Saturday, 31 December 2016

Moving On

Well, twentysixteen is on the way out. All in all it wasn't a terrific year for the world.... so much political unrest, terrible war in Syria, destruction of Aleppo, Isis, closer to home was the fire destroying much of Fort MacMurray. The caustic election surprise of Mr Trump, with possible assistance from Mr Putin, if we are to believe the news. The unexpected shock of Brexit. Loss of so many global figures in the arts world: Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher, and then Debbie Reynolds.

On a personal level, there have been sad times, funerals to attend, hospitals to visit, but I have much to be thankful for. Successful hip replacement surgery, completely recovered now and better than new. A wonderful summer cottage holiday with my family. My four beloved grandchildren are happy and healthy and growing like weeds! Friends to visit. Theatre trips with the local seniors club. Line dance classes, My lovely art group.

Twentyseventeen.... WOW! Lots to look forward to this year. I don't usually make the traditional New Year Resolutions, but if I do, I don't tell anyone, just in case I can't follow through!
But here's my list of Hopes and Possibilities.....
  1. Wedding plans in June for J and Kthe Bride's lovely sister and her handsome fiance. I'm so excited about this!
  2. Get back to volunteering at the theatre. I stopped after hip surgery, but I'm ready to start again.
  3. Leave the car in the garage and walk more. Again..... hip surgery stopped me for a while.
  4. Blog more. Even though blogging seems to be losing out to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
  5. Spending lots of creative time with my growing grandchildren. A Dinner Date with Nana once a week.... they take it in turns. "Is it my turn yet?"
  6. Art. Loosen up! Forget the details. Splash paint around. Go crazy. Experiment!
  7. Iceland. I've wanted to go there for ages. Perhaps this is the year?
  8. New friends. New activities. New discoveries. 

May 2017 be good to you, bringing Good Health, Happiness, Shelter and Sustenance. And Love and Caring and Companionship and Peace.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Collage Blue

It's cold outside.... no icebergs in sight this far from the ocean, so I made my own......

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Collage Yellow

Yellow is such a sunshiney colour, and I needed some cheering up.....

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Collage Red

I'm messing about cutting pictures from magazines and pasting them into my sketch book...

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

No Smoking

Definitely NO SMOKING here!

Schell Lumber has been the local centre for providing building supplies and equipment to commercial construction companies and eager home do-it-yourselfers since 1922 when Wesley Schell purchased the property then owned by The Canada Bee Supply Company.
Wesley Schell's sons Harry and Percy started helping out in the 1940s, and ran the business until 2002. The next generation of Schells is now in charge, with a fourth generation of the Schell family as employees.

The main brick building is over 100 years old. Many pairs of boots have clumped up these stairs to the Sash and Door Shop above the main store where a variety of antique milling machines can reproduce practically any type of molding, dovetailing, cornices, crown molding, mortise and tenon window frames etc.... you name it, Schell Lumber can make it for you.

And just in case you didn't see the NO SMOKING sign, here's the heart of the very necessary sprinkler system. For some reason I really like complicated piping..... must be all those years I spent designing natural gas pipelines!

Friday, 25 November 2016

What Am I Bid?

If you want a couple of hours of free entertainment, just come to one of the local country auctions. It's great for my favourite hobby of "people watching" and you might score a bargain at the same time.

The auctions are held in the local Community Centre, usually on a long holiday weekend, like Easter or Thanksgiving. Notice goes out in the newspaper, and interested buyers come long distances to take a risk and spend their money.

I occasionally find something I really want, and bid on it, not always successfully I admit, but this time everyone was outbid by a couple of  buyers who were intent on clearing all the tables, and other bidders just didn't get a chance. I watched one of the men make notes in his notebook after each successful bid.... in Arabic. I was amazed at the different items they bought.... furniture, pictures, books, antiques, junk. Perhaps they were opening a store???

See anything you might have bid on? Too late, it's all gone.... sorry. See you at the next auction.

Saturday, 19 November 2016


It's known as T.O. Short for Toronto, Ontario. The Big Bad City.

I was in Toronto recently, visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario to view the current exhibition "Mystical Landscapes". Paintings by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edvard Munch, Paul Gaugin, James McNeil Whistler, Emily Carr, many more. Wonderful exhibition! Paintings by 37 artists from 14 countries, exploring the mystical experiences of a spiritual path to faith.
On the way, I stopped at Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall to admire the TORONTO sign. It was first put up for the Commonwealth Games held in Toronto in the summer of 2015, and was so popular that it's still there.

And I stopped on my way back too.... it lights up at night. And the colours are always changing.

After an exhausting afternoon admiring the works of Monet and Van Gogh and their painter friends, I was close to starving.... so there's nothing better than a bacon and cheese sausage on a bun, smothered with lots of onions and pickles and hot sauce from one of the street vendors on Queen Street. I sat on a bench and munched my sausage and watched the people climbing all over the TORONTO sign.

Then I caught the train home!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Leonard Cohen

No words, just my tribute to a beloved novelist, poet, songwriter, recording artist, performer and above all a great Canadian.
Sorry Leonard, I know it's not the best likeness.

Friday, 11 November 2016


Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McRae wrote this poem on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who died in the gun positions near Ypres.

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The poem has been set to music many times, but this is my favourite version.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Fun Art

My Art Group likes to try different crazy things. You get stale without innovation. Last month we tried painting on pre-printed fabric and changing it to something totally different. I found a sample of terribly boring upholstery fabric, stapled it to a used rubbish 12"x16" canvas (a painting of tulips that resembled lollipops), slapped some gesso on, and started painting.

Here's the Before Version, horrible isn't it:

And here's the After Version:
Fun to do, but I can guarantee that this masterpiece will never be hung on a wall anywhere!

Last week we tried stamping with leaves and painting with twigs and seedpods. Rather messy and a total waste of paper and paint, but definitely fun. Rather like going back to those happy days spent with Miss Goss in the babies class at Primary School. This is one of the cleanest pages of the sketchbook.

Next week we are trying Tie Dye.... that should be even messier!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Oh What a Night!

Back on a rainy day in September I went on a bus trip with my friend Ms VS to the Walters Dinner Theatre in Bright, near Woodstock, Ontario. After a yummy buffet lunch of roast turkey and dressing and spuds and veg and cranberry sauce, with apple crisp to follow, we saw "Oh What a Night", a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, supposedly direct from Las Vegas. 
I'm never quite sure about those tribute shows. It seems they are trying to make a buck copying performers from the past, and never quite replicate the original, but this show was really good. An assortment of different performers present this show in many locations, but the cast featured here were talented and acted and sounded just as amazing as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons back in the 60s and 70s.
Do you remember Walk Like a Man, Oh What a Night, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, My Eyes Adored You, Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry.....

And of course, we both took advantage of the inevitable photo op after the show.

The youngest member of the group was awesome... he was the son of the tall chap on the right..... the one who reminds me so much of Donny Osmond.

BTW, in case you need to know, Frankie Valli was born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio in New Jersey in 1934, and is still touring with the Four Seasons. Tommy DeVito, Frankie Valli, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Scary? You Bet!

Hallowe'en Night doesn't get any scarier than this!

My eyes still hurt from looking at all those glowing pumpkins.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Ghostly Doodles

Grab a Ghost Pumpkin at the local roadside veg stand, your coloured markers, start doodling and you get this..... no, I didn't create the decorations and I'm not sure who did. This pumpkin was on the counter at our weekly Art session last week.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Persian Bakery

A visit to the Richmond Hill Persian Bakery is quite an education.... and believe me, these breads are delicious. I drop in there when I shop at the nearby art supplies store.

This is Barbari bread, thick flat bread made with whole wheat flour or white flour, with either white or black sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The bread is usually between 70cm to 80cm long, and 25cm to 30cm wide.  It is the most common style baked in Iran. It is served in restaurants with Lighvan cheese of ewe's milk, similar to feta cheese. Good dipped in soup too!

This is Sangak bread, baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven.  Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army. It is mentioned for the first time in the 11th century. Each soldier carried a small quantity of pebbles which at camp were brought together with the "sangak oven" and used to cook the bread for the entire army.
This bread was too big to take home, so it was cut into more manageable chunks. Great popped into the toaster!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Painted Ladies

Well, I don't know if they are ladies at all, but they are wearing their beautiful autumn colours.... and these photos were taken on dull showery days. So much brighter in the sunshine.

In the bottom left corner, a sign indicating our annual Artist Studio Tour. I've been invited to participate in the Tour in 2017..... I'd better get painting!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Diving Giraffes

High Diving Giraffes.... who knew giraffes were so athletically talented?
I'm not usually keen on sharing YouTube videos but this one caused me to have a huge smile on my face! Enjoy it.
(Remember to watch right to the end after the titles go by.)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Urban Sprawl?

The view towards the south perimeter of my small country town.
Well, it used to be a small country town, but as Bob Dylan notes, "the times, they are a'changin'".
Look carefully at the horizon. So many houses that they are impossible to count. And all built in the previous four or five years. All built on prime Ontario farmland that up until very recently was producing food for people and animals. Now covered in unforgiving concrete.

This area's most productive farmland is under threat of being swallowed up by unsustainable growth. And I wonder how long it will be before this active farm will be a target of increasing pressure from developers. Perhaps it already is. More and more people are moving into the region each year, and they all have to live somewhere. What's the answer?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Circle of Life

Bracket fungus or shelf fungus, also known as a polypore.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Prancing Palfreys

No doubt about the focus of this farm.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Changing Colours

Even though we haven't had an overnight frost yet, the colours in the trees are starting to change.

The yellows and oranges are starting to show, but with below freezing temperatures expected tonight, we'll soon be seeing the vivid reds of the maples.

The Eldred King Tract area of York Region Forest was full of walkers and their dogs and even some horses today. Many families were foraging for edible mushrooms, and all were enjoying the mild weather before going home to their Canadian Thanksgiving turkey dinners.
I walked from the parking area all the way to the pond and back, using my walking stick as the ground is pretty uneven. The new hip is working pretty well these days!

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


A final day at the beach at the end of the summer.... it looks like we were the only people there but actually it was quite crowded.

Sibbald Point Provincial Park on the south shore of Lake Simcoe is less than an hour's drive away from home, which means the beach is usually pretty busy in the summer. We take a picnic, stake a claim on one of the shaded picnic tables under the trees, unload all the plastic buckets and shovels, and they start to dig.

Friday, 30 September 2016

High and Dry

Someone pulled the plug of the swimming hole. Or perhaps someone forgot to pay the water bill?

Nothing as drastic as that. The town pool has been closed for it's annual 3 week makeover and maintenance shutdown. Just when I felt confident enough to start going to the aquafit classes too.
This week the water went back in and all the water activities started up again.
This indoor pool has been in use for about 12 years, replacing an outdoor pool built in the 1950s. And it's well used, with swimming lessons for all ages, an active competitive swim club, therapy jets pool, and leisure swim times.
A great place to spend some time in the middle of the winter, swimming in the warmth and watching the snowflakes fall outside!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Eckhardt's Corners

The original Eckhardt family probably arrived to set up home in Ontario in the early 1800s, although I haven't found any written proof of this. They may have come from Pennsylvania, as many Mennonite settlers did. If anyone has Eckhardt history, let me know! Some of them rest in the local graveyard.
This corner was first settled by an Eckhardt family member, I don't know who, but was owned by Sam Burkholder from 1853 to 1904. He built this building, which operated as a garage and a store. It's been empty for some time. And ugly new houses are going up all around it, chewing up some of Ontario's best farmland. 
So I decided to record the building at Eckardt's Corners before it disappears, like so many forgotten buildings that nobody has use for any more.

It's not a pretty building, but definitely a landmark.

Pen and ink, with a watercolour wash... possibly destined for next year's Art Show.

Saturday, 17 September 2016


Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.

This is the first really rainy morning for a long time. I woke to the sound of raindrops pounding on the roof and the swish of tires on wet roads.. I sat out on the covered part of the deck, staying dry, drinking my morning coffee, and watching the raindrops fall. It's been a hot, hot summer, and a cool damp morning is so welcome.

It's raining, it's pouring,
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed
And bumped his head
And couldn't get up in the morning.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Our local art gallery changes it's exhibitions on a monthly basis, currently featuring drawings by Jenna Faye Powell from London, Ontario. 
According to the gallery's website: Her beautiful and playful drawings and paintings present smooth rounded out voids in the earth: x-ray visions of what lie beneath the surface, revealing to us the sinkholes’ topography and geology. Layers of earth are stylized in warm and golden hues reminiscent of old and fading photographs, and fill us with a warm nostalgic feeling. Nothing threatening here, just lovely and quirky depictions of the earth rounded out and sliced and diced to show us what’s inside. 

Mostly done in coloured pencils I think. Some of the other works are done on black paper and more ominous and gloomy, but these are the ones I liked best.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sky Show

Did you miss me? Awwww, thanks! I've been a wayward blogger for a few weeks, partly due to extreme laziness, and partly due to the fact that I have spent too many air-conditioned days hiding from the hottest July and August recorded, and recovering from hip surgery at the same time, therefore not being inspired to blog.
But now I'm out and about and determined to mend my ways.
The sky..... a couple of evenings ago.
First this:
 Then this:
 And three minutes later, this:

Monday, 15 August 2016

Eatin' 'n' Drinkin'

When enjoying life at the cottage in 30C sunshine, some of the most important activities include staying fed and watered. I was still hobbling about using a walker and a cane, so was pretty useless in the kitchen. But my wonderful family provided great meals that satisfied everyone... hungry kids, meateaters, vegetarians.
The twins celebrated becoming FIVE, yes FIVE! while we were there. They wanted a cake each.... no sharing for these two. And there's no better decoration on a birthday cake than Smarties.
 YoungerSon made good use of the BBQ, providing juicy cheeseburgers one evening and honey garlic sausages on a bun the next.
 A visit to Kawartha Dairy in Minden is compulsory when anywhere near cottage country. This is the best ice cream anywhere, with numerous flavours to choose from. Emma and Callum both chose Birthday Cake, while Max and Isaac had Bear Claws, chocolate ice cream with big chocolatey chunks hidden in it.
 My family likes to try different imported beer as well as samples of all the local micro-breweries that are popping up everywhere. There were quite a few empties to take back.... I wonder what the refund was?
One more canoeing picture. The white building belongs to the cottage at the top of the steps. I would hate to go swimming and then realize I'd forgotten my towel. That's a long way back up!

Rio 2016 Olympics Update.
Andre de Grasse, Canadian sprinter, won Bronze yesterday in the men's 100m race, close behind American Justin Gatlin who won Silver, and the Gold medalist, fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Well done Andre!
Currently, Canada has won 13 medals (2 gold, 2 silver, 9 bronze), 12 of them won by women. Andre de Grasse is the only man to win a medal so far. Go Canada Go!