Canadian Content Contributor on Squidoo

I put my name in to be the Canadian Contributor on Squidoo.

This is what I wrote:

I am a proud Canadian and I do like to write about, research, and teach the world about Canada and Canadians. I already publish a content feed on Scoop.it about Canadiana. Mainly bits of things I find online or happen to think of myself. Scoop.it gives me a place to stash links, share ideas and knowledge. I have over 3,000 views and 41 subscribers, not a lot but it does give me a nice start for promoting any Canadian posts I make as the Squidoo Contributor. Anyway, that’s just numbers. The fact is I was born in Toronto and have grown up all over Ontario. As a younger woman I travelled alone across Canada on the Greyhound bus, staying in youth hostels, meeting other young travelers/ backpackers. I do love it here and travelling (on a shoestring) was a great way to see more than the cleaned up tourist places. These days I photograph abandoned, derelict farm houses. Travelling around Ontario (day trips and some over nights) I see a lot of backroads, get coffee in local restaurants and I keep in touch with other explorers across Canada through the groups I founded and moderate on Flickr. I especially like Canadian music, literature and movies/ TV shows. Here we get so much media from the US it can be overwhelming. I make a point to support our own Canadian media by watching and listening to CBC, the oldest Canadian broadcaster and the most Canadian focused of them all. If you want to know about Canadian music, writers and others you can count on the CBC to have current news and old facts in their archives too. I studied Canadian Literature as a course in high school and college. I do read a lot of everything, not just Canadian, but I am aware of Canadian writers and did belong to an online group (until it folded). I had thought to start up another group but that does take a huge amount of time and energy so it on a project on the backburner. Meanwhile I continue to write my site for writers and it does have some focus on Canadian resources (just because that is what I find most useful for myself, as a Canadian freelance writer). I have probably written too much but I would very much enjoy covering the topic of Canada for Squidoo. Partly because as a Contributor I hope to be given some extra promotion on the site and then be read and heard. (So important to feel someone is actually reading and listening). Also, I would be happy to bring some niches of Canadian culture, history and art to light.

I’m sure I had paragraphs but they didn’t work with the form used. So it is a solid block of text, mainly here for my own amusement.

Pincushions: Make Them, Collect Them and Use Them

teacup pincushionPincushions are functional, decorative and the best way to keep your sewing pins from winding up in various odd places around the house. If you don’t sew you could collect hat pins and use a fabulous pincushion to display them.

The first pincushion I remember using was my Grandmother’s standard tomato-strawberry pincushion. It was red with green embroidery, Made in China. Hers had two strawberries, hanging from the side.

That pincushion design started in the Victorian era. It probably came from the idea of having a tomato on the hearth for good luck in the home. When tomatoes were not available families would use a red ball stuffed with sawdust. At some point it became used to hold pins while the ladies were sewing. (There was a lot of hand sewing in those days).

I don’t know if my Grandmother’s pincushion was stuffed with sawdust. But the old way was to stuff the tomato with wool roving to prevent the pins from getting rusty. The attached strawberry was filled with abrasive to clean and sharpen the pins.

Pincushions are one of the pretty extras you can use when you sew. You can sew without using a pincushion. Just as you don’t really need a thimble, but the pincushion is tradition, adds history and elegance to the event. I don’t wear an apron when I cook, but I still like to look at patterns for sewing them and embellishing them. It’s not about what you need but more about what you want.

The pincushion needs to be the right size to not get in the way of your work, yet it has to hold a good load of pins as you work. It should have stuffing which is tightly packed so your pins don’t wobble around or sink right through up to their heads. I’ve seen very pretty pincushions which would be decorative but not very functional. If you buy a pincushion make sure it’s more than just a pretty face.

See More Pincushion Designs

Cigarette Pollution is a Problem

cigarette pollution
This was in the parking lot area of a small town restaurant. I thought it was smart. I’m a non-smoker (partly due to allergies and asthma). So the smell of cigarettes is not pleasing to me but I especially dislike the smell of old cigarettes and the sight of piles of cigarette butts at the entrances of places like restaurants.

This year we have been finding cigarette butts flicked into the garden in front of our house too. It is pretty thoughtless to flick cigarette pollution in someone’s manicured lawn, carefully maintained and treasured garden space.

How to Research the History of a House

housesoldEvery house has a story and a history to it. You can find out when your home was built, who lived there, and how they changed it. Once you begin peeling back the old wallpaper, taking up the old flooring or wondering why someone put a door in such an odd place… you might want to know more about the history of your house and the people who decorated, renovated and lived in it before you.

You can find this out for a house you are interested in buying or just interested in for any reason at all. You don’t have to live in a house or a property to be curious about it. I like to find old, abandoned or derelict places and find out more about them. The main thing is to start somewhere.

Where and How to Get Started

Take a look around the property and the house inside and outside yourself.

Conduct a search of the house and its yard. Don’t forget the garage, any kind of shed or outbuilding, the basement and attic if your house has any or all of these. A little knowledge of architecture would help you find more about the features of your home and their original use or importance.

This is a great way to introduce yourself to the neighbours.

Ask neighbours about the neighbourhood, how long they have lived in the area and what they know or can remember about the house you live in. You don’t have to feel you are being a snoop or a gossip if you are asking about the house itself.

Talk to people in real estate, especially your own agent if they are local to the area.

Real estate people should be willing and able to find background information about your house (especially if you are interested in putting in an offer to buy the property). Real estate agents will have access to property records from services like land surveys, assessments and such which you might not consider tracking down yourself.

Go to city or county records offices, court houses, the local library and historical societies.

Deeds, tax records, property abstracts, city directories, census records, insurance maps, and actual road maps will help you track down the past life of your house. Your city or county records office can help you begin. Some libraries will have a section or a whole reference room dedicated to local history. You might even find a photo or illustration of your house from it’s earliest days. Ask the librarian for assistance. (Check if they have searchable archives of the local newspapers too).

Find out if your property/ house is considered historically important.

Check with societies preserving local, historic architecture to see if your house is on the list or has been considered. Even if your house is not listed, ask them about your street, other houses on your street and which are the older houses compared to your own house. If your house is considered historically significant you will have to talk to the local government planning office before you do any renovations or changes to the structure. (If you are considering buying the property this is an issue you need to think about).

Articles About Researching House and Home History

Make Your Own Impact for Future History

Just for interest, try exploring your house and the yard with gadgets which let you see more than your own eyes are able (like a metal detector). If you are renovating a space in the house keep an eye out for anything interesting. People sometimes leave notes when they are renovating a house.

We the same when we wallpapered my old house. Each of the four kids and our parents signed the wall when we had all the old paper off. We added the date and a message to whoever finds that bare wall again in the history of that house.

How to Become a History Buff

Peace, Love MuseumsI think our interest in history begins with our own family. Parents and Grandparents talk about their own past, their parents and even farther back in your own history if you are lucky.

The first thing I ever did myself was to record my Grandmother’s sister, Alice, talking about her life, her past and what she remembered from when she was a girl living in Ireland. In school we made family trees, but that wasn’t something I had done on my own initiative. I still have the tape recording, I just don’t have a machine I can hear it on. Technology isn’t always our best friend.

Many people get into genealogy and stop there when it comes to history. Not me. I have researched many people (mostly women adventurers and fighters of one kind or another) and places (mainly local history, places I have found through my own exploring). I also like to research the history of paranormal things and creatures like dragons. (Can you prove they don’t exist?)

Try the history buff quiz for fun.

How to Learn About History on Your Own

Narrow your focus.

Choose a time period, an event, a country, a building, a person or some other smaller area of history you want to learn more about. Narrow your focus a bit because history is huge as a topic. Every moment becomes history as we live it.

Start a journal.

Pick a notebook (or bring a laptop) to take notes, write down facts and information as you find them. Keep notes about the resources you have used too. You may want to use the same book, website, etc. again or find the author of the book for more information, even an interview.

Keep a pen and pencils handy. Along with the journal you might want to draw maps, sketch a face, or use colour pencil crayons to organize your notes. Consider a hand scanner which you can take to scan a document or pages in a book rather than giving yourself writer’s cramp.

Review your notes and pull things together in a report.

It isn’t enough to have a rambling collection of facts. When you put all your information together to create a report (just for yourself even) it really helps you see everything as a bigger picture. You also notice details which you hadn’t seen connected before.

Join a local history society or group.

It’s okay to go it alone when you can’t find anyone to share your interest. But, most towns will have a local museum and a local history society too. Of course cities may have more resources for you once you begin looking. If the person or place you are researching is something local then the historical society will likely invite you to present your research to the group at a meeting. (Of course, this is up to you to do or turn down if you just can’t handle public speaking).

yesterday is history

Where to Learn About History on Your Own

  • Visit museums and libraries and talk to the staff there. Let them know about your interest in history – they usually have suggestions you wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Get on the mailing list so you will know when a new exhibit comes to your local museum or library.
  • Visit the art gallery and look at paintings/ illustrations from the time period you are looking at.
  • Make the trek to bigger cities and visit those museums and libraries too.
  • Look at genealogy. It’s a lot of information but a nice way to track down ancestors and find out where the bodies are buried, literally.
  • Get online and track down other people who share your interest. Read their websites or weblogs. Leave comments or notes for them. Ask questions. If they really seem to know a lot ask if you can send them some questions, even interview them through email.
  • If your interest is something local, get out there with your camera. Take photos of the places where history happened. Talk to people like urban explorers or look them up online and see the photos they have taken too.
  • If your interest is Medieval history talk to people who like Renaissance Fairs and create their own costumes to wear based on the authentic clothing worn in the time period.
  • If you have an interest in prehistory, find out about anyone who has been digging up history in the area you are researching. Try to find them online and get information from the source.
  • Read fictional history books too. In most cases the authors will talk about their research and any liberties they took in changing history for their fiction. Meanwhile, you will be reading an account based on all their own research of the time period, the place or person you are researching too.
  • Keep an eye on the news, online and through the television and radio too. History happens all the time. New finds and discoveries come up in the news more often than you may think.
  • Talk to people who were there for history in this century. Read biographies from people in earlier times. You may even find autobiographies which they wrote themselves versus a biography which was written about them.
  • Watch for TV programs, documentaries, coming up for your history interest. Talk to your librarian and see if any documentary can be ordered in for you. Talk to the people who were interviewed in the documentary and, of course, the people who created the documentary would be a great source of information. (The narrator is not always a great source, look for the people who produced the documentary).

Where to Find History Online

On This Day in History…

Photobombing

photobombedThe best description I read for photobombing was “any photo where the main subject is unintentionally upstaged”. Of course, it’s not always unintentional and those photos can be funny too. But, the funniest are those where someone didn’t look behind them before taking a self photo. Or, the person taking the photo (of someone else) didn’t pay attention to the background or just chose to take the photo in spite of someone behind the main subject of the photo.

Is a photo spoiled by a photo bomb or is it just all the more sincere and silly? Of course, that’s in the eye of the beholder and depends on the pride of the main subject. Can they see the humour or do they feel upset? I wouldn’t like someone being intentionally rude in the background but something kind of clever or silly I would at least try to get over and laugh about. It’s not easy to give up the limelight if you are upstaged, but it can be done.

Photobombing: How to Deal with It

Some PhotoBombing History

One of the first famous photobombers (if not the first) was Rollen Stewart, AKA “The Rainbow Man” who became a pop culture phenomenon in the late 70’s and early 80’s by wearing a rainbow-colored afro wig, while holding up signs reading “John 3:16” at sporting events nationwide.

From Know Your Meme: Photo Bombing

Later in life Rollen Stewart ended up going a bit too mad over the photobombing sort of behaviour. He is in prison for attacking prominent places and people and then keeping a hotel maid held hostage. A bit overboard and beyond the realm of college prank sort of stuff.