Archive for the 'holiday' Category

gift card vs. cool gift

Doing some last minute Chrishanukwandiwaleid shopping today, my friend was telling me why she hates gift cards. If you’re going to give a gift, she said, give an appropriate gift. If you want to give a gift of money, give real money, not a gift card.

When you give a gift card, you are forcing the recipient to shop in a specific store. Maybe they can’t find anything they want there. Maybe it will be a hardship for them to get to that store. How many kilometers away is it? Is it accessible by transit?

When your recipient finds something in it they want to buy, if it costs less than the amount on the card, they might be left with a card that has sixteen cents left on it. Or if they buy something that costs more, they have to give additional funds to the store.

Who does a gift card benefit, anyway?

I’m wondering how many gift cards never get used. Even if each card is left with a few cents unspent, the store benefits. In essence, the gift card is more of a gift to the seller.

One of my favorite stores is a shop called Green Earth, which can be found in Conestoga Mall in the southern Ontario town of Waterloo.

looking at the storefront in the mall

It’s part of a chain, so you might find one in the mall nearest you, too 🙂

pegboard wall of masks

Find everything from masks…

faerie perched on the edge of a shelf

… to faeries …

a shelf fulh

… little piggies …

Buddha sculpture

… garden gurus …

a Woman is like a tea bag ... you never know how strongshe is until you put her in hot water

… pithy sayings …

Close up of a stuffed tiger's face

… and furry friends.

text reads: what good can come from a day ... that starts with getting up

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Green Earth except as a customer.  Green Earth is a great store full of fun and off the beaten path gifts. Chances are you’ll find just the thing for that hard-to-find-the-right-thing-for person on your list. Whatever you need to get for Chrishanukwandiwaleid

Sculptures of hands holding uo two fingers to form the peace  or victory symbol

Tell you what, if you decide it is cooler to buy a fabulous gift rather than a boring old gift card, drop round Green Earth this week.

When you do, make sure to tell them you read about it here in Lothlaurien’s Lore 🙂

Driving Photography

I’ve been playing around with taking photographs when driving.

Of course, only when I’m a passenger.

the sun is setting behind three hydro towers at the side of the road.

I expect taking photos while driving the car would be even more dangerous than driving while on the cell phone 🙂

Sunset photographed from a moving car

The twin advantages digital photography has over film is that you can see immediately if what you’re doing is working…

Zooming past a tree with the sun behind

…and you can take zillions of photos until you get what you want.

Sun sets behind a bare tree and a highway traffic sign frame

I’ve been known to shoot a few thousand pictures on a two hour drive. So I thought I’d share a few.

Sometimes you capture the most extraordinary images:

an aerial view of the traffic and pedestrians in my wake reflected in the glass of the new addition to the ROM.

Or stumble on a serendipitous moment:

the biplane dives past a highway light standard headed for the trees

close n the biplane diving for the trees

A red biplane marked "Lucas" trails smoke in a deep dive

And sometimes even ordinary scenes can appear extraordinary…

rainy street at night; the traffic lights reflect on the road and in the raidrops on the windshield

… or provide a new way of looking at things.

looking at the following traffic reflected in the side view mirror

I love it when I catch a glimpse of art

A mural adorns the side of a corner building in Chinatown (cc by

or even architecture.

disgorging traffic on the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition

There is always something.

this pgoto of the CN Tower dome has been enhanced and filtered to make it brighter

Because art is all around.

city scape of Toronto at night

Marriage Is So Gay

I’ve always liked Dolly Parton, and I guess I would have thought that Dolly would be able to understand discrimination more than most. So was surprised to read the account of discrimination at Dollywood, the theme park bearing her name.

The Grist Mill at the Dollywood Theme Park

The story was “Gay couple asked to reverse shirt at Dollywood.” The woman wearing a T-Shirt that read “marriage is so gay” was made to turn it inside out before she was allowed admission “to avoid offending others.” I wasn’t there, but I’m offended that they would discriminate like this. Reading a little further, I almost choked when I read:

The park is open every day to everybody,” Owens said. “We try to provide an environment for families of all shapes and sizes to enjoy themselves.”

Pete Owens, Dollywood spokesman

All families are welcome, it seems, unless it is a gay family. I am so tired of hearing about hate disguised as “community standards.”

People come in different shapes and sizes, and we have differing beliefs and sexual orientation, even within families. And you know what? There are gay people in my family, and I’m willing to bet that the same is true for every family, even yours.

Back in the early days, my marriage was having some serious trouble, and my husband and I didn’t know how to get through it ourselves. And although we needed urgent resolution, the wait time to get in to see a marriage counselor was a minimum of six months. If we had had to wait that long, there is an excellent chance that our marriage would have crashed and burned.

Then someone suggested we try the 519 – a gay community centre – in Toronto. Surprise, surprise, we were able to get in to see one of their couples counselors in a matter of weeks. It was actually pretty funny, some of the shocked looks we got as a straight couple going in for our sessions. The marriage counselor helped us to see our way through that bad patch, he helped save our marriage all those years ago.

Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay or straight; relationships are relationships. People are people. Families are families. The only thing offensive is hate.

Because hate poisons our communities.

So I think it’s high time we all got t-shirts that read:

“Marriage Is So Gay.”


Photo Credit: Dollywood Grist Mill Flickr photo released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) License by Mike Burton

Robin in the Hood: Thunderstorm Aftermath

For ten years the Robin In The Hood medieval festival was blessed with great weather.

Robin the Hood 2010 - royalty

One year there was a tiny spritz of rain in the morning that cleared up later.

A princess and an outlaw cross the tournament field.

A couple of years had unseasonable heat.

four fighters in the tournament ring

But the company made jokes about festival organizer D.J. Carroll’s magical ability to garner good weather for Robin In The Hood, always held on the first Saturday in June.

Robin in the Hood 2010 - outlaws cheer

Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate this year. A series of thunderstorms scrolled across Ontario, buffeting Elmira’s Gibson Park with high winds and a series of torrential downpours.

branches down

Branches came down throughout the park,

the blacksmith is surrounded by puddles of water

and the volume of rain was so great that it left standing pools throughout the venue.

Robin stands at the edge of a puddle which reflects his image

Safety considerations due to the instability of the forest floor and canopy dictated the festival’s first cancellation in 2011, in what would have been the 11th year of operation.

Trebuchet sits in the sodden field, 2011

Robin in the Hood 2010 - Castle take down

Crispin stands by the door of the new castle

The new castle

Taking down the castle

members of the company hold up the castle walls

people carrying away a side wall while the rest of the castle is dismantled in the background

The wet forest with downed branches

Next year is bound to have better weather.

They’re Baaaaaack…

title over fire
The 22nd annual Waterloo Busker Carnival is on right now in Uptown Waterloo.

riding the triple unicycle through the crowd

I had an opportunity to catch some of the acts last night starting with that tri-unicycle madman Bob at Large

working on the sidewalk chalk mural

It was interesting watching the recreation of this masterpiece rendered in chalk by Chalkmaster Dave. Seeing his progress is one of the reasons for going back to the busker Carnival for an encore viewing.

carnival rides at night

There are carnival rides for those who like being both shaken and stirred.

collage of preparation and baking the pizza in a wood fired oven

And there are things to eat like this very tasty pizza cooked in this very cool… er hot… wood fired pizza oven. I can vouch for the Hawaiian Pizza created by Bread Heads Wood Fired Pizza

road sign

If you’ve never been to a busker festival, although admission is free, be aware that these performers are putting on a show. They don’t call it a “pitch” for nothing. This is what these entertainers do for a living, and they all have a patter designed to remind us that they expect fair payment when they pass the hat at the end. If you’ve got a steady income, drop some of that cash in the hat. All of them quite understand when funds are tight to non-existent, a good thing during these recessionary times, so if that’s the case at least pop round at the end to tell them how much you’ve enjoyed the performance.

the escape artist swaddled in chains atop a ladder over the crowd

My favorite of the evening was British escape artist Rob Roy Collins, whose polished act kept the audience rapt throughout. This is the first time I’ve seen an escape artist in the flesh and he did not disappoint. (I enjoyed the performance enough that I even coughed up up for the DVD.)

juggling fire

You might think a skateboarding fire eater and juggler might be a little flashy… and you’d be right. Fire Guy presented lots of sparks to end the evening on.

I’m definitely heading back out to see some more of the buskers, as the Carnival runs through Sunday, August 29th, 2010. Maybe we’ll see you there.

[Note: I know it’s frowned on to add material to a published article, but this was slapped together fast to help promote the Carnival, and didn’t have time to find links for the buskers with web presence. Today I took a little time to inserted the links I could find. If you’re one of the named buskers and prefer a different link please let me know and I’ll amend it. I did manage to get back for more and I hope revisit the 2010 Waterloo Busker Carnival in at least one more post. —lothlaurien]

happy easter

pink easter egg's cartoon eyes peer out of an in eggshell shaped eggcup held up by chicken feet

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