Pat Blythe – Book report, food porn…..and music

I’m finding more tidbits of material and articles of interest as I go through files, newsfeeds and a rather stocked bookcase in my kitchen. Primarily a home for my many cookbooks, there are odds and sods of non food-related novels, appliance directions, clippings, etc. I find myself, over the years, spending more time dusting them off than actually using them. I confess I am a huge lover of food porn.

So, continuing to avoid pandemic and politically-related “news”, I’ve decided to continue on my trippy little path down nonsense lane….at least for a bit. In my ever slow-moving process of purging, downsizing, eliminating, eradicating, cleaning out, expulsion (I could keep going) of unnecessary (and unused) possessions,  I’ve also reached out to my two sons to see if there is anything they would like to rescue. Number one son (the elder) sprints in the opposite direction. Number two son (the younger) has a keen interest in cooking so I remain in a holding pattern until such time as he can check them out. Meanwhile……I continue sorting and this column may yet turn into a book report! Oh wait……it did!

Find number one…..Women and Fatigue

This fascinating little paperback, authored by Dr. Marion Hilliard, Chief Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto number, was originally published in 1960. Apparently one of the key questions she was constantly asked by her patients was, “but doctor, why am I so tired”? I can think of a million answers to this one as I’m sure every woman reading this can.

Chapter Five — Alas, ‘Tis Our Frailty…..I once read a book called The Weaker Vessel about women from medieval times to the 20th century. The titles will fool you. Although perceived as the “weaker sex” or “fragile”, women are in fact quite the opposite. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Catherine of Aragon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks….these women are just miniscule examples of the inner strength and fortitudes of a woman. Hilliard reviews the three phases or stages of a woman’s life; adolescence, childbearing years and menopause, and how these affect us physically, emotionally and psychologically. Many of her observations or comments have a very 1960s approach to them, but in many ways she was ahead of her time.

Chapter Six — A Time to Be Born and A Time to Die (I think The Byrds have that one cornered) and I quote, “A woman who has succeeded in making herself look younger than she is has a special hazard. Every time she looks at herself in the mirror, she puts herself in competition with her real age all over again.” I had to read that one over a few times and it actually makes sense. Another point goes on to say that as we age, we fight to become younger, to become friends with our children rather than parents. Hilliard quotes a Noel Coward song, “What’s going to happen to the children when there aren’t any more grownups?”

Dr Marion Hilliard

Other chapters are entitled Trapped by Her Own Adaptability (might be some truth in that), It’s Not All in Your Mind (no but YOU think it is), but my favourite chapter is Too Tired to Love (translation, not tonight dear, I have a headache).

Hilliard, who never married, did most of her studies in England and Dublin. She delivered up to 50 babies a month, collaborated with Dr. Eva MacDonald to develop a simplified PAP test, excelled at sports and the piano, and wrote another book prior to Women and Fatigue. She died at the very young age of 56.

Cookbooks rule!!!

So…..have I ever mentioned I like to putter in the kitchen?  Apparently I also like to collect cookbooks. Many of those books were purchased on trips overseas, many at my favourite bookstore in the Beach. I could spend hours perusing the huge table displays of beautiful coffee table cookbooks…..the photos were spectacular. It was pretty much guaranteed I’d walk home with at least two. I don’t buy them for the recipes, although there was always intent.

I also purchased many specifically for Chris. Our kitchen was sometimes one big science lab as he constantly tested out new recipes, experimenting with, and changing up ingredients while making copious notes on any spare scrap of paper he could find. (yep, I still have them all) Many books are quite dog-eared from Chris’s continued reference, whereas I have looked in them maybe once or twice.

Those seven shelves are filled with a collection that includes Jamie Oliver (whose restaurant Fifteen in London, England I managed to dine in four times), Julia Child (I still make her beef bourguignon), The Joy of Cooking (three different printings); books on coffee, chocolate, a small book collection of old British recipes, more chocolate and coffee, The Ultimate Cookie, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Christmas Cookies, Fabulous Feast (medieval recipes and yes, I’ve actually made a couple of those), Bernard Clayton, Taste: The Story of Britain through its Cooking, and so, so many more. I can count on three fingers which ones I return to over and over and over…….Fanny Farmer, The Joy of Cooking and Nellie Lyle Pattinson’s Gide to Cooking – The Basic Cookbook.

Then there are the magazines…..Fine Cooking, the LCBO’s magazine Food & Drink, a Martha Stewart here and there, and some small Reader’s Digest size series of recipes. There are books on laundry, cleaning, kitchen utensils (what you need, what you really, really need), another on general household tips including Mrs. Beeton’s (look her up) There are family recipes stuffed away in folders and binders, some going back a few generations. I’m clipping, sorting, repairing and remembering. I’m also giving away (not all but most) so if there’s anyone out there requiring/needing/wanting one more cookbook or collects cooking magazines or any type of food/kitchen book, let me know. I probably have one…..and I haven’t even started on the gardening books!

Pandemic couture…..

Spring is just around the corner and all thoughts turn to spring in Paris and all those glorious fashion shows. Okay, maybe you’re not, but the fashion houses are working up a sweat, and it’s not from hours spent behind the sewing machine. You know that saying, one step forward, two steps back…..well here we are, almost a year later and I’d say we’re more like ten steps back. So of course, top of mind for fashion designers and the Paris runways…..Can Haute Couture Withstand the Sweatpants Trend? Not exactly what I think about on a daily basis, but with everything shut down, what’s a designer to do???

Haute couture is painstakingly crafted and detailed from the initial design to the final product. Beginning with an idea, sketching, patterning, stitching, embroidery, handmade buttons, sizing, more stitching, all taking thousands of hours for each individual garment before it finally it makes it to the runway in someone’s seasonal collection. Vogue refers to it as care, craft and construction…..the three C’s of fashion. Thing is, even the folks that have the money to spend on swank are buying comfort. Who’s going to the opera gala these days? I can see it now…..haute couture baby dolls and bunny slippers. As for those fur-lined, rhinestone studded sweat pants……

Your own secret garden room…..

So what is a garden room? Well, according to an article by Elizabeth Waddington, “the idea involves creating different and distinct areas in your garden just as you might do in your home.” Bringing the indoors outdoors has been popular concept for several years now. Many back decks and backyards are set up as an extension of the house complete with outdoor kitchens, plush furnishings, brick ovens and seating for eight at the dinner table. Now it’s time to focus on the greenery.

Creating “garden rooms” are not necessarily for entertaining but more like small, private spaces of quiet and peace or for cozy conversation. Creating different atmospheres by using different plants, you can zone areas for specific uses. You can section off your “rooms” with hedgerows; plant a living fence using bamboo, tall grasses or a trellis covered in vines and assorted climbing plants; make a vertical garden structure and plant it with edible crops and herbs, or make a stone wall. To keep it really simple, leave an un-mowed area between the gardens and let them grow wild.

Living fence

Waddington adds, “in addition to thinking about how you will create the partitions…you should also consider how you travel between them.” Moving from one garden room to the next might involve walking through a gap in a planting, climbing over a style, walking through an archway or gate or following a winding pathway that roams from one space to the next.

Flowers and plants are calming and tranquil. They can afford you your own little oasis if you live in the middle of a noisy, busy city. If you’re lucky enough to have a small little patch of green, think about creating your own secret garden room.

One last note….

Today is the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. It’s a day we’ve all been holding our collective breath for, for four long, tumultuous, cliff hanging years. The past 48 months have brought so much pain, confusion, sorrow, bitterness and hate; it’s bled into the rest of the world. The recent days leading up to this momentous occasion have been surreal….like watching a horror movie, only it was happening in real life and in our biggest backyard.

We wish you good health and much luck, President Biden and Vice-President Harris!

Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris are the light and the hope at the end of this long dark tunnel. It’s going to be a lengthy and arduous journey ahead, not only for these two, but for their successors. They are just the beginning. We have to remember; they are human and will make mistakes. They are not perfect and cannot singlehandedly solve the disease of hate that is running rampant through our southern neighbours. With confidence and sure footedness they must pick up the bits and pieces and put them together again. With compassion, thoughtfulness and understanding, they must tend to the wounds the past four years have ripped open. It begins today at noon.

Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

Saved – Alfie Zappacosta

This video of my song “Best Of Me” is dedicated to the victims of domestic violence. As a long time DV advocate, I wanted to write a song with a message that may perhaps reach a victim in need and inspire them to reach out for help to begin the journey of freedom and healing –Kathryn Grimm

The Best of Me – Kathryn Grimm

I do believe the 45 is still tucked away somewhere at my mom’s house. I’ll have to dig it up. One of my all time favourites, the following song never fails to put a smile on my face. This video was forwarded to me yesterday and was a great way to wake up in the morning. A wonderful reminder of some great music. Tss tss…..

Incense and Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock

Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds

A ridiculously absurd video from 1968…..The Lemon Pipers were a psychedelic rock band forced to go bubble-gum by their record label.  However, the song……classic!

Green Tambourine – The Lemon Pipers

There are two versions of the following song, this one and another recorded by Cats and Dogs. The one associated with the link below is the one I have on my phone and laptop. I love, love, love this version. It can bring me to tears, make me terribly nostalgic or simply smile. It is my favourite Segarini song. There is no YouTube video so give the link below a click. Listen! You’ll fall in love with it too.

https://soundcloud.com/segarini-1/groucho-marx?fbclid=IwAR2_t5M_DSl1w-bktad052nMLljlbuCrAKxgJsMy3y1_DIn6E7kxV4mJDDI

World’s A Bitch – Church of Trees (featuring Carole Pope)

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

Cheers!

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

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