Health Indigenous

Feeling uplifted

I was lucky enough to have seen a post from a shop I love that I found online that is owned by an Indigenous woman (Totem Design House) about an online session tonight with different speakers giving their perspectives on taking care of yourself building from Indigenous teachings and practises. I wanted to get my thoughts down while they were still fresh and clear.

While sponsored by Lift Collective – whose goal is to amplify, celebrate and connect Indigenous peoples – it was open to all peoples. There were five breakout rooms that the participants were moved around – we each got to experience three of them.

Listening to the amazing Brenda MacIntyre (she sang at the beginning and then I was placed in her room as well) reminded me how powerful music is. This was reinforced by Andrea Menard’s singing at the end and Erin Brillion’s (she owns Totem Design House) talk about traditional practises (one of the three rooms I was placed in). I know I have felt calmer and more peaceful on days that are windy enough to set my chimes going outside my window for example. And closing my eyes and really listening to songs is just so different than when I have it on as background noise.

I was also reminded about the importance of connecting with others and with nature (my first room was with Ashley Lamothe who spoke about collective care) – as sort of contrived as that might sound. Even something as simple as how enjoyable my morning coffee is when I have the time and energy to have it on the balcony. It never fails that people will look up from the sidewalk and return my smile! (Yes, in downtown Toronto! 😉) Or even just walking around the block instead of on the treadmill.

I recognized that not everyone can do these things. I know I am lucky to live in a safe place or near a big park or have private outside spaces. But try, just for a couple of minutes if you can, to get outside. To breathe deeply. To feel connected. Love you.

Diversions Toronto

Tourist in my home town – The ROM

India’s painted and printed cottons

In the many months since March 2020, I have been back to my office twice: both times on a Sunday to pick up things I needed. And then IT asked that everyone come into the office during September 2021 for updates and to make sure everything was still working etc.


Grey haired female with a periodic table of elements mask and a TTC stop in the background
Waiting for the bus for the first time in 18 or so months

So I got up, showered, put on office clothes!!, and waited for the bus. Overall the day went pretty well. Only a few of us went in. Toby encouraged me to get a nice lunch as a treat. And then I left work a little early to take advantage of being downtown and walked up to the ROM.

The benefit of a membership I think is that I do not feel compelled to see.all.the.things! I can look at what’s happening, chose one thing and then just see that and leave. And that’s exactly what I did.

The exhibit is on until January 2, 2022 so you can definitely still go and see it. It was pretty nifty. All about cotton and how artisans in India created and advanced their craft time and time again.

The colours and patterns were stunning. And so interesting to see the differences of the fabric made for different markets!

Both of the above were made in India but for export to different markets: Egypt and Japan. There was also Sri Lanka, Iran, Indonesia and of course Canada:

Made in the 1990s from Indian design for Canadian market

There was also a discussion of how local makers took inspiration from Indian chintz but also made it their own:

From Indian chintz to Javanese batik

And from Indian chintz to African prints. The ROM exhibit explained that in East Africa, women first dressed in printed cottons imported from India but by the 1970s they had switched to their own designs.

There was also a little section showing how some of the dyes were developed.

If you have a smart phone you can listen to a free descriptive audio tour of the whole exhibit with 10 or so stops. As someone who has a bit of working knowledge of fabrics from my own forays into knitting and basic sewing and cross-stitching (and some embroidery) I was just amazed by the variety and the obviously huge amounts of work involved.

I was pretty impressed and happy with my little visit. I checked the ROM website again afterwards and found a few links to talks and interviews they have posted to youtube about Post-Independence revival of India’s craft industries and with the curator of this exhibit. I love that they made it easy to dive as deep as you want to go on the topic. I’ve added the “Ethics of Production in Historic Chintz” to my future watch list!

I recently decided that I want to do a deep dive into fungi and lichen so I’m off to the ROM website again to see what they’ve got…

Diversions Get Crafty

Autumn Watercolour workshop

There’s a whole lot to complain about with social media. I know this. But I am also grateful for the friends around the world it enables me to keep in touch with and all the new people to become friends with.

So I started listening to the Ologies podcast I already talked about. Which meant I found the Ologies fans facebook group. Which lead me to join a couple of subgroups (books, parents, and crafts). Which has had me so inspired and motivated you cannot believe.

Someone recommended the Completely Arbortrary facebook group when I was trying to brainstorm ideas my kid and I could use to explore our local parks and trails “with a purpose” (which is highly beneficial to motivating The Mighty Q). So I joined that. And started listening to the podcast – which is terrific, BTW.

AND as a result I’ve been paying more attention to local opportunities to learn more about the outdoors… which led me to the Toronto Botanical Garden website. Which of course led me to their “Learn” tab. (seriously, can someone just pay me to keep learning stuff? Like random stuff that catches my attention, obviously not the continuing professional development that is required as a part of my actual occupation)

And so I signed up for an online class on autumn watercolour painting!

Oh gosh - I just realised I haven't even done a "how I fell into painting" blog post yet! It'll come - someday...

Anyway, I went over the list of materials and got everything ready – and because it’s me – easily a couple of hours before class actually began:

Painting supplies on a blue steamer trunk
Yes, my smaller supplies are in a whisky tin – reusing = cool 😉

Haven’t messed anything up yet…

White paper taped to a board

So the theme is obviously “autumn” and carrots are a good, easy shape to work with.

faint pencil outline of a carrot

I learnt a couple of things right off the bat – straight lines aren’t really “natural.” Carrots are wobbly. They don’t look like the letter V in real life.

Here’s the first layer of paints. I have some lovely orange from Annwin Arts so I was pretty excited to put it to good use!

Next layer – I was a little too heavy on the right-side of the carrot tops. This is when I learned my second big lesson of the night. Do not try to fix it. Just let it go.

What I did do was try and fix it. And tear the top layers of the paper in the process. Sigh.

It’s about here in the process that I yelled up to Toby:

Me: I’m so not good at this!
Toby: That’s why you’re taking a class.
Me: Oh, I don’t know that the class is gonna help
Toby: Are you having fun?
Me: Absolutely!

We also did a bunch of carrots – mine are still separate as opposed to a bunch together but I really like it.

Week 2 is going to be pumpkins!

Get Baked In the kitchen

Apple turnovers

30 September 2021

Toby and I talk about food sometimes and one of the things we’ve concluded is that most cultures have some similarities regarding food. Almost everyone has a “meat on a stick” for example. We live near Greektown in Toronto so there’s always souvlaki around; there’s also Turkish kofta, Ukranian patychky, Thai satay, Japanese yakitori, Peruvian antichuchos, Spanish pinchos morunos, American corn dogs 😉, okay, you get my point. And now I’m hungry.

Almost everyone also has a “hand pie.” They run the gamut from hearty empanadas to sweet crostatas; from fish pastels to pop tarts; from spanakopita to pastizzi and, of course, Cornish pasties.

Turnovers are another hand pie and our best friend went apple picking with his kids and sent Toby home with some apples. I also had some puff pastry in the freezer and well, apple turnovers it is! Joy of Cooking apple turnovers to be precise.

Picture of mason jar of salt; plastic tubs of sugar and flour; a lemon, an egg, a cinnamon jar, a pile of apples and tenderflake frozen puff pastry
This will be apple turnovers

Not sure why we have the puff pastry but as it is so not worth making from scratch it’s a good thing we do!

Next comes rolling out the puff pastry. I should have taken more pictures of what it looks like out of the box. The box in the photo above comes with two bricks inside. Once you roll out one of the bricks it looks like the picture below:

Rolled out dough

Cut that into four quarters and then fill:

Pile apple filling in the middle. You’ll put too much. It’s okay. Just do it.
Fold over; wash with egg; cut slits on the top; press edges together with a fork

Ta dah! Out of the oven and cooling a little before delivering to friends. Because if you’re going to make four apple turnovers you may as well make a dozen and deliver some to other people…

Diversions Reading

Turning 50 (in 2023)

This is quite possibly the most “all about me – look at me” thing I have ever done but once I got the idea (years ago now actually) I couldn’t forget about it. I figure I really want to do it and I will risk the consequences of someone thinking I’m being all grabby or insensitive or rude or something.

So anyway, here we are now, about a year-and-a-half until I turn 50 and I have the most awesome idea for my birthday but it would require other people to do a bit of work. Am I allowed to do that? Am I allowed to ask for a specific present? I know that most people might not want to buy me anything anyway but someone might think it’d be fun.

Basically, for the longest time I’ve wanted a full set of Agatha Christie books. Like all of them – and there are a lot of them (almost 100, more than a 100 if you consider different versions as different books).

A collage of ten different covers from Agatha Christie novels.

At first I had it in my head that I wanted them all to match – so the same series from one publisher. But then I had a brilliant idea. Instead of them all to match, I want them all different – new, used, plain paperbacks, fancy hardcovers, whatever. AND so I thought for my 50th I’d ask people to buy me a book and write a message in it (or on a bookmark/card inside) and send it to me.

I’m still trying to think out the logistics and how to do it. Naturally, I have a spreadsheet of all the books. You can send me a copy of your favourite (if you have one; and really I would find it amusing if I end up with 10 copies of murder on the orient express!) or ask if you want to know what has already been received. Maybe you have a dog-eared copy that you know you should get rid of but feel bad for just tossing? Or a copy that an ex-partner left on the bookshelf? Or you stumble across a Russian copy in a used book shop in New York or whatever.

I don’t think it would work if I had to wait until March 2023 to open them all – so if that would upset you then write “WAIT” on the package. Otherwise I’m just gonna open them and share what I’ve received as I get them.

The scene below is what’s going through my head of course – so do please forgive the imposition of my request. There is obviously no obligation at all on anyone to play along; there will be no score card; I will not think you love me any less – I’m pretty good at assuming that if you read this blog and we’re friends on FB or whatever that you love me as I am – foibles and all.