Thursday, December 28, 2017

Alma Deutscher

Hilda brought my attention to this recent clip from 60 Minutes of this amazing talented 12-year old and I have to share it.

Alma Deutscher has been an extraordinary talent from a young age, writing and playing her own compositions on both piano and violin and even composing an opera, Cinderella at age 10.

Here she is with Ellen 4 years ago. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hum if You Don't Know the Words

Hum If You Don't Know the Words

Hum if You Don't Know the Words
Bianca Marais

One word: okay, two: READ THIS!

This wonderful novel is set in apartheid-era South Africa of the 1970's. Be very glad you did not live there at that time!  

The story centres around two main characters: Robin, a 9-year old white girl whose parents are murdered by blacks during the Soweto uprising and Beauty, a black educated woman, a teacher, who loses her 19-year old daughter to the militants' cause in the black uprising and is desperate to recover her.

The lives of these two characters merge and the story is heart-wrenching. 

The author, a South African by birth, has landed in Canada and has taken a creative writing course through the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. She has learned her lessons well because the novel is hard to put down, the emotional impact is significant. I dare you to read this novel and not be moved. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I Am a Truck

I Am A Truck

I Am A Truck
Michelle Winters

I Am A Truck by Canadian writer Michelle Winters is a slim volume and a quick and charming read. I was drawn to both the intriguing title and the fact that I Am A Truck was short-listed for the 2017 Giller Prize, my intention being to read all 5 of the shortlisted books. 

I was drawn in from the first page and instantly fell in love with married Acadians Agathe and Réjean and car salesman Martin Bureau. Other characters are equally charming and also quirky enough to hold the reader's interest.

The author's writing is crisp, moving the story ahead briskly. She has fun with the tension between English and French, such a Canadian phenomenon, often using a fractured combination of both - Franglais - all without any translation, which in any case is not really needed for anyone with the least knowledge of French. Anyone who loves language will enjoy Winters' writing.

E.g. "C'est ben son lunch. Y'avait laissé dans son truck."

After connecting the cables to jump a battery: "Bon. Try-le."

"C'est un town full of losers."  

Another fascinating character in the novel is music: specifically Acadian folk music vs. rock and roll. 

I don't really want to give away the plot. Just know that there are a few surprises awaiting. Pick up this little book and enjoy!  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Curious About Throat Singing?

The Jerry Cans, a musical group from Nunavut in Canada recently released a new album. Northern Lights is one of the songs, unique since it incorporates the Inuit traditional throat singing.

In this next video Nancy Mike, the Jerry Cans' throat singer, explains to a class of elementary school kids in British Columbia how to throat sing. The kids seem really excited and interested in learning this innovative technique. Maybe it's a good Winter Solstice activity!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Late Fall in King Township

There's snow in the forecast this week but last week there were some outstanding warm sunny late fall days. Nature was in festive mode, self-decorating.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Season's Festive Greetings

It was a fine but cool day in Niagara. Here, at the Romance Estate, formerly owned by artist Trisha Romance, there was an hour and a quarter line-up to enter during the Holiday House Tour sponsored by the local Rotary Club. Yes, the wait was worth it! 

Outdoor dining room

The photos above were all from the Romance Estate.

The next 3 photos are from other places in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a pretty town at any season of the year.

Anybody know what this shrub with the clustered berries is?

Final 4 photos are from our front entrance. Very proud of these two arrangements by our 13-year old granddaughter. The first sits in front of the dining room window, the other on our porch. I probably look at them more often than anyone else :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Growing Organic Corn

Some surprising facts about growing organic corn in this video. This is organic corn destined to feed organically grown animals for our dinner table.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Budweiser Donkey?

Here's a 10-year old Budweiser commercial. It never gets old. And everyone who knows me knows how much I love both Clydesdales and donkeys ;)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eat Canadian Apples!

Growing apples in Ontario might be more complicated than you thought. Enjoy that Honeycrisp!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Remembrance Day

Last spring we spent some time in Yorkshire and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, although it wasn't nearly long enough. 

We found this poem in York Minster Cathedral last May and thought it deserved to be shared. I only wish we knew what year this young Canadian girl composed it in memory of her uncle.

One place in Yorkshire that was made famous as the town where James Herriot (veterinarian and author, Alf Wight of All Creatures Great and Small fame) lived and practiced is the small market town of Thirsk. Many of these Yorkshire towns are very old and the grey stone buildings make them seem a bit grim, though abundant flowers and gardens help to alleviate the severity.

The people of Thirsk though have taken decorating their town to a higher level. Here's how it started: (taken directly from the Visit Thirsk website:

Pictures are from the yarnbomb for Yorkshire Day, 1st August 2017

Welocme to Yorkshire
It all began at the end of 2015 when a local lady called Sam heard that the Tour de Yorkshire was coming through Thirsk and put a message on Facebook. To keep it brief, within a week word got round and a small group of knitters and crocheters had expanded to over 100 who decided to 'make a few flags' to hang around the town.
Wensleydale cheese
That group became much bigger and the ideas much more imaginative and by the time of the race in April 2016 over 300 people had become involved, knitting and crocheting. On a dark and cold night (3°C at 2 am) a week before the race, the Yarnbombers of Thirsk donned dark clothing, balaclavas, and masks and ‘bombed’ the whole of the town – bollards, blankets round tree trunks, wonderful creations hanging in trees, knitted flags fastened along fences and even every shop had a knitted item relating to their particular trade fastened onto its door handle. The next morning the word got round very quickly and after a short sleep the Yarnbombers walked round the town to see lots and lots of people taking photographs, and chatting and all with big smiles on their faces.
Thirsk Market Place
Since then there’s been no stopping them. They have decorated a carriage on a Grand Central train at Kings Cross Station, London, been on the Welcome to Yorkshire stand at the Great Yorkshire Show and ‘bombed’ an articulated lorry and a tractor. Thirsk Market Place has been decorated several times more, including a celebration of 100 years since the birth of Thirsk based Alf Wight, known throughout the world as James Herriot the author of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and other stories about his life as a country vet.
Probably their most moving knitting and crocheting work was for Remembrance Sunday in 2016 when many more than 35,000 red poppies were made and stitched onto yards and yards of army camouflage netting which was then draped along the walls of St Mary’s Church, All Saints RC Church and the Methodist Church in Thirsk and St Oswald’s Church in Sowerby. The poppies also hung down like a waterfall on clear netting from the top of St Mary's. Some of these poppies were made by people who had heard of the work of the Thirsk Yarnbombers, but some had no idea even where Thirsk was! The poppies were brought here or posted, many anonymously. Some were crafted on a beach in Normandy and others in Australia and brought back to Thirsk!
This time the decorations are to celebrate Yorkshire Day 2017 and we hope you enjoy them. The group relies on donations and support from local businesses. If you wish to make a donation then please take a leaflet from Thirsk’s information office.
See more of their escapades at

As mentioned above, the townspeople started to drape their town in poppies for Remembrance Day in 2016. Knitters and crocheters from the town, the surrounding area and from countries around the world (who jumped in with enthusiasm once they heard about the project) made more than 35,000 poppies which were then hung from the church and along the route of the annual Remembrance Day Parade. Many also donated yarn or made financial contributions. 

Have a look: