Getting to 30

In a few weeks I’ll be 70 years old.

My last post was called, “Being 20”.  It was 1965. I became a teacher that year, went to Alberta for my first teaching assignment, met my future husband, and became engaged before the end of the year.

  • 1966 – I got married, joined CUSO (a volunteer organization), and went to Zambia. I taught Math to High School students.
  • 1967 – I gave birth to my first daughter, Michelle. I wrote a Math text-book for adult literacy during my pregnancy.
  • 1968 – We returned to Canada and lived in Montreal where my husband was working. It was a case of reverse culture shock to be in Canada again.
  • 1969 – I gave birth to my second daughter, Lindiwe.
  • 1970 – I gave birth to my third daughter, Carla.
  • 1971 – We moved to Ottawa. I took my first art class, working on oils.
  • 1972 – Looked after babies. Cooked, cleaned, sewed, knitted, cooked, cleaned.
  • 1973 – More of the same.
  • 1974 – We moved back to Montreal. Two weeks later I gave birth to my fourth daughter, Monica.
  • 1975 – I turned 30.

This was, perhaps, my busiest decade. Five of those years were spent with another human being attached to my body in one way or another. Pregnant or breastfeeding. I loved (and still love) being a mother but that was difficult. However, it had always been my plan to have my children in my twenties and “bring them up” in my thirties and forties. And that’s what I did. Successfully.

Getting to 30 was not always an easy road. We had challenges along the way, but we persevered and with the help of God, we entered our thirties stronger and more committed to each other and our family than ever.

So, good times. Good times!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day. – Maureen

 

 

The Word on the Street

The Word on the Street is an outdoor festival celebrating  books and reading. It promotes literacy and provides an opportunity for adults and children to interact with book and magazine sellers and publishers. It has been held in downtown Toronto for the last 22 years and has grown from a small number of booths to well over 200.

There were representatives from libraries, writers’ groups, poetry writers, sci-fi writers, romance writers, Giller Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and arts organizations. I met several romance writers who invited me to come to their next meeting to be held in October.

Part of the crowd at Word on the Street, Toronto, 2011.

 

Many authors were on-site to sign copies of their books.  We received many free books, a few of them signed copies. There were many stages set up for author interviews where the audience could ask questions.  I saw an interview with Guy Vanderhaeghe, a Giller Prize winner and  Chef Michael Smith, who is well-known through his cooking show on the Food channel.  There were over 200 volunteers at the fair, who ensured that everything ran smoothly.

We took the GO (Government of Ontario) train to Toronto and then the subway to the fair. It was the most amazing sight!  The day was warm and sunny with a cooling breeze and the tents were set up down Queen’s Park Street and onto the Queen’s Park grounds, behind the Ontario Legislature.  Children, parents, grandparents, and  young people milled around.  Some tents were swarmed with crowds of interested people but everyone was patient and polite.

A view of Lake Ontario from the GO Train. The footbridge in the foreground is part of the Lakefront Trail.

We had both brought bags with us and they were full by the time we left the fair.  We walked down Wellesley Street all the way to Edwards Street where we had a beautiful lunch at Red Lobster.  It was almost the best part of the day!  I had grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, a garden salad, and a baked potato.  I truly enjoyed every bite.  The restaurant was busy but quiet, the waiter polite and funny, and the food amazing.  John had half of my salad, sole stuffed with cheese and rice, broccoli, and a baked potato.

Where do you think we went after that?  To the World’s Biggest Bookstore on Edwards Street.  I browsed through the Art Department and John almost bought a book by David Baum on Quantum Physics but decided we had enough books for the day.

We walked over to the Eaton Centre where we could hear music and clapping.  There was another celebration across the street in a square and we could see a group performing on a stage.  It was amazing all the activity going on, all the happy people, families enjoying being together, and all outdoors in the sunshine.

We proceeded to walk back to Union Station and we caught the GO Train back to Oshawa, a 45 minute ride.  We had such a nice day, enjoyed each other’s company, and got lots of books to read.

An interesting view of the CN Tower from Front Street, Toronto.

 

The only thing missing at Word on the Street was any reference to ebooks.  I wonder why the e-book publishers and sellers were not represented.  Anyone?

A Tale of Two Cultures

“Do they speak English there?”  It was the first question I asked when my fiance and I decided in 1966, to go to Zambia in Central Africa as volunteers with CUSO.  I figured if I spoke the language it would easy to integrate into my new life in Africa.  Little did I know.

A few days after we arrived in Lusaka I was given my assignment for the next two years.  I was to teach mathematics to high school students.  I always loved math in school but I hadn’t had a course since first year university.  Yikes!  I’d have to really brush up on my skills.  However, nothing could have prepared me for my first lesson, “rapid calculations in pounds, shillings, and pence”.  I don’t know what the students thought of me.  I kept asking how many pence were in a shilling and how many shillings were in a pound.  I’ll tell you that the calculations were anything but “rapid” that day.

At the high-school I learned that I was the “form mistress”.  ???  Hey,at 21 and married only a few days, I had never been the mistress of anyone or anything.  There were no “grades” or “years”, but Forms 1 through 5, and I was the mistress of Form One C! 

 After a couple of days we were going to have an assembly in the gym.  No problem.  What could be different about that?  All of the teachers filed in and took our seats on the stage facing the unnaturally quiet students, waiting for the arrival of the principal.  I thought it must some kind of joke played on unsuspecting new teachers but the arrival of the principal in cap and gown followed quickly by all of us standing to attention soon put me in the picture.  This was to be the way all of our weekly assemblies were conducted.  I was in a different country!

The next few days and weeks were full of misunderstandings.  I was told to go to the Building Society to deposit my pay check  ($84 Canadian/per month).  I would have thought it was a hardware store or a building supply company but it is a sort of credit union!  Mince was hamburg.  A biro was a ball-point pen.  To spend a penny was to go to the bathroom. Petrol (which was rationed to 10 gallons a month) was gas. We even had to remember to drive on the left side of the road.

About a year after we arrived, Zambia switched over to the metric system.  Now there would be Kwatcha and Ngwee, instead of pounds, shillings, and pence. For the general population, there was very little access to radio, the use of telephones was extremely limited , and of course, TV was almost non-existent. So the  government encouraged “each one teach one” to get the message out about the currency change. It actually worked out quite well and everything went smoothly.

I came to love and appreciate the African people. When we returned to Canada after two years, we had one large suitcase and a baby girl, our daughter Michelle who was born halfway through our sojourn there. But the memories of our time there will always be a part of me.