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An engaging title like that just begs one to move past the assortment of photos and get to the story. The story is that my sweetie (pictured above) took me for a sunset dinner cruise aboard the historic Segwun tonight. The Segwun is North America’s oldest passenger steam ship and it sails through the beautiful area called Muskoka. My man and I share a love for history and nature so he could not have picked a more lovely setting for such an historic event in both of our lives.
The proposal was made very simply as we sat on deck enjoying the breeze on our faces and the setting sun as a backdrop to some amazing cottage country. The ring turned out differently than we planned but we both agreed that maybe it was better than we planned. The engagement ring is gorgeous alone but will look even more stunning when paired with the wedding band. I’m not sure if anyone else on board clued in that something as significant as an engagement happened. I wasn’t paying attention to anyone else. My eyes darted between my sweet loving man and the beautiful ring he had just slipped on my finger.
How do you end a blog entry like this? I think I will just say that this story is to be continued.
D, P and a couple of neighbourhood boys found a turtle on the road today. P came rushing back to the house to report their finding. We have a turtle crossing sign not far from where we live and the boys know that I like to walk down there in the hopes of actually seeing a turtle cross the road. All the boys were pretty excited about this little turtle and were fascinated to watch him cautiously pull his head and limbs in and out of his shell. I advised them to pick the turtle up and move him off of the road. They gladly obliged and found it pretty funny when the turtle went running as soon as they put him on grass. He scuttled off into the ditch and then sat there doing nothing, probably hoping that all of us admirers would lose interest and leave him alone. His method worked. It was a short visit with a local but one that we all enjoyed very much. Hopefully, he’ll cross our road again and even bring some of his buds with him.
This is my second blog today and the day is only half over. Never a dull moment around here!
I try to bring beauty into my home but even my best efforts pale in comparison to the beauty all around me. The above are a few shots that I have taken lately around here. I captured the beauty of Lake St. George after supper, the beauty of some plucked wildflowers in a Mason jar on my back deck and a beauty of a shot by P.
I wish I would have captured the beauty of the deer that came crashing out of the woods not more than 50 feet from me on my walk yesterday. She stood on the alert watching me and I stood stock still eyeballing her. I had my camera with me but I was afraid to move a muscle. I knew that she would startle and go bounding off and I didn’t want to scare her. After about a 20 second staredown, she carefully (and beautifully) picked her way through the underbrush to the woods nearby.
I also wished I could have caught the beauty of the little bat I spied wheeling around out back. He was contentedly chowing down on all the bugs that I have to admit were bugging me. My camera doesn’t take pictures very quickly and this bat was really motering to get his evening meal.
I also missed some beautiful shots of butterflies visiting the marshy meadowlands behind our property. I was dumb enough to go for a quick walk back there without my camera.
There aren’t any amazing stories attached to these published photos. To me, they had artistic merit and I just wanted to share the beauty of them.
The pictures are a little mixed up so for clarification purposes I made the before pictures thumbnail size and the after pictures a bit bigger.
My wicker furniture was looking very dried out from exposure to all kinds of weather. I tried spray-painting it last year with less than satisfactory results. This year I took a paint brush to it and some dark brown high gloss paint. This was a lot of work and very messy but I like the look of the furniture now. The next step will be to get some paint on that weathered looking deck!
The little table I rescued off the side of the road really could only be improved. I painted it with the same brown high gloss paint and think that it now makes a rather nice bedside table in my newly coming together guest bedroom. I thought the basket underneath would be a great place to put ivory coloured towels and some toiletries. All my nicer ivory coloured towels are unfortunately in the laundry at the moment so you’ll have to imagine the basket artfully packed with pretty stuff. Better yet, be my guest and you’ll get to see it for real!
On Saturday, I took the boys to a Medieval Exposition at a place called Castle Village in Midland. Although the boys enjoyed watching grown men dressed as knights fighting and getting a treat at the Hansel and Gretal style snack shack, their favourite place at the exposition was the archery range. Most of the kids visiting Castle Village that day were quite young, too young to shoot a 17-20 pound bow and arrow set. Not D and P. They had a fantastic time shooting arrow after arrow at the targets and helping the medievally clad gentleman running the range to collect the arrows. D even managed to get a bulls eye once.
That opened up discussion for purchasing a bow and arrow set of their own. D and P have been mowing the lawn (I call it lawn but it’s actually 90% weeds) and earning a little bit of money for their efforts. It’s been raining a lot here and weeds grow quickly when watered regularly. Their little money stash was growing. They decided to purchase the bow shown in the photos above at a local hunting shop not far from us. They eagerly crafted the target shown and under my not so great tutelage but vigilant supervision did manage to at least hit it. They were standing quite a bit further back from the target than they were at Castle Village and the target itself is quite a bit smaller. Not bad for first attempts. Hopefully, there will be some photos following showing the arrow squarely in the bulls eye.
The Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo
This book was quite a different style of read for us. It wasn’t high action in the sense we’re used to and all the scenarios were totally realistic. It’s a story about freedom of speech and the press and the forces that are for and against it. The tale begins with the Solaja family in Nigeria in the mid 1990’s. The father of the family, Folarin, is a journalist and is using his pen to expose the corruption in the military regime ruling his country. It’s risky but Folarin believes that the truth must be heard and that bullies must be stood up to. The sad result of his bravery is an asassination attempt on his life that ends up killing his wife. His two children, Sade who is 12 and Femi who is 10, hear the gun shots and run outside to see their mother die.
The central character of the book is Sade who is then forced to be secreted out of Nigeria with her brother for their own safety. They must lie and pretend to be someone else’s children to get to safety in England where Folarin has a brother. Plans run amok when the children’s escort deserts them in England and the children discover that their uncle is missing. They have no idea what to do in this foreign land or who to trust. They fear disclosing the truth to the police because in their own country the police are the most corrupt. What if the police in England work with the police in Nigeria? Sade and Femi are children and we see how the sins of adults affects them.
The children end up in the care of kind foster parents through a social assistance agency. They are enrolled in school to make their lives as normal as possible. There, Sade discovers that oppression happens even in England. Two power hungry girls bully her to quickly put the new girl in her place – under them and in fear. They threaten to hurt Femi unless she does what they want her to. What they want her to do is to steal from a fellow classmate’s parent’s store. This classmate was also an African refugee and has been kind to Sade. Sade knows from experience that doing the right thing can be costly and therefore cows in fear and does what the bullies want. It tears her up inside.
Beverly Naidoo does a good job letting us know how Sade is thinking and why she does what she does. She is an experienced author having herself been in prison for speaking out about apartheid in her native country of South Africa and having to eventually go into exile. She brings to life quite well the struggle to know what to do when doing what one thought was right led to such terrible outcomes. In the end, Sade finds out that her father made it out of Nigeria to England but is in jail for using a false passport. She knows why he lied and wants the world to know too. She and Femi bravely wait out in the cold for hours to get a chance to talk to “Mr. Seven O’Clock News” and tell him their story. They risk worrying their kind caregivers to death and the possibility that this journalist will just write them off. In the end, their story is brought to light and things begin to change for the Solaja family.
This is a great book for starting conversations with older children about injustice, what bravery sometimes looks like and the price some people have to pay for the freedoms we regularly enjoy. I hope that it made D and P think. It did that for me.
This is surely the craziest grouping of photos. I wish that I could blog, then add a photo to illustrate what I was writing about and then blog some more. For some reason, I can’t seem to figure that out so I end up having a crazy grouping of photos with a lot of text to try to explain them.
Lately, I have been on a home improvement adrenaline rush. After painting the front foyer cabinet, I realized that I had enough of the amazing wenge coloured Aura paint left to paint the dated bedroom furniture my parents gave me. I cleaned out the school room, hauled the dressers, bed, boxspring and mattress down and went crazy painting. The furniture went from a sort of dated tan look (the first photo shows the colour perfectly) to a much more modern dark brown look (the headboard in the bed picture captures the colour the best). I really wanted to get new hardware for the dressers too but I found out that would mean drilling new holes and filling old ones. I wasn’t quite up for that since I don’t own a drill but even with the dated hardware I’m very pleased with my painting results. This room will one day be my guest bedroom. I say one day because right now I have no furniture at all in my bedroom upstairs. So, for now, I am the guest sleeping in the “hopefully one day” guest bedroom.
The distressed side table is a piece that I am working on now to sit nicely beside the newly painted bed. It wasn’t quite so distressed looking when I picked it up on the side of the road. Yes, someone was pitching this piece and I rescued it. I tried rather unsuccessfully to paint it with an interior/exterior alkyd high gloss paint that I picked up at the restore. The leather brown colour was beautiful but my paint job was not! I am now stripping my mess with the intent of starting over. Those grimy hands are mine working away to undo my disaster. I am discovering that this little table has been painted several times before. I meant to take off my brown coat of paint but I’ve also removed the pale pink layer to reveal an orange layer and in some places a bubble gum pink layer under that. This piece has been well loved! I am determined to take it from distressed to pretty without getting too distressed myself.
The last photo is a picture of my side garden that I am expanding. When not improving the stuff in my house I am outside ripping up grass to make the exterior more pretty looking. The shiny thing hanging on the spike was also something I picked up on the side of the road. Soon my neighbours will just start bringing their junk to my house since some have noticed that I’m picking theirs up! I could have added many more photos. I also have also started working on making an old fire grate into a piece of garden art and have plans to transform a roll down shade left by the previous owners into a piece of modern art to hang over the bed in my almost guest room. In between all of that, I am working on repainting my outdoor wicker furniture. Keep your eyes peeled for more photos; the adrenaline is pumping!
One of the best parts of moving to a new locale is the world of new daytrips it opens up. On Saturday, we took a short drive and visited St. Marie Among The Hurons, a reconstructed Jesuit mission to the local Wendat people (who were called Hurons by the French). It was Aboriginal Days there and so we got to interact with different Native groups showing their wares and skills. Some parts were more interesting than others for D and P. They were almost embarrassed when a Native in full garb did the Chicken dance while his troupe sang traditional Native music to the beat of a huge drum. They enjoyed trying some Native games including a lawn dart game that used modified corn husks as darts. The young man in period garb let them help him try to strip the corn cobs which they found harder than it looked. They also found it pretty challenging to grind corn with a huge mortar and pestle and make flour using a small hand mill.
I think the experience of seeing how people lived in the 1600’s made them a bit more appreciative of the modern comforts we routinely take for granted. I know it had that affect on me. Back then, people didn’t leave the fort for fear of being attacked by enemy Natives. Their whole lives took place inside the walls of St. Marie’s. Most of their day was taken up with just survival. Their leisure activities, usually enjoyed over the winter months when the schedule was less demanding, were very simple to say the least. It’s really hard for me to imagine being entertained by them for more than a couple of days.
The most exciting thing the boys took away from the day was how to start a fire using friction. They had heard of this before but had never seen it actually done. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical that the young man in question would be able to get a fire started seeing what he was going to use. He totally surprised me and got a flame going in about a minute. The boys took careful note of what he did and asked good questions. They certainly want to try what they saw him do at home.
They also took home some Okis they made. Okis are Wendat good luck charms. The gal directing the boys told them that the Natives usually dried the clay disks over fire but she wouldn’t allow them to do that because they might explode. D and P’s eyes lit up and I don’t doubt that their little smiling Okis will at some point end up in a fire. I made a corn husk doll (not pictured) but couldn’t get the boys to try one. There was no talk of anything exploding which made that activity far less appealing to the guys.
Apart from an appreciation of modern comforts, I also took home some thoughts on the Jesuit men who risked so much to bring the Good News of the Gospel to a people group that had never heard about Jesus. Their zeal and devotion convicted me. They left friends and comforts to live in a new world that wasn’t particularly welcoming to them. They learned new languages and ways to reach a hitherto unreached people. They sacrificed much for the few converts they made. It’s something good to think about and hopefully the thinking will also lead to appropriate action. There are people all around me who are as ignorant of Jesus and the Bible as the Wendat once were.
One of the things I like most about living in Washago is that I am surrounded by nature. Something as simple as a walk is so pleasant here. In just the last week alone I saw a pair of swans on the lake, some blue-tailed sunfish shimmering under the water near a dock, the reappearance of dragonflies, monarchs and swallowtails, a red-headed woodpecker checking out a nearby tree and tiny frogs that were tadpoles with legs just the day before. Today, the profusion of wildflowers was the scene-stealer on my walk.
All the flowers pictured are common ones and they all grow in ditches. I took some time to think about that. There are probably hordes of people who don’t really notice these flowers and precious few that take pictures of them. Yet, they bloom magnificently as though they were in a fancy garden for millions to view. It reminded me of that old saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. What does it matter if your place and calling in life are humble and somewhat ordinary? Is that an excuse to not flourish and be all that you were meant to be? Maybe precious few will notice and even fewer appreciate your efforts but there will be the ones and twos that will cross your path and will be blessed by your beautiful character. My walk today would have been far less enjoyable had all the wildflowers sighed and said, “We’re just so ordinary and our place is in a ditch. Why bother opening our faces to the sun? Who will notice or care anyways?” Those simple flowers in their simple setting showed forth the glory of God to me. My eyes were lifted upward to a God who would take the time to beautify a country road that so few travel. Because of those flowers my soul wanted to sing and I was ministered to. I think I am one of those ordinary flowers in a not so glamorous setting. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a small sphere of influence. My home isn’t exactly a ditch but it’s not the Botanical Gardens either. Few will pass by my way but by the grace of God I intend to learn the lesson of those flowers and live the fullest I can for the Creator’s glory even if it only blesses a few.
D and P have decided that they want to be done school by June 20th. That shouldn’t be too hard considering they only have a little math and grammar left to do. The real clincher will be getting the June edition of our family newspaper out a little earlier. To help us all out, we did a little research today. P is going to write a restaurant review and so we sampled the delicacies at a little hamburger joint called Weber’s. From the moment it opens each year, this roadside attraction is insanely busy. A number of years ago, someone had the bright idea of building a huge overpass for the express purpose of allowing southbound travellers a chance to eat at Weber’s. Pretty much like everyone else, we ordered the charcoal barbecued hamburgers. They were good but really nothing to write home about; certainly not good enough to explain the hordes of people who wait in line for them. We were lucky today; there were only about 10 people ahead of us. Weber’s is a small place but it runs like a well-oiled machine. We laughed watching the old gentleman wearing a pink headband working the grill. It was like flipping and serving those burgers was a dance to him. He was flawless in his execution. I have to say that D and P didn’t complain at all about doing the research for this article. P even took a little notebook and pen and jotted down his ideas for what to put in the review. This is school as we know it: fun, fun, fun!