Sunday, 31 December 2017

Well Read in 2017

My reading list for 2017. I always have a book to read on my bedside table and personally, I love to go to bed early on a cold winter's night with a good book. Sadly, some of my book choices have turned out to be DNF, but our local library has a large selection so I can usually find something good to read.

As usual, Canadian authors in BLUE, British authors in RED, American authors in GREEN, Australian and New Zealand authors in PURPLE.

Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova
The Hero's Walk - Anita Rau Badami
The Snow Queen - Michael Cunningham (DNF)

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (J.K.Rowling)
Tell it to the Trees - Anita Rau Badami
Toyland - Stephen King
Winter Garden - Kristen Hannah

The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Room - Emma Donoghue (DNF, too upsetting)

Lone Wolf - Jodi Picoult
New York - Edward Rutherfurd

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel (2nd time reading)

Bring up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel (2nd time reading)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid

Three Sisters, Three Queens - Philippa Gregory
The Little Old Lady who Broke all the Rules - Catharina Ingelman Sundberg (DNF, silly)
Sputnik Sweetheart - Haruki Murakami
The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult
Cooking for Picasso - Camille Aubray
The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline
A Piece of the World - Christina Baker Kline
Mata Hari's Last Dance - Michelle Moran

The Dog Who Knew Too Much - Spencer Quinn
The Clay Girl - Heather Tucker (DNF)
Barkskins - Annie Proulx (loved this book so much!)
A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi
Those Girls - Chevy Stevens
The Second Mrs Hockaday - Susan Rivers
The Silent Sister - Diane Chamberlain

The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan (DNF)
My Cat Jugoslavia - Pajtim Statovci
Golden Hill - Francis Spufford
Incendiary - Chris Cleave (2nd time reading)
The Golden Legend - Nadeem Aslam
Woman With a Heart - Sophie Hannah (DNF, stupid, sorry Sophie)
The Sleepwalker - Chris Bohjalian

Crying for the Moon - Mary Walsh
Everyone Brave is Forgiven - Chris Cleave
In the Name of the Family - Sarah Dunant (DNF, may try again later)

Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller
A History of Bees - Maja Lunde
A Newfoundlander in Canada - Alan Doyle
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley - Hannah Tinti
Less - Andrew Sean Greer (DNF)

We're All in This Together - Amy Jones (DNF, couldn't get into this)
Good Me, Bad Me - Ali Land
Van Gogh's Ear - Bernadette Murphy
The Last Tudor - Philippa Gregory

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Linocut Art

Each month one of our artists in our Thursday Art Group has the responsibility to lead an activity or topic. Everyone doesn't have to take part if it's something that doesn't appeal, just DYOT (do your own thing). October was my month, so I decided to introduce linocut printing to the group. Many of our group had dabbled with linocut at school, but not since, and were a little suspicious that they wouldn't like it. But everyone cheerfully joined in.
Linocut art has certainly changed over the years. There's nice soft rubbery smooth lino to use now, as opposed to the hard stiff lino that was available. And sharp cutters, colourful water based ink for easy clean up, and lots of choices of paper to print on.
Lino cut is definitely a confusing challenge. Once you have decided on a design, a set of v-shaped carving tools is used to cut a negative image into the lino, and it has to be mirror-image at the same time, hard to keep your brain straight at first. Once the design is carved, the plate is inked, and multiple prints can be taken. Only the uncarved parts will print, the carved parts will not print. Our artists loved it and some wonderful designs were produced.
I've been experimenting with two colour prints of a snow scene. I decided to make two separate linos.... one on the right that would print the sky, and the other that would print the tree branches, leaving unprinted paper for the snow. By creating two printing plates, I can print as many of these winter treescapes as I want.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


I've spent more time this year in ice hockey arenas than ever before. Three of my grandies are playing hockey in house league and last week we all went to watch the local Junior 'A' team play a home game.
 The Stouffville Spirit standing for the national anthem "O Canada" before the game.
And action on the rink. They were playing the Lindsay Muskies.... Our team won 6-3. After spending so many Saturday mornings watching the little kids on the ice, these teenage players look HUGE!

Friday, 10 November 2017


Herbert Leonard Darch, known to his family as Len.

Len was born in the village of Combe Martin, in North Devon, England in 1895. He was the son of Matthew Darch and Sarah (nee Rooke), who lived at Glenwood, Combe Martin.

Len had three brothers, Theo, Bert and Wilf, and one sister, Aileen, who married my Uncle Albert in 1919, and therefore became my Auntie Aileen.

Len joined the 1st/7th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, and was sent to France to fight in WW1, also known as The Great War.  1/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regt was part of 144th (Gloucester & Worcester) Brigade. This photo may have been taken when he first volunteered.

Herbert Leonard Darch, Private 202233,  probably took part in the ‘Pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line’ (14 March – 5 April 1917), but on Monday 24 April 1917, at the young age of 21, he was killed in action at Gillemont Farm.
Image result for remembrance poppy images
His life is comemmorated with honour on the Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval, Department of the Somme, Picardie, France, Plot: Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C.  As there is no grave, his body was not recovered. His remains are probably still lying where he fell in a farmer's field.

Also on this Remembrance Day I am remembering 
John Turnbull Chandler, my mother's cousin who was killed in France in 1917. You can read his story here.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Random Stuff

Some random photos from the past couple of weeks.
I love the smell of freshly baked bread, wish I could include it in this blog post. I let the bread machine do all the mixing then I bake the dough in the oven. This bread has a mixture of white and wholewheat flour, oats, chia seeds, flax, bran, and pumpkin seeds. My grandson said it was "so soft that a baby could eat it".
I gatecrashed a wedding last week.... yes, I said gatecrashed. YoungerSon's best friend was tying the knot and YoungerSon and his Bride couldn't be at the ceremony, only at the after-party, so I showed up instead, along with the mum of the best man. It was at the historic Enoch Turner School House in downtown Toronto. Photo taken before most of the guests arrived.

The new Mr and Mrs signing the register. I cried of course. I always cry at weddings and everyone laughs at me. But I've been fond of this young man ever since the kids were all young, and he deserves to be happy.

Fireworks at Markham Fair at the end of September. The camera has a firework setting and I hadn't used it before. Not bad eh?

Finally, a visit to the cardiac doctor in Newmarket. This is the view from his office window looking west along Davis Drive, snapped while I was waiting for the doc to arrive. The brown traffic lanes along the centre are for buses only.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Fifty Four Years Ago!

Tuesday October 29,  1963. I remember it well.
Through the late '50s and early '60s I loved the Everly Brothers' music and could sing along with all their songs.... in fact I still do. I loved their harmonies. And they were so darn handsome!! So when I heard that Don and Phil were coming in person to the local Gaumont Theatre in Southampton, I desperately wanted tickets. This was going to be my very first live concert seeing performers that I would normally hear when I was lying in bed at midnight listening to Radio Luxembourg on my mother's old radio, keeping the volume down so I didn't wake my dad up.
I managed to persuade my boyfriend John to take me to the concert. There were two concerts at 7:00pm and 9:30pm, I think we went to the early concert. It was mostly teenage girls in the audience, and typical of the 1960s, they were all screaming as soon as any of the performers came on stage. Well, I was a teenage girl too, so I felt right at home.

Don and Phil sang their classic songs "Bye Bye Love", "Be Bop A Lula", "Dream", Cathy's Clown" but they could hardly be heard over the screaming! I loved it.
Also on the bill was Little Richard... oh yes, he was awesome. He took his shirt off, jumped onto the piano and played it with his feet! I was screaming at that point, boyfriend John was not amused. Little Richard launched into wild rocking versions of "Lucille", "Good Golly Miss Molly", "Long Tall Sally", "The Girl Can't Help It", competing successfully with the screaming. By now I had a sore throat.
Bo Diddley was there too, but somehow I can't remember him on the stage, perhaps he wasn't very well known back then in England. Sorry, Bo.

But one of the opening acts drew more screams than ever.... it was a virtually unknown band who had been playing in the London pubs and clubs and were just starting out on their first concert tour. They were starting their climb up the Hit Parade, and had just signed a recording contract with Decca. The name of the band was The Rolling Stones. And over fifty years later they are still performing and making music. If you're a Stones fan, you can read about their first concert tour here. And I was there!
(illustrations borrowed from the magical internet)

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Where's Waldo?

Where's Waldo? He's playing hockey, that's where.

Grandie Emma is in her first year of ice hockey. It's hard going for her, learning to skate forwards, backwards, stopping, starting, getting up after falling in the ice, and handling a hockey stick and a slippery rubber puck at the same time.
But the coaches make it fun, especially so at Hallowe'en.
There was a special Hallowe'en hockey practice at the weekend. The players on Emma's team all turned into mini "Where's Waldo" characters thanks to the inventive coaches.
Watch out for that scaaaaary bat above your head, Emma.
Of course there had to be a team photo. An opportunity not to be missed. Can you guess which one is Emma er... I mean Waldo?
 And the opposition became "The Pirates" with lots of cries of "YoHoHo" and "Arrrrr me Hearties".
Then they were out on the ice for their regular practice. It was more lighthearted and fun than their usual hard workout practice. Games of tag using (plastic) bloodied body parts. And instead of skating figures around orange pylon markers, they were using severed arms and legs... really scary stuff.
When Waldos and Pirates meet on the ice.... it's Hallowe'en Hockey Night in Canada!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

HMS Ajax

The town of Ajax, Ontario, is closely connected to the British Naval cruiser, HMS Ajax, and streets in the town have been named after the officers and men who served on her. You can get the full story here.
The Canada 150 Mosaic project was launched in 2015 beginning a journey to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday by creating mosaics illustration Canada's history and geographical diversity.  The purpose of the project is to create a national mural including all provinces and territories, over 150 individual murals comprised of over 80,000 painted 4"x4" tiles.
Each mosaic from each community is shown on mounted on a set of railway wheels.... no, HMS Ajax wasn't really on wheels.... but this will represent the railways that played such an important role in connecting communities right across this huge country.
This is the mosaic hanging in Ajax Town Hall, created from tiles painted by members of the community. It didn't matter if you have never held a paintbrush before, all ages and skill levels were invited to contribute. The painting of 800 tiles took place in October 2016 and the mural was installed and unveiled in January 2017.

 A couple of my favourite tiles. Not sure exactly where they are on the mosiac. Keep looking closely, you might find them.

The town where I live is also working on a mosaic, and I spent an afternoon at the local Museum painting tiles a couple of weeks ago. I'll be showing more about our town mosaic very soon.

Thursday, 26 October 2017


Looking out through the window of the McKay Art Gallery. Autumn has arrived.
Such a beautiful time of the year.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Leaf Project

The Leaf Project was devised to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, and also to create an art project that the people of the town could contribute to. It started out small, then grew and grew, and was finally assembled last week. It's currently hanging in a corner of the Gallery, but will eventually make it's way to one of the public buildings. I contributed some leaves, so did my grandchildren.
Leaves were made of paper, then laminated, but there were also leaves made of pottery, stone, glass, and metal.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Clay Play

I won a 4 week pottery course at last year's Art Gallery Gala silent auction, so it was time to use the certificate and get my hands dirty. The last time I played with clay was 20 years ago, and I still use some of the small dishes I made on the potters wheel. But this time we didn't use the wheel, we rolled the clay flat and used molds to shape plates and dishes, and then decorated with texture.
The pieces had to dry for a week, then the edges could be cleaned up and the clay was fired.

Then the pieces were dipped in various liquid clay slip, left to dry and then fired in the kiln again. The slip looks a dirty grey when first applied to the clay, but once they are fired, the beautiful colours appear. Basically I had no plan for a colour scheme, I was just experimenting.
But I was pleased with the way these pieces turned out. This was fun, I'd like to do it again.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Paint in Action

A couple of weeks ago Tina Newlove came to my weekly art group and demonstrated how she creates her colourful acrylic abstract paintings while reacting to music.
She set up her canvas on the easel, squeezed the paints onto her palette, turned on the funky music and started to paint. Her music was set to run 45 minutes, and she wanted to be finished by then.
Here goes.....!

Tina's palette with all the mixed colours.
After lunch, more music was played and we created our own abstracts in reaction to what we were listening to. Abstract art looks like it would be easy to cover the canvas with colour and make a pleasing design, but really it's a lot harder than it looks. Here are some of the results, I'm not saying which one is mine. I'll let you guess.

Would you hang any of these on your wall?

Saturday, 16 September 2017


A Differential Grasshopper and a Japanese Beetle share a yummy dinner on my runner bean leaves.
The Japanese Beetle is an unwanted import from... yes, you guessed right.... Japan, first noticed in North America in 1916, but the Differential Grasshopper is native to Southern Ontario. Easily identified by that distinct herringbone pattern on his legs. Both these creatures are considered crop pests. I wish they would stay away from my beans!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hot Shiny Metal

A sunshiney day and an annual car show in the grounds of a local business brought out the crowds at the weekend. If the weather's good, all the fancy cars come out of the garage and get washed and waxed ready for a big day out. Here are some of them.....
The Bricklin SV-1 is a gull-wing sports car assembled in St John, New Brunswick, Canada from 1974 until late 1975, the creation of millionaire Malcolm Bricklin. Less than 3000 cars were built before the company declared backruptcy. I wonder how many are still on the road.

Austin Healey "Bugeye" or "Frogeye" Sprite, produced in UK from 1958 to 1961.
1960's VW Bug and 1970's VW Thing. The Thing (also known as VW Type 181) was originally developed for the West German Army and is a two wheel drive four door convertible. It was manufactured and marketed by Volkswagen from 1968 to 1983. And fun to drive!
TVR 280i. TVR is an independent British manufacturer of high end lightweight sports cars from 1947 to present day. This one's for sale, fancy a test drive?

What can I possibly say about this? Useful if you need to be rescued in a flood I suppose.