The Glue that Binds

It is glue that binds, that keeps everything together. All she had to do was find out what would bind this group of disparate people together: the woman who no longer believed in the good of humankind; the man who wished to aggressively attack anyone who approached their group; the child who could not stop crying over the horror of seeing his parents murdered in front of him; the couple who claimed they believed in no religion and no sharing of sources. One thing they all had in common, though, was that they had survived the onslaught of the warriors: they had survived the brutality and the massacre. Now all they had to do was survive the aftermath. She had never before wanted to lead, to be responsible for the actions of others. But now things were different. Now she was the only one here, in this gloomy shelter, that truly believed that they could survive – and survive together. She was going to have to convince these people that their chances of survival was better than if they were alone. She was going to have to be the glue that binds; the one person that would create a tribe.

5-minute-friday-1Have you known a person that binds?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

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

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An Art Attack

On Saturday I attended a workshop for educators run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We were introduced to a range of activities to help children become more aware of the environment and the way in which it works. One of the activities was to create a fish based on the characteristics we had been given on a card with the recycled material available. We let our imagination flow:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A fishy art attack. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Once the art work and creativity had been admired, the items used were put back in the bins to be reused. What a fun way to teach children about the characteristics of fish. I would, of course, have to take many pictures before dismantling the art work :)

Doing the activity reminded me of a show my children loved to watch when they were younger: Art Attack. Here is a clip I found of one of the huge art attack’s that Neil Buchanan (the host) did on his show:

We always loved watching to see what he came up with.

Have you ever done an Art Attack?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014


Posted in Learning and Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Remembering Odette


© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My grandmother, Odette. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

She was a woman whom I admired a lot. My grandmother, Odette. She was the matriarch of the family and everyone wanted to spend time with her: children, adults, and even in-laws. She came from an era in which women were expected to behave as ladies. And she always did. Polite. Friendly. Able to hold a conversation. A woman with a sense of humour and a beautiful singing voice. She knew modern music and opera – singing both to the delight of young and old. She could hold a conversation on current events, and also talk about the past or anything that interested the person she was speaking to. She was the glue that held my family together – my aunts and uncles, cousins, in-laws and family friends. We would do all we could to please her and to make the time she spent with us memorable.

When I began university, I made two decisions: to learn French, and to spend more time with certain people in my life. Ma grand-mère was one of them. With her not only did I practise my fledging French, but I also got to know her as an adult. She no longer was a grandmother, but a friend. I would cook with her on the weekends we spent together: sifting through lentils in search for stones, cleaning the leaves and stems of the Chou-Chou plant so she could cook them, watching her as she created magic tastes in the kitchen. I spent many Friday afternoons with her talking about her past experiences, listening to her advice, telling her my hopes and dreams. Time spent alone with her was magical and I never thought it would end.

I now think of her almost everyday; telling her the thoughts in my mind. I think of things that I know she would have enjoyed. I think of things I know she would have been proud of. I look at the photograph I have of her on my table and know that I would like to age as gracefully as her. She is still a role model to me and I can only hope to live my life out as she did filled with love and a warm heart.

How do you remember your grandmother?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the A – Z challenge hosted by Frizz. This week O has been tagged)

Posted in A - Z Challenge, Memoirs | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

A Voortrekker Display

The last time I was in South Africa, I took my children to see a monument I had seen many times as a school-going child.

In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

I have posted on this unusual monument before (the architectural highlights, the voortrekker’s wagon, its unique characteristics, and its windows). In this post, I want to share with you some of the interesting displays that have been laid out for visitors to see in the basement of the building.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Voortrekker dolls. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My children were impressed by the toys the voortrekker children used to play with. The girls used to play with hand-made dolls (shown above) and the boys used to take the jaw bones and teeth of animals that had been killed and pretend they were wagons and oxen (shown below).

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Voortrekker boys’ toys. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the days of the voortrekkers, people used to use gunpowder in their guns. Hollowed out horns were used to store the gunpowder in. These were slung over the hunter’s shoulder.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Holders for gu powder. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Even the guns they used were a lot different from what we see today:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Voortrekker guns. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The one display case held an array of interesting objects. The wood was all hand carved and the objects looked more unique than those we find today. Here is a shaving kit used by the men:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Decorated shaving kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Some embroidery samplers were laid out to show the women’s skill at sewing;

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

An embroidery sampler. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Each family would have a Bible from which they would read every night:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Family Bible. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the front of each Bible, the family tree would be inserted:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Family Tree. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The writing implements they used to use were a quill and ink. It is amazing how beautiful the penmanship was:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Writing implements. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Clothes during that time were handmade. Christening dresses were used more than once within a family:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Handmade christening dress. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hats and personal items were uniquely embroidered:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Needle book with pins and thread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The voortrekker women wore hats that protected their face and neck from the sun:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Voortrekker women hats. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

There was a display up showing us what the men and women wore during that time. My picture is a little fuzzy as the lighting in the basement is not very bright. The picture, however, does give you an idea of the clothes they wore. The ones pictured here would have been their Sunday best – the clothing they would have worn to go to church.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Voortrekker clothing. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The men wore shoes (veldskoene) made from the hide of the animals they had killed for food.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Veldskoene. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

On display was also a Zulu shield, assegai (spear) and animal hide that the warriors would use in battle.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Zulu warrior’s kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

We enjoyed strolling around in the basement and looking at these items. They helped to give us a sense of who the voortrekkers were. My children enjoyed their mini history lesson and came out of the monument asking many questions about the past.

Do you enjoy visiting displays of the past?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was created as a response to a comment made by Belinda at Busy Mind Thinking on one of my Voortrekker Monument posts. The weekly photo challenge at WordPress encouraged me to complete the post that had been sitting in my draft box.)


Posted in South Africa, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 51 Comments

View from a Playground

Yesterday I attended a workshop for educators on Wildlife Education given by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. We spent a lot of time outside exploring activities that we could do outside with the children we teach. From the playground, we saw the school building – which is an old house that has been renovated and extended for its new purpose. When I saw the following, I knew I had to take the photo in black and white to see what it would look like. I share with you the picture that I created on my Instagram account:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

View from a playground. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I like that this huge old house is now filled with the sound of children learning. So much better than being pulled down and replaced by a condo.

mergeyes_widgetWhat did you see yesterday?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

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

Posted in Black and White Sunday | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

A Patterned Floor

One of the things one has to do when visiting the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa is to climb to the top of the building. From the top, one looks down and is about to see the beautiful patterned floor.

Sunlight lightens the interior of the building as seen from the top of the monument. From this view you can also see the Cenotaph. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The patterned floor of the Voortrekker Monument. . © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

They have recently installed a small elevator so that those who are unable to climb the steep, narrow stairs can still look down from high.

Where have you seen patterned floors?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week’s prompt is: patterns)


Posted in Cee's Fun Foto Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments


I take the tubs put and fill them with tempura paint. Grabbing some brushes, I place them on the table with the paint. “Yay! Madame is putting out the paint.” There is space for only four at a time at the table. Eager faces look at me and I choose four children whom I know will not come and paint once engaged in something else. Taping the paper to the table, the boys and girls are already chatting about what it is they are going to paint. I leave them to it. Their imagination soars as they dip their brushes into the paint and begin creating art on a blank sheet of white paper. The happy chatter pleases me, and I look forward to seeing what the little artists will produce today.

Painting with tempura paint © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Painting with tempura paint © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Do you often gt the chance to paint?


© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

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

Posted in A Quick Note | 24 Comments

A Favourite Tee

My daughter has a favourite t-shirt that she found last summer:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A favourite Tee. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

To be honest, I did not “get it” when she first showed it to me. My daughter, the math geek, had to explain it to me!

Thursday SpecialWere you able to read the expression on first glance?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Paula’s Thursday’s Special Challenge. Head on over to her blog to discover some interesting posts)

Posted in Thursday's Special | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments


I received a notification from WordPress on Monday informing me that I now have 1000 WordPress followers. I realize that this number does not mean that every post has 1000 reads. It does, however, tell me that this number of people visited my blog and liked it enough to click on the “follow” button. The numbers are an encouragement to me and help me continue to write and post.

The thing I enjoy most about blogging is the communication I have with people all around the world. I would like to take this moment to thank all those readers who take the time to leave a comment in response to what I have written. Your comments are appreciated and I always welcome your thoughts.

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , | 62 Comments

Never Say Never

I told told him I would never do this! It went against my beliefs – and definitely put me out of my comfort zone. Ever since I began to about these issues, I believed that women should be admired for who they are – as God made them. I believed that women should be admired for their intelligence, and that they should get what they deserve based on their merit. Up to now I have lived out my beliefs. I have refused to dress in any way that encourages manly attentions. I have not flirted to get ahead. And I have definitely not made myself seem less intelligent to make others more comfortable!

And yet here I am. In this glittering room. Dressed in heels and a non-dress (I don’t know what else to call it!). Attempting to participate in small talk. I look desperately at Brandon, my eyes beseeching him to take me away from the old bore that has attached himself to me. Brandon just smiles and gives me a small thumbs up. How did I ever let him talk me into this?

Brandon. My saviour in this sea of unknown social expectation. Who would have known that my research and subsequent book would become the much-loved TV of the year? I never elected this fame – and certainly not the responsibility to promote the work of my team. And that is where Brandon swept me in. There is not much I would not do for the team who has been with me from the beginning. It is not only I who have benefited from our research being feted: Melinda and her family have been able to buy a home in a good neighbourhood, Dan has been able to hospitalize his mom who has Alzheimer’s, Betsy and Ian have been able to marry – finally! I do this for them – for the group of people who have become my family.

I nod and smile politely at the old gentleman at my side. I have certainly learned my lesson. Never say never as you never know what life may throw at you!

What have you done that you thought you would never do?

A-Z blogging challenge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by the A – Z Challenge hosted by Frizz. This week N has been tagged)

Posted in A - Z Challenge, English words and expressions | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments