pursue stuff that matters

pursue stuff that matters

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Memories from the Gypsy Girl to a Punk Rocker

Halloween makes life fair 

I come from a family of ten. When I was a small child, we didn’t have a lot of store-bought treats. The few times we did, my lust for candy was never satisfied with a Christmas stocking that consisted of dad’s wool work sock stuffed with an over-ripe Annapolis Valley Mac, that squished down a few chocolates (usually those with the pink centers that no one else wanted), and sticky ribbon candy coated with sock fur J.   

Halloween presented a different experience. Well before dark, I would pace our linoleum kitchen floor wearing my hand-made gypsy costume (the one I wore every year for a decade), until the light was just right. Then I’d blast out the door, running with a pounding heart and a pillow case; knowing that I wouldn’t return until my legs ached in confirmation that I had looted every house! In my home-town of Lakeside, Nova Scotia, east-coast generosity showed itself at Halloween. 

Our people gave the “big” 10-cent chocolate bars and bags of chips, and made sure that I went home with a full pillow case.

I have not forgotten the best part of Halloween. It created an even playing field for kids. For one night, and only one, it makes life fair. All kids: rich and poor, and no matter what race you are or who your daddy is, folks will open their doors, smile, and give you free candy.

Happy Halloween

Here’s my girl Nicole 20+ years ago J

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fly high enough and you will touch the clouds!

It is late afternoon as I help my partner Carl check controls, tires, bolts; preflighting our ultralight, Dream-maker. She’s a canary yellow, two-seater open cockpit.

Racing down the grass strip runway, we take off and he pulls the nose up toward a perfect blue sky. I can feel him smiling.

We take turns flying dual controls—Carl in the front, while I stick it in the back without the advantage of a windshield. Within minutes my breasts ache as the wind penetrates my bomber jacket.

Ignoring the cold, we soar higher and higher. Carl flies with a grip on the control stick, waiting for a thermal to bring up one of our wing tips. And there it is! He turns left, sensing the exact position and ecstatically shouts into headset, “I got it!”

Round and round we glide. Each 360 degrees gives us 200 feet of altitude. Round and round, up and up.

At 7,000 feet we arrive at cloud level. It is heaven. Wisps of white, moist air surrounds us as we lollygag from one small mass to another. We laugh, engulfed in cumulus and glide with clouds gracefully dancing around us.

I reach out and touch its wetness, watching it pass through my fingertips.

It is magic.

The mood of food

Food changes us. It causes chemical reactions that bring us up, or when necessary is blissfully numbing. I have spent several decades cooking with the intention to relax, arouse, soothe.

Several years ago, I cooked for an older woman who hadn’t eaten for two days following the death of her husband. She was lost in the hardship of grief. After hours of creating a Wonton Soup (dumpling dough & stuffing and broth) I watched this pale, lifeless woman eat my soup.....

At her first scoop; a balance of broth, rings of green onion and stuffed dumplings; she tilts her head as if caught off guard, and lets out a quiet “umm”. Her face flushes. She eats slowly, finishing the whole bowl, then quietly rises to go about the business of putting her beloved to rest.

At my last dinner party I cooked with the intention of creating friendship. Strangers meeting strangers to share food. I planned an inspired menu to present packages of comforting things... food to bond.

Endive boats & avocado veg jalapeno wraps
Shrimp jambalaya & banana bread
Ravioli (home made dough) stuffed with soy, walnuts, ricotta hot peepers, asiago, spinach - in my fresh tomato sauce
Whole trout stuffed (I don’t know why, but I love to stuff fish) with rice & wild mushrooms
Chocolate dipped strawberries & jasmine tea

Do you have a food story?

If so, please email me.
I’m collecting stories for ... “The Mood of Food”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mr. Harper: The cancer machine needs your attention.

Mr. Harper, if you’ve seen what I’ve seen, if you walked in my shoes, you’d stop trying to degrade our health care system. You’d make different choices.

After years of living in the bewilderment of the cancer-care system of complex terminology and swamped departments of duplication and contradictory knowledge by well-meaning specialists, I have a few things I’d like to share with you.

Last week, the universe spoke to me. I opened my email inbox to receive this YouTube clip about food corporations passing off chemical blueberries as real. The author of this video claims that companies are forming fillers, chemicals and dyes to mimic berries. http://www.naturalnews.tv/e.asp?v=7EC06D27B1A945BE85E7DA8483025962&s=1

Later that morning, I chose to share this story www.theloveoffood.ca about my visit with a family who farm in New Brunswick and grow some of Canada’s most luscious blueberries.

That same day, I found myself at Kitchener’s Grand River Hospital Cancer Clinic.  Again.

It was early afternoon. The parking lot was full. The reception desk (where you are banded for identification) was lined up 14 long. There was only one intake staff clerk, and she was doing her best to keep things moving. When I moved up to the counter, the clerk gave me a BIG smile. I was a familiar face.

Pam is one of Grand River’s heroes. Years ago, our paths crossed when she worked in another area of the hospital and on more than one occasion, she went beyond the call of duty. She bent rules and out-maneuvered doctors who were making bad decisions. When I nodded to the line-up behind me, she tipped her head forward and in a hushed tone responded, “We have grown so much. You wouldn’t believe how busy we are!”
I have personal friends who are GP’s and Specialists, and a life-long friendship with a nurse who is the president of her union. Kudos to them, and to all who have chosen the challenging profession of health care. Having travelled the world, I know I’ve won the lottery to have been born in Canada and have deep gratitude for our medical system.

But Mr. Harper, if you’ve seen what I’ve seen, if you walked in my shoes, you’d stop trying to degrade our health care system. You’d make different choices.

The medical machine is being stretched to the point of no return. You only have to be processed though the system a few times to know that it is sadly lacking in compassion, and is riddled with confusion, errors, and bad moods.

Up the elevator to the clinic waiting room, I found a buzz of health care workers, administrators and clients. The vibe was one of courage and hope; where folks are doing their damnedest to put their best foot forward.

As I gazed politely and smiled in the direction of a young woman with dark-circled eyes and a bandanna-wrapped head, I was flooded with memories of being in the trenches of major hospitals in Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, and suddenly overwhelmed at the hunger of this disease.

The disease is ruthless. And this cancer machine is one of corporate interests, institutional bias, charitable foundations, billions spent in research, bullish pharmaceuticals stocks and employment dependency. Ironic isn’t it? We need the machine and the machine needs us.

I’ve been privy to countless high-level and low-level consults, but not once in four years, has a medical professional ever broached the subject of “Why?” Why does cancer feel like it’s at epidemic proportions? What causes this disease? 

On that Thursday afternoon, as I sunk into the waiting room’s high-back chair, surrounded by Hospice support materials, I couldn’t help but be flabbergasted at the predicament we are in. It seems to me, that the only obvious winners of this war on cancer are pharmaceutical giants—whose profits are soaring from patented, costly chemotherapy drugs.  

Mr. Harper, are you as perplexed as I am? Do you wonder how we got here?  

I find it baffling to live in a society where I need to be a food detective in order to protect myself against a pharmaceutical-driven environment that pollutes our bodies. If there is an effective consumer-friendly decoder that translates labels on processed foods, household cleaning items, personal and environmental cosmetic products, please let me know.        

And while I sat in that crowded waiting room last week, wondering if your family (Mr. Harper), eats a diet of highly-processed food… an image of one of the New Brunswick farmer’s  ripe, plump, freshly picked blueberries, grown naturally, fixed itself in my head.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cajole, persuade, stick-handle… you choose!

I love words. Especially those with P’s, R’s, and L’s - like POWERFUL. “S’s” are fine too. There is something playful about the way these letters roll off the tongue.

Words inspire. This week I heard Randy Bachman share a story about the first time Elvis heard the lyrics to his band’s song “Taking Care of Business”.  After listening to those words on the radio, Elvis wore the letters TCB on a gold chain from that day on.

Words manipulate. Like slick-lipped politicians and corporate leaders, we all, at times, use them to get our way; whether we’re trying to cajole a screaming toddler, persuade a reluctant lover or stick-handle a tough employer.

Marketers take note: if you are flogging beauty, health, retirement condos or spuds, I’m a sucker for words like “organic”  “joyful”  “authentic”.

If you are a reviewer for the New York Times best-seller list ttp://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/index.html just slide “beguiled” and “epic” onto the book jacket and I’ll have my Visa card out before you can say Lake Chaubunagungamaug.

I’ve read that Margaret Atwood’s favorite word is “And” because “It is so hopeful”, and President Obama's is "Grace". I am a keen boggler http://www.wordsplay.net/ and like Mel Gibson and Queen Elizabeth, I also enjoy a rousing game of scrabble. Words are fun and as Dr. Seuss said, "Fun is good!" So I had some fun and put all my words in a vessel

What words inspire you? 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dear Tanya:

Last weekend I was asked why I bother to write “those stories.”

“What’s the point of it all? You don’t get paid for it! Who reads that kind of thing?” 

Tanya was referring to the series of “Families who Farm” articles I write as a volunteer for  www.theloveoffood.ca

 I’ve been thinking a lot about Tanya’s questions, so I thought I’d respond in an open letter.


 Dear Tanya:

Imagine having the opportunity to visit with families on their farms, to walk their fields hand-in-hand with their children, smell their crops, greet their animals, and then sit in their kitchens and listen to their personal stories of a love, struggle and farm life. Imagine sharing these intimate stories in a public forum with the knowledge that small things can make a huge difference.

And imagine getting emails like the one I received this week from Elaine Edel in Manitoba who has been farming for almost 50 years. “I went to the website and luckily I was alone; the tears came. Thanks so much for your words. I appreciate what you are doing for rural simple people like us.”

Words are powerful tools and at times, in my relationships and written work, I haven’t always found the right ones. I have been given the gift of working with author, photographer Carl Hiebert www.giftofwings.ca whose work honours rural communities. And as a writer, I am inspired to share “those stories” and when I do, I seem to find just the right words.

Tanya, I am an optimist, who as author, activist Michael Pollan says, “Have had the good fortune to see how my articles have directly benefited some farmers.”

 I salute families who farm.

 Cheers!   Deb Cripps