Sunday, October 31, 2010


Halloween in The Nation's Capital!


"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

"When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,"

James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916

No wonder I always used to call them Punkins!

Posted by: Michelle/Ottawa, Ontario // Shot: October 30, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Timely Photography Lecture

Last evening I attended a lecture by photographer Pamela Williams.

I first came to know of her work at the Toronto City Hall outdoor art show, many, many years ago. I was drawn, as we share an appreciation for sculpture, and in particular cemetery sculpture. On a dark blustery Halloween-week night, in a darkened intimate studio setting, Pamela took the group through the most amazing cemeteries she has photographed, and spoke about her experiences capturing this "dying" art form. It is still as elusive and expensive to have an angel carved from marble or cast in bronze as it was in the late nineteenth century, but it can, and is being done. In some cases, the photographs that Pamela has taken are used as the inspiration for the artist reproducing the work.

"In "Death Divine", "Last Kiss" and "In the Midst of Angels", Canadian photographer, Pamela Williams explores the cemeteries of France, Italy, Austria, as well as Prague, Budapest and Havana. Dramatic, black and white portraits of romantic, late nineteenth-century sculpture present an intimate view of figures from European graveyards and beyond."
A quote from Pamela's biography

Many of Williams' angels have graced the covers of novels I'm sure you're familiar with, Margaet Laurence's - "Stone Angel", and Timothy Finley's - "Dust to Dust" are but a few.

I'd say that Pamela Williams is a national treasure. She still uses film and the dark room to process her works. I'm going to try and figure out how to do a field trip with this amazing artist, it would be such an experience. In the meantime, if you ever have a chance to meet, or learn from her, she's a bit of an angel!

I do know that her framed works would be lovely Christmas pesents :)

Credits: Photography, Pamela Williams, Quote: Pamela Williams

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This is what happens when you become a grandparent

The first year the Professor and I were married, I knit Christmas stockings, for us. It was quite romantic :)

For years now with each child and family addition, I've managed to add to the tradition. One evening, the Prof. wondered aloud if I would be knitting Zoë a stocking for their homecoming this Christmas?

The first of these was knit in 1968...42 years ago. My little yarn shop in Port Credit did an amazing job in finding just the right type of scratchy vintage yarn. Zoë's stocking is all knit, only the embellishments and the sewing up to do. I know, we haven't even had Halloween, but it takes me longer these days than it did forty two years ago!

The search for the pattern, correct needles, leftover yarn etc. created a bit of a monster. We are now redesigning my studio and constructing storage cupboards. The house is in a total uproar, the Professor may not wonder aloud so much anymore! Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's rainy season in Belgium...I've never seen anything BUT rainy season in Belgium, however, after the rain, it's always fun to look for fairies out the window. The silver lining is the smile on this face. Anything is possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back to class for a couple of weeks

I must say it's a bit daunting to go from making a needle case into constructing the Baby Bishop's dress, but as usual my enthusiasm tends to outstrip my abilities, so here I go with both feet in! I have no idea how one accomplishes this feat in such a short time, but then again, Christmas is coming, as is Zoë and the this is a good time to start.

Yet another challenge begins. That was yesterday, today my class is learning a new Photoshop program. I'll be downtown in a classroom somewhere between the Dali Lama and the Creative Sewing Show. Inspiring on all levels :) PEACE!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Okay, Okay......

This is what I'm up to that is keeping me from blogging quite so frequently!!!
This picture was the inspiration.

This is the target piece.

An old washstand that has seen better days. Finally out of the garage, it has now been sanded and primed. It will be painted black on the outside.

The drawers will have colourful insides.

Why is it that this all looks so simple and then you get into it and it is taking ages! Meanwhile the house is in a tip, because everything that was originally inside the washstand is now in the middle of the basement t.v. room. Motivation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Quintessential Diner

Today after workout class, one of the topics over coffee was why diners don't thrive in Canada they way they do in the US. This in response to the food network show

While in Albuquerque this summer, we spied this diner and wheeled in to get a cool drink. We LOVE diners!

I love counter stools, although a booth is still my favourite.

The Pez Collection above the counter.

The perfect setting. THIS is the turquoise colour I'm loving - nostalgia.

Betty Boop at your service

This is the way a REAL milkshake is made and served.

And Oh....the pie cupboard. There was one on Route 1 in Princeton that actually rotated inside. I could never decide.

But this is Route 66!

Where you get your kicks PICS!

I LOVE this idea!

Indeed, why DON'T diners flourish in Canada as they do in the US???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nighty Night little flowers

It's Tuesday today. It feels like a Monday. We ate waaay too much turkey and "stuffing" and veggies and gravy and pumpkin pie (with whipped cream).
Tonight we will dance it all off :)

The recent tradition around here is that the garden gets 'put to bed' on the Thanksgiving weekend. It's generally still warm enough that the task is not too onerous. Saturday saw us composting all the annual flowers. I'm just not interested in watering anymore. Sunday, we put all the garden furniture in the shed and tidied the garage a bit in order to make space for the furniture painting project.

The Last Rose of Summer

The Crazed Lilac. This is a Persian Lilac that blooms at the oddest of times. It actually has an early spring bloom, a later summer burst, and then a few odd "crazy" spikes in fall.

Little Miss Pink Eye, the precocious phlox!

Jane's favourite colour and orange

Black-eyed Susan, the garden intrepid

The last blooms of summer captured with my nifty fifty lens.
Nighty Night little flowers!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Something worth listening to

We're on a roll here. Now that our citizenship woes are public, we've had many people alerting us to the various media reports in circulation. CBC radio "The Current" with Anna Marie Tremonti had a segment on "Chloe", who happens also to live in Brussels, and points out how very egregious this Canadian citizenship law is. We feel somewhat fortunate that our granddaughter "Zoë" is not stateless, but again, it reveals the inequity of this piece of legislation.

" All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope. "
Alexandre Dumas

This is a really interesting audio interview on CBC Radio - Citizens of Nowhere that hopefully you can link to. After listening to Ms. Girard, Director of Legislation and Program Policy at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, I was pretty frustrated. To be fair she is a government employee and can only cite the law, or suffer the consequences. It's interesting that NO ONE in the Conservative party will speak to ANYONE about this. Aren't they governing ALL Canadians? We are more determined than ever now to change this law for the better.

Our local Conservative Member of Parliament, Bob Dechert has ignored all of our correspondence. Our Liberal Candidate, Omar Alghabra has already contacted us and we're having coffee next week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BNN series Stock & Awe mixes comedy and business

At a recent wedding, the first thing I noticed about Hilary Doyle was her unique way of wearing a locket. I knew this was someone of great interest.

Even more interesting were Hilary's sparkling tights and Vivienne Westwood plastic shoes that apparently smell like cherries. This made this vivacious "character" even more charming in my eyes. I never did get around to actually smelling the shoes.

Put it all together and you've got Hilary Doyle.

Hilary's newest venture airs tonight on the Business News Network. Not something that I would ordinarily watch, but Hilary is no ordinary woman. From a recent article in The Toronto Star:

As the co-creator and star, the 33-year-old Doyle says much of the storyline was modelled on her own experiences, describing the thin narrative as “life thinly veiled as art.”

“I spent a year living in New York on a lawn chair in a closet. In this series I sublet my apartment and I move into a storage container in order to save some money and get back on my feet,” notes Doyle, a Second City alum who studied theatre at Northwestern University, with a concentration in global business.

“I’ve never been terribly irresponsible with money — there have been periods of time where I’ve had money, there’ve been periods of time where I haven’t had money —but it never really occurred to me prior to working on this project to invest that money. I thought that investing was for the people who were my parents’ age.

“We have been socialized to believe that this art that is investing and the stock markets is actually a science and it’s not. The way that you can navigate this art, if you want to call it that, is to really arm yourself with all of the information you can find. So we’ve set out to hit every financial journalist we could talk to, every money manager we could talk to, every hedge fund manager, every mutual fund manager, we’ve spoken to university professors, we’ve talked to everyone who would talk to us in order to get the most broad and unbiased set of pieces of information.”

Stock & Awe debuts Thursday on BNN and repeats Saturday on CTV.

"Stalking" Hilary Doyle on her way to being the Mistress of Ceremonies at the wedding, where she totally charmed and delighted the guests with her incredible wit and beautiful spirit. We wish her well tonight.

Credits: Toronto Star
Photos: My own

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Problem with Panettone

It's Panettone season again.

At the local grocer, they make the best house brand. The boxed variety are wonderful to look at, but the store brand is cheaper and just as tasty.

While passing through the check-out, the cashier ringing up my purchase and I had a discussion about our love of and inability to eat just one piece of this stuff. She animatedly told me about arriving home with her cello-wrapped, candied fruit and sultana raisin-stuffed parcel, and making a hot steaming cup of coffee at the end of a long day. Looking forward to her first bite after the ritual unwrapping, she said "It's always the same thing, I think..I'll just have a little slice with a slight dab of butter....and then, I say, I may just have another piece, - but only a sliver." At this point we look knowingly into each others eyes and start to giggle.

The problem with panettone is that you simply can't eat "just one piece". Several subsequent discussions have revealed exactly the same results. Panettone lovers have been know to eat so much at one sitting that they become a little overwhelmed and can't look at another piece until the next festive occasion.

I'm pacing myself for Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend....perhaps just a sliver more! :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why our Granddaughter cannot be a Canadian Citizen

October 4, 2010. Today we have finally tackled an issue that we were aware of before Zoë was born. Here's a letter that we want to go public, for Zoë and all the other little babies denied citizenship in an amendment that can easily be changed.

Dear Members of Parliament and Other Interested Parties.

I have been following the recent debate on amending the Citizenship Act. The goal is to correct an unfortunate and unforeseen consequence of the revisions introduced in Bill C-37. Let me explain the situation whereby my granddaughter has been denied Canadian citizenship.

My daughter, Jane Moran, was born in 1977 while I was studying abroad at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. She became a Canadian citizen because my wife and I are Canadian citizens. She was issued a Canadian passport by the Consulate in Geneva. Jane could not have become a citizen of Switzerland or any other country.

My wife and I have never been citizens of any other country. We descend from a long line of Canadian citizens going back many generations. In my wife’s case, the majority of her Canadian ancestors settled in Lanark, Ontario in the 1820s. In my case, my earliest ancestors settled in Quebec in 1665. One of Jane’s grandfathers (my father) died in a tragic airplane crash while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1946. Jane’s maternal grandfather was Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade and Commerce. Every one of Jane’s eight great-grandparents were Canadians. I mention this only to show that Jane is a genuine Canadian citizen with strong ties to Canada. She is fiercely proud of her citizenship, and her Canadian heritage, as she should be.

Our family returned to Canada in 1978 when I took up a position as a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. Jane was raised in Mississauga. She went to public school in Canada, she graduated from a Canadian high school. She graduated with an Honours Physics degree from McGill University.

After her undergraduate degree, Jane went to the University of North Carolina where she completed a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. She then took up a position in Brussels, Belgium. Her daughter (my granddaughter) , Zoë, was born on January 5, 2010. Zoë’s father is an American citizen.

According to the new Canadian law, Zoë cannot be a Canadian citizen unless she becomes one through naturalization when she returns to Canada. Fortunately, she will not be stateless because the United States of America was happy to grant her citizenship through her father. This seems unfair, especially since the family plans to live in Canada and not the United States of America.

My daughter, Jane, has never been a citizen of any other country but she cannot pass on Canadian citizenship to her daughter because she just happened to be born when my wife and I were temporarily living abroad while I completed my studies. If it were not for that inconvenient fact, my granddaughter would be Canadian. Ironically, a Canadian who was born in another country but became Canadian by naturalization, would not be in the same situation. Any child born abroad to a naturalized Canadian would also be Canadian. Any child born abroad to a Canadian born in Canada would also be able to pass on Canadian citizenship.

The effect of the law is to create several different classes of Canadian citizen based on criteria that do not make sense. I believe my daughter’s rights as a Canadian citizen are being infringed upon. Fortunately, the problem can be easily rectified by a simple revision of the Citizenship Act.

I appreciate the effort by Mr. Ujjal Dosanjh (Member, Vancouver South) to rectify the problem by introducing Bill C-467. But that bill will not help my daughter or many of the others who find themselves in a similar situation. You are undoubtedly aware of several stories that have appeared in the press. Bill C-467 will only help children born to employees of the Canadian government or members of the armed forces.

I think Bill C-397, tabled by Ms. Olivia Chow (Member Trinity-Spadina) will be more helpful since it appears to repeal the second generation restriction altogether. If so, that will allow my granddaughter to come and visit us under a Canadian passport rather than under a passport from a foreign nation.

There are some excellent provisions in the amendment passed under the previous government (Bill C-37), especially the provision concerning the "Lost Canadians." I applaud the government for taking steps to correct that particular injustice. Unfortunately, in attempting to correct another problem—that of children born abroad to Canadian citizens with no connections to Canada—Bill C-37 inadvertently deprived a number of babies of their right to become Canadian. If Parliament still wants to limit the passing on of Canadian citizenship by citizens born abroad then there are two ways to accomplish that goal without hurting Canadians such as my daughter (and others like her). Those ways are: (1) make an exception for those Canadian citizens who are not citizens of any other country, or (2) impose a residency requirement (seven years?). Canadian citizens who are born abroad but who have lived in Canada for some length of time should still be able to pass on Canadian citizenship to their children born abroad. That will make them equal to naturalized Canadians.

Please make every effort to ensure that an appropriate amendment to the Citizenship Act is passed as soon as possible. Make sure it covers Canadians such as my daughter and my granddaughter, and make sure it is retroactive. I look forward to the time when my granddaughter can become a Canadian citizen. Will it be in time for her to come home for Christmas?


Professor Laurence A. Moran, B.Sc.(Hon), Ph.D.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism
Bob Dechert, Member of Parliament, Mississauga-Erindale
Justin Trudeau, Member of Parliament, Papineau
Ujjal Dosanjh Member of Parliament, Vancouver South
Olivia Chow, Member of Parliament, Trinity-Spadina
Omar Alghabra, former Member of Parliament, Mississauga-Erindale
and various citizens affected by the provisions of the new law

With thanks to Linda K. who so kindly referred me to the article in the Toronto Star. To Diana Mehta who wrote such a Great Article for The Canadian Press. To Paul Compton and his family for exposing this flawed Canadian law.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ode to Music on Monday

You'll have to forgive me for yet another youtube presentation, but this one is a classic ~ on so many levels.

Michael decided to take Zoë to "Music on Monday" in their local area. I think as the primary care-giver and being a guy, this was a really courageous move, considering what all of us have lived through taking babies to play groups. Groups of women are not necessarily easy, then again, perhaps Michael will have a different take on the assembly.

The determined look, tongue out the side of the mouth is still how Jane looks when she drives a car!

In two weeks, Zoë is already learning many new tricks, partly they think from observing the other kids and partly because she is now NINE MONTHS OLD! She's getting stronger all the time and by the look of this latest recording, I don't think she's far away from walking.

Just a few disclaimers prior to airing this latest production. The pile of mud that you see the baby crawling towards is a squashed mole hill, and she didn't get into this one. In Belgium they have a huge mole population, which is also going to add a new dimension to Michael's child-minding chores.

Secondly, you should notice the home decor that consists of pillow, mattress, and futon barriers...I think Zoë will have conquered those by next week, just as her mother did the board and brick bookcases she scaled in Switzerland some thirty three years ago:)

The music comes up a little louder just into the video, so be prepared.
No animals have been caught - yet!

Zoë and her Da Da Da are over there now, clapping up a storm and learning all sorts of new tricks. Ma Ma Ma has had no sleep in several weeks due to all this new learning activity and the emergence of new teeth. Maybe this why they put pretzels in the M&M's!

GO ZOë!!!!! Bravo Michael!!

I think cake is in order:)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Musical Interlude

A little bluesy, looking a little like a young that gravelly voice! Heard this on the last episode of "Brothers and Sisters".

James Morrison - You Make it Real

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm Green Tea

Today I was coming to terms with clearing off the cluttered dresser top. Like most other things in the house, it ends up getting "left" as is, until there is a crisis, or guests arriving. When I was in Paris I collected wonderful soaps, wrapped in colourful papers. Now the problem. Do I use them, or just whiff and gaze at them?

The Roger & Gallet site (click to link) has an interesting quiz, based on twelve questions to see which fragrance you'd be suited to. I'm delighted that I'm Green Tea. Seems as though I don't have that particular scent. Guess I'll have to go back to Paris!
In the meantime, I'm going to break all the rules of saving things for "good" and unwrap the "Ginger".

If one is very, very careful, the seal can be removed, the folds slightly parted, the soap removed...all without destroying the shape of the original packaging. A slight bit of soap chip scatters the bottom and the wonderful purple wrap remains as a reminder..Ginger...Paris....

Oh Luxury!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Officially Fall

Fall always makes me want to cook again. The Professor loves fall!

This recipe is finally published. If you like Chai-tea Latte's (Katie M.) this is one of the better sugar cookies I have ever made. It is from Cook's Illustrated to which I have an on-line subscription.

These confections are large and scrumtious. They actually bake exactly as pictured.

Chewy Chai-Spice Sugar Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie dough. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly and gently as possible when shaping the cookies. Overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies.

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar , plus 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces cream cheese , cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Place 1½ cups sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper in large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each (or use #40 portion scoop). Using hands, roll dough into balls. Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with 4 teaspoons of sugar remaining in shallow dish (2 teaspoons per tray), discarding any remaining sugar.

4. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

The weather is coolish and the weekend is upon us, what better than to make a batch of these, curl up with a nice cuppa' and watch a good movie. Ahhhhhh ....fall.

Credits: Cook's Illustrated, J.A.G. for the marvelous taste test.