Monthly Archives: October 2007

A trip to the milliner

This year we are studying Canadian History with our friends N,P & H. As we are up to the Fur Trade at present N investigated the possibility of visiting someone who could give us the benefit of their experience in hat making and research. The result was one of the highlights of our school year so far.

Ruth Mills is a milliner who lives ten minutes from here. She kindly agreed to talk to us about the process of making hats from beaver pelts and about hat making in general. Her expertise has often been sought in making reproduction hats for museums, tv shows and re-enactments of historical events.


On arriving in her basement studio, we were given a introduction to her work. Several vintage hats and bonnets were on display and Ruth explained who wore them, during what time period and how they were made. Sitting on small hat stands were some of her own creations also, one which she let the girls try if they wanted to.

Following our mini photo shoot with the fascinator we moved into the part of Ruth’s studio where all the creating happens. Sitting on the table were five different hat blocks, each with a piece of buckram beside it. Ruth proceeded to explain to us all how the children could make the crown of a hat out of a piece of buckram. It took a little time to find a hat block to suit everyone’s taste but once that was done, they wet the buckram and began to pull it over the hat blocks. As it is pulled it needs to be fastened with pins and pulled some more, always working to decrease the number of wrinkles and pleats around the base of the crown.


Before we left Ruth spent some time showing us and giving the children samples of a range of materials she uses to make hats. She used a scrap piece of fur felt to demonstrate the steaming method she uses to stretch and shape felt hats. Seeing the raw materials for different styles of hats was very interesting. We all have much more of an idea of the process involved in making a hat and the children all have a crown ready to finish and decorate in their own style. When we finished Ruth took a few minutes to show us photos of reproduction hats she has made for clients including one in the Museum of Civilization that we have walked past many times. Next time we are there we will view it with a new appreciation of the research and care that went into its construction.


While you’re waiting

When the entries here are few and far between there is usually one of two reasons. Either nothing is going on or too much is going on. Currently it is the latter. I thought I would provide you with a few quick updates rather than nothing at all.

Yesterday was Austria’s national day. That may seem like a random fact to share with you, but our attention was drawn to it when girls’ performance group were invited to perform at the Austrian Ambassador’s celebration. The group provided twenty minutes of music including the Austrian national anthem which they learnt last Saturday.

As I have been very busy lately I was very excited to be invited to a friend’s place last night to watch the entire BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, all six hours of it. Four of us got together with the intention of watching as much as we could, but once you get past episode four it is very hard to pack up and go home. I have just finished re-reading it, as had another friend, so it was delightful to watch. There was much anticipating and quoting going on. As L13 is reading it now, we will have to plan another viewing.

Although the best of the fall colours are over, our back yard is covered in a carpet of leaves and the trees are nowhere near empty. Any time I glance out the back windows I see one leaf after another floating carelessly to the ground. Andrew usually picks up most of them with the mower but we all do some raking. We will probably fill close to thirty garden waste bags before we are finished, if the snow doesn’t come first.

One year

I have been writing here for a year now. I know my archives go back to January 2006 but, although I wrote the first post then, I didn’t commit to keeping it up until October 2006. Now, 141 posts later I am still writing. I realise the entries have been a little sparse of late but life has been busier than usual. The blog reached another marker in October also. Someone, I have no idea who, clicked my view stats over to 5000.

To celebrate these little milestones I have decided to ask a favour of you. When you drop in and read this, would you please, please leave me a comment to let me know you were here. I know my dad reads all my posts, I believe one of my cousins does and a smattering of devoted friends too. There are a few friends who experience my real life with me on a regular basis but still drop in to read about it. But there is a chance that there are some of you that I have never met. Leave me a comment, just a little one to say hi. Even if you know that I know that you come by here, leave me a comment anyway, humour me, please. Feel free to tell me how you came to drop by here if you like, especially if you are one of the people I didn’t tell to drop by here!

When I began writing about our lives a year ago, it was with the aim of sending news to my family and friends in Australia. There was no way that I would ever keep up with everyone by email let alone snail mail, so a blog seemed like the way to stay in touch. It has become more than a newsletter though. It is a record of our days, our celebrations, our lives, the little and the big things. It is a reason for me to write. I have never been someone who longs to write, or even writes all that well, but as I taught and encouraged my children to write year after year I thought I should probably be writing along with them. Now I do. Here. For you, and for me, and for them.

In honour of this anniversary, I have two gifts to give away. If you are reader outside of Canada you have a chance to win a beautiful calendar full of Canadian landscapes. If you are a Canadian reader I will send you this stunning calendar of Australian scenes. But you must leave me a comment to be in the draw. Please.

I won’t say that all those related to me are not eligible to enter because that might be half of you. Those who live in the same house as me, however, are not eligible to enter. Those who live in the same house as me can help me randomly pick two winners on November 1st.


I requested applications this week so Andrew, the girls and I can become Canadian citizens. That is the first step. We will receive our package, complete with applications for adults and minors, the booklet A Look at Canada, and all other necessary information for our application.

In order to become citizens we need to meet certain requirements, fill out forms, pay fees and pass a test. The group of four has decided to help us pass the test by doing a citizenship unit. Wondering if their own knowledge might not be enough to pass the test, they were all happy to study with us and increase the children’s general knowledge about Canada, its history, people, resources, geography and government.

We are not relinquishing our Australian citizenship, by the way, we will have dual citizenship, a privilege B7 already enjoys.

Our Thanksgiving Boy


Seven years ago, on our first Thanksgiving, we were invited to a neighbour’s house to celebrate with her family. As Thanksgiving is not a celebration in Australia we had no traditions of our own. We were thrilled to be included in a family celebration with new friends we had known for only one week. We were sitting down to a full and delicious meal and I was checking my mother’s watch from time to time. My neighbour noticed and joked that I was timing contractions. I was!

We took the girls back across the street and tucked them into bed before calling the midwives to meet us at the hospital around 10:00pm. At 11:52pm our big baby boy was born. By 4:00am I was back in my own bed with a baby in a bassinet at the end of the bed.
So blessed, so thankful, so delighted to have our Canadian son.

Seven years later we are no less delighted but feel even more blessed and thankful for him and the joy, love and excitement he brings to our lives. Happy Birthday B7.


Get smarter

Towards the end of the summer for some reason I remembered Get Smart, the tv show, and how much I had enjoyed watching it as a child. Consequently we introduced our children to Get Smart. As I imagined they would, they found it very amusing and kept asking for more. After eight or so episodes we are taking a break, but the damage has been done. There are new phrases in their repetoire. I have often used, “Good thinking, 99,” knowing that they children had no idea what I was talking about. Now they do.

B6 has incorporated Maxwell Smart’s lines in a rather unexpected way. They keep popping up during his math lessons! When reaching a familiar type of question he comes out with, “Ahh, my old friend, Complete the number pattern”.

Or when he needs a bit of assistance I might prompt him with a question like, “What are we counting by here?”

To which he replies,”I’d like to handle this myself, if you don’t mind. Now, what are we counting by here?”

Perhaps when he gets a wrong answer he will start using, “Missed it by that much.”