A Good Home, Arts, Libraries, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Spirit of the Hills - Arts Group

A Busy Week and Purple Fingernails

Accepting a blogger friend’s challenge, I painted my nails purple to attend the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario last weekend.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Purple Nails

Of course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture below, she’s also wearing a purple shirt! 

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Mandy and Purple Nails

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I’m a volunteer with the Festival and it was a great success! Painters, photographers, authors, actors, musicians and others shared their talents with enthusiastic audiences.

Blog Photo - Festival Marie-Lynn playing guitar

Blog Photo - Pat Calder Stall at Festival

Blog Photo - Festival Mandy Bing paintings

Blog Photo - Festival Book Fair

Blog Photo - Festival Sharon Ramsay Curtis

Blog Photo - Festival Kim aubrey reading

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival Performers

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival gifts for Chairs
Above 6 photos by Hamlin Grange

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In the photo just above, publisher Jennifer Bogart(right) and I are presenting gifts to Felicity Sidnell Reid (left) and Susan Statham (2nd from right), the hard-working co-chairs of the Festival’s organizing committee.  

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It’s also been a great ‘Myrtle week’.  I dropped into A Different Booklist  – one of Toronto’s best-known book stores. Owners Itah and Miguel introduced me to customers Shay Lin (holding a copy of Myrtle), an international student from China, and Qing, her mother.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Friends at A Different Booklist

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Earlier, CBC Radio interviewed daughter Lauren and me about Myrtle. Metro Morning host Matt Galloway and his team were terrific. They pre-interviewed us, and, when we arrived, made us welcome. Then they talked us through the journey the interview would take.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Interview by Matt Galloway

They were so kind, I suspected that someone in the team must have read An Honest House, which describes my struggles with PTSD, cognitive difficulties and pain following a car accident. So I asked producer Morgan Passi.

Imagine my delight to discover that this is just the way they operate!

Blog Photo - Myrtle interview by Wei Chen

Next, Lauren and I were skilfully interviewed by the wonderful host of Ontario Morning, Wei Chen. She greeted us warmly, made us feel entirely at home and the interview began. 

Bravo, CBC Radio!

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A few days ago, Seattle’s Allen J. Mears posted on Facebook a photo of his daughters, Megan, 8, and Hailey, 6, with Myrtle. I loved it! Thanks to the Mears family for allowing me to share it here.

Blog Photo - Myrtle with Megan and Hailey

I love  photos of children reading Myrtle, courtesy of kind parents and grandparents.

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to 2 daughters

In these photos, Ashly Dixon in Wisconsin is reading Myrtle to her daughters Denali, 9, Anika, 6, and son Vincent, 2, while their father Damien takes the photos. 

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to children by Ashly

Ashly says they all love the book, including the brilliant illustrations and Myrtle’s “message of acceptance and knowing one’s self-worth” .

Thanks, Dixon family. 

And don’t you just love the pyjamas?

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Carl Randall, a veteran marathon runner, did something unusual to spread the word about Myrtle.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Carl at Brunswick County PL

He and his wife Jackie have brought Myrtle to libraries in various cities — including New York, where he recently ran the marathon.

Blog Photo - Myrtle held by Carl at NYPL 2

Thanks, Carl and Jackie! 

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Finally, Kev Cooper – blogger, book reviewer, author and musician — has made Myrtle “Book of the Month” on his website, Books & Music.  Wow, Kev! Thank you!

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A Good Home, An Honest House, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Libraries

The Library: My Home Away from Home

Thank you, Toronto Public Library, for including me in your ongoing feature about the people who frequent the library.  I am ‘a bit’ late to post this on my blog, but as you know from the many late fines I’ve paid over the years, I’m always ‘a bit late’!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

Meet Sarah and Cynthia…

“I’m a bookworm and I’ve loved public libraries since I was a child. Steeles branch has a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the kindness of the librarians there over the years when I struggled to recover from injuries caused by a car accident.

“Sarah and I bonded over a book. It was a PD James book and I really wanted to read it. But I was shocked at the long waiting list. I was #1341 on the list! I showed up at the library every two or three weeks to ask a version of the same question:

“What’s my number now?”

“After a while, I didn’t have to ask any more. Sarah would see me arrive and hurry to her computer to start checking.

“We’d share a laugh and sometimes I’d pretend to be outraged that I was nowhere near getting that book.**

“When my book was published, my librarians were among the first people to receive their own signed copies.

I think they were both happy and proud – after all, they had seen me on days when I could barely use a computer.”

**And yes – I did also get the PD James book! It was “Death Comes to Pemberley”, a perfect blend of Jane Austen sensibilities and PD James’ wonderful murder mystery skills.

A Good Home, Architecture, Canada, Couples, Courage, Following your dreams, Home, Homes, House cleaning, Interior Design, Kitchens, Libraries, Life in canada, Restoration, Restoring old houses

Drum Roll, Please! John’s House Pt. 6

Ladies and gentlemen!

— Drum roll, please —

The Library is now complete!

The ceiling is done….

Blog Photo - John's Library Ceiling

And the walls are painted.

Blog Photo - John's Library Walls Painted1

Even the floor has been swept.

Blog Photo - John's Library floors

And with that, all of the repairing, re-plastering and repainting of the rooms has been done.  Year One of John Garside’s incredible 3-year mission to restore his large old house, coach house and grounds in Prince Edward County, Ontario, is almost over. And this means that he and his wife Ann can finally move in.

(Gee whiz – I feel like stopping everything right now and having a celebratory drink myself – and it’s not even my house!)
Blog Photo - John's House - Front

But before we get too excited, I have to tell you there’s still a bit more to do.

Like putting in the baseboards (skirting) around the newly installed floors on the third floor.

And removing all the scaffolding and tools from inside the house.

Blog Photo - John's House Scaffolding

And paint cans from the kitchen.

Blog Photo - John's Kitchen

And then the big clean-up.

All that before Move-In Day on May 7.

But even during the push to finish it all, John’s feeling delighted with what he’s accomplished – by himself.

“For example, the quote I got to repair the plaster ceilings and crown moldings was $5,000 a room.  Instead of going down that path I invested in $50.00 worth of materials (per room) and did it myself.  The results are truly amazing!  Even the local contractors are impressed!”

Blog Photo - John Red Room Finished

He still arrives at the house a little after 7 each morning and works steadily till 4 p.m., stopping only for a light lunch.

“All is on schedule and all deadlines will be met!  Ann will be arriving on Sunday (May 4) to help with the final cleanup of the house just before the movers arrive on Wednesday.  Great happiness!”

When I told you that John was doing all this work by himself, I wasn’t joking.  His wife Ann, a partner in an accounting firm, has been in Toronto, more than two hours away. This is the busiest time of her work-year – tax season – and Ann’s been working flat-out at her job.   She hasn’t been to the house since mid- February, when she made “a flash-visit”.

Blog Photo - Picton Staircase 2

So how does this work for them? How does Ann know she’ll like what John has done?

“Lots of pictures are sent each day to provide Ann with the state of affairs at 27 Centre Street,” John explains.

“Does she trust you THAT much?” I ask John cheekily.

And he replies: “That is why I send the pictures each and every day . . . Feedback is always good!”

Blog Photo - Picton Staircase

On reflection,  I’m really liking the sound of this arrangement:  Husband does all the hard and dirty work, while wife stays away from all the chaos and white dust, returning when the work is done.

Hmm… Ann, you’re a girl after my own heart.

Way to go, Ann!

Ooops! I really meant:  “Way to go, John!”.

 **

 Photos by John Garside

A Good Home, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Great books, Libraries, New Category Nam

Red Shoes At The Library

The woman at the London Public Library wore red.

Red shoes.

She was supposed to attend another event that evening, but came to my book reading at the library, wearing her red shoes. It was a direct reference to a highly charged passage about red shoes in my book, A Good Home.  It was also a sign of camaraderie and support to an author whom she’d never met.

Image via: Google Images
Image via: Google Images

 

She was not the only person who had already read the book. There were several in the room, including library professional Jacqui Denomme. Exactly one year before this event, Jacqui, who works with the London Public Library, read my short story (about two much-loved homes) in the Globe and Mail newspaper. She immediately wrote a letter of praise about the story to the editor. That letter was passed on to me.

Through the months leading up to the publication of A Good Home, Jacqui and I kept in touch by email. When the book was released, she was one of the first people to read it. She then showed it to her supervisor, Elizabeth Egleston.

I therefore should not have been surprised that the first library to order the book was the London Public Library.

“You’ve started a trend,” I told Jacqui and Elizabeth. “More and more libraries in Canada have now ordered copies of A Good Home.”

A Good Home - A memoir by Cynthia Reyes
A Good Home – A memoir by Cynthia Reyes

Libraries have meant a lot to me since childhood. And decades later, my local public library became one of the few places I visited repeatedly in the years after the car accident. At a time when I had difficulty walking, talking and when even trying to read a book gave me blinding headaches, the librarians there guided me to audio books.

When I started reading books again, they often helped me choose. Some days, when I stumbled into the library, mumbling incoherently,  two librarians rushed to help me at once. And so, when A Good Home was finally published, my husband and I brought a copy of the book for each librarian, with heartfelt thank-you notes.

Knowing how much libraries had helped me, I wanted my book to be in libraries. With this strong desire, and my close connection to public libraries, I was thrilled when the invitation came from the London Public Library.

On September 25, my husband and I traveled to London for the reading at the Stoney Creek branch of the London Public Library. We met Jacqui and Elizabeth in person for the first time.

I started the session by reading the short story from the Globe that had started the connection between the LPL and me.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

Just minutes earlier, Jean, an audience member, had stuck out her feet, clad in pretty red shoes for me and everyone else to see. Somehow, those red shoes and Jacqui’s warm introduction kicked off the event in just the right way.

It was a perfect evening.

My thanks to Jacqui and Elizabeth, to Jean (and her red shoes), and all the patrons and local residents who came out to meet me, buy my book, and hear me read.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

The evening reinforced my impression that the best of these events are a true give-and-take between author and readers. It was a terrific discussion, and I appreciated both the laughter and the moving comments  that were made about homes and family relationships.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange – Photo shows Jacqui Denomme on right

p.s. If A Good Home isn’t in your local library, please ask the librarian to bring it in.  I’ve found that libraries are very helpful in bringing in books for their patrons.