Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Happy Birthday Rabbie Burns!

Another Burns Day is upon us. Time to get out the kilts and the tartans. The Poet of Scotland, Robert Burns, is celebrating his birthday on 25 January. He'll be 254 years old, and still lookin' good and ready for some partyin'!
As always. I got myself volunteered in the food preparation in the church kitchen. I don't know why I do that, I make the same mistake every year! First we peeled 50 pounds of tatties and about 70 pounds of neeps (that's potatoes and turnips to the uninitiated!).

Then it was all cooked, mashed, salt and pepper and butter added and piled into serving dishes ready to be heated up the following day.

One of my tasks is to heat the haggis, and here they are in my kitchen, ready to pop into the oven. The national dish of Bonny Scotland - sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach.... doesn't that sound appetising? Best eaten with your eyes shut!

The haggis is traditionally piped into the dining hall with the diners standing to attention, and Burns' "Ode to a Haggis" is recited over it as it is ceremonially opened with a sharp knife. We drank a toast to the haggis with apple juice... the closest we'll get to Scotch tonight, this is a church function!!!
My dinner.... roast beef and horseradish, haggis, peas, tatties and neeps, all smothered in gravy, with some coleslaw on the side.
After the dinner is consumed and the tables are cleared, the entertainment! Traditional Burns' poetry, Scottish songs from the church choir and from Susan, a soprano with the voice of an angel, memories of Scotland, a Scottish singalong, and of course, no Burns Night would be complete without the dancing girls! First Sarah demonstrating an energetic Highland Fling.....
.... and then a strathspey and a reel from our Scottish Country Dance Group.... I'm peering over everyone's heads from the back row. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Snow White

We did it again!
Yes, we gathered up the extended family members and went to the Toronto Pantomime between Christmas and New Year.... it's becoming a family tradition. This year there were 5 children and 7 adults in our group and we sat 4 rows back from the stage. Great place to sit.... easy to see the action yet safe from being asked up onto the stage to be the magician's assistant!

This year it was Snow White - The Deliciously Dopey Family Musical at the gorgeous Elgin Theatre in Toronto.

Snow White: The Deliciously Dopey Family Musical
Picture from the Toronto Sun newspaper
The show is as traditionally "British Pantomime" as it can get. Songs, music, an evil stepmother, dancing girls, fabulous costumes, obvious jokes to please the kids, and slightly more risque jokes to tittilate the adults, and lots of opportunity for the audience both young and old to BOO loudly whenever the bad guys come on stage.

Oh yes, Panto is all about audience participation.

Snow White's stepmother, the Evil Queen, was played in a wickedly funny manner by Ross Petty.... who is a perfect man in a dress, and was wearing far too much makeup, as you do, when you're Evil.

Assorted Nursery rhyme characters populated the stage.... there was Pinocchio, and one of the Three Little Pigs ( I don't know what happened to the other two), Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack-in-the Beanstalk.
Picture from the National Post Newspaper.

In this modern day version of Snow White's story, the Evil Queen was plotting to bulldoze the forest and make her fortune by opening a huge Botox strip mine, and Snow White and her little furry woodland animal friends were going to be banished from the forest. Oh No.... bad news!

But who was there to make sure that Good triumphed over Evil? 007 of course! “The name’s Bond, James Bond,” says 007 after a wonderfully ridiculous entrance. “That’s my full legal name.”

Callum loved it. Isaac loved it. Everyone loved it. We'll definitely be going again next year.         

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Black and White and Read all over - 2012

As in 2010 and 2011, I'm listing the books I have read last year (as inspired by Dumdad). Canadian authors in red. Not so many this year. The ones I didn't finish just didn't appeal to me..... but are probably every bit as good as the ones I did finish!

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen (did not finish)
The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor
Turn Right at Machu Picchu - Mark Adams

The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Ackerman
The Sea - John Banville
A World Elsewhere - Wayne Johnstone

State of Wonder - Ann Patchett
Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay

(I was in UK most of April ... no time to read)

The Seven Daughters of Eve - Bryan D. Sykes
Adam's Curse - Bryan D. Sykes

The Cat's Table - Michael Oondatje
The Virgin Cure - Ami McKay
The Custodian of Paradise - Wayne Johnstone

Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
11/22/63 - Stephen King
Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir
The Birth House - Ami McKay

Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks
Gourmet Rhapsody - Muriel Barbery
The Marriage Plot - Jeffery Eugenides (did not finish)
The Lady Elizabeth - Alison Weir
Captive Queen - Alison Weir
The Testament of Jessie Lamb - Jane Rogers

The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory
The Boleyn Inheritance - Phillipa Gregory
The Botany of Desire - Michael Pollan
Wideacre - Philippa Gregory (did not finish)
Galore - Michael Crummey
The Wreckage - Michael Crummey

The Virgin's Lover - Phillipa Gregory
Gold - Chris Cleave
In the Dark - Deborah Moggach 

The Distant Hours - Kate Morton (didn't finish)
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes
The Vintage Caper - Peter Mayle

The Sandcastle Girls - Chris Bohjalian
Trans-Sister Radio - Chris Bohjalian
A Dangerous Inheritance - Alison Weir

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


The first day of Twentythirteen has dawned sunny and cold here in Southern Ontario. There are a few ice particles suspended in the air, and a light breeze is stirring the branches of the trees outside my window. 
My morning coffee tastes so good.
Now's the time to make a list of those pesky New Year Resolutions.... you know the ones. The good things we are going to do to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Eat healthy. Help others. Save money. Those actions that we follow faithfully for a few days, weeks, sometimes even months.... and then we revert back to our previous lives! 

That's why I'm not making any resolutions today.... well, none that I'm letting on about anyway.  But I'm looking forward to 2013. Lots to look forward to. Spending time with my four lovely grandchildren and their mums and dads. Travel. Perhaps another holiday with cousins? New friends. New activities. New discoveries.