Monday, March 29, 2010

In Response

I was going to leave a comment to Dana's reply on the "Greco" post, but decided, heck, this response merits a post of it's own! Since we are spending this week together reminiscing, laughing and mostly eating, I just had to dig out the old photos and share this bit of nostalgia.

Her reply was regarding our meeting at a party in the home of a fellow graduate student. I'm not sure WHY, we were into their refrigerator, in those days there was a lot of self service, but I do have a vivid memory of the event. Indeed, as Dana notes, they left the tops off all of the "soda" bottles to de-fizz the drinks. Dana quickly wondered aloud "Why don't they just buy KoolAid!? Have you EVER seen???" That had me recognizing a quick wit, that continues to this day, to fell me...every time.

There was another peculiar oddity that in this same household, the wife...[remember now this is the 60's, we're in the middle of the USA, the Vietnam war, and most women are burning their bras and other feminist pursuits] makes lunch for her newlywed husband. Not only does she make lunches, but she also hard-boils eggs, and with a sharpie pen, prints him little egg/love messages. I will never forget the kindred spirit look that needed no words of explanation, as Dana and I spied the egg container. We just knew that we got each other. It should be said that Dana and I, even at this point, can't remember what our spouses ate for lunch, but we do remember many a good time of our own at the King's Court!
Dana always dreamt of being an Indian Princess!

These were the days when I made my own clothes.

The wine bottle on the chalk ledge was in honour of The Professor getting his cast off after a dramatic graduate school ski accident. Then again, it WAS the 60's...who knows !! :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remembering the days...............

On a sunny fall Princeton afternoon a friendship developed that would last forty years, this year. That evening, I was making "Greco" and Dana and her husband David, out for a stroll, accepted an invitation to join us for dinner. This week, Dana is in town and we celebrated with "Greco" once again. It tastes better and better each year.
"Greco"
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 or 2 small cans mushrooms, drained
2 cups large shell macaroni
3 cans Tomato sauce (when cans were small)
1 can cream style corn
sharp cheese
1 pound ground round or chuck

Fry onion and green pepper in small amount of oil until glossy.
Brown ground meat in above. Keep moving to prevent burning.
Add mushrooms and remove from heat.
Boil macaroni until tender. Drain and add to above.
Add Tomato sauce and corn and mix all well.
Place in greased casserole and refrigerate.

When ready to bake, grate lots of sharp cheese on top and place in 300º oven for 1 hour.

Serves 6


This dish which was first made by my sister-in-law and served on a boat on Lake Deschenes in Ottawa has become a family homecoming request. It was from the cookbook "Make It Now - Bake It Later!" by Barbara Goodfellow.

This recipe was what we could afford in graduate school in the late 60's when "hamburger" was 59 cents a pound. It sounds a bit weird, what with cream style corn and all, but it's one of those comfort food dishes that just hit the spot.

Dana and I will be out and about playing "tourist" this week. I never see the city the way I do when guests are here :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An inspiring story

I just wanted everyone to be able to read this story of my great-aunt Jean. This was an article published in the "Lanark Era", while I was overseas. It's a bit long, but I think most of my teacher friends will really appreciate this amazing woman and her wonderful story.
On February 26th. 2010, Jean Emily McLellan will celebrate her 100th birthday, but you would never guess it by looking at her. Her tiny yet sprightly frame is outdone only by her quick, sharp mind which clearly recalls a lifetime of memories as a devoted teacher.

She was born in 1910 to John & Jennie Leslie at their home in the tiny Eastern Ontario Village of Lanark. Like all the town's children, Jean's education revolved around the imposing two story stone schoolhouse on Princess Street, which she attended from grade one through twelve. Upon graduation, she and 4 other girls from the Lanark school made a bold journey to North Bay. There they joined nearly 150 other hopefuls, mostly female, at a teacher's college known as The Normal School. The 5 young ladies lodged together in a local North Bay boarding house and on September 18th 1928 set off for their first day of classes.

[This is a photo from my family album of aunt Jean and a friend being taken by horse and buggy to Carleton Place to get the train back to North Bay after Christmas break.]

Students were divided into groups and Jean was one of 25 young ladies in Group 3 which apparently achieved a position of honour that year. Reporting in the North Bay Normal School Graduation Yearbook of 1928 - 29, Miss Annie Hogg and Miss Humphries wrote this about their group's success : "Third in number, but first always in ability ! No, we're not boasting; we're merely stating fact."

When 19 year old graduate, Miss Jean Leslie returned to Lanark, she immediately took up a position at the McVeigh School in Bathurst Township. What a change it must have been from her days of friendship and camaraderie at the Normal School to the remote one room schoolhouse where she suddenly found herself teaching all grades from 1 to 8. There is no doubt however, of her fond memories. She recalled her first years as a teacher as she spoke proudly of one particular student who more than 80 years later, still stands out in her mind.

"She was a quiet girl," remembers Jean. "She would have been 11 or 12 then. I taught there for 2 years and had her for grades 7 & 8 and she passed her high school entrance exam with honours. Olive Sergeant was her name," adds Jean, "and she was very studious, but that's what country students were like. They were serious about their studies."

Jean too, must have been a very serious young woman. At a salary of only $700 per year and while boarding with a local family, by 1930 she had managed to save enough to purchase her first car for the whopping sum of $125.00. As there was no public transport in such remote locations and while even her elderly landlords had none of their own, Jean's used car must have been a God-send to all.

Miss Leslie was happy teaching and she liked the country schools. To her, they were filled with the most agreeable and eager of students. It seemed no time before she had completed the 4 years of on the job experience needed to re-enter the Normal School. There she would complete the one additional year of instruction which Ontario required to earn the coveted Permanent Teaching Certificate. So in 1934, she tendered her resignation, eagerly planning her return to North Bay. Imagine the shock when the Premier of Ontario suddenly changed the rules. The second year requirement was out and summer school upgrades replaced the Normal School. This was a disaster for Jean as she had already resigned her position and no summer school was readily available to her.

It was 1935 and Jean, who was no quitter, took what was available; a position at the Union School in a very remote location known as Wilson Post Office, but something else was in the works and his name was Malcom McLellan. He had courted her since her return from North Bay and he was as devoted to her as he was to his beloved farming. In those days married women were not employable as teachers. The Victorian era did not easily relinquish its grip and it was widely accepted that the eventuality of pregnancy excluded married women from the profession. Mac convinced Jean to accept a post at the Bathurst Line schoolhouse outside of McDonalds Corners, to be closer to him. The young couple looked forward to a spring wedding.

May the first, fell on a Friday in 1936 and Jean rushed to clean up the classroom and dismiss her students early. Then she and Mac headed for the little hamlet of Queensborough, got lost on the way and were late appearing before Jean's uncle, the Reverend Lowrie. Nevertheless, Jean Emily Leslie and Malcom McLellan were married. They honeymooned one night in Peterborough and a second in Kingston, but Mrs. Malcom McLellan was back in her classroom bright and early Monday morning. She finished the school year before leaving to begin her married life.

The following year Jean gave birth to their first son, Douglas, at the couple's home in McDonalds Corners and in 1939 a second son, Gordon arrived. The war years took Mac to South Porcupine, Ontario where he worked in the mines, but his love of farming brought him back to the Lanark area where he purchased the family a 100 acre beef and dairy farm. In the same year, because of a teacher's shortage, Jean was enticed to return to teaching for the princely sum of $1200 per annum. Once again she found herself, mistress of a one room schoolhouse. This time it was in the tiny village of Watson's Corners and there she stayed until their first daughter Normalyn was born on May 12, 1949. Once again her career was interrupted.

It was 1961 when Mrs. Neilson, secretary of the Lanark Township School Board visited the McLellan farm. The young man they'd hired for the school in Ferguson's Falls, was incapable of handling his students. As matters were deteriorating rapidly, Mrs. Neilson's pleading finally persuaded Jean to take up the challenge.

" At first, restoring order was difficult," she recalled ruefully, " I had been out of teaching for some time. But," she brightened, "I managed to get that school back on track." Mrs. McLellan was once again in charge and the School Board was glad of it.

Over the next 11 years she would find herself moved from Fergusons Falls to Hopetown and finally, after the government mandated closing of most rural schools, Jean, along with many other teachers was moved into the village of Lanark where she remained until retiring in 1974. However, though Jean retired from teaching, she remained an enthusiastic member of a local teacher's group.

Her first foray into the political realm of the profession was in 1961 when she began sitting in on the very active Carleton Place & Almonte Women's Teacher's Association; serving on multiple committees as well as attending the annual general meetings in Toronto. Jean recalled how the late 50's saw increasing numbers of men migrating into the teaching profession and how sexism reared its ugly head over promotions and pay, adding that, at the time, men and women maintained separate associations whose views were incompatible. The government however, was pushing hard for them to unite. In 1974, Jean vividly remembered that then, Inspector George Nobes, asked her to take up the position as secretary of the Carleton Place Association and attend meetings in Renfrew, where he hoped to broker agreement between the two groups. According to Jean, the negotiations were quite "rough" and lasted for 2 years. Unfortunately, in the end no agreement on equality was reached. That would not come until a few years later.

Retirement did nothing to slow Jean's momentum and while she continued to attend annual meetings, she added The Retired Teacher's Association Goodwill Program to her resume and enjoyed the many visits she paid to retired teachers throughout the area. It quickly became a regular part of her routine.

Incredibly, it was not until Jean entered her 90's that hip surgery and the inability to drive, made it impossible to continue her visits, but, if you expect to find Jean twiddling her thumbs in an old rocker somewhere, you are woefully mistaken. As the mother of three, the grandmother of 5 and great grandmother of 9, she enjoys an active family life. She maintains her own apartment during the winter
months but as soon as her cottage on Dalhousie Lake is open, Jean moves in and readies for the many visitors, family and friends, who drop in on her throughout the summer season.

There is nothing about this centenarian which belies her age. Her life spans a century, but her career is a living account of the teaching profession as it transitioned from its pioneering past to what we know it as today. Truly, Jean Emily (Leslie) McLellan is a most remarkable woman.

Happy Birthday Jean and many many more.


[Written by Sue Reid for The Lanark Era.]

By all accounts Aunt Jean, at 100 years of age is still doing very well, living in her apartment in Perth, and looking forward to another summer at Dalhousie Lake.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On a day like this

Didn't even have to use selective colour on this one. On a day like this, not so long ago in Brussels, this one umbrella appeared on the otherwise constantly GREY background that is Bruxelles in winter!

There is nothing nicer than a bright umbrella on a rainy day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

With the sun roof open

Today's selection from Sirius ...an old Woody Guthrie song...



We're off to ballroom line dancing practice tonight. This is a good one.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Work of the Leprechauns

St. Patrick's Day is not without humour in Belgium. These photos arrived in my mailbox early this morning. I was wondering what to post today. Couldn't resist these!


For those rare days when the sun does shine in Bruxelles. A bit of vintage baby courtesy of Grandma Tarabokia.


All photo credits to the O'Tarabokia's today :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Part Two

Somehow just when you think you're on a roll, the wheels fall off! I was thinking this was all pretty straight forward, got a bit too assured and struggled with this one in the end.


The picture is mine from Herent, Belgium in February. The warm texture, and tutorial is following Lennie. Just when I thought I was ahead, I see that another creative moment has struck the instructor, so, I'll be onto that for today's lesson :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How much fun is Monkey Island

Zoë's aunt Lauren wins the prize for early development toys. This is a pretty amazing piece of equipment. When you kick the monkey, his tummy lights up and a little tune tinkles away. There are all sorts of whimsical, colourful friends to find. This is the sort of thing Zoë really needs at this point. She is SO delighted with this little baby station and happily flails away while observing all the dangling objects.


This photo was taken as a screen shot in Skype. I was "monkeying" around and took the shot while watching Zoë interact with Monkey Island. Our family has an affinity for monkeys, so how perfect is this. She's already a very observant little monkey in training.

How fabulous is it that you can see AND take a snapshot from Skype! The only problem is trying to find where Skype dumps your photos. That took some REAL monkeying, let me tell you.

In case you want to try this...the path for finding the photos is:
Computer>LocalDisk(c:)>Users>Owner>AppData>Roaming>Skype>Pictures

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Challenge response

Now that I am getting my body clock readjusted, I am back at attempting a regular routine. One of the things I promised I would do was to spend more time with Photoshop in order to be up-to-speed for Art and Soul classes in May. Yesterday, Lennie did a mini tutorial on Textures and Clipping Masks, so here is my version.


The black mask may be the nicer looking one, rather like peering into a tomb.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On a day like this

On a rainy day such as we are experiencing here today, I was treated to an Art Nouveau architectural tour in Brussels.

This is not something I would have otherwise done on my own, and during the icy cold, sleeting day, I'm sure that the three of us questioned why exactly we were braving the icy sidewalks and pounding onward. We started by waiting in a long lineup for the "Horta House". If you Google Horta Art Nouveau you can see some of the photos from inside the museum. Photography is strictly forbidden inside the house.



After touring the indescribably fabulous Horta House, the intrepid three (let it be said that the two in charge are from Saskatoon, so aside from the icy cold sleet, they were game to ferret out the treasures on a walking tour) carefully, made our way around the area in search of the Art Nouveau treasures of Bruxelles. The following photos are some of the details of these gems of buildings.








I cannot thank Sharon and Dennis enough for their knowledge, expertise, and fortitude in this extraordinary experience. As I said earlier, it is not something that I was even aware of and certainly enjoyed my education in Art Nouveau that day. Photography is wonderful under the leaden skies, if you can bare your fingers long enough, February is a good time to visit! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A bit uncanny

As I was reviewing the photos week by week of Zoë, I knew there was something familiar about this shot. I rummaged for a good while looking for the photo I remembered of Jane that was so similar. The photography grade is better some 30 odd years later, but the resemblance remains. Uncanny.


Jane at 8 weeks


Zoë at 8 weeks

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh Zoë


You don't say goodbye, you say au revoir

A sunny walk in Belgium

It is a rare day indeed when the sun shines in Brussels in the months of January or February. When it does, the populace emerge as one and take to the many dazzling walks. This was Zoë's first walk to see the ducks. She slept through the entire thing. Babies do that in the fresh air, especially when carried by Daddy in the 'Baby Bjorn'. It was clear but still February. The air and the earth are chill.




I'm loving the new lens that Zoë presented me with. It's a lens that Uncle Gordon was all excited about and gives a wonderful close-up with a nice blur or Bokeh to the background. I'm still needing to learn more about setting manual settings, but love the idea that I can shoot in low light and take pictures of baby with her eyes open and no flash.


Still lots of fur in fashion in Europe, and despite the sunny appearance, it's still chilly enough to be sporting the woolies!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Remember this???

Previously I posted this picture because I was so excited that this movie was coming out. With JOHNNY DEPP. Do NOT pass GO, Do Not listen to negative movie reviewers....GO. NOW.
I saw it in the regular format, but I'm going back for the 3D experience some afternoon when I can rent a few kids!


My own personal review is that this is great fun. Everything I could have hoped for and more!

This might just be proof of belief in the impossible!

How much.............

After "Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace"..."How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" is one of Zoë's favourite songs (whether her parents will admit it or not:))
On our walk about town, we saw this particular face in the window. Good thing there was a rather substantial pane of glass separating us, because "Winston" (my name for bulldogs who resemble Mr. Churchill) did get a little tired of the photo shoot and tried to explain his indignation by rearing and barking. I guess he is a watch-dog after all, but I won't be having my nails done in this salon any time soon!


The original Patti Page version that, at age 5, I used to sing while posed atop a stuffed hassock in Freddy Birchall's livingroom! I wonder whatever happened to Freddy?

How Much is that Doggie

Monday, March 1, 2010

A day to take pictures

Zoë and her Maman




A tender moment




Sweet little feet




Relaxing in the crib