Tag Archives: Canada

Last book of 2017

31 Dec

You’d think I would end the year with a happy book. I didn’t, but The Marrow Thieves,  by Cherie Dimaline was really good.

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Publisher’s Summary: Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

That description doesn’t really indicate the power of the writing. Main characters’ back stories are told in “coming to” chapters. Storytelling is woven in. And Dimaline creates a Canadian wilderness impacted by global warming that seems terrifyingly probable.

The book is full of loss and sacrifice, but the beautifully lyrical language of the book makes it worth reading.

The Tragically Hip

20 Aug

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Many Canadians will tune away from the Olympics today to watch The Tragically Hip’ last concert live. I’ve already bookmarked the CBC’s live stream site on YouTube.

 

All of Canada mourned when the band announced in May that lead-singer Gordon Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. They released their last album in June and the CBC decided to live cast the final concert from their hometown in Kingston, so the nation could say goodbye.

It is not surprising to me how Canada is rallying around the band, and doing it in a way that, I think could never happen un the USA. Because it is not about whether you like The Hip or not. It’s about rallying around an idea of what it is to be Canadian. When the CBC asked fans to answer the question“What does the Tragically Hip mean to you?” in 3 or 4 words, they got answers like “Canada’s heart and soul” and “Great poets of our time”.

I was never a rabid Hip fan, but I concur with the two sentiments above. They appeared just after I’d finished university and had started teaching, but I had cassettes of  “Up to Here” and “Road Apples”  that I played frequently. And they were two  of the cassettes I took with me when I went to teach in Colombia.

I called my 85-year-old mother this morning and, half-jokingly asked if she’d be watching. She said she would. So, this afternoon, I will join millions of people, in Canada and across the world to watch this

If you don’t know The Tragically Hip, you can get the check out Rolling Stone’s  article about what they consider their 10 essential songs.

 

Crawling to the Airport

6 Jul

Rather than driving directly to the airport for my 6pm return flight home, my sister and I took a leisurely drive to the airport yesterday in order to participate in the Lakeside Yarn Crawl.

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Unlike Portland’s 4-day Rose City Yarn Crawl, the Lakeside Yarn Crawl begins in mid-June and runs through Labour Day. That gives you two months to visit the twelve participating LYS (local yarn shops) that rim the Southern end of Georgian Bay in Ontario.

Our first stop was True North Yarn Co. in Barrie.This was the only shop of the 12 in the yarn crawl my sister had been to before. The first shop on a yarn crawl is always tricky. You don’t want to get carried away and spend too much, but you don’t want to walk out without supporting a local yarn shop. I bought a colorful self-striping yarn.

Our next stop was also in Barrie. Eliza’s Buttons and Yarn is a treasure, tucked away in a strip mall just off the 400. That’s a major highway for those of you not from Ontario. Deb, who was manning the store that day, was a gregarious knitter.She and her sister, Lyn, design patterns under the name Cabin Fever.  I was anxious to get to this shop because I knew from the passport that they stocked the signature yarn of the crawl and I wanted to ask about it. Deb told us about Dragon Strings,  the local dyer who produced the yarn, a cashmere blend called Lakeside, dyed to match the colors of Georgian Bay.

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I didn’t purchase a skein here, but chose another skein by the dyer in Fall colors. Me & my earth tones! My sister did get one, however, and we left feeling as though we had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

After a bite to eat at Panera, we went off the 400 and onto what William Least Heat Moon calls a blue highway. our destination was Alliston, and two more shops.

The first, Alliston Yarns, is what we like to call a grandma shop. It caters to an older, more traditional knitter. This is not the place to look for hand-dyed Blue-faced Leicester, but you can find a great gran for knitting aster or baby blanket. I got a skein of gradient sock yarn here.

A little further down highway 89 was our last stop, The Knitting Basket, in Rosemont, a tiny town about 10 miles west of Alliston. Angie, the owner of this shop, was my favorite shop person of the day. She runs her small business out of her house in this rural area. My sister and I fantasized about how we could do this when we retire. For a small shop in rural Ontario, she has excellent yarn. She has a lovely mix of everyday yarns and a range of independent dyers. I finally got my skein of Lakeside here! My sister and I each got a gift bag, too. We had a lovely chat with Angie about how her business operates. If you are in the area, you should definitely stop in to see her.

So, here’s my stash.

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My sister’s GPS indicated we could get to the airport on more blue highways, so, rather than return to the 400, we meandered through the Central Ontarian landscape and small towns towards Toronto, stopping for a Tim Horton’s in Bolton.

I got to the airport in a timely manner and had a bit of Canadian money left, so, I did what any self-respecting ex-pat should so: I bought the candy I can’t get in the USA!

Here’s my other stash.

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Booked!

19 Jan

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Home from Boston, surrounded by the piles of arcs I collected, my mind has turned to summer.

This summer, my niece, my twin sister’s only child, graduates from high school and turns 18 in the same week. I got to thinking I’d like to be there for those two big events and checked flights. Prices were very good.

So, in conversation with my sister last night we talked it over. As the Superintendent for elementary schools in her district, her time can be flexible, even though school will still be in session if I were to arrive the last week of June. We looked at the calendar and talked things over. I went online while we were talking and found nonstop, round-trip, PDX to YYZ  flights on Air Canada for $422, a very good price. We talked it over and I though tempted to book it right away, I decided to sleep on it and book it in the morning if I still felt confident.

I am now booked to go and I feel very happy about it.

It makes me amazed, how easy all this is to do now. It used to take days or weeks to make these kinds of plans.You’d make a plan. Then you’d have to go see a travel agent. They’d give you some options. You’d think them over and decide. Later, you’d get your paper tickets. It is all so different now.

I started shopping for my own tickets when I lived in Colombia. Once my Spanish was good enough, I skipped the travel agent and would just call the airlines directly. I can’t remembered how I paid, but it must have been by credit card over the phone. I still have my Lonely Planet guidebook  Colombia: A Travel Survival Kit   ©1988.

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The inside covers refilled with notes, including flight information I scratched down while on the phone with Avianca.

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It is a ratty old book now, but it is a storehouse of memories.

Books under my tree

26 Dec

OK, so the title of they blog post is a bit of a lie because I haven’t put up a Christmas tree for years. My place is only 700 square feet and I am lazy. I am also up to about 75 Howliday cards, which festoon my bookcase.

Speaking of which, I received 3 books this holiday and thought you’d like to know what I’ll be reading shortly.

For my birthday I got Dispatches from the Front by David Halton.

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Goodreads Summary: As senior war correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during the Second World War, Matthew Halton reported from the front lines in Italy and Northwest Europe and became “the voice of Canada at war.” His gripping, passionate broadcasts chronicled the victories and losses of Canadian soldiers and made him a national hero.

Born in Pincher Creek, Alberta, in 1904, Halton was to achieve the fastest ever ascent in Canadian journalism. A year after joining the Toronto Daily Star as a cub reporter, he was in Berlin to write about Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power and – long before most other correspondents – to begin a prophetic series of warnings about the Nazi regime. For more than two decades, he witnessed first-hand the major political and military events of the era. He covered Europe’s drift to disaster, including the breakdown of the League of Nations, the Spanish Civil War, the sellout to Fascism at Munich, and the Nazi takeover of Czechoslovakia. Along the way he interviewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hermann Göring, Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, Mahatma Gandhi, and dozens of others who shaped the history of the century.
In Dispatches from the Front, acclaimed former CBC correspondent David Halton, Matthew’s son, also examines his father’s often tumultuous personal life. He unravels the many paradoxes of his person­ality: the war correspondent who loathed bloodshed yet became addicted to the thrill of battle; the loner who thrived in good company; and, in some ways most puzzling of all, the womanizer with a deep and enduring love for his wife.

For Christmas, I received two books, Tell by Frances Itani, is a sequel to  Deafening (which you should read if you haven’t)

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and Emancipation Day  by Wayne Grady which is set in  post WWII Canada and “Steeped in jazz and big-band music, spanning pre- and post-war Windsor-Detroit, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and 1950s Toronto, this is an arresting, heartwrenching novel about fathers and sons, love and sacrifice, race relations and a time in our history when the world was on the cusp of momentous change.”

 

 

 

More than just a number

11 Dec

I get weepy around Christmas time. My twin sister likes to send me Hallmark ads to see if I’ll cry. t’s always the good kind of cry, and I try to get her back. So imagine how surprised I was to find myself more than a little teary-eyed at the end of a picture book about hockey!  The Highest Number in the World is written by Roy MacGregor and beautifully illustrated by Geneviève Després.

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From the publisher: 9-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray lives and breathes hockey. She’s the youngest player on her new team, she has a nifty move that her teammates call “the Gabe,” and she shares a lucky number with her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser: number 22. But when her coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. Crushed, Gabe wants to give up hockey altogether. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother soon sets her straight, though–from her own connection to the number 9 in her hockey-playing days to all the greats she cheered for who wore it, she soon convinces Gabe that this new number might not be so bad after all.

 What starts off as a simple story about a disappointed little girl becomes a much more complex and meaningful tale once Grandma starts sharing her story. Talk about girl power and historical context.

As a kid hockey wasn’t even an option for me. Where I grew up, girls didn’t play, we watched.  Hockey heroes were big for us. I loved watching Guy Lafleur skate down the ice hair flying (these were the days before mandatory helmets). In 1979, Roch Carrier, published The Hockey Sweater, which you can watch as an excellent National Film Board of Canada short here. The Highest Number in the World, feels like an homage to  The Hockey Sweater and girls in sports all at once. I’m going to be sure my twin sister reads this one. I bet she cries, too.

Graphic History for Two Tuesdays

3 Nov

Tomorrow is election day in the United States and next Tuesday is Veteran’s Day in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, and Armistice Day in France and Belgium. Interestingly, there is a new graphic novel to tie into each day.

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Sally Heathcote Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot, follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of Edwardian Britain. Sally Heathcote is a working-class maid in turn-of-the-century Manchester, in service to Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the British suffrage movement. telling the Suffragist story in a graphic novel is a stroke of brilliance because it really shows 21st century readers how hard women had to work to get the right to vote.

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In 1914, Canada went to war as a subject of Britain. In 1939, it made the choice to fight all on its own. Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself under the toughest possible conditions: in the midst of the most difficult war of the twentieth century.

With the cold weather and darker evenings, perhaps these are just the thing, along with a nice cup of tea, to enjoy on a blustery November night.

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