Thursday, 22 May 2008

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

This story is set in what is now known as Bangladesh during the closing months of 1971. It is about the love of a mother for her children and for her country that is struggling to be born.

When Rehana is first widowed, she doesn't seem to have the strength of character or the determination to raise her children. The love for her children helps her find a way to recover her children from her brother-in-law and to bring them into adulthood. Throughout the course of the war, she again finds abilities and strengths she never suspected were within her. Not only does she manage to support her own children, but at the same time she becomes a 'mother figure' to many of the Bengali forces.

There are many ways that Rehana could have coped during the war. She could have 'stuck her head in the sand' like her long time neighbour, Mrs Chowdhury, or she could have run away like her tenant Mrs. Sungupta, but she didn't take an easy option, she chose to stay and fight for her children and her country in any way she could.

I found this a very emotional story. The love a mother holds for her children is no small thing. I can understand how Rehana would do 'anything' for the love of her children.

Winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book.

Thanks to Harper Collins for the cover picture.

Also reviewed at
 Maphead's Book Blog.

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Pinwheels are a very popular motif in quilting. They tend to show up in many traditional patterns.

The two designs shown today are reverses of each other. The individual blocks have been rotated 180 degrees. So, the areas that appear light in the first quilt, appear dark in the second.

Personally, I prefer the second variation.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Light and Dark quilt design

I have been feeling a little out of sorts and certainly not up to posting quilt designs. Today is a better day, though, so here's the next. It's title is 'Light and Dark' and to me its obvious why. Now of course you can reverse each block and come up with 'Dark and Light'. I did do that, but the picture disappeared somewhere into that electronic void...
This design can easily be adjusted to any number of blocks.
I have several more designs to share, so please come back and let me know your favourite.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Tribute to Julie Ann by Patricia Verkley

I have been asked by quite a few people if I would post the Tribute to Julie Ann that was read at her Memorial Service. It was written by a dear friend of ours with some assistance from Julie's brothers. Her family wishes me to thank all the visitors to this webpage for their kind thoughts and words. They have been very comforted by your concern.



I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Thorburn family and to pay tribute to Julie-Ann.
Julie-Ann was born on July 31, 1962, at the Catherine Booth Hospital in Montreal, Quebec to Martyn and Joan Thorburn. Being raised in an Anglican church, Julie-Ann was confirmed in her faith in 1974, at the Church of the Transfiguration in St. Catharines, where the family resided. Julie-Ann grew up in the privileged position of being the lovely rose amongst three thorns, namely, Stuart, Ian, and Blair. At an early age Julie-Ann took on many responsibilities and soon exhibited great maternal instincts. It was evident Julie-Ann was going to be a high achiever and blossomed during her high school years.

Just about six weeks ago, Julie-Ann and I were talking about this and she mentioned that her high school years were some of the best years of her life. I will fondly remember her charging through the halls of Laura Secord Secondary School, weighed down with a load of books, and always on a mission somewhere important. Julie-Ann was a fabulous student, scoring high marks effortlessly, and she was a natural leader in extracurricular activities. She was a member of the Church Council at the Church of the Good Shepherd, representing the Youth. She also enjoyed being an Altar Server at this very church.

She ran for high school President in one of her senior years, and of course, won. I believe she was the first female President that Laura Secord ever had. Because of her elevated status in the school that year, she had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister Trudeau, and not only did she charm him on stage at an assembly, but she also acquired his signature lapel rose in front of the entire school. It’s my understanding that Julie-Ann’s mother still has that rose.

Joan enrolled Julie-Ann in Girl Guides, and it was through Guiding that she and Heather Tucker became friends for life. As one of a handful of recipients of the prestigious Canadian Cord, she was proud of her Guiding experiences, and never ceased to remind us of her superiority as a Girl Guide. She claimed that there were only two types of people in this world, those who were Girl Guides, and those who wished they were. Of course, her campfires were made effortlessly, and usually roared to life despite the rain, despite the cold, and despite the lack of adequate firewood. She continued to seek out camping opportunities throughout her life, spending weeks on end with her mother and Jack in Port Burwell every summer, with enthusiasm, and with a love of the outdoors. Even covered in a dirty t-shirt with grimy knees; she was still more glamorous than I could ever be in my best ball gown. I believe that she instilled this love of the simple life in both Matthew and Emily.

Julie-Ann never took herself seriously, and was constantly interested in making others feel at ease in any situation. She often claimed that she could talk to anyone; in fact, she boasted that she could have an intelligent conversation with a brick wall if necessary. I think that the confidence she had in herself made her the life of every party; she was the individual that the entire room gravitated to at an event, whether it was while she worked at the Juno Awards, or at a fund-raising function for Matthew and Emily’s school, or whether it was at one of our 40th birthday parties. Julie-Ann’s name was a synonym for excitement.

Julie-Ann had a relatively brief but enviable career with VideoFacts after she finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism at Ryerson. We’ve all listened in awe to the stories of the Canadian stars she hob-knobbed with, and the exciting work that she did. She embraced Toronto and all it had to offer. She developed a love of the arts, which she instilled in her children at a young age. She took Matthew and Emily to every funky festival she could find, including kite flying festivals, dragon boat races, fire works displays, pumpkin festivals, and of course, the Renaissance Festival in Milton. She always invited one of her high school friends and their children to attend these events with her; "the more the merrier" being her motto. Heather, Patrick Secord and I all have fond memories of our adventures with the Mud Men or with "Zoltan the Adequate," thanks to Julie Ann.

Julie-Ann was married, and soon after, left her glamorous career behind without a backward glance when her children were born. She embraced her new role as a mother with enthusiasm and grace. To say she was devoted to Matthew and Emily was an understatement. Julie-Ann spent her days gloriously catering to their needs, whether it was helping them with homework assignments, or organizing fabulous parties to celebrate successes or seasonal events. She had a natural ability to work with children; moving them along effortlessly to another task before they could become bored. This probably came from her days as a Day Camp counselor in high school. I never once heard her raise her voice to her children; it just wasn’t necessary in her home. Julie-Ann once said to me that in raising children "the days are long, but the years are short" and that sooner than we knew, we would miss these days. She always had great wisdom.
Julie-Ann loved to take pictures, and labeled herself as the "unofficial paparazzi." Over the years, she captured every memory and every event of her children’s lives, and she put together incredible photo albums for each of them, documenting every year in an individual album. She also captured memories of all of her friends on her camera, and was constantly handing out copies of the photos for our own albums.

In the last five years, Julie-Ann developed a great love of gardening. Of course, this was a hobby she could undertake while her children swam or played nearby. She quickly became an expert in perennials and annuals, and was proud of the backdrop she created with her gardening efforts. She never ran out of energy, and was looking forward to getting back into her garden this spring.
In closing, I wish to say that I feel Matthew has inherited Julie-Ann’s gentle spirit and her sense of humour, and Emily has inherited her incredible beauty and her love of entertaining. While they will always have their own memories of their mother, one day, Matthew and Emily may knock on your door, and it will be your responsibility to tell them exactly how marvelous Julie-Ann was as a person. I challenge all of you to keep your memories of Julie-Ann alive and vivid, so that you can share them with these children when they are ready.
May God rest Julie-Ann’s soul.