Thursday, April 27, 2023

Gratitude #74

Welcome to another monthly gratitude post. All month long I note little things that make me smile, that me feel gratitude, things that I like or love. Several of us write these posts; you can read more at LeeAnna‘s blog Not Afraid of Color.

1. I love weeping willow trees. They are the last to lose their leaves in fall and one of the early trees to green up.

I love the vast array of flowering trees in this southernmost area of Canada. We are in the Carolinian forest, so trees like magnolias, redbuds, osage orange, hickory, walnut and oak, and many many more, abound.

2. I like the early spring shrubs I have:
Clockwise from top left: Heather, Japonica, Forsythia (not mine), Azalea (recently transplanted so a little shaken up)

I love spring here in the 'deep south' of Canada, even if this year has been an extremely cool one. We've had a ton of rain, so everything is so green, a marked contrast to Alberta where I was on the weekend. They are 1100 km north of me, though, so it's understandable. The magnolias and weeping cherries are just magnificent, and each week others burst forth. My mum would've loved to see my heather and japonica looking so pretty.

3. I like this new-to-me song, written by Andrew Balfour, Cree composer and conductor from Winnipeg Manitoba. 

4. I am excited to share with you this CBC News story about an innovative idea to help house homeless people that private funding has done with great success in Kitchener, Ontario. They built Tiny Homes! They call the neighbourhood "A Better Tent City" and it consists of 42 tiny homes. The city of Waterloo, a few kilometres away, is now setting up a similar neighbourhood. The best thing? People leave, to go onto an apartment and a job.

5. I like Bakewell Tarts, and I like that there is a British store just 20 minutes' drive away.

Marks & Spencer's are the best, but these are a pretty darn close second!

I also like that Blimey's loaded $5 onto my Blimey's points card, to spend during my birthday month.

6. A note about some good reads this past month. I'm finally deep into Louise Penny's A World of Curiosities, her latest Three Pines mystery. I bought it for myself for Christmas, but have saved it, not totally on purpose, as several library holds and 'squirrel books'--yes, I am finding that, just like a quilting project that grabs your attention and you drop everything else to make it, books do that to me! I have one Canada Reads on my stack, and another ready for pick-up, so you see how it can be. Anyhow, as per usual, it is just excellent, and sending me to the Internet time and again to look something up, or verify, 'really? that happened? She existed?' and so on. Her books are all worlds of curiosities, and the way she works these oddities in is never forced. 

In my previous Gratitude post, I had mentioned that I'd started our next Book Club book, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei. What an excellent, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and educational read it was. He's an artist and activist and both his father and he spoke and speak out against regimes, not just China's, where human rights are violated. I inadvertently followed it up with Celeste Ng's newest, Our Missing Hearts, because I finally got to the head of the line of 40-odd people to read it! It was the perfect book to follow Weiwei's. I highly recommend both; you may find you need to 'persevere' for the first several chapters of 1000 Years, but you will be happy you did as you will zoom through the last 2/3 of the book. You won't have any problem with dullness in Ng's book.

7. I love Ted Lasso, and am thoroughly enjoying the third season. The episode, Sunflowers, the one that takes place in Amsterdam, is, as Dayna put it, quintessential Ted, and say that with the Italian kiss your fingertips sign!

8. I really enjoyed the art work depicting ice-fishing huts in the tunnel under, I presume, a runway at the Edmonton International Airport.

A Second Language

This month LeeAnna's prompt asked if you speak another language. I speak French. I was a French teacher for 30 years, and I did my university at la Faculté St-Jean, University of Alberta, so I graduated with a bilingual Bachelor of Education (with Distinction).  How did I learn? Well, as a little kid, my mum would tell how I sat, mesmerized, in front of our TV watching Thierry LaFronde, a French language kids' show; I desperately wanted to go to a French school, but the only one was two bus connections away (my mum didn't drive and had four kids under the age of six, so just not possible). My elementary school was English only; we didn't start learning French until grade 5. In grade 4 Mum saw a 'Learn to speak French' course at our Community League, so she put me in that and I was a natural; apparently the instructor talked to Mum, recommending J. H. Picard, but again, I couldn't as she didn't drive. I always excelled in French, often won the highest mark in my grade level, and always wanted to be a French teacher. Mum used to say I lived a past life in France; I think I lived several! I was chosen by my grade 9 French teacher to do a one-week exchange programme in Québec, which opened my eyes to 'these people LIVE in French!' kind of thing, something I'd seen happen with my own grade 9 students when I took them to Quebec and to France. I spent a summer between the end of grade 12 and my first year of university at Laval University in Québec. 

I have found that having a second language has given me so many opportunities. One incident was simply helping out a couple from Québec travelling across Canada to get the room they wanted in a motel where my brother and I had just booked a room for the night. They didn't speak English and the Manitoba motel owner didn't speak French, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. When we went to Europe in 2019, my French was invaluable in France, but it messed me up in Italy and Spain, and, on another trip, it did in Mexico too, because I understand Spanish if they speak slowly, but my brain to tongue mechanism always reverts to French and out it comes when I respond! Both my daughters did their entire schooling, from kindergarten through grade 12, in French, though grade 10-12 were much less percentage in French compared through K-9. Brady was in immersion from K-7; Covid changed his schooling quite drastically.

9. Okay, best get this published before the day is over! I have two quilts that just need binding, so I hope to get them finished and photographed on this gorgeous sunny day, as it looks like we're headed for several days of rain. Since this was a word-heavy post, I will finish with one last like: I love dogs! This is my aunt's dog, Sheba, who got a good massage and love session with me, and several other family members, when we were all together out at the farm for my Uncle Bob's funeral last weekend


  1. If I ever stumble upon a genie in a bottle, one of my 3 wishes would be to be able to speak and understand all languages. Have fun binding your quilts; that's always one of the most satisfying steps. :)

  2. Wow, you are one clever lady. I learnt French at high school for approx. 3 years & can still pick up on a few words, though my top subject was maths. I had to leave school early due to reasons of family constraints. Ooh, I love dogs too, though many other animals & birds are on that list too. Look forward to seeing the quilt photos. BTW, is the shrub on the top right a Pieris or do you call it a different name in the northern hemisphere. Done 5 blocks so far and will start No. 6 over the weekend.
    Take care & hugs from a windy down under.

  3. I love the flowering trees of Spring, too - they're just starting here. I was an exchange student to France for a summer, and what an experience! Immersion is the best way to learn. Sheba looks very pettable - I would enjoy giving her a lot of love, too!

  4. The flowering trees are always such a pretty sight. Ours are done, everything is now really, really green. I took two years of French in high school, my accent was atrocious, but I did learn to read it fairly well. That served me well in grad school when I had to reference papers covering the early days of the field I was researching.

  5. Those tiny houses are such a good idea. Sorry to hear about your uncle.

  6. Such a cute doggie. She seems happy to have visitors.

  7. My condolences on the death of your uncle. I wondered why you had suddenly jetted off to Alberta. I love all the flowering trees and bushes that appear in spring. With two trips down south since Feb, I've gotten to see multiple flowerings of the same plants. It's gorgeous driving through the mountains of the Carolinas and seeing all the redbuds and dogwoods dotted throughout the forests.

  8. So sorry to hear about your uncle, but I know your time their with family was terrific. I love the flowering bushes and leafing trees at this time of year. When I lived outside of Detroit (ages 2-9), I watched Canandian tv and learned some French but I am at a total loss as an adult. I did study Spanish (7 years) and can read fairly well. I am doing it in DuoLingo to keep it in my brain, and planning a trip to Spain next year!

  9. I'm sorry about your uncle, but I agree with Kathleen - those times are usually great family times. I'm impressed with your French expertise!

  10. I live in KW and really like what has been done for the unsheltered. These cities have been doing a lot over the years. It is good to see some help.

  11. Fun likes. Those tarts look good. We've been enjoying Ted Lasso, too.