Posts filed under ‘culture’

The Shedding Christmas Tree


My granddaughters, aged 4 & 6, each made one of these for their tree a few weeks ago when we were doing a craft. I made one along with them.


Pets shed their fur, people lose hair upon combing it, and trees eventually lose needles when they’re brought indoors too. But our tree is not a real one and it’s shedding too. Pretty badly, I might say.

We take our tree out of its storage box each December, assemble the poles that are never really hidden and put them in the stand, then stage the branches according to colour sequence from top to bottom. Then at the end of the season, sometime in early January, I take it apart and put the branches and all back in the box.

All of this came after a year or two of having a real tree and then needing to put them all out of the curb each January with all the others. That was before they were collected for environmental purposes, at least that I knew of. I worried about all those trees cut down for a short season indoors and decided to do something different. And so we bought our first artificial tree.

Once the pieces are out of the box and on the tree, we, rather I, spread out the compacted branches and then put on the lights. By the time I have done this, the living room carpet is full of those fibres that are meant to resemble needles on a pine tree. I complained about the fall-out last year when I put the tree up, and this week I said, “At the end of this season, this tree goes out.” Next year, it means we get a new one.

It was a White Rose special, a moderately priced tree, and for a lot of years it served us well. By the time we get the lights on and all the decorations, it’s passable, apart from the spindly topmost pointed branch that always leans when I put on my hand crafted angel, though it’s not very heavy. She looks like she’s had one too many celebrations. Unless you compare our tree to a real tree or one of those with hinged branches—much fuller branches—with the lights already on them, it doesn’t look too bad.

Usually my husband hauls out the boxes—tree and decorations—and hands over the rest of the job to me. When I’m done assembling and decorating, he vacuums the room because every year it sheds. This time I gave him the job of sorting out the lights since he had wrapped them carefully and completed the job on each bundle with tape as he does with all electrical cords, in a neat and orderly fashion.

By the time I returned home from an errand, he not only had the lights sorted, but he had assembled the three strings of green lights and put them on the tree, after a fashion. He said, on my return, “You can rearrange the lights how you like them.” I did some rearranging, but he’d done not such a bad job of it himself. And the bonus, he had the lights turned on. That was to check that all the lights worked, he said.



This ball was a gift from my friend, Amanda, last year. Love it!


This morning I began to decorate the tree, putting on my myriad collection of ornaments, snowmen, Santas, angels, pewter ornaments, some of those coming from various parts of the world. In previous years our children helped decorate the tree, but they have homes of their own and have their own ornaments—some collected throughout childhood. Last year it was my granddaughters, Evy and Ana, then 3, 5 years old, who helped me with the finishing touches. This year the lower ornaments on the tree are ones a baby can take off and hold without the fear of breaking.



one of my Nova Scotia ornaments


I’ll put on Christmas music while I decorate—this year a collection by Michael Cavan Kelly—and remember the Salvation Army brass ensemble that played at the grocery store last evening. Then we’ll move the tree into its place, wrap the tree skirt around it and my husband will vacuum again, because as sure as the tree needs to be decorated, more of those green fibres will be on the carpet and on my socks and all through the house. After that, and only then, I turn off the rest of the lights, and sit back and admire my work.



our tree, all decorated


I’ve already begun my shopping, in fact, I have a good chunk done. And this weekend I’ll finish writing the last of my Christmas cards and get them in the mail. What we all do for a holiday such as Christmas! And only then will I get out the white stone crèche and figures and arrange it somewhere out of reach of our eight-month-old grandchild, who’s seeing Christmas for the first time.

And that’s our preparation for Christmas, besides preparing our hearts for the Saviour we will celebrate.

May your hearts be filled with joy and peace this holy season and may health, healing of relationships and love of family and friends be yours this Christmas.




All  photos on this blog are my own unless otherwise mentioned.


December 10, 2015 at 2:00 am 2 comments

One more post for Lang Village

The day at Lang Pioneer Village included a lot of stops. Our next one was the cider mill where people brought apples to be sorted, pressed and made into cider. The girls know about apple picking and they’ve tasted sweet apple cider, but this was interesting.








DSCF9137We saw a big apple peeler and lots of barrels


DSCF9138We walked through an old barn where many piece of equipment were on display. It was a good place to stop and sit for a few minutes.


DSCF9140And a wagon without a horse. The girls climbed  up and had their picture taken.


DSCF9142We walked down the lane and across the bridge to reach the flour mill




Here we are inside the mill with the guide showing us how the wheat is ground into flour. I was impressed how the young man there showed the girls the process on a level they could understand. He talked about and showed how the flour was ground, what flour was more valuable, and about all the equipment and what it did. We went up to the top floor of this large stone structure, looked at all the hoppers and tools, and looked out the window at the water below, then back down all those stairs and outdoors again.

We enjoyed the day and the girls were very interested in many aspects of this place. I’m sure we’ll be back again another year.

Thank you so much to all the guides and volunteers for telling us about the village and the people who lived in these places and worked at these jobs. Thank you for taking special interest in the way children understand might view the place and time. You made it a special day for them and us.


August 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Back to holidays–Lang Pioneer Village



This year when we toured Lang Pioneer Village, we were there with our daughter and her two young children. Seen and experienced from an almost-4 to a nearly-6 year-old’s perspective, we would understandably travel through the village at a different pace than we did a year ago.

We started our tour with the animal pen next to the Milburn House, where pigs were snuffling in their pen and coming to see who was looking in at them.



Next we went to the Hastie Carpenter Shop where the volunteer said they made things of wood, and especially wheels for the buggies and wagons. Then the tinsmith shop to see what was there.


Outside of the Fife cabin (shown above) was  a guide using a single spindle to get her yarn ready for knitting. A fire was going in the pit nearby where she would cook her meal or dye her yarn. We looked inside the cabin. It was quite dark compared to other buildings. The bed was a box on the floor with blankets in it and a fireplace at the end for warmth and cooking. The girls were interested to see how things looked there.
We crossed the road to the Fitzpatrick House where the guide told us about the family gathering in the main room. They would eat there and sit around the table for it was the only heated space in the house. We trudged up the narrow winding steps,  holding on to the handrail, to the upstairs to see where the family slept. Here they had beds and a quilt rack was set against a wall showing a project the mother might be working on. The beds were much different than the girls were used to and I wondered what they were thinking about it.


See the dried herbs hanging above the fireplace. Those were often the medicines that the parents used to treat illness because the doctor lived a long distance away.



On to the Register where the two young men told us about what they do. They showed us how they printed things, including newspaper, for the businesses in the village. It took a lot longer than with our computers and fast printing presses.


It would take a long time to produce a newspaper with these pieces of equipment


We stopped at the Keene Hotel where a guide told us a little bit about the family who lived there and provided meals and a bed for travellers. We took our own tour of the building, but I did get to say hello to Sophie who gave us our tour last year and served tea and cookies. I thought we might come back for tea and cookies this time, but we didn’t.


On to the Menie General Store. It’s a bit like our stores that sell all kinds of things under one roof.


The girls were interested in the toys on the counter and the little books.



Here’s their Papa talking to one of the guides in the store.


DSCF9103Ana thought the lady’s blouse was pretty. Or was it the necklace and the hat she was commenting on? Anyway, there were many pretty things there for a lady or little girl at the time.


DSCF9105People gathered outside the Fitzpatrick  house, and we stopped along the way to see what was happening. There was a young woman doing laundry. She invited the girls to give it a try on the washboard. Ana wanted to try it so the guide helped her push up her sleeves so they wouldn’t get wet, and then showed her how to put the soap on the board first…

DSCF9107and then get both hands working on scrubbing a piece of clothing so it would be nice and clean. Different than Mommy and Daddy’s washing machine.

On our way to the car for our picnic lunch they stopped off to see the pigs again and then the Centennial commemoration rock out front.


I was impressed with how the guides geared their talks to include our youngsters. Thank you, all.



Off to get our picnic lunch. Taking a break until tomorrow when we’ll continue our tour of the village

August 5, 2015 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

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 3 comments

Kairos Reconciliation– our contribution to a national effort

Our Sunday School students and adults of our congregation decorated hearts for a small garden, and the students helped to plant that garden, along with some seeds for flowers we hope will grow and remind us of this act of reconciliation of our own. Thanks to our council co-chair Lynette and fellow Sunday School teacher Darlene and the Sunday School students for planting our garden. One of our flowers will be part of the ceremony in Ottawa and our “planting” event is posted on the national Kairos calendar. See it here.

May 29-June 3rd

From the Kairos site: Reconciliation is in the wind

It’s a wind of change.
Changed attitudes.
Changed behaviour.
Changed policies.
It means finally honouring the contributions
of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.








May 26, 2015 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

Black History Month Celebration


display of books, artifacts and head dress relating to  African heritage

(S. Fletcher)


the program

(S. Fletcher)

A week ago, members of St Philip Lutheran and the Black community in Waterloo region attended the Black History Month celebration hosted by Maranatha Lutheran congregation. As their home is at St. Philip, that’s where the events were held.


(S. Fletcher)


Beginning with a service of celebration, we gathered in the sanctuary, with members of the Starlite Steel Band providing the music.

(S. Fletcher)


Such enthusiasm and life in their music.

(C. Wilker)


And the altar flanked by beautiful flowers

(S. Fletcher)


Emmanuel George, rep from Faith Life Financial, greets Pastor Claudine Carlson, guest preacher for the service.

(C. Wilker)

Peter Braid, MP for the Kitchener area, shared a few words of celebration as well. He spoke of having been among the Canadian delegation to go to South Africa to attend the funeral service of Nelson Mandela.  In 1995, the first official Black History month was celebrated and January was the first month to  officially celebrate Lincoln Alexander, who has provided a good deal of leadership to Canadians.

Pastor Claudine spoke of humanity’s  quest to reach perfection, and how we humans want to be like God. We want power and “do not succumb easily to God’s power.” God wants none of his people to be enslaved and his call is to liberate those who have been enslaved.  How easy it is for us to despair, yet “in Christ we are all one” and Jesus promises never to leave us.

We can celebrate the tremendous strides that have been made regarding injustice, yet we still have a long way to go. Our call is to pray, work and write letters. Pastor Claudine reminded us of the definition of God’s grace: “that you cannot do anything to make God love you more and you cannot do anything to make God love you less.”


The service included communion.

(S. Fletcher)


Hugs for Sharon, Maranatha Council Chair, on the way out of the service

(S. Fletcher)


The ladies, ready to serve the lunch

(C. Wilker)


Serving the lunch

(S. Fletcher)


Three long tables and only a couple of empty chairs. Well attended and the food was yummy.

(S. Fletcher)



A few colourful hats

(S. Fletcher)


(Photo: S. Fletcher)

Then after the tasty lunch, a speaker, Rosemary Sadlier, representing Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), who spoke on the History of the Black people in Canada. She is a recipient of the Order of Ontario for her work promoting Black History. She is the author of six books on Black History.

“Canada was the promised land. Canada was Canaan and the North Star.”

According to the OBHS website, on the Black people’s contribution to Canada:

As a people, with roots dating back to 1603, African-Canadians have defended, cleared, built and farmed this country; our presence is well established, but not well-known.

Rosemary created more of a dialogue with people in attendance, and answered questions with grace. It was a most interesting presentation .


(Photo: S. Fletcher)

Indeed there is much to celebrate, such as our past Governor General Michaelle Jean, and of course the achievements of Lincoln Alexander, the first Black Canadian elected to the House of Commons and who was also a Governor General.

In all it was a good celebration of important milestones of our fellow Canadians.

Appreciation to S. Fletcher of Link Picnic Festival, for graciously sharing her photos. The others are my own.

March 1, 2015 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Maranatha Says Good-bye to Pastor Kuhnert

IMG324Sunday, January 11th, at St. Philip Lutheran Church, our covenant partners, Maranatha Lutheran congregation, said an emotional good-bye to their pastor of nine years—Pastor Peter Kuhnert and his family. As well we celebrated the baptism of Jesus on this day of the church year.


IMG328Our greeters, members of Maranatha and two of Pastor Peter’s daughters


Pastor Peter`s wife, Pastor Karen Kuhnert, assisted with the service, with Bishop Michael Pryse, of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on hand for the ceremony of release.  Pastor Peter welcomed Pastor Claudine Carlson, interim pastor for St. Philip, to say a few words in introduction. She will also be doing a communion service once a month for Maranatha as part of her work here.

And though Pastor Peter has been pastor of Maranatha and not St. Philip, we have shared the space and celebrate Lenten services and supper together as well as Christmas Eve and Black History Month services, and thus we have gotten to know both him and his family. I might add that my brief time on the liaison committee has helped with that too.



Member of the Starlite Steel Band played as members and guests entered the sanctuary and again during communion. (photo: S. Fletcher)



Emmanuel George, Faith Life rep gives a contribution to Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha. (Photo: S. Fletcher)


The service opened with remarks from Pastor Peter and Sharon Heeralall, council chair of Maranatha, who welcomed all in attendance and gave an emotional and heartfelt thanks to Pastor Peter on behalf of their congregation.

Bishop Pryse, in his brief remarks, called on his memories as a child of this congregation (St. Philip), the first baptized at St. Philip, and promised support to Maranatha Lutheran as they move forward. “We will walk forward together, celebrate the sweetness even among the bittersweet.”

The singing was joyful and mixed with tears too, as Maranatha said good-bye. We go forward together—St. Philip and Maranatha—knowing that Jesus Christ is with us and that God holds our futures.

In his sermon, Pastor Peter recounted his time and various events with his congregation.  He reminded us that “every day we are washed in God’s blood” and that “Baptism is a day of endings and beginnings.” … “Thank you to Maranatha for inviting me into your sacred spaces.”  In reflection on the past year and a half in covenant partnership, Pastor Peter added, “Thank you also to St. Philip for welcoming us into your building.”


_SYL5372Serving communion (Left to right) Pastor Peter, Pastor Karen, Bishop Michael Pryse, Violet (member of Maranatha) (photo: S. Fletcher)


_SYL5399-Maranatha uses the individual cups for communion wise as do some other congregations in our wider church  (photo: S. Fletcher)


_SYL5408-Pastor Peter with his family and the Bishop and member of Maranatha congregational council (photo: S. Fletcher)


_SYL5495Katarina greeting along with her father, mother and the Bishop  (photo: S. Fletcher)


_SYL5314-Greeters at closing of service: Pastor Peter, Bishop Michael Pryse, Pastor Karen Kuhnert  (photo: S. Fletcher)

[ Personal note: Soon after returning home I learned that the first great grandchild of my friend Karleen in Colorado was baptized this same day.]



Photos © Sylma Fletcher at Link, by her gracious permission. Other photos © C. Wilker


January 17, 2015 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

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