Kayaking to Inspire Health – Congratulations Maggie’s Way Team

The Writer Kayaking at English Bay to Inspire Health

The Writer Kayaking at English Bay to Inspire Health

Kayaking to Inspire Health was a fantastic day! I felt the energies of all who supported me—relying upon them especially on the way back when the mid-day winds picked up and made the water more choppy—and I made it all the way (4.5 nautical miles, or ~8km, about 1hr 15min in each direction). This paddling adventure supported a fundraiser for InspireHealth Integrative Cancer Care Centre in BC. A group of about 30 kayakers and 20 stand-up paddle boarders descended on Vancouver’s Jericho Beach in Kitsilano on a sunny Sunday morning and paddled to Third Beach in Stanley Park, supported in spirit and with funds by hundreds of generous donors and friends.

The Writer with Her bc Mentor and Their Team Mascot: The Cat

The Writer with Her bc Mentor and Their Team Mascot: The Cat

My friend and breast cancer mentor, Cathy, joined Maggie’s Way Team in person. We made “the cat” our team mascot, in honour of all the cat lovers who supported us. I was glad to have such an experience paddler at my side, keeping a watchful eye over my weakened strokes, and adding the proverbial wind to my sails when the wind gusts and choppy waters threatened to sink my spirits on our return. I thought also about everyone who I knew was thinking about me, sending me their energies, and cheering me on from afar—and I drew on their strength to support me in mine. Of course I had the option to rope up with Cathy or one of the event guides if I really needed it, but it felt good to challenge myself a little and to feel the strength of my well-wishers support my own paddling experience from over-night kayaking trips around the West Coast of BC from days gone by.

The Writer with Her #1 Fundraiser Winnings, Sporting Her Radiotherapy Dress

The Writer with Her #1 Fundraiser Winnings, Sporting Her Radiotherapy Dress

The food throughout the day was superb: handmade raw chocolate and oat balls for snacks, and BBQ’d to perfection salmon, delicious veggie skewers, and colourful coleslaw, Japanese and beetroot salads for lunch. I can hardly believe how hungry I was—even more than usual!

Both Cathy and I won raffle prizes, and I look forward to my first shiatsu massage.

Organic Food Gift Basket Winnings from SPUD for #1 Fundraiser

Organic Food Gift Basket Winnings from SPUD for #1 Fundraiser

And Cheers! to all of my supportive donors for making me the #1 fundraiser for this Paddle with InspireHealth event, and for winning me a gigantic gift basket from SPUD.ca, Vancouver’s organic grocery home delivery. It was too big and heavy to bring it back home on my bike, so thanks to Cathy for hand delivering it to me!

Together, the 12 of us fundraising on Maggie’s Way Team contributed $730 to programs offered at InspireHealth. On the day of the event, we had over $27,000 raised for this year’s Vancouver event. Donations can be made throughout the year, and Paddle with InspireHealth events are also taking place in Victoria and Kelowna, where InspireHealth currently has two regional Centres.

Organic Food Winnings from SPUD for #1 Fundraiser

Organic Food Winnings from SPUD for #1 Fundraiser

The rest of Sunday, I spent vegging out on my couch, applying various lotions, savouring my bounty, recalling the moving tales of all the inspiring people whom I had met during the day, and being grateful for all the support that ebbs and flows in my life when needed.

I am thrilled to have kayaked once again—and to know that a number of people on their cancer journeys will directly benefit at InspireHealth because I said “yes” to this adventure!

Thank you for saying “yes” with me, with your funds and your spirits.

Kayaking to Inspire Health

Support me to stay active, live a rich life, and support InspireHealth!

The Writer Kayaking in Desolation Sound, 2006

The Writer Kayaking in Desolation Sound, 2006

I’m going kayaking!

I am excited at this occasion to kayak again, while spending time with some pretty amazing and inspiring people—offering moral and financial support to InspireHealth Integrative Cancer Care Centre in BC. Join me in person or by sponsoring me! Or paddle with me in spirit!

I have been waiting to see how I am faring before committing, but with one week to go, and with every day turning out to be a surprise, I am jumping in with both feet—knowing, of course, that if I really don’t feel up to paddling on the day, everyone will understand.

The paddle is next Sunday, August 24, 2014, in Vancouver, crossing English Bay from Jericho Beach in Kitsilano to Third Beach in Stanley Park for a snack pit stop and back again. I estimate it will take an hour to paddle each way. With nutritious snacks and lunch provided, I plan to cycle to Jericho Beach—whether I end up paddling or not—to contribute to this fun event and worthy cause. InspireHealth has brought me innumerable benefits, and continues to be a great source of inspiration for so many!

Thank you for all your support! And read the highlights of the day.

Some more information about this event and my pledge:

InspireHealth is a not-for-profit society that provides integrative cancer care across British Columbia. The 2014 Paddle With InspireHealth will be hosted in each of the cities that are home to an InspireHealth regional centre: Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.

Each year, over 20,000 British Columbians are diagnosed with cancer. When a cancer diagnosis comes, we all want the best care possible for our families, ourselves, our friends—our loved ones. At InspireHealth, the medical doctors and other health professionals recognize that standard cancer treatment is only part of optimal care. Inspirehealth offers integrative cancer care with a whole-person approach to care, by integrating nutrition, exercise, emotional and immune support into conventional treatment. InspireHealth programs and services are backed by research.

100% of the proceeds raised through this event will go towards offering integrative cancer care for patients living with cancer across British Columbia.

I have committed to raising a minimum of $300 for InspireHealth, and I am hoping to raise even more before the event. Thank you in advance for your support!

Wishing you well,
Maggie

Please follow This Link* to visit my personal fundraising webpage and help me in my efforts to support InspireHealth.

* If the link is not redirecting to the fundraising page, please copy and paste the following into your browser:

http://paddleforinspirehealth.kintera.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=1109392&u=1109392-411287361&e=7875250494

Special Dish for the Week: Birthday Charcuterie Board

This week my Special Dish for the Week is for the official birthday-day of my 2014 six-weeks-of-birthday celebrations, and for the occasion I invite a friend and prepare a French dish:

Birthday Charcuterie Board

It is such a delight to gather the ingredients and assemble them in a dish that includes some authentic French ingredients, “smuggled in” from France on the way back from my Book Writing Retreat 2013-2014 Nice; some local French ingredients from Faubourg Parisian bakery café; and some other French imitation stand-ins as it is simply impossible to reasonably find all the authentic ingredients in Vancouver within my cycling radius — so I roll with what I can get, and it works out great!

Birthday 2014 Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup

Birthday 2014 Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup

We start off the festive meal with hors-d’oeuvre of authentic olives à la méditerranéenne avec ail et fines herbes, while sipping a glass of authentic red Châteauneuf-du-Pape Héritages wine. I serve the olives in my new birthday gift, porcelain-clay bowl, hand-made by another good friend of mine. I get to relish the thoughtful gift while I relish its olive contents.

First course consists of Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup, which my French-speaking German friend introduced to me to during my Book Writing Tour 2013. The soup is once more a hit, with its flavourful and texture combination of sweet, savoury, gritty and creamy.

Birthday 2014 French Charcuterie Board

Birthday 2014 French Charcuterie Board

Second course is my adaptation of a more traditional meat & cheese charcuterie board and add a few non-pickled veggies. One of the veggies is thickly sliced avocado sprinkled with unrefined toasted sesame oil, black sesame seeds, sea salt, and a balsamic glaze, while the other veggie is thickly sliced tomato dashed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, with sides of cilantro and lime wedges. Definitely a lighter refreshment to offset the more traditional ingredients.

Of the more traditional ingredients, I serve thinly sliced Italian prosciutto, not being able to reasonably find French jambon cru — which is just fine, since that is what we also had for our charcuterie board New Year’s Eve dinner during my Book Writing Retreat 2013-2014 Nice. I also share my authentic medallion of foie gras (thank you duckies!). Two types of goat cheese (chèvre) round out the dish: fine herb and fig flavours.

All these delights are enjoyed with a baguette tradtionelle, from the local French bakery café, which sadly disappoints in its lack of crispness on the outside and softness on the inside by the time we have our evening meal. But my mind reaches back for memories of the real thing in Paris and Nice, and it stands in nicely to make this birthday charcuterie board fully enjoyable. Organic butter and authentic Dijon mustard intensify the textures and the flavours of the main ingredients.

For dessert, I serve several different flavours of macarons, also acquired from the local French bakery café, and enjoyed with rooibos tea lightly flavoured with authentic eucalyptus essential oil infused honey also from Nice.

What a feast! What great company! And to think: this is but one of the experiences of my six-weeks-of-birthday celebrations!

Pre-Christmas Busy-ness

Christmas at Maggie's

Christmas at Maggie’s

In this pre-Christmas season, I spend one Sunday evening with the Just Write Vancouver Meetup group learning about the practical dos and don’ts of book publishing at a workshop presented by a highly knowledgeable and super helpful local book designer and producer. I pleasantly discover that “French flaps” is the proper name for one of my preferred covers for paperback books. Another tip gleaned from this lesson is to allow 3-6 months for book production once the book is written. After several years of writing, this step will seem to take no time at all!

I continue my education on the book production process and industry by attending a panel presentation of self-published authors, once again organised at the Vancouver Public Library. The stories of overcoming personal and social challenges that these authors have written resonate with me and my story, encouraging me that my story indeed needs to be told. Three main themes emerge for book production and promotion. Obtaining book reviews on advance copies before officially launching a book is critical to promotion. A noted advantage of the self-publishing process is maintaining of control by the author over the choice of book title and cover, as well as the composition of the book editing and production team. And, whether traditional or self-publishing, 90% of the marketing and book promotion is up to the author—so it is best to learn to like this part of the book production process.

My education intensive extends into learning the French language, when in the past 2 weeks I study, write, speak, and pass 2 sets of French tests for the Fall course. I look forward to continuing to practice it, and to the next course in the New Year. J’aime beaucoup apprendre le français, et j’aime même l’étudier !

I will get a chance to pratiquer mon français enconre during one of my two upcoming writing retreats that I have been beavering away to organize for this winter. Just for fun, the details shall remain top secret until my retreat posts in the near future. But needless to say, I am super excited to be setting aside the time, once more, for some concerted writing!

My Artist Date takes me once again to the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), but this time I try FUSE: a live performance night. My favourite activity of the evening consists of indulging in a glass of wine as part of the roughly one hour queue for a half-hour playtime with LEGO! Immensely fun and super neat sensuous experience—completely physically and mentally consuming—as we work in teams of two to design and build multicoloured LEGO towers, which will eventually form a part of a Douglas Coupland exhibit at the VAG in May 2014. As my reflections during my writing clarify for me, I spent most of my life inside my head, and in some ways, I would like to learn to be more of a kid, living equally with the body—and this experience shows me that perhaps I still can.

Another Artist Date inspires in me a continued will to live, and to live with spunk, to the end, as do the “Fabulous Fashionistas” in a film from the UK. It, in deed, does not need to be too late to start something new, and to remind oneself to keep up one’s fabulous living.

Noel chez Maggie

Noel chez Maggie

The month also sees much Christmas-related activity, from decorating my apartment with lights from behind the crown mouldings, red bows on my 2 ficus trees, and cut cedar wreath for my table; to attending several Christmas potluck parties; and meeting with good friends and relatives for pre-Christmas visits. The season is shaping up to be much more enjoyable than around this time last year, when my plans were in flux to the end.

As a result of all these educational and social engagements, I hardly have the time for cooking, and other than snapping photos of my last few Special Dishes for the Week, I haven’t been documenting them—till now, by which time, I have nearly forgotten the secret ingredients that made these dishes uniquely delicious, ranging from French-Thai-Indian Fusion Ratatouille, and Shrimp and Peppers Stir-Fry with Lentils, to Cardamom Chickpea Muffins.

Storytelling Poems, Songs and Plays – with Poem

The Writer's 2013 NaNoWriMo Workspace

The Writer’s 2013 NaNoWriMo Workspace

November turns out to be popular for pseudonyming. It goes by Movember, and more related to my book writing efforts, also by NaNoWriMo. The National Novel Writing Month is an international event that encourages and supports writers and would-be-writers to buckle down and …well… write! It adds a social dimension to the solitary activity, by holding write-in sessions at coffee shops, pubs and other creative-inducing venues. I don’t officially sign up to the 50,000-word novel in a month commitment, but I do check out a write-in—partly because it happens to be at the Storm Crow Tavern—a medieval-themed pub in East Vancouver that I have been meaning to drop by. The decor of board games, swards, goblets, and yes, crows, is a feast for the creative senses, as are the menu items—I feast on the chickpea fries and gulp down the mead. The other dozen writers are super friendly and welcoming, and I observe in amazement how they create in an atmosphere slightly too rowdy for me. I plan to return to the Tavern, just perhaps not at peak gathering hour.

Storm Crow Tavern Write-in

Storm Crow Tavern Write-in

The novel, however, is but one means of storytelling. In the last few weeks, I contemplate three others—the poem, the song, and the theatrical play—for telling my own story and for the stories told by others.

I have found throughout my years that when I want to boil something that I need to say down to its essence, I write it as a poem. I turn to this technique for some parts of my story, for which the narrative form would perhaps be simultaneously too confining and too revealing. On another day, inspired by my good friend’s work and our related exchanges, I likewise capture my existential contemplation breakthroughs in a poem, entitled ““Simply Because”. And I marvel at my own accomplishment: how often does one contemplate the meaning of life and come up with an answer?!

One foggy day,
the meaning of life
emerged:
contentment.

The purpose of existence
crystallised:
to live,
simply because we can.

Everything else
is an evolutionary bonus.

Taking my contemplations down a few notches, I ruminate on the story being told by those who wrote it as a song and chose it as the National Anthem for my current home country, Canada. More specifically, I consider the exclusivity of two words, “our sons”, in reference intended to invoke Canadian patriotism among its nationals. What about those nationals who are not “sons”? Since recently becoming aware of this as an issue from a national CBC radio program, I reflect on what story these words in the Anthem—as well as the reactions of some people to efforts to make these words more gender-inclusive—tell us about our history, our present, and our future. I am confounded by the resistance and the apathy, alike. Yet history, which I learn in the process, reveals that those lyrics in this song were changed 100 years ago, in 1913, from referring more inclusively, back then, to “us”. It appears that we regressed as a nation of purported equals. Sadly, the story being told by this song is quite telling. More than pondering, I think I do my part by expressing to my politicians my support for restoring the original gender-inclusive wording in this story. Words are very powerful among our kind.

And it is a powerful quote about “always having the power, but just having to learn it for yourself”—which resonates with my own story—that entices me to attend the “Wizard of Oz” musical. Having missed this wise tale during my childhood in the Eastern Block, I only discover its creative genius first in 2010, through the London musical, “Wicked”, then through the 2013 film, “Oz the Great and Powerful”. My childhood memories are better reflected in the moving theatrical performance from Montreal, “Moi, dans les ruines rouges du siècle” (“Me, in the red ruins of the century”), which I see en français avec surtitres anglais au Théâtre la Seizième. This real life tale of Sasha Samar growing up in the 1970s and 80s in the Communist Ukraine jogs my memories of certain small and seemingly insignificant details in my own story, which I promptly capture in my story ideas spreadsheet upon my return home. I also find this performance so affective and clever, because it is written and played out by the very man whose life it tells. Though it is really a story of an ordinary man doing relatively ordinary things while he lives out his life in a setting very familiar to me, nonetheless it captivates me, and encourages me to believe that these stories are worth telling. There is another common theme that weaves through the stories of Oz, Sasha, and my own, and it can be summarized with a quote from “Wicked”: “…where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it—”history”…” This I, likewise, contemplated earlier, while writing in London during my Book Writing Tour 2013: what really happened?

I augment these various forms of storytelling, which constitute my inspiring Artist Dates, with the practical matters of learning the book production process and industry by attending a panel presentation of professional self-publishers organised at the Vancouver Public Library. I try not to get too discouraged by hearing that in getting a book published and in the hands of readers, writing the book is the easy part—at the moment, I simply cannot imagine it getting any more difficult, but perhaps the speaker was not referring to the writing of memoirs! On the other hand, I find that reading about the book publishing process on the internet is well enhanced by the physicality of local self-publishing entrepreneurs sharing their practical experience in-person. Once again I am heartened by my fortune to be already working with a committed and supportive Developmental Editor.

Zucchini and Black Bean Tagine Dish

Zucchini and Black Bean Tagine Dish

On the culinary side of cooking up my life’s adventures, three of my tried and true dishes make their encore presentation one weekend. This version of the Zucchini and Chickpea Tagine features black beans (in place of the chickpeas) and matching fun sprinkling of black sesame seeds. Not much can improve the Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup, so I just follow the recipe shared with me by my friend in Hamburg during my Book Writing Tour 2013. And once again, craving the seasonal fungi, I prepare another Mushroom Risotto with the Asian assortment of wilder looking mushrooms. And for this week’s Special Dish for the Week, I whip up a Split Green Pea Mini Bouillabaisse of my own invention. I wonder how capturing the essence of such culinary delights might read like in a poem…

Zucchini and Black Bean Tagine

Zucchini and Black Bean Tagine

Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup

Fig and Green Peppercorn Soup

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

 

The Craft Draws Me Closer

Saying “yes” to life keeps proving to be rewarding, but admittedly, it can be also tiring. In the recent weeks, I arrange several Artist Dates for myself. On some of these, I take just myself; on others, I share myself with an interested friend. I start with a play, then a film, proceeding to a seminar, followed by a couple of dinners—all in a build-up to my 2nd Vancouver Writers Festival, where I shall begin my story.

The idolatry of Margaret Atwood

The idolatry of Margaret Atwood

Of the three events at the Vancouver Writers Festival that I take in this year, the one I attend with the greatest anticipation has the literary equivalent of rock star fame, for me and for the packed auditorium: Margaret Atwood. I decide to try out the idea planted in my mind during my last year’s attendance of her reading and commentary: I request her autograph for one of her books. It turns out to be a meaningful experience for me, though it stems from the very dissatisfying impersonal signing transaction. Perhaps this is how it feels for her as well. I confirm for myself that I prefer to engage in idolatry from a distance, mainly because I realise that the relationship I develop is with the idol’s work and not the idol: the person.

The experience, and my analysis of it—which I naturally undertake by writing about it—give me much insight into my own book writing and eventual publishing process. Mine will be a book about some details of my life. When it is finished, it will have the appearance of a self-contained story. Those who read it may feel like they have developed a relationship with me, where in fact they won’t have—though they may not realise it—because the relationship, if any, will be with their own images that my words will have conjured up for them—and I, as the writer, will not even have the privilege of knowing anything about some readers of my work. Yet, I think it will be important to remember to acknowledge the person reading my work, as a person, and not merely as a reader—while not taking their reactions to my work too personally.

Other events’ commentaries resonate with some of my own deliberations for my writing and my book: In which voice (I…, she…, you…) do I write which parts of my story? Would it be beneficial for me to use a pseudonym (in part because most non-Polish speakers will have trouble with my real surname)? And would it be easier to write as someone else (fictionalising the story to gain some more distance from it for myself)? One author suggests that non-fiction is a misnomer because it is all made up: facts, too, are created before they come into existence. I am heartened to hear from a seasoned author that it takes 4-5 years to write a book even when you have done it a few times—I am coming up to 3 years. Another lesson I glean for writing, and for life itself, is to remain obsessively curious.

With these insights working themselves out at the back of my mind, I return to moulding my own story. Feeling that I have sufficiently wrapped my head around my recent log jam of thoughts, I give myself permission now to work on other stories in parallel with resolving that jam. I dedicate a weekday evening to writing other stories, and my Friday day-writing time to that more intense self-analysis—and then, I improvise during any other writing time that I may have in the week or on weekends, when I am not learning French or taking myself out on Artist Dates.

Another recent Artist Date is a play, entitled “All In”, about the practical challenges of incorporating diversity into daily life, no matter how much agreement there is that it is a good idea to do this, and no matter how good it sounds in theory.

The film that I see, “The Escape From the ‘Liberty’ Cinema” (Ucieczka z Kina ‘Wolnosc’), is shown at the Vancouver Polish Film Festival. This 1990 film is a good reminder for me, and for my story, of how life used to be in Poland when I lived there a decade earlier, including the state of physical dilapidation of the infrastructure, and the imposed but also accepted concept of doublethink (unlike what happens today in Canada and other democratically capitalistic countries).

Balancing the artistic inspirations with some learning about the latest in brain science, I attend a morning session at the Vancouver Conference on Neuroplasticity. A very brainy presenter and the equally brainy exhibitors and participants confirm what I have recently been hearing and reading. Only within the last decade has the ‘learned’ community been increasing its acceptance of the brain’s ongoing potential to physically adapt to a person’s deliberate changes to how their body performs some activity. There are many clues in this topic and this confirmation for me and my story.

Obsessively Curious About Steak

Obsessively Curious About Steak

After feeding my soul and my mind, I take a culinary time out from my cultural Artist Dates, and apply the concept of “obsessive curiosity” to a couple of my dinners. There, I try out two varieties of steak as my source of iron: tenderloin and t-bone. I am not sure about the relative iron content, but taste- and texture-wise, the tenderloin comes out on top. I also get adventurous with sampling some purple cauliflower from the downtown farmers market. Though it is a keeper for its novelty and the possibly higher antioxidant content of purple foods, I do not find it to be particularly any more flavourful than the more typical white variety.

Obsessively Curious About Purple Cauliflower

Obsessively Curious About Purple Cauliflower

My other recent culinary delights, in the form of Special Dishes for the Week, are of seasonal and somewhat traditional persuasion, and include: Mushroom Risotto with Tomato, Cardamom and Coconut Sauce with Tofu and Water Chestnuts, and Ground Turkey Chili. The backlog in my freezer—which now needs clearing in order to free up the glass lunch containers for new dishes—conveniently coincides with a busy weekend of the Vancouver Writers Festival events, which leaves little time for additional cooking for this week.

Last Friday, we also say goodbye to Jody, ‘my’ cat, that has been my Mom’s companion for the past 19 years. Meow…

Goodbye Jody, Meow

Goodbye Jody, Meow

Reconnecting with The Craft

Reflecting on a thought from an earlier story post—that “life tends to be a little full when you’re trying to live it and write about it”—I give myself permission to occasionally lapse a little on my current goal to post bi-weekly stories, which I established upon my return to my day-job from my Book Writing Tour 2013. Easing off the pedals is a strategy I am learning to implement in order, among other things, to keep from imploding on myself under the vastness of life-engaging possibilities.

Roberts Creek Weekend Getaway

Roberts Creek Weekend Getaway

One of these occasions is the birthday weekend getaway for a friend, together with a few of her girlfriends, which we spend in the relaxing, if rainy, Roberts Creek on BC’s Sunshine Coast. We spend our days together savouring an abundance of very delicious dishes made with ingredients obtained during a damp but enjoyable walk to the village and a likewise damp but fruitful mushroom picking expedition.

The Writer at Roberts Creek Weekend Getaway

The Writer at Roberts Creek Weekend Getaway

Most fortunate for me, many of our companions come from the publishing industry, and some, too, are writers; thus, we enjoy many a chat while relishing the beachfront hot tub, warming fireplace, and elaborate candelabra. The sun does make a welcome appearance at the very opportune moment when I step down onto the beach to snap a few photos whilst the rain lets up. Sunday morning, before we depart, I get adventurous and make mulled wine out of the left over red wine, orange juice, honey, and some cinnamon that I find among the kitchen supplies—the Glühwein is a hit! And the Roberts Creek retreat inspires two consecutive Special Dishes for the Week: Quinoa and Chickpea Salad and Sweet Potato and Peanut Butter Soup.

The following weekend, I spend feeding my soul at the Vancouver Art and Book Fair with a performance of a short story, entitled “I Fell in Love with Black”, from which I soak up the wisdom of the “Sky Cathedral” sculpture: “I only speak to those who listen.” The Art and Book Fair is held in the old Courthouse Chambers within the Annex of the Vancouver Art Gallery—itself a treat for me to see for the first time, and to momentarily feel transported back in time to another age. I learn from another presentation about a personalized yet affordable publishing-on-demand option that I may look a little more into when I get closer to that stage in my book process.

Vancouver Art and Book Fair 2013 at the Vancouver Art Gallery Annex

Vancouver Art and Book Fair 2013 at the Vancouver Art Gallery Annex

With two weeks passing since I braved, with mixed results, going dancing—and with publically tested affirmations of a less wiggly body this weekend—I decide to get back onto the dancing horse once more. Much to my relief, the evening proves relatively uneventful for my ever-vigilant self, and I find that I even enjoy myself, the music, and all the people who appear to be in a good and non-judgmental mood that evening. The one person, who distinctly misinterprets my facial expression, readily receives with a genuine smile my brief explanation that it was not intentional on my part; I feel relieved to have been able to get my voice to work; and we both get back to enjoying ourselves, perhaps a little more accepting.

Mid-week, I take myself on another Artist Date—this one, a play: “Assassinating Thomson” at the Firehall Arts Centre. I revel in appreciation for how this lone performer weaves his own story with the mystery surrounding the death of a famous Canadian painter from a century before. I leave this clever performance reflecting on several meaningful for me quotes, including: “Maybe you get to the point when you no longer grieve what you’ve lost, and you celebrate what remains” and “The story changes with the telling and with the teller”.

Turkey Livers and Multicoloured Veggie Dish

Turkey Livers and Multicoloured Veggie Dish

In my culinary adventures, one night, as an accompaniment to a colourful plate of orange carrots, green peas, yellow potatoes, and red tomatoes, I try out the iron-rich turkey livers that I previously acquired at a downtown farmers market outing. Prepared similarly to fried-up chicken livers, with sautéed onions, salt and pepper, and a dash of red wine, the turkey livers prove likewise tasty, though more gamey and not as tender. I may try them again, as a paté! On another night, I harvest more greens from my herb garden, grate a carrot, hard-boil an egg, make up some lentils, slice up an avocado, toss in some baby plum tomatoes, and sprinkle these with olive oil, balsamic vinegar glaze, and black sesame seeds, for a deliciously balanced—in flavour, colour and nutrition—super salad. Naturally, I enjoy both meals with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon each!

The Writer's Herb Garden Super Salad

The Writer’s Herb Garden Super Salad

Cette semaine, mes études françaises ont aussi recommencé pour les dix prochaines semaines, so that my French homework will once again compete for my limited book-writing time—but there is method in my madness!

While seeking balance between engaging in life and easing off, I plod away at my recent log jam of thoughts, and feel that I am reaching a possible resolution on one significant part.