Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Reading List

Image result for books images
As usual, the list of books I've read this year of 2018, although I may have missed noting some of them, like the cookbooks and the art books. Have you read any of these? And also as usual.....   Canadian authors in BLUEBritish authors in REDAmerican authors in GREENAustralian and New Zealand authors in PURPLE.

The German Girl - Armando Lucas Correa
The Valley of Amazement - Amy Tan

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss
Small Admissions - Amy Poeppel
The Good People - Hannah Kent
The Sealed Letter - Emma Donaghue (DNF)
Into the Water - Paula Hawkins
The Wonder - Emma Donaghue

Commonwealth - Ann Patchett
Minds of Winter - Ed O'Laughlin

Galore - Michael Crummey
Half the World Away - Cath Staincliffe
Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked - Raghavan Iyer
The Almost Mood - Alice Sebold
Men Walking on Water - Emily Schultz
Alphouse - Carl Sever (DNF)

Gone Astray - Michelle Davies
The Book of Lies - Mary Horlock (DNF)
Victoria - Daisy Goodwin

Boy, 9, Missing - Nic Joseph
The Stowaway - Robert Hough
The Kingmaker's Daughter - Philippa Gregory

The Keeper of Secrets - Julie Thomas
Eva Moves the Furniture - Margot Livesey
Small Great Things - Jodi Picault

Fifteen Dogs - Andre Alexis (DNF 2nd attempt at reading this but it's horrible.)
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (3rd time reading this)
Slade House - David Mitchell (2nd time reading this)
Life after Life - Kate Atkinson (2nd time reading this)

The Ready Made Thief - Augustus Rose
Do Not Become Alarmed - Maile Maloy
That Old Ace in the Hole - Annie Proulx
First Snow, Last Light - Wayne Johnstone
The Italian Wife - Ann Hood
Her Every Fear - Peter Swanson

Mr Peanut - Adam Ross
All the Beautiful Lies - Peter Swanson

Brave Deeds - David Abrams
A French Wedding - Hannah Tunnecliffe
Perfect - Rachel Joyce

Transcription - Kate Atkinson
Erebus - Michael Palin
Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie
A Circle of Wives - Alice LaPlante
The Orenda - Joseph Boyden (second time reading)

And to start the New Year off, The Truth by Sir Michael Palin (recently knighted in the Queen's New Year's Honours List, Congratulations Michael!!) is on my bedside table. Actually I'm already on chapter 4.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

ATC Swap

My Art Groups are hosting a couple of ATC Swaps before Christmas.
What's an ATC?
ATC = Artist Trading Cards. You've probably heard of Hockey cards, or Baseball cards, or even Pokemon cards that the children collect.... well, these are similar size and shape, 2.5" x 3.5", and instead of celebrating sport, or imaginary creatures, they celebrate tiny works of art, and artists get together and trade them.
They can be totally imaginative, using paint, ink, collage, fabric, buttons, string, just about anything. Nothing too serious, just fun.
These are some of mine that will be traded this week.

After the swaps, I'll post some of the new ATCs that I recieve from other artists.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Hanging Out to Dry

I finally got around to printing my linocut Christmas Cards..... usually it's done, and they are in the mail long before this. But we have had postal strikes er... I mean labour interruptions here in Canada so I'm going to use it as my excuse.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Wandering in St Johns

The Anglican Cathedral of St John the Baptist stands at 16 Church Hill in the city of St Johns, Newfoundland. There's a small entrance on Gower Street between Church Hill and Cathedral Street. That's the entrance I used when I went in to look at the inside.

The Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.
This is the main entrance on Church Hill. And this is where you would go to meet up with the St Johns Haunted Hike.
 As you can see, Cathedral Street is pretty steep.
This parish was founded in 1699. At least six wooden churches have stood on this site, destroyed by accidental fire, military operations or the rigorous Newfoundland weather. And before the churches, the land was used for public hangings up to the 1750s. The first stone church was begun in 1843, but only got as far as the cornerstone being laid. The present Cathedral was begun in 1847. The Nave was built 1847-1850, and served as the whole cathedral for the next 35 years, when the Chancel, Transepts and Sanctuary were added 1880-1885.
The Great Fire of 1892 caused extensive damage to the Cathedral and destroyed most of the town, leaving 11,000 people homeless. The roof timbers ignited causing the roof to collapse, and bringing the walls down with it. The heat melted the lead in all the stained glass windows except one, which can be seen in the Sacristy. The Cathedral was restored 1893-1905.
Looking towards the Cathedral from the back of the Masonic Hall, the red brick building on the right. These photos were taken in July sunshine. I think there would be some snowflakes flying today!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Get Happy!

Found on the wall of a coffee shop in the little town of Schomberg, Ontario.

And some very good advice....

Friday, 30 November 2018


Well, blow me down with a feather, I sold a painting!
The art group that I paint with, AAP Collective, has an exhibition in the front lobby of a local theatre until early January.... I posted about it here.
I don't suppose many people actually shop for art when going to the theatre, but this person did!
And this is what he (or she!) bought.

I am gobsmacked! Totally amazed.

Friday, 23 November 2018

More Shipping

More of the ships in the harbour at St Johns.

ATLANTIC KINGFISHER is an 80m long offshore supply ship built in 2002 by Irving Shipbuilding, Halifax.  Mostly delivering supplies and personnel to the rigs in the White Rose Field. The Pilot boat will escort all shipping in and out of the narrow mouth of the harbour.

MAERSK DISPATCHER is an 90m long offshore supply ship built in 2005 in Chile. Canada and Chile have a free trade agreement, which favours shipbuilding there due to lower labour costs.

TIDEWATER ENABLER is an multifunctional offshore supply ship built in 2010 in Norway. The cost? About $63 million. The vessel features a 100-tonne/2,000-meter subsea crane, can house two working-class ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicle), has a large deck space of more than 900 square meters, and provides the largest offshore accommodation capacity available.
TIDEWATER ENABLER was in harbour preparing to take part in the recovery of oil from the paper boat MANOLIS L which was leaking oil after it sank in 1985. 
If you want to know more about how the oil was recovered from the wreck of the MANOLIS L, it's here, here and here.

Reflection of the TIDEWATER ENABLER helipad in a nearby office tower.

The harbour at night. There's always something happening out on the water, ships arriving and leaving.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Safe Harbour

I spent a week in my favourite city of St Johns, Newfoundland, in the summer. Where's that, you are asking? Newfoundland is the big island on the east coast of Canada, the most easterly tip of land jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rocks, cliffs, seabirds, fish, boats, icebergs in the spring, friendly people.
St Johns is the largest city on the island, and is the capital city of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It's one of North America's oldest European settlements with fishermen setting up seasonal camps in the 16th century. It has hilly streets, colourful houses, stunning scenery and a working harbour.

ATLANTIC RAVEN is an offshore supply ship, and has been used ferrying supplies and personnel to the offshore drilling rigs out on the Grand Banks. She is soon to be moved to the west coast of Canada where she will take up a new role as a coast guard emergency towing vessel. She will be repainted in the red and white of Canadian Coastguard vessels.
ATLANTIC RAVEN will join the ATLANTIC EAGLE which is already in Victoria. Built in 1999 in Denmark. All the Atlantic fleet have bird names.
Another of the Atlantic offshore supply ships.  When I first visited St Johns, I could explore the harbour at the water's edge, but now you see high fences keeping the public away from the shipping. Security. Necessary these days.

HMCS St. John's is a Halifax-class frigate that has served in the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Navy since her commissioning in 1996. She is the eleventh of twelve ships in her class which is based on the Canadian Patrol Frigate Project
St. John's serves on Canadian Armed Forces missions protecting Canada's sovereignty in the Atlantic Ocean and enforcing Canadian laws in its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone

St. John's has been deployed on missions throughout the Atlantic Ocean, to the Indian Ocean; specifically the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea on anti-terrorism operations, to the north as far as Grise Fjord and to the Caribbean where she played a role in helping to stop the flow of illicit drugs to North America. She is assigned to Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and her home port is in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

MAERSK CUTTER is an offshore anchor handling tug supply vessel (AHTS) based in St Johns. She was built in 2015 in Santiago, Chile and is currently sailing under the flag of Canada. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018


Last week.... before the snow flew... I was invited to pick apples at my friend's huge apple orchards. They had apples to spare. I picked up the grandies after school, and off we went armed with lots of bags.
These apples are called Ambrosia. They are a late apple, maturing in October and early November and this year provided a bumper crop. But the weather forecast was frost and the apples needed to be picked before they froze on the trees.
These trees are about 7 years old. There was no possibility we could pick all those apples, but we did our best. And ate some too along the way.

We managed to fill the back of my car with bags and bags of apples. Most of them went to YoungerSon, some to OlderSon, and a big box full of apples for me. They will keep in the garage as long as the garage temperature doesn't get down to freezing, but I anticipate that the apples will be gone before too long.
I see some apple pies in my future, and, let's not forget, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Friday, 16 November 2018


First significant snow of the winter was the sight that greeted me this morning, not really a surprise as it was forecast by the friendly weather lady on the telly....... however, the middle of November is a bit early for the white stuff in my humble opinion.
The view through the front door.... I haven't actually opened it and stepped outside yet.
.... and the view into the back yard. 
 I hope this isn't the start of a severe winter! Thank goodness we put the snow tires on last week.

Update later in the day: I've been finishing a painting, and listening to the classical music radio station, and watching giant snowflakes float to earth.... it's actually magical! Everything is covered in a white fluffy blanket. Snow may make life very inconvenient at times, but it's really beautiful!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Apple of My Eye

Playing in the sketch book again.
Lots of layers of lacy paper stuck onto the page with matte medium making nice textures..... the edges of some paper placemats leftover from a dinner long ago. Then pics of apples cut out from a grocery flyer. Enhanced with the application of some yellow and green acrylic paint smeared on with a palette knife, then some red ink misted with water to make the ink run, then the red circles printed with a jar lid.... and finally some gold paint sloshed around.
A messy mess but fun to do.

Sunday, 11 November 2018


November 11 2018.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
One hundred years since the end of the hostilities known as the First World War.
Back then it was known as the Great War, as nobody imagined that there would soon be another war, even more terrible.
The village of Woolpit in Suffolk, England, is marking the date and honouring the fallen in a unique manner.
Volunteers in the village have been knitting and crocheting more than 5000 red poppies all year with the intention of creating a tribute to the servicemen and women who gave their lives for their country, and also marking one hundred years since the signing of the Armistice in 1918.
The poppies have been attached to a large net and draped on the front of The Institute, the building that houses the small Museum, and also bears a plaque honouring those who paid the ultimate price.

The local paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, can tell you more about the project here. I'm very proud of my cousin Elizabeth who did so much work towards this worthy project, including knitting like mad when I was in Woolpit in the summer. She's wearing the pale blue coat in the first picture in the East Anglian newspaper article.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Under the Sea

Playing around in my sketchbook and having fun with tissue paper and wax crayon rubbings of a fish lino printing plate.

Monday, 5 November 2018


Hallowe'en 2018 has come and gone. The spirits are are rest for another year.
It was a bit damp, and windy, but not really raining and not very cold so our little group of trick-or-treaters went out armed with their Hallowe'en buckets as soon as it was dark enough.
I stayed to answer the door and to give out the goodies. This year we provided goldfish crackers, potato chips and corn chips.... no chocolate. It's too easy to eat the leftover chocolate.

This year we had Iron Man, a robber, and a police officer with us. The police officer kept trying to arrest the robber, who of course resisted, so thank goodness we had the assistance of Iron Man. Always good when you have a SuperHero to call on in times of need.

With three of them out trick-or-treating, the mountain of Hallowe'en loot was pretty large. Mummy made sure that lots of it disappeared very fast and will reappear eventually as school lunch treats.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Happy November!

November starts today!
We've already had the first snowfall here in Southern Ontario, but it's all melted and disappeared now.  Thank goodness! But it will be back sooner than we think.
I needed new snow tires this year, the old ones didn't have much life in them after 8 winters, so my very helpful YoungerSon organised them and now I have spiffy new wheels ready for the winter. No pics, you'll just have to imagine how nice they are.
And I've been painting. I'll post some of the pictures from time to time. Here's the first.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

A Touch of Royalty

Last week some very good friends of mine were invited to speak at a local church lunch. My friends are staunch Royalists and are enthusiastic members of the Monarchist League of Canada. Over they years, they have amassed a truly enormous collection of all things Royal, in fact so much that they almost need to build an extension on the house to store it all! Their topic was "Royal Weddings", perfect timing to coincide with the recent wedding of Princess Eugenie. They set up a display table that included photos, letters, books, commemorative mugs and plates, colouring books, Tshirts, you name it.... it was there. And this is just a tiny portion of their collection.

I'm afraid that's as close as I'll ever get to a real Royal Wedding. However, my maternal ancestors hail from the same town in England and with the same last name as some ancestors of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the wife of Prince William..... so I may be related..... very very distantly! I wasn't invited to that wedding either.

Saturday, 20 October 2018


One of my daughters-in-law loves to buy potted plants at the nursery, and brings them home with good intentions of making a herb garden, but then forgets to water them. Last year she bought a mint plant in a tiny pot. It sat outside for a long time just looking sadder and sadder until I decided to take pity on the poor thing and bring it home.

And now look at it! It's taking over the world. Mmmmm.... love the minty aroma!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

AAP at Newmarket Theatre

The AAP Collective art group has been busy in the entrance lobby of the local Newmarket Theatre..... that's the town of Newmarket in Ontario, Canada, not the well known horse racing centre of Newmarket in England, although I think there are other Newmarket's all over the world. Is there a Newmarket near you?
And what or who is the AAP Collective? It's a group of ten artists, some are experienced professionals, and others, like me, are complete amateurs, who meet once a week to experiment and create art using all sorts of techniques and learning from each other.
AAP? It can stand for many things..... Another Art Project; Artists Are People; but most of all... Art Ain't Pretty.
The art will be displayed in the theatre lobby until January, which gives us lots of public exposure, but I'm not sure that people go to an evening at the theatre expecting to buy a piece of original art.

Here we are hanging the pictures in the lobby. Everyone has an opinion regarding the arrangement and what should hang next to what, but eventually we left it for just two people to make the decisions and stood around to observe. And of course, to make the odd encouraging comment.....
That one's not straight!
The one on the left is too high!
The one on the right is too low!

And no art exhibition can be complete without a group picture of the artists!

I'm the one with the pink shoelaces.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

What a Whopper!

One of the most hotly contested rivalries at Markham Fair is the 'biggest pumpkin' competition. This year the heaviest pumpkin was won with a giant weighing 193 pounds. That's it on the left in the photo, the green one with the blue ribbon
The heaviest squash, the huge yellowish white one with the red First Prize ribbon, weighed in at a whopping 637 pounds. That's 289 kg for those who prefer metric.

The grower, Carl Niemeyer, said he bought the pumpkin seeds on line from the provincial winner of the largest pumpkin in Manitoba. 
Growing the pumpkin was easy, but transporting it to the Fair presented a challenge. Twelve people lifted it onto a skid before loading it onto his pickup truck for delivery to the Fair.
The secret to growing a giant pumpkin? He put lots of chicken manure down in the spring, and as the vine grew, he pruned off all the smaller pumpkins so the granddaddy of them all could receive all the nutrition.
If you're interested, the giant pumpkin is for sale at a local farmer's market for $200.00.... that's Canadian dollars of course.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Lots more giant vegetables on show too. These are Savoy cabbage. My favourite. I wish I had taken a pic of the largest potato weighing over 3 pounds. You could make a lot of french fries with that!

I'm not doing very well with my resolution to blog every day in October, and we're only 6 days into the month. Oooops.