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Sinatra as Mood-Lifter PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 January 2014 14:04

The last 2 weeks of our life have been definitely the weeks from Hell (family illness) and my chief self-care chore has been find ways of relieving anxiety. My usual techniques - alcohol, pain relievers containing codeine, and my favourite, chocolate, were not really options. Well, chocolate was, but I know it is counter-productive and have been trying to exert some self-control, never my best quality. But I think I have found, in the most unexpected quarter, a technique that rivals the best tranquilizers I have ever taken.

I have been listening to Frank Sinatra. Right now, Sinatra-Jobim is playing, one of my favourite albums of all time. But any of his golden years music is wonderful and soothing to hear, and helps me relax, regroup, and focus on what needs to be done. Within minutes of putting the first of his albums on, I found I was able to make a sensible list, and start methodically tackling items one by one, and I found my mood lifting, and concrete plans being made. So he is staying on the player for the forseeable future.

Frank has always been a favourite in my family, and I often wondered why. No matter how talented any artist is, in a group of seven people you will usually find one or two dissenters who don't like that particular body of work, and on any other topic my siblings and I tend to have dissenters a-plenty. Given the anxiety-ridden nature of our upbringing, it makes sense that we would all respond to a natural calmative that leaves no negative side-effects. I wonder if the health professionals have twigged to this one yet. No prescription needed, no load on the health-care system. So, on the mellifluent notes of of Baubles, Bangles and Beads, I will finish this, and cross "write blog entry" off my list and get to the next item. Thank you, Frank.

 
Rainbow for 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 06:46

We were here yesterday in the Dominican Republic at +34°C and today, New Year's Eve, we are back home in Sudbury. The temperature is -34°C with the windchill. Horrifying. But we wish you all on New Year's Eve, a 2014 filled with rainbows.

 
Maritime Chanterelles PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 12:23

Just back from a trip to the Maritimes to see John's family and take Robert to and from Camp Berwick. We had a lovely visit and were fortunate enough to see all John's brothers and sisters, and most of the in-laws, though we missed seeing Bill, Marg's husband. We also visited with lots of nieces and nephews, and some grandnieces and grandnephews as well. Keagan had a merry time with little Finlay. Our thanks to all who put us up and put up with us, and to those who changed their plans to come and see us.

We stayed mostly at Eldon's cottage which boasted a grand feed of beautiful chanterelles, as well as one of the loveliest front door views of any cottage I have ever visited, photo below. The lake is quite swimmable and the ecosystem hosts kingfishers, eagles, loons, h-birds (aka hummingbirds) among others.

We also toured a bit, dropping in on a lovely wool shop called Have-a-Yarn in Mahone Bay, which I heartily recommend, and coffee and pastry shops in Lunenburg (below) as well.

We spent a beautiful day visiting vineyards in the Gaspereau Valley (below) and brought samples of the wines back for our Monday Night Dinners in the fall. We bought wines at each of the vineyards, progressively more bottles as the wine tasting proceeded. Luckett Vineyards, where we lunched, was the most dog-friendly of the vineyards, as Keagan was allowed to sit by us, just off the outdoor patio, and share the view.

 
Invisible Allies PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 July 2013 19:59

I had a terrific dream the other night - sad but lovely. I dreamed that I was trying to photograph a rabbit coming out of its hole. Behind the rabbit hole was a tree and behind the tree a raccoon who kept circling the tree. The rabbit kept popping its head out of its hole and going back in, so I was trying to set up my camera to snap a shot of both animals. But I am the world's worst photographer, so it was a challenge for me.

But suddenly my eldest brother appeared on the right of the rabbit and the tree. He is a very capable photographer, so I was delighted. He would be able to help me get the shot. As he was moving towards me from the right, another person entered the frame from the left. It was my father! I was ecstatic. He died 18 years ago and he has only visited me once since he died - some six months after his death. On that occasion, he only spoke to me, but kept himself invisible, but here he was as clear as could be, so I was thrilled.

I thought maybe I could get a photo of him with my brother. Maybe Dad would be visible in the photo, but maybe, because he is a ghost, he wouldn't. Either way, it was worth a try, and, if I could get my brother to move, they would both be in it together. But I didn't want to startle Dad, so I whispered to my brother, "Al, look over there. Dad's here. Move over beside him and I will get a photo of the both of you together."

Just as I said it, they both vanished, and I realized that my brother, who died last year on Hallowe'en, was himself a ghost now. I was stricken with sorrow. And yet, the dream left me with a residual sense of well-being; that they had come, and come together, to visit me, to help me, to be with me, was deeply gratifying.

It reminded me of the many times my maternal grandmother has come to visit me. I will be looking in a mirror and suddenly my face will disappear, and my grandmother will be there instead, telling me not to worry, because she is watching over me. Earlier this past week, I had another dream of people coming to visit me, wanting to help me, so this new dream felt like a reinforcement of that promise. It seemed to tell me I have allies I cannot see, supporting me, ready to help me if I let them. So this week I am going to try to let them, whoever they may be.

 
2013 Books - Selected PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 May 2013 10:24

Here is the list of books for 2013 - 2014. No ISBNs because everyone seems to read different versions - hardcovers, softcovers, Kindle, Kobo, etc. The links will take you to Indigo books, but we don't care where you get your book.

     Date                                Book                                             Author                         Hostess  
These are the books we chose for the 2013-2014 season
Wed, Sept. 4 2013 Far From the Tree Andrew Solomon Lesley Mitchell
Wed, Oct 30, 2013 The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor Sally Armstrong Cathy Jakelski
Wed, Nov 27 2013 Paris Edward Rutherford Paddy Buchanan
Wed, Jan 29, 2014 Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Julie Bowen
Wed, Feb 26, 2014 The Hole in the Middle Kate Hilton Brenda Petryna
Wed, Mar 19, 2014 Sweet Tooth Ian McEwan Mandy Hey
Wed, Apr 30, 2014 And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini Elizabeth Levin
May 2014 - TBA Year-End Party : Location - To Be Determined
 
This Way, Mr Collins PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 April 2013 11:37

Three Women in Regency Costume DressThe 2013 Jane Austen Ball Weekend in Toronto was a hoot. In the bicentennial year of the publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, many Elizabeth Bennets were in attendance, as well as a few Darcys. My daughter and I, costumed respectively as Mrs Bennet and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, appalled a pair of attendees over tea and scones by stating that we found Elizabeth Bennet to be a bit of a bore. We prefer our characters. Bonnie likes the imperious, self-satisfied and outraged Lady Catherine, and I love the flutterings and spasms of Mrs Bennet, who doesn't care about the so-called "class" of her "betters", but who appreciates the value of "ten thousand pounds a year" and manages to marry 3 of her girls off reasonably well (Yes, Wickham is a cad, but silly Lydia was always going to choose badly, and the success of the other girls more than make up for that.) In this photo, we stand beside a lovely (and very sweet) Elizabeth, whose Darcy took the photo for us. Video of me dancing is also out there somewhere, but not for the public. Sorry! Bonnie and I thank the Jane Austen Society, Toronto branch, and Danceweavers, who organized the event and the Toronto English Country Dancers, the dance group that taught us how to be Elizabeths and Darcys for the ball. And yes, Mrs. Bennet made her own dress, but of course, Lady Catherine de Bourgh did not.

 
2013 Grand Prix Cheeses of Canada PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 April 2013 10:27

The winners of the Dairy Farmers of Canada 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix awards have been announced, and below are the winners in each of the nineteen divisions. More information on each of these cheeses is available on the Dairy Farmers site.

Fresh Cheese
Ricotta, Quality Cheese Inc., Vaughan ON
Fresh Cheese with grilling properties
Queso Fresco Cheese, Latin Foods Inc., AB
Soft Cheese with bloomy rind
Le Noble, Fromagerie Domaine Féodal Inc., QC
Semi-soft Cheese
Tre Stelle Feta Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
Washed OR Mixed Rind Cheese (Soft, Semi-soft and Firm)
Le Mamirolle, Fromagerie Éco-Délices, QC
Firm Cheese
Gunn's Hill Five Brothers, Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
Gouda
Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
Swiss-type Cheese
Louis D'or 18 months, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
Mozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder)
Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese, Arla Foods Inc., ON
Blue Cheese (Various rinds, with or without veining)
Bleu d'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavourings
Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PEI
Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids and Flavourings
Raclette de Compton au poivre, Fromagerie La Station, QC
Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)
L'Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar, Fromagerie L'Ancêtre, QC
Medium Cheddar(aged 4 to 9 months)
Medium Cheddar, Maple Dale Cheese, ON
Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)
Cheddar 1 year, Fromagerie Perron, QC
Aged Cheddar (more than 1 year up to 3 years)
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar,Cows Creamery, PEI
Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)
5 Year Aged Cheddar, The Black River Cheese Company Ltd., ON
Farmhouse Cheese
Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
Organic Cheese
Bleu d'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC