Family Recipes

20200521_223706My paternal grandmother, Oma as I call her, was a fantastic baker and cook.  I remember there were always chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar.  There were always sweet things to eat.  There were always kipfels.

Kipfels are crescent rolls, or croissants, made in a hardier less flaky way–maybe a more Eastern Europe kind of way.  I am neither a baker nor a historian, and my family history might colour how I see things.  In my Oma’s recipe, they are topped with caraway seeds.

My oldest sister has taken it upon herself to her learn some of these lost family recipes.  The internet has been helpful.  The other week she made kipfels for my father.  Like all of us, he hasn’t had them in a very long time and he misses them.  Today, she brought some to me.  Instant Perfect Moment.

I have to give her credit for trying and they were pretty good.  They weren’t exactly as I remember them, but nothing ever is.  The donauschwaben cookbook is pretty extensive and chocked full of family favourites.  She says she has gotten good at the chicken soup.  I hope she tries making bona soup next.

Posted in comfort food, donauschwaben, ethnic food, ethnicity, food, food blogging, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Love in the time of Coronavirus

Despite the lockdown, and despite the doom and gloom that hangs over my employment, I did find something worthy of the title of Perfect Moment.

This time last year, my girlfriend and I spent the day walking in High Park viewing the cherry blossoms.  We spent a day wandering the city, trying good food, and living what used to be a normal life.  Oh how things are different.

This year we were meant to see a performance of Cirque Du Soleil.  It was a hybrid performance with both ice skating and circus performances.  We were so looking forward to it.  At the beginning of this terrible time, I held out hope that things would get solved and we would be able to see it.  How wrong I was.

If you’re not seeing the “Perfect” in this, I can understand.  The “Perfect” is more on a personal level. My girlfriend and I celebrated an anniversary of sorts–we’re a nontraditional couple, so we celebrate at nontraditional times.  The pictures might include food and a bit of nature from our walk, but it is the person who I spent those times with that makes them more Perfect.

This weekend was, for me, a chance to reflect on how much better my life is than it used to be–coronavirus notwithstanding.  I distinctly remember asking the universe for a whole list of things.  While they haven’t all been delivered yet, at least one of them was.  Not to be too mushy, but I got more than a Perfect Moment from this relationship.

Posted in accomplishment, adversity, anniversary, celebration, cheese, flowers, food, love, perfect moment, relationships, romance, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Friday Everyone

I used to have a coworker who would say this every Friday morning.  Sometimes it was sarcastic and sometimes quite genuine–I also had a coworker who called Thursday Friday Junior–but that is another story.

On both Friday and Monday, I usually ask my students questions about their weekend plans or what they did on the weekend.  As you can imagine their answers these days are pretty thin.  They answer with one word sentences like “Netflix”, or “surfing the internet” or”nothing”.  Some of the more articulate ones lament “what can we do?”

I am sure we can all relate.  However, I want to do my best to encourage people.  Yes, the weekend may look a little less inviting if you haven’t been working.  And not having the opportunity to engage in what used to be normal weekend activities, might seem a bit depressing.  I just want you to remember that it can still be Happy Friday.  You can make it one with a bit of creativity and effort–you might have the time.

For this long weekend, I just want to spread the message.

Happy Friday Everyone.

Posted in accomplishment, achievement, blog, blog posts, blogposts, happiness, long weekend, optimism, optimistic, perfect moment, positive comments, recover, weekend | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Better Times


A scene from inside one of the classrooms

Today, we had a virtual meeting at work.  It was an open meeting that invited the few remaining employed teachers  and those who have been laid off to attend.  It was a chance to hear how things were going with the company.  We even got some hints…or guesses about what the company would look like on the other side of the pandemic.I won’t bore you with the competing, but by no means equal, visions of doom and gloom vs optimism.  Even when we have face to face classes, it won’t be the same as it was.

Out of this, I did manage to find Today’s Perfect Moment.  I got to see some coworkers that I hadn’t seen since February.  It seems like so long ago, but I went on vacation before the whole pandemic hit and before businesses were told to close.  I returned from Colombia planning to teach a preparation course for a Cambridge exam with a group of Swiss students.  By the time the dust settled, the Swiss students were back in Switzerland (no doubt enjoying some fine cheese and chocolate) and I was working from home.

ESL teachers, and probably all teachers, spend more time with the clients than they do with coworkers.  Our moments together are brief and despite the jokes, bawdy conversations, the shouting, the confusion, the horror, the deep intellectual discussions, the weirdly childish thoughts, and the oddball nature of the people who are in this profession–remember what I said before; diversity is not a strong enough word for this family, I do really miss those stolen moments between classes.

As it is strictly a numbers game, I am sure that there are a bunch of people that I won’t see face to face anytime soon.  By the time we get back to those numbers, some of them might have moved on.  Some might find something better or some might find the same things somewhere else.  Only time will tell.

Posted in challenges, ESL, meeting people, obstacles, perfect moment, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Strikes Me as Odd


It strikes me as odd that I should wake up three days in a row, in May, to snow.  While I often revel in the idea of living in the Great White North, I do like my spring and summer.  At this time of year, I expect to be in a landscape of blooming flowers, and warm temperatures.  Evidence indicates that this is not happening at all.

It has been one heck of a year so far, and I guess I shouldn’t find it so strange.  We would be foolish to think that the locking down of factories, airplanes, and so many more things would not have an effect on the environment.  Like dropping a big rock into a pond, things don’t adjust to calm immediately.  It takes time.

As for me, I found Monday morning’s snow to be quite pretty.  I watched it fall as I leisurely ate my breakfast and drank my coffee.  I had time to ponder the mess we are in and its many ramifications.  I didn’t find any answers.  I had time to ponder my new dreams of woodworking and making things.  No answers there either.

The snow looked pretty.

Posted in breakfast, coffee, Mondays, perfect moment, seasons, snow, Spring, weather, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What I Haven’t Done

20200510_131552While we all have been staying at home, many of us have found time to do things we did not have the time to do before–though I suspect we had the time, we probably wanted to use in on something else.  One of my co-workers is learning how to juggle.  Another is reorganizing his whole house.  Some are even learning to play guitar.

I haven’t done anything amazing like the above, but as I have already written about, I have managed to knock a number of things off the “to do” list and found time to investigate more future hobbies. (see my hobby blog for that).  The funny thing is not what I have done, but what I haven’t done.

Today, I noticed that the Saturday crossword in the comics pages of the woefully small newspaper.  It’s Sunday and there isn’t a mark on it.  It used to be that it was a priority for me.  Reading was also a priority.  I’ve still got the book I brought back from Colombia unfinished.  That is really unlike me.  I also haven’t watched a lot of TV or movies.

Then it hit me.  I chose to prioritize many of those things because they didn’t require a lot of physical energy.  The commute to and from work used to really wear me out.  I was up early and getting home late.  I needed to save my energy for bike rides when warm and snow shoveling in winter.  Now, I seem to have much more energy to tackle home projects and consider tackling even bigger ones.

Maybe I need to work from home forever……

Posted in home maintenance, home repair, online, perfect moment, self isolation, to do list, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lots to Juggle

woman at the beach juggling

Photo by Peggy Anke on

There are some complex machines out there.  You know what I am talking about.  You’ve seen those people sitting in front of some control panel, flipping hundreds of switches while turning thousands of dials,  with ease.   They make the complex look effortless.

Since I cannot type a complete blog post without making even the most basic typing mistakes, I know I am not one of those people.  I press the wrong buttons all the time.  I don’t know how often I close apps on my phone only to have to reopen them a second or two later.

Today, however, I was a superstar.  I liken it to flying a jumbo jet while doing a Sudoku….okay, not that well, but still I was on my multi-tasking game today.

I was teaching online–as I will be for the foreseeable future–and really having to put my skills to the test.  I had students online who needed to have their discussion monitored.  I had students sending me emails and then following those emails up with chats (which, unlike the email they sent,  pop up and announce their neediness with great volume).  I also had a student in the class asking side questions that they did not want to ask in front of everyone.  What’s more, I had a student in Brazil who couldn’t connect to the system, but was able to follow the class through the chat.  They couldn’t see or hear the other students–or me for that matter–but they gamely tried to follow and even managed to interact a little.

Yes, some of these things could be easily put off, but for that class, I managed to keep it all moving and satisfying everyone’s needs.  I fired off chat responses while still listening.  I attached files before they were asked for.  I kept my eyes on the class, the chat, and the wayward students.  When I finally landed that jumbo jet, I thought I was done.  Of course, home tasks never end and I still had plenty to do.

Posted in computers, ESL, online, perfect moment, students, tasks, teaching, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On the Sidewalk


Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The temperature reached above 20 and the sun was shining.  What a fantastic day to head out for a walk.  Not surprising, many others had the same idea.  Had I been on my bike, it probably would have looked like a club ride without the club.

We went out for a walk of a little over an hour.  We got to see some lovely houses, some simple houses, and some houses which will be bulldozed to make room for huge condominium towers.  We encountered “closed” parks and greenway trails that people were still using.  We even found some wildlife.

I could wax lyrical about how great it was to get outside, but since most of us are in the same boat, you probably understand it in your bones and my words would fail to be any more precise.  I should note that the weather hasn’t been this great this year.  While winter was not a terrible beast, it did seem to hang around longer than anyone wanted and the weather has been cool.

After today, I completely forgot about that.  Sadly, the weather forecast doesn’t expect it to happen two days in a row.  Since I will be stuck inside working until well into the afternoon, I am going to pretend that I didn’t read that.

While the weather was great, the perfect moment was running across our fine feathered friend above.  It barely moved when we went by–which was a far cry from the sharp veering that everyone, including us, did when encountering someone.  We are all getting good at physically distancing ourselves.

Posted in perfect moment, seasons, Spring, walking, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Responding to a Fellow Blogger

person writing on brown printer paper

Photo by cottonbro on

I am following about 270 bloggers.  That seems like a lot, but since I haven’t cleaned it out in a while, I am sure the number of active bloggers is around 30, certainly less than 50.  Most are cyclists, a bunch are travelers, some are craft makers, and a few represent something completely different.  One of them is RetroDee.  She writes a unique blog that hearkens back to the 1950s and the music of Buddy Holly.  She writes from both a knowledgeable perspective and a personal one.  I urge you to give it some attention.

She also nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger award.  I am not going to go through all the rules, or nominate people, or make deep philosophical questions and stuff because that never works out for me.  I have nominated probably close to a hundred people for these awards and only a few have ever responded.  I get it.  It’s either a pain or it really isn’t why people are doing this.  No problem.  I have learned my lesson.

However, I am touched that she nominated me and is publicizing me to her dedicated followers.  I am glad she thought of me and I hope my blog brings a smile to her face.  As a result, I will answer the questions she has taken time to write.  I am also glad because it gives me something to write about.

1.What’s your favorite spice?

If I am cooking my famous chicken sandwich, it has to be oregano.  It makes the chicken taste even better.  I don’t have much of a spice rack.  My grandmother used to make these crescent rolls–more bread than pastry–with caraway seeds on the top.  They were fantastic.

2. Who is your favorite character of all time? (can be from anything)

I’ve got hundreds.  I have devoured books, TV and movies.  I like the heroes and the scoundrels, the detectives and the criminals, the pure and the evil.  Really, it all depends on how good the writer is.

3. Do you believe in Aliens?

I have always been into science fiction, so this only seems natural to me.  Also, and I believe this is a quote from Calvin and Hobbes, the surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is that they haven’t contacted us yet.

4. Do you use social media and which is your favorite platform?

I have a bunch of them.  I have Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram.  They all have their uses, but I am not sure I really like any of them.  I like blogging, but if I am being honest, I wish I got more of a response from people.  My students love Instagram, but while I check it every day, I only post in spurts.

5. Do you remember your dreams the next morning?

I do when I wake up, but this fades as the day unfolds.  I dream quite a bit, especially when I sleep on my side.  I seem to be having a lot of dreams where I am traveling either by bike, bus, or plane.  I never seem to be driving in my dreams.

6. What is your favorite charitable cause?

I can’t say as I have one.  I want to help, but I am so filled with cynicism that I do not.  I heard that many charitable organizations use up their donations in the course of soliciting donations.  That doesn’t seem right to me.

I would like to give to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto.  They do some fantastic work.  I would like to find a cure for Crone’s disease.

I am currently interested in the program in Africa that gives bicycles to children so they can get to school faster.  I think that is awesome.

7. Do you collect anything?

I collect everything.  I’ve got a collector’s mentality without the collector’s organizational skills.  Currently my focus is on my stamp collection.  I am trying to collect every stamp issued from the year 1970.  There are enough to collect that it won’t finish too quickly and there aren’t as many expensive stamps as there would be in other years.  There are some expensive ones, but I am holding off until later before investing in them.

Digitally, I seem to be collecting woodworking vloggers on YouTube.  For reasons that I cannot explain, lately, I am fascinated by people making little wood projects.  There are so many talented and creative people with fantastically organized shops making some great videos.  Fortunately, I do not have space for this or I might launch myself into another hobby that is both expensive and time consuming.

8. Do you use curse words on at least a semi-regular basis?

I am surprisingly restrained in this area.  Of course we all reach levels of frustration.  In these times, I tend to blurt our words that are not normally in my vocabulary.  My girlfriend finds it cute and starts to laugh.  That usually diffuses my anger quite quickly.  On a strange note, when driving, I tend to swear in Japanese.

9. Would you like to go back in time and live in the 1950’s?

I don’t think it would be my first choice.  I am much better suited to go back to the 30’s when I could write pulp science fiction.  I also would like to have hung out with the lost generation.

I was an English Literature major in University.  And like Jim Croce said on one of his live albums, “I left University prepared for life in the 18th or 19th century.”

That being said, I would love to have owned a  57 T-bird, so getting the opportunity would be rather nice.  I also might have found work in television or movies during that time.

Upon reflection, I might have found comradeship in the life of the Beats, but then again maybe not.  They seem much better reflected through our current lens than actually living that life.

10. What’s your favorite Elvis song?

When I was young, it would have been Hound Dog.  However, on one flight to Japan, Air Canada was giving away Elvis EP CD’s in the in-flight magazine.  I took a few of them and when I gave one to a friend I was visiting in Japan, he became ecstatic that Suspicious Minds was on the CD.  He played the song non-stop that weekend.  He has since died, and I can’t help remembering him whenever I hear the song.  He was a great friend.

Posted in acceptance, accomplishment, achievement, award, blog, blog posts, blogging, blogposts, growing your blog, perfect moment, thanks, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Local Businesses Need Your Help

Vietnam 2017 003

It’s pretty clear that we need to support local businesses–both those that are still open throughout the crisis and those that manage to reopen after the crisis.  As great as it is to click a few buttons and order things through Amazon, we need to think more about our community.

Today I went and got takeout from Granny’s Fish and Chips.  I’ve been going there sporadically for years.  Despite my sporadic visits, they seem to have remembered my name.  I guess that means one of three things.  It could be that my visits are not nearly as infrequent as I claim.  It could mean that they are just good at customer service—who doesn’t feel warmth when someone remembers their name.  It could also mean that I have made somewhat of an impression on them.  The last is possible because in the early days, I was one of the few who realized the family who owned and worked there were Korean and not Chinese.  I also know how to say thank you in Korean, and know how to hand money over with two hands–you’d be surprised at how much of an impression this makes.

Although the shop cannot take in any sit down customers, they seem to be managing.  They’ve got lots of pick up orders and some of those food delivery services are working with them.  I saw an iPad on the counter.  This was a clear indication that they were taking steps to keep their business open.  I feel pretty confident that they will navigate this crisis.

In the next plaza to them is my favourite shawarma place and they, like a lot of places that weren’t able to find a solution, are not open at all.  This doesn’t make me happy, but I hope they survive long enough to open again.  They were a thriving business because their food was delicious.  I am planning on being one of the first customers upon reopening.

Today’s Perfect Moment is supporting local small businesses and the people that work there.  My order isn’t going to set them up for life, but it is part of a wider effort that we all can be part of.

Posted in Aurora, business, fish and chips, help, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments