Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas is for Everyone

(click, to enlarge)







Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friends Old and New

It never ceases to amaze me how the Internet can bring the past into the present.

I've had a few exciting Internet surprises in the last couple of weeks.

First I googled my brother's name, just for fun. He passed away in 1984 after a brief battle with cancer, so to be able to find something on the 'net about him, 25 years later, was quite remarkable. He was a scout troup leader for many years, but, being the shy, retiring type, he never really told us too much about his scouting life. I discovered through the 'net that he actually started this particular scout troup -- we never knew that. I also found out that they have presented a trophy in his name every year since he died. I was so pleased and proud. Here are a couple of photos of him that I had never seen before:

This is him loading his dinghy on top of his car, back in the '80s, as the scouts were getting ready for their summer camp.

Here he is eating with some of the boys.
He passed away only months after these photos were taken.

Then I heard from 'Maggie' -- a playmate of mine from 55 years ago!
She used to live on Flamborough Head, in Yorkshire, U.K. where I lived with my family for many years.
She just recently came across this photo posted on my sister's blog, and left a comment with her email address, so we have been corresponding -- how exciting!

This is me and Maggie sitting on the edge of the cliffs

Finally, my sister just 'met up' on line with 'Nicky', at her blog
Nicky has recently moved to Flamborough Head, all the way from New Zealand, and she is posting some beautiful photos that are making me and my sister Homesick for Flamborough all over again!

So these Flamborough photos are for Nicky and for Maggie:

This is me and my cousin, Pete, taken at Little Thornwick Bay, Flamborough Head
also 55 years ago. It still looks pretty much the same -- although Pete and I don't!

This is the very spot where our house used to be, right at the edge of the golf course where my dad was the manager, and right at the edge of the cliff. It had to be demolished because of the danger of eroding cliffs

You can find a different view of the location over at my sister's other blog

And this is me, sitting on the water tank, outside our house --
again, 55 years ago!

So, for all the negative aspects of the Internet, I am pleased to be able to post the results of what have turned out to be a few positive experiences for me -- reliving old memories, and making and reviving friendships.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cats, cats, and more cats!

I really LOVED doing this drawing!  I find that if I like the picture it is so much easier to copy.  My sister, who is in Hawaii right now, will recognize this drawing, when she opens a Christmas gift I sent to her early, via MOTH (her Man of The House), when he came to visit a few weeks ago.

This is where they are staying in Hawaii

And we may end up with snow next week!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This and That

50 Years Later!

So, I wasn't too happy with my role as bridesmaid for my sister, back in 1959. But my experience as Maid of Honour last week was much more enjoyable;

Amazing, really, as we were on an Alpha retreat weekend, and we were REALLY roughing it!  The cabins left much to be desired -- bunk beds, and one shower and one washroom for nine people, in each cabin -- but we made it!! The wedding was the last event of the weekend, and it wrapped up a beautiful time, with over 20 of us in attendance. Although they didn't meet on Alpha, the happy couple did get to know each other throughout the course, and they are now in Alpha leadership -- so it was fitting that they decided to have it there, so that we could celebrate with them.

My Talented Sister...

has done it again! 

Her MOTH (Man Of The House) dropped in to visit us on his way back to California after a trip just across the Canadian border. He, bless his heart! had carried this with him on the journey -- a gift from my sister; another treasure to remind me of Flamborough Head, on the north east coast of Yorkshire, UK -- our home for a number of years when we were growing up. This is her copy of a painting that sold on e-bay for a good number of dollars, not so long ago. She did an awesome job, and it joins other paintings of Flamborough on my home office wall.

Winter's Coming?

Normally, by mid-November, we are shivering in our boots!  But this year, so far, we have had much warmer weather than usual, and we are grateful. Not always is it sunny, but the temps have been in the the double digits and we've not had to wear winter trappings yet.  But it is time to put away the fall decor and think about pulling out the Christmas tree and decorations.


I May Be Seriously Allergic to Them

But, for some reason, I love to draw them!

This is Bailey, my sister's cat. It was incredibly difficult to capture his unique expression - but I think overall I did a pretty good job!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

50 Years! What a Milestone!

And Very Happy Anniversary to Chris and Barry!

50 Years ago tomorrow, in 1959, my sister and her husband 'tied the knot' in a tiny church in Goole, Yorkshire, England Friends and relatives came from many corners of the UK to celebrate with them

The Happy Couple

And the not-so-happy bridesmaid --

I was very shy, very nervous,

and not at all happy with my

orange, organza bridesmaid's dress, and the 'coronet' I had to wear in my hair

(I was a real tomboy!).

It was a fine wedding, and a great beginning to a whole new life for them -- not only together, but in a new country.

Almost immediately after the wedding, they walked across the street and entered the train station to catch a train down to London, where they would begin their journey to Toronto, Canada, and a REALLY new life together!

They attended Toronto Bible College, which became Ontario Bible College, which ultimately became Tyndale College and Seminary. And Barry became the pastor of Ringwood Christian Church in Stouffville.

Barry, in front of the church, renewing acquaintances, years later, with two of his congregants, Ada Steckley and Frances Vague.

For my part in the wedding, Chris gave me a gift: A pretty little silver cross (about 2cms long).

Of course, I still have it, but there is a story that goes with it.

I always appreciated it as a piece of jewelry, but that cross became much more meaningful when I gave my life to Jesus. That took place in 1966, a few years after I, too, had immigrated to Canada. From that point on, I wore the cross almost daily for many years.

In 1974, I took my children to the UK to visit their grandparents. We were playing in my parents' beautiful garden. Yes, that IS me, with my father in the garden!

Dad had fashioned a swing to the huge walnut tree and the kids had a wonderful time on it. It was later in the afternoon that I noticed my cross had disappeared from around my neck. I was devastated. We all hunted high and low in the grass and all around the huge garden, to no avail.

I went to bed that night and prayed that God would help me find it -- the cross had become so special to me.

The next day, even though we had looked there numerous times, there we found the cross, on the grass under the walnut tree -- a miracle!

Many may think that to be married for 50 years is nothing short of a miracle! For sure it takes lots of unconditional love and patience -- which only God can give -- and no doubt lots of hard work too!!

So, again --

Congratulations to you both, and may your day be a very special one, filled with great joy and wonderful memories!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When We Were Very Young

There are some in our family who consider themselves poets -- I'd say they are talented. But I have never been able to put myself in that category. I have had inspiration from time to time, but the results of it are scribbled on scraps of paper that are really not fit for public viewing. Here, though, is one I wrote when I was about 12 years old (53 years ago, by the way!):

The World Today:

In this world of toil and strife

there's a great deal of meaning in everyone's life.

With H-bombs and satelites all threatening to kill,

and people control birth with only a pill.

Surely some thought must be made for those folk

who do not regard these things as a joke.

The majority of people I'm sure will agree

that things are left best as they once used to be.

I know, I know -- tacky!

My mother, bless her heart, was a poet of sorts -- and although her work will never go down in the annals of history, they are precious to me.

I've mentioned before, on this blog, how our family vacationed frequently on the Norfolk Broads in the south-east of England. We would rent a cabin cruiser for a week, and float lazily along the winding rivers past quaint thatch-roofed cottages, barely making it under low-rise, antique bridges ("don't forget to batten down the hatches!"), moor by the side of tiny picturesque villages and purchase our breakfast from the man who would arrive at our boat at the crack of dawn selling bread, butter, cheese, milk and eggs. It was idyllic.

(l-r: my mother, a family friend, me on the Norfolk Broads, 1959)

My parents were the managers of the Flamborough Head Golf Club in Yorkshire in 1955, and had no doubt left the clubhouse in good hands while we had our week on the Broads. But, while it was out of sight, the staff and clientele was not out of mind.

My mother penned this poem on the back of a postcard sent to the Golf Club:

The five aboard "Commander Four" are having a heck of a caper.

We couldn't care less if Sam wants a pint, or Reg Armstrong, Ted Hutton or Raper.

We don't speak of 'bunkers' or 'birdies' or such -- it's "anchors aweigh!" and "ahoy there!"

And it's "keep your head down when you go through the hatch, or you'll find yourself flat on the floor there!"

No 'handicaps' here except for the time, and that's flying past like a streak.

So I'll finish this off with regards to you all.

Cheerio, till we see you next week!

Years later, long after I immigrated to Canada, my children and I headed back to the UK so that they could meet their grandparents. While there, they fell in love with A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh poetry books, and my mother gave them both Now We are Six and When We Were Very Young to bring back to Canada with them. They read them over and over again for years.

Mother penned a little poem for them in the front of this one, certainly not a la A.A. Milne style:
Kevin and Wendy came to stay
with Grandma and Grandad one summer's day.
With Shep the dog they had such fun,
and went a-visiting everyone.
But oh! the time it went so fast.
It was time to say goodbye at last.
Off in the jumbo-jet they flew,
back to Canada, boo-hoo-hoo.

Ok, so now you know where I get my poetry talent from -- NOT!

So let's go from the ridiculous to the sublime -- and this one, by A. A. Milne, is dedicated to my cousin Pete, who can probably easily identify with this poem, called The Engineer:

Let it rain!
Who cares?
I've a train upstairs,
with a brake
which I make
from a string
sort of thing,
which works
in jerks,
'cos it drops
in the spring,
which stops

with the string,
and the wheels
all stick
so quick
that it feels
like a thing
that you make
with a brake,
not string...

So that's what I make,
when the day's all wet.
It's a good sort of brake
but it hasn't worked yet.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Still Practising, cont....

I promised I would post some of the artwork I've been working on for the last few weeks. Not much to show for all the time that's passed -- I've been busy with other things!

But I am still practicing. Here's the proof! The scan quality of all of these is not the greatest. This is my version of the original I posted some weeks ago. I got really bored with this one, after I had drawn the cat and dog, and finally put it aside. I may finish it one day!
My first attempt at a profile -- not bad, but she has quite a perky nose!!
I copied this one from a Phillip Keller book. I love the scene, and it actually turned out better than it appears here.
Finally, this one was great for practicing the art of shading and dimension.

I think it might be a while before I get to those oil paints, although I did buy some small canvases today -- so it's on my mind.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Few of My Favourite Things!

My birthday this year was a milestone -- 65!

A lot of good wishes

A little closer to heaven

A little bit more money from the government

Some possible discount perks (restaurant meals etc)

A good excuse to have a party
(well, we celebrated five family birthdays, actually!)

And some awesome gifts!

The first one, from DOTH (Daughter of the House):

She took me to see the stage version of my favourite movie

at the Princess of Wales theatre:
I LOVE the story of the von Trapp family, and even though my family groans, I watch the movie every Christmas. I think I could probably be the understudy for each role, I've watched it so many times. I've also read the book -- the real story -- which reads a little different from the movie.

I was apprehensive about the stage version; wasn't sure they could do it justice.

We had amazing seats - a perfect location! And I was very pleasantly surprised. They did an awesome job! The actors and actresses were perfect for their roles, with Maria and Captain von Trapp sufficiently romantic but not icky, and the children precocious but lovable. Considering the limitations of the stage, the scenery was absolutely stunning!

If you've not seen it yet, you must -- you'll not be disappointed.
For me it was the perfect birthday gift!

My one and only son, who loves to keep me technologically updated, gave me this:

Any idea what it is? Me neither, when I first opened it up.
It's called "My Passport" and it's a portable hard drive -- 250 GBs worth!

It's like a glorified memory stick -- a little larger; about 12x8 cms (5" x 3"), one centimetre (1/2") thick. It is awesomely useful. If I am going somewhere where I will have access to a computer, I don't have to lug my lap-top along, I just pop My Passport into my purse -- it's got all the data from my computer on it -- and plug it into any computer's USB port. Son One-and-Only knew I was about to start a new book project, and this is the perfect accessory.

Older Daughter (OD) also knew how to reach my heart (and challenge my abilities):

I think my sister might be a bit envious of this one. An artist's studio, all in one -- 117 pieces. It has acrylic paints, oil paints, watercolour paints, coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, oil pastels, drawing pencils, paint brushes, an eraser and sharpener. Wow! This gift is going to hold me accountable. I've never used most of those art mediums, but now I don't have any excuse. Maybe this is what will help me through the upcoming long, cold, and probably very snowy winter. I can't wait to begin!

My kids sure know how to take care of their mom!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A 'Magical" Art Gallery

I'm going to take you on a little tour today.

DOTH (Daughter of The House) and I spent a few sunny days in the Haliburton Highlands at the end of August. Known as 'cottage country,' the area is a wonderland of lakes, hills, beautiful waterfront properties, forests, bird watchers, fishermen, swimmers, boats and jet skis, skiing and snowmobiling in the winter....and I could go on and on.

One is never at a loss for something to do, and its warden, Dave Burton, calls Haliburton "A Natural Work of Art."

And speaking of art, not that I am a connoisseur or anything, but while we were there, we went to see a wacky kind of art display.

This is where it was:
Yup! In a forest. And it only gets a little more crazy from here.

That's DOTH on the left, lagging behind the rest of the tour group, waiting for mom, the avid photographer.

So, fasten your seat belts and let's head for the first exhibit.

This one's called "Fire and Ice: A Really Big Shoe"
It's a "steel and wire two metre tall stiletto shoe, adorned with red and crystal beads." No pun intended, but you do see where we're going here, don't you!

This is called "The Homesteaders"

It's "...a family created from old telephone poles and farm implements." The guy in the straw hat is not part of the family -- he's our tour guide.

(by the way, there were 20 exhibits, I am just showing you a chosen selection - you might be grateful)

This is "a large beaver contemplating a lamp post." Sorry, I didn't get the lamp post in the photo as I didn't realize its significance until I read the brochure later!

I wouldn't like to say what the tour guide thought of this one....but it's called "A Walk in the Woods in Haliburton." No nudity laws in Haliburton, I guess!'s official description is "a stylized limestone hiker holding a bronze cast of a maple leaf." it Adam, or Eve?

This is "Shelter Shift"

"a brightly coloured wooden 3D representation of a child's sketch of a house." Ah...right. You will notice how intelligent we are all looking, as we ooh! and aah! over it.

These are titled "Curled Figures Mounted on a Large Boulder"

Sorry, but they look to me like they have a bad case of gastro-enteritis.

Just a couple more. This is "Sleep of the Huntress."

Here is her official description: "woman sleeping in Belmont rose granite" -- honest!

This is Shadow Caster:

Officially "a giant skeletal articulated pine cone crafted out of steel." I don't really get the title -- how much shadow could this cast?

Finally, my favourite -- if I have to have a favourite -- "Kinnisis: Horse and Rider"

"Near life-sized horse and rider, created out of small cuts of steel, painted bright blue."

Like I said, I am no connoisseur, and I realize that art comes in all different mediums and has a variety expressions -- but I think I would have preferred to enjoy the art of the forest without the art...indeed as, "A Natural Work of Art."