Sunday, June 11, 2006

Last weekend was a time for eating -- it was the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, which was fabulous and very yummy. All of the local restaurants, and many BC wineries, set up in the lovely Tofino Botanical Gardens. It was the first sunny day in awhile and was just a great day visiting with friends, wandering through the gardens, sipping on some lovely wines and eating great food. Tres decadent. My favourite munchie was definitely the crispy wonton filled with shrimp and veggies from the restaurant Shelter.

This weekend it was pay back time for last weekend -- I was asked at the last minute to be on a relay team for the Edge-to-Edge marathon (relay version). The race was today and I ran the 4th leg (7.8 km). Felt pretty good and we did well, primarily because our last leg was "wheeled" by our friend Pam, who zipped along on her recumbent bike. Huge admiration for the marathoners who tackled this route -- there are a surprising number of hills given the relatively flat geography in this area.

No books to recommend about running, but, as far as food books go, I'd definitely recommend all of Ruth Reichl's books -- Tender At the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic & Sapphires. The triology recount her life from a young child thrown into the world of cooking (her mother had many challenges; she was a terrible cook but occasionally would throw dinner parties where she was known to give her guests food poisoning), through her time running a restaurant and living in a commune in Berkley, to being the New York Times restaurant critic. Reichl, who is now the editor of Gourmet, is a very funny writer and she's had a pretty interesting life. Good beach reading I think. Tender at the Bone was my favourite. Here's Reading Group Notes and a review from Salon, if you want to know more.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Can you spell dasyphyllous?
I've no idea what it means and probably couldn't spell it if asked, so congratulations are in order for 14-year-old Finola Hackett from Tofield, Alberta who placed second in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (And all of the other, especially the Canadian, finalists!) I love words, but I would have been lost if I'd been asked to spell maieutic or koine, too. Off to find the dictionary... (If you're in doubt as to the excitement factor of spelling bees, check out the film Spellbound. At the end you could have heard the proverbial pin drop at our house, followed by the collective release of held breath.)

The Crazy Man
As any of you interested in children's lit. will know, The Crazy Man by Pamela Porter won this year's GG in the children's lit. category. I'd read a few reviews and decided to give it a read. My copy from the library arrived just as we were to go on a road trip so I read it to my family as we were driving. All of us, ages 9 to 52, were captivated by the story of Emaline and "the crazy man", Angus. The story is told in a prose poem, which was intriguing to me and new to my children, but it really worked. My husband, who once worked at a "mental" (a terrible name, I know, but that sentiment was fairly common I believe) and grew up in a town that could very well have been the one in the novel, said it captured the essence of small prairie town life in the '50s wonderfully. Emaline, Angus, the mother, father, Mei, the neighbours (who think the presence of the "crazy man" next door is a threat to their safety), ... every character is very believable and you've just got to love a character "who can speak meadowlark" and "see colors around people." After that weekend, I bought the book. It is one I know I will come back to time and again.

The Crazy Man is published by Groundwood Books.
Cover illustration above by Karine Daisay

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Welcome to my blog. Why "Tough City" you might ask? It's anyone's guess since the place where I live is neither tough, nor a city. Lots of people in town have ideas about how our home got this nickname, but I don't think anyone knows for sure. It's probably just a shortened version of our town's name, which is on an island in Canada. I'll leave it at that. If you've been here, you probably know where I'm talking about.

One thing in my blog's title that is true is that I'm a writer. I'm not sure what this blog will bring, but it will probably have something to do with writing and reading, and that thing called life that feeds into all that creativity. Or, if nothing else, it's a darn good place to procrastinate.