Thursday, August 28, 2014

Correct Pronunciations

Can't remember where I found this but it is interesting....I might have to print it out and have a copy in my pocket :)
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014



It has been many years since I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. More than 50, in fact, since it was on the English curriculum in high school. I still feel sorry for the kids that just couldn't relate to Jane Austen’s style/content in the 1960’s. I remember finding it difficult as a young teen to latch onto the story, but once I did, I was hooked. Of course I did not enjoy picking it apart as we had to do with everything we read in school: analyze, compare, contrast, state themes and reasons – groan, to say nothing of answering exam questions, double and triple groan!

Last week when Longbourn came into my hands, I wondered if I should reread P and P first, but happily that step was unnecessary – Longbourn is a stand-alone novel. The main characters of P and P are there, but this story is about the characters “below stairs”, the housekeeper, the housemaids, the footman and the interactions between them and the family, among themselves and with other visiting servants.

The timeline of Longbourn follows the same timeline as P and P, but while the sisters are off dining, dancing and discussing their love lives, the servants who see to their every comfort are having very different experiences. They have each joined the Bennet household with personal histories that influence their feelings and actions during their time in service.

When I looked at some of the reviews for Longbourn, I noticed that other readers were very black and white in their recommendations. Many (often Jane Austen “experts”) hated the novel and found it to have few redeeming qualities, while others, like myself, perhaps more open to a different experience (and possibly Downton Abbey fans) praised it highly.

I thought Longbourn was terrific, so I recommend that you read it too. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

More Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. Every day two or three Canadians die of the disease.
( ALS Canada )

My daughter Karen issued the challenge to me on Friday. Our grandkids nominated my other half, Don, to take up the challenge too, so we both did and we'll be donating a total of $100 to the cause.

Before we tip the bucket we are supposed to nominate somebody else to follow suit, but I would rather just post it here and on Facebook and mail it to a few people I know. If you see this video, please consider joining the fun and also making a donation.

Donate here

ALS is getting a lot of attention since this Ice Bucket frenzy started and they are also raking in an unprecedented amount of charitable donations. Let's hope that they use all this money responsibly and let's hope that, through all of our efforts and fun, we help to improve the lives of people living with ALS.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


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This is what the weather looked like two days ago in southwestern Ontario.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Lots of people are having fun with the ALS fundraising Ice Bucket Challenge. Here's a new twist on it.

This second video is a little harder to watch. It starts out funny but gets serious after that.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fraggle Rock

This video is in honour of the visit Judy and I made to the Unwind Yarn House yesterday in Newmarket.

 UYH is fantastic and welcoming shop full of wonderful and colorful  yarns of every kind, lots of knitted samples and books and patterns to drool over. The staff were very friendly and made our visit such a pleasure that I'm sure we'll both go back soon.

The Unwind Yarn House website is also inviting, with workshops and suggestions for knitting, crochet and even felting for experienced and newbies alike.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Women of World War I

2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War so there has been lots of information in the news and many novelists are setting stories in that time period. (Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs novels are some of my favourites)

What is so fascinating is how women's roles, especially in Britain, changed during the progression of the War. In the early years women were portrayed as helpless victims of German aggression, an effort to guilt-trip young men into signing up. Later on, as young men left Britain in droves and able bodies were needed to fill the work gap, women were urged to help the war effort by doing what had, up until, then been traditional men's work.

Women found themselves shoveling coal, becoming policewomen and firefighters and driving ambulances. Large numbers of young women headed to farms across Britain to do agricultural work which was becoming increasingly important as the UK became more and more cut off from imports of food. Other women decoded encrypted messages and were instrumental in breaking into German transmissions.

When the war ended, the men that returned to Britain after years of being away found their wives and girlfriends changed very significantly into able working women - managing on both the home front and in the workplace. Then the men displaced the women in their jobs. Many men expected life to go on as it had been before 1914, but there was no going back and the women's movement toward gender equality was born. 

Lady navvies pushing loaded wheel barrows in Coventry, 1917

The photo above and the poster beneath it are taken from two collections which are so interesting to scroll through. The captions are also full of information.  Find them here (photos) and here (posters) .

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Be Brave!

Yesterday at my local Foodland I saw these crazy new potato chips.Earlier this summer Lays Canada held a contest to suggest new and exciting flavours and these are the results.

As I was gazing at the display in astonishment, the store owner came past and laughed along with me - he's such a great guy! - and told me that his store does a huge volume of sales in chips alone every week. Not so surprising maybe, when you consider that the store is in the centre of cottage country and parties and kids are abundant.

The other two flavours are Bacon Poutine and Jalapeno Mac n Cheese

As this poster says you can vote for your favourite. Go to Lay's Canada to vote, but remember, you should taste them first.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Scarlet Macaw


Have you been to Singapore? If not, you will likely put that city/territory on your list of wishful destinations once you’ve read The Scarlet Macaw. The author, Canadian and Toronto resident, S.P. (Penny) Hozy, is obviously very familiar with the history, geography, culture and food of Singapore, and, in fact, has found a way in her retirement to spend part of every year in Malaysia. We, the readers of The Scarlet Macaw are the happy beneficiaries of her travel knowledge.

The Scarlet Macaw is a mystery with a difference because it is also the story of a family. Set in Singapore in two time periods, the 1920’s and 2012, the story starts with a present-day death on the very first page. The victim, Peter, is an art dealer and his friend, Maris, an artist whom he is mentoring believes he is having a stroke, but finds out that, in fact, he has been poisoned. Why has an art gallery owner, successful and well-liked in his community been murdered? The story of Peter’s family is also a mystery that Maris eventually unravels through reading letters and books of fictional short stories written by a famous early 20th century writer that Peter has bequeathed to her.

Alternating between the two time periods, both stories are compelling and I couldn’t put the book down. I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the action. And now I want to spend a week or so in Singapore at the earliest opportunity. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dancing Robots and How to Put on Your Pants

Recently I saw these 2 videos on the morning TV show in our area. Kids might get a kick out of them, though of course they might not recognize Thriller.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Monkey Puzzle Tree


During the Second World War Gillian and her brother Tom, 6 and 4 years old, are sent to “the country”, to be billeted at an isolated rural property in south Wales in order to stay safely away from the bombing that was sure to hit coastal cities of Britain.

Safe is a relative term though. The children may have been safe from bombs, but there are other ways to put children at risk, especially when concerned parents are not in the picture. Unhappy events in a young childhood may have repercussions in adulthood.

Fifty years later Gillian is still haunted by those early days of separation from her mother. Now living in Canada and learning that her mother is on her deathbed, she travels back to the UK, hoping to find out more about that time from her mother before she is gone. She impulsively decides to visit the farm where her innocence was lost at such a young age and discovers that some things haven’t changed.

Alternating between past and present, we learn more about what happened to the various characters and how lives were changed during and after the war. 

The Monkey Puzzle Tree is Sonia Tilson's debut novel. I'll be looking forward to her next one.