Thursday, May 30, 2013


My mom took me to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was four.

I remember that it was in the basement of a community hall or church somewhere in Flin Flon, and a bit too dark. My kindergarten teacher was the group leader and weighed me when it was my turn in line. For the next week, I was excited to be following the rules -- it seemed like a game, or maybe a Very Important Responsibility. I remember playing at the house across the street with those kids who were sort of wild and whose mom once scolded me for calling her by her first name; I was offered an Oreo cookie. I immediately ran back across the street to ask my mom if I could eat it, and she said "No, that's not allowed," and threw it in the garbage before I could run back to the neighbor's house to return it. She said it with an indulgent smile, though, and a caress of my cheek. Even at that age, I could tell that not eating that Oreo made her very proud of me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Quitting

Quitting: it has such a terrible sound, no? The hard k sound at the beginning, the spit of the double t's in the middle, and the rise of the tongue to the palate at the end. It's not a pretty word.

I suppose it's not pretty in its meaning, either: it sounds like nothing so much as giving up, as abandonment, as a failure, moral or otherwise. You're not supposed to quit, you're supposed to finish. You're supposed to complete. You're supposed to persevere. To quit means to leave undone, in a way. To admit defeat. To stop what you should be doing.

I quit my career last week. Which is not to say I quit my job -- I had no (single) job to quit, not for a while. I have been the definition of the precarious worker for the past eighteen months, part of the so-called creative class who has been fooled into thinking we are living our dreams of tailoring our careers to our lives when we are, like everyone else, tailoring our lives to our careers. Just with less security, no benefits, and uncertain futures.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unexpected Consequences

My last blog post, on the pressures contemporary foodie culture puts on women and people without endless resources, went mini (micro) viral on Twitter, apparently, and lead to my being asked to do a series of interviews (twelve!) on CBC Radio stations throughout Canada. I had to wake up at 5.30 am and did interviews straight from 6.00 am till 9.00 am. It was exhausting and nerve-wracking and fun.

Here's a recording of the interview on Ontario AM.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Joy of Cooking

I canned my own tomatoes last summer.

I had been thinking about doing it for a while, partly because of my worry over the use of toxic BPA in can linings, and partly because of my greediness looking at the piles of tomatoes I saw at the farm stands around my house. One day I went to one of them to buy some corn and saw the farmer was selling bushel baskets of canning tomatoes for $12. I couldn't resist.

I brought the tomatoes home, set up a pot of boiling water, and dunked them in for a minute to peel them. I took the peeled tomatoes and stuffed them into clean pint-sized glass jars that I'd sterilized in the dishwasher. I put on those wax-seal lids and screwed on the metal rings and sat them in a big pot of boiling water to "process" them. I took them out and let them rest on a kitchen towel and heard the "ping" as the seals contracted and the jars became airtight. They glowed, like rubies. So pretty.