One of a Kind

Yesterday we went to Toronto to the One of a Kind fair, an artisan show where you can buy unique handmade products from all over Canada with artisans coming from far and wide. It is the third time we have gone to this fair and it did not disappoint! There was a fantastically diverse collection ranging from exquisite jewellery to edgy fashion, delicious salmon from British Columbia to butter tarts from just around the corner, wooden toys and huge wooden tables, just waiting to be put in a cottage for families and friends to gather around and feast, beautiful bedware, colourful handmade shoes, handcrafted soaps with beautiful aromas, paintings, prints, witty cards and so much more. So much to sample too, chocolate coated berries, crispy soy beans in many flavours, salmon pate on crunchy biscuits, melt in your mouth butter tarts, eye-watering balsamic vinegars, creamy goats cheese, rich terrines and duck pates, jams and spreads, pickles of more vegetables than I knew it was possible to pickle, we tasted and tried almost everything! We were tempted to buy so much but given that we are hardly cooking we restrained ourselves and did some other shopping instead, mostly birthday presents but the occasional indulgence for ourselves, Simon bought a great t-shirt perfect for Arrowsmith which he wore today. I will take a photo tonight for tomorrow!
And this is the link to the blog this time last year (and I hope this works!) – what a lot has happened since then and at the same time, seemingly not very much at all!’s-news
December to March 2015 603 Today's news


A monumentous event!

On Saturday Simon had to return a book to the library. Now, that might not sound very exciting or indeed monumentous but it was! For that was the first book that Simon has ever read! For most parents of most children reading is something that happens without a big effort or too much difficulty but for us and for Simon that was not the case. One of his most profound difficulties has been learning to read, a combination of his learning difficulties and a bullying teacher in kindergarten had made him terrified about reading, terrified so much that pushing him to read resulted in an almost hysterical state, even last year after quite some time into his Arrowsmith program. So, imagine my delight when he told me that he was reading every night for 20 minutes, even more delight when he told me to leave him in peace for an hour so he could catch up with the reading he had missed whilst on our Northern Lights adventure last week, after which, you could have knocked me down with a feather, when said he had just got to such an exciting point in the story that he could hardly put the book down! Joy, joy, joy! Returning a library book was a big, big moment! And the sight of Simon engrossed in a book was not something I thought I would ever see! As Matt said in his last report, after saying he was pleased that Simon was reading every night ” a non-reader lives only one life, a reader may live a thousand lives”. And as my friend Annie says ” you are never lonely if you are a reader and have a book nearby”. Happy reading, Simon. image

The Northern Lights continued

A photo can’t begin to do justice to the beauty and ethereal magic that is the Aurora Borealis. We were extremely lucky that they came out for us on each of five nights  – seeing them first out of the window of our cabin on the train made us so happy, knowing that we had seen them. We were worried that they may be cancelled as they were two years ago when we went in pursuit of them in Iceland. An American lady said to us, as we sat in the  warm, slightly slimy mineral waters of a thermal pool  “Gee, wasn’t it a shame that the Northern Lights were cancelled last night?”.It was all we could do not to laugh loudly and ask “Who exactly cancelled them?” “How did they switch them off?”. We were incredulous! And we did snigger (quietly!).

I can’t do better than this poem, Ballad of the Northern Lights, by Robert W Service, known as the Bard of the Yukon, born in 1874. Despite the somewhat dated language I think this is the perfect description. I just have to add that I think scientists could have thought of a better phrase than “mass coronal ejection” which is what happens on the sun leading to our seeing the Northern Lights – it sounds a little rude! And we were so lucky (five nights out of five!) as there was a massive mass coronal ejection for us. Anyway, back to the poem….

And the skies of night were

alive with light,

with a throbbing thrilling flame;

Amber and rose and violet,

opal and gold it came.

It swept the sky like a giant scythe,

it quivered back to a wedge:

Argently bright,

it cleft the night with a wavy golden edge.

Pennants of silver waved and streamed,

lazy banners unfurled;

Sudden splendours of sabers gleamed,

lightning javelins were hurled.

There in our awe

we crouched and saw with our wild, uplifted eyes

Charfe and reture the hosts of fire

in the battlefield of the skies.

If there ever is a time you have the opportunity to see the best northern lightsNorthern Lights, go. You will believe in magic.

Simon and Rusty!

On a lighter note than my re-blogged post, I feel somewhat frivolous posting this but I thought you might like to seeDecember to March 2015 651 Simon with Rusty, not our Rusty but a very shy Rusty who was much happier pulling the sled than he was meeting the people he was pulling, though he did warm to Simon, as all dogs do!

And whilst I was patting Rusty one of the other dogs peed down my leg! Fortunately the trousers were water(pee)proof!

Dog sledding was one of the highlights of our Northern lights adventure – more to follow.

Plight of Syrian refugees.

This is very different to my usual posts of our fun-filled holidays and rich daily life and it was shocking to me. I had no idea there were so many refugees displaced inside and outside Syria. Why is the world just standing by and watching? Just as we did for Bosnia and Rwanda. I am horrified and overwhelmed and want to do something – does anyone have any constructive suggestions?

Back to Arrowsmith!

We were so busy during the days and nights in Churchill that it is only now I can catch up! I will tell you about the rest of our time tomorrow when I have the cheat sheet that Simon and I wrote as we were on the plane back from snowy Winnipeg! Simon has it and I can’t remember all the things we did, suffice to say it was amazing and we were extremely fortunate with our timing- tons of coronal mass ejections! More about that later!

Back to Peterborough where we hoped the weather would be warmer, which it is, relatively but then again most places are warmer than Churchill! We also hoped that spring would be sprung but no sign of spring as yet!

Back to Arrowsmith and more inspiring words from Matt! I can hardly believe there are only 12 more weeks to go! Where is this academic year going? It is going all too fast! As Gretchen Rubén writes the days are long,  the years are short! So true!

I enjoyed a lovely walk with the Parents Walking Group today, through crispy snow covered Jackson Park, with the creek bubbling along beside us. Onto Sam’s Deli for a much deserved pulled pork sandwich, half a sandwich as I shared with Stuart! I knew I was going out for dinner with Larry and Jennifer and Simon later! Brio Gusto was great, delicious! A first time there for all of us but iit won’t be the last as we all enjoyed our various dishes, from Napa Valley pizza to twice cooked crispy duck, French chickie and pork loin, accompanied by beautiful salads and roasted veggies!  Fortunately we started dinner early and so finished early as Simon’s brain was hurting after his first day back. He was pleased with his training for his next level of clocks, six hands! He is moving on with his cognitive exercises and that is reflected in his confidence and happiness as was evident on our trip away.image

Almost the end of the earth!

Here we are in Churchill, a two day train ride from Winnipeg, on the edge of the Hudson Bay. What a journey it has been. Such fun on the train, suspended in time for two days with nothing to do but look out of the window and watch the world go by, talk with our fellow travellers or play games, with no internet coverage. Pure magic on a train built in 1954 with function over form, comfortable but basic, ingenious nonetheless in design in terms of the bedrooms, where our two bunk beds appeared as if by magic in the evening. We were incredibly lucky to see the Northern Lights both nights from our train window, the first sighting was so exciting, vivid green strips of light moving across the sky as we lay looking out of the window on the bottom bunk, there is no window from the top bunk! I don’t know how long it went on but it was mesmerising and we couldn’t look away. Eventually they faded away and we were lulled off to sleep by the rocking of the train, taking us slowly to Churchill, the train stopping to let passengers off wherever they request so they can get to their communities, disappearing off into the night on skidoos.

Since being in Churchill we have had a tour of the town, not a long tour since it is not especially big, the population is now around 800 people and decreasing. We went to the Visitors Centre yesterday which has a really interesting exhibit about Inuit life, the fur trade and the coming of Europeans to this area and about the environment, the animals and how they live here, a living  version of David Attenboroughs Frozen Planet. A quick lunch then onto the Eskimo Museum, a collection of Inuit artefacts together with a fascinating talk about them. A break, Simon says it is like being on safari, activities with time for ourselves  in between!, then dinner and then rugging up, layers and layers and layers to go out to the Aurora dome to spend the evening looking for the Northern Lights. The dome is set up as a big room below, with comfy sofas, tea, coffee and enough biscuits for an army, above which are two domes to see the sky. To get to the domes we had to climb a ladder and squeeze through a narrow trapdoor. We climbed up, watched and waited. There was some cloud and blustery winds, the outside temperature was -38 so we were glad to be sitting in the shelter of the domes! Hours passes, we found many constellations which  we had learnt about at an astronomy lecture at the Manitoba Museum before we boarded the train.  Most of the group headed back to the hotel, having seen a little Aurora activity but we thought we would wait and it was worth the wait. Gradually the sky brightened and a strip of white light crossed the sky, staring to dance back and forth, then there was light in every direction, moving, swirling, whirling,,dancing so much we didn’t know where to look! It was not the vivid green usually seen but a translucent white with touches of red and pink, ethereal and magical. We can understand why the Inuit thought these were the spirits of the recently departed coming back to visit.

into bed at 3.00am! And tonight we hope for more but have to get ready for dinner now! On the way back from our busy day we popped into the supermarket. You can buy anything for a pint of milk to cereal or a skidoo! imageOnly in Canada!