Last Sunday, I missed the premiere of Mad Men Season 7. Don’t ask me how it happened, because I couldn’t really tell you. (I hang my head in puzzlement and confusion as I write this.) Since the end of Season 6, I kept tabs on AMC forums and other social media for my in-between-seasons news fix about the show and its actors. But for some reason, I thought Episode 1 was to air Easter weekend.

Imagine my surprise earlier this week when I saw people on Facebook talking about the latest adventures of Jon Hamm et al. I waited almost a year for the start of Season 7 and I missed it? Say it wasn’t so! I must confess, I panicked. I looked for repeat air dates on the online TV guide I use. I had missed those too! Then I remembered seeing Mad Men Season 6 on VOD. So I went looking for Episode 1 of Season 7 on video on demand and there it was. Over the weekend, I’ve made up for lost time. I’ve seen it three times since mid-week when it first appeared and I’m now I’m ready for Episode 2 later this evening. I won’t make that mistake again that’s for sure!

It was summertime, 2007. I was bored, muttering the typical complaint underneath my breath of having all these cable stations, but there was nothing to watch. I was clicking through the stations just trying to find a movie. Then I stumbled on “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and I was hooked.

Before Mad Men I don’t ever remember experiencing a television show like I would a movie: the characters are multidimensional; it looks and feels like European cinematography; the  story lines in each episode are intricately layered. I’m sure there must be well-crafted TV shows before Mad Men, but I just had never been aware of it before.

Although, I still can’t believe this is the last season. I knew that Matt Weiner had always planned to end the series in the 60s – he said he couldn’t visualize them in the next decade. I didn’t realize that Season 6 ended in November of 1968 and Season 7 opens in January of 1969. I need more time with Don Draper…one more season just isn’t enough.

 

I can’t remember how I discovered that my father liked one of my favourite contemporary authors, John le Carré, as much as I did. But I do recall that it was after reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for the third time.

Le Carré’s spy thrillers have been a constant in my life. After my dad passed away in 2011, I stopped reading him. But up until that point I owned all of the author’s books, reading all of the ones in my possession more than once. I have lost count of the number of time I’ve reread “Tinker, Tailor.”

So it should have come as no surprise to me that, after inheriting a large portion of my father’s library, that I should now have John le Carré squared. Of course, there were none of the author’s later releases due to the fact that dad could no longer read books as he once had. But when I unpacked the boxes from Winnipeg, the Le Carrés took up double the space. It seemed wrong to get rid of them; as if I was disposing of a father rather than duplicate titles. (Irrational, I know). That was in 2011, and they have been there ever since.

Dusting the bookshelves earlier today, I made an executive decision about John le Carré and his merry band of doubles. My dad’s books were hardcovers, so it was easy for me to keep those ones and donate the paperbacks.  Of the two duplicate hardback titles, I kept my father’s copies of The Little Drummer Girl (mine was in very bad shape) and Single & Single (while in good shape, the cover was sticky even after removing the book jacket).

I have weeded the shelves and ferried the doubles down to our laundry room where we put freebies to be adopted. I trust my John le Carré spy thrillers have gone to good homes.

And yes, for any mathematicians out there who are tempted to email me, I do know the difference between 2x and x squared, but I couldn’t resist the play on words.

Something tells her that there is a bridge she should cross. Possibly burn just to see the pretty flames. Maybe not burn; not yet; not now. But she should definitely put one foot in front of the other and move; move forward. Yes. Yes. Yes, she needs a bridge to walk across; to get to the other side; to explore a new place she’s been before, but forgot to remember.”

North Vancouver from Coal Harbour

Today’s outing took me to Coal Harbour. Some of the most expensive real estate can be found here. The steps lead to a water park that’s popular in the summer time with kids of all ages.

Vancouver Buildings facing Coal Harbour

I used to work  nearby and would often come here to sit in the sun be the water – eat lunch, people watch and blow away cobwebs. While technically spring, there’s still a chill to the air. So I walked for awhile along the Seawall, toward Stanley Park before heading back home to do some more writing.

Coal Harbour facing Stanley Park

Corner cupboard recipe collection

Recipe collection’s original home

This is where the journey of my mother’s recipe collection begins. The top shelf of this corner kitchen cupboard housed my mother’s recipes, including all of her cookbooks. Over the years, the recipe shelf became pretty full. They remained there long after my mother had any use for them, until my father had to clear the cupboard out in preparation of selling the house in 2008.

I can just picture my father staring at this sea of newspaper clippings; the colourful recipe index cards they hand out to shoppers as promotions on Saturdays in grocery stores; cooking books with aging spines and spattered covers; and (my personal favourite) handwritten recipes scrawled for posterity on bits and pieces of scrap paper. His solution was to parcel everything up (unsorted) and mail it me in Vancouver.

My mother's cookbooks

From in a corner cupboard in Winnipeg to on top of my kitchen cabinets

As I unpacked the contents they came in, the cookbooks, envelopes of recipes, loose recipe index cards and clippings seemed endless. I found unused magazine file boxes and stuffed them with anything that wouldn’t stand up on its own. The cookbooks were double their original size because of my mother’s additions – loose recipes, household tips snipped from newspapers and magazines, even the actual packaging with recipes printed on the flattened cardboard box or the cellophane wrapper. I removed the loose recipes and household tips, adding them to the file boxes. Then I parked the whole lot in the space above the kitchen cabinets. Where they remained for several year. (Well, okay, since they were mailed to me in 2008). After deciding to organize my kitchen last summer, I was forced to rethink the recipe collection.

I bought a black plastic legal organizer with 5 different coloured file folders (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desserts, Appetizers/Soups/Dips) at Staples. I cleared off the bookshelves of the small bookcase underneath the Jazz Portrait. It’s going slowly and I still have a lot of fine sorting and paper recycling to do (so far I have counted 22 pickle recipes).

My mother's recipes finally organized

Transformed into a manageable system of file boxes and a portable hanging file

Now I can just turn the corner to grab a cookbook or the appropriate recipe folder rather than get the step-stool and haul it down from the top shelf.

The last time he saw the house he built for his wife in 1962, just in time for the bairn they were expecting, was over his right shoulder as he twisted around in the passenger seat of what was once his car. As the automobile pulled slowly away from the curb, he experienced the disorienting sensation that it was the house that was sliding backwards, rather than his moving forward. He stayed twisted, looking back, trying to keep the red brick house in his sight line for as long as possible.”

Mink Chocolate West Hastings

Tomorrow is my birthday. Another year older; another year younger; another year wiser; another year to explore. Should the universe be listening, to help make it a memorable year, here is my birthday wish list for 2014.

In no particular order:

  • A bottle of Elie Saab perfume. Or better yet, a dress designed by ES to wear to my Oscar party
  • Ferrari 458 Italia – no I haven’t abandoned my dream of owning a Lambo – the Italia is just for fun until my real car comes along
  • All-expenses paid trip to Monaco Grand Prix (May 25th)
  • Lifetime maid service. But I’d be grateful for even just a year
  • Books either for reading or writing in. A journal should have a picture on the cover of something inspiring like a map of an imaginary place; Hemingway’s Paris; a Mediterranean landscape
  • A spa day
  • Amethyst jewelry – because it’s my birthstone (and because it’s purple!)
  • Complete DVD set of Homeland (seasons 1,2 and 3) – Brad Pitt will always be the keeper of my heart, but Damien Lewis is first alternate for the dubious honour

Dear Universe, I know it’s short notice, but if none of the above is possible within the aforementioned time frame, the old standby will do. Just send chocolate.

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