I heard an interesting idea on CBC Radio the other day, on one of the summer reruns. Canadian novelist Katherena Vermette was talking about her latest novel, The Strangers, which I liked a lot. It’s about family—grandmothers, mothers and daughters—and the complicated ties that bind generations together. Vermette made the point that girl babies are … Read more
Junk—like beauty—is in the eye of the beholder. With a bit of science and creativity, junk can be transformed into useful things.
I’ve been a word nerd for as long as I can remember. And I’ve been a cruciverbalist—a crossword fan—since at least junior high. That’s when my big sister started buying me Dell magazines, which had crosswords of varying difficulty plus many other kinds of puzzles: logic puzzles (You solve a problem by deciphering a series … Read more
I’m a baba. Truth be told, I’m a proud-as-can-be, floating-on-air, tickled pink-and-blue baba who thinks her grandson is the cutest, brightest, smartest little boy in the whole wide world. Other babas are free to make the same claim. I don’t mind. It’s a baba’s prerogative. My babas were certainly proud of me. And I was … Read more
My recent epiphany about the folk song “Alouette” brought to mind some other bird songs from my childhood—folk songs my Baba Fill taught me in Ukrainian. One was an action song about a chyzhyk—a siskin or a finch*. Again, in the bliss of ignorance, I didn’t know what a chyzhyk was until I looked it … Read more
Sometimes we think we understand things we really have no clue about.
Poop has been in the news lately. Not the kind that our politicians dish out (although there’s been plenty of that too). But all sorts of interesting poop! Did you know that honey bees in Southeast Asia use bird poop and buffalo dung to keep predatory giant hornets away from their hives? Bees are generally … Read more
I just finished The Company We Keep by Canadian writer Frances Itani. It’s about six grieving strangers who have lost or are in the process of losing loved ones. They share their stories with one another, and find comfort and support in the new friendships they forge. I’m a huge Itani fan, although I have … Read more
A recent study at Harvard University’s Music Lab found that babies were soothed by lullabies even when they were sung in unfamiliar languages such as Scottish Gaelic or Hopi. That’s amazing! And it got me thinking about the lullabies I know. When my son was little, one of his favourites was “Oi khodyt’ son”—“Dream Passes … Read more
Picture this. A mountain-ringed campsite beside the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park. A crackling fire. Sun slanting down through the trees. River rumbling over rapids. The occasional crow chorus. (The resident clan regularly sends scouts to check if we’ve forgotten to take the dog food in.) Soft music playing from one of the randomly … Read more