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Review: Of Dikes and Windmills by Peter Spier

In the southern Netherlands many years ago, my father commuted to school on a little ferry.   He experienced the terrible flood of 1953. Eventually his family moved to one of the modern polders which had just been reclaimed from the sea.  His life, like that of many Dutch people, was defined by the sea. In […]

Review: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman

In 17th century Europe, young Maria Merian was fascinated by butterflies. ‘Summer birds’, they were called, and no one really knew where they came from. Raised first in an engraver’s house and then an illustrator’s, Maria learned both the technical details of her craft and how to observe nature. She combined the two to become […]

Medieval Europe: Power and Splendor

Those two words, ‘medieval Europe’, conjure up images of splendor and power, knights and castles, monasteries and missionaries, plague and privation. Recently, however, when we visited the Medieval Europe Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History, I came away with a completely different feeling.  Among the armour, jewellery, tapestry, and everyday utensils, many artifacts pointed […]

Movie Review: Tim’s Vermeer

When I walked into the library, our usually calm librarian started to bubble.  “Remember that DVD you recommended, Tim’s Vermeer?  I just watched it!”  And then, for the next five minutes she flitted from one scene or concept to the next, exclaiming, explaining, commenting, and enjoying the memories. My teen daughters were not quite that […]

Snowflakes

One day my daughters began to cut out snowflakes and soon we had a paper blizzard. Now snowflakes, airy white shapes of magical beauty, hang everywhere. If you wish to fill your home with them too, you can make your own free-form snowflakes, as we did for a while, or you can use patterns. The […]

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