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An Unwelcome Guest

21 September 2017

Bonnie had an unwanted visitor in her window the other day.

“No spiders ’til Hallowe’en,” she cried, Raid in hand.

Her aim was off. The spider rebuilt. Bonnie tried again.

The spider escaped a second time. I found him wandering on the floor a few days later and ushered him out the door.

Finders Keepers 21

28 March 2016

Magnetic bookmarks are great. But you find your place better if you use them properly. Open them and put them OVER the page, as in, the one magnet part goes on one side of your page, and the other magnet part goes on the other side. They aren’t quite as effective – especially when they are small ones like this – when buried deep in the page gutters.

No, it isn't my fault. The book IS boring.

No, it isn’t my fault. The book IS boring.

Finders Keepers 20

26 March 2016

I’m sorry, ma’am. The secret handshake just isn’t enough anymore. We need to see your membership card, please.


Finders Keepers 19

22 March 2016

Now this lovely little bookmark really does have a story to tell. It is hand painted on silk, I think in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Someone took a lot of trouble to make this special gift, I think.

Greek bkmk

Finders Keepers 18

20 March 2016

More armchair travel, this time to Manitoba and Lower Fort Garry’s Big House. This stone fort makes for an interesting visit if you are near Selkirk, just north of Winnipeg.

Fort Garry PC

Fort Garry verso

Finders Keepers 17

16 March 2016

A humorous postcard that might be better hidden in a book for all eternity. Oh! and there’s a note on the back…

Hot Meals PC mini


Hot Meals verso mini

Finders Keepers 16

14 March 2016

I found a couple of these as I worked through this lot of books. This was a personal bookplate or label (it’s much smaller than bookplates are typically) made for Arthur Lionel Holmes, a printer by trade, later a bookseller in Cobourg, Ontario. He emigrated from England to Canada late in the 1850s.

Holmes bookplate mini

Mouse Woman and the Vanished Princesses – Christie Harris

12 March 2016

When I was about ten years old, my godmother, an ex-pat Kiwi living on Vancouver Island, sent me a book by Christie Harris, Raven’s Cry. A history of the Haida Gwaii from contact to the time of writing, it became one of my all-time favourite books. I snap up any of her books that come into the shop now, even though most of what I get are ex-library. I’ll replace them as I find better copies. In addition to reading any Harris I can find, I’ve put a trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands on my bucket list.

I can find no indication that she had First Nations blood herself; Christy Harris was born in the US in 1907 and came to Canada as a child. She became a teacher and raised her own brood of five in southern BC, where she also began her writing career. Although she wrote other novels and collections for young readers, my favourite Harris books are still the ones that deal with the First Nations stories of the Canadian Pacific Coast.

I hope she hasn’t fallen under that banner of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ so many like to flutter around. Her work has brought alive the history and lore of Haida Gwaii like no other work has, to an audience that needs to learn about other cultures and accept them if we are to overcome racism in future generations.

Yet her books are out of print and not so easy to find although at least one was reissued after her death in 2002.

Mouse WomanMouse Woman and the Vanished Princesses focusses on a series of legends with the common themes of missing chieftains’ daughters and the role of the smallest of the narnauks (supernatural beings), Mouse Woman, in coming to their aid and rescue. Couldn’t we use a Mouse Woman now!

I love the way this author tells the stories. She maintains the strong voice of the people she is representing. There is a rhythm to the tale, created in part by the repetition of key phrases and ideas typical of teaching stories. They are full of humour, which helps to make them easy to remember.

Human nature brings the First Nations characters into trouble. The narnauks discipline them in a way that provides them with a little fun as well as a little revenge. Narnauks are not free from flaws and vice themselves, so frequently their plans backfire – thanks, often, to Mouse Woman’s efforts to find loopholes in the rules. Mouse Woman has a tender spot in her heart for young people, perhaps because she is so small that she isn’t taken all that seriously by her people. She shares a common bond in that with her youthful protegees.

Harris wrote down these stories at a time when the First Nations people of our country were in a very dark place. Fortunately, the worm is turning. At the time Harris wrote, though, there was a very real fear that, if these stories were not somehow preserved, they would be lost forever to future generations. She worked closely with the Edenshaws and with the famous Haida carver, Bill Reid, to preserve the culture. But not only to preserve it. She also used these stories to build bridges between two peoples that were in a deep struggle full of anger, hatred, disrespect, misunderstanding and all the other horrible attributes of racism. I believe she left a legacy that is still deeply valid and useful today, and I really hope her collections return to the shelves again soon.

Finders Keepers 15

10 March 2016

I don't think the threads are real silver, but they are certainly metallic.
Now here’s a little piece of Canadiana. This bookmark was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Winnipeg outlet of one of Canada’s two most famous department stores, the Timothy Eaton Company. Eaton’s was a pioneer in the Canadian catalogue sales industry. My Dad used to tell me how his winter boots would be ordered from them when he was a boy (during this first 25 years, too!). They never fit properly and his pinched feet were still cold as a result. This Winnipeg store was probably the closest to his home in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, and the base for the catalogue operations. I shopped there, too, from time to time, right up to the Canadian retail giant’s closure in 1999. The Eaton’s building was torn down to accommodate the building of the MTS Centre.
I don’t think the threads are real silver, but they are certainly metallic.

Finders Keepers 14

8 March 2016

I wonder if the pattern was lost to this book before the doilies were made? I’ve always wanted to learn to crochet…

Doilies mini