Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cooking with Love

It seems disingenuous to completely ignore and omit the details regarding the major changes in my life right now.  

But I really do not have much of a choice.  

So impressions and vignettes are what I will share instead.

Food.  Cooking.  Love.  

We need food to survive.  But not all food is of the same quality.  Same with love.   

Food prepared with love always tastes better.  And I've learned the opposite is also true.

I was touched to rediscover this apron in the oversized Eaton's box in which my grandmother carefully packed away hair ribbons, baby shoes and the family christening gown.  In amongst those invaluable treasures, is this little note pinned to an apron.  

"Elisabeth Darling, Your Mummy's apron"  

I can hear my grandmother's voice say the words as I read them.  The pain and love commingling to impart enough significance to last my lifetime.  

My mummy's apron. 

The apron itself suggests to me someone orderly.  Methodical.  Intentional.  Someone who cooked with a purpose.  Someone who baked with love.

And that was preserved for me by my loving grandmother, knowing that all I would have of that tenderness is a token.  A second-hand source.

Cheek by Jowl

This last week was relatively calm.  This next week will likely not.  

S is taking Henry to Montreal for a week starting on Wednesday.  So in my usual fashion, I'm taking full advantage and meeting up with friends for coffees, lunches, dinners, movies, drinks and will likely always be on the go.

This weekend, now that summer as arrived, Henry & I ate mostly on the back patio.  I often sing the song "Truly Scrumptious" to Henry at bedtime, and he's been asking what is a "cherry peach parfait"?   

So I promised him that this weekend I'd make him a parfait.  This one was strawberry/peach and truly scrumptious indeed.  A little bit of love for the boy, but I must confess, he got too excited to go play with the boys on the street to eat it.  

Ah well, it's the thought that counts right? 

'till next time!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Picnics, Patios and Busytown

Phew!  What a week!  I'm still alive!  Pinch me!

This last week has been looming on the calendar for a while.  I knew it was going to be jam-packed, but by the time Wednesday rolled around, I was ready to poke my eyes out for the never-endingness of tasks and appointments and the constant shifting of gears.  But in the end, savouring the present moment as much as possible has been the key to getting through it with a smile.

Monday:  Go to work early as I met up with a friend mid-day for a picnic at Toronto Island.  Returned to work for a meeting.  Pick up Henry, then swoosh out again for spontaneous night out, captured in last blog post.  

Tuesday:  Went for a short run in the morning.  At work, a full day of meetings and catching-up.  Day ends at 9:30pm when Henry falls asleep.

Wednesday:  More scrambling to catch-up with work.  Efforts thwarted by a long client meeting & business lunch. Picked up Henry and met S at Henry's school for Kindergarten Open House.  Introduced to Henry's J-K teacher and classroom for September.  She is the one Henry's been wanting, and he has one good friend in the class with him from the daycare.  So with that in place, he is very excited to start school in the autumn.

Thursday:  Voting day and therefore late into work.   Still catching-up with emails and projects.  Client meeting uptown and then back downtown for work event at crazy Japanese Izakaya, followed by rooftop at Park Hyatt and then other bar... Late night.

Friday:  Despite the late night and election results, I'm back at work for a surprisingly productive day.  Henry not asleep until 9:30pm and I crash.

Saturday:  My father is in town.  He, Henry & I go to Toronto Island on a most beautiful day.  Henry loved the GO train and ferry rides, and all of the various vehicles to be found on the island:  trams, ATVs, ambulances, small firetrucks, park trucks, yachts, tandem bicycles, hot air balloons, sail boats, etc... We rode the miniature train and swan boats, ate a picnic, rented a quadricycle and had in general a very Richard Scarry sort of a time.  As we walked past a jazzy horn quartet and the throngs of Queen's Quay, a parade of nude cyclists came down Bay St., which if age-appropriate would not have been out-of-place in a Busytown book.  Back on GO train, and then dropped off Henry at home to watch a soccer game with S. I went back out to meet back up with my dad, brother & sister-in-law for Indian food.  More catching up over coffee & gelato.  Sleep, sleep, where are you?

Sunday:  Henry insists on playing stuffed animals and "chase me" for an hour before he and S head off to the CN Tower.  I meet up with my dad at church and say bon voyage until September.

A crazy week.  My feet are barely touching the ground and my eyes are barely open.  

But let's crack open another week shall we?  

some pictures...

The Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt on Thurs. night.  

GO Ticket Agent gave Henry 3 cardboard GO Double-decker buses.
A great hit!

This way Grandpa Dan!

Centre Island

A real RE/MAX hot air balloon!



'till next time...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Niagara and Nufonia

This last week, with S away on a road trip, I felt some of both the constraints and freedoms of single-parenting.  Yes, I had to carefully plan meals, when to grocery shop, when to shower and to stay on top of the house chores, mostly in the hour between when Henry fell asleep and my own desired bedtime.  But I was also able to be more spontaneous and relaxed.

Most evenings after dinner were spent watching Henry play with the neighbourhood kids on the street.  He likes to share his scooter, jeep and tricycle with them.

Sharing is caring.

My First Trip with Henry

My 5 year old niece Emily graduated from pre-kindergarten last Friday and we were invited down to the Buffalo area to support her in her big march across the stage.  As Henry usually suffers from motion sickness in a car, I did not want risk driving down solo (a 2 hour-ish drive, depending on the traffic).  So we enjoyed the GO Train service from nearby Danforth Station, to Burlington, where we transferred onto a double-decker GO bus that transported us to "crazy town" (aka Niagara Falls).  There, we took a taxi to the Rainbow Bridge, called my brother to have my dad pick us up on the other side.  

Along with my hiking pack, I put Henry on my shoulders and walked across the bridge.  When we reached the pedestrian custom's office, I popped Henry down and told him "this is where we have to show them our passport.  Then they decide if we are naughty or not."  Happily, Henry & I passed the test and Henry received his first passport-stamp (although I did have to ask).

We spent a lovely couple of days and nights with my brother, his wife, their 2 kids and also my dad.  Henry played non-stop with his cousins, great to be able to stand back and watch!  Good ol' Great-Papa Harry even sent money for his great-grand kids to enjoy a dinner at McDonald's, Henry's first time.  Also my first time since 2000.  The toy and playground certainly made an impression on Henry, I'm not so sure about the food itself.


Making cakes and hiding from the Thinking Pirate

Proud Pre-K Graduate

Christmas card?

Lovely picnic in Beaver Lake Nature Centre

Buffalo is just across the way.

This park felt like it was nestled in an enchanted forest.

Trouble at Mickey D's

Peter was fearless, kept climbing up to ride on the engine.  All aboard!

Old-fashioned fire engine with plastic fire dog cannot fail.

Henry's encouraged to try out the swimming pool.  2nd step was his limit.

Gorgeous day to walk across the border.

No mummy!  Don't take my picture!  I'm reporting you to Customs!

Fine, I'll take my own.

With S back from his trip, I was able to go out on a Monday night spontaneously!  How exciting it was to see Kid Koala's Nufonia Must Fall  (part of Luminato Festival) and hang out with some amazing women.  The show combined a live string quartet, DJ and puppets, to animate a graphic novel, being filmed and projected in real-time.  Incredible how poignantly they were able combined these different mediums to tell a love story between a lady a robot.  

Incredible concept and very enjoyable, as was Munro Ferguson's 3-D trailer Minotaur.

Ciao for now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fun in the Sun - Élégie in the Air

Most of this last weekend was spent outdoors in the sunshine.  And pat on the back please, these two blondies did not suffer sunburn.  Take that skin cancer!

It all started with the gorgeous sunny blue sky, with little to no humidity.  20s.  Ahhh.

Henry spoke up in favour of having a home day and doing work in the back "garden' while waiting for the big kids to come out to play on the street.  

So Henry & I opened up the shed, connected the hose, cleaned the patio furniture, swept the deck, inspected his tree-house, and set-up the BBQ for testing later.

Then we took the bike trailer that was given to us but not yet used, to the bike shop on Kingston road.  They filled the tires with air for free and we were out of there within 5 minutes.  Looking for ice cream and freezies.

We chilled a bit inside, and then tested out the charcoal for the BBQ.  I could not make it work (too little lighter fluid I suspect).  So we cooked the burgers inside and ate out on the patio for the first time this year.

Superman's Treehouse.  

On Sunday we played, went to church and then took an impromptu trip to the beach to enjoy the lovely weather.  We split a sandwich from Brick Street Bakery and ate underneath a tree in Kew Gardens.  After some silliness and rock throwing, we high-tailed it up to Coxwell to my friend's house for a fun dinner with their two children.  

Upon returning from this epic Sunday, Henry was adamant he stay out and play with the big kids on the street.  So he did and he had a blast.  By the time bed rolled around, it was not exactly a struggle.

Lunch at Kew Beach

Throwing rocks- Ashbridge's Bay

Had to take his 5 sticks and 2 rocks on the bus and poke everyone.

Sharing was surprisingly not too bad between this almost 2 and almost 4 yr  old.

They make a lovely couple, eh?

Bobby Orr?


Scratch that, let's use the more elegant French:  Élégie

A melancholy poem.  

A lament.

When I was sipping white wine in the clouds on my way to Washington D.C., I listened to an elegy.  Faure's Elegie in C minor, played by Jacqueline du Pre.  It is a piece I had studied a little in university and that has resonated with me at distinct moments in my life.  Here is a link to the piece if interested.

I felt compelled to listen to it in the airplane, and as the duet reached it's climax, tears streamed down my face.  Thank god sunglasses make crying on an airplane both tragic and classy all at the same time.  

Often, I find melancholy pieces strangely uplifting, not in a morbid way, but because they touch emotional places that require a release and are otherwise hidden.  

The passion, the honesty, the rawness of emotion of this piece renders me defenseless.  The equal match of the piano to the cello, not as the same voice but as dynamic entities that complement each other.  Inseparable, yet distinct. It speaks to me.  As if it were a barometer for how much risk my heart is able to tolerate, to open and give, and also to lose.  How much grief is collateral for love?

So the juxtaposition of the sunny fun days, treasuring and savouring Henry's scientific mind, his silliness and his budding maturity, with the stream of adult emotions flowing through the catacombs of my inner life, creates a momentum that keeps me forward-looking but also keen to savour the present moment. 

Life is full of colour.  I am grateful to experience the range.