Friday, 31 August 2012

O'Hara's Mill

Looking at this, don't you expect to see Laura Ingells?

 If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. 
 You are a leaf that doesn't know it's part of the tree.
                                                      Michael Crichton

    We are very lucky to have O'Hara's Mill only 20 minutes away.  O'Hara's Mill is a pioneer park and conservation area.  Over the years 100 dedicated volunteers have worked hard to restore and build the buildings on site.  I am a real history nut (some might replace the work "nut" with "nerd", both would be accurate descriptions).  To me it is amazing the dedication that these volunteers have shown to this project.  I have been going to O'Hara for the last 20 years on and off.  Each visit sees a new building, or a new addition to the park.   Each visit I have a great appreciation for the people who are generous with their time and money, and make this park work.

    This past Wednesday we took the kids, and met up with my parents and visiting niece and nephew.  When we arrived we were treated to the site of the new covered bridge over the dam.  It smelled glorious, and looked beautiful.  What an amount of time and money that must have been to build.  Sadly we have a drought currently that has really effected the water flow through the dam.  In the past the water has been just smashing over the rocks, creating both physical beauty and a treat to the ears.  The water was nearly dry this time.  Although the water was nearly dry, it did create an intriguing site for the kids.  A small pool of water was still there, I mean really small.  In this small pool were some tiny little fish, who had become trapped.  The poor little fish were sitting ducks so to speak for the water snakes who had found their way over.  The kids stood looking down from the covered bridge fascinated, who needs the nature channel.

    When we arrived the buildings were all locked up.  It was still neat to just wander around and look at the buildings.  The kids loved being able to run and jump and look without being told to "calm down". 
It did not take the kids long to find the old school bell.  My kids love the opportunity to make noise, and were delighted to each take a turn ringing the noisy big bell.  After we had been there for a little while, a very kind volunteer came and asked if we would like him to unlock the school house.  Apparently the summer university students who look after the park had finished.  It was very lucky that the nice man was at the park and was able to unlock the doors for us to take a peek.

    The school house had been beautifully restored.  The kids all ran to find a desk.  We had been to Lang Pioneer Village early in the week, and seen their school house.  At the Lang school house, my dad had told the kids about when he was a child at school.  Dad had told the kids that when he was a boy, each desk had a hole cut out of the corner of the desk to hold an ink bottle.  They used a pen that had to be dipped in ink to produce writing.  When we walked into the little O'Hara school house, the desks each had a small hole cut into the desk.  Dad made a point to show the kids, and remind them of what he had said earlier in the week.
    The school house was really neat because it was like looking at a snap shot in history.  It even included report cards from the time, and a leather strap on the teacher's desk.  It struck me as funny that today we are always talking about class sizes and caps on the amount of students in each class.  Right now there is talk from the Ontario teachers unions about striking, and negotiations.  When you look at teachers in the past, man do our teachers have it good!  Can you imagine the difficulty in teaching grades 1- 8 all in the same classroom?  Because there was only one teacher in the community, she had a hundred eyes on her, outside of the classroom, waiting for her to slip up.  There were lists of rules not just for her conduct in the classroom, but her conduct in the community.  I cannot imagine many teachers of today signing on for that sort of a career.

    We loved the O'Hara family homestead.  It had been lovingly restored and furnished in period furniture.  Each room received generous gasps from my mother "we could live here", she would say of each room.  

    For me it is was neat to see how little they lived with.  I am always complaining about how small our house is, and yet by the pioneer standards our house is a mansion.  It would be obscene to them that not only did our children each have their own bed, but their very own rooms.  To them children shared beds.  In the winter sharing a bed would have definite advantages.  

    As I looked at the simplicity in which they lived, part of me longed to return to those days.  Keeping up with the Jones for them did not mean buying flat screen t.v.s and big cars, it was about planting fields, and livestock.  You would have risen in the morning knowing what had to done, and it involved physical hardship.  You would have fallen into bed at night exhausted.  It was a hard life but was simple.  Having said all of that... the Amish live this same life, and I know with 100% certainty, that the Amish community would kick my lazy butt out (and I am so lazy that it would probably involve actual physical kicking).  Although I think wistfully about the simplicity of the pioneer life, it was a hard life, where the average life expectancy was like 40.  People had to sleep sitting up because of pleurisy, if they slept on their backs, they would not survive the night.  Families with 8 children in them, may see 3 or 4 children into adulthood.  Infant mortality rates were staggering, as were deaths of the mother due to childbirth complications.

    The volunteers have not only lovingly restored the buildings, they have even included a period garden.  For the pioneers, they did not just use their herbs for flavouring, in the way that we do.  To the pioneers herbs were also medicine, the only medicines that they had.  To survive, they would need to have a well stocked herb garden.  Today, many people are re-educating themselves about herbal remedies. 

    I was impressed to see that the vegetable garden was not lush and beautiful.  It was crispy, needed water, in other words it was authentic.  This part of Canada is and was an agricultural community.  Survival was based in the land.  Right now we have a stage 3 drought.  In pioneer times, they would have been in a panic.  The rivers and streams are drying up in the heat, removing water sources.  With drought like we are seeing this summer, the pioneers would have been looking at sparse amounts of food to put by for the winter.  I cannot imagine the level of panic that they must have felt when crops were poor.  So much for my simpler times theory.

    Some extremely artistic volunteer has painted the picnic tables.  So you are not just surrounded by natural beauty when you choose to have a picnic at O'Hara park, you just have to look down.  The tables are all different, and each one is equally beautiful.

     It does not cost a penny to visit O'Hara's Mill.  The dedicated volunteers work on the park not only building and restoring, but planning fun family activities... at no cost. This December there will be Christmas at O'Hara, December 7, 8, and 9 from 4-8 p.m..  We went two years ago, and it was beautiful.  The kids loved it!  It was a short distance, and no cost.  I keep saying that it costs nothing to visit O'Hara's Mill, and it does, but perhaps we as visitors should give either what we can afford to donate, or give what it would have cost us to visit another pioneer village.  Without volunteers, and without donations, the park could not exist.  Without money, they cannot continue to expand and improve.  With our donations of time and money, just imagine what O'Hara's Mill could look like in 20 years.

    As you may have already surmised, I highly recommend visiting O'Hara's Mill if you are in the Madoc area.  There are signs on highway 7 that direct you to the park.  I highly recommend going for their Christmas celebrations.  If you want to find out more information about the park, or how you can volunteer, have a look at the website.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Last Camp Out

    Summer is unfortunately winding down.  It makes me sad to have to go back to the school routine, to only seeing my babies for a few hours a day.  We are running out of summer, running out of time.  Gracie goes in for surgery on her leg on Thursday, we are really running out of time.  

    Christopher is on his last week of holidays this week.  Tonight he asked me what I thought about him having one last camp out in the back yard with the kids.  What do I think of a whole night to myself, a whole night he has to deal with putting the kids to bed.... I think AWESOME!  It's a win win.  The kids are having a blast, I am having a blast!  I can think of a few girlie movies I might enjoy watching.

The kids looked out a huge stack of games, including Mad Libs.

   This is what summer is all about, spending time with the kids.  Christopher works crazy hours, there are times that I feel like a single mother.  There are times when the kids hardly see their daddy.  I know that I sound like a broken record, but the kids are only little for just a little while.  We want to make memories.  I like to think that when the kids are adults they will all sit around and reminisce about the fun we had in the summers, for that matter all year long.  I want them to smile when they talk about their childhoods.

    Tonight, after they had all gone out to the tent, I made chocolate chip cookies.  They were all gooey and warm, crunchy on the outside, soft in them middle.  I also made hot chocolates, and then packed everything into a basket.  For a minute or two I was mother of the year.  It's a cool summer night tonight, and the warm snacks were a BIG hit.
    Will tonight's camp out be the stuff of memories?  I sure hope so, but only time will tell.  The backyard camp out does not cost a penny, and yet I have to think that it will be worth more than money could buy.  I guess all we can do is try to make their childhood memorable.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Our Day At Lang Pioneer Village

    Today was the start of Christopher's last week of holidays.  We decided to keep our adventures local.  Today's trip was to Lang Pioneer Village.  I've been to Lang, quite a few times over the last few years, but it never really gets old (pardon the pun).  It's just a short drive (less than an hour),  in Keene, Ontario, (very close to Peterborough) and the admission is so extremely reasonable. 
    Off we headed on our adventure into the known, which always unveils something new.  This week my niece and nephew are visiting my parents.  My guys were delighted for Nana and Popa and Sienna and Nate to come along on our adventure.  It was for the best that today was a dark day that threatened rain, and then made good on it's threat.  We were practically the only ones there.  It allowed the kids to explore uninhibited, and with giddy abandon.  It was a treat, at least for me, to hear the kids enjoying each others company, and the laughter that comes with that enjoyment.

    The village now has historical interpreters, which is really neat.  Each place we saw an interpreter, we learned something.  I learned for example from the "printer" the reason we call the letters, "upper case" and "lower case".  The reason we call them this is because the printers kept the print face capital letters in the "upper cases" of their storage containers, and the small letters in their "lower cases", pretty neat, huh?

    The hotel was a pretty a neat stop. We were able to purchase ginger beer and lemonade, in the kitchens.  Turns out the kids are not ginger beer fans.  The nice historical interpreter told us that she liked to mix the two, which the kids did, and agreed with her, they liked it.  The sleeping part of the hotel was by today's standards horrifying.  For 75 cents a person could rent the best room in the hotel, which had a bed and a bathtub.  For 5 cents you could sleep in the "flop room", on mattresses filled with straw, and share a bed with strangers.  All I could think about was all of the bed bugs and lice that the patrons would all have shared... shudder!

    There are a few different houses in the village, each representing a different economic status of the original residents.  Each home had a little garden, and most had an animal pen.  The kids were quite taken with the pigs, which they named Porky and Miss Piggy.  The agricultural aspect to the village got us to thinking about the differences in then and now.  Then you would fall into bed exhausted.  There was never idle time.  I don't think that they would long for different, because they didn't know different.  It was hard, but simple.  Today we worry so much about keeping up with everyone else, the eroding middle class and what that means.  Because of technology we have so much more free time for worry.

    There is a little church on site, and my understanding is that they have weddings at the pioneer village.  Elly quite enjoyed going up to the front of the church and putting on a show for the other kids. She was having a grand old time entertaining the kids until another family came in, and then she ran like crazy, deciding that she did not want to put on a show after all.

    The weaving house is a new addition to the village.  It opened last August.  The interpreter had a little weaving loom out, and let the kids try it out.  It turns out that weaving is a lot harder than it looks.

    Hands down my favourite part of the village was the blacksmith shop.  I could have stood there for hours watching the demonstration, I only hesitantly left when the kids became restless.  I feel a tie to the blacksmith.  My great-grandfather was a blacksmith in Harrowsmith, Ontario.  He came from a long line of blacksmiths.  When my father was a boy he would spend his summers with his grandma and grandpa in Harrowsmith helping out at the smithy.  My father often would tell us stories, always with a smile on his face about his summers in Harrowsmith.  
    As I watch the blacksmith I am amazed at the almost magic of it.  Metal, an object that seems so hard, when heated becomes soft and pliable.  The skilled blacksmith can transform this seemingly at his will.  He pushes the bellow to heat the fire, then carefully puts his rod in to heat it.  He hits it in just the right places, just the right amount of times, then plunges the metal into his barrel of water.  This process is repeated over and over, until that simple piece of metal becomes what the smith wills it to become.
    Our young blacksmith answered all of our questions (even though I am sure that he would have loved for us to leave him alone).  He endured my usual running play by play, and irritating questions to the kids... "Why do you think the black smith is pushing on that big bag?"  "Why do you think he heats that metal up", oh with me everything is an educational experience, whether you like it or not!

    The smith showed the kids a puzzle that he had made.  Each child tried and gave up, until it came to Riley.  I'm sure that if we hadn't made her give up she would still be looking at that puzzle, moving small bits, trying to decide what to do next.  In the end the smith showed us how to solve his puzzle.  The answer seemed so easy, and yet none of us had thought to try it.

    The kid's favourite building was the school house, with its playground.  In the end we had to threaten them to get them to move along.  The kids were upset because the school teacher was not in when we went.  The last time Sienna and Nate had come to visit and gone to Lang, the "teacher" made lefty Sienna write with her right hand, and threatened to strap her left hand if she used it again.  The little glutton for punishment hoped to experience it all over again today.

    We arrived at the grist mill at 4:00, unknown to us, it was when that part of the village closes.  The mill itself and the bridge that leads to it were stunningly beautiful.

    We had a great day.  In typical style, Christopher asked the interpreter in the Fitzpatrick House if the pioneers would have waked their loved ones in the parlor.  It looked pretty small for that purpose, he went on to add.  His eyes and ears perked up to see the wooden coffin at the Hastie Carpenter Shop, and to learn that early on that had been the carpenter's bread and butter.  It just goes to show, you can take the funeral director away from his work, but you can't take work away from the funeral director (no matter how uncomfortable it makes anyone else).  I on the other hand was quick to point out that most of the settlers seemed to be either Scottish or Irish.  Being the nerd that I am, I was quick to point that out.  I then went on to explain that I thought this was due in part to the rebellion of Bonny Prince Charlie that left many Scots without a home, or means to provide for their families.  The Irish of around the same time also found themselves subjected to a similar situation at the hands of the ruling English.  When I had looked up from my excited running theory, only my husband was still there, and his eyes looked glassy.  See you can take the nerd out, but you can bet she will bore everyone around her to tears.

    Lang Pioneer Village is an excellent place to visit.  The price is right, general admission is only $8.00 for adults; $7 for students and seniors; Youth ages 5-14 are $4.00, children under 5 are free, but the best deal yet is Families with two adults and four children are $20.00.  There are coupons online at, or the Lang Pioneer Village brochure also have a $2.00 off coupon.  It's a great value, and a wonderful time.  There are interesting theme days, The Pioneer Corn Roast, Sunday, September 2 from 10-4; Applefest, Sunday, September 30 from 10 - 4; Spooky Halloween, October 19, 20, 26, and 27 from 6- 9; and Christmas by Candlelight Saturday and Sunday December 8 and 9 from 5 - 9.  The Christmas by Candlelight was amazing when I took the two big girls a couple of years ago.  If you want to find out more information go to

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Oh the Memories of a Month in Hospital with Elly

    Hard to believe but we are fast approaching one week until school starts.  I am not ready for school to start.  I am one of those mother's who actually likes having her kids around.  This September marks the day I have been dreading for almost 4 years, my last baby goes to school.  I can't believe it is already that time.  Where has time gone?
    It feels like it was just yesterday I found out I was pregnant with baby number 5.  Elly is a blessing.  She should not really be here.  If we still had Gabe, we would not have Elly.  It's a strange concept.  To have one child, would mean not having the other.  All my life I wanted 4 children.  I wanted two boys and two girls, in my dream I even had twins.  My dream came true, only to snatched away from me.

    I remember back in my days of blissful ignorance when I would see on television that someone who had lost a child decided to have another.  I always thought they were trying to replace the dead child, and what a terrible burden to put on a new child.  I was, as I say "ignorant".  After Gabe died, the world was an empty place.  The thing that kept Christopher and I going were the three kids.  I am honestly not sure what would have happened to us if we didn't have to go on for the other kids.  
    Gabe had been gone three years, when Christopher and I decided we would like to try for another baby.  We did not want to replace Gabe, there was no replacing Gabe, he was a one of a kind.  Three felt like the wrong number.  Four felt good, four felt whole.  It was already becoming increasingly obvious that three was not a good number.  Even at the ages of 6 and 3, the three kids would take turns teaming up, and leaving one of the kids out.  Four was a much better number than three, and so we began to try.   We knew that age was against us, we were 36.  After trying for 6 months and not conceiving we gave up.  For us, conception had always been as easy as deciding to try.  Infertility was a new concept to us.  We resigned ourselves to three children.  At around the point that we had resigned ourselves to three children I became pregnant.
    I discovered the hard way that pregnancy is for the young.  Pregnancy at 33 with twins, had been easy until the last month.  Pregnancy at age 36 / 37 was 50 times harder than pregnancy at 33 with twins.  Everything ached almost right from the beginning.  I had no idea how much harder it would get before it was finished.
    I had Placenta Previa with all of my pregnancies.  For those of you not in the know, Placenta Previa is where the placenta attaches on or near the cervix, instead of the wall of the uterus.  My Placenta Previa had always moved itself up just enough that it was not an issue.  I went to see my OB in Kingston about this time in August, four years ago.   I thought that I was having a routine check up.  My OB (Dr. Thomas, who I LOVED, and followed to Kingston when he left Belleville to pursue teaching at Queens University) calmly told me that I had Placenta Previa.  I was super calm, because as I say I had this with every pregnancy, it always cleared up.  I was due mid- November, it was no big deal.  When Dr. Thomas told me he needed me to pack a bag and come to the hospital the next day, he may as well have slapped me in the face.  I told him there was no way I was ready to check into the hospital.  He then informed me, with a note of panic on his face, that I could bleed to death at anytime, and it would kill myself and the baby.  If the first comment had been a slap in the face, this one amounted to an uppercut.  I had nothing prepared for baby #5, she was not due for almost two months, and I always went over my due date with every pregnancy (not so much with the twins, they were a month early, but for twins that is kind of late).  
    In the end I had negotiated, and told my doctor that there would be no way I could possibly come into the hospital in less than two weeks.  He shook his head, and tried to argue for me to come in sooner, but there was no way I could.  I had 3 little children at home, things needed to be put into place.  Dr. Thomas again warned me that I could bleed to death, and if there was any trouble I was to rush to the hospital.  I left the appointment sobbing.  The next two weeks were a blur of panicked activity.  Christopher had to take an unpaid leave of absence from work, it was less than ideal financially, but there was no other way.  I washed and then looked out a month's worth of clothing.  I did a month's worth of shopping.  I set up with my sweetheart of a hair dresser, Lyle Bechard, that my girls would come in and see him every morning before school.  Lyle opened his shop early for my girls, and then refused to accept payment, amazing.  It was a huge relief to me that my girls would look nice to go to school (Christopher took pictures of their hair and would show them to me when they would visit).  I could not be a part of their lives then, and it was tore me up.
  I spent a month in Kingston General Hospital.  It is about an hour and a half from our home in Tweed.  Because of the distance, and cost of gas I was only able to see my kids once a week.  When it was time for them to leave they would be sobbing, begging me to come home.  It nearly killed me.  It was a long month.  My friends lent me boxed sets of their favourite tv shows, the portable dvd player saved my sanity.  I made friends with some of the other "lifers" (that's what us placenta previa girls called ourselves).  Friends and family sent and brought care packages.  What kept me going were mind games.  I kept convincing myself that my hospital room was just like my dorm room at York.  I put up pictures that my kids had drawn me.  My door was decorated with pictures the kids had made.  I had a craft corner, which gave all the staff a chuckle.  I made my room as unhospital like as I could.
    In the end our little miracle was worth all of the hardship.  Out came this beautiful baby at 8 pounds even (not too bad for a three weeks early).  She helped to heal the rawness of my soul.   Elisha Gabrielle did not replace her big brother,  she completed us.  

It's hard to believe that was almost 4 years ago now, and that same little girl is going to school.  Where does the time go?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Art In The Park

    Our Riley is a good little artist.  Her art work is selected out of her class every year to be displayed in our local gallery.  The art work is displayed at our heritage centre / gallery, and then is displayed at our village's "Art in the Park" the second last week-end in August.  Art in the Park is a really neat concept.

    Local artists (Tweed and area have a surprisingly large number of artists of all different genres)  display their art work, in the park.  It's an annual thing, and it occurs the second last week-end in August.  The weather is usually warm, and it's nice to stroll around our nice little park and look at the work of people who are so much more talented than myself.  It's also an excellent opportunity for the kids to see a variety of different art forms in one place.  It's also really nice because there is a separate area the showcases the local school's art.  By picking these children out, they are being encouraged to create more art.  Perhaps by encouraging them, one of them may very well grow up to be a famous artist.

    The first thing that we did when we arrived was to go straight away and look at Riley's art.  After we had enjoyed the school art, we then went out to look at all of the rest of the diverse artists.


    The first art display that we came upon was the work of Doug Davis.  He is a wood turner and carver.  It is hard to believe that such beautiful pieces came from the lowly tree.  It is amazing to see what can be carved and even just discovered in a piece of wood.  Doug Davis is from Tweed.  You can contact him at 613-478-3529, or by email

    Another artist that really stood out to us was, Terry Cowan from Napean.  He has done the most gorgeous paintings.  The picture below I had to look up close to realize that it was not a photograph, but had been painted.  I am always jealous of people with that kind of talent.  It must be amazing to have a concept in your head, and be able to translate it to canvas.  For me I am very creative up top, but it does not translate to my hands.  My art work could easily be mistaken for that of my children.

    The kids took the most enjoyment from Terry's wildlife art.  Elly insisted that I take a picture of the chipmunk driving the tractor.  She just sat in her daddy's arms giggling as she looked at it.


    One of the really nice thing about Art in the Park is that every year they have a children's table set up.  The children have their choice of activities.  This year's choices were painting, painting an ornament, decorating a painting hat, or making a pin wheel.  I think we all know that my kid's picked the messiest projects.

    It was neat to watch Elly so painstakingly paint her little fish.  She was so proud of it.

Riley of course decided to paint a picture.

       Today was a great outing.  The cost was right (free).  The weather co-operated, and there were lots of beautiful things to see.  I really enjoyed seeing Riley's pride as she showed us her art.  We did the appropriate amount of ewwwng and awwwing.  Elly even told Riley how nice her picture was.  It's nice to be able to showcase Riley's talents.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The War on Yellow Jackets!!!!!!!

    I took the kids out back to school shopping this afternoon (I should get a prize for not leaving one of them there).  When I drove into the driveway, I just happened to look over at the school side of the house.  It was like a cloud of yellow jackets, something akin to the movie about the killer bees.  I am allergic to bees / wasps/ hornets.  As a child I stood in a bees nest, and in mind I looked like one of those gross Ripley's Believe it or not books where the guy is covered in bees.  The actuality was probably a lot less than that.  I did have at least 15 to 20 stings, and from that day forward when I have had the misfortune of being stung, I swell up like a balloon where ever I was stung.  I count myself lucky, because my Uncle Al goes into anaphalactic shock if he gets stung by a bee, in other words his throat swells, and he stops breathing!  If given the choice between my reaction and Uncle Al's I'll take mine, but I would rather not take any.

    I shoed the kids into the house and began to quickly unload the car.  Christopher came into the driveway from the back yard to help me.  "We've got a BIG yellow jacket problem."  he told me.  "I saw that." I replied.  He told me that he had been doing yard work and had discovered the nest when he was weed whipping and got stung on the leg.  

    We unloaded the car, and then met in the house for a plan of action to get rid of the yellow jackets.  I suggested that maybe we could smoke them.  On the t.v. shows bee keepers put their bees to sleep using smoke and they are able to extract honey from the hives.  We agreed on that course of action.  Christopher then added that "Billy the Exterminator" on TLC holds two cans of spray when he gets rid of nests, one to spray the nest with, and one to spray the attacking bees / hornets / wasps with.  I suggested it would be a good idea if he took allergy medication beforehand in case he was stung, done.  He wore as much long clothing as he could to minimize stingable area. The final decision was that he should tackle the problem at dusk, this was confirmed by an internet search.  We had a plan, a plan that involved me sitting in the house and watching my husband get his face stung off.

    I heard no screaming, that was a good sign.  When Christopher came into the house he looked a combination of shell shocked and high on adrenaline.  Our plan worked!  The smoke seemed to have kept them at bay.  I came out to take pictures of the work in process, only to have my husband ask me if I was a complete mental case "YOU'RE ALLERGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  My reply was only three words, "But my blog".  At the end of the day there are a lot of dead yellow jackets.  They had burrowed a huge hole under our rain barrel, who knew they burrowed holes? (maybe Billy the Exterminator knew this).  Christopher destroyed the nest and covered in the huge hole (he said that you could have easily put a large flowerpot into the hole).  My husband just went up a good amount of rungs in my estimation, and I can look forward to no stings!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

If You Only See One Show This Year, See Aleck Bell!

From Left To Right...  Allan Gillespie, James King,
Stephan Cullen, Danielle Leger, Jordan Probst, Tricia Black,
 Shawn Hurford, Jacqueline Martin, and Emily  Nimetz

    For those of you who are regular readers, let me start by saying THANK YOU!  To my regular readers it may seem like I LOVE everything, but honestly that is not the case.  I am in fact an insane perfectionist, who is highly critical of myself and others (just ask my poor husband what it's like to live with me).  I only include things on my blog that I really like, because I am a terrible liar, and ridiculously honest.  When I see an ugly baby, the kind thing to do is to tell that poor mother that her baby is cute.  I will NEVER do that!  I am not so cruel to tell that mother that her baby is ugly, instead I try to find something positive to say about the baby.  I have been known to tell a mother that her baby has "lots of beautiful hair", "adorable outfit", "he seems like such a happy baby", but at no point will I lie to her, even if she asks "Isn't he beautiful?" (it has happened, trust me.  I have had to pull out some of my most creative work for them).  It's a curse to not be able to effectively lie.      
    If on my blog I recommend something, you can know that it is something that I truly do like / love.  To me it would be too embarrassing to recommend something and have it turn out to be a dud, I would never do that.  If on my blog I recommend something, I want you to know that I am putting my name behind it.  If I tell you that I LOVE something, I truly do LOVE it, and want you to try it.  It would be very rare for me to blog about something that I did not like, unless I had a real bee in my bonnet, it just seems like a waste of my time to waste my words on anything that is not positive.  Now that all of that has been said...

    Last night Christopher and I went to The Stirling Festival Theatre to see Aleck Bell.  Aleck Bell is based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, among other things.  The musical was all set to mainly Canadian rock hits that spanned a few decades.  This was a musical that Christopher and I had really been looking forward to seeing.  The day before had been our 19 th wedding anniversary, and Christopher had to work that night. We celebrated it last night.
    It was a treat for us to be childless.  We walked holding hands in the lobby, like a couple of teens.  As we entered the theatre it barely filled.  What a complete and utter crime!  I wanted to cry.  This was opening night.  The IANA Theatre is a Canadian company that helps support young Canadian talent.  They are something of an enigma, because they write their own musicals, in today's Canada, this is rare.  IANA was founded by Tim Porter, a young local man, who is in my humble opinion a genius!  Here is what my fear is, if we don't use it, we will lose it.  If we do not support this amazing company, we contribute to it's down fall.  By coming to see IANA productions, you are not committing an act of charity, you are in fact giving yourself an extraordinary experience. I have personally seen all of this year's productions, Stalkyard Hurts, Godspell, and now Aleck Bell.  Tim only employs actors with superior talent.  If I could say that this team excels in one area in particular, it would be their vocal talents.  I dare you to see any professional production in the city, and pay hundred of dollars, then come and see an IANA production for less than a quarter of the cost.  I can guarantee that they are easily equal in talent.

Tim Porter and Joel MacMeekin
a.k.a. The Dream Team
    Aleck Bell was written and directed by the talented team of Tim Porter and Joel MacMeekin.  They have written a fascinating look at the life of Alexander Graham Bell.  I personally knew that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but I had no idea that he was born in Scotland, lived in Boston, taught the deaf, and in particular knew Helen Keller.  He's a Canadian hero, we all take credit for his nationality, but who among us knows anything other than that he invented the telephone?
    The musical features such classics as Weighty Ghost, Ain't Seen Nothin Yet, I Believe, When you're Gone, Fare They Well Love, Fire Up Ahead, Fast Train, Good Mother, If You Could Read My Mind, You Don't Know What It's Like, Comlainte de la Butte, Perfect, For the Nights I Can't Remember, American Psycho, Hallelujah, 1234, Life, If Today Was Your Last Day, Lies, All I Really Want, Avalanche, Where Have All the Good People Gone, and Wake Up.  I really dislike "If You Could Read My Mind", perhaps hate would be a more accurate description of how I feel about this song, especially in it's original form by Gordon Lightfoot (I really hate Gordon Lightfoot, well not the man, I don't know him, just his music).  Having said that, I LOVED the way Steven Cullen, and Jacqueline Martin sang it as a duet.  Steven Cullen played the main character of Aleck Bell, and really in my opinion stole the show.  He had such a likable face, and such a gorgeous voice.  Jacqueline and Steven had excellent chemistry, you could really believe that they loved each other.  Although for me Steven Cullen stole the show, Jordon Probst, was hot on his heels, this is a young actor to watch for sure.
    If you went to see this show for nothing other than the music, you would have gotten your moneys worth.  When the cast sang Fare Thee Well Love, I actually wept, it was beautiful.  The rendition of Hallelujah (I really love this song to begin with.  Unlike Gordon Lightfoot, I really like Leonard Cohen) sent chills up my spine, and set all the hair on my arms an neck on end.  This is an insanely talented group of actors.  I laughed (thanks to the ever dependable Danielle Leger, Tricia Black and James King), I cried, I didn't want the show to end.  As usual I made an ass of myself.   After the show  I ran up to Tim Porter and told him that he was a genius and that I was proud of him (my husband stepped back a few feet and shook his head). I am proud of Tim Porter.  He has, with help, created an amazing piece of Canadiana.  He has created a piece that should tour the country to sold out shows!
    Christopher and I have done nothing but talk about Aleck Bell.  There was certainly no dead silence on that car ride home.  The word genius was thrown around a lot.  There are not enough nice words to describe our evening out.  We LOVE Aleck Bell.  Not only do we LOVE the musical, it has triggered our curiosity to learn more about this amazing man, Alexander Graham Bell.  If we could, we would attend every single show both in Stirling, and then chase them to Toronto's Papermill Theatre.
    Thank you Tim Porter, don't be discouraged.  You have created a fantastic play, we just have to get the word out, so that others can see what a genius you are.  I feel like I should be going door to door telling people the good word about Aleck Bell.  I feel like strong arming people and threatening to rough them up, if they don't go and see this amazing production. You need to go and see this show!  I think our sentiment was best summed up by a fellow patron that we overheard.  He told the person that he was sitting with "I would have gotten my money's worth, even if I'd left at intermission.  What a fantastic show!"  
    Aleck Bell will be playing for two more weeks at the Stirling Festival Theatre.  It then moves on to Toronto's Paper Mill Theatre.  It really is a pittance to spend on such high quality entertainment.  Your will get your money's worth from the singing alone.