Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pink Floyd and the WSO

Dear Uncle Glen (and other Pink Floyd fans),

Please not that the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is performing selected works from the band Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of The Moon.  The event will take place in Winnipeg, on March 25 - 27 and promises to take you back to 1973.  When I was a 1 year old.  My door is open and I have a blow-up queen size mattress.  March in Winnipeg should have temperatures above -15, a few buds may even be on the trees, and if you bring your boat we can ride up and down the Assiniboine river while blasting Pink Floyd.  Bring some BC peaches with you.

Niece Tonia

PS.  Ask yourself this, what would Uncle Glen do?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ignite: The Art of Japanese Floral Design

Margaret Oldham met me at the National Gallery in Ottawa, we went for a bite to eat and then to the opening night of Ignite, the four day Ikebana show highlighting the art of Japanese floral design.

The Canadian Museum of Nature was the venue. Large flower arrangements were on the ground floor and in the gallery, around the edges were the smaller arrangments.

Margaret has the advantage on me, having taken some classes in this art. She has the eye for the design -- no flower at the same level, groups of 3's and 5's, etc.

I only love flowers, think they are exquisite when they are on a dining room table and want to arrange them for that purpose when I see them growing in the wild or in my own garden. I was looking closely, wondering where to buy the vases, the frogs, the clippers, and the wire.

Hard not to see something like this and want to get your hands right in it. The most innovative use of materials was the woman who went to Lee Valley Tools and bought the product that you put in your garden to kill slugs. They try to crawl through it, get trapped and die. You can imagine what it looks like if you imagine stretching a Brillo pad out to its longest form.

Many of the flower arrangements were done in the stumps of logs. I am going out to collect a few of those when I am in B.C. this spring.


Early Morning Beading

Making a teale bead for Naomi
Naomi sat by Mary and me for breakfast.

We were talking about the charm of Red River Cereal: cracked wheat, cracked rye and whole and cracked flax seed.

We were fishing examples of it out of our bowls, at least trying to get her to identify which was the cracked flax seed and which was whole.

She stayed aloof from our discussion, occasionally spooning her own breakfast into her mouth: rice krispies and fruit loops mixed.

She is not allows to just have the fruit loops alone.

Then the 3 of us slipped down to make beads, just a short run on them before the family left for their adventure.

A special moment, to go down to the bead workshop and pick out the colours you want for a bead.

My favourite blue colour
Naomi was gathering sticks of glass together, trying to figure out if teale and blue worked together.

When her colours were chosen, Mary began the bead making, putting the tubes of glass down on the metal stand that allows them to cool.

And she was using the aneal blanket, which allows the bead to cool at a slow rate. I have been told I must not let air in there when I want to peak and see how the bead is doing.

We were chatting, and Naomi was touching all of the tubes of beads, and then picked up the one that was cooling, a nice short one now and when she had it in her hand, she put the hot end to her forehead, using it to help her think.

She had no idea she had let it rest there. The extreme heat only let her think of of one thing – how to cool off that spot on her forehead.

I was running for a cold wet cloth to put there.

Do these colours look good together?
Mary was wondering what had happened.

And Naomi wants to visit the shop more, but she wants to sit back three feet from the bead making bench now.

Then the three of us had some discussions about how women have to learn to work with fire: in the kitchen, in the bead shop,and around campfires at night.

Naomi will be good with the discussion about fires in time, though at first it hurt to think about how that had happened to her.

I had forgotten until right now that little people have been burned with marshmallows and poked with sticks at the camp fire.

Maybe camp fires are out.

And maybe sitting watching your mother make beads is out as well.

Kitchen has to stay. At least so far in the history of womankind that has been a place where we have learned to work with fire in a that doesn't burn us and is useful to others.


Saturday Morning Plans

Dominos after breakfast
The over-reaching plan for the day is to get to the magic show at Carleton University – a magic show put on to show the magic of the elements of the earth.

Then the plan is to head to the National Gallery where there are tables set up and kids can do their own art, some of which is later displayed on the walls there.

The immediate plan this morning was just to have breakfast.

Xavier was fast. Breakfast was over for him and he had a chance to line up domionos so that they would slap each other down when he pushed the first one.

Rhiannon had her breakfast in front of her, but she was watching TV.
TV -- better than food

She was mesmerized by the show, which was asking her to tell colours and she could hardly wait to give the right answer.

She was so engrossed in her show that she didn’t care that I was down close taking pictures.

In fact, you can see her absolutely ignoring me, looking around me so that her eyes didn’t move off the TV where she was sure to hear another question, and then give another right answers.

Ah, sweet T.V.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Doctor Knowall

I found this link for Dr. Knowall which Xavier, Naomi, and Rhiannon have been reading with Grandma Arta.

Title: Doctor Knowall
Author: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

There was once upon a time a poor peasant called Crabb, who drove with two oxen a load of wood to the town, and sold it to a doctor for two talers. When the money was being counted out to him, it so happened that the doctor was sitting at table, and when the peasant saw how well he ate and drank, his heart desired what he saw, and would willingly have been a doctor too. So he remained standing a while, and at length inquired if he too could not be a doctor. 'Oh, yes,' said the doctor, 'that is soon managed.' 'What must I do?' asked the peasant.

'In the first place buy yourself an A B C book of the kind which has a cock on the frontispiece; in the second, turn your cart and your two oxen into money, and get yourself some clothes, and whatsoever else pertains to medicine; thirdly, have a sign painted for yourself with the words: "I am Doctor Knowall," and have that nailed up above your house-door.' The peasant did everything that he had been told to do. When he had doctored people awhile, but not long, a rich and great lord had some money stolen.

Then he was told about Doctor Knowall who lived in such and such a village, and must know what had become of the money. So the lord had the horses harnessed to his carriage, drove out to the village, and asked Crabb if he were Doctor Knowall. Yes, he was, he said. Then he was to go with him and bring back the stolen money. 'Oh, yes, but Grete, my wife, must go too.' The lord was willing, and let both of them have a seat in the carriage, and they all drove away together.

When they came to the nobleman's castle, the table was spread, and Crabb was told to sit down and eat. 'Yes, but my wife, Grete, too,' said he, and he seated himself with her at the table.

And when the first servant came with a dish of delicate fare, the peasant nudged his wife, and said: 'Grete, that was the first,' meaning that was the servant who brought the first dish. The servant, however, thought he intended by that to say: 'That is the first thief,' and as he actually was so, he was terrified, and said to his comrade outside: 'The doctor knows all: we shall fare ill, he said I was the first.'

The second did not want to go in at all, but was forced. So when he went in with his dish, the peasant nudged his wife, and said: 'Grete, that is the second.' This servant was equally alarmed, and he got out as fast as he could.

The third fared no better, for the peasant again said: 'Grete, that is the third.' The fourth had to carry in a dish that was covered, and the lord told the doctor that he was to show his skill, and guess what was beneath the cover. Actually, there were crabs. The doctor looked at the dish, had no idea what to say, and cried: 'Ah, poor Crabb.' When the lord heard that, he cried: 'There! he knows it; he must also know who has the money!'

On this the servants looked terribly uneasy, and made a sign to the doctor that they wished him to step outside for a moment. When therefore he went out, all four of them confessed to him that they had stolen the money, and said that they would willingly restore it and give him a heavy sum into the bargain, if he would not denounce them, for if he did they would be hanged. They led him to the spot where the money was concealed. With this the doctor was satisfied, and returned to the hall, sat down to the table, and said: 'My lord, now will I search in my book where the gold is hidden.' The fifth servant, however, crept into the stove to hear if the doctor knew still more. But the doctor sat still and opened his A B C book, turned the pages backwards and forwards, and looked for the cock. As he could not find it immediately he said: 'I know you are there, so you had better come out!' Then the fellow in the stove thought that the doctor meant him, and full of terror, sprang out, crying: 'That man knows everything!' Then Doctor Knowall showed the lord where the money was, but did not say who had stolen it, and received from both sides much money in reward, and became a renowned man.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grimms: Brother and Sister

Hello from Xavier, Naomi and Rhiannon,

We have been out testing youtube sites to find suitable fairy tales for evening stories.  We think we found one that will work for everyone.  It isn't in our book, but it is on youtube and is in three parts.

Brother and Sister.

Check it out. 

The introduction takes more time than we would wish, but as soon as the brother and sister are cast out into the forest, the story gets interesting.  By Part III, everyone in our house was in bed with Mary, watching the screen, wondering if  pure love could be found, for that is the only way that spell could be broken.

You will have to watch to find out what the spell was. 

Good luck.

Rhiannon, Naomi and Xavier

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

St. Andrews Organ, Ottawa

organ pipes
Guilbault-Therien of St Hyacinthe Organ
in St Andrews, Ottawa
Today, Mary and I had no idea of the magnificence of the sound we would hear at the Tuesday Organ Recital by Thomas Annand in St. Andrews Church. We met to hear “Symphony no. 4 in F” by Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1934, Paris): Toccata, Fugue, Dolce, Scherzo, Adagio and Finale.

A good thing both of us passed our Music Harmony Exams, so that we could follow the sections by the pacing of the music, the meaning of which we learned for those exams. My favorite term was not there -- Andante.  My teacher taught me how to remember that andante means at a walking speed -- just think walking with uncle and auntie she said.

Mary and I sat in the balcony so we had a full view of the organist, who, Glen Gould like, led himself through many of the movements.

Mary was taken with the vents opening and shutting to give the crescendos and diminuendos.  I enjoyed watching the leg stretches of the organist, far to the left for those beautiful base notes and far to the right for the higher ones, thinking, "hey, this is turning into cirque de soleil, his splits are so wide".

Photo: Library of Parliament/Doug Millar
Angel in the Memoial Chamber
I spent the morning in the Parliament Buildings, taking the 9:20 a.m.  tour of the foyers of the House of Commons and the Senate. As well I slipped up the elevator into the Peace Tower where I was enchanted, listening to the Security Guide give a wonderful tour off the top of his head. A child would ask a question and soon all of the adults were gathered around, the answer was so fascinating. 

"What did you do in your other life?", I asked him.  He only gave a mysterious smile.

I did not know that the Peace Tower would affect me emotionally. I stood at the inscription of McCrae’s now famous poem on a marble plaque on the wall and remembered Greg quoting all of the lines to us on one of our European jaunts across the French coast: “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, /That mark our place; and in the sky / The larks, still bravely singing, fly / Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

I tried to think it in my mind about the way Greg had said it, pausing at all of the right places and carrying the lines through for meaning.

That was enough for me. The tears flowed freely. A security guard walked by. “I can’t imagine that you don’t have a box of Kleenex nearby,” I said.

Photo: Library of Parliament/Mone Chen
Altar of Remembrance, Peace Tower
Pictures from Government Website
“Strangely, we don’t, but I will get you some”.

II followed him to hear him make the request to his French-speaking colleague who went into a closet and came out with a roll of toilet paper, twirling it upright on his index finger.

“Yes, that is what we use when we are out, back in Alberta,” I said.

“I call this International Kleenex,” he rejoined.

Thus endeth my first report from the federal government. I am going to try to get back and watch the Senate tin session one day, and the house, sitting another day.


Grimms: The Juniper Tree

Bonnie asked how I could find some grandchildren who can listen to the tales that are told in the Grimms Brothers.  The answer is that the Brooks kids started slowly, with just the smaller one page stories.  And we were also testing ourselves, watching the other person to see if they were getting frightened yet and keeping our own fears at check that way.

Yesterday morning we read the most horrifying of all of the tales yet:  The Juniper Tree.

We only partly read the story, but it was longer than most of the tales, and so we had to do a continued until tomorrow ....

Mary said that she felt like googling the story at work and learning what the ending was so she wouldn't have to wait until the next day.

After we finished the story we listed some all of the evil step mothers, and mothers-in-law that are found in literature:

Snow White
Briar Rose
Hansel and Gretel

Try adding to the list and you will see children's stories give a horrifying picture of step mohers.  We are sure the stepmother in "The Juniper Tree" beats all of the others we have seen so far.  She trumps the worst imaginable type.

I like to watch Xavier's face for I can tell a few sentences ahead, when the penny drops for him and he can tell what horrifying incident is going to happen next.  He gasps, then his eyes open wide and finally his jaw drops and he is motionless.

Don't read "The Juniper Tree" unless you work up to it. 

To continue to warn you, even more vehemently,  look at the refrain that gets said over and over again:
My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.
Grimms:  not for the faint of heart.

If you want to see a pencil sketch of Marlene laying the bones under the juniper tree is Flikr

I tried to copy it, but all rights are reserved.  You can find it on utube as adapted by Prywes and Mitnick.  Phillip Wood also does a small adaptation with evil pictures.  Start at about 1 minute where the real horror scene begins.

As I said, not for the faint of heart.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Charlie ... Charlie

Tom at the computer
On Sunday, we spent some of our time looking at a family site on the computer.

A family in London made us laugh with the clip they put up on their blog.

A boy and his brother are being filmed and the baby bites the finger of the older boy.

There are over 28,000,000 hits on this site.

I do not think that many people have seen gone to that sight.

Catie at the computer
I think one should divide that number by 5, for we watched it at least five times ... each.

Probably more.

Have fun taking a look. 

Click here: Charlie Bit My Finger.

As well, if you want some fun,  get a wad of bubble gum in your mouth and have a picture taken.

Rebecca, waiting for a tunr at the computer
 Can anyone beat the size of this bubble?


Garlic Bread

Roasted Garlic and Itlain Herb Bread
Teating out new varieties for Summer 2011
This summer we tried so many varieties of bread:  Country Seed, Danish Sesame Seed, Russian Blackbread, Italian bread. 

When Mary, Steve and Rebecca were in southern B.C. they ran across a garlic loaf:  roasted garlic and olives.

While I don't have any olives here, nor sun-dried tomates for that matter, I did find some garlic toes, roasted them, carmelized them and needed them into some bread.  Here is the product.

Not perfect, but a good start.
You might not be able to see the swirls of oregano and basil in the bread, but you will see and taste them next summer at the lake.



Which card shall I choose?
Catie, Catherine and I shopped on Saturday.

We found a cribbage board.

Then we proceeded to play games on it, learning how to call muggins, how to peg and how to count our cribbage piles.

The next time I go back we are going to have a cribbage tournament and see who can beat whom, now that all of us have had some chance to figure out what it really is that makes a good cribbage player.

A book that can't be put down!
Catie had a good book.  She read through choir practise, through church, and after church while the rest of us were playing cribbage.

At the Jarvis house, lunch after church is boxed cereal of your choice.

We had a lovely supper, complete with napkins and goblets.

Rebecca took a sip of sparkling juice and the rim of the stemmed glass broke off in her mouth.

When the blood was under control, we went back to our dessert -- Lemon Passet, a first for me.  There were 3 ingredents:  cream, sugar and lemon rind. 

Yum to the dessert.

I am still in shock over seeing the rim of a glass break in someone's mouth.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dalton And Meighan Skating

Here's Dalton and Meighan at their skating lessons today.

Dalton has his skating lession first.

Then the Zamboni comes out to clear the ice, and afterwards Meighan has her skating lesson.

Dalton is learning how to spin, jump and change direction, and and use his edges.

He's finding it to be quite challenging.

Meighan is in her first class, and is still wary of actually letting herself slide on her skates.

She likes to walk stiff-legged so she can control her skates on the ice.

She'll eventually get more comfortable with allowing herself to actually skate!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Snowman Next Door

A quick snowman after school
The next-door neighbour offered his hat to the Jarvis kids so that their snowmen would have just the right chapeau.

All the is needed on successive snowmen is the carrots, cucumbers and onions to make the face of the snowman come alive.

They can whip outside and get one built in weather like this where the snow is perfect for packing and when the weather is so warm that no one really needs to have a coat on.

The snowman was built in the neighbours yard

Avro, is amenable to it being there, or in his front yard where he can watch it during the day when he looks out to the street.

This was a group project, done in a quick run to the outside when doing homework didn't seem like a desireable option.

Tonight we are going out to eat.

Thomas's choice is to go to Chase (a Lebanese Restaurant), but he would also be happy with Boston Pizza.
Catie and Mr. Snowman
Catie wants Boston Pizza -- no alternatives.

Rebecca wants home made pizza.

I wonder if Boston Pizza will serve a slice of that.

Catherine and I took two lovely walks today.

One was to the school to drop off the kids -- though that was more a snowball fight run through the neighbourhood.

We went with juice and lots of caramels, for it was Teacher Appreciation Day and food was being delivered from many families.

Wish I had known about that.  I might have stayed teaching longer.
Then Catherine and I walked Eric to work, down a main street and then through a copse of trees that reminds him of a Celtic grove.

I was reminded of the lovely London lanes, especially those where all of the houses face onto a plaza. 

Couldn't have been a nicer day.


Beaver Tails

Icing dripping off of Thomas's snack
Coming to Quebec has reminded me that old recipes travel around.

Who would have thought that fried bread dough would get a new exotic name?

Beaver Tails.

Or that the product might be so desireable that someone would pay $5 for one.

The Brooks kids have enjoyed them for snacks after school.
My first one tastes good
Now the Jarvis kids are into the swing of Beaver Tails. 

Catherine wanted to know how to make bread dough, so she put her hands in the flour and water and by the time the kids got home from school, there was a pan of cinammon buns rising and Beaver Tails to fry.

My guess was that we would have 2 loaves of bread and a few Beaver Tails.

The fact was that all of the bread dough was fried up into Beaver Tails and we have no loaves of bread left over.

We are finding the the Beaver Tails tasteb est with Maple Icing.

Slaving with the icing
In Alberta I can't find Mapeline flavouring any more. 

The product is found everywhere in Quebec.

I am taking order and will bring some home if you need some in your flavouring cupboard for when Beaver Tails are on your snack menu.


My op-ed piece on discrimination...

So... a couple of weeks ago, I went to a workshop organized by the University Women's Caucus called "Informed Opinions". It was run by Shari Graydon, who runs a project to educate women on how to bridge the gender gap in public commentary. In brief, it was a workshop for women on how to write op-ed pieces.

The first thing I learned is that "op-ed" means "opposite the editorial page". Can't believe I didn't know that....I somehow thought it meant something like "opinion edition" or some such thing. We were told that, amongst newspaper readers who are decision makers, it is not the front page, but the op-ed page that is the most important.

We were also told that women are vastly under-represented on the op-ed page. The more interesting question was "why?". It turns out that editors are not simply choosing male voices over female voices. It turns out that very few women submit op-ed pieces to newspapers (only 1 for every 5 male submissions they receive). She reminded us that you don't have to be an expert in order to speak. You just have to have 'an informed opinion' to contribute!

We got the lecture from her about the need to have a greater diversity of informed opinions in the media. She challeneged us to write and submit pieces more frequently. At one moment, it felt like one of those 'it is your responsibility!' lectures (you know, the "Get moving Soldier!" line.... hahaha)

So I did it A newspaper story in the Times Colonist really got my goat. And so I wrote a response. It showed up in the paper this morning!

Shari blogged about my process of writing it... Follow the links if you want to read her blog piece, or my op-ed.

On the way to school today ...

By 7 a.m. I could see people walking to work holding umbrellas. The temperature is forecast to hover around 7 above. Our walk to school with the children turned into a snow ball fight as soon as the first leg of our journey was over.

Eric shot ahead of the group of six of us who were walking along the boulevard. Thomas was behind him with a snow ball. That is when I knew that no holds were barred. I gave the bag that I was carrying to Catherine, for it looked like she was not going to join in. Everyone else was reaching for snow. This was the kind of snow that even bare hands can make good use of.

As volleys of snow began to increase I heard Catherine call out to the children, “Make sure some of the snow you pick up is yellow.” Everyone ignored her.

Eric was running ahead and aiming at those of us who were far behind him. He was in hidden driveways as we would walk by. Catherine was coaching the kids. “Your dad is not well protected. Look his jacket is open at the front and his shirt is not tightly button around his neck. Make your snowballs have a high arch and land where he is vulnerable.”

No one would have known who made the first direct hit down Eric’s neck until they heard the loudest guffaw of the event, which came from Rebecca.

By the time we got to school only one person had been injured:
Catherine, Rebecca, Thomas, Catie, Arta: all fine
Eric: his injury? -- one torticollis



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why I Read Grimms Fairy Tales


I have watched Bonnie, for a long time, trying to teach her 5 year old, David, how to deal with fear. Emotions like fear and shame are hard ones for children to deal with. Concerning fear, for example, in the scary part of movies, David has to run into the other room or runs over and turns the TV off. Even cartoons can be scary. The sound of rising action of the music is enough to scare him. I have watched her teach him coping strategies when fear presents itself: how to close his eyes, how to put his hands over his ears, how to have an adult sit by him, how to fast forward, etc.

So when I picked up the Brothers Grimms, here in Quebec, I was thinking about fear again, because of the shape of the stories. For example, girls are always princesses, waiting for a hero to marry them. They will bring with them a large dowry. Often there is a class distinction, as the hero is either a wastrel lazy peasant boy who has been kicked out of his house, or he is sent forth to make his way because the family can no longer feed him, etc. So, the male protagonist has the hero’s journey to perform. Along the way our hero meets impossible tasks, which he performs because he is thoughtful or helps someone else, in one case, because he just doesn’t understand what is going on socially around him, etc.

Anyway, I have been watching and reading to Mary’s kids and especially asking the kids how scary these moments are when our hero might fail because a giant is in the way of his success.

Is this suitable for a 5 year old?

Naomi seems to love it. Mary pointed out to me that her emotions are not contained in her body but are visible on her face. So I have been watching her, especially when I read, because yes, her eyes get big with surprise, her brows knit ... from sentence to sentence her face could be photographed with a different set of emotions crossing it.

I am up early. I can hardly wait until someone else gets up and I can read stories to them.

Family Home Evening

One of these things is not like the other
There are so many choices at family home evening this week. 

You could choose if you wanted rainbow icecream or a slice of a caramel ice-cream cake log.

Another of the choices was which utensil we could eat with.

Life is more fun upside down
Which person in the family do you think tried out the fun of testing five utensils that might work?

As well there were choices about where a person could sit.

I choose a hardbacked chair. 

Some chose to sit on  the green couch.

One person chose to sit on her head: the very same person who chose to use five utensils.


100 Days

100 Day Hat
In Aylmer, there is a one-time celebration when a child has been in school for 100 days.

For Naomi it happened this week, for she has been in kindgergarten for 100 days.

100 Days Apple Stencil
 On 100 Days everyone gets to bring one hundred things to school to show the class. Naomi selected her pony cards. One of the parents ordered four apples for each child.

100 Days Glasses to Wear
 Mary and I captured this image of the only apple that was left by the time we got home. The apple was beautifully boxed and into its skin had been carved 100 days.

As well, Naomi made a pair of glasses out of the letters 100 – you can see that the two zeros are the lenses for the glasses.

As Lorraine Wright used to say, “Lives cannot have too many celebratory markers”.

A Sweet Evening

When Catherine picked me up at the bus station we had chores to do, none more important than picking up cream, butter and white corn syrup. The mystery of how to make caramels has been on her mind and she was ready to unravel the secrets of getting a pan of sweet caramels onto her counter. She assured me she had a heavy Teflon coat pan that would work, so late in the evening the magic ingredients listed above were added to two cups of sugar and we began to boil caramels.

“Is that all there is to it?”, she said. “No special technique.”?

“That’s all,” I answered. “The real trouble is having to wait until they cool before we can eat them. I wasn’t the only one who kept touch the pan to figure out when they were cool, but we didn’t get a chance to eat them until morning.

Now we have to practise making a pan every day to see what is the exact temperature at which they should come off of the stove. In Montreal we tried for just a breath above 250 degrees and we have a very soft caramel. I think we should find the exact temperature for medium and hard as well.

There is lots of cream and butter here. I am always in for I am in for science experiments.
To give some colour interest to the photo of the candy, I added the title of one of Catherine's parenting books.

She says it is the best parenting book she has ever read. It is not about fixing your kids, she says, it is about fixing yourself.

As well, she is having her paper published: "Retrospective Review of Prenatal Care and Perinatal Outcomes in a Group of Uninsured Pregnant Women". This will definitely not be the best article laymen have ever read.

But her mother loved it.

Catherine told me that when it is Thomas’s turn for family prayers in the morning, he usually prays that everyone will have a good time.

This morning he prayed that we will be able to make lots of candy while I am in Montreal with them.

I like it when prayers are specific.

I am going to bring the candy paddle to Montreal when I return in March.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Catie's first blog entry

me in a "bridal" dress and veil
Hi from Catie,
This is my first time that I am blogging and I decided that I should tell you all about what happened when I decided to dress up like I was a bride.

I tried to wear my baptism dress because of course it was white, but when I put it on it seemed very small because as you all know I wore it when I was eight but now I just turned eleven.

I'm sure you guys are all intrested where I got the veil from, and I surely didn't go out to the store and buy it,but I found it just sitting there on top of a pile of clothes that needed to be fixed in our house.

Oh yes! I almost forgot about the shoes. Well that was my favorite part. they were my sunday shoes from the summer. you can't really see it because the dress is covering but the shoes are stick high heels that are about 2 1/2 inches tall.

If you guys are wondering what that writing is on the wall beside me please don't scratch your brains but just let me tell you. It is a Korean text of a famous scripture in Moroni about charity. (It could also be found in Corinthians in the Bible.)

Catie Rayanna Jarvis

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shirley Treleaven's Birthday

Shirley, who passed away on March 11, 2010, would have been 66 on February 13 of this year.

To mark her birthday, we went to her gravesite on Sunday. We all placed a rose or carnation in a vase, and reflected on what a wonderful person she was.

Afterwards, we went to Denny's by Kelvin Jr's condo for a bit of dinner.

We miss you Shirley.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Grimm Tale for Valentines Day

The Fox and The Geese

The Fox and the Geese Tale makes Naomi Laugh
The fox once came to a meadow in which sat a flock of fine fat geese, on which he smiled and said: “I come in the nick of time; you are sitting together quite beautifully, so that I can eat you up one after the other.”

The geese cackled with terror, sprang up, and began to wail and beg piteously for their lives. But the fox would listen to nothing, and said: “There is no mercy to be had? You must die.” At length one of them took heart and said: “if we poor geese are to yield up our vigorous young lives, show us the only possible favour and allow us one more prayer, that we may not die in our sins, and then we will place ourselves in a row, so that you can always pick yourself out the fattest.” “Yes,” said the fox, “that is reasonable, and a pious request. Pray away, I will wait till you are done.” Then the first began a good long prayer, forever saying” “Ga! Ga!” and as she would make no end, the second did not wait until her turn came, but began also: “Ga! Ga!” The third and fourth followed her, and soon they were all cackling together.

When they have done praying, the story will be continued further, but at present they are still praying unceasingly.


Now to see what makes Senya Bates laugh go to the Marble Run.


Happy Valentines Day from the Brooks Kids

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is the day to dress in red.

Happy Valentines Day from all of us.

The Valentines to our friends were all packaged up on Sunday afternoon around the dining room table.

We ate our heart cookies, and our valentine letters last week, though some of the letters remain.

V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E is now A-L-E.

My hand to God, I did not make that up.

Morning Valentine Giggles
As well, there was left-over butter icing from the cookies and we have savoured that item straight from the tupperware container to our mouths.

This morning we read two more tales from The Grimms Brothers: The Fox and the Geese; The Poor Man and the Rich Man.

The former made Naomi giggle.

 Perhaps I will type that story into the blog today for you, since it will make everyone in the whole world giggle.

The latter story made Xavier gasp when he could see that the rich man's wish to have his wife stuck on the horseless saddle he had just taken off of his back was going to come true.

Today there is a surprise from Mary in lunch boxes.

Sandwiches cut in heart shapes.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wondering who else is awake

3:00am PST

I can't seem to get Joaquim into a conversation that keeps him awake, even though so many interesting ideas are keeping me awake. For example, why does it look like there are two moons tonight? From the fabulous three window room I sleep in, I can see a moon in two of the three windows. I finally discovered one actual moon was in the western sky close to the top of the mountain. A reflection of the moon was in the window facing east which was functioning as a mirror.

As Joaquim drifted in and out of sleep, I asked him where on the planet someone might be awake and wanting to chat. He suggested his mother. I will have to see if she wants to set up to skype. In the meantime, I found a great youtube piece by Andrew Fazekas, the man who writes about the night sky. This almost made me feel like I had company.

After listening to him, I found another guy who has something to say about the night sky. My son. As teh youtube peice came to an end, David arrived at the kitchen door with his hands over his eyes asking for sunglasses. I found them for him. He is now on my lap, and he has a great visual for why the moon was in a place I didn't expect. He used his fingers to show me what he learned when he was in Preschool and went to the science museum. He told me to think of the sky in terms of rooms. Some can spin. Some can't. He held up one finger on his left hand for the sun, and had a finger from his right hand for the earth circling around it counterclockwise. He then explained that the earth has a moon that in turn rotates around the earth while they both rotate around the sun.

We found another good website that let's us see the phase of the moon day by day. If you want to get a sneak peak at what the moon will look like on your next birthday, you can type in that date at the following website. David's moon will be .949 of a full moon. He says he can't wait to be six.

Finally, now Joaquim is up too, so I can sign off.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

St Johns on Elgin Street

St Johns on Elgin Street
Image from the Internet

St. Johns on Elgin Street

February 8, 2011

I was to meet both Maureen Beecher and Jo Meyer Cassie at the hand bell practise at the High Anglican Church on St. Johns Street yesterday. Jo was not there – off to Kingston on business. When there is trouble at the prison in Kingston, a citizens group is brought in to investigate and she is part of that group. I still hope to catch up with her before I leave Ottawa.

I spent the afternoon with Maureen, but before leaving the church where the practise was held, she showed me around. One of the things that was charming was a list on the blackboard: people signing up to help with the community soup kitchen that is run from that church. Then we slipped into a side building where hot meals are served to women and children at noon. Someone brushed by us, Maureen stepped back, saying, “We are in no rush. You hurry ahead.”

“I have to get there or I will miss the meal,” the woman said, flying down the stairs. I had just been observing a large bathroom with showers and a side room with a washer and dryer, where woman can come in from the streets and clean themselves up, their children and their clothing – 24-hour-a-day access.

“Shall we eat here? We can,” said Maureen.

I would have loved to sit down, but I was wearing a silk scarf and having to deal with the internal irony of wearing something that would have provided 20 more meals for those women.

On the way out of the church, Maureen stopped to sign up to a potluck and a hymn sing, combined. On the page of paper you were to write what you will be bringing to the potluck and then you were to write down the hymn you wanted to participate in singing. Someone had written Good King Wenceslas on the list as their favourite hymn. I thought, why not? If the conductor is asking for your favourite hymn, better to forget about the season and have the group sing with gusto, the hymn you really love. Maureen said she wanted to write Come, Come Ye Saints, but only one other person in the group would know it. I was telling my daughter, Mary, about that quote from Maureen. Mary returned, “That is the hymn that can bring a tear to my eye. The music and lyrics capture the hopes and dreams of our pioneer forefathers as no other hymn does.”

In another section of the church was the thrift store – in two parts. One room where anyone can go in and the clothes are free. Take what you need. The other larger room is meant to bring in some income and the clothing there is all you can stuff in a bag for $10.

“I raised my children going to sales like that and all of them know how to fold clothes so tightly that they can get into the bag, twice as much as the ordinary person might be able to do,” I told Maureen.

I bought a used housecoat for the girl who doesn’t have one and lives with Mary and Leo. I also purchased a nice heavy pot to make spaghetti sauce in while I am at Mary’s. The best part of the pot is that whenever I use it, through my mind will pass loving thoughts about the congregation of St. John’s on Elgin Street.

Maureen and I are 2 women keep 20 conversations in the air at the same time. That is what we did. Among the subjects we flew over was our mutual acquaintance with you, Maureen’s mission (I didn’t know she spoke German); the groups she has joined since arriving in Ottawa (an ecology group, the handbell group, the soup kitchen group). That thread of conversation alone with her was inspirational – not for the good that she does, but for me. I am always looking to see how people just a little older than I am are living their lives. I need models. I want to see how they band together to give voice to their social consciences and sometimes what I see is so inspiring. Though I know this is a philosophically tenuous position, I like to hold in my mind that people are innately good. I thrive when I see their goodness meted out anonymously with no thought of return to themselves.

We ate in a Chinese restaurant – a quiet one on Elgin Street – the two of us lingering long after our meals were finished.

Then Maureen drove down to the canal. We walked together along its edges while other skated down the middle. I can walk faster than most women my age. Although Maureen is five years old than I am, I think she can outpace me. She looked vibrant – fabulous skin tone, a bounce to her step, her still naturally curly and now white hair in a smart casual cut. I think it is not her physical appearance that I love about her, but the fact that when we were in the women’s shelter she would reach out and touch women’s arms or give them eye-to-eye contact and call them by name.

Both of us can talk as fast as we can walk and we didn’t leave unused, any air time. Little families were there at the canal, pulling snow sleds, or pushing high buggies that slipped along the ice on runners. We ducked into a tall tepee on the other side of the ice. Stepping inside reminded me that I keep wanting to buy a tepee for down at the shoreline at the lake. I told Maureen that every time I get close to making a purchase, my son cautions me, “I didn’t enjoy the tepee when I was young, Arta. Don’t waste your money.” That is when I figured out that it is me, having never slept in one, that wants to take a try sleeping in a tepee. But that one on the Rideau Canal is not the place for me to arrange my first sleepover. Maureen made me laugh. Well, many times she made me laugh, but at this moment she suggested that I buy a yert which would be a saner choice and give me more comfort.

Maureen and I found we had lots in common – besides our deep friendships with people from our common past, many whom we named. I got caught up on her family news – they have a reunion in Ottawa and 30 of Charlie and Lucille’s progeny enjoyed each other’s company. I told her a bit about my extended family, but we are 42 cousins strong now – too many names there and too much to say.

By the end of Maureen’s and my hours together, I was sure I could travel with her. She was the one who vocalized the fact, “I think we would be fine on a vacation together”. That is not going to happen. She has in her mind, a trip to India sometime, though she said she would also be happy living in southern Alberta. And I am B.C. bound for the summer.

I am planning on getting together with Maureen should she have some more time available while I am still here. The two of us will try to make sure Jo is in the mix the next time. At least I will try to make sure a threesome will occurs though it might not be possible, given those two women fill up every moment of their waking hours.

This morning when I woke, I was remembering so many half conversations with Maureen left unfinished from yesterday’s meeting.

That line says it all.

I am getting together with them tomorrow. I am going to the service at St. John’s and then spending the Sabbath with two old friends.

Tomorrow  will be another perfect day.


Our Common Ordinary Weekend

Mary and I took the shopping list to Loblaws tonight. We took Rhiannon along with us. To have her putting her own selection of food into the cart as we walk up and down the isles would be to raise the grocery bills by total by $50. “What does it matter,” I said to Mary. “Let her put whatever she wants into the car. I can get it out and back onto the shelves as fast as she can add it.”

I didn’t count on the fact that she could remember what she put in, and that on occasion she was checking to see that her items were still there: an exquisitely packaged new toy, a cellophane bag of candy, a chocolate Easter bunny, a few new videos, – I was slipping them back onto the shelves as fast as she was noting that their presence was missing in the cart. She wasn’t all that happy.

Ignoring Grandmother -- almost
She is still wary of me. For good reason. She was mad to wake up from her afternoon nap to find that Naomi and Xavier (whom she calls her brothers) had gone skating with her mother and left her home.

I took some pictures of her while she was eating her muffin and ignoring me.

What I like best is that when she had a cup of juice up to her face, she couldn’t help letting one eye peek out to check and see what I was doing while she was pretending not to see me. She has a sixth sense that tells her I am too dangerous to ignore outright.

While Mary was beading this morning Xavier, Naomi and I spent a lot of time reading The Grimm’s Brothers.

We are getting good at seeing the common themes in the story. As well, there is one trope that is starting to appear over and over, the one about a man who rows a boat.

If he gives you the oars, he is probably going to leap out and you will be the one who has to row the boat.

This came up again today in the “Story of the Three Golden Hairs of the Devil”.

Naomi was the one who showed me how the flying pig works. Now how cool is that, to have a flying pig in your living room.

We had to catch it here for a moment because even with the sports mode going on my camera, I couldn't get a good bead on how this pigs flies around the front room.

As well, Naomi is giving a talk in Sunday School tomorrow.  She is going to take The Friend and show the children where they can find the song "One Million Children Strong".

She can sing the song, and in fact, I have been telling Mary, have you ever heard that girl's voice when she relaxes her vocal chords and sign sotta voce.

"To tell you the truth", I haven't, said Mary.

"Well," I thought, "for years, I have been waiting for someone to be born who had the deep rich contralto voice of my own grandmother. And finally, a girl with even her name ... Naomi Blanche."

But back to the reality of what she will do in Sunday School.  While she knows how to sing that song and can do it without a microphone and the whole congregation would be able to hear it, still, I think Mary will be lucky to get one whisper of a word out of her when she gets to the front of the Junior Sunday School room.

On other matters, Friday night we went to the Elementary School Valentines Dance. I wanted to take my camera but Mary said no camera's allowed.

School rules.

When I got there, I saw other parents taking pictures, so I wondered why that rule was being broken.

Anyway,I was there with no camera. There was popcorn and juice to buy at the concessions, a limbo dance, the YMCA dance and another group dance that required a lot of arm work on the head, chest and thighs and the dance finishes with a 1/4 jump turn.
Perhaps someone who knows that name of that dance can leave it in the comment section, because it is a good one for all ages. We walked over to the school and then home. The toboggan was brought for Rhiannon to ride on, but the kids who had danced their hearts out were the ones who needed to have their mom pull them home that way. At this point, Rhiannon walked and the two big kids rode.

As well as dancing last night, we played with some of the toys around here, today, the most common of which are computer toys.
Mary is the only one who isn’t attached to some form of electronic equipment during the day.

She spends her extra time hanging out with kids who love to be on her back or behind her back or on her knee.

So to recap -- just an ordinary day.  Some electronic games, some cartoons on TV (about the Group of 7), some skating, some naps and the family hung out together, watching a children's video and eating lime slushies to cap off our Saturday.



Beading Tools

Xavier is holding some of Mary's beading tools for me. I take the beads off of the wire that Mary spins them on and wash the beads. The brushes are used to clean the mud out of the inside core of the beads.  Mary warned me that the mud she uses to hold the bead on is carcinogenic, and with that in mind I used the tools with gusto.

About half way through getting the beads cleaned, I noticed that the middle one, which used to have bristles on it, now only had half of its bristles.

I few minutes later, I noticed it had no bristles and now is  only a stick of metal, like the two on either side of it that are supposed to look that way.


Perhaps I have been scrubbing the insides of the beads with too much vigor.

I asked her and she gave me a lesson. 

I was cleaning the core as though I was attacking a germ infested corner.  Only a gentle scrub is needed.

I owe Mary one new tool.


My report on seeing Cats by Xavier Brooks

Aunt Rebecca asked me how the show, Cats, was.

I went to Cats with my mother. It was really good. Our seats were in row G. The tickets were a gift from my mother’s friend. My favourite Cat was Mr. Mistopheles. Magic was in the show. Ribbons popped out of nowhere. The cat who was a magician shot fire as well.

The set was a dump yard and there was full moon. The costumes were really good. The actors looked like big cats. Their hands, their faces, their whole bodies. They had cat-like movement. We looked at songs on the Internet before we went to the show, so I knew some of them. Rumpleteaser and Mumblejerry, the twins, were funny as well.

Duncan called me on the phone this week. The next day, I called him. We like to talk and figure out how to use our computers.

Tomorrow I am giving a talk in Sunday Schho on Nebachanezzar, and Meshack, Shaddrack and Abednego. I am going to share how I learned to say their names. Grandma taught me the trick that her father taught her. You just need to remember My Shack, Your Shack and A Bungalow.

Xavier Brooks

Our Pets

The Brooks's Pets as dictated by Naomi Brooks

1. The snake in one cage is Titus. He is a carpet python. Pythons are good pets and are not poisonous. They have many layers of skin. When our snake sheds the old skin, new skin is underneath.

Rhiannon with the newt
We have two more snakes. In the first cage is Lady who is a boy. The snake in the second cage is James who is medium orange with light orange spots. James is the girl. (Grandma inserts for the reader -- don’t be as confused as I am about the cross-gender naming. Apparently the snakes' names have everything to do with Thomas the Tank Engine series and nothing to do with if they are male or female.) You know how humans have round eyes. In the snake world, snakes have different kinds of eyes. Every year Lady and James lay eggs. Mostly they have many eggs and when they hatch, we put them in a cage and take care of the babies until they get a little bigger and then we give them to people we know.

3. We have a lizard, Pebbles, who is a girl. Pebbles’s cage is in Lisa’s room. Some snakes eat lizards. Our snake Titus would, but we don’t give Pebbles to Titus.

4. We have some turtles – five. I remember only one name.

5. We have tree frogs. They have names: one is Green Lightening. The other is named Black Thunder. They eat crickets. We put a few in their cage and the tree frogs catch them.

6. We also have Griffin, a cute Beagle with long ears. He loves food and will steal it off of the counter.

Mary showing the newt's belly
7. I have one fish in my bedroom, a fighting fish whose name is Greenie, because it has a green tail.

8. Char is the name of Xavier’s newt.

The End by Naomi Brooks

Growing Food ideas

Heidi Stein, the first SLP that worked with our family, would have tasting parties where we ate growing foods. She didn't discourage consumption of funk food -- but reminded us to balance it with things that help our brains, bones, and muscles grow. She taught us to have the food on a turn table, with each person at the party getting to choose one thing to go on the tray. Everyone had to try each item. You didn't have to swallow it, but you had to get it up to your lips, smell it, and try to touch it with your tongue. If you liked it, you could tell why. If you didn't, you could say, "No thank you" and put it on your plate to throw away later.

At the Bowling Party, I got some new ideas for growing food tasting parties -- fruit or vegetable art.

Healthy snacks were laid out on the tables when children arrived at the party at the J Lanes Bowling Alley in Salmon Arm. There were fruit ka-bobs sticking out of a pineapple, frozen yogurt tubes, and a vegetable tray that looked like a row of flowers in a garden. The tray was like a mosaic. Round cucumber slices were the petals of the flowers, with a cherry tomato at the center of each. The flower stalks were celery sticks, with basil leaves for the flower leaves. The grass was carrot sticks lining the bottom of the tray with the five vegetable flowers sticking out of the carrot grass. The fruit and yogurt did go much faster than the vegetables, but each child studied the vegetable tray carefully.

The party was a great success. The children bowled in two teams of six players. David knocked down the centre three pins on his first ball. The fathers were cheering him on, giving him high fives, and saying “Good job, Dave”. Some team members were highly competitive. David has not yet picked up the competitive streaks that are found in both of his parents. He celebrated each attempt at “bonking the pins” equally whether he had three gutter balls or took all five pins down.

Half way through the game the children stopped for pizza, juice, and a cake make in the shape of a light saber. Each cupcake was wrapped in a fruit roll up to help us imagine the laser end of the sword. Leaving behind empty pizza boxes, the pizza sauce and icing covered faces of the sugar-filled children returned to finish the other five rounds of the game. You would think all the energy produced by the junk food would have increased scores, but all the children were a little too wired and balls that had been rolled before along the floor were now flying a good three meters before hitting the lane and rolling into the gutters. The owners of the lane did not seem to flinch at the bouncing of the balls on the lanes. Their only rule was no food down by the lanes and wear bowling shoes.

It was a great location for a birthday party. As we left, David asked if he could take bowling lessons. I said, "definitely". Why not? I am guessing it will be cheaper than hockey in the long run which is another sport played by many of his peers. As a party favour, the children received a free pass to go to the local swimming pool. It was impressive party planning. Glad to have some great new ideas for David’s party next year for healthy treats and prizes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

David goes 5-pin bowling

We found this picture of 5-pin bowling on the following website:
We have been studying it in preparation for David's first 5-pin bowling experience. He went with Joaquim yesterday to check out the bowling alley. David's main observations were that there were lots of bowling balls getting thrown, lots of pins getting bonked, and lots of noises. David also thinks the ceiling must be leaking because there were buckets hanging in the air. A few of them said Honda. He also noticed a photograph of a classmate and her family so we now know what one of her hobbies is. We are going there for a 6th birthday party for another classmate. The party is at 3pm today. The thing David is most looking forward to at the party is going "patuey" against the ball and the pin goes "bong" down.

Did you know this game was invented in 1909 by a Canadian? We got that fact off wikipedia. David is saying "bye for now". We need to get back to our pretend raft in the middle of the kitchen floor and do some rowing.