Tag: hobbies (page 1 of 5)

Let’s play a game!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestStumbleUponShare

Dear Karen,

Feeling bored today?  Got nothing to occupy you except work, labour and hard graft?  Well, be bored no more.  Let’s play a game that will brighten your eyes, sharpen your intellect, and drive you nuts, all at the same time.

I discovered the show, Only Connect, a while ago, on BBC.  It’s a game where  I like to play along and shout out answers, encouraging the contestants by calling them idiots and ninnies for not seeing what’s blatantly obvious from my comfortable sofa at home.

Here are the rules:

We are presented with 16 tiles, each of which has a word or phrase.  We must find the connection between 4 of them, creating 4 groups of 4 connected words.  Simple enough.

Mwa hahahaha, no it’s not. 

The presenter of the show, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, encourages us to join the on-screen contestants by playing along at home, but I’ve never bothered.  At least, not until yesterday.

You can play the game in Canada (and elsewhere, I assume), so I’m sending you the link.  I think you’ll really enjoy it.  Each game takes 3 minutes, so it’s not like it’s a time-waster.  Unless you play like me – I went from Wall 1 to 79 yesterday.  Don’t tell anyone.  So what if the ironing didn’t get done.  I can always do it tomorrow.  Or next week.  What-evah.

Click here to get started.  Once you have it up on your screen, it should look like this.

 

alt="IMAGE-only-connect"

See where the cursor is? Press this button.

If you don’t trust my instructions for game play, you could always click on the “How to Play” button.  Personally, I consider rule-reading to be boring and a waste of time.  Far more fun to just dive in and hope for the best!  But, if you insist, go ahead and read that little section first.  I can wait.

Are you done now?  Good.

 

alt="IMAGE-only-connect-wall"

At the bottom of the page, it reads Wall 1.  Click there.

 

Now things start to speed up a bit.  16 tiles will be revealed to you.  It’s your job to sort out the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, Bert from Ernie.  The timer starts immediately and there’s no time for a cup of tea here.  Get started clicking on tiles which you think are linked.

Word to the wise:  if it looks obvious and easy, it’s probably wrong.  This game insists you think.  How annoying, right?

 

alt="IMAGE-only-connect-wall-difficult"

So, these are your tiles. Good luck! (snort, snort)

Word to the unwise, part two:  it’s a good idea to say the clues out loud.  Sometimes your brain picks up on links faster that way.  Now, this is Wall 1, so you’d think they’d ease us into this slowly and simply.  Ho, ho, ho, that’s a good one!  Nope, the clue-wranglers at Only Connect are a fiendish bunch.

Living here, I found the bridge names fairly easily, and figured out there was a connection with varieties of crab.  But that was as far as I got.  You might find it helpful to have the volume up, because then you can hear the dulcet tones of Victoria telling you you’re not working hard enough, or voicing disappointment at your last attempt.

I’m a glutton for punishment because I actually enjoy hearing her tell me to pull my weight.

As an aside, I’ve got a major crush on Victoria.  She’s Oxford-educated.  A top poker player with winnings over £1mill.  A journalist.  In short, she’s no dummy.  Her wit and intelligence shine through with each show and if this were a perfect world, she’d be my best friend.  She’s been quoted as saying she often stays up till 6 am,  “(s)moking and drinking and gambling. But I like cooking and gardening too, which makes me sound like a very strange mix of an old lady and teenage boy.”

What’s not to like, right?

Okay, back to the game.   Your 3 minutes are up and, surprise surprise,  you’ve lost.  Don’t feel bad.  In the 79 times I’ve played, I’ve only solved the wall 3 times.  And the fun doesn’t end with sorting out the tiles.  For bonus points, Victoria wants you to point out what the connection between the tiles is.

alt="IMAGE-only-connect-wall-solved"

The Wall is solved! How many did you get?

Keeping in mind this is a game for people familiar with the UK, it still requires general knowledge and an ability to think “outside the box”.  How I loathe that expression, but in this case, it’s true.

I’m not the only one who enjoys this game, either.  Fans send in their own walls, and, having played a few of those, I can attest to their evil brilliance.

I no longer mock and spit vitriol at my TV screen when I watch contestants on Monday nights.  They have my sympathy and respect.

Give it a try, I really think you’ll enjoy it.

Love,

Wendy

 

Our holiday so far…in pictures

Dear Wendy,

I’m taking a hiatus from our blogging hiatus, just to fill you in on some of what we’ve been up to this week.

As usual, I knit everyone’s Solstice gifts: a big squishy cowl for Rachel, and a more gentlemanly bandana-type neckwarmer for Adrian, and socks for Mitchell:

alt="IMAGE-socks-handknit-two-at-a-time"

Holiday knitting was accomplished. These became warm socks….

It’s been chilly and snowy, sometimes to excess, but at least Ottawa escaped the giant ice storm that hit Toronto last week. And our morning walks have been stunning some days…

alt="IMAGE-snowy-sunrise-old-ottawa-east-december"

Walks have been unusually beautiful, if a bit chilly.

alt="IMAGE-sheltie-in-snow"

We humans don’t appreciate the snow nearly as much as Maydeleh does!

alt="IMAGE-pine-needles-frosty"

No matter where you look, it’s a frosty wonderland around here.

Solstice was the usual blend of chocolate, gifts, warm family times, and lazing about, followed by a wonderful meal. And this year, we were invited to our friends’ house to share their family’s Christmas dinner, as well. A surfeit of wonderful company and great food!

alt="IMAGE-Christmas-dinner-2013"

Elf hats were worn. There was laughter and fun and turkey and wine.

And today, we’re driving to Montreal to spend the day with Mitchell’s dad…always a fun trip!

I know you and your family are all together in Whistler, so I’m looking forward to your update when you get a chance to take a breath…meanwhile, hope you’re having a relaxing, loving, enjoyable Christmas break. Catch you on the flip side!

Love,

Karen

More fun stuff…

Thrummed mittens: Canada’s secret weapon

Happy holidays!

Dear Wendy,

So you remember, no doubt, that time I gave you your birthday gift—a rather handsome grey cable knit pullover—in the form of many balls of yarn, which I tossed at you one at a time?

Well, Rachel has been carrying on the proud Irving tradition. In a manner of speaking.

Her friend Peter has long been whining pleading for a pair of what he calls “squid mitts,” known to everyone else on the planet as thrum mitts. (Why does he call them this? Beats the hell out of me. He says it’s because they’re “all squiddy inside.” Okey-doke.) They’re a Newfoundland specialty–they originate in the northern parts of that province, where they definitely know from cold. And squid.

Thrums are small bits of unspun wool, which are folded into neat little loops, and knitted into the mittens so that they form a soft, pillowy, cold-proof layer of insulation. The mittens themselves look rather like knitted boxing gloves, and they’re not great for any task involving manual dexterity, but they are seriously warm. Just the thing for this part of the world at this time of year. I’ve kept Rachel supplied with these wonders of woollen engineering since she was in Grade 3, and so I guess it’s inevitable that her friends would covet them.

Anyway, what with Peter moaning about his lack of such mitts, and me being a knitter, and the holiday season upon us, Rachel decided that the time was right to offer her friend the gift of warm hands. We located the requisite ingredients, and yesterday she presented Peter with a small packet of yarn and unspun fleece. She didn’t pelt him with it, much to my disappointment, but it’s the thought that counts.

And now, it’s all up to me.

alt="IMAGE-thrums"

First, I make a goodly supply of thrums. These are basically just unspun wool, which I’ve formed into loops. They look a bit like woolly onion rings.

alt="IMAGE-thrum-mittens-in-progress"

As I knit each mitten, I twist the thrums, and knit them into the fabric, with the loopy bit facing inside.

alt="IMAGE-thrum-mitten-inside"

Looking into the mitten, you wonder how a human hand will fit in there. It will, don’t worry. And it’ll be glad it did.

alt="IMAGE-thrum-mitten-inside-out"

Inside out, it looks nothing short of demented. Cool, but demented.

I should be able to finish the first mitt today, all other things being equal. A worthy way to spend part of my winter holiday, don’t you think?

Love,

Karen

How Instagram opened my eyes to a whole new world

Dear Wendy,

Isn’t it funny how you can live in a place and not really see it?

I started thinking about that this past summer, as I walked Maydeleh each morning along the river pathway near our house. I’d been using Instagram, the photo-sharing site, for a while, but it wasn’t really until mid-summer that I began to get more intentional about it.

We’ve lived in this house for 13 years now, and you’d think I’d be familiar with every inch of the terrain around us: the post-war two-story tract houses, the towering maples planted along the street, the well-trod path along the banks of the Rideau River.

But once I’d begun committing to taking at least one photo per day, I started seeing things differently. Scenes I was used to passing without a second thought suddenly became photo-worthy:

alt="IMAGE-black-swans-rideau-river-royal-ottawa"

Swans, black: of the Royal variety.

alt="IMAGE-great-blue-heron-rideau-river-ottawa"

Blue heron, waiting for just the right fish to swim past.

Armed only with my trusty iPhone (4, not even 4S!), I started scanning the world around me with a keener eye, looking for just the right shot. And tiny things—details I wouldn’t have noticed—began to leap out at me, demanding to be seen.

alt="IMAGE-monarda-bee-balm-flowers-ottawa-ontario"

A single spiky blossom of bee balm, with an unforgettable lemony scent

alt="IMAGE-scotch-thistle-blossom-dried-autumn-Ottawa"

Even a dried scotch thistle blossom takes on new beauty

alt="IMAGE-fungus-under-pine-tree-rideau-river-nature-trail"

This dinner-plate-sized fungus just erupted out of the ground one day. It’s still there, shrunken and shrivelled–but because I was looking, I caught it in its glory.

My new Instagram habit has encouraged me to start noticing things I never really thought about before: composition, colour, lighting. Keeping in mind, of course, the limitations of what amounts to a pretty rudimentary camera.

alt="IMAGE-sunrise-clouds-reflection-rideau-river-nature-trail"

Pink-tinged clouds reflect in the almost-still morning water…almost worth getting up early for!

I’ve been paying special attention to the changing seasons this year, too. I used to whine interminably as winter approached; now, I see it as a chance to view the same scene differently. I still whine, but more softly. I think.

alt="IMAGE-ice-forms-along-river-bank-rideau-river-nature-trail-ottawa"

As the cold days approach, the first ice begins to form along the riverbank.

While I still focus mostly on my #morningwalk (that’s the hashtag I use on Instagram, in case you want to see more), I find I’m also seeing the world differently. How many times have I walked across this bridge without bothering to admire the Canal or the surrounding scenery? These days, nothing escapes.

alt="IMAGE-rideau-canal-wellington-street-ottawa-confederation-square-old-railway-station-national-arts-centre"

Looking down the Canal, a downtown scene I’d almost stopped noticing

I don’t delude myself that I’ll ever be a great photographer, or even an especially good one. But since I became an “Instapro,” as Rachel calls it, I’ve found my eyes have opened.

What about you? Do you Instagram? Has it changed anything about the way you take pictures? Don’t be shy—share!

Love,

Karen

Candy Crush has me in its deadly grip. Save yourself!

Dear Karen,

Have you ever heard of a game called Candy Crush?  It’s a silly little game you can play on your phone or iPad, and I’m here to warn you, if you haven’t played it, don’t start now.

Its bright colours and cartoonish graphics will make you feel like it’s a kids’ game, but it’s not.  It’s a Fool’s game and it will Take. You. Down.

Here, let me introduce you to Level One:

alt="IMAGE-candy-crush-level-one"

This is how they suck you in, by making it look all cheery, colourful and innocent.  In street parlance, it’s known as the “Gateway Level”.

The object of the game is create rows of 3, 4 or even 5 candies.  Each time you succeed, Fairies and Unicorns will appear in front of you and shower you with rare Gems and Kisses.

It’s easy to move from Level 1 upwards and as you progress, it gets tougher and your bottom gets smacked by the game. Instead of tossing it aside, you pray to your personal god (in my case, it’s the Underwear God so I had to set Lars’s boxers on fire as sacrifice), hoping that you’ve got what it takes to move on to the next level.

Bonfire

Oh, God of Underpants, I do beseech, let me win this Level.Take these boxers as an indication of my love for thee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The game seduces and it slaps, in equal measure.

Another name for this phenomenon is Stockholm Syndrome.  It’s nice to you and you revel in it, thinking you’re clever for having got past Level 65.

alt="IMAGE-candy-crush-text"

Saturday, 27th July, a day that shall live in infamy. It still makes me giddy.  I actually sent this text to my daughter who was in the same house, different room.  That’s the power of the game, my friend.

By Level 100, you’re not seeing fairies and unicorns but Simon Cowell and Don Rickles, both of them heckling you for your ineptitude.

Suddenly, through sheer luck (although you never admit this to yourself), you get to 101. Yay, Hare Krishna and big Huzzahs all around.  Simon and Don disappear and the Gems and Unicorn kisses return to make you feel better.

alt="IMAGE-candy-crush-addiction"

Licorice cages? Bombs? What the hell IS this? This stage is more commonly known as “Monkey on Your Back”. You’re hooked, man.  You’re in deep.

To help players get ahead, the game offers free lives—all you have to do is go onto Facebook, admit you’re hooked, and apparently other Facebook users will take pity on you and shower you with free lives.  Just humiliate yourself publicly and victory will be yours.

Don’t get sucked into this, Karen.  Save yourself now.   Remember:  Candy…good.  Crush…bad.

Think about that next time someone sidles up to you, asking you to “help” them win, or send them lives. These people are beyond hope and help.  There’s nothing you can do for them now.

Save yourself.  Go back to Dots.

Love,

Wendy

Older posts
%d bloggers like this: