Category Archives: Family & Friends

What I See When I See Smiths Falls – Part 3

You can find Part 1 & Part 2 here.


After 17 years and a thousand round trips, I could drive from Burritt’s Rapids to Smiths Falls with my eyes closed. But why would I want to?

I mark my good fortune by the totemic houses, gardens, people, signs, and nature that pass before my eyes, the spirits of memory and place that are the roadmap to my happiness.

The stone house and farm at Rosedale Road, trimmed in goldenrod and oxblood, a seasonal almanac of shifting signs (Strawberries! Beans! Pumpkins!)

An undulating field of horses radiant under summer sun.

A glimpse of the river – choppy or frozen or sparkling – clocking the passage of time.

The 50 km/h sign where I slam on my brakes.

The yard lovingly peopled by a crowd of seasonal decorations.

The NASA house, a multi-storied modernist in corrugated steel.

Shardon Manor with its phantom-people, watching, waiting.

Sprawling houses set on scissor-cut lawns.

Tree-sentries witnessing at old Rideau Regional.

The split-level’s stone arch and Gothic wooden gate.

A pair of cottages voluptuous with window boxes.

The two-toned shingled porch on a property brought back to life.

Candles in the windows of the mansion on the corner, casting off the winter darkness.

And suddenly here I am.

I pull into the driveway of my second home, climb its five wooden stairs and cross the threshold of the people who love me as plainly and deeply as I’ve ever been loved in my life.

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More Than Enough Refugee Blues to Go Around

Refugee Blues was published by writer and poet W.H. Auden in 1939, at the start of World War II.

It’s safe to say not much has changed and, perhaps, it never will if war and hatred continue to be our modus operandi. The million dollar question is this: Are we doomed as humans to this destructive cycle of scapegoatism and righteous indignation? Or is there truly a possibility – a probability – for something else?

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

Continue reading More Than Enough Refugee Blues to Go Around

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It’s Just Not Christmas Without Homemade Baileys

Every Christmas since I’ve been an adult, I’ve used my mom’s recipe to make bottle upon bottle of homemade Baileys, which I’ve distributed to friends and neighbours.

The original recipe card is so well-used it’s begun to look like an ancient artifact. You’d think I’d have memorized it by now, but every year I pull it out of the drawer and diligently check that I’m getting everything right. The stuff is so damn good as is, I leave no room for improvisation.

For everybody who’s ever asked me for my ‘secret’ recipe over the years and to whom I’ve replied “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you,” I have a Christmas gift just for you.

Here it is:

Lena’s Bailley’s Irish Cream

1 cup Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup lite cream (coffee cream)
1 1/2 cups rye
2 tsp cocoa (frys)
1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee
2 medium eggs

Put in blender in same order as above and mix. Makes 32 ozs. Keep in fridge (Note: it lasts @ 3 weeks if refrigerated).


This leaves you two choices: Try out the recipe for yourself, or wait until I show up at your door with my annual bottle. Because – ready or not – here I come! (ps. If you haven’t returned last year’s empty bottle, now is definitely the time)

A very merry Christmas to all my friends and family near and far and those interesting souls with whom I have yet to cross paths.

All the best,

Andrea xo

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“Too fancy and ingenious”: Children’s Books by Adult Writers

Reading to children is inextricably intertwined with the idea of home, comfort and love. These five children’s books by authors better known for their adult writing, are available in first edition form from Peter Harrington, London’s leading rare book firm. And because we all love a good backstory, the home lives of the authors prove as interesting as the books themselves. 

This piece is reproduced with permission from its author, Rachel Chanter, and Peter Harrington Rare Books Continue reading “Too fancy and ingenious”: Children’s Books by Adult Writers

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Cruising in My Neighbours’ Amphicar

I’m confused. “What?” I repeat a second time, hearing Orlaith and Steve’s words but drawing a blank.

We’re drinking coffee and chatting, our first conversation, and I see their vintage baby blue convertible double-parked out front of the house. I’m thinking why, living just up the street, would they drive rather than walk and I’m not grasping how come they call it an Amphicar.

Turns out they hadn’t driven here so much as they had swum up the river in their car, a car that doubles as a boat. Continue reading Cruising in My Neighbours’ Amphicar

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Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids 2015 – Day 1

Being Canadian, I have to lead with the weather: How on earth did we luck out getting the warmest most perfect day of the year so far?

It provided an excellent backdrop for Day 1 of Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids. In another few hours we’ll launch Day 2 with Jane’s Yoga with the Locals, Jane’s Worship with the Locals, and the family-friendly walk/talk/workshop Disappearing Habitat: Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg with John McKenzie at his own natural history museum at 720 River Rd, Burritt’s Rapids (Kemptville). All three events begin at 9:00am.

Between 8:30am and 9:00am I will be a guest of Mary Ito on CBC’s Fresh Air, airing right across Ontario, to talk about Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids and the importance of these kinds of events to community. Tune in on your local CBC station.

More paddling, more gardening talk, more Burritt’s Rapids day lilies for sale, more history, more Doors Open and a noon potluck on deck for today. Check out the full listings here.

We hope you will come out and join us!

Here’s a peek at yesterday’s festivities from local photographer K. Kerr (all rights his):

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#BeLikeJane

Jane Jacobs
This is Jane Jacobs.

It’s here! It’s here! Jane’s Walk weekend is upon us and the Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids Community Festival launches at 9:00am this morning with a Jane’s Run with the Locals.

The festival runs Saturday and Sunday from 9:00am until 4:30pm. Pack your lunch, sunscreen, water, walking shoes and curiosity and come #BeLikeJane. The best parking is along Donnelly Drive, in front of the church. If you can find the Community Hall (23 Grenville St.) you can find everything!

Click here for local schedule listings and details.

Click here for the Jane’s Walk Ottawa master listings.

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Jane’s Potluck with the Locals

Taking part in Jane’s Potluck With the Locals on Sunday, May 2nd from noon to 1:30pm at the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall?

Please call (613) 859-9116 or (613) 269-4585 to register #’s attending + your dish (savoury/sweet).

Nothing says ‘community’ like a potluck. Here are the Top 3 Reasons for joining us:

  1. You’re going to be famished after all that talking/walking around the village.
  2. Eating communally is way more fun than eating alone.
  3. You bring one delish dish but you get to sample, like, forty more.

When you arrive at noon with your dish, you’ll be given a wristband to participate in this eating extravaganza and your dish will be added to the lineup. Basic drinks will be provided. Please bring your own plate, cutlery & cup (to minimize the clean-up). Little muss, little fuss.

You know generally how this works, but here are a few reminders.

  • Bring a dish that doesn’t require any cooking/prep/heating up.
  • Bring a savoury or a sweet dish (salad, sandwiches, appetizers, dips, veggies, etc. or cakes, pies, cookies, etc.).
  • Please label your dish with your name. You’ll get a gold star if you provide a label with ingredients to provide information for people with dietary restrictions.
  • Your contribution need not be fancy, but it should be nourishing. We cannot feed the hungry hordes on bags of potato chips or jars of pickles.
  • How much to bring? Miss Manners says: “Be generous.” Consider how much you/your family will eat IN TOTAL at a shindig like this.  Bring enough food to replace that total amount. That way, no one leaves hungry or feeling short-changed.
  • Pop your empty dishes in a sack and take them back home for cleaning.

For more information on walks and activities in Burritt’s Rapids for Jane’s Walk Ottawa, please click here.

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If I were a kid at Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids…

If I were a kid at Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids, this is what I would do:

1.  Attend the family-friendly Jane’s Walk ‘n Talk called: Disappearing Habitat: Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg.  John McKenzie has a natural history museum in his workshop and there’s lots to see and touch (Sunday)

2.  Take a paddle up the Rideau Canal in a 16-passenger Voyageur Canoe complete with costumed guides (Saturday/Sunday)

3.  Pack a lunch and picnic by the river (Saturday) or picnic/potluck (Sunday)

4.  Hunt around the village to find the ten objects on the scavenger list and claim my prize at the Community Hall (Saturday/Sunday) 

Click here for the Scavenger Hunt page

5.  Hike to the Stoney Steps (Nope! I won’t spoil the surprise) (anytime)

6.  Check out David Watson’s European sportscar collection, which is way nicer than my family van (Saturday)

7.  Walk to Other David’s Open Lab and see what cool science projects are happening (Sunday) – appropriate for older kids

8.  Explore the Tip-to-Tip Trail (I’m on an island!) (anytime)

9.  Say ‘hi’ to the horses at Lone Wolf Farm (anytime)

10.  See how many species of birds and animals I can spot; see if I can find Turtle Rock on the way to the Lock Station (anytime)

11.  Take a reading break in the library at the old Lockmaster’s House (Saturday)

12.  Go to church with my family (Sunday)

13.  Play in the park behind the hall, on the swings down by the beach, and goof around with my new friends (anytime)

If I were a kid I’d be playing to my heart’s content!

Kid at Jane's Walk
If I were a kid….

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If I were a kid at Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids…

…THIS IS WHAT I’D DO:

1.  Attend the family-friendly Jane’s Walk ‘n Talk called: Disappearing Habitat: Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg.  John McKenzie has a natural history museum in his workshop and there’s lots to see and touch (Sunday)

2.  Take a paddle up the Rideau Canal in a 16-passenger Voyageur Canoe complete with costumed guides (Saturday/Sunday)

3.  Pack a lunch and picnic by the river (Saturday) or picnic/potluck (Sunday)

4.  Hunt around the village to find the ten objects on the scavenger list and claim my prize at the Community Hall (Saturday/Sunday)

Click here for the Scavenger Hunt list

5.  Hike to the Stoney Steps (Nope! I won’t spoil the surprise) (anytime)

6.  Check out David Watson’s European sportscar collection, which is way nicer than my family van (Saturday)

7.  Walk to Other David’s Open Lab and see what cool science projects are happening (Sunday) – appropriate for older kids

8.  Explore the Tip-to-Tip Trail (I’m on an island!) (anytime)

9.  Say ‘hi’ to the horses at Lone Wolf Farm (anytime)

10.  See how many species of birds and animals I can spot; see if I can find Turtle Rock on the way to the Lock Station (anytime)

11.  Take a reading break in the library at the old Lockmaster’s House (Saturday)

12.  Go to church with my family (Sunday)

13.  Play in the park behind the hall, on the swings down by the beach, and goof around with my new friends (anytime)

If I were a kid I’d be playing to my heart’s content!

If I were a kid....
If I were a kid….

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