Thursday, May 28, 2015


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Just Around the Corner

Patrick Dougherty is a North Carolina artist and sculptor who works with trees and saplings to create wonderful pieces of art. His bio is here.

Over the last 30 years he has created more than 250 site-specific sculptures.

Check out some amazing photos at Arch Daily..

Check out Dougherty's website at Stickwork.


Thursday, May 21, 2015


This is a promotion poster for Born To Walk, The Transformative Power of the Pedestrian Act, by Dan Rubinstein. I have it on hold at the library where it's "on order".

Dan is a Canadian journalist, storyteller and a keen walker and blogger. Here's a short trailer for the book which was released in April 2015.

 In case you're wondering, as I was, the drum circle footage that bookends the trailer is from a walk that Dan joined that's part of a multi-year walking project led by Innu surgeon Dr. Stanley Vollant. 

You can read about that experience here: Vollant, is, in fact, currently leading a group that's walking to Kuujjuaq, on Ungava Bay:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Save an Avocado

I love avocados.
  • alone with a sprinkle of sea salt
  • smashed onto a piece of crusty toast and topped with a sprinkle of sea salt and some hemp nuts
  • diced and added to any kind of salad
  • guacamole
  • with eggs
I can find an excuse almost everyday to eat avocado. Luckily they have been shown to be a healthy addition to a meal, with lots of fibre and healthy fat. I usually limit myself to just half and keep the other half, pit in situ, in the fridge. It doesn't seem to matter if I coat the leftover half with lemon juice, cover it with plastic wrap or just toss it on a shelf untreated. It always turns brown on the exposed flesh, Of course that doesn't slow me down - I just eat it as is, or if it has been more than one day and it's particularly dark, I just trim that part off with a sharp knife. 

Now there's NEW INFORMATION about storing leftover avocados. 

Dice half a small onion and place in a bowl. Place the avocado on top of the diced onions, skin down, cover with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge. Overnight, two or three days...the avocado will stay a beautiful pristine green colour (assuming it was a pristine green colour to start with - this method does not perform miracles!)

Here's my avocado two days later:


This information about leftover avocado storage came via nutritionist Rosie Schwartz

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Mexico Caves

Some people do the most incredible things with their lives. Ra Paulette is a sculptor who has created magnificent art in some New Mexico caves.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I'm probably last to the party, but I just recently discovered and was delighted by Zentangles. Like you (?) sometimes I doodle. Mostly my doodles are uninteresting messes. What are yours like?

Using Zentangle concepts though, doodles can become both meditation and art. Since they are pretty easy, they might make an interesting hobby for kids too.

The drawings come out looking like flat versions of Easter Eggs or henna art or quilt designs or even celtic knots.Or maybe it's the other way around: that those crafts are types of zendoodles. Some designs are simple and some are unbelievably intricate. Adding some shading can even create depth.

Pattern Designs

No need to be artistic or particularly creative or good a drawing. No need for a lot of expensive equipment, just pen or pencil and paper. A template might be handy, but it's all free-form: no rulers required.

The more complex designs are done step-wise, so there's no feeling of being overwhelmed at the beginning, and when the pattern has been completed, the doodler can feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment and even, might I say, joy. I think there's also ample opportunity for creativity too.

There are tons of websites and videos and even a huge Pinterest following. Unfortunately for the purpose of blogging about them, a lot of the Zentangle material is copy-writed, so while you can use the designs for your own art (not for commercial purposes), without applying for a lot of permissions which might involve lawyers,  I cannot put post pictures on this blog.

But you get the idea and maybe you'll be inspired to look it up and try it out or introduce tangling to the budding doodlers in your family.

Here are a couple links to get you started:

Zentangle (the founders of Zentangle)

Enthusiastic Artist (a Canadian site)

Tangle Patterns

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Orphan Train

Orphan Train

I loved this book. From the first page I couldn't get my nose out of it and I'm afraid I stayed up waaaay too late one night to finish it.

Orphan Train is fiction based on the historical fact of actual orphan trains that operated in the US between 1854 and 1929, when street kids and orphans, many of them recent immigrants, were gathered up from New York City and other east coast urban centres, placed on a train with chaperones and delivered to the mid-west for "adoption", which often, though not always, turned out to be indentured servitude. 

In Christina Baker Kline's novel we follow the parallel stories of Niamh (pronounced Neeve) and Molly, both parent-less. Niamh, now known as Vivian, is 91 and is looking back on her early life and experience as an orphan train kid. Molly, 17 years old and a native Penobscot from Maine is on a surprisingly similar life journey. An unlikely friendship springs up between these two women, both struggling to make sense of their lives.

The book has a satisfying surprise ending, good enough to make me glad when I couldn't put it down in the middle of the night.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Postscript to Dead Wake

In today's Toronto Star there's a great article by Katie Daubs about newlyweds Ethel and Stanley Lines, survivors of the Lusitania sinking in May 1915. There  are some wonderful photos, some comments from her family and a link to Ethel's 1959 recording when she was nearly 80, recounting her memories of the sinking. Listen here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dead Wake: One Hundred Years Ago Today

Dead Wake

Saturday, May 1, 1915: Britain was at war with Germany. George V was on the throne and Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty. To the disappointment of Britain and France, the United States had not yet entered the war. President Woodrow Wilson and his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, were pacifists. Wilson was preoccupied with personal matters. The stage was set for a major disaster.

May 1, 1915: the Lusitania, a Cunard Lines passenger ship had been not-so-secretly outfitted with ammunition magazines and gun mounts (though not guns) hidden under her decks. The ship was sleek and speedy and it was thought she could easily outrun a German submarine. On this day in 1915, May 1, the ill-fated liner set sail from New York City towards Liverpool, carrying passengers and a hidden cargo of munitions and supplies needed by the British war effort. 

All was well until Friday, May 7, when, just off the coast of Ireland, all hell broke loose. A lurking German submarine fired on the Lusitania, despite knowing it was carrying civilian passengers (but probably also knowing or guessing it was carrying munitions). 1119 of the 1924 persons aboard died within minutes. Of course they were sitting on top of explosives, so no surprise that there was a huge conflagration and the ship sank so quickly that most passengers and crew had little chance of survival.

This story and many of the individual stories within are what Erik Larson has been researching for the past few years and he has just published Dead Wake. In spite of the death and destruction, it is an entertaining read. Larsen is an expert at describing the issues of concern and some of the politics of the day in 1915. We get insights into the interior workings of the British government of the time and into the mindset of the German U-boat commander. We learn about many of the passengers on the Lusitania, some famous and privileged, others much less so, but when one's life is on the line class distinctions start to unravel.

Dead Wake

My book club friends and I really enjoyed Devil in the White City, which Erik Larson published in 2003 about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago - the putting together of the Fair's architecture and landscaping and about the serial murderer who took advantage of the chaos to ply his trade. I highly recommend this book if/while you're waiting for Dead Wake arrive at your local library.