Monthly Archives: September 2015
What food is associated with different people in your life? Bon Appetempt A Coming of Age Story by Amelia Morris is a memoir/food book I read not long ago. Each chapter of Amelia’s life and the important people in it are somehow linked to certain foods. Morris’ book got me thinking about what foods might have connections with my family members.
My one grandma made wonderful chicken noodle soup. She prepared everything from scratch. Caught, killed and cooked the chicken, cut the noodles from dough she made, added her own special spices to the broth. I remember she brought me a jar of her chicken noodle soup when she came to visit me after I had given birth to her first great- grandson. My younger son was so enamored with his great grandmother’s soup when he was six he wrote and illustrated a story about how she made her soup.
My husband’s mother made the best beef roasts I’ve ever tasted. She also baked excellent zwiebach (a Mennonite bun that is really two buns in one) and her grandchildren loved her homemade donuts. My older son once wrote a book in school about all the things he loved in the world and on the last page he wrote “but most of all I love my Oma’s homemade donuts.”
My husband Dave is very talented in the kitchen. He makes a great Pad Thai, a good taco casserole and is famous for his chili.
My son has made us many wonderful meals but he is an especially gifted barbeque chef. Whether he’s grilling salmon, steaks or farmer’s sausage the results are sure to be delicious.
My mother was an excellent cook. Every year she would come to my school class to bake bread with my students and in December she came and helped them each make a bag full of peffernussen ( a German Christmas cookie) to take home to their families. Mom also baked and decorated beautiful birthday cakes, made delicious buns and great chocolate chip and white cookies with raisins inside.
I could go on and on because I have so many friends and family members that are excellent cooks. Many important times in my life are associated with meals and the memorable people who prepared them and shared them with me.
An iconic Winnipeg train introduced me to a fascinating woman. Last week my friend Esther and I were sketching The Countess of Dufferin train at the Railroad Museum located in Winnipeg’s Via Rail Station. Built in Philadelphia The Countess of Dufferin was the first steam locomotive in Canada’s north-west. She arrived in Winnipeg in 1877. The train was named after the wife of Canada’s Governor General in 1877. Hariot Rowan Hamilton was married at age 19 to the Earl of Dufferin who was 36. She would have seven children, the youngest two born in Canada. What a fascinating woman she was.
Hariot was a good writer and her letters home to her mother in England were published later in a book. Hariot regularly attended sessions of the Canadian Parliament so she could report to her husband about what was going on. As Governor General he couldn’t attend Parliament since he was supposed to be above political partisanship.Hariot was politically savvy and was an excellent observer and commentator on the government proceedings of the day.
Hariot was a vivacious hostess and during her tenure Rideau Hall, (the official residence of the Governor General in Canada) was home to amateur theatricals, in which she often performed herself, fancy dress balls, picnics, dinners, concerts, cricket matches and tobogganing and skating parties. She traveled across Canada with her husband all the way to Prince Edward Island in the east and British Columbia in the west. After their term in Canada was finished Hariot accompanied her husband to diplomatic postings in St. Petersburg, Constantinople, India, Italy and France. She became well-recognized as a travel writer and photographer during the time she lived abroad.
While her husband was in diplomatic service in India Hariot became very concerned about the lack of proper medical care for women whose husbands would not allow them to go to a hospital with male doctors or patients. Harriet started a charitable fund and raised money to build three hospitals in Pakistan and three in India. These hospitals were exclusively for women and children. Hariot’s family’s fortune was lost around the time her husband died in 1902 and she spent the last three decades of her life in a modest house in the Chelsea area of London. Sadly four of her sons preceded Hariot in death, one from pneumonia, one in a plane crash, another was killed in the Boer War and a fourth in World War I.
Hariot didn’t have an easy life but she set a new standard for society and culture in Canada’s capital. She engaged with Canadians from coast to coast as she traveled with her husband. There is a Dufferin School in Winnipeg, a Dufferin Street in Toronto and of course an iconic train named The Countess of Dufferin in the railroad museum in Winnipeg.
I took these photos of my husband Dave at the top of the Human Rights Museum. I think they actually reveal quite a bit about what kind of person he is.
Having an animated discussion with Ivan, a former student from Hong Kong who was visiting us in Winnipeg.
Chatting with a woman he and Ivan met, another visitor to Winnipeg. Helping a family from England find some landmarks on the Winnipeg horizon.Checking out the Goldeyes baseball game being played way down below in their stadium. Can he see who is winning?
Looking out over the city and thinking.
Looking at Stuff in a Different Way
After spending a couple hours meandering through the farmer’s market and gift shop at Pine Ridge Hollow the T-4’s, a group of my friends that meets every month, headed into the restaurant for a late lunch.
We were given a lovely spot on the patio and enjoyed visiting over our wonderful meal with a bunch of delicious shared dishes.
A delicious and delightful afternoon.
There is a scene in the book Inside the O’ Briens by Lisa Genova I won’t forget. Joe, a Boston police officer, has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and is beginning to experience some of the more devastating effects of this terminal illness which has no known cure. He is feeling angry and hopeless and expresses those emotions in a violent way. His youngest daughter Katie has a heart to heart talk with him. Since Huntington’s is hereditary Joe’s four children all have a fifty/fifty chance of having the disease too and like their father may begin to experience symptoms in their mid-forties. Katie tells her Dad to remember he has taught all his children by his example what was right and wrong, the importance of integrity, the value of having a work ethic, the need to respect others and the importance of loving your family. Now he is teaching them how to die by the way he faces his own death.
I know I have often considered what kind of example I am being to my children and that has been a powerful motivation to me as I try to make good choices. But I had never thought about the fact that even in the way we face death we act as a role model for our children. I watched both my mother-in-law and mother face illness and death with courage and more concern for others than themselves. They have been role models for me and someday I will be called upon to be a role model for my own children in how I face death.
It is a sobering thought but an important one. We can teach our children many things. We can also teach them how to die.
Happy Birthday to my husband Dave. Dave is almost always smiling so I thought it would be fun to post a few pictures where he is not smiling just to show that he is capable of taking life seriously at times.
Here’s to you Dave ! Glad to have spent another year together with you.
Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.
I like the idea that who we are isn’t pre- determined that we have the opportunity till the day we die to create new opportunities for ourselves, learn new things, and continue to cultivate our talents and abilities.
This statue called Selkirk Settlers stands at the end of Bannatyne, the street where I live. I did a blog post about the statue and recently I received a message from a blog reader who told me that the very same sculpture stands in Helmsdale Scotland. Helmsdale was the departure point for the Scots thrown off their land during the Highland clearances. Tenant Scottish crofters were evicted from their homes by the rich lairds so they could use the land for grazing sheep. Many of these exiled Scottish families ended up immigrating to Winnipeg. Michael was kind enough to send me a photo of the sculpture in Helmsdale.
The sculpture in Scotland was created by artist Gerald Laing, the same artist that made the sculpture in Winnipeg. I found out that Laing is Scottish and both the sculptures in Winnipeg and Helmsdale were cast at Black Isle Bronzes in Nairn Scotland.
I’d love to visit Scotland someday to see the matching Selkirk Settler statue for myself.