Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Brief Time Living the Life of a Pioneer Mom: Day One

So, the whole week of September 12th, Emily and I got up early, put on our long skirts, aprons and bonnets, and lived the life of pioneer women!  Well, not really!  I hardly did a lick of housework all week, and Emily said the spelling bee words were "easy-peasy!"

But we did learn a lot about making butter, spinning wool into yarn, sewing garments and dressing properly, grinding flour, wood-working tools powered by pedals and a flywheel, printing . . .  oh, and the difference between rawhide and leather (one is translucent and may substitute for glass panes, when no float glass is available).

And we met some lovely, lovely people!

We mimicked a typical 1860's school day with the ringing of the handbell, to call in the children.  Boys and girls all lined up according to height, with boys entering the schoolhouse in the left-hand door, and girls entering at the right.

Children started the morning by rising from their desks to sing "God Save the Queen," as it was Queen Victoria on the throne at the time, and Canada was English territory.  Immediately following this came the health inspection, when everyone is checked for clean fingernails and hands, clean ears, and nits or lice.  Some kids thought this was enormously funny.

After the spelling and math sessions, there was a playtime break, enjoyed by all ages.

Abundant climbing trees and hitching rails for climbing in front of the school.  Who needs a jungle gym?
After lessons, we all trooped off to learn about weaving  - the kids got to try their hands using a  loom over  a hundred years old!  Don't  know about the rest of the parents, but I was jealous not to get a turn too!  :-)

After weaving, we stood to learn about printing at the print shop, but tummies were getting empty and   . . .

. . . some of us were getting a little weary of standing still and listening attentively to the historian.  So we broke for lunch and got to know each other better.

Kerri, and little Joscelyn & Sebastian
The first day was really energetic, as we all worked hard to learn and adapt to the full-day routine we would be following all week.  Just one day out of five, and we were all exhausted by the end of it - but raring to go back the next day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fort York

Alex took the week off instead of just a long weekend for Labor Day, and we got to spend some time relaxing together as a family, taking mornings to go out exploring and late afternoons to head back to the house to relax and work on our own little projects. On Labor Day, we decided to visit Fort York. I remembered a beloved t-shirt from Fort York - ostensibly from an early childhood visit to the historical site back when I lived in Canada - but everything else about it was a blank for me.  Guess I wasn't really into learning about the war of 1812 and 19th century living back then.

I must say, it's funny how revisiting battle sites in a region that America invaded repeatedly reminds a person used to visiting state-side museums, etc., of other perspectives on familiar historical events. On many of the plaques at this War-of-1812 era example of British military architecture, the "invaders" were the Americans.  And in those times, we Americans were invading and occupying the Canadian colonies a lot (and burning and pillaging civilian towns nearby), prompting the British to build Fort York on the North shore of Lake Ontario, to replace several previous forts destroyed by American troops and to protect a vulnerable supply route up the St. Lawrence River.  Sorta' makes a person reflect on our current wars and how there is NO such thing as war without civilian casualties, despite what our leaders might promise us.  But I digress . . . back to my account of our being tourists on Labor Day . . .

One of the soldier's barracks, against the backdrop of modern Toronto (formerly York)

We got to Fort York and back without encountering the worst of the traffic, and it was really just dumb luck; because we hadn't realized until we were almost at the Fort that September 5th was the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition, so  our turning up at York very early and leaving by lunchtime ended up being a brilliant strategy.  We passed traffic jams going the opposite way on both legs of our journey.
I'm afraid there are not many photos of the tons of interesting things we saw and learned about inside the buildings at Fort York, mostly because they were all so very engrossing that I forgot to use the camera.  But, Emily and I plan to return in a few weeks with some of the homeschooling families we recently joined for Pioneer Week; so more tidbits and photos will be forthcoming in an upcoming posting, I hope.

Toronto's China Town, Streetcars, etc.

Starting our day with a hearty breakfast
Oh, I am so very behind in my blogging! We have been doing neat things every week since my last post, and taking tons of photos; but I've been so busy with the next things (and the daily "to do's" that I haven't really reserved much energy for blogging. As our return to North Carolina comes closer, we are feeling the pressure to use our spare time for sight-seeing as much as possible.  Let's see now, it was back on August 21st when we decided to go see Chinatown in Toronto up close.  Our plan was to each dim sum, buy a trinket or two at one of the market stalls, and  . . . Oh!  and ride a streetcar!

We learned that there are underground stops on the streetcar lines!   Who knew!!  So getting onto a streetcar directly from our subway train was easy, if slightly rushed.

Here's one streetcar viewed from another streetcar.  I prefer them to buses (better smell) and to the subway (better views).

Our first stop while wandering around Chinatown, a mall.  Lots of garish pinks and gold gilt and cheap plastic toys for sale everywhere, so Emily was in  seventh heaven.

Just one of the cool sculptures down Spadina Avenue (if I'm remembering  correctly).
A Western Style Lion

There was some really neat mural art on a lot of the buildings

This photo really doesn't capture the vast stretch of frenetic human and vehicular traffic at the intersections there.

Ever had to get back to your parked car in under a minute? 

We thought these were great!  We didn't try one, as you bring your own helmet (and we couldn't imagine taking our chances on these city streets - particularly with Emily.  But we got to see a young girl return one.  The LED's on the front of the bikes flashed as she approached the bike station.

One of the day's projects was to look for dragons - thereby acquiring luck!  We admired the ingenuity of this particular one!

No idea what a lot of this stuff was.  

More luck!

These were for sale at a lot of places.  For picking your ears!!!

I think those red, hairy things are dragon fruit.  More luck?

What American can resist a broken English sign?

Now we've reached the end of the Spadina streetcar line, and wearied of navigating the shopping crowds, decided to head toward the lake for a bit.

There's a landing strip on the Toronto Islands, so watching the planes come in is neat!

In an earlier adventure, we were at the top of the CN Tower, and I looked down and saw these tiny yellow things that looked like yellow mushrooms!

A nice sort of market/museum, dedicated to pets (and pet merchandise too).  We went in, met and petted a few dogs, and read all about a hero dog named Tippy, who rescued a child from the Niagara River.

An Eastern Style Lion
By lunchtime, we had reached the outskirts of Chinatown and weren't really in the mood to re-enter the hustle and bustle, so our plan to find Dim Sum will have to wait till another day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bronte Creek Provincial Park

The Park was originally a very large farm, and here's the house.

 Well, this is ridiculous!  This day at the Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville was weeks ago (September 6th), and I still hadn't gotten 'round to writing about it.  

As our months here in Canada have nearly elapsed, making myself finish things online is more of a challenge.  So I'll just make some quickie comments here and there (for posterity - and when I get even more absentminded than I already am, and need help remembering the names of things in the photos.), and go ahead and post this too.    

This fantastic barn has the top two levels set up as one big play area for kids.

The bottom level of the barn is where the goats live.

Handsome chickens

Lots of fun in the kid's play area.

Elsewhere in the park are lots and lots of picnic shelters, which looked kinda' strange to me - like they were designed back in the early 80's?

Velcro makes excellent ball players of us all.

This incredible tree is over 300 years old!

I would love to say we built this; but we merely found it and stopped to enjoy it for awhile.

There was quite an apple orchard to wander through.  Tasty apples.

Lots of woods to wander through as well.  We spent the better part of the  day there, but didn't cover a third of what was there.

Back in Bronte itself, heading towards the Marina area.

We noticed a lot of fish flipping up out of the water.  It turned out to be Salmon heading upriver to spawn!