Another Good Tree Story

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I have read that trees can communicate among themselves, so I hope it is still okay to tell their stories!  (Last year, I wrote a Christmas related one.)

This time, a post about a travelling tree of sorts.  Or maybe just a sentimental tree story…

During the first few years that my husband and I were together, we moved from city to city and also within city a fair bit.  After a first out of town move, we bought a small pine tree for the front yard to help make the place our own.  Even though it was a rented townhouse, it was important at the time for some reason.  I am not absolutely certain why, but we chose a Swiss Stone Pine.

After one year, we moved again to a new city.  We dug up the little pine tree, put it in a pot, and then it went into the car with us for the drive across the province and into another (the rest of our household contents were transported by a moving company).  I don’t recall where we planted the young tree that fall at our newly rented house, but it did survive.  I know this for sure because, once again, we moved to a new city a year later, dug it up, and off into the car again — A little more south this time and back into Ontario.  Once again, I am not sure where in our new yard it got planted, but this time it got to spend some time in the same hole in the ground for 4 years!  Good thing it is a fairly slow growing tree!

We probably shouldn’t have moved the now maturing tree ever again, but… our next move was within the same city and it was the first house we bought, so…. up it came again!  This time, I clearly remember where we planted it in our front yard — and it survived and flourished!  How do I know this?:  Because it is still in that spot!  We did move from that “starter home” after 3 years or so and that time we did part ways with it (sob!).  Besides, we had 2 kids in tow by then 🙂  BUT, we still get to check on it! Just this past summer, we drove by and I snapped a photo! We should try to talk to the owners of the house one day, but I think the house has changed hands a few times now (we notice different cars over the years).  All have left the tree in its place, if you can imagine… 🙂

Just look at this beauty! (It’s not as close to the hydro wires as it looks):

After that drive by, I decided to research Swiss Stone Pine a bit more (the things one has time for during a pandemic!).  Should we get a brand new one for our yard?!  An online site informed me that they were planted around houses and yards in Switzerland as a symbol of good fortune.  Another online source informed that, yes, they are a slow growing species and that they do not transplant well.  Oh! 🙂  Will there come a day that we will discover that it was chopped down? That would be sad for us!

Do you have a favourite tree species?  Do you have it planted in your yard? Is there a tree that represents a symbol of something for you?  A favourite tree as the leaves turn colour in the fall?  Tree stories welcome!

Footage of the Falls: Back Then and Now


Included in my family’s old 16mm film collection that we recently archived and digitized, were a few reels of footage taken around the Thunder Bay area.  Some of my family members took a road trip to Niagara Falls, so there is plenty of footage from that trip and destination.  On the way, there was a stop at Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay, ON.  We edited two 16mm film reels with footage (one in colour and one in black & white) into one of “the falls” and loaded it up to our YouTube channel for this project.  Of course, it is just silent footage from the 1950s, but still pretty cool and it has reached close to 600 views now.  Recently we had a comment on that video on the channel.  Someone with their own channel of travel videos mentioned their recent visit to the falls.  I did what maybe they hoped I would do and scrolled through their uploads from a road trip.  Yup — one of Kakabeka Falls, with sound! 🙂

I thought it would be fun to post the two videos together here.  From back then and now — 70 years apart.

Then (the hotel is no longer there):



It is still better to see and hear the falls directly, of course.  I have camped at the provincial park/campground up the hill from the falls only once.  It was during a trip through Thunder Bay before my husband and I decided to move to the area.  We only had a small tent and we lasted one day after an animal was sniffing and scratching around our tent during the first night.  We still debate it to this day — bear or skunk?  Now I try to visit the falls at least once a year and it never gets old.

Readers, do you have a story or experience to share about “Niagara of the North”?

Whatever Happened to…


I sometimes worry that I give Doug Peterson too much “homework” with my ideas for his “Whatever Happened to…” Sunday blog post series (archived here).  So this time, and with support of Doug, I am airing my own dirty laundry, oops, I mean writing my own post. 🙂  But if you haven’t already, please do check out all the interesting topics he has addressed in his series of posts.

So here goes…

Whatever happened to…. laundry detergent?  Or more specifically, powdered laundry detergent.

I only recall powdered laundry detergent being used in my childhood home (mostly Tide).  I followed suit since leaving home and doing my own laundry.  It wasn’t until my husband and I bought a new washing machine 4 years ago that I tried a liquid detergent.  The cold setting on the new washer didn’t dissolve the powder that well.  Both detergents are “HE” safe for our machine and I only use “Tide Free & Gentle”.  (Brand loyalty gets passed on, I suppose!)  I still prefer to use the powdered stuff and I have a few garments that come with labels that suggest powdered detergent only.  (And I’m a rule follower, so..)

Lately I have been having difficulty finding my preferred brand of powdered laundry detergent.  Often the only boxes left on the shelves at a few stores are the scented detergents.  Was powdered laundry detergent hoarded during this current pandemic?  Are stores adjusting their stock to meet the demand for liquid detergent and “pods” instead?

I feel more environmentally responsible purchasing the cardboard boxes of powdered detergent.  I think I tend to use too much of the liquid form and that plastic jug seems to be in the recycling bin way too fast.  I haven’t used “pods” yet, or any other alternatives.

According to this website’s information, powdered laundry detergent has been around since the 1930s.  I was surprised to read that the liquid form hit the shelves in the 1950s.  The “pods” (a trademark by Tide) were first marketed in 2012 (So, a number of years before the Tide pod challenge meme and incidents in 2018).

And so, just as Doug ends his posts with questions for readers:

  • Do you have a “go-to” brand of laundry detergent?  Powder, liquid, or pod? A combination? Alternative?
  • Has there been a shortage of any of the above in your local stores during the pandemic?
  • Do you have safety concerns about the “pods” or packet type?  Any unfortunate incidents in your home?
  • Scented or unscented?
  • The website link I provided offers some good information on the options in comparison charts.  Do you think you will change what you use any time soon?
  • Do you have any advice for me if powdered detergent really does become a thing of the past?

All general laundry tips and stories welcome too 🙂

Old Music and Lyrics

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Full title could be, “Old music and lyrics that align with current times now”.

In my previous post, I linked my thoughts and writing about the current pandemic to a Melanie song.  It turns out that I am not the only one who has had lyrics of Melanie’s songs come to mind during this pandemic.  I am a member of a Facebook group of Melanie fans and at some point I noticed others posting “Melanie-isms”, as in songs and lyrics that resonated with them since self-isolation and physical distancing.

Although many of Melanie’s songs can be on the melancholic side, I still had a few playing to cheer me up and fill my time at home lately.  I decided to collect and share more of the lyrics that came to mind and matched the current times for me.  Many of these songs were written decades ago, of course (although Melanie is still performing many of them).  I will include YouTube links for my own archive and in case anyone else wants to listen to the whole song.

I would have to start with Alone Together (a favourite live performance here)

We’re believers, we’ve been hurt by believing
Needing people, we know looking’s not seeing
I see needs that might be answered by forever
Together on our own
Let’s be together alone

Next, Ring The Living Bell, because the title of the song and chorus have a positive vibe that cut though some of the sad news. I first heard it on an album, but this is a great live version.

Ring the living bell, ring the living bell
Shine the living light

Beautiful People is beautiful any time.

Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev’ry morning
That’s got to tell you something
We’ve got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I’ll take care of you

I just realized that the title of my previous post could connect to two songs: Here I Am and Again.

From Again,

Nothing for me to do
But be alone
Maybe I’ll sit and write
‘Cause if I don’t
The ones I met won’t
Be my friends for life

I love singing out loud to this one:  The Good Guys.

But if we keep on trying
Though our purpose isn’t clear
We just may move the universe
We’ll learn to really care

Eventually the whole facade
Becomes more than a whim
By starting to build on the outside
We’re gonna fill up the walls within

It was easy to think of this one, title and lyrics:  Save Me.

Take my dreams on vacation to a room with a view
Out the window all I see is the space inside of me
That could be filled with you

And easy to think this at times: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going.

And we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

Bound together by something
But we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

I think this one comes to mind more when I listen to White House briefings 😀 — Stop! I Don’t Wanna’ Hear It Anymore.

Now all the things that you defend, are what you hide behind…. Oh, Stop…

Although a song about dying, it has an upbeat vibe about life and living, Life Will Not Go Away.

You can’t take it with you but there is this little part
That goes and continues in the realm of the heart
So rejoice in living and let the music play
Life will not go away!

And for fun, Jigsaw Puzzle.  It was originally written by Mick Jagger, but I have always preferred Melanie’s cover of it.

I’m just trying to do … a little jigsaw puzzle…

I am going to end with, Smile.

Wear it well and it could appear in your heart
Indelibly printed on someone a world apart
Lights in the window all through our darkest day
Human kindness outdistances being afraid

And I love people who smile
If everybody smiles, we’ll have a hometown all over the world

If you have made it to the end of this “playlist”, I would be happy to hear about your connections to old songs or lyrics that may have comforted you recently.

I thought this was an interesting article about something else that is going with lyrics of songs now.  Sub-headline:

Snippets of songs are often becoming popular faster than the songs themselves….



Good Tree Stories


It’s almost that time of year when you will probably get asked, “Got your tree up yet?”.  You may have already been engaged in a debate as to when the appropriate date is for such.

I have read a couple of good tree stories this week in online news.  One was about a tree in Nova Scotia that Doug Peterson shared amongst his good variety of daily tweets.  The other from my home town.  Both trees were selected and donated for the purpose of an annual Christmas tradition.

The tree in Nova Scotia was headed for Boston after an official public send-off in Halifax.  There was also a cutting ceremony with a school community.  Enjoy the story here.  For this province:

The tree is a thank-you gift to Boston for sending medical personnel and supplies after 2,000 were killed and hundreds more affected by the Halifax explosion of Dec. 6, 1917.”

The tree in Kenora was headed for downtown.  Even though I moved from Kenora over 30 years ago, I still like hearing about the annual tree going up near the end of Main St.  Enjoy the story (print and audio link) of this year’s donation by a family in the community:  Here’s the Main St. Christmas Tree!  What a beauty! Recent news updates inform me that the tree is now up and the lighting ceremony will be held on Nov. 22. (A good article here about the history and recent stories of Kenora’s Main St. tree.)

I understand that not everyone will be comfortable with a live, healthy tree being cut down.  Yet, these tree stories reveal such joy and community spirit.  For me, it isn’t Christmas until the real tree is up.

Please share any similar community tree stories you know!


The 16mm film archive project


I recently became the keeper of our family’s collection of 16mm films (aka home movies).  Also, 2 working projectors and the original camera!  My dad and grandpa likely filmed most of the footage, but the collection might have gained a few donations from other individuals over the years.

It was a long winter, so my husband and I dug into the large box of reels to review, repair (even bought a splice kit!), weed out duds, and find the gems.  It quickly become apparent that there were indeed some gems!  Many are the more personal family ones to be cherished, but there was also some amazing footage of life and culture in the 1950s.  These ones took us to the landscapes of Norway, Scotland, Ontario (Thunder Bay, Niagara Falls, Kenora), and Northern Manitoba, including remote Inuit settlements.  Many are filmed in Churchill where my parents and their parents lived for many years.  They got around in different ways for work and play, including bush and float planes, as well as dog sled.  This certainly contributes to the uniqueness of these “home movies”!

With so many of the films getting brittle, we decided it was time to preserve these memories and history.  We figured out the best way to digitize them ourselves “in-house”.  We only had to replace the projector bulb once, after we finally tracked down someone selling one online!  I feel like I am spamming the internet lately, but I am very excited to share the outcome of this project!  Our “16mm film archive project” led to a YouTube channel to help preserve, archive, and share the history captured in these films.  We even have footage of Royal visits in the 50s!  We have already posted a number of appropriate ones for public viewing here.  The quality varies, but some rare footage, nonetheless.

Note: We haven’t posted footage of Niagara Falls yet.  The film is currently backwards, so once we flip it around and get the falls on the right side…! 🙂


Following the music

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It may come as a surprise to some who know me, but for a number of years I didn’t follow Melanie Safka’s music and career very closely.  I loved her songs when I was a pre-teen in the 70s (hearing them first from my older sister’s record player in her room).  I collected some more of her LPs in my teen years.  I was most familiar with and loved her music of the 60s and 70s.  I headed off to university in the early 80s and my following of her music career drifted.  Eventually I started to play my old favourites again from time to time and I collected a few more “Best of..” collections on… yes, cassettes and CDs!

Social media ushered me into a whole new way of enjoying and experiencing her music again.  It started with YouTube searches and then I discovered that Melanie, now in her 60s, embraced social media too!  The 15 year old me would never have predicted I would follow Melanie on Twitter and read her blog.

Just when I think I have scouted out most of her early performances and my favourites on YouTube, I find new gems.  She still has quite a fan base uploading her tunes and covers.  She also has an official YouTube channel as well as SoundCloud, a blog, a Facebook page, etc.

In a previous music related/musing post of mine, I had wondered who Tim Hardin was and that led me to learning that he sang If I was a carpenter at Woodstock.  In the post, I mentioned other musicians who did covers of that song since he died.  Melanie also sang at Woodstock, but I didn’t realize that she also did a cover of Hardin’s song in the past.  I came across it on YouTube recently.  Interestingly, it is an audio from an original acetate recording in 1968.  The YouTube post’s description claims that it has never been previously recorded or released on an album and the person who created the music video commented further,

This was taken from one of the acetates I borrowed for one day from Melanie’s Mom. I transferred all the tracks from three acetates to Reel to Reel Tape. You can hear slight clicks from the acetate easily.”

And then I realized I didn’t know much about acetate recordings.  Wikipedia helped clarify.  How cool, this “transfer” of music — from a rare “demo” recording on acetate to reel to reel tape to video upload on the internet.  I’ll take it!  I only had two possible opportunities in my past to see her live in concert, but circumstances and timing of other events prevented such.  She is still doing some performances in other countries, so maybe one day…


Chocolate by Trial and Error


It all started with a craving for chocolate.  And pie.

Since it was close to Christmas, I decided on making a dessert that would have both chocolate and mint.  I turned to my trustworthy Company’s Coming (Jean Paré) cookbook collection.  In “Pies“, I found a recipe for Chocolate Mint Pie.  I don’t care for too much mint in baked goodies but this recipe claimed, “Just the right amount of mint”, so… I quickly set about making and baking the suggested graham cracker crust first:

Nutty Graham Cracker Crust: Melt 1/3 cup of butter in saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts — I used walnuts) and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar.  Press onto sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake in 350 F oven for 10 to 12 min. Cool.

I was on a roll…

Then I noticed that the filling called for eggs, but no further baking of the pie required.  Just beat, mix and chill.  I have long since stopped using recipes with raw eggs.  I just can’t do it.  So now what?  I was determined to fill this yummy cooled crust!  And hopefully with chocolate!  Maybe some mint…

I reviewed a number of recipes online but eventually turned back to the same cookbook.  There was another recipe for a “No-Crust Fudge Pie”.  Hmmm.  The filling looked good, but no mint.  It required eggs, but it did require further baking in the oven.  This recipe made the claim for a moist fudgy center that “satisfies a longing for a chocolate dessert”.  So I am winging it now….

The Filling:

Beat 3 eggs in mixing bowl until smooth.  Add 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 of flour, and vanilla.  (The recipe called for 1 tsp. but I reduced it to 1/2.. **to be explained). Beat to mix.

Melt chocolate squares ( 3 x 1 oz., unsweetened, cut up) and 1/2 cup of butter in small saucepan over low heat.  **Add 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract.  I was determined 🙂  Add to egg mixture and beat until mixed.

This is when the recipe says to pour the filling right into a greased pie plate, but I have a crust…

I still followed the suggested baking time:  350 F oven for about 35 minutes.

It turned out great! Lovely texture, light and crisp top layer, and rich in the middle!  A No-crust Fudge Pie with a great crust (and a nice hint of peppermint)!  It was yummy, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream on top.

I had to write out the variations I made to the recipes somewhere before I forget what I did, so I chose my blog.  I am sure I have a few readers who might be on the lookout for a good chocolate fix!  So if you trust my judgement in creating this pie…

I welcome other chocolate recipes… please suggest your true and tried.. or invented!  Happy Holidays!




Break out… as you wish


This winter has definitely been kinder to many of us in Canada (so far).  Even though the weather can be strange and the trends can be worrisome, I have been hearing the relief, if not giddiness, in conversations about this warmer winter!  I have heard many say that January went by fast, so maybe January was less “blue”?  I think it might be worth breaking out in song or dance about!  Whatever the reason or excuse, it might be good for us to do!  I recently read: Landmark study measures healthy dose of the arts.  It lists many ways that one can engage with the arts including (and simply): “Maybe it’s listening to 20 minutes of your favourite music on the way to work or doing a colouring book in your lunch hour or if you have the money going to the theatre.”  Good to know that it may not be as hard to include into a day as one might think!

For further inspiration, I searched for some of my favourite dancing and singing “break out” scenes from movies:

I haven’t seen the new Peanuts movie yet, but for a start:

How about a boogie from Billy Elliot?:

How about a flash mob (before we called them that?):

Breakfast Club style?

Here’s a great compilation of movie dances, so shut up and dance!:

Breaking out in song might be more my style.  (Check out the benefits of singing in a choir here.)

A few of my favourites:

It’s not perfect in the movies either, so as you wish.. 🙂

Feel free to share your favourite inspirational “break out” example too.

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