a few things

Allyson Latta was right when she suggested I might love what Rebecca Rosenblum is doing over at Rose Coloured (where anyone can join in)—i.e. making a list of Things We Like—because, it just so happens, one of the things I like most of all is making lists.

So here’s mine:

Things I Like—

—  making lists (and repeating myself)

—  ginger snaps with blackberry tea on the patio at the end of the day

—  BBQ’d shrimp and chilled sauvignon blanc on the patio at the end of the day

—  the family in my neighbourhood that are always making dinner together when I stroll past their house

—  seeing into people’s windows, especially in winter with all that coziness inside, especially at dinner time

—  seedless watermelon

—  shadows

—  the letter zed

—  my almond cherry torte recipe that I live in fear of losing so have made several copies but still worry constantly that I’ll lose them

—  Lake Ontario in the dark when the waves are crazy

—  Lake Ontario in the day… any day

—  the summer and winter solstice

—  driving long distances over empty roads, thinking out loud

—  swimming (first choice: lakes; second choice: pool with VERY little chlorine; third choice: oceans without jellyfish or sharks)

—  making soup or spaghetti sauce or anything that requires chopping, stirring, simmering

—  cooking smells in a house

—  sheets and towels and tee shirts from the line

—  a cat snuggled up beside me like a teddy bear

—  sandals

—  the movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

—  the [operatic] song from Big Night, first heard while having lunch al fresco at Quail’s Gate Winery

—  the sound of cutlery against plates in that final scene in Big Night

—  goat cheese omelettes with purslane

—  Cat’s Eye, the book

—  Drinking the Rain, by Alix Kates Shulman, which I read almost every year

—  the way insects and animals and birds and trees know exactly what to do

—  choosing well from a menu

—  painting with bold colours

—  discovering a new place in my own ‘hood

—  the word ‘hood

—  beeswax candles

—  walking, hiking, climbing, none of it too strenuously

—  the sight of the Andes from a small plane

—  the colour green, indoors and out

—  people who get excited about possibilities, art and words

—  the smell of dirt in Spring

—  the smell of snow and the way it looks in the sunshine

—  sharpened pencils and fast writing pens

define treasure

A few weeks ago I got an email from Allyson Latta, asking if I’d be interested in participating in her Seven Treasures series, which, she explained would amount to simply listing a few items that, for whatever reason, I couldn’t part with.

I was delighted with the idea of course, honoured to be asked.

At first what came to mind were the obvious things when one hears the word treasures—i.e. pirate loot and pots of gold.

But given that I live in a world of stones collected from the beach, feathers that appear magically at my feet, and a few pieces of art… there’s not a lot of lootish takings to list. And anyway, things that can be bought are never the real treasures, the value attached being purely arbitrary, an abstract created by some vague entity. Not to say that a treasure can’t have monetary value, but I think that quality is incidental, secondary at best.

So next my thoughts went to treasures so valuable they don’t need mentioning—the people and animal ones.

But they don’t need mentioning. (Have I mentioned that?)

Which brought me to the most interesting list of all: treasures I didn’t know were important to me until someone asked.

I was surprised by what surfaced. (The bowl I ate popcorn from as a kid? Are you kidding me? This is what I’m attached to??) But no, of course not the bowl, but what the bowl represents, what I think about every time I see it in my own cupboard and remember its position on the second shelf above the flour and sugar tins, in my mother’s. I remember where I ate that badly burned popcorn, made in a beat-up aluminium pot (used only by me for, um, badly burned popcorn)… what I watched on TV, the pages I turned with buttery fingers; I remember the coolness of the basement, the sound of my dad’s lawnmower through the window, my mother sewing in another room. I can’t remember the bowl being used for much else. Maybe it was, but it felt like mine. How privileged I feel now to have been given this ‘space’ of my own—space the size of a bowl—yet large enough to hold the sound of my mother’s sewing machine.  No one, including me, could have guessed what a gift it was.

It’s always this stuff that matter most, things that connect us to ourselves in ways we hardly know, and that might otherwise be lost.

So this is what the lovely Allyson has so beautifully and thoughtfully presented on her blog.

My seven were first up.

And I see that Rebecca Rosenblum’s seven have just been posted. (Oh that spider plant! Of course. How could she ever get rid of it? It’s like a tiny striped pet!)

Lovely idea, this. And such fun. Both the writing and the reading. And a great question to ask yourself or family and friends. I sent an email to a few friends recently and was amazed with what they wrote back.

Happy excavating!

passing the cake…


I’m swanning about the place in a tiara today. Also a sash. Just missing a mitre—and, what, an ermine robe is asking too much??  All this thanks to Allyson Latta  who bestowed on me the most wonderful surprise of naming Matilda one of her picks for the (brace yourself) Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award—whose logo is a strawberry shortcake, which makes it probably the best award I’ve ever heard of.

The protocol, I’ve been advised, on receiving the ISBA, is to a) thank the person who nominated you, b) share seven things about yourself, and c) pass along the award to other irresistibly sweet bloggers.

Well, first things first then: thank you so very much, Ms. Allyson, for thinking of my little corner of cyberspace and for the kind things you said about it—the phrase “sometimes wacky” notwithstanding; surely a typo… :D  (me, wacky??)

As for sharing seven things about myself—this should be relatively simple given that there happen to be exactly seven things about myself.

They are these:

1.   My backyard is home to several giant ant hills (by which I mean three or four), none of which I intend to do anything about. One of them has been there fifteen years. We call it the Ant Hotel. When visiting kids were small we had a sign for it. Very reasonable rates and efficient, speedy room service (albeit small portions) were its hallmarks.

2.   I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to like coffee but I keep buying tea.

3.   Corn makes my stomach ache. Annoying because I like polenta and Mexican food and Fritos, not to mention buttery cobs on summer days, which when I was a kid I used to eat like a typewriter. (Link provided for those who just said a what??)

4.   My heroes tend to be animals, children and very old people.

5.   I’m happiest when the fridge is on the empty side. I find this inspires creativity in my cooking. Some wonderful things have been invented under the most spartan conditions. Or maybe I’m happiest when I’m outside, up to my wrists in dirt (pardon me, soil), or on a lounge chair in the company of words. On the other hand, swimming, plunging my nose into laundry fresh from a sunny line, a morning spent walking or writing at the beach…all leave me smiling pretty solidly too. As does rain and snow and the kind of breeze you could fall asleep in and then you do and that feeling when you wake up and the world is just there, waiting for you, making no demands. And you remember there’s just enough ice cream left for a small bowl and because there’s only a bit, it tastes that much better. And then you find a jar of cherries.

6.   I saw Leonard Cohen in concert in 2009. I still haven’t completely recovered.

7.   I would like to learn Spanish and Sign Language. Spanish, so that I can go back to Chile and discuss bread and wine and life. Sign Language for its beauty and elegance.

Finally, a few bloggers to whom I’d like to pass along the shortcake. Not for sweetness but for enhancing the interweb with their wise words, gentle spirits and contagious sense of joy.

Alone on a Boreal Stage—Home of poet and visual artist Brenda Schmidt’s photo/video poems and other bird/nature/book related pleasures.

We Drank Cachaca and Smoked the Green Cheroot—I’ve become addicted to this site because of stolen rhubarb, orange knickers, lady bikes, Jean Talon Market and sentences like this:

“I was not expecting the skies of England to be all painterly, to perform for me as they have apparently done since William and Dorothy Wordsworth pottered about the countryside with their pockets full of mutton pies, but the skies did perform, and I am still thinking about them, because they billowed alive over the built-up bricks and statuary and pomp and palaces that caused the subtitle BYGONE DAYS to float across my mind the whole time I was there.” (From the post: Whence and Whilst and Those Constable Skies, 6/14/11)

Pickle Me This—I’m always happily surprised whenever I check into this site. Kerry Clare has exactly the right mix of book smart and life whimsy.

Carol Bruneau’s Blog—This is where I go to remind myself how to think about writing.

Four Rooms—Exploring the power of words in various forms.

Island Editions—Publishing, books, beachy vistas and occasionally food.