Archives for category: Heritage

A couple whose lasting love started because of an infernal war.

To present my parents’ life story and my growing-up story I hit upon two ways. First, I could combine the stories of two generations — but only if I could find a beginning, middle and end for a unified structure.

  • It couldn’t just be that they were born and died and did something fantastic as a climax near the end. I had important things to say about their effect on me as I grew up. I saw flaws in their relationship.
  • The central theme I wanted get at was one of ego. Altruism is without a doubt the greatest virtue. But babies need to suck in, see and exercise a healthy dose of ego joy in order to become competent, confident, caring adults.
  • My solution was to frame the book as a psychological detective story/family biography. I began by saying I was on a search for my parents’ lost egos. One question I wanted to figure out was why my mother denied him  one of her chocolates the week before he died, even though he begged for it.
  • That way I could keep the reader in suspense and also make the book an honest critique. That’s my way as a nonfiction writer.
  • The title was easy because our family name was KellThe Book of Kells is the famous ninth century manuscript that illuminates the gospels. I point out my parents and ancestors aimed to do that too, by the way they lived.41khlscocglSecond, I could write the book just as an inspiring love story — the quintessential Canadian romance. This approach might appeal more to a different group of readers. 
  • Like the first book, it contains excerpts from their love letters but the theme is a tribute to my mother’s courage and my parents’ idealism.
  • I tossed out the subtitle and included a dozen authentic pictures of my mother’s adventures instead.
  • The title comes from a hazardous five-day trek on a cariole toboggan made by my mother, my father and an aboriginal guide. The temperature dipped to 30-below-zero. If there was no one to take them in, they slept outside. She had to get to the hospital for her baby to be born.
  • Digital technology made it easy for me to do this. Both books are published under our V&V logo but printed-on-demand and distributed by CreateSpace (originally called BookSurge.)
  • Revisions are quick and simple to make. Then I order just the number of  books I think I can sell at bookstores, fairs, shopping malls, reunions, book clubs, seniors’ residences, libraries, book clubs, etc.
  • Most customers have a definite preference for which printed edition they want for themselves or as a gift.
  • I take my i-pad with me and can download an e-version of either book if that is what they prefer.

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

www.margaretvirany.com

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

margaretvirany.com

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

photo 2My parents lived the quintessential Canadian dream with their focus on immortality. They took snapshots at significant moments and left them behind with names, dates and locations on the back. They kept diaries, and wrote journals on special trips. My mother locked their love letters and birth certificates up in a metal keepsake box. They were both well educated; my father got an MA in history with Lester Pearson as a tutor. Because I had a BA in English Language & Literature, after our parents died my sisters delegated me to make a book out of our family.

  • The bare facts of their story are that Kay and Jack were an English girl and a Canadian boy; he joined the Navy in world war one in 1916 and was sent overseas to the Portsmouth barracks. Her high school sweetheart had got cholera while fighting in France and died at age 19. She enrolled in the London School of Medicine for Women to become a doctor but dropped out because of a nervous breakdown. Kay and Jack met when her father, a municipal councilor commended by the Prince of Wales for helping veterans, invited colonial servicemen home for tea.
    Her sister wrote to Jack for nine years on behalf of the family but then married and moved to Australia, so Kay took over the correspondence. She was 25 and thought she was going to be an old maid but her letter was perfectly timed.
  • Jack had finished studying theology at the University of Toronto and was going up to Oxford House, MN as a United Church of Canada minister to the Swampy Cree. The job came with a house and he yearned for a wife to keep him company but so far it was a hard sell. No Toronto co-ed seemed interested. He proposed to Kay and she asked him to come over so she could have another look at him. They just had six days and she said it would be too risky. He got her to agree not to make her answer final for a year during which they would write to each other.
  • Jack pulled out all the stops; he really wanted Kay; she was such an exceptional, smart person with a warm heart and an adventurous streak. Canada and the United Church, not himself, were his best selling points. This beautiful, exotic semi-nomadic settlement beckoned with brisk air, splashing waves, colourful leaves, good-looking childlike faces, gold-panning, delicious moose nose and a cosy wood-burning hearth. Enormous potential for her to do good lay among these folk desperately in need of an intelligent, well intentioned person’s interest in them. The merger behind the United Church was attracting worldwide attention as an example of tolerance. The future was full of promise; she was well equipped for whatever lay ahead so need not fear a thing. If only he had her he would be in seventh heaven.
  • She asked him to come over again and this time they got married almost the minute after she made up her mind; they flew over the English Channel to Paris for a 24-hour honeymoon before he had to hustle back 5,000 miles to work. She packed up, said goodbye to everything and everyone she had ever known and joined him in the spring. She met his family on their farm in Cookstown, Ontario and was welcomed by his friends at a reception in Toronto before they went up to the reserve 600 miles northeast of Winnipeg by train, steamboat and canoe. They lived with the Indians, as they were then called by government, helping, teaching, laughing, sharing and exchanging cultural habits, forming attachments and etching indelible experiences both sad and happy upon their hearts. Their first child was born after a five-day, 120-mile trek to hospital at 30 degrees below zero on a cariole (big toboggan for special occasions and people) in January, 1929.
  • They left the reserve in June, 1931 and became an ordinary Ontario United Church minister’s family in Nakina, where a second daughter was born, Lemonville, where a third daughter was born, Fairbank (Toronto), Cochrane, Thistletown (Toronto), Durham and Flesherton. They retired in Owen Sound in 1966 and lived there until Jack died in Kay’s arms in 1988 and she passed away in 1990. They had been married for more than 60 years and left nine grandchildren.
    Kay and Jack had little in common to start a lifelong marriage except that both were avid readers. They were familiar with biblical texts they applied to daily life. They identified with the heroines and heroes of the same classical books and had faith they would succeed if they lived accordingly, doing the right thing towards each other and everyone else in the world.
  • What Inspired Me to Do This Creative Work
    As retired editor and co-owner of my community newspaper in Aylmer, Quebec, in 1996 I took my mother’s keepsake box to a grade four classr on Heritage Day. We sat cross-legged in a circle on the floor and I began reading to them from a journal my mother wrote seventy years before as she was riding up the fur trade route to Oxford House, MN in a canoe. I told the children if they wrote something in a journal today, it would become heritage for children of the future.
  • Then I passed a page of the handwriting around the circle and pointed out that my mother had made a note in the margin saying the splotches were made by drips from the paddle. Involuntarily, I choked up and almost added a tear of my own to the page. The children were all staring at me with their eyes wide open and the teacher, a friend who wrote a column in my newspaper, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Margaret, you have to write a book.” That was the magic moment I decided to jump in and do it. For the kids. For these kids and all kids everywhere so they will know their heritage.
  • Actually I had been more or less assigned by my older sisters to write a family history but now I went about it with passion. I would do my best to make my parents immortal and please my favorite professor, Northrop Frye. Most of the content was on hand but I had to research an amazing number of facts, maps etc. to make the story absolutely reliable. It was a labor of love, an exercise of my abilities and skills, a challenge I couldn’t resist, an important project for my retirement years.

(I submitted the above as a brief to the Canadian Heritage consultation on Canadian culture and creativity on Nov. 24, 2016)

www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

margaretvirany.com

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 

 

Cookstownchurch

Watercolor by Cookstown artist Jay Kirk-Young

On May Day I fled my computer to go sit in the pew where my grandfather sat when he was raising a family in the early 1900’s in Cookstown, ON, north of Toronto. I was not alone. We were a flock of 200, the size of church needed in 1825 by a tiny rural village of 500 (not counting the animals) which had only three churches.

  • We sang the old hymns. We listened to memories. We seized this last inspiring moment. We and the old building with its organ pipes and choir loft harmonized and rode into the sunset with the Churchill Boys country music group. We squirmed during a too-long yet relevant sermon. We knew after two hours it was time to say the closing prayer’s “Amen”. We lingered over the last potluck in the basement. We hugged our relatives and new friend, the funeral director, whom we will meet again.
  • My grandpa (a speaker had reminded us by citing ‘A Tribute to Our Parents‘ written by my father) read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table.When hushed, everybody in the family, even the two hired men, got off their chairs and knelt to pray.
  • I wonder if I was sitting in the pew where grandpa sat before he died when he fell from an apple tree, where father sat the day he was sponsored as a candidate for the ministry, where mother sat on her first Sunday in a strange country as part of a family she didn’t know, or where I was held the day I was baptized.
  • We say thanks by celebrating occasions like the decommissioning of an old church, or by writing books about our families. The Cookstown United Church people, now comprising only 25 families, will continue to worship with the Countryside United Church people in the town of Thornton just up the highway. The building will not be destroyed because the core of the village, still of 500 but just about to be developed, has been declared a protected zone.
  • This is the heritage I celebrate in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. Then I wrote a second book, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, singling out my mother’s winter bush adventures in northern Manitoba and including pictures.
  • Like the Lady of Shalott in my avatar, my creative efforts died while I fled from my writing web but now they are alive again.

On June 4 I will join other authors selling their wares at Prose in the Park, a wonderful, free outdoor family literary event in the market on Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. I will be with friends from the Media Club of Ottawa and Ottawa Independent Writers.
What will really make it special is if you can be there too (in spirit, if not body).

www. cozybookbasics.worpress.com
www.amazon.com/author/margarevirany

Count Leo Tolstoy and H. G. Wells are delicious sources of marriage counseling. They knew all about long-lasting marital love, the theme of the book I am now writing,  so I have gone to them to broaden my knowledge and get some new wrinkles.

Writing Secret # 6 from the Reclusive Lady of Shalott: Reading is a large part of writing, not to be neglected. You owe it to your readers to be informed on your subject. You owe it to yourself to know who your competitors are.

  • Tolstoy’s book, Anna Karenina, portrays the successful marriage of Konstantin Leven and his wife Kitty. The detailed ups and downs of a husband’s emotions come from the fact that Konstantin, the awkward landowner, resembles Tolstoy himself.
  • H. G. Wells’ book, Marriage, is a marvelous adventure story, full of confidence about what pleases women, and optimism. It was made into a movie in Hollywood’s pioneer days.
  • When the marriage breaks down and Rag is going off on his own to the most remote place in the world he can think of–namely, Labrador–Madge is persuaded by her mother-in-law to drop everything (even, figuratively, her young child) and goes along, too.
  • Also helpful is the role model of my parents’ 61-year marriage, portrayed in Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  •  Kay and Jack forge their happiness in Canada’s isolated north, with the earthy input of native wisdom. So do Wells’ hero and heroine.
  • They had to cope with giving birth while living in the bush, and that’s where the cariole comes into the picture. Kay insisted on having her baby in a hospital.
  • That might make sense to a British war bride but it was not easy when the temperature was thirty below and the hospital was five days by dog team away.
  • However, Jack was undaunted and his guide was all-knowing. Needless to say it was accomplished; the author is proof.

But after the birth what happened? Here are some quotes to show it wasn’t going to be so simple to retrieve mother and baby and bring them back to the Indian reserve (as it was called in 1929.)

” On March 9  they parted, since it was too cold to take the baby on a  trip … They would meet again, when the spring waters flowed.” 

“In late May, Jack and two guides started out for Norway House with a canoe tied to a toboggan…” 

“They got on a private motorboat…and were lucky they didn’t drown…”                        

From pages 110-111 of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.

 

Kathleen’s Cariole Ride will be on sale at Prose in the Park, Ottawa’s young, famous, wide-open literary event, on June 4. It is a happy, optimistic story where you can laugh out loud as you watch other people struggle. You hope that, like most of us, these characters, with all their idiosyncracies, will somehow get out of the muck.

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 

Eating

The Spring Supper fills the church hall to overflowing for two sittings. Roast turkey with all the trimmings is the main dish, with members bringing them already cooked from home.

Roast Turkey

“It is all in the preparation.

“The turkey is washed clean and dried. The giblets are
removed and cooked in water, eaten at leisure, and as a base
for the gravy.

“The bird is stuffed at both ends with the dressing (see below),
sealed up with metal pins and placed on a rack in the roasting
pan. The turkey is covered in a thin layer of olive oil-based
margarine, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

“Place it in the oven with water in the roasting pan and no
cover for the first 30-45 minutes; then cover and cook for the
desired length of time (until the legs are very loose). Remove
cover again for the last 15 minutes until golden brown.”

Turkey Dressing

“Fresh and/or stale bread is left out for a couple of hours
before tearing and crumbling by hand. A mix of brown and
white bread is always good. Always make more than you think
you will need.

“Chop two or three good-sized onions, as well as two or three
garlic buds. Add to bread.

“Mix together the usual blending of spices which is never the
same but always the same – marjoram, sage, poultry
seasoning, celery salt, sea salt and pepper. How much? you
ask. Until it smells good and looks right and darkens the
bread. Then add a small quantity of olive oil and some
margarine until all the bread is slightly moist. That’s as good
as it gets for describing quantities for any of the ingredients.

“As stated above, stuff the bird fairly tightly and let the
cooking begin!”

Rev. Steve Lawson

Turkey Gravy

“Have Steve remove the turkey from the roasting pan. Place
roasting pan on stove on medium-high heat.

“In Tupperware Quick Shake container (or glass jar with tight
lid) vigorously mix together 1 cup flour with 2 cups cold water.

“Slowly pour into pan with drippings and mix with a wire
whisk until it begins to thicken. As it thickens, slowly add
water. Alternately stir and add liquid, maintaining the desired
consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.”

 

 http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Church-Recipes-Aylmer-Eardley/dp/1439216711/ref=la_B001K91GX0_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384787726&sr=1-2Margaret Kell Virany   

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

 www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

the queen

I don’t know about you but I think lots of little things that boost ordinary people add up to important reasons for retaining the monarch. To the Queen! She’s a symbol of steadfastness & civility. (Full disclosure: I’m a war bride’s child named after a Princess.)

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

A raven is a larger-bodied member of genus Corvus.

A raven is a larger-bodied member of genus Corvus, an extremely intelligent bird.

  • This year I’m celebrating November 11 (aka Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries and Veterans Day in the USA) the way the ravens do. This member of the intelligent common crow family is a sinister omen in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven, but they have a happier side. They don’t all just sit around croaking “Nevermore, Nevermore,” like Poe’s raven does, and we do on our annual observances of the darkest days in human history.
  • Visitors to the Champlain Lookout at Gatineau Park in late October were dazzled by birds who are anything but grave by nature. A flock of young ravens unexpectedly put on an aerobatic display for those who were there. It was enough to make the Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force ceremonial performance team, die out of envy.

    Ravens are sinister omens of doom but also have a happier side.

    Ravens are sinister omens of doom but also have a happier side.

  • The flock of eight was just out for the hour before sundown to play and flirt with the opposite sex by touching wingtips, feigning collisions and showing off their flight savvy.
  • These youths will settle down to monogamous partnerships, once they lay eggs and have families. But first they go all out to dare, defy and celebrate what it means to be alive and to express themselves.
  • They frolicked, dipped, taunted and teased each other as they rivaled in making best birdly manouvers. They flew in line and glided parallel either on top of or beside one another while their merely human audience gasped.
  • Oh, who would not love to be a raven, free and having so much fun! Yes, the ravens match up well with ghouls, ghosts, gorings and ghastliness but they are too smart to accept this role all the time. Maybe they came out to remind those who were there that the souls of our veterans are free now. Bravery, courage and doing the right thing to save others are ubiquitous qualities that help make a heaven.
  • Thanks, raven, for the dance and the message. I’ll remember to think of the vets when the gates to the Park, now closed in anticipation of snow, are freed and happy crowds gather again.

You can find out more by clicking on the ‘Home’ and ‘About’ icons at top left of this page. I (Margaret) have written about my experiences growing up 1933-1950, my father’s service in WWI and my mother’s coming to Canada as a war bride in 1928. Please click on the links below to find my books.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

English: Charoset made with kosher wine, apple...

Haroset made with kosher wine, apples, pears, cinnamon, honey, pine nuts, and crushed walnuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cozybookbasics is pleased to update and republish this blog post from April, 2012.

This recipe from Biblical times is full of favorite ingredients and is perfect for light entertaining. It’s a specialty of Rev. Steve Lawson’s,  our United Church of Canada minister who is also a Swiss-trained chef. He contributed his recipe to Eating at Church, a heritage cookbook published by the congregations of Aylmer and Eardley United in the Province of Quebec. Here’s our story of why we love our minister and all the traditional celebrations that will be going on in communities like yours and mine all over America later this week:

  • The eggs and hot cross buns of our Easter Sunday sunrise breakfast in the church basement had just been eaten when Rev. Steve emerged from the kitchen carrying  a platter of hors d’oeuvres. Somewhat sheepishly, he said the correct term for the Haroset he held might be “left-overs”.
  • The dark red paste now spread on matzoh bread had been in the refrigerator since Maundy Thursday, three days before. What had begun as an experiment in honoring our Judeo/Christian heritage three years before had blossomed into a full-blown Seder feast held each year.
  • Rev. Steve wears a yarmulke for the occasion and explains the numerous traditional Seder dishes being served. Adults and children watch the video re-enactments of the Passover and the Last Supper intently.
  • Each item on the menu is symbolic. Bitter herbs stand for the bitterness of captivity and suffering of the Israelites in Egypt. Salt water, for dipping the herbs into, represent the tears of sorrow shed.
  • Matzoh bread is unleavened because they had to take flight in such a hurry.
  • Roast lamb symbolizes the sacrificial lamb‘s blood that marked the Israelites’ doorposts so they would be passed over and escape from the decree that firstborn children be slaughtered.
  • The Hebrew word charoset means clay and this dish symbolizes the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build Egyptian structures. The sweetness represents the kindness of God in making slavery more bearable.
  • Members of the congregation have been invited to bring salads also, adding a non traditional feature to this meal adapted for them and not strictly kosher

Haroset

  • Ingredients: 6 Apples peeled and chopped;  ½ tsp. Cinnamon; 2/3 cup Walnuts, chopped; 1 Rind of a lemon or small orange, grated; 3 tbsp. Sugar (to taste) or honey; 4 tbsp. Sweet red wine; 1-2 tbsp. Orange juice.
  • Directions: Mix ingredients with an electric mixer until they become a dark red paste.  The traditional way of combining the ingredients is by using a mortar.
  • Tips: You may make the basic recipe differently from time to time, by changing your choice of apple variety or wine.  It may be eaten either as an hors d’oeuvre or in the form of a sandwich with matzoh bread.
  • http://www.amazon.com/Eating-Church-Recipes-Aylmer-Eardley/dp/1439216711/ref=la_B001K91GX0_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1362484424&sr=1-2


http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com http://wp.me/p2dNT0-2z

 www.margaretvirany.com

 http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

Enhanced by Zemanta
A tiny 2-inch pop-up Valentine, circa 1920

A tiny 2-inch pop-up Valentine, circa 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come along with Kathleen as a Valentine’s treat

Because her story is so sweet.

Kathleen was a British high school girl in 1917 when her father brought a Canadian sailor home for tea. How they fell in love, married and lived with the Cree people in the north is the subject of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride: A True Love Story from over the Ocean and in the Bush after WWI. Their daughter’s loving book lets you experience their joys by reading their own letters. The highlight of their adventures was a five-day winter trek to find a place for their first baby to born.

Final Proof of a paperback edited with phone help from Createspace

Final Proof of a paperback edited with phone help from Createspace

The book makes a heartwarming, non-fattening, long-lasting gift for Valentiine’s Day. It is available in either e-book or paperback format on Amazon.

Thank you for spending some of your valuable time as my guest on cozybookbasics. I hope you like it here, write a comment and browse around by clicking above on ‘Home.’ My writing, whether blog or book, is always personal, fast-paced and focused on the outer and inner adventures of real people, going back beyond three generations. You can familiarize yourself with my books at this Amazon link to A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church. Join me on Goodreads or my personal author page also.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

Enhanced by Zemanta