Saturday, 13 July 2013

Snow White is How Old?

The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a timeless classic. Snow White's beauty causes her stepmother to become jealous. The queen commands her huntsman to kill Snow White, but the huntsman can't. He sends the girl away into the forest. Snow White finds a little cottage and with the help of her animal friends and begins to clean up. Later that evening the Seven Dwarfs come home to find a stranger in their beds. A friendship develops between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
But the Queen soon learns that Snow White is not dead and plots the princess's demise. One day while the dwarfs are working the Queen, in disguise as an old woman, visits Snow White and gives her a poisoned apple. The animals, upon finding Snow White's lifeless body, race off to find the dwarfs. The dwarfs race to rescue their friend but come too late. With grief in their hearts they build a coffin in the woods and lay the body of Snow White to rest. Then the prince, who had fallen in love with Snow White days earlier, rides in and kisses Snow White. With true love's first kiss, Snow White awakens and rides off with her prince. But the happily-ever-after story took three years to produce and not all of those three years were happy.

On August 9, 1934, 21 pages of notes entitled 'Snow White Suggestions' was compiled by Walt Disney staff member, Richard Creedon.
When the public first learned of Walt's desire to produce a full-length animated film they laughed and called it 'Disney's Folly.' But Walt Disney pressed forward with his staff.
The original idea was to have the film based on the Seven Dwarfs. The names of the little friends, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful and Dopey, where chosen from a pool of about fifty potentials. This pool included names like Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzy, Nifty and Burpy. By the end of the October meetings, five of the seven dwarfs were named. Sneezy and Dopey replaced Jumpy and an unnamed seventh dwarf.

Although the original plan was to focus on the Dwarfs, that idea was laid aside and it was decided to make Snow White the main focus of the story.
For the rest of 1934 Walt Disney worked on the story line himself.
The project was laid aside for a while and finally in the autumn of 1935 it was picked up again. Many people thought Walt doubted the ability of himself and the studio. But after a trip to Europe he came back refreshed and ready to go at it again. On the 25th of November, 1935, he laid out likely assignments for his staff and decided on the personalities of the dwarfs.
But the work was just beginning. Very few of the artists in the studio had experience with animation. It was a learning process for everyone. Some of the animation was draw from live action shots though most of the artists disliked the idea.

Albert Hurter was the concept artist for the design of the film. Ferdinand Hovarth and Gustaf Tenngren also contributed to the visual art of the film.
The songs in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' were composed by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. Both men worked for Bourne Co. Music Publishers. The company was hired by Disney since the studio did not have their own music publishing company. The Bourne Co. still holds the rights to the music for the film. Songs still popular today include 'Heigh-Ho', 'Some Day My Prince will Come' and 'Whistle While You Work'.
When 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' was released, a soundtrack was also available. It was the first American film to have a soundtrack.
On December 21, 1937, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles, California. The wildly receptive audience included some of the same people who had called the film 'Disney's Folly'. At the end of the movie the film received a standing ovation from an audience that included Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich.
Following successful, exclusive runs in Radio City Music Hall in New York and a theater in Miami in January 1938, the film was released to the general public by RKO Radio Pictures on February 4.
'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' became a major box office success, making four times more money than any other film released in 1938. In it's original release the film grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada. By May of 1939 its total international gross was $6.5 million, making it the most successful film of its time. It was replaced by 'Gone With the Wind' in 1940. By the end of its original run 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' had made $7,846,000.

In 1993, the movie came out on video. It was released as a DVD in 2001. In its lifetime 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' grossed $416 million. This makes it one of the top ten American film moneymakers of all times.

76 years later children still enjoy watching the classic tale of a princess, seven dwarfs and a handsome prince. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Rottnest Island

On Saturday I joined a group of ten people for a day on Rottnest Island. We took a ferry to the island and spent the day biking around, visiting the bays and enjoying God's wonderful world.
Rottnest Island is 18 kms off the coast of Western Australia, close to Freemantle. Accesible by ferry, the island is a popular tourist atraction and also a great area for a holiday. No vehicles are allowed on Rottnest so you get around by either biking or taking the buses already on the island.
In 1658 the first Dutch sailors set foot on the island. But it wasn't until 1696 that Rottnest was given it's name. Willem de Vlamingh was a Dutch captain who spent six days exploring the island. He described the island 'as a paradise of earth'. While exploring he came across a small brown animal that he mistakened for a rat. Hence he gave the island the name 'Rotte Nest' meaning 'rat nest'. Those little animals where actually Quokkas, one of the atractions of the island.
Quokkas actually look like little kangaroos with a rat's tail. They are very cute and have no fear of humans. They will come up to you and take food from your hands.
One of the other atractions of Rottnest are the many bays, inlets and coves. These bays provide amazing opportunities to swim, snorkel and scuba dive. Many fish live in the small reefs, delighting those who swim above them. I, unfortunately, did not get a chance to snorkel but was able to enjoy the cool, salty waters of the Indian Ocean.
As we were biking back towards the ferry we came across a ship wreck. The 'Shark' sank in 1939. She slipped her moorings and floated away from Freemantle, finally sinking on the 'Henrietta Rocks' where she remains.
Rottnest, called Rotto by the locals, is an amazing place to visit. There are so many neat things to see. Sand dunes, animals, birds and plants dot the trails making each turn an exciting adventure. The trail is rather hilly, providing great exercise especially when biking, but being on a bike allows you to see things you would have missed if you were travelling by bus.
I had so much fun on the island. Although I was tired at the end of the day I was glad to get a chance to see some more of Australia.




Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Church Bells

My friend, Karen, post writing prompts every Wednes day and so I decided to try one out. The prompt this time was "You hear church bells in the distance."
No editing is allowed while writing so this is a very raw draft.
Here is what I wrote.

The church bells floated across town on the same breeze that rustled the skirt of my new dress. I smoothed down the blue ruffles and turned to ask Grandpa what he thought of my dress. He was staring into the leafy top of the maple dream, a small smile on his face.

“Grandpa, what are you doing?” I tugged on his hand.

“Someone has died, my pet,” he said, the smile disappearing into the wrinkles that marred his face.

I lifted my head and listened to the bells. Shaking my head I turned to him. “How do you know?”

To my young ears the bells sounded no different then they did on Sunday when they called us to worship.

“They are slow, solemn.” He lifted a hand to the air and pulled on nothing. “Old Bertha, little Mary, hear how slow they ring?”

I stared at him. Had he lost it like Mommy was always saying. “Who’s old Bertha and little Mary? Did they die?”

Grandpa shook his head. “No, Bertha and Mary are two of the bells in the church.”

He lead me to the porch and slowly climbed the stairs. His bones creaked as he sat in the old rocking chair. He lifted me into his lap and stroked my red curls. I leaned into his comforting embrace and felt his heart pound out its own rhythm against my cheek.

“When I was about the same age as your brother I started ringing the bells in that church.” His hand stilled as the sound of the bells faded away. “Every Sunday morning I climbed into that bell tower and began to pull the ropes to call everyone to church.”

“Where they heavy?” I had seen the bells from below and they looked big. How my brother could pull them I didn’t know. He was only twelve and even if he did think he was strong I could sometimes beat him up even if I was only ten.

“Yes but I soon learned not to think about the weight. For years I rang those bells, for wedding, funerals, baptisms.” He voice rumbled on in my ear as he told me of the bells and what each was used for. He spoke of how he learned to play different songs as each bell played certain notes. He used the names he had given the bells and spoke of them as if they were old friends.

“Why don’t you play the bells anymore, Grandpa?” I asked as his voice trailed off, lost in the memories of the old friends that never betrayed him even in rain, snow, war and night.

He smiled sadly at me. “Because the people of the church thought it was time for me to retire. Your cousin plays them now. He learned from me and one day he will remember those bells as I do.”

He set me on my feet and disappeared into the house. I stood for a moment, straining to hear those bells again. But the wind had died and the bells were still.

I sat on the steps trying to understand what I had just heard. For just a few minutes Grandpa had seemed happy and young again. The wrinkles in his face had lifted and his blue eyes sparkled again. And as he spoke his hand had reached up pulling on nothing in the air, pulling as if he still stood in the bottom of that bell tower letting the town know that it was time for worship. In his mind it was him pulling the bells to let the people know that someone had died, that new life had been welcomed into the open arms of a growing family.

And I wondered if he had rung the bells when I was born.

Three days later the bells rang out their sad tune again and this time I walked beside my brother from the church. My blue dress had been replaced by a black one. Mommy walked beside Grandma and Grandpa lay in the black box as the horses pulled it away.

And the bells, Bertha and Mary, rang out one last time as my grandfather’s body was lowered into the ground.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Ten Things I Miss About Canada

I know that I'm supposed to be enjoying a new culture and trying new things but there are some things that I really do miss about my homeland.
I guess the saying 'Home is where the heart is' is true. I may be enjoying Australia and all the new sights, sounds and tastes, but not so deep inside I am a true blooded Canadian.
Here are a few things that I find myself wanting on any given day or just plain missing.

1. Tim Hortens - no one around here can make a cup hot of chocolate like them.
2. Bagels -  they have never heard of them.
3. Driving on the right side of the road - okay, to them we drive on the wrong side.
4. Knowing where I am going when I leave my house -  let's just say that I have a habit of misplacing myself out here.
5. Hockey - yeah, yeah, I hear you. But really, it's at least fun to watch. They like cricket. Makes no sense and is boring to watch.
6. My piano -  no around here seems to own one.
7. My family - even Luke.
8. My friends -  the people out here are awesome but they can't replace my Canadian friends.
9. My books -  I could only take so many with me.
10. Snow - alright, I admit it. I do miss that white stuff. Not the cold, mind you, but the sight of a snow covered world with a sun in a blue sky.

I don't think any continent could replace Canada. I mean, we have the Rockies, Niagra Falls, hockey, PEI, the CN Tower and Tim Hortens. Australia has the Sydney Opera House, Kangaroos and Koalas, lots of cows, Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef. Okay, both places have some pretty awesome attractions. But the place where you are born and raised becomes the place you think is the best.
Canada, you rock!

Monday, 4 February 2013

New Job, New Experiance

Last time I wrote, I was all set to work in a town outside of Adelaide, South Australia. Now I am working outside of Perth, Western Australia.
In 26 days I have moved from one side of the country to the other. I have spent a week with people I never imagined hanging out with, bought two cars, brought one back, lost a job, gained another and applied for a third. Yes, it has been crazy but still in some ways a lot of fun.
A week and a half ago I arrived in Perth. At that time I had lost my first job for reasons I still haven't quite figured out and I wasn't really sure what to do. But my parents knew. They called my aunt who called her nephew who called his parents. A few hours later Dad called me and told me to fly to Perth and someone would pick me up from the airport.
So I booked a ticket, brought my car back from where I got it, boarded a plane and landed five hours later in Perth. I was picked up by my aunt's niece and stayed with her and her parents for a few days. In that time I found a new job, bought a new car and moved to Gidgenannup.
My new job is one that I have always wanted to do. I'm a part time groom. Which pretty much means I feed horses, saddle horses, unsaddle horses, bath horses and sweep floors. It isn't glamerous but it is good honest work. I'm living with my employer's parents and have my own room and all the food I want.
I live out in the country surrounded by trees, horses, dogs, kangaroos and birds. It's a place that holds so many possibilities and experiances. The family I work and live with are amazing people. They are always asking if I need anything, eager to have me join in with them as they hang out with friends.
So for now I am settled in a place I am enjoying with people whom I greatly respect.
I have just applied for another part time job to fill in some of the hours I'm not spending working with the horses.
God has been good for me, helping me find a good job, a good group of people to hang out with and a church to attend. Maybe somethings that have happened haven't been what I wanted. Yet I have learned through all of this that God's plans are better then mine. I thank Him for the opportunity to show His love to more people, to learn new skills, to meet new people.
Australia is a land of good people, great oppurtunities and strange but wonderful creatures.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Week That Started It All

Blood, sweat and bruises. That's one way to describe my week at Kulaba. Another way is to say it was fun, a huge learning curve and an eye opener.
Kulaba is a 2000 acre sheep and cattle station owned by Craig Pickette. Craig runs OutBackPackers, a farm stay designed to show people how cattle and sheep stations run.
At the beginning of the week Craig told us that it was hard work and he was going to show us all the hard work. This wasn't going to be easy.
And he was right. From day one we got hot, tired and dusty. But we also learned.
We learned the difference between lambs and ewes, between bulls, cows, calves and bullocks. We figured out how to think outside the box. Craig told us that farmers were simple people. Maybe they are but some of us found it hard to keep things simple. We over thought or under thought. We almost stole the neighbours cattle, we fell off bikes and horses, we banged our heads and in the end we survived a week on a real Australian farm.
But it wasn't all about the work. Every night we gathered around the table and talked. People told outrageous stories and others made us laugh. Beer flowed thick and the stories got more ridiculous. I may not have agreed with everything that was said. In fact a lot of it a I disagreed with it but I was in the midst of authentic Australian life. It was how they live, how they talked.
My eyes were opened to how most people in this world think. I met people who only have one night stands because they have seen so many relationships fall apart. I've seen others flirt when we all know they have a special someone back home. And they do it all with an ease that shocked me.
While I learned about the actual work I also became aware of how priviledged I am to have grown up in a Christian family.
There was a reason for me to behave, to live as I had been taught. Maybe they didn't understand it and maybe they did but that was no reason for me not to go on living just as I did at home. I spent time with my fellow trainees and had some good conversations with a few about my beliefs. They listened, they probed and I learned to dig deep down and remember all those things I had been taught since I was a young child.
Did I judge them? Maybe at times I did and that was wrong of me. But I also saw that a lack of proper upbringing brings most people to ruin early on. One of the girls I worked with admitted that she had done somethings she was ashamed of.
Maybe I could have brought her some comfort but was it the right time? The same person also told me that she was glad I wasn't forcing the Gospel on her. What could I do? She was talking to me and listening to what I had to say. We barely knew each other.
My one hope is that the things I said and did this week will stick with them and the next time they meet a Christian they will be ready for something more.
The work was hard but rewarding. I know so many things I didn't know when I stepped out of that van last Sunday evening.
I can tie knots that will keep loads from moving, I can draft sheep, I can ride a quad, change a tire and find tools when they are needed. I can handle myself in situations that are strange and at times embarressing. I found out that I have a strength from God that never fails.
People knew right away that I was differnt yet they accepted me and always urged me to come out and talk and not to hide away. That was good too. I learned to open up about myself, to tell them the things I believed.
In the end I ended up with a job that was quite different from what I had thought I'd do. But Craig and Jo, his office helper, try their best to match us with a job that they think will suit us. So I trust their judgement and will do my best to prove them right.
These next months are going to be just as challenging but I know I have a Father who loves me and will always be there to help me. That is what I cling to as I step into the unknown.
My week was amazing, something I will never forget. It was a huge stepping stone for me and I managed to step on and off without loosing anything that belonged to me. The memories and friends I made may one day fade but I will always remember this time as a time of strengthening, of challenge and most of all of fun.
It was the beginning of the adventure of my life.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

World Famous in Sydney

When people think about Australia the first thing that comes to mind are the white domes of the Sydney Opera house.
The construction of this world famous concert hall began in 1958 and finally ended in 1973. Over the years it has become one of the most famous and recognizable buildings in the world. Some 1,500 hundred performances are hosted every year with upwards of 1.2 million people attending.
The Sydney Opera House was designed by Jorn Utzon. The theory is that his idea for the domes came to him while he was peeling an orange. Beneath its famous domes is a complex of linked theatres and halls.
The biggest threate is the Concert Hall, which can seat upto 2, 690 people. Here symphony, choral, jazz, folk and pop concerts, chamber music, opera, dance and everything from body building to fashion parades are hosted.
The Opera Theatre, now known as The Joan Sutherland Theatre, is mainly used for opera and ballet and can hold up to 1,507 people.
One of the smallest theatres is the Playhouse. Holding only 400 people, it is used for intimate productions but still able to hold plays with larger casts.
The Drama Theatre can hold up to 544 people and is used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.
The Monumental Steps, along with the forecourt, are used for outdoor performances.
The Studio can hold up to 400 people depending on how it is configured.
Inside it's halls are two famous paintings. One is a mural by Michael Tjakamarra Nelson, an artist from the central Australian desert. It is called 'The Possum Dreaming'. In the Utzon room is a tapestry designed by Jorn Utzon. This tapestry was inspired by the music of Carl Philippe Emanuel Bach.
The Northern Foyers and the Utzon Room can be rented for conferences, lunches, parties and weddings. The windows boast spectacular views of the harbour.
Outside many walkways surround the building allowing visitors to see all sides of the building. Along the walkways are many restaurants, cafes and souvenier shops. One of Sydney's finest restaurants, Guillaue at Bennelong, is located close to the front of the building under it's own little domes roofs.
From every walkway there is a view of the harbour where the boats come in and out.
Even though it took many years to build the finished result is something of legend. When the construction first began, the complex design had never been used before and therefore caused many problems. But finally it was completed and began it's famous performances which never fail to impress.
The Sydney Opera House, with it's white domes, will never be forgotten by those who visit it.