Monday, September 11, 2017

9|11 - Requiem For the 10 Second Falls

            Whether you stood on a street in Manhattan or watched via live television as the disbelieving seconds of September 11th, 2001 ticked by, you may have witnessed what you thought, at first, was debris falling from the upper floors of the World Trade Center buildings only to slowly realize it was not inanimate objects, but people. It has been reported that up to 200 victims jumped to their deaths, but their mode of death has remained almost unspeakable, even 16 years later. Perhaps it is time to confront the unsettling truth and give those souls a final voice.

            Conditions on the floors above those gaping holes must have been horrendous. Though the jet fuel would have burned off within minutes, the contents of those offices would have given off toxic smoke the kind of which stings eyes and sears the lungs with each breath. It was reported to one family member that their loved one "couldn't move", a phrase which sounds ominous when considering the circumstances. Were they pinned in by pieces of the airplane or fallen debris or boxed in by a wall of flames? It is expected if they could have bettered their situation, they most certainly would have. For those who fell from the towers, they provide, perhaps, the most insight into the dire predicament caused when airliners ripped through office space.

            Obviously, some clung to a small hope of survival as they repurposed table cloths or drapes as makeshift parachutes. Others, unaware, ignoring, or oblivious to the laws of physics, may have envisioned outstretched arms at the bottom, catching them seconds before hitting the ground. Though hope may have trumped logic, they must have known that jumping meant certain death.

            So, why then do people shun any talk of those who leapt from the windows?  Possibly, it is because we think those victims epitomize a horror that is too much to bear even though their fate was the same as those who died in the collapse as one floor pan caked onto the next. However, maybe we should be looking at them in a different light, one that can give us all strength even in the most dire of situations.

            Terrorists may have orchestrated the fate of almost 3000 people, but, by stepping out into the cool fall air, giving them one last pure breath, those who jumped on September 11th, 2001 decided how they would die. 

            Some have felt compelled to identify those who fell from the towers but maybe it is good that no one can really be sure who the individuals are in those grainy images. Collectively, those victims demonstrate that even if someone else's actions seem to dictate the outcome of any situation, we can still retain some form of control.

             When we think of their silent journey's, we should remember the last 10 seconds of life for each person who jumped as acts of defiance when faced an impossible choice. Their very public way of dying shows how they took some power away from the hijackers that day, a final act that should never be forgotten.

Pauline Milner



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Retro In Men's Fashion




Something Old Is New Again

Add Vintage Items That Compliment Your Modern Wardrobe

 

When you were choosing what to wear this morning, did you end up having a staring contest with your closet? If you blinked first then perhaps the time has come to etch out a new style.

In case you have not noticed, stores that sell retro clothing and accessories have steadily been making their way into the mainstream marketplace.

First, let's clear one thing up. These stores purportedly all sell retro clothing, but some actually sell new items styled to look like the era from whence they came. If you want true vintage pieces, they are all second hand and, in most cases, a whole lot more expensive.

Making a vintage piece the statement part of your outfit choice is easy when you choose a bright colour or design for your classic item paired with solid colours. For example, you may choose a shirt with an intense colour or a flashy design and pair it with a solid coloured blazer and pants. If you want to make a bold statement then choose a blazer that is dark. If you want a more subtle change, stick to a lighter, neutral colour.

Layering is another way to cleverly get others to notice your vintage piece as the focal point while still being understated. Opt for a shirt with a daring colour or design topped with a sweater, allowing the collar and cuffs to show.

Button down shirts that are long sleeved with a lapel pocket and those bearing an insignia like 'Moe's Bar' are very popular.

Bowling shirts where the stripes are a different shade than the base colour are on trend. A great find is a bowling shirt with a collar made of an alternate material, usually a knit.

Retro logos are very sought after, including those emblazed on t shirts, jackets, sports jerseys and hats.

If jeans are a part of your preferred attire, dirty denim, also known as 'distressed' or 'washed out' have made a comeback. They look very stylish coupled with a t shirt depicting a retro logo.

Extremely wide or very thin ties with a pattern from the 50's, 60's or 70's, waist coats, and 80's era sneakers like Nikes with the original 'swoosh' and low or high top Converse All Stars have all made a resurgence.

Accessories like clunky fashion jewellery, oversized sunglasses and 80's style aviators are some alternative choices if vintage clothing is not your thing

You may also want to seek out ultra rare items from labels such as Givenchy, Prada, Visvim or Raf Simons and you will never go wrong with original Hawaiian shirts.

If you are looking for a bigger bargain, items with minor stains, small tears and scuffs can often be fixed by a good drycleaner, seamstress or cobbler. When you are browsing for those classic pieces, make sure your selections will work with clothing you already have. An item on sale is no bargain if it never leaves your closet.

You can etch out your own personal style with retro designs but you do not want to go around looking like a walking advertisement from a men's magazine straight out of an era gone by. Try adding just one or two pieces per ensemble.

Adding veteran articles to your wardrobe should be fun. If you are stressed, bring a friend along to the retro stores and leave your issues on the sidewalk.

Pauline Milner

Getting Your House Ship Shape and Ready for Spring


Spring! Time to swap your snow blower for a rake and your mittens for a pair of gardening gloves. Over the winter, there has been stuff going on under those mountains of snow. As you transition from winter to spring, there are some important chores that need tending to.

As soon as the snow is gone, clean up any leaves, twigs, dead grass, etc. in order to allow for new growth. Also, cut off any dead branches from trees and shrubs.

Survey any destruction to your lawn sustained over the winter. Depending on the amount of damage, you may be able to do the repairs yourself with a bag of grass seed or you may have to hire professionals to hydro seed your lawn.

Check your roof for any missing shingles or tabs. If you need to call a roofer, it is better to call them now considering when the construction season gets into full gear it will be more difficult and a longer wait time to get a service call answered. If your roof has asphalt shingles and there are crows about, beware! Crows have been known to destroy roofs over period of time because they are after the tiny bits of gravel on each shingle. Head on over to the Internet for various ways to dissuade the crows or banish them all together.

If you have an outdoor water tap, ensure that there is no leak in the pipe. If water was inadvertently left in the tap and froze over the winter, the pipe may have burst. If you turn the tap on without first checking the pipe, you could have water pouring into your home instead of onto your lawn.

 Gravel driveways are great except in the winter when snow plows, snow blowers and shovels push some of the gravel onto your lawn. Survey your grass and rake any gravel back into the driveway so it is not picked up by a lawn mower and turned into a projectile that could cause damage to property or injury to nearby persons.

Even if your barbeque has been covered for the winter, you should check that all connections to the propane tank are secure with no damage or leaks in the line. Cover the lines with soap suds. When you turn on the propane, any leaks will cause bubbles to form.

If you want specific shrubs or trees for your landscaping needs, place your order at your local nursery early so you can have first pick of what is available. You should also ask nursery staff what is new for the season.

Many people change the batteries in their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when the time changes for daylight saving. If you have not done so, now is an opportune time to be sure those life saving alarms are in good working order.

Turn on your air conditioning to be sure the system does not have any issues. At this time of year, you can easily get someone to come for a service call. You do not want to wait until the first heat wave to find out your air conditioner isn't working. This is the same time everyone else will be finding out issues in their systems and technicians will be difficult to get and wait times can be long for service.

Salt is a corrosive material that will damage your concrete garage floor. If you have a garage, you should wash out all of the salt so there is no damage to the concrete structure.

Due to the unprecedented amount of snow received this past winter, you must check for flooding in the lowest level of your home even if you have never had any flooding issues in the past.  Your house insurance will not cover flooding caused by melting snow unless you have a specific endorsement on your policy.

This is a good time of year to check your dryer vent attachment. Over the course of many months, the attachment that runs from the dryer to the outdoor vent can become dislodged and/or clogged which could lead to a fire. If you are still using a plastic dryer hose, immediately invest in a metal one. Due to the fire hazard, plastic vent material is no longer to code.

Take advantage of spring clean up day that is offered in many communities. It is a perfect opportunity to dispose of things that are no longer needed and are taking up space around your home.

Every home should have an emergency kit and an escape route for occupants in case of an emergency. Your emergency kit should include enough supplies for everyone for a three day period. The contents should include the following: Water (a person requires one gallon of water per day and enough water for three days.), non perishable food products to feed each person in the household for three days, battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, flash light and extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle to signal for help, dusk mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place, moist towelettes,  garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation), wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (it is important to know where the shut offs are for things like your gas and electricity), manual can opener for food, a supply of cash (banking machines may not be working, as well as the debit or credit card payment options at stores) (though unethical and sometimes illegal, vendors have been known to overly inflate prices of items their patrons would need in the case of a catastrophe), cell phone with solar charger, prescription medication and extra glasses, pet food and water, copies of important documents, fire extinguisher. Additional item suggestions of what to include can be found here http://www.ready.gov/kit. Also, be sure to practice that escape route with all members of the household!

Handling these tasks now while they are maintenance issues will save you money later when neglected chores become costly repairs.  Get the whole family involved and these items will fly off your list, leaving you plenty of time to get out and enjoy the spring weather.

Pauline Milner

Coolio Your Master Bedroom With More Ingenuity and Less Dollars


 
 
While it is true if your bank account has enough zeros you can summon interior decorators from across the globe whenever you desire a change in decor, that is frankly too easy and is certainly no challenge.

You do not need to be rich to give your master bedroom an overhaul. In fact, with just a bit of imagination and these ideas to get you started, you may notice only the slightest dent in your finances.

 A fresh coat of paint will give your bedroom a whole new look and you can do it yourself with some instruction from the various 'how to' videos available online. Choose pale colours as they are easiest to paint over later. Try painting 2 adjacent walls with tones in the creamy beige range and the 2 opposing walls in a darker hue to give the impression your room is larger than it really is.

Public estate auctions are ideal places to procure individual pieces of furniture, some for incredibly low bids. An antique steamer trunk, chest or crate will look fab when placed on the floor at the bottom of your bed with the added benefit of gaining valuable storage space.

Other great scores can include small tables, bookcases and chairs. You do not have to be concerned about refinishing the pieces you purchase as most older items left just as they are add character to any setting.

If your duvet or bedspread is looking as tired as you do after a night on the town, fold a blanket across the bottom and add several throw pillows. Use several shades of the colour that best matches your decor and choose some different shaped pillows. One or two pillows in a bolder shade is a perfect way to add contrast.

Even if your bedroom is carpeted, you can still add small rugs to either side of the bed for a different look. If you have smooth floors, rugs are an excellent way to change things up a bit. Just remember to mind the thickness, you do not need to be tripping in the middle of the night.

Window coverings are traditionally expensive, but they do not have to be if you are resourceful. Weave scarves purchased at after season sales around the curtain rod, letting them hang down either side. Put a metal or plastic loop on either end of the rod and pull part of the scarf material through for a 'poof' effect.

Are you a sewing enthusiast, or know someone who is? Textiles found on sale can easily be turned into toppers or curtains. Also, individual king size flat sheets are often found on the clearance shelf and if you happen to find material in a design you like you may enjoy big savings.
 
Wall decals, both permanent and removable, are sold in a large variety of choices. To cover a large space on walls, complete scenes are available as are accents that you can add wherever they are needed.

Mounting your television on the wall will create space where you can put an interesting accent table. 

If you prefer your television on a stand, entertainment units generally take up a lot of space and you likely do not need room for large components anymore, since blu ray players will most certainly soon be the size of a slice of bread. Bookcases can often accommodate your TV and you can choose from varying heights and widths. They do not come with holes for your cords, but most have a pressboard back. Cut out the hole size you need on three sides and bend back the material. As a result, if you ever revert to a conventional bookcase, you can simply push the cut piece back into place with some strong tape to hold it in place.

Paintings and large mirrors to adorn your walls can be very expensive. Try shopping for an oversized clock or decorative shelf which are more budget friendly.

An assortment of candles or incense burners in the center of your dresser creates a romantic ambience. Use differing heights and shapes in one colour or a variety of hues, whichever suits your taste. If your dresser has a mirror, you have the additional advantage of extra depth being added to your design.

Filling assorted glass vases with natural stones or coloured beads and adding them to your display will create an even more unique grouping.

Update your switch plates with the catchy wood, brushed metal and brass designs that will provide an instant change with minimal investment.

Change the pictures in your frames. If you have children or grandchildren, frame their artwork.

Instead of purchasing new lamps, change just the lamp shades.

Glass jars, with covers, in various sizes, filled with your favourite candies or treats create instant colour while providing a ready snack when you have a craving for something sweet. More jars equal more colour and more yummy choices except that you eat the decor, which does not really matter because jelly beans were going to be on your shopping list anyway!

Replacing the handles and pulls on your matching bedroom furniture can be done at a huge fraction of the cost of purchasing a new set while effectively updating the look. Even though these pieces are mostly still available in standard sizes, be sure to take your existing ones with you to be sure your new choices will fit.

Door knobs can also be updated, but you need to do the entire floor unless your individual flair for design says 'each knob for himself'.

Grab your partner for a one time couples painting class. These classes are becoming more popular and are an inventive way to spend time together. You each create your own work of art meant to be hung side by side and all materials are provided, usually for a very reasonable fee.

Fresh flowers are beautiful and their natural fragrance will improve your mood even on the darkest of mornings. If your ongoing budget allows, arrange for a new bunch to be delivered on a regular basis. There are hearty blooms that can last upwards of two weeks. Ask your florist to choose the selection for you and, even though you are expecting the delivery, you will still be surprised by the content, something else that will brighten your mood.

Now that you have some suggestions to get you into the right mindset, grab a notebook and pen and head to your master bedroom.

Make a list of the things you want to update or change along with any furniture items you may want to purchase and let the rejuvenation renovation begin!

If there are two in your bed instead of one, your partner may appreciate the surprise of a revamped bedroom, but it is much more fun, and safer, to embark on this project together.

Pauline Milner

Monday, April 17, 2017

25 Family Activities That Won't Break Your Budget




When you are looking for entertaining family activities that will not drain your bank account, start by picking up local tourist guides.  They often contain valuable coupons for local family fun.  Also, many towns and cities have free community newspapers that list events, many of them free or for a nominal charge.

Here are 25 things you can experience with your family that will not put your bank account in the red. 

Choose the ideas that suit your family and add some of your own. For an extra layer of fun, write the ideas on strips of paper and put them in an empty Kleenex box. Let family members take turns making the draw and what you are doing on that day will be a surprise for everyone!

1.  Construct paper airplanes and have a competition to see who's can fly the farthest.  Here is a great website where you can find some cool designs: www.10paperairplanes.com.

2.  Pack a picnic and head to the park.  Add to the fun by bringing along a Frisbee and some bubbles.  On a day with cumulus clouds, you can all lay on a blanket and tell one another what images you see in the fluffy formations.

3.  Visit the different museums in your town or city.  Check their websites for the various exhibits they offer and look for special showings.  They often offer free admission days too.

4.  Make a kite and fly it!  Check out this website for easy instructions: www.wikihow.com/make-a-kite.  Download a free e-book with more clever ideas here: www.my-best-kite.com/mbk-free-ebook.html.  Note!  When flying your kite, always avoid overhead wires. 

5.  Visit a fire station.  Most will arrange free tours for families with kids.

6.  Go to a local high school sporting event such as baseball, football or hockey.  Call the school to find out game times and admission prices. Usually the cost is between three and seven dollars per person with family rates available and the money goes to support the team.  Some offer canteen services at very reasonable prices.

7.  Reach for the stars!  Purchase a star chart book.  One of the most highly recommended books is NightWatch, A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson.  It is available at Amazon.  Enjoy reading the book as a family.  On a clear night, go to a place as far away from the city lights as possible.  Lay down on your backs staring up at the stars, taking turns finding constellations (use a flash light if you need to refer to the charts in the book).  Note! 

8.  Plan a nature scavenger hunt.  They can be done at any local park and made even more fun if your kids bring a couple of friends.  Give each person a list of items to collect or 'scavenge' for.  Some good examples are an acorn, smooth rock, five star leaf, pop can, paper plate, plastic fork, plastic bottle, bottle cap, plastic bag, flower, piece of wood, piece of bark, pine cones, pine needles and a feather.  For older children, offer bonus prizes if they can identify the type of tree the leaf, wood or bark came from or what kind of bird left a feather behind. Use your imagination to add as many items as you wish.  Bring small prizes from the dollar store.  The winner who returns first with all the items could get an extra treat, but each participant should get a reward.  Bonus!  You are cleaning the park while having fun.  Remember to bring a garbage bag for the trash.

9.  Bake and decorate cookies together.  This is a recipe for Easy Drop Cookies that make 3 to 4 dozen.  The ingredients are 1 Cup of butter or margarine, 1 Cup of white sugar, 1 egg, 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 Tablespoons of milk, 2 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour, 1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 Teaspoon of salt.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together the butter or margarine and white sugar.  Add the egg, vanilla extract and milk.  Stir well.  Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.  Roll spoonfuls of dough in your hands to make little balls.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet, pressing them dough down with the bottom of a glass or a fork.  Bake for 12 minutes.  To make the frosting, combine 1 Cup of powdered sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of milk and 1 Teaspoon of vanilla.  Beat all ingredients until smooth.  Allow the cookies to cool before adding the frosting.  Let everyone decorate their own cookies.  You can find a good variety of decorations for a low price at dollar stores. 

10.  Take a trip to the library.  They offer various clubs and your family members can choose their favourite one.  Register for individual memberships (remember to bring identification). Books can usually be borrowed for up to three weeks.  Check their calendar for special activity days.  Note!  Most activities are free, but you may have to sign up.

11.  Visit your local SPCA and volunteer to walk the dogs.  They almost always need extra help but there may be a schedule where you choose a designated time to arrive and indicate how long you can stay.  Dogs will be well screened for positive social skills and you may find a new family member! If you are not in the market for a pet, explain this to younger children before you go in order to prevent a melt down when 'the cutest dog in the whole world' has to be left behind.

12.  Check your town or city's website for free swimming and skating times.  Note!  Second hand stores are a great place to purchase skates as are online local selling sites and traditional swap meets.

13.  Most golf courses allow winter time sledding but call to be sure.  Bring thermoses of hot chocolate to warm chilly tummy's.
 
14.  Have a sand castle competition at the beach.  Bring a variety of containers from that you can pack sand in to make different shapes and sizes.   It is easier to work in teams rather than individually.  Two to a team is ideal, but it depends on the size of your family. Food coloring is an inexpensive way to add to the fun!

15.  Look on local Internet sites and in newspapers and compile a list of yard sales for a Saturday morning outing.  Give your kid's each five dollars to spend and hit the road!  Note!  Take a few minutes to plan your route so you are not backtracking to the sales.

16.  Visit Seniors in nursing homes.  Ask the director or head nurse which residents would benefit from a visit.  Talk to the activities co-ordinator to see if your family can volunteer.  Note!  Seniors are a wealth of information for your children so encourage them to ask questions.  Your entire family will benefit from the resident's stories and give children a valuable insight into the past.

17.  Purchase sidewalk chalk at the dollar store. Thousands of years ago, the Romans played hopscotch and you can still enjoy this timeless game with your children.  You can find a hopscotch pattern and the rules of the game here: www.wikihow.com/play-hopscotch.  The site also offers variations on the traditional rules for hours of fun.  Note!  While playing hopscotch, everyone is also getting a good cardio workout.

18.  Plant a garden.  First, allow yourself some time to develop your garden location.  Start by visiting this website: How to Prepare Soil for a Garden, www.wikihow.com/prepare-soil-for-a-garden.  Have the family decide whether to plant flowers or vegetables.  Perhaps they will be industrious and choose to plant both!  Seed packages cost about a dollar fifty for flowers and a dollar eighty to three dollars for vegetables.  If this is your first time gardening, it is best to keep it as simple as possible. Sunflowers, sweet peas, marigolds, geraniums and pansy's grow easily.  as do carrots, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers.  Let everyone share in the planting.  Assign daily watering duties.  Children can also help with the weekly weeding, if they are old enough.  Your family will feel great pride and a real sense of accomplishment when they admire the colourful blooms and/or taste the succulent vegetables they grew themselves. NOTE! See if any of your children have learned that although they are sold with the vegetables in stores, tomatoes are, in fact, fruits.

19.  Rainy nights and weekends bring the opportunity for everyone to test their pantomime skills with a spirited game of charades.  An impressive charades word list for kids can be found at this website:  http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/games-puzzles-and-worksheets/charades-word-lists-kids.html. 

20.  Have a family breakfast at a restaurant that has a play area for the kids.  While the kids frolic for an hour, you can settle back and read the newspaper or a book while you sip on your second cup of coffee.  Note!  Breakfast is typically the cheapest meal of the day.

21.  Attend free shows oftentimes presented by local festivals.  For example, during a week-long celebration showcasing award winning musicians, smaller venues may offer concerts with no charge for admission.  Check your local free newspapers, listen to the radio, switch to your community cable channel or the entertainment section of the locale's website to see what is happening in your area.  Note!  If an establishment where they serve liquor is one of the sites where a free concert is being held, call ahead to be sure minors are allowed to attend.  (Usually, if the site serves food, minors are allowed.  If only liquor is served, minors are probably not permitted.)

22.  A trip to the zoo is sure to rate highly on the family's 'fun for everyone' list.  Many zoos have family rates that are cheaper than if you paid individually.  Many zoos are open year round so take advantage of colder weather when animals are more likely to be active rather than laying under trees or in the tall grass or escaping into their enclosures to avoid the heat. Note!  You may be required to show id for a child if the zoo offers free admission under a certain age.

23.  Fireworks are often put on by municipalities for special occasions.  Buy the kids sparklers at the dollar store and let them put on their own show.  Plus, if you go early to get a good viewing spot, your kids will have something to entertain them while they wait.

24.  Family photo night!  Everyone dresses up as silly as possible and they take pictures of one another.  Some ideas include wearing a colander as a hat, putting your clothes on backwards, pulling your hair over your eyes and put on a pair of sunglasses, having a toddler wear Dad's shirt and tie and dress up Dad in Mom's costume jewellery.  Don't forget to include your pets.  Your little dog wills look adorable but silly in the baby's kitty cat pyjamas!

25.  Vacation time!  Get a jar with a large opening or a strong box.  Have everyone decorate the jar or box with craft supplies from around the house.  Label it your 'Vacation Savation'.  Put it in a prominent place in your home, easily accessible by all family members.  Encourage everyone to faithfully contribute their spare change and set a monetary goal.  Once a month, have everyone share in counting and rolling the change.  You will be astonished at the amount you will save if everyone is diligent about contributing to the fund.  If you are planning a family vacation, you can save towards a special extra activity such as spending a day training and swimming with the dolphins.  If you are not planning a family vacation, your goal could be a family dinner at a favourite restaurant followed by a movie at the theatre.  Either way, your 'savation' will show everyone that saving money leads to rewards. Note!  After each goal is reached, set a new target and continue your 'Vacation Savation'.

These preceding ideas clearly demonstrate it is quite obvious that families can handily find activities that are affordable, entertaining, fun, enjoyable and even educational!  Endeavour to indulge in the ideas whenever possible and not only will you find your wallet heavier and your bank account balance in the black, you will treasure the time spent with your family, which is priceless.

Pauline Milner

Blacklist the Shovels and Subpoena the Daffodils!




Albeit it a little tardy and none too weary, Spring has ultimately decided to breeze in.  Surely, everyone gave an audible sigh of relief  when the long range forecast promised a full week of days with above zero temperatures, a welcome relief from the barrage of this past winter's twice a week storms. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is finally in sight and, for once, it is not an oncoming train.

Let's start by prying the remote control out of your hand (if you don't do it soon your hand is going to freeze that way), shaking the dust bunnies off your spring jacket and clearing the cobwebs out of your deck shoes.  Next, let's get you to open that front door, take in a deep breath of the clean, crisp spring air and take the first step out of hibernation and back into the world.

Now that we have you upright and the blood is pumping through your body again, we have to find something to keep you occupied so you do not go running back to the sofa and your subscriptions to every reality TV show available.

There are interminable ways to embrace the season of renewal. Here are some options to get you motivated.

Volunteers are welcome in most any organization. Several months have passed since the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and now most places are running short on donations and of people, their most valuable resource. Take a morning a week to walk dogs at a local shelter, visit a senior and take them outside for some fresh air, collect donations door to door for your favourite charity. There are an abundance of ways to 'pay it forward'.

An excursion into the woods makes for a great way to get back in touch with nature. Your nose will appreciate the crisp, fresh air and a good night's sleep is guaranteed. Strolling through the forest, you are sure to melt into the rejuvenation that surrounds you, alone with just your thoughts and the occasional sparrow, but remember to stick to the trail. You really do not want to spend the night staring down a black bear who thinks you would make a tasty midnight snack.

Local tourist venues begin to open in the late spring. We sometimes forget about the gems that are right in our own backyard. Try being a 'tourist for a day'. Pick up an activities guide usually available from local merchants or locate one on the Internet. An afternoon spent at an indoor water park with the kids or a tour of a historic landmark has the added benefit of likely being in the off season with a bonus for you - cheaper rates. You will also find that many attractions offer discounts and you do not have to be a visitor from out of town to take advantage of them.

Spring is a time for renewal, so why not revitalize yourself with a day at the spa. After a harrowing winter, you deserve some pampering. Bring a friend and double the fun! Be sure to check local advertising and the Internet for coupons that offer savings.

Join a walking club. If you cannot find one in existence, start one yourself. Simply place free ads on regional Internet sites and put up notices on community boards stating where and when to meet. Many malls are open early to accommodate walkers. You can also check with places like the local arenas. Even if the floor is occupied, you may be able to walk behind the bleachers. Walking is considerably more enjoyable when it is shared with others and everyone can go at their own pace. Most people prefer to walk outside whenever possible, however, if you are targeting seniors for your group, they may feel more comfortable walking inside on a flat service with no inclines.

This is an excellent time to invest in a bicycle. Not only is cycling an awesome way to get into exceptional physical shape, there are so many biking trails that you can go off road in many places and partake in some extraordinary scenery. If your budget is an issue, classified ads on the Internet or in the newspaper will often heed results or check with the police who may offer auctions for items recovered but unclaimed, including bicycles. People are always upgrading and wanting to sell bicycles they no longer use. If you have a partner and want to try something original and immensely entertaining, purchase a tandem bike. With two of you sharing the pedalling, the climb up those hills will be a breeze.

Spring is an optimal time for a visit to the zoo. On hot summer days, the resident animals stay inside or lay in the tall grass and under trees to escape the heat. In the spring, the animals are much more apt to be roaming about in the coolness of the air, giving you a much better chance to observe them. This is the time of year when you will really get your money's worth.

Now is the time to engage in outdoor pursuits. Temperatures are agreeable to being outside at any time of the day and, as the days pass, they get longer and the sun gets stronger. Whether you have been engaging in outdoor winter activities or hibernating, take the time to enjoy nature with some outdoor therapy.

Pauline Milner

9|11 - Requiem For the 10 Second Falls             Whether you stood on a street in Manhattan or watched via live television as the dis...