The pause that refreshed …

Life is crazy and challenging and chaotic and uncertain. Not just for me, for everyone, everywhere. It’s important for our mental, emotional and physical well-being to shut the world out from time to time, to live in the light, to find joy.

Well, that certainly happened for me last Sunday … 

… when I was lucky enough to be one of about 35 people who attended a casual, intimate, private, classical music concert. Not in the evening, in a darkened concert hall, which is what you’d expect. This concert took place in the afternoon, in a sun-drenched living room.

And on this day the living room happened to belong to a friend and former colleague — Bryan Tenenhouse and his wife Cori Halpern. But it could take place in my living room or yours.

Have you ever heard of Groupmuse? I confess I had not, until Bryan posted on Facebook about a concert at a friend’s home he and Cori went to last Spring. At the time he wrote that he and Cori loved it so much they wanted to host one themselves. Which they did, over two glorious hours, on Sunday afternoon.

What an extraordinary idea it is. Anyone can host. Anyone can attend. That’s right, you don’t have to know Continue reading

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Family …

My mother once told me that when she and my father got married there were 200-plus people at their wedding, most of whom were family. Like most children, I never thought about a time when our family would stop growing and start shrinking. Children assume everyone they love will be around forever.

In actual fact, I’m lucky. Most of my family lived long and full lives. I was 15 when my great grandfather passed away, in my 20s when my great grandmother passed. One grandmother lived to 98, the other to Continue reading

Maria Shriver strikes a chord yet again …

If you follow my blog or regularly read my posts on my social media you know I’m a fan of Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. She always blows me away because she consistently writes about issues that are on my mind. But just as important, if not more so, she also talks about matters that should be on my radar and should concern me — this past Sunday’s essay being a perfect case in point.

In it she talks about reactions to medication, women’s health in general and the gender gap in medicine —  and then she segues to the allergic reactions we also have to people, what those reactions tell us and how we should handle them. All of it very important, so here’s a link. While you’re there, take a minute and subscribe.

I know to some degree we all suffer from information overload, but trust me when I tell you that the Continue reading

%#@& !!!!!

Well, now I’ve got an even bigger bee in my bonnet than my frustration with people who don’t vote: People who don’t use their heads when they vote, who knowingly and obstinately choose bad candidates — willfully ignoring the consequences of such actions. They drive me crazy and piss me off royally.

You know who I mean. All those in the US who defiantly, sanctimoniously and emphatically stated, “I’ll never vote for Hillary Clinton;” and then spitefully voted for Donald Trump. I’m not talking about his avid and rabid supporters. I honestly don’t think there’s anything that would make them turn against him.

No, I’m talking about all those who knew better. They knew he had a lousy reputation as a businessman. They knew he lied, insulted, bullied, bragged, swore, threatened and incited violence as he blustered his Continue reading

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

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 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

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