Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bye bye cursive...

I was listening to a podcast today and the hosts were talking to a 40-something man who was taking university classes. His class was asked to take notes then the notes were shuffled around the class for others to read. This man's notes were written in cursive and most of the recent high school grads couldn't read what he'd written. Yikes.

I should have known things were headed this way. A few years ago my dad gave my kids a sizeable cheque inside a Christmas card. Inside he had written "Look at how much I gave you, you little dorks... I demand your complete and utter devotion now and forever" (I may have paraphrased, there) in the most beautiful, florid hand. As he looked at my kids eagerly, waiting for the group hugs and tears of gratitude, they just stared blankly at that damned card. I think they actually started turning it sideways before I slapped it out of their hands. Ugh. They couldn't read what he'd written.

I remember when Elliott was in grade 3 and he brought home a cursive writing sheet. Once. The other kids never had them.

I get why they don't teach it anymore, I really do. The internet and computers have pretty much sealed the fate of cursive handwriting. But it's such a shame. For me, cursive is so much faster than printing. And if I take my time with it, I can do a pretty good job. Plus it's a sure bet that if I write a mash note to Scott and leave it lying around the house, the kids won't be able to read it. Okay, that's a silly example. More like if I leave a grocery list out they won't know if I'm getting cookies or not.

This is not my writing (or spelling)

My mother had the most gorgeous handwriting. So much so that I have a tattoo of it on my arm. And that brings up another point. My parents had a long courtship that was mostly conducted through letters. I have a pile of them and since both of them wrote in old-style cursive it's hard for even me to read. My kids will never be able to read the letter my dad wrote asking my mum to marry him. Come on, doesn't that pluck at your heartstrings?


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What a long strange trip it's been

Okay, that title is a bit of a lie. I'm only trying to illustrate the fact that I haven't written a blog in a while. I've been doing stuff that is fun, and stuff that you'd think is quite boring. But that's the nature of life, isn't it?

The coolest thing I did was go to a Seder yesterday. For those of you who don't know, a Seder is a special meal held on the first day of Passover. It was so great. I ate so. Much. Food.

I was really worried at first that I'd stick out like the only grain of pepper in the salt shaker and I did but in a good way. Everyone asked (and I'm paraphrasing, here) "what's the deal with the Catholic Black chick at our Seder?" And since I love talking about myself and my various "deals", I was in hog heaven (no pun intended... you know, Jews can't eat pork... get it? They don't work so well when you have to explain them).

I was worried that since everyone either spoke or understood Hebrew that I'd be left out but I was fine with it. In fact in a conversation circle, when they'd lapse out of English, a few minutes of me smiling and nodding at each speaker I'd get a flurry of unnecessary apologies. In fact when they did that I was:

1. Delighted they felt comfortable enough with me in the room to speak their mother tongue and
2. Having fun picking out the the 50 or so Hebrew words I do know like numbers 1 to 10, days of the week and greetings.

Anyway, what else happened while I was on my hiatus? Naturally, I did some shopping (bought the bestest and most gorgeousest purse you've anyone has ever seen ever) and a pretty summer dress that feels like it'll be in the closet for 8 more months. It's still freezing). Oh, and I and knitted. A lot. I learned how to make headbands and slippers so now between that and the homestyle cakes I'm still baking on the regular, I'm my own cottage industry.

So that's my life right now. You?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Now there's a blast from the past...

I was in the living room this afternoon and Scott was on his way out the door.

"Sears catalogue!" He shouts as he throws the book down and slams the door shut.

"What? No WAY!" I say aloud to no one in particular and throw down my knitting, bounding up to get it in case this is all a figment of my imagination.

It wasn't. Today I'm holding a Sears catalogue. A flipping Sears catalogue, people. I haven't shopped there in years let alone had one of these books in my hot little hands. This is so great!

When I was a kid, the Sears catalogue came a few times a year and was a huge deal. One was usually at the end of summer and the picture on the front was of a boy and girl impeccably dressed for the first day of school. They looked like little private school kids drained of personality and full of brains. Maybe that's why my mother always got those exact outfits for my brother and me year after year. Some kind of voodoo to make us better, smarter kids. Poor deluded woman.

Anyway, back to the catalogue. It arrived in all its glory with a big giant thud on our front porch every August. I always felt sorry for the mailman who had to deliver a neighbourhood-full of these 500 page monsters. But we got ours and that's what mattered. I loved that book. It smelled like everything new and when I cracked the spine I'd feel an actual thrill. And it wasn't even the Christmas Wish version yet.

I'd turn through every page of that book, even through the housewares and automotive stuff that no 7 year old kid has any business caring about. I spent ages with it, lovingly folding down page after page of the things I wanted to go back to (a habit I still have). It should go without saying that the toy section was the most thumbed through since my brother and I both drooled through that section folding and circling, making sure our parents knew exactly what we wanted for Christmas.

So that's my Sears story. And today I got one for the first time in years. It likely belongs to a neighbour but there's no name on it so if there's a knock on my door looking for it, they'd better be prepared for a messed up book covered with marker and scrunched up pages. Cuz that's the way I roll.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cabane à Sucre vs. the Sugar Shack

A Cabane à Sucre is basically a maple syrup factory. Here in Ontario it's called the Sugar Shack. It's where they take the sap from the trees and process it into maple syrup  It's a huge deal in this part of Canada but in Quebec and Ontario they're two very different animals.

In Quebec, going to the cabane is an event. You took the whole day off work or had a day long field trip from school.  You waited in line a bit for your seating time then were ushered into a huge banquet hall with long tables that often forced you to eat with strangers (who soon become friends) and after stuffing your guts full of food, incredibly, there was a daytime disco. I know how it sounds. There was a little lip service paid to the fact that maple syrup comes from trees by providing a short tour of the taps but really it was all about the feast. You got served by a waitress who took your order and the food was plentiful and delivered on china. Scrambled eggs, baked beans, pork rinds, bacon, ham, sausages and maple sugar pie all covered in syrup. My dad even used to put maple syrup in his milk. MmmmMMM!

In Ontario it's all about the outdoors. You got a tour through the boiling facility reading informational wall plaques then had a seemingly endless tramp through the forest looking at the operating taps... sometimes on a horse-drawn wagon. If you're lucky you'll get a little meal of room temperature pancakes on a plastic plate with half a styrofoam cup of apple cider juice. So different from my Quebec experience. At least you get the tire (maple taffy on snow) in both places. So even though there are several "sugar shacks" nearby, guess which province I will be forcing the family to drive to this Spring Break?


This chewy delight is pure maple sap on snow. Heaven on earth.