Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Book Review - An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

I just finished An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim. The book was one of five shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and I can see why.

America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. She agrees to a radical plan. Time travel has been invented; if she signs up for a one-way trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.

But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a terrifying new world to find Frank, to discover if he is alive, and to see if their love has endured.

Thea Lim tells a great story. Polly, of whom the story is about, is not the usual type of main character in the stories I usually read. She is fearful, lost and always full of sadness. Despite all of that, she is likable and a survivor doing her best to endure her circumstances and keep her dream alive.

The writing is very descriptive. I marveled at the images Lim could create in my mind.

I'm definitely glad I read this.

About Thea Lim

Her writing has been published by the Southampton Review, the Guardian, Salon, the Millions, Bitch Magazine, Utne Reader and others, and she has received multiple awards and fellowships for her work, including artists' grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and she previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto with her family.

There is a great interview of how she wrote An Ocean of Minutes on the CBC website.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Toronto Rock Clip Wings in Overtime

Tonight Teena and I were at the second home game of the season for the Toronto Rock. Last week they lost in a tight game against the Swarm to bring their record to 1-1. Tonight they were playing the 0-2 Philadelphia Wings.

Toronto Rock Cheerleaders are always at the gate to greet the fans.

As usual, Scotty Newlands did a great job with the national anthems.

The opening face-off of what would prove to be a wild game.

It was a close low scoring affair in the first half. At the end of the first quarter, it was tied at one-all and the half ended with Toronto up by just a 3-2 score. Most quarters have as many goals as the first half.

Some first half action.

The Rock Cheerleaders put on three great performances.

Iggy kept the crowd going throughout.

He loves to show off his abs to the crowd.

Teena took this shot of Iggy, Trish and I.

In the second half, Toronto went up 6-3 and it all was fun. The Wings didn't think so and after the Rock and Wings exchanged goals, Philadelphia went on a five goal run putting Toronto down 9-7 half way through the fourth.

Toronto battled back with two of their own to tie.Then, with under two and half minutes to go, the Wings took the lead. What made it even worse was a Toronto penalty with less than two minutes to go. In lacrosse when a penalty is given, there isn't a face-off. The team the infraction was against starts with the ball in the penalized teams end.

Not good.

But Tom Schreiber came through, short handed with his fifth goal of the night and only 20 seconds to go in the game.

I told you it was a wild one. Sudden death overtime is tense and this was no different. Both goal tenders, Buchan for the Wings and Nick Rose (Rosie!) for the Rock, were sensational. Finally, with both teams having great chances, Adam Jones, my favorite Rock player, put in the winner. 8,299 fans went crazy!

Jones and Schreiber account for 10 of the 11 goals the Rock. Not a bad night for either player!

It was just the second overtime game we have seen. In the other, we came away disappointed.

We may not have won this jackpot but we came away happy.

The team, as always, salutes the fans.

The next home game is on Friday, January 18, and yes, we'll be there!

Friday, 28 December 2018

Rock Stung in Last Minute by Swarm in Home Opener

Tonight was the home opener for the Toronto Rock. Having won their first game last week against the Buffalo Bandits, they were going into tonight's game against the Georgia Swarm who also won their season opener.

There was lots of pregame pomp and ceremony. Scotty Newlands sang the national Anthems, chief Ava Hill of the Six Nations of the Grand River gave the Territorial Acknowledgement recognizing Toronto as the traditional meeting place and territory of the Indigenous people and participated in the ceremonial face-off.

The opening face-off.

The Rock took a 2-0 lead only two and a half minutes into the game. That was all they would get though and the first quarter ended with them behind 3-2.

The second quarter wasn't much better as they fell a little further behind 7-5 at the half.

Now this is how to protect your goalie from a charging forward!

Iggy kept the fans going.

So did the Toronto Rock Cheerleaders.

It was a close game throughout. The Rock hadn't led since the first quarter, they tied the game a few times but never led. At the end of the third, they were a goal behind 8-7.

The Rock Cheerleaders performed again at a break in the action.

No. We didn't take home this pot. It would've been nice!

The fourth quarter was exciting, the Rock down 10-8, stormed back putting in 3 in a row to take an 11-10 led with four and half minutes to go. It was looking good for the Rock until the Swarm scored two minute later to tie the game.

With just a minute to go, Georgia was awarded a penalty shot but Toronto goalie Nick Rose came up big with a huge glove save. I thought that would give them huge momentum but with just twenty-four seconds to go the Swarm put in the go ahead goal. They won the next face-offs and that was it for the Rock.

It was an exciting game throughout but we just came up short. As always, the Rock saluted the fans after.

The next Rock game is a week away with the Rock hosting the Philadelphia Wings. Teena and I will be there!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Crockpot (Slow Cooker) Recipe - Zesty Braised Beef with Potatoes

Another Sunday, another crockpot supper. This week I made Zesty Braised Beef with Potatoes from the Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Here are the ingredients:

2 lbs (1kg)-        stewing beef
2 oz (60g)-         chunks pancetta (I used regular but you can use hot)
2 tbsp-                olive oil
3 -                       shallots
4 -                       cloves garlic
1 tsp -                 dried thyme
1/2 tsp -              salt or sea salt or to taste
1/2 tsp -              fresh ground pepper or to taste
1/2 cup -             dry white wine
2 cups -              chicken stock
2 lbs -                 potatoes (I used Ontario red but the recipe called for new)
1/4 tsp -              cayenne pepper dissolved in 1 tbsp lemon juice

Thinly slice the potatoes and store in a bowl of water (next time I would make them thicker).

Put a little oil in a large fry pan and brown pancetta for about 3 minutes. Add to crockpot.

Brown stewing beef in batches in fry pan. Add to crockpot.

Add a little more oil to the pan and add onions. Cook, stirring frequently until translucent. Add crushed minced garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for a minute.

Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add stock. Drain potatoes and add. Bring to a boil.

I found the best way to add this to the pot was to spoon in the potatoes first, then pour in the liquid

Stir, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

With 10 minutes to go, mix together a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne with 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Add to pot.

Time to serve!

The book says it's hard to believe that this simple combination of ingredients can taste so luscious. Believe it!

The beef comes out so tender and there seems to be potato and pancetta on every forkful. Teena didn't find this but I felt a nice little hot snap in the back of my throat which lingered in the aftertaste. Teena enjoys spicy foods which is why she may not have noticed. I can't do a lot of heat anymore (sob!) but found this enjoyable.

Not only is this Teena-approved but she asked that I make this for her again. That tells you it's a dish worth trying!