Smorgasbord Blogger Daily Tuesday 24th September 2019 – Miriam Hurdle, Norah Colvin and Cynthia Reyes

This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

The first blog today is from Miriam Hurdle and shares the gifts that she gave herself in celebration of a great achievement.

The Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday from Linda is “wrap/rap.” I used unwrapped.

I gave two unwrapped gifts to myself when I graduated with the Doctor of Education in year 2000.

The first gift was two season tickets to six operas in 2001. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a radio. I listened to the news, ghost stories and other broadcast on my neighbor’s radio. There was a theme music playing before the news. After thirty seconds, the music faded as a female announcer came in to report the news of the day. That was the beginning of my classical music appreciation and I later identified the theme music for the news broadcast as the Overture of Bizet’s Carmen. I started taking voice lessons at nineteen years old and sang pieces of operatic music.

Image result for bizet's carmen

I hoped to see operas such as Carmen, La Bohème and La Traviata, and learn about less popular ones. Hubby likes mostly country western music, but he would go with me to see the operas. Part of the attraction to me was to dress up and be with other people who had the same interest. At the opera house, people could rent small binoculars at $7 each. We brought two binoculars with greater strength. I not only wanted to see the details of costumes but also the singers’ expressions.

Find out more about the opera that Miriam enjoyed and what the other gift that she gave herself:

Miriam Hurdle, Buy:
Website and blog:  Goodreads: Miriam Hurdle

The next post is from educator and storyteller Norah Colvin, and follows on from a series of interviews with a number of us about our school days. Norah has collated the answers to discover common threads and suggestions on how education might be improved. In this post she shares our answers to the question – How can schools be improved?

In the recent School Days series which featured reminiscences of twenty-five authors and bloggers, each was asked for suggestions of improvements that could be made to schools.

In this post, I share those suggestions. If you wish to read more of the authors and bloggers’ works, please click on their names to follow the links. If you would like to read their reminiscences, follow this link.

This post concludes the series for now. I thank you all for joining in the conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. There are still some who would like to share their reminiscences which I will post as they come in on a Sunday evening. For now, I’ll leave you with these wonderful suggestions of how school could be improved. (Note: I have arranged the bloggers in alphabetical order of first name.)

Anne Goodwin, How do you think school could be improved?

  • Reinvest in SureStart (it was a UK New Labour thing for at-risk preschoolers) so that all kids have the skills they need for school.
  • Scrap private schools’ charitable status and put the taxes raised into state education.
  • Abolish all religious schools, and schools established to follow a particular fad.
  • Provide every child with a light breakfast and a three-course vegan lunch (to avoid the expense of catering for different diets) for free. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry, and we desperately need to give the adults of tomorrow the skills to pursue a healthy diet. (So cooking and gardening lessons too.)
  • Halve class sizes, and give teachers more support, including optional counselling / short-term therapy for anyone working with kids.
  • Foreign language and music classes from the early(ish) years and (although I hated it) compulsory exercise through a diversity of sports. (Why should these life-long benefits be restricted to those whose parents can cough up the dosh?)
  • Prevent (religious) parents from withdrawing their children from certain lessons, such as sex and relationships, including same-sex couples.

Idealistic? Too expensive? Not if we care about the future society we build.

Balroop Singh, How do you think schools could be improved?

First, recruitment of qualified teachers who feel inspired to take the responsibility of teaching the next generation is essential. Second, they have to be paid at par with others to attract intellect and talent to this profession. Number of students in a class needs to be reduced and value-based education with flexible curriculum could be helpful for those students who want to pursue higher studies.

Find more opinions on this question from Barbara Vitelli, Carol Taylor, Charli Mills, Chelsea Owens, Christy Birmingham, Darlene Foster, Debby Gies, D.Avery, Geoff Le Pard, Hugh Roberts, Joy Lennick, Jules Paige, Mabel Kwong, Marsha Ingrao, Miriam Hurdle, Pamela Wight, Pauline King, Pete Springer, Ritu Bhathal, Robbie Cheadle, Sherri Matthews, Susan Scott and yours truly:

Connect to Norah via her websites


The final post today is from author Cynthia Reyes and is a lovely interview with her daughter and co-author of the Myrtle the Turtle series, Lauren Reyes-Grange.. They are joined by the next generation, a granddaughter who is joining the family very soon. Please head over and enjoy this wonderful family affair.

I’ve been wanting to interview my co-author, Lauren Reyes-Grange.

But how do you do that when she is your daughter, as well as the person who inspired the first Myrtle the Purple Turtle book?

I decided to put on my professional interviewer’s hat — after all, I’d done thousands of interviews in my journalistic work. Here goes:

When did you first realize you loved to tell stories?

LRG: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read stories, write stories or tell stories. I am fairly certain I was born with a wild imagination. Pair that with two parents who were superstar journalists (and naturally fantastic storytellers), and I think I was bound to catch the bug, too.

Blog Photo - Lauren headshot

What was it like growing up in a house of storytellers and writers?

LRG: It was wonderful. I loved hearing stories about my parents’ work, about their day. My parents also encouraged my sister and me to read, be curious, stand up to injustice, and look for the humour in everyday things which I believe makes for great storytelling.

Head over and read the rest of this heartwarming interview between mother and daughter:

Cynthia Reyes, Buy:


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to read the posts in their entirety … thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Memoir #Gardening – Twigs in my Hair by Cynthia Reyes

Delighted to share the news of the latest release from Cynthia Reyes, a gardening memoir – Twigs in my Hair.

About Twigs in my Hair

Author Cynthia Reyes returns with Twigs in My Hair, a book about her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events involved. Gorgeous photographs by Hamlin Grange complement a humorous and profound story. A beautiful gift for gardeners and non-gardeners. Readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both human and animal, some of whom compete for gardening produce or gardening glory. You may conclude, after reading Twigs in My Hair, that the gardener’s love for growing things swings from reverence to mania. But there is also a deeply emotional side to this story about what happens when a passionate gardener can no longer do what she loves.

~~Praise for Twigs in My Hair:

“Her best book yet! Cynthia’s most recent memoir takes us on a journey through the various gardens of her life: the wonder, magic and miracle of her childhood gardens; the gardens she and her husband “negotiate” as a newly married couple; the apprenticeship gardens of family and community; and finally, the mature garden of acceptance. It is a journey full of insights, humour, and struggle, but ultimately, one of growth and the recognition that by nurturing our gardens we nurture ourselves.” Jean Gairdner, author and lifelong gardener.

~~“How obstinate does a wisteria have to be before you resort to verse? How do you get a fox to pee in a bottle? Cynthia’s zestful pursuit of beauty in the gardens of her life is told with her characteristic warmth, humour and honesty. This is a story for our times.” Dr. Hilary Custance Green, gardener and author of Border Line, a novel.

Head over and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Cynthia Reyes

And co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange – Illustrated by Jo Robinson


Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Cynthia on Goodreads:

About Cynthia Reyes

Cynthia Reyes is the author of A Good Home and An Honest House. Her children’s illustrated book Myrtle the Purple Turtle was published in October 2017 to excellent reviews.

Cynthia is a former journalist, producer-director and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. More than a hundred episodes of her programs appeared on network television. She won national and international awards and acclaim for her work, including The Children’s Broadcast Institute Award , The Trailblazer Award and The Crystal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television.

In October 2016, the country of her birth, Jamaica, inducted Cynthia into the Order of Distinction, Commander Rank, in recognition of her work in Canadian and international journalism.

Connect to Cynthia


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news about Cynthia’s new book… Thanks Sally.