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Visited my daughter in Montreal this weekend. Saturday was a lovely day (21-22 Celsius) and we walked around the botanical gardens. It’s such a beautiful place! So, too, is this city.

 

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005crI came across and started reading a few style blogs back in the springtime and over the following months discovered many more. These blogs are intended for women over 40 and 50. The first one I came across was 40+ Style and my other favourites, for a variety of different reasons, are Not Dead Yet Style, Bag and a Beret, The Rich Life On a Budget, Style Crone, Une Femme d’un Certain Age, A Colourful Canvas, and two recently discovered ones – You Look Fab and The Vivienne Files.

Much of my clothing over the past five years has been found in thrift shops but I’ve been trying to define my personal style a bit more as I’ve been picking up the occasional new retail piece and I’m trying to avoid spending money on too many thrifted items for the sake of adding to my mostly casual wardrobe. Finding these blogs coincided with this and I’m enjoying them and the sense of community they seem to inspire.

Anyways, today I decided I’d try an outfit of the day post and I’m linking up with Patti’s Visible Monday series at the already mentioned Not Dead Yet Style blog.

Early fall OOTD

Early fall OOTD

Top: Soya Concept (El Pipil); Skirt: Diane von Furstenberg (thrifted); Leggings: The Loft; Shoes: Pikolinos (end of season clearance)

Do you read style blogs? What are some of your favourites?

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Fresh local backyard rhubarb is in season. The tart stalks have been on my mind for the past week or so and yesterday I celebrated this cusp of summer  “fruit” by making a relatively simple crunch. It’s the first time I’ve made this and I like the result but will probably experiment with less sugar next time. It’s delicious warm or cold and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would make an ideal companion.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crunch

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

¾ cup rolled oats

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup butter, melted (or margarine)

4 cups sliced/diced rhubarb

2 cups frozen/fresh strawberries (optional, can substitute other berries, apples or pears)

 Glaze

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter and stir/blend well. Gently pat half the crumb mixture into a 9” square buttered pan. Top with rhubarb and strawberries.

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch and slowly add water. Stir constantly over low heat until thick. Add vanilla. Pour mixture over rhubarb and strawberries. Sprinkle with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

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Blood on the Moon

Written and performed by Pierre Brault

Directed by John Koensgen

Great Canadian Theatre Company

January 17-February 5, 2012

At approximately 2:30 a.m. on April 7, 1868 Thomas D’Arcy McGee was shot in the back of the neck at close range at the door of the Sparks Street boarding house where he resided while in Ottawa. One of the founding Fathers of Confederation, the politician, journalist and poet died within seconds. James Patrick Whelan, a young tailor, was charged, tried, convicted and executed for McGee’s assassination. Was justice served?

This is the question that playwright and performer Pierre Brault asks as he takes us on a fascinating journey back in time to explore justice through the perspective of the man charged with the crime, and with a contemporary lens. Brault humanizes Whelan by giving him a voice. The one-man play has multiple characters and Brault easily and convincingly transitions from one character to another. The 75 minute production is a captivating story that works on both an intellectual and an emotional level. The stark scene lighting and simple set decor – a chair, and the sound of weather and an Irish ballad contribute to the emotional impact of the play.

Did James Patrick Whelan kill Thomas D’Arcy McGee? We don’t really know and the play leaves us with questionable doubt. Whelan was tried and convicted on circumstantial evidence. Much of the evidence against him, including the sole eye-witness testimony, was discredited. He was suspected of being a sympathizer of the Fenian Brotherhood – a militant group that opposed British rule in Ireland and planned to hold Canada hostage – but this was never proven. Whelan’s trial lasted 8 days. The case was heard by Chief Justice William Buell Richards. He was defended by John Hillyard Cameron and prosecuted by James O’Reilly. Prime Minister John A Macdonald, a friend of the late Thomas D’Arcy McGee, sat next to the judge. Whelan was found guilty and sentenced to hang. The case was appealed and the same judge, who now sat in the higher court, cast the deciding vote in favour of his earlier judgment.

James Patrick Whelan was publicly hanged on February 11, 1869. According to Brault, it took 7 minutes for him to die. Despite a morning snowstorm, more than 5,000 people showed up for the execution. He was the last person to be publicly executed in Canada.

Blood on the Moon was originally produced in 1999 for the Ottawa Fringe Festival and expanded in 2000 for a production at the National Arts Centre. It’s toured in Canada and Ireland. It was remounted on short notice for this production at the GCTC. It’s a fascinating exploration and I encourage you to go see the play.

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Ottawa is participating in the day of global Occupy protests. It’s a low-key government town and I didn’t come across much information prior to the day. Nonetheless, I was curious and headed over to Confederation Park to catch a bit of the Occupy Ottawa demonstration. I stayed perhaps an hour and estimate there were about 300-400 people there. It was a rather polite and friendly rally.

From the tidbits I’ve come across in the news there seems to be a question of whether it is relevant in Canada. While we don’t have the kind of unregulated U.S. banking sector that enabled greed to plunge the world into recession in 2008 we are still part of a corporate-dominated global economy in which life is a precarious existence for the many. It is relevant here in Ottawa, in Canada, and elsewhere.

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Paul Watson’s life purpose was crystallized when he looked into the eye of a dying whale. Founder and leader of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and one of the original founders of Greenpeace, he is regarded as a radical environmentalist. Some even call him a terrorist. He is a doer, a man of action, and in the film, Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, he compares his life and mission to Homer’s Odyssey. He certainly does seem to resemble the leaders in ancient mythologies, which explains his dismissal of Greenpeace’s “Avon lady” tactics. For Paul Watson the battle to protect whales from short-term profits requires direct action and interference. For him, it is about the whales; however, he does point out that without oceans and marine life there can be no human life.

Trish Dolman’s documentary is a remarkable story of the man and his quest. We learn much about Paul Watson and his crusade. The film is interspersed with older footage and photographs and interviews and comments with current and former colleagues, supporters and family members. Amid the blood and slaughter we also witness great beauty.

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Self-employment is something that I’ve always been attracted to and I thought I would look at some of the workshops and supports that are available for people who venture along this route.

Last month I attended a pre-self-employment workshop at Pinecrest-Queensway Employment Centre. The ever dynamic facilitator, Kari Drouin, started things off by asking participants to introduce themselves and make their pitch. Some of the people are close to launching a business, some are naturally drawn to it, and others are exploring the option. The presentation also covered the benefits and demands of self-employment, assessing whether you have what it takes, researching your idea and market viability, and resources for people who decide to go this route. As always, it was a useful, informative and stimulating workshop.

One of the local resources is the OCRI Entrepreneurship Centre. I had heard about the centre while at the Art of the Start presentations a few days earlier. “The Centre aims to promote Ottawa’s economy, through the development of products and services that encourage entrepreneurship and support business growth.” They provide workshops, seminars, consultations and a variety of information resources. Earlier this week I checked out two of their free seminars.

The first was on presenting yourself and the seven seconds you have to make a positive first impression. According to Julie Blas Comeau of Etiquette Julie the top five keys to making a good impression are your punctuality, posture, eye-contact, smile, and handshake. She also provided tips about greetings and remembering names. One of her slides noted Mehrabian’s rule of face-to-face communication – I’ve come across this before at Toastmasters and in books but wasn’t familiar with who’s rule it was – which is that 55% of communication is non-verbal, 38% is verbal, and 7% is vocal. In other words, people react mostly to your body language, then your tonal variety, and leastly to what you actually say.

The second seminar was on preparing proposals and was presented by Keith Parker of The Proposal Centre. The presentation was intended for small and mid-sized businesses who bid on work; however, in my job search I’ve come across the occasional ad which asks for an RFP so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about what a proposal is. According to Keith, it’s a blend of art and science in which you have to identify the right opportunities, know when to make or not make a bid, address the questions, make your proposal compelling, and deliver it on time.

The latent entrepreneur in me found the seminars quite interesting. The Centre is definitely an excellent resource. There are also a wide variety of social groups around that provide entrepreneurs with an opportuntiy to connect, network, share ideas, get advice and other supports to help along the self-employed path.

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