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Blog: The Red Chronicles

Long weekend reads

By May 19, 2017 Books, Performance

What happens when you grow up with the Bogeyman narrative playing out large in the culture around you?  Literary darling Emma Cline grew up in California where the Manson drama was the defining event in the zeitgeist of her parent’s adolescence. The story of the charismatic sociopath was too familiar to her as a novel protagonist so she decided to focus on the peripheral players in the story, and conjured up a character who might have been on the sidelines of a dangerous cult. This became the starting point for her critically acclaimed debut, The Girls, which kept me enthralled on my sickbed this week.   Read More

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Mom’s best: a sample

By May 12, 2017 Rituals

Moms do it all. Ask kids what they remember and often it is the wee maternal gestures, not the big strokes, most embraced. Sharing themselves. That’s it. What a load off all of us. Be yourself and extend your arms.

That’s it, that’s all.

To celebrate my new spring cover of with love and sugar♥*, I asked some fun personalities to share something awesome from their mother’s kitchen. Try to guess which story belongs to my own lovely mom.

To order a copy for your own mother, other bakers in your circles, or a copy for your own kitchen, a simple order form is here. I will be giving out one free copy every Friday from now until end of June for the best story about ritual. It’s your turn. Have your say below.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. (yes, that’s my mom above, on her honeymoon 60 years ago)

 

 

 

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Rain plan

By May 4, 2017 Life

We’re in for a major dump of rain. Rain makes things grow.  And it’s your excuse to…

Throw a party. Invite a new friend.

This guy, one of my kindred spirits, will get you started.

.

Get feverish about tulips.

Or go for drive to see all the spring blossoms around the city before all this rain brings them down.

Read

Two thoughtful longreads:

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s short story, The Claim, part of the Globe’s 150 series of stories celebrating the country’s history in fiction.

Brad Pitt on becoming a better man, listening to Frank Ocean, and starting therapy in this month’s GQ.  Favourite quote?

I wish I could just change my name

-Brad Pitt

Photo credit: Ryan McGinley

Make yummy things

 

All things mango

Mocha doughnuts

My favourite all season salad

Baked Maple French toast 

Double vanilla cake with warm blueberry sauce 

Clean out your crib and donate it all.

Here’s one place to donate.

Dance to your spring jam

I grew up surrounded by classical music in this house. These days, unless I’m driving, I find classical music to be a balm when my soul is weary. Here’s a great list of summer concerts where you can drown in  classical music.

Dream up some fun summer plans that require wearing a big hat.

 What’s your rain plan? Hopefully it doesn’t involve a wet basement. Crossing my fingers for the residents of  the Toronto Islands.

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Have you read a poem lately?

By April 28, 2017 Books, Performance, Urban gadfly

April is National Poetry Month.
We almost missed it, didn’t we? There are so many distractions in this fine city. Last night I was at Hot Docs 2017, with Last Men in Aleppo. There are two more screenings of this. Highly recommended. I cannot think of anything else this morning.

Thank goodness for Henry, a clever boy I love, who gave me one of my most favourite gifts ever last year: a collection of his own poetry.

Meet the under ten set’s new poet laureate.

Hooray for Henry, you’re our Friday inspiration.

For more on poetry…

from a year ago:

The profane and the sublime

While you wait, make eggs. Read poetry.

from two years ago:

Whale breath

from three years ago:

Unclogging the air

from four years ago:

Pack a rock

from five years ago:

We were all children once

Happy weekend.

PS. The Handmaid’s Tale begins this Sunday on Bravo!

 

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Spring chicks

By April 21, 2017 Performance

“hanging out with the hipsters is hard work

how many selfies can you take without looking like a jerk?”

-Sheryl Crow, Be Myself

  • Sheryl Crow has released her ninth studio album, Be Myself. Nine seems a good number for Crow who has nine Grammies to match. After a recent foray into the country music arena, Crow’s latest is a fierce flourish of rock-pop born of a wish to revisit the sound and feeling of her earlier records. Still, the record hardly ignores the current landscape as the musician felt a sense of “real urgency” following Trump’s election. Match that with a recent bout of breast cancer, motherhood, and the launch of a new clothing line, and you have a sage on your spring jam.

  • Tap-dancing is one of those skills you can’t do without absolute commitment. See it nailed down in full glory this weekend with the most buoyant cast of spring in Wavestage’s latest production, Anything Goes.

  • Toronto’s Soulpepper is bringing their most celebrated productions to New York for a month of programming this summer. I’ve seen most of these shows and loved them here and here. Read on about the hidden figures behind this initiative and others.
  • Fun quiz: read this description and try to guess which famous Torontonian is featured in an essay in this week’s New Yorker:

 She would look striking even if she were not familiar. She owns an array of brightly colored winter coats—jewel red, imperial purple—with faux-fur-trimmed hoods that frame her face, as do her abundant curls of silver hair. She has high cheekbones and an aquiline nose, the kind of features that age has a hard time withering. Her skin is clear and translucent, of the sort that writers of popular Victorian fiction associated with good moral character.

 Read on here to see if you guessed right.

This spring chick is spring cleaning this weekend (sigh) between cheering (GO LEAFS GO!). Then again, I might just ditch and hang out in the best playhouse in my neighbourhood. Guess where? Then again, if I tell you, I might have to kill you.

 

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Very Married

By April 20, 2017 Life

It was an April morning like any other in Toronto when my parents pledged to take care of one another in front of friends and family at a midtown church. Sixty years later, the front of the church stands yet; behind it, an enormous hole where construction has begun on new condos. Change is a constant in this city. To become attached to any one pile of stones is sure to bring heartbreak.

Attach instead skin to skin.

 

Today my dad reaches under the table for my mother’s hand at an intimate family lunch in their honour. Beside me, my mother giggles. For a second I allow myself to be her University of Toronto chum, pondering the merits of this very tall suitor, who courted her for more years than he would have liked before she said yes.  He would have to promise first to have many children for this only child was resolute about wanting a brood. That we would be unwieldy and prone to spontaneous outbursts was likely not what she imagined. Yet here we are, doing that celebrating thing we can’t seem to give up, and here’s Dad at the head of the table once again, reeling out the first chapter.

“I was suggested by somebody that I should run as as a Member-at-Large in first year so I went to the meeting and there was this good looking blonde who got nominated as the woman head of the year. I went out to Charles Street on the first football game and here came the blonde with her friends and I said to myself, I better sit by her because we’re going to be on the executive together: this was the beginning.”

We’ve heard this one before. Indeed, we’re arrogant enough to think we know all the chapters, one spectacular constellation to guide us in the fog. Of course we don’t.  It is theirs alone, inside every embrace.

 

But we do have the main, the heft, the long thread of this gorgeous narrative weaving through all of us.

Today, I had the immense honour to toast this couple and what I told them was this:

Your story is unending. It is in me when I wake up and when I close my eyes at night. It is the story of us, and lives within your five children and eleven grandchildren. It will be the story their children and all future generations know. It is the story of devotion and strength, of tremendous commitment and good humour. It inspires me and sustains me; my own marriage exists on the shoulders of yours.  

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

 

Diamonds really are forever.

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Easter peace to you all

By April 16, 2017 Life, Rituals

“Mother of all bombs” dropped this week. Did you shake where you stood as I did hearing the terrifying physics of this first-ever weapon deconstructed on a radio programme? I was in my kitchen, chopping carrots.

Far away is right here in 2017. There is no far away.

Be relentless about peace where you stand if you’re lucky enough to live in Canada.

To all my readers: Happy Easter.

 

 

More on Easter:

Three years ago:

You’re never too old for egg hunts

How deep is your love?

Four years ago:

Green Eggs and Ham

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Pink isn’t just for millennials

By April 3, 2017 Headlines, Life

Millennial pink has reached the zenith of zeitgeist gushing.  Didn’t know pink was a thing? Me neither. The Friendly Greek wore pink shirts decades ago; in my closet are several pink purses.

On at least two occasions, I wore a large pink hat.

None of this makes us anything remotely on trend. How can you be hip in a red blazer fit for a tour guide?

“No one really agrees on what shade millennial pink actually is. Nonetheless, we think we figured it out. Essentially, it’s a subtle, muted pink — not too bright, but also not too blush (blush is also the “new neutral,” have you heard?) How did this fad begin, you ask? It could have been when Apple released the “rose gold” iPhone in 2015, or when Pantone named rose quartz the “Color of the Year” in 2016. Either way, it’s a thing, and we’re here for it.”

aol.com

“Gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it’s androgynous. It doesn’t hurt that the color happens to be both flattering and generally pleasing to the eye, but it also speaks to an era in which trans models walk the runway, gender-neutral clothing lines are the thing, and man-buns abound. It’s been reported that at least 50 percent of millennials believe that gender runs on a spectrum — this pink is their genderless mascot.”


nymag.com (Read here for a complete breakdown of the trend)


“A color becomes popular because it’s symbolic of the age we’re living in. These are turbulent times. People are looking for calm.”

-Laurie Pressman, Pantone Colour Institute (more from Bloomberg here)

“I don’t like it but I can see why it’s popular. This is how I feel about a lot of things pitched to my demographic. Still, better than Boomer Pink, which locked Millennial Pink in the basement without a job and is inexplicably snide about it.”

Alexandra Petri, Washington Post


Running out to purchase things in hot colours never works much for me (who has time?) but some manage to pull it off.

Around here, some pink is year round.

And other pinks show up when it’s their season to strut.

Easter brings out the shine in pink, and my mother’s gorgeous pink candles.

I’m not fussed if pink is out of fashion decades from now (or how about next week, thanks to the Trump green invasion), certain as I am of the longevity of Anne’s Seasonal Kitsch that keeps me from losing my mind cued up and ready for the uncharted curves ahead.

Pink is not about the feminine or the frivolous.

For me, it’s the pucker up* we long for…

…and in the eyelids of sleeping babes. I’m for those forever.

Come on now. Show me your hip side. Got any millennial pink in your collection? Share in the Have your Say section below.

*photo credit: Jane Langford

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Kudos and Curses

By March 30, 2017 Performance

Winter has been rich for readers and arts lovers. Lots to love, and some? Not so much. Read More

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Mango Crisp

By March 27, 2017 Recipes, Urban gadfly

I love weekend brunch. It’s my favourite meal to host, but so too is sitting down to a latte bowl made by someone else at a tiny gem in your own city. Hitting the Toronto brunch scene used to be a rare thing for us. You try hauling teenagers out of bed on a weekend morning, let alone waiting for them to get dressed and ready for a family outing. Now the Friendly Greek and I play tourist in our own town and smile as we ask “table for two, please.” Read More

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