My writing pal, Lisa McGonigle, published an article, In It For the Long Haul, in the Feb. 2012 issue of The Fernie Fix about her long-distance lifestyle. I met Lisa several years ago at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, before she published Snowdrift, and I’ve followed her travels since that time.
This particular article resonated with me because, although my travels have not been as far-flung as Lisa’s, I have maintained two residences, one in Calgary and the other in Bequia, and spent these past five years flying back and forth between the two. Most of my worldly possessions have remained at the house in the Caribbean, along with the cats and Dennis, while I’ve moved around between Calgary apartments to house-sitting situations, accumulating more stuff in an attempt to make a home for myself in the city where I actually worked. Because of the nature of my business, I was able to manage three trips to Bequia every year, usually during their off-season. I told myself I didn’t mind the Calgary winters – really – and I was able to build a good business as well as an extensive network of friends and colleagues that always made me feel “at home” again every time I returned to Canada.
Unfortunately, my circumstances changed in the fall of 2012 and I decided to return to Bequia – at least for the winter months – and reassess my business and my life. I gave away most of what I’d accumulated over those five years, stored the rest in a locker as well as with several friends, and flew off at the end of November. (I have Vincentian citizenship, so I am allowed to stay there indefinitely. And the immigrataion and customs agents usually say, “Welcome home!” upon my arrival. I never hear that from Canadian officials.)
The plan was always to come back in April, because I had committed to giving a presentation at a Calgary library on the 12th. I’m also planning on attending my high school reunion in Toronto in May. I figured 7 weeks was lots of time to see everyone I needed, and wanted, to see and to visit with family.
The reality is, though, that Thomas Wolfe was right: You Can’t Go Home Again. Or once gone, easily forgotten? I feel as though I no longer belong in Calgary. People are too busy; appointments and dates are being cancelled; all plans I made previous to the trip have suddenly dissolved. It’s left me wondering why I’ve come back.
But then I never felt as though I belonged on Bequia either while I was there over the winter.
So now I really wonder where home is for me. Sometimes I think it’s in the air, on a plane, somewhere between Calgary and Bequia. If I were Lisa’s age (which is about half of mine), I would consider a new start in a brand new place, creating a new life for myself. New horizons, new possibilities.
But I find I’m too old for that now, so I’ll have to be content to live vicariously through Lisa as she continues on with the adventures of her own life. And create and invent reality in my mind by writing stories.
… when you remember that You are the author of Your own Life story, You enter into the beautiful process of becoming, as You should be, the author of Your own life, the creator of Your own possibilities …
This is a repost from 2010. I’m posting it now, because I’ve noticed that, after “pizza ovens,” “meeting my best friend for the first time” is the second-most popular phrase entered as a subject into search engines that brings readers to my blog. Curious, I thought. Then I checked the stats and this post has garnered 816 views since it was first published on Feb. 9, 2010. There must be a lot of other people out there who are meeting their best friends for the first time!
Monday was a very good day – an historic day, I should add. In the same way as the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark – okay, maybe I’m stretching this a bit here, but bear with me… For me, this was definitely a significant turning point in my life, to finally meet, in person, the person I’ve long considered my best email writing friend, but had never had the opportunity to actually meet.
Darcie Hossack and I “met” online for the first time on the Humber student discussion board. Those early exchanges involved talking about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly, Firefly – oh, yes, and writing, too. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. During the past four years (now seven!!), we’ve offered each other advice, editing, encouragement, connections, and confidence that what we write, and the way we’re writing it, is not only good, but will eventually be published. I’m so proud that Darcie is first this fall with a collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, to be published by Thistledown. **Update – Here’s Darcie’s book on a playdate with mine, which I have since published, as well!
And read this terrific review by Jim Bartley Of MDD that appeared in The Globe & Mail.
But we’ve also been collaborating all this time on another idea. I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that we complement each other. And that’s what best friends should do, right?
So meeting Darcie, finally, yesterday, was just a matter of putting a physical presence to someone I felt I have really known all along. And now I have the added bonus of being able to hear her voice when I read emails she writes to me. She’s no longer my imaginary friend. But she is still my best writing friend!
I realized I haven’t written much lately about food … but then I haven’t been cooking a great deal either. So I decided to pull another post from the archives for today. And, hey! I actually feel like baking some bread now!
Not long after I arrived on Bequia this time, our neighbour, Rodger, had a special request: Would I make raisin bread that had more than just two rainsins in each loaf? He said he’d been buying the local bread in town, but was disappointed with the miserly amount of raisins included. I told him I knew of just the recipe for that, but needed to contact Darcie Hossack as she had published it earlier in a food column. When I made this bread that first time, Rose and her crew were here at the house working for a few days to varnish all the railings on the verandah. The smell of cinnamon and baking bread nearly drove the crew nuts, so when I offered to share they knocked off one entire loaf in about 10 minutes. Everyone agreed with Dennis and me that it was the best Raisin Bread they’d ever had. What’s not to like, though, about home-baked bread fresh out of the oven?
When I asked Darcie for the recipe again the other day, because I had left my printed copy in Calgary, she couldn’t remember how long ago it had been since she’d published that particular column. At least two years, I figured, because it was certainly before I moved back to Calgary in 2008. Turns out it was four years ago, when we were still both enrolled in the Humber programme. Time flies! And I’ve only ever made this recipe that one time. I have a feeling that if Rodger loves these loaves as much as Rose’s crew did that day, I’ll be baking many more for him to store in his freezer before I leave here in a couple of weeks.
(Since we enjoyed a lobster dinner on New Year’s Day at Tommy’s on Bequia yesterday, I thought I would repost this story I wrote about lobster, originally published to this blog on Mar. 1, 2010.)
My good friend, Darcie Hossack, writes a weekly food column that appears in Kamloops This Week. She’s sometimes in need of ideas, and occasionally will turn to me, or more specifically, something I’ve written to her, for inspiration. Case in point is this column from Feb. 19th, which I snagged off the internet… and have reprinted here with her permission.
Kamloops This Week
Quick dip didn’t delay quicker dip in butter
By Darcy Hossack – Kamloops This Week
Published: February 19, 2010 8:00 AM
Updated: February 19, 2010 8:58 AM
Q: I read your column online from my home in the Caribbean (Bequia) and thought you’d enjoy a story about a lobster that recently got a short reprieve from becoming our dinner.
I’d spent all afternoon baking bread in the pizza oven — mostly baguettes.
Some were for the Tommy Cantina restaurant, so I suggested Pammy, the owner, stop by and stay for a drink.
“Can’t. The trunk’s full of live out-of-water lobsters. They’re tonight’s special.”
I thought for a moment.
“But the pool is salt water. Toss them in. That’ll keep them happy. Besides, it’s only sporting to allow them one last wallow of freedom.”
I dumped the lobsters into the pool, then joined Pam and my partner, Dennis, at the rum shack (fancy name for pool cabana) to make and consume Painkillers.
“I think they’re frolicking,” I said, glancing at the dark pile-up forming in the deep end.
“More like safety in numbers,” Dennis said, laughing.
It turned out releasing the lobsters into the water was much easier than packing them back into the car.
These aren’t the claw-wielding North Atlantic variety, but they still pose a problem by living up to their name of Spiny.
But what they lack in claw meat is more than compensated for by an extra-long tail and sweeter flavour.
After Pammy and the lobsters drove away, we noticed one had managed to escape by tucking itself away in shadows of the pool’s far corner.
I phoned Pammy, who suggested we keep him “in exchange for these scrumptious baguettes – I’ve already scarfed one.”
So, while I fired up the barbecue and mixed mayonnaise with a dollop of Erica’s Country Style Pepper Sauce, Dennis sharpened his cutlass.
One deft swing split Lucky Larry down the middle, dispatching him with a speedier and more merciful death than plunging him head-first into a boiling lobster pot, and thereby transforming him into dinner for two.
It seemed Larry’s luck had run out. But we believe he died a noble death.
By the way, splitting and grilling is usually the way everyone cooks lobster on Bequia.
We slather the meat with melted butter and grill the halves meat side down.
The chef at Tommy Cantina had the absolutely brilliant idea to fill the empty cavity (from where the guts are removed) with stuffing and the restaurant serves lobster halves as well as turkey for Christmas, New Year’s, and American Thanksgiving.
I personally prefer butter or mayo with lots of garlic.
— Susan from Bequia
A: With regrets whenever we see people cracking into their big red sea bugs and sucking buttery meat out of giant claws, we’ve never been seafood folk.
It’s unfortunate, too, because the plastic bibs are really cute.
On the other hand, anything featuring butter and garlic, or mayonnaise and garlic, is worthy of attention.
And so, for everyone who’s going to be salivating over the thought of dear, departed Larry (to say nothing of eating said Larry in the Caribbean), we thought we’d end your story with a pair of recipes.
Spiny lobsters may not be on the menu this far north, but we’re sure there are some smooth ones out there, just ready to be macheted in half, grilled and served with garlic.
Garlic butter, mayo
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs freshly grated parmesan
Beat together butter with garlic and parmesan. Place in a butter warmer to melt and hold before dipping and slathering.
Garlic mayonnaise (Aioli):
3 large cloves garlic, minced
three finger pinch of coarse kosher or sea salt
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
Into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add garlic and salt. Pulse for just a couple of seconds. Add egg yolk and lemon juice, pulsing until blended.
Turn processor to “on” and gradually add olive oil in a constant, thin stream, until all of the oil has been added and mixture is emulsified. Season to taste with pepper and, if necessary, more salt.
Darcie Hossack is a food & fiction writer. Dean Hossack is an internationally award-winning chef and former member of Culinary Team BC. Send your questions about food and cooking to firstname.lastname@example.org
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