Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's just a jump to the left...

"Ladies, gentlemen, and those that haven't yet made up their minds," clad in sequined bustiers, teddies, tighty whities (and tighty goldies!), garters, fishnets, etc., gathered at the Mayfair Theatre Saturday night for the cult classic: Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a loud, raucous, and above all, raunchy affair. I had a blast.

Of our group of four, two had experienced the RHPS live before, but two of us hadn't, which made us Virgins (seeing it at home apparently doesn't count!). We timidly joined the eager line—or parade, rather—of Virgins to have a large V painted on our cheeks (face!) in lipstick, and getting some spanks from three of the cast members as we walked across the stage.

As a first-timer, I didn't know the call-backs, or when to throw the various props, but it was so much fun just to listen, watch the incredible live cast (they were amazing!), and be rained upon by water, unbuttered toast, playing cards, and toilet paper. For those who haven't been, you must go! It is so much fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We don't know how lucky we are.

For the last five years, up until yesterday, they were refugees. Yesterday, they became Canadian citizens.

Though I had only met them that morning, I could not contain my tears as Mark's two friends and their three children were sworn in. From 39 different countries, each of the 81 new Canadians have had unique and often difficult journeys to get to this point. Now they join a country where they can experience freedoms and rights that simply don't exist in many of their birth countries. I was emotional as Judge Thanh Hai Ngo spoke earnestly of these rights that we often take for granted: the right to vote and hold office, freedom of thought, belief, religion and speech, freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, apply for a passport, and enter and leave the country at will.

It makes me fiercely proud to live in a country with such freedoms, and I passionately welcome new citizens, and firmly believe that Canada's immigration policy is one of many things that makes our country great. 

Of the rights and freedoms we have, the one I try most not to take for granted is our right to vote; it is something I feel very strongly about. As flawed as the system can be ("first-past-the-post" vs "mixed-member-proportional" etc.), you have a choice and a way to have your voice heard. Something a lot of the world does not. It's bittersweet reading of the recent Tunisian election: the first fair election in the history of the country (sweet!), which experienced a 90% turnout in some areas. But it makes the disappointment of our pathetically low turnouts that much more bitter. In the recent provincial election, Ontario broke the record for the lowest turnout since Confederation. Well done, Ontario. Well done. My highschool Politics teacher often repeated the expression "you lose your right to bitch when you choose not to vote." So vote. Exercise your right. Don't take it for granted. And if you don't like the candidates in your area, then run as a candidate. As Gandhi said "be the change you want to see." You have the right.

And, if you have the chance to attend a swearing-in ceremony in the city you live in, I highly recommend it as a way to more fully appreciate what it means to be Canadian, and see what it means for new Canadians who have worked very hard for the honour. It is a humbling and joyful experience.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Hubby's bday hike in the rain and spying a partridge on the trail

Happening upon a studio tour of beautiful paintings and then finding
this awesome quote among the artist's pastels:

To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,
to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
 —Thich Nhat Hanh


Getting a surreal glimpse into the Cold War era at the Diefenbunker
and picking up some interesting literature from the time...

Orchard pickin's being inspected by kitty

Midnight garden raid armed with a flashlight and headlamp
to save the tomatoes from the frost

Feeling thankful for family

Blowing bubbles

The last dregs of the vegetable patch

A 35km bike ride around Ottawa on a blustery autumn day 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple Butter recipe

I became well-acquainted with this recipe when Mark and I made 80 jars of it (in one day) to give to our wedding guests four years ago. We've made it annually since, and it's so easy, and perfectly captures all those warm feelings of fall. It's thick, golden and oh-so-delicious!

I originally got the recipe from Michael Smith's Chef at Home (swoon!), but I know it by heart now. Plus, it's not a strict recipe, so there's lots of latitude for playing around (and we know I like that!).

In a big corn pot, simmer:
  • apple juice, apple cider, or water (1/2 cup)
  • brown sugar (1 cup)
  • spices (galore: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, whatever floats your boat)
  • vanilla (splash)
  • apples (10-12ish chopped and cored, but not peeled — it's too time-consuming to peel, am I right?!)

Simmer gently on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples get very soft. Then cook a bit more until it's thick and most of the liquid has evaporated (makes the kitchen smell so cozy!). Then blend thoroughly to desired consistency. I like mine super smooth and silky — not so keen on texture; so depending upon how the skins blend, I may or may not strain. This most recent batch I did strain, and I've set aside the pulp to use in some muffins, pancakes, or soup.

It's delicious on pretty much anything: tea biscuits, toast, crackers (oooh, maybe with some sharp cheddar cheese?!). Yummers!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Paper balloon animals

One for each of my nieces, using Japanese paper lanterns and embellishing with paint and ears/fins made of painted newsprint. Panda was inspired by this one.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Then let us drink a cup of tea.

The tea ritual:
such a precise repetition of the same gestures and the same tastes;
accesion to simple, authentic and refined sensations,
a license given to all, at little cost, to become aristocrats of taste,
because tea is the beverage of the wealthy and of the poor;
the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue
of introducing into the absurdity of our lives
an aperture of serene harmony.

Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness,
lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us.

Then let us drink a cup of tea.

Silence descends,
one hears the wind outside,
autumn leaves rustle and take flight,
the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light.
And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.

— Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Tuesday, October 4, 2011