Tag Archives: 2012

Sunday morning breakfast at Prospect House

Sunday morning breakfast at Prospect House – yes breakfast, not brunch.  Something I’m not all that familiar with.  When on my own, I try to sleep past breakfast and move straight to brunch.  In Vancouver, I often walked over to my favourite restaurant, which closed, God Rest it’s Soul, to eat brunch at The Wild Garlic.  Luckily I was in Vancouver in March 2012 and enjoyed a couple of brunches with friends and dinner out with some good friends who were also regulars.  It was a small, stylist, friendly restaurant where the people who worked there were always happy to see you arrive.  Big hello’s, how are you doing?, and even some hugs when I had to say goodbye. Little did I know that the restaurant would later close. Sad news indeed.  This little café served the best breakfast in the City.  Perfect basted eggs, perfect fried potatoes, some grilled Italian sausage, perfect toast and a damn good cup of coffee, bottomless.  And the price couldn’t be beat.  When I first went, the price was unbelievably cheap at $3.50 and over several years the final price was $6.00.  The quality stayed the same and even at that price, it was a good deal.  The menu also offered eggs benedict, French Toast, omelettes – most items had a hint of garlic and sometimes a nod the owner’s heritage, with barbequed pork or bok choy. Sandy was from Hong Kong. I wonder what she is doing now that the restaurant is closed.

It was my go-to place where I would take my friends and family, but most often I went on my own, read The Georgia Straight, a section of The Globe & Mail or The Vancouver Sun and sometimes I’d take one of my novels. As much as I enjoyed taking my friends, I truly enjoyed going on my own. I never felt lonely or sad to be eating by myself because I always had someone to talk with. It was an open style kitchen so I got to know the chefs. In the morning it was an older Chinese woman and later the young male chef would arrive to start prepping for the dinner crowd. The waitresses were friendly – always smiling and very efficient. But I digress, as this post is about my Sunday morning breakfast at Prospect House.

These musings didn’t start as a post, but instead it was an email that I sent to a friend, Pat.  This is what I told her about my early Sunday morning:

“Up, too bright and early for me.  I’m working at Prospect House, so I’m cooking breakfast.  There’s only one resident this morning, Norman, and myself.  I should have asked him if he wanted to sleep in this morning, because he seems to be doing just that.  It’s 8:10 and he’s not down yet.  Usually, the residents show up right on time for meals.  Oh well, the coffee is ready, the bacon is keeping warm on the stove and I have time for an email.”

I was writing to her because I wanted to send her a link to the Oxford Artists’ website so that she could see the artwork of Krista Osinga.  She was the Artist of the Month for January at Station Arts and Pat hadn’t been.

I went on to tell Pat that “I had sent Krista an email following her show saying how I liked her work, etc. It was quite a nice, complimentary email.” Krista had quite a unique style using coffee as her paint for a full range of browns from dark brown-black to ruddy reds.  “I guess I wrote her a fan email by telling her how I loved her style and technique, the subject matter which included old trucks, farm tractors, animals – all of which was perfect for the rural roots that most people in Tillsonburg, including me, are familiar. I mentioned that I couldn’t find a website for her.  I just got her reply last night, and disappointingly, Krista didn’t even acknowledge my kind, enthusiastic words. 

This is what she wrote, and I quote:  I’m one of the artist on the artists of oxford website.  Just do a serch (sic) for it and I’m their (sic) with the other members. artistsofoxford.com, end quote.  Frankly, I think she needs a lesson in PR.  I like her art very much, but this cryptic email didn’t leave a very good impression.  Is it because she’s young?  Did she send her email from her phone and therefore she’s used to texting  short emails?  Is she already jaded at this early stage of her career? Or was she just in a hurry to get out her response since I had sent the email about 10 – 14 days ago. Maybe she doesn’t like email – too old-fashioned compared to texting or twitter?  Although, the bio I picked up at the Gallery only listed an email address and as I already said, my google search didn’t turn up any links to this artist.  So perhaps in addition to a PR lesson, she also needs a lesson in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in order to get her name to pop up within the first page of a web search. She’s young, I’m older, maybe is it the proverbial generation gap?”

And there I go, and digress again.  Back to Sunday morning breakfast at Prospect House.  My email continued:  “Well Norm is downstairs for breakfast – a little sleepy, but he’s having his first cup of coffee and I’m about to fry up some eggs.  As the cobwebs cleared from his head we had a nice chat over breakfast.  I was much more awake than him because I had now been up since 7:30 am, cooked breakfast and had finished one cup of coffee.

I tried to hold back my chatter – I was wide awake and anxious to talk.  I asked Norm if he knew the term ‘full bifter’ or ‘half-bifter’? Or does it have two ‘f’s’ and spelled ‘biffter’?.  He did not.  This is a term I’ve used for some time and found out it was also in use by my Scottish friend Ronnie.  We tried to find out the origin of the word and I think Ronnie even asked a librarian friend all to no avail.  I use the term to mean something like ‘everything on it’ as in a pizza, the full bifter would mean the pizza had every possible topping.  A full English breakfast or fry-up could also be called a full bifter when it has eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, fried potatoes and toast.  A half-bifter might only be several of those items.  I think this was too much information for Norm while he was still trying to wake up so I went back to eating my breakfast.”

Now as I’m writing this post, I have a sick feeling about the word ‘full bifter’.  We used to call the toilet or outhouse ‘the biffy’.  I hope ‘full bifter’ isn’t related to this term.  I leave it to your imagination to figure out how those two terms could be related.  But again I digress.

As I write this, I’m half listening to Michael Enright on The Sunday Edition on CBC 1 that plays from 9 am to 12 noon.  Right now there is a feature about MS focussing on the question of whether it is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D?  It seems to mostly affect people of European ancestry which includes many of us that live in Canada.  Is it the northern climate?  Is it a white persons’ disease?  In Canada 133 people get MS while in India only 1 person will get the disease.  India is a Vitamin D rich country and is a different ethnicity.  The show is also featuring interviews with people considering the ‘Liberation Therapy’.  Time to stop writing and listen to this interesting program.

It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. There is a deep blanket of pristine white snow which fell through the night and most of the day on Friday. There are some snowflakes fluttering out of the sky. It’s a perfect day.

I Bet I’m Not Thinking What You Are On This September 11th!

Remembering is good.  But sometime events overshadow what once was just an ordinary day to so many other people.  Or, it is a special day of remembrance that came before the one that most people think of now.

Today will always be my mother Helen’s birthday.  She was born on this day in 1930 and sadly, she passed away in 2005.  I like to think of her on her birthday as a happy memory.  And this year I’ll be spending it in a house my mother lived in before she was married.  She didn’t live in this house long and I don’t think she really knew which house it was, many years later when she ultimately came back to live in Tillsonburg again.  She knew the vicinity, but it could have been this house or the one across the way.

We only found out for sure after my Dad saw it.  He’d come over to see my new place and on our way out of the house he just matter-of-factly stated, “this was the house your Grandmother lived in with your mother”.   Solved, after all these years of wondering just which one it was.

My Beautiful Mother As A Young Woman

“Happy Birthday Mom.  I sure am missing you.”  Love, Cathy, xox

Back to the Fifties with ‘Fingers Foris’ and his band

It was ‘Back to the 50’s‘ music for Dad and me at an outdoor concert on the lawn of Annandale House, part of the Sunday night music series.  In fact, this was the 2nd performance by this band this summer.  This is my cousin Jim Foris’ band and every so often he does a guitar solo, so I’ve nicknamed him ‘Fingers Foris’.

Watching Jim play reminds me of my teenage days when I was a groupie to the band Jim played in back in the 70’s.  I believe they were called the Village Guild and they did rock and roll covers from the 60’s and 70’s.  All through highschool I went to see my cousin’s band play at various small town community halls.  I got to go to these dances because my older sister Rosemary was dating one of the members of the band, Bob Helsdon.   Jim’s brother John was another guitarist in the band, Danny played the drums and Brad was the lead singer.  They were all good-looking guys and except for they all had girlfriends,  I’m sure there were plenty of girls in the audience who would have liked to be groupies too, especially the non-related kind.  Anyway, stories about those days long ago will have to be told another day!

Back to tonight and the 50’s music.  Dad was having fun clapping and singing along to the music.  We sat beside cousin Marg and her Dad, Mr. McQuigan, who must be about the same age as my Dad.  After the concert we said our helloes to the other cousins – Brenda, Lena, Bob and of course, Jim.  We also saw Jody and her clan.

Afterwards Dad and I came back to my place for tea, some home-made brownies (a recipe by Martha Stewart) and we watched some tv.

Dad would have been twenty-two and still unmarried at the start of the 1950’s.  This was my Dad’s music, but it is also my music because this was the beginning of rock and roll, a music that changed the world and is still played today.  It was so good to see my Dad  out and having fun.  If there would have been a dance floor, I’m sure he would have wanted to get up and dance.  All in all, it was a very good night.

The Day After the Day After the Party

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...
Image via Wikipedia

March 12, 2010.  I’m still basking in the after-glow of my party on Saturday night.  I felt like a Queen.  There were flowers, more flowers and even more flowers.  My secret wish for flowers came true and now my apartment looks like spring has sprung!

Pam arrived right on 7:30 pm, which if you knew Pam, you might be surprised at her punctuality.  But she was coming straight from work, and it being a Saturday, she managed to get out of the office at a decent time, despite a client walking in 5 minutes before closing wanting to book a holiday.  I was glad it was Pam because I wasn’t ready – in fact I was flat-out on my bed taking a power nap when the buzzer went.  Pam helped me polish up the wine and martini glasses, lay out the tablecloth, set up the bar and do some last-minute party preparation.  As an incentive, Pam poured us some milagro ‘sipping’ tequila sprinkled with cinnamon and followed by a wedge of a juicy orange.  I think the tequila gave me that energy boost I needed.

The food was great — a platter of sushi – something you cannot get in Tillsonburg; mini quiches, sausage rolls, spanokapitas, dry cashews, deviled eggs, delightful chinese nibbles with a yummy sauce, cheese, a box of chocolatey petite bites and some cannolli…did I leave anything out?  It was a feast!  No wonder everyone was hovering near the food.  A big thank-you to my friends for their generosity in bringing such delicious food.

There was a steady stream of people arriving – quick hellos, big hugs and kisses.  What a feeling when you see someone for the first time in ten long months.  It’s a bit surreal, but at the same time, those ten months seemed more like only ten weeks — it’s been a while, but it didn’t feel anywhere close to a year.  It felt natural as if time had stood still or had moved in very slow motion.  But I hugged a little harder and longer, because my heart knew there had been a long absence.

I enjoy watching the new connections being made among my friends.  I overheard Lori, MJ and Ellen talking about getting together to play golf.  Those who attended my martinis and cupcake party last spring were now coming together again, no longer strangers.

We got into some story telling because two of my former roommates from the condo on Barclay Street were there — MJ and Lane.  When MJ moved in, it was about the same time as that scary movie called “Single White Woman” was out.  I refused to go see the movie which is about two women who are strangers decide to share a place in response to an ad, and I think the roommate turns out to be a psychotic killer. I’m sure in MJ’s description of the movie, it was the other roommate, which would be me, that was the crazy killer.

Sometimes when art imitates life, it gets you thinking.  That’s how it was with MJ and me since we had quite a few similarities:  we were both paralegals, we both loved to sail, we both loved travel and reading books;  but at least we had one difference – she had long hair and my hair was cropped short.  I don’t think MJ and I ever talked about this movie, but we each independently spoke to our friends about it.  I know I told my best friend Susan that “if she ever cuts her hair like mine, then I’m out of here”!  Well of course, some weeks later, MJ comes in with a short hair cut similar to mine.  Oh yes, did I tell you we both had black hair!  Last night she told me that once when I was away, she had to go check in my bedroom and bathroom to make sure nothing weird was lurking hidden away behind closed doors.  I think she was able to relax after that.

Lane was my last roommate at Barclay Street before I moved here to Laguna Vista.  Lane and I lived together for 6 years and I liked to kid that it was the longest relationship that I ever had.  The next year she got married to John and as their anniversaries started to pile up, John was very pleased to tell me, once their 6th year anniversary passed, that I no longer lived longer with Lane than he did.

Of course Lane is a master story-teller and she had us in stitches.  The short of it is, by time she got to me, she had already checked out quite a few other shared accommodation ads and had become very disillusioned.  Now to call Lane a ‘diva’ would not be an overstatement – although I think she prefers princess and she wasn’t having much luck in finding something to meet the style to which she had become accustomed.  She was starting to think she would return to California or London, England, two of the last places she had lived before trying Vancouver.  Luckily, Lane hadn’t completely given up hope yet.  Even though she was already hip to ads that didn’t accurately reflect reality, she decided to meet me anyway.   Well, the rest is history.  She loved the place and we got on very nicely.  And soon we were making lime margaritas, eating Miss Vickies chips and getting ‘liquored-up’ on many a night.  I guess you can say we bonded.

And the great thing about roommates like MJ and Lane, is that we became friends and I got to meet their friends and they got to meet mine.  I guess you could say that it is networking at its best.  And now when I have a party or Lane and John has a party, we bring our friends together, and what could be better than that.

So the party was a success!  So even though in some ways this was a going away party, it didn’t have that sadness or finality to it because I will be seeing most of these friends again over the next two weeks.  Thanks everyone for making me so happy on Saturday night by your presence in my home.

Pictures from the party will follow soon. I’m still not very good at getting pictures from my camera to the computer.  Wish me luck!

Another Day Goes By

Angel food cake
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March 9, 2012.  It’s the end of another day.  I’ve just finished baking an Angel Food cake – from a mix because it’s not worth making one from scratch – what would you do with all those egg yolks?

I managed to fritter away the whole day.  What a great word:  fritter.  The definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary says:  to spend or waste bit by bit, on trifles or without commensurate return.  I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch, but somehow I didn’t get to bed last night until about 4 am this morning.  I was feeling rather tired and I started to worry that I should be doing something in preparation for the party I’m having on Saturday night.

Somehow I didn’t really accomplish that much which is exactly what you are supposed to do when you fritter away the day.  I spent too much time on the computer reading emails and writing some, opened some more mail that piled up while I’ve been in Ontario (nothing all that important), stared outside my window glad that I got out yesterday for a walk because the weather has taken a downturn (7 day forecast is for rain and more rain), checked to see if Rufus, my Great Blue Heron was at his post (yes, standing there like usual), ate a couple of meals, and from time to time, thought about my party.

Tomorrow is d-day for the party.  I guess I like leaving things to the last minute.  I’m planning to make two kinds of martinis – Green Apple and Pommegrante.  Some of my friends are bringing some finger foods.  A little bit of clean up, last minute shopping and then setting up the table & bar.  Hopefully I’ll have time for an afternoon nap.

A Walk in the Park with Wanda and Kate

March 7 & 8, 2012.  Not quite what the weatherman predicted, but the sun did come out mid-afternoon.  If it reached 8 degrees it didn’t feel as warm as I would have expected.  First stop was coffee at Milano where I met my friend Wanda Chau and her lovely Olde English Bulldog Kate.  A good strong latte was just what I needed to give me some pep.  Wanda is a chef and operates Bah! Baked at Home – you can find her delectable baking at The Baker’s Market, call her up for a special made-to-order batch of my favourite gingersnap cookies and to-die-for mini cupcakes.  She will also come to your home to prepare a meal for your dinner party or she might be giving cooking lessons at the Cook Shop.  We met while I volunteered with Soup Sisters where she graciously donated her time and expertise in the kitchen to oversee soup-making by groups of like-minded charitable souls at either Quince or The Dirty Apron, two of Vancouver’s fine cooking schools.

Next was a walk in Stanley Park which was teaming with squirrels, ducks, Canada Geese and Blue Herons – all to Kate’s delight.  We dropped by The Fish House hoping to see Karen Barnaby, Executive Chef, but she was busy with a photo shoot.  We continued on our way to the corner of Denman and Davie for our own photo shoot by The Laughing Man sculptors – an incredible sight to see and walk among the giant sculptors of, you guessed it, laughing men, all based on the artist’s own likeness.  It’s part of the Biennale but looks like it may become a permanent installation as the City has the opportunity to keep it for the next 20 years.

Our tour of my ‘west of Denman’ neighbourhood took us along Denman Street where I pointed out the House of empanadas, a new little eatery I tried for lunch yesterday, passed another new shop – Ayoub’s dried fruits and nuts which is as beautiful to look at as is delicious to eat, an authentic Iranian shop with silver display cases and crystal chandeliers, unlike anything I have every seen before.  We walked and talked until we ended up by the Safeway grocery store where we parted ways.

It was so good to get out walking in the fresh air, something it seems I’ve forgotten how to do since I’ve been living in small town Tillsonburg where I have access to my Dad’s car.  In Vancouver, it’s second nature for me to walk everywhere – something I will find easier to do when I return to Ontario as I will be moving to a house which is close to the downtown making walking an option again.

Yesterday I got together with my good friend Claudette.  We’ve known each other since our days in Whistler in 1979 when we worked at the old Cheakamus Hotel. Today we’re a couple of 50+ women, but back in Whistler – well we both have stories we like to reminisce about when we were both a little wild and crazy.  That carried on for a while when we both moved to Vancouver and lived in the same apartment building on Pendrell Street.  In those days we liked to go out and party at The Railway Club, concerts at The Commodore and all the other hot spots at that time.  I still remember playing The Talking Heads full blast on the stereo as our preamble to our night on the town.  I’m sure no one who saw us eating dinner at Zefferelli’s last night would ever suspected we were those same young women!

The great thing about Zefferelli’s – of course the fantastic food, is that their plate of pasta is huge and I almost always take half home.  So tonight was Zefferelli’s Part Two – house made pasta with a crab and artichoke cream sauce.

So a couple more things checked off on my list of things I want to do while here in Vancouver.  Claudette and I started off on South Granville at Starbucks for coffee, we strolled along Granville Street popping in and out of the many independent art galleries. The best was the whimsical and colourful art of Glenn Payan at the Ian Tan Gallery which I can best describe as reminding me of the scenery in Dr. Seus’s movie adaptation of The Lorax. Next we transported ourselves by bus over the bridge to get to Robson Street where Milestone’s was our destination for a pre-dinner Bellini.  Too bad I got several brain freezes which migrated such that I also felt it in my chest.  Can’t say I enjoyed that aspect of the drink – maybe I’ll have to ask them to warm it up to room temperature for me.  Is that a sign of getting old?. And last, but certainly not least, was dinner out at Zefferellis which calls itself a sophisticated spaghetti joint.

Zefferelli’s has hardly changed during the last 20 + years that I’ve been coming.  I wouldn’t be sorry to see them get new chairs – there’s something odd about them that you instantly notice when you sit.  The truth of the matter I think it’s the tables that are too short.  But once you get lost into your glass of wine, their in-house baked bread served with their Italian version of salsa, the chairs almost become a moot point.  I mentioned these things to our server and she assured me that there was at least one change – there is now a heater in the women’s washroom.  It always was mighty cold in there.  Another great day and night in Vancouver.