Anchor in Grief

Today I blogged over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian on grief, remembering a friend, and reflecting on that grief.

Carolyn Wilker-photo







Recently I marked the date of my friend’s birthday, September 2nd, though she died eight months ago. I posted one of my favourite photos of her on my Facebook page.

Her own Facebook page is still up and there was a reminder of her birthday— which I could never forget. And her voice is still on their home answering machine. It wrings at the heart. It’s hard when a friend dies. This was a friend I’ve known since early childhood.

On my Facebook page that day, I received many virtual hugs from others who have known grief too, and those were much appreciated. Yet not all reactions to grief are similar.

Some say, “Keep busy.” Others say, “Move on,” as if the loss were trivial. And while I know that one must keep putting one foot in front of another, I recognize that grief is something that one has to deal with. Grief is hard work. I’ve seen friends struggle with the death of a baby and another who is grieving the death of her husband who was just as much a friend. I will offer a hug and a listening ear, knowing this is a difficult time and a grief I do not know. Read more here.




September 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Tavistock Fall Fair– another year of agricultural pursuits and learning

This past weekend the Tavistock Agricultural Society put on its annual Fall Fair. It truly is an agricultural fair, but there is more. Along with exhibits of corn, vegetables and grains, there’s room for handiwork such as knitting, quilting, sewing, fine art and children’s creations with Lego, drawing. And wait, there’s photos and scrapbooking exhibits as well. I remember checking the exhibits to see how my work had fared for prizes, as well as the 4-H displays by our Girl’s club and other organizations.


IMG230 a prize-winning basket of veggies



IMG231 Display by the Horticultural Society


IMG236Historical Society, recognizing the Guide and Scout movement. There was even a Brownie uniform just like the one our daughters wore for a time, but not the newer Alfred Sung uniforms for the Guides and Brownies.


IMG232 Photos by local businesses for dressed-up window display, where Quehl’s took first place.


IMG234Prize-winning photos of animals and clouds here. Glad I wasn’t the judge. It would have been hard to select.





Rider preparing for the Hunter and Jumper show in the ring


IMG247The midway and rides for  the kids and adults alike. I wonder how many times this dragon went around the track. I did miss the merry-go-round, conspicuous by its absence. I hadn’t seen the ferris wheel that day, but if  you look toward the back of the picture near the silos, it’s there.


IMG251Art by  the school children on this year’s theme– take a guess what it was this year


IMG252giant beets and good-looking cucumbers



Newly crowned Fair Ambassador, Derika Nauta, says to my great niece, “In 16 years you can take my place.”


IMG2544-H displays


…and a unit I wished we had taken, by the Hickson club

But if you thought that’s all there was, as if that weren’t enough, we had the church booth, Optimists selling sausage on a bun, and other  commercial displays. And wait.., another important part. The twelfth annual Silent Auction.



All sorts of household  goods and gifts to bid on



a baby quilt that I didn’t quite get (by Quilters of the Renaissance). Think they would make another one? But my bid was successful on a fleece baby blanket made by Joan Ferguson.

IMG229a contribution for a new writer



and a round of applause for Kim Urlando who took over the organization of the auction seven years ago, along with her partner, Barry Klein, who gives up the garage for weeks to store the items until set-up day.

Come the end of the fair they’ve logged a lot of volunteer hours. It can’t be done alone. Kim says, “I have the best committee at the fair!! “


September 10, 2014 at 8:46 pm Leave a comment

Canadian Canoe Museum –Part 2


As mentioned in Part 1 of Canadian Canoe Museum, there’s so much to see and learn here that one could spend most of a day here.



DSCF7608 This sign says, in part,

Missionaries, beginning with the Jesuits in the 1600s, regularly used canoes to reach the remote parts of Canada… they cheerfully accepted the rigours of life on the trail.



DSCF7609A canoe that folds. Imagine that! I suppose it would help where there is limited storage space.




Here’s a closed-in canoe, somewhat like a kayak in appearance. See the wooden seat, like a lawn chair,  and the attached oar. Perhaps only for leisure and not a working canoe.




DSCF7611 A canoe, with not one, but two sails. The sails would catch the wind and it looks like they could be moved to do just that.


DSCF7612A courting canoe, with cushy pillows for the pair, and music too. See the on-board Victrola?



DSCF7613A close-up of the music machine. I think the courting couple would want to go out on calm waters, otherwise the record player and cushions could get wet. Imagine the courting couple out on the water of a calm lake and they’re listening to their favourite music as they paddle.




In another canoe, a similar type of record player, without the amplifier. We had records like this in a black box gramophone.



Look at this sleek canoe with the cushioned seat. Pretty classy.



DSCF7618 And the very last canoe we saw named for someone special– it’s a good name.


There we are at the end of the canoe museum.  I stopped at the gift shop to look around. I came home with two books, one to read to my granddaughters and one about storytelling. Love the children’s picture book story, One Dog Canoe, by Mary Casanova, illustrated by Ard Hoyt. I also discovered that one story in the book, Mugged by a Moose, ed.  Matt Jackson, was written by a Waterloo Region author, Leslie Bamford, whom I happen to know.


September 2, 2014 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

Canadian Writers Who Are Christian–Sandwiched

Today I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, about being part of the Sandwich Generation.


“If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes.” –Corrie Ten Boom

We’re at that stage in our family with aging parents on one side—we’re all aging every day—and younger family with grandchildren on the other side. We’ve known, in retrospect, that this could happen one day and now we’re there, but we don’t always know what to do with it.

With two parents needing our support, our attention and energies are spread to their maximum, and that comes apart from a career as a freelance editor and writer, and a husband at home with some special needs of his own.

Carol Abaya, an expert in elder care, writes that there is no rehearsal for parent care, rather parenting one’s parents. “Becoming a parent to an aging parent presents extraordinary challenges.” Apparently it was Abaya who coined the term “sandwich generation” but also “club sandwich generation.”

Go here to read more.


And while you’re there, read the posts of Peter Black, Glynis Belec, Heidi McLaughlin. You’ll surely find some story that resonates or entertains.


The Sandwich Generation looks a little like this





or like a Dagwood sandwich, with the caregivers in the middle.


Back to the Canadian Canoe Museum another day.

August 21, 2014 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Canadian Canoe Museum– Part 1

Back to our holidays in the Kawarthas in July.


We read about the museum in the Kawartha Visitor  2014 Summer Vacation Guide and right away it grabbed my interest—a museum about canoes. We weren’t about to find one of those in our community of southwestern Ontario. Curious, I persuaded my husband that we should go there the day after our trip to Lang Pioneer Village. So we set out for Peterborough to find this place and were delighted with the offerings there.


Who would have thought there were so many kinds of canoes?  I knew that native Canadians probably started the canoe making, but a canoe with a sail? Courting canoes with a phonograph on board?



A woman met us at the door and told us a bit about the museum and where to begin our tour. She also told us there was a student questionnaire that if we chose to answer, we would get a discount on anything we bought in the shop. We’d wait and see  how our time worked out.


Thus we began with the upper level and the whale hunters of Canada’s Pacific Coast.

DSCF7580The signs were large and easy  to read, often showing maps where the canoes were employed.



DSCF7581 A canoe with a sail on it. I hadn’t known there was such a thing.




DSCF7583My husband reading the sign by the Eagle Canoe made and used by the Haida




DSCF7582 I was impressed by the art work on the canoe and the paddles. They’re works of art. Mind you, it was a pretty large canoe. I don’t remember the exact length. Something like 50 feet or a bit longer.




Here’s a bit of history on the Haida and their life, including the canoes. They weren’t altogether friendly folks, when they raid and take prisoners.




DSCF7585An early birch bark canoe



This map and chart shows a few of the shapes of their bow profiles. The sign says, in part:

… their most distinguishing characteristics are bow profiles. … The condition of the water, whether flowing, tranquil, wave tossed or turbulent is reflected in the design of the bow that sets the canoes apart.


I found this intriguing and had never thought so much about its shape. Some of their information came from Cedar by Hilary Stewart, 1984, Douglas and McIntyre, used by permission. If a person was inclined to learn more, this would be a good source to consult.


We watched a video of native Canadians knitting the Cowichan sweater on Kuyper Island and learned that not all the sweaters sold in stores are hand knit. The women do it to keep up the tradition and as part of a way of life, but they find it an increasingly unprofitable venture as stores bring in machine-made sweaters and often the prices they are paid do not afford them a livelihood with the cost of yarn. Rather a dilemma for them.


The men used canoes to gather supplies they couldn’t get by land.




DSCF7590 Rackfuls of canoes, named and cataloged, for visitors to see the various kinds. I didn’t count the numbers of canoes, but there were aplenty of them.



DSCF7593 The canoe builders were craftsmen and incorporated designs.

“The making of canoes is an ancient art,” as one of the signs read, but the building continues today. Skilled model builders can be found in the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association. The museum’s desire is to recognize the builders and continuing the tradition.





Jen in the Presentation Area, where they hold workshops. She’s putting kits together for a workshop and she took time to explain some of  the programs they offer.  They teach classes to children too and how to preserve and add a collection number. One project was a shadow box. Thanks, Jen.




DSCF7598 A Mi’Kmaq Winter camp




DSCF7600Then the museum got into the canoes used for trade.




And one loaded with supplies for a journey. Where would the canoeist sit to paddle? Might they have just loaded it to show us what might be carried on a journey? Would a canoe be towed like a wagon?


DSCF7604Hands On Areas

Every so often there was a play area for children to act out the role of a trader or canoeist. This was a puppet theatre and it had puppets stacked on a pole that children could use.

DSCF7605Look at this work of art on a canoe.




DSCF7607and here was the canoe with the sail that I saw on a Trip Advisor recommendation.

As I looked at the sign behind it, a museum staff member said to me, “Farley Mowatt.”

I said, ” Ah, but that was the boat that wouldn’t float.”

He grinned, not expecting this answer.

By the way, I do recommend this place for families.


And here I’ll stop for the day. To be continued.

Photos by L. and C. Wilker. If you wish to use a photo, please ask.

August 18, 2014 at 12:11 am 2 comments

A drive to Lakefield, Ontario


In mid-July when we were in Kawartha Lakes area on vacation, we heard the radio announcer report about the Lakefield Literary Festival. What we didn’t know then was that the event was already happening. Our son-in-law Dave suggested that we (read “I”) might like to attend  when we stayed on.


The next day, after a bit of Internet research and a look into the Lakefield weekly paper, the July 11th Lakefield  Herald, we learned that the event ran over the weekend and we had missed it. The Lakefield Herald showed a preview photo of Sheree Fitch, children’s author from Nova Scotia, one of many guests who were to attend and read or perform at the festival. Among them were Richard Wangamese, Alison Wearing, local (to Lakefield) author John Craig, Werner Zimmerman and others. A special preview photo of the well known children’s author Sheree Fitch was in the paper. “Hey, I’ve met her before,” in  Halifax at the Editors’ Association of Canada conference in 2013 when I was her workshop assistant.

And so we missed the Literary Festival, which was a bit disappointing, but we decided to take a drive there before our return home. After a visit to the Canadian Canoe Museum (another upcoming post) we crossed the bridge, looked around in a new craft shop then crossed the bridge again and  wandered around the town  near the end of business hours.


DSCF7628Sound of mighty rushing water here




Municipal building, a fine red-brick structure






Another public building, but which one? You can see the kind of sunny day we had.




DSCF7633The municipal building again. See the outlook on top? I don’t know what you call it, but I think it would be a great place to see the land around the town. Has anyone been up there recently?



DSCF7635I loved this stack of cups and pots in the garden. They looked as though they would fall over


DSCF7637And on the other side of the garden,  a stack of rocks too, all in a pretty wildflower garden…




in front of this restaurant… or is it  a coffee shop. I would have loved to go in this place but we were there near closing time.


Ah, but this shop was not closed, among my favourite kinds of store. Yarn and books at Happenstance on 44 Queen Street, almost across from the pretty garden.


Happenstance                                                                                                                                           Photo shared by permission. Find them on Facebook


An interesting combination in a shop. Plenty of yarn in many colours and shades as well as shelves full of books. I picked up a list of recommended books, compiled by a store employee. She’s read plenty of books. We asked about the Literary Festival we’d missed and learned that the events were held mostly at the college and a few other public places that had more room for crowds of people.

Judy Caulfield, fellow storyteller, attends this event every year and may know this store quite well. A neat little shop that from our perspective is well run.

While I was there I saw some square knitting needles. The employee, Sue (on the far right on their Facebook photo), said she likes these needles and finds the stitches stay on better. I got a pair for knitting mittens.

The remaining stores would be closing soon and so we headed for the car and drove back to the Grandview Resort where we were staying. Perhaps next year, we can come a little earlier and make it to the festival. I wonder who’ll be there next year.


Photos  ©  C. and L. Wilker, except for the one posted by permission


August 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

One more post about Lang Pioneer Village

We’d covered a lot of ground in those few hours and yet there was more to see, the lumberman’s shanty and the mill.


DSCF7543Men from the village sometimes went to work in a lumber camp over the winter to earn extra money for their families. They left their wives and children behind and headed off to the forest and lived in a small shanty with little more than an axe they carried with them. As it says in this sign, that

Canada remained a competitor for the timber market because they were exempt from a heavy British duty.


DSCF7545Informational sign in the shanty at the village


DSCF7546How to sharpen an axe on the stone. One would approach this task very carefully, just as much so as cutting down a tree. No chain saws here. It was all manual labour.


DSCF7548The men at the lumber camp would sleep in bunks like these and hang up wet socks on the line above. There were no fancy closets to hang clothing, and if I remember correctly from the information posted there, the men came with very few extra clothing pieces.

Seeing this shanty and reading about it reminded me of the storyteller Deborah Dunleavy and her story of the Flying Canoe, in which men in a lumber camp were tempted to travel  home to their home town for a New Year’s party, and in particular one young man to visit a certain young lady, but I won’t spoil the story for you. The Crystal is the story CD you’d like to hear it. Storytelling at its best.


DSCF7549 Out in the field behind the shanty is an old harvester.


DSCF7550 And zooming in on the name, you can read who made it.


We took a short snack break before heading on to the mill.




DSCF7558The Lang Grist Mill was owned by the Otonobee Region Conservation Authority. The Quaker Oats Company had some input into restoring the mill for historical purposes.



DSCF7561Exhibits in the mill



DSCF7560Yes, horses were important. They pulled the wagon.


DSCF7562 The tools and equipment people used for harvest in the 1840s  may seem primitive as compared to twelve-row ploughs and tractors with stereos in them, but they did the job. A lot of manual labour was required. Lest anyone think that a modern farm is easy,  there is still need for manual labour.



DSCF7565Another exhibit piece but the sign was cut off. Anyone know what this is for?





A tool to cut straw and corn


There were many other exhibits, models and pictures of equipment used to harvest crops and presses and other equipment to grind the grain into flour. It was important also to keep the dust from the grain to a minimum.

The young man showing us around, whose picture I didn’t get, was very patient with the children who happened to be there at the same time. They asked a lot of questions and he answered them well, demonstrating things that he could. The children had a ride on the cart that took them to the weigh scale. They were surprised by the weight.




Back down the path and looking across the bridge and path. Quite a picture. I took few notes at the mill, but it was interesting nonetheless, and we were ready to go out for a proper meal. It had been hours, but it had been a good visit.




DSCF7568The welcome sign at the village gate


Thank you to Elizabeth King, Administrative and Volunteer Coordinator, for posting my links on the village’s blog and to all the  staff and volunteers who make this a living museum. I hope that my posts encourage others to come and visit the village as an option on their summer vacation.


Photos © C. and L. Wilker





July 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

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