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GG's Blog

My random nattering about all things geek, including family, friends and what I find to be fantastic and fun!

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Anniversary Adventure - Crysler's Farm

Posted on July 14, 2015 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

This past weekend we attended the second reenactment of our Anniversary Adventure - the Battle at Crysler's Farm. It took place in 1813 on a field very close to present day Upper Canada Village just outside of Morrisburg, Ontario. This event only happens once every 2 years, so we were very lucky it happened to coincide with our adventure schedule.


Early on our first morning


We arrived on Thursday and, other than the organizers, our camp was one of only three that arrived early. It was relaxing and the site we got was outstanding. The only downside was that we were the only food source available for the swarm of mosquitoes there. A big THANKS goes to the parents of our corporal who picked up mosquito nets for some of us. It made sleeping for the remainder of the weekend actually restful.


Gorgeous view of the St. Lawrence River


Friday was spent slowly setting up our camp to be period perfect for the public arriving on Saturday. We had lots of time to do fun things too like learn to ride our wonderful camp horses.


   

The first photo is the sweet and silly Hero,

the second is a very happy me riding our other camp horse India.


There was also time to have a dip in the river, visit with old and new friends, and eat lots of delicious food. Our camp likes to eat and drink well.


Saturday was the big day. Everyone was up early and excited for all the fun ahead. By now, all the reenactors had arrived and the camp site was full of canvas and colourful outfits.


Cutest reenactor at this event!


The day was spent doing what camp followers do such as clean up, spinning, sewing, and of course, horse care. Taking care of the horses is probably one of the best parts of being a Dragoons camp follower.


Camp follower Julie working on Hero's hooves.


The troopers and officers spent the day doing drills, learning to use a sabre, and of course, participating in the battle. What was different about this event was that I got to be part of the battle as well. Julie and I were part of the battle scenario - attack on a camp. We got to scream, wail and run, and I got to threaten the invaders with my rolling pin. Julie had a fake baby who ended up getting tossed when she fell while running. Wish I could have seen the audience's faces. It was great.


The organizers of the event, as well as Upper Canada Village, treated the reenactors wonderfully. They provided everyone who participated in the battles with cold bottled water. While the weather was glorious, it was also incredibly hot. That water was well appreciated. They also provided breakfast over the weekend, as well as dinner Saturday evening. It's such a treat after a long and busy day to get fed delicious food... and cake!


And if that wasn't enough, Upper Canada Village opened up their tavern to us and even gave us free beer! Outside of the tavern there was wonderful entertainment.


These two were great fun (the ones walking are reenactors heading to the tavern).


Happy Dragoons and camp followers inside the tavern.


Sunday was a much slower day. It began on a sober note with a memorial service for Robin Morris who was a big part of the historical and reenactment community. It was a perfect send off (a canon was involved).  


On the way to the service.


Afterward, Pat and I got to run away to wander the Village alone. It was a dream come true to do it in period costume. We even stopped at the inn there and had a lovely lunch together in one of the upstairs rooms.


The whole inn was as it would have been for previous travellers.

Even the menu was entirely set with historical dishes.


It was a nice way to spend some time alone. Sadly, our time together was short as Pat had to run off to the last battle of the weekend. This time I waited for him back at camp. I stayed in the shade and sat as still as possible in the sweltering heat. When our victorious soldiers returned there was much water, musket cleaning, and celebration.


While almost all of the other reenactors packed up and left after the park closed, we ended up staying one more evening. Our celebration went on long into the night.


It was a glorious weekend. I don't think it could have been any better. I can't wait to attend the next Battle of Crysler's Farm in 2017.


All the best, your GG

The Chart of Tomorrows

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Ma and Pa adventurers Gaunt and Bone continue the search for their son Innocence across many lands, and in this book, across time and legend as well.



The poet Persimmon Gaunt and the thief Imago Bone had sought only to retire from adventuring and start a family, but they never reckoned on their baby becoming the chosen vessel of the mystical energies of a distant Eastern land. Now thirteen-years-old, Innocence has rejected his parents and his "destiny", and has made dangerous friends in a barbaric Western land of dragon-prowed ships and rugged fjords. Desperately, Gaunt and Bone seek to track him down. But as the nomadic Karvaks and their war-balloons strike west, and a troll king spins his webs, and Innocence's friend Joy is herself chosen by the spirit of the very land he has fled to, Gaunt and Bone find themselves at the heart of a vast struggle, and their own son is emerging from that conflict as a force of evil. There adventurer parents must face the darkness in each other's pasts, in order to rescue their future.


Of course Gaunt and Bone are not doing this alone by any means. Many of the same characters from  The Silk Map can be found in this continuation of their story. The strong female characters I loved in the previous book are still here, and there are a few new ones as well. My favourites include the old and loving Nan, pub owner and Runewalker, and the young team of Inga and Malin. One is an incredibly strong girl who's not quite as human as she seems, and the other seems mentally challenged, but perhaps is she just intensely attuned to the world and its stories. There is also the girl who rides a narwhal - she is very special to the story - keep an eye out for her.


Just like The Silk Map, this book is jam packed with action, adventure and travel. The travel this time takes Gaunt, Bone, and their friends to the West, and North. The land is full of those who believe in the Vindir and the Swan, and there are also the first people, the Vuos. Although the names have been changed, it's very much a tale set amongst Vikings and legends of Northern Europe. If you have any background in it, you'll love this interpretation of the stories.


Quite a lot of this novel is about stories, and time. And while the previous book had a lot of poetry, this one has a lot of music. Gaunt becomes quite proficient with the fiddle, and for a very particular reason. It really is poetry set to tune and it comes in very handy for the adventurers. The book is also very much about children finding their place in the world. Learning about their own strengths and weaknesses, and when to lean on family for support.


I once again really enjoyed the roller coaster ride that is a Gaunt and Bone adventure. It's thrilling and chilling and occasionally made me feel like I would lose my lunch, but at the end I felt exhilarated and satisfied. If you like grand adventures, old legends retold, and a good story about family, you'll love The Chart of Tomorrows.


The Chart of Tomorrows is out today! You can get a copy at amazon.ca or any local bookstore.


All the best, your GG

Delicious July

Posted on July 3, 2015 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The beginning of July is one of my favourite times of the year. Here's why...


        

Blackberries and Manchu Cherries


...and Saskatoon Berries


We've also been eating strawberries that we've had growing in our garden for over 10 years now.


There is no greater delight than warm, fresh berries on vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day.


If anyone is interested in growing their own, contact me. We have saskatoon berry bushes, strawberry plants, and blackberry cane to share with those who would like to have fun with their own tiny fruit farm right in the city!


All the best, your GG

Anniversary Adventure - Stoney Creek

Posted on June 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Back in September, my husband Pat and I decided to do War of 1812 reenacting to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. From that time to today, we put together the basics of what we needed to make that happen. From outfits, to a tent and other camp gear, we did a lot of research, Value Village exploration, sewing, and building. This past weekend was the cumulation of all our preparation. We attended our very first official reenactment - The Battle of Stoney Creek.


Only part of the encampments throughout the whole park.


We arrived on the Wednesday before so that we could participate in their education day, and to make the trek from Ottawa worth the long drive. Once we arrived in Hamilton, our first stop was to Spencer's Mercentile.


We have known the owner Susan Spencer for quite a while, and we've bought many things for our adventure from her store via the internet, but we finally got to see the bricks and mortar store. We also picked up our tent and got to have a nice visit with our friend, and one of her staff, Alison. I even ended up finding the one piece of clothing I was missing, my shift. With those two important pieces of our gear acquired, we set off down the road to our final destination.


We arrived in the early afternoon, easily found our spot and our Captain, our friend Dan, and got right down to the business of setting up our camp. This involved setting up Dan's two british bell tents, and learning from him how to put ours up too.


Our reenacting home away from home


We quickly got everything inside and Pat put together the camp bed he made us. Even though he measured and we discussed putting a double bed into the tent with the makers, we were still uncertain it would fit until it was entirely put together. We were so relieved when it fit beautifully.


So incredibly pleased that our tent fits a double bed!


A little later more members of our regiment arrived, Brent and Andy. Everyone helped set up Brent's tent and a giant marquee that became our mess tent and extra bedrooms (this tent is ginormous). Afterward, Andy and Brent had to leave us until the weekend. So it was a quiet night with just the three of us.


19th Dragoons encampment


Mess tent


Such a wonderful place to gather together, especially in the evening.


The next day was an educational day for local school kids. Over 1400 students attended. Pat and Dan taught them a little about what it was like to be cavalry and infantry. I got to talk about a few typical things a camp follower would do. It was an incredibly busy day, but a lot of fun too. Such a brilliant way to teach history - hands on. And the kids were sharp. They asked great questions.


Friday was a quiet day, which was wonderful after the rush of the educational day. We relaxed. Pat and Dan spent a good amount of time playing a board game based on the War of 1812. Pat says it was good and has a lot of possibilities. Later in the afternoon/evening the rest of our regiment arrived. More unpacking and organizing was done and everyone was settled before dark. We spent that night eating great food, (Kudos goes to Pavel who grills meat like a pro. So tasty!) and getting to know each other better.


Over the weekend we ate very well. We basically potlucked the whole weekend. We even got introduced to some delicious Quebec traditional foods. One was grilled pork belly (sliced like bacon) covered in a spice mix made just for this tasty treat. It's called grillade. We ate a lot of that in the evenings while drinking very good Port and/or Whiskey. Such a delightful way to spend a night in camp.


Over the weekend there was much for the troops to do including drills, marching and of course, battles.


Practicing on the battlefield.


Practicing marching and formation.


Heading into battle.

That's my little friend watching the action.


I have to note that we were blessed with incredible weather. It was sunny every one of the five days we were there except for about 1 hour of rain and a thunderstorm on Friday afternoon. That's it. And the storm was actually appreciated because we were able to test our tent in bad weather. It stood up to rain blowing sideways. What more could you ask for.


I enjoyed watching my sweetie working with the regiment and other groups. There were camp duties to attend to, but there was also lots of time to wander, shop, and visit with friends we haven't seen in a long time. The best part though was simply spending time with my husband of 25 years.



We're already looking forward to the next part of our anniversary adventure and making lists of what items we need to get for next time. Here's one thing we don't need to get. Thanks to Brent for this lovely anniversary gift!


         


All the best, your GG

Storm and Steel

Posted on June 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Last year I reviewed the first book in a new series by author Jon Sprunk - Blood and Iron. At that time, I was asking when the next book would be ready. Well, it's finally done and will be released tomorrow.



Storm and Steel is part two of the Book of the Black Earth series. It picks up just a little time after the first one ended. Horace is now the protector and First Sword of the queen. Alyra is now a free woman, both from the queen and the spy network, but she still continues the mission on her own. Jirom has become a full fledged rebel and is part of the growing slave uprising.


Each of them seems set on their paths of destiny, but while they look to be moving farther apart from each other, and from their greatest desires, circumstances occur that inevitably throw them back together to try and survive an even bigger danger than they faced in the first book.


Best romance in this book - between Jirom and his rebel leader, and partner in love, Emanon. It started in the first book, but their relationship develops in this book and it's beautifully written. It's not written like fan fiction or "oh, two hot, sweaty, sexy rebels" (channeling Spartacus here). No, Jon Sprunk wrote this like two average guys in love. If they weren't fighting for their lives and freedom, I could imagine them with a sweet house in the burbs and a Subaru. This was probably my favourite thing about Storm and Steel.


And if you read my review of the first book, you'll remember I mentioned Astaptah. This baddie gets even more nasty, and seriously dark, in this chapter of the series. Just when you think he's gone, think again. And while he still doesn't get a lot of play in this book, I have a feeling that he will be back in a big way for the next part.


When this book ends the reader can relax for a moment, but it will leave you thinking of all the different ways the story might continue. Storm and Steel is just as good as the first, and I definitely look forward to the next book in the series as well.


You can get your own copy tomorrow from bookstores and online at amazon.ca


All the best, your GG

The Obelisk and The Englishman

Posted on May 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

To me, Egyptology was always the exotic highlight of the late Victorian and early 20th century. I had no idea that it's popularity in England started so much earlier, in the Regency period. And while I've heard about William Bankes, I had no clue that he was a big part of Egyptology's earliest discoveries and documentation.



Luckily, Prometheus Books has published this very detailed account of his life and works written by Professor Dorothy U. Seyler - The Obelisk and The Englishman.


The book chronicles Bankes family life to a small degree, but it's his adventures in Egypt and Syria that are related in great detail by the author. The details include extensive research that provides his travelling companions, his exotic dress, his bouts of illness, and even his exploits and mischiefs getting into areas and ruins where Europeans were not welcomed.


There are many photos and images of his drawings and plans, as well as those made by a crew of artists he took on a second expedition. These really show the reader how incredibly dedicated he was to capturing the history and splendor of the ancient pyramids, temples, statues, and ruins he came across.


Not only does the Professor's research about Bankes read like an adventure novel, but it also reads like a history of GLBT rights, or really the extreme lack thereof, in the Regency period. Bankes' preferences were thought to be criminal during his lifetime. Professor Seyler talks a lot about his very private life and his very close friendship with Lord Byron. I got the impression that Byron, and the dangers that Bankes' lifestyle brought, were a great influence toward his desire to travel far away from England.


He spent very little time in England. Whenever he lived there he felt unwelcome and uncomfortable. He was constantly having to hide his true nature and always under threat of discovery. Even after 7 years exploring and being away from his family, he spent much of his time back in England working on his distant estate in Wales and planning some way to launch a new expedition. Sadly, this great explorer spent the last part of his life in exile from England and his family.


The only issue I had with Professor's Seyler's account was that occcasionally she would be describing a new temple or ruin that Bankes was investigating and she would divert into a discussion, in great detail, about the temple's history, pharaohs of the time, etc., etc. While it was interesting, it broke the flow of her narrative about Bankes.


All in all, this is not only a great account of William Bankes' life, but there is also a lot of information about others involved in exploration and digs in Egypt during the Regency period. There is also some fantastic details about contemporary big names such as the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Keats and more.


If you are at all curious about Egyptology, GLBT during the Regency period, or simply about one of the greatest pioneers of the period, this is a perfect book for you.


You can get it from amazon.ca and any bookstore near you.


All the best, your GG

Happy Octopus Day

Posted on May 10, 2015 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It's that special day of the year when mother's around the world sit back and soak in the love, and perhaps a little coffee with Bailey's. It's the one day we can all sleep in and not do a single, blessed thing.


Except when your youngest has to work at 5:00 a.m. When she gets up and starts getting ready, I can't sleep again until I know her dad has dropped her off for the day. So of course I'm lying in bed dozing when this person zips into our dark room, throws something at the end of the bed, whispers "happy mother's day" and runs out. I can see some hulking thing in the dark and there's no way I'm going to ignore it and go to sleep, so I turn on the the light, and find this...


Yes, that is how mellow our chihuahua Carmen is. She didn't move.


I laughed and laughed. My youngest knows me so well. The octopus is one of my absolute favourite creatures in the whole world. I was also thrilled that she spent her hard earned money on something so huge and wonderful for her dear old mom (it's a little dusty in here).


I look forward to what her sister has in store for me today, but I can wait, she's still sleeping.


Octavia says "Happy Mother's Day" to all the wonderful moms out there!


All the best, your GG


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