A Good Home, Canada 150, Fall Fashion


Photos by Joanne Schuetzl


I really should get out more often!

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Food and 150 Napkins

I was giddy with delight to attend this event in the village of Brooklin, Ontario. It was a celebration of Canada 150, our country’s 150th birthday since confederation. 

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Model in Grey

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Model Rosie

It was — of all things — a fashion show.  (I say that because I haven’t been to one in decades.) The models were almost all people I know, from their 30’s to …. well, I didn’t dare ask!

Photo - St Thomas Fashion show Model Helen in lovely outfit

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Model and Escort John wear Red and Black

There were a few men in the audience. Some were in the show, escorting the models, looking happy and debonair.

Photo - St Thomas Fashion show Sally and Escort Andrew

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Sharon2

Photo - St. Thomas fashion show model in green top

Photo - St Thomas Fashion show Model Lynn

This elegant fundraiser was organized by the women and men of St. Thomas’ Anglican (our family church) in the village. 

Photo - St thomas Fashion show Model in Black and White

The clothes are from “Connie’s” in the village and the team, led by Nancy and Sharon, did a great job. 

Photo - St Thomas Fashion Show Model in T-shirt

The woman below is our priest, Canon Claire Wade. A star in last year’s show, she chose observer status this year. (And still looks stylish!)

Photo - st Thomas Fashion Show Canon Claire

The photo below is with friends and it’s one of the few times I wasn’t eating. The food was delicious. (Did I say that before?)

Photo - St Thomas Fashion show 4 Wimmen

Unfortunately, I had to leave early. But I ate a lot, applauded a lot, wished I could afford to buy several of the outfits, and totally enjoyed myself.  What more could a person ask?

Congrats, Nancy and Sharon!

A Good Home, Anglican Church, Bell Ringing, Blessing of the Animals, Easter, Easter sunday, Episcopalian Church, Passover

Easter Lilies and Ringing Bells

On Easter Sunday I’ll be in our historic village church, singing my head off.

First built in 1869, it’s Anglican (aka Episcopalian or Church of England).

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

For our church community, Easter Sunday is the happiest day of the year, happier even than Christmas.  It’s the day of the miracle of the resurrection.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

When our priest  Claire (a Guyanese-Canadian woman who joined us a few years ago)  says “Christ is risen”,  I ring my hand-bell till my husband begs me to stop.

When the time comes to sing hymns (singing is a rare thing in this contemplative Anglican service), I do so more loudly, more off-key than anyone else.

Image via wikipedia

My husband is probably embarrassed.

But I’m too busy singing to notice.

I’ll be ringing and singing along with about 35 or 36 other souls at the 8:30 a.m. service.

“ONLY 36 other people?” you ask.

Actually, 36 is huge – for the 8:30 service.

Photo by Gundy Schloen
Photo by Gundy Schloen

When I first entered the tiny board and batten building for the 8:30 service, only 9 people attended, and sometimes — if the weather was bad  — only five.  Then the village grew and the little building was suddenly bursting at the seams — well, at the 10:30 service, that is.

The whole parish – 8:30 and 10:30 folks  together — raised funds to build a bigger church.  We love our big new church and are grateful that it accommodates newcomers and old-timers alike.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Stephen Clarke
Photo by Stephen Clarke

But we 8:30 folk  – there are more of us now — still worship in “the chapel”.


If you’ve read my book, “A Good Home”, you know that I arrived at this church full of doubt.  In fact, one of the things that drew me? The name. It was named for the Bible’s great doubter: Thomas.  He could have been the patron saint of journalists like me — who are taught to doubt everything and everyone till proven otherwise.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

But I found peace.   In the pastel-coloured stained-glass windows, the timeworn wooden pews, the threadbare carpet,  the small carved wooden altar, the communion rail overlooked by a simple cross.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange


In the warm welcome from everyone I met.

In the words of the priest and the small, burgundy cloth-covered Book of Common Prayer, beautifully written.

Even in the glorious confusion called the blessing of the animals. On that day, dogs, cats, gerbils, horses — and strange things under blankets — come to church. Rev. Claire’s voice gets drowned out by yapping, yelping, barking — and  strange sounds from things under blankets.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Jack Herder

“I’ll hold anything but snakes!” says our priest loudly, prompting a fresh round of laughter.

Even then.

The people here have supported me in bad times.. They’ve helped lessen my doubt and build my faith – in God and in myself.  They’ve made our family soup, given us flowers, helped me up the stairs. When my husband and I miss a service or two, someone always calls. I teasingly reply: “Is this the church police?”

No-one seems upset when I question parts of the Old Testament that I don’t understand or believe in. Not even when I ask, just before the service, “Should I take a walk when it comes to this horrible part of the reading, or just plug my ears?”

Smart woman that she is, Claire uses the opportunity to share more insights with all of us.

But at Easter and Christmas, my questions take a hike.

I’m too busy rejoicing.

And ringing, or singing ,or both.

Photo by Gordon Wick
Photo by Gordon Wick

Dedicated to the people of St. Thomas’.

A Good Home, Book launch

A Different Kind of Book Launch at St. Thomas’


Everyone who’s read my book knows about St. Thomas’ Anglican in Brooklin, Ontario – the tiny, old, white board-and-batten church with the fascinating history and the big heart.

Just how big a heart, our family found out in the years after the car accident that changed our lives. Soup, prayers,  encouragement – and a helping hand up the steps – are just some of the ways the people of this parish showed us their love and support.

And when the stories I’d been writing about “home” for 20+ years were turned into a book, that same little church (by now a bigger church) came out swinging on my behalf yet again.Book launch Cynthia reads - audience listens Yes, the good people at St. Thomas’ Anglican threw a fabulous launch for my book at an elegant event that drew nearly 80 people on the Saturday morning of a long weekend.

I was nervous! These are people who’ve helped me through some very rough times, and I didn’t want to embarrass them in what would be my first appearance since the release of the book.Book launch standing ovation

Was it rough in parts? Oh, yes. If you’ve read my book, you may already know why speaking in public scares me, and if you haven’t yet, I won’t spoil the book for you. But the St. Thomas’ audience couldn’t have been more supportive and responsive.Book launch Cynthia reads and smiles closeup

Parts of the book are very funny, and the audience howled with laughter, repeatedly.  When I said my faith gets shaky at times, no-one threw anything at me (smile) – in fact, some people nodded encouragingly. And when I broke down in tears, they quietly waited me out.  Then, the next morning, several people turned up in church with very red eyes – turned out they stayed awake all night reading the book. I  blurted: “I’m so sorry!” And then realized: what a compliment! Every author loves to hear that their readers “just couldn’t put down the book.”

My editor and publisher Don Bastion, of BPS Books had such kind words for me. He was patient and supportive throughout  the process; from manuscript to book.

Huge thanks go to Rev. Claire Wade, the event organizers and the entire congregation of St. Thomas’ for their great support. You’re remarkable people who live your faith through your actions, and I love you.

Book launch - stack of books

Book launch Don spekas and rev claire and CR look on

Book launch cynthia and rev claire

Book launch signing with Joanne and Tony