From the category archives:


dscn1428x420Some people in my city of Windsor, Ontario are high on promoting our community/region as the perfect place for seniors to retire.  Essex County is known as the Banana Belt, being the southernmost point in Canada.  Actually at Point Pelee we are on the same parallel as Rome, Italy and Northern California.  That’s pretty impressive.

I recently attended a presentation by Mr. Lynne Adams of the new Senior Advisory Council in Windsor. Many seniors have concerns about crossing busy streets.   Lynne mentioned that some busy intersections have lights timed in a way that does not permit sufficient time for unhurried crossing.  When a light turns green a pedestrian should first check traffic, then look down to ensure safe footing before starting to walk.   Feeling rushed makes some seniors, as well as people with disabilities, feel nervous and unsafe.

Another observation I made while in Florida in January was the courtesy I was consistently shown by drivers,  driving in traffic, and while I was a pedestrian.  I think I noticed it because of the sharp contrast to how people drive in my hometown of Windsor where drivers rush to beat other cars and pedestrian through an intersection or crosswalk with an ‘it’s all about me’ attitude.

One way to attract seniors to our community, as well as enhancing the lives of those presently living here, would be for the city residents to focus on, and be known for, courteous drivers.

While in New Brunswick a few years ago, my friend and I were standing on the sidewalk near the curb.  We were debating where to go next.  When I looked up I saw that traffic in both directions had stopped.  I looked at my friend with the question on my face and immediately spoken through my lips – wondering why the traffic had come to a sudden standstill.  She laughed and said “That’s what they do here.  They see us at the curb and are stopping to allow us to cross.”  And that was without us showing any obvious intention to cross.  Based on my life experience this was so extreme that I had to take notice.

Awareness is the key. When I returned to Windsor from my vacation I found myself allowing pedestrians the right of way in a way that is not always my norm.  As odd as it may seem, this makes ME feel better about myself.  I know I can do better, so I am concentrating on how courteous I can be, like in the adage, “Do unto others”.

Courtesy extended to a visitor is like saying “We appreciate you being here.  We would be happy for you to like us enough to come back”.

I am thinking that we can do that here, wondering what it would be like if our citizens got on the bandwagon and took this on, as a way of improving how others view us, changing how we do things, making us proud.

And it doesn’t cost a dime.


The simpler math of tipping

by lulujane on February 28, 2009

dscn2290Many in the service industry depend on tips to supplement their income.  At the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island, Florida our receipt  included information which presented the calculation of three percentage choices (15%, 17.5% and 20%) “for your convenience” to assist the customer in calculating their tip. It made figuring out my bill so much easier. In previous years our Ontario PST and GST combined to add 15% in taxes onto bills, so many people here just added the taxes to figure out a 15% tip if that was their level of tipping.

Although this receipt information may be utilized by merchants in my local community, I haven’t seen it yet.  The way I see it, it not only benefited me in helping me to calculate my tip, but also the serving staff who would receive it.

Bravo to Sandbar Restaurant.


I hate to pack

by lulujane on December 23, 2008

untitled-1Don’t know if there is a solution, but the absolute worst thing for me related to travel is the dreaded P word…. PACKING  –  and despite efforts to do it a different way, I always leave it until the last minute.  I have no idea how my problem can be solved.  Luggage  feels like a necessary evil – if I want to travel and if I don’t want to be caught short I gotta do what I gotta do. I sense that  my dilemma has something to do with making choices.

In my day-to-day I am organized, prepared and best of all – I am spontaneous. I do have to admit that my Ford Escape is usually a storage place for extra jackets, tripod, Kleenex, books, gum, hand lotion, eye glasses, sun glasses…. I think you get the picture.  Right now I have three pairs of gloves and mitts in my back seat.  When I have the freedom to have my personal vehicle accessible, the sky is the limit in what I am able to bring with me.

Packing for air travel is another story.  I have limitations. Shoes are always a challenge when packing for a flight – do I need running shoes, sandals, high heels, beach shoes?  Heck, that alone probably weighs five pounds.  It is always necessary to pack a hair dryer and curling iron.  I have travelled with other people who choose not to pack theirs and ask to borrow mine.  Why can’t I do that?

Florida bound in January for a month-long stay, so I’d better go prepared.  On the other hand, my host and I both love exploring in the vintage/resale/consignment stores where there are always lots of treasures to be found.  I’m wondering aloud – hmmmmmmm – going empty  and returning home full might be a good idea.  Then the suitcase is only burdensome one-way.

It is quite shocking when I realize just how heavy my clothes are.  I notice this more when I have to carry it, drag it, lift it.  Dropping it into the suitcase requires little effort but lugging it around does.  Sort of like another kind of baggage, problems, judgments and anger.   I know that the weight of these could deplete me if I choose to drag them along like a sack of rocks.  So I take the path of least resistance by hanging on to the lighter things like laughter,  joy, appreciation, gratitude,  acceptance, etc.

Gee, I wonder if I could do the same thing with packing – taking along only the lighter things – the  things that give me joy!

Note:  A post/post – I am feeling a bit vindicated; like, I’m not alone in this.  Within about a half hour of posting this I was working on a crossword.  One of the clues was ‘traveler’s burden’.  Guess what the answer was.

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Southampton Art School

by lulujane on December 19, 2008

As a single person planning my summer vacation in 1999 I was conscious of wanting my first solo travel experience to be a good one. It was important to find a place where I could occupy part of my time in a place where I would be able to meet people. When I decided on Southampton I called their tourist bureau to see if they had a community centre where I might sign up for a craft class. Lucky for me they recommended the Southampton Art School.

For nine years now I have honored a part of me that wants to learn something new, to create, to meet new friends and to celebrate my joy. Following a personal discovery of the Southampton Art School in the lakeside town of Southampton, Ontario in the region of Grey-Bruce, just north of Port Elgin, along the shore of Lake Huron, I registered for “Learn to Play”. I found the course title to be inviting as opposed to intimidating at a time in my life when I needed to learn to play again. Learn to Play was the perfect invitation for me to register for my first art class.

This was a learner’s program familiarizing me with some basic concepts and techniques. Even though I initially planned to travel alone, I ended up inviting my friend Bonnie to join me in this art adventure. As she so often does when we strike out on an adventure she started to giggle the moment she climbed into my car. Feeling like a fourteen year old I joined her in this. Something inside told me that we were embarking on something special. We had no idea that nine years later we would still be making an annual trek to our summer playground to take art classes and visit with friends.

I certainly did not consider myself an artist and was open to learn… whatever. Me, the beginner, loved the course, and was gently encouraged and delighted in the gift of a generous teacher, Al Downs. Al’s influence is proudly reflected in a framed colorful fish print hanging in my home. Just looking at this image brings back the memory of his resonant throaty laughter. I can picture him with his hands on his hips, leaning over a student’s work to pass on some positive encouragement.

In year two Bonnie and I selected a Watercolour Monoprinting course with internationally known gifted artist, Stephanie Rayner. Stephanie teaches from a kind, gentle, spirit filled place. Previous students were oldsters” and new ones were called “newlets”. We were often asked to bring our stools up to huddle around her little table for a talk. These talks touched my heart and often evoked emotion at the beauty and message in her words.

In year three Bonnie had other obligations during my scheduled Art School week and my daughter-on-law, Martha, came along. In the nurturing womb of the historical Art School building, with positive energy surrounding us, both Martha and I created some pieces of work that we were excited about. As a reflection of the great teacher she is, Peri Jolley wisely and gently pushed me beyond my comfort zone, sometimes into a bit of anxiety, to help me make new discoveries in her Collograph and Mixed Media Monoprinting course.

I have participated in Solar printmaking – mixed media monoprinting and collograph – calligraphy – designing greeting cards – painted floor cloths. Courses vary in length. We have taken weekend, half day, 3-day and 5-day courses. The menu is inviting, versatile, accommodating, and so very delicious.

I have learned so much more at art school than the creative aspect of “art”. Through observation I have learned about approaching my work and others from a place of gentleness, love, caring and generosity. In order for my creative energy to flourish I know that I have to be gentle with myself and tune out my inner critic. I also realized that I am happiest and more in the flow when able to let go of attachment to outcome.

I love this town, the Art School and the people of the Southampton area. Martha commented to me about what a wonderful situation I manifested for myself in Southampton. Each year when I go back to “school” I renew old friendships and make new ones as we are welcomed into the community and the hearts of these nurturing connections.

Art School is not an escape for me. Each time I go to Southampton I am moving toward a new exciting adventure, open to the possibilities. This has been an opportunity for me to experience freedom in a new way, spread my wings and discover more about who I am.

In our second year we enjoyed a sailboat ride with barber shopper Tom Marcotte who took us around Chantry Island. We appreciated his jokes and information about things of historical significance. Each year we participate in familiar little rituals that make us feel at home – extensive clean and sandy beaches, casual ice cream-in-hand strolls toward incredible sunsets at the foot of High Street, musical concerts at Fairy Lake; Thursday classic car cruise nights complete with 60’s music and fund raising raffles at the base of the lakeside 35 ft. Canadian flag. Surrounding small towns and villages invite us to explore and experience their unique personalities. All this, combined with the kindness and generosity of this community, combine to make my heart sing. It is important that I use the word “fun” in describing my experiences – a perfect blend of work and play.

The Southampton Art School catalogue is rich with possibilities. If anyone is interested in a personal adventure, and if this sounds like a place where you might find it, I invite you to call 1-800- 806-8838 to ask for information. You can email them at or check out their website presence at where you can peruse a long list of exciting program offerings.

With the philosophy that sometimes the anticipation can be even greater than the event “Wow”. I know that our next program choice will be another great one, filled with laughter, peace, friendship, celebration, wonder and accomplishment. And as we drive into town toward a friend’s house, usually Pat and Tom, they can expect that the first words out of our mouth will be “Hi hons’ – we’re home”.


An online Saugeen Shores Tourism bulletin reports that: The Southampton Art School is where it’s ART. For over 50 years, the School has been – and still is –dedicated to celebrating the joy of creativity, and developing artistic talent, no matter what the age or experience. It’s a non-profit registered charitable organization charging affordable fees. Our instructors are accomplished artists who have proven their worth as creators and teachers with a gift for passing on their knowledge, expertise and joy in their art to beginners, professionals and every stage in between. Adults and children are encouraged to recover or rejuvenate their creativity – and a surprising number of accomplished painters have re-dedicated their lives to art after attending the School.

Some of the high calibre teachers I have had the privilege of learning from are listed below, with biographies excerpted from previous years Art School class catalogues.

Wesley Bates was born in Yukon, educated at Mount Alison University, N.B., and pursued a career as a painter and printmaker in Hamilton, where he also established West Meadow Press. Primarily known as a wood engraver, Wesley has illustrated books for prestigious publishing houses and for well-known writers such as Timothy Findley, W.O. Mitchell, and Stuart McLean. His work is represented in numerous public collections and is in private collections worldwide. He received the Hamilton Arts Award in 2000, and now lives in Clifford, where he works at wood engraving, painting and fine press printing.

Al Downs is an original in his approach to art, and variety is his middle name. He’s a former consultant in Visual Arts for the North York Board of Education, an instructor in the Ministry of Education’s Visual Arts course, and, before taking early retirement, a Visual Arts instructor at the Faculty of Education (OISE), University of Toronto. Since moving to Southampton, he has been an active teacher and volunteer at the Art School and Gallery Shop, as well as an accomplished painter and printmaker.

Peri Jolley is a painter and printmaker who works in watercolour, inks, oils, acrylics, and mixed media, as well as in hand-dyed silks, in a range of styles from realism to abstraction. Peri was elected to the Society of Canadian Artists in 1987 and is an active member of a number of arts organizations. She has exhibited in many locations, including the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of Peel-Brampton, Thames Gallery-Chatham Cultural Centre and the John Black Aird Gallery-Toronto. Peri’s work is included in many private and corporate collections. A graduate of the Sheridan College Creative and Visual Arts programme, she also has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Windsor. A longtime Southampton summer resident, Peri teaches workshops in Oakville, Mississauga, Dundas, Hamilton and Southampton.

Margot Miller has taught at Sheridan College, St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and Sir Sandford dscn1645xFleming College. She is an Honour Graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and the Ecotourism Management Programme, Fleming College. She worked in the textile design industry in India and has traveled extensively in India and Asia, documenting traditional textile techniques. Currently she teaches and operates her own textile studio and shop in the village of Rockport. She is a recipient of a Design Canada Award and has exhibited at numerous galleries including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Film Board of Canada and the Ontario Craft Council. Her passion is a dedication to preserving our natural and cultural resources. Margot is a board member of the Leeds Stewardship Council and the Algonquin to Adirondack Conservation Association.

Stephanie Rayner is one of Canada’s best-known printmakers and conceptual artists. She believes that art and the human spirit are indivisible. A graduate of Ryerson, past vice-president of Open Studio in Toronto, she has exhibited and taught extensively. For the past several years she has been lecturing with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Spirituality in the U.S. and Africa on the importance of nourishing the spirit. With often-unexpected results in her students’ work her workshops are noted for changing more than one artist’s direction and style.

Lois Sander is a waterloo based multi-media artist whose passion first and foremost is calligraphy. She has been on a journey of learning and adventure with the alphabet ever since her employer paid for her first calligraphy lessons in 1985. From those humble beginnings she has constantly pursued her love of letters and to date has studied at two international calligraphy conferences, belongs to three calligraphy guilds. Her interests have taken her to South Carolina where she studied “Contemporary Decorated Letters” . Whet it be one of her handmade boxes, books, collages, painted floor cloths or unique art cards, you are likely to discover at least one of the 26 letter forms expressed in her work.

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Thank you VISA

by lulujane on December 17, 2008

Prompted by a 50% discount off Via Rail travel offer by I enjoyed an inexpensive round trip train ride to Burlington to visit my sister Brenda last week.  I had an early morning ride to the station so got up before the birds to catch the 5:45 a.m. train out of Windsor.  Via Rail was shipping me to the Aldershot exit.

I took along a paperback.  Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx This book was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1994.  I saw the movie quite a while ago, liked it and picked up this prize book at a yard sale this summer.  This was a small investment with a high yield.  What joy it gave me.  I had a hard time following the story because I was entranced by the author’s descriptive sentences/paragraphs/chapters.  I kept thinking with envy ‘wow – what a gifted writer’.  So, between my thoughts of envy and admiring her style of writing, I traveled my through the passages of my book.  Shipping News occupied me well on my outbound travel from Windsor, Ontario.

Why does my luggage always seem heavier when I am on the return leg of a trip?  Anyway, my luggage stowed overhead and between my feet, my occasional swaying ride on the train was pretty uneventful.  I am an antsy traveller.  I often cross and uncross my legs, wiggle in my seat, move my hands between brochures and magazines in the pouch hanging from the seat in front of me, checking things in my purse, looking for snacks.  I’m glad I don’t have to sit next to me on the train.  The seemingly constant activity of another person sitting so close to me would drive me crazy.

As we were nearing Windsor I moved to the front part of the train where we would disembark.  I did this because my luggage was awkward and heavy.  My camera bag, my heavy book bag, my backpack purse and an over-the-shoulder soft piece of overstuffed luggage. I moved it all nearer the exit while the aisle was clear of other passengers.

About ten minutes before our arrival at the Windsor station, the conductor stood near me waiting for the squeaking wheels grinding to a halt.  Little did I know that he was the prize of my trip – the jewel – something golden.  As I did on my journey from Windsor I asked this conductor how long he had been with Via Rail. This started a relatively short conversation that made a routine mundane trip an exciting one for me.

Shortly after I boarded in Aldershot I only raised my head when he walked through the two cars in his charge with a large box of candy canes offering it side to side as he moved past his seated passengers.  A Christmas greeting came with it.  I wondered silently if this was a first, a Via Rail initiative, but after our later conversation my belief is that it was a personal gift he offered.

He revealed to me that he has been in his job for a year, that he just loves it, loves people, and can’t believe he is getting paid for doing what he loves.  He shared that he is from Morocco and returns home once every year.  When he made mention of fondness for the children on our train, even the hyper excitable ones, he reflected about his young sons at home in Toronto.  Without getting into the nuts and bolts of what he told me of his family and travels home I learned much in our short exchange that cheered me.

As other passengers queued up to disembark, friendly conversations were exchanged with, and among them by this gentle man.  He made them smile and was obvious to me that they appreciated his warm and friendly dialogue exchange.

I could tell that he was inspired to do a good job and that it was a pleasure for him to be of service to Via Rail’s customers. If this is the kind of person Via Rail is hiring these days – Bravo for them.

No surprise that this gentleman’s name in his home country translates into our word ‘miracle’.

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