Author Archives: jdandy

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women by Wayetu Moore at Karen’s on April 1, 2021

We continue with our Zoom book meetings – definitely not our preferred way to meet but still wonderful way to keep in touch and discuss family, life in a pandemic and, of course, books. Karen’s presentation is attached below (Note: Videos will not work in PDF format)

Thoughtful words from Jill:

Thank you Karen for such an interesting and in depth research. I once again, learned a lot from the Liberia history to the amazing hope, fortitude, love and above all survival of just one family.
While perusing one of the reviews, I felt this paragraph was quite apt for our present time, as for then. ” Those starving right now for physical contact with loved ones outside their immediate homes, will find special resonance in Tutu’s parents’ eventual reunion in Sierre Leone, when they wiped each other’s eyes and hugged for a long time”.
Another quote I read by Wayetu Moore, I found profound but also sad. ” Such is the danger of deep love, however beautiful, dying lingers close behind”.

And from Moira:

Thank you Karen for hosting a thoughtful discussion and for all the work you put into your presentation. I’m sorry we could not view it together however I hope you’ll send us the links and we can watch the videos ourselves. It’s interesting how many of our books have dealt with racism in some form; The Known World, Washington Black, The Dragons, …, Between the World and Me, Small Island, Ragged Company, Indian Horse , The Book of Negroes, The Help, (?)to name a few. As a white, fairly privileged white woman I am saddened, shocked dismayed etc at the cruelty toward people of colour but I can never fully appreciate the depth of their feelings of displacement and their sense of not belonging or being accepted. After reading, I am left with hopeless feelings about what CAN I DO? I want to take action but I don’t know where to start. Being aware and being educated is no longer enough. Jeanne writes about this in her weekly messages which is in fact, taking action. Cheers to Jeanne!Apologies for the outpouring, but this is what resonates with me after reading many of these novels.

And Bev continues with this dialogue:

Moira, I too struggle with what can I do?

I have found the book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson to be both challenging and provoking. In her epilogue she writes:“Human beings across time and continents are more alike than they are different. The central question about human behaviour is not why do these people do this or act that way, now or in ages past, but what is it that human beings do when faced with a given circumstance?
None of us choose the circumstances of our birth. We had nothing to do with being born into privilege or under stigma. We have everything to do with what we do with our God-given talents and how we treat our species from this day forward.
We are not personally responsible for what people who look like us did centuries ago. But we are responsible for what good or Ill we do to people alive with us today. We are, each of us, responsible for every decision we make that hurts or harms another human being. We are responsible for recognizing that what happened in previous generations at the hands of or to people that look like us set the stage for the world we live in and that what has gone before grants us advantages and burdens through no effort or fault of our own, gains or deficits that others who do not look like us often do not share.”
She encourages us to develop a radical empathy for those who must endure the indignities we have been able to avoid because of our privilege. To see and connect with the person in front of us. To reach across and act when we see a person treated unfairly. She likens it to the flapping of butterfly wings that shifts the air and builds to a hurricane across the ocean.
Jeanne has found a wonderful way to provoke us into rethinking, being aware, and sometimes acting.
It can be more personal in our daily lives. So small things. A small example and I know you too do this. I tip my delivery guy extra. I would really like to see essential workers paid a living wage and having benefits and getting their covid vaccinations. Actually I often wonder what skills and professions they had before they arrived in Canada. So as well as personally trying to pay appropriately for services I bug my local MLA, Doug Ford or whoever else. I will vote accordingly. I read and share ideas probably with like minded but maybe it might trigger something. Butterflies?

And from Laura:

Thank you Karen for your review of The Dragons, the Giant, the Women. You facilitated the discussion in a thoughtful and patient manner, in a way that I wish I were better able to do. Everyone contributed insight and observations that helped me have a better understanding of the messages of Wayetu Moore: the impact of her family’s harrowing experience in Liberia, their magical escape, and her oddly synchronous lived experience as an immigrant of colour in Texas, U.S.A. (where violence lurks but is mostly implied in a class structure and social rules that must be adhered to).
Moira and Bev, I enjoyed reading your notes, and they mirror my own dilemmas about complicity in perpetuating the systemic underpinnings of racism and classism. My first steps have been to seek ongoing personal awareness and sharing of knowledge, but I definitely struggle with meaningful action beyond that, so it’s helpful to hear your thoughts. And, Jeanne, your weekly notes also show how you are working your way through these issues and proposing actions that I appreciate hearing. I’m very grateful at this time to have the diversion of a shared book and a group of friends to work their way through it’s meaning. This past year has shown how much I really need it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

‘Hold Still’ by Sally Mann with Karen

Attached is the excellent presentation (without the videos) that Karen used in her discussion about ‘Stay Still’. We unfortunately could not meet in Karen’s beautiful backyard due to weather, so met once again using Zoom. You can see by the thoughtful comments below that the book generated a lively discussion and Karen’s discussion preparation was most appreciated.

From Erin:

Thank you for the incredibly well prepared presentation Karen.  Your questions were very stimulating of the issues that are often raised by art… I too loved her photographs, as they are both beautiful and sometimes disturbing… certainly very evocative… AND they raise different issues for me around the ethics of informed consent… especially re children, who are too young to fully comprehend the ramifications. 
Sally Mann certainly seemed consumed by the “messiness” of the body as well as its beauty… as depicted by her photos in dire situations, and in the decay of death… flesh melting away from bone… return to the earth… and  the question of the “mystery of life” itself.  What is it that transforms the physical (matter) to an “alive” from a dormant or “dead” state?  Questions about the soul… and her mention in the book of the weight of the soul when it leaves… get me thinking about this question of what separates life from death.

From Moira:
Many thanks Karen, your presentation was very insightful and probing.  As usual, the discussion gave me much more to think about and made me question my own biased beliefs. Thanks for recommending a book I likely would not have read . Loved seeing the collection of photos at the end as it reminded me of Sally Mann’s extraordinary talent and passion .

From Jeanne:

Adding my thanks Karen! I really appreciate your research and presentation, as it took me beyond some of the preconceived opinions I had about the book and the author. It was a great discussion everyone, looking forward to ‘seeing’ you all at Ann’s bookclub!

From Bev:

Outstanding presentation, Karen. Your PowerPoint guided me to delve deeper into the book. Art and artists tend to ask really tough questions. There is always more beyond the surface and it is not easy to get to the deeper intent and meaning. Your research and probing help me to better understand Sally Mann and her work.

Great discussion.

From Laura:

Excellent summary Karen, and some thoughtful, probing questions that have me revisiting how my construct may have changed over the years around artistic expression, and why. It’s always good for me to hear what others are saying, and know if I might be out of step with current thinking. I don’t think I can add much more to the already astute and insightful commentary given, but I appreciate the opportunity to debate and discuss these difficult subjects, so that we all have the opportunity to gain an increased worldview. 
I will say again that Sally Mann is a talented artist, and has worked incredibly hard to perfect her craft. I really enjoyed the montage at the end. I look forward to hearing of her future journey, as I can see that life has been a struggle for her and a bit of a roller coaster. Thanks for recommending this book.

From Ann:

Great job!   I think I related to the book much like you did, Karen!  I loved her photographs of her kids.  I think the kids were on board and were supporting her and therefore quite willing to participate.  Their mom was into photography and that was just how it was.  Other parents are into sports, or drugs or hockey or whatever and they all affect the kids- it is just that kids don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I can see how sharing them caused an uproar and upset some people but damn – they are beautiful.  I agree with whoever said she was brave to reflect on her privilege.  To admit she did things “wrong” (although she wasn’t aware enough to know it at the time) is kind of the point that those of us with privilege must do.  So many (me included) are afraid to weigh in because we will be judged and she just shares her thoughts and ideas.  It really has to start with this to make any long term change at all.  Anyhoo…. just thought I’d weigh in. It takes me a while to figure out what I want to say and even so I am not sure if I have expressed myself well.  Thanks

Sally Mann Hold Still Presentation


Filed under Book Club Meetings

Foe by Iain Reid at Josee’s

This was our third pandemic era book club meeting – wonderful to have this technology but wouldn’t it be nice to see each other in person (although you can see Jane and Laura’s feet in this picture 😷)

From Erin:

Yes … thanks Josee for a well researched base for our discussion, which was as always enjoyable and informative.  I am one of the ones who didn’t catch on entirely until the end… and now it’s occurring to me… when I saw FOE in caps that the title could stand for Friend Or Enemy… which could be an interesting way to discuss the appearance of the stranger… and perhaps friend or enemy to whom? 

From Bev:

An interesting choice and not my preferred genre but I like that the book club stretches us to read and discuss out of our comfort zone. 

Good thinking on the meaning of FOE, Erin. Could he be asking us as we did, to delve into the rapid advances in technology to consider if AI in particular is Friend or Foe. Maybe it is a mixed bag and we have to decide. Is Huwai’s G5 ability to spy on us and perhaps compromise our privacy outweigh it’s other vast benefits. Can we curb misuse?
Corporate greed? I am so naive. I hope Henn found happiness. Questions and more questions.

From Jill:

Thanks Josee, I found the book fascinating and couldn’t put it down, even though I wasn’t sure who was meant to be who in what role, and the ‘visitor’ annoyed me in that he seemed to think it was his right to impose on the couple when they clearly didn’t want him there, especially Junior. At first Henrietta was against him, then she welcomed him.
It was good to hear everyone’s comments and thoughts on the story and it helped me to understand it. 
Maybe I was reading the story too literally? I also liked that the theme  focussed on their relationship as the story unfolded, and wondered how it would affect our own lifestyles and our reactions under the same circumstances. 

From Moira:

Great discussion as always, thank you Josee for the research and for exposing us to the novel. I was wondering afterwards if the AI version of Junior aged over the 2 years he spent with Hen or does he stay the same as when he was calibrated? 

Interesting question about the title Foe- friend or enemy? maybe it’s a play on the word FAUX?  haha, who knows.

From Karen:

I really enjoyed our philosophical, futuristic, sci-fi, discussion yesterday.  My take on it is that we all seem leery about the future.   Perhaps FOE and the pandemic are influencing our thinking?  Great discussion as always.  I do appreciate the chance to use ZOOM to meet though to be honest, it will be a treat to see everyone IN PERSON at Jane’s next month –  even if we can’t hug each other.
Thanks Josee for bringing Ian Reid’s novel to our attention.  It will be interesting to see the film adaption.  I wonder which themes the scriptwriter and director will focus on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman at Jill’s

Our second pandemic book club meeting was with Jill and started with most of us participating in a fun online cooking class with Melissa Clark

And then …..we discussed the very sad Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman. Many of us were surprised by how much we learned about this dark time in Canadian history.

From Karen:

Reading Home for Unwanted Girls made me aware of a sad period in Canadian history and one that I knew little about. It is horrific to realize that the Quebec provincial government and the Catholic church systematically certified orphans as mentally ill for financial gain. Horrible and unforgiveable. I agree with Moira that those involved should have been criminally charged. A financial settlement can never make up for the years of abuse suffered by those innocent children.

From Moira:

Thank you Jill for adding your research to highlight the author’s background. As Josee said, it certainly was a dark time in Quebec’s history, but I am truly thankful that it has been exposed and hope this means an honest commitment by the government to make sure it can never occur again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Living in Remarkable Times – Black Lives Matter

When Laura did her book club on Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates, she gave us a presentation on the history of the African American experience in the US.

This was an excellent summary of the history and the experience of Black Americans that was eye-opening at the time.

It is well worth another visit given the current world situation. We have truly been witnessing revolutionary change that hopefully will be substantive and sustained.


Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson hosted by Ann

This was our first Covid-19 Pandemic Zoom meeting.

Most of us were able to gather virtually and all went pretty well using our new technology. Much needed time together to discuss the book and education and reconciliation and also were able to show off our bread making and get caught up on how all are doing during this ‘interesting’ time. Erin we missed having your insights about this book.

Look at all those attentive faces 👩‍👩‍👧‍👧👩‍👩‍👧‍👧

From Karen:

Thanks Ann for all the effort you put into last night’s meeting. I enjoyed the video links especially although as Jane said, I also found the story very sad and disturbing. Another compelling read, a memoir, written by Terese Marie Mailhot, is Heart Berries Equally sad, and perhaps even more disturbing.

It was featured in the NYT monthly book club and was recommended by Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild)

I did miss everyone’s physicality but was surprised at how intimate our Zoom meeting turned out to be.  It was good to see everyone smiling, healthy and engaged (as always!) in the conversation.  Sorry you were not able to be with us Erin.  And of course I missed the food…  Too bad the technology hasn’t advanced to the point where as in Star Trek, they had a food replicator.

Jill perhaps you could get Dave to build something in time for our next get together?

From Moira:

Thanks to Ann for preparing so much background information for our bookclub meeting and thanks to Jeanne for setting it up. I was surprised at how smoothly everything went and it was certainly nice to see and hear you all. I will endeavour to find out what novels are on the grade 10-12 reading list, although most English teachers allow independent novel study, so students typically choose their own and have it approved. I found that I was swept up in Jared’s life and found his story compelling and really enjoyed the mystical elements. All we can really do is open our minds and hearts to the indigenous stories and learn to listen.

From Jill:

I was lying awake last night mulling over our meeting, I usually do after book club, and thinking about Jared and the daunting pressures he had to deal with. Deep down he was really a decent and kind person, fighting against all odds. My heart went out to him when he was helping the elderly couple as best he could, and the wife in particular seemed to understand him. He needed that little bit of confidence and reassurance. He had little else. The love between him and his mother was there deep down, but she was fighting her own internal demons, and so was Jared. Talk about survival of the fittest.

I felt the parallel of the lives/lifestyle between the first link that Ann gave us, and that of Jared’s. I loved how the drumming of music entered their senses and became their solace.
I wonder, if each of us would be asked, what it is that calms, nurtures and settles our senses.
I know for my own mother it was music, and birdsong. I feel that in me as well….and illustrated books of Flower Fairies…don’t laugh, it’s true.

From Bev:

A great book. There are times when books written for young adults are so much more real. I found that I could really connect with Jared and was cheering him on even when his life seemed so messed up. The trickster is such a challenging concept. Usually we encounter the wise one in western literature. The trickster is just the opposite. Those crows caused mayhem and out of the mayhem came learning and wisdom. I will search back to the Trickster stories I used many years ago with my Grade 6 classes.

From Laura:

In the event that any of you wish to do some further non-fiction reading about historical relations between Indigenous peoples and the rest of Canada, the following is a list of books that were recommended to me not long ago. I know that you will find the descriptions to be daunting, but they do truly represent the many examples of how Canada betrayed and lost the trust of indigenous peoples – beyond the residential school policy, and how that trust may never return until they have more of say in their own destinies:
Lost Harvests; by Sarah Carter
Agriculture on Plains Indian reserves is generally thought to have failed because the Indigenous people lacked either an interest in farming or an aptitude for it. In Lost Harvests Sarah Carter reveals that reserve residents were anxious to farm and expended considerable effort on cultivation; government policies, more than anything else, acted to undermine their success. Despite repeated requests for assistance from Plains Indians, the Canadian government provided very little help between 1874 and 1885, and what little they did give proved useless. 

An Error in Judgement; by Dara Culhane (Speck)On January 22, 1979, an eleven-year-old Native girl died of a ruptured appendix in an Alert Bay, B.C. hospital. The events that followed are chronicled here by Dara Culhane Speck, a member by marriage of the Nimpkish Indian Band in Alert Bay. She has relied mainly on interviews, anecdotes and public records to describe how this small, isolated Native community took on the local hospital, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, provincial and federal ministries of health and national media, because their private tragedy held implications that reached far beyond one child, one physician, one town and even one century.

The Pleasure of the Crown; by Dara CulhaneA comprehensive look at how Canadian, particularly British Columbian, society “reveals itself” through its courtroom performances in Aboriginal title litigation. Focusing in particular on the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en case, the book traces the trial of Delgamuukw. v. Regina from 1987 and 1991 to its successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which issued a landmark ruling in 1997. (fyi. the  Delgamuukw decision was probably the most important case to be settled in Canada in terms of Indigenous relations.)

A Poison Stronger than Love; by Anastasia M. ShkilnykThis book documents the human costs of massive and extraordinarily rapid change in a people’s way of life. When well-intentioned bureaucrats relocated the Grassy Narrows band to a new reserve in 1963, the results were the unraveling of the tribe’s social fabric and a sharp deterioration in their personal morale – dramatically reflected in Shkilnyk’s statistics on violent death, illness, and family breakdown. The book explores the origins and causes of the suffering in the community life and describes the devastating impacts of mercury contamination on the health and livelihood of the Indian people.

Strangers Devoured the Land; by Boyce RichardsonThe long struggle of the Crees of James Bay in northern Quebec—a hunting and trapping people—to defend the territories they have occupied since time immemorial, came to international attention in 1972 when they tried by legal action to stop the immense hydro-electric project the provincial government was proposing to build around them.

As Long as the Rivers Run; by James Waldram
In past treaties, the Aboriginal people of Canada surrendered title to their lands in return for guarantees that their traditional ways of life would be protected. Since the 1950s, governments have reneged on these commitments in order to acquire more land and water for hydroelectric development. James B. Waldram examines this controversial topic through an analysis of the politics of hydroelectric dam construction in the Canadian Northwest, focusing on three Aboriginal communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Unjust Relations: Aboriginal Rights in Canadian Courts; by Peter KulchyskiA little dry, but this book provides a collection of eight Supreme Court decisions concerning aboriginal rights. The cases, which span from 1888 to 1990, demonstrate the development of the legal value of aboriginal rights in Canada and help readers understand how recent court decisions were influenced by those in thepast.
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens; by J.R. MillerThis one is more of a history book. A comprehensive account of Native-newcomer relations throughout Canada’s history. Author J.R. Miller charts the deterioration of the relationship from the initial, mutually beneficial contact in the fur trade to the current displacement and marginalization of the Indigenous population. 

Custer Died for Your Sins; by Vine DeloriaThis book dates back to 1969 and was noteworthy for its relevance to the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement and other activist organizations, such as the American Indian Movement, which was beginning to expand. Deloria’s book encouraged better use of federal funds aimed at helping Native Americans. Vine Deloria, Jr. presents Native Americans in a humorous light, devoting an entire chapter to Native American humor. Custer Died for Your Sins was significant in its presentation of Native Americans as a people who were able to retain their tribal society and morality, while existing in the modern world.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan at Moira’s

From Erin:

Thanks for a very impressive meal and evening … It was such a fun experience for me to arrive a titch (pun intended) late to our group already in action… the excited energy and liveliness of everyone in the room felt exhilarating after a full day… and continued on with a sense of lightheartedness, during the discussion of very real and serious issues… unfortunately Jane, we need to be on the lookout for pedophiles and others who sexually assault… as we all agreed, it has not gone away. What I do feel though, is that perhaps disclosures of sexual assault are less likely to be discounted today, than a generation ago, even though the legal system lags in its ability to prosecute the small percentage of cases that make it into the courts. As for Wash… he was a beautiful expression of how limiting lack of real freedom can be to both individuals and the world, experiencing the benefits of full expression of each individuals talents and gifts.. even with all the opportunities afforded by Titch. I pray for the day when every spirit… regardless of the physical form within which it resides in this realm … has the opportunity to fully express its unique qualities without reservation and the limits of fear. That’s the world I hope we will all live in one day…

From Karen:

Our novel and subsequent discussion led me to think about how through time immemorial, oppression of peoples is based on deciding who is human and who is not. The mistreatment of those that are deemed not to be human can therefore be “justified”. Those that hold the power (be it economic, political, etc.) do the deciding and thereby grant themselves permission to treat “others” as property. Sadly this seems to be an all too human characteristic and is practised today in the form of human trafficking and child slavery.

Aside from the weighty topic of our conversation, the evening was delightful. So good to see everyone and enjoy a delicious meal. Looking forward to those recipes Moira!

From Jill:

Once again, an entertaining and feast of an evening of food, wine, friendship, and book discussion.

It’s always interesting to hear everyone’s individual take and opinion on our books.

Rehashing my thoughts this morning, I realise how lucky I was to be born into a safe and protected environment.

Being born into slavery must have been horrific.

For Washington Black his life seemed to be full of contrast and mixed emotions. The cruelty of enslavement, the freedom after escaping, and the people who showed him compassion when he needed it most.

Fantastic meal – not a scrap left 🍴

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Norwegian Apple Cake and Lobster Bisque

Norwegian Apple Cake


3/4 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour

2 eggs, beaten

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar


  • Cream the sugar with the butter, until light, fluffy and pale golden. Slowly add the beaten eggs and then add flour, bit by bit – mixing well after each addition.
  • Mix gently, pour mixture into greased 9 inch square pan.
  • Peel and slice apples.
  • Place slices on top of the mixture. (Place apple slices as close as possible to each other).
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle this topping over the apples.
  • Bake for about 60 minutes in a 180C/350F oven, until well risen and golden.
  • This delicious apple cake can be served warm or cold with cream or creme fraiche.
  • It keeps and freezes very well – separate the slices with greaseproof paper for freezing.

Lobster Bisque


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, and carrot. Cook and stir until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the vegetable and broth mixture into the container of a blender, and add 1/4 cup of the lobster meat. (I just used the immersion blender right In the same pot.) Cover, and process until smooth. Return to the saucepan, and stir in the half-and-half, white wine, and remaining lobster meat. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Uncategorized

Naive.Super by Erlend Loe at Jane’s

Definitely a quirky little book that was enjoyed by everyone. As you will see, the book sparked interesting discussions during the meeting and amazing contemplations afterward. Interesting note: This book was chosen because of the antidote that Pete Buttigieg enjoyed this book so much that he taught himself Norwegian to read the other Loe books that had not been translated from Norwegian. Thank you also to Jeanne for bringing us all some of her fantastic pears.

From Karen:

To borrow a quote from “what makes a successful book club”… 

Good books and good friends are two of the yummiest things in my life. I treasure them both. My book club of 30+ years combines these two loves–a gathering of friends who share a love of reading…  Through the highs and lows of life, a constant for all of us has been our book club meetings. Month after month, year after year, these book-loving friends have fueled my tank and rekindled my spirit over and over again. “

These words sum up how I feel about our time together.  We are very lucky to have this club which provides an opportunity to read interesting books and discuss them amongst friends.  Last night’s meeting was delicious, fun and informative.  I would never have found Naïve.Super on my own.  Thanks Jane for introducing us to a deceptively simple story about figuring out how best to live.  The Norwegian meal, music and author’s video rounded out the evening PERFECTLY.

From Jill:

I found it hard to sleep last night, rethinking the evening, the interesting conversations, the delicious Norwegian style delicious lobster bisque and smorgasbord. Above all, our friendship. We come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and I so value and appreciate being part of this inspiring gathering of women, as we share our thoughts and feelings. Naive.Super gave me a perspective into my own life, what is meaningful to me, how I have dealt and continue to, deal with every day life. 

From Jeanne:

I am grateful for our bookclub, it is special and we are blessed to all be part of it. All “good” friends, this is a list that your names will all be on the top:-)It might be fun to do our lists like the ones in Naiive Super. Jeanne has some amazing suggestions for lists and I have written them down in my journal to start compiling.

1. a list of what we have and what we don’t have 2.. a list of qualities for an object that will make us think about nice things, or preferably just smile. 3. a list of what used to excite us when we were younger

4. A list of who we look up to.5. A list of what we know a lot about. 6. A list of animals we’ve seen lol with or without insects this could take a long time!7. A list of what we would paint if we were a painter 8. A list of qualities for something that would redress the damage done by a “bad” friend 9. A list of things we have in our room/house of things we are not using 10. A list of things that should never be animated in a commercial context 11. A list of things we appreciate 12. A list of things that make us happy 13. A list of things that are big and long and tall in a city/ place we visit 14. A list of things we remember from the day 15. A list of companies and products we love

From Erin:

For some reason all these emails reflecting on last night and our many blessings reminded me of Sam, my counselling internship supervisor’s advice to me as I started my new position as therapist at CATC in 2000.  We had become friends following my graduation, and his daughter Alice and wife ‘Ruthie’ became extended family support.  
It was Sam who gave me a reference that landed me the job after staying at home for 13 years with my young children.  One day over lunch, as I described my overwhelmed state with work demands,  Sam suggested I journal using these 3 questions from Rachel Naomi Remen’s ‘Growing New Eyes’ in reflection each day:

  1. WHAT SURPRISED ME TODAY? It surprised me that I found myself thinking about a group of women in book club as supporting and nourishing me in a similar way to the support I received from Sam and his family.
  2. WHAT TOUCHED MY HEART TODAY?  It really touched me to realize how each one of you has crept into my heart
  3. WHAT INSPIRED ME TODAY? As a result I am inspired to begin journalling again.

Here is a link:
“Sam” is Dr. Sarge Horwood, MD … who preferred to be called ‘Sam’ … as he thought it suited him more.  He is an unassuming man although a Harvard educated paediatrician who grew up in Cambridge with the background that implies. Later, his daughter told me, Dr. Benjamin Spock invited him to collaborate on a new edition of his book… which Sam declined… not sure why?  Later, Sam chose to work in the far north of Newfoundland near Gros Morne National Park as lone paediatrician to mostly fly-in communities.  Sam was/is an avid environmentalist…. I would visit him at his house in Westdale, often finding him in overalls mixing his compost piles which he had in big bins in his back garden.  When I first met “Sarge” (still Sarge at that time) he was still doing grand rounds at McMaster Hospital as he had been head of the NICU there prior to branching into counselling… all of which I found out much later after completing my internship. Anyway, needless to say we really connected… and I have countless stories of our families together… and looking back am so appreciative of the special interest he, then Ruthie and daughter Alice (mother’s helper living up the street when we lived in Hamilton)  took in our young family.

Like the Horwood family… our book club has become a place that fosters reflection, appreciation, and provides support and reflection… all of which help me deal with what life brings… the heartaches, the worries, and the gratitude and joy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings, Uncategorized

Ethiopian Recipes from Erin

It was my pleasure to host and to prepare this meal for you… albeit … spending a day in the life of Yetemengu was eye-opening… (not really… since I had the benefit of all the modern conveniences)… OMG… what a life!


Here are the links to the various dishes:
First I made the Berbere spice:
and the Niter Kibbeh:
used in the following dishes…
Mesir Wat – Spiced Red Lentils:
I used this recipe for the Ayib -Ethiopian Cheese:
Doro Wat -Ethiopian Spiced Chicken: recipe suggests adding hard boiled eggs, but I decided to not include since I had seen Doro Wat also prepared without them)
Gomen – Collard Greens:
And for dessert: Ethiopian Coffee-Infused Coffee Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream:
I didn’t have Yirgacheffe coffee on hand but believe you can get it at Ten Thousand Villages. I like the French Roast from there for my morning latte, so used that. Beware: there is a mistake in the baking time … it take about 45-50 minutes (not 20 minutes) in a Bundt pan. The recipe serves about double the number suggested (5-7 for a large Bundt cake seems like humungous servings!)
I had planned to make Injera but ran out of time… and instead served fried Parathafrom the frozen food section.

However, this looks reasonably straight forward to make…  I thought the other Doro Wat recipe looked better using the traditional spices and clarified butter:
For the Injera Recipe:

  • In a large bowl, mix both flours, salt and baking soda together. Whisk in the club soda until smooth. Then add the vinegar and whisk. 
  • In a large skillet over medium heat. Pour oil on a paper towel and wipe the skillet with the oiled paper towel.
  • Using a scoop, pour batter into the skillet creating a 6-inch circle. Carefully swirl the pan around to thin out the batter until it measures 8- to 9-inches across.
  • Cook for 1 minute, then using a large spatula, flip the Injera over and cook another minute. Remove from the skillet and stack on a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. The Injera will seem slightly crisp in the pan, but will soften immediately when placed on the plate.
  • Once finished cooking the Injera. Cut the circles in half with a pizza cutter, roll into tubes and stack. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve the Doro Wat and Injera together, tearing piece of Injera and using it to pick up the Doro Wat.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes