Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Dad

I wrote about my mom a few posts ago. My dad is just as great. Dad is 6'2" and a bit, so he's always been the big guy. My son, however, made it his goal to be bigger than grandpa, a feat he "managed" in his late teens. (not that it really was in his control)
For my sisters and I, his height meant we had to take two steps to his one, and when we were small it wasn't uncommon to see us running to keep up with him, which caused a few tears of frustration!
All three of us swam and played ball in the summer. In the winter we played ringette. Dad was very involved with our sports. He was always the coach for one of our ringette teams and then he refereed for the other two teams, so he rarely missed any of our games. Considering I played for 10 years, and my younger sisters at least 12 or more years, he was very busy with the sport. He also organized the league and many tournaments as well as our participation in many other tournaments.
Before he "retired" he worked in the areas of Parks, Sports and Recreation and with Provincial, Western Canada and Canada Games. Within his employment and as a volunteer, Dad's ideas have allowed him to help raise thousands and thousands of dollars for a number of charities and organizations over the years. He is a mayor now and he continues to raise money for the community.
My dad has a number of loves in his life: his family, my mom, his grandchildren, each of our families' dogs, the cabin up north...and... well, I don't know if I've put them in the right order, but I'm sure you've got the idea!  :)
Love you dad.

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is an interesting author. She started out working in the scientific field, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, a Masters in Marine Biology and a Phd in Ecology. She also had a strong interest in history and writing. She wrote her first novel just to see if she could. She often posted portions of it on an internet message board, and ended up publishing in part from the encouragement of those she'd met online. I think she also realized that she did have the talent.
That novel, Outlander published in June of 1991, won a RITA award for best romance novel of 1991. However, the novel is more than romance. It is historical, science fiction, and fantasy. Its depiction of Scottish clan life in the 18th century is detailed and by all accounts extremely realistic. The novel marked the beginning of a series in which there are now 7 books, each a whopping 650 to 800 + pages. They are not trite, nor quick brain candy reads that many equate a romance with. These are great books that get you thinking, keep you interested and focused.
I've met all sorts of people who have read Gabaldon's books, doctors, business people, store clerks, students, teachers, you name them, they've read them. I think that what sets Gabaldon apart from typical romance writers is the incredible quality of writing. Yes, I read romance once in awhile. I like to escape with a fun novel, it's like watching a movie. But Gabaldon's novels aren't your typical escape novels, nor are they your typical quick reads. There are lots of details to remember, the quality of writing asks you to stop and savour the setting and to notice the features of the characters. 
These are well-written books that are hefty and meaty. They last more than a rainy weekend, and I'm glad they do. They just take so darn long to come out in print, so don't get too hooked. 7 novels in almost 20 years. If you read faster than that, it's a long wait.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Stress Reduction Part II

It's not a matter of letting go—you would if you could. Instead of "Let it go," we should probably say "Let it be."~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Here's more of Jon Kabat-Zinn on stress reduction.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

HOLY RAIN BATMAN!

While the province of Saskatchewan can have weather that is characterized by extremes, due to its position at the centre of the continent and its high latitude, we have never really had quite the weather experiences of the last two years...at least not in my lifetime. Generally we are known to be hot and dry in the summer. In fact, many places in Saskatchewan have considerably more than 2,000 hours of bright sunshine each year far more than you can find in the warmer southern states of the U.S.
The past two months, however, have seen more rain than ever before. Most farmers haven't been able to seed their crops and now it is too late in the season for them to do so. Average rain fall in the province is 10 - 24"/yr. Thus far we have had 6" within a 2 month period. The Trans Canada highway received 6 - 7" within one day, washing out a complete section.
While I wrote my post title in fun, it is actually a very serious situation. Besides the inconvenience of the mosquitoes, mud, and overgrown weeds, for those of us who live in the city; farmers are without an income. There are also many families in towns, cities, as well as on farms who have had their homes and belongings lost and damaged in the flooding. There are areas in Saskatchewan and Alberta that have been declared as states of emergency. Along with the loss of their possessions they face difficulty accessing medical care, food, electricity, and other basic essentials. It isn't the horrors of Katrina, but it is still a difficult time for the people who are going through this current situation.
This is a video of some of the flooding in Saskatchewan and Alberta. It's affected a lot of people and truly gives a sense of the scope of the flooding and the damage its caused.

Stress Reduction Part I

Jon Kabat-Zinn has written a number of books about meditation and mindfulness such as: Coming to Our Senses, Everyday Blessings, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Full Catastrophe Living, Letting Everything Become Your Teacher: 100 Lessons in Mindfulness, Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness, and Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness.
We have a few of his books at our house and I've begun reading them. What I really like is seeing video footage. Oprah's Soul Series in 2008 included Jon Kabat-Zinn and is quite easy to download.
I've also found this footage on stress reduction. It is a six part series. This is part one.
Jon Kabat-Zinn on Stress Reduction.

"The paradox is that you can only change yourself of the world if you get out of your own way for a moment, and give yourself over and trust in allowing things to be as they already are, without pusuing anything at all." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

New York City's Garment District

New York City's Garment District sits between Fifth and Ninth Avenue and 34th and 42nd St filling less than one square mile.

The Garment District is currently home to many well-known designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne and Nicole Miller.

Originally, the Garment District was the centre of the United States garment industry manufacturing clothes for slaves living on plantations, more cheaply than if they were to sew their own clothes, later it also began producing ready made clothing for sailors and western prospectors.

By the 1820s more and more citizens wanted ready made clothing and the garment district began filling that need. Later, by 1910, 70% of American women's and 40% of American men's clothing were being made in New York's garment district. Presently, the ability to provide cheaper labour and production overseas has reduced the Garment District's manufacturing amounts. Many of the Garment District buildings are now being sold for office buildings.

The entrance of the garment district has a kiosk with a large button and needle. There is also a sculpture of a man at a treadle sewing machine.

On my last day in New York I did some walking on my own and actually walked through most of the Garment District. I didn't do any shopping; I just looked around and took it all in. It's an intersting place to expore.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth is a great read, despite all of its hype. I say that because I have friends who purposely shied away from it for the very reason that it found its way on to Oprah's Book Club list. I tried the book for two reasons, first of all friends had found it to be a good read, secondly I had read and enjoyed another of Tolle's books, The Power of Now, a number of years before. Regardless of why, I simply like the book because of the fact that it makes me think. The very beginning of the book captured my imagination and it continues to stay with me.
Those opening paragraphs are such a different way of looking at our world. Evolution and the big bang doesn't get you to think about the birth of a flower. Neither does Genesis and the seven days. Tolle's paragraphs inspired my imagination and allowed me to think of the world we live in, in a very new way. And those were only the first two pages.
Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena, ...
Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature... (1-2)

In the following video, Tolle discusses his book and how he named it A New Earth.
 
If you've never read it, consider doing so, it's a very thought provoking book.

Doing it right the first time!

If I had my life to live over,
I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I'd would limber up.
I would be sillier than I would have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see,  I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.
Oh I've had my moments,
and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living many years ahead of each day.
I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again,
I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
~Nadine Stair
85 years old
Louiseville, Ky

This was originally printed in the Family Circle magazine edition of March 27, 1978

Friday, 25 June 2010

Thomas Perry

Another favourite suspense and mystery author I really like is Thomas Perry. He has written a series of five books and then a number of stand alone books. His series books are about a character named Jane Whitefield. Jane is a New York lawyer who finds herself helping people disappear. Her escape plans are elaborate and convincing.
Thomas Perry began his career with the novel The Butcher's Boy. This book does the unusual in creating a sympathetic character out of someone we would usually consider the 'bad guy,' an assassin. Some years later, Perry wrote a follow-up to this book, Metzger's Dog, which is also very good.
All of Perry's books are interesting and fun to read. I'm always caught up to his latest releases and waiting for his next publications. Good news Jane Whitefield fans. Perry, who believed that five books in a series were enough, because there were no more things to learn about writing within the scope of a series and about the created characters has changed his mind. It's been nine years since he has written his last Whitefield book, and he's decided it's time to revisit his character. It was released in January and I haven't had a chance to read it yet.I am definitely going to check that one out! 

Balance

"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine." ~ Lord Byron

Perspective

I had to borrow this, I saw it on another person's post...
I don't want to brag or make anybody jealous or anything, but I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school !!!
Now that's a good one, and about the only thing from high school that I can fit into!

More on Meditation

I like the words from the Dalai Lama on meditation:

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Washrooms, Bathrooms, Restrooms...and Tavelling in New York


 







A common denominator is the need to be able to use a washroom.










While washrooms in my home town aren't always at their cleanest and best shape, I am very used to having access to farily decent washrooms the majority of the time. On our recent trip to New York, we had some interesting experiences with washrooms.
 
The first day, my mom and I were in a café style restaurant. It was busy, and had quite a few tables. There was a single washroom with one stall.  The door locked poorly; the floor and counter were soaking wet; and the toilet was filthy. There was no where to put my backpack; they were out of paper towel; it was like being in an uncomfortable obstacle course.


On the night we went to A Little Night Music we had a light supper at DaMarino's first. The restaurant, mentioned in a previous post, was located in a basement.

When I excused myself from the table to go to the washroom I have to say I was in for a bit of a surprise. Yet, perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise. When we'd entered the restaurant to the left of the entrance there'd been a small waterfall and rose petals. 
 
The washroom was, well interesting. It was filled with rose petals tiny water fountains, candles and statues. They sat on all sorts of levels. The pictures will never do it justice, but enjoy. Oh, and remember that this washroom would be about 12'x8' at most. I have another washroom to tell you about in another post.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Why Meditate

I have a mind that runs at warp speed when I get thinking. It wakes me up in the middle of the night with thoughts and ideas regarding current projects and work I am doing. When I am multi-tasking or working on more than one project with someone it jumps from idea to idea. Sometimes I feel like a dog on the track of multiple scents, or a kid on a sugar high, or perhaps someone with Attention Deficit. I may be able to keep my mind on all of these topics and flit between them, but the people I am talking to aren't living in my brain and therefore they aren't privy to the forks in the road that my thoughts take. Many people are understanding, but it can be confusing to them, too.
Regardless of them being understanding, it is important to learn how to quiet my mind for a number of reasons. It is important to learn how to quiet my mind so that I can focus when talking to people at work. It is important to quiet my mind so that I can get a good night's sleep. It is important to quiet my mind so that I can hone in on one task at a time and ensure I catch all of the details that I need to complete.
My husband is an archer. A week or two ago he shot a 'robin hood.' This is when one arrow already shot into the target is split by the second arrow. Since I rarely manage to actually get a 'robin hood' as I roam around with my points and topics, I need to work on focussing!
I have been practicing a bit of meditation, but I often fall asleep, even if I am sitting. As soon as my eyes are closed and I am comfortable my mind races until I fall asleep. I have a lot of work to do. However, I do believe it would be a good practice for me.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sleep

It happens to all of us. At all sorts of different times... At any age. In the middle of all sorts of activities. Because we are busy beings who do many things. So, we need our sleep. Are you getting yours?Looks like these guys are getting theirs.

Leadership and Self-Deception, Arbinger Institute

Leadership and Self-Deception is a book that I cannot recommend enough. This is a book that was written in a fable style. What I like most, is that it is not just about what people consider as traditional leadership. Such as leadership in business. This is about leadership in life. It is about leadership in business, but it is also about leading a family, leading in community, and leading your own personal life.
The Arbinger Institue is the author of this book and their illustration of what self-deception means is insightful and very easy to understand.
I've written a great deal more about this book on the Life on Purpose page, as I reviewed it for a night class I was taking. I have also referenced it in a longer post on that same page in a discussion on authenticity.
It is a book that my sister originally recommended to me. It really challenges me to think differently. I cannot recommend it enough.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Compassion

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them. ~
Dalai Lama

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Lee Child

I've found a suspense author, Lee Child that I'm really enjoying. He's written 14 books thus far and his main character, Jack Reacher is an Military Policeman who is now living the life of a drifter, who is constantly finding himself in the middle of various difficulties. Unlike those mysteries of the week or a Murder She Wrote type of premise, these difficulties involve high stake murders, kidnappings, and other issues that involve suspenseful page turners. Child really writes these thrillers well.
Killing Floor, was the first of Child's books and the others that have followed have been just as good. When I started reading Child's books this winter it was a lot of fun. Now I'm in a bit of withdrawal. I've read all 14 of his books and the next one won't be out until October. It will also be hardcover. I generally make it a policy to wait for the soft cover book. I wonder if I'll be able to wait?

Vision

"An intelligent plan is the first step to success. The man who plans knows where he is going, knows what progress he is making and has a pretty good idea where he will arrive. Planning is the open road to your destination. If you don't know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?" ~ Basil S. Walsh

Billy Elliot in New York

Billy Elliot, the Musical, is based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. The music is by Sir Elton John, and book and lyrics are by Lee Hall (who wrote the film's screenplay). The musical revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes.
When in New York, we had the good fortune to see the musical, Billy Elliot. Billy Elliot began its Broadway run in November of 2008 with three main actors playing the lead role who rotated throughout the week. After its debut, the play won a number of Tonys including best musical and best actor awards for its three actors. (picture on right) The play also won a Tony for director of a musical, book of a musical and choreography.










Billy Elliot currently has five Billys who play the lead. When we saw it, Jacob Clemente played Billy, who at 12 years old he is the youngest to play the role. The energy that he used in that play was phenomenal. That he is one of their newest cast members and perhaps not as tried and tested as their more veteran Billy is unbelievable. Frankly, he was outstanding.

If you've never seen the movie or the play, there's no way to do it justice with a short video. I searched online for something to put on to this post and couldn't find the right one. There wasn't a video of Jacob Clemente. I hope that the one I posted will give a glimpse. I guess that the important thing to remember is that the boy dancing is only 12 or 13 years old. 
The athleticism of the entire cast, particularly the dancers was phenomenal. Jacob, especially, as he was on the stage for virtually the entire show, but there were also a few other dancers. It was really a remarkable performance.
My youngest sister purchased our tickets and we sat in one of the largest theatres we had experienced on Broadway. There was an actual lobby, but it was still small compared to the lobbies we are used to. Our seats were great and as I have already mentioned, the show was wonderful. 
We had a wonderful time...On Broadway!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

One of the my all time favourite books is Anne of Green Gables. I don't know how old I was when I first read the book, but I had read it before we travelled to Prince Edward Island, so I know I was no older than eight. I do know that I have read the book more than a dozen times over the years. Some favourite memories of reading the book are the first time, of course. It was an old hard cover, first given to my mom by her uncle on her 12th birthday. The cover is orange and there isn't a picture, but that is what made it so special and grown up.
Anne of Green Gables is a timeless tale. It's a story that makes you cheer, laugh, and cry. There's a bit of suspense, frustration, and worry. I won't write a review, but you can click on the link in the title to read the synopsis. Above all, the book is one that has given me many memories and encouraged my childhood imagination.
One memory of reading the book comes from my seventh or eighth reading. At that time I was completing my teaching internship in a grade five class. Each day, after lunch I got to read to the class. The boys hadn't been to certain about a book with a girl's name in the title, but they'd quickly been won over. All of the students were enjoying the book and I just love to read aloud. We were at the part where Anne had the priviledge of serving tea to the minister's wife. She had been so excited to prepare for the event that she had forgotten to cover the sauce for the pudding. All I can say is that in the turn of the century all sorts of things can happen when food isn't covered properly and the ensuing situation is hillarious. The students and I were laughing so much we all had tears rolling down our faces.
I've read the book many more times since then, and expect I will read it a few more times. It is doubtful that it will ever be retired to the shelf for good.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Optimism

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." ~ Chinese Proverb

Monday, 14 June 2010

Fences; Denzel Washington and Viola Davies, New York Theatre

Our experience of Broadway in New York also featured Fences, a play by August Wilson. I wrote about this play in an earlier post. But, I mostly wrote about our evening of great food, then running off to the play. In this post I'll write more about the play.

August Wilson wrote Fences in 1983. It debuted on Broadway in 1987, with James Earl Jones and earned a Pulitzer Prize for drama. James Earl Jones also won a Tony Award for Best Actor.

We were really lucky to be in New York during the play's 13 week revival with Denzel Washington. It will soon be closing. It has done quite well and is up for many Tony Awards including Denzel Washington for Best Actor, Viola Davies for Best Actress, the play for Best Revival, and a few others.

Fences, itself, was very good. It is one of August Wilson's 10 play Pitsburgh cycle. It is set in the 1950s, and it covers everything from family relationships to race relations, to the experience of African-Americans as well as other themes.


Denzel Washington plays a man, Troy, who has regrets, who doesn't always know how to show his love, and who really doesn't have a high opinion of himself. The story was full of sadness and frustration, of laughter and tears. The audience responded very vocally to the verbal sparring between Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.Last night at the Tony's, Fences won for best play revival, Denzel Washington won a Tony for his performances. Viola Davis won a Tony for best actress in a play.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Almost 23 Years

Last night was my cousin's wedding. I met a lady who is 92 years old. We sat and visited on a couch while she ate a cupcake and she asked me questions about my family and made the connection between me and the bride. When she discovered we are a month from our 23rd anniversary, she was delighted.
My husband eventually found his way to a chair near us, so she said she wanted ask him what our secret was. How have we stayed together for almost 23 years, when so many marriages don't last that long anymore. She said "What do you do to hold her close? What does she do to hold you close? What are those special things that you do that keep you together?"
Mostly we laughed and said it was hard work, making sure we communicated, but really, a wedding reception with many people milling around it isn't the time to reflect, but today there is more time to think.
In retrospect that was actually a tough question. It's not that we take each other for granted. It's just that there are so many things that we just do, that we don't necessarily think of then as special. I guess the important thing to remember, or to ask ourselves, is are we taking those extra things granted?
Thinking about it, today, one thing I can say is that one of the special things my husband does is anticipate. (I try to do this, as well) Anticipating what someone else will need is one way that really shows you don't take them for granted.
I'm not talking about someone who anticipates your every need like a waiter or a high paid servant. I'm talking about somone who is living his own life and as he does so, notices things that you would like, too. Notices because he knows enough about me to recognize things that I would like or appreciate. I am in his awareness, not perfectly and not always (nor should I be), but enough so that I feel valued and respected.
For each of us it is different, because our character and of course our likes and dislikes are not the same. It's the noticing that is what is important.
There are many other things we do, and there are many other things we probably should do. We are, after all, a work in progress.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Women

We stand together with each other, for each other. Watch this movie: It's Not Just Me.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Habit

"Nothing is stronger than habit." ~ Ovid

Flower Arranging

We had a shower for my cousin, this week.
I made a flower arrangement that is easy, but I think it turned out pretty well. I often make it with carnations at Christmas.
I use a shallow bowl that is about 15 inches diameter at its widest and about six inches deep. Its opening is about twelve inches in diameter.
At Christmas I fill it with frozen cranberries and then top it off with water. From there I add carnations. I prefer mini white carnations, cut short enough so that the flowers just show and almost overflow the opening of the bowl.
For the shower I filled the bowl with blue and green translucent stones. (it's about 4lbs) I added the water and filled the bowl with two dozen white roses. It turned out to be a really nice centre piece. It's nothing extravagant, but it comes out looking really nice, and it's so easy.
One of the things I like about using the carnations at Christmas is that they last for about three weeks. I am hoping the roses will still look good on Saturday. If not, we'll just have to replace them.
My sister will do the flower arranging for my cousin's bouquet and the other flowers for her wedding. My grandma arranged my flowers. But, I can do a few little bouquets!
These arrangements are kind of fun.
I guess I'll have to try daisies pretty soon!
The best part is that this arrangement, simple or not, is from the heart for a special week and a very special day.

So, What About Broadway? Let's start with A Little Night Music in New York

In previous posts I've mentioned that while I was in New York with my sisters and my mom we were able to attend shows on Broadway. We actually attended three shows in all, during our 6 night stay.

The first show we saw was a Stephen Sondheim musical, A Little Night Music. Sondheim has written a number of musicals such as; West Side Story, Company, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened, Gypsy, Follies, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park, and Passion.

In an earlier post, I mention that when we went to the musical I discovered that the song "Send in the Clowns" came from this musical. 
This musical featured Angela Lansbury as well, Catherine Zeta Jones is making her Broadway debut in this show.

The show was really good. It had the right mix of humour, as well as drama. The singing was good, and the dancing was great. The theatre is intimate. Our seats were at the back of the first level, yet really very close to the stage.

One of the unusual things that we also noticed at the theatres was the absence of any sort of lobby or foyer. You entered and walked directly through doors and into the theatres. At first I thought that we just have lobbies because of our weather, but New York can be pretty chilly, too.

In any case, we came to see a good show, great acting, singing and dancing, and that is what we saw. It was a lovely evening.

On Broadway ... New York

I often think in lyrics. Fragments of songs float around in my head and I am often humming. I usually don't know the title of the song or the singer, but I know enough of the lyrics that they come to my mind when I hear a similar phrase the song runs through my head. Sometimes it's the melody that is pulled out of my brain, though that's less often. So, here I am, planning to write an entry about Broadway shows and of course, a song is running through my head. Sit back and enjoy a song, then check the next post.

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway



They say there's always magic in the air
But when you're walkin' down that street
And you ain't had enough to eat
The glitter rubs right off and you're nowhere

They say the girls are something else on Broadway
But looking at them just gives me the blues
'Cause how ya gonna make some time
When all you got is one thin dime?
And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes
Ha! They say that I won't last too long on Broadway
I'll catch a Greyhound bus for home, they all say
But oh! They're dead wrong, I know they are
'Cause I can play this here guitar
And I won't quit till I'm a star on Broadway
Oh, they're dead wrong, I know they are
'Cause I can play this here guitar
And I won't quit till I'm a star on Broadway (on Broadway)

On Broadway (on Broadway)

Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, Leiber & Stoller

Monday, 7 June 2010

Integrity

"Integrity is not a ninety percent thing ... not a ninety-five percent thing. Either you have it, or you don't" ~ Peter Scotese

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bouley, New York: The Experience

If you watched the video on the previous post, you got a little glimpse of the restaurant. However beautiful the restaurant is, the food is even more unbelievable. On the evening we were there, all diners were treated to an elegant dish to cleanse the pallet. 
This dish consisted of  buffalo mozzarella, (buffalo mozzarella is made from domestic water buffalo) a layer of tomato granita, and a small scoop of (if I remember correctly) celery sorbet. The tomato granita and celery sorbet were refreshing and tasty. I sampled the mozzeralla and it was also light and delicate. I didn't know then that it was made from water buffalo, not dairy, and since I have milk issues, I didn't eat all of it.

We also recieved the signature Bouley bread, with sliced apple baked into the crust. This is a picture I found on the internet. It also shows the china and silver that were at our place settings.

At the suggestion of our cousin and her husband we chose the tasting menu. We simply informed them of my milk intolerance and we were good to go.

Chef, David Bouley served an incredible selection of courses from his menu. All more equisite than the last. I'll tell you a bit about it. It wasn't really a place to take pictures. It was a place to enjoy, to savour, and to chat with our company. However, it is fun to illustrate my posts, so I will have a few pictures. They just won't be from our wonderful meal.

I should mention that each course was paired with an incredible wine. As we completed each course, our plates were cleared away discretely. New silver was placed in front of us, new wine glasses replaced the previous ones. The wine was poured and its origins were given. After each new course was placed before us, it was described and explained.

Our courses, in no particular order...simply because I do not remember the exact order were divine. We had fresh asparagus served on foamed cheese. Mine were presented on a light lemony confection. We ate razor clams from Nantucket that sat in a light herbed ocean broth.

Another course was foie gras with cherries and an apple and rosemary purée. We ate sliced duckling nestled on almond foam. Rock lobster was served in a red wine reduction. One of my favourite courses was dungeness crab in a truffle broth. It was served in a copper dish. The copper dish with a lid that was rectangular and held about two cups. It sat on a classic white plate.

When each of our plates were in front of us, the lids on the copper dishes were removed all at once and the course was announced. The crab was cooked to perfection. It was sweet and tender. The broth was delicious. Frankly all of the courses were amazing, but that was one of my absolute favourites! The picture, here, is one I found on the internet. It looks a lot like what we had, but no paper doily under our copper pot.

Some more courses: we also had a medallion of venison that sat on chanterelle mushrooms and cantaloupe and white truffle gnocchis in a red wine reduction; there was another course that had heart of palm purée, I really need to remember what else we ate with it! One other course I recall was sea urchin on gelatin served over a creme fraiche foam, mine was lemony.

We also had another course to cleanse our pallets at the end of the meal. This was a rhubarb soup topped with tomato granita and an olive oil sorbet. My sorbet was "10 fruit explosion." Everyone at the table said that the olive oil sorbet was incredible, it had milk, so I didn't try it. My 10 fruit explosion was very tropical in taste and delicious.

The desert course was also paired with wine. There were three or four desert plates brought out. One was a pineapple carpaccio topped with a scoop of the 10 fruit explosion sorbet. Another was called chocolate frivolous. There were also plates with a selection of maple sorbet, chocolate sorbet, and a carmelized pear.

When the coffee was brought out, there was a tray with even more treats to choose from. It was a spectacular evening and that's just the food experience. We also had a wonderful time getting to know our cousin and her husband. It was a once in a lifetime eating extravaganza, but hopefully we will see our cousin and her husband on many occassions in the future.

Friday, 4 June 2010

What Makes You Happy?

What makes you happy? When it comes right down to it, it's the simple things that make me happy.
Sometimes I get caught up in the busy aspects of life and forget to notice the little things, the simple and easy things in life. When I do, I miss those opportunities to smile and to be happy. I notice that many people run around searching for those big ticket items to make themselves feel better. Fancy cars, expensive toys, jewelry, you name it: 'shopping therapy.' Whatever the escape may be, it's an escape that blinds you to that opportunity to notice the small pleasures.
Something I love is the laughter of children. I especially love the belly laugh of a small child, before they are self conscious. What I love the most is the sound of my own children's laughter. Their childhood belly laughs were wonderful. Their adult laughter, especially when they are laughing together warms my heart.
Luckily I have other small pleasures, since they no longer live at home. One is daisies. I love their sunshine smiles. They are joyful flowers. They come in all sizes, tiny as a fingernail others large enough to overflow my two hands. The daisy, above is a close up picture of one from my yard a year ago. It was about the size of a quarter.
Daisies come in many colours and types. My sister has a particular fondness for gerberas. However, white is my favourite. Some people love to see a of a field of tulips, which is very beautiful. I, however, a field or at least a picture of a field of daisies.
I think the one thing about small pleasures is that they actually aren't small at all. Whether they are daisies, children's laughter, the smell of the air after a summer rain, the colour of the sunshine when it shines through the blossoms of our plum tree, a puppy scratching behind its ear and toppling over since it doesn't have good balance, reading a good book on a winter day with the sun shining through, lying in the hammock in the shade on a warm summer day, snowshoing in the northern woods, the list goes on.
Simple things. I need to pay attention to those more.