Tag Archives: Ontario

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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Eggstraordinary!

24 Jan

Growing up, we had a number of interesting events in New Hamburg, Ontario, most notably the Fall Fair and  the Mennonite Relief Sale. One year, maybe it  was two years, the town held an Eggstravaganza, celebrating all things poultry. We had an egg factory in town and a turkey farm just outside town. No one I knew raised backyard chickens, though.

I have several friends here in Portland that have chickens in their backyards. Occasionally, I am the recipient of their eggstraordinary bounty. They usually have white schools, but I’ve received gifts of fresh chicken eggs in a variety of hues.

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The difference between fresh and store-bought eggs in flavor and yolk color cannot be overstated. Fresh eggs are more infinitely more flavorful. Their yolks are a vibrant orange, compared to the pale yellow of a store-bought egg.

Budding chicken farmers and elementary aged readers will love Kelly Jones’  Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.

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Publisher’s Summary: Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse….

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

I loved this book! It reminded me a little of The Worm Whisperer  by Betty Hicks,which was one of my favorite 4th grade read alouds,  and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz.

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If you have a 3rd, 4th or 5th grade reader, you might encourage them to pick up any of these three books.

Fields, Lakes & Gowganda

10 Sep

My mother was born in a town called Field, in northern Ontario. We used to joke that she was born in a field. Let’s just say I got my sense of humor from my dad.

She grew up speaking French and was told she’d go to Hell if she played with English kids. She started learning English when she started school. Fortunately for her, her oldest sister, my Aunt Yvette, married and English-speaking Protestant, to Mamère’s horror. Mamère had softened  by the time my mother married an English-speaking Protestant.

I got thinking about my mom’s young life as I read Out of the Woods by Rebecca Bond. It is a retelling of an episode from her grandfather’s life, and is set not far from where my mother gee up.

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Publisher’s Summary:Antonio Willie Giroux lived in a hotel his mother ran on the edge of a lake. He loved to explore the woods and look for animals, but they always remained hidden away. One hot, dry summer, when Antonio was almost five, disaster struck: a fire rushed through the forest. Everyone ran to the lake-the only safe place in town-and stood knee-deep in water as they watched the fire. Then, slowly, animals emerged from their forest home and joined the people in the water. Miraculously, the hotel did not burn down, and the animals rebuilt their homes in the forest-but Antonio never forgot the time when he watched the distance between people and animals disappear.

The book has a magical feel. Perhaps it is because of the quality of the art, which feels like old sepia photographs. Perhaps it is the quiet voice that tells this story. I just which i had been there, to see the humans and animals, gathered together in the lake.

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Although this isn’t really a personal narrative, it is the retelling of a family story, so I will set it out during my erosional narrative unit for kids to browse if inspiration is needed.

Winnie the Pooh’s Canadian Connection

19 Feb

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Harry Colebourn was a Canadian veterinarian from Winnipeg, though he was born in England. When WWI broke out, like many, he was sent to England first. On the train across Canada, he saw a baby bear in a train Station in White River, Ontario, on the north-eastern side of Lake Superior. He bought the bear for $20, named him after his hometown, and took him on the troop train. Once in London, Harry realized he couldn’t really keep the bear, so he donated it to the London Zoo, where, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne, loved to come and visit. The rest, is history.

This book is a beautifully written and the illustrations by Jonathon D. Voss are gorgeous,  softly bleeding into the white space surrounding it.

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The endpapers have old, captioned photos of Winnie, Coleburn and Christopher Robin Milne. The Author’s Note at the end gives more specific details on the lives of Harry Colebourn and Winnie and provides sources for further investigation. All around an excellent book.

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