The kids and I are off on our adventure next week.  I’m packing my mom up in a ziplock bag and taking her to England.  Don’t worry she’ll be double bagged, maybe tripled if I am feeling generous.  I wouldn’t want to leave a trail of Hawkins’ ashes across the Atlantic.

We will be arriving in Paris and meeting our dear friend Jenny, who is living the dream in France for the year with her family.  The five of us have some very touristy plans sandwiched between eating cheese, bread, wine, and then more cheese.  If I haven’t partially morphed into an attractive half woman/half cheese hybrid upon my return to Canada then I haven’t done my job as a cheese loving tourist.  And if I return as an unattractive cheesy human entity, please feel free to serve my cheesy bits on crackers to guests and donate the other half to science.  So that’s Paris in a nutshell.

The rest of the month will be spent at Jenny’s house in the south of France, and with my lovely family in Lesceister with a few extra nights in London.  We need to round out our touristy agenda with a trip to Buckingham Palace, and tea with the queen.  I hope she is available on short notice.  If not, we will settle for Kate and that guy she is married to.

We have many long journeys ahead of us this month.  We are not bringing any screens with us, but have our bags packed with books, journals, notepads and coloured pencils.  I find I do my best creative thinking and planning on long car trips.  I hope that transfers to planes and trains.  I would like to write more.  If I just keep saying that perhaps it will happen.  I’m hoping to take the time on these long passages to get some thoughts on paper.  I believe everyone has something interesting to say, maybe not all the time, but we do have at least one interesting thought or experience to share.  Sometimes you just need the solitude and boredom to bring it forth.  I’m hoping that happens to me and my kids on this trip.

I had my last writing workshop a few weeks ago.  My favorite part of the workshop was what I called pressure writing.  It was when you were given a short 10-15 minutes to write something specific down on paper.  I was always stumped but eventually churned something out.  My fear would rise exponentially as my fellow classmates would be furiously writing while I simply stared at them.  Our last pressure writing exercise was the most interesting to me.  Our instructor read us a poem describing the writer and then gave us the formula so we could describe ourselves.  Here is the passage:

Where I’m From

I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch. (Black, glistening, it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush the Dutch elm whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses, from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls and the pass-it-ons, from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul with a cottonball lamb and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch, fried corn and strong coffee.

From the finger my grandfather lost to the auger, the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box spilling old pictures, a sift of lost faces to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–snapped before I budded –leaf-fall from the family tree.


Here is the formula.


specific ordinary item: 

product name: 

sensory detail of home: 

plant flower or natural item:  

family tradition, trait, tendency: 

faith religion or superstitious belief: 

place of birth or ancestry:

food item: 

specific family story: 

I encourage everyone to do this, as you all can.  Fill it in when you are standing in line, driving your car, on the subway or anytime there is blank space in your day.  Your poem can be different for different periods in your life.  Be creative.  You have something interesting to share even if it is just for yourself.

I will share mine.  It is not mind blowing but it is a part of me.  Send me yours if you’d like.  I want to read them.


Where I am From  

I am the paper bag that housed my lunch time cheese and mustard sandwiches that I was too embarrassed to take out and eat in front of the other children.

I am the swaths of possibilities at at our local Fabricland.

I am the soft touch of the beige corduroy couch that my mother upholstered herself.

I am the lily of the valley flowing from the pots on my bedside table.

I am the laughter that flows even  in the depth of sadness.

I am the wonder of the unknown beyond death.

I am the busy streets of west end Toronto enveloped in wafts of chocolate from the local Hershey’s factory. 

I am the perfect marriage between rice, chicken and a can of Campbell’s mushroom soup. 

I am the adoption that never was when I was born with an IUD on my head.

Have a wonderful month of April.  I will be back to my screen in May.  Enjoy your spring and the tulips!


Love Your Library


As per usual, things have been busy around here.  The season is just around the corner, and there is a long list of jobs to do.  I’ve just spent the last 5 days painting the staff room which is used as a communal kitchen for our guests.  I have aches and pains in my upper back that I’ve never experienced before.  I am calling it upper cabinet roller shoulder.  It is similar to tennis elbow, except less elitist and it doesn’t look as good in tennis whites because of the paint stains.

On a non manual labour note, we survived March Break even though it was a very soggy week.  When I use the term “we”, I am referring to me.  I did the bulk of daytime child care/entertaining.  Once again having a gym in my home saved us from cabin fever during those rainy days.  There was not a lot of enthusiasm for the bouncy castle as of late, so we have set up a badminton court in front of the stage.  It turns out badminton is the perfect indoor sport.  It is hard to take out someone’s eye or break a window with a birdie.  Unfortunately, Elsa our dog has eaten one of our birdies.  We are down to only a treasured one.

Another saving grace was the Stop Motion Movie workshop at our local library.  Prince Edward County libraries are the best.  It was a two day, free workshop with artist Krista Dalby.  Krista is such an awesome creative force in our community.  Small Pond Arts, Puppeteers without Borders, and The Firelight Lantern Festival  are just a few of the incredible things she does.  My kids loved every minute of her workshop and are now obsessed with stop motion movies.  Wini and Ruby have set up a film set on our stage and it has been getting a lot of use this past week.  To check out the movies the kids made at the library, click here and here.

If you want to see what serious stop motion artists film, click here.  It is a wee bit violence, but don’t worry, it is the good kind of violence.  All in the name of art.

We ended the week with a a good old fashion bonfire with friends to celebrate the spring equinox.  Nothing rings in the new season like the first fire.  My friend Allison captured this great photo of Reya gleefully jumping through the smoke. I’m looking forward to many more bonfires in my near future.


Old School Bluegrass Camp 2016

OLD SCHOOL BGC POSTER 2016 final copy

It’s all coming together.  It is still March and we are already half way full for our Old School Bluegrass Camp 2016.  Last year was such a musical blast that we can’t wait until this year’s camp!

We have a fabulous line up of instructors from Ben Plotnik, Ivan Rosenberg and Sam Allison to the whole Slocan Ramblers band.  Most of these talented musicians are teaching workshops across Canada this summer, and Old School Bluegrass Camp students can study with them right here in Ontario! Plus campers get a one on one session with their instructor.  That is unheard of at most musical camps.

If you would like to come out and play some bluegrass, meet other musicians, learn to play in a bluegrass band, and generally have an awesome musical time in Prince Edward County at my house, then sign up here.  Spots are limited, so don’t delay!

See you in July!

Repost – Public Service Announcement

It is that time of year again.  The days are getting warmer and the ticks are on the move.  I really didn’t know anything about ticks before I moved to the country.  I feel like an expert now.  The reality is that ticks are in both rural and urban settings.  We all need to be better informed, and do tick checks on all kids and adults in the spring and fall.  My Ruby got lucky with this tick, and she is fine now.

Please read and pass it on.


My lovely little Ruby got bit by a tick last week. Her sister was the first to notice it and brought it to my attention. I removed it successfully with my handy dandy tick remover that I purchased at the vet’s last summer. Removing ticks properly is essential. They dig their mouth into the host’s skin. If you simply pull a tick out, their body will dislocate from their head. The head will remain in the skin, and and release their bacteria into the host. The trick is to hook their neck with the remover, and twist as you pull to dislodge the head. If you don’t have a store bought tick remover, you can Macguyver a similar tool with a paperclip. Either visit your vet or have your office supplies well stocked.

As most of you know, ticks can carry Lyme disease. Infected ticks release Lyme disease causing bacteria when they bite their host. The first sign of Lyme disease is a bull eye rash that occurs at the bite site. This rash can appear 3-30 days after the initial bite but only to 70-80% of infected people. Early symptoms are fever, headache, joint pain, and fatigue. If left untreated, Lyme disease has a myriad of painful symptoms including arthritis, meningitis, and encephalitis.

After I removed Ruby’s tick, I swore I would keep a sharp eye on the wound. By the next morning, like most fantastic mothers, I had all but forgotten about the tick. It didn’t occur to me to check her bite until yesterday, a full seven days after tick contact. I was worried when I saw the rash. I promptly cancelled our bike ride, packed a lunch, and headed to the emergency ward. She is currently on antibiotics, and at home with a fever. We have been advised to meet with our family doctor before the end of Ruby’s two week round of antibiotics to decide whether she needs to have the full Lyme disease treatment.

Ticks are about the size of a poppy seed. They stand on the end of a blade of grass with their hands in the air to find a host. They are able to sense heat and a change in light as you or your dog passes them by. A common myth is that they are only found in long grass. Ticks do not differentiate based on grass height. They are prevalent during the spring and fall seasons. They do not like very hot or very cold conditions. They are a super bug that does not die but simply hibernates when the weather does not suit them. In the hot days of summer, it is still cool enough in wooded areas for ticks to be active all summer long.

Ticks were mostly thought to reside in only rural wooded areas. They are now finding ticks blossoming in urban areas. One theory is that they have been brought to the city on family dogs and cats returning from cottages and camping. In the past, ticks have fed mostly on deer and were prevalent only in areas with high deer populations. Researchers now know that ticks frequently feed on birds and rodents and will travel where their host takes them.

To protect my family, I was told to have my children wear long pants tucked into their socks during the spring and fall season. I almost choked on the word socks while I struggled to maintain my composure.  As soon as it hits 12 degrees Celcius, my kids are in their bathing suits spraying each other with the hose. My goodness, we are Canadian, gosh darn it! Who wears socks once the sun shines past 7pm?

So what to do? Until it gets really hot, I make my kids wear sneakers and socks, and I spray them with DEET from the knee down. I’m not of fan of using DEET on my children, but I’m less of a fan of Lyme disease. We have also started daily tick checks. My kids are old enough to bathe and dress themselves so I don’t see them naked as much as I use to when they were little. Now we check for ticks before they put their pajamas on.

I am worried about my little one whom I adore. After a long wait in the emergency ward, Ruby told me very matter of factly that she would like to change her name to Glitter Avery Vortex. If she beats this whole Lyme disease thing, I may have to reward her with a permanent name change.

Be strong my Glitter Girl!