Monday, June 11, 2012

Stoney Creek

A couple of months ago I was hanging out with Heather and Kinsey and we were discussing (among other things) our summer plans. I mentioned that I wanted to take advantage of the activities planned in remembrance of the War of 1812 and Heather informed me that she has a friend who is a War of 1812 reenactor! I went home that night and immediately added Ryan as a friend on Facebook...or maybe he added me. She messaged him to say that we needed to meet. (Can you tell which one is him? LOL) I've been chatting with him infrequently ever since. Picking his brain about reenacting and the upcoming events. 

Sunday, June 3rd I had an evening church service and Ryan was in Hamilton at the first major event of the year. The 199th Anniversary of the Battle of Stoney Creek. Heather had been away for most of May so I talked her into coming to Stoney Creek with me so we could catch up (it wasn't that hard to convince her). It was a grey, overcast day. I had on a hoodie and I wore it all day. At one point it warmed up and I pushed up the sleeves but that was as hot as it got. Still when I got home my nose and cheeks were rosy. Stupid UV rays! Anyway, it was actually good weather for an event like this. Too much hotter and it would have been miserable. 
We arrived just before the memorial service (second picture) and afterwards went up the monument to see the view. After that we wandered around and took in the sites. We tried oat cakes made by someone on site, learned about early 19th century diseases, listened to musical performances and sat for over an hour and listened to "Tecumseh" (left). He was a very passionate speaker and very engaging but I got bored. Heather loved him though.

The main attraction was the battle at 2pm. It was preceded by an artillery demonstration (that's Ryan on the  cannon crew). The battle was fully narrated so that us "civilians" could tell what was happening and why. It was fascinating. There was a small group of Americans portraying the "other side". It ended with a moment of silence for all the fallen.

Renactments are interesting to watch, especially when the British are involved in their red coats. 

Heather and I after the battle.

Ryan and Heather. I can't wait until the next event!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Shallows

A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Steph for drinks at a new cafe in town that I recently discovered. It was a gorgeous day so we sat out on the patio and then went for a walk through Uptown Waterloo and browsed in the shops. We ended up in a bookstore where I picked up a few books from the bargain bin. As I was paying I made a comment about hoping I could concentrate long enough to actually read them. I'm finding that my ability to lose myself in a book for hours on end like I could when I was a kid is gone. I was questioning if it has just been the books I've been reading (are they not that interesting?) or conditioning from working as a receptionist for so many years where you're constantly interrupted. The owner of the book store asked me to wait and he went and pulled a book from the shelf entitled "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains". I almost never buy full priced books but this one looked so interesting that I just did it. And luckily it was. The book itself is pretty full of stats and results of studies and surveys but the bottom line is that the inability to concentrate that I am feeling isn't unique to me and the culprit is actually the internet!

One passage that really stood out was near the end.

"The influx of competing messages that we receive whenever we go online not only overloads our working memory; it makes it much harder for our frontal lobes to concentrate our attention on any one thing. The process of memory consolidation can't even get started. And, thanks once again to the plasticity of our neuronal pathways, the more we use the Web, the more we train our brain to be distracted - to process information very quickly and very efficiently but without sustained attention. That helps explain why many of us find it hard to concentrate even when we're away from our computers. Our brains become adept at forgetting, inept at remembering. Our growing dependence on the Web's information stores may in fact be the product of a self-perpetuating self-amplifying loop. As our use of the Web makes it harder for us to lock information into our biological memory, w're forced to rely more and more on the Net's capacious and easily searchable artificial memory, even if it makes us shallower thinkers.

The book talks about the lull of electronic stimulation and how our brains have been reshaped and reformed to need it. On one hand it's a bit depressing but on the other, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one feeling like this and it CAN be reversed. It just takes dedicated time to rework those neural pathways. Interesting stuff!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Distillery District

I'm having adventures faster than I can blog about them! Let's see if I can catch up a bit here.

I do realize the irony in following the previous blog post up with this one but I want to stay chronological here. So after posting about how much I like doing things with my friends, Wednesday, May 30th I headed into Toronto by myself. My destination was the First Parliament Interpretive Centre. I need to back up though and give a bit of background. Before I moved to Ontario I was at a ScrapShare Washington Retreat and discussing my plans with my friend Linda. She suggested that I connect with her friend Wendy who is involved in some of the fields I am looking at employment opportunities in. Wendy and I added each other on Facebook and then life got in the way. I moved, settled into school, went to Quebec and took my epic road trip last summer. She moved between Ottawa and Toronto and got divorced. This year when school ended I contacted her again and made plans to come out to visit. Wednesday was that day. 

I was late leaving Waterloo but traffic wasn't too bad so I got to Toronto around 1pm. Wendy was waiting for me and greeted me by name when I walked in. We started chatting and talked for probably two hours straight. It was great. We discussed the exhibit and how it developed, her involvement and the other places she has worked. From what Linda had said I knew Wendy would be a good resource and I was right. We discussed the job market in our field in Ontario, ways to network and a bunch of other things. The exhibit itself is a temporary one so it's mostly just informational panels. I didn't take any pictures but it was interesting to read and a good introduction to the War of 1812 bicentennial events happening in Ontario starting this year.

 The exhibit closed at 4 and I left just before that. Wendy directed me to the nearby historic Distillery District (which is where I had ended up parking my car) and because I wasn't in a rush to get anywhere, I hung around for awhile. I browsed through the shops, ate the lunch I had packed while people watching and treated myself to some fabulous chocolate and a tart from the bakery. In a store called Bergo I found THIS. I first saw it in the MOMA gift shop when Meredith and I were in NYC. I also recently pinned it on Pinterest. I know you can buy it at uncommongoods but I found it for cheaper here. I don't know what I'll use it for. I have no need for a creamer but I've regretted not buying it for two and a half years so I had to get it. Interesting side note. I had a feeling I would find it in that store. All their other stock was similar gadgets and by the same designer so I was working my way through looking closely at each display. Just before I found it I got a call from Meredith. We had been playing telephone tag so I was expecting her call. I also had a pretty good idea of why she was calling. The day before I had learned that one of our elementary school classmates had passed away. I don't even know the last time I saw or spoke to Laura but she used to live across the street from me and we played together a bit. This is really random but one of the clearest memories I have of Laura isn't even about her. It was of Meredith telling me, in maybe grade 3 that Laura had said that her older sister was "bleeding from between her legs". It was the first I had ever really heard of menstruation and I remember Meredith sounding really concerned about Laura's sister and the fact that it could happen to us. I also remember responding in that "I'm-younger-than-you-but-the-oldest-child-in-my-family-calmness" that "There must be an explanation for it. We just don't know what it is yet". Anyway, as I said. Random. The point of that segue was to say that just after I hung up with Mere I found the creamer so in a weird way it felt like she was there with me this time too. Anyway, this has gotten kind of long and rambly. I guess I can finish up by saying it was a nice, relaxing, productive day and I can't wait to get back to the Distillery District and to other parts of Toronto over the summer.

BlackBird Vintage. Another amazing shop that was like having my Pinterest boards come to life. It was everything I could do to hold back and not drop major $$$!

The chocolate shop

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Art of Asking Questions

There is a challenge that floats around that invites you to create a tag line for your life. One quick phrase that summarizes what you are all about. In the past I've considered "A Life with Three Brothers" because being the only girl really does shape your view of the world. Another option is "The Art of Asking Questions". Being able to ask interesting engaging questions is a skill I have honed very specifically and use frequently. Sometimes it's harder than others but usually I can people to open up and share all sorts of information about themselves. I believe it is this skill (and my wonderful personality ;)) that has helped me establish some wonderful friendships. I met up with my friend Laura earlier this week to "plan our summer". She and I have similar interests when it comes to exploring historic sites and we got together to discuss which ones we wanted to visit this summer. You may remember the one adventure we managed to have last summer. I called my parents afterwards because I was so excited and my dad asked "how do you find so many people that you get along with so well?" And so many people that want to do what you want to do. So I told him my secret. I just like to GO. Get out and do as much as possible as often as possible. As you get to know people, and ask questions, you find out what they like to do, and then when you want to do that thing, you call them. I have different friends that I do different things with. If I want to go for a hike our be outside, I call Jess. If I want to go shopping, I call Grace. If it's something to do with food or cooking, Heather and Kinsey are at the top of the list. If I need someone to hang out with or go for coffee or ice cream on the spur of the moment, I can be assured that Steph or Lindsay will be game. And that's just a few people. Yes I make friends easily but I know how to BE with them and to do things that they enjoy. I think that's the key. Get to know them and then meet them on their level. It works great and I'm super excited for what Laura and I have in store!