Wednesday, 8 March 2023

At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

I just finished reading At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows by Suzanne Craig-Whytock.

Enter a surreal landscape of the twisted and unusual. Wander through the echoing corridors of old manor houses, explore dead cities and hidden rooms, and dance with menacing marionettes. Lyrical, haunting, and occasionally humorous, At The End Of It All is a collection of twenty-seven stories that explore joy and sorrow, gratitude and grief, and hatred and desire. Open the cover, feast on the stories inside...and if you're lucky, Mr. Death just might show up for dessert.

It takes a skilled writer to craft a short story. Craig-Whytock is a craftsperson at this. Her stories, most being only 2-3 pages long with some a few pages longer, and a couple which fills just a single page. Yet every one of them is a complete story which captures the reader.  

Her stories run the full range of emotions, thoughtful, scary, unnerving, gothic, psychological, and a few which I chuckled at. Mysophobia, Revenge of the Juggernaut, and The High Seas were a few of my personal favourites, while I found Nomads of the Modern Wasteland Part Three to be the perfect story to end the 27 story collection.

For nights of unsettled reading, I highly recommend this..


Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Flint & Feather: The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake by Charlotte Gray

I think I was in grade 4 or 5 when our teacher told us about the famed Canadian poet, Pauline Johnson. Her story intrigued me. A Mohawk poet who, not only travelled across Canada, but also traveled to England a few times performing. When I saw Charlotte Gray's newest history work, Flint and Feather, it reignited my interest in her and, of course, had to read it. 

A graceful biography that was a #1 national bestseller, Flint & Feather confirms Charlotte Gray’s position as a master biographer, a writer with a rare gift for transforming a historical character into a living, breathing woman who immediately captures our imagination.

In Flint & Feather, Charlotte Gray explores the life of this nineteenth-century daughter of a Mohawk chief and English gentlewoman, creating a fascinating portrait of a young woman equally at home on the stage in her “Indian” costume and in the salons of the rich and powerful. Uncovering Pauline Johnson’s complex and dramatic personality, Flint & Feather is studded with triumph and tragedy, mystery and romance—a first-rate biography blending turn-of-the-century Canadian history and the vibrant story of a woman whose unforgettable voice still echoes through the years.

Pauline Johnson was not just a renowned poet, but was also well know for her eclectic performances. As she was of mixed heritage, Mohawk and English, she create an act which would highlight both sides of her roots. In one act she would dress in her authentic aboriginal garb and recite her poems about canoeing and aboriginal stories she heard or grew up on. 

In the second act, she would dress as an English debutant with poems regarding the upper English lifestyle she had experienced. It was the two different styles, all in one performance which kept people filling the seats of theater everywhere.

Gray does and excellent job in telling the story of her life. Her successes and pitfalls. Her constant state of being poor and in debt, even though she was constantly performing. The reader can see the extensive research which went into Gray's work. It's a tale worth reading.  

Saturday, 18 February 2023

heart strings by Clarice Goetz

I just finished reading, heart strings, a poetry collection by Canadian poet, Clarice Goetz.

In her debut collection, heart strings, Clarice Goetz delivers emotionally candid poetry and prose that detail the aftermath of a significant heartbreak. With original, evocative illustrations, this melancholy narrative is written through the many stages of loss, and the tethers that bind us to those we've lost. Let the words meet you wherever you are. 

Let its pages be a place of comfort — a hug in book form. Let it heal your heart, and bring you back home to yourself.

The poems in heart strings are clearly about a woman who's long time relationship has ended. Goetz is heartbroken and throughout the book is working through her feelings. You can see her improvement as the book goes on.

I don't usually read poetry, but as I'm currently also reading a biography on Pauline Johnson, it put me in a mood for this book. Mind you, I would only read 4-5 a day as any more, I found, would cause my mind to wander.

Goetz's poetry is beautiful, and emotional. The drawings which accompany many of her poems were also done by the author. If you enjoy poetry, you'll enjoy heart strings.


Friday, 17 February 2023

Silverview by John le Carré

I just finished reading Silverview by British author, John le Carré. 

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. 

When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . . 

Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carré asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognize it.

I found the writing style in Silverview was totally different than any book I have read before. It took almost half the book to get used to. This isn't because the author is English as I have read many books by British writers, but I sure found it different. It is an interesting story which kept me turning pages.

Monday, 13 February 2023

Gord's Gas Factory Chili

For Superbowl this year, which was a fabulous game, I had my friends over. I had planned to make my famous, Gas Factory Chili, but as the week went on, decided to modify the recipe. It turned out even better than I had hoped. Each one of them went for seconds and one took home almost all that was left. here's the recipe.


2 lbs-  (1kg) Lean ground beef

1- Large red onion

1- red pepper

1- yellow, green or orange pepper. I choose orange

2- Garlic cloves 

1- 16oz (470ml) can black beans. I know kidney beans are usually used, but I love black beans. 

1- 28ox (800ml) diced tomatoes with chili (Aylmer)

1- 16oz (470ml) tomato sauce

1/2- 20oz (650ml) bottle Presidents choice White corn and Black Bean Mild Salsa, or any mild salsa.

1- 5.5oz (156ml) can tomato paste

1- 8oz (250ml) can chilis or jalapenos (add to your heat tolerance)

3 tsp chili powder

Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste. I found my mixture hot enough it didn't need Tabasco's help.

Dice onion and peppers and chile. The bottle of chilis I used was already sliced, but I diced them smaller.

Add a little olive oil to pan and heat. Put in onion and garlic and for about 30 seconds to a minute before adding meat. My pan wasn't large enough, so I did this in 3 stages. Brown meat but don't overcook. 

Put everything in a crockpot and simmer at least 4 hours.

Serve and enjoy. My friends and I all found this to be a wonderfully hot dish, not burn your mouth and throat off hot but what I call a "nice" hot. The kind that sneaks up on you and makes you want more.

Superbowl night was fun. Great friends. Great game. Great chili. One I will make again.

Friday, 20 January 2023

Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel

I just finished reading Daughters of the Deer by Canadian Author, Danielle Daniel.

1657. Marie, a gifted healer of the Deer Clan, does not want to marry the green-eyed soldier from France who has asked for her hand. But her people are threatened by disease and starvation and need help against the Iroquois and their English allies if they are to survive. When her chief begs her to accept the white man’s proposal, she cannot refuse him, and sheds her deerskin tunic for a borrowed blue wedding dress to become Pierre’s bride. 1675. 

Jeanne, Marie’s oldest child, is seventeen, neither white nor Algonquin, caught between worlds. Caught by her own desires, too. Her heart belongs to a girl named Josephine, but soon her father will have to find her a husband or be forced to pay a hefty fine to the French crown. Among her mother’s people, Jeanne would have been considered blessed, her two-spirited nature a sign of special wisdom. To the settlers of New France, and even to her own father, Jeanne is unnatural, sinful—a woman to be shunned, beaten, and much worse. 

 With the poignant, unforgettable story of Marie and Jeanne, Danielle Daniel reaches back through the centuries to touch the very origin of the long history of violence against Indigenous women and the deliberate, equally violent disruption of First Nations cultures.

This is a powerful, heartfelt story which, many times, left me bitter when I set the book down after reading a few chapters. Danielle Daniel does an excellent job telling the story and in the authors notes at the end, explains how emotionally hard it was to write this fictional tale of a people, the Algonkin (as spelled by the author in the book) who she has which ancestral links to. 

I can why this book is a national best seller.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Weight Watchers Style Chicken Curry

 Tonight, I made Teena and I Chicken Curry. As we are now more conscious of what we eat, well, for me, in the most part, I found a recipe that was Weight Watchers friendly on the Food website. 

Here are the ingredients from the original recipe.

1⁄2- cup plain low-fat yogurt 2- garlic cloves, minced

1- teaspoon curry powder 

1⁄4- teaspoon ground coriander 

1⁄4- teaspoon ground ginger 

1⁄4- teaspoon salt dash ground red pepper 

1 1⁄2- lbs chicken parts, skinned 

2- teaspoons vegetable oil 

1⁄2- cup chopped tomato 

1- bay leaf

*** Note: I also used 1 shallot, no coriander, which I don't like, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder.

First, I diced the tomato and shallot. I should've diced the tomato into small pieces which I did in the pan.

I used skinless, boneless chicken thighs. The thighs I cut into small pieces.

Combine the chicken, yogurt and spices in a bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.

In a 12 inch, 5 cm fry pan, heat the oil, then add the onion. Cook for a minute or two, then add the tomato and bay leaf. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the marinated chicken and scrap remaining sauce into pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Stir every 10 minutes. I found the sauce didn't thicken so removed the lid with 5 minutes to go. The sauce still needed to be thicker so for the next three to four minutes, turned up the heat and kept stirring the mixture until the sauce was to my, and Teena's satisfaction. 

We spooned the curry over basmati rice. I'm trying to learn to enjoy curry and this was an excellent starter recipe for me. Next time, I would add 3 teaspoons of curry powder instead of the 1 1/2 I used.

I really enjoyed this dish as did Teena, and it's something I will keep making in the future.