Here we come a-carolling

When we were young, my brother and I took drama lessons for several years in downtown Hamilton. The studio was located in an old, rickety building whose original construction predated Confederation. It had gone through  at least a couple of renovations since then, but that all happened long before I came along. To me, the building with its glacier-slow elevator and funny smells seemed, to borrow a phrase, “as old as the hills and twice as dusty.”

Continue reading “Here we come a-carolling”

The Great Christmas Bake-Off Part 2

In following to my previous post about holiday baking, I figured I’d post an update on the Swedish cakes recipe. It’s one I inherited from my late mother-in-law, one she collected from an old friend. The recipe card notes that it’s GOOD. And she was right. The recipe turned out very well, though it’s low yield: I had enough to make 2 dozen, which is a smaller quantity than I’m used to for a cookie recipe. The recipe is called thimble cookies or thumbprint cookies because you make a dent in the cookie dough to hold jam or jelly. I used seedless raspberry jam. And you can roll them in sugar or walnuts. I tried each kind, but didn’t do as many in walnuts because not everyone in the family is a fan.

The result does look like eyeballs from Aardman Animation if you put them in pairs. So they’d be good for Hallowe’en parties. A note, though, they also don’t travel exceptionally well, particularly if they get turned on their side….you may end up with jam all over.

But in the end, it was a relaxing project, and not too much work  which was exactly what I wanted. Mission accomplished!

 

The Great Christmas Bake-off

There’s a new article in the Atlantic about whether baking can reduce stress and anxiety. Now, I’ve been baking since I was a child, and I can vouch that it entirely depends on the complexity and your comfort with the recipe. A batch of cookies and a cheesecake do not compare. Guess which I’ve made more often?

I’m a huge fan of baking shows like the Great British Bake-off (and its Canadian spinoff). I find them very soothing. One, because the contestants and hosts are all genuinely nice to each other. Two, because it’s amazing to see the contestants attempt to make the most complicated recipes I’ve ever seen. And three, it shows how long things actually take to bake. None of this soufflé in 20 minutes nonsense.

Continue reading “The Great Christmas Bake-off”

We will remember them

Remembrance Day is an important day for my family. My husband’s currently serving in the military and has had colleagues who died while on duty.  We both have family members who served, most notably our maternal grandfathers. As a result, Remembrance services are highly emotional events for us, something I’ve tried to capture in the following poem.

Continue reading “We will remember them”

Sunday in Paris with George

My purpose is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris, as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere. 

This quote from George Gershwin comes from an interview in Musical America that was published in August 1928. He was speaking, of course, of his masterpiece “An American in Paris”, which was still a work in progress. But the end goal for this particular piece was in sight. Two weeks from today marks 90 years since he completed the orchestration of his tribute to the City of Light. It premiered at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928, conducted by Walter Damrosch, who had commissioned the work. You can read more about the history of the piece here. And, if you’ve never heard the full piece, take a listen here to this performance by the Moscow City Symphony-Russian Philharmonic. It’s about 20 minutes long.

Continue reading “Sunday in Paris with George”

Podcast of Mole and Niece now available

Back at the beginning of September, I announced that my story “Mole and Niece” had been published in the NonBinary Review.

Now I’m happy to announce that you can listen to the podcast and read the story here: http://nonbinaryreview.com/mole-and-niece/

Enjoy!

Stepping up and speaking out

Today is World Mental Health Day, so I thought I’d share something I wrote for Let’s Talk, a day in January when Canadians are publically encouraged to break down the stigma and talk about mental health. I wasn’t ready to share it then, but I am now.

While I haven’t received an official diagnosis of social anxiety, two years ago, I participated in a study for people displaying symptoms, and that has helped me a lot. This is just another bend in that road.

*deep breath*

Continue reading “Stepping up and speaking out”

A read-letter day

I was pleasantly surprised to learn this morning that the Ottawa Citizen published my letter to the editor today!

It’s regarding the closure of an Ottawa fixture: Dunn’s deli on Elgin Street, a favourite place of mine. I had written about it earlier this year as part of a writing exercise, so I adapted it into a short tribute.

I was especially thrilled that it’s the first letter on the page and it’s accompanied by a photo by Wayne Cuddington.

I will still miss Dunn’s a lot though. 🙁

You can read it here. Enjoy!

(In case it’s not obvious, the title for this post comes from the joke “what is black and white and read all over”)

 

Appreciating Jean Little

In a previous post, I mentioned Jean Little, one of Canada’s most notable children’s authors. She was a favourite of mine growing up, and so I decided to revisit her life and work and write about it here.

About Jean

Jean Little was born in 1932 in Japanese-occupied Taiwan.  Her parents Gorrie (Flora) and Llew were both doctors working as missionaries with the United Church of Canada. Gorrie herself grew up in a missionary family, which often meant a life of long-distance relationships, ably described in Jean’s His Banner over Me (2008).

Continue reading “Appreciating Jean Little”