Everything seems more lush this year …

Until this spring we haven’t had much precipitation in Toronto. In fact, it’s been several years with hardly any snow or rain. But although we had another mild winter this year, we have had more than our fair share of rain — too much, in fact; and it’s caused havoc. Not good.

Just the other day, though, I looked around and realized how gorgeous and healthy the trees, flowers and grass are looking. So clearly Mother Nature has enjoyed the dousing, even if the rest of us have not.

All our luxuriant foliage made me think back to my trip to India — and Kerala, in particular. Kerala is in the South, on Continue reading

My Dalai Lama moment …

I can’t believe it’s been nine years since I went to India. One morning, out of the blue, I woke up and decided I was going and started planning a trip. Although sometimes I wonder just how “out of the blue” it was.

My mom had died about 10 months before and the last few years of her life weren’t easy on either of us. She never looked sick, she never
lost her spirit, her love of life, her energy or her sense of humour, but there were numerous visits
to doctors, numerous nights spent in emergency, Continue reading

January 20 is upon us and I’m already missing the Obamas

Yes, yes, I know some of you may not feel the same way. More’s the pity. But before you startobamas haranguing me, let me be clear.

Today is not about what he did or did not do as President of the United States. That discussion (debate) will have to wait for another day. Today is about the man, his wife and their children; and why they’ll be missed.

It’s probably fair to say his 2008 win was not predicted, at least not when he first announced his candidacy. How could it have been? The young, relative newcomer was hardly a household name, even after he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, although he did Continue reading

Never to be taken for granted …

A friend’s grandson just turned 1 and I went to his birthday party.  I was talking to her Chain Linksdaughter’s (the baby’s mother) father-in-law and Ellen (my friend) said to him, “Fransi and I have known each other all our lives.”  He was intrigued and wanted to know more.

Our mothers met in the laundry room of the apartment building where they both lived, in Montreal.  I was an infant.  Her parents were newlyweds.  The Continue reading

Of all the senses …

… the one I think is the most seductive, even more than ‘touch’, is our sense of smell. It is certainly the most evocative, at least it is for me. And it’s the most smelldifficult to capture with words. Which is why writing copy for a perfume can be so challenging.

Last week I wrote about memories and some of the triggers that cause them. A friend of mine commented on how scents trigger memories for her. She’s so right. They do. Powerful ones, at that. And then when I was at the market last week one of my first stops was for bread. No sooner did I idle up to the counter, then the sales gal helping me
inhaled deeply, sighed gently, smiled broadly and asked me if I was wearing patchouli.

She was referring to my perfume.

Indeed, it does have patchouli in it.

In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s rather woodsy, or musky. Earthy. I happen to love it; and every fragrance I’ve ever been attracted to has had patchouli as an ingredient. Not that I knew that until I dabbed the last few droplets remaining in my bottle of eau de toilette behind my ears.

Quite a while ago I blogged about the horror of having to find a new perfume after Gucci sold the Saint Laurent

Continue reading

Last supper …

Talk about “food for thought”.  Last Friday’s WordPress Daily Prompt sure got my imagination going:  “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.  The world islastsupper ending tomorrow!  Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.”  

Lots and lots of possibilities.  I’m overwhelmed with choices.  Where to start, where to start.

Hmmmm …

I think, first, I have to decide where this dinner should take place.  I know one thing.  Wherever it is, we have to be comfortable.  I love dinners that are slow and leisurely.  So comfy chairs are an absolute must.  Big enough to have room to move around in.  Good support for your back.  And soft enough to cushion Continue reading

Day 319. Random Acts

I write about my trip to India a lot.  I was there for a month at the end of 2008.  And it was an extraordinary experience.  Despite everything going on in that country these kindnessdays, I loved every minute of my trip.  Yesterday’s WordPress Daily Prompt “Moment of Kindness”, took me right back there, to one of our many road trips.

“Describe a moment of kindness, between you and someone else — loved one or complete stranger.”

This family came immediately to my mind.  But before I get into the story, there are a few things I have to explain.

Getting from “A” to “B” in India is never easy.  If you fly, expect lots of delays.  And crowds of people like you’ve never seen.  And don’t expect your choice of restaurants, bookstores, boutiques, and spas where you can while away a few hours.  There’s nothing to do, and there’s nowhere to go in India’s airports.  Count yourself lucky if you find somewhere to sit, while you wait.

So we didn’t fly very often.  Just a few times, when there was no other choice.

Train travel is something else again.  We took the train from Delhi to Agra.  Not because we had to.  Because we wanted the experience.  OMG!!  OMG!!  I don’t even know how to describe it to you.  Old, bare, dirty, stations.  Archaic, really. People Continue reading

Day 278. Visual Cacophony

Back in March I was inspired by a WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.  And by that, I decided to try to describe, in words, what the photographers among us were patternbeing asked to describe in pictures.  I really had fun with it.

This is another one of those days.  Yesterday’s Weekly Photo Challenge was about ‘pattern’.  I immediately thought of India.  The photo to the right is one I took when I was there, from the end of December 2008 until the end of January 2009.

Among many, many other things, India is all about an explosion of your senses.  All at the same time.  It can be overwhelming at first.  The noise, the smells, the tastes and all the colour.  All in the extreme.  All done to excess.

But it’s absolutely fabulous!  Spectacular!  Like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  Or likely ever will.  I was

Continue reading

Day 269. True Calling

India has always beckoned those, from every corner of the globe, who are seeking answers.  And Rocky Braat, a young American man from Pittsburgh, is no exception.  The son of an alcoholic mother who neglected him, and a father who compassionleft him and joined the military when he was just three years old, Rocky was brought up by his grandparents.

But as grateful as he was to his grandfather, and as much as he loved him, he never stopped longing for what his life was lacking. A family.  A typical, close-knit family of his own.

So that’s why he went to India.  In search of love.

What he didn’t expect, was to end up volunteering in an orphanage, refuge, school and care centre for children, and women, infected with HIV.

What he didn’t expect, was the degree of suffering he would encounter.  The poverty, the squalor, the alienation, Continue reading

Day 177. The Boomers

Have you noticed?  There seems to be a proliferation of movies about growing old, lately.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Could be, because so many of the screen writers, boomersproducers and directors are, themselves, in their fifties and sixties, and beyond.  Could also be, because so many of the great actors are, as well.  And they need roles they can play.

Robert De Niro.  Al Pacino.  Meryl Streep.  Tommy Lee Jones.  Judi Dench.  Maggie Smith.  Jack Nicholson.  Denzel Washington.  Susan Sarandin.  Jeff Bridges.  Samuel L. Jackson.  Helen Mirren.  Bill Murray.  Christopher Walken.  Bill Nighy.  Ben Kingsley.  Malcolm McDowell.  Diane Keaton.  Steve Martin.  Glenn Close.  Kathy Bates.  Sigourney Weaver.  Geoffrey Rush.  Liam Neesen.  And the list goes on.  And on.

Yeah, they’re boomers.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?

God knows they don’t want to be forced into retirement.  And we don’t want them to retire, either.  They’re way too Continue reading