THAT’S SANDTASTIC!

WANTED: 

  • An activity guaranteed to engage all family members at the same time regardless of age or interest.  
  • A task that also teaches teamwork, promotes creativity, costs nothing, and uses the individual talents each family member has to offer.  

Not possible you say?  

Aha!  

There is actually one activity – so basic, so easy, so much a part of just about anyone’s childhood, it’s hard to imagine we could ever forget it.

I’m talking, of course, about building sandcastles. 1 (35)

How about taking that simple activity to the next level and turning a childish pastime into art?

The next level is what I saw this past weekend during the annual Discover Presque Isle celebration. Tons of events (kite flying, arts and crafts booths, pancake breakfast, classic cars, segways, kayaking, yoga, paddleboarding) over a 3-day period took place on different beaches, but the one that really caught my eye was the sand sculpture competition on Beach 8.

I was anxious to get there, but of course arriving too early wouldn’t be very interesting since things would just be getting started. Three hours in, however, was a great time to arrive. The beaches were packed with participants and also some very seasoned beachgoers anxious to see the artists in action.

Check out some of the scenes we found when we arrived:

And then, of course, there were the competitors themselves…..busy working on their masterpieces! (You can click on these to see the full shot)

Of course, leaving now was a bit of a letdown…..we wouldn’t get to see the final results. So, when it was time for our son to be picked up from work that evening, we took him down to view the finished creations. I couldn’t even believe it but the beaches were even more packed than they had been that afternoon…..everyone was listening to the bands, swimming, admiring the sculptures, and waiting for the bonfire to be lit.

1 (5)

But definitely, it was worth the second trip……there were some most innovative works!   Again, you can click on these and see some of the amazing detail!

None of this even touches the pull I felt from the first moment I set foot on the beach and saw all the families engaged in their tasks working together to bring their visions into sand form.  I’m not even a beach person and I could definitely see me doing this.

1 (10)

FOUND:

A SANDsational way to spend a day with your family and friends, don’t you agree?!

Advertisements

THE SECRET GARDEN(er)

1 (14)It’s a funny thing arriving to the age I am and realizing that I’m too old for some things (i.e. miniskirts and all-night roller skating) and too young for others (i.e. a diary totally consisting of doctor visits and/or reading the obits each morning). This in-betweeness is a bit like being a teenager again except with a lot less energy! Perhaps that’s why this latest fascination of mine has taken hold.

The fact that I (instead of my mother or sister) ended up with this house still makes me laugh. The gardens here are extensive and ever since spring showed up my mother has been green with envy over not only the size of the gardens, but all the different sorts of plants we have that she’s not seen before. 1 (15)1 (6) 1 (11)

From my earliest days, I remember her dragging us to the greenhouse as soon as spring hit to get some new blooms for around the house or to take to the graves at the cemetery. It was something that continued all through spring and summer. Flowers – planting them and nurturing them – have long been her thing. But even through all those trips, the only flower I could positively identify was a geranium.

When my sister bought a home, she too caught the gardening bug preferring to spend her days out of doors planning and planting. These days, she’s almost obsessed by it. It’s definitely her thing.

Me, on the other hand, I’ve never been one to want flowers around. Mostly, I confess, due to my great aversion to bees and bugs of any sort. To me, having flowers was an invitation to bees to come and make getting in and out of my doors a dangerous undertaking.

When spring hit this year – our first spring in this new home – blooms began appearing one by one and soon we realized the gardens were set to bloom in phases…..flowers would die in one place and others would spring up somewhere else – a virtual rainbow of colours coming out of the ground all the time. After spending the long winter here inside looking out upon white day after day, it became quite attracting – this bloomfest we had going on. Happily, the plants in place were ones that matched my own tastes and I really began to enjoy this. I found myself spending more and more time outside checking the changes each day and reporting to my mother and sister with many photos and excited e-mails. 1 (17)However, with the buds and blooms along came weeds! I was told by mother and sister, “Don’t touch! You don’t know what you’re doing! We’ll come and instruct you. We’ll help.” 1 (16)And so we waited. The neighbours nearby all started receiving great truckloads of mulch and spent many days spreading it around their own perfect little gardens. Our gardens sat here untouched. Soon, it was quite obvious the weeds were beginning to overtake the blooms and buds. Finally, my parents came for a visit and my mother patiently took me around showing me which things could be pulled, which should be trimmed, and what not to touch.

Husband and I got busy. It took a couple of weeks but finally it was time for mulch. Mulch was another new realm for us. Thankfully, a neighbour was most helpful in sharing where to order, how much she thought we would need, and what the heck to do with it after it arrived. We ordered 3 yards and spread it all in one day. We were told later the neighbours here were amazed that we managed that much. (Neighbours here a good bit older than us and amazingly must move even slower than I do now!)

Having gotten caught up and with the grounds now passing muster with the rest of the neighbourhood, I got interested in perpetuating this whole bloomfest idea. I passed a garden centre one day and it honestly looked so attractive and yet still a bit mysterious I just had to stop in.1 (2) That first trip to a garden centre achieved a new flowering shrub and a small but awesome ornamental garden bench! After that trip, there were others bringing cool new plants and more flowering shrubs. I’ve acquired quite a few new hangouts….

1 (12) 1 (1) 1 (7) 1 (3) 1 (18)   1 (2)1 (3)  1 (13)    1 (8)1 (4) A whole new world has been unveiled to me – gazing balls, statues, flags, benches, blooms of every colour, size, and shape. What I’ve learned in so short a time is astounding! I have a whole new vocabulary – I’m still not sure it’s even me when I hear myself naming all these flowers and trees. Finally, I begin to understand the attraction to this world my mother had always had. I can see sense in the ‘madness’ of visiting a greenhouse.

Speaking of madness, this is my vote for weirdest garden statue ever!

1 (9)Another excursion earned us a new tree! There is a great fulfillment in planting a new tree of your choosing. I’m so happy we managed to do it this first year in the house. Now it will be part of our story here and we’ll watch it grow along with us. As a matter of fact, it felt so good to plant that tree (okay, to watch my husband plant that tree) that yesterday I came home with another new tree!               1My husband is beginning to see a pattern…..when I brought him out to the driveway upon my return yesterday, he got that certain look in his eye….the look that knows it’s time to get the work gloves and shovel. I wish I could reassure him. However, I am getting pretty good at recognizing growth – even the growth of an obsession. There’s a children’s book called, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie which talks about all the accoutrements that mouse is going to need to go with the cookie (i.e. glass of milk, a straw for the milk, etc.) I think that idea applies here too……if you give a girl a garden……

WHEN WHAT TO MY WANDERING EYES SHOULD APPEAR……

Life has been pretty hectic lately; thus, not much time to explore.  However, one day this week, my husband had a break in the middle of his workday and we decided to try a new place for lunch.    We sat down, got to grips with the menu, ordered our meals, and then paused to scope out the historical buildings the tavern was located in.  As I looked around, something above my head caught my eye.    Have a look from my vantagepoint…..1 (4)-1One of the elusive Erie FISH that I had not caught yet!  Whoa is me that I left the house with no camera today!   But still, I did have my phone.   I had to stand up and move to a more central location to get a better view and take a quick shot!  (Is there any way better to announce to everyone everywhere that you’re new in town?!)1 (5)-1Something a bit different with this one…..those little blue dots on the eyes and down its back and underside are lights!    How great is that?!   

After a good meal AND catching a fish, I thought this day couldn’t possibly get any better.

I was wrong!  

I screwed up after leaving the tavern and ended up on a street I hadn’t meant to be on.   However, it turned out to be a most opportune mistake! 

Look what I found standing outside a school after I turned the corner!   1 (3)

Can you even believe it?    Not only an uncaught fish, but a frog too!   And how cool is this frog?   Piano-key teeth?   Amazing!   

Feeling quite satisfied with myself and my new captures and sitting down to write this post, I then remembered I also hadn’t shared with you what I found on my trip to the doctor’s office a few weeks ago.   Sadly, the hallway in the office didn’t have the best lighting to fully capture the details and I again had only the camera on my phone but have a look anyway…….

Modestly displayed right on the walls in full-sized poster frames…….1 (6)  1 (2)

1 (1)It looks like the FISH and FROGs are going to be a continuing saga in my life up here and probably in my blog too!   It’s actually ridiculous how excited I get when I find one of these guys now.    But really, a town with hidden surprises when you’re least expecting them.    What could be better?