Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Germ Alert!

This is me today. Except I don't have a cat, that's the only difference. Coughing, spluttering, sneezing, can't breathe. Better buy shares in Kleenex tissues, I'm getting through so much of it. I have a sore throat and my arms and legs hurt.
I think I'll snuggle down in my favourite chair in front of the fireplace and read my book. And sip on some hot honey and lemon drink.

Yes, you guessed, I'm feeling rather sorry for myself, as I HAVE A HORRIBLE COLD! I'll be back in 2015, germ free I hope.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Greetings of the Season

A selection of the lovely cards that have arrived in my mailbox over the past couple of weeks.... from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and England.

I`m wishing all my blogger friends around the world a safe and happy Holiday Season with your friends and family, whether you celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Quanzaa, or Solstice, or anything at all. Enjoy!
And Happy Blogging throughout 2015.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Farmer Christmas

Yes, that's right.... not Father Christmas, but Farmer Christmas!
Every year on the first Saturday in December the little country town of Schomberg, Ontario, closes off Main Street, charges everyone $5.00 (kids are free!) to pass the barriers, and holds it's annual Christmas Festival. 
There are jugglers, fire eaters, magicians, singers, and rock bands. Blazing fire barrels to stand next to, in order to keep warm on a frosty night. 
Food stalls, firemen offering free hot chocolate from the back of the fire truck, a craft show and sale, carol singers, a parade for the children in the afternoon, and when it gets dark, the main event that everyone is waiting for...... the Enormous Farm Equipment Christmas Parade!

The local farmers, and there are a lot of them, decorate their farm equipment with thousands, maybe millions, of lights. The bigger the farming machinery, the better!

This tractor and hay wagon had revolving reflectors installed under the equipment making fantastic coloured patterns on the road.

This one had lights that went round with the huge wheels. I have to wonder how they do that, without the wires getting all tangled up. Must be Christmas magic, I think.
Here's a short video of a couple of the floats.... the maniacal screaming is my grandson Callum. Sorry if he hurts your ears. He was very excited!

Finally the Great Man himself arrives riding on an enormous John Deere combine harvester. 
We'll definitely be going again next year..... the best Santa Claus Parade EVER!!!!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Totem Pole

Back in 2009, the McMichael Art Gallery located in Kleinburg, Ontario, commissioned a Totem Pole from Haida carver Don Yeomans. It's on permanent display in the entrance of the gallery.

This magnificent red cedar Totem Pole incorporates images of the Raven, the Eagle and the Frog and represents totems of the Haida people of North West British Columbia. But even though these are ancient symbols of the First Nations people, modern technology is also a part of contemporary life.

The Eagle is using his cell phone.
Don't leave home without your iPod.
And closer to the floor, the Frog is emailing someone on his laptop.... but sadly I didn't take a picture of him. There's a photo and a description of the Totem Pole here.

If you have 22 minutes to spare, this video shows the creation of the Totem Pole from bare red cedar log to the finished item. Yes, it's a long video, but well worth watching. Make sure you watch around the 4 minute mark when the enormous log is split into two.

And here the carver Don Yeomans talks about the creative process and the installation.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Shibagau Shard

Shibagau Shard is a single 27 ton boulder of pre-cambrian granite. It sits outside the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Shibagau Shard was created by Canadian sculptor Bill Vazan in 1989. Petroglyphs and drawn pictographs of the early First Nations people of Ontario have been inscribed using sandblasting. Stunning with a sprinkle of snow on it.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Michael Kaeshammer comes to Town

I`ve been a serial volunteer at my local theatre ever since the theatre opened about 5 years ago, taking tickets, showing people to their seats, making popcorn, selling CDs, picking up garbage, doing whatever's necessary. I get to meet lots of interesting people, and see all sorts of movies, shows and concerts. It`s only a tiny small town theatre as theatres go.... just over 150 seats when totally full, but it was sold out on Saturday for Michael Kaeshammer.

You`ve never heard of him? Check out this video. I chose a Christmas number, well, just because.

Michael Kaeshammer attacks the piano with a terrific enthusiasm, I was wondering if the piano stool would survive! His fingers are a blur most of the time, I didn't know anyone could play the piano like that!

He was accompanied by Paul on the guitar (amazing!) and a fantastic drummer (sorry, I can't remember his name). All three musicians worked off each other constantly with smiles and grins. They seemed to have a secret musical language between them that translated into a memorable musical evening of joyful boogie-woogie, jazz, R&B, classics and just about everything else.

And not only does he play an incendiary piano, he sings too. And he's very easy on the eyes!

After the concert and the CD signings.... a hug for the volunteers! Michael Kaeshammer is used to performing to huge audiences at much larger venues than our little theatre, I'm so glad he was here. Come back soon, Michael, that was an amazing concert.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


I've been dabbling with the paintbrushes again. I took another acrylics painting course with my art teacher, which I really enjoyed and felt I learned a lot, but sometimes there are so many things to remember when planning a painting that I get overwhelmed and all inspiration flies out of the window.

16"x20" This is the old Co-Operative grain elevator beside the railway tracks in town. It's been disused for at least 25 years, and I'm sure it will be demolished eventually, as it's considered a dangerous eyesore, but I think it's an important part of town history, reminding us of the days when the town's main business was farming. I'll be sad when it's torn down.

 12"x16" My instructor showed us a picture of a tangle of trunks, branches and twigs and said "Interpret this any way you want". This is tissue paper, acrylic and Sharpie. I think it needs more... maybe some smaller branches?

9"x12" A view of the little community of Selvage on the east coast of Newfoundland, although a Selvage resident may not recognise it! Those cone shapes are supposed to be piles of crab traps. This was a sketch done in preparation for the bigger painting below. As you can tell, I like bright colours.
16"x20" Definitely not finished yet, still a lot of work left to do. And the colours have not really photographed well. I keep doing a little bit, then stepping away and thinking about it. Still not sure if I like it, and not quite sure where this painting is going.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Newfoundland Dogs

These two bronzes commemorate the famous dog breeds of Newfoundland and Labrador....  the Labrador Retriever and the Newfoundland Dog. The 1.5 scale sculptures were created in cast bronze over a stainless steel frame by Luben Boykov in 2003.

These dogs stand in Harbourside Park in St Johns, and whenever I'm there, I have to visit them and rub their noses for luck. A second set of these doggy sculptures was completed by Boykov in 2008 and stand halfway up Signal Hill outside the Geo Centre.

The Newfoundlands ('Newfs' or 'Newfies') have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat and were originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen.  Newfoundland dogs excel at water rescue and lifesaving because of their muscular build, thick double coat, webbed feet, and innate swimming abilities.

But there's nothing better than the real thing..... these two sisters were taking their person for a walk on Signal Hill when I met them.  Their names are Jib and Mercedes.

Jib and Mercedes are well known characters in St Johns, as they greet all the cruise ships that arrive in the harbour. Friendly, soft to touch, lovely creatures, just as long as you don't mind lots of drool!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Back to the Rock

A few more views of the coastal communities of Newfoundland. And of course, Newfoundland is a rocky island surrounded by the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, so there's a lot of rugged coastline to photograph.

The landing stage at the community of Bauline, just to the north of St Johns. It was a sunny day, but really windy, with the sun sparkling on the choppy waves.

Bringing the fishing boat on shore for the night, away from the dangers of the waves.

Ferryland on the Southern Shore. There's been an archeological dig going on here for over twenty summers, uncovering one of the first attempts to build a settlement in Newfoundland. George Calvert, better known as Lord Baltimore, landed here in 1621 and founded the Colony of Avalon, close to rich fishing grounds. But Lady Baltimore wasn't happy.... it was cold, life in the colony was hard, and the Baltimore's moved south to found another colony in Maryland, which grew into the city of.... yes, you guessed it...  Baltimore.

Some of the foundations of the harbour and the walls of the houses and the cobblestone streets built in the 17th Century as the Colony of Avalon. When I first visited Ferryland in 1996, most of the site consisted of private houses and gardens which have now been purchased and removed, and the actual excavations are revealing a large settlement. An Interpretation Centre has been built where you can view all the finds... fascinating stuff!

Look closely and you'll see tiny white dots on this island. Sheep! The flock is ferried to the island in the spring and spends the summer grazing on the grasses, before being brought back to the mainland in the fall. No fences, no predators. And sheep hate swimming!

A perfect day by the ocean. No wonder I love visiting Newfoundland when I see views like this.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Frankly, my dear.... I don't give a damn!

It's the 75th Anniversary of David O. Selznick's 1939 classic movie Gone With The Wind, and the local Cineplex was showing the film on the big screen to commemorate the occasion.... WOW! What a great movie. I had never seen it before, or read the book, or even seen snippets of it on the telly. I always thought it had a happy ending, but apparently not!

The film started at 12:30 and goes on for 3 hours and 42 minutes with a very short intermission, so I took my lunch to the theatre.... a yummy raisin bun, some slices of cheese and a banana. No need to starve in the name of cinematic art. GWTW is the longest running movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and also walked away with awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress in 1940.

The lovely Vivien Leigh was not the first choice for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. 1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part, and 400 were asked to do readings. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood made screen tests, but the role eventually went to Vivien Leigh, who was at that time a comparatively unknown British actress. Vivien Leigh is in most scenes in the film. She worked for 125 days and received about $25,000. Clark Gable worked for only 71 days and received over $120,000. Double standards back then!

Some classic GWTW quotes:
Rhett Butler: [to Scarlett] Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing badly.
Scarlett: You low-down, cowardly, nasty thing you! They were right! Everybody was right! You - You aren't a gentleman.
Mammy: Jes' get them britches in the boilin' pot!
Prissy: Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies.
Mammy: It ain't fittin'... it ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'... It ain't fittin'.
Scarlett: After all... tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Flatrock - Newfoundland

It was the first day of the recreational groundfish fishery, which is a limited length of time when the public can fish for their own use, with a daily bag limit of five groundfish per day (including cod) and a maximum boat limit of 15 fish when three or more people are fishing. 
Inshore commercial cod fishery is still under a moratorium, to increase the cod stocks after years of overfishing.

It was a rare sunny day,  so we took a trip to the community of Flatrock, just north of St Johns. Flatrock is a pretty little village, with yes, you guessed it.... a lot of flat rocks, although the rock in this picture doesn't look very flat! You can read Flatrock's colourful history here

This gentleman was planning to go out and catch a few fish for supper, so he spent about 20 minutes preparing his boat and getting his fishing lines ready.

 Not a view of his best side... but he probably won't read this, but just in case he does.... I'm sorry!

Off he goes, out into the harbour. I wished him good luck. Nothing like fresh fish straight out of the ocean for a tasty supper.

More pictures of Newfoundland to come.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Fine Dining on The Rock

If you are lucky enough to take a trip to Newfoundland, you have a taste treat coming to you.  Some of these traditional foods are definitely an acquired taste..... so I'm not actually recommending them.... just saying....

Traditional Jiggs Dinner. Consists of salt beef, potato, turnip, carrot, cabbage, and peas pudding. A few years ago, OlderSon and I went to a Sunday Jiggs Dinner at the Irving gas station cafe in the Donovan's Industrial Estate. A gas station restaurant doesn't sound like the perfect location for fine dining, but there were people lined up outside for their Jiggs Dinner, and very good it was too! As they say in Newfoundland, some fine scoff, b'y!

Seal Flipper Pie. I haven't actually sampled a seal flipper pie, but maybe one day, when I get very very brave. Or very very hungry. I think it would taste really fishy.

Cod Tongues. These are not actually tongues, but are a small muscle from the neck of the cod. Usually breaded, then fried in pork fat with cubes of salt pork. I've eaten them..... but once was enough.

Salt Cod Vins. I have to admit I don't have a clue what this is, or how it is cooked. It looks like fins and tails and bits of cartilage, all the leftover bits after preparing the cods tongues and the flipper pie. Maybe for soup? I think I'll pass on this one.

 Ginger blueberry cake with brown sugar sauce. Now this looks a lot nicer. This was dessert when we stopped for lunch in Brigus. Highly recommended!

And now the dish that Newfoundland does best.... Cod and chips, the fish straight from the ocean. We went into the little restaurant on the harbour at St. Philips just to get a coffee, but the aroma of fish'n'chips proved too much to bear, so we stayed for supper.  Delightful.... especially with this view of Conception Bay from our table.

More pictures of Newfoundland to come.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

City of St John's - Newfoundland

The City of St. John's was incorporated in 1921, but it's one of the oldest settlements in North America.  St. John's got its name when Venetian explorer John Cabot (or Giovanni Caboto to give him his proper name) sailed into the harbour in the morning of June 24, 1494, the feast day of John the Baptist. English fishermen crossed the Atlantic to fish in these waters throughout the 1500s, and a permanent colony was established in the 1630s.

The Cabot Tower is a landmark in St. John's, standing high on Signal Hill at the entrance to the harbour. Construction of this stone tower began in 1898 and completed in 1900. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message here, and a ham radio station operates there today.

There's a gift shop on the main floor, the ham radio station and a display about Marconi up the very narrow twisty stairs, and even more narrow twisty stairs up to the roof. Just don't go out there in a high wind, you'll never get the door open!

The view of the city from Signal Hill. The two stone towers in the centre are the Basilica of St John the Baptist, construction started in 1839, and the Basilica was finally consecrated in 1855.  The large house shaped building on the top left corner is The Rooms which opened in 2005, and houses the Museum, the Provincial archives, and the Provincial Art Gallery. I described a previous visit here.
When The Rooms was first under construction, I thought it was the ugliest building I'd ever seen, but I like it now.... especially inside. But that's another post....

St. John's Court House, built in 1901 of local granite and sandstone. The steps to the right connect Water Street and Duckworth Street, and are on a site that was once a produce market and a public gallows. Not to worry..... Newfoundland's last public hanging occurred there in January 1835, when John Flood was hung for robbing the St. John's-Portugal Cove stagecoach. Crime definitely does not pay!

One of my greatest pleasures is to wander around the streets of St. John's, browsing my way through tourist trap shops and walking up and down some of the extremely steep streets, which are lined with colourful wooden houses, like these. Stopping for a coffee at the local Timmy's and watching the people go by. My idea of fun!

More to come about Newfoundland.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Brigus, Newfoundland 2

A few more memories of a visit to the small fishing community of Brigus.

St. George's Heritage Church was constructed in the Gothic Revival style in 1876. It was built of wood by the men of Brigus. Significant interior features include the open gable beam and timber ceilings, plastered walls and the fact that it is in nearly original condition with only a few additions. It's a landmark in Brigus, both from the land and sea, and became a Registered Heritage Building in 2004.

Visitors to the church can see the beautifully carved altar, pulpit, choir pews and frontals, communion rail and pews (all made of pine) and the christening font, all of which are original to the building. I have no idea why the gateposts and gates are painted bright red. But I like it!

Hawthorne Cottage was the home of Captain Bob Bartlett, who commanded more than twenty Arctic expeditions. Captain Bartlett accompanied American Commander Robert Edwin Peary to the North Pole in 1909, and again in 1914.  During the Canadian Arctic expedition of 1913-18 under Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Captain Bartlett walked 700 miles across Arctic ice and down the Siberian coast to save 14 people on the ill-fated Karluk from certain death.

The quiet streets of Brigus are lined with charming colourful houses and secret gardens. I love the oil tank in this picture!

More pictures of the picturesque communities of Newfoundland still to come.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Brigus, Newfoundland 1

A sunny day deserves a road trip, so we headed to the small fishing community of Brigus on Conception Bay.

Brigus was fist settled around 1612 when the Spracklin family acquired the harbour. The first settlers came from England, Ireland and Wales. This day was warm and sunny, but the early settlers must have had quite a shock when they encountered their first Newfoundland winter weather!

The people of Brigus traditionally made their living from the sea, but tourism is probably the main business these days, especially during the four day Blueberry Festival every August. Luckily, I missed that.... I think Brigus is a lot prettier without the crowds.

New buildings are springing up beside the old, and the distinctive character and design is being honoured. No two buildings are the same colour.

Some of the fishing boats lined up in the tiny harbour. Since 1992, there has been a moratorium on commercial cod fishing due to declining cod stocks in the North Atlantic, and many fishermen have lost their livelihood. Some personal fishing for cod is still allowed on certain licensed dates, but the main catch now is crab, shrimp and other shellfish.

More about Newfoundland to come - stay tuned.