fave pictures taken this weekend, with not a care in the world (nor a chip in my camera)

Me on George the tawny horse with a butterscotch mane at the trail ride stables.  I say to the trail guide, “Take one of just me and George… I want to put it in my office to look at every day.” George is magnificent and uninspired to moving too quickly. His whole raison d’etre being to follow the lead horse at a reasonable pace and sneak the occasional bit of greenery, which is often as I have no ability to use the reins and George knows this. We are happy together.

Kayla the trail  guide.  All blonde hair and freckles, a country lass unaware of her sweetness and the charm of her stories about being home-schooled and how she lives for horses, has five part-time jobs to keep one horse and how a horse will tell you what’s wrong with you, emotionally or physically, because if you spend enough time with it the horse takes on your problems and you can see yourself in them like a mirror.

Children in my house eating watermelon and jumping on a mini trampoline. Occasionally at the same time. To which I say: “No choking please…  because
I am not in the mood today for children choking in my house.”

Tiny hands shoveling spoonfuls of peaches and ice cream.

Tiny hands picking fat blackberries. Also argument over how there isn’t an equal number of ripe ones for all three sets of hands.

Three orders of poutine at the beach. Most of which is eaten. None of which is mine. Mine is an order of fries.

Seagulls awaiting poutine.

Flip-flops flopping in the water.  Until they’re nearly stolen by the lake and the better idea by the wearer of the flip-flops is that I carry them.

Skinny legged beach cartwheels.  Dozens it seems, one sweeter than the next. Not mine, by the way. I have neither skinny legs nor ever been able to master the sweet cartwheel… only the kind that goes by a different description. After that, some other gymnastic moves that need only ribbons to make them an Olympic event. (Now there we have something I’m good at: ribbon dancing.)

Lad skipping stones. Correction. Lad trying  to skip stones. Lads, I discover, aren’t especially amused when aunties come along and say Want me to show you how it’s done?   And then do.

And other stones. Especially those as described in the wonderful Pinny in Summer, which is read aloud to the soundtrack of Lake Ontario waves. (Smiles all around when we find JUST THE PERFECT ONE.)

Cloud shaped like the skeleton of a rabbit.  Sad but true.

A radiant palm holding five colours of beach glass:  white, green, dark blue, brown and possibly yellow, or just pale pale brown. Either way, ridiculously exciting haul.


two things for a holiday monday

1.   Dear Moody Long Weekend Mornings… that conspire to keep their skies grey long enough to insist that I linger in bed fluffed with pillows and layered with pages—books, newspapers—and a pot of tea. Peppermint. Sometimes even going so far as to demand I have a square of dark chocolate.

My deep gratitude.

AND 2.   Dear Literary Press Group… who sent me a box of books that fit so well in the above-mentioned fluffing and layering. And all I did was like you on FB. How lovely you are, but please know my like is sincere and goes beyond any number of books (having said that, please also know I am beyond thrilled).

As for the books, well, they are perfectly exquisite gifts. The cover of each is a joy in itself.

I’ve already dived deeply into Rosemary Nixon’s Are You Ready to Be Lucky? because how can I do otherwise with an opening that goes: “Roslyn high-steps up Bantry Street on an icy Alberta evening buffeted by late-December gusts, holding high her sixty by forty centimetre tray of pineapple-stuffed meatballs, trying not to look like a woman who, at the yearly No Commitment Book Club Christmas gift exchange, received a can of gravy and… How to Seem Like a Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself…”

There is also The Wondrous Woo, by Carrianne K.Y. Leung, and The Fleece Era, poetry by Joanna Lilley, which I’ve only peeked at and already love—not to mention that exquisite stock, the typeset, the black flyleaf. The words, did I mention the words? “I don’t look at paintings/ but at the walls on which they hang.”

Then there’s Swarm by Lauren Carter, a mildly dystopian novel about “a world only one turn of the dial from our own”, and a matter of survival by fishing, farming and beekeeping. My sort of thing. Finally—as if this bounty isn’t enough—A History of Breathing, a play by Daniel MacDonald that, based on a quick scan, I can’t wait to properly spend time with.

All of which to say: a thousand thanks, dear Literary Press Group. A box of books is no small event in this house.

this is not a review — ‘in the spice house’, by marnie woodrow

Only just recently discovered this quirky and quite lovely book, published in 1996—another testament to the riches that are CanLit and the fact that so many gems are present for but a moment, before the next thing takes its place… for but a moment.

In other words, it’s easy to miss a few.

I divide books into four categories: new-new, old-new, old favourites, and books I’ve heard nothing about and got merely on a whim. Often, that’s where the treasures are found and, to be honest, it’s my favourite pile. No prejudice nor expectation, no hoopla to live up to… a book from this pile can just be a book.
[Is it just me or does it seem that titles receiving the most hoopla are very often the least hoopla-worthy, while so many gems fly under the radar….]

Blather aside, in the spice house was a delicious find indeed. And a much-needed palate cleanser from the recently hoopla’d.

The food references are not accidental.

Each story [there are 16] in this collection centres around or focuses on or incorporates food and relationships in bold and unexpected ways, which, in my world, is more important than plot. Although there’s plenty of that detail also.

In ‘Mamamilk’ a woman is confronted by a child she lost due to neglect and other slovenly habits. ‘Belly’ is a bit of sarcastic pleasure about home ownership. It begins: “I’m holding a brunch in honour of my lucky friends, the ones with two-car garages and split level lives.” [FYI: brunch takes an ominous turn.]  ‘Suck’ is about a chef who loses all self control while watching people eat, and ‘King Cake’ offers up traditional New Orleans fare along with some distinctly original revenge. In ’32 Flavours’ a rapist rues the day he walked into an ice-cream parlour. ‘To Market To Market’ takes us on a ride in more ways than one, and in ‘Obvious Need and Senseless Longing’ Elizabeth David’s death leads to a dangerous romance with the knife obsessed. It begins, “I gave up drinking in favour of buying cookbooks.” 

The shortest piece is ‘One Lip’, a sort of fairy tale about the end of love and its inherent difficulties.41twt9hKaVL__SL500_AA300_

The longest, ‘Madame Frye’, is about an unhappily married woman who works in a fish and chips shop and longs to go to Bora Bora or have an affair with a patron named Melinda, whichever comes first. It takes the form of something like diary entries, alternating in the wife’s voice and that of her ultra savvy daughter Penny [it’s her voice that makes it].

The stories are short, bite-sized things, and written in prose that feels like a conversation over lunch with some wonderfully wild and free-thinking companion who never uses the same voice twice in her ‘tellings’—here, listen to this one, each narrator seems to be saying as we sip our Chardonnay, break a piece of baguette, lean forward.

And then we start on the cheese, the olives, order some more wine, all the while leaning in even further…

Viva long-lost gems.