District 86 Toastmasters Fall conference

In July, I completed a proposal for a workshop for the fall Toastmasters District 86 conference in November. It seemed a long time until the conference, but these things must be done ahead of time to give the organizers time to sort through the submissions and select the workshop presenters.

From our holiday spot in the Kawarthas, I completed the last steps of submission and enjoyed my holidays while awaiting an answer. The best thing, indeed, after submitting anything for consideration, from a poem to a book manuscript or a workshop proposal, is to forget about it and go on with other things, like holidays with our family and a visit to a Toastmasters club in that district.


Buckhorn Lake resort


Naturally Speaking Toastmasters, Peterborough, ON

It was early September before I received the phone call one evening from the Education chair, Jacklyn Payne, that my proposal had been accepted. I was excited and anticipating the conference when I would present, but I had to get down to work and build up my workshop from the ideas and outline I had presented. Between other commitments, it was time to get to work on it.

A lot of thinking and writing went into that workshop. Research too, that I would use to support my workshop, titled ASK for Direction on Mentoring.


Here I am with my workshop assistant, Doris Tuckett, on the Friday afternoon.


and my second workshop assistant, Albert.

Toastmasters calls these assistants Activators, which is really a scientific term. Our networking breakfast business associates got a ‘charge’ out of my response to this.

(conference photo)



My music stand came in handy as we had no lectern, but the sound equipment (mic and speaker) came with me from Kitchener. Thanks, guys at Sheridan Sound, Kitchener, for being so amazingly helpful.

(conference photo from Flickr)





Some of my engaged audience members, listening and then laughing about a story I told

(conference photos)

Thanks to both Doris and Albert for making sure the details around my presentation were covered, and to Chris  Brown, President of our  Energetics Toastmasters club, who helped take down my equipment and get it to the car.


23004361822_7834bfaef8_z(conference photos) At head table, left to right: Gary Schmidt, Vitaliy Fursov, Janice McDonald


After my workshop was past and my things put away, I sat back and relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the conference, the speakers and contestants for both Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests, and of course Gary Schmidt (shown above at left of speaker Vitaliy Fursov), a past Toastmasters International President. I had really hoped to hear more from him since he travelled so far to be with us.

I couldn’t miss our own district speaker, Neil Dunsmore, who backed up much of what I said about mentoring in his thought-provoking, lively and inspirational keynote speech on Saturday morning. He also spoke of his own mentor, Dawna Bate, a fellow member of his first club. He often “bounced ideas off her” on what he should or shouldn’t keep in his speeches. He gave us much to think about.

Thank you, Neil. One great highlight of the entire weekend.


22590966708_c3ed652991_z(conference photo) Neil, a quiet moment in his keynote

Neil also managed the sound board and mics for the speakers at the main hall presentations and dinners as well as the contests.


The times I attended my book table, I had opportunity for conversation with others who came by to check out my table and tell people about the books I was selling.


My book table in the Petun Room at the conference centre


Now it’s more than a week since I gave my workshop and attended the rest of the conference, District 86 Fall Toastmasters conference in beautiful Blue Mountain near Collingwood. I’ve received some lovely compliments on my workshop, for which I am very grateful. It was a good experience over all, and giving a workshop to fellow Toastmasters, you really need to be “on your toes.”


Oh, and if you’re on Facebook, look for the Energetics Toastmasters and my page (Carolyn R. Wilker) and like us too.

November 27, 2015 at 3:21 pm 2 comments

And the weather changes– again


Sunday morning we woke to snow and today the snow is still there. The tree branches were coated  and snow lay in the hollows between the branches too. And snow lay on the ground, staying this time instead of snowflakes that melted on landing  the day before. My granddaughters were excited to see the snow. For them it means tobogganing, snowmen and making angels in the snow, not to mention skiing since they live near a ski hill. We have a photo of them in their full snow gear that their mother put up on Facebook the same day. After all, we’re in Canada.


bits of my garden plants peek out from the snow


It seems we’ve moved into winter quite suddenly. The air is clear and striations and clumps of pinkish white cloud hang in a bright blue sky at this hour. Snow sits on the lap of evergreen boughs until a wind comes along and shakes it off, scattering the snow like a tiny windstorm of snowflakes.

Like the kid’s hide and seek game that I play with my granddaughters, we say, “Read or not, here I come.” And so winter says this to us, “Here I am.”



The snow may melt later in the week and return again. After all it is late November, and we have nearly a promise that outdoor rinks may have a tough go this year. A mild winter may be the case, as the newspaper article declared, but we’ll see. Weather people have been proven wrong more than once before.



Last evening when I drove to our daughter and son-in-law’s home to pick up my husband, who’d got their furnace going, I noticed their crescent was rather icy and so I took my time walking from the car to the house and back. The furnace was running again and the house was warming up again. They were ready for the cold night and we had a safe drive home too.




If you’re not ready for winter yet, time to pull out the snow boots, mittens and hats. Get the snow shovels ready. We’ve already used ours.


What do you like best about winter?


November 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

Last flowers to bloom

I’ve been meaning to do this for days and today I finally got to it. Taking photos of the last flowers of summer. Most everything else has died off or was looking a bit droopy, although there are still a few gaillardia in bloom, but the wind was rustling through them, making it hard to take photos of the last few newer blooms. Considering that Collingwood and Blue Mountain had some snow last Friday when I was there, we may not be so far behind, but then again, maybe being two hours south, we’ll have a bit longer. Even the parsley next to this plant is still green.



My pink carnations, three still blooming. It was a bit windy so the plant was swaying.




No flowers on this plant anymore but the leaves of the scented geranium, green in summer, have turned to red. The flowers were a delicate shade of pink and they smelled wonderful. Not strong, but a gentle scent. We have two of those plants.




Michaelmas daisies, among the last to bloom in summer, are still hanging on at the more sheltered side of the house.



The big plant up near the edge of the flowerbed, still hanging in. Still looking good.

While the plants are winding down, leaves are still falling from trees, making a carpet to walk on and people are raking leaves to the curb for pick-up. Leaves that were blown to the backyard are in the composter getting ready for spring mulching, and the rest of the garden material is on the garden already breaking down to add nutrients to the soil for next gardening season.























November 18, 2015 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Beyond our resources

This morning I posted to The Word Guild professional blog, Canadian Authors who are Christian, as I do once a month.

Today, being Remembrance Day, I wonder how many of the returning or wounded soldiers relied on resources beyond them to get through active duty. It certainly would not be an easy place to be, despite claims of heroism and passion to serve one’s country.

To appreciate their effort and sacrifice, I dedicate my blog piece today to all members of the Canadian military in whatever role they played, whether front line or behind the scenes, such as mechanics and chaplains.


Here’s the opening to that post:

It’s rare that I go to the movies or even watch one on television, but recently I went to see one at the theatre with a friend, 3-D glasses, giant screen—the whole deal, except for the popcorn.

The Martian opens with a group of astronauts on the planet of Mars. The captain decides to abort the mission when a sandstorm comes up, and the team is in agreement—except that one of the six was hit with flying debris, and they believe him to be dead. The remaining crew members leave the planet without him.

On their return to Earth, the chief scientist at NASA announces sombrely that the crew has returned from the mission to Sol except for the sixth member, Watney (played by Mark Damon). They hold a funeral service for him back home and the other members of the crew go back to their duties. Sometime later, as NASA explores the planet by satellite, they discover movement at Sol and discover that Watney is very much alive, proven when he begins sending messages back to Earth.

Read more here.

Photos on this blog are copyright to C. Wilker, unless otherwise noted.

November 11, 2015 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Coming soon– District 86 Fall Toastmasters Fall conference

You haven’t heard from me in a bit, but I’ve been as busy as ever. Sometimes speaking, one day of election work, and getting ready for a big presentation and still writing and editing.

Next weekend, I and many other Toastmasters from District 86 will gather at Blue Mountain resort for the Fall Toastmasters conference. We’ve had all sorts of discussions about it, regarding cost, workshops, accommodations, people receiving their Distinguished Toastmaster status, including two friends of mine, Dawna and Suzanne, who’ve worked so hard for a long time to achieve it. Congratulations to both of you. Well deserved.

We look forward to meeting fellow Toastmasters whom we only see at conference. We look forward to good food and some fun. And looking forward to the Friday evening workshop that I’ll be giving. It’s just about ready. For anyone who doesn’t know what Toastmasters is about, it’s a place to work on communication skills—not just speaking in public, but also on leadership.

If you’ve ever wondered about Toastmasters, pay us a visit on a Thursday afternoon—at the Energetics club in Waterloo— and see what it’s all about. While we’re learning, we’re supportive of each other and we have some hilarious and serious Table Topics. Leave it up to a certain member to come up with zany topics.

But back to the workshop. I tried it out on my club yesterday and got some great evaluations, both aspects that were well done and some that could use a bit of tweaking. It’s good to know that the content is solid. It’s like evaluating my own writing—I can’t always see it clearly. But I was assured that the content was good. So this week, I will be ramping up to the presentation. I won’t tell you more. There is apparently one more day until registration is closing.

Oh, and I’ll have a book table at the conference too, similar to what I had at the recent Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo in Kitchener. I’ll have the same books with me, including a new edition of Hot Apple Cider anthology in which I have a story.

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo

Photo: Dawn Taylor-Gilders, KW Snapd

Me at the business expo, promoting myself and my business


Proud to have a story in this collection.

Will I see you at the conference?

November 7, 2015 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Giving Thanks

This evening I contributed to Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, as I do once a month. Today, because it’s Thanksgiving weekend, I wrote about giving thanks. Not just for a vast array of things, but for those who produce food for us to eat.

After our opening hymn, “We plough the fields and scatter,” this morning, our pastor asked the children what they are thankful for. One said “family” and his little sister said the same thing. And that’s okay, because those things are important too.
When Pastor Claudine mentioned farmers and harvest, it occurred to me that city children do not have the same understanding of harvest that I would have had as a child, or even children growing up on a farm today. City kids don’t see the crops growing, as I did, unless their parents take them to see family in the country. They don’t see wheat in the field being cut, threshed and loaded into a barn for later use. They wouldn’t see all the time and energy or even understand how much the sunshine and rain affect the crops or see the worry in parents’ eyes when too much rain flattens a good stand of grain or hail beats down the corn.

Read more here


Dad riding the old restored tractor in the Tavistock Fair parade

autumn leaves

the colours of autumn


garden earlier in the summer

October 12, 2015 at 1:31 am Leave a comment


Today’s post is a bit different from most in that I want to share some good news.

You may be sad that summer is sliding away so quickly and the cool air of autumn is here, or you may, like me, have lost a friend to cancer and are grieving. There are days that no matter what you do, nothing seems to work out. But there is hope too, and much to be thankful for. (Well maybe the turkey’s not so happy.)


Today I wish to offer encouragement to you wherever you find yourself and to share good news.

Sixty-one writers, including me, look forward to the release of a new anthology in the Hot Apple Cider series. It’s like Chicken Soup series with a decidedly Christian flair. In it are stories that offer hope and encouragement in many situations. It officially launches on November 1st. Watch my facebook page for news.


Here’s what editor N.J. Lindquist wrote about the new book:

In a complicated, busy world, do you feel overwhelmed and insignificant? The heartfelt stories in this collection will take you to a quiet place and remind you that simple acts of love can make a lifetime of difference.

Until then, I wish you happiness and joy, a warm home, friends and family who surround you with love, food to nourish you, and sun that shines softly on you.

autumn leaves

October 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

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