Fall progress

Fall leaves

Looking out at the street from my bedroom window.

A closer, ground-view of the trees on my block

A closer, ground-view of the trees on my block

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Saturday morning, one of my favourite times each week.

This week in particular I was up doing homework in bed; a fairly common way for these mornings to be spent. In the midst of attempting to organize my 6 classes of homework and the my upcoming commitments this week I found myself running through the variety of assignments to be done this week. Amid those thoughts I realized I had not yet noticed anything this week to write about for my weekly creative practice. A plan was made to see if a friend of mine would be interested in adventuring out this evening, in hopes of stumbling upon something wondrous to write about. Shortly thereafter, content with the plans and progress being made towards finishing a number of assignments, I decided to take a break, laid back in my bed, and looked out my window at one of the last beautiful days before winter weather takes over. It was then that I noticed it – there are absolutely no leaves left on the trees on my block. I mean sure, I noticed the leaves had been turning bright yellows and reds and I had noticed the grass being slowly blanketed in dried, crunchy leaves, but I had not seriously noticed how far along into Fall we are. It is almost as though someone had pressed forward on a VCR and the month of October is suddenly behind us. Now it’s not unusual for the trees to lose all their leaves, it happens every year, but given the beauty of the day it just seemed too early for them to ALL be gone already. Upon going outside to investigate the severity of this realization I noticed a few leaves left on some trees a few houses down. Unfortunately for the two big trees in my front yard, there is not a single leaf left anywhere.

Now considering my notice of the leaf a few weeks back, it should not be that surprising for me to have noticed the lack of leaves around. However, for some reason this realization seemed to induced some sort of sense of panic. Going into this weekly creative practice I had the thought that many of my realizations would be focused on nature and its beauty, since that is most often what I am drawn to in photography and just generally in spending my time outdoors. What I have instead is not so much a focus on nature, but on the passage of time. While that may be expressed in, and though, nature, it can be noticed in any number of things in everyday life. Even looking ahead to next weeks creative practice I noticed something on Friday to post about, but it too requires a number of days and has the focus on the passing of time.

Why have I been walking so far?

Bathroom

BathroomsBathrooms

Now I’m not sure about others’ experiences around the University, but as for myself I often find myself with some time to kill between classes and will occasionally think “I wonder if there is anything new and exciting in stock at the bookstore”. Between my own curiosity and the need for one last textbook I found myself wandering the bookstore once again this past Wednesday afternoon. This particular day I was returning from the washrooms somewhere in the hallway of College West, and walking into the bookstore, when I noticed peculiar signage on either side of the entrance. There they were, those oh-so-familiar stick people, depicting male and female and people in wheelchairs – notifying patrons of a bathroom entrance nearby. After walking half-way across the University to go to the washroom (okay, it was more like 100 metres) here I was standing face-to-metaphorical face with one just 5 metres from where I had started!

Having noticed them now, it is difficult for me not to notice them, just off to the sides of the entrance to the bookstore, whenever I happen to walk past. It is not that they are particularly out of the way, everyone who walks into the bookstore walks right past them, however I cannot help but think they go rather unnoticed. I think, perhaps, it is because often when you are going to the bookstore, looking for a bathroom is likely not in the forefront of your thought process. Generally you are going to the store with a specific purchase in mind, or even with the specific thought of browsing for something. The busyness of colours and sale signs distract an onlooker from potentially noticing the bathrooms. This is likely the reason for me acknowledging their existence Wednesday, I had just been in a bathroom and was not particularly set on the thought of shopping. Perhaps next week I will find a new set of washrooms, or maybe even a water fountain that was previously undiscovered, meanwhile I will begin using these unfrequented washrooms. If you did not realize these bathrooms existed prior to reading this post and you are female, please forget everything you have just read – it is my private bathroom (decided by me, as of this moment).

Falling for Fall

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Now I realize that it is not uncommon to notice fallen leaves, especially this time of year. That being said, on my way home from class on at the University Monday night I could not help but stop and take a picture of this red leaf. It is not as though we do not have red leaves, they are as common as any yellow or orange, but this one just seemed to stand out in the middle of the pathway. Perhaps it was the way the lights on the staircase seemed to accent the leaf amid the darkness that drew my attention. Either way, I found myself stopping dead in my tracks to take a closer look – and a few photos.

There was a simple sort of demand for attention the way this leaf stood out from the rest. Although Fall is often associated with plants dying, weather cooling, and just general preparation for winter; this leaf seemed to have a peaceful sense of warmth about it. It was almost as though this fallen, dying piece of nature was placed there, ever so gently, to remind us of the beauty in Fall. Yes, it is often a dark and dismal time of year – where more days seem grey than sunny, and the weather encourages us to stay in bed all day with a warm beverage – but there is beauty woven into nature. Even beauty in those things that we know are dying and will soon fade away, such as this fallen red leaf.

Notice Anything?

In the hotel room (3)In the hotel room (2)

In the hotel roomThis week (and for the rest of the semester) I was challenged to notice something I had not previously noticed before. Now it may take a moment for one’s eyes to figure what exactly it is that your eyes should be noticing in this picture, since it may immediately be drawn to the giant dark doorway into the bathroom. Instead, direct your gaze upwards from the doorway, ever so slightly, to the smaller dark stripe of the vent grate. In the middle of said grate, there are 3 to 4 white, cloth-like pieces sticking out from between slits – that’s right, they are dusty old dryer sheets. My question, left completely unanswered, is: why in the world are there dusty old dryer sheets stuck in the vent at this relatively expensive, high-class hotel?

Over the weekend my mother and I traveled to Saskatoon for a few days. These pictures were taken after getting our bags in the room we had booked. When as I sat down in bed to begin some homework, I laid backwards to relax in an attempt to procrastinate and lo-and-behold there they were. Upon noticing the dryer sheets I audibly asked, “Mom, why are there dryer sheets in the vent?” To which she, of course, had no reply or explanation. Perhaps these sheets were stuck there once to fresher the air that blew through the vent, however from the looks of them those sheets had seen fresher days. Plus, judging by the prices on their room service menu, this hotel seemed to be fairly pricey, supposedly well-run hotel, how could this slip past their diligent room cleaning? The biggest question I have is whether or not this was in fact an intentional and deliberate thing, or if by some unknown force (likely the air being pushed through the vents) these dryer sheets had been blown up, and lodged into, our rooms vent. There is much left in the dark about this observation, however I can honestly say I have never noticed anything quite like this in any hotel room before.

Africa: Progress!

I want to extended a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this adventure a possibility for me. The support from family, friends, family friends, professors, people who hardly know me, and people who don’t know me at all has been overwhelming. I am so grateful to be blessed with such a strong support system behind me to make this opportunity a possibility.

Here is a quick update with the events going on, to provide more opportunities to show your support (aside from simply contributing money to my community contribution or to my program fee). Thank you to all who stopped by my bake sale at the University of Regina, April 9-10th. Coming up quickly is the Evening of Entertainment Fundraiser, April 17th, in the multipurpose room at the University of Regina. Doors will open at 7pm, with a variety of entertainment throughout the evening (see the Facebook event page for more information). There will also be a silent auction, door prizes, coffee, baking, fancy lattes/cappuccinos, slushees, and more! It will very much be more like a drop-in sort of thing, so do not let being late stop you from checking it out. Following the event this Friday (April 17th),  there is also a Steak Night Fundraiser that is being held at 4Seasons (909 Arcola Ave. E, Regina, SK). This will take place Thursday, May 7th, from 6pm-9pm. Tickets are $25 each. If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like Steak Night tickets please email me at sjohnson.operationgroundswell@gmail.com.

Again, thank you to everyone for supporting me in this, and I look forward to sharing this adventure with you all!

AFRICA

I have been given the opportunity to travel around Kenya and Uganda for 6 weeks this summer with the non-profit organization Operation Groundswell (OG). Their programs expose participants to the harsh realities and rich knowledge base found throughout everyday life in the developing world. In showing the ground-level perspective, OG ultimately hopes to foster cross-cultural dialogue through engagement between participants and partner communities. The specific program trip I will be on is the East Africa: Discovery, travelling around Kenya and Uganda from May 25-July 3, 2015. In previous years this program has worked with Rescuing Widows, Elderly, Youth and Orphans with AIDS (RWEYOWA), and other non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Now, what can YOU do? Obviously, it is quite financially taxing to travel to Africa. However, one of the key ideas at OG is that each team member fundraises an amount to contribute to community projects. As a team we get to decide where exactly our money will go once we are there and have seen the needs of the community, however the distribution if these funds will be: carbon offsetting (10%), in-country projects (82%), and administration (8%). To the point: I do not want to single-handedly help a developing community – even more, I am unable to. I believe that it is important to join together and support this as part of the same global community. If you feel so led to contribute, financially or otherwise, to this cause please do not hesitate to do so. If you are unable to contribute at this time, please continue to share my adventure with others who may be interested.

Contributions can be made online at fundraising.operationgroundswell.com/sara-johnson or at http://tilt.tc/GO91.

As an added incentive, I have committed to running 1 km for every $50 I raise, and to double that distance for every greater than $50.

 

Prior to my departure I will be hosting a number of events to help fundraise both the trip expenses and the community contribution.

Evening of Entertainment – April 17, 2015 – 7:00 pm @ Multipurpose room (Riddell), U of R

Steak night – May 7, 2015 – 6:30 pm @ 4Seasons (909 Arcola Ave. E), Regina

 

If you have any questions, would like more information or event tickets, or would like to be kept up to date with events and my trip, please send me an email at:

sjohnson.operationgroundswell@gmail.com

Thank you to everyone who contributes and supports me throughout this adventure, and I cannot wait to see how this adventure unfolds. 68 DAYS AND COUNTING!