About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Monday, April 24, 2017

P is for PETS

Welcome to ABC Wednesday! Today we are celebrating the letter P as in peppermint, paste, pickles, pollywog, and plentyPlus, I'm sure many of you have pets or have had pets at some time in your lives.  Maybe it's a cat, maybe it's a dog, maybe it's a fish or a turtle or a lizard or some other weird creature. Maybe you have more than one or a combination of cat + dog or dog + fish or hamster + whatever.  Any way you look at it, though,owning a pet definitely can change your life.

When I was a child, we had Mitzi, a purebred boxer that my Dad totally loved!  And when I got married, the nesting instinct set in. However, only cats were allowed where we lived and I thought it would be a great new experience. 
Unfortunately, the cat wasn't such a great pet.  I gave her a beautiful name, Velvet, because that's just how she felt when I patted her.  Velvet was good when she was a kitten, but as she got older, she got really nasty. She would want to be on your lap but when she'd had enough, she'd turned and hiss and spit at you!  She lived about 12 years and that was the only cat I've ever owned.

So back to having dogs!  We got Cassie, a purebred boxer in the early 1980s when we thought our daughters were old enough to take part in caring for a pet.  She was so sweet, but sadly had a bad heart and we had to have her put down when she was only about a year old.  Even having her for that short amount of time didn't preclude terrible feelings of grief.  But...never fear...another pet came along about 9 months later!

Star was the best dog ever!  Another purebred boxer with such a gentle nature!  She let the girls dress her up in costumes, including sunglasses and hats and pajamas and anything else that came to hand. She flew in cargo when we all moved from Vancouver to Ottawa and back in the mid to late 1980s and did really well.  Below left is Star on top playing with her sister that our friends got at the same time.






She had a wonderful life, even outliving my husband who passed away in 1992. I got her a basket and she slept in my bedroom with me from then on. She started having some problems around 1997 when she was almost 12 years old and with extreme grief, we had to say good-bye.  I'm sure she'll be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for me when I get there. 

But then along came Robbie, a purebred cocker spaniel who decided that he was going to be the Alpha of our pack!  Um...I don't think so!  I took him for professional training and worked really hard with him to obey.  But he turned vicious, biting a friend I ran into on the street, my son-in-law, and ME - twice!  When he was 3 years old, we had to say "sayonara" to Robbie. I couldn't take a chance on him around my grandchildren, who were small at that time.

Now I have the BEST pet of all - I know some of you have seen photos of Tegan, my very first purebred English Labrador.  Here she is a couple of days after bringing her home at 11 weeks, exploring the back yard.  She sat right away when I told her to and stayed!  Now that's smart!
Oh my goodness, I knew that Star was smart, but she seems kind of dumb now compared with Tegan!  She's 4 1/2 already, and I realized recently that she's the only pet that I've had that is all mine! I don't have to share her with anyone! We have completely bonded and she is like my child (but not to any excess - she is a dog, after all) and she has learned how to behave extremely well.  The only problem she has is that she is too smart for her own good.  She thinks she can do things against the rules and she'll get away with them.  For example, if she sees other people or dogs, she'll run to them to say "Hi" and won't come back! I also have to be careful that she is never allowed off leash unless it's an area that is completely fenced in.  Here is a typical pose asking me to play Frisbee with her.
Here is my girl - so pretty, sweet, smart, and my personal confidant.  We enjoy pleasant and peaceful evenings together after busy days of perennial Frisbee fun!  And when I gaze at her dozing at my feet or on her blankie on the sofa, I have a poignant feeling she will be my last pet.
To all pet lovers, may you have a perfectly pleasant week with your beloved pets.  Take lots of photos of them because life is so short and one day, those photos will be very precious to you.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

O is for OPTIMIST

Welcome to ABC Wednesday where today I'm honouring our local "rag" called the Optimist.  I know, you thought I was going to give you a definition or something...but no, there was something in our paper on March 24, 2017, that I've been saving for just this week!  And the entire post is an homage of sorts to our official administrator Roger, music aficionado that he is! 
Back in June, 1980, the legendary Chuck Berry performed in my little village of Ladner in British Columbia, Canada!  Ladner is sort of a bedroom community of Vancouver, BC, which most people know.  Chuck Berry passed away recently at the old age of 90, so the paper had a sort of retrospective of his time among us villagers.  There is even a YouTube video that I'm going to give you the URL for and you can see for yourselves that I'm not kidding you!
Now back in June of 1980, I was a young mother with a 3 1/2 year-old and a weeks-old baby.  I really wasn't up on current world events and certainly didn't have the energy to keep on top of even  our local news, either.  So this was big news to me when I read that Chuck Berry had been here for the grand opening of a local car dealership.

Apparently, the crowd was made up of young and old, including a lot of kids.  A fellow by the name of Gary Schoen commented that "it was a bit strange seeing somebody like that outside the confines of a club. But, the whole idea of him playing outside, doing a free show was what really got us going there to be able to see someone like that, a legend."  The Optimist reported after the concert that the show had attracted 5,000 people and that a police spokesperson said the crowd was well-behaved.

Well, we ARE Canadians, after all, and live in a small community!

Chuck Berry passed away at his home in Missouri on Saturday, March 18, 2017. He had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and "after Elvis Presley, only he had more influence on the formation and development of rock and roll," states the organization's website.

So there you go, Roger!  I almost met a legend 37 years ago and only found out about it recently.  The video is 27 minutes long and the first song is instrumental but he sings in the second song and that's as far as I went.  Enjoy!  Go here!
By the way, ROGER, (and everyone else) you might be interested in reading some of the comments under the video from locals and even from the fellow who recorded it. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

N is for NARRATION

I was feeling nostalgic this week, so went wandering through my Pedalogue archives.  I found something I'd written a long time ago and it made me laugh out loud.  So I thought I'd share it this week to honour the letter N as in Narration.  It is almost the same, but with a few added "N" words to fit this week's theme. Hope it gives you a laugh.

Once upon a time there was a cactus named Willy. He lived in a nursery with lots of other plants, and his best friends were Biff and Happy. One day they were packed into a truck and taken to the local grocery store where they proudly preened themselves in front of all the lovely ladies who came by looking for house plants.

One day an old lady came by and took note of the three of them. After a great deal of checking out all the other plants, she finally decided to take Willy, Biff, and Happy.

"Whooee!" yelped Willie. "We've got a new home!"

"Yeah, and we'll all be together forever," answered Biff. "I want the window seat!"

Happy budged him saying, "Nope! I get it this time. You got to be by the window when we came to the store in the truck."

The three of them kept spiking at each other all the way along the grocery store conveyer belt. The clerk put them in the same bag and all the way home in the old lady's car, Willy got the top spot. Biff and Happy got  bit nauseated from the motion of the car.

"Ooh! Gulp!" they kept yelling.

The old lady put each of them in their very own special nubby pot and placed them together on a table where they could see the TV.

"Cool," said Willy. "I love watching TV."

Every week, the old lady came and gave them all a nice long drink of cool water. And when she did, Willy, Biff, and Happy stood up tall and proud.

But after a few months, the old lady seemed to forget about the three friends.

"I'm thirsty," said Biff.

"So am I," said Happy.

"Me, too," said Willy.

One day Biff thought he needed a nap but, suddenly, he just fainted. He just lay down all wilty.

The next day Happy fainted. He lay down all wilty, too.

The day after that, Willy just couldn't take it anymore, and he started to feel rather droopy.

But suddenly, the old lady remembered about them and arrived to give them a big long drink of that lovely cool water.

"Glug, glug, glug," went Willy, Biff, and Happy.

But Biff and Happy couldn't take all that water. It was just too much.

"We're drowning!" they cried out.

And down they went. First Biff. Then Happy.

The next morning found Willy all alone. His best friends were gone. They lay there all wilty and wet. And when the old lady noticed after a few days, she took them away leaving Willy to stand up tall and proud as the last surviving friend. But too much had happened that made him sad. Willy missed his friends so much.

Even though the nice old lady gave Willy some water every once in a while, Willy just started to get sadder and sadder. He started to wilt. First, he felt his tippy top tip curl under a bit. Then, he started to feel weaker in the middle. Willy slowly started to bend. Finally, Willy just couldn't hold himself up anymore, so he let himself fall all the way down onto his dry dirt bed.

"Biff! Happy! I miss you!" he rasped.

And so it came to pass that Willy joined his best friends Biff and Happy in that great big desert in the sky.

The End. (Based on my own non-green thumb experience.)

Can anyone guess the allusion to a certain play?

Sunday, April 02, 2017

M is for MARRIAGE - "I do!" or "I don't!"



These days, I often wonder what it's like to be happily married for 40+ years.  My sisters and I didn't have great role models as parents and our mother encouraged us to become educated so we would have a career to fall back on "in case something happens to [your] husband."  She had been told by her mother that she had "made her bed so now sleep in it."  She had no "out" because divorce was unthinkable in those days.  So we grew up thinking our future was supposed to be marriage and kids. However, we were in that generation when women were starting to realize that there was more to life than just that.  All three of us finally ended up making our own lives and trying to make them as happy as we could on our own. My older sister divorced and never remarried, my younger sister was in a 10-year common-law relationship with an alcoholic until she ended up kicking him out, and I've been widowed after a tumultuous marriage and currently am (permanently) separated.

You know the phrase "for better or for worse"?  Well, which is better - marriage to the same man until you die OR being single (perhaps childless, too)?  Or is there a happy medium somewhere along the way?  I imagine it depends on your circumstances.  If you had great role models in your parents, the odds are you would have a happy marriage.  But what if your husband turned out to be an abuser, an alcoholic, or squandered the money away, putting the entire family into debt?  How much is forgivable and when and where do you draw the line and separate?

If you didn't have great role models in your parents, are you predetermined to fail at marriage?  How do you learn what a good relationship is like and how you should respond in times of difficulty?  My first husband and I went to counseling more than once.  The first time was before we had children and the counselor looked at me and ask if I was a masochist because my husband was never going to grow up.  But I loved him!  So we stayed together and I tried harder.  After we had two children, we ended up at counseling again, where I was told to have a drink ready for him when he came home from work and keep the children away until dinnertime. I actually tried that!  Today I would have told both the counselor and my husband to go take a leap!  But it worked for a while, until it got so bad that my husband would continue drinking until he passed out and I fed the children and put them to bed.  Then I'd spend the rest of the evening staring at the TV. 

After he died, I worked to support myself and my children, doing the best I could under the circumstances.  I never looked at another man until they were grown up and had flown the coop.  One was already married and had had her first child, too.  Then when I met and married someone else, I got nothing but grief from my kids.  That marriage failed disastrously but not because of them.

I'm now single and enjoying life with my precious English Labrador Tegan.  But back to my question at the beginning of this post - what is it like to be married to the same person for forever?  Do friends come and go or do they maintain a circle of good friends for all those years?

I discovered a new sitcom on Netflix that some of you may have heard of - "Grace and Frankie" - about two women whose husbands fall in love with each other and divorce their wives so they can get married.  It stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, two women in their 70s who struggle to deal with their circumstances.  I have been laughing my way through this and it's been making me feel quite a lot better about my lot in life.  One line that really resonated with me was when Grace (Jane Fonda) states how hard it is to make new friends when you're almost history yourself!  But she perseveres and her character's personality adapts and finds joy in her life, as does Frankie (Lily Tomlin). 

So I guess turning 70 isn't so scary now as I know I'm a survivor.  The future is unknown to us all and we all have to make the best of whatever our lives have become.  I have plans for the future and if those plans include someone else, so be it.  If I have to fly solo for the rest of time, so be it. I know I can now count on my "virtual friends" to listen as I share my excitement for each new adventure and to enjoy the tales of my adventures yet to come.

 This is the current love of my life.  You can see how much she adores playing Frisbee!
Thanks to marvelous Roger, our magnanimous administrator and to modest Denise Nesbitt, the creator of ABC Wednesday many moons ago!  Also thanks to the merry band of assistants who manage to take time each week to visit the multitudinous contributors!  Without them, Roger and I would be feeling miserable at the mountainous number of visits we'd have to make. Finally, as we are now about halfway through Round 20, remember that when Round 21 begins, the marvelous Melody will take over the management of being administrator with her own magnetic charm, assisted by two of her friends.  Please get in touch with her if you are interested in joining the team to keep the workload to a minimum

Sunday, March 26, 2017

LIFE at LIGHT SPEED

Lately, I started thinking about girlfriends I've had over my lifetime, girlfriends that I never see or hear from anymore and girlfriends who are probably grandmothers like me now. It's true how, as you grow older, life flies by at a rate that seems to surpass the speed of light.

It seems like only yesterday that I was maid of honour to Di on her wedding day in October of 1970. She moved away and gradually the friendship dwindled away to the occasional email.  It doesn't seem that long ago that another friend shared the process of first pregnancies with me through the summer of 1976. We both had daughters and shared the first few years of their lives together. Now I don't even know where she lives

Then Margaret came into my life. She lived behind me across the fence and had three children roughly the same ages as my two. What a wonderful woman she was as she took care of my two when I was called in to substitute teach. She was a second mother to my little girls until I realised that I wanted to be the only mother they had, so quit working altogether. We kept in touch even when she moved to another community, but the friendship gradually faded away.

One Linda came into my life as a result of our both becoming single again and we hit it off. But over the years, I found her to be controlling, obsessive, and paranoid. Although I felt sorry for her and her circumstances, she was dragging me down, so I finally stopped all contact. Another Lynda was a co-worker and we'd make dinner for each other once in a while and share stories about our kids and our past marriages. When I moved on to go back to teaching, we stopped seeing each other so often.

My friend Kathy (with a K) was the first of my friends to die. That sounds so blunt - maybe I should say she "passed away" or "was called home to the Lord." But cancer ate away at her for almost 20 years and that insidious disease finally won the battle.

It's not as if I stopped liking these women or that they stopped liking me. I think that our lives change and evolve as our circumstances change. We make friends according to what's going on in our lives at the time. When we're newly married, we socialize with other newly marrieds. When we have children, our lives revolve around our children and so we meet other parents who are going through similar circumstances. School, soccer practise, dance recitals, skating and swimming lessons find parents sitting in the stands or on the sidelines and we get to talking. 

It's the same with people you work with, but when you leave your position for another job or to retire, you realize that the majority of these people, nice as they are, aren't true friends.  And if you are not married (like me) it's even harder to make new friends.  (Please don't suggest church, exercise classes, or clubs - been there, done that, and it doesn't help.)  I love to travel but it gets very expensive when you have to stay in a hotel on your own.  And the friends I do have either can't afford it or aren't interested in the same places I am. 

Anyway, over the years, I have developed friendships with some women who live halfway around the world from me, and I wish that I could see them more often.  Even though social media has become more and more common so that it's easy to "message" each other, stay in touch via Facebook, Skype, or face chat, it's still not the same, is it?  Where did the days go when we would drop over to the neighbour's or have the neighbour over for coffee or tea, go for a walk around the block with the kids, even go out to a movie or a meal with a girlfriend?  Since my friend Cathy (with a C) and I retired, she does a lot of volunteer work through her church and I continue to do tutoring. But we make a point of going out for breakfast at least once a month to catch up and it's great.

So, as the years fly by at light speed, as friends come and go, as we age, and as we gain or lose friends or family, I hope and pray that I will be able to continue to live fully and happily to the bitter end - alone or not. Anyone else feel this way?  And do men experience the same type of thing?

In the meantime, I will continue to dream of more life adventures until the day I leave this world!


Friday, March 17, 2017

K for KNIGHTS

Welcome to Round 20 of ABC Wednesday where, this week, we honour and celebrate the letter K as in kiss, kitchen, kneel, knife, kingdom, kindness, and knock.  This week, I'd like to tell you about Knights

The word Knight is a term to refer to a warrior or nobleman in former times or, in these days to refer to a person who has been given royal recognition. The roots of the word knight are connected to the Old English cniht, meaning boy, or German knecht, meaning servant.  During the Middle Ages, the term knight referred to a mounted and armoured soldier. Originally, knights were warriors on horse-back, but the title became increasingly connected to nobility and social status, most likely because of the cost of equipping oneself in the cavalry. Knighthood eventually became a formal title bestowed on those noblemen trained for active war duty.

In theory, knighthood could be bestowed on a man by any knight, but it was generally considered honourable to be dubbed knight by the hand of a monarch. By about the late 13th century, partly in conjunction with the focus on courtly behavior, a code of conduct and uniformity of dress for knights began to evolve. Knights were eligible to wear a white belt and golden spurs as signs of their status. Also, knights were also often required to swear allegiance to a liege lord.

A knight was to follow a strict set of rules of conduct. These were the knightly virtues. However, original knights had few of these qualities because the church deemed knights too bloodthirsty and unruly. The church then intervened and began stressing the importance of virtues until the church became an integrated part of knighthood and chivalry. The virtues included:
  • Mercy (Towards the poor and oppressed. They were supposed to be harsh with evil-doers.)
  • Humility
  • Honor
  • Sacrifice
  • Fear of God
  • Faithfulness
  • Courage
  • Utmost graciousness and courtesy to ladies
When in Wales last summer, I visited Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain, where I found a replica of a knight on horseback prepared to do battle.  The knight carried a sword and shield with the image of the Welsh dragon on it.  And it was made of straw! 
Imagine hoards of Norman warriors coming on horseback across those fields ready to cross the River Wye and scale the cliffs to conquer the castle and its environs!

Now, those of you who read my posts probably know by now that I love history, especially anything to do with my ancestry (English, Welsh, Scottish).  However, one of my daughters and her husband have gone one step further and are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. It consists of 20 kingdoms with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, and various classes & workshops.

In fact, my son-in-law is becoming quite the artisan by creating leather armour not only for himself, but also for other members.  He makes every kind of armour that can be made from leather for from the neck down as well as purses, pouches, belts, and accessories. He has also given classes in making armour of all kinds and participates in the actual "battles" after many hours of practise.  He has worked his way to becoming a "Lord," which is the first of a slew of titles. Currently, he is known as Lord Ewen Mac Dughglas of Lions Gate. My daughter is Lady Eva de Lille, but not because of her association with her husband.  She attained the title of "Lady" through her own achievements by volunteering for behind the scenes and helping to organize events.  She finds hundreds of small ways to help others at all the practises and events she attends plus she and her husband run a kitchen and do the cooking and serving at events.

Here are a couple of really quick You-Tube videos SIL said I could show of a couple of practises.  He is in the red outfit in the first one.  Apparently, if you get hit in the leg, you must kneel, if you get hit in the arm, you have to forego using it, and if you get hit in the head or body, you're dead!
Hope you enjoyed this post.  I know I learned a lot more about knights and my daughter's and son-in-law's association with the Society for Creative Anachronism just by writing it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jane Austen

Welcome to the world of J as in jam, juggernaut, jumpsuit, jack-in-the-box, jaunty, and my two dearest British friends Jane and Jill.  Last year while in England, I had the pleasure of visiting the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, and learned more about her as a person.  In Wikipedia, it states that "Jane Austen was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security."

Jane published most of her mature work while living in the lovely village of Chawton only a few miles from her birthplace, Steventon.  She was born December 16, 1775, and died July 18, 1817.  Most people are aware of her major works that, to this day, are read worldwide - books like "Sense and Sensibility," "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park," "Emma," "Persuasion," and "Northanger Abbey." 

In 1997, I visited England for the first time and my hostess took me to Blickling Hall where the movie "Sense and Sensibility" had been filmed.  It was while wandering the gardens there that I had an overwhelming feeling that I belonged there - in the country of England.  I've since returned many times and always feel that I should have been born there, even though my grandparents felt the urge to immigrate to the "new world " of Canada.
Last year, 2016, I was so pleased to visit the museum which had been Jane's home and where she wrote many, if not most, of her books.  It was almost eerie to wander inside the house, peeking into rooms where she had not only written, but had taken her meals and where she had slept. I wanted to try out her bed, but thought it wouldn't be very genteel to do so.  Instead I took a photo but it didn't turn out well. Here are a few of my photos from that day.
Outside, at the back of the house were several outbuildings where there was an antique donkey cart, which probably took Jane and her family to friends or relatives to visit. Also, there was an old brick oven and cooking area where the hired help would prepare their meals.
The best part of my visit, though, was the gardens! Like all English country gardens, they took my breath away.  I sat on a bench where Jane might have sat contemplating how her characters would develop while she breathed in the gentle English breezes.
After my own private contemplations, I began to wander around taking photos of various flowers and plants.  I was in my glory and my hosts finally came looking for me. All they were concerned about was that I was enjoying my visit.

And if you are ever in England and are a Jane Austen fan, I'd highly recommend a visit to the museum.  There is a lovely pub  called The Greyfriars immediately across the street where you can get a nice lunch either before or after your visit.   Here's a photo of it:
Hope you enjoyed a virtual visit to the Jane Austen Museum and may you have a jolly week!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I is for ICE FLOES Over Greenland

Welcome to ABC Wednesday, Round 20, Letter I as in ice-cream, igloos, icicles, iditerod, idioms, and illuminating

Notice that 4 out of 6 of my examples above refer to ice and did you know that the 2017 Iditerod is starting in Fairbanks, Alaska instead of Anchorage because of the lack of snow in Anchorage!  They have sent it all down here to Vancouver, British Columbia, where we've had THE worst winter EVER with so much snow that it's sometimes been difficult for me to get out in the car. And today as I write this, (March 5th) I woke up to another dump of this incessant white stuff!  No one can remember us ever getting snow in December, let alone March!

So with that in mind, I decided to show you some photos that I took from the airplane as I flew over Greenland last summer on my way home from my immensely memorable trip to the United Kingdom. I used my new Canon SX720HS camera with 40X telephoto lens and I think the shots are incredible. When the pilot announced we were approaching Greenland, I got into position at the very back of the plane (where I was sitting) and started focusing.  If you click on the first photo, you can see them in full screen and will see much more detail.  We start with a few shots of some clouds and then possibly some land.
This next one looks like waterfalls, but they're clouds.
Could that actually be land?
Then, for sure there was land!




 Notice the wing tip at the upper left corner!
These last two (above and below) are of ICE FLOES! 
I was so excited to get decent shots of this intercontinental area of the world.  And thrilled to share them with you all.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

H is for HAMLET


How many of you groan at the thought of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"?  How many had to read and study it in high school?  Anyone ever seen it on the stage or any of the movie versions?  What are your thoughts?

I am currently finishing up "Hamlet" with a student I tutor and have to say that up to now, I've never been a fan of the play.  However, every time I have to help a student with it, I learn a little bit more.  I think I've finally figured out the point that Shakespeare was trying to make through this story of a Danish prince.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Hamlet's father was King of Denmark and murdered by his brother Claudius, who then married his sister-in-law Gertrude.  The play follows young Hamlet as he professes to seek revenge on his uncle while at the same time, trying to love his mother as before, even though he feels she has committed the ultimate sin.

I have previously found the character of Hamlet to be frustrating because he talks a great talk but never acts on his words!  I still don't "like" the story that much, but at least this "go-round"  I finally "got it." Hamlet starts off in grief and is very depressed because his father, the King, has died.  The play works its way through Hamlet's desire to avenge his death when he finds out the truth of who and why he was murdered. 

It takes a long time, in my mind, to show how Hamlet evolves from being a "thinker" who never acts on his determinations to a "thinker" who realizes that one's life and death are in the hands of fate.

There are some words of wisdom in "Hamlet," a few of which I present here:
But he dies.  It seems like everyone dies.  As in all Shakespeare's tragedies.  My student is doing an artistic rendition (collage) to illustrate the progress of Hamlet's character through the play.  It was one option out of several, most of which were literary essays.  I convinced her this would be a lot easier and a welcome change from writing the obligatory essay!  She agreed and I think she will do well.

Thanks goodness my other grade 12 students are doing "Othello," which I find much more fun - even though it is a tragedy, too.  What might be your favourite Shakespearean play?