Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Naughty or Nice?

Santa Claus has been taking a short break from supervising the elves in the toy workshop.
He's arrived a couple of weeks early so he can be part of the rehearsals for our annual Christmas Variety show.
Looks like he's having a great time. Ssshhh! I hope Mrs Claus doesn't find out.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Black Friday

I had never heard of Black Friday until a few years ago. It's an American shopping frenzy that takes place on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving Thursday. From what I saw on the TV news tonight, it's not only for shopping.... throw in a couple of riots, scuffles with police on the store floor, and gunshots fired in crowded parking lots.
Black Friday has crossed the border into Canada, even though our Thanksgiving was seven weeks ago. And we're a lot less frantic than our American cousins.
We line up politely waiting for the stores to open.
We hold the door open for the customers coming in behind us.
And we apologise if we grab the same item as someone else. It's the Canadian way.
I thought I'd check out the local mall.
Although the parking lot was full, the mall seemed relatively empty, until I went into some of the stores and had to join a long queue to reach the cashier.
Good old Santa seemed a bit lonely sitting in his oversized chair. But it's early days yet.... still a couple of days until December starts. I wonder what's in those ginormous prezzies.
Christmas decorations everywhere.
Except in my house.
For me, real Christmas doesn't begin until the week before the big day and that's when I put the tree up. OlderSon says I'm a Grinch. I think he already has his house decorated. The Hallowe'en stuff comes down and the Christmas stuff goes up. But I don't want to be reminded of Christmas in my house every day for a month or more, it's bad enough when I go shopping! Bah, Humbug!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Jully Black

I've been doing some more volunteering at the theatre, and this time the concert was Jully Black. OK.... if you don't live in Canada her name may not be familiar, but if she and her band ever come to your town, definitely go and see her! Don't miss it.

Born the youngest of nine children in the notorious Jane and Finch neighbourhood in Toronto, Jully started singing in church when she was little. She's been part of the Canadian R&B music scene for a few years now.... and she is nothing short of DYNAMIC! She performed with a 4 piece band, and a couple of crazy hiphop dancers. As soon as those hiphop guys hit the stage, I knew we were in for a wild night.

Jully performed at the opening of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, opened for Kanye West in Singapore, headlined the Canada Day concert in Trafalgar Square, London, and has sung at a private event for the Queen.
Her show here was sold out, and the crowd were very appreciative, dancing along with her and making the rafters shake with whistles and cheering. The show was ultra-high energy, the best concert I've ever been at, and as our modest little theatre seats only about 150 people maximum, it's a very intimate venue. The audience is very close to the performers.... you can see every bead of sweat!

After the show.... me and my new friend!!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Seven Years (and three days)!

I've just noticed that I missed my Blogiversary! Oh No! I've been scribbling my thoughts and posting my photos on the blog for seven years (and three days). How the time flies. When I started, I really had no idea what a blog actually was. Since then bloggers have come and gone, and new bloggers have arrived, and I've been exchanging comments with some of you wonderful people since the beginning.

My life has changed a lot during those seven years (and three days).  I sold my big house and downsized to a smaller one. I've gained a couple of lovely daughters, and became a proud Nana when four energetic little people joined the family.

During those seven years (and three days) there have been over 37,000 page views, 656 blog posts, no idea how many photos, well over 10,000 comments, and I've probably made the same amount of comments on other people's blogs. I've made blog friends all over the world, and have even met one of my bloggers in person.... sadly passed away now. R.I.P. Brian. I miss your news from the North.
I haven't been a very good blogger recently.... life gets very busy.... but I aim to continue, so watch this space!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Apple Pie

MMM... I love apple pie!  Fresh out of the oven.

Makes the kitchen smell so good.
And it makes me forget what's going on outside......
..... the first snow flurry of the winter!
All melted now, but it won't be long before it will be a winter wonderland out there. 
Now, where did I put my winter boots?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day

On November 11th, we remember those who lost their lives during war. And we pray that our children and our grandchildren will never have to go though another conflict.

In May 2000, the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in the First World War were repatriated from France and, with great ceremony, were buried in a special tomb in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada. This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who scrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom. The Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts - past, present and future.

The project began several years ago at the instigation of The Royal Canadian Legion who developed the idea as a Millennium Project, and it was taken up by the Canadian Government under the lead of Veterans Affairs Canada.

Reprinted from November 2013 Community Report by Paul Calandra, M.P.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Get Your Sunglasses!

Some more pics of D's masterpiece of a car. Would you be willing to drive a car like this down your street? Or would you grab a wig and dark glasses?

The hood painted by D's family, showing all 17 members of her family including the 2 cats. She can list each individual stick person by name, and tell you what they are doing......

The roof...... better not break the speed limit or the police helicopter will get you for sure!

Playing in the leaves in the playground, painted by 2 little girls. I'm glad they labelled the shed. But what's the big black thing in the middle????

For more pictures of this automotive masterpiece, see previous post.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Eyecatching Ride

My good friend D wanted to get her boring dark blue 12 year old car repainted a brighter colour, but that's an expensive proposition, so she hit upon the idea of getting her friends and family to paint it and make some cash for the local Food Bank at the same time. Brilliant!

She sold off all the parts of the car.... $200 for a fender, $200 for the roof and trunk, $250 for the hood, $100 for a bumper, $50 for a wheel hub, etc, etc. Five of us decided to share the left front fender and one sunny September day we arrived ready to create a masterpiece. Automotive paint was donated by a local car repair business and brushes and prep materials donated by a local hardware store.

This is what we did:

L - R just the blue bit: "Kilroy Was Here", a moose to represent the Canadians in our paint group, the logo for the Triangle Square Square Dance Club, The English Rose and the Scottish Thistle either side of a Celtic knot representing our Scottish Country Dance group, a bass clef and some dragonflies. Quite a mixture! Someone else did the bumper and the wheel.

The whole car.... not quite finished:

D has raised over $3000 for the Food Bank, and now she's starting to sell off the interior! More details to come........

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Ashley MacIsaac

I have mentioned that I volunteer at the local theatre..... and yesterday I was taking tickets and showing people to their seats for a concert by Canadian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac.
Never heard of him?
He's a Cape Breton fiddler who started his career about 20 years ago and quickly became the notorious bad boy of the Canadian music scene with his outrageous behaviour, his brush with cocaine addiction and eventual bankruptcy. But he's back performing concerts and he's truly amazing.... sold out theatre and two standing ovations.

I sold CDs for him at the intermission and after the show. He signed my well used copy of the first (and best IMHO!) CD he ever made (20 years ago), and gave me copies of his 2 most recent CDs. I'll be playing them today. A great evening.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Bike Ride Anyone?

Spotted outside a trendy gift shop on Main Street....

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Resuming Normal Service....

Somehow I have been neglecting this blog recently, not sure why, lack of time and ambition probably, but I'm determined to get back in the blogging groove.
Older Son was complaining about my sad lack of blog posts so here's one about him!

Older Son plays in his local Old Timers Softball League. A couple of times a week he's on the baseball diamond with his "Over the Hill" buddies. The season always ends with a weekend tournament, and this year they brought home the trophy! Woohoo!

So they weren't quite as "Over the Hill" as they thought they were. Older Son in front row, he's the handsome one.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Five years ago this 100 year old building became the town's arts and culture centre, and is now known as "Nineteen on the Park". House number is 19, and there's a park right behind it...... so it makes sense.

It has been many things in the past: a garage, a cinema, a market hall, and most recently the Town Offices housing the office of the Mayor and Town Councillors.

Now it's home to concerts, movies, conferences, trade shows, craft sales, art exhibitions, even wedding receptions. My grandson's nursery school held its "graduation" there in June. My theatre group holds its Christmas show there in December. And I'm one of the many volunteers who take tickets, sell the popcorn, show people to their seats and help clean up afterwards. And the best thing about volunteering here is that I see the concert too!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Moonlight Madness

Yesterday my small town held it's annual Moonlight Madness event on Main Street. The street is closed to traffic and all the clubs and associations in town have an information booth..... e.g.: Guides, Scouts, Tai chi, Lions Club, Museum, Choirs, Recreation centre and many more.
All the stores and restaurants stay open later than usual and there are bargains to be had.
The flower shop gave out a long stemmed carnation to all the ladies.
And antique and classic cars are invited to line up on the other side of the street.

This was the perfect opportunity to try out the "low light' setting on the camera. It was getting quite dark when I took the picture of the Chevy at the top.... no need for a flash.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Rat Rod

I went to an antique and classic car show this weekend... lots of beautifully restored old cars, fancy hot rods costing thousands, lots of "as is" cars, and one "rat rod".

The body had been left as it was found in the barn, rusty and blemished, but the engine had been restored and was in pristine condition, probably cleaner that when this old banger was brand new.
I loved the license plate.
It certainly saves on expensive body work and paint jobs.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

It's a Bug's Life

Just resting on the green tomatoes.

 But I have no idea what kind of bug he is.

Friday, 2 August 2013


Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way.....     

Joni Mitchell

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I recently enjoyed a bus trip to Cambridge.... no, not the one in England, the one in Ontario.
"Twilight" - Andreas Gehr

The pretty city of Cambridge is made up of a number of separate communities, Galt, Preston, Hespeler and Blair. It's located on the Grand River and there some lovely old buildings and churches in it's city centre.

After a leisurely wander through the extensive Southworks Outlet Mall (no worries, I managed to stop myself from buying anything I didn't need in spite of the temptation to spend megabucks) and a lunch of a homemade peanut butter sandwich, we walked across the road to the Sculpture Gardens on the banks of the Grand River.

"Twilight" was commissioned from Swiss born artist Andreas Gehr by the Toronto Harbourfront Art Gallery in 1984. In 1985 it was part of a sculpture exhibition in Cambridge and was moved here in 2000.

The small holes have been taken over by birds nests.... maybe that was the original idea.... who knows?                                  
"Silver Key" - Dave Hind
 "Silver Key" is the product of Hamilton artist, musician and metalworker Dave Hind. A giant maple key

He uses reclaims materials in his work, and focuses on the interaction of industrial and natural processes that recur in the materials and images that he explores.

This sculpture was installed in the Sculpture Gardens in 2010.

And  it wasn't only sculptures to be admired, there was the garden part too. Colourful blooms everywhere including this lovely day lily.

Neil Aitchison as RCMP Constable Archibald Finkster

Then it was time for an afternoon at the brand new Dunfield Theatre. We saw a show called "Sorry ... I'm Canadian".

Do Canadians really say "Sorry" a lot?  The show said we do!

RCMP Constable Finkster was the Master of Ceremonies, telling lots of off-colour jokes with a Canadian theme.... but nothing too offensive of course!
And the wonderful Ballagh family of 2 brothers and 2 sisters (and at the end of the show joined by their mum) entertained us with amazing fiddle music and stepdancing.... very Canadian!

All the Provinces and Territories of Canada coast to coast to coast were represented in song, in both official languages. Now you can't get much more Canadian that that!
Dinner was at the beautifully restored Cambridge Mill.... a wonderful location affording a great view looking across the Grand River. And the dinner was definitely yummy. Pan seared trout and potatoes and veggies and chocolate torte to follow. Mmmmmm.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Hell's Angels Biker Gang

One in the front, two in the back! Speed demons tearing up the sidewalk.... so watch out!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Camera Never Lies.....

.... or does it?
Last year my lovely family gave me a new Canon point-and-shoot camera for my birthday. A bit more complicated than my previous ancient Nikon. There's a printed user guide with the camera to describe basic functions... turning it on and off, using the flash etc, but anything more complicated was on the accompanying disk.
I wish they wouldn't do that!

So I decided it was time to investigate what this little camera is capable of.... and I had a lot of fun pressing buttons and finding out.

Top picture is a bright orange gerbera daisy that flourishes in a flowerpot on my back deck.
I discovered that I can change the colour to whatever I fancy by some simple actions.... blue, yellow, pink.... all the same flower!

So the camera does lie, after all! Or is it magic???

Monday, 15 July 2013

Foster Fridays

As you drive north on a quiet country road not far from here, hidden among the farms and barns and the fields full of wheat and corn, you come across a unique sight.
What? The Taj Mahal? I thought we were in Ontario!
Yes, we're still in Ontario... and yes, it looks like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal.

It's the Thomas Foster Memorial.

Thomas Foster (1842-1945) served as the Mayor of Toronto from 1925 to 1927. After a trip to India in his late seventies and visiting the Taj Mahal, he was inspired to build a memorial in his boyhood community of Leaskdale. The building was erected in 1935-36 and cost $250,000.... a ton of money in the 1930s.
It contains 3 crypts for Foster, his wife and his daughter Ruby, who died at the age of 10.

During his time as Mayor of Toronto, Foster held a competition to find the woman who could produce the most children in a 10 year time span. He wrote:

As I approve of large families as such and desire to extend some benefit to the mothers of such families, I direct my trustees to set aside a fund which, with interest, will provide the sum of $2,500 at the end of each of 4 – 10 year periods, the first commencing at my death, the second three years after my death, the third six years after my death and the fourth nine years after my death, the will reads:

The money is to be distributed among mothers living in Toronto for at least one year prior to the start of each period, who have given birth “in lawful wedlock to the children during the 10-year period in question.” The mother giving birth to the largest number of children is to receive $1,250. Second prize is $800 and third prize is $450 in each of the four periods.

Included in the many bequests in Thomas Foster's will were funds

  • to feed Toronto birds in winter
  • for needy newsboys in Toronto
  • to plant trees to beautify roads leading to Toronto
  • for charwomen who cleaned buildings in downtown Toronto
  • to provide a 45 foot flagpole for the Central Technical School
  • for the Salvation Army to repair and maintain their musical instruments
  • to apprehend poachers around Toronto
  • for an annual inner-city school picnic
  • for cancer research
  • for the Leaskdale Sunday School
  • to maintain the Memorial.
The Foster Memorial is open to the public during July and August, and every Friday evening there's a pay-what-you-can concert featuring local musicians and singers.... concerts known as Foster Fridays.
Mike Burns and Bruce McNeil.

Sometime's it's R&B, or maybe jazz, or barbershop, or fiddle music ... even opera, and in a couple of weeks there will be a guitarist and a belly dancer on the program. 
All donations go towards fixing the leaky 77 year old roof. I think Thomas Foster would be pleased.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

39 Varieties

On my way to OlderSon's house, I pass this building. Usually traffic is too busy for me to stop, and I sail by. But this time I decided to pull over and have a closer look.
I love the subtle faded colours and the peeling paint and the general dilapidated appearance. This is still a working farm, but no longer in use as a Farmer's Market. 39 varieties? I wish it was still open.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Strawberry Season

The end of June to the first couple of weeks of July means strawberries. And the area where I live has lots of strawberries to offer. Pick your own or ready picked.
For the past 20 years or more, the town has held a Strawberry Festival that happens on the Canada Day July 1 weekend. Jam competitions, strawberry pie competitions, a Strawberry Parade, concerts, fireworks, and Main Street is closed for whole day, lined with booths and entertainment. This year was no exception.... probably 20,000 people showed up to enjoy the day!

Meanwhile, I got my strawberry jam inspiration back after a couple of seasons of no jam making. First a couple of flats of fruit from one of our local farms.
 Then clean them, take the leaves off and squish them with a potato masher in my special jam bucket. The fruit was really juicy this year, probably because we've had lots of rain.
And then a couple of hours spent washing jars, warming the jars in the oven, stirring sugar and strawberries on a hot stove until just the right consistency, and here's the end result.

Enough to make the sweet taste of strawberries last all winter. YoungerSon and family have already finished off one jar, and are asking for another one!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Canada Day 2013

On July 1, Canada's 146th birthday was celebrated in style all over this great land.... and for me the celebration consisted of the whole family getting together at OlderSon's country estate that he laughingly calls "The Compound" (a modest bungalow on 2 acres just outside town) for games, conversation, fireworks and a BBQ. The two boys loved driving the Gator and then riding in the trailer behind the garden tractor when cutting the grass in "the back forty", but the twins preferred to keep their feet firmly on the ground, howling loudly when offered a ride. They'll be braver next year. I took some pics but my camera has disappeared. The search is on.

Update: Camera is found! It was in the last place I looked!!!! So now I can post a picture.

Multitasking.... cutting the grass and keeping two energetic little boys (ooops I meant BIG boys) entertained and safe at the same time.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Back Yard Barbershop

Big Boy Haircut
Little Boy Haircut

Next in line for the beauty treatment..... Tessa the Golden Doodle. Just kidding!

Monday, 24 June 2013

North Challacombe Farm

I've been taking a couple of acrylic painting courses, and sadly they have now finished for the summer. I've really enjoyed meeting up twice a week with all the other participants and exchanging ideas with them. Everyone had a different style of painting, and our teacher was so encouraging. I'm sure even if you produced the worst painting he had ever seen, he would always find something good to say about it!

This is a farm scene near where I grew up in England. I found an old photo of the farm that had been posted on the internet. I should think this farm has stood at the base of the moors for close to 200 years.

First I blocked in all the basic shapes, and then started to add more colours and more details. It had numerous changes over a few weeks. The farmhouse changed colour about five times. It's called artistic licence!  In fact the greenish house you see in the framed version is now a lighter grey, giving more of a focal point.

The green detail in the foreground is pages torn from the 2013 Niagara Falls Tourist Guide.... the colours were just right!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Pipe Dream

YoungerSon has recently been building furniture using black iron pipe and plumbing fittings and recycled wood.

So far he has built a curtain rail, a coffee table and a bench, and they really look good... sort of "Industrial Domestic".

I saw this bedside lamp at a street fair in a nearby town. All made of plumbing fittings. It had been made by a local welder for his teenage son's bedroom. He was also building a bed and some bedroom furniture along the same lines.

I really liked the lamp so I'll show YoungerSon and perhaps he might like to try his hand at building his version of the same design.

Would you have a lamp like this in your house?