Going Up a Ski Hill in July

….no snow…don’t worry

Here in the west end of Toronto we have a park and a ski hill that was built entirely with garbage. It’s a wonderful place with soccer fields, baseball diamonds, a track and field stadium, walking paths, picnic areas, a go carting  facility, a golf course and yes a ski hill.

My husband is coaching a group of boys to help them with their physical endurance and running skills. Last week I decided to join him and we drove to Centennial Hill together. Rather than sit around I decided to go for a walk and I climbed the hill alongside the ski ramp. It was nice and shady and I could stop and rest on the ramp when I needed to.IMG-3074
At the top of the hill I had a wonderful view of the next city, Mississauga and the Toronto airport from one side and the park further along the ridge.


A Busy Week

….when it rains it pours

This past week was the week I dreaded the most because many of the events that I organize and other special events and meetings that I take part in took place in this one week. On Monday the parents organized a very special luncheon for the staff at our school. The library was pretty much closed so that they could decorate, set up the tables and put out the food. As always there was so much food that the staff didn’t have to bring lunch for the next three days.

On Tuesday we had a soccer practice after school and then I drove to the warehouse to pick up an order of paper that I needed for my book making workshop on Thursday. When I got back to school I had dinner with the principle and then we waited together for the parent council meeting to begin at 7:00. I’m the teacher rep for these meetings. Needless to say by the time I got home it was pretty late.

On Wednesday we had another soccer practice after school so I started to set up for my workshop earlier in the day. I cut enough paper for about 60 books and I typed out the names of the 60 students who would be attending the special Forest of Reading Celebration. I placed the lists in the attendance folders so that teachers would know which students needed to be released from class. I would have stayed later and put more things out but I was reminded earlier in the day that I had bought a ticket to see a stage production that one of my former colleagues and dear friend was the stage manager for. I went home to have dinner with my husband and then left shortly after to get to the church on time for the musical extravaganza. It was actually very good.

On Thursday the day started with a bit of a wrinkle in our plans. The photographer for the grade 5 year end photo had to be rescheduled and it happened to fall on the same morning as the Forest of Reading Celebration. Four of the six teachers that were running the workshops that morning also had to be in the photo. Luckily my right hand woman, MC, was able to call down the grade 3s and 4s and read to them for a few minutes and then got them started on the art activity of bookmaking.

After the photo was taken the grade 5s went to the gym where two of my friends and colleagues hosted a drama/dance workshop based on one of the books from the Forest of Reading that I had read to the entire school. The book was The Artist and Me. I wrote about it in an earlier post. I went straight to the library to help MC with the bookmaking. This year I chose three easy designs and the first group mostly chose to make the accordion book.

At lunch the participants in the activity day went to the gym where they were served pizza, juice and ice-cream bars. All the teacher expert readers were invited as well. After the food was devoured the children went outside for lunch recess and the teachers had a bit of a break.

In the afternoon our visiting author, Sue Irwin, arrived with her props and extra copies of her book Safety Stars. She talked about her love of hockey and how she came to write a children’s book about how hockey evolved over the years with new safety equipment. She also tried to talk about the process of writing but the children had questions mostly about hockey which she happily answered. 9781459408470

At the end of the day I handed out special awards to the students who had read the most books. The goal was 12 but the top students had read 30, 39 and 41. Every student who attended the celebration also received a gift bag with a pencil, pen, book mark and stickers and one book of their choice.

After school I had one more soccer practice with the girls before their tournament the following day. On the way home I took the car through the car wash.

On Friday the girls’ soccer tournament took place. There were only three schools participating on this day. Our team won their first game 7-0 and lost the second game 4-0. It was a really chilly day but I’d rather have that than a day sweltering with heat.  We’re not sure if we’re moving on. If we are it means more practices. I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday. On the way home tonight I went back to the car wash and complained about the dirty water that they used to rinse the car. I didn’t notice the spots all over the car until the next morning. They gave me another voucher for a car wash so I decided to use it right away.

Ah, finally the weekend but there is no rest for the wicked. On Saturday I did three loads of laundry, cleared more things from the basement, started to take out my summer wardrobe and put away more winter items. I cleaned bathrooms, tidied my father’s apartment and vacuumed and de-cluttered the living room. We drove to the mall to get some new keys cut and buy some light bulbs and batteries. I checked out Winners while we were there but it was late in the day so I didn’t have time to try anything on.

Today is grey, cool and it’s pouring down rain at the moment. We went out earlier and picked up some meat from the boys that my husband coaches. It was some kind of fundraiser for one of the many activities that they’re involved in. We spent a couple of hours relaxing over coffee and just talking. Now that we’re back home we’re resting up a bit before we head out again to do more errands, i.e., grocery shopping, garden shopping and checking out fences for our backyard.

Tomorrow is a holiday in Canada, Victoria Day. Traditionally it’s the weekend where  a lot of people head up north to open the cottage. I was hoping to do the same but I knew if it was cold and raining I wouldn’t be making the trip this weekend. Only once did I go up in May when the conditions weren’t optimal and I vowed I’d never do it again. My daughter and I froze and left early. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Perhaps we’ll visit a friend or drive to Hamilton or continue cleaning up around here and maybe we’ll start putting in our garden.



A Great Day for a Race

….the conditions were perfect

Back in August I signed up for the Railpath Community Run. Initially I thought I would do the walk but every year for the last three years I end up running the course. I guess the term running is debatable in my case but once I start I don’t stop to walk. I’m not very fast, in fact I know people who can walk faster than I run.

On Thursday, my daughter and I made our way to the Henderson Brewery where the running packages could be picked up. This is the first year that the micro brewery, situated on the rail path hosted the event. We stayed and sampled some of the beer after picking up our numbers and t-shirts.

My husband has been coaching a group of boys, ages nine to thirteen, for the last four weeks to prepare them for this year’s cross country run at their school. We’ve known most of the boys for 10 years and we consider them family. Despite my husband’s current medical condition, going out two to three times a week to work with the boys has been a very uplifting experience for him. In his younger days my husband was considered a world class marathon runner.

This past week K has been flat on his back with debilitating pain in his knees and ankles. At the hospital they thought he was suffering from an onset of severe rheumatoid arthritis and they sent him home with a prescription for morphine and a phone number for a rheumatologist. To make a long story short, he was able to get dressed today and make his way to the race to watch his team run.

There were 13 of us from the ‘family’ running  and I was the only one who had signed up for the walk, which was after the run. Instead of making everyone wait for me to finish the Community Walk I decided to do the run section instead. I learned a new term today that applies to me. I’m a ‘snurtle’ which means I run slower than a turtle. My only goal today was not to be the last one on the course.

Well I reached my goal. There were four women slower than me and I ran a personal best. The run is 45 minutes long and I was about 200 metres shy of the 5k mark. I figured I would have hit the mark in about 47 minutes. In past races I’ve never run better than a 50 minute 5k.

The boys all ran 8K, some faster than others but in the end three of them took first, second and third place in the under 18 category. Pretty impressive. My daughter, A, ran 8K as well and my daughter-in-law, J, ran 7K. We were all happy with our results and after the race we hung around and had a drink at the brewery. We also stayed for the draw prizes and three of the boys walked away with a gift and I won a prize. Not a bad way to end an event.

Next year I’m going to aim to get to that 5K mark before the 45 minutes are up. It will probably mean losing some more weight and running more often but I’m confident that I can do it. Who would have thought at my age I would become a runner.


Share Your World 2016 – Week 25

…..check out Cee’s Share Your World and join the fun

How many languages do you you speak?

Basically I speak two languages, English and German. German was my first language and I understand it very well but I am very hesitant to use it. Growing up I had to go to German school on Saturdays and I hated it. Whenever my parents or their friends spoke to me in German I would answer in English. When I turned 18 I sang in a German choir and did so for 27 years.

What are some words that just make you smile?

The first word that makes me smile is my granddaughter’s name – Winnie. I can’t help but smile when I think of her or hear someone utter her name. Come to think of it all the names of my loved ones make me smile. Other words that make me smile are love, art, summer vacation, cottage, puppy and party.

If you were the original architect of one existing building, which building would you select?

This is tough because there are lots of buildings that I would be proud to put my name on, even ones that have been somewhat controversial. I love old and new but I think the one that stands out for me at the moment is the AGO. It is a combination of old and new. Several years ago it underwent a renovation and I simply love the lines and all the wood on the inside. The architect is Frank Gehry.

Would you rather have telepathy or telekinesis? (Telepathy is the communication using your brain waves, telekinesis is channeling the energy onto physical objects to cause substantial, observable physical changes.)

I think I’d rather have telepathy. It would be neat to be able to send messages without opening my mouth.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for being able to check off more items from my to do list. As you know June is extremely busy for me at school. Every time I’m able to cross off another item it takes a huge weight off my shoulders.

Things that are done:

2 retirement parties- collected money and bought gift for one

Jump Rope for Heart – money collected and prizes distributed

Report cards written, proofread and printed

Timetables for next year organized

Father’s Day gift bought and BBQ with the family

Year end school concert

Rehearsals for grade five farewell

book club for June

finished paintings with the students for the stage

son’s wedding via the internet

city finals for girls’ soccer

taking 78 students to Jays’ baseball game to sing the national anthems

This week I’m looking forward to the grade 5 farewell assembly, play day, cleaning up my office in the library, the staff party and making final arrangements for our trip to Italy. Most of all I’m looking forward to getting on that plane next Saturday. Phew! I’m tired just thinking about it.



A Challenge – Doing Their Best

….but it wasn’t quite enough 

Today we drove to the east end of the city to participate in the Girls’ Soccer City Championships. The sky was overcast but for the most part the predicted heavy rain held off. It was humid and during the second game we experienced a brief light shower. Earlier in the day the two teams that we would face off later played against each other. The team that lost challenged us to play if we didn’t win our first game.

Unfortunately our first game was difficult. The team we played against was our toughest competition to date and we lost 3 to 0. It was our first lost of the season. An hour later we played the second team to determine who would come in second. We were pretty evenly matched. In the first half no one from either side scored. In the second half they scored first and then we scored. The game ended in a tie and went into overtime. Have I ever told you how much I hate overtime, especially ‘golden goal’. The first team to score would win. The girls fought hard but it wasn’t to be this year.

You’d never know from the photographs that the girls were disappointed. Their sadness was brief and they walked away knowing that they had come a long way just to get to the city championships. We, their coaches and parents, were very proud of them. Bravo girls!


Share Your World 2014 – Week 23

….a lot of questions involving tight spaces

Would your rather be stuck in a small plane with mild turbulence for 2 hours or be a passenger in a car racing the Daytona 500?

This is a difficult question because I dislike any kind of turbulence on a plane and I suspect a small plane would be worse but I also would not be a good passenger in a racing car. I would constantly be stepping on the imaginary brake, hanging on to the overhead strap for dear life and covering my eyes for most of the race. If I had to choose I think I would take the small plane. At least I might enjoy the aerial views of the landscape below.

Would you rather be alone with nobody in the vicinity for one month or never be alone not even for a minute for one month?

Again another difficult question. I enjoy moments of solitude but I also like being around people. If I was well stocked and had plans to be very productive for one month I might enjoy that more than never having a moment to myself. At the very least I’d need a phone so that I could talk to loved ones and friends once in awhile just to make sure everyone is well.

Would you like to sleep in a human size nest in a tree or be snuggled in a burrowed spot underground?

Definitely in a human size nest in a tree. I remember watching the movie Swiss Family Robinson as a kid and I thought it would be really neat to live in the trees. I like the thought of being able to see who’s approaching the nest, the openness and fresh air and the breeze that would waft through the branches. Underground would be too claustrophobic and the air would be stale and damp.

In a car would you rather drive or be a passenger?

It depends on the situation and who’s driving. I like driving but on long trips I enjoy being able to sit back and take in the scenery. My husband very much dislikes driving in the city now so there are times when I would rather drive than listen to his complaints about the traffic.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am grateful that I’ve finished writing my comments for the report cards. This is probably one of my least favourite things in the world to do. I’m also grateful for time spent with old friends last week.

I’m looking forward to this week’s soccer game where the girls are competing for the city championships. I’ve been there a few times but we’ve never managed to secure the title. I’m also looking forward to catching up on the painting assignments that I’ve had to put on the back burner because of report card writing and numerous social engagements that took place last week.

Here are a few things I would enjoy if I had a month alone.

Reading the collection of books that I bid on at the silent auction.

Reading the collection of books that I bid on at the silent auction.

Puttering around in the garden and enjoying the fruits of my labour.

Puttering around in the garden and enjoying the fruits of my labour.

Painting, painting, painting. These are the first two assignments out of 4 from lesson one. Lesson four arrived today. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Painting, painting, painting. These are the first two assignments out of 4 from lesson one. Lesson four arrived today. I have a lot of catching up to do.

For those of you who read my post from Saturday you might be interested in knowing that we went back the next day to the yard sale and bought the mandolin. It's a beauty and we got it for a good price.

For those of you who read my post from Saturday you might be interested in knowing that we went back the next day to the yard sale and bought the mandolin. It’s a beauty and we got it for a good price.

For more answers to this week’s Share Your World  check out Cee’s blog http://ceenphotography.com/2014/06/09/share-your-world-2014-week-23/

Share Your World – 2014 Week 22

…..I may not be able to answer one of these questions

Regarding animals would you prefer not having them around or having domestics pets, farm animals, or seeing them in nature or the zoo?

I love animals and love having them around. I’m very much a dog person but we have owned a cat, gerbils, hamsters and budgie birds. I also enjoy seeing wild animals on my walks or seeing them in my backyard. P1020919 I know that a lot of people don’t like zoos but I’ve always had a soft spot for zoos. Over the years they’ve become better and for some the only way they would ever see some of the exotic animals that only a zoo can house.



P1030760 photo 3-138 photo 1-177

Are you a collector of anything? 

I used to collect teddy bears but the collection became too large so I stopped asking for them. In the last few years I’ve been giving away some of my least favourite bears.photo 3-160 IMG_1719

If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?

Hmmm, I really have to think about this. I’ll come back to this one.   Later…..How do you answer this question?

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to?

I would treat myself to extra fine sheets made from the best Egyptian cotton, the loftiest down comforter, and the best bed money can buy. I must be tired because I’m thinking only of sleep.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week I was grateful for my oldest daughter helping me put some finishing touches on the grade 5 project so that it would be ready for the silent auction. I’m also happy that my girls’ soccer team won the West Conference Finals and are now moving on to the City Finals. Lastly I’m grateful for the support from the kids and their parents for our annual Jump Rope for Heart fund raiser. So far they’ve raised over $6000. this year.

This week I’m looking forward to working on my report cards …..NOT. Actually I am looking forward to finishing them for the last time this school year.

For more Share Your World posts check out http://ceenphotography.com/2014/06/02/share-your-world-2014-week-22/

Soccer Finals, Future Aces Assembly and Jump Rope for Heart

…..all on the same day

To say it was a busy day is an understatement. Our soccer games for the West End Conference Finals were moved up to today because of a scheduling conflict within the organization. At school we had already booked our assembly and Jump Rope activity for the same day.

At first I was a bit upset because I’m also the coordinator for the Jump Rope for Heart activity and one of the soccer coaches. Luckily my principal is very generous and understanding and she suggested that I go with the girls in the morning for soccer and return in the afternoon for Jump Rope. If the girls moved on after their first game my colleague and the second coach would stay with the girls.

As it turned out the girls did win their first game. They begged me to stay for the next game so I agreed to stay for the first half but then I really did have to leave. When I walked toward the car during the second half the girls were ahead by one point but as I drove away I saw that the other team scored. I knew that if they lost this game they would be back at school within the hour.

photo 2-163

When I got back to school I watched part of the assembly and at the end of it I took the photo of all of the Future Aces winners. Then I set up the tent for the music equipment and the prizes that I had for the skippers. As soon as the children came out for recess we started skipping and continued for a good hour. Teachers chose students who were working extra hard and sent them to me for a prize. Some of the older students performed their favourite songs with the microphone and near the end of the hour we had a jump off where specially selected students jumped for a short period of time while teachers and student helpers counted how many times they turned their ropes. We had 3 different age categories to make it more fair. All in all it was a great event.

…..and guess what? The soccer team didn’t return within the hour. In fact when they did return they ran over to me and declared that they had won all their games and were going to the city finals in two weeks. Yeah!

Share Your World – 2014 Week 20

…..the end of a long weekend brings us to a new Share Your World

If you could go back and visit any time period, what time would you travel to and why?

I saved this question for last because I’m not sure which time period I’d want to travel to. Having studied and taught early civilizations, the medieval era, and everything else up to the present day I know too much about the downside of each era, i.e. the plague, wars, disease, poverty, discrimination, persecution, unsanitary living conditions, etc.. If I had to choose I think it might be the early 1900s when the first wave of technology really started to impact people’s daily lives. Imagine experiencing the telephone, cameras, sewing machines, typewriters, electric lights, refrigerators and washing machines powered with electricity for the first time. It must have been a very exciting yet controversial period in history. Abstract art became popular then because with the invention of the camera, artists didn’t need to recreate realistic images onto canvas. They were now free to try new art forms and express their creativity using new techniques and materials. It was also a time when women started to fight for equal rights and fashions changed dramatically. Reminds me a little bit of growing up in the 60s and 70s. The Winkler Sisters

If you could have three wishes granted for you alone, what would they be? This is a time for you to dream and have fun.

My first wish would be to be able to pack my bag at a moment’s notice and fly to anywhere in the world that my heart desires. An opening to a Broadway show in New York, a week on an island in the South Pacific, time spent with my son in Venice for his biennale, or attending an art retreat in the mountains in British Columbia would all be possible in the blink of an eye.

My second wish would be to completely renovate my house from top to bottom. Never mind moving. I love where I live. My only stipulation would be that the work is started and finished by professionals. No more DIY for me.

My third and final wish would be to live a long and healthy life so that I can enjoy the first two.

Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

For quenching my thirst, nothing is better than plain old water. I love the water at my cottage because it comes from deep in the ground through a sand point. It is cold and free of chemicals. It’s also tested every year and is about as pure as it gets. No e-coli, bacteria, excess minerals, pollutants, etc..

At home the tap water isn’t bad but I also enjoy a good cup of tea, especially on a chilly night. I’m not usually a beer drinker but on a hot day an ice cold glass of beer with ginger ale, also known as a shanty, also quenches my thirst.

If you watch TV what are your favorite three television shows?

I had to answer this question first because the answer didn’t require a lot of thought. The first show to come to mind is Survivor. I’m a fan through and through and have watched every season since the beginning when Richard Hatch won.

The next show that I love is Dancing With the Stars. I wasn’t always a fan. I don’t think I even bothered watching the first season but it was during season two that I became a fan. One of the reasons why I love this show is because my husband and I took ballroom dancing for about 13 months. We spent three days a week at the dance studio taking private lessons, group lessons and participating in dance parties and competitions. The only reason we stopped was because it became financially burdensome. Dancing with the Stars

Now before you think that I am a reality show freak, which I confess I probably am, my third choice is a drama. Actually I like about three or four dramas. My first choice is The Good Wife. 

In second and third place are Elementary and The Mentalist. All three shows have great actors and great writers.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for another positive visit to the oral surgeon. Everything is healing on target and I’m able to eat more normally. I’m also grateful for getting out for two long walks this weekend and spending a great day with my daughters and husband on Sunday.

This week I’m looking forward to walking more and for the soccer team’s tournament on Tuesday (that’s tomorrow). I’m also hoping to get out into the garden and plant some flowers, now that the temperatures are starting to warm up. It was pretty cool this weekend.

For more Share Your World posts check out Cee’s Photography.

Children Never Cease to Amaze Me

….after a stressful and frustrating couple of days, an act of kindness melts my heart

Today was much calmer at school. The children actually got outside for recess despite the overcast skies. We started the day with our Character Education assembly and two of the kindergarten classes entertained us with fantastic performances featuring the theme cooperation. Mr. J. presented the trophy to this year’s winning floor hockey team and handed out medals to the boys’ touch football team that came in second in the City Finals. Mrs. F’s grade 3 class performed a musical production on the Orff instruments, conducted by Ms C. In my opinion it was one of the best assemblies we’ve had this year.

Now that all the voting for favourite books in the library is finished some of my stress has been lifted. I managed to email the last set of votes before I left school today. All day during library classes the kids were truly interested in knowing how the vote went. In art class the grade 3s continued on their weaving projects. I’m really loving this assignment. It’s so relaxing and the kids really like it. One of the students who finished his project is working on a design for our class project that everyone will participate in. When it’s done we will donate it for the silent auction at this year’s Fun Fair at the end of May. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

I started and ended the day with soccer tryouts for the grade 4/5 girls. A group of students wanted to help me in the library and I told them what I really needed was a clean office and clean art equipment. They were happy to take up the challenge. All I really wanted was to have the paint cleaned off the palettes and brushes from Monday’s class.

When I walked into the library after soccer practice the room was dark but I heard a few giggles and my three helpers jumped out from behind my office door and yelled surprise. Not only had they put away all the books but they cleared off my library/computer table, washed all the art equipment, polished the sink, tidied the counter and organized the table and surfaces in my office. If that wasn’t enough they brought me a tray of fresh fruit and made me a cup of coffee. What a great way to end the day. They made me feel very special.