For the love of pineapple

“Leftovers in the dining room,” the email announces.

All 200 employees scurry down the stairs to the dining hall to scoop up remains of the catered lunch left behind by the visiting big wigs.

I pick through an enormous bowl of fruit salad and scoop lumps of pineapple, a couple of blackberries, a spoonful of blueberries, some raspberry mush into a container. I take every juicy chunk of pineapple and leave the tepid scalloped potatoes and cold ham with curling edges to those who seek comfort in stodge. I turn my back on the date squares and chocolate macaroons and return to my desk coddling a plastic container brimming with bright, wet fruit. Continue reading


“Oh, Bits!” by Josh Langston

Technically, this is a mystery novel and if it needs a category of mystery, I might slot it under the “cosy” column but it’s also a period-piece, set in Atlanta, GA during 2nd World War, a romance, and a fantasy all told with a shot of humour. If you keep a spreadsheet of books you’ve read this year with various columns to note your reading history, you might need a new column labeled “genre-bender” and perhaps that’s where Josh’s book belongs. Continue reading


wuthering bites

The Lady hadn’t left the house in 200 days. She must get out, her shrink said, for the furtherance of her mental health. She risked becoming a modern Miss Havisham if she didn’t jump back in the saddle (his words) and soon.

Squinting over a plate of flowers at the Ikebana exhibition, bald and stooped, scrubbing his mouth with the back of his hand, she saw Harry for the first time. Well, she thought, he’s as good as anybody.

“Would you like to get a sausage roll and tea?” she asked, bold as brass.

Odd – the things flowers make you say.

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Mal de mer

From the archives…

wuthering bites

“Luv, let’s get away this weekend,” Harry said. “Take the ferry, have an adventure, romp in a four poster bed.”

Lady didn’t mention the hole in the wall or the crumbling parging or the sconce dangling from the kitchen window. She stopped nagging but it niggled nonetheless.

The crossing was rough and the ferry pitched and heaved. “Hang on”, said Lady and fetched a bucket while Harry turned green and clutched the railing. She watched rolling waves of mal de mer bring up lumps of vomit, stinking with his inadequacy.

Ashore, Harry held the battered bucket and watched his Lady leave.

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Stop the epidemic!


Curated leaves

It’s time to stop the curation epidemic. We, the Ministry of Overused Words (MOW), the Word Protection Collective (WPC) and the Respect for the Oxford English Dictionary (ROED) – now known as the Anti-Curation Coalition (ACC) – demand a cure for the word curated – a curative dose, for the overdose, the rendering comatose of a perfectly reasonable word. Continue reading

Size matters

“You have to be a Skinny Minnie to fit in these seats,” the giant man by the window said as I unfolded the seat belt and wrapped it around my hips. It didn’t fit. I lifted the metal flap and pulled the nylon web looser and buckled it. I’m no Skinny Minnie, that’s for sure.

For the next fifty minutes me and the giant man, whose knees butted against the seat in front of him, and whose right hip spilled over the crack dividing our seats and made contact with my left hip, barely contained our bodies in the 18-seater Dash-8 airplane. As I read “Outside of Ordinary-Women’s Travel Stories” and he read “Talk Like a CEO”, we sat shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, me refusing to budge an inch, owning every scrap of fabric on my seat. In the past, I would have done my utmost to give the man more space – crossed my left leg over my right, rounded my left arm and shoulder inward, put my feet together under the seat in front of me, made myself small, small, small.

How many times have I sat next to a man on a plane or a bus or in a waiting room who took up space by spreading his knees wide in a huge V, like an invading Viking, marauding and menacing my space? How many times have I shifted my body away so I don’t have to touch him, so I don’t have to feel him, so I don’t have to be aware of him, so I can simply be in my seat and fly/bus/wait?

Never have I been in this situation where a man crosses his legs, or shifts away, giving me my allotted spot. Never have I seen a man squeeze his knees close and tight or plant his feet together like he was bound by invisible rope about to be bagged and tossed into an umarked grave. Never have I seen a man relinquish the middle armrest.

Maybe it was the news of the past few weeks that made me refuse to budge and reduce myself to accommodate the giant. My fatigue with forgiving someone else their size while trying to make myself disappear for their comfort has been transformed into determination to use the space I need and am equally entitled to.

No, I’m no Skinny Minnie. Give me my space.

Miracles by mail

It was late winter in New Zealand when Pauline tucked her gift in a diaphanous gold pouch and pulled the stings tight to close it. Inside it glittered and prisms quivered through the fabric and spread across her face. Then she wrapped it in a styrofoam sheet and packed her gift in a box measuring 4 x 2 inches. It weighed 1.3 pounds.  Continue reading

Culture vulture

I know nothing about classical music except that I like Strauss waltzes because I saw a documentary years ago with the Lipizzaner stallions performing to Strauss.

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Performing Lippizzner stallion

I know nada about how music is composed and how those black squiggles on the page tell a musician what to play as well as the speed and volume to play. It might as well be quantum mechanics.

When a kind woman from the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) called three years ago encouraging me to buy season’s tickets I balked. I imagined Sibelius on a frosty winter night, bearded men – and maybe bearded women, too – nodding knowingly in their cushy seats, conducting with their pointer fingers as I slumped snoring in my seat. I said as much to the nice sales lady on the phone.

“Oh no, no, no,” she said. “There’s so much more to offer. Have you considered….” and off she went extolling the virtues of the Pops series. Hmm, I thought, Pops sounds like something old dads go to so they can say they went to hear the orchestra on Saturday night, like they were hobnobbing with the culture class all tuxedoed and shiny shoed. But then she said yatta yatta Broadway Divas yatta yatta and I said what? And that was that. She hooked me.

Image result for Broadway divas National Arts Centre Orchestra

My husband chose half the orchestra performances last year. Turns out he likes Sibelius. We went. I fell asleep.  This year I chose all the performances again. No Sibelius for us!

Shall I display my ignorance further? The season opener for the orchestra this year was headlined by Itzhak Perlman. I’d heard of him. Had I heard anything he’d played? Nope. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Apparently he played on a Billy Joel album back in the late ‘80’s which I have heard but he was anonymous at the time of recording.

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Billy Joel and Itzhak Perlman in concert, 2015

You can listen here.

The audience for the performance we attended was the musical cognoscenti mixed with the glitterati seekers – those who attend concerts of famous musicians because they’re famous musicians. Me? Call me the ignorati. There were lots of shiny shoes but no tuxedos. My husband wore his best Hawaiian shirt and clean low-cut hiking shoes. I wore sparkly earrings and red patent (shiny) leather flats.

But enough about fashion.

Have you ever been at a concert where the audience was silent at the end of a performance? Ever wondered why an audience would be silent? I know now. When Perlman played the theme from “Far and Away” I leaned forward in my seat straining to hear the last note, the last reverberation of the strings. I filled my lungs and held my breath so as not to disturb the air around me, to allow the sound to reach my ears. The note, as strong as spider gossamer, hangs in my memory even now. It was as though I’d climbed to the top of a long mountain path and arrived at a lookout over Shangri-la, the world green, fresh, perfect.

The moral of the story? None, except that not all telemarketers call to tell you that you have a compromised hard drive and you better let them fix it or your life will be over, or claim to be calling from Revenue Canada and that if you don’t pay up pronto your bank account will be frozen forever. Sometimes the telemarketer will change you into an orchestra-going culture vulture. So be careful. It could happen to you.

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The half-truths and lies of my photos

I cobbled together a sampling of where we went and what we did from mid-June to September first. What struck me about these images is what they don’t tell you and what I may not remember ten years from now – the temperatures, smells, and feelings behind each shot. Maybe most importantly, why the photo was taken and the context.

None of these photos will be printed and saved. It has been years since I made a photo album either digitally or the old-school method of printing and placing them in tidy chronological order. I justify this as a blessing to my children who won’t have to sift through dozens of albums after I die and toss out 99% of them because they will have no meaning to them at all.

So, kind reader, indulge me in a September wallow down recent memory lane. Below each photo you’ll find a short background story. Continue reading