Frozen Pants

I have too much free time on my hands again. The temperatures this week dipped to minus 20º C and this put a damper on my quest to find a chaga source. Most days my cross-country ski outings lasted about 60 to 90 minutes before I scrambled back to the cabin to get warm in front of the fire.

However, I heard an interesting interview on the CBC Radio program As It Happens on Friday evening with a man from Minnesota, USA who suggested Canadians suffering from winter boredom, could get involved in a fun activity called “frozen pants”. The man believes that Canada, with its frigid temperatures, should be a mecca for “frozen pants”.

Now, I am not sure that there is any point to this silly activity, but I have no pressing chores or anything else on the agenda this weekend, so why not take a stab at “frozen pants”.

It is easy – just take a pair of pants, soak them in water, put them outside, watch them freeze, and then put them on display for your neighbors to enjoy. Since it was too cold for me to go skiing this morning I sent my jeans skiing instead. Here they are enjoying the winter in Canada.

Frozen Pants out skiing.

Frozen Pants out skiing.

Frozen Pants

Frozen Pants

 

 

Photo 101: Natural World and Warmth

Life in my cubicle is quiet at the moment. The summer term is over and students are preparing for final exams and fasting for Ramadan. The good news is that I only have to spend five hours per day at work during the fasting month. The difficult part is no tea, water or snacks are allowed on campus during Ramadan. Today, I have no exams and all my work is done. All I can think about is food and tea. Why is it that when we can’t have something we want it even more?

To avoid thinking of food and drinks I am trying to can catch up on my photo 101 assignments.  I am also  desperately struggling not to open my desk drawer and get out my dried apricots for a snack.

A few months ago, as I was strolling along a beach in Salalah, Oman, I noticed an interesting pattern formed by the wind and sand. I stopped and took a photo. After this beach promenade I wandered around the city and captured a photo of a mosque with white clouds hovering above it and in the background. I have selected these two photos to interpret “natural world and leading lines”.

Lines3

Light5

There is no shortage of light in Nizwa. Cloudy skies are a rare sight, so if you can stand the heat it is easy to take photographs using natural light. There is a small oasis near my place and I often go jogging in this area. The date palms offer some pleasant scenery, a break from the dull, dusty landscape that characterizes most of the city and more importantly a shade source. This morning I took my camera and snapped some photos to interpretwarmth and quality of light”. Light1
Light3

Photo 101: Connection

I am slowly falling behind in my photo 101 assignments.  I could go through my photo archives and find some suitable photos, but that is sort of cheating. I want to photograph something to interpret the themes and techniques suggested in the present rather than using old photos.

It is summer in Oman and the temperatures are unbearable, making it impossible to roam around the city, looking for something to photograph. However, this morning while standing waiting for the bus, and thinking about this unattractive city, I took some photos of an unfinished overhead walkway that will allow pedestrians to connect with business on both sides of the road without fear of being killed while crossing four lanes of traffic. Then I spotted a telephone booth that was blocking my view. I have walked by this place hundreds of times without noticing this pay phone. So, in the end, I focused on the phone and unfinished pedestrian bridge as my interpretation for connect.

This overhead passage has been under construction since I arrived in Nizwa.

This overhead passage has been under construction since I arrived in Nizwa.

The same photo as above, but taken from a vertical point-of-view.

The same photo as above, but taken from a vertical point-of-view.

 

 

Photo 101: Bliss and Solitude

Life in my tiny cubicle offers very few opportunities for solitude. I am never alone in the office. There are teachers, students, cleaners, laborers and administrative staff that constantly roam in and out the office, some lingering longer than others, as they make their way from cubicle to cubicle. There is constant chatter in Tagalog, Hindi, Arabic and exotic versions of English that I struggle to comprehend. I make a concerted effort to avoid conversations in the office. Yet, when people address me I respond in a pleasant and helpful manner. I enjoy chatting with my students and colleagues outside of the office, in the classroom, at the canteen, or in the staff lounge, but I want my solitude in my cubicle. This way I can complete all my tasks quickly without interruptions, so that I am free to do as I please.

I usually spend one weekend a month alone. This is my solitude. I get up early, prepare breakfast and tea and I reflect about what I would like to accomplish during the weekend. Then, I write a list of things to do in my notebook and then I start my day. I work in my garden, watch a movie, do the laundry, iron the clothes, study German, go grocery shopping, prepare food, practice yoga, do crossword puzzles, go jogging or for a long walk in the evening. I do the things enjoy. It is important to have a relaxing weekend from time to time, free from family obligations, dinner engagements or other prearranged activities. This helps me to catch up on my hobbies and personal interests. I appreciate this down time with myself.

Now, here is my photo interpretation of solitude.

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Finally, here is my take on bliss.

This cat makes me happy!

This cat makes me happy!

 

Photo 101: Water

Finding water to photograph in Nizwa, Oman, in the middle of a desert is not an easy task. There are no rivers or lakes. There has been minimal rain over the past few months, so the wadi that runs through Nizwa is completely dry. For this assignment I took some shots of the falaj waterway my place.

Here is a section of the falaj that brings water to the gardens and homes in Nizwa.

Water entering the  channel.

Water entering the channel.

The water looks clear.

The water looks clear, but this close up shows how low the water levels are after months without rain.

 

Photo 101: Home and Street

Last fall I signed up for Photo 101 course at the Daily Post, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I only completed the first two assignments on home and street. So, I am going to give it another shot. I have a Canon Power Shot A3100 IS which is a basic point-and-shot camera that I carry with me in my purse. Most of the time I only use the “auto” function on the camera, but for this photo course I am going to experiment with using some of the other functions.

For almost two years Nizwa, Oman has been my temporary home. When I go to the local shop to pick up the newspaper, the cashier greets me in a pleasant manner. Taxi drivers and restaurant workers are polite and friendly. My Omani colleagues and students are kind and helpful at work. In spite of this, it difficult to feel at home because I am a foreigner and my values, language and lifestyle are so different from the locals. For example, most ladies do not socialize outside the home. They tend to hang out with family and would never be caught socializing with a group of colleagues at the corner tea shop. I often find myself walking, drinking tea, shopping, or sight-seeing with male and female acquaintances from other countries. Although I know some Omanis at work I have not made any Omani friends during my stay in this country. The reality is that I am a foreigner and this place is not my home.

My home is in Canada where I live in a small village of less than a thousand people. There I am surrounded by family, friends and nature. I have five weeks left in my cubicle and then will return to my little log home in the woods for good. The photos below were taken this past winter.

Home2

This is my home.

This is my street.

This is my street.

Too hot for a walk

Too hot for walking

Too hot for walking

This morning I slipped out for a short stroll around campus to get away from my cramped cubicle. This was a mistake because within ten minutes of leaving the building I almost collapsed from heat exhaustion. I came back and checked the temperature and realized that it was way too hot to be outside. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

Now, I am trying to cool off and thinking about my new neighbors that I met yesterday when I ventured out for an  evening walk around my neighborhood.

Time to eat

Time to eat

Time to play

Time to play

Time to rest

Time to rest

They are really cute and friendly. I would love to adopt these kittens but I already have two strays at my place. Hopefully, someone else will fall in love with this family and take them home.