the haunted mill

April 30th, 2009 § Comments Off on the haunted mill § permalink

I had a lovely time at the Ottawa Writers’ Festival. It’s always so much fun to meet the kids. Yes, there was the usual confusion, but mostly, the festival went without a hitch.

At one school, the kids were enthralled to learn of the haunted mill in The Odds Get Even. Turns out, they have a real live haunted mill in their neighbourhood!

So there I was chattering away about the mill when several dozen small hands shot wildly in the air. “We have a haunted mill too!” the kids cried.

They couldn’t wait to regale me with stories of their very own haunted ruins. Turns out the wife of one of the mill owners caught her dress in the wheel and was swept into the machine. Now her sad ghost wanders the building, peering out of windows at innocent passers by. Her nervous footsteps can be heard creaking across the old wooden floor. How exciting is that?!

After my presentation, the librarian gave me directions to the mill. It’s located in a small town called Manotick, just a short drive from St. Mary’s School.

When we arrived, the door was open so my husband and I slipped inside where I was able to take some photos. It seemed we were the only ones in the building. It was deathly quiet. But then the distinct sound of footsteps made the floorboards creak. We turned around, our hearts in our throats. There, standing at the bottom of the stairs, was a man staring back at us! Was it the ghost of the haunted mill??!

No, just some guy restoring the windows…
…or so he says…

He kicked us out and told us we couldn’t see the upstairs.
Oh well.

When we left the building, a man fishing off the bridge asked if we’d seen any ghosts…
My husband and I looked at each other. Had we…? Muaaaahaha!

in praise of wild leeks

April 30th, 2009 § Comments Off on in praise of wild leeks § permalink

Gathering wild leeks is a an annual event in our household. We travel north to the Bruce Peninsula to walk through the woods and gather some of these seasonal delicacies. Wild leeks, also known as ramps, are one of the first edibles to poke their lovely green fingers through the spring soil in Ontario. And for anyone game enough to seek them out, the rewards are well worth the effort.

Of course we never just go to gather leeks. We hike for hours and bring a lunch, spending the day in the woods. Occasionally, we cross paths with another couple or two but mostly we have the forest to ourselves. The chipmunks and snakes know we’re there, as do the turkey vultures, effortlessly riding the thermals, skimming swiftly overhead as we eat our lunch on a cliff face.

But then it’s home again with green treasure in hand. A little piece of trout, a potato or two, and dinner is served. This year, we also made fresh leek and potato salad, leek and potato soup and braised leeks with scallops. Thank you, Mother.

Nightschool is in

April 24th, 2009 § Comments Off on Nightschool is in § permalink

I met my gal pal Svetlana Chmakova at her Nightschool signing last night. I walked into the bookstore (Labyrinth on Bloor), to find a crowd of starry-eyed young girls crowded around Svet’s table. It was so cute! They all insisted on having their pictures taken with Svet. They even brought her a bouquet of gerbera daisies.

Nightschool is the newest manga creation by Svet, one of the most talented and brilliant people I know. Her series, Dramacon, shot her into the international spotlight, and Nightschool is poised to take the manga world by storm. I’m very excited to see the response it receives.

and then there was strawberry pie…

April 14th, 2009 § Comments Off on and then there was strawberry pie… § permalink

It’s always a challenge to make something yummy for Easter dessert for my clan. We are a family with special needs, to say the least. The litany of food allergies keeps me on my toes in the kitchen. This year, I had to create something free of gluten, eggs, additives, soy and dairy. Wow. I thought of bringing a pie plate full of baked spring water. But then inspiration struck! What about fresh strawberry pie?

I love fresh strawberry pie. In fact, my friend Cathy and I used to go to the Book Shelf in Guelph to order pieces of said pie whenever they were available. We loved this pie so much that we even ate the extra piece she purchased to take home to her boyfriend. We felt mildly guilty but it didn’t matter because he turned out to be a lemon in the end. But the strawberry pie didn’t disappoint!

The best part of all is that making fresh strawberry pie is a breeze. The hardest part was the crust, which I scratch built – a scrumptious shortbread delicacy. So good that my oldest sister, who is always on some kind of diet regime, asked for a second piece. But alas, there was only enough to go around once. I think fresh strawberry pie will be an annual event from now on.

Harry’s Spring Run Off

April 4th, 2009 § Comments Off on Harry’s Spring Run Off § permalink

Thousands of people braved the cold and wind today to run in Harry’s Spring Run Off in High Park, an annual charity run to raise money for prostate cancer. I was there on the sidelines, cheering for my daughter who has been asked to run as a rep for New Balance shoes. New Balance kitted her out in some fine gear. It was so exciting to see her running and to be part of this incredible event.

My sister and I shouted encouragement to the thousands of runners, some with dogs, some with babies in strollers, some with gold pants and green hair. The energy was high and the event was well organized. People were in great spirits, very friendly and helpful. One lovely couple standing next to me on the sidelines gave me a pair of gloves for my daughter to wear because it was so cold out. What a lovely and generous thing to do. Another great day in the city.

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