Some things never change, and they shouldn’t …

When my mom decided she wanted to move from Montreal to Toronto, she came and stayed with me for a month, while she looked for an apartment.

The area where I lived at the time, Av & Dav as the locals call it (Avenue Road and Davenport), was and still is known for a one-block-long strip of shops selling flowers and plants and a diner, the Avenue Diner. They’re landmarks, and not just in that specific ‘hood. Cars are double and triple parked outside the flower shops on weekends, people come from all over the city. And the diner, which has always been owned by the Continue reading

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Remembering Gaga …

Not Lady Gaga. My paternal grandmother. Long before I made my entrance into this world, an older cousin of mine struggled with saying “grandmother” when she was first learning to talk. The best she could manage was “Gaga” — and Gaga she remained for all generations to come until she died at 98.

I’m taking this little trip down memory lane because of a pot. No, not the kind you smoke or ingest.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook. All the women on both sides of my family were, but she was kind of unique because she eschewed any and all modern conveniences. As far as she was concerned, good Continue reading

A first time for everything …

I don’t have a sweet tooth, never have had, even as a child. Apparently, as far back as when I was two or three instead of reaching for the platter of brownies, I’d be reaching for the olives and pickles. Odd, because both my parents liked sweets.

My father was discriminating. Way back when there was what would now be described as an artisanal chocolatier in Montreal — Andrée Chocolate. They had a small store on Park Avenue, in an area of the city called The Plateau. I can still see their boxes. White, with “Andrée Chocolate” written in script, in black.

They only used dark chocolate and my father loved their almond bark, chocolate-covered ginger and Continue reading

Accentuate the positive …

Today marks 12 years since my mom passed and I’m dedicating this post to her. She was an eternal optimist who always looked for and found, the good in people and in life. 

There was a time I did a lot of blogging, here and for Huff Post, on US politics. I finally gave it up because it was making me tense and angry and I decided I wanted to change the channel.

I didn’t only stop blogging about it, I stopped watching the news — primarily CNN, where’s there’s an endless loop of misery 24/7. I haven’t stopped watching completely but I have cut back dramatically. There are days now when I don’t watch at all, weeks when I only tune in once or twice, and only for the briefest Continue reading

A happy mistake …

I love documentaries. Through them, I learn about all sorts of things, places and people I might otherwise never know anything about — perfect for someone who’s curious, like me.

So needless to say I’m thrilled to live in a city with a theatre (Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema) devoted to screening nothing but documentaries — seven days a week, 365 days a year. I’m even more thrilled to live a 15-minute walk away from said theatre — or a 5-minute subway ride if I’m pressed for time, lazy or the weather’s very bad.

Although you can buy single tickets, I have an incredibly inexpensive annual membership, which entitles me to advance ordering and discounts on regular film screenings and special events, invitations to free Continue reading

A touching reminder of what really matters …

It was cold last Friday and extremely windy so I wimped out. Truth be told I was also lazy, so I took a Lyft where I was going. Lyft, in case you don’t know, is a ride-sharing company like Uber.

The minute I got into the car before I’d even settled myself enough to close the door, the driver told me that mine was his favourite apartment building in Toronto. He then immediately went on to tell me it was because of our doorman.

Further explaining, he told me that 20-odd years ago he was a newcomer to Canada, an immigrant who Continue reading

Busy, busy …

While it was certainly tempting to crawl into a well-heated cave and hibernate until Spring during our recent deep freeze I was, instead, taking advantage of some of the many things Toronto has to offer.

Yes, with the exception of only a few breathtakingly cold days cocooned at home, wrapped in a blanket, I bundled up in multiple layers of sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves and down-filled coats, braved the sub-zero temperatures and enjoyed some great films and an assortment of terrific breakfasts, lunches and dinners with family, friends and former colleagues (some of whom I haven’t seen in years and years). And Continue reading

I am SO over it …

I’ve never been a winter enthusiast, but over the last several years, I’ve started to embrace the changing seasons and have stopped kvetching about snow and colder temperatures.

Well, I’m here to tell you that my honeymoon with winter is now over.

Last Fall it was predicted that we would have a brutal winter this year. Long, very cold and lots of snow.
For a while, I thought Mother Nature was going to prove them wrong. November and December came and Continue reading

(sigh) …

In a tribute to the late poet, Mary Oliver, Maria Popova re-posted in last Sunday’s BrainPickings, an essay Oliver wrote — “Of Power and Time.” In it, she writes about how “creative work needs solitude … concentration without interruptions.” It really resonated with me, because I’m so easily distracted these days. It wasn’t always thus, but it’s been a problem for a while now.

Thankfully, my “paid” work isn’t affected. I have no problem hunkering down and getting client projects and articles written — getting right to them, staying focused and meeting the deadlines. But my personal Continue reading

Four hours later …

Omg! For months now, every time I’ve ventured into my spice cupboard I’d say to myself, “Fransi, you really have to go through this stuff.” Well, I finally chose last weekend to do it. I’m thrilled with the outcome, but what a time-consuming chore that turned out to be! Omg.

I know, I know, you’re probably sitting there saying, “spice cupboard???? How many spices could she (meaning me) possibly have?????” Well, how about an entire standard kitchen cabinet (3 fairly wide shelves)?

What can I say, I like to cook and I like to try different things. The problem is, as I’ve recently discovered, Continue reading