Glengarry Encore Newsletter – Fall 2016

This semester Encore once again blessed us by providing a veritable cornucopia of wonderful courses and workshops to choose from. I will not try to mention them all, as space is restricted: instead I’ll concentrate only on the ones I was privileged to take.

Right out of character for the technologically-challenged woman that I am, I did something I never thought I’d do – attended some computer courses! Fortunately, in the hands of Encore’s veteran computer whiz Tony Chenel, they proved easy to follow and understand, and the handouts he provided were generous and very helpful. I can now navigate Windows 10 with more success and less frustration!

I continue to enjoy WIN (Write It Now) tremendously. This is my fourth or fifth semester with Ron Lajoie at Green Valley, and what I really want is a life-membership in WIN. I never want to stop going. It is so enjoyable, and life-affirming, to hear people’s recollections about family and life in general, and though there may be some ethnic diversity among us, our stories are somehow familiar, dealing as they do with memories and the human experience shared by all of us in different ways and at different times. What a treasure this course is.

Similarly, yet this time dealing with “made up” stories, my own Creative Writing group continues to produce outstanding fiction, and flourish in a supportive, encouraging environment that gives us all great satisfaction. What fertile imaginations we have, and what a pleasure it is to read our work and get feedback from our writing peers.

The Encore Book Club continues to meet monthly to discuss the previous month’s assigned book, and our discussions are lively, revealing our differing tastes and viewpoints. We always have fun and lots to say!

We are all sad that Bernie Carriere, who has taught philosophy for Encore for years, is ill and therefore unable to teach this semester. Our intellects, however, are still being stimulated and flexed by Ken Melchin, whose excellent course in Ethics considers the problems of individuality-run- rampant versus ethical practice in our present time. (Are you listening, Donald Trump?) The “malaise of modernity” is that everyone is out for his/herself, and those stepped upon on the way to fulfilling our “right” to be and do what we want are seen merely as inconsequential collateral damage. Ken’s teaching style is appealing, and his quick wit charming and entertaining.

I enjoyed physiotherapist Shannon Marion’s informative and entertaining talk on what tends to happen to our skeletal system as we age, and what we can do to help the aging process be less difficult to put up with. Her handouts are filled with anatomical drawings to illustrate each part of her talk, and she is very upbeat and positive, making everything clear and interesting.

Artist Yvonne Callaway’s Art classes continued to be full of opportunities to experiment with different exercises and mediums. A representative from Golden (artists’ supplies) came to one class and demonstrated various techniques and products, gifting each of us with a little loot bag of samples. That was a great evening, and we were all grateful to Yvonne for arranging it for us.

Bill Haugland, the famous newscaster, now lives in our area, and he graciously agreed to give us a talk about the October Crisis. This was extremely well-attended, as you might imagine. Many of us were residents of Quebec when the crisis occurred, and Mr. Haugland’s talk brought the horror of it all back. Mr. Haugland is a skilled speaker, and his talk was fascinating. Who knew he was also a writer? Some of us at his talk bought a book of his short stories, all well-crafted and interesting.

Lastly (although there were many other wonderful courses, this is the last one that I will talk about right now), I attended a Fused Glass workshop given by Samantha Schofield Calder in her studio in Green Valley. I was in my element, playing with bits of coloured glass! We all made a light-catcher to hang in a window. Everyone else made a specific picture like a flower or bird, but I chose to do my own thing and go “abstract”! You get a piece of plain clear glass and select coloured glass to make your masterpiece with, on top of the plain glass. The two go into Samantha’s kiln and fuse together, and the result is spectacular. I encourage anyone who has ever considered working with glass to visit her studio and learn about this course and her stained glass course, too. I will be back!

(Lesley Orr, for Encore: Nov. 11 th , 2016)

Glengarry Encore 2016 Winter/Spring Newsletter

Well, another year of Encore has drawn to a close, and what a year it was!
Our courses were very diverse and well-attended.  Winter weather necessitated some cancellations and postponements, but that’s par for the course.

In January, Judith St. Laurent taught us about why we dream, how to interpret what we dream, and how dreams can affect our health. I found this most illuminating, as I often have vivid and sometimes troubling dreams myself.

Cornwall Osteopath Shannon Marion offered a very informative workshop about what can go wrong with our spines, and the remedy: a subject relevant to everyone but especially those in our age group!

Katherine McCormick gave us another Strength and Balance workshop, full of easy exercises designed to help us stay upright and save ourselves from falling, an accident that can all too readily do great harm to the elderly.

We learned about Contract Law from Matthew MacLean, and about Ethics from Ken Melchin.

Tony Chenel provided an array of instructive classes on being computer savvy, learning how to cope with the new Windows 10 (this 3-session course was filled to the rafters !!), dealing with such issues as security, how to “defrag,”, photos on computers, plus his popular course on photography.

Michel Latreille again ran his wonderful woodcarving course, and Yvonne Callaway gave a fascinating acrylic painting course in the High School art room. We had a wonderful time exploring colour and form, composition and technique.

Shannon McCuaig from C&N held a workshop on Interior Design,, and for those of us confident enough in woodworking, Malcolm Robertson taught us how to make a wooden chest.

Unfortunately, due to health reasons, our beloved Bernie Carriere had to withdraw his course What it Means to be Good, but we hope he will be able to give this course when he feels better. His courses are always thought-provoking and lead to many deep discussions.

Snowshoeing with Doug Mackenzie and Cake Decorating with Marion Bebbington were also offered in March, and Basic Plumbing taught by Jerry Boroff,  Nature’s Gallery, a walk in Charles McDonald’s beautiful woods, and Self-Publishing presented by Lorna Foreman followed in April and May.

Cathy Went gave us a full-day workshop on Anger: a Positive Change, and Margaret Dalby MacMillan gave a wonderfully animated talk about Schooldays in Glengarry. I was most disappointed to have been unable to attend these classes, as I know they would have greatly interested me.

I also had to miss Tom Olien’s phenomenally popular course on Astrobiology, and I fervently hope that he will agree to give it again. All those who took this course spoke with great enthusiasm about it.

The long-running course called WIN (Write It Now, presided over by Ron Lajoie) had another marvellous year, as did the Glengarry Encore Book Club and my Writers’ Workshop.

Some of the highlights of the year for me personally were Ron Lajoie’s hilarious workshop on Chickenology, Ron revealed all sorts of arcane information about chickens and answered all the questions we may have been afraid to ask, and then some! We fervently hope that he will give this talk again as some Encore members missed it and all those who attended would gladly do so again.

Another highlight was our tour of the Alpaca Farm. The Alpacas were a delight, and all with distinct personalities, some shy and timid, some bold and brassy, all cute as all get out!

And last, but certainly not least, was the immensely popular Scherer Garden tour. The fountains at Scherer’s Gardens are amazing, and his herd of miniature Japanese Red Deer is enchanting. Again, these adorable mini deer had varied personalities. Most were willing to feed from our hands, and some were tame enough to let us stroke and cuddle them.

If the course you gave did not get mentioned, please do not be offended. I’m sure it was excellent, and we are grateful. It’s just that I had to stop somewhere, or it wouldn’t fit on the Web page!

Lesley Orr


Glengarry Encore Newsletter, Fall 2015

What a wonderful selection of courses and workshops we have this Fall! There is truly something for everyone, from brisk walking with Helena  McCuaig or Nordic Walking and Yoga in the park with Danielle MacLeod, through learning some Gardening, Canning and Freezing techniques from master-gardener Annemarie Collard, or letting artisan Donna MacDonald teach us how to ‘distress’ furniture and craft objects with different paints and waxes, or seeing how, with a little imagination and a lot of talent, Ruth Stanton repurposes objects that would otherwise be thrown out, to learning about Dr. Janet Lalonde’s bucket list trip to the forests and plains of the Serengeti  to observe the wildlife there, or hearing an explanation of the function and importance of our seven chakras, a Saturday morning presentation given by Bob LeBoeuf, or being guided through the process of ‘scratch art,’ a new medium that Roena Ryan and Loretta Shaver teach in their studio in The Book Nook. Wow! What a smorgasbord! And there’s plenty more to come in the second half of October, and through November.

Our Creative Writing classes (Spinning Tales) are going very well, and are attended by a delightful group who write from the heart and enjoy each other’s company. We spend quite a lot of time chatting as well as reading and producing written material, and the fellowship we have established is great.

The fantastic Encore Book Club is well under way again.  We have the liveliest discussions and we laugh a lot together!  So far this session, we have already enjoyed reading The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Girl on the Train, and discussed both books thoroughly and with great enjoyment at our first meeting of this session. Our next book is Orphan Train.

The W.I.N. (Write It Now) classes, led by Ron Lajoie and Mary Mackenzie in Green Valley Community Centre, are off and running again, and it is such a delight to attend these sessions! There is something really soothing, as well as stimulating, about hearing people read what they have written about their childhoods. It’s soothing to listen, in the same way as having bedtime stories read to you, and so mentally stimulating to hear other people’s recollections, which frequently spark a memory that you haven’t thought about for years.

I attended an interesting workshop called “Inevitable Taxes,” in which accountant Gilles Paradis took us through the Canadian Tax Form, giving us two fact-filled hours on such topics as tax exemptions, and  what’s a legitimate tax deduction and what isn’t. M. Paradis answered all our questions clearly, and he also discussed the new tax imposed by Kathleen Wynn, and what it adds to the responsibilities of whoever one appoints as executor of one’s estate upon death.

The computer classes led by Tony Chenel are informative and fun. We are fortunate to have a technology-savvy leader in Tony, and it’s great to finally understand a bit more about the capabilities of our tablets, iPads, laptops and desktops. After all, we want to be able to keep up (sort of) with our grandchildren, don’t we?!! Topics covered so far this season include email, desktop and google, security and defrag, the basics of Windows 8, Microsoft Word, and blogging for fun and profit, this last- mentioned experiential workshop being given by Beverley Young. Who knew that chatting via the internet could actually be profitable as well as fun!

Our computer expert, Tony Chenel, also leads the ever-popular Photo Club, in which photographers at various skill levels and possessing a wide assortment of camera equipment from simple to more complex, meet and share their knowledge, and go on field trips arranged by Tony to practice their art.

I wish I had been able to go to Hawk Hill Farm to see Laurie Maus’s poultry, pigs, sheep and goats, and hear her talk about why, as a trained scientist, she has devoted herself over the last fifteen years to breeding and promoting the conservation of rare, heritage livestock.  Perhaps she will be good enough to invite us back next year.

Finally, I really have to rave about two workshops I recently attended: Do-It-Yourself Plumbing Repairs, and Bravehearts: Horses and Children.

The excellent plumbing workshop, given by Jerry Boroff, a retired plumber specializing in repairs, was packed with information and advice. The eighteen participants were thrilled to find out so much about how the plumbing system in our houses works, what to try when it doesn’t, and when it would be wiser to call in an expert instead of trying to go-it-alone to save money. Jerry’s extensive knowledge is presented in a clear and readily understandable fashion, his presentation being enhanced by  diagrams, demonstrations on plumbing mock-ups, and amusing anecdotes about some of his odd plumbing experiences! The second part of this course is still to come, and I can’t wait!

Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor Christine Miller operates Second Wind Acres and co-ordinates the Brave Hearts Riding Club in Apple Hill. I was privileged to visit her farm this morning with Encore. What a joy! Tea in the forest had to be cancelled due to rain, but we toured Christine’s heritage barn, met her wonderful horses, and learned about the amazing programmes she and her trained volunteers provide for children with physical, social, or learning challenges. There seems to be no end to Christine’s ingenuity, and her passion for the work she does with children and horses is extraordinary. Some of the horses she trains to be therapy animals have come from difficult backgrounds, so they benefit as much as the children, from Christine’s abundant love and kindness. Being there this morning was a truly moving experience for us.  It is wonderful to be reminded that there are still people and enterprises that are entirely motivated by good. I urge you to visit this extraordinary place.

Lesley Orr

Encore Newsletter (January – June 2015)

Maybe I’ve entered my second childhood, but I felt like a kid in a candy store when I saw all the courses and workshops that Encore was offering this last session. The variety was amazing. I won’t mention them all –space does not allow me to, so apologies to those whom I missed. We had workshops ranging from the art of creating and playing the lute to how to live off the grid and use natural cleaning products, to a practical look at First Aid, to cooking and gluten-free eating. We had the chance to explore our past lives, see what colour best describes our personalities, and embark on the cosmic voyage involved in Astrology. There really was something for everyone. I wanted to take them all!

To mention just a few more: Dave Dragone had us beating out rhythms on tom-toms, Chloe-Ann Baker taught us how to benefit from Yoga even if chair-bound, Natasha Yates explained to us why our dogs don’t obey us (and what to do about it), and Helena McCuaig gave a fascinating talk about her recent sojourn in Madagascar where she assisted children living in impoverished villages. We also had interesting talks about the richness of the Glengarry county archives, the history and culture of Thailand, and the First World War, especially as it impacted local families.

Those interested in more esoteric topics learned about Ethics and the Problem of Evil, or participated in a discussion group that focused on current events and issues. How lovely to be able to learn without the fear of exams!

And then there were a slew of wonderful trips to local artisans and artists: As You Like It, the costumes and upholstery workshop and antique store belonging to Jan Cogley, and the beautiful home of artist Yvonne Callaway where the walls are lined with her delightfully whimsical paintings in glorious bursts of colour. Not to mention the secondhand bookstore here in Alexandria where we huddled in the back of the store and learned how to do scratch art, under the careful supervision of the owners, and the Priest’s Mill Glass Blowing Studio where some intrepid folk, myself included, had enormous fun creating lovely multicoloured paperweights. Oh, the heat of the kiln! Oh the fire in the furnace! Oh the sweat dripping into my shoes! And oh the thrill of it all!

Our Book Club, which meets once a month, continues to be vibrant and great fun, and we thoroughly enjoy talking about whatever book we have all read the previous month. It’s amazing how diversified our opinions are, and how lively our discussions get!

Other on-going clubs and courses include Tony Chenel’s wonderful series of lessons on how to do thingswith computers, and his instructive tips on the techniques and art of photography, and Michel Latreille’s expertise in showing us how to create useful or decorative items from wood.

We have so many interesting and talented people in Glengarry, and we are eternally grateful that so many of them freely offer their services to Encore. Next session we even have a retired plumber comingto explain to us how to do minor plumbing jobs ourselves, without causing floods!

Lesley Orr