Halloween wasn't always a time for trick-or-treating in costumes (or in snowsuits if you live in Canada). Throughout the years Halloween has transformed dramatically, so much so that it's practically unrecognizable from its roots.
It all began with a Gaelic event called, "Samhain" which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. There would be rituals and bonfires along with the slaughtering of livestock for the cold months ahead. There was a belief that Samhain was a time when otherwordly beings could enter from beyond to take part in the feasts. Of course they didn't just see the possibility for dead kin to visit, they realized there might be negative spirits as well. So people took precautions to protect themselves, perhaps even changing their appearance.
As with most holidays adopted by Christianity they stamped out their Pagan roots. From Samhain came All Saints' Day. Depending on the specific sect of Christianity they may honour Saints or Christians, alive and dead. This casts a striking similarity to Gaelic Samhain which invites the dead in order to honour them with feasts. In Mexico it coincides with the first day of the Day of the Dead celebration, Day of the Innocents which honours deceased children.
In North America Halloween wasn't celebrated until Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their customs and beliefs in the 19th century. The act of trick-or-treating is still rather new with barely any record or mention of it until the 1930s. Halloween certainly has come a long way, from celebrating the harvest, to honouring the dead, to going door to door for candy. It's definitely one of my favourite holidays. What's not to love about a little frivolity and fun?
On this day in 1938, Orson Welles performed an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds (1898). It begins with a series of factual sounding news bulletins depicting an alien invasion from Mars. The Halloween broadcast frightened many listeners, causing some people to panic and flee their homes. Yet it's like the old saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," since Orson Welles quickly became well known. The prank jump started his career into the spotlight and to this day the stunt is remembered and referenced.
In memory of this historic moment, I present to you the radio broadcast from 1938. Enjoy!
Good day to you all!
Starting today I will be writing a story segment every Sunday. The theme will be a story my mother used to tell me when I was a young girl before I went to sleep. My younger sister and brother and I would sit around, listening to my mother spin tales I've never heard. In homage to my mother I will re-create the tales and share them with you, my readers.
The City of Gold
There was a young girl, curious and sweet, always in search of answers to life's mysteries. She would ask questions about everything, always desperate to learn more. One night after she was put to bed she found herself restless. She could never sleep. So she got out of bed and stood in her room, peering through the murky light of the moon. She walked towards her closet and opened the folding door. It was a small and modest closet with only a few things hanging. Her family had recently moved into the house and everything still felt unsettled. She still felt a panging curiosity to explore the house and get to know every nook and cranny. She loved exploring. It made her feel like an adventurer. Her favourite thing to do was seek out mystery and solve it.
She stood in front of her open closet and stared, seeing only the darkness. She kneeled on the floor and examined the odd protuberance; it looked like a carpeted bench in her closet. It was odd to her since she had never seen anything like it. Her family moved often and every house was very similar. Sometimes there were minute differences but mostly closets stayed the same. Yet this closet was different. This odd carpeted bench made her think. It made her imagination spin and whir thinking of all the possibilities. So her tiny hands reached out, feeling the object. It felt just like the carpet did. She loved the texture on her hands but couldn't help feel disappointed that it felt normal. Her hands continued to search around, feeling every centimeter.
She withdrew her hands feeling a spasm of disappointment. There had to be something different about it. There had to be. Otherwise it was just a normal house and she was just a normal girl and nothing special would ever happen. She sat in front of her closet feeling her head spin with frustration. She just had to be more thorough, really look at it. She glanced at the switch to her ceiling light, wondering if she could turn it on without anyone noticing. She doubted it. Her mother seemed to patrol the hallway, sensing if something was not quite right. She knew she had to maintain absolute silence in the dark if she hoped to stay up and discover the closet's secret.
The best part of the entire trip was definitely the wine tour. It was something we both wanted to do. So during the week we visited a recommended website online and found a variety of wine tours by a company named Uncorked! Okanagan Wine Tours. We thoughtfully examined each tour then booked one we liked. We picked the "Trilogy Wine Tour" which included 3 wineries, a distillery and a brewery. It appealed to us the most since we wanted to try more than just wine.
The first place we went to was a winery called "Mission Hill". I've seen their bottles in liquor stores before but admittedly never tried it. I'm glad it was the first one because it certainly whet my appetite for seeing more. The winery is like a luxurious plantation, thoughtfully decorated with tasteful art and original historic pieces. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's impressive, it's grand, it's absolutely overwhelming and awe inspiring. It was obvious that the owner was a perfectionist, seeking out every wrinkle and ironing it out.
Everything was impeccable. An impressive feature was the amphitheatre formed into a grassy hill. In its entirety I have never seen such careful planning, such graceful consideration for every little detail. I appreciated the organized beauty to it all. Then came the wine. We tasted our choice of 4 different wines. I tried a Pinot Grigio which was delightful. A very easy and complementary white wine. I also tried a Syrah, a Pinot Noir and what they called Quatrain, which is a mix mostly composed of Merlot. The Syrah was delicious, surprisingly a nice balance of tart and sweet. The Pinot Noir was of course terrific, as always. All in all, a great winery.
The next stop on the wine tour was "Quail's Gate", another large winery albeit not nearly as ostentatious as Mission Hill but beautiful in its simplicity. The building was warm and welcoming, beckoning wine tasters forth with open arms. I eagerly stepped inside, ready to try something new. The best feature about the wine bar was the view. It was truly pleasing to look out into the valley while sipping on some very classy wine. We were lucky enough to taste all the wine they had available due to a deal with the wine tour company, so it certainly made the experience as enjoyable as possible. Afterwards we went for lunch at their restaurant and enjoyed pairing a memorable Foch with a meaty angus burger covered in gouda. It was an unforgettable compilation of flavours.
The last winery we visited was "Little Straw" a boutique winery. I loved being able to compare the different scales of wineries, Mission Hill as the largest, Little Straw as one of the smallest while Quail's Gate is at some point in between. Little Straw might have been my favourite. Sure, it's not money being slapped in your face but it's something a little more down to earth. First of all, I had the chance to meet one of the co-owners serving the wine. I loved that. Their attitude was genuine and modest, aspects I find particularly alluring. Then I tasted their wine. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. We ended up buying three bottles since it was something we couldn't find back home. Two bottles of Rosé and a bottle of Foch.
Then there was the brewery, "Tree Brewing" in Kelowna. I'm so glad we picked a brewery to visit. The beer was delicious. We tried them all from a crisp lager to a pale ale. It was like a rainbow of beer. To top it off there was a plate of hors d'oeuvres of crackers and pepperettes with cream cheese and a wonderful pepper jelly. It was a treat for the palette. I love variety.
Last, but certainly not least was "Ubran Distilleries". We sat down at what was recognizably a bar while the host presented us with shot glasses. Then he continued to pour us a sample of each spirit. Wow. Deep, intriguing flavours that certainly represented their company well. The greatest of the spirits was the espresso vodka. It's so smooth it actually tastes like coffee without the vodka aftertaste. I don't know how they did it but I love it. Of course we bought a bottle.
After enjoying a wonderful wine tour there is no doubt in my mind I would recommend wine tours to everyone. The guide was amazing, he provided us with all sorts of details, back stories and history, it created a comfortable atmosphere and a truly complete experience. The wineries, brewery and distillery were all class acts, truly serving their customers with the royal treatment. I would purchase liquor from any of these brands. That would mean they were successful.
We got really lucky on our third day in BC since the weather was perfect. It was sunny, warm and with just a little bit of wind, great for hiking. I wanted to make sure we got out of the room and explored the beautiful nature surrounding us. It's not everyday I have the opportunity to experience such wonderful weather in October or enjoy the majesty of the Okanagan Lake.
We started the hike around 2:30 in the afternoon and finished around 5, we had pretty much just lounged around until then. I mean, why not? So after spending a lot of time in the room it was nice to get out into the sunshine. One of the most noticeable things about being in the mountains is the air. The air smells clear and fresh. Somehow better than city air. Maybe it's all the trees. There are so many trees. Either way, I love trees. They are a thing of beauty.
Part of one trail lead to a little place called, "The Point". I thought it was funny seeing it on the map. Then when we arrived I understood the name. It was apt; it's a private little beach in the shape of an arrow, it's literally a "point". I really enjoyed the privacy, especially since it made it even more serene and romantic. My partner and I were able to enjoy the simple beauty of this little beach together.
One of the best parts of the entire hike was seeing some wildlife. We were climbing up this steep part of the trail when I saw movement just ahead. Then I watched several birds socializing and busying themselves. One large bird started to make what looked like a nest in the dirt. There were many little puffy birds which I assumed to be infants since they were adorable. Right away as if by instinct I knew they were Quail. I've never seen Quail before but somehow I knew. I looked it up when I got back and found out I was right! They are Quail!
On another stretch of trail leading to the shore I happened to spot some Ducks just swimming around in the water. I felt very fortunate to see some wildlife. Most animals scare easily when approached by humans making it difficult to spot them but I got lucky. I'm just glad I didn't run into any of the animals mentioned on the trail like rattlesnakes or skunks.
I really enjoyed hiking. It was fun exploring the trails and finding interesting trees or animals to look at. The best part was that no one else was hiking. It's the off season for tourism in the Okanagan so it felt like we had the entire forest to ourselves. I took so many photos. I'm glad I can share some of them.
In tomorrow's blog post I will be talking about the wine tour we went on!
After our long day of travel our next day was a simple jot into Kelowna. We wanted to check it out and buy a few supplies like groceries for the week and a HDMI adapter for our iPods. Which, by the way, is a brilliant little cord connecting a monitor or television to the iPod, so you can view any videos you may have. Quite a handy little thing to have.
The drive was rather peaceful. I live in a city that's around 1 000 000 people while Kelowna is only a bit over 100 000 people. It's completely different. Everything is a bit more relaxed, a little more calm and serene. In this photo on the left there is the stadium named Prospera Place. It's home to the local hockey team the Rockets. It's also going to be the venue for a Metric concert! I'll be seeing Metric when they come to Edmonton.
The best part of getting away besides the change in scenery was the weather. The weather was quite beautiful. On this particular day I actually wore a dress, that's how nice it was. It was wonderfully sunny and warm. A nice surprise considering it's already October. Meanwhile back home it snowed. That's what really makes a vacation, knowing you're getting better weather than where you live.
The day after our drive into Kelowna was a very relaxing one. We decided to relax and just stay in. It was something we can't really do at home, take a day off and just watch movies together. It was really nice not to stress or worry about anything. The best part was the view from our balcony. We watched the sunset together, enjoying the sounds of the lake lapping up on the shore while a few birds chirped happily.
The only stress we had that day was actually changing rooms. Initially they gave us a room right next to the stairs and with no private balcony since it shared the public patio. It was a terrible room. So we asked to change rooms and they moved us up and over. It was wonderful to have our own private balcony. It was a vast improvement and really affected the rest of our stay. As you can see, it was truly worth it to have a view like that.
I'm finally back! After a week vacation and a few days in between, I'm finally back to blogging. It's been an adventure! My partner and I took a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia (BC)! We drove the whole way there. It's about 900 km or in case you don't use the (far superior) metric system, it's about 560 miles. It's quite a long way. Google Maps thought it would take about 11 hours but let's just say we made it in record time. The first photo you see on the right is a picture of the major highway between Edmonton and Calgary. It's named the QE2 (Queen Elizabeth II Highway), it used to be just the #2 before the Queen visited. . .
One of the most beautiful features about Calgary is its proximity to the mountains. You can look off into the distance and see them standing majestically. It's quite the sight. Although they may look far away, they're actually very close. It doesn't take very long before you're driving in between them and enjoying their spectacular heights up close.
As soon as we entered the mountains we encountered dense fog and thick rain. This is fairly common since the weather in the mountains is rather fickle and no matter what time of year you're bound to see some rain but this was the most rain I've ever seen. It pretty much rained the entire time. It was fairly dangerous under those conditions since you tend to encounter thick herds of traffic on narrow twisty roads. Yet it was exciting and unexpected, it's been awhile since we've taken a road trip.
Throughout the mountains there are warning signs of falling rocks. A cost effective method of preventing the rocks from hitting the road seems to be these hanging chains. They're fairly common. Every time I've been in the mountains I try to think of what they might be named. There must be a name for them, there's a name for everything. While I was calling them hanging chains my partner came up with the name, "geological lateral restraining harnesses". I laughed so hard! That's what I get for asking a civil engineer.
A memorable aspect of the journey are the tunnels. Located in Rogers Pass between Golden and Revelstoke, there are 6 tunnels. Ever since I was a child traveling through BC I would look forward to going through the tunnels. I'm not sure why but I've always enjoyed them. This still hasn't changed now that I'm older. I guess I always imagined them as portals to an unknown and mysterious land. Thank you, imagination.
As we finally neared the resort the weather transformed into beautiful clear skies with the fading light of dusk. I love taking photos. I find that true beauty can always be found in the wonders of nature.
The road leading to the resort was definitely one of the more frightening roads I've been on. It's all sharp corners and no passing lanes right next to a sheer drop.
At last, our room. Well, this is the part of the room where we spent the most time so it seemed like the most important photo to share. Whether it was watching a movie together or eating our daily breakfast of eggs, bacon and english muffins with salmon cream cheese. Mmm!
For the rest of the week I will be blogging about my stay in BC. Readers I say to you, come for the photos and stay for the story.
Last night I finished a book entitled, "Cinnabar" by Robert B. Oxnam (1989). It was on my long list of books to read. My mother gave it to me on my birthday a year ago, so it was about time I picked it up.
The book centers around a mysterious lacquer puzzle box made out of cinnabar. On top of the box is a Chinese character "Dream". It's rumoured to hold the key to a a priceless collection of Chinese art. The box begins in Boxer China with a father gifting it to his son, wishing for him to be filial. The box is passed down again and again until it ends up in the hands of an American professor and marathon runner named Roger.
Roger spends the rest of his time chasing the "dream". This takes him through a whirlwind of danger and a long adventure trying to find the collection. Through the turmoil and grief he ends up finding more.
On his journey to discovering the true meaning of the box, Roger meets Christina, a Chinese calligrapher. Through an unpredictable series of events Roger ends up moving to Taipei to live with Christina's father. In order to protect himself and the family, he's forced to transform into a different person by literally adopting a new identity.
"Cinnabar" is a great book, filled with fascinating details about Chinese history, philosophy and politics. In large part this is a political book that examines the many revolutions and political turmoil. There's a large focus on Tiananmen Square and the brave protestors that suffered an unjust death. The author chooses to write into the future, predicting an optimistic outcome for China. Unfortunately for the author his optimistic prediction does not occur in reality.
I enjoyed the book but in my opinion I would have preferred to read a book about China from a Chinese author. The author's opinions are valid but to me the story felt less genuine. His biases were made clear and I was tempted to believe that the main character, Roger, is probably very similar to Robert B. Oxnam. This has been said before but I think it remains true, a book reveals a lot about its author. All in all, it was a good read.
I have been exercising continuously for 6 weeks now. At the beginning of September I purchased a home treadmill in order to help with my goal of losing weight. I use it at least 3 times a week (more when I have the time). Right now I'm experiencing the phenomenon of putting on weight. It's very demotivating. For much longer I've been doing my best to improve my diet by eating less and eating healthier choices (sometimes I make an exception). So after a lot of reading I've discovered that some people put on weight before they take it off but it's usually muscle. Muscle is denser than fat and so makes you think you've put on weight. What a cruel world we live in.
Lucky for me I never check the scale so I'm not obsessed with obviously misinforming numbers. I do look in the mirror though and I can tell when there are differences in my body. If the only thing I was experiencing was weight gain I would be concerned but there's something else. I'm starting to feel healthier. I'm not really sure how to explain it but I'm starting to feel a little better when I exercise. Not only that but my muscles feel like they're becoming a little tighter and a little more effective. I can actually feel my muscles, I know that they're there somewhere.
I've always been strong. I've never had a problem lifting heavy things so I knew I had muscle. In fact I'm sure that with my body type I could be a professional weightlifter but unfortunately it's made it hard to keep weight off. I have a fat protein efficient metabolism, meaning my body more efficiently stores fat. People with this metabolic type store fat and muscle all over their body. Now apparently cardio exercise is the toughest one I can pick for my body type but I know it's what I want and need.
Although weight loss was my initial motivator, I find running is good for other things as well. Not only does it make me feel healthier but the resulting endorphins make me feel happy and relaxed afterward. That's a big positive for me since I tend to worry. Running can really feel great. I used to run more often when I was in university. I would have to make it across campus in less than 10 minutes so I was practically forced to run. Now that I spend even more time at a desk writing I needed a way to keep in shape. The best part about running is the feeling. Sometimes when I used to run I would feel like I'm flying, like the world would disappear. I'm looking forward to feeling that again.
For everyone else out there, be it someone looking to lose weight or in the process of losing weight, just know that there's someone else out there too going through the same thing. For the people who have never had a weight problem, try not to judge. You don't know what that person has been through or tried. Besides, someone's weight doesn't determine what they're like as a person. Just remember that.
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