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Give freely

Today is Giving Tuesday. My inbox is full of requests to donate for various causes and campaigns. One organization even said, “if you can’t donate cash, post on social media using our campaign hashtag to do your part.” While I am a huge supporter of privately funded causes and supporting what you believe in, I am struck this year by how hard it is for so many of us to do just that.

So, in the spirit of the season – as the saying goes – how about we give the gift of ourselves? Give a gesture, a smile, a wave, when you’re out in the community. Give a call to someone you haven’t connected with in a while. Give your kids your undivided attention.

I can’t take credit for this idea. Those of you who know me won’t be surprised when I tell you I was inspired by someone four-legged.

scroll back and forth to see both parts of this post from a Facebook baking group of which I’m a member…

I chuckled after reading this post, remembering a similar face and I’m sure the same sentiment from my “sous chef”. But I was touched deeply by the stream of comments that followed; a combination of thank you’s for sharing such a loving (albeit hungry) face and efforts to share any information that might help, from encouraging expressions like “hang in there” to links for recipes that might fit the bill.

My pal Ella was always reminding me to make the most of every moment, and when with another creature that almost always meant sharing her enthusiasm. I believe that is the true spirit of Giving Tuesday, and as Toby and his hooman have wonderfully illustrated, it works very well – you just need to send out the message when you need a bit of help.

So, to recap:

  • give freely on a regular basis whenever the urge strikes – let your enthusiasm bubble over!
  • listen and watch for signs that someone needs a “top-up”
  • respond whenever you can to creatures who ask – and then wait for it to come back around. If they have it in them to give, it will come back in spades.

Happy Tuesday!

A Few of my Favourite Memories

It’s Father’s Day today. I gave my Hubbie a big hug – he’s going to be a Grandpa soon, so next year it will be an even bigger celebration. He has done an amazing job being a consistently present and loving father with his daughter.  The other part of my Father’s Day was a few moments remembering my Dad.

I’ve mentioned him in many of my posts, how close we were and how much he loved food. I wanted to post something in his honour today, and memories flooded back as I reminisced.

I still have the pan he used to make me fried egg sandwiches, and as I built the nachos for dinner tonight I remembered how meticulous he was with those chips – like he was constructing a card house.

As these images flashed through my mind, I thought of something I’d written many years ago, just before he died. I decided that was the best piece to post, so here it is, my column for the local community website in October 2007.

I still miss you, Daddy. You still remind me to stand tall, not let the bastards get me down, and follow through (and not just on my jump shot). I will always remember who loves me.

A Few of my Favourite Things

We are moving, and other things have happened of late that have made me look back and smile at memories I have. Autumn always makes me even more reminiscent than usual (perhaps because I was born this time of year) but not in a melancholy way. I suppose some would say it is overly romantic, but I like to think that looking back can help you go forward, if you see things in the right light. The golden light of an autumn day seems just right for me… can I share a few gems with you?

It is not hard for me to think of food memories, possibly because as a kid I hardly stopped eating. My father used to say I had a hollow leg – I could eat like a horse and I just kept growing taller and eating more. I remember him saying that maybe if he put bricks on my head that would slow things down and it seemed that might be the only remedy. I could have new pants in the spring and be watching for the flood before summer was over! 

I don’t want you to get the idea that all we did was eat though… after Sunday breakfast I remember the whole family sometimes having some goofy family time. Music was often playing and it wasn’t just hippie tunes, either.

I have great visions of all four of us marching through the house to the tune of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (just like the brooms Mickey Mouse tried to control). My father would lead my mom, my brother and me around from room to room like a parade marshal, even going up and over the beds!

These are favourite memories of mine because they make me smile and that in itself makes me proud. I think it is a great testament to the way I was raised that I can look back and say I had such a great time.

My Dad will not be around much longer and that makes me sad. But you know what? Every time I eat a fried egg sandwich I will remember the early mornings he got up to make me one before basketball practice. Eating peanuts in the shell will always remind me of being little and sharing some of Daddy’s treat as he sat watching a bit of TV, with a paper bag on the floor to catch the shells.

A new delicacy will forever make me think of Friday nights when I lived in Vancouver and we would share an evening of nibbles at “the treetop bistro” in his West End apartment, swapping stories and solving the problems of the world. All those smiles will far outweigh the sadness, and I will toast to his happy adventures wherever the waves may carry him.

Here’s to you, Daddy.

Earl at the beach

Happy Hearts Day!

vintage Valentine

Today is Valentines Day. Not a great time of year if you’re single, which is really crummy if you ask me. I think everyone should be able to celebrate love, in all its forms.

Passion can come from many places.

rainbow food love

Sharing it can bring joy to more people, and that in turn can make us more happy. My passion for food is incredibly gratifying, and I am very fortunate to have a partner who shares that passion with me. We get to feel the love with a daily activity, and it’s easy to share it with others as well.

When anyone reaches out to share, it is up to us to pay it forward. Return a smile when you get one. Say thank you when someone opens a door, offers a parking space or lets you in line. Just think of how much better we feel when we have a good day because of an unexpected bit of sharing. A little love goes a long way.

If we have an opportunity to share, we need to use it.

sharing a cookie

Take that extra cookie or piece of pie to work for a colleague, to your massage therapist or yoga instructor, or to your child’s school for their teacher… you get the idea. Some good things can’t be saved up, so they need to be enjoyed in the moment. Share the enjoyment and you get a bonus round of feeling good, calorie-free.

If you don’t have people handy, then a great place to find love is pets. I humbly submit that dogs are the best at unconditional love, but I’ve never been close to a pet pig or ferret. (I think we can all agree that cats treat us as staff, so they are in a separate category.)

Ella & me selfie Knox Mtn 2014

See – Valentine’s Day can be for everybody.

 

No Dear, it’s not a phase

When I was a kid, I was weird.

  • I liked wearing a flowery embroidered purple tunic with just about anything (it was my favourite top).
  • I wore horizontally striped socks with skirts.
  • I carried a book bag years before any of my schoolmates. What I thought was cool never synced up with what was considered cool.
  • I was a complete clutz, not coordinated at all.
  • I was taller than most of the boys in my class, and I didn’t wear a bra until senior high school.

My mom always let me be me. She would check with me as I got older sometimes, maybe offering another alternative for consideration, but she supported my final decisions.

Mostly, I liked being weird. I have always enjoyed quirky things, new adventures; they attracted me. It’s a lot of why I became such a foodie, wanting to try new tastes and understand how to incorporate them. Becoming a sommelier was a perfect fit – it’s a bit of a nerdy pursuit, learning all that history and geography and tasting wine but then spitting it out.

When I took up gardening, I found another weird way to express myself. Just like that embroidered top, the flowers that attract me are unique:

 

Crown Imperial

I can’t remember the name of this one, but my mom suggested it 😄

Lily of the Valley

 

For some people, all this is just too much of a difference. It can scare them away. I have been very fortunate to find some wonderful friends over the years, but often I’ve encountered folks who just don’t know what to do with me, or how to respond to all my weirdness.

I remember asking my mom one particularly tough day at about the age of 15, “All of this is just a phase, right? It will pass, I’ll grow out of it, won’t I?” Without hesitating, she answered, “No dear, it’s not a phase. You’ll have to learn to live with it.”

I think back then I figured she was kidding. It took me another few years to realize that I was born NOT to fit in. The more I tried to be a part of the cool crowd, the more they disliked me. I should have connected the dots, knowing that my tastes were different. Once I understood that others who had similar (equally weird) tastes were my tribe, then I stopped trying to explain the differences as a way of being accepted.

On this Mother’s Day as I strolled through my garden, and as I crafted the olive-wood smoked oil & vintage balsamic vinaigrette for our salad with dinner, I was thinking of my mom and her encouragement of my true self.

She was always a traditional Mom, making great cookies and putting notes in my lunch and sewing my Hallowe’en costumes… but the best thing my mom did for me was help me understand who I really am.

Thanks, Mom. Cheers!

 

 

Pause a Moment

When the world falls away, what else can you do but pause a moment to think of your own little world?

We are in a haze at the moment, with smoke from forest fires to the west and the north drifting into our valley of paradise. Depending on which way the wind blows, the smoke hangs on one side of the valley or the other.

When I got up this morning, everything but our little domain had disappeared in an eerie sort of brownish fog. I could see the vegetable fields, and the farm market at the end of the street, but the town and hills beyond were gone. There was no sign of the lake and what was usually beyond seemed a figment of my imagination. In the air was the scent of ash, charcoal – like the melancholy smell that signifies the end of an evening bonfire.

I suddenly felt a rush of gratitude. Here I was walking casually with Ella, having just stopped to nibble berries from our bushes in the front yard. I watched the young crew picking cucumbers and zucchinis from the fields to be sold at the farm market. So peaceful. But with an underlying sense of foreboding. 

I was struck later in the day too, by a story shared from someone I know of their recent tough  family times. They were stoic, and gave the advice “Hug your loved ones. Hug them hard.” I was heartbroken for them in their difficulty and also inspired by their ability to carry on. Using love as a force in life, a way to sustain oneself, is quite possibly the best diet you can adopt.

I’m using today as motivation to focus even more on the value of my time to sit and share a meal. The simple moments around a table are the perfect time for us to soak in the love and be grateful for our blessings.

There but for the grace of God go I.

 

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