Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Colours" song by Donovan

I have had great pleasure in listening to Matthew's videos, for the past two years. He is a very young Canadian, living in Bangkok, Thailand. He is from Montreal, Canada, originally, so I feel a connection to him as my son lived in Montreal for 10 years, and the two are approximately the same age. Another connection I feel to Matthew is that my son has traveled quite widely too, in Asia including Thailand.

But really, I like following him, because of his sincerity, and awesome music, and because I love this genre of music.

Matthew teaches English in Bangkok, and has a personal project to record all of the tunes on Youtube from the songbook, Rise Up Singing. This song book includes traditional folk songs and ballads, and as well more recent folk songs from the sixties and seventies.

He hasn't posted for almost one year, but in the past week, he has started posting again.
I love this tune, so want to share it here.

If you are inclined to, why not pass on a comment on Youtube to Matthew.
I think he would feel happy to know we are listening to him, and following him at this time.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The certainty of robins and tulips

I'm not sure if you can see the russet coloured chests on these brave little birds, but yes these are robins. The robins who settle here in my city for summer seem always to be rather hardy souls, as it is generally still chilly when they arrive.

I spied my first robin this week, and as always I was delighted. But the week has been terribly cold for spring, and we had up to 1 centimeter of snow, frozen rain, snow flurries, and temperatures as low as -18C, all week. Highways were closed due to icy driving conditions. Poor robins.

Today, is a nice change and it looks like the temperature will be up to about 13C.

 In January, my small group of children at the daycare center, where I work, and I undertook to force tulip bulbs to grow indoors. I had some bulbs at home, which I had not got around to planting in the fall, and they had begun to sprout, so I thought it might be interesting to see if we could force them to grow.

The children loved filling the bottoms of glass canning jars, (Mason jars), with glass marbles, and then we added water, and placed one bulb per jar to rest on top of the marbles. The marbles or gems were meant to act as a wick and draw the water up to the bulb.

We stored the jars under a crawlspace in the building where it would be dark and cool, for about 8 weeks. To keep our interest, I brought the jars up regularly to see any growth.

So, after, about 8 weeks the little bulbs did seem to have some roots, and we decided to plant them in soil, and leave them in the sunlight.

The picture above was taken just after planting them, but since then they have actually grown a few inches, and are beginning to develop leaves. I had hoped they might bloom in time for Easter, but still it's great to see they are growing, and taught me and my small group of children a little about the resilience of plants, I think.

Soon, the earth will warm here, and tulips are sure to grow and I am hoping my children might make the connection from these flowers to their small project over our very cold winter.

Spring does provide us with these reminders of natures' resilience, and certainty. The robins will arrive, and the flowers will come up.

We can be sure of this.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Warm Hearts, Creative Two Year Olds - A Happy Story

Our city's Public Library sponsored an art show and contest for all ages, this past Valentines' Day. The contest was named Melting Hearts, and the public was invited to create a card, with art and poem. There was a category for schools and classrooms. This seemed like a great opportunity for my small group of two and three year olds' at the daycare center where I work.

Earlier in the year we had been working on special art with a possibly Valentine theme, to be used for fundraising, by our daycare, It was intended that the art would be made into lovely sets of art cards that families could purchase. Unfortunately, due to to other circumstances the project fell through.

My group had done some really creative work, and some children had created up to 8 pictures in this project. We used acrylic folk paint, ribbon, construction paper, and a few other media, on small 9X7 canvases purchased at the dollar store. Some children even painted themselves!

I came upon the poster for the art show, in the first week of February. Thanks to the quick acting of my families, I soon had an art piece for each child, selected by the parent, or child and parent; consent forms filled out, as well as a letter explaining the project.

We would need a poem or poems to go with the art. I first attempted to have the children help me make a poem, but they were more interested in playing. Next, I spent a day or two listening for possible warm words from the conversations of the children as they played.

At this point we had been indoors for 5 weeks or so, not being able to go outdoors due to the weather. Our center's weather policy states that we could not be outside in temperatures colder than -25. I had needed to work on teaching kind words. I'm sure anyone would understand that 8 small children confined together in a  small room for up to 10 hours a day can develop conflicts, especially related to ownership of space and materials.

As I listened, I was happy and proud, to hear my children, ask, "Can I play with you?" and "Sure". Or, "Here, you can have this crayon, or puzzle, etc." Of course this didn't always happen, we still had fights, now and then, but much less than previously. It's reassuring to  witness young children learning the rules of getting along. :)

I typed the warm words, cut them out, and then we sat together at a table to look at the words, on the slips of paper. Each child picked out a word, chose the spot to glue it onto a canvas, and the result was our poem, "It May Be Cold Outside, But Our Hearts are Warm". I wish I could share here my photo of the children as they sat around their finished poem, their faces were beaming. I do know this is something we will do again.

 I needed to deliver our project to the library by Friday, Feb. 14, by 5:30. I arranged to leave work one half hour early so as to get there on time. I would not get there on time. I had misread my bus schedule. I tried to phone a taxi, but couldn't get through to the two companies I tried. However, I got there by bus, at 6:15, to find two wonderful art gallery workers still collecting art, and happy to receive ours.

The art curator for the gallery at the Library, chose to display our project in a glass case at the entrance of the libray.
There was a small reception one week later. One of the children was given a prize for Runner Up. I hadn't realized that the work would be judged individually, but that really was okay, no other families minded. It was exciting, to see this little girl, and her mom and dad enjoying the reception, and receiving a $25.00 gift card, as well as getting to see her work on display.

The curator was happy that we had entered the show, we were the only group of daycare aged children, and she said that the work was lovely. :)

It's now the middle of March, and we have just been able to play outdoors for two weeks. One or two days were warm with wonderful melting snow, some days are more traditional for March here, still below freezing, with snow that has an icy surface, and a sky that is rather bleak. But still the children have been out morning and afternoon, and loving the outdoor play.

I'm glad that during the really cold parts of this winter, with temperatures often at -48 to -52 with the wind, that we had the chance to participate in a community event, create some interesting art, and learn how to get along better.

I'm not sure, but maybe there is a lesson here, about hardship and creativity.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ballet with Toddlers or How I Seized the Moment and had a Wonderful Time

It was the end of the week, and towards the end of the day. The day was cold; we had been unable to be outdoors for days.

Sarah, was in the housekeeping area, and putting on a pair of boy's ballet shoes, size small. She handed me a pair of pink ballet slippers, well worn, mine from my teenage years. 

"Put these on, Teacher."

"Well, I guess, I could try, I'm not sure if they will fit". I pulled them on.

"These ones are boy's," Sarah says as she stands up. She twirls.

"Um, yes they were my son's when he was a boy."

I stood, and felt the floor through the bottoms of my feet.

"Let's put on our ballet music, and dance."

I called the small group of toddlers to the music carpet, found that my YoYo Ma cd was in the machine, and turned it on.

As I stood with feet pointed out, back straight, and arms in front, slightly bent at the elbow, I  bent my knees, showing the girls how to slowly lower their body while keeping back straight, and then slowly come back up.

Two of the girls immediately follow along with me, and we begin to raise, and lower to the music, and as I begin to remember the very most basic positions of the ballet, we bend our bodies together with arms held poised out, we turn, and then because I have forgotten almost all I once knew, I improvise, while keeping arms poised, toes out, back straight, and move slowly.

I am aware of Jess, watching from behind the bookshelf, and Nina, eyes sparkling at the edge of the carpet. Nina is special in many ways, she and I have a close bond, and she looks bemused and appreciative as I move with the music, in my old ballet shoes.

I call the two watchers to join us, and so we hold hands in a ring, bending  slowly to the ground, with our backs straight, we stand first on one leg, and point the other leg out; and then do the reverse. 

We release hands, and I twirl, as my toddlers watch.

"This is ballet", I say. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

There was a bit of magic in the air...The Out There concert

The experience of going to the Paul McCartney concert,  Out There, was everything I'd hoped for - lovely weather with a still autumnal feeling in the air; friendly crowds; fun with my son, and niece; and a wonderful musical experience.

Part of the fun, was finding a parking spot, and then walking some distance to the stadium, with other happy concert goers. It became evident that there was going to be a very large crowd at Mosaic stadium. We learned later that the crowd for the concert was over 44, 0000, which is good for a city of our size - 250,000.

Our seats were way up, above the crowds, and we loved this vantage point. As well we were in the very center front seats, with no one in front of us.

  Yes, we were quite far from the stage, but our viewpoint allowed us to get a grand picture of the event, including this beautiful sunset.

We waited a long time for the concert to start - 45 minutes. Later we heard that the concert was held up to wait for concert goers who streamed in steadily . My brother-in-law later  told us that the band had been stuck in traffic, and so called our local popular music radio station, CJME, and said "We're stuck in traffic, does anyone want to talk with Paul". So, the amazed radio announcer had an impromptu, interview with Paul for about 20 minutes.

At the time we were not sure why the concert was so late. We were kept entertained with a light screen collage of the Beatles, and music.

Paul, my son, and I thought maybe they were waiting for the sun to set.

After this beautiful sunset, we still waited for sometime, when suddenly, with no fanfare, the band appeared and started playing "Eight Days a Week".

The music continued nonstop for 3 hours. It seemed to me that the people in the audience were just genuinely happy, and thrilled to have Paul entertain with his lovely songs, and friendly manner. There is nothing off putting, or snobbish in this famous star's engagement with the crowd.

Paul changed guitars frequently through the evening, and of course played the piano. Here he is playing the music for Hey Jude. And yes, the night was lit up with small lights as people shone their phones.

He and his band sang 33 songs this night, and I was surprised when my son, Paul seemed to know so many of them. My beautiful niece Summer, also seemed to be familiar with most of the songs.

One of my favourite songs in the concert was Blackbird. This was performed by Paul alone on stage.
 I know it is hard to see him but isn't that a lovely background for the song.

There were fireworks midway through the evening, here following the Wings tune, Live and Let Die, the theme song for the 1973 James Bond movie of the same name.

After two encores, the concert ended with Golden Slumbers, and The End - and more fireworks to close the night.

The crowd dispersed happily and peacefully. For many, I think a once in a life time opportunity to see a favourite star, perform live. In my books, he lived up to his reputation as a performer, and true star.

I am so happy I had a chance to see this, and must thank my son Paul for taking me to this event.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Autumn leaves, clouds, a new favourite author, and ....a really very famous star coming for a concert...AND I am going!

Just last week, the first brightly coloured autumn leaves began to appear, and drift down to earth.
I love them, but it does seem a little early. However, possibly this is always my reaction to seeing this change in season. Here in my city, we say, as soon as the exhibition comes to town, that it is the start of fall - cooler temperatures, shorter days, and with that must come the fall colours. Every year we then tend to comment on this, isn't it early for the trees to be changing colour?
Summer has been cool and cloudy, my perfect weather really. My top floor apartment in the condo building where I live has been blessedly cool for me and the cats. I leave the windows open all day, and cool refreshing breezes blow through my living quarters. We have had some rain, but not too much, just enough to nourish the flowers and they are all quite luscious.

Petunias are one of my favourite annuals - I like their spicy deep fragrance, their pretty colours, and they are easy to care for. I've never planted impatiens, but did this year, and they really flourished with the rain. They are the white flowers in the photo.

These clematis are special, they have been surviving for some years with no attention, planted beside the brick wall of the building, and living in sandy soil, with plastic as a cover. When I first moved into the building, two neighbours came by and suggested I give it some extra dirt, and keep it watered. They were thrilled that it still kept climbing year after year, although sickly looking.
My neighbours were surprised at the hardiness, and resilience of this plant, as they had tried to grow the same variety of clematis, and had failed.
So every year, it seems to be getting stronger, with more blossoms. It is pretty, isn't it?
  I have been really noticing the cloud formations this summer, more than usual -we have had so many cloudy days. I've been taking photos of them all summer, and thinking about trying to draw clouds.

 I have enough photos of clouds to keep my trying to draw them all year, if I choose.   :)

When I find a writer I love to read, I usually find myself reading all of his or her books. Recently I found the novels of Elizabeth Berg - I've been visiting the library -sometimes when  browsing I find someone new to read - such a pleasure.

I would really recommend her writing if you enjoy novels of everyday people. finding themselves in extraordinary situations. She writes luminously, and it is easy to tell that she loves writing, and also loves people. Elizabeth, is a registered nurse, and worked as a nurse for many years before her life as an author.

I would suggest reading "Open House" first, it is the kind of novel which makes me wish I could go into the book, and visit with the characters. It features a wise group of woman friends.

As well, "We are all Welcome Here", is an amazing story of a woman who after catching polio, has her baby delivered while she is in an iron lung; is immediately abandoned by her husband;  hires a caregiver and soon after returns home to raise her daughter. The book was primarily told from the point of view of the 13 year old girl. It is fiction, based on this remarkable family. The times and setting reminded me of "The Help" - early 1960's , civil rights is part of the story, and the ending features a REALLY VERY FAMOUS and iconic star, who plays the part of this family's liberator.
This is part of the back fence which my talented mother built, and it still stands.
When I was a small child, living on Mullin Avenue, my favourite haunt was the back lane. I visited with my neighbour childhood  friends; sat against the fence and woolgathered; observed crows, and probably this is where my first sense of fellowship with crows started -  and yes sometimes just got away from the fighting at home.

However at one point back in the early 60's there was an ongoing discussion, in the back lane, about a certain musical group new on the scene, whether you liked them best, or ELVIS. Or whether you loved John OR Paul. I think I was a little naive compared to my friends, and just liked Paul because he looked the most friendly. We collected Beatle cards from bubble gum, and Paul did seem to be the Beatle to save.

Still, after many decades, I do like Paul - not best - but I like his music very much. I admire him for still getting out there and playing to crowds at 71, probably putting some musicians in their 20's to shame, for pure energy, and crowd appeal. I saw a youtube video of his performance at the 2012 Olympics; he was outstanding I think.

And he will be here in the small city, where I live, on his world tour this WEDNESDAY!!!
My son, Paul, purchased three tickets from a friend who no longer needed them, for a very reasonable $50.00 each, and he is taking me and my niece, Summer!!!
I think we're going to have lots of fun.

Me I think I'll sit back, and take it all in with great happiness
Hugs. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A nice find in a favourite antique store, and abit of nostalgia

I enjoy browsing in an antique store, in the downtown area of the city where I live. I came upon Memories, by accident last summer - it is tucked below a good hotel, on a side street. The owner of the store, is Rose, and she keeps an interesting selection of items to please a wide variety of treasure seekers - ranging  from the dollar table, including used books, and ornaments - to fine crystal, and china.

Rose's items are carefully labelled, with some prices "Firm", and some not. The store is small, and the aisles are narrow, and there is plenty of breakable merchandise. Rose makes sure to advise being careful when browsing, illustrating how to hold one's large purse in front, of your body, not in back.

Last summer I found several pairs of earrings for 25 cents per pair, and she was meticulous in finding backs for each pair for me, and wrapped my package with care.

This June I found myself in the vicinity of Memories, so popped in for a visit, and a browse. I found the sweet pottery dog, shown at the top of this post, for $5.00 (Firm), and gladly snapped it up, to carry as I continued to look. I knew without question that I would take him home. The price was right for me, and it reminded me of my sweet Sheltie, Rocky.

Rose was as happy as I with the purchase, she exclaimed, "Oh, good someone is going to take him home!" She explained that when she was a child her grandmother had a larger version of the same pottery dog, which sat on the floor.

I noticed the stamp on the bottom of my dog, and so decided to look the pottery up, when I returned home.

I was interested to learn that Danesi has some history, as a maker of chalkware, which is what this dog is made of. I believe it is created with a mold. It has a history as an inexpensive form of decoration that everyone could afford for their homes, as early as the late 19th century, up to I believe the 1960's.

This isn't a particular valuable piece of pottery, but it warms my heart. I  recognize the kind of chalkware, that my mother also had in our house, such as kitchen plaques, so it also provides just abit of nostalgia for me.

Summer often feels like a good time for reflecting on happy memories. For me, I think this is the result of  a more relaxed pace with longer evenings, and opportunities to walk, and recall other happy summers.

I was able to cut and paste this picture right off the multiple listing site. When my parents bought this house it cost $25,000, and it is now priced at around 350, 000!!

 Recently I found the house my parents had built back in 1968, listed on multiple listings for sale, and it has brought back many memories of the summer we moved in. It was a time of wonder, and newness, and lots of exploring for us kids, as we hopped on our bikes and explored every day. There were excavations as new houses were still going up, and neighbourhood parks, and a large community swimming pool, and friends to meet. Directly across from us was a similar house, and I and a new friend devised a system of communicating from our bedroom windows (mine was the one on the left above the door), and her's was directly across. We developed a form of code and flashed our small bedroom lamps to each other at night. I think we did this for most of the summer. What fun!

I am hoping that summer is a time of  relaxation for you, and an opportunity to remember, and make happy memories.