Toastmasters, even on holidays

I’m a long-standing member of the Energetics Toastmasters of  Kitchener-Waterloo, and as we were planning our holidays in the Grandview Resort in the Kawartha Lakes region, I thought, I wonder what Toastmasters clubs are in the area. A google search brought up three in the area, one at noon in Peterborough, Naturally Speaking Toastmasters, as well as two others. Not being as familiar with the area as one who lives there year round, I decided on Naturally Speaking, a club that meets in the noon hour on Tuesdays.

With the help of Tony Nelson, founder and former member of the Energetics, now a member of Lindsay and District Toastmasters, I contacted Lisa from the Peterborough club and wrote, “I’d like to attend your meeting while I’m in the area. And I’m open to take a meeting role.” Lisa replied with an invitation to speak or take another role that had not yet been filled. I chose the speaking role. Before we left home, I got an email from Brian who was to be my speech evaluator for details on my project and I sent him a message too.

My husband and I drove into Peterborough that Tuesday morning after our initial few days at our daughter and son-in-law’s location. With the help of ‘Matilda,’ our GPS, we got to Charlotte Street, parked and walked the next block to Empress Gardens where the club meets. The seniors were at lunch on our right and the Fireside Lounge to the left where we met Brian Patrick and Susan Johnston who were setting up for the meeting.



At first it seemed as though the meeting would have a small attendance that day, not unlike our own club during the summer, but they trickled in, including Heather Watson, the meeting chairperson for the day. We were early, after all.

The meeting began with welcomes and a greeting on the theme of compost. This club, at least for today, had the speaker slot early, and I was the only one. Julia Ledgard, Grammarian for this meeting, gave us the word of the day, which was ‘dirt.’ With one hour to meet, there’s no time to waste and the meeting went as planned.  Heather introduced me and gave my speech title, No Such Word, and it was time for me to speak.

For those who do not know about Toastmasters, we help each other with our communication and leadership roles through evaluations and the members took time to give me some feedback on my speech, both grow and glow as we like to call them. Grow points to help speakers improve their presentations and glow for the things they did well.

Jay  Schiller, an organic farmer apart from his office job, led the impromptu speaking session as Table Topics Master. His questions were challenging and the speaking time was 2 minutes each.

I thank the members who offered both appreciation and constructive feedback that I will consider the next time I give this speech again, or another similar one. I appreciated the opportunity to visit this warm and welcoming club and would do so again at another such opportunity. Although each club is made up of different individuals, I noticed the same atmosphere that we have in our own club, one that welcomes guests and makes them feel at home, and a true and helpful spirit where we work together to improve our speaking and leadership abilities.

Thank you to the members for making my husband and I feel so welcome. Best wishes to you in your personal and group goals.

DSCF9084A photo of the members and guests that day, with me at far right, in the beautiful Fireside Lounge


DSCF9085Susan K. Johnston and Brian Patrick, holding up their banner. They joked that, between them, they represent many years in Toastmasters


Then before we headed out for lunch, we walked up the street and took some pictures of the city








DSCF9088I like how the newer buildings blended with the historic in colour in that square.


DSCF9089Looking across at Empress Gardens where the Toastmasters meet



July 25, 2015 at 1:07 pm Leave a comment

Lakefield Literary Festival

The first Saturday we were away was also the opening of the Lakefield Literary Festival, which my granddaughters shortened to the Festival. We planned to attend the Children’s time that was held at the Cenotaph Park, near the town’s library. Our granddaughters perhaps worried that they would have to sit a long time and hear someone read stories, but they soon learned otherwise for the children’s authors had lively presentations planned, in partnership with the Selwyn Public Library .


We arrived to see volunteers hustling around getting things ready and the book selling table in process of being set up and the Children’s Tent ready. People were setting up the book table, where Happenstance Books and Yarn were already featuring books by those authors, Ruth Ohi, Helaine Becker and Aubrey Davis.

According to the website,

The Lakefield Literary Festival celebrates its rich literary heritage each July on a weekend close to Margaret Laurence’s birthday, and showcases many current Canadian authors. The festival was created to celebrate the work of Catharine Parr Trail, Susanna Moodie and Margaret Laurence, among others, all of whom lived and wrote in Lakefield.


The piper walked up and down the green space then escorted the authors to the Children’s Tent along with students who would welcome and introduce those writers.

Ruth Ohi was first on the program and presented a lively time for the children and parents in the audience, telling us about how she started out drawing and writing stories as a child. She asked for a volunteer from the audience, gave the girl and start and stop signal to draw a scribble on the page and then she made a drawing of her own out of that scribble.


She showed how her stories started with words on a plain piece of paper and then were made into a book, but she also showed a drawing of hers when she was 5 years old. She drew quickly, almost always talking as she presented. Our grandchildren and many others were fascinated by her drawing and telling us of her story making. She kept the children’s attention and captivated them throughout.

Ruth Ohi

Her newest series, Fox and Squirrel, are sure to be a hit for the younger audience for the words and colourful art work. She is both author and illustrator.

DSCF9051MC giving us the information on the book table and other important things

Next on stage was Helaine Becker, who told us about her story planning, how some ideas didn’t work out and others did, and how long it took some stories to be done.

It was harder to get her photo since she seemed to face the other part of the audience for the duration, but her presentation engaged the children too, when she asked for audience members to be volunteers and help her in tell her story, Dashing Through the Snow. She talked about different holidays and set off in a new direction when we got to Christmas as a favourite.

DSCN2026She put on her Santa hat and handed a set of bells to each of the four volunteers from the audience.

Helaine Becker

At the end of her presentation, our granddaughters were ready for more than a stretch and so I stayed to hear the introductory story for Aubrey Davis along with his stories, of which there were several.

DSCF9054Aubrey Davis, a lively and engaging storyteller, who thanked the students for an intriguing opening to his part

Aubrey, a well-know author and storyteller whom I introduced at Latitudes in Kitchener about 4 years ago, began with a story that invited audience participation, one that the children enjoyed, then he told part of A Hen for Izzy Pippik, his recent storybook. He closed with another story that children often are fascinated with even if the bear does swallow the people who tromp across his bridge, but I won’t tell the ending here because some day you may hear him tell it again.

Aubrey DavisAfter the performances, I took my grandchildren to the book table to choose a story for their collection. One chose Dashing Through the Snow, the other Fox and Squirrel Make Friends, and together they chose another book by Ruth Ohi, Fox and Squirrel, for their baby cousin.  I will be sure to add A Hen for Izzy Pippik to my collection quite soon.

We stood in line for an autograph with Helaine Becker, but the line was pretty long for Ruth Ohi, and so we settled on sending her a message via Facebook to tell her how much we liked her presentation. And Aubrey Davis got an email too.
We talked about the Festival, as the girls called it, on the way back to their trailer.

“What did you like best?” I asked.

“Getting a book,” one said.

“Did you like the drawing part?” I asked.

“Yes,” the eldest one said. “It was amazing.”

And thus we wrapped the morning of the festival. Over our holidays we read each of their storybooks and this week, their little cousin received her book too and she got to hear her storybook, as read by her father.

July 23, 2015 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Back from holidays

Over a week ago we were in the middle of our holidays in the beautiful Kawartha Lakes area of Ontario. Being 2 1/2 hours away by car is different from flying to a far-flung island, but it was a good holiday spent with family and some time on our own as well. I’ll be spreading this holiday over several posts, so stay tuned.


We arrived at Grandview Resort on Buckhorn Lake on the 10th of July mid-afternoon, in time to relax a bit and get settled in before the supper hour.

10845797_10153536830317783_3952711101560370668_oI’d bought a new game for our granddaughters to play and here we are playing Word Bingo



One of our first outings was a boat ride across the lake to their favourite ice cream place, for a treat. Oops, one child’s ice cream cone hit the dirt and her Mom shared her cone. The ice cream was yummy!




11540857_10153536821757783_4030163311468483503_o After ice cream and clean-up, we posed for a picture before heading back to the boat.


11222103_10153536826642783_8329426807461979878_oPapa looking where we’re going. Wearing our life jackets too.




And the boat ride back to the resort.


Tomorrow’s post: Lakefield Literary Festival



July 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Noticing the Good

“How often do we fail to take-in, or even notice, the good moments of our lives?” -Renate Donnovan

The biggest headlines in the newspaper is usually about bad stuff happening to people, while the good news often takes a back seat, later in the paper. There have been instances though where a successful transplant or quadruplets overcoming the odds to survive a known problem for children in multiple birth situations make the front pages, at least in part.

I’m currently following a 30-Day Possibility Challenge with Renate Donnovan, a counselling hypnotist and coach. We’re past the half-way mark now. Each day has had a new challenge, concerning some different aspect of our lives and how we process it. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing something we like to do and enjoying the moments. That day I did some sewing on a project that I’d been looking forward to, something for my older granddaughters. Another day we thought about times when we were taking on responsibility that belonged to another. And we were to just focus on the area of responsibility that belonged to us.

Today’s challenge is about noticing “the good moments in our lives and really take them in and be aware.” So we’re focusing on something positive.

And then she asked, “So, what would have to happen for it to be possible for me to just receive and take-in the beauty around me?”

The answer to this could be simply to rethink how we process all the stimuli that comes to us in a day, over the radio waves, in the newspaper and from people around us. It doesn’t mean we shut out the entire world and all its trouble to focus on these questions, but making some time to ponder the questions and acting on them. It can mean that we allow for healing moments. It may mean acknowledging God here, too, in the beauty around us.

Today I will take some time to stand in my garden, acknowledging the beauty of creation, the simple but beautiful blooms in my yard and those around me. I will also take in the beauty of a baby’s reaction to another’s smiles, for today I will see my youngest granddaughter who’s learning about the world around her through her senses of taste, touch, sight. I’ll enjoy watching her.



July 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Updates from my garden

It`s rainy today but my flowers in the beds around my yard still brighten the place. Here`s a peek at what`s growing strong.


DSCF8947carnations in variegated pink and white







gaillardia and coral bells


DSCF9015Daisies finally opened. I`ve always loved daisies since I was a little girl when we picked them along the lane


DSCF8928Lobelia in my window box planter


DSCF9017Black-eyed susan

June 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

Piece by Piece

This past week while I was at Write Canada in Toronto, I posted my latest blog piece for Canadian Writers Who are Christian. It was a busy several days on faculty, both teaching and learning. Here’s my piece:

I’ve always admired the craftsmanship that goes into quilting, especially those quilts that look like works of art. Like the quilts auctioned off at the Mennonite Relief sale each spring. My style, up to the last quilt project, has always been hand stitching around the design elements of a fabric panel. My eldest daughter asked if I would sew a quilt for their new baby’s crib. She wanted a fairly simple design that wouldn’t take me endless hours to complete, but with colours that match the baby’s room. One day before Christmas, we went to the Creative Sisters Quilt Studio in Kitchener. A young woman named Jemcah helped us find suitable fabrics. We had a lot of fun playing with the fat quarters, arranging the colours and patterns. To read more of this post, go here. DSCF8629 The completed quilt on baby’s bed

June 17, 2015 at 9:57 pm Leave a comment

Garden is growing

DSCF8920My husband and I were out in the garden tonight. We lifted the netting on our raised beds so I could weed around our growing plants.  Here are the tomatoes and a few of the basil plants. Our grandchildren like the tiny tomatoes and so so we.



Beans and more basil and one other herb.  Carrots on the right are still really tiny.

My husband was trimming around the box. You can see the top of his cap.



DSCF8926My favourite lettuce–romaine. I never did take to leaf lettuce though my mother grew lots of it.


DSCF8921I got the weeding done and we put the netting down around the box again to keep birds and small critters out. See the zucchini in the foreground? That’s new this year.


DSCF8923 Man hard at work yet, trimming. He mowed yesterday then we got talking with our neighbour about driveways and drainage and such and never did get all the trimming done, so that was his job tonight. I might also mention that for those new to my blog, my husband built these beds.


DSCF8937Ending with a pic of gaillardia this evening. More flowers another day.

How is your garden coming along?

June 17, 2015 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

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