Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July in pictures


July is over! (Well, in a few hours it will be.) We didn't see any rain at all in the last 31 days which is pretty amazing. And a record in BC I'm told.

What did my July look like? We spent lots of quality time in our favourite spot under the willow tree (here, here and here) with copious amounts of pear cider - cider has currently replaced wine as my favourite summer drink, so refreshing!
It was also filled with BBQs, birthday dinners, a baby shower, time spent with the sweetest baby ever (yes Millie Bean, that's you my little doll!), some horse activities, shooting in the mountains, a new season of Dexter, and a lot of work. Plus a burst water pipe in the basement just yesterday.

Let's not forget about the arrival of the bestest shoes ever, finding denim overalls I had been hunting for for a few months, buying a cheap camper for our next road trip in November (I can't waaaaiiit!!), getting my bangs cut by Stef and seeing new faces here. Thank you so much for following my new friends!!

Some downs, but definitely mostly ups! It's a wonderful summer so far.

How was your July?

Off to work now for me.

xo Miriam

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Flood! Or drought. What's your pick?

Omygodomygodomygod.

I woke up this morning, went to the bathroom to pee, wanted to flush - and no water came. What the...?
So I stumbled into the living room where hubs was drinking tea to ask what's going on.

You might not see it, but there's water on
the floor in our crawlspace. Ugh.
 
Turns out that another pipe broke in the basement. The second one in less than two weeks. And we had a couple last year as well. *sigh*
Darn you 40 year old house with faulty pipes!

Our choice is to either have a fountain in the basement shooting water out at high speed and flooding everything - or turning the water off completely. We went with the second option and now have a farm with no water. That's bad. Really bad. Hundreds of animals with no water! And when we turn it on (which we will have to later) water will gush out in the house! Soak the walls and carpet, get everything mouldy... okay, I have to calm down. Deeeep yogi breath.

You know that also means I can't have a shower, right?
So I will have to either shower at work in the OR change room (which, frankly, creeps me out - I don't want the nurses to see me nekkid!), or go to the public pool across the street. Which is what I will do.

I will never ever again take water that comes out off the faucet instead of the wall for granted!
 
Rich has been on the phone all morning to get somebody to fix it. His buddy Wayne who helped us last time will come again - you're my hero Wayne!

But that means that we will have to get all the pipes replaced rather sooner than later - which costs big $$$. And means that they will rip open my walls. This all brings me great anguish.

The only bright side about this scenario? I've been contemplating repainting all my walls, which now I will have to do. There's a silver lining if you just look hard enough...

Well I'm off to the pool now.

Hope your Tuesday started out better!

Miriam
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Monday, 29 July 2013

Why I ♥ blogging

I have always loved the written word. Books were my friends from the time I learned how to read.
There is something so special about them: You can dive into another world, forget about your own sorrows, find kindred spirits. Books entertain, teach, comfort, excite, show you the world and worlds beyond your wildest imagination.

source

Words are powerful: They can build up empires, or destroy them. Make friendships, and break them. The right words can get you almost anything in life you want: you can talk yourself into a job, out of a speeding ticket, endear yourself to your in-laws, get free stuff.

When my sister and I were kids we fought like cats and dogs. We loved each other, but fought constantly. But once in a while, like a rainbow after a storm, we would have times of peace. No biting, scratching, kicking, screaming. Just harmony.

During one of those times we dreamed up our future together: I would be a writer, she a photographer for the same magazine. Something like National Geographic. (Dream big, right?)
We would live together in a big city somewhere, travel the world, and work on pieces together.

It's one of my fondest memories. We talked in detail about our future apartment, how we would decorate it, and the kind of stories we would cover.
I think even then we knew deep down that it would never happen, but it was fun imagining it anyways.

Coming to Canada and learning English opened up a new world for me. I love the English language. To me it is so much more polished, clever, and graceful than German. And friendlier.
In order to learn it as fast as possible I read a lot when I first came here. And fell in love with it completely. Now I find it difficult reading books in German; it sounds clumsy to me.

Anyhoo. About blogging.
I have come to blogging like "die Jungfrau zum Kind." A perfect German expression, literally translated "like a virgin to a baby", meaning it just fell into my lap.

I didn't know about blogs until about a year ago. Didn't know they exist, what they are, what the purpose of them is. So I obviously never followed any.
Then I found this on pinterest:

A Beautiful Mess
It's an Instagram Canvas, thought up by the talented queen of DIY Elsie Larson. Loved it. So I clicked on it and discovered - A Beautiful Mess. It was the very first blog I ever laid eyes on! I think that's why they have a special place in my heart, because I found my favourite hobby through them.

Still, it didn't occur to me that I would ever start my own blog. That thought popped up about 6 months later thanks to my cellphone: I'm an enthusiastic cellphone photographer. And I wanted a place where I could put all my pictures. Facebook just wasn't enough any more.
So after about a month of hmmming and aahhing I took the plunge, and Farm Girl was born. (March 15!)

I never anticipated that I would love it SO.FREAKING.MUCH. Why?

Life is better as a blogger. It really is! I find I'm more open, more adventurous, because I want material for my blog. Where I would say no in the past I now find myself saying yes more often.

Then there is the indescribable excitement when inspiration strikes and a new idea pops into my head. Best-feeling-ever! I was never a super creative person, but this hobby allows me to nurture that side of me more. The first few weeks of my blog being born were amazing: I would wake up totally psyched. Like the first few weeks of being in love in a new relationship. And you all know how amazing that feeling is, right?

I find I live life more intensely. Does that make sense? Where in the past the little moments would pass by without me really noticing, now I see them, document them, and therefore appreciate them so much more.
This summer to me feels like the best one ever! Have we done anything special? Not really.
But it is filled with countless little, precious moments that all add up to an amazing life.
It makes me so thankful.

My memory is awful, and before I would forget from one day to the next what I did the day before. Sad, but true.
But once I have written it down I will remember it so much better. And if not then I can read up on it! Perfect for a forgetful person like me.

Then there is the positive reinforcement. So far this entire experience has been nothing but positive. I have connected with people in new ways: People I know from real life have talked to me about stuff I have written and we had deep, awesome conversations.
Thank you all for coming up to me! I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Plus there are the online connections: I love reading comments, discovering other blogs, getting to know the person behind them. I feel like being part of something big. It's incredible.

Before, I never really had a hobby. Sure, there were things I liked to do, but nothing I was passionate about. I was one of those people who said that I would get bored just being at home. That I couldn't imagine not going to work. (Yup, I was that person.) Sometimes I would vaguely ponder about retirement: How would I fill my days?

Not any more! I'm finally, finally a person with a passion. A hobby that's just mine. My husband has always been a man with lots of hobbies and I was always a tad jealous. And now we both have them and life is good. He is very supportive and understanding, patiently takes photos for me and puts up with my excessive computer time. Thanks babe! ♥

I could go on and on. (I guess I already did hehe.) But I will stop now. Just one last thing:
Thank you all for your love and support. It means the world to me. Love you!!

Love, Miriam
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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Style: Jumping for joy!

Overalls and headband: Winners; T-Shirt: Joe Fresh (old); shoes: Lotta From Stockholm

I found my overalls! Finally!! Oh what a happy day, yippieh!!!

You may or may not recall that I developed a strong infatuation with overalls a while ago. Overall or not? was my question, and there was only one resounding answer: Yes please!

So the hunt began. And wasn't very successful at first. The mall, thrift stores, even my beloved online shopping all failed me. I was a bit sad.
But as any experienced hunter knows, the secret is patience, determination, and not giving up. So I didn't. I tracked them, stalked them, and today - boom, got ya! For $16.99 no less!

It was fate: I went to Winners (we have a very successful long-term relationship and are still going strong!) and poked around. There are either very good or very bad days at Winners, and it started to look like a bad one. I tried a few things on, but no keepers.
Quite often I keep an item when I come out of the fitting room, then change my mind last minute and put it back on the rack. Same today. I was just about to put my striped T-shirt back when I saw it: One single, lonely overall hanging amidst all the shirts and dresses, most likely put there by someone who had a last-minute change of heart. Hallelujah! I knew right away that it would fit, just knew it. And it did! It was meant to be!!

It's a tad short - but it fully covers my butt, and that's really all that counts. Plus it will give the folks in the old country something to talk about - we gonna go to Germany in two weeks and I will obviously bring this little gem with me!

Gosh, I love it!!
What made you happy today?

Love, Miriam
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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Siberian Tigers

I'm a fearful and conservative TV watcher. Strange, but true. I actually don't like trying out new shows, watching new movies, or checking out channels I don't know. Instead I will watch the same shows for decades - old faithfuls like Friends, Frasier, Dexter, Criminal Minds, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory. Two and a Half Men. Downton Abbey.

I like seeing familiar faces every day, they seem like old friends to me.
Is that weird?
(Don't answer that.)

But thankfully, I have an adventurous husband. He loves his TV. As much as he likes being outdoors, he just as much (or a bit more?) loves couch-time in front of the tube. And he is an enthusiastic, non-judgmental, open-for-everything TV watcher. At least when he sees something for the first time. (After that he's as judgmental and scathing as the rest of us, thank gawd!)

So last night I watched my usual (Men, HIMYM, 2 Big Bangs) and then I didn't pay attention for a second and he captured the remote. Hrumph.

And we watched something truly amazing.

On PBS.
source
It was called "Siberian Tiger Quest" and was about, you guessed it, tigers in Siberia. Which is in North-East Russia where it's winter all year round. Tigers in frozen forests? Who knew!

I have a love-hate relationship to animal documentaries: I love seeing them in their natural environment, learning about their ways, watching the absolutely stunning videography. I'm always in awe of the talented people who have the patience and ability to make these amazing films.
But it always, always has sad aspects to it: The young get injured, left behind and die; their environment is shrinking or disappearing; and the worst of it, we humans seem to manage to destroy everything. These tigers are almost extinct; more live in captivity than in the wild.

source
But I don't wanna bring you down right now, I wanna tell you about this amazing documentary.

Let me introduce you to the most patient man on the planet:

Sooyong Park. 

He is the first person ever to film Siberian tigers in the wild. In order to accomplish that he spent a total of 5 years tracking and filming these shy, majestic animals in Russia. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right? Lots of those wildlife photographers and filmmakers do that. 

Oh you don't know the half of it.
He would spent months at a time in the tiniest little hides you can imagine. One was 4x4 feet in size. Way smaller than a standard prison cell which is 6x8 feet (don't worry, I don't have first-hand experience, I googled it). 
Wouldn't even go to the bathroom (he used ziplock bags). His daily food was cooked rice, a bit of salt, and some nuts. That's it. Twice a day, every day, for 3 months at a time. His muscles wasted away. It was -30 degrees Celsius. Your eyelids can freeze shut at that temperature.

He was just lying there, camera at the ready, waiting for his elusive tigers to appear. No human contact. No distractions. No walking around, stretching your legs. It's totally nuts!
Images found here; edited by me

Sometimes 80 days would go by with no tiger appearance. He was waiting and waiting, "like the winter waits for spring".

And he is the nicest guy. Park is gentle, wise, has an easy laugh, and a beautiful way with words. He speaks English in a slow, measured way. No unnecessary gabbling, every word counts. I was mesmerized.

During the show he is a mentor to Ecologist Chris Morgan and takes him on a tour through the forest where he filmed the tigers and had his hideouts.

It's insanely difficult. These tigers have huge territories. Humongous. Over a thousand square miles. They may come to one stop and not return for months.
Park would track them in the snow, thinking "where would I go if I was a tiger?", learning to "read the white book" (snow). Then he put up a ton of motion detector cameras, dug his hideout and waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.
source (not Park's tigers)
But he managed the impossible: He filmed over a 1000 hours of footage during these 5 years. Park gave "his" tigers names and followed 3 generations of the same family: Bloody Mary (named so for her gruesome kills), her 3 cubs Snow White, Moon White (and another one that I forgot).
Two cubs are killed by poachers (so sad, Park said it was like seeing your baby dead, I cried when he said that), but Snow White becomes a mother to two babies: Hansel and Gretel.

It is so beautiful. I kept thinking about it all day today.

Parks's passion, endurance, determination and love for these animals are incredible. I have huge respect for this man. Not many could have done what he did.

If you are interested, here are a few links:

PBS Sooyong Park Biography
Hunt for the Russian Tiger

xoxo Miriam
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hot

It's HOT.
Especially if you don't have air conditioning in your car. I'm so very fond of it because it has everything I want in a vehicle: it's unique (purple!), it's a SUV, and it's reliable.
But there are a few drawbacks: No power windows, no power doors, the horn isn't working, and I don't have a CD player - there is a tape deck. Yup, a tape deck. Is that vintage or what?? And let me just repeat: no air conditioning. Sweltering.
Here it is:
So cute! I really like this picture because I remember the coldness of that day (it was January 4 and -16° Celsius) and fondly think of it when I step into a boiling, 40° C hot car.
Strangely, I never gave it a name - names are in short supply around here with all the animals that need to be named all the time. We usually call it the "le" - like the French word for "the". Why?
I have absolutely no idea. We just do.

Anyways. I'm getting sidetracked. What was I gonna say? This heat is making my brain mushy.

Oh yes, my vague idea for today was a short update on the 30-day self-portrait challenge from A Beautiful Mess. We are 9 days in and that's what I've got:
My personal goal is to try to showcase little pieces of my life and to create somewhat interesting, creative photos. All with 30 different takes of my big ol' head - yikes!
Well that's what I have so far:

1: First day of my new bangs
2: My I-don't-wanna-get-up morning face
3: Summer hair and sunnies
4: Under the willow tree, my favourite summer spot this year
5: Work right now includes a lot of time in the operating room all day, every day
6: Plaid and bandana, one of my staples lately
7: Got ready for a BBQ with friends
8: Sweaty summer bangs
9: My favourite baby in the world!

I sense a theme here - summer and heat. Which is what we are having here, the best summer ever! 21 more days to capture the magic of it ...

After work I rested in the shade, reading, napping and sipping a cold cider. Not a bad life!

Love,
Miriam
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Monday, 22 July 2013

Shoes!

Today was a happy day!
First reason: My clogs came!! If you have followed this blog at all you will know how much I love online shopping. Ever since I started blogging I noticed that all the cool bloggers wear clogs (I talked about it here), and so I ordered my own pair.
Okay okay, I'm not that pathetic -  I used to wear clogs as a teenager after we went to Sweden on holidays, and I loved them for years. So my latest purchase is a nice mix of childhood yearning/fangirl obsession/online shopping craving.

Here they are! (Disclaimer: I didn't take out my camera today, it's all cellphone pictures.)
Gosh I adore them! And they are comfy to boot, yay!

Aside from that, we went horseback riding today, and I wasn't scared! (Well, only a bit.) After the last time that's a huge improvement.
It was a gorgeous summer day, not busy in the park, and Nick and I cantered a bit! Eight strides at least, maybe even ten. For all you non-horse people, cantering is a slow gallop and the nicest gait there is.

This isn't me. I found this image here

It's a huge deal for me because I'm such a little scaredy cat when it comes to riding, so today was good! Sadly, no pictures, because I'm so worried something might happen that I never take my camera or cellphone with me when I go riding. (I know I'm pathetic.)

After we got home we picked up our new/"vintage" camper: ever since we had to say goodbye to our camper 3 months ago we were looking for a replacement, and we finally found it a couple of weeks ago just down the road. 40+ years old, totally cool 70's style inside (I will post pictures soon!) and only $1,200, it was perfect for us! Can't wait to go camping and for another long road trip later this year.

The rest of today was filled with bird watching and hanging out at the farm. A perfect day!

Rich watching some interesting birds in a tree.


Sun-soaked geese



Kalle Obama, the sweetest little Llama alive.



Our peacocks have lost their tails. Now they will be silent till next year mating season. It's natural, but a bit sad.



Today's selfie for ABM's 30-day-self-portrait-challenge

If all Mondays were like today it would be my new favouite day of the week!

xoxo Miriam
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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Flower power

Just a few pics on this beautiful Sunday morning demonstrating the lush vegetation at the farm! Rich has definitely a green thumb and I love the results.
I'm off to a baby shower later (this is the year of the baby showers), and after that we will spend the rest of the day at our favourite spot.
What are your plans today?

Love, Miriam
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Friday, 19 July 2013

Mowgli

Happy Friday!
Today I want to share with you an amazing article I found in the Mail online. It's about Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre, a now 23 year old French woman who spent the first ten years of her life in the African bush with her photographer parents.
Her playmates were elephants, leopards, meerkats, ostriches and snakes. She had no fear of the animals and formed very strong bonds with them.

The photos are absolutely breathtaking. For the full article, click here.

There is a book available about Tippi's childhood adventures:
 
I'm in awe. What an incredible adventure!
 
Love, Miriam
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