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poetry and prose about place

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another book, another cover

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True to my mantra of having multiple projects on the go at one time, I have been quietly working on a new book, of the genealogical variety. The book, titled Ella: 1859-1933, is an historical account of my great-grandmother’s life, revealed through family stories, Census and City Directory records, military and other official government records, and study of other genealogical sources (I have blogged before about my great-grandmother https://janetims.com/?s=Ella+Norman+). Much of the information is the result of study by Dr. Jane Margaret Norman, my aunt, who began looking for evidence of Ella’s life in the 1970s and found out most of the known information on Ella’s life. The book will be of interest to Ella’s descendants and others in the Hawk and Kresge lineage.

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Ella (Hawk) Norman

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A Brief Synopsis of the Book:

Ella Hawk (her maternal grandfather was a Kresge) was born in 1859 to a Pennsylvania German family. When she became an adult, she followed the path of many who felt the lure of the West. By 1880, she lived in Laramie, Wyoming where, in 1886, she met and married Frank Norman. She had one son, Leo, and lived in the West for another 24 years. In 1911, she returned to Pennsylvania to live with her mother and sister. Her son served in the navy and eventually met and married Katie Clark, a trained nurse. In 1927, Katie returned to Canada to raise her young family. Katie and Leo were my grandmother and grandfather.

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The book includes a detailed presentation of these events, as well as the genealogical references. I will also include three poems as a memorial to Ella’s family and the account of a trip we took to Wyoming to see where Ella and Frank were married.

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my grandfather, Leo Norman, Ella’s son

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Book Cover:

I include two references to flowers in the book, to red poppies, and pink and blue columbines. So I decided early to include these flowers on the cover of the book. I also wanted to show Ella on the cover but as a silhouette, walking in the garden. I know, from my Uncle Francis’ memories, she wore wide-brimmed hats, so the figure will be wearing such a hat.

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Proof cover- a photo of the columbines in my own yard show roughly what I want for the final cover

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At first, I painted apple trees in the background, but the symbolism of the trees escaped me. So I removed the trees and added a scene from the Laramie area, featuring the nearby mountains (the Snowy Range), and a suggestion of foothills and plain. Now the silhouette of ‘Ella’ looks from her garden in the East towards the West. My uncle (her grandson) told me she never forgot the West and wished to return some day.

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I completed the basic elements of the cover painting in one sitting. But a lot was left to be done: layers of colour to be added and detail in the mountains and flowers. My main objective was to add colour in such a way to make the poppies appear far away and the columbines close by.

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Colour will do this. In general, cool colours (like red) look far away and warm colours (like blue) appear nearby. This generality is modified by the tone (darkness or lightness) of the colour: dark colours appear to get closer while pale colours appear to recede. Saturation of colour will also affect its appearance of advancing or receding: a pure colour will appear nearer; adding a bit of another colour will cause it to recede.

for more information on colour in art, see How Colors Advance and Recede in Art Science of Colour.

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first layer of painting

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second layer of painting – mountains, poppies, figure and leaves have been retouched

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The final painting: I added colour to flowers and leaves and a lighter green to the foreground.

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the final cover

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I will revisit the cover design in about a week, and perhaps tweak the border colour and other aspects. let me know what you think.

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All my best!!!!

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 30, 2022 at 7:03 pm

Posted in family history

Tagged with , ,

A little genealogy: where my ancestors once lived …

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I am interested in the history of my family and I have decided to link that with my exercise program. I am again using my stationary bike to improve my fitness and using Street View (Google Earth) to travel virtually as I cycle. It is a great way to pass time and avoid getting bored with the cycle.

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I have chosen to ‘travel’ in Scotland since that is where one branch of my family comes from. In the mid-1800s, John Clark and Jane Cooper traveled with their children to Nova Scotia, Canada. They lived in the Insch (Aberdeenshire) area of Scotland and records say that Keig, south of Insch, is a possible birthplace of my three greats-grandfather in about 1799.

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Have a look at my wellness blog to find out more about my exploration of Keig, Scotland …

Enjoy your mini-tour of the roads where my ancestors may once have walked.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

January 25, 2022 at 7:00 am

in these times

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Someday, my memory of these days of pandemic will have faded. But there is value in lessons learned, so I will describe my experiences here.

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My situation is that of a retired person, used to working on my writing at home and going out to do errands and some volunteer work. For my husband and I, staying home is not too different from normal life.

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lemons

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1. Food. Before the pandemic, we had already shifted to getting curb-side delivery of our groceries from the Atlantic Superstore. For that reason, no shift was needed. During this time, we make an order every two weeks, ordering early to get a convenient delivery time. My husband also goes to Sobeys once every two weeks for milk and a few needed items. Both stores have good distancing measures in place and the few substitutions any store has made have not been significant. As for take-out food, we have continued to order pizza and other take-out food as before.

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2. Passing Time in Isolation. I am so lucky that my husband and I have been able to face this time together. I have not really been isolated, since there is always someone there to talk to. We do small household projects together, read a bit together in a mystery series we both enjoy, watch some TV and plan our meals.

I am a writer and my writing life is managed by working on several projects at once, each project in a different stage. I have been very productive in the last two months, completing drafts of three new poetry books, completing work on the next book in my science fiction series, and launching two books, one science fiction and one mystery. I have seen a little spike in readership in the last few weeks, as people turn to reading to pass time alone.

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3. Contributing to Local Businesses. At the best of times, we are not big consumers. But during the pandemic, I have tried to support local businesses. I have bought plants for the growing season from Scotts, art supplies and toys from Endeavours and Think Play, fabric from Fabricville and so on. These businesses have gone above and beyond to give safe and friendly service. When parcels arrive, I put them in Quarantine for three days, to minimize any risk.

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4. Getting Out and About. During the pandemic, we have taken short drives, to bird watch, check on our cabin (about 3/4 of an hour away) and deliver sold books. In a stroke of luck, I had ordered author copies of my four newest books before Amazon cut delivery service to Canada, so I have books to sell. I do what I call ‘drive-by-bookings,’ making arrangements with those who want to buy my books, hanging a bag of books on the door handle and leaving to maintain social distancing. I have also put copies of my books in some of the little free libraries in town.

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5. Staying in Touch. I am so grateful to live in the age of the internet. I am able to keep in touch with family and friends by way of email, Facebook and my blog. My two writer’s groups have held their meetings on Facebook Messenger and I have taken a writing course twice a week on Facebook. I have family members not on social media and we have kept touch by way of telephone.

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6. Staying Healthy. Our days are very routine. We focus on getting lots of sleep, keeping our intake of fruit and vegetables high, keeping in touch with our physician and diabetic health care folk. As usual, I fall short on exercise. I have mobility problems and always do a half hour program of stretches each morning. Other than that, my success in the area of exercise is rather pitiful. I say I will do better.

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7. Adaption to new standards. We are lucky in New Brunswick where I live. We have had few cases, have no new cases (according to testing) and no deaths from COVID- 19. We are in the Yellow Phase of our re-opening plan which means most business can open with social-distancing and other measures in place.

Social distancing is hard. Not because I am a huggy sort of person, but because I find confronting people difficult. If someone is getting too close, I find it hard to confront, to say back off, even in a nice way. So when the delivery fellow comes to the door and tries to pass me a box, I take it, getting nearer than I should.

As our province tries to return to ‘normal’, I know mask-wearing will become part of our culture. So I dusted off my sewing machine and scanned the many videos showing mask-making. By the end of making ten washable masks, I could do them with my eyes shut, but my back hurt and I think I sewed through my finger at least once.

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The other day, as I went through some poems I have written, I came across one about getting the H1N1 vaccine. I have almost no memory of that time in my life. Of course, our lives were not affected in quite the same way. Perhaps I will look back on the time of COVID-19 and know some things changed for the better.

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All my best.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home as much as possible.

Find a safe way to talk to and be with those you love.

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

final touches

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So, after a month of organizing and sorting the poems in my ‘forty-years-of-writing bone pile,’ I have three illustrated books of poetry ready for the next step:

‘niche’ – poems about the spaces occupied by plants and animals, including humans, as they search for home. A good friend of mine has written the Foreword for ‘niche’ and I am looking forward to adding his name to the cover.

niche cover pp

‘blueberries and mink: summers on my grandfather’s farm’ – poems about life on the farm and the changes over the years.

Blueberries and mink cover pp

‘ghosts are lonely here’ – poems about abandoned buildings and other elements of the countryside.

ghosts are lonely here cover pp

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Now that I have everything sorted, I know I have more collections to work on, but this is enough for now. My computer is more organized than it has been in years..

The next step in the process is to request Proofs. Once I get these proofs, I will do one more round of edits and make a few final decisions on formatting. Then I will publish them, using KDP. I have no intention of marketing these. I will get enough copies for family and friends who would like to read them.

Requesting Proofs is tricky right now. Amazon has turned its efforts to making and shipping Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). I don’t mind being patient.

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Sample drawings from the three poetry books:

drosera cropped paperback

Dandy paperback

abandoned church

 

All my best

Staying in my bubble!

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 28, 2020 at 7:00 am

imagination

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When I was little, I lived in Alberta, in a house built by my father and mother. At the back of the house was a veranda. Below the veranda was a big vegetable garden, full of corn and pumpkins and mint. At the end of the garden, was a power pole, used by my mother as a clothes pole.

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Scan_20180830 (4)

my mom and I in the garden … the clothes pole is in the far left of the photo, at the end of the garden

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On laundry day, my mother hung the wet clothing on a line stretching between the house and the pole. As she hung the laundry, I would play at the end of the garden, under my mother’s watchful eye.

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But I was not where she supposed me to be. Instead, I was off on some imaginary adventure. One place I would go —  into the cave beneath the rocks around the base of the clothes pole. In my imagination, the cave led to a tunnel, running under the garden and weaving between roots of pumpkin and mint. I don’t remember what I ‘saw’ in the world I entered or any of the adventures I must have had. Imagination can take you anywhere!

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laundry day

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mint splashes, fresh

against the wall

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her mother pins

clothes to the line

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shirts dance towards

pole at the end

of the garden,

a pole covered

in pumpkin vine

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where a small girl

skips, turns her chin

towards blue sky

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where rainbow begins

and ends,

on the green hill,

entry to cave,

hidden from sun

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and the girl skips

slower, slower

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follows tunnel

under garden

between tendrils

of ripe pumpkin

and root of mint

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and above earth,

her mother pins

clothes to the line

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Scan_20180830 (3).jpg

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

September 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Pokiok Falls

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Pokiok Stream, about 2011

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On one of our family summer excursions across Canada, my parents stopped along the highway in New Brunswick to see the Pokiok Falls near Nackawick. I remember the white churn of water below me, so steep it looked like the water was falling into a pipe. In 1967 the Mactaquac Dam submerged the falls and now they are only a memory, visible on old post cards and in photo albums.

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For a fictionalized account of the changes resulting from the building of the Mactaquac Dam, read Riel Nason’s excellent coming-of-age book ‘The Town That Drowned‘ (Goose Land Editions, 2011).

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Pokiok Falls

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my mother held me at the railing

to see the Pokiok

plunge

from highway

to river

granite pipe

roiling water

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later, when the dam went in

they moved the churches

to higher ground

so the church bells

wouldn’t gurgle

when they rang

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now the river slips sideways a notch

to fill the round drowning of the falls

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water cannot fall within water

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I cried when I left

I hadn’t seen the pokioks

I said

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

time on the shore

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On this Father’s Day, I remember times spent with my dad.

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When I was a kid, he would take us to the shore near Port Maitland, Nova Scotia, to look for chunks of iron pyrite (fool’s gold) in the rocks.

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time on the shore

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1.

spit of sand

grains in an hourglass

poured through gaps

in a cobble sea

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2.

waves advance

try to tangle me

wash me, turn me

like a sea-smooth stone

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but I know about tides

I move myself inland

each hour

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3.

he watched whales blow here

saw sea horses dance

filled his pockets with sea glass

pitied the sandpiper

sprinkling tracks the waves erase

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I hear the hiss of air

the echoing wail

small stallions prance on my toes

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I close my eyes

forget to move

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4.

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he takes us prospecting

we wedge into crevasses

keen for pyrite gold

cube within cube

embedded in stone

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we always forget the hammer

we chip and scratch with fingernails

reach across rock

dare the waves

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a sanderling cries

quit quit!

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6.

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shorebirds

befriend me

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a dowitcher sews a seam with her bill

bastes salt water to shore

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the sanderling shoos back the tide

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terns

plunge into the ocean

and complain they are wet

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Published as: ‘Time on the Shore’, Canadian Stories 16 (89), February/March 2013

Part of manuscript ‘mnemonic‘ winner of the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick 2016 Writing Competition

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

June 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

playing alleys

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Kids in the school yard have played marbles since the late 1800s, when glass marbles were first produced for the mass market.

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When my mom talked about marbles, she always referred to them as alleys, no matter what material was used in their construction. According to Wikipedia, alleys were a specific type of marble. Almost every kind of marble has a specific name. When my son played and collected marbles in the 1980s, some of these terms were regularly heard in our home.

aggie – made of agate

alley – a marble made of alabaster

bumblebee – a yellow and black glass marble

cat’s eye – a marble with a eye-like inclusion

crystal – a clear glass marble of various colours

galaxy – opaque marble with coloured dots

oily – an opaque marble with a sheen or oily finish

onionskin – a marble with surface streaks of colour

ox blood – a marble with a streak of dark red

pearl – opaque marble of single colour and a mother of pearl finish

plainsie – a clear glass marble with inclusion of two or more swirled ribbons of colour

swirly – glass marble with a ribbon inclusion of a single colour

tiger – a clear marble with orange and yellow stripes

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There are lots of other marble types and names.

 

June 21 2016 'playing marbles' Jane Tims

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The language of marbles extends to the various moves in the game:

knuckle down – put hand in position to shoot

keepsies – to play for keeps

quitsies – stop playing without consequences

firing – to shoot a marble

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Such interesting possibilities for the language of a poem!

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Writing about a game of marbles will include all the senses (I think my poem will be from the point of view of a boy playing marbles):

sound – clinking of dishes in the sink; grinding of marbles together in the marble bag

taste – grit of sand stirred by wind across the playground; grit of raspberry seeds

feel – the cold smooth feel of a marble; a chunk of icicle from the roof in December

smell – stirred dust; girls watching the games, smelling of Ivory soap and well water

sight – bubble rising through the glass of the marble; bubbles with rainbows sliding; dew drops on Lady’s Mantle in the garden

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I can hardly wait to write a poem about playing marbles in the school yard!

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Copyright  2016  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

July 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

dancing around the daisy pole

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Perhaps strange to talk about a Maypole in July but Maypoles have been used for summer celebrations throughout the years. In the old stereoscope photo below, published by a company in Meadville Pennsylvania and  St. Louis Missouri, the Maypole is referred to as a Daisy Pole.

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Maypole

A rather blurry scan of a stereoscopic photo, blurry because it is curved for the viewer. The title of the photo is ‘A June Carnival – Dancing Round the Daisy Pole’ 1900

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When my Aunt Jane was young, attending a small school in Nova Scotia, field days were held in June. In her book, she recalls participating in a field day:

… I was in grade 1 … we had a “field day”. My dress was made of blue and white crepe paper and, holding on to the end of a white paper streamer, I danced around a May pole. I remember my great embarrassment as a gust of wind took the streamer out of my hand and sent it high in the air to flutter in the breeze …

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IMG_4470

The decorative Maypole we made years ago to celebrate May 1 every year. Through the years, when I needed ribbon, I occasionally snipped a length from the pole, so there are a few short ribbons!

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July 1 2016 'dancing around the daisy pole' Jane Tims

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daisy pole plan

sketch for ‘dancing around the daisy pole’ … in some ways more lively than the final drawing

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

July 11, 2016 at 7:00 am

early schools – the exotic and the common

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In my Aunt’s book about early schooling in Nova Scotia, she tells an amusing story about field days at school:

… I recall another field day when Dr. DeWolfe, Miss Harris, and Miss Baker came with shrubs to our school. The shrubs were ten cents each. My mother had always longed for a weigela and a snowball and we were delighted that at last she could have her wish, for both these varieties were among Dr. DeWolf’s  collection. They were duly planted at my home on the bank of the French River. One turned out to be a high bush cranberry and the other a spiraea, but today we still refer to them as the “snowball” and “weigela” and, I may mention, they have many an offspring throughout our province.

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I must have seen the high bush cranberry and spiraea many times at my mother’s old home, but I don’t remember them in particular. I do remember the gardens, lush with rose bushes, tiger lilies, and grape vines.

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June 17 2016 'an exotic shrub' Jane Tims

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 24, 2016 at 6:45 am

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