One of a Kind

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One of a Kind

This was the name of the show we went to today in Toronto, thanks to Michelle. There was a fabulous range of handcrafted products – beautiful jewellery, paintings, ceramics, soaps, clothes and food by over 450 artisans from all over Canada. We came home loaded with presents for upcoming birthdays and lots of goodies (mostly food!) for ourselves, having tasted almost everything on offer! Beautiful balsamic reductions, roasted soybeans flavoured with balsamic vinegar or maple syrup (those are the flavours as chosen by Simon for his lunchbox which has to be nut-free – they look and taste like nuts but they aren’t!), smoked salmon pate, cassoulet, maple butter maple and fig jelly, apple syrup with maple (we are in Canada, after all!) and cinnamon – all delicious on pancakes, seville orange marmalade, dried cranberries, chocolate almond brittle and so much more!
As on a previous shopping trip in Melbourne, when Simon had been reluctant to go shopping with his sisters, he was the one to buy the most! And he wasn’t even going to come along!

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Today’s news

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Today's news

is good news… Simon mastered the 4th level of tracing! He threw the piece of paper at me when he came in through the door this evening and I was on facetime! I suspected it was something special but I hadn’t time to see the coy face he wears when he is feeling proud of himself, but shy at the same time, as he snuck into his bedroom. Mr Coppins tells me Simon has made lots of progress this week which is very exciting! I wonder if the holidays integrate things in the brain just as sleep consolidates our memories. Maybe, as Vicky suggested, Simon should go on holiday more often!
More wise words from Mr Coppins for inspiration this week.
Back to Friday nights again tonight, such a treat, me enjoying Andrea’s wonderful conversation whilst rather less erudite conversation goes on in the basement, sometimes making its way up the stairwell! Friday nights are a special part of being here in Peterborough. Off to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning and since the pavements are now clear we can walk there – yeah! And the temperature is meant to be a balmy 6 degrees!

Perfect weather

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Perfect weather

for cross country ski-ing! Here we are in our own private ski field! It isn’t really (obviously!) but it felt as if it was since there was not a soul to be seen as we walked into Devil’s Elbow! Following a fortifying coffee/hot chocolate we set off, ignored the “easiest” track and headed straight off to the “more difficult” track which didn’t prove too challenging, the occasional squeal of terror as we went speeding downhill on narrow skis and the odd fall, so we decided to take on the “most difficult” track. Surely it can’t be that hard we said to ourselves! It wasn’t that much harder really, some longer downhills and a little steeper but just (for us!) so long. We didn’t see anyone else or any tracks other than those made by rabbits and deer. The only other living creatures we saw were squirrels dashing across the path in front of us during our long ski. We were surprised a search party hadn’t been sent out to find us by our lone downhill skier, who had had a good, but cold, morning. We, on the other hand, were more than warm after all our hard work!
What a great way to spend the day! Simon, in the meantime, spent his day getting increasingly frustrated by not mastering tracing. I’m sure he will do it soon enough and I will know by that special coy expression on his face when he does! He was pleased to tell me that he had great success in one of the other exercises which helps develop self-direction and organisation, mental initiative and problem solving abilities. I would add that the progress in all these areas was much in evidence whilst we were in Sydney, as well as Simon’s non-stop talking. Michael wondered if Simon would ever stop talking from now on! We’re pleased he has so much to tell everyone!

Butt what is left after the snow melts?

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Butt what is left after the snow melts?

At last, finally, finalmente the snow is melting! Yeah! But the down side is seeing the number of cigarette butts that have been hidden under the snow and ice for all these months – 5 months or so, anyway! It got me thinking about how many butts there are on every street here in Peterborough and if there are this many here, well, how many are there being stubbed out on pavements (sorry, sidewalks!) all over the world.
A quick look on Google and the statistics are horrifying – 4.5 TRILLION, that is right, 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts become rubbish (sorry, garbage!) every single year! Can you believe that? Being a non-smoker this has really shocked me but I think the numbers would shock even the most-hardened of smokers.
Cigarette butts are the most common piece of litter in the world! It is estimated that about 1 BILLION kgs of butts end up as toxic rubbish each year, Yet more horrifying is that cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable! They are made of cellulose acetate which is a form of plastic and can persist in the environment for up to 10 years. I have to say I didn’t know that and I suspect that many others, smokers and non-smokers don’t know that either. Cigarette butts get washed into our rivers, lakes and oceans. They leach toxins into the water and kill or injure various forms of wildlife. The plastic parts of cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, turtles and other marine creatures who mistake them for food.
Another scary fact is that fires caused by cigarette butts claim the lives of about 1,000 people and injure about 3,000 people each year. Unbelievable and terrifying!
Not to mention the cost of cleaning up all of these butts – in the US, estimates range from $3 million to $13million each year in major cities. That adds up to a lot of money – imagine what else it could be spent on, education, housing, hospitals to name a few, if we didn’t have to spend it on cleaning up the cigarette butts!
So, to all the smokers out there, please think carefulyl about what you do with your butt! I will be the person out there cleaning up after you if you don’t do the right thing! I wish I didn’t have to be!

Another beautiful walk!

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Another beautiful walk!

Simon started the day laughing with everyone at Arrowsmith as he had directed them to the blog yesterday telling them that that was where they would find out what he had done on his holidays! The photo of the golf buggy in the water is making a splash!
Simon tells me that he almost mastered tracing today, just one mark outside the line! So nearly there! He is progressing really well and even exceeding expectations in some of his exercises – gosh, I am so proud of him!
The beautifully sunny morning saw us parents heading to the Trent University Nature Reserve for our Parents Walking Group walk – here we are standing on the river which is still frozen at this point (well, I am taking the photo but the other three intrepid walkers are in the photo!). Further down river and down by Little Lake the thaw has started so we were a bit nervous to head out and walk right across the river especially as we had spotted some cracks, albeit very small cracks! Intrepid but not that intrepid!
A definite feeling of spring in the air and a mood of optimism creeping up on us all after the long winter. By six o’clock this evening that disappeared as did the visibility with a massive snowstorm once again – it was short-lived however. A reminder from Mother Nature that she is contrary and unpredictable!

Peterborough Monday

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Peterborough Monday

Back to the routine – Simon leaving for the first day of the last term for this year at Arrowsmith(where have two terms gone?) and me setting off for knitting group, followed by, as I mentioned yesterday, a much needed trip to the gym. There was a somewhat reduced group at knitting today – only two of us but we talked and knitted for all of us! It was great to catch up after the holidays. The trip to the gym was rather more strenuous as there was a spot in the spin class – I am never sure if I love it or hate it but it makes me work incredibly hard! I think I missed it whilst I was away!
The afternoon passed quickly with much chatting on facetime – organising various trips and treats over the next few months. Thank you so much for reminding me of “Tuesdays with Morrie”, Victor – an inspiring read (as , I am sure, will be the interviews with Ted Koppel) – a reminder of what is truly important in life. Looking up “Tuesdays with Morrie” quotes I couldn’t decide which were the best quotes so here they are in their entirity:
1. “Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.” (p. 18)
2. “Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it.” (p. 18)
3. “Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others.” (p. 18)
4. “Don’t assume that it is too late to get involved.” (p. 18)
5. Find someone to share your heart, give to your community, be at peace with yourself, try to be as human as you can be. (p. 34)
6. “Love always wins.” (p. 40)
7. “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” (p. 42)
8. “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” (p. 43)
9. “ . . . if you really want it, then you’ll make your dream happen.” (p. 47)
10. “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” (p. 52)
11. “Love is the only rational act.” (p. 52)
12. “I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all . . . . It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say goodbye.” (p. 57)
13. “Sometimes you can’t believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel.” (p. 61)
14. “What if today were my last day on earth?” (p. 64)
15. “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” (p. 82)
16. If you accept you are going to die at any time, then you might not be as ambitious as you are. (p. 83)
17. There is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. (p. 91)
18. “Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent.” (p. 103)
19. “ . . . If you’ve found meaning in your life you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until sixty-five.” (p. 118)
20. “Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness.” (p. 125)
21. “ . . . love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” (p. 133)
22. “Love each other or perish.” (p. 149)
23. “ . . . the big things—how we think, what we value—those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone–or any society—determine those for you.” (p. 155)
24. “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.” (p. 162)
25. “Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.” (p. 163)
26. “Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.” (p. 164)
27. “As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.” (p. 174)
28. “Death ends a life, not a relationship.” (p. 174)
29. The important questions have to do with love, responsibility, spirituality, awareness. (p. 175)
30. “You’re not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” (p. 180)
31. “ . . . there is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life.” (p. 190)

What an extraordinary man – so wise.
Back to the more mundane, the sun was shining yesterday and today. This was Simon and Amanda yesterday by Little Lake as we took a stroll outside to stave off our afternoon jet-lag induced sleepiness. Still rugged up but it is getting warmer and the birds are singing so it feels as if spring is just around the corner! The only disadvantage is that the door will be open more often at the Spill café across the road – the tuneless music blaring loudly – it must be Monday! Mondays seem to feature particularly uninspiring music!
Simon had a good day at Arrowsmith today, settling straight back in – it was good to see everyone again. Having listened to the audio books of Harry Potter, followed by Deltora Quest we have just started listening to “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden. John Marsden was a teacher at Geelong Grammar who felt that teenagers were often maligned and that the good things they did were overlooked so decided to write a book in which the teenagers were the heroes and act with great courage and determination in a terrible situation.
John Marsden was inspired to write Tomorrow, When the War Began while watching an ANZAC Day march. A large number of teenagers were in attendance, paying respect to the sacrifices made by the past generations. He wondered how they might react if they were placed in the same position that their grandparents were at their age. He felt that the popular media’s view of the average young person as “illiterate, drug crazed, suicidal, alcoholic, criminal, promiscuous, a dole bludger, or all of the above” was wrong. It seemed to him that like the generations before them modern teenagers would “dig deep and find reserves of initiative, maturity, responsibility and even heroism”. He also wanted to write it as an action packed adventure story, similar to those he had enjoyed when he was a teenager. It makes for great listening!