Words of Hope and Love

A very good friend of mine who lives alone has started a project that involves all her friends. She recently asked us to all create ornaments with words of inspiration written on them that she could hang on her white Christmas tree. She still has the white lights on it and she thought it was the perfect back drop for her tree of Hope and Peace and Love.

Her original idea was to cover it with ornaments in the shape of moons, suns and stars. We were all given carte blanche and the only caveat was that they not be too big and that there were  personal messages written on them to send out to the world.

My whole family is getting involved but I think I’m the first to complete the task. I decided to show you my work in the form of a video with music in the background. I learned something new today as I have never done anything like this. Now I’m hoping I’m able to send it out to you.

The Mighty Charles

….Charles is a wild born western lowland gorilla who resides at the Toronto Zoo

Charles turned 45 this fall and has sired 15 offspring while living at the Toronto Zoo. He came to Toronto in 1974 when he was only 2 years old. In the 90s he created quite an uproar because he wouldn’t interact with offspring that weren’t his own and wouldn’t allow the prodigy from other gorilla groups to socialize.

In order to allow the others to interact Charles was sent away for a brief period of time each day in solitude. In an effort to keep Charles contented during these intervals away from his harem, he was given access to large sheets of paper and non-toxic coloured paints. His painting were sold for $400 to $1000 a piece and the money raised ($37 000.00) was used for a new gorilla exhibit. Check the link below to see some of his work.

Charles the Painter

On our visit Charles rested comfortably at the base of the enclosure looking over his harem and the other families. He is clearly the dominant male there. The other large silver back males have to be kept away from him. When his own male offspring reach maturity they have to be sent away so that father and son don’t fight each other for control of the harem.

As Charles watches the females guard their offspring and the young ones climb and play with each other.P1050110P1050109P1050106P1050105

Where to Take Out of Town Guests?

…..why Niagara Falls, of course

Last week my son and daughter-in-law were visiting from London, England. It was a crazy busy week and the nine days that they were here flew by in a flash. Last Saturday we drove them back to the airport.

The first four days, Brendan and Azadeh stayed at our oldest daughter’s place and for the last five days they came to our house. Tuesday turned out to be one the nicest days we had in terms of weather. For most of the day it was warm and sunny and was the perfect day to drive to Niagara Falls. From our place in Toronto it is about an hour and a half drive.

On our way down we ran into a slow down in traffic because of construction. I made a decision and made a detour that took us through some wine country. Bonus! I wasn’t exactly sure where my decision was going to take us but when we arrived in the town of Jordon and right in front of the Cave Spring Wine outlet I knew I had made the right choice. We got out of the car and sampled a little bit of wine (it was just 12:00 noon) and bought a couple of bottles. Everyone enjoyed our little detour.

My Dad joined us for this outing. He’s seen Niagara Falls numerous times so he was more interested in going to the casino. Once we got back on the highway we had avoided the construction and quickly arrived in downtown Niagara Falls. We went straight to the casino, parked the car and dropped Dad off at Casino Niagara. From there Brendan, Azadeh and I walked over to Clifton Hill and down to the Falls.

Clifton Hill has a carnival like atmosphere. We took a few photos but didn’t go into any of the attractions. Here are a few photos of our walk down to the Falls.

The falls of course did not disappoint. Going in the middle of the week is not a bad idea if you can get away because it’s not as busy as it is on weekends. The line-ups for the boats that go right up to the Horseshoe Falls, however, were very long. Needless to say we gave this attraction a pass, especially since we had to be back at the casino to meet Dad in a couple of hours.

When we got to the top of the Canadian Falls we decided to go into the Table Rock refreshment building for a drink and a light bite to eat.

When we were done we only had 10 minutes to get back to the casino to meet Dad. We knew that it would be impossible to walk back in such a short space of time so we hailed a cab and drove back. Sure enough Dad was already waiting for us, right on time. We went back into the casino and let Dad show us his favourite machines. We all played for a little while. I was the only one who lost money.

When we got outside the skies had darkened considerably and we knew we were in for a big storm. I picked up the car and drove back to the casino entrance where everyone was waiting for me. We wanted to go to Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner so we headed out on the Niagara Parkway. This is normally a beautiful and scenic drive but today we drove through a torrential downpour. Luckily when we got to the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake the skies had cleared. We went to the Old Angel Inn for dinner (apparently the oldest inn in Upper Canada). I’ve been there many times so I was pretty sure that the food would be good. It was. When we were done we decided to head back to Toronto so I don’t have any photos of this part of the trip. On the drive out of town we stopped at one more winery but it was just after 6:00 the place was already closed. Oh well, another time perhaps!

If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls you need to visit when you’re in southern Ontario. It is, after all, one of the world’s natural wonders.

First of Many Retirement Parties

…..not sure why but this is the fourth time I’ve tried to write about this

As many of you know, I retired from teaching on June 30. Four of us all retired this year so there were many parties to attend. The first party was put on by the Toronto District School Board. I’ve been with this board for my entire career.

Back in May over 900 employees from the board were celebrated. That’s how many people retired this year. The highlight of the evening happened at the end of the evening when each of us was gifted a bronze school bell. At the countdown every recipient rung their bell at the same time. It was deafening. In the video below only three of us were ringing the bells.

Making Journals with Kids

….I’ve always wanted to try this technique of making an art journal from one sheet of watercolour paper

As many of you know I run a book club at my school that runs for about 5 months. The books that we read all come from the Forest of Reading program which feature Canadian authors. There are different books for different levels of readers. Each program is named after a tree. For example, the primary English picture books are called Blue Spruce and the books for the junior grades are named Silver Birch.

I usually start with over 100 readers from grades 3 to 5. Each student is given a passport and each time they finish reading a book they fill in the passport with a summary of the book. They then go to the expert reader (a teacher or grade 5 student) and are questioned about that particular book. Each time they answer the questions successfully they receive a credit or two, depending on the length and difficulty of the book. This year they were given the goal of obtaining a minimum of 12 credits in order to participate in the year end celebration.

It is a very doable goal, but some students became frustrated when the book they wanted to read had been checked out. There were 120 copies of the English books and 60 copies of the French books. In the end 34 students reached the goal and one student managed to read every single book. There were exactly 50 titles to choose from. This was a record for the book club.

For our celebration we organized two activities for the students. The first activity was a drama workshop that featured one of the Silver Birch books. It was run by our dynamic drama teacher.

After that we were fortunate enough to book an author who had written one of this years non-fiction entries. Caroline Fernandez wrote Boredom Busters and talked to the children about the steps one has to go through to publish a book. The fact that amazed all of us was that for an $18.00 book the author received only 87 cents. Her presentation was very interesting and she loved the the fact that some of the students in the room had made some of the crafts from her book. 9781782491057_z

At lunch we invited the expert readers to come and join us for lunch. We ordered pizza and had juice and popsicles.

After lunch I taught the students how to make an art journal using one sheet of watercolour paper. The trickiest part was folding the paper so two of my colleagues who helped me with organizing the day pre-folded the paper. We only made the first two folds because the size of the paper was a little too large for small hands to manage but the students made the remaining folds. Then the paper was cut in three places and the folding began.

Each student was given two pieces of cardboard that they could decorate any way they wanted. I provided them with scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, collage papers, letters, and markers and pencils. Once the covers were decorated the end papers of the folded journal were glued to the covers. Each student was also given one or two colourful elastics to hold their journals shut.

The students had a wonderful time making their personal journals and some of them started to draw and paint in them as soon as they were finished. Here are a few of the finished projects. If you would like to try making one of these journals watch the video following the picture gallery.

Here is video for making the journals:

Making a simple journal


Frankenstein’s Spooktacular Castle

…..check out Igor in this video

My oldest daughter works at the University of Toronto School of Dentistry. She is a medical illustrator and specializes in computer animation. Every year her department at the school of dentistry participates in a friendly competition to see which department can come up with the best display for Hallowe’en. This year they turned the department into Frankensteins’ castle with props, lighting and sound effects. The staff all took on different roles and dressed up and applied make-up to look like their characters. My ‘quiet’ daughter is Igor. Check out those eyes.

Needless to say the department won the competition. It took about a day to put together.

If you’re interested in seeing some of my daughter’s work you can see it at the U of T School of Dentistry Chanel on YouTube. She created the video on Early Embryonic Facial Development

Starry Nights in Oil Pastel and Watercolour

….children in grades one, two and three create their own version of Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night

Once again I was inspired by Carla Sonheim’s Free Kids Online Art Classes. In week two Diane Culhane introduced the kids to a crayon resist night sky.

The children loved how the watercolour brought up the crayon designs, especially the white marks. They also loved sprinkling salt over their creations. The concept of cutting out a black silhouette of a city or country skyline was a bit more challenging, especially for the grade ones. Here’s a collection of paintings created by my grade two class.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Railpath Run

….started running again yesterday

I decide that I needed a goal to keep running more regularly. I was surprised that after not running for so long that I was able to run 2K without stopping. My daughter, A, has recently started running and told me about a fun run coming up in September. It’s not about a set distance in this run but it’s based on time and how far you can run in 45 minutes. Sounds perfect for me.

The money raised for this event goes to STOP which is a community organization that feeds the homeless and families in need of food in the community. I think that all the money comes from the registration fee so I won’t be asking for any donations. The date for the run is Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. This should give me plenty of time to work up to 45 minutes of running but because it’s a fun run/walk there will be a lot of walkers so if I need to stop and walk for a bit it’s no big deal. I’m really looking forward to this day. If you’re in the Toronto area and want to participate check out the Railpath Run website here.

The other thing that I did today, after getting home from the dentist, was complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Again my oldest daughter, A, nominated me and because it’s for a good cause I decided to follow through. Here’s my video. 

If you haven’t participated in this challenge and would like to I will be happy to nominate any of my followers. Just say that Carol Cormier nominated you. The important thing, however, is to donate to ALS. I just googled ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and I was able to donate right on line. The one thing I didn’t know was that every country has an ALS chapter and I ended up donating to the American site. No matter, it all goes to a good cause.

If you do participate I’d love to see your video.




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.