Thursday, January 30, 2014



Before January 2014 completely disappears, it might be interesting and maybe a bit sobering, to think about some of the significant events that happened 100 years ago. 1914 is such an interesting time in history - so many changes happening so quickly - women entering the workforce, the beginning of commercial flight, increasing knowledge leading to advances in science and medicine, construction, communications and the early days of the movie industry, to name a few. You can probably add to this list and I welcome your thoughts.

100 years ago:

The really big one for many people: the start of the First World War, the Great War precipitated by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo. Canada, a member of the British Empire, entered the war when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany on Aug. 4. By the end of the horrifying conflict 45,000 Canadians soldiers were dead.

Canadian Confederation Timeline | Canada joins WW1 | Event view

Other notable events of 1914:

Dubliners by James Joyce published.

Canadian-born actress Mary Pickford starred in silent film Cinderella

Honus Wagner became the first major league baseball player to have 3000 hits.

First year that Mother's Day was celebrated.

The Panama Canal was completed.

The ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland sank in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, after a collision with a Norwegian collier resulting in the loss of more than 1000 lives.

Comedian Oliver Hardy made his film debut.

The Royal Ontario Museum opened.

The building of Casa Loma , started in 1911 was completed in 1914 at the cost of $3.5 million.

A few of the famous people born in 1914:

poet Dylan Thomas
writer W.O. Mitchell
country music pioneers Ernest Tubb and Hank Snow
actors Alec Guinness, Jackie Coogan, and Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger)
scientist Jonas Salk
boxer Joe Louis
baseballer Joe DiMaggio


In 1914 Canada's population was just short of 8 million people (it is now approximately 35 million).
Our Prime Minister was Conservative, Robert Borden.  Borden-sm.jpg

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Mother's Secret

Okay, so I read a lot of wonderful books over Christmas/New Years and this is another one.
My Mother's Secret is a moving Holocaust story - historical fiction based on fact. The author, J.L. Witterick is donating 100% of the proceeds of the sale of this novel at Chapters/Indigo to The Love of Reading Foundation.
It's easy to be inspired by Franciszka Halamjowa and her daughter. Living in the small town of Sokal in Poland they make the decision, amazing to us, perhaps, in light of the danger to themselves, but a "no-brainer" decision for these compassionate women, to provide sanctuary to Jewish families during the German occupation.
As we follow the events in the story, it's difficult not to wonder how we would have fared in this situation, whatever character we were. It's easy to agree now with Elie Wiesel, that "To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all", not so easy to see ourselves living out that philosophy in a state of mortal danger. Since we never know what we are or are not capable of until it is right there before us, decision-time, in fact, so much greater is our appreciation of those brave people during war who opt to do what they can to save others.
The decision these women made saved 15 lives. At the same time they lost beloved family members, endured terrible hardships and lived at risk of all of their lives. Thank goodness for storytellers who keep these memories alive and who remind us that we too have the ability to find greatness within.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Painted Girls

Here's a book of historical fiction I recently read during the holidays and thoroughly enjoyed. Based on fact, it's the story of three sisters who share a passion for ballet in the late 19th century Paris of Edgar Degas and the other budding Impressionists. There is so much to consider in the tale: I think it would make an excellent book club selection
 The girls are trying to survive after their father departs. The mother is an absinthe addict and the oldest daughter, Antoinette, at 17, has just been let go by the ballet, Paris OpĂ©ra, where she had hopes of earning enough to keep the little family going. The younger sisters, 13 and 8, are dependent on Antoinette while also trying to find their own way.
The details of life in these circumstances were an eye-opener for me. The Canadian author, Cathy Marie Buchanan, brings to life the scenes, scents and dangers for girls in such a society in a compelling story based on the real lives of the Van Goethem sisters at the same time weaving in a real story of murder and intrigue. 
After reading this novel, you will look at Degas depictions of young ballet dancers in an entirely new way. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Your Personal Dialect Map


Try this quiz to discover your vocal roots. It's pretty interesting to see how small variations in our language can pinpoint the area where we first learned to speak.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Share Your Joy


This is an old video, but still fun to watch. Fran and Marlow Cowan share their joy and love of piano and performance with others in the Atrium of the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Married for more than 60 years back in 2008 when this took place, they remind us that you're only as old as you act...even when you might be at the hospital for serious health problems. Choose happiness and share it around!

Hear more about that day and the folks who took the video here... 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Casting Off My Womb

This is the time of year when wombs are often mentioned (or at least it was when I prepared this post just before Christmas ;) That is one of my rationales for posting this piece today. I know some might find this video distasteful in the extreme and I hope my blog doesn't get flooded (snort!) with comments from outraged visitors.

Recently this performance was making news/waves. Thank heavens there are people in the world who push boundaries, for how else can we challenge our attitudes and grow as people, but this project by Australian performance artist Casey Jenkins might cross the line and be more than a tad shocking for many of us. Hold on, though, humour may find a way out.

On a lighter note, maybe these would be an appropriate item to knit this way:

Photo: Hahaha, a gift for someone who has "everything", bet they don't have a pair of these..... with love from Shelagh Duffett

Here's another thought:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014



I used to knit a lot - sweaters, mitts, socks etc. I started out when I was 7 and on the long train journey from Detroit to Houston with my aunt. She was an avid knitter and crafter and I was a willing pupil. There were a lot of dropped stitches and a few tears on that trip, but my aunt was magnificent, quelling the upsets and fixing the mistakes. She even had me knitting with two yarns at once, one of them a fancy gold thread. I can still recall how it felt in my fingers and how accomplished I felt to be using it. By the journey's end I knew that knitting was something I could get better at and since there are only 2 stitches, the world was going to be my oyster.

Then, when I was 13 and my first niece was on the way, I learned to follow a pattern and knit a baby sweater and bonnet. (Have you noticed that very few babies wear these lovingly crafted hand-knits these days?) That's when a monster was created, the result being countless adult-size sweaters, a cute poncho for my first-born to wear when she could finally stand and eventually beautiful sweaters for each of our three teenagers.

Finally I noticed that not many folks were walking around in hand-knit sweaters anymore and I put my needles away.

Then a couple years ago some friends were talking about the scarfs they had knitted in an unusual way and the bug bit me again, though it has taken this long for me to scratch the itch.

Anyway, while I was browsing the website of a nearby knit shop I found the photo of the adorable ponies above, so had to share it with you.

The scarf I want to make is a spiral scarf...looks like this....

So I'm off soon to the knit shop to choose some wonderful yarn in pretty colours. Anybody want a scarf?