Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot.....

I started writing this post in my head when I did my Christmas cards late in November.

Many of you more technologically astute individuals have your addresses in your computers or in your cell phones.

Alas, that is not my forte, and besides, I have a sentimental attachment to my address book.

I bought it in 1986 at The Old Country Market in Coombs, Vancouver Island.  Someday, I must have goats on my roof too - must mention that to Barry...

It has been well-worn and similar to my family pictures, is the historical archive of the last 28 years of my life.

As with all of our lives, our address books are living, breathing, evolving representations of ourselves.

Up above you can see that someone recommended The Baby Book by Dr, William Sears to me when I was pregnant with my son and I dutifully wrote the title down.  I bought the book and Barry and I and Dr. Sears attachment parented him, and the results seem okay!  My daughter was cared for by us and Penelope Leach and she seems quite okay, too.

Every page has something scratched off or changed

...someone has moved

...someone has died

...someone has divorced and now there are suddenly 3 or 4 addresses

---I'm not close with that someone any more

---someone is a new friend

Sometimes it takes me a moment to remember who someone is.  Why do I still have the name and phone number, not crossed off, of a friendly fellow I worked with in 1986 at an Alzheimer's Day Care Clinic in Regina, Saskatchewan?  Surely J cannot even be in the same shabby apartment he was in all those years ago, and if he is, what would I think of that?

There are all of our addresses: the basement apartment in Regina, the rented house on Vancouver Island, the apartment above the old bakery, the professor's house, the small apartment with the leaded glass windows, the apartment where we put in our first garden, our first house where the kids first lived, our present house... They are all there.

The greatest number of addresses belongs to my brother-in-law, I won't share who has had the greatest number of partners!

There are the meticulous directions to the Motel 6 in New Haven Connecticut that was so sketchy that after we checked in with our young kids we decided we did not feel safe and even the desk clerk agreed and sent us on our way with a full refund!

There are no Qs.  I need a Q friend!  Queen Elizabeth?

There are many people I've lost track of.  I wonder where they are now and I hope they are happy.

This year New Year's Eve I toast my friends, hither and yon:

  • those I see weekly
  • those I haven't seen in 28 years
  • those friends who have passed on, still with me in my heart every day
  • those I am no longer friends with - people grow apart and change, but there will always be room in my heart for them
  • those who are new gifts in my life - you all here for example and I would include Miss Rewired, whom I have been friends with for a long time, but have only gotten to be really good friends with this past year
  • those I used to work with who made the days pass happily even when there were stresses
When I look at my address book, the one I share here or the electronic one I have on my email account, I feel the blessing of moving through life and meeting people along the way.

Yes, there is a certain sadness about the changes in the book.  It seems like just yesterday I was newly married and buying this address book.

Now I am about to turn 51, feel like I'm 14, and have turned a new corner in my life and will continue to add to the book as I go along.

So as you go about your festivities tonight (ours will be just Barry, daughter and I), take a moment to think about your address books, will you?

And be glad for them, even if they are thinner now than they once were. 

And if you need an address to to add, well just add mine - sydforry@hotmail.com.

There's a reason we all love Robbie Burns so much on this day of reflection:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Tomorrow a new year will dawn.  May 2014 bring you joy and happiness and most all, may it bring you peace and contentment.
     Much love!  Stay safe out there!

oh and PS - if you missed yesterday, you can read my published article here!  Yippee! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Article Day (NOW ONLINE), Some year-end thoughts about shopping, and please, just call me Lara....

A year ago around this very time I was making decisions that would impact my life, though I was not entirely aware of the repercussions.  What I thought was a break turned into a BREAK. 

It has been an interesting journey to say the least, this leaving one job and pursuing a new dream, and it is scary at times, but I trust in myself and my gut and all will work out. as it should.

My article was published in the Globe and Mail this morning.  There is no online link to the article yet, though if you have an e-reader, you can buy the newspaper in the store and read it that way.  It can be found in the Facts and Arguments section.  As soon as I can link it here I will!

So I continue on the journey and continue to pursue connections and actions that I can bring joy to. For really, if we aren't about creating goodness for ourselves and others, in whatever form that manifests in your life, what are we about?

I have been thinking about clothing and shopping in general lately.

I only received one article of clothing for the holidays (save a beautiful silk scarf from a friend!) and it was perfect for me: a lovely rich berry-coloured White and Warren cashmere cardigan:

It is luxuriously soft and best yet, was purchased for a song.  It goes well with other things in my closet and I have decided that in the end, shades of berries are my favourites: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries....

And besides the sweater that Barry will give me for my birthday which was purchased long ago, this is it.  For a long while.

We all get "shopped out" around the holidays I think, regardless of how little we purchase.  Over the past year, I have purchased clothing that fit my new, non-corporate life.  But I found a cycle developing: each purge would somehow give me "permission" to purchase something else for my new lifestyle. 

Shopping when necessary is fun.  But I have become increasingly uncomfortable with shopping as a recreational activity, whether it is clothing or something else.  I need nothing.  So in 2014 I will shop my closet.  I will not pop into store to "see" or visit sites online. 

This year, I will continue to focus on making me a better me and to do that, I need to remove those kinds of distractions.  I hope you will continue to come along for the ride and I will enjoy and delight in others' purchases, but for me, the no-shopping will be a wonderful thing.  Balance is everything and I think of this as a recalibration...

Anyone else considering taking a true break from shopping?


In the meantime, I think I may have to switch into furs and winter whites solely - we had another dump of about 30 cm last night and I have gone from living in Narnia to living in Russia during the revolution a la Dr. Zhivago.  I am imagining myself as Julie Christie, waiting, waiting, waiting for Omar Sharif to arrive. 

I mean seriously - this is now bordering on the ridiculous...


The following should be sung as pathetically as you can muster...

Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing
Although the snow covers the hopes of Spring
Somewhere a hill blossoms in green and gold
And there are dreams, all that your heart can hold
Someday we'll meet again, my love
Someday whenever the Spring breaks through

If we get more snow we will have to officially close the pass and I will be stuck up on the Mountain for the rest of the winter with the Pontipee Brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers....

Oh never mind.  This is a good day.  First day as a published author.  Managed to slip it in within year 1.  Am feeling quite Dorothy Gale-ish this morning and know what my Mother especially would be loving this...is loving this...

I like to think of myself as an object lesson: it is never too late and the dreams that you dare to dream really can come true..

Have a most happy day and stay safe out there!

UPDATE!!!  It's now online (thanks Shopping Celle for letting me know as it wasn't on this a.m.!)


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday, and the living is easy....plus Provence 1970 and where is Mr. Tumnus when you need him?

We have been having a great week, although I did have a touch of the "ick" yesterday and spent most of the day on the couch, unsure if it was a result of over-indulgence or a touch of the flu.  Either way it doesn't matter; I had the house all to myself as Barry and the kids went to see his parents for the day. 

The time between Christmas and New Years Eve often has a "cut off from the rest of the world" quality about it to me.  We do see people, but the TV is almost always off, save for the odd movie we watch together or our holiday tradition of watching the British Year End Show "The Big Fat Quiz of the Year".  Mostly, there is chatting, listening to music, and reading.

Thursday night we saw very old friends - folks I went to graduate school with in the 1980s and it was so much fun to see them and have great conversations and tell funny stories.  These are smart-as-whips folks; truth be told I had forgotten how clever and insightful they are and was glad to bask in their intellect for a few hours over a glass of cabernet sauvignon!

Given my horizontal day yesterday, I was able to read one of my Christmas books in its entirety: Provence 1970, by Luke Barr, which describes the intersecting lives of Julia Child, Barr's Great-Aunt MFK Fisher, James Beard and Richard Olney in Provence in December 1970.

Whereas other books I've read about Julia have focused on her love affair of French Cuisine, this book describes a seminal moment when America's food giants began to turn away from the rule-bound and perceived preciousness and snobbery of French cookery towards a more relaxed and convivial approach to food. 

I really enjoyed the book.  I have certainly been aware of MFK Fisher, the preeminent food writer of her time, for years, but have never read any of her work, which I plan to remedy in 2014, since the snippets of prose contained in this book are lovely and evocative.  The same could be said of James Beard; he looms as a distant memory in my mind, a great bear of a man who I'd seen on TV chat shows as a child but knew little about.  Julia on the other hand, was a force of nature until the day she died and was able to keep a relevance about herself within popular culture by evolving along with the rest of society in her own Julia-like way.

James Beard, source

MFK Fisher, Source

This book evokes a time when the first wave of America's obsession with good food was coming to an end - what would replace it?  The democratization and education of the public about the importance of good ingredients, eating locally and seasonally, that's what.  I can recall growing up in a small town in New Brunswick in the 1960s and 1970s - there were two types of lettuce, herbs were all dried and sold in little bottles, maybe the odd garlic bulb could be found, but mostly your mum used garlic powder.  Because of Fisher, Child and Beard, the public began to demand access to fine ingredients that had long been available to their European counterparts.  The grocery stores of 2014, with their multi-ethnic options and fresh produce are so dramatically different from the grocery stores of my youth that they might be different places altogether!

Most importantly, this book documents a remarkable friendship between Fisher, Child and Beard that supported and sustained them all.  Olney is the outsider, the agent provocateur, who is demanding and judgemental of the three giants, perhaps with reason, and serves as an instigator of sorts to the three others as they plan their next projects and new directions.  The story of them cooking ensemble at Child's place in Provence, La Pitchoune, is wonderful, and the author, a writer for Travel and Leisure Magazine, rented the place for a couple of months while writing this book.  You can read a wonderful article by him about that experience here


Reading the book made me hungry, but I wasn't feeling good at all, so my supper was a humble, but tasty event: pasta with many herbs.  About 2 days after Christmas I always only crave green things and this did the trick - I chopped every herb I had in the crisper, dill, basil, marjoram, rosemary and parsley and tossed it with the pasta and the olive oil and a wee bit of parmesan cheese.  I made a large batch so I would have some for lunch tomorrow.

I am contemplating doing a bit of cleanse for the first two weeks of January, just before my birthday: no alcohol, no bread, no coffee or sugar, just fresh fare and small portions and good juices.  This is less about dieting than about giving my system a healthy kick-start in the new year. 

There are still thousands of people without power here in New Brunswick, over a week after the big storm.  It has stormed twice since then and today we are supposed to have another blizzard-becoming-freezing rain storm - 25 to 30 cm more.  I have friends without power a couple of hours away, and while they are staying with friends and family, I cannot help but feel guilty in my cozy home that is so sustaining me this holiday season, and am sending prayers that the storm doesn't make it even worse for the workers who are working so desperately to restore power.  It is important to remember that this is New Brunswick - these people who have no power and the temperature outside on Thursday night was -20.  Not good at all and they could use your good thoughts...

The world is just white, white, white, here; the sky is white, the trees are all white, the roads are white; it is as if we have become the movie set for Narnia under the White Witch's reign.

 I keep expecting to stumble upon a lamp post at any moment....

The only colour is the odd dead leaf or bark and the Christmas lights that still twinkle. 


What's up for today? 

Well we hope to have our friends over with their young kids this afternoon to play board games and make pizza before the big snow storm starts.  And I will be digging into my next book - will it be The Goldfinch or The Interestings?  I have been reading voraciously and am happy to say I hit 60 books for 2013 yesterday, which makes me about as happy as a person can be.

I also have a lovely coffee table book that my son gave me about 100 years of Vanity Fair Magazine and I ought to clean up some as well...  So many decisions.....

Have a wonderful Sunday and stay safe out there!


Friday, December 27, 2013

A Wendy's Christmas in New Brunswick.....with minions included....

Had a lovely day yesterday, lounging around in elastic waist leggings, which I may have to wear for the rest of my life... sigh....

But never mind, I am naturally optimistic about my situation, a modern-day Mr. Micawber (from David Copperfield), forever certain that all will turn out regardless of the circumstances in which I find myself, such as losing my waist. 

We had to lounge around yesterday for it SNOWED....

and snowed.

and snowed.

The only visitor was this downy woodpecker:

I was reminded of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales were he wrote:

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

What I know for sure is that it has snowed for about six days and six night when I was 50, and the weatherman on the radio confirmed it, advising me (not personally mind you, though I felt like it as I did respond..) that we have received 93 cm in past two weeks.  For those of you still adhering to the imperial system that is 37.2 inches of snow or 3.1 feet of snow...

Oh it makes it quite picturesque all right and I guess I ought to consider starting to snowshoe again...


Last night we watched Despicable Me 2.  People will tell you this is a children's movie.  Do not believe them.  I do not think I have laughed so hard in many months, which was well needed since it appears we are now living in Winterfell (random Game of Thrones reference for you) and I imagine it is only a matter of time before I get called up to become a member of the Night's Watch:


That's going to make me cross, as I am an early summer kind of girl...

Sorry I digressed... Despicable Me 2 is really subversive fun for grownups, kind of like the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, where the kids were liking it but the animators were also winking at the audience.  The best are the minions:

I am convinced now that I need minions as well.  You know - the extra "help" for those distasteful chores one has around the house.  I therefore happily submit my list of Wendy minions for your consideration and heartily suggest you get some for yourself forthwith, since there could be a run on them once folks see the movie...


  • Kitchen minion - must cook and clean to my high standards (which are quite low actually) and be of cheerful countenance, but not too cheerful in the morning, thank you very much, which absolutely precludes Jamie Oliver from being chosen...
I choose Ina Garten!  She looks like she eats and I like that... Jeffrey can come along too...would not pick Nigella as Barry likes her too much...
  • House Management: keep house spic and span, decorate for holidays, walk dog, keep laundry going.  Not afraid to tussle with the mice....

I choose Martha Stewart, though do not look directly in her eyes....

  • Party Planning: must be able to do theme parties, clean up afterwards, lead the dancing and arrange safe passage to and from residence for guests.  Even better if they help with the gift buying as well.
I choose Meryl Streep - I think she can handle the responsibility and has proven herself adept at costumes and accents, which I personally always enjoy...

  • Bon Vivant: Must tell me stories, be interesting and fun-loving and can be trotted out when required at parties...
I choose Tom Hanks, who is perennially charming
  • Literary: Must be willing to write and do readings when required and perhaps ghost write for me as well (in order to make both books and blog posts more interesting....)

I choose Kate Atkinson, though I will ask her not to be so deep sometimes...
  •  Paramour: Well sometimes Barry leaves town and it is important that the old doll not be left unattended...  Must be willing to feed me peeled grapes, rub feet and just generally make me feel good about not having a waist.  There will be two choices here, because one always needs a minion with an accent as well...

you can even imagine him with the minion goggles, still looking good...

I am sure in the future, I will add more minions as required.  It is an evolving field, as you can well imagine..

Well that's my day.  How about yours?  Have a happy one and stay safe out there...  No Miller Time Friday for me today - need to dry out....


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day... In which Wendy has eaten too much, drunk too much and just generally enjoyed herself....And blog giveaway winner - ShopwithM

I certainly hope you all had the most fantastic day yesterday!

We had a lovely day. 

Barry woke up at 5:30 and insisted that we all get up at 6:00 am!  You can't take the Christmas out of the boy, I guess!

Up we got, did our stockings, had a big breakfast, and then opened our gifts.

I did just the right amount of well - some good books, a couple of nice pair of earrings, a white and warren cozy cashmere cardigan and a fabulous picture I will show you in a moment.

The early hour was too much for my son, who immediately conked out after opening his presents!

The big gift for our children was that we are taking them to Disney World and to Universal Studios (most specifically the Harry Potter part) over their winter break at the end of February.  This was a big surprise to them, as we told them no trip this year. 

In reality, it was the last gift from my dad; we wrapped up his estate a couple of weeks ago and divided the last little bit of his money amongst my brother, sister and I.  We decided we'd like to do a family trip, as my dad used to travel with us all the time after my mum died.  His favourite trip was when we took him to Disney World for the first time when he was 72 and he was thrilled.  So back to Disney we will go, but it will be a very different trip with a 19 and 22 year old (and a girlfriend too), though perhaps even more fun - who knows? 

We will also go out to the Gulf while we are there to see my uncle, so we will have touristy time as well as down time.

It was fun to surprise the kids and last night at dinner we had lots of fun planning which parks we would do when (the resort reservations and plane tickets have long been purchased).


One of the presents I liked best was a photograph that Barry had framed for me:

The picture is of my mother and her brother, also named Barry (who died tragically at age 16) posing with friends at the end of a marionette making class in the late 1940s.

The picture is interesting on many levels: my grandmother taught the course and took the picture,

and between my Uncle Barry and my mother is one Donald Sutherland, who was a close friend of theirs growing up.

 It is great to have this picture of them framed, and will be something I will cherish.  Thanks Barry!


The great thing about the excesses of Christmas and seeing photos of yourself with double chins is that it is the perfect incentive to begin the post-Christmas diet, so one can look thinner when one finds oneself posing beside Winnie The Pooh at Disney.  A gal has got to have her priorities straight!  Will try and take a couple of photos of myself in my new frippery today, but only if we can achieve perfect lighting and photoshopping that eliminates the - ahem- excess...  sigh...  Well I did need a kick to get going!

So yes, we had the most wonderful Christmas and today is all about relaxing, reading, leftovers and maybe a movie.  We will go see Barry's family on Saturday, so on to round 2!


I have an update on the blog giveaway: in my scatterbrain December 24th shenanigans, I mistakenly entered Cate in the giveaway, though she advises she did not enter the giveaway and she is indeed correct about that!  Thanks Cate for catching that and being so honest! ;-)

Luckily, I had all the names still and after another draw, ShopwithM is the winner of the $25 J Crew Card!

Have a lovely Boxing Day!  And of course - stay safe out there!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Time is Here....and giveaway announcement!

Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
 Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year... 

Well it always creeps up on us, doesn't it?

The Menu is ready:

  • Prime Rib with a Thyme-Marsala Sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • A Tofurkey for son
  • maple glazed parsnips
  • roasted carrots and broccoli
  • popovers
  • Apple Crumble
  • French Strawberry Tarts
The cookies (vegan and buttery delights!) are waiting to be devoured:

There are presents under the tree:

Santa Claus is on his way - as I write this he's over Russia...

And outside, it is a winter wonderland.  The ice storm is over with and thanks to the high elevation out where we live, we have emerged relatively unscathed, our trees and shrubs painted with a fine coat of ice, as if they, too, are putting on their Christmas finery...



 And in a sea of white and grey, the little yellow birdhouse dreams of warmer days and chirpy occupants...

But the days are getting longer again and I cannot help but smile at the light that is buried beneath snow and ice, a beacon of beauty and light that reminds me that there is a light within all of us that is there to shine, shine, shine!

 But not everyone celebrates Christmas and for those who do not, I wish you much happiness at this end of year time, and pray for peace and happiness for all of us.


There were trumpets blaring and a toast to the three names drawn last evening!  I even brought out the dancing bears!

So drumroll please for my first blog giveaway:

ThatDamnGreenDress, you won the cookbook!
InaMack, you won the sequin pouch!
Cate, you won the $25 J Crew Gift Card!

Please contact me at sydforry@hotmail.com so I can get your deets and send your gifts along to you! 

Thanks to everyone else who entered!  And for all your kind words about the 500th blog post!


So Merry Christmas to all!  I will be offline tomorrow, but back again on Boxing Day!!!