Monthly Archives: May 2008

Le Manoir Papineau

As part of our continuing Canadian History studies we spent yesterday at Papineau Manoir. We have been learning about the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions so a visit to the country home of Louis-Joseph Papineau was well timed. Louis-Joseph Papineau was a rebel leader of the Parti Patriot in the 1830’s. We were treated to a private tour which lasted twice as long as the grand tour usually lasts. Our guide was excellent; she shared a wealth of historical information with us, entertained us with Papineau family anecdotes and showed us every bit of the manor she could.

papineau manor

The restoration of the manor has been going on for some years now and will continue for a long time to come. Currently the major project is the gardens, which were once quite beautiful, but have declined over the last century. Papineau was very particular about his views of the Ottawa RIver from all the formal rooms. Photographs show views across the gardens to the water. Looking out the windows now the river can only be glimpsed through trees and overgrowth.

papineau manor

We were intrigued to hear stories about Papineau and his family. It is one thing to learn the facts of a rebellion, but to see the rebel leader’s house brings history alive. We heard how his wife rarely came to the manor as she believed all mosquitoes were born there, his son hoarded so many artifacts from Europe that he had to build a museum and Papineau himself built a medieval style tower to house his vast library. We peaked through the tunnel connecting his office to the tower where his books once filled the shelves. We loved the furnishings and stories that went with them, many pieces are originals which have been returned to the manor over the years, more are away being restored so they can once more be displayed.


My new gluten-free life

I am one week into my new gluten-free life. Tuesday last week I had an endoscopy which confirmed what my doctor had suspected after seeing the results of my recent blood tests. I have battled against anaemia for years, getting my levels up to the bare minimum, only to see them plummet back within a year. The last test concerned my doctor as there were other deficiencies showing up along side the iron. She decided that perhaps I was not absorbing the iron or other nutrients, an effect of celiac disease. To cut a long story short, it appears that she was right.

I have not met with a dietician yet or started reading books on the condition. I have done a little googling and a lot of label reading. (actually my children are doing a lot of the label reading as I can’t decipher that tiny writing) I am not new to restrictive diets. I was once put on an elimination diet which started with pears, rice and not much else. I have managed to follow a wheat free, dairy free, refined sugar free diet, (some would say the flavour free diet). In fact over the past fifteen years I have restricted my wheat and dairy products most of the time.

The specialist who did the test believed, without waiting for the results of the biopsy, that I have celiac disease and suggested I start the diet immediately. I keep thinking of foods that are now forbidden like egg rolls, lemon meringue pie and muesli. And then one springs to mind which is acceptable like pavlova. I intend to make some delicious and mouth watering gluten free snacks and put them in the freezer, but right now it’s pretty much just peanut butter and rice crackers. Imagine if I couldn’t have peanut butter either, now that would be bad.

Digging up some classics

A few months back we showed the children some Get Smart and it was a hit. The other day Andrew introduced them to My Favourite Martian, which they also enjoyed. They thought it was a bit strange, but funny. As we don’t have a tv I can’t compare it to the current late afternoon children’s shows, but I’m guessing they’re a little different. I was telling my children about the shows I sometimes watched as a child, Brady Bunch, Hogan’s Heroes, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, F Troop, to name a few.

The other night Andrew and I watched some Gilligan’s Island, another silly show! Watching those poor shipwrecked people with Gilligan, we started making comparisons with another group of wreck survivors who end up on an island. LOST. We realised that the enduring question of GInger or Mary Ann? has become Jack or Sawyer? Or perhaps Kate or Juliette? Is Hurley the new Millionaire? Sayid the professor?

Last night we watched Indiana Jones: Raider of the Lost Ark with some friends. It’s hard to believe it came out twenty-seven years ago. I warned the children it was scary in quite a few places and a couple of times I covered B7’s eyes, but they all enjoyed it and are keen to see another one. My memory is that the subsequent ones were even scarier, so a preview might be in order before we continue. Following that they were treated to the first episode of Beverly Hillbillies! You can see we believe in rich and varied cultural experiences for our children.

Six strings

A couple of nights ago Andrew and I went to see Australian guitarist, Tommy Emmanuel perform solo to an audience of around 700 people. It was a change from the diet of violins we have been consuming lately. The concert was excellent. Brought to Canada by fingerstyleguitar.ca, Tommy played a range of pieces, both original compositions and familiar classics.

I’m not sure that I can adequately describe his style; he calls it finger style, but that doesn’t convey all that he manages to do with his hands and his instrument. He did an amazing amount of percussion during his pieces, a couple of pieces were more percussion than anything else. Using all parts of the guitar, including a large sanded area on the front where he scrapes his finger nails, he produces booming “drumbeats” and softer brush like effects. While he is playing on the strings he manages to sound like a whole band, his fingers moving all over the place, picking, strumming, and creating fantastic sounds and rhythms. We particularly enjoyed “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, the Beatles medley and “Guitar Boogie” but many pieces managed to captivate me.

As he chatted to the audience between songs we got a glimpse into the many experiences behind the music we were listening to. Playing guitar obviously gives him great joy, which he wants to share with everyone listening. His composition “Mombasa” came about while he was in Kenya with World Vision visiting his sponsor child. “Initiation” comes out of his experiences with the aboriginal people of Australia, and is apparently never the same from one performance to the next. Some of his songs are inspired by his friends and family, some by great guitarists he admired and who in turn admired him. It was a treat to sit and listen to such imaginative and impressive guitar playing.

Performing

The Kiwanis Music Festival is over for another year and the girls found the whole experience very worthwhile, despite the inevitable butterflies before each performance. The week ended well with both girls receiving excellent comments about their sightreading and L13 performing very well in the trophy class. We really appreciated the comments the adjudicator made after each performance. She was very positive and encouraging and at the same time very specific in her suggestions for improvement. As the girls will be performing some of their competition pieces again they were pleased to receive her feedback. Over the years they have had a variety of adjudicators, some who were all sweetness and light but very little constructive criticism and others who concentrated on one main area with little comment on other aspects of performance. By the end of the week B7 was a little “Kiwanised out” but was very proud of his sisters all the same. So was I.

The end of Kiwanis does not mean a lull in performances, far from it. Between the two girls there are nine concerts in the next two weeks! All the performances are with either the performance group or their orchestras, no more solos until June.