Sunday, 18 March 2012

I'd Rather be Whittling

This week in boredom prevention...


No, not whistling- I'm already great at that. Whittling wood.

In my final high school year as I was planning for my future, I went through a few phases. For a significant period of time I was convinced that I was going to make a career out of finish carpentry. Needless to say, this didn't pan out but my fervent love for wood and the things people can do with it, is intact.

Each summer, I have what I like to call, my "Summer Project." Last summer, I successfully made two Muskoka chairs. To the right is proof of my handiwork (for all you non-believers). In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that the wood came pre-cut. I know, I'm a fraud. But I still needed my tool belt, and a little elbow grease to finish this piece of work.

This summer, my Summer Project will be learning to whittle wood and eventually craft a beautiful walking stick, or cane if you prefer. In Jamaica, the wood carvings were breathtaking and inspired me to learn how.

Now, is a pretty pathetic website, but I did find a Wood Whittling 101site that proved to be much more informative.

Step 1: Knife- I'm sure I can find one of those lying around, if not Outdoors Oriented will have one to serve my purposes.
Step 2: Wood- yes, that would be essential. After removing three massive trees from our lawn this past year, there is plenty of lumber on the property.
Step 3: Grain- Carve with the grain, got it.
Step 4: Safety/Holding the Knife- Here's where I'm going to have the most trouble, but this is nothing new. Let's just hope I have all ten digits at the end of September.
Step 5: Technique- It says to make a scooping motion. I've done pretty well scooping ice cream  thus far, check!
Step 6: Practice- Now I just need to set up a rocking chair on my porch, get my crazy eyes rolling and start whittling.

I'm not sure if something like this "wizard on post" is in my future, but I sure hope so!

I'm hoping that I can join some kind of whittling group, we can sit on a porch and talk about the good ol' days. If anyone has information on such a group, please let me know.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Short (muddy) Hills

This week in boredom prevention.

Although it has been a busy post-vaction week and boredom hasn't been an issue, after lots of homework, birthday celebrations and a little failure at music trivia, it was finally sunday-funday. Walking out into the sunshine with some beautiful double digit weather I heard Short Hills Provincial Park calling my name. I packed up my little (actually not little at all), let me rephrase that, my 83 pound truck of a golden retriever, cracked the sunroof and headed for the Hills, the Short Hills.
Despite the four pounds of mud stuck to each of my feet and caked to my hair, it was an absolutely beautiful day. Short Hills Provincial Park, located in the West end of St. Catharines, never disappoints. Filled with short, steep hills and many routes to choose from the park is sure to satisfy your appetite for a Sunday funday hike, or any other day for that matter. After spending my Saturday night in a "lounge" in downtown Toronto (not my ideal setting) the Short Hills fresh air, creeks, trees and meadows were a beautiful sight for sore eyes.

To the left is my Vince man. He has three degrees under his belt and he's only one month shy of a year old. Despite his level of education, he insists on dragging me through knee-deep mud, tricking me into falling into creeks, ensuring that he gets as much mud on himself, my car and my face as possible, but most of all just making my day that much more enjoyable.

For those of you looking for a little something to do on a Sunday funday, I suggest hiking. If the exercise and fresh air don't have you convinced, check out these top ten health benefits of hiking.

So, put away your Sorels, pull out your hiking shoes and get outside! Don't let the lost hour get you down, Happy Spring.

Also, listen to this.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

This week in boredom prevention

Flying home from Jamaica? Yuck. Never mind, let's talk more about my time spent on the island.
Of course we did the usual tourist things like drink pina coladas while watching the sunset, strolling the streets of Montego Bay, eating jerk pork, buying as many trinkets and overproof rum as would fit in our suitcases, and boogie boarding down a river. All activities were exhilerating, and prevented boredom, some of my favourite memories were the times when I knew I was doing something that very few people staying in all-inclusive Jamaican resorts get the opportunity to do.

Although I've been several times before, visiting my Grandmother's elementary school in Falmouth still blows me away. There are 2000 children enrolled in the school, all wear uniforms every day and the backdrop to recess is the ocean. It's staggering to see how different my school experience was to my Grandmother's.

On another one of our ten days, after sipping some seriously tasty rum punch, the gardener at our villa, Robert, offered to take us for a hike. Robert knew of my love for hiking and took us way up the mountain to experience scenery that made my jaw drop. We stood five feet away from wild boar and cows and picked lemons, limes and mangos. In true Jenna fashion, I also insisted on climbing a tree. Robert spent the walk telling us of all the fruit he picks and about the different trees- when they bloom and what the wood was used for. But as I was walking and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at every tree branch I saw, it occurred to me how beautiful our own country is and how much I take it for granted. I also wondered whether someone coming from Jamaica to Canada would do the same gasping at our "exotic" country.

After making lots of friends, and desperately trying to find a way to stay on the island, I am back on Canadian soil. I saw a lot of beautiful scenery, met a few stray dogs, and enjoyed every minute I spent on the island that my Grandmother called home. I could go on and speak to every detail of the trip but I'd rather do that over a few red stripes and a plate of jerk pork (I just hope I didn't meet the poor little porky that I will soon be eating...)

Dear Jamaica, soon come back.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Mi Belong Yah

This week in boredom prevention

Well, I was so bored that I boarded a plane and flew to Jamaica...
Not entirely true, but the sea breeze and endless sunshine certainly deters my boredom. After being here only four days I have eaten dinner at a member of parliaments house, visited a horse farm with over 200 horses (where I saw a foal that was born merely hours before we arrived), encountered many friendly, albeit stray dogs, shot myself into the sea from a three story high water slide, made myself look like a fool jumping around on water trampolines, marveled at a seaside campfire, and don't forget the number of red stripes I've cracked. Never a dull moment.

Yesterday, we spent the day at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Although it's a bit of a tourist trap and they serve hamburgers instead of traditional Jamaican food like saltfish, it was an entertaining trip nonetheless. After climbing to the top of the three story restaurant you come across a dark tunnel. Under normal circumstances I probably would steer clear of a dark tunnel that leads to the sea, but after a few margaritas I decided it was the best idea ever. And let me tell you, it was. Aside from the blinding salt water that burns your nose it was exhilarating. Hilarity ensued as the water trampolines and giant slides out in the sea combined with the rum in my blood stream lead to antics best left undocumented.

I hear we have one of these Margaritavilles in Niagara Falls but I certainly don't want to enter the dark tunnel that shoots me out into Niagara Falls.

As my Grandma likes to say- Jamaica, mi belong yah.
Next week in boredom prevention- my attempt to set up camp and never leave this beautiful island.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Numbers numbers numbers!

This week in boredom prevention


In my world, sitting still is a relatively rare occurrence. But when I do sit, I am either sleeping or fidgeting. I discovered Sudoku in high school when my grade 12 math teacher realized that I was much more interested in Sudoku than calculus and she gave me the puzzles for bonus marks. Sudoku and I have had an on-again off-again relationship ever since. Winter and exam periods are usually an on-again period for us, whereas we spend summer and weekends apart.

There’s an app for that! Having Sudoku on my phone has made my fidgety fingers quite satisfied in those moments of boredom and I thank Apple for that. Plus, it was free!

A Sudoku-like puzzle first appeared in La France newspaper in 1895 and it almost resembled the modern Sudoku. There’s something to be said for a puzzle that has been in newspapers for more than a century. There are many variations of Sudoku, including: mini Sudoku, cross sums Sudoku, killer Sudoku (YIKES!), photo Sudoku, alphabetical Sudoku, and hypersudoku. Boy, do I need to start broadening my Sudoku horizons.

The puzzles are a great way to put your logic skills to the test, and I highly recommend them to anyone who has trouble sitting still. The little puzzle invented in 1895 will certainly come in handy on my flight to Jamaica this week!

Happy solving.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences- Chris McCandless

This week in boredom prevention…

Christopher McCandless.

Now, this week must have been really boring because I decided to watch Sean Penn’s Into the Wild for the fiftieth time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s in my top five, if not my favourite. Not only is Emile Hirsch easy to watch, but Christopher McCandless is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about. For those of you who have yet to hear about Chris, this quote by him in May 1992 is illustrative of his spirit.

“Two years he walks the earth.
No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, cause “the West is the best.” And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.”
-Alexander Supertramp.

Chris’ story is something that I will only be able to gloss over in the length of this blog, but has been an obsession of mine since I was introduced to it. Christopher McCandless completed his bachelor's degree in history and anthropology at Emory University; a task that he felt to be extremely tedious and irrelevant. He then decided to make his way to the Alaskan outback, living off only the things he could carry on his back and destroying his identification. He idolized Jack London, Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau and could call upon their theories to suit any occasion. The people he met along his way speak of his intelligence and the impact he had on them. Changing his name to Alexander Supertramp he ventured into the wild as an act of his contempt for capitalistic society.

I could go on and on about Christopher and his adventures but I’ll let you read the book, or at least watch the movie (seriously, EMILE HIRSCH). I would also like to consider the argument of Chris as a hero or a moron.

I was introduced to Penn’s movie “Into the Wild” before I read Krauker’s novel “Into the Wild.” My initial reaction to the movie and McCandless was nothing short of an infatuation; the guy was my new hero. I turned to good old Wikipedia for further information and discovered that Chris wasn’t a hero in everyone’s eyes. He has been criticized as being an idiot with a death wish, a spoiled brat and even inconsiderate. I guess if you think about it going into the Alaskan wild with a 10lb bag of rice, a Remington semi-automatic rifle, a book of local plant life, several other books and some camping equipment isn’t necessarily the best plan for survival.
Despite the haters, I think the guy’s courage is something to be recognized. Although his path was unconventional and not something I wish to follow, his story is fascinating and worth your time. so, check it out! 

Jenna Supertramp

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Blessed are those who are flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape

This week in boredom prevention…

Hot Yoga

I’ve been a reasonably dedicated yogi since 2007. As the winter blahs begin to set in and my trip to Jamaican beaches approaches I decided to renew my yoga membership. The yoga studio that I go to in St. Catharines, Yoga by Sarah, offers a number of different classes, but I swear by their hot yoga. For those of you unfamiliar with hot yoga, it is, as the name implies, yoga done in a super hot room… I mean, SUPER hot. The room is heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the class lasts 70 minutes. After those 70 minutes, every inch of your body is soaked in sweat, sometimes it’s your own sweat, sometimes it’s your neighbours- yogis love to share.
 Of all the poses I’ve sweat and struggled through I have discovered my favourite: Bird of Paradise pose (picture below):
Being a former gymnast, my stubborn feet insist on turning out at all times, my back is permanently arched and my hips are so open that staying parallel is almost impossible. Although flexible, none of these attributes are beneficial in yoga. Through a whole lot of sweat and even a little bit of blood I have come close to perfecting my Bird of Paradise and that's quite the accomplishment for a girl with a bend-and-snap kind of back.

 Hot yoga is also known as Bikram Yoga, a system of yoga designed by Bikram Choudhury popularized in the 1970s. Bikram’s classes run for 90 minutes and consist of 2 breathing exercises and 26 postures. The hot room is intended to reproduce the heat of India, where yoga originated and Bikram is from. Bikram Choudhury’s classes are very specific and he is often known for his legal battles against anyone using a heated room for their yoga practice. Therefore we call it hot yoga… not very yogi-like is he? Despite his legal conflicts, I maintain that the man is a bloody, I mean, sweaty genius.
 The heated studio helps you to get deeper into your yoga poses, it is also said to prevent injuries, as your muscles are warm and less prone to tearing. It also increases circulation throughout the body and organs and supposedly detoxifies the body. Basically, you sweat a whole bunch and your heart rate is extremely high. If you can’t handle the heat, come down from your headstand. 

Please ignore the provocative tone of the host's voice; there is nothing attractive about contorting your body in a pool of sweat for 70 minutes.
Also, check out come to a class and for the love of yoga, bring a towel.