The Turning Key

clockeyI had seen the key once before – the key that opened the door to the secrets of the city. Its burnished gold glittered in the sunlight, the workings on it an indication of its importance. Seeing it had been a mistake. Not mine, but that of the official who held it. A low level citizen like me should not have even have seen who was holding the key. But then not many people pay attention to me. My silence adds to my nondescript appearance. And no-one pays attention, anyway, to a person who looks pale and frail. People look at my body and pity me. They realise I am unable to run long distances, battle my opponent physically, use my strength to get where I need to be. And yet I pity them. They are unable to mentally understand the ramifications of their strength. My mind is a far more powerful tool than their brute force.

My intention now is to get hold of the key and to control what is behind the door. We believe, my friends and I, that whoever holds the secrets to the city holds the power. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of this fair city would enable us to take it over. For too long have we been subjected to the might of those who are physically stronger than us. We needed to show the citizens that strength does not make a person better or more powerful. We needed to show them that intelligence matters too, and that intellect can rule the world.

What do you think he needs to do to get the key?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday image prompt)

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Some Structures

On one of our outings during the summer, my family and I saw some interesting structures.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A bridge-like structure. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The exhibits were made of small pieces of wood that were covered in some type of paper. The creator of these structures must have had patience to glue all these small pieces together.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Looking closer at the bridge-like structure. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The structures got me thinking of the school curriculum (once a teacher, always a teacher!). Even though I do not teach the grade that has structures as part of its curriculum, I believe the opportunity may come up in kindergarten.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A frame-like structure. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

If it does, I shall be on the lookout for rectangular-shaped pieces that little hands can use to construct. The outcome may not be as sophisticated as what we saw, but the design ideas are sure to be there.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Close-up of the frame-like structure. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have 14 boys in my class this year, and I am sure that among them there will be some budding engineers who may wish to build bridges or construct the steel works in buildings.

What interesting structures have you seen recently?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Paula’s Black and White Sunday)

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Reach for the Stars

Spread out your arms and reach for the stars.

Be open and willing to receive.

Let nothing hold you back,

And let no-one say you can’t.

Reach for the stars, my love,

And be the best that you can be.

There is no limit to who you are,

And no limit to what you can be.

Go forth into the world and follow your dream.

And remember:

Reach for the stars

And be the best that you can be.

Five-Minute-Friday-badgeAs I wrote these words I was thinking of my children who will, in a few years time, finish school and begin their lives as adults. What I wish for them is that they do their best in whatever it is that they choose to do. I would love for them to “reach for the stars”. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt)

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A Completed Crochet Project

As you know, during the summer school vacation I worked on a crocheted bedspread for our queen size bed. I soon had the required number of granny squares which I joined to form rows.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Squares waiting to be joined. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

These rows were soon joined to one another. The blanket quickly became big and heavy. To avoid getting hot, I placed the work next to me so that I would not get too uncomfortable.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Joining rows. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My last decision was to decide on how to work the border. Deciding to continue with the granny square motif, I alternated the colours of my choice.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The crocheted border. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

For the last row, I tried a curved edge. I liked the look of it, and decided to stay with my first choice.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Working on the border. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Once the last stitch had been made and the final piece of thread worked away, I carried the work to my bedroom and laid it on my bed.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The completed project. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My family and I admired the result – my daughters called the blanket cosy. The room has a different look to it now. Now when the cooler days arrive, my husband and I will have something warm with which to cover ourselvest.

Have you completed a project during the summer/winter? What was it?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post is linked to Paula’s Thursday’s Special Challenge)

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Grateful for Street Flowers

I live in a city that is built with cement and brick. Sidewalks are grey, roads are made with black tarmac and buildings are either grey, shades of brown or reflected glass.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Walking down a sidewalk in Toronto. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Walking down a sidewalk in Toronto is not always dull though. Many streets have planters that are filled with a riot of colour.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A street planter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I enjoy the summer flowers that overpower the gray planters they are in. The colours are bright and pleasing to the eye.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A streetside flower bed. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Plants are not only found in planters, however. When I walk the streets in my neighborhood, I pass many flowerbeds that grace the sidewalks. Mid-summer, these plants are spilling over the edges and bring a sense of beauty to the streets.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A streetside planter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Because these streets have flowerbeds does not mean that flowers in planters do not abound. I enjoy seeing both on the streets I walk.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Sidewalk flowers. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Each week I am grateful for the flowers I see. I say a little thank you to the city as well as the landlords of offices and apartment buildings for the floral beauty that graces the streets of Toronto.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post and feel free to use the badge my daughter created. )

Last week’s contributions: 

Gratitude Wednesday: Oh the (Minneapolis) Parks!

Grateful for Butterflies

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Crafting Hands

This summer I have seen a few hands creating something beautiful for us to look at and admire. I have enjoyed watching the artist from China paint in ink drawings:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Chinese artist. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have seen an old woman cutting paper to create paper art:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have seen hands modelling clay to make small creatures:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Modelling clay. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have seen the intricate carving into wood:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Wood carving. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I have seen a sidewalk artist create art with chalk:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Creating art with chalk. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

And I have seen my own hands create a bedspread for my bed:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hands crocheting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hands can create beautiful things and I enjoy watching them at work.

A-Z blogging challengeWhat have you recently seen hands create?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the A-Z Challenge)

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Paper Cutting Art

At the China Now! festival that took place at the Harbourfront, my family and I went to look at the art exhibition. The hall was strung with paper cutting art. The designs were intricate and what one would expect of a Chinese designer.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Banners of paper cutting. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My children and I were intrigued by the banners and enjoyed looking at the intricate designs.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Close-up of banners. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Some of the designs were very detailed and suggested a story.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

An intricate design. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Our favourites ones, though, were those depicting nature.

Which are your preferred art scenes to look at?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Paula’s Black and White Sunday challenge)

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Opportunity and Choice

Source: We Heart It

Source: We Heart It

Summer is almost over. The air is cooling and the days are getting shorter. Our time in this beautiful part of the world is drawing to a close. In a few days, we will be back home: back to the routine of waking up early and rushing to work. I do not look forward to the stress and the endless days that merge into one. Returning to that life does not bear thinking about. I would much rather spend time here, in these woods, listening to the sound of the birds and seeing the greenery of the dense trees.

I guess it is time to go back. I need to organise the clean-up, clear out the fridge, strip the beds. Somehow I have ended up in the mother-role among my group of friends. The result, maybe, of being the eldest child with the parental expectation that I would always be a good little helper. I look around and realise that I have no idea where I am. In my desire to escape the realities of my life, I have wandered into the thickest part of the woods. I turn around and walk back to where I think I was. Surely I will eventually get to the cottage we rented for two weeks if I continue on this path?

Walking through the trees, I come across a clearing and see a gypsy wagon. I am drawn to this old method of transport. I have heard the stories about gypsies and how dangerous they are. And yet I feel the need to move towards this home. As I near the wagon I call out: “Hello?” My only answer seems to be the chirping birds and the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees above me. “Is anybody home?”

The door to the gypsy home opens and before me stands a young woman. Her wavy black hair frames her olive-coloured skin. Her blue eyes seem to pierce deep within my soul. I have the sense she is looking deep within me. Whatever she sees must have pleased her for she smiles and holds out her hand towards me. “Come in Talia. I have been waiting for you.”

How did she know my name? Heart beating, I am drawn to enter her space. Inside the wagon, it is cool. For some reason my fear vanishes. I sense instinctively that this woman means me no harm. “Come sit down with me and we will look at what it is you wish to know.” Was she a fortuneteller, here to tall me my future?

I sit down opposite her at the small table. She smiles at me. “You have come to a crossroads Talia. You have allowed yourself to be persuaded to lead a life that you do not wish to have. You work at a job you do not enjoy, you are to be married to a man you do not love, you have shelved your dreams and forgotten what it is to be truly happy and content. You are to make a decision soon that could either let you continue with this life – or lead you away from all this.”

“You cannot tell me what is going to happen for certain?”

“Nothing is for certain Talia. In our lives we come across opportunities and we make choices. These choices impact on the type of life that we live. Soon you are going to make one such choice. I cannot see which way you will decide. I do see, however, that you feel stifled in your current life and that you desire the freedom of change.”

I look at her and remember all the frustration, stress and unhappiness that I had felt over the last two years. Her words do not surprise me.

“Would you like something to drink before I take you to where you need to be?”

“A glass of water would be good. I do admit I am a little lost. I’ve been wandering in these woods for a couple of hours.”

“The trees can be a little disorientating if you are not used to them. I will lead you out – though I do not wish for your friends to see me. Not everyone is as accepting of my lifestyle and appearance as you are.”

I enjoy my short time withe the gypsy woman. As promised she takes me to the edge of the woods and waves goodbye. As I walk up the track to where we were staying, I come across those who were walking from another part of the wooded area. Normally I would have ignored them and walked straight on. But at that moment I no longer wanted to be a city girl – I wished instead to enjoy the open friendliness of the people who lived in the countryside. Walking with them, I learn about their project to keep the woods safe from development. They tell me passionately about the loss of so many trees and ecosystems in the area. They want to make this woodland a nature reserve and, with the backing of local wealth, they intend to preserve it for many generations to enjoy. What they needed now was someone who would deal with the legal issues.

I go back to the city. But only to tidy things up. I work my notice and give the ring back to my fiance. I pack my boxes and leave behind all the trappings of corporate life. An opportunity came and I made a choice. A choice I have never regretted.

What choices have you made that you did not regret?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt)


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Change is in the air

Change is in the air.

Conversations buzz around the new person coming in. What will she be like? Hard? Understanding? Domineering? Caring? They did not want too much too change. For ten years they had served the community adequately and they felt they had done a good job. But they had heard things through the grapevine.

“She introduced peer evaluation.”

“I heard that she is a top-down sort of manager.”

“Surely someone cannot be that bad if she organises staff socials?”

‘They say that she increases staff efficiency.”

The day had arrived for the changeover. The staff gathered in the conference room and were surprised when a woman their age was introduced to them as their new leader. They had expected someone younger and career-driven, dressed in a suit carrying a briefcase. Instead before them stood a woman dressed in bright colours wearing a long, silk scarf around her neck. She opened her arms and smiled.

“Thank you for the welcome. I look forward to working here to make a difference. But let’s get started. We have a community to serve.”

Are you wary of change in the workplace?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: change)

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A Visiting Artisan

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

When the opportunity came for me to leave my village and travel to a country across the world, I jumped at it. I have spent my entire life living in the place I was born. The hills and the grasses are well-known to me. I have walked the paths through the fields many times over. The children I grew up with have, like me, married and have had children. Each day we toil to bring food into our homes. I am lucky – there is no reason for me to go out into the fields. Instead I work from home, using my skills to create the small sculptures and ornaments with which my people love to adorn their homes.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Now I find myself in Canada, showing people the work I love to do. They look on in interest as I roll and mold the modelling clay. The panda bear I am making takes shape in front of their eyes. To me, this skill is not at all unique – there are a number of us in China that create these little sculptures. It seems though, from the reaction I see, that this skill is not practised by many here. The young children look on in interest and I hope that they will go home and try to recreate the animals of their choice.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014


Roll, roll, smooth. The movement is soothing to me. The surrounding chatter in a foreign language could be overwhelming for me but I allow the calming nature of my art take over. I choose the colours I need from my tray, covering the clay afterwards to ensure it doesn’t dry. The panda is almost finished and I begin to think of what it is I can create next. Something that the children will enjoy seeing. Maybe another animal, a tiger perhaps. I have noticed that the young ones here enjoy seeing animals. They exclaim over the small depictions and many of them have taken one home.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

As I work under this tent, I marvel at the fact that I am here in this country. I feel proud to have been chosen to represent our culture to those so far from home. Sitting here I have seen many whose ancestors were born in China. These people are unable to speak the language of my country and would have difficulty understanding my experiences. However, I can see that they are hungry to learn more about the culture of their forefathers. Hopefully I will be able to help them find that part of themselves.


© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

After today’s work, the artisans will be taken on a small tour of this place we find ourselves in. I will enjoy the change and the new experiences. Then I will happily return to my people and my family. I will return home where I will be understood when I speak, and where I can eat the food I am used to. And as I return, I will leave behind small pieces of myself in the art I sold to the admirers I had this weekend.

Do you create with modelling clay?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Amanda’s Pixel Prose Challenge)

Previous posts on the artisans visiting Toronto:

A Chinese Papercutter

Chinese Artists

A Chinese Woodcarver

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