Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Granny's Any-Vegetable Soup

My Granny is a wonderful cook. My fondest memories of her are of the times I spent in the kitchen, just watching her. Granny never taught me how to cook and very seldom let me help, but I learned more about it from her than anyone else. Food was how she showed us she cared; it was how she loved.

My mother made a number of Granny's signature dishes, and while she made them well, they were never quite the same. There was something magical about how the smell of Granny's whole house changed when she cooked. Everything seemed to fall silent, dumbstruck with awe, with the exception of the whirring and chopping noises from her galley and her soft grunting as she poured all she had into whatever she prepared.

Sadly, Granny and I have been estranged for some time. Politics and hurt feelings have driven most the of family apart. It happens. She's pretty old now and may not be with us for much longer; and while we won't be able to recoup our relationship I can still taste the love she infused in every bite of every meal she ever made me.

My mother passed down a few of those sacred recipes, and here I will share with you one of my favourites:

Granny's Any-Vegetable Soup
Granny used this recipe for her wonderful carrot soup that she served only on Christmas and Easter. It was always worth the wait.

As the name suggests, any vegetable can be used in this recipe. I have had wonderful results with broccoli, celery, cauliflower, peas, and squash. It's pretty flexible, so have fun with it! Add some garlic or ginger. Maybe a little dill or other fresh herb? I like to make it without any milk to let the fresh flavour of the vegetables shine, using more water to thin it if necessary.


2 Chopped Onions
2 Cups thinly sliced Carrots (or ANY vegetable)
1/4 Cup Margarine or Butter
3 Cubes of Chicken Stock or equivalent (Vegetable works great, sometimes I just use salt.)
1/4 Cup of Rice
3 Cups Boiling Water
2 Cups Milk (Optional, or substitute for Soy or Almond Milk)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Saute onion in margarine until translucent, brown for sweeter soup.
Add carrots and saute until a bit soft.
Add water, stock cubes, and rice.
Cook for 30mins.
Add milk and season to taste.
Reheat, but do not boil.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Doing What We Can

I have very recently been forced reevaluate what that means. There seems to be a large difference between what I can do and what I want to do; Or even what I think I can do.

I've been facing some health issues that are ongoing and sometimes very disruptive of my normal life. I'm doing my best to get to the bottom of what it is, but I need to rely on Doctors (who all seem to very busy doing something else all) to answer my questions. When I'm home fighting off a(nother) migraine or been struck by a(nother) virus I often sit and worry about all my responsibilities.

My school work isn't going to do itself. What about lectures and notes that I'm missing? How will this affect my GPA? Will I have to repeat this term? What if it's something serious? What about my job? How am I going to get the hours I need in? What about moving for school? How will I afford it? My room needs cleaning, when will I find the time? I don't have any groceries, what will I eat?.... this list is continuous. It NEVER stops. Unless I make it.

Frankly, that is exactly what I need to do. Stop! The world will continue without me. School may be important, but my health is more important.

So what does "doing what I can mean" today? It means writing this post (although it hurts my head), a little tidying and missing an appointment and a class. Feels like I'm missing more than I'm accomplishing, but that's all I can do. I need to accept it. Everyone needs to accept their limitations be they "normal" limitations or those for the day.

This is all easier said than done, of course. I guess all I can do is try.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monosyllabic Memory

An interesting thing came up in my composition class recently. We were asked to write a paragraph describing our earliest memory using only monosyllabic words. Before we began we discussed how people often choose polysyllabic words to make themselves appear more intelligent, especially in writing. But do simple words mean a simple mind or a simple story? Yours to judge, I suppose, but once we had finished the exercise none of my classmates would say so.

Here's what I wrote:

The sand box was hot and smelled like the cat had peed there. We ate fruit in the sun and got grit in our mouths. Mike looked at me and held out the wet pit from his peach. "Here," he said and dropped it in the pile at my feet. The juice and sand made mud. "Gross." He laughed. We had been there all day. Dad came home and Mike ran to him, but I stayed in the box and kicked sand on the pit. I knew he would be mad. It was too late in the day for snacks.

This was a challenge, but limiting myself to one syllable I was force to choose every word carefully - something writers should do anyway. I also found it inspiring in its limitation (being someone who can't work with too many choices and who is guilty of using intellectual language) and I plan on using it to create something new.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weirdo Art

I'm the kind of girl who likes things weird. Sometimes this can get the better of me. Take my ex for example:

Yes, that is a tail. He wore that EVERYWHERE he could. Seriously.

But, sometimes, weird can be fantastic or amazing. So, I've decided to create an ongoing series about the weird things I find, not just those I like. That's another thing about me and weird. See, sometimes I don't like it at all. Sometimes it revolts or repels me. But I just can't turn my eyes away.

Weirdo Art Prt 1

Okay, so I'll start you off with nothing too intense. Just a little odd ball and bizarre, really.

I present to you, Mike Bruinsma: Artist and Designer.
I found him by googling "weirdo art" and he came up on the top of list. Next time I will dig deeper.

All of these images came from Mike Bruinsma's gallery of Character / Creature designs. I honestly didn't even bother looking at anything else. If you've got critters, I'm sold. Well, at least I'll look for a while. I tended to like the sketches better than the completed works. Don't know why. You can check out the rest of his stuff here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

MonoBROW Part One

This is something I've been meaning to post for a while now. Back in May I participated in a Monologue Slam as part of Intrepid Theatre's UnoFest. The concept appealed to me so I wrote and performed this piece:

Lillian and Vera (working title)

Lillian: Why can't you people just mind your own business? Why can't you all just hush? Hush up, I tell you! I won't stand for it anymore! Just shut up and play the damn game.
Natter-natter all night long. Some of us came here to play Bingo. Nothing but a bunch of sour old bitties. I can hear you! I may be going deaf, but I know when someone's talking about me. You think I haven't noticed? Not a one of you so much as says hello. Not to me nor to Vera. Not even you, Sophie. Shame on you! She's your sister. Used to be people came to Bingo to see their friends and family. It was a good night out. Now it's nothing but your gossip and greed. Oh, I know if it weren't me and Vera it would be somebody else. And don't think I don't see the way your eyes cut through me. You act like I've done something sinister.
Well, you will not chase me out. I have earned my place here. That's more than I can say for some of you. I have been a member of this legion for over 35 years. Both my brother and my husband served in the war. We worked hard to see this place become a community. But you wouldn't know what that is, would you? These young folks come in and you treat them like family, while Vera and I... You know there hasn't been anyone even sit near us for months. Look at you! All crammed into one side of the room so you don't have to be near us. We're not diseased you know!
Norma-Jean Foster, you shut your mouth! How dare you call yourself a Christian, spreading your hate around like that? Every time there's a rumor going around this place I don't have to look farther than you to know where it started. You think you're such a saint? You gossip and natter, spreading nothing but poison. Every last one of you is just as bad. You call yourselves a community! Bah! You wouldn't know community if it bit you.
You have got no sense of support of decency. What goes on in peoples' homes is their own business. You really think we're so different? I have worked hard all my life, I raised a family and made my contribution. My husband died. There isn't a day that passes that I don't wish the Lord had taken me first. My children have grown and moved away. It's only human that I wanted company. I was lonely. Lorraine married after Terrence died, didn't she? Moira's got her kids. I didn't have anyone. Well, nothing but a good friend. A best friend. And is that sin? I haven't done anything wrong. And I am not ashamed. I love Vera. Did you hear that? I love her. Love, the greatest gift God ever gave us. And you want to hate me for it? Well, it isn't me judging you at the end of the day is it?

This piece was inspired by a documentary I'd seen years and years ago about older women finding themselves in same-sex relationships after being widowed or divorced. These women seemed to be caught between worlds. Not many of them identified as lesbian, but the people around them labeled them as such. They simply loved each other and found comfort in each other's company.

I was also inspired by a night of Bingo with my parents. The small town legion hall was packed with retirees gambling away their pensions. There was also a lot of gossip, falseness and nasty looks going around. At one point a woman began screaming at the woman across the table from her to mind her own business. The hall was dead quiet for a few restless moments and then flared up as everyone began gossiping about what had just happened and the women involved. My parents had nasty nicknames for most of the people there. It was supposed to be a community, but they were all only there to win money or talk about each other behind each other's backs. It was frightening and sad.

I hope to develop this piece further, maybe into a full length script. There are so many stories here. This piece did not win the slam, I didn't even place in the second half. The competition was fierce and mine was the only dramatic piece. I am still proud of it and the conversation it started there. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

If this sort of event interests you stay tuned for MonoBROW Part Deux as part of this year's Victoria Fringe Festival. I'm already signed up and have started writing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

For All The Fallen Stars

A wonderful friend is in a serious amount of pain, a suffering so deep and personal that I do not know how to begin to digest it. I suppose I must start by breaking the silence, by saying the word few will say out loud. Miscarriage.

At twelve weeks the baby that grew inside her died. She wanted this baby so badly, so deeply that the love she felt exuded from her skin. She glowed. She was radiant.

But now that light has gone out, and though the glimmer of hope for the future remains there is an unsettling stillness there, an inconsolable anguish that burns beneath her brave smile and broad shoulders. Today we laughed and today we cried as we tried to piece together the incredulity of this life we live.

She is certainly not the only woman to experience this heartbreak. The numbers are substantial, especially considering we do not talk about this. One in five pregnancies ends this way, one in five mothers-to-be suffering in silence. Including myself.

My story is different, but still causes me terrible pain some two years later. My baby was barely there, barely a twinkle in the sky of my mind’s eye, but its fire branded my soul. For less than six short weeks we lived and breathed together and I still mourn. The child was accidental, but not unwanted – or so I believed.

I knew before the first twinges of violent, caustic heartburn that something had changed in me. My body felt different, my breasts and center. I felt lighter and brighter. It was mysterious and magical. At once I recognized its presence and I knew it was beautiful and that I loved it; the overwhelming love that parents speak of and the rest of us don’t quite understand. The connection was complete and it was holy.

My partner had wanted a child so badly he threatened to leave me if I would not produce one for him. He dreamed of a family of his own and I was uncertain. But when I broke the news I was confident, changed, and he stood stunned – stunned while I held my breath waiting for his gleeful cry, waiting for his loving and accepting embrace. I waited over a week, sick with anxiety. Sick with worry that he would reject me or the child. Our child. The child we had made together.

When he finally let his breath go, when he finally released his reaction he was cold and distant from the beauty of the life that grew inside me. Frigid and analytical he told me he could do it if he had to, that he didn’t want it now, that he wasn’t ready. Ready was not the word I would have used to describe my own place either. I was terrified and overjoyed all at the same time.

I felt the light fading before my body began its work. I would awake in the night clutching my stomach and praying. I prayed for the life of my child and that my partner would embrace me and the growing life inside me. But he slept farther away now, the distance on the mattress a cold and vast canyon. I cried myself to sleep, waking all too frequently in a delirious whirlwind of worry. That last night I knew it was over and I soaked my pillow with wracking sobs as my uterus contracted on the life within me.

The blood was thick and the reddest I have ever seen. It poured and dripped and seeped out of me and every time I saw it I wept. The heartburn stopped and I longed to feel its prickly acid again.

When I told my partner his breath did not catch in his throat, he did not blink or sigh. His face told the story. He was relieved. He hugged me and told me he was sorry, but I could feel the tension that he’d held in his body leave him and enter the space between us. It stood like a wall, blocking him from me. I was more alone in that moment than I had ever been before or since. It was more than the end of this precious life when he told me two days later to “get over it” that “it’s not like you were really pregnant”.

As I mourned my loss, my baby, I was comforted knowing I had dodged an enormous bullet. Or that’s what my friends told me and I believed them. But now as I try to comfort my friend who lost her child after three months of knowing, loving and breathing with her I am overwhelmed by guilt. Her light had been brighter and still faded. Her child was desired by both herself and her partner. Her child was created with intention, love and purpose. My own loss is shameful in comparison, but it is also the only understanding I can offer, the only context I have.

I love you, my friend.
I love you, baby.

Women do not have to endure this pain in silence, putting on brave faces for our friends and family. No one need shake their head in secret code. Your loss is real, your pain is justified. Do not hide in the shadows of guilt and shame, share your stories and know you are not alone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Some Interesting Things

I first heard about Polly Morgan at work the other day. My boss mentioned something about Courtney Love freaking out over a moving crew throwing out an expensive piece of art which happened to be a taxidermied chick in a match box. I was instantly enthralled. Not by another of Ms. Love's tirades, but rather by the macabre and alluring idea of fine art taxidermy. Call me creepy, but I like it!

(too bad her website doesn't seem to be working... http://www.pollymorgan.co.uk/ )

Another artist I came across was Guilherme Marconi, a Brazilian illustrator. You may recognize some of his art from various ad campaigns including Nike and Absolut Vodka. While I am not a fan of advertising in general, I still enjoy Marconi’s style and intricate images. I have always had a fondness for images in which I can see others. You know, things that look like other things? The abstract, perhaps. I also dig repetition and manipulations. Or maybe I just like weird art (and if we consider who I've dated... well, that's another story isn't it?).


And finally, I had a thrilling and fulfilling experience after Atomic Vaudeville last night. The show was a success and the usual merriment began, but just as I thought it would be the same old Saturday with AV a young lady starting teaching everyone how to Double Dutch. Now, I am not a very athletically inclined person (nor am I terribly coordinated) so the idea of jumping over two skipping ropes that are turning in opposite directions had me backing slowly away. Sure, I used to jump rope like it was nobody’s business, but that was 1989. I’d also never been successful at Double Dutch, even at that tender age, and I just took it as my lot. I mean, we can’t be masters of everything, right? Well, twenty years later the crowd is cheering and the ropes are turning. The pressure is building as everyone asks, “are you going to try it?” and I realize I’m the only one who hasn’t.

Call it peer pressure, exhibitionism or being a little bit drunk, but I suddenly had to do it. The hypnotic rhythm of the ropes clicking against the floor awoke the nine year old in me and I flung myself at their mercy. Our instructor was concise, the crowd was supportive and I was nervous as hell. My first attempt was a disaster with me running into the fray and getting tangled in the ropes, but by attempt number five I was flying!! I ran in and suddenly my feet lifted and there was no turning back. I was caught up in the magic spell, and it was easy. I was nine years old again with the spring breeze blowing my hair triumphantly behind me and the patter of school yard rhyme dancing on my lips, no one could stop me!!