Archive for December, 2014

December 29, 2014

My Year in Review

facebookyearinreviewMany of us formally or informally review the past year and try to set the reset button for the coming year.

If you’re on facebook, you may have posted FB’s version of your year in review. I didn’t post mine because the cover photo was a poster of “keep calm and love Canada” that I posted on July 1.

I looked back and saw it got 19 likes – I guess the timing was good. However, the post to the right got way more. It *was* a big deal in my life this year to be Celebration Planner at Kits house and i got lots of people–not just on facebook–telling me it was a good picture.  Other posts with lots of likes, shares or comments were posts of paintings I’d completed during the year or me at my art show at Leigh Square.  So I *am* a little curious about the algorithm used.

Facebook after hearing from people who had Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad  years have promised they “can do better”.

Yeah, if your six-year-old child died or your apartment burned down – you probably got a lot of likes and comments on those -but as one facebook user suggested words like “died” and “killed” and “burned” might be added to a more complex algorithm. Conversely “congratulations” and “looking good” might adjust the posts we’d like to see again.

Here’s a CBC story with some commentary and a number of examples of years in review that didn’t work well.

Especially annoying was the cutesy festive clip art surrounding photos of people, cats and dogs that died during the year.

December 27, 2014

Kids Making Art

BoxingDayGrandKidsdoingartI love to see kids making art. So I’m the arts-and-crafts-Grandma in our family which has several other grandparents with other specialties.

I have fun looking at Opus to find nice art stuff: this year Zentangle theme and Space theme (think circles).

Here the grandkids are on Boxing Day – taking a break from skiing!


December 24, 2014

Ella @the York – ta! da!

Took the family to see the East Van Panto. It was our first time. I had the concept at least.

We sat in the balcony and my grandson watched with interest as the signs came to pass.

The door is shut.

The worker has sat down.

Yes, the usher was sitting right at the end of our row.

The lights are dimming.

And a spotlight shines on Veda Hille, who will be our orchestra for the evening.

I yell out: Ta da!!!!

The grandkids turn to me in horror and embarrassment.

I look at my son and daughter-in-law and say, “I hope I’ve got the right entertainment genre here, or that could be embarrassing.”

Veda sings her introduction including the list of funders and sponsors. This is a very good idea.

Sure enough when the person from GOOP gives us our instructions I know, yes, I’m in the right place.

At the end, where we all agree a new tradition is born, I say: but next year let’s dress up.

Like what? they ask, looking around, seeing some people dressed up as in nice clothes, but no one in the audience in costume.

I liked the crow, I say. Maybe I’d dress up like a crow.

To granddaughter: would you be OK if I dressed up like a crow?

Her: it depends.

Come on Vancouver, we can do better at Panto-Audience.

It’s on till the 28th. Get tickets if you can, and if you dress up, let me know. I’d like some encouragement.

(and feel free to yell Ta da! when Veda gets lit up. She deserves it.)


December 19, 2014


I’m reading Sulha (“forgiveness”)  by Malka Marom.

I only just found out it’s based on her own experience of going to visit a Badu (Bedouin) family for a few days and staying for months.

December 18, 2014

Happy Birthday to Canadian Feminist Henrietta Edwards

The google doodle celebrates Canadian feminist Henrietta Edwards who lived to 81.

Feminism is good for your health.



December 18, 2014

First Date at Coffee Shop?

I’m listening to two people in probably late 20’s about 12’from me (that would be 4 metres).

There’s been something about their conversation that’s pulled me in. Now I think it’s their first date. They’re sharing about their family history, where their grandparents came from. And they seem more than usually interested – or trying to appear interested.

It’s been going on for a while.

I think they like each other.

I hope they’ll start discussing movies they like soon and then agree to go to one together.

‘Tis the season.  Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.


December 17, 2014

Mary’s Famous Mulled Wine

A friend asked me to share again my recipe for mulled wine. Since my creations are usually more about concepts than recipes, I google searched and sent her Martha Stewart’s recipe.

It involved many, many ingredients with precise measurements and sequences. So afterwards I thought, she may or may not like that approach. For any of you who want the real recipe/concept for Mary’s Famous mulled wine, here’s what you do.

Large bottle of full-bodied red wine

It doesn’t have to be good red wine. Any old red wine will do. I have been known to do a u-brew of the cheap version but realized then I was left with 2 dozen bottles of cheap red wine. Now I make my normal batch of the higher-end version and think: well a bottle of the best homemade wine is the same price as the cheapest liquor store version.

Juice and/or fruit

I often add some apple juice–the kind that come in big glass jugs because then I can make spiced apple juice for the non-alcohol folk (although I should tell you that by the time the mulling is over, there’s not much alcohol content left in the mulled wine.)

I might slice oranges or apples or pretty much anything else. I haven’t ever added pomegranate seeds, but might try that. I don’t use bananas or grapefruit.


I put cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and star anise in a big tea ball or in cheesecloth. Lots.

If you’re ambitious, buy a whole bunch, and put some into little packets for your friends — it’s kind of annoying to have to buy a packet of each if this is all you’re ever going to use it for.

Sprinkling the ground spices does not work well.


Add brown sugar, honey or your own idea of a good sweetener. Maple syrup? never tried it – but let me know how it goes if you do. Ribena, probably would be good. Agave syrup? why not?

Part of the recipe here is that if I happen to have a bottle of Ribena that needs using up, I might just throw it in.

Things I would not add even though I might have them: clamato juice, chemical sweeteners, white sugar… well there are lots of things I wouldn’t put in. I just thought I’d make sure that although there’s not a lot of precision here, there are limits (for me–I don’t want to restrain your creativity though, so feel free.)


In a hot pot or on the stove with a ladle. I was at the Sally Anne, and a woman was asking everyone who came by the housewares section what to put her mulled wine in after it was hot. She didn’t seem to like my answer, so she bought a ceramic jug. I think that would be fine.

I’ve been known to take Mary’s Famous Mulled Wine to a friend’s house. I put it in a very large jar, take the hot pot -and an extension cord.


I often re-use the spice bundle for the next batch.

I put it in a jar in the fridge with some of the liquid as a “starter”.

PS – if I was going to use a recipe,this one looks great. Peach Schnapps??

And learning that juniper berries are a key part of gin, makes me feel very British.

December 15, 2014

Film: The Theory of Everything

If Jane and Stephen Hawking were on facebook, I think they’d have to put “It’s complicated” under relationship.

I recommend the film but on googling around afterwards I concluded the end note that parts have been fictionalized was indeed true.

The film was inspiring and moving. The googling around reminded me that reality is indeed more complicated.

I didn’t even know that Stephen Hawking had kids. Perhaps he forgets sometimes himself.

I agree with those who are predicting an oscar for Eddie Redmayne.

December 10, 2014

Fringe Top Ten

My picks top ten list

  1. Magic Unicorn Island
  2. Greatest Monkey Show on Earth
  3. Chariot Cities
  4. Little One
  5. Anatolia Speaks
  6. The Unfortunate Ruth
  7. Eidola
  8. Emergency Monologues
  9. The Masks of Oscar Wilde
  10. ???

still 2 to see…

Not necessarily in this order, but close…

December 10, 2014

Scented Candles


I am among the estimated 30% of (North) Americans who have a sensitivity to scents. You might call it a scentsitivity.

“If you sneeze every time you get a whiff of perfume or room deodorizer, you may be one of millions of people with a fragrance sensitivity.”

Yep, that’s me. Sneezing is my personal early warning sign. Others, especially those with asthma, may experience breathing problems.

Recently a colleague was standing among bags of battery-operated candles and asked if I’d like to use them for an upcoming gathering. I said: Thank you. But within minutes returned to say, “No thanks. I’m already sneezing from standing here talking with you for a few minutes.”

They’re pretty and the vanilla scent pleases 70% of the people, I guess.

What drives me crazy is that scented candles emit their little irritants even if not lit, and a person feels pretty grinchy to complain about candles at Christmas.

If you’d like non-toxic scents (and make 30% of your friends happy and healthier), read this blog entry.

Excerpt: Conventional perfumes just smell so … toxic. And that’s because they are! They’re made up of synthetic chemicals, fixatives and solvents. When we wear them, not only are we inhaling this chemical cocktail, but it’s also being absorbed into our blood stream via our skin. Hardly the glamorous luxury product its made out to be.

The writer gave up most of her scented products when she was diagnosed with cancer.

I am pretty sure that the vanilla in scented candles is NOT from a vanilla bean or an essentialoil.

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