Current time: 7:45 a.m.
Out the window: It's mosquito season, so I drape mosquito netting over my patio umbrella and pretend I'm in a tropical locale.
On the menu: Ratatouille. Fun to say. Delicious to eat.
Reading: More Alexander McCall Smith. This time it's the sixth book in the 44 Scotland Street series, The Importance of Being Seven. The books in this series are compilations of "episodes" that Smith publishes daily in the Scotsman newspaper, and they follow the occupants of number 44 Scotland Street, a converted Georgian townhouse in a busy, Bohemian corner of Edinburgh's New Town. This is where, "the old haute bourgeoisie finds itself having to rub shoulders with students, poets and portraitists. And number 44 has more than its fair share of the street's eccentrics and failures." I love Smith's gentle prose and subtle humour - I find his writing to be comforting, so I savour his books.
Watching: A documentary called Spinning Plates that profiles three distinct restaurants and the people who run them: a world-renowned chef competes for the ultimate prize of three Michelin stars in Chicago, a 150-year-old restaurant in Iowa is still standing only because of its place within the community, and a small Mexican restaurant in Tucson struggles to stay open as its owners risk everything to provide for their young daughter. All three face incredible odds in their endeavours, and their stories of family, dedication, passion and survival show just how meaningful the simple act of breaking bread can be, and how food has the power to bring people together and connect us all to one another.
Listening: I'm a Freak by NYC trio Wise Girl. Just like last week's selection, I discovered this song on a list of new music recommended by Bitch Magazine. I was drawn in by the description: "If the movie Clueless were remade today, this pop-rock gem would be opening credit fodder for SURE." I feel like this is a song that a younger version of myself would have especially liked.
This week's Words of the Day:
Out and About:
That's all for this week.
This sentence is:
b) grammatically correct,
c) not entirely true,
d) all of the above.
The best answer is d. Yes, you need to know what you're doing when you employ the rules of grammar, but you don't have to memorize them. You just need to know where to look when you need them for reference.
I would love for this site to become a landing point for people who are stumped by the laws of the English language. I want it to be a useful resource, and the equivalent of a friendly face in a crowd. Because grammar shouldn't ever be intimidating. I hate to think of people not expressing a thought or idea in writing simply because the rules got in the way.
So I'm going to start doling out grammar lessons here on the blog, and I'll archive them elsewhere on the site for easy reference. I'll explain the rules, give examples of how they're used in everyday language, and share tips on how to remember them. I may not turn anyone into a word nerd like me, but I'm up to the challenge of making the rules a little easier to understand.
If you've ever found yourself wondering, "do I use it's or its? who or whom? lie or lay?" or something similar, stay tuned. I have the answers, and I can't wait to share them with you.
Stephen Fry posted this on Twitter this week. No word as to whether or not he created these himself.
Current time: 5:21 a.m.
Out the window: It's the summer solstice tomorrow, and it looks like we'll be celebrating with the sun and some moderate heat. Perfect.
On the menu: After writing about imperial cookies yesterday, I am having a serious craving. Must get myself to a bakery.
Reading: NW by Zadie Smith. The "NW"of the title is in reference to the postal code for the impoverished neighbourhood in Northwest London that provides the backdrop for the novel. The story follows four main characters who grew up in the same government housing complex and are now trying to make their own way in the world as adults. This isn't an easy read - Smith takes all grammatical and stylistic rules and turns them on their heads. But those who make the effort to dig in and work with the unconventionality of the writing will be rewarded. I'm about 60 pages in and I'm hooked.
Watching: There are some shows that never get old for me, and Cheers is one of them. I can watch the episodes over and over and still get a laugh out of them. I'd be hard-pressed to say which version I enjoy more - the early years with Diane and Coach, or the later years with Rebecca and Woody - they all crack me up. Maybe that's because they all had Norm's one-liners:
Coach: "How's life, Norm?"
Norm: "Not for the squeamish, Coach."
Woody: "What's your pleasure, Mr. Peterson?"
Norm: "Boxer shorts and loose shoes. But I'll settle for a beer."
Coach: "What's shakin', Norm?"
Norm: "All four cheeks and a couple of chins, Coach."
Listening: "Anywhere" by Naomi Wachira. I discovered this song on a new music recommendation list from Bitch Magazine. Since then I've caught myself humming it more than once. It's catchy that way.
I started a new practice on Twitter this week - the Word of the Day. In an attempt to solidify my status as a word nerd, I plan to pick up my Canadian Oxford dictionary each day, choose a word that I don't know, and then tweet it, along with its definition. I've only done three so far, and I cheated on one because I already knew it, but here are this week's choices:
Out and About:
That's all for this week.
Hey, all! I'm excited, because today's post combines two of my favourite topics: language and food. After discovering that schmoo torte is exclusive to Winnipeg, I decided to do a bit of digging to see if there are other so-called Winnipegisms that I wasn't aware of. Lo' and behold, there certainly are, and, funnily enough, several of them relate to food.
Just like in any city, Winnipeg has food items unique to certain establishments whose names have entered the local lexicon due to their popularity. At Salisbury House restaurants, the burgers are called nips. At the Bridge Drive-In, a seasonal ice cream stand known to locals as the BDI ("beady eye"), they serve what is known as the Goog Special: an upside down blueberry shake with a hot fudge sundae and bananas topped with whipped cream. (!!!) At Jeanne's Bakery, they bake Jeanne cakes: traditional cakes with a shortbread cookie crust.
But I also discovered that there are some foodie items that either aren't found elsewhere, or are common to many places but are just called something different here. Here is a sample - (see below for photo sources):
So, now, I'd love to know - have any of you ever heard of these terms before, and if so, where do you live? Do you know of any foods or foodie words that are unique to your neck of the woods? Let me know in the comments.
Photo credits: 1 - pegskitchen.ca 2 - allrecipes.ca 3 - claudiascookbook.com 4 - foodnetwork.ca 5 - jocooks.com
So happy to have Cynthia Lee back this week as host of the Scattered Life Collective.
Current time: 7:35 a.m.
Out the window: My annuals are gorgeous. This year I went with shades of yellow, pink and white and I'm pleased with the result. I can see them from my kitchen and bathroom windows and they bring me infinite pleasure.
Reading: Another random pick from the library's New and Noted section: Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen, "a breathtaking story of forbidden love and devastating consequences... that deftly explores the loss of innocence, the urgent connection in our stars, and how far we'll go to find our hearts." The story takes place against the backdrop of India at the time of Partition. I'm less than 100 pages in and so far I have yet to catch my breath, but there's still time. :)
Watching: Stephen Fry in the documentary Wagner & Me. This is an engaging look at the complicated history of composer Richard Wagner, in which Fry makes a journey to locations that played key roles in Wagner's turbulent life. Fry is a lifelong fan of Wagner, but he is also Jewish, and lost family members in the Holocaust, so he is acutely aware that Wagner's associations with Hitler and Nazi Germany make this a serious contradiction. I found it fascinating to watch the dichotomy of Fry first expressing childlike glee as he is allowed unprecedented access behind the scenes of Wagner's theatre in Bayreuth, followed by inner turmoil as he visits the site of Hitler's propaganda rallies in Nuremburg. His ultimate quest is an answer to the age-old question of whether it is possible to separate the artist from the art.
Listening: My Mistakes Were Made for You by the Last Shadow Puppets. This is a song that I heard first on the soundtrack to an episode of Numb3rs and immediately had to track down. Love it.
Out and About:
Short post today. I've got some ideas percolating..
After last week's discovery that schmoo torte is unique to Winnipeg, I've been thinking a lot about regional words, and language in general. Word nerd that I am, I find it fascinating to study how we communicate with one another.
So much so that I'm thinking of changing things up a bit around here. I want my site and this blog to focus even more on my love of language than they do now. I'm not entirely sure how this will play out, but I know that in addition to writing about whatever catches my fancy, I want to start sharing some of my knowledge and passion for words with you.
I'm excited, because reading and writing are what make me tick and what better place to express that than here on my blog? So stay tuned. Right now my mind is off in a hundred directions, but I'll be sure to let you know where it lands. And if there's anything in particular you'd like to learn about language and writing, let me know in the comments.
Blogger Leisl Testwuide had such high hopes when she sent her 8-year-old son to summer camp. She fantasized that he would send letters home telling tales of educational games, healthy food and innocent fun. Instead she received the following missive, complete with burping, push pops and "diyareeya." Reality is so cruel sometimes.