Tag Archives: Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Sport I Want to Try

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Aerial shot of a black woman paddle boarding on a pink and white paddle board in a green-blue sea. This means that she is standing up on a surfboard-like item and holding a paddle as she looks straight ahead. The water is rippling slightly in the wind and looks gorgeous. The woman has a confident pose and seems to be having a great time. Paddle boarding sounds like a fantastic sport to me.

I will share two pictures of people who are using paddle boards in today’s post in case anyone reading this has never seen one or needs a visual representation of what they look like.

Why am I interested in paddle boarding?

I love spending time on or near the water on nice days. It’s relaxing to hear waves lapping against the shore or the cry of sea birds in the distance. Since everything is powered by your own muscles, there won’t be any motors drowning out peaceful nature noises.

This sport doesn’t involve any running or trying to catch or throw balls. Those things also make it appealing to me as I tend to prefer forms of exercise that let you work at your own pace and don’t involve getting hit by anything.

A white man paddle boarding in a green, algae-filled lake. He is wearing a t-shirt, a pair of jean shorts that has large holes in them, and a white baseball cap. His paddle board has a patch of reddish-orange colour on its otherwise white colour. The man looks like he’s having a good time but that he’s also carefully looking at something just out of view. His posture is slightly slouched to the left as he stands on his board. I do not know if that is significant or not, but thought I’d better include it in case it is.

No uniform seems to be required. You can wear a bathing suit or shorts and a t-shirt depending on your preferences and what the weather is like. I appreciate having the option of choosing my own wardrobe for such things as the air could be hot and still on land but much cooler and active further out on Lake Ontario. The wind blowing over all of that water can make such a huge difference in temperature, especially if a storm is coming.

The big paddle is cool, too. I have enjoyed canoeing the past, so that makes me think I might like using something similar to a large oar while standing up.

There is also the fact that paddle boarding can allow you to explore shallow waters that boats cannot enter.  This means that you can see places that are usually much less accessible to human visitors, and you can do it without damaging any sensitive things like rare plants or the nests of various creatures so long as you stay on the paddle board.

These are some of many reasons why this sport appeals to me. If any of you have tried it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something You Might Not Guess About Me

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While working on this post I was pleased to see that the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood is in the public domain now, so I can share it here before I share the recreation of it my parents did when one of my brothers and I were little.

This is the original painting:

The painting American Gothic by Grant Wood. This was created in 1930 and features two stern-looking white people who are standing in front of their farmhouse looking grumpy. The man is holding a pitchfork and wearing a white shirt and black jacket. The woman is wearing a black dress with a white collar, a red floral apron, and a little necklace around the collar that looks like the silhoutte of a person’s face. She has blond hair pulled back into a neat bun. He is mostly bald but has a fringe of grey hair on part of his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is my family’s recreation of it with two little kids who weren’t quite sure what was happening but were thrilled to be included:

 

Photo of two little white kids dressed up like 1930s farmers in imitation of the famous 1930 American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. The little boy, my brother, is wearing a black longsleeved shirt and a pair of overalls. he’s holding an old wooden rake. I am wearing a grey long-sleeved dress with a white pinafore over it and a red scarf around my neck. Someone also put a bit of rouge on my cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have memories of the grownups asking us not to smile, but I also remember being happy to play along with their wishes. So, yes, we both look quite serious, but this was a fun experience for us. (Or at least it was for me!  This brother of mine can speak for himself if he so desires to and still remembers that day. He was pretty young when it happened).

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Do You Enjoy Shopping? Why or Why Not?

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Generally, no, I do not enjoy shopping because of how consumeristic and expensive it can be.

Closeup of eco-friendly mesh bags. Two are black, two are white, and one is yellow. They are all arranged in a circle against a white background. I replace clothing and shoes as they wear out or no longer fit me, but I find it wasteful to replace perfectly good stuff just because an advertisement says that a certain pattern or colour is no longer in fashion this year. (This is not a criticism of anyone who loves fashion, only of an industry that often strongly encourages people to purchase things they may not need or even want a few months from now).

Due to planned obsolescence and how many items are not being constructed in ways that makes repairing them easy or even possible in some cases, it can be harder to do this with stuff like electronics or small appliances, but I do still try to get as much use out of them as I can.

I used to like visiting the grocery store and occasionally the local chocolate shops before inflation increased the price of  everything so terribly.

It was once relaxing for me to pick out the freshest produce I could find and browse new dairy-free products so long as I went at a quiet part of the day. There was nothing like the thrill of finding a new vegan cheese, dark chocolate bar, or less common fruit or vegetable to try that was only a few dollars but might become a new favourite of mine.

Chocolate shops always smell so good that I used to go there just to sniff around and see if there was any new vegan chocolate for me to buy.

With prices for everything rising and my budget having less wiggle room, I do not find as much joy in these things as I used to….unless I happen to stumble across a fantastic sale or something which does happen every so often.

The only shopping-adjacent thing I enjoy these days is browsing the new section of my local library or the new additions page on their website.

I love the thrill of seeing books by favourite authors pop up in these places and either realizing I can borrow them immediately or that the waitlist for them is beautifully short.

This isn’t even to mention all of the other stuff libraries offer: concerts, authors giving talks, discussion panels, book clubs, job hunting advice, movies, festivals, events, and more.

Thank goodness for libraries, I say!

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Thoughts on Social Media

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Clean, clear water being poured into a glass cup. There are small puddles of water around the cup on the table it is sitting on. Social media is like water. Context matters.

If you drink unfiltered water from a stagnant pond, you just might also be drinking bacteria, viruses, and/or  pollutants that could make you violently ill.

If you drink too much water too quickly, you could upset the electrolyte balance in your body and likewise become dangerously sick.

If you drink clean, safe water, you’re doing a good thing for your health.

I have seen examples of social media harming people, but I’ve also seen it make life easier for others by allowing them to connect with folks in similar situations, teaching them things about the world they didn’t already know, and providing hours of free entertainment.

Generally speaking, I shy away from arguments that try to paint social media into a corner. Who you follow and what they’re saying makes all of the difference in the world when deciding whether having a TikTok, Instagram or other account is the right choice for you.

I tend to avoid celebrities, influencers, and large corporations online. There are exceptions for accounts that genuinely provide valuable information like weather updates, sneak peeks at upcoming speculative fiction books, or new dairy-free recipes or products for me to try, of course, but I usually find average people to be more interesting and useful individuals to follow because they’re not trying to sell me things I don’t need or make clickbait content.

(Your lists of things you want to hear about on social media might be completely different from mine, of course, and that’s totally okay. Not every sort of content should or even can appeal to every single person out there There’s a lot of perfectly good content out there that isn’t appealing to me but would be ideal for sports fans, new parents, or joggers, for example).

Many of the people I interact with regularly on social media are friends and relatives. We use it to keep in touch with each other, and I close those apps glowing with joy and feeling like I’m all caught up on their lives.

Under these circumstances, I think using those sites is a wonderful way to keep in contact with loved ones who live far away or who might have health problems or work schedules that can make even short trips for an in-person visit hard.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Skill I Wish More People Had and Why

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The phrase “keep your hope” has been spray painted onto the sidewalk in this black-and-white photo.I wish everyone had the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and sympathize with struggles we know little or even nothing about.

Some people assume that the things they find easy to do should also be effortless for others, but this is not how life works. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, many of which are dealt with behind the scenes without most folks being aware of what is going on.

Reading and writing are easy for me, for example. For someone who has untreated dyslexia or another learning disability, they can be incredibly challenging.

Not to sound like a modern-day Pollyanna, but world would be a better place if there were more sympathy and encouragement in it.

Therefore, I am cheering all of you on with whatever you find difficult or may be quietly struggling with right now. I believe in you!

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Things I Totally Misunderstood as a Kid

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Photo of a few hundred dollars bills crumpled up in the hands of a light-skinned person. The bills look like a bird’s nest. In the background of the image you can see a forest floor. Here are a few fun stories about things I misunderstood as a kid.

Story #1

There was a wooden box in the foyer of the church my family attended. I saw someone put money into it when I was about 3 or 4 years old and asked my parents what that person was doing.

”They’re giving it to God,” was the reply. As God was somewhere up in the sky so far as I knew, I wasn’t sure how the money was going to make it from that box all the way up past the clouds.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided the church ushers probably unlocked the box, took the money outside, and threw it up really high so God could catch it once everyone had cleared the parking lot and it was safe to stand out there for a while.

 

Story #2

”My doctor recommends Dr. Pepper” is a phrase that has echoed through my head since I was five. Did I see it on a commercial or billboard somewhere? Did someone tell it to me jokingly? I feel like I might have seen it on an old poster, possibly by the community swimming pool, but I don’t know if that part of the memory is accurate.

What I do remember is being very suspicious of any doctor who thought soda was something you should drink every day. He or she couldn’t possibly have known what they were talking about in my concrete 5-year-old worldview.

 

Story #3

My parents were making spaghetti and talking about prom in our family kitchen one evening. They disapproved of the things teenagers did after prom.

“What will they be doing?” I asked. I was about 5 at the time.

”Oh, acting like they’re married,” my parents said. What they meant is that there might be premarital sex after the dance, something that was strictly forbidden in our church.

But what I thought was, “what’s wrong with making spaghetti? Maybe they’re really hungry after all of that dancing?”

 

Story #4

Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E, was an American educational program that teaches elementary-aged students about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes in the hope that it would prevent them using any of those substances when they grew older. (So far as I can tell, it’s rarely taught these days although similar programs are still around).

I happened to switch schools at exactly the right stage in life to miss out on being part of this program. My old school gave these presentations to sixth graders, but I stopped attending it after the fifth grade due to a cross-country move my parents made that summer for a new job. The new school my family enrolled me in only taught it to fifth graders,  so little Lydia wasn’t eligible for it when she started the sixth grade that autumn.

My misunderstanding about the program was about its name. I thought each word in it signified a different step in the growth process:

First you did drugs.

Then came abuse.

Then came resistance to change.

Then came education and, I presumed, the end of the cycle and a healthier future.

It felt a little too dramatic in my mind, but I was sure the grownups had good intentions.

Honestly, I was about the last kid in the world who needed this class, though. No one in my family smoke, drank, or did drugs. Even when a few relatives dabbled in smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol when I was older, they only did so socially and occasionally. Nobody was addicted or anything, and I grew up to have zero interest in anything other than the very rare strawberry margarita or something before I gave up even that tiny amount of alcohol as well.

That class may have been more meaningful for kids whose friends or relatives had substance use disorders, though. I was very lucky to grow up in a family that was not tempted by such things.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Characters I See Differently Now Than I Used To

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Photo of a red barn and a red farmhouse. There is a grassy field in the foreground and a nice, big forest behind the house. The sky overhead is partly cloudy. I was only able to think of one answer this week.

Marilla Cuthbert

When I first read L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series as a child, I thought Marilla was far too stuck in her ways and strict with Anne.

I reread that series a year or two ago and was surprised by how much more I sympathize with her now. Marilla was a single, childless woman who had zero parenting experience and who had grown up during an era when children were supposed to be seen and not heard.

Of course she had some trouble adjusting to suddenly raising a stubborn, hyper, 11-year-old girl who never stopped talking! As much as I love Anne, I would be just as perplexed and overwhelmed as Marilla was in that situation. It would take time to figure out how to successfully parent a kid her age and with her past, especially in the 1800s when there were no social workers to call for advice and few if any parenting manuals to read.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Are Tearjerkers

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Photo of a biracial woman dabbing away tears from her cheek as she cries. She is wearing a white, longsleeved blouse and has a lovely Afro. I enjoyed tearjerkers a lot more when I was a kid than I do now as an adult. Or maybe my tastes in this genre have simply evolved over time?

If a book advertises itself as a tearjerker, I am generally less interested in reading it than I would have been at 8 or 10. (Perhaps this is why so many of the stories on my list are written for roughly that age group give or take a few years?)

But if a well-written story happens to have a few scenes that make me cry, I don’t mind it one bit.

Here are some tearjerkers I’ve enjoyed at various ages. As I haven’t reread most of them recently, I can’t say whether my opinion of them remains the same! Hopefully, they’re just as good as I recall, though.

1. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

2. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

3. Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

5. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

6. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Logans, #4) by Mildred D. Taylor

7. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco

8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

10. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

11. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Whistle Stop #1) by Fannie Flagg

12. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This last book is my one exception to the rule. I reread it last year and it was even better than it was the first time around. If you can handle something that talks about infertility, child loss, and grief in a 1920s-era but still fairytale-like format, I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Museums I Want to Visit

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A photo of Stonehenge on an overcast day. The stones are covered in a thin, spotty layer of moss. My answer to this week’s question is basically all of them. It’s rare for me to hear of a museum or gallery and not want to see it! The Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto are both excellent. If any of you are ever in town, I highly recommend adding them to your itinerary and would visit them with you, too, if you’re interested.

With that being said,  here are the museums that are still at the top of my list to visit someday.

Stonehenge

It’s not a traditional sort of museum, but it’s a mysterious historical site that I’d love to visit. If only we knew more about who created it, how they managed to move such massive boulders, and what they used this location for!

. The rest of my answers will be of actual buildings one can visit to see art and exhibits.

 

The National Museum of Ethiopia

I have never been to Ethiopia, but this would be the first place I’d visit if I did go there. Not only do they have Lucy, the first Australopithecus Afarensis remains that were ever discovered, they also have multiple floors dedicated to Ethiopian history and culture. It would be amazing to soak up that knowledge and history.

 

Mütter Museum

This museum is in Philadelphia. Their exhibits explore advancements in the medical field that have saved countless lives, rare birth defects, bodies that were preserved in unusual ways after death, the history of how various diseases were treated, and so much more. I think this would be a fascinating place to spend a day.

 

Neanderthal Museum 

You all may remember how much I love learning about prehistory and Neanderthals. The name of this museum gives away what it’s about. It is located very close to the Neander Valley in Germany where the first Neanderthal remains were found in 1856. I wouldn’t want to leave until I’d read and examined every bit of every display there.

Louvre 

Imagine being able to see the Mona Lisa in person in France among the many other famous works of art to be found here.  That would be incredible.

 

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: How I Feel About Staycations

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A photo looking down at someone’s legs as they stand on a porch next to a welcome mat that has the word “home” written on it in a thick black font. The “o” in the letter home has been replaced with a red heart. I have mixed feelings about staycations.

Sometimes they’re the perfect choice if you’re exhausted and/or don’t have the budget to travel elsewhere.

They can be a nice, relaxing way to recharge under those circumstances. There is definitely something to be said for keeping things low key and thrifty.

On the other hand, there’s the temptation to treat a staycation like any other time of the year and not make any fun memories during them at all.

This happened to my spouse and I years ago. We didn’t have the funds to travel anywhere that time, and I totally understood and accepted that.

The problem was that we didn’t do much stuff that was out of the ordinary for us during our staycation from what I can recall. I still washed the dishes and did the grocery shopping, (most of the) cooking, and laundry. We still ate out at the inexpensive fast food restaurants we’d normally visit if I’m not cooking that night for whatever reason.

Other than not working, it was completely like any other week. We didn’t try any new places from what I can recall, and I only remember going to one free place that I’d previously enjoyed. The rest of the time was spent watching tv and wandering around a local mall. (No offence meant to people who think that sounds like the perfect vacation, by the way! To each their own. It’s simply not my cup of tea.)

These days I’m more assertive about staycations. Yes, I’ll stick to whatever the budget is for the week, but I am going to break my daily routines and go to some nice dairy-free bakeries, parks I don’t get to visit very often, or free local events at the bare minimum! My spouse doesn’t have to accompany me, and I certainly won’t fill every day with long lists of places to visit or anything like that. A couple of hours every other day or so to spend on stuff I really love to do is enough to make me happy.  That leaves plenty of time for walking around the mall, watching tv, or doing nothing in particular, too. 😉

I simply need more from a vacation than doing the same things we always do and then going home to do chores. That’s not my idea of a good time.

Staycations can be a wonderful option if you treat your local community as if you’re a tourist there and go to places you normally don’t visit (or places you’ve visited before and already know are perfect for your tastes!)

They can also be disappointing, at least from my perspective, if you stick to the same old routines every day and don’t branch out at all.

So much depends on how you plan ahead for them and how much effort everyone puts into the experience.

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