Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve in The Great White North.... and soon I'll be heading to OlderSon and The Equestrienne's country estate to wait for the arrival of Santa Claus with Callum. I wonder if we'll hear those sleighbells ringing in the night? My dad always went outside to listen on Christmas Eve, and when he came in he always said he heard bells jingling in the distance. I could never hear them, no matter how hard I tried, and the fact that he could hear them was amazing to me, as he actually was deaf as a post!

So I'm taking this opportunity to wish all my blog friends a Happy Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate, may you enjoy the good company of friends and family, and may 2010 be good to you!

P.S. this is post 399.... I'd better make the next one a good one!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Olympic Fever

Our busy Main Street shut down completely at 9:00am this morning. There were RCMP vehicles on standby, and York Regional Police cars with their lights flashing, and the road was choked with thousands of cheering patriotic Canadians, wearing red and white and waving our Maple Leaf flag.

Why all the excitement?

The Olympic Flame was coming through town.

The route was lined with enthusiastic supporters. See the Canadian Olympic gloves the girl on the left is wearing? I desperately want to buy a pair, but they're always sold out.

The Town Crier arrived on a horse-drawn carriage to announce the Flame's imminent arrival.

The Olympic Flame was carried along Main Street by at least fourteen different torch bearers, with the crowds cheering loudly each time the flame was handed off to a new runner.

A school band played "O Canada" from the snow-lined sidewalk, and hundreds of students from nearby schools were in the crowd. Mike Harris, who won silver in curling at the Nagano Games in 1998, was in the crowd in his Team Canada jacket.

The Flame is crossing Canada to herald the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. You can follow the progress here.

These kids were waving their flags and chanting "Canada! Canada!" for the benefit of a News television camera crew. No doubt they'll be looking for themselves on the local news broadcast tonight.

Inside the new Arts and Culture Centre, video clips of the Olympic torch’s history as well as how this torch was made and the torch relay through Canada were shown on the giant screen.
Karen Cockburn was signing autographs and displaying her Olympic medals. Isaac was very impressed.... he is definitely inspired and he told me he wants to be an Olympic athlete in training when he grows up. Karen let me hold her medals.... ooooh... real Olympic Silver!

And then The Bride and I helped Isaac hold the Olympic Torch for a special picture.

YoungerSon, Isaac's dad, was 6 years old when he had a candle lighted with the Olympic Flame at our town's Olympic Torch Ceremony for the 1988 Winter Olympics that were held in Calgary.

The Olympic Cauldron will be lit in Vancouver on February 12, 2010, during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Games.

Another picture of the Flame handover here. Thanks Ken.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Mmmmmmm ... CAKE!

My lovely DIL, The Equestrienne, bought a funny looking cake pan, and made.....
.... a fabulous delicious gorgeous chocolate cake!

It looks like a chocolate scale model of the Himalayas, sprinkled with icing sugar snow and a glacier of whipped cream nestled in the middle.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

One Of A Kind Show

The One Of A Kind Show happens in Toronto twice a year, at Easter and Christmas. I went with my neighbours yesterday. A very special place to do some Christmas shopping for unique handmade items.
Aisle after aisle of colourful well-stocked booths selling everything from tobogganing Christmas geese for your roof..... a lifesize woodnymph emerging from a treetrunk, with driftwood hair blowing in the breeze.

Beautiful quilted table runners and placemats......

.... and gorgeous handmade quilts and teacosies, in vivid colours that lift your spirits and light your home with gladness.

Oh boy, I wish I was one of the rich'n'famous.... I'd buy one of everything!

And a special treat.... I met fellow blogger Shawn of Island Sweet in her booth. Shawn knits and spins in Newfoundland and creates beautiful handmade textiles and yarns. She told me she had sold all her stock, and was taking orders.... visit her at Island Sweet to see the gorgeous things she makes. Lovely to meet you at last, Shawn!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Baking Day

Yesterday was a Baking Day:
Two sizes of Christmas cake and eight chicken pies.... one for dinner today, the other seven are already in the freezer.

Today the plan is to bake cookies.
But first I have to get all the yard waste bags out to the street for Monday morning pickup, and then reinforce my "skunk barrier" so Mr Skunk won't be able to spend the winter under my back porch, like he did last winter!
No peace for the wicked, as my mother used to say.

Update... later:

Four dozen almond crescents rolled in icing sugar.
I already ate two.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


.... you can't see the forest....

.... for the trees.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Milkweed Pods

I was walking with TessaDog under grey November skies today.
Most of the colour has faded from the landscape, turning to delicate shades of brown and beige.

The milkweed pods are bursting, scattering their silky seeds in the wind.

During WW2, hundreds of tons of milkweed pods were gathered by school children in USA and Canada and the silky fluff processed as a substitute for kapok, used to pad life jackets and flying suits. It’s been estimated that more than 11 million pounds of milkweed were collected by the end of WW2.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

I Know It's Only November, But.......

..... we are already well into rehearsals for our Christmas Variety Show.

This is the first time we have staged a Christmas Show. Our annual variety show is always at the end of April, and in 2010 we are planning a special show to celebrate 50 years of locally produced entertainment in this town. No doubt you'll be hearing more about it on this blog!

So I've hauled the faithful Singer sewing machine out onto the dining room table and we are starting to plan costumes.... lots of sparkle required of course.

And don't forget we all need Santa hats! We'll be singing some fun Christmas favourites, nothing too serious, our dancers are looking good in their "Santa Baby" outfits, and our skit crew are (we hope) practising at being funny.
The tickets are printed for both shows, 7:00pm and 9:00pm, and the posters will be going up around town next week.

The two shows will be staged in our brand new Arts and Entertainment Centre, Nineteen On The Park. It's just a little theatre with 138 seats, but it's perfect for our needs for this Christmas show.
Want a couple of tickets? I'll save some for you.......

Friday, 6 November 2009

Oh, the Good Old Hockey Game...

Last week I celebrated another Birthday, and OlderSon took me out for a special Birthday treat... a trip to the ACC to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Tampa Bay Lightning.

For any ardent ice hockey fans out there, here's the game recap.

Carlton invited me into his den. He's called Carlton 'cos the previous home of the once-mighty Leafs, Maple Leaf Gardens, is on Carlton Street in Toronto.

And the Toronto Raptors play at the ACC too, so I had to visit the Raptors mascot... who unfortunately seems to be nameless.

Before the game, the singing of O Canada, with the fans breaking into loud and enthusiastic cheering halfway through the anthem. Oh yes, they sang The Star Spangled Banner too... almost forgot.

The ACC even has it's own micro-brewery in the building, and there's nothing like raising a glass of brewski to toast the success of the home team while the Zamboni clears the ice between periods. Unfortunately, the Leafs have only won one game so far this season, and there hasn't been a Stanley Cup win since the 1966/67 season! But the fans keep coming to the games faithfully, always hoping that this year will be the year.....

Ten seconds to go at the end of the third period and it's a 1-1 tie. Looks like we're heading for sudden death overtime.

But Leafs lose again! A couple of minutes into the overtime, the Lightning scores!

Even though our team lost (again!! Grrrrr..) , it was a good game. Leafs outshot the Lightning and there were lots of exciting plays, and Leafs introduced their newest player, Phil Kessel, who is expected to be the team's saviour this season. Maybe they'll win the next game.... keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Shell Out, Shell Out, the Witches Are Out!

There were a lot of unusual goings on in the neighbourhood last night. Strange scary howling noises, and unnamed invisible things that go BUMP! in the night.
Witches and ghouls, goblins and ghosts were out enjoying their annual haunting.
But the cutest of all were these two....
Baby Isaac disguised himself as a furry cuddly beaver, complete with beaver teeth and a flat beaver tail at the back (sorry, no pics of the tail).... now, you can't get more Canadian than a beaver, right?

A slightly stunned 5 month old beaver, I have to admit. But very very sweet!

And his cousin Callum was as scary as can be dressed up as a magical green dragon. He had spikes on his head and neck and shiny green wings and a very scary spiky tail.

If this little green dragon came to your door, I bet you'd be scared out of your wits, especially when he demonstrated how a dragon can roar... or was that how a pumpkin can roar.... according to Callum, dragons and pumpkins make exactly the same noise.
You'd be compelled to put some chocolate in his bucket just to make him go away!

But it wasn't all furry animals that were haunting the neighbourhood. Aren't they scary???

And these undead visitors had me quaking in my shoes, they were so devilishly frightening!

And I still have some chocolate treats left over for me.... yum!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Scotland the Brave

We started rehearsals in the spring.
It's been a little chaotic at times, but all those rehearsals were worth it. We had so much fun.
On Sunday our Scottish Country Dance group participated in "Memories of Scotland", a fundraiser for the Richmond Hill Centennial Pipe Band.

In addition to the pipes and drums, there were Highland Dancers, singers and of course, the best part of the show, the Scottish Country Dancers!

I don't have any pictures of our actual dancing.... maybe on a later post... but the whole group performed four dances on the stage (The Piper and the Penguin, Bratach Bana, The Minister on the Loch, and The Reel of the Royal Scots) and the men performed The Reel of the 51st Division. This dance has a fascinating history.

At the beginning of World War II, the 51st (Highland) Division formed part of the British Expeditionary Force's GHQ reserve.
In 1940, the 51st Division was helping the French Army slow the German's advance on Paris. When the situation became hopeless, the 51st decided to fight their way back to the coast, but were unable to cross the channel, and about 10,000 men and officers surrendered to the German army.
Some officers of the original 51st (Highland) Division ended up in a POW camp near Salzburg. Since dancing was always a big part of Scottish military life, the POWs started a dance class to pass the time. At first the dancers were reduced to hand clapping and counts for music, but later on managed to obtain musical instruments such as practice chanters and even an accordion through the Red Cross.
The dance called The Reel of the 51st Division was invented during the winter of 1940 by three officers. One of the officers tried to send a description of the dance to his wife in Scotland, but the German censors suspected that the dance notation was a secret code and spent a lot of time trying to decode it, until the men demonstrated the dance to them.

Since then, The Reel of the 51st Division has been traditionally a men's dance.

Here's the dance notation:

1-81C set, cast off two places (2C up) and lead up to 1cnrs
9-161C set to 1cnr, turn 1cnr RH, join LH in the middle to BiL, turn 1¼ LH to 2cnrs
17-24Repeat with 2cnrs, cross to 2pl own side
25-322C+1C+3C circle6 and back.

No wonder the Germans were confused!

(btw, I'm in the middle, top left photo.)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Mystery Socktoberfest Knit-along Challenge

I love to knit socks.
There's nothing quite as comfy and warm and foot-welcoming as a pair of hand knitted socks.
I've knitted quite a few pairs but always used a very plain easy pattern, free on the Patons web site here.

But then I found Through The Loops Designs and a mystery sock pattern that's being published with a new part every Thursday through October.
The first instructions were for the cuff, the next week the instructions were for the ankle part, and the most recent instructions were for turning the heel.

This pattern is far more complicated than anything I have ever attempted before, and I'm definitely not particularly talented with knitting needles, but I'm pretty proud of my progress so far.

There are knitters all over the world making the same sock pattern... neat idea, eh? I can hardly wait for Thursday to come round so I can get knitting again!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Polite Graffiti

Well, at least they didn't spray paint the wall.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright.....

A couple of young men broke into the Calgary Zoo yesterday. One of the men got badly mauled by the zoo's Siberian tiger.

Hospital officials said the man's wounds are "significant", but gave no further details.

The tiger said he tasted "G-R-R-R-R-EAT!"

Thankyou, CBC Radio, for that little joke.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

An Unexpected Visitor and a Sad End.

I thought I heard the back door to the garden (here) shut, but when I looked out, there was nobody there.

I assumed it must have been my neighbour's car door that I heard.

But when I went out to the driveway later, I was startled to find this.

He must have flown into the window in the door. I think it's a juvenile Red tailed hawk.

I called the kids next door over to look, as it's not often they'll see such a gorgeous bird so close.

But now, what to do with a large dead bird? I couldn't dump such a magnificent bird in the garbage, he deserved better than that, so I dug a hole and buried him in my back yard, under a little ornamental fir. Dust to dust ....

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh painted two series of still life paintings of sunflowers, in Paris in 1887 and in Arles in 1888.
I can't look at sunflowers without thinking of his paintings.

Sunflowers are such amazing creations.
Each giant flower head is made up of numerous tiny flowers crowded together, and these will eventually mature into the sunflower seeds. These little flowers are arranged in a mathematical spiral pattern, each oriented toward the next by approximately 137.5°. This produces a pattern of interconnecting spirals with 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other, the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head.

Sunflowers love the sun. And they're clever too.
When the sun comes up, the faces of most sunflowers are turned towards the east. Over the course of the day, the cheerful faces follow the sun from east to west, then at night they return to face the east, waiting for the sunrise.

And on top of all that, they're gorgeous.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Here's the challenge for today:

Add a caption to this picture.
A prize for the funniest, to be judged by the parents of these two little monkeys.
Not sure what the prize will be yet, but it will probably be some worthless priceless treasure unearthed during my recent de-cluttering rampage.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Decluttering Steps 4, 5 and 6

The Decluttering Project continues.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a giant yard sale in the driveway. I spent a week going through boxes and cupboards hauling out "stuff" that hadn't been used in years. Magazines, outdated computer games, toys, books, ornaments, picture frames, plus numerous boxes of school and university books and papers, you name it, I found it.
Both OlderSon and YoungerSon arrived with unwanted junk really useful items to dispose of, and we spent most of the previous day sorting, pricing and cleaning everything up, ready to get rid of it sell it to prospective customers.
Now that the kitchen renovation is complete, I've been replacing kitchen equipment so there were lots of kitchen items on offer.
We were out in the driveway setting up tables by 7:30am, and our first customer arrived soon after. Anything that didn't get sold by noon was divided into three categories:
  1. "stuff" to be donated to the local charity shop
  2. "stuff" to store for our grand 2010 yard sale (the whole street will take part I hope)
  3. "stuff" destined for the garbage. The garbage was the biggest pile!
By the end of the day the garbage pile included a large desk, 4 office chairs, a box spring mattress base, 4 big green garbage bags stuffed full, and 5 boxes of recyclable paper and cardboard.

Next phase of the Decluttering Project is well underway.
The sunroom that runs the width of the back of the house has needed some TLC for a long time. The indoor-outdoor carpet is old and stained and the furniture had seen better days, so I started emptying it out.

The white sofa in the picture is now sitting on the street ready to be picked up on garbage day, and will soon be joined by another old sofa, a rug, 8 rolls of old carpet and whatever else I can find to throw out.

I spent the last three days ripping up the carpet... ugh what a mess. The foam backing had stuck to the plywood floor so I had to scrape it all clean with a shovel.

Black dust flying everywhere, thank goodness for my face mask and the shopvac.

Next step is to repoint some of the bricks, wash down and paint the wall, install a new back doorstep (the existing wood is splitting), and decide whether to put down more carpet or tiles. Then it will need new light fixtures and some new furniture. (Update: wall was washed ready for painting and new light fixtures were installed today, yippee!)

I'm really enjoying this. The place has been a home for outdated clutter for far too long.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Misty Morning

Waking up to a misty morning on Minden Lake in August.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Oshawa Ribfest

I have attended my very first Ribfest! For those of you who have yet to have the pleasure, let me explain.
It's basically an excuse to congregate in a local park, drink beer, listen to eardrum popping rock music, and consume enormous quantities of BBQ pork ribs doused in spicy sauce, corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes and other gastromomic delights, while trying to avoid being covered with greasy fingerprints and spattered with sauce.

Ten teams of professional "ribbers" from Canada and the US compete for the top honours in both the ribs and sauce departments. And there are trophies to be won.... mostly with a little piggy on top.

Sorry, I didn't take any pics of the actual ribs.... we were too busy eating. Those ribs were MMM MMMM GOOD! Lots of finger licking going on, didn't want to waste any of that great taste. And we even sampled a deep fried Mars Bar.... it tastes way better than it looks.

Then of course, there's the midway. Callum went on one ride with his auntie but it was a bit too scary for him... but wait until next year, I'm sure he'll be a whole year braver! Isaac sensibly opted to stay safe and warm in his baby carriage.

Good times. (But not for the piggies).