Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sunday May 28th, 2017 Simplify Your Life

The simple life has been attractive for generations, but with an increasingly fast paced world it seems to be gaining ever broader appeal.  As people strive for work life balance they may find it elusive.  This can then lead to thorough evaluation of what kind of life they want to live.  Some of those who have gone down the path towards simplicity have chosen to share through writing. 

An n early book on this topic is Voluntary Simplicity:  Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich by Duane Elgin first published in 1981.  In the very first chapter Elgin notes that we all “know where our lives are unnecessarily complicated” and that’s important to note.  How I may simplify my life will differ somewhat from each other person who does so.  We each can make the changes to reduce unnecessary complications from our lives.  In the 1990s Elaine St. James wrote several books on simplicity not the least of which is Living the Simple Life:  A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More.  As with other books on this topic there’s no one way to do things, but St. James offers methods to make any life simpler.  One such suggestion is never to touch a piece of mail more than once.

Many of these books include an environmental or ecological component.  This comes as no surprise given that there is an idealized back to the land aspect of what many people yearn for when thinking of simple living.  A great read for those looking for those with an environmental slant is Sweetness of a Simple Life:  Tips for Healthier, Happier and Kinder Living Gleaned from the Wisdom and Science of Nature by Diana Beresford-Kroeger practical advice with a deep respect for the natural world. 

Working in tandem with concerns for the environment is  following a path that is true to oneself are woven into many of the books on living a simpler life.  In Present over Perfect:  Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist we are invited to join the author on a journey towards her essential self.  The world frantic in the title gives an idea of the life Niequist was no longer satisfied with and she invites the reader to live a more present life. 

In Downshifting:  The Guide to Happier, Simpler Living authors Polly Ghazi and Judy Jones examine different options to create a more balanced life.  They make it clear that there is no one solution that fits for everyone, but rather a variety of ways to improve the quality of one’s days.  Real life examples are included and challenges are not glossed over.  Financial considerations have a major impact as does the amount of control the downshifter may have.  Downshifting due to corporate downsizing is not the same as making a choice to downshift when you see downsizing on the horizon.
Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sunday May 21st, 2017 Sheila Burnford Collection

The large attendance at the recent showing of Homeward Bound, the Walt Disney movie based on The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, indicates that there are still many people in Thunder Bay who remember Sheila and her work. And some of this work was on display at Trinity Church hall, including foreign editions of The Incredible Journey in many different languages. The good news is that the Sheila Burnford Collection – including her personal papers, typewriter and other artifacts - is going to be held by Thunder Bay Public Library. This will make a unique resource available to the local, provincial, national and international community. It will also enable programming and activities around the collection.

While The Incredible Journey – the story of two dogs and  a cat who travel home through 200 miles of the NW Ontario landscape – is a Canadian Classic, some of Sheila Burnford’s other works are not so well known. There are plans to make a series of documentaries about Sheila – each based on one of her books – to raise their profile.

In The Fields of Noon Sheila Burnford turns to old and new animal friends in a sheaf of reminiscences. Her interests are far-ranging, although always grounded in nature.  Among the creatures who sit for portraits are Tom, a cat that came with the snows and left with the spring and would never submit to human bondage; Claud, the canary whose catered summers are delightfully recorded; and William, the aged dog who had brought up the children and who was then patiently attended by them.

Without Reserve is the true account of two not-exactly-ordinary housewives – Sheila Burnford and her artist friend Susan Ross – and their lives with the Cree and Ojibwa people on their remote northern reserves. Sheila and Susan recorded the wild rice harvesters, Lake Nipigon, the people of the Big Trout Band, spring days at Sandy Lake, Fort Severn, Casabonika and Yelling Falls, and Ohnemoos: the Indian Dog. This connection with First Nations will be explored as an important aspect of the Sheila Burnford Collection at TBPL.

In her next book, One Woman’s Arctic, Sheila Burnford travelled even further afield, and spent two idyllic summers close to the North Pole in the Inuit community of Pond Inlet. She not only appreciated the people and scenery but archaeology; at a nearby dig she participated in the first planned recovery from the permafrost of wooden masks and other artifacts. She explored two strange graves, old traders’ buildings, and blubber cauldrons from whaling days. Everything was recorded in a narrative prose style that enables you to imagine what it was like to experience these adventurers first hand.

Sheila Burnford turned prophet in Mr Noah and the Second Flood when she predicted the outcomes of global warming and climate change. This modern fable tells the story of the original Noah’s great-great-many-times-great grandson’s building another ark when pollution causes a second Deluge.

In her final work, Bel Ria, Sheila Burnford offers the spellbinding tale of a small dog caught up in the Second World War, and of the extraordinary life-transforming attachments he forms with the people he meets in the course of a perilous passage from occupied France to besieged England.

If you have any memories of Sheila Burnford and her family, or any artifacts (such as photos of the world premier of The Incredible Journey in Port Arthur) which you would like to share, please bring them into any branch of Thunder Bay Public Library. We want the Sheila Burnford Collection to become a community-led and driven project which engages with as many local people as possible. By working in partnership with Lakehead University the collection will be available to both academic researchers and those who love the work of Sheila Burnford, Thunder Bay’s very own world class author.

John Pateman

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Sunday May 14th, 2017 Moms at the Library

Whether you call her Mom, Mommy, Mother, Momma or any other of the variations of the title, today is devoted to saying thanks to our mothers and grandmothers, as well as the other women who have helped raise us. Along with traditional families, we live in the new world of single and blended or re-blended families, so the concept of Moms and motherhood has changed drastically. Along with regular moms, there are biological moms, adoptive moms, stepmoms, foster moms, and even moms who are Dads. Despite the television commercials full of fresh-faced toddlers bringing their Mom breakfast in bed, the coming of Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag of emotions. For those who have lost their Mother through death, as well as distance or estrangement, the day can be tinged with sadness, or pain. Scouring the shelves of the library for books about mothers and motherhood, it was easy to see that the image of the perfect mother is being replaced with a more realistic picture of someone who is doing their best to raise another human being. A number of humourists have taken a look at the subject with side splitting results, so this Mother’s Day, take your Mom to dinner, buy her flowers and give her a book that will bring tears to her eyes in a good way.

Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting by Ilana Wiles Wiles, the creator of the wildly successful Mommy Shorts blog, has written a book detailing the highlights and lowlights that she has encountered as she parents her daughters. In a series of essays full of occasional cringe-worthy honesty, Wiles shares stories of her mishaps, (accidently swearing, forgetting about a bake sale, wreaking a favourite outfit in the laundry) and the moments of wonder that come with having children.

Sippy cups are not for chardonnay: and other things I learned as a new Mom by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor From the moment the test turned blue, Wilder-Taylor found herself in a world of parenting “experts”, who happily doled out frequently conflicting advice and opinions on all aspects of her pregnancy and childrearing. The essays and anecdotes deal with everything from breastfeeding to playdates, in a delightful manner that mixes facts with farce.

If You Give a Mom a Martini…100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself by Lyss Stern In a combination of hilarious tales and practical tips, Stern suggests ways that Mothers, whether new or experienced can actually find time for themselves during an average hectic day. The suggestions were culled from friends, neighbours and celebrities and range from the practical to the outlandish but each is guaranteed to raise a smile.

Mother, can you not? : And you thought your Mom was Nuts by Kate Siegel This book is aimed at the child in all of us who cringes when their Mom does or says something embarrassing in public, especially in front of our friends. Told with loving frankness, Siegel details a series of adventures with her own mother for whom the concept of borders and privacy are irrelevant. These are the kind of stories that full sitcoms and lead to either laughter or years of therapy.

Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice by James Lileks For those of us born before the days of bike helmets, baby monitors and infant car seats, it is amazing that we lived to adulthood. Lileks has found a treasure trove of whimsical and frequently frightening advertisements, magazine articles and government issued pamphlets full of obsolete and dangerous ideas from everything from potty training to party ideas.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sunday May 7th, 2017 Spring Cleaning


The snow and ice are (almost) all gone after the recent storm that hit Thunder Bay. Now it might finally be time to look ahead in anticipation of warmer days and do some planning. This might include a spring time deep clean of the entire house or maybe just getting things organized and de-cluttered. You might also be looking outside to your yard or garden and thinking of what you want to do with it all this year. Whatever pattern your spring cleaning follows, the Thunder Bay Public Library has services and resources to help get it all done.

The Good Housekeeping Simple Household Wisdom offers smart and stylish ways to find storage space, make the most of your yard, tidy up around the house, enjoy carefree entertaining and more. This book is a great read for anyone who is just moving out on their own for the first time. It is packed with 425 tips and methods for maintain a clean and clutter free home. It also gets into ideas on decorating, entertaining, DIY fixes around your home, and how to save money.

While The Cleaning Ninja may not take off as the next superhero character, it definitely grabs attention with its promise to turn your cleaning routine into an efficient process that can take as little as eight minutes. Given how long it sometimes takes to wrestle the vacuum cleaner out of the closet I maintain some reservations about the eight minute claim but there are definitely some great tips and reminders to help everyone prioritize the work and get through it with as little difficulty as possible.

5 Days To A Clutter-Free House argues that while most of us aren't hoarders we can all benefit from assessing and reducing the clutter in our homes--and then organizing what's left. Many things stop us from succeeding: the sheer scope of the project, the tendency to lose momentum if the job takes too long, and the fact that we're always acquiring new clutter. This book shows how with the right game plan and a healthy dose of adrenaline, anyone can de-clutter their home in just five days. The authors' enthusiasm and energy keep readers pushing forward to the goal, and their time-tested tips and habits help readers maintain their hard-won gains. The authors even show how to deal with common obstacles to achieving and keeping a clutter-free house, like filing, storage needs, health issues, space restrictions, the car, and even family sabotage!

How much time would you save if you didn’t have to spend it looking for mislaid car keys or that school permission slip you should have signed? How much simpler and less stressful could life be, if only you were a little more organized? In I Want To Be Organised, Harriet Griffey shows how a few simple steps can help turn the most chaotic amongst us into the serenely organized. The book is full of practical solutions, tips, and inspiration to help eliminate clutter, chaos, and stress and save both time and money in the process.

For all of your outdoor cleaning, planting, and growing this year don’t be discouraged by the list of necessary tools for every job. In partnership with Roots to Harvest we have recently opened Canada’s very first Garden Tool Lending Libraries at the Brodie and Waverley Resource Libraries. From helpful how-to books, to agriculture focused documentaries, you’ll not only find the tools you need but also some inspiration at your public library.

Jesse Roberts