are up and down stairs and beginning to take several extended breathers in between loads to catch your breath and give your knees a rest.  With movers, you simply ask them if they’d like a water or pop while sitting in a rocker on your porch overseeing the proceedings.

To all those who have siblings you will certainly relate to the bickering part from how to lift and carry an item down a tricky set of stairs to how that truck or container should be packed and don’t put that there or throw that out I’m keeping it running dialogue you will have.

Lastly, the time factor.  Most movers will have your house packed up and gone within four to six hours because they bring lots of big strong men to do it.  We, on the other hand took 7 days to sort through, pack and stack everything.  That was after having the Junk Guys come in with their truck and taking away all the junk – from useless paper to old computers, receivers, broken furniture, mattresses, etc.  Three big truckloads later you would think you wouldn’t have that much to actually take with you but you’d be sadly mistaken, my friend.  Box after box of VHS tapes and DVDs were packed away and taken to storage.  Again, I thought – why bother, you can see most of these movies, musicals, concerts, etc on Netflix or other streaming computer sites but what do I know.

I do know I am glad that is over and I will never, ever move myself or anyone again!

That’s what you call your famous last words………………….

Two adirondacks in garden 2

 

 

 

 

Snowball tree on side of garage

Gardens and their importance

For many years my mother kept a beautiful garden filled with tulips and peonies and roses and poppies and plants and the most beautiful snowball tree I have ever seen. When the scent of the lilacs filled the air you knew it was Spring.  When the jack in the pulpit broke ground you knew that scores of trilliums wouldn’t be far behind and that a walk through the woods out back would be filled with a carpet of white making you marvel at the artistry and beauty provided by Mother Nature.

This was the biology/botany lesson where you could witness rebirth in the perennials or see the results of the bulbs/seeds that you planted the previous fall and know that you helped the flower to blossom and show off its splendour and radiance of colour.

Of course that would be looking back on the scene through rose-coloured glasses as six kids ran roughshod through the gardens while playing games in the front yard be it badminton, baseball, croquet or Red rover, Red rover.  We never really appreciated all the hard work and effort that went into working these gardens and when our mom had a spare moment (and I don’t know how she found one) that is where you could find her.

It was only when I began gardening myself as an adult that I appreciated the pride and satisfaction she must have derived from all that effort.

I’m pretty sure she was totally exasperated with us when we rummaged through a bush looking for a lost bird or ball while she admonished us to stay out of the garden with an ever increasing sharp tone.  I can remember the one Spring when my older brother and I planted firecrackers in our neighbour’s tulips and blew them up, just for fun and then having to go over after our mom found out to apologize and pay for the damage out of our allowance.  These are the lessons you learned while growing up.  I have provided a few examples from the many, many life lessons learned.

1. Don’t chew gum with your mouth open as you look like a cow chewing their cud.

2.  Don’t threaten to poke a neighbour child’s eye out with a stick  though you wouldn’t have actually done it because it isn’t nice to pick on someone younger than you even though my older brothers beat me up on a regular basis – not that I’m sure I didn’t provoke them on occasion – I was definitely no little angel.

3.  Don’t try to burn down your school by lighting the field behind it on fire as it wastes the fire department’s time to come and put it out and your parents will be less than thrilled.

4.  Don’t play in the swamp without your rubber boots or you’ll get a soaker.  Be careful where you go swimming that you don’t bring home leeches.

5.  And don’t taunt the boys calling them sissies unless you can outrun them.

There are plenty more but I digress from the Garden and the refuge it must have provided my mother from the goings on while dealing with her stubborn, willful children with more personalities than Sybil.

She also had pea bushes, rhubarb and grew lettuce and other veggies in the side and back gardens to supplement our grocery bill and reused and recycled long before it became di rigeur.  Sometimes I think people forget the simple things in life that can bring joy and happiness.  I miss my mom.

 

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10 Fun Facts about Robins

Parents tell their children not to handle eggs in a nest or pick up the fledgling bird who has fallen from the nest (most likely in its first attempt to fly) because the parent bird will know that a human has touched them and will then abandon the nest … which is not the case for the most part.
Why should you not immediately bear young birds away to a safer place? Primarily because the last thing you want to do is separate baby birds from their parents. Don’t consider picking up such finds and bringing them into your home to be cared for, because their parents will do a much better job than you ever could. Chances are very good that mom and dad are close at hand, even if you don’t see them.
  1.  Robins are found on every continent and are one of the most common songbirds.  Often they are the first bird you will see in the Spring
  2.   Besides earthworms, robins also eat berries, fruit, nuts and seeds, and other insects
  3. Most robins only live about six years
  4. They have up to 3 broods (or hatchings) each year and can reach up to 5
  5. Robins are territorial and will fight with other robins if challenged
  6. Robins are not born with their red breast but acquire it after their first moult (shedding)
  7. Though they don’t usually breed until March, if weather is mild it can be as early as January
  8. Robins are members of the thrush family so related to nightingales and blackbirds
  9. The robin is the official state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin
  10. Not related to Robin Hood, Batman’s sidekick or Robin Williams but featured on the 1986 Canadian $2.00 bill.

You’re Fired

Thankfully not everyone gets to hear those words in the workforce and for some once is plenty but I have the unique privilege(?) of hearing those words quite a few times in my life.  It doesn’t seem to have affected me adversely but as my husband has pointed out on several occasions, it’s not the kind of thing you brag about either.  Attached is an article I wrote about being fired.

You’re Fired

Laid-Off-Packing-Up-Office

Incidentally, my office never looked this neat – ever!