One Hour, No Power, and That’s O.K.

Tonight I am cooking a romantic dinner for two that has absolutely nothing to do with my dog.

It’s not just dinner. It’s a romantic dinner. For two.

It has been approximately one year and two months since I last did that. In the meanwhile, I’ve cooked romantic dinners for friends, romantic dinners for families, and just plain dinners for two sans romance.

Tonight is romantic. And I’m cooking.

For those of you who don’t understand the significance of this, you must note that I was born with an over-developed nurturing bone. The easiest and clearest way I know how to demonstrate my affections is to care for someone. My favourite way to care for someone is to make sure they are well-fed.

This is not to say I haven’t cared for anyone in the last year and two months. I have. A few people, in fact. Something prevented me from laying it on. I cooked one or two intimate meals during that time, and realized almost as dinner hit the table that it was perhaps a bit hasty of me. In one instance, it was a simple “thank you”. I realized what cooking means. What it can represent, and so I’ve held on to that one, mostly. Until tonight.

From this you can conclude that I am lowering the drawbridge a little. Just a little. It feels like the thing to do, in a simple, easy way.

Dinner will be served at this so-called “Earth Hour” when we are asked to kill all the hydro. This will force us to eat by candle-light. I’ve always thought that the most important things are easier to see by candlelight.

So there it is. Dinner for two. At the Fortress of Solitude.



A Little Bit of Brownie for the Soul

I tend to write more when I’m angsty or blue or distressed. That is most certainly not the case this last week. It might have a lot to do with the seasonal shift. It might have a lot to do with something else. It might have a lot to do with my fabulous job. At any rate, I don’t want to be a one-note blogger, so I’m making an effort to write from this currently very happy place…

Today I happened upon this while eating some fiercely delicious leftover pizza concocted by my dear friend Joshua Hind. It made me smile, and it made my heart sing a little, and I wanted to share it with you:

From the Globe and Mail ‘Lives Lived’ section


Wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, nurse, inspiration. Born March 20, 1909, in Winnipeg. Died Oct. 20, 2008, in Winnipeg after a fall, aged 99.

At 75, Brownie was tap dancing. At 80, she was playing tennis. At 991/2, she was planning her 100th birthday party. Nobody loved a party like Brownie – especially if it was for her.

She wore bright colours and wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick. No Winnipeg winter day was too cold for her regular walk, and she was into healthy eating long before it was trendy. She overcame breast cancer at 54 and again at 71 without slowing down.

Until a month before her death she read two newspapers a day, watched CNN and read fiction voraciously.

Her real name was Claris but she was born with dark hair so she was called Brownie. It stuck.

Brownie graduated from the Winnipeg General Hospital as a registered nurse. She nursed there and also did private nursing. In 1927, the quiet, studious Sam Freedman asked her out. She was his first and only date. They married in 1934, although he hadn’t saved the $25 he felt he needed to get married.

Their marriage was fabulous until Sam died in 1993 from Parkinson’s disease. Brownie and Sam adored each other. They had three children – Martin, Susan and Phyllis. Their spouses, plus 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, expanded Brownie’s inner circle of love. She was always on their side, no questions asked.

Brownie hosted parties with great style. As Sam’s star rose – he became chief justice of Manitoba and chancellor of the University of Manitoba – Brownie was always the power behind him. He knew that. We were never sure she did.

Brownie and Sam had a great life together. They travelled annually to Israel for Hebrew University meetings, were involved in their beloved Winnipeg and spent summers at Clear Lake, northwest of the city.

This past year, Brownie reread the love letters Sam wrote during their courtship and went over the countless scrapbooks she’d made, reliving more than 60 years of life with him.

Brownie outlived most of her contemporaries but had many friends, some younger than her children. Her devoted friend Veronica Mensforth took her to appointments, shopped for her and eased her later years.

A month before her death, small strokes left Brownie sometimes confused. Then she broke her ankle – she chose a hot-pink cast – and faced a future in a wheelchair. “This is beyond a joke,” she said. One afternoon she refused nourishment, and within 12 hours died peacefully. She left life as she lived it, on her own terms.

Brownie had a long and terrific run, inspiring family and friends with her positive attitude, her intelligence and her amazing zest for life.

Susan Freedman is Brownie’s daughter.

Sire of Nations

When the light is pure and clear, and the sky an unmatched blue,
I walk in silent woods, I squish softly over the gently yielding earth,
The newly-supple earth made wet and heady from the thaw.

I breathe, slowly, tentatively. That ever-present hand rests gently against my chest,
(to steady me? to ready me? to still me in my tracks?)
I breathe deeper, and this hand, this halter slips through me.

My eyes crinkle against the return of the sun, but I cannot, I will not shield them.
The winter has been so long, and so dark, that the crisp, golden glow is welcome
A friend who has gone on a journey, and has so long been away
That their homecoming is like discovering them all over again.

I am discovering all over again…

The thaw brings the exuberant song of returning birds,
Brings mysterious green stirrings under the bed of long-dead leaves,
Brings the perfume of the cleansing rain,
the rushing of the streams and rising of creek waters
and the hope that was never very far away at all.

Digging in My Heels

I am a bloated, anxious, pre-menstrual mess right now, and as luck would have it, I have a date tonight.

So what’s a girl to do?

After three outfit changes, I found something that’s cute, in a flattering colour, that doesn’t make me feel like a street vendor sausage ready to burst out of it’s casing. It’s fairly shapeless, and has a plunging neckline, so I can at least work my swollen boobs in my favour.

This does nothing to change the fact that I will spend a good chunk of the evening feeling like Jabba the Hut.

Do men get to experience anything like this? I don’t think I know a single guy who once a month looks in the mirror and wants to cry. Actually, it’s not just looking in the mirror that’s inspiring tears today. It’s songs on the radio, subway ads, notes from friends. The wind.

I’m starving too. Like no amount of food can fill me up. I know in these moments to try to avoid sugar, because then I really spiral out of control. I get hyper, and babble like crazy. Then I crash in a heap, and need to be in bed, stat. This happened after brunch today. I couldn’t stay awake on the subway, and then I slept for two hours with my cat on my head when I got home.

The plan is to have three top choices for dinner. All I can think about is a GIANT bowl of spaghetti with meatballs as big as my aforementioned swollen boobs. There is a PERFECT place on the way to the movie theatre too, but I know eating that many carbs will make me very sorry indeed.

Moments like this make me miss those blissful, domestic moments where I don’t care about being seen in track pants, and I can just lay on the couch watching movies with someone, with the dog sprawled out unconscious. There are likely peanut M&Ms in this utopia too.

I have half an hour to figure out how NOT to appear like a total spazz this evening.

What I usually do in these scenarios is meditate on the ancient, pagan power of menses. (No, I’m not joking) I think of tribal women with flowing hair performing magical fertility rites by the light of the full moon. I think of Amazonian warriors, and how a little bloating and insanity would be welcome and celebrated with a roaring bonfire and the strapping young lads from the next island over. I try to find the power in something that has become so powerless and embarrassing in our culture, and I try to be grateful and easier on myself.

Oh, and I usually have a BIG glass of red wine.

On Hawkeyes and Butterflies

Arthur and I went walking in the park. This activity is my one of my favourite things, and it is best done just Arthur and I. We notice things together; smells, sounds, new stirrings in the forest. The weather was extraordinary on this particular romp. Crisp, but clear. Not a cloud in the sky. Everywhere smelled like Spring.

Arthur loves me the most when he is free to roam, and to sniff things.

My heart felt happy, and hopeful, and fairly certain that this last year has been one of the most important.

On the way out of the park, I heard strange bird-sounds. Nothing I could identify. I looked up and saw high in the tree above two small hawks. They were perched on opposite branches, peeping away at each other. I looked for a nest, but there wasn’t one. Yet. They were clearly courting; I could tell by the way the she-hawk tilted her head and listened to the male. I fell still and watched, unnoticed, feeling very lucky to witness these two very powerful creatures during such a tender moment.

I wonder what they say to each other?

I’ll bet he isn’t telling her he wants to fix her, or complete her. I’ll bet he’s not trying to rustle her feathers just to say he did. I’ll bet he’s not interested in getting in her head and breaking her down until she has no idea who she is anymore. (A she-hawk would claw the eyes out of anyone who tried such an audacious thing.)

I would bet, if I had to, that his courting sounds a bit like this:

“Hey there strong, free and fierce she-bird; capable of tearing the heads off of small woodland creatures and eating their still-beating hearts from their steaming cavities…I know that you can have your pick of any of the other hawks in this hood, but I think you’re beautiful, and I think you possess an ancient wisdom that really moves me. I also think I’d hunt really well alongside you. I’d bring bits of shit to your nest that you would find really delightful and amusing, and I know I’d be fairly decent partner. Whaddya say we get it on for a while?”

Do you think, knowing that their talons could strike out eyes, and knowing that they can spot both predator and prey from miles away, that she-hawks get nervous when they like someone?


Remember when this term had nothing to do with social media?

I love the idea that spring time is when everyone starts to tingle again. That there is something in the air that makes us want to shave our legs on a regular basis “just in case”.

I spontaneously got a manicure and pedicure tonight after work. I feel pretty, and girly, and like I have a bit more bounce than usual. I feel like sweeping off the patio, and buying tulips for my living room. I feel like I’m done with the snow, the gray, the cold, and the feeling like I don’t want to leave my house.

Bring on the sturdy rubber boots, beautiful ivory trench coat, delicate vintage umbrella and a fresh new hair cut.

I saw green mossy things poking up out of the ground this morning, and I feel like the world is filled with possibilities.