Monday, February 28, 2011


As I look at my "to do" list, I rationalize why I am not starting on any of the projects. I'll do them when ------

When March gets here
When snow is gone
And spring is near
And days are long
That’s when I’ll do it!
When trees turn green
when rivers flow
And buds are seen
And daisies grow
That’s when I’ll do it!
When winds are warm
When ground is dry
And never a storm
And clear blue sky
That’s when I’ll do it!
Today it’s freezing
Snow in the air
And I am sneezing
It’s just not fair
The fire is warm
The book is great
So where’s the harm
If those jobs wait
I’ll get at them
I swear I will
But not until -
the spring
That’s when I’ll do it!

E Mail

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
The glorious light colours its way through the beautiful stained glass windows and falls on empty pews.  No longer a sanctuary, it has become an echoing abandoned hall. The silence that was once holy, is now suffocating and oppressive.The altar, stripped of its furnishings, is now just a platform with no special significance.
All that remains are memories and ghosts. And a forgotten echo of choir voices in my mind.
The congregation that made this building their home has scattered, some to one or another of the churches in the area, a few no longer going to church at all. But all with an empty aching longing for what was once theirs. The choir voices that were ours are now part of new choirs, their voices mingling with other families.
How can anyone describe the impact, the feelings, the emotions, the sadness that is carried in the hearts and minds of these people who were once a part of the family that was Harmony United Church?
So much goodness has been shown by other churches in the area. Loving empathy, enthusiastic welcomes to their congregations, and open arms to enfold and embrace. This helps and soothes and is deeply appreciated, but does not cure the anguish.
We are not “home” - at least not yet.
The final Sunday service on January 9. So beautiful and moving. Tears and laughter and reminiscing and hugs – all with the knowledge that this was the last, the final ceremony, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Life goes on for us all. We move about our daily lives, and for the most part we can ignore the pang that signals a void in our existence, until a word or song or memory suddenly thrusts the reality back into sharp awareness.
We understand our duty though. It is to integrate into a new family. It is to recognize that now familiar ache for what it is – just nostalgia – an aversion to change – a desire to go back to a simpler time, and so we force it down below the surface and put on our happy faces, determined to show that we are strong.
It makes me wonder – how did a building and a group of people become so important to us that we grieve so badly?
It makes me wonder – will any of us allow another building and another group of people to take the place of what was lost?
It makes me wonder – with all the nice words about moving on – about new beginnings – about the Divine purpose for us – why does it just feel like The End?
And yet – deep within there is the faint beginning of a new hope, a new horizon, and a new optimism that we will heal, and that our experience will make us strong.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 Painterly People

3 Painters in my life
How I envy those people that can do the things I cannot - Musicians, authors and painters among others. Today I want to think about painting.
Jules Feiffer said “Artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue. Those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid.”

It is my very good fortune to count among friends 3 painters – I prefer that title to “artist” in this case because artist can cover so many areas and this is specific to painting.
I will not even attempt to define what art means to me except to say that some paintings move me to tears, some fill me with joy, and some speak to me on a level I do not understand and cannot explain. There are also those that leave me cold!

Picasso famously made the statement that “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Having watched children draw and color without restrictions or rules, I have come to believe Picasso’s statement is true. Sadly, the vast majority of humanity, including me, fall into the category of “lost artists”. Life has trained it out of us.
How fortunate we are then, that artists still exist among us.
My 3 painter friends are very different from each other in what they do and what they create, but all are bound by the same need to give expression to something within that escapes explanation in any form other than their art.
It is not my intention to do anything here other than tell you a little about these 3 unique individuals and let you see for yourself what their art is all about.

One is a professional and mostly self taught artist, coming to it later in life, but despite his years in industry, he would never think of himself as anything but a painter.
His name is Allison Robichaud.

One would never tell you he is a painter or artist. If asked, he would tell you what he did for a living before he retired. If the subject of art came up at all, he would say it is “only” a hobby.
His name is Michael (Mike) King.

The last has a degree in fine art, loves to paint, but while he knows his paintings are good, he does not think they have any commercial attraction. (It may be worth noting here that Van Gogh was spectacularly unsuccessful in selling his work!)
His name is Eric Sangwine. Let me start with him.

Eric Sangwine is by profession a librarian with the Oshawa Public Libraries. He has combined his love of history, especially the middle ages, with his sense of humour and creativity as a painter to produce highly detailed fanciful paintings that mostly deal with a specific incident from the past. His art is colourful, generally humorous, always tells a story, and when you watch people looking at his paintings they are smiling!
Eric is going to retire this spring and says he will devote his retirement to travel, painting, and likely eating sushi.
The pictures shown are – The music pageant – Robinson House (now a museum in Oshawa) at Christmas – Henry the V111
Visit his website at

Michael (Mike) King is retired from a lifelong career in the engineering division of General Motors. Mike has an insatiable curiosity (about almost everything), a love of nature, he relishes the artifacts of our recent past, and mourns the loss of the honored traditions of our pioneer ancestors. All of these things come together in his quest to capture some of these images on canvas. Someone once said that all paintings reflect the image of the painter, and in Mike’s paintings, you clearly see the inner man, and what enchants and captivates him.
The pictures shown are -A Painted Chair Mike donated for a “CHAIRity” auction – The bleached bones of a ship on a shore – A lighthouse at Long Point in Prince Edward County.

Allison Robichaud spent his career in industry in various management positions, but his only claim now is that he is a painter. I could add that he is also an author, having published one book on painting, and another currently in the works. He reminds me of a quote attributed to Michelangelo - “I’ve finished that chapel I was painting. The Pope is quite satisfied.”
Allison is highly acclaimed as a painter’s painter – a true “Plein Air” painter. As he approaches his 80th birthday, he continues to paint at a furious rate and old age has no choice but to wait until he is ready to accommodate it. Right now he has no time for it.
His love of our Canadian landscape is obvious, and the acclaim he has won is well earned and deserved.
The pictures shown are – Allison hard at work on a cold day – A lighthouse near his home – An autumn scene with ship

There are many famous quotes by and about painters. These are a few of my favorites
 Jean-Jacques Rousseau said "The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."
 Claude Debussy said “Art is the most beautiful of all lies.”
 John Ruskin said “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”
There are critics of course, and here are two of them
 Frank Zappa said “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.”
 Ambrose Bierce said “Painting is the art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.”
I say, “everyone should have at least one painter in their life. Three is better”.
NOTE: All pictures can be enlarged by clicking once or even larger click twice!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grandma's Birthday Tribute

It is true! I am married to a septuagenarian! January 24 was the official date, and we had a party with great friends. Alison and Ashleigh put together the visual presentation that captures lots of highlights of friends, family, fun, and love. Carole King proposed a beautiful toast to her friend Beth. Morgan played guitar and sang one of her compositions called Blind House. Ashleigh played the piano and she and Morgan sang the duet version of The Prayer. All in all a wonderful event. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the slide show.


Morgan has won awards for songwriting and singing. This song,Blind house, was written about 1 year ago.
The video purposely contrasts with the dark nature of the song.
I hope you like it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A beloved UEL pioneer

The Pioneer Spirit
As a child in “The County” I never knew my grandparents. My mother’s parents were living in Alberta, and my father’s parents were deceased. However, I had the great privilege to know and love my mother’s grandmother, my great grandmother Waity!
Born in 1868 she lived until 1952. My great grandfather Philip died when I was still a baby, so I have no memory of him.
Grandma Waity was a tiny woman, barely five feet tall, and lived alone in a log house near Point Traverse, or Long Point as I knew it, in the County of Prince Edward. The house was perhaps a mile from a dirt road, and about a half mile from Lake Ontario. Of course there was no electricity or running water. The log house still stands and is pictured in the book “The Settlers Dream”. I believe it is now in use as a private cottage.
I have clear memories of visiting her at her home, and even now I recall the smell of fried cakes as she pulled them from a huge cast iron cauldron.
A pair of ancient binoculars stood on a window sill that faced the lake. As with all the old homes of The County, there were hollyhocks and Lilacs in abundance.
In the 1980’s, Arthur and Bill Bongard who were rather distant neighbours often talked about her, and her fried cakes.
Sometime in the late 40’s or early 50’s she suffered a stroke and finally had to leave her lifelong home to come and live with us where she stayed until her death in 1952.
One of the pictures shows her with me at Warings Corners, likely about 1946, and we stand beside my parent’s 1927 Essex. Another picture shows my mother as a baby with her parents (my grandparents) and her grandparents (my great grandparents).
The third picture is the log house as shown in The Settler’s Dream, after it was abandoned.
I grew up with no electricity, telephone or running water, and all heating and cooking were done with wood or coal. Even so, I cannot imagine what it was like for her living alone in that remote log house, especially during the long and very cruel winters.
It remains a treasure to me that I have strong memories of a real pioneer, a grand daughter of original UEL settlers.