Old Movies Are The Best Movies

As many of you may already know, I am a classic old movie fan.  I have to thank Shaw cable for including Turner Classic Movie channel into our small modest bundle.

I have heard of famous actresses from the good old days’ – actresses like Rita Hayworth, but I haven’t actively sought out any movies that she starred in. I had no idea how good she was until I stumbled upon her playing the role of Gilda.

Sometimes I make the mistake of reading the synopsis of a movie and think, Nah, boring. But this time, even though the premise sounded dull, set in a casino blah blah blah, but because the rating was hovering around 96 percent, it got me wondering.  I was intrigued.

I settled down and was soon caught up in a swirl of emotions. Two people raking each other over the coals, being cruel to each other on purpose. And Rita Hayworth was amazing. Truly mesmerizing. And those lines, who writes like that anymore?- “We don’t have to apologize because we were both stinkers.” Stinkers! Who says that anymore? I cried because that line was perfect at that moment, perfect and sad and funny and true.

Later, I found myself singing Put the Blame on Mame, even though I had no idea what it means, and I still don’t.

Do they make movies this good anymore? I am not entirely sure. After watching Sophia Loren in Marriage Italian Style I really wonder if someone from this day and age can come up with something so raw- and beautiful and original.

If you think about people portrayed in the movies of today, like for instance like in the very good little film, BlueJay- even though the characters in it are grown up and have problems, they don’t seem grown up at all. Their difficulties don’t appear to be anywhere near the level of complex adult problems as the characters in the old classic movies. But perhaps this was the point of BlueJay– that their younger selves were what they were mourning and the passion that went with it.

I recommend both of these movies for those of you that like to get into the thick of the complexities of human relationships, relationships that are tangled up with deep love, resentment, and passion.

click the link below for a great performance-

Rita Hayworth sings Put the Blame on Mame

And if any of you know what the hootchy koo is please let me know, also who is Mame?

It’s a Lentil Soup kinda day

I don’t know what it is about fall, but just about everybody I’ve talked to is making a big pot of Lentil Stew. I made this last week and enjoyed it so much, that guess what? I’m making it again. And mainly because I have all of this great kale and swiss chard and parsley galore that has been pretty much reseeding itself for years. I found this amazing recipe by Rachel Ray. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her on our big family trip to New York one year. If there was anyone I would have wanted to see, it would have been her.

She is my hero. Pretty much any recipe that I try from her is filled with strong delicious flavours and good for you too.

All last year when I wanted my teenager to love me I would have a pan of Rachel Ray’s Cauliflower Mac n Cheese sizzling away in the oven when she got home from track. It was pretty much a sure thing that she would talk to me for a little bit as I was serving it up. She is off on a world adventure right now so I guess I am missing her a little bit. I always feel that it has been a good day if you make a pot of soup or stew and a batch of soap, which I did earlier today, so all is good.

Click on the link below for this easy recipe.


our garden’s bounty

Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover



Don’t judge a book by its cover. I made this mistake when once, bringing out an array of world language books for a library presentation, I picked out a few novels off of the library shelf. I tried to choose books with pretty covers. I knew the Korean book was about sewing children’s clothes but the Chinese fiction was harder to guess at. It was a soft covered book, on the larger size and covered with brilliant flower images.I was hoping it was something that might draw someone’s attention and it did. I saw a young woman pick up the book to look at it and I was pleased, I said-

Is this a good book? Have you read it?  And slowly and gently she tried to explain what it was about.

No, I have not read this book.

What is it about? I inquired.

Oh, it is about a girl, she said hesitantly.

Hmmn, I said,—you mean it is about friends?

No no, she replied, it is about a lady, how do I say it—  she is a bad girl— she is a lady of the night.


Oh really?  I said, feeling silly that I displayed it….this was an outreach in a local church after all. She continued to read the back jacket to me, well—eventually she becomes good.

I believe she was trying to ease my mind that I had chosen a really trashy novel. I was aghast! How did I choose a seemingly innocent book off of our shelves? I was aiming for gentle ( flowery) fiction and was far off the mark! In my defense, there were no pictures of handsome men or half-clad women on the front, only flowers!

And so— my lesson of the day;

Do not judge a book by its cover– although I often can’t help myself if it is really pretty.




Tolstoy and the Purple Chair-Book Review

image from booksbywomen.org

I have just finished a great little book- about reading books, titled Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I admit I picked it up mainly because of the title. But once I started to read this little gem, I was hooked. It is the true story of a woman who sets out to read a book a day for a year— a daunting task for a mother of four boys. So I was quite skeptical at first of how she would accomplish her quest, and actually, the big question for me was why, why would she do this?

The reading I soon learned, was to help her stand still and understand how to deal with the grief after the death of her sister. She read for hope and comfort and it was her only perceived link that she shared with her sister. She explains in one chapter that her father was put in a sanatorium to recover from TB for over a year. To her she equates her reading challenge as a kind of sanatorium that helped her heal, to get herself back together.

She began her journey with the literary gem The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery- later she recalls that from this book she learned to find “moments of beauty” whenever she could.

She at first foolishly thought she could read during the day when her kids were in school, in-between laundry and making dinner. But the author soon learns the only time available in her busy schedule is in the evening after everyone is in bed. She wisely chooses books that are only an inch in width, about 250-300 pages, but when one of her sons tells her to read Watership Down, a 500-page tome, she rises to the challenge. Each book is reviewed and posted to her website daily.

After reading Sankovitch’s book I felt inspired to read more. I have a list the length of my arm of must read books from her and one of them is called The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin.

I encourage you to read this book— you will be truly inspired.

The Birthday Suit Special



Photo courtesy of Beer Street Journal

As a child when it was my special day I would get up early on the first of June, bring my pillow still warm from my head and place it outside on the cold concrete steps of my house. I would sit on my fluffy down pillow and just listen to the frantic trilling of bird songs which I felt were singing just for me. This was before everyone was up and about. Before the demands of my mother, before my little sister was up, before tearing open my package of Carnation instant breakfast that I would stir into a cold glass of milk, lumpy and sweet, swallowed in a rush to beat the school bell for nine o’clock. Before all the neighbours were up doing their noisy grown up things, before the machines roared to life, cars whisking neighbours away to their jobs, before the high whine of the lawn mowers started by a pull string, and the sounds of the children in the schoolyard across the lane, yelling and shouting exuberantly.

This was how I liked to start my day when I was eight. And I am trying to remember that child. In her honour, I will sit quietly listening to the sounds of nature that are still here despite the traffic, despite the urban sprawl, despite the noise of airplanes and the potent smell of pesticides sprayed from trucks with hoses.

Walking my favourite path at Nose Hill the other day I noticed a coyote walk by me at the top of a ridge. We both stopped to look at each other. But, after noting that I wasn’t threatening—it just went on its way, joyful that winter was over, ( I imagined this thought of course). It pounced on something playfully with its large paws, perhaps it was a nervous mouse trapped under its claws. It didn’t occur to me to be afraid, it was a wild animal, after all, the size of a large dog. Every day I see hawks sitting on the tips of the tallest lampposts along Shaganappi and think, despite us, despite the city, the animals remain, and I am grateful.

I will think of this as I sit quietly— grateful for the sounds of nature, my gift to myself on my special day.  (But I no longer need a pillow for padding. )The birds are still here doing their frenzied thing!

Lucky me.

On Author Talks and Why Reading Fiction is Important

I had the pleasure of listening to an author talk at the Central Library the other night.  I wondered if it was worth the trouble to take the C-train downtown instead of hanging out in my pajamas at home like I do every night. Gone are the days of my youth when I would go out dancing after midnight! The author that I was going to see was Barbara Gowdy— she was promoting her new book of fiction, Little Sister.

The audience I noticed was largely older women in groups laughing and talking. Barbara walked onto the stage with two pillows and went on to explain the constant pain she was in for many years, and how she had to write lying down in bed. Her stories were amusing and thoughtful. Once she burped and said, “oops, sorry I burped!” And I thought, what an adorable person! The audience at first was slow for the question and answer period, but soon got on a roll and someone asked her if she regretted anything or wished she had changed something after it was written. She said she realized that everything that she wrote or did, had to happen, and, as a result, the next book was created. I like how she also said that we are all different people at different stages of our lives, meaning perhaps the first book she wrote, that she claims were very serious–was written by a different her. She also discussed how many writer’s families, especially their mothers, don’t actually like their books.

And on the very hot topic of cultural appropriation, Gowdy says about her book The White Bone, she hopes that if some elephants read her book, they won’t be mad that she may have made mistakes in how they actually live their lives. She wrote The White Bone to help people understand the plight of the elephants–but says that she doesn’t think it had any impact at all. She added that one of Trump’s sons hunted and killed elephants for sport.

She also discussed the importance of reading fiction. Her example was that a man who only read cookbooks cheated on his wife with her close friend. He was surprised when everyone was upset and mad at him. If he read fiction Barbara went on to explain, he might have understood these basic truths about how life works. We all enjoyed her story of how her little sister came with her to the hospital to help her when she had a diagnosis of breast cancer. Her sister had a seizure in the hospital, was whisked away to surgery and was fine after. It was like her cancer saved her sister’s life, Gowdy said. An amazing story told by a truly fine storyteller.

I encourage anyone to attend any books talks that you are able. It made for a wonderful evening–it was definitely worth getting out of my PJs for a change.