Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time at Van Wagner's Beach and Beasley BBQ

Ah what a fine day we had. I had nothing planned for today and was thinking of spending a quiet day at home or just go to the mall and people watch. However, my friend Jennifer called and invited me to go with her to Van Wagner's Beach.


I then invited her to go with me to the Beasley BBQ so we had a combined event day which was wonderful!
I always bring a thermos of coffee and the coffee mate and this time she brought some Berliner Donuts from Denningers which were delicious! What a feast we had, coffee and donuts by the water!
The weather could not have been better and we went early so we got our shaded spot right on the beach. Jennifer keeps the two lawn chairs in her trunk so it was an easy thing for us just to take off at the spur of the moment.
I think we arrived about 11 a.m. and left there about 3 p.m. and went to the Beasley BBQ. What a treat it was to hear the wonderful steel band that was playing! They were terrific!
I saw people that I knew, Isabel, Jeannette and Matt as well as Jenn from the Freeway Cafe.
Jennifer was so kind and thoughtful and she offered to stop at the No Frills as I needed cat food and it is hard for me to get it. I really appreciated that as the boys were down to their last little bit. At the same time, I picked up a few litle things as well.
We have so much in common and I must say, it was a very enjoyable impromptu day for both of us!
We are planning to go to Niagara on the Lake some time this summer. I haven't been there for years and years and I like that little town.
What a blessing that I went to Jeff's reading at the Blue Angel about a year and a half ago, and met Jennifer there. Over time, we have become good friends and have found much in common.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hilda and Mary tea at Whitehern Historic House

was a scorching hot day today but in spite of it, the tea was very well attended. For $5.00 one could partake of a sandwich plate and a bottomless cup of either tea or lemonade. If one wanted to have something sweet, one could purchase a desert.

There were two musicians, one played violin and the other classical guitar but unfortunately due to the noise of the construction, it was difficult to hear them.

In spite of that, we had a very good time and two friends joined us after 1 p.m. so this added to our enjoyment.

I did find out that if one gets too hot in the garden, the stable is open and it is airconditioned so that is good to know.

All in all, a very nice time spent with friends.

The fun part of the day!

On the little train - Olga and Svetlana.
Not a good shot of Olga and Svetlana but it was a lovely shady section and we sat there for a while.

Svetlana and the cats at home Russian lady visiting from Holland.

Yesterday was a tiring day for me and I found that I needed "my space" so that I could just rest and regroup emotionally.

Dealing with human problems can be draining. I should be used to it by now having worked for I..S.S.R.A. and also the Catholic Family Services and been involved with refugee work, assaulted women's work etc. but it still takes a toll on the one who listens. I am able to be detached as I learned how to do that but it still is hard sometimes to practice detachment.

However, the good thing is that the day brightened up and I met some friends and we went down to the Waterfront.

We went on the little train at the waterfront and neither of the girls had been on it before. They were absolutely captivated by the ride.

It was a beautiful day and we were there about 4 o'clock so the train was not too crowded.

Fortunately, I had brought water for the three of us and hats as they were not prepared for spending time in the sun by the water.
The girls came back to my place for a brief while and then went on their way.

I didn't do anything after that except rest and watch television. Happily, I slept well and now am rested and looking forward to the tea at Whitehern Historic House at noon today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Reflections

A fiftieth anniversary portrait of my parents.

The pictures above are of my parents, immediately above is at the cottage and also a picture of them taken before my mother died. The young people are my two brothers and I.

My dear friend Asma has written a wonderful blog about her Dad who, happily, is still living.

It brought to mind my own Dad whom I loved very much. If he were still living, he would have been 101 which, of course, would be an unusual age for anybody to live to.

I remember many happy things that my Dad and I did. He used to wash my hair for me in the kitchen sink and this was a wonderful routine as it gave us time together. He used to help me with my homework every night when he came home from work.

It was my Dad who would come if I was having bad dreams. I remember one occasion when I had a high fever and was in bed for several days. The doctor had come to the home and ordered bedrest for me. I think I was a young preteen, and I read a book which gave me nightmares. It was my Dad who came to reassure me. He always was my tower of strength even though he never said much. His favourite name for me was "snigglefritzen".

He took us to see the Christmas decorations in Montreal once a year in the car.

I can remember us going to the Lighthouse in Lachine where the Christmas trees were sold and my brothers and I picking out a tree. It was great fun to decorate it, and my Dad was in charge of placing the lights first.

Ah, so many memories of this man who taught me so much. It was he who taught me to face the traffic if I was walking on a country road. He even taught me how to fire a rifle, but I don't remember how now.

When my feet got frostbite one winter while we were at the cottage, he knew what to do. He was a very resourceful person whose quiet strength kept the family on an even keel.

I think though, that the most important things I learned from him was the value of honest work, keeping one's word, doing what one could to help another, and civic responsibility. He was a deeply religious man who lived his faith out. We always prayed before meals and before we would take off for long road trips to Florida. He was the Superintendent of the Sunday School and my mother was the Assistant Superintendent. They made a pretty good team!

My mother, of course, stayed home as most women did in those days. Family groups were stronger because of that, in my opinion. On my Dad's salary and his hard work, we had a city home and a country cottage, more than enough food on the table, secular and religious education, and a safe environment in which to grow up.

I don't recall him ever yelling at us, but I do remember him giving me the strap one time after I got in trouble in school. I think it hurt him more than it hurt me!

I remember him teaching me how to dance, so that when my fiance invited me to a dance, I could at least not bruise the poor fellow's foot too much.

Daddy drove us both to the special dance and I wore my fancy light blue chiffon dress. Georg (George) wore a navy blue suit and a nice shirt and tie and we had a fantastic time. My father picked us up at the end of the dance and dropped Georg off and then brought me home. I was 18 at that time and Georg was 21.

There are a million more memories but that is all that is coming to mind right now.

My Dad was gentle, kind but strict and my Mom and Dad were married over 50 years and I never heard them have angry words together. We went to church, participated in activities related to church, visited family who lived all around us and thanks to the love that my Mother and Father had for each other since they were 14 years of age, my brothers and I had a stable family life. They met in a youth group at church at age 14 and married when they were 25. Both were the same age.

I still have the clippings from the Lachine Messenger which tell of their wedding.

I was thinking about men who play the role of father/mentor to children such as Big Brothers or favourite uncles.

What a golden opportunity for them to impact their good values on a young life. What a privilege as well to be a good influence.

A good man is worth a million dollars and one to be cherished and respected.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Becky Alexanders Book Launch in Preston, Ontario

The man who played the Bagpipes.
Medals won by Jim Alexander, during W.W. 2.

Author/poet - Becky D. Alexander - book signing.

In spite of threatening weather, we three drove up to Preston to attend the book launch of Becky's book, SHRAPNEL about her soldier Dad.

It was held in a lovely spot, the Preston Lawn Bowling Club and for the actual readings, we all sat out on the screened in porch.
It was so lovely a spot, the lush green grass of the actual lawn bowling site, the stately tall trees on neighbouring properties, the well constructed houses of yesteryear proved to be a perfect setting for this event.
On the screened in porch, blue plastic tablecovers graced the tables; elegantly set with local flowers in tiny vases, waiting for the invited guests to sit and enjoy chating with others as well as to partake of the delicious refreshments available.
A fastastic event, a beautiful spot, compatible people and weather which was not too hot nor too cold. Just perfect for such a nice event.
Best wishes to Becky on her newest book!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Breakthrough Group

What a wonderful group we had today. Two new people and both contributed to the group.

I am so glad that people are starting to turn out as Monique puts a lot of effort into her exercises and it must be frustrating for her if people don't come.

I met this lovely young lady from Holland, visiting her Grandmother and she saw one of Monique's signs and came. She actually is originally from Russia but lives in Holland now.

Three of us, including her, will be going on the bus to Pier 8 tomorrow so she can see some of the waterfront.

This has been a very noteable day but I am feeling very tired as a crisis arose and help was needed immediately for a friend of mine and so I called my son and Jody and they came to help this person whom they have never met. I am so very proud of them!

This person is now safely in a new location and life should be better for her now.

I am so thankful I have experience in working in assaulted women's shelters and in crisis situations. It is a real blessing from God, that things worked out so well.

I am one proud mother!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Planatorium visit, luncheon and the waterfront

What a busy day today was. Had a good time with a big group of people. It was the annual trip of the E.L.W. and men are allowed to come with their wives if they want to.

The planatorium was very nice and the presenter did a good job. She is in her first year of her PhD programme and was very knowledgeable.

After the one hour session, we all went by various cars to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce where we had a room set aside for ourselves.

The soup was delicious - squash, the meal lovely, roast chicken, vegetables and new potatoes, and for desert we had a ice cream and cake type of desert in a tall glass. I was only able to eat a little of the dinner so asked for a doggie bag.

We all drove over to Pier 8 to take pictures of the group outing and that went well.

They want me to write it up which I will do when I have a minute.

All in all, a lovely time and they sure are a very caring bunch of people!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday at Van Wagner's Beach!

My friend Jennifer and I went to this wonderful part of Hamilton and spent a delightful afternoon there sipping a thermos of hot coffee, nibbling on lovely donuts and plain cookies as we sat enjoying the peaceful water setting.

The beach was not overly crowded but we did see one little boy in his swim suit in the water!

The sea gulls were swooping down and gliding their way along the water as if they owned the beach, which in some ways, they do.

Wouldn't it be so nice to be free like a sea gull, to fly away when one chooses, with wings one already has, to dive, to wade and to just peck at whatever comes along?

Quite a free life, in my opinion.

We sat, two chatting women, among the bushes which gave us shelter from the sun and yet provided a clear view of the choppy water as the waves made their way hurriedly to the shore.

We had the pleasure of seeing a sail boat and also a yacht as they skimmed over the water before our delighted eyes.

Water brings so pleasure to we human beings, to sit by it, to swim in it, and to row in it.

It brings us fish to eat, and pleasant sounds of lapping water in our ears which can calm even a restless soul. Even the crashing waves of a storm lake can bring exhilaration to a person tuned in to its rhythm. As a young girl, it was my great pleasure to walk by the water (Lac St. Louis) when a storm was hitting and to hear the waves crash onto the cement abutments.

The cry of a seagull is a haunting sound and one I welcome. Seagulls are the same both in my home town as well as in my new home town of Hamilton! I could not live happily in a place where there is no water, of that I am sure!

Time spent by the water is like a little peace of heaven for me.

Ah the sights one sees at the beach!
Sun worshippers, roasting in the strong rays of the afternoon sun, dog walkers as the dogs walk them, and people strolling hand in hand as they enjoy their time together.

Such a delightful afternoon spent with a good friend. A day to be thankful for!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carmen's birthday party.

What a lovely time we had all together. It was just family, and of course, me. the newish edition of the family is called Phoebe and she is a darling little girl.

It was great fun to have a small baby amongst us as we all enjoyed Kentucky Fried Chicken and yummy home made salads and to die for, Nina's wonderful home made cake with ice cream!

Carmen and Wally with the roses given by some friends in honour of her birthday.

We have always gotten along very well and it was time very well spent. I was sorry I had to miss the Tower Poetry book launch and also St. John's picnic, but it was Carmen's birthday and Carmen and Wally are very special people to me.



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Laking Gardens - R.B.G.

Blue Iris Mr. Turtle, up from the marsh visiting!

Although the day was somewhat overcast, the flowers bravely showed their friendly faces to the many visitors who came to the Laking Gardens for the Iris and Peony Show.

My friend Rosie has a season's pass and she invited me to go as her guest, which was very kind of her. I love to see beautiful gardens and this garden was fantastic with its many vivid coloured flowers and more subdued blossoms.

I personally loved the bright and happy colours and took many pictures of them. There were many people present who appeared to be of either Japanese or Korean heritage and their children were adoreable!

I love to see family groups together enjoying the beauty of this country and building memories with their families.

It is the memories of good times with family and friends that keep people grounded when they go through hard times.

There were two gentlemen playing a banjo and also an Irish Mandolin which I enjoyed very much.

I think, though, one of the highlights of the afternoon was to see the snapping turtle in the bed of flowers, with a crowd of people observing him. He was a fair size and I certainly would not want to mess with him!

It seems that the turtles come up from the marshy grounds from time to time and this one really ventured quite far into the garden!
The sun came out all of a sudden and then it became too hot! I think I much preferred the cloud!
On the way home, we stopped off at a famous hot dog place which also sells ice cream. I cannot think of the name right now, but this is the second time I have been there since I came to Hamilton.
All in all, a very nice day spent with a good friend.

Freeway Cafe - Seniors Group

A young author, a friend of Jeanette's,came to read her book to us and I found it most enjoyable.

Catherine Wiebe read from her book"Second Rising" and read most eloquently and expressively.

For those who are interested in a link to her work, please go to: html

She was writing about her grandmother and in many ways, her grandmother could be any older woman and the wonderful memories of a life well lived.

Our group was larger than normal as staff members brought over some people from Rebecca Street. It was good to see them.

I was very pleased for the young woman who read. She was a very good reader and I am glad there was a good crowd.

All in all, a very pleasant afternoon was spent listening to her story and talking to her.

Monday,June 8

Went to visit a 94 year old lady in the hospital. She fell and broke her hip and likely will remain in the hospital for some time and then into a rehabitation place after that.

She was at St. Joe's which is not far from me and easy to get to. I shall visit her again.

I did notice one thing though which disturbed me, one of the nurses was not too nice to her. My friend questioned what the nurse wanted to do, and the nurse snapped at her.

This friend cannot see well nor hear well, and one would think that a nurse would try and take that into consideration......

Mind you, it might have been just a bad day for the nurse.

Lit Chat - Tuesday June 9

On Tuesday evening, Lit Chat was held at the Skydragon Cafe on King William.

James Strecker was the guest author and his talk was on poetry, death and horror beyond words. He was born in Manitoba and has a long list of credentials to his credit.

Although the subject sounded gruesome, it was not. Mr. Strecker was able to keep the conversation moving along and many people gave their opinions which was great. Poets, writers of other gendres, publishers were in attendance.

It was a most interesting topic and discussed the issue of writing about tragedy and how far one should write about it.

Mr. Strecker was a most interesting person to listen to. It was a larger group than normal, possibly because it was the last one for this season and possibly because of the reputation of the speaker.

Time well spent!

Lit Live - Sunday June 7

The wonderful weekend continued and many of the artists from the Jewish Writer's Festival came to read their work at Lit Live.

The Sky Dragon cafe was packed to the rafters on this occasion.

I particularly enjoyed Steve Mayoff's work about the man who was stalking his girlfriend as it made me react quite violently (internally only). By the end of his reading, and the sad consequence of his character's action, I was decidedly feeling only sorrow for his character.

It brought back many memories for me at the same time.

Each of the readers did an excellent job and the evening was a real success!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A fabulous weekend!

I sit here at my computer, in the background listening to the wonderful music of Allan
Merovitz, whose CD I purchased while I was at the Jewish Writer's Festival in Hamilton.

The music brings it all back to me, the wonderful fellowship of the congregation, the spoken word, and the two workshops I had the pleasure of attending.

Temple Anshe Sholom is conveniently located on Cline Ave. North and can be reached by both car and bus. When you get off the bus at the TD Bank in Westdale, immediately go down Cline N. and you will see the yellow brick building. The 5C bus passes its corner.

It is of the Reform Tradition which means that men and women mix freely, unlike other more conservative branches of Judaism.

Next year, I plan to attend all three days of the Festival as I found it extremely worthwhile and feel that I have made many new acquaintances among the people there.

I can only talk about the two days I attended, Saturday and Sunday. It started at 12 noon with a lovely luncheon which was included in the cost of the ticket $10.00. We were then entertained by Allan Merovitz with songs and stories. He is a marvelous entertainer and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.

There was a good panel discussion with Panelists Isa Milman, Sharon H. Nelson, Edeet Ravel, Steve Stern and J.J. Steinfeld. Their subject was "Where is the Home for the Jewish Writer?"

Again, Allan Merovitz tied everything together with more songs.

Concurrent Workshops ran from 3-4:30ish .

The choices were :

Reading/discussion- Edeet Ravel.

Presentation including slides and poetry, The Making of Prairie Kaddish. Kaddish, for those who may not know it, are prayers for the dead.

Ellen Jaffe, presentation/writing exercise, "Writing for children - Passing on the Legacy."

Steve Stern - Reading/discussion on his works and his sources.

J.J. Steinfeld, Reading/discussion on his latest work, Word Burials.

Karen Shenfeld, discussion/writing - The Poet and the Child.

I chose Ellen Jaffe's course and enjoyed it although I had some difficulty in hearing in that particular room. We did one writing exercise on candles and the light they shine. I really enjoyed that. I liked her idea of objects leading us into writing and the Menorah candles was a good choice. I used to light them many years ago but somehow in my many moves, I have lost mine. I now know where I can buy another here in Hamilton which is good!

After the workshops, one could return home or explore Westdale until the evening session began. I went home and rested for a short while, then took the bus back.

The evening was fabulous with a Literary Cabaret and Havdalah ceremony, as well as Klezmer music with Allan Merovitz. For those who may not know what a Havdalah ceremony is, it is a beautiful and meaningful service which symbolizes the end of the Sabbath.

I particularly found this most moving, as we all held hands and sang praises to God. I felt so "at home" there and was so happy during this ceremony.

Laughter and merriment followed with the klezmer music. I was chosen as the bride and my groom was chosen for me. He was a very wonderful fellow and we hit it off quite well, although I had never met him before. Even his mother seemed to approve!

The dancers came up to us in three waves wishing us blessings, the last wave made us laugh as the dancers had to try and frighten us. I was laughing so hard that I wouldn't have been frightened by anything at that moment!

After that dance, we were asked to stand in the middle of the dancers and they danced around us.

Ah, such a wedding I have never had! That kind of wedding I could handle!

One of my circle of friends called me up when I was home for the super break and asked if she could come, so I came back with her. I think she found it quite strange, as she is from Korea.
I hope she had a good time, it certainly was an experience she will not forget.

Such a fine day, such fine company!

Sunday, June 7th, 2009.

The day commenced quite early, to be precise 10 a.m. I got there about 9:30 as the 5C bus arrived just as I got to the bus stop. It is only a five or ten minute ride.

Workshops were the first item on the Agenda.

There were six choices again:

Barry Rosen - Storytelling Presentation.
Twyla Hendry - On Being a Leonard Cohen Fan.
Sharon H. Nelson - Connections between cooking, recipes and poetry.
Ron Ruskin - Creativity and Pain
Lil Blume - Writing Your Jewish Family Stories and Memoirs
Steve Mayoff - Turning Family Stories into Art.

I chose Ron Ruskin's presentation and I was fortunate that he sat right beside me so I could hear every word he said. Dr. Ruskin's talk was marvelous. Rabbi Ruskin, who is now retired, also sat in his session as did his Auntie. Dr. Ruskin showed us how humour helps even bad situations. With his permission, I took his picture and sent it to him via e-mail the next day. He replied with a nice comment via e-mail shortly after.

Nosh was the next thing to happen. Nosh is now used fairly often for a light meal or snack between events. As usual, the congregation outdid itself with delicious refreshments.

Among other things they had bagels from the Locke Street bakery which were to die for, as well as several different kinds of yummy cream cheeses, fruits, beverages etc. etc.

The play came next. It was very good. J.J. Steinfeld of P.E.I. wrote a very entertaining play and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even Rabbi Cohen was in it as was dear Aha Blume.

What a lark! Some pretty good home truths were told as well during the course of the play about how some doctors talk down to their patients!

I was so sorry that the event was over, but decided to walk over to Ken and Jody's place which was just around the corner. They were not home so I decided to walk to the bus stop and go home as I was going out that evening to Lit Live. My name was called and there was my son running towards me. The three of us spent a pleasant time together and then they drove me back home.

Lit Live was also splendid. Some of the same authors were reading there and so my pleasure was extended even further. I had hoped to see one of my friends there but I think he was just too tired to come out again.

It is a good thing that events like this do not happen every weekend or one would become very exhausted!