Words on a Page


We hear the term "life long learner" a lot these days, so when school started back in September I decided to enrol in a course at Sheridan College just to keep myself learning. Sheridan has an excellent reputation for their animation courses and although I would have liked to do a course in 3D animation, they are very difficult to get into, not to mention quite expensive.

Instead, I thought it might be interesting to do something a little different and not computer related, so I enrolled in a course called "Writing a Novel". The lecturer was a very nice lady called Lynda Simmons, a published author with several novels to her name. She was a terrific teacher, and gave us lots of great strategies and insights into the writing process, as well as a lot of tips and tricks for getting published.

Although I started to write the first couple of chapters, I must admit that I didn't give it as much focus as I should have, and I lost interest in the story that I originally began to write. I also took a couple of weeks out when Natalie was here, so I can't claim to have made any real progress into writing the "great Australian novel", but I still found the course very interesting and informative and gave me a lot of useful ideas for writing and storytelling... all of which will come in handy in some form I'm sure.

Funnily enough, I had a sudden flurry of ideas for storylines as the course drew to a close, so I'm sure I will put Lynda's advice to good use at some point in the future.

On Wednesday night all the participants of the course went out for a final dinner at the local Eastside Mario's restaurant. They were a nice bunch of people, and I will miss our little Wednesday evening get-togethers to discuss the developments of our novels over the previous week. The group has decided to form a regular critiquing session, and I'm glad to hear that they will be continuing to develop their novels... I'll look forward to reading them some day!

For what it's worth, here's a paragraph from some of the stuff I wrote...
The 341 bus from Balmain to Petersham passed around the shore of Blackwattle Bay before turning up the hill towards Stanmore, crossing over Parramatta Road and then winding its way through the backstreets of Leichhardt and its large Italian population. Elizabeth was always fascinated by Leichhardt. There were always children playing football on the streets and old men playing chess in the park. On the days when she had a late class and had to catch the 5:30 bus, she could usually smell the deliciously rich aromas of Italian cooking as the bus trundled down Norton Street.

Busy Doing Nothing


Last semester at Trinity I got to work with a lovely lady named Patti. Patti is an EA (or Educational Assistant) and works with some of the kids who needs extra help with their school work. Because she was in my classroom every day we often got to chat about stuff, and I discovered that she and her husband Rob owned a beautiful cottage on a lake just north of Huntsville. I've written a few times about the whole cottaging phenomenon here in Toronto (and to an outsider, it really IS a phenomenon!)

Patti suggested that we come visit her at the cottage one weekend during the Summer, but what with the school break, visits from the Urens and the Robs, and all our traveling over the Summer, we never seemed to be able to find a free weekend. When school returned we tried again to organise a visit and after a few false starts we finally arranged to head up there this weekend. What a beaut spot they have!

The cottage is located on the shore of Bay Lake, a smallish lake about 15 minutes north of Huntsville, which is the northern end of the Muskoka region. It's a funny time of year at the moment, because it's way too cold for swimming and watersports (you can tell it's too cold when the lake has a crust of ice across it!) but it's too early for winter sports because the snow has not yet started to fall. It's that in-between time of year when there's not a lot of active stuff to do. However, we actually thought it was pretty good to just be doing nothing for a change. We enjoyed good food, good conversation and good company.

It wasn't all just laziness... We did go for a walk out the end of the peninsula, we walked down to the lakeshore to stand on the frozen edge of the water, we rode around on the quadrunner, and we chased chipmunks across the yard. The kids played snooker, or some variation of it, while the adults chatted. It was a nice weekend for just kicking back and relaxing.

We eventually said our goodbyes to Patti and Rob before heading back south along highways 11 and 400, back to Oakville. I'm really glad we finally managed to pick a weekend because we thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks Patti and Rob for a lovely weekend, and amazing ribs!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun


Kate was mad keen to have a sleepover with some of the girls from school before we leave Canada, so last weekend she organised for a group of her friends to come over for the ultimate "girls night in".

I originally asked Katey to write this post but since she's still not done it, here's my version of events.

Lots of girls came over. They talked, cooked and ate pizza. They talked and played a bunch of games. They talked while they watched a chick-flick DVD. Then they stayed up till very late talking. I think that about sums it up. Did I mention that they talked a lot?

You can email Kate if you want more details, or to tell her that she should have written this post in the first place.

Meet the Parents, Part 2


We enjoyed a delightful meal on Sunday night with Doug and Carmella at their home in Mississauga. Anyone who reads this blog regularly and has a good memory might recall that we had dinner with them not long after we arrived in Canada. Their daughter Melissa works with Donna in Australia and we have enjoyed staying in touch with them over the year we've been here.

We also met Caroline, a nice young lady who used to work with Carmella, and who was also invited over to share dinner with us. It was a pleasant evening again, and we talked about lots of things, not least of which was Doug and Carmella's upcoming trip to Australia to see Melissa. We talked a lot about traveling in Australia and I even showed them a few photos and videos that happened to be on my Mac.

Thanks again for a nice evening guys, and we know you'll have a great time Down Under!

And so this is Christmas?


Can you believe it? It's nearly Christmas. If ever there was a wakeup call to the fact that our year here in Canada is gradually coming to a close, it's realising that Christmas is on our doorstep.

We went into Toronto last weekend for the annual Santa Claus Parade, apparently the biggest of its type in the world. I'm not sure what metric one uses to measures the "biggest" Santa Claus parade; whether it's the most number of floats and participants, the largest crowd, the longest distance covered, or the most amount of trash left on the streets afterwards. Regardless of how it might be measured, there's no doubt that the Toronto parade is a big'un.

We got to see a plethora of marching bands, dancers and acrobats. We saw floats sponsored by all manner of retailers and businesses, and floats that depicted all sorts of things including Harold the Big Red Dog and Ariel the Little Mermaid. We even got to see the jolly red man himself, decked out in his bright red suit, his headset microphone, and his full set of stuffed reindeer. Yes folks, if it was about Christmas, it was all there!

In fact, there was only one float that seemed to be missing. The one for that other guy that we used to talk about at Christmas time... oh, you know the one, what was his name again? Oh that's right, Jesus. Apparently he couldn't make it this year.

Ah well, at least the department stores were all there.

More Rockin' On


As if to prove that some children never really grow up, a few teachers from Holy Trinity got together and did a short set for the school talent night tonight. In the guise of Level 4 (because we are obviously w-a-a-a-y above the Provincial standard!) Rob, Alanna, Charlie, Kevin, Darrell and myself played three tunes from The Killers, Joan Jett and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Considering that 5 minutes before we played I were still asking "how does that riff go again?", and "what key is this in?", we actually sounded ok. (Actually, I think Kevin was the only one who knew what key things were in... I probably just asked "what fret does this start on?")

Still, it was fun. Oh, and we were awesome. Awesome I tell you!

Rock'n'Roll All Night


One of the traditions here in Oakville seems to be an annual fundraiser for important causes. Last year the event raised money for some local mums in the community who had been touched by cancer. This year, the event was raising money for, among other things, a project run by the University of Guelph to increase food yields in Africa called Rocks for Crops. One of our friends, Sandy, is the main organiser of the event.

This year, the theme for the party was a Rock'n'Roll night, so we got dressed in our best muso gear and had a great night for a good cause. No need to go into detail... I'm sure the photos tell most of the story!

The Fallen


When we arrived in Canada back in the middle of Winter, all the trees were bare. It was wonderful to witness the leaves gradually appear as Spring arrived, come into full bloom and turn the barren looking streets into beautiful leafy green avenues. Throughout the Summer, the trees provided shade and beauty. As the Fall approached, the leaves gradually turned from green to the most amazing oranges and reds and golds.

Now however, the party is over, and the last of the leaves have dropped from the trees, making it abundantly obvious why Autumn in Canada is called Fall.

But what do you DO with all those millions of leaves?

It seems the strategy is to rake all your leaves into the gutters along the edge of the sidewalk... and then just wait. Eventually, a truck with a huge vacuum hose on the front turns up. (Sean calls it Mr Snuffaluffagus, after the elephant on Sesame Street). This huge vacuum truck drives around all the streets sucking up the piles of leaves and making them look neat and tidy again.

Until next year.

Happy Birthday Pete


We got invited to Pete C's birthday bash last weekend, and had a great night. It seems like all we've done is party lately! Thanks Pete and Jen for inviting us and sharing the event with us.

We feel extremely fortunate to have made so many wonderful friends here in Canada and feel so lucky to have been able to become a part of such a great community and neighbourhood. As the time gets closer to having to say goodbye I can tell it's going to be very hard to do, and am not looking forward to saying those goodbyes at all.

People keep asking me do I miss Australia, and the truth is I just haven't really given it that much thought... we have been made so welcome here and made so many friends that our cups are overflowing just from the experience of being here in Canada... we don't get much time to think about "back home"... this place feel so much like home already.

A Day at the Royal


In Sydney every April we hold the Royal Easter Show. It's a chance for the Country to come to the City with prize-winning animals, displays of agricultural produce, horse and dog events, woodchopping and of course the showbags and rides. It's a big deal and there would be very few Sydneysiders who have not been to "The Show" many times.

I suppose I should have expected that Toronto - being a lot like Sydney - would also have it's own version of The Show, and indeed it does. It's called the Royal Agricultural Winter Show, and is very much like the Sydney Royal Easter Show except it's all held indoors - which is a good thing, as it could be a bit chilly otherwise!

We visited the Toronto Royal Agricultural Winter Show last weekend with the Smiths. It's a pretty big event, with lots of cows, horses, pigs and dogs on display, as well as all the usual expo-style stands selling everything from saddles to bull semen! We wandered around for a few hours, checking everything out, having a bite to eat and even though we had a rather long wait in order to get a good seat, we also watched the IAMS Superdog show.

It was pretty similar to the Sydney Show, with a few notable exceptions - there were no showbags, rides or woodchopping. Because of the long wait for the dog show we missed out on the horses, which was a shame, but it was still a fun way to spend an afternoon.

So many shops...


So many shops to visit and so little time! Natalie’s whirlwind visit afforded not nearly enough time to do all of the things we would have liked, but I must admit we covered a lot of ground; she met a lot of people and so I think managed to get a small but significant Canadian experience. I will endeavour to give a short overview of our week together.

I never realised Natalie was such a shopper nor did I realise how easily led I could be with a bit of encouragement and a lot of opportunity. Monday began with a journey down to Niagara on the Lake and on to Niagara Falls with Cathy, her daughter Tovah, Kate, Natalie and I. After a small obstacle at the US boarder, Cathy took us to some of her trusted shopping outlet stores and of course WalMart. There is a huge variety of stores and merchandise and without doing all the math(s) regarding exchange rates, things did seem to be cheaper. We arrived home well after midnight, exhausted but satisfied with our stash. Thanks Cath and Tovah for a fun day.

Tuesday morning we went to Kim’s to say goodbye to her parents Carol and Clint as they headed off for the winter to their home in Florida. We’ve gotten to know them quite well over the past few months and this would be the last time we would see them before we leave. Enough said; I don’t like goodbyes.

After a cuppa and chat, us girls went to lunch and then to have our nails done. Kim will have you believe it was my idea, but I disagree. Of course Halloween in the evening was definitely a high point for us Aussie’s as we dressed up to greet the trick or treaters as they came to our door. We finished the day by going to see Cathy and Randy’s son, Jon, play hockey at the local rink, and stayed around long enough for a few beers and chicken wings in the bar. (Of course!)

Wednesday was yet another shopping day before we headed into to see Toronto by night and to enjoy a pub meal at the Elephant and Castle.

Kim took us back into Toronto on Thursday to do the touristy things like the CN Tower. Actually we sent Natalie up by herself as our aversion to heights made us want to keep our feet firmly planted on terra firma. A spot of shopping and then a great lunch in a restaurant concluded the Toronto part of the tour.

Chris brought Natalie and the kids over to the Niblick for dinner, because they heard there was a waitress working there who they wouldn’t have to tip… I felt bad leaving Natalie on her last night to be ‘that’ waitress, but she and Cathy decided to get together to watch Grey’s Anatomy instead.

Thanks Heidi for bringing Nat over here, as it was great getting the chance to share our Canadian experience with her.

Email: chris@betcher.org
Skype: betchaboy

Recent Stuff

Old Stuff

Aussie Stuff

Canuck Stuff

Other Stuff

Powered by Blogger

Creative Commons License

Locations of visitors to this page