Ice Cubes, Kangaroos and Canadian Cows

Canadian Weekend 1979This week from the Time Capsule: the magazine Canadian Weekend November 1979.

Some things just read differently now. For example the headline: “Wonderful WONDERFUL Wonder Weed“… the article is talking about seaweed.

My favourite article is “Kangaroos Are Peculiar to Canada,” tidbits from student essays compiled by a teacher of Canadian history in the U.S. “There are many animals peculiar to Canada. Just for one, it would be peculiar to see Continue reading


Doors to the Past – Open or Leave Closed?

Mulroney-Reagan Trade Deal 1988 - Warren Allmand MP ReportLast week I wimped out of my Time Capsule project (my door to the past).

The booklet I pulled out was distributed by our Member of Parliament in 1988 detailing the reasons why the Mulroney-Reagan Trade Deal was not a good idea.

Quite the coincidence that I should find it now, given that President Trump has just opened the door to renegotiating the trade deal (now NAFTA)….

I did try to make a blackout poem with a page of the text but it just didn’t work.

This week the Time Capsule produced the Continue reading

Finding Treasure in a Shoe Box!

Out of the Time Capsule comes a shoe box. Great excitement. What’s inside? Letters? Sea shells? A fragment of a dance I once composed? Something of immeasurable value?

Off with the lid.

treasures from the Time Capsule


1) a caviar tin lid, bright blue, shiny. Was that a special occasion? One to remember? Then why don’t I remember?

2) a rock. Glued to it, a fabric leaf, and to the leaf three small bobbles (one grey, one red, one grey). ??????????????????

3) a dinosaur, plastic, red with blue fin rising from its back, mouth wide open, spiky teeth.

treasures from the Time Capsule4) a playbill for ‘Swing’ from 2000. Hey, look at those great songs “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “I’ve Got a Girl in Kalamazoo,” “Cry Me a River”…

But the show was in New York. I’ve been to New York twice: once on my way to work in Bogotà in the ’70s and once a couple of years ago. I wasn’t in New York in 2000. I don’t think I was in New York in 2000.

The show certainly looks as though it was a whole lot of fun.

5) a programme for ‘School for Scandal’ – was that the time we met up with friends for an ultra-elegant afternoon tea before the show and the kids discovered packets of balloons in a drawer in the table and tried to blow them up? By the time we adults realised what was going on, everyone in the restaurant was looking aghast. The balloons were condoms.

6 and 7) two trophies – one for ‘Best Etiquette’ in a golf tournament, the other with a plaque reading “B. of N.Y. Canada Day 77 – Fittness Award 2 Mile Run.” (I Google to check if that stands for Bank of New York – but why would the Bank of New York be sponsoring a Canada Day run? And why wouldn’t it know how to spell Fitness?)

Recognize any of this? I ask my husband.

He seizes…

8) a big round button with the words “First Prize” and featuring a jolly orange cat waving its paws. “Hey! That’s my special Father’s Day button,” he says.

One orange cat button circa 1989. Priceless! (And for the rest, there’s recycling. The rock will go into the garden.)

treasures from the Time Capsule

FREE For the Asking: All-Coarse Teeth

The Larkin Plan Winter-Fall 1919-20Inspiration from the Time Capsule comes this week from The Larkin Plan Fall & Winter catalog 1919-20.

Originally soap producers in Buffalo, NY, the company was founded in 1875.


FREE For the Asking:
Black Liquid Shoe Polish
Serviceable Mackinaws and Raincoats
pearl buttons
oil heaters
Charm and Daintiness That Pictures Cannot Portray
Comfort Itself
Nightgown No. 14
Exhaust Pipe Enamel No. 463
exceptionally serviceable Hose
Smart Skirts and Pretty Waists
A particularly strong, good-looking Velocipede,
the little girl
made of heavy steel with seamed joints,
eleven rows of
all-coarse teeth
painted red

Kindly Advice to Beguile Your Lonely Life

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914

When I picked the February 1914 issue of The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine out of my Time Capsule, I had an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.

The column “Literary Club” (which runs across several pages) reminded me of the first time I received feedback on a piece of fiction.

Naturally I knew my story would blindside the workshop leader and seven other writers around the table – it was the most brilliant story ever to be exposed to human eyes. It would change the course of literature forever.

There was a moment’s silence once the workshop leader opened the discussion, then a snigger, quickly stifled.

“It’s Disney on acid,” said the person to my right and the group dissolved into hysterical laughter. It took all of ten of the forty-five allotted minutes to dissect and toss out the story, wrap up the discussion and head out for a lunch break.

Having endured a painful education in accepting criticism in dance where it can often be phrased and felt as both intensely negative and personal (what’s ‘wrong’ is you/your body), I found the responses amusing. But I’ve never looked at that story again.

I thought what I’d do here is merge snippets from the “Literary Club” column writer’s responses to various poems to create the ultimate feedback letter, and then write a poem using lines and images given in the responses. The poem proved too much for me! I just couldn’t manage it! Can you?

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914


Rose of York,

I like your verses.

I should rather demur to the words “sea-girt bay.” An island can be sea-girt, but I don’t quite see how this phrase can apply to a bay of the ocean.

I don’t think I would begin by speaking of “a fellow spirit with whom to converse.” You don’t exactly “converse” with a spirit. You enter into communion with a spirit.

Then this is rather a truism: “It is not the lot of every human creature to be endowed with gifts above those of the average man.” Of course not, for what then would become of the “Average”?

You must not make “on” and “song” rhyme.

I do not think that “the waves falling on the rocks” sounds well.

I confess it would have pleased me better if the Divine Vision had – as surely would have seemed natural – awakened an ultimate response within the breast of the suffering woman.

You are too fond of phrases.

Do not say “then when”

You are inclined to dwell too much on unimportant details.

You rather confuse ideas.

Tautology occurs rather often.

You skip over years in a bewildering manner.

You mix the present tense with the past rather awkwardly.

I do not know why the poem is called “The Crown of Life.”

“I’ll haughty talk of men” is not grammatical.

Your final sentence will never do – it drags on for nine lines.

I have altered the last line.

I sympathise with you, and should encourage you to beguile your lonely life by writing. It is good for you, and, of course, you may improve with practice. Do not be discouraged. You should try again.

Your friend at “The Literary Club”

The Girl's Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, February 1914

Nerve Trouble, Dry Cheese and Other Complaints

Farm Field & Fireside, Friday April 27, 1928

Inspiration from the Time Capsule: this week I pulled out the April 27, 1928 edition of Farm Field and Fireside.

Finally my curiosity about French Polishing has been answered – I might actually try it (“1 pint of methylated spirits and 6 oz of the finest orange shellac”). And I was intrigued by all the possible ways to use the huge elder beside our house other than to make jelly (see quote at end of this post). 

Each line used below is from a different section of the newspaper – creating “alternative” problems and advice.


Could you kindly tell me if there is
A Guide to Descent?
Does the eldest son take all?
(The game is to have only one left on the board.
The rules applied Continue reading

Shrewd Dude – From The Horse’s Mouth

Woodbine Racetrack Program 5 June 1976

Inspiration from the Time Capsule: This week I pulled out the Woodbine Official Program from 5 June 1976. Our first summer in Toronto, our first time at the races there. I wondered if we’d put a bet on the horse called Em and S seeing as my husband’s name begins with M and mine with S.

What wonderful names the horses have – Henry the Hammer, Bye Bye Paris, Indigestion, Sharp Sherry, Creme of the Crop…



Henry the Hammer was a Shrewd Dude. He knew the fuss over Little Stanley would Blow Over. There was simply No Logic to all the outrage. It was probably Indigestion. They’d all had far too much Continue reading

Madam Blanche And The Office Cat

The Evening Gazette, June 16 1930Inspiration from the Time Capsule: this week I’ve repurposed headlines from The Evening Gazette, June 16, 1930 – mixing and matching real headlines to create alternative news. If you feel inspired to write the story that should go with one of these headlines, please paste the link to your story in the comments box below so we can all enjoy!


The Evening Gazette, June 16 1930

Sermon By Madam Blanche
The Best Dressed Woman
Is Set For Tomorrow
Extraordinary Value


The Office Cat Marches Toward Utopia


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
Aimee “real hurt”


Psychology In Everyday Life Will Have An Adverse Effect


“Ideal American Girl” To Become Missionary
Denies Charges


Pickpockets To Arrange Lawn Party Thursday Evening

The Evening Gazette, June 16 1930

Eye-Arresting Legs Free To Enjoy Their Vacation

Time Capsule #3: The Goose Bone Weather Prophet

This week I pulled a copy of the Napanee Beaver from February 1901 out of our Time Capsule.

Napanee Beaver, 1901

The newspaper is huge (open it out and it’s 36 inches wide!), the print tiny and the articles, ads, notices crammed in.

I don’t understand how people could read it. I found it exhausting. And what about the typesetters? Imagine those thousands of teeny tiny blocks they had to put in place.

The Napanee Beaver

This week as I was searching for interesting tidbits to transcribe into this post, I realized how much I missed the creative zap from last year’s weekly Blurt-writing. Time for some creative fun! So this is a mash-up. I’ve spliced together Continue reading