Issuu on Google+

O U R S P E CIA L I S S U E !

MOST READ MOST TRUSTED DECEMBER 2016

STORIES THAT CELEBRATE

THE MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS PAGE 46

HOW GRATITUDE CHANGES YOU PAGE 114

AN UNCONVENTIONAL CHRISTMAS PAGE 124

REBUILDING FORT McMURRAY PAGE 70

THE 12 DAYS OF NO-GOOD GIFTS PAGE 112

HARD FACTS ON HEADACHES PAGE 56

Q&A WITH MIKE MYERS .................................... 18 KEEP YOUR BALANCE (AND AVOID FALLS) ...... 24 THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS! .................................... 159


Contents DECEMBER 2016

Cover Story

46

The Spirit of the Season Three heartwarming tales that demonstrate unexpected gifts may be the ultimate holiday treasure. JA M E S M I C H E N E R F R O M R E A D E R ’ S D I G E ST , D E C E M B E R 1 9 67 ; JA N E T I C E F R O M T H E V I N Y L C A F É ; A N D DAV I D W I L S O N F R O M T H E U N I T E D C H U R C H O B S E RV E R

Health

56

The Invisible Epidemic Headaches affect half of all adults each year. So why are they so hard to diagnose? L I SA B E N DA L L

Family

62

Kiddo & Me Over time, the language that we use to describe disability has changed dramatically. But my relationship with my sister defies labels.

|

P.

62

L AU R E N M C K E O N F R O M H A Z L I T T

Inspiration

70

Mission Fort McMurray As the flames were being quelled and the ash was settling, Canadians from coast to coast stepped up to help Alberta residents rebuild their lives. V I B H U G A I R O L A , KAT I E H E W I T T, M E G A N J O N E S , C H R I S L AC K N E R , SA R A H L I S S

MEREDITH SA DLER

A N D O M A R M O UA L L E M

Heart

80

Flower Shop Lessons

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAINA + WILSON; (MAKEUP) TAYLOR SAVAGE, JUDY INC USING MAC COSMETICS

How my part-time job helped me find the words to express love, grief and everything in between. A L I S H A G O R D E R F R O M T H E N E W YO R K T I M E S ADDITIONAL MEDIA IN OUR TABLET VERSIONS

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

1


Vol. 189

| No. 1,135

DECEMBER 2016

Travel

86 A Field Guide to Getting Lost Exploring the California coast with an old-school map and room to roam. PA S H A M A L L A F R O M T H E WA L R U S

Memoir

96 The Chosen Path For Alison Pick, a conversation overheard at Christmas became the key to uncovering her Jewish identity. F R O M TA B L E T

Food

104 Why Tradition Matters Holiday meals are a ton of work. And they’re totally worth it. B O N N Y R E I C H E R T

F R O M B E ST H E A LT H

P.

|

96

Department of Wit

112 The Dirty Dozen My catastrophic 12 days of Christmas.

CO L I N N I S SA N F R O M M C SW E E N E Y ’ S

Life Lesson

114 The Power of Thank You Making gratitude an everyday habit can change your life.

SY D N E Y LO N E Y

Health

118 Bedroom Rumbles

Heart

124 Santa’s Helpers After his wife discovers a desperate plea addressed to the North Pole, Steve Albini joins her on a 20-year quest to support families in their community. F R O M T H E H U F F I N GTO N P O ST 2

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

THOM AS PI CK

Snoring is a reality for one-third of Canadian couples. Here’s how to cope. L I SA KA DA N E F R O M B E ST H E A LT H


P.

Humour

130 O’ Little Towns Confessions of a Christmas village fanatic. R I C H A R D K E L LY K E M I C K F R O M T H E WA L R U S

Travel

136 Behind the Palace Doors In India, one-time royals are inviting travellers to share in the high life. L I SA A B E N D F R O M A FA R

112

|

Editors’ Choice

144 Soul Food When Isabel Vincent said yes to weekly meals with her friend’s nonagenarian father, she knew he was a great cook. She didn’t know he’d be a great comfort, too. F R O M D I N N E R W I T H E DWA R D

6 Editor’s Letter 8 Contributors 10 Letters

READER FAVOURITES

KYLE METCA LF

12 Finish This Sentence

159 That’s Outrageous!

17 Life’s Like That

161 Brainteasers

22 Points to Ponder

163 Trivia Quiz

69 @ Work

164 Sudoku

94 As Kids See It 129 Laughter, the Best Medicine

165 Word Power 168 Quotes rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

3


ART OF LIVING

14 Hand Muffs for Peace Cindy Pandke, Kim Reid and Noelle Tangredi’s cozy creations soothe agitated dementia patients. KAT I E H E W I T T

RD Interview

18 Maple Glazed Funnyman Mike Myers on manners, Caesars and patriotic pride. CO U R T N E Y S H E A

P.

|

36

Family

34 All Together Now Host a gathering that everyone—at any age— will enjoy. L AU R A G R A N D E Food

36 Revealing Refreshments

Culture

20 RD Recommends Our top picks in books, movies and TV. SA R A H L I S S

What your holiday eating habits say about you. K E L S E Y K LO S S Travel

38 Capital Ideas

Health

24 Balancing Act How to reduce the risk of falling. SA M A N T H A R I D E O U T Health

Reasons to love Ottawa in winter. E M I LY K E N N E DY

GET SMART!

28 Case History SY D N E Y LO N E Y

Health

30 Painful Peepers? Two experts offer advice on irritated eyes. A I M É E W I C E 4

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

157 13 Things You Should

Know About Energy Conservation ANDREA BENNETT

160 Rd.ca/connect December website highlights.

MASTERFI LE

A medical mystery resolved.


Editor’s Letter A Celebration for All

Send an email to robert@rd.ca 6

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

ROGER AZ IZ

AT A FAMILY CHRISTMAS DINNER IN THE 1960s, my grandfather appeared at the table with a crate and a huge smile. From the box he produced an orange for each of the 20-odd people assembled. I didn’t know what to think of this unusual gift until my mother explained how rare and precious oranges had been in the winter months when my grandfather was a boy. He was drawing on a tradition he learned from his parents, who could afford such treats for their family only once a year. Ever since, I’ve looked at gifts differently—not for what they mean to me but for what they say about the person who bestows them. The spirit of the season can be expressed in many ways. I’m sure most of you have your own unique holiday traditions and memories of decorating trees or sharing meals with family and friends. I hope you’ll enjoy this special issue and its selection of festive tales. In particular, I recommend James Michener’s story about one transformative present that may well have sent him on the path to becoming a great novelist (“Ordinary Magic,” page 48). For many Canadians, this is a time for family, gratitude and celebration. We at Reader’s Digest wish you happy, safe holidays with your loved ones.


Published by the Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada Limited, Montreal, Canada

Christopher Dornan Chairman of the Board Robert Goyette Editor-in-Chief Karin Rossi Publisher Art Director Annelise Dekker Assistant Art Director Danielle Sayer Graphic Designer Pierre Loranger Project Manager Lisa Pigeon Circulation Director Edward Birkett Web Editor Brett Walther Contributors: Lisa Abend, Steve Albini, Roger Aziz, Graeme Bayliss,

Executive Editor Dominique Ritter Deputy Editor Stéphanie Verge Senior Editor Sarah Liss Assistant Editor Megan Jones Contributing Editor Samantha Rideout Proofreader Katie Moore Senior Researchers Vibhu Gairola, Rudy Lee Researchers Caitlin Agnew, Bob Anderson, Martha Beach, Andrea Bennett, Leslie Sponder, Daniel Viola Copy Editors Chad Fraser, Amy Harkness

Lisa Bendall, Andrea Bennett, João Canziani, Len Chapman, Marcel Danesi, Aimée Van Drimmelen, Jason Franson, Tom Froese, Vibhu Gairola, Alisha Gorder, Laura Grande, Katie Hewitt, Lisa Kadane, Richard Kelly Kemick, Kelsey Kloss, Susan Camilleri Konar, Janice Kun, Chris Lackner, Lemontree Photography, Sydney Loney, Pasha Malla, Lauren McKeon, Kyle Metcalf, James Mitchener, Omar Mouallem, Dave Murray, George Murray, Colin Nissan, Christina Palassio, Paul Paquet, Ian Patterson, Alison Pick, Bonny Reichart, Lucie Richard, Ian Riensche, Meredith Sadler, Dan Saelinger, Julie Saindon, Courtney Shea, Amarjeet Singh Nagi, Jane Tice, James Tse, Isabel Vincent, Colin Way, Aimée Wice, Carl Wiens, David Wilson, Raina + Wilson, Victor Wong

THE READER’S DIGEST ASSOCIATION (CANADA) ULC President Brian Kennedy Legal Barbara Robins Product Manager, Magazine Marketing Mirella Liberatore Production Manager Lisa Snow Advertising Account Managers Toronto Sandra Horton, Alan Milroy, Kathey Stanton Montreal Linda Desrochers, Pat Tramley Vancouver Robert Shaw Advertising Operations and Programmatic Manager Kim Le Sueur Manager, Marketing Solutions Erin Dwyer TRUSTED MEDIA BRANDS, INC. President and Chief Executive Officer Bonnie

Kintzer

Editor-in-Chief, International Magazines Raimo

Moysa

121 Bloor Street East, Suite 430, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5

VOL. 189, NO. 1,135 COPYRIGHT © 2016 BY READER’S DIGEST MAGAZINES CANADA LIMITED. Reproduction in any manner in whole or in part in English or other languages prohibited. All rights reserved throughout the world. Protection secured under International and PanAmerican copyright conventions. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40070677. Postage paid at Montreal. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 1100 René Lévesque Blvd. W., Montreal, QC H3B 5H5. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Print subscriptions, $32.97 a year, plus $8.99 postage, processing and handling. Please add applicable taxes. Outside Canada, $53.96 yearly, including postage, processing and handling. (Prices and postage subject to change without notice.) ISSN 0034-0413. Indexed by the Canadian Periodical Index.

Reader’s Digest publishes 10 issues per year and may occasionally publish extra, special and double issues (special and double issues count as two)‚ subject to change without notice.

HOW TO REACH US CUSTOMER SERVICE customer.service@readersdigest.ca Reader’s Digest Customer Care Centre, P.O. Box 970 Station Main, Markham, ON L3P 0K2 EDITORIAL OFFICE 1100 René Lévesque Blvd. W. | Montreal, QC H3B 5H5 | 514-940-0751 | editor@rd.ca, rd.ca FOR SERVICE TO SUBSCRIBERS Pay your bill, view your account online, change your address and browse our FAQs at rd.ca/contact. MAIL PREFERENCE Reader’s Digest maintains a record of your purchase and sweepstakes participation history for Customer Service and Marketing departments, which enables us to offer the best service possible along with quality products we believe will interest you. Occasionally, to allow our customers to be aware of other products and services that may be of interest to them, we provide this information to other companies. Should you wish, for any reason, not to receive such offers from other companies, please write to: Privacy Office, Reader’s Digest, P.O. Box 974, Station Main, Markham, ON L3P 0K6. You may also write to this address if you no longer wish to receive offers from Reader’s Digest or should you have any questions regarding your record or wish to examine or correct it.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

7


Contributors KATIE HEWITT

CARL WIENS

(Writer, “Hand Muffs for Peace,” page 14)

(Illustrator, “The Invisible Epidemic,” page 56)

Home base:

Home base: Belleville, Ont. Previously published in

Toronto. Previously published in The Globe and Mail and the National Post. All social change starts small. Even large movements need a few instigators with a personal connection to the cause. I don’t think I’d have the patience for knitting—I prefer to create with words. Plus, I’m allergic to wool.

LISA BENDALL

JANICE KUN

(Writer, “The Invisible Epidemic,” page 56)

(Illustrator, “Soul Food,” page 144)

Home base: Toronto. Previously

Home base: Toronto. Previously published in USC Dornsife

published in Zoomer and Canadian Living. I grab a pain reliever the

moment I feel the telltale pinch of a migraine coming on. I’ve learned the hard way that the longer I put that off, the harder it is to stop the discomfort. When you get a headache, cut yourself some slack. It’s easy to blame yourself or feel as though it’s all in your head—so to speak! 8

|

12 • 2016

|

The Wall Street Journal and Time. My son suffers from migraines occasionally, so I know how intense they are. I hope a cure can be developed to reduce the pain he and others experience. When I need inspiration, a long bike ride or a trip to a bookstore often helps me relax, reflect and recharge.

rd.ca

Magazine and Adirondack Life. My younger friends teach me to take risks and to follow the fun. My more seasoned friends help me to laugh at myself and avoid taking life so seriously. This story reminded me that sharing food bonds people. I can’t wait to make the cauliflower soup the author describes in the piece!


“Made you look. And yes, I’m wearing them.”

The core absorbs bladder leaks and odours in seconds. Hugs my curves for a discreet fit under clothes.

© 2016 P&G

Always Discreet for bladder leaks.


Letters READERS COMMENT ON OUR RECENT ISSUES

INCREDIBLE LIKENESS I really appreciate the illustrated portraits Aimée Van Drimmelen creates for the RD Interview each month. Lately I’ve been tracing them in an attempt to develop my drawing technique. I have a disability and don’t venture out much, which means going to a formal art class isn’t possible. Of course, I enjoy other parts of your magazine, but if you ever remove this lovely art, I may have to boycott Reader’s Digest! Keep up the great work.

Singersongwriter Buffy SainteMarie (June 2015)

SURROUNDED BY EXCELLENCE “The Greatest Canadian Neighbours” (July/August 2016) was a refreshing reminder that so many good people live in our communities. We need 10

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

more balance in the news, and I know I can count on Reader’s Digest to share positive stories. Thank you for your articles; they inspire, offer insights and spark laughter. SANDRA ELLERBECK, S t . A l b e r t , A l t a .

AIM ÉE VAN DRIM MELEN

MARLYN J. WALL, E d m o nt o n


POINT OF DISAGREEMENT Having been a dog owner for 67 years and a breeder for 30, I was very excited to read the article “50 Secrets Your Pet Won’t Tell You” (October 2016). While I normally love Reader’s Digest, some of the points in this piece gave me pause. For example, I was uncomfortable with No. 22, which instructs owners on how to groom dogs. Grooming your own pet is like trying to fix your own teeth—I think people should consult an expert. Go to the pros! KAY AYRES, Mo u n t Fo r e s t , O n t .

RETURN ON INVESTMENT I’m 87 years old and have been a loyal reader of the magazine for many decades. Back when I was a teenager, I learned about a promotion offering lifetime subscriptions to Reader’s Digest for $25. I’d been purchasing individual issues for 25 cents and was excited—the magazine was interesting, and it helped me build my vocabulary. I only had $12 to spare. Regretfully, I decided not to ask my

father to help with the remainder of the payment and passed up the deal. As I continue to subscribe to this day, I sometimes think of the lost investment opportunity. But then I stop to reflect on the real return—years of reading this informative and entertaining publication. RICHARD SHIBLEY, Ti ny , O n t .

THE CANADIAN WAY The July/August 2016 issue was an enjoyable read. I thought “An Alphabet of 26 Hilarious Things That Make Us Canadian” was very funny. But I was somewhat surprised—and annoyed—by David McGimpsey’s Photoshopped book covers, which poke fun at the Canadian literary scene. In the title of the fake book Sonnets for When Your Favorite Horse Looks Really Sad, “favourite” is spelled the American way. But we Canadians know better, eh? VERA TOSHAKOVSKI, R i c h m o n d Hi l l , O n t .

Published letters are edited for length and clarity.

We want to hear from you! Have something to say about an article you read in Reader’s Digest? Send your letters to letters@rd.ca. Please include your full name and address. Contribute Send us your funny jokes and anecdotes, and if we publish one in a print edition of Reader’s Digest, we’ll send you $50. To submit, visit rd.ca/joke. Original contributions (text and photos) become the property of The Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada Limited, and its affiliates, upon publication. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity, and may be reproduced in all print and electronic media. Receipt of your submission cannot be acknowledged.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

11


FINISH THIS SENTENCE

My favourite way to relax is to… …take a long drive down a country road with my camera. TARA WALKER, THREE HILLS, ALTA.

…lie under a willow tree, reading a great book. J.C. LINGARD, RED DEER, ALTA.

...head to Halifax’s Queensland Beach after a storm and

listen to the waves. DAWN WELTON, CHESTER, N.S.

…go camping. JIM SOLODIUK, WINNIPEG

…sit by my fireplace, watching the flames. BRENDA FOURNIER, PETIT-ROCHER, N.B.

…hang out with my amazing friends. BRYANNA YAU, TORONTO



Visit the Reader’s Digest Canada Facebook page for your chance to finish the next sentence.

12

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


ART of LIVING Cindy Pandke, Kim Reid and Noelle Tangredi’s cozy creations soothe agitated dementia patients

Hand Muffs for Peace BY KATIE H E WITT PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEMONTREE

!

WHEN CINDY PANDKE, 56, took a knitting class with her son in January 2015—his Christmas gift to her—she hadn’t picked up needles or yarn in more than 40 years. But she immediately remembered what she’d learned from her mother while growing up in St. Thomas, Ont.; after casting a few stitches, she was hooked. Pandke brought her supplies to St. Joseph’s Health Care in London, Ont., where she’s employed as an e-learning specialist, and set up a tutorial for her co-workers, Noelle Tangredi, 51, and Kim Reid, 59. The three women wanted their new lunchtime activity to be more 14

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

than a hobby—they hoped it could benefit others. At first, they tackled small projects: dishcloths for a women’s shelter and catnip pouches for an animal rescue. A couple of months after the tutorials began, Tangredi broached the idea of a hand muff—tube shaped and made with yarns of different textures—designed to provide tactile stimulation. The colleagues soon realized the fuzzy products might be able to help people in their very own workplace: the e-learning department shares a building with the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, where many patients have Alzheimer’s. ➸


Tangredi, Reid and Pandke (left to right) work with volunteers to make hand muffs—accommodating special requests, such as a HarleyDavidson theme—for facilities throughout London, Ont.


READER’S DIGEST

things incessantly. Finally, the knitTangredi understands well how wear goes through quality control to a restless mind can lead to physical ensure the embellishments are firmly agitation—especially fretful hands. secured before the muff is sewn up. Her mother was diagnosed with In later stages of dementia, patients Alzheimer’s in 1993 and passed become increasingly confused, which away a decade later, at age 79. A can cause them to lash out: “When favourite self-soothing mechanism someone is verbally or physically had been to pet a stuffed cat. One of the first recipients of a hand upset, this can be a result of anxiety, muff was a woman prone to outbursts mood disorders or fear,” says Dr. Sheri-Lynn Kane. A geriatrician at of yelling and pulling at her clothes. St. Joseph’s, Kane donated buttons to The handicraft “immediately calmed the cause after seeing her,” Tangredi says. It the muffs’ therapeutic has since become part “I think of of the patient’s regular Orders now come benefits. them like worry beads, treatment, written into in for children or any kind of repetitive her file so caregivers with autism— activity that can be keep it close by. Since the initial promuffs are calming soothing,” she says. Also lending a hand totype was completed and help them are local knitting cirin April 2015, the group self-regulate cles, including one at has donated 525 of their moods. the Little Red Mitten its “therapeutic hand in St. Thomas, where muffs for dementia” to Pandke and her son local organizations that work with patients suffering from the took their class, and a group in a nearby retirement home. Custom condition. The founders operate out orders now come in for children of their lunchroom, which is also with autism—muffs are calming and where they store tackle boxes full of help them self-regulate their moods. beads and buttons. Muffs are crafted The Christmas after Pandke took on-site during breaks or arrive nearly that knitting class, her father-in-law completed by other volunteers— suffered a stroke at the age of 101. mostly family and friends. Seeing him grab at his clothes and Next, it’s time for decorations, the bedding in his hospital room, or what the women call “doodads”: Pandke knew what to do. “He still shiny trinkets, beads on strings, butuses his muff at night when he’s tons and tassels—objects to occupy agitated,” she says. fidgety hands that tend to grab at 16

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


Life’s Like That

S USAN CAM ILLERI KONA R

“You shouldn’t have!” ON THE NIGHT BEFORE my daughter’s 10th birthday, I realized I didn’t have the “1” and “0” candles needed to top the cake. My 78-year-old father-in-law was visiting, so we jumped in the car and headed to the drugstore. While sorting through the numbered candles, I decided to grab an extra “1” to be ready for next year. At the checkout, the teenage cashier glanced at the candles, looked at my father-in-law and asked, “Is he 101 years old?” SAM BECKFORD, L a n g l e y , B . C .

SIZE MATTERS

As I was waiting at the vet’s office, a chihuahua walked in with its owner. The dog was quiet until a Rottweiler entered a few minutes later. As the tiny canine yapped and snarled, its owner calmly looked down and said, “Oh, please. The only way you could hurt that dog would be if you got stuck in its throat.” LINDA MARTIN Send us your original jokes! They could be worth $50. See page 11 or visit rd.ca/ joke for more details.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

17


THE RD INTERVIEW

Funnyman Mike Myers on manners, Caesars and patriotic pride

Maple Glazed BY COUR T N E Y S HE A ILLUSTRATION BY AIMÉE VAN DRIMMELEN

You were born and raised in this country but have lived elsewhere for most of your adult life. In your book, you say there is “nothing more Canadian than a Canadian who lives outside of Canada.” Discuss. When I go home, to Toronto, my jaw untightens. Civility doesn’t make headlines, but it’s very sexy to me. People ask me, ‘What’s the flavour of Canada?’ Like, Mexico is salsa, America is hot dogs and hamburgers. I say Canada is celery salt—it’s one of my favourites and it’s very subtle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not indelible. Celery salt also makes a great rim for a Caesar, which is another Canadian delight. A Caesar is the greatest drink and the toughest sell. “Clam juice and tomato juice—what?!” Just try it, I always say. 18

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


Your new tome, Canada, is a mix of history, psychology, photography, comedy and memoir. How do you imagine people reading it? At the risk of making it sound like a dessert topping and a floor wax—it’s at once a coffee-table book, a beach book, a stocking stuffer, a souvenir. Most people know you as a comedian and actor. Why write a book? It’s 53 years in the making, and it’s a chronology of the relationship between me and Canada. Del Close, the famous improv teacher, said, “Don’t invent, remember.” That’s what this is. There’s no delete option in my head: I tend to retain things. At one point you say Canadians have taken apology to a burlesque level. Is that something you’re guilty of? Comedian Kevin Nealon always used to do an impression of me that began with “In Canada” and ended with “sorry.” The trope I heard about Canadians my whole life is that we don’t have an identity, and I couldn’t disagree more. We know ourselves very, very well. We’ve chosen to do so many big things: universal health care, providing peacekeeping forces to the United Nations, inventing Pablum. These things are fantastic, but they’re not splashy.

With the splashier things, I think we do doubt ourselves. And when you combine that with the British sense of manners, you have an apologetic state. You claim to have learned about the United States from The Brady Bunch and Bewitched. How do you think Americans learn about Canadians? I don’t think they have. There’s a line in the book where a friend says, “Wow, you’ve got a lot of American friends and a lot of opinions about us.” I say, “Well, what do you guys think of us?” And he says, “We don’t.” You’ve been honoured many times by your home country—a star on our Walk of Fame, a street named after you, a stamp. Does any one accolade stick out? I was included in a CBC poll called The Greatest Canadian. Just to be part of that was pretty mind-blowing. I’d like to end by taking exception to your statement that poutine is not a Canadian dish but “just a topping.” I beg to differ. I was being facetious! What I was trying to say was that a single dish does not constitute a cuisine, and to build a case, I relegated poutine to a topping. I would like to state, for the record, that I am pro-poutine. Canada is available now.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

19


CULTURE

Our top picks in books, movies and TV

RD Recommends BY SA R A H L I SS

1

GILMORE GIRLS: A YEAR IN THE LIFE

Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, the loquacious mother-daughter duo at the heart of the dramedy Gilmore Girls, were more than just TV characters—they were cherished pals. So when news broke that the series, which went off the air in 2007, was being revived on Netflix, the fan response was nothing short of ecstatic. The four-part miniseries—broken down into “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer” and “Fall”—is like a reunion with your very best friends in your favourite place on earth. Nov. 25.

2

LEGACY: HOW FRENCH CANADIANS SHAPED NORTH AMERICA

André Pratte and Jonathan Kay, eds.

History is made by people, and this book, overseen by journalist André Pratte, traces centuries of it. In a curated collection of essays, celebrated Canadians (including Margaret Atwood, Ken Dryden and Lucien Bouchard) profile the groundbreakers (Gabrielle Roy, Jacques Plante and Henri Bourassa, among others) whose influence on this continent’s culture, politics and society is often overlooked. Nov. 8. 20

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

(GILMOR E GI RLS ) ROBERT VOETS /NETF LI X

DID YOU KNOW? Star Lauren Graham is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her second book, the autobiographical essay collection Talking as Fast as I Can, comes out Nov. 29.


3

MOONGLOW

Michael Chabon

(BILLY LYN N’ S LONG HALFTI ME WALK) MA RY CYBULSKI

A biography of sorts, Michael Chabon’s latest was inspired by conversations the author had with his dying grandfather in 1989. From those feverish revelations— long-buried secrets, snapshots of fighting in the Second World War, intimate glimpses into family relationships—Chabon teases out details that land somewhere between fact and fiction. Nov. 22.

5

4

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK

Based on the acclaimed novel about Iraq War veterans struggling with the aftermath of combat, this movie follows a baby-faced American soldier whose memories haunt him during a victory tour on home soil. Director Ang Lee, whose stylistic ingenuity made Life of Pi so remarkable, uses special effects and editing tricks to conjure the gut-roiling effects of posttraumatic stress disorder. Nov. 11.

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE

David France

In the mid-1980s, dozens of Americans were dying each week of a disease no doctor could figure out how to treat. Though the term “AIDS” was first articulated as early as 1982, government officials were abysmally slow to address the epidemic. The burden fell on grassroots activists, whose superhuman efforts are detailed by journalist and filmmaker David France in this meticulously researched, and emotionally devastating, literary counterpart to his Academy Award–nominated 2012 documentary. Nov. 29. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

21


Points to Ponder Women are hilarious. They’re dirty. They’re smart. They’re irreverent. But you don’t really see that on television. B a r o n e s s v o n S ke t c h S h o w c o - c r e a t o r JENNIFER WHALEN

Canada is a trading nation. It started with furs, wood, resources…. But because of local politics, we have more difficulty selling goods and services between our own provinces and territories than we do to and from the United States.

You never know where life will take you. I studied mime in Paris in the mid-1970s, then I moved to St. John’s, N.L., and got a job in radio! If you think you know where you’re going, you have another thing coming. JEANNE BEKER, in Canadian Living

It can seem as if we are living in a world where fact, truth and evidence no longer exert the rational pull they once did.

Fo r m e r M P MARTHA HALL FINDLAY,

P h i l o s o p h e r MARK KINGWELL,

in The Walrus

in The Globe and Mail

The best way to get a good sleep at night is to think that you belong in a society that’s steadily and smoothly moving forward, but that’s not human history. W r i t e r MALCOLM GLADWELL,

on Revisionist History, his new podcast

PHOTOS: (BEKER) PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE; (GLADWELL) ©ASLAN HABIB CHALOM/PEN AMERICAN CENTER.

QUOTES : (WHA LEN ) TORONTO STAR (JUN E 14, 2016); (HALL FI NDLAY ) JU LY 29, 201 6; ( BE K E R) SE PTE MBE R 201 6; (KIN GWELL) THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JUN E 18, 2016); (GLADWELL) C BC RAD IO’ S q (JU NE 1 5, 201 6) .

BY C H RISTINA PALASS IO


I really don’t understand why we’ve decided that feeding patients and students terrible food is okay. C h e f a n d a c t i v i s t JOSHNA MAHARAJ,

PHOTOS : (MA HA RAJ) MELI SSA YU; (M cLACHLI N) © SUPREM E COURT OF CANADA. PHOTO BY ROY G ROG AN.

on CBC Radio’s q

I’ve seen so many headlines … about the cost of the [Missing and Murdered Indigenous women] inquiry, and how it’s “higher than expected.” I wonder if the media will comment in the same way about the cost of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations we will be bombarded with in 2017.

Whistle-blowers must be encouraged, protected and given recognition for their courage. In corrupt situations, whistle-blowers—even if they’re participants—are the best sources of information. RICHARD POUND, f o u n d i n g

p r e s i d e n t o f t h e Wo r l d An t i - D o p i n g A g e n c y

C r e e a c t i v i s t ERICA VIOLET LEE, in Vice

Like every other human institutional endeavour, justice is an ongoing process. It is never done, never fully achieved. Each decade, each year, each month, indeed each day, brings new challenges. C h i e f Ju s t i c e BEVERLEY McLACHLIN

Style is the way we express who we are without speaking.

I’m happy that I captured them, so I can get a better sleep. To r o n t o n i a n ROBERTO VAZQUEZ, after he caught all 142 available Pokémon in the augmented reality game Pokémon Go

It is one of the profound ironies of Canada—and one that no one even thinks about: although we praise multiculturalism and have even placed the idea in the Constitution, we are the most integrationist country in the Western world.

Fa s h i o n P o l i c e c o - h o s t

G l o b e a n d Ma i l c o l u m n i s t

BRAD GORESKI, in Hello!

JEFFREY SIMPSON, in his final column

QUOTES: (MAHARAJ) JULY 8, 2016; (LEE) AUG. 3, 2016; (McLACHLIN) CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS; (GORESKI) (MAY 9, 2016; (POUND) THE GLOBE AND MAIL (AUG. 6, 2016); (VAZQUEZ) VICE ( AUG. 4, 2016); (SIMPSON) JULY 1, 2016.


HEALTH

How to reduce the risk of falling

Balancing Act ! ACCIDENTAL TUMBLES MAY

be a staple of slapstick, but they’re no laughing matter for older people. Though only around 10 per cent of seniors’ falls result in a fracture or another serious injury, many people still end up with “post-fall syndrome,” a diminished sense of safety and a loss of confidence that can lead to social withdrawal, loneliness and depression. Some of the risk factors for falls— arthritis, reduced reflexes—are hard to avoid, but plenty of them can be managed. For instance, more than half of tumbles happen at home and are often due to hazards such 24

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

as clutter, uneven surfaces, loose carpets and dim lighting. In addition to addressing these problems, “Make sure you have a steady place to sit while dressing and undressing,” says Åsa Bygdeson, a primary care nurse focusing on gerontological issues in the Västerbotten region in Sweden, “and see to it that your electric and telecommunications cables are out of the way.” She also recommends handrails on all staircases and non-slip mats and grab bars in bathrooms. The next step is to evaluate your footwear: avoid slippers, backless shoes, high heels, flip-flops, socks

ISTOCKP HOTO

BY SA MA N T H A R I D E O U T


a step. The top of a cane or a walker without shoes and soles made from should be the same height as your leather. Rubber soles are a better wrists when you’re standing with bet, especially if they have treads. your arms relaxed at Canes and walkers your sides. can help with balance, An estimated There are plenty but only if they’re in of additional ways to good repair, the right reduce the odds of fallsize and employed ing, from strength properly. Most people training and balance with walking aids have exercises to reviewing never been instructed your prescriptions with on how to use them. A a pharmacist at least cane should be held in once a year (certain the arm opposite the of people over 65 fall medications and comweakest or most painful at least once a year. binations may cause leg and swung forward unsteadiness). Taking at the same time as that control of your risk builds confileg. When handling a walker, make dence and leads to a more active, sure all four tips or wheels are healthy lifestyle. touching the ground before taking

30 to 40%

News From the World of Medicine

ISTOCKP HOTO

Fruit and Veggies Boost Happiness A recent study of more than 12,000 Australians revealed that the benefits of a produce-rich diet extend beyond physical health. With every added daily portion of fruit or vegetables (up to eight), the subjects’ happiness levels rose slightly. The researchers’

conclusion: if someone were to switch from a diet free of fruit and veg to eight servings per day, he or she would theoretically gain as much life satisfaction as someone who transitioned from unemployment to a job. The exact reason is unclear, though it may be related to the effect of carotenoid levels in the blood. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

25


READER’S DIGEST

Long-Lived Seniors Tend to Be Healthier

Lighter Weights As Effective As Heavy Ones

Longevity doesn’t usually mean more years with disease or disability, according to a 2016 analysis from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. By comparing Americans, Europeans and Australasians aged 95-plus to younger seniors, researchers found that serious conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis were hitting longlived men and women later in life. Compared to people who died before reaching 95, those with very long lifespans often endured a shorter period of illness leading up to death.

When it comes to building muscle, lifting light objects many times works just as well as lifting heavier ones fewer times, concluded a Canadian study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. With either method, the key is to work the muscles until they’re fatigued, which is a sign of activated fibres. The study’s participants were young men, but its findings had implications for everyone, particularly those intimidated by massive weights.

Coffee Doesn’t Promote Cancer—Unless It’s Too Hot

TEST YOUR MEDICAL IQ

Good news for fans of coffee: it was stripped of its “possibly carcinogenic” classification during a recent meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, the agency did warn against any beverage that is served at a temperature higher than 65°C. Scalding hot liquids can injure cells in the esophagus, contributing to esophageal cancer in the future. Meanwhile, coffee served at a moderate temperature appears to provide a mild protective effect against cancer in the uterine lining and the liver. 26

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

Cholecystitis is an…

A. ear infection. B. enlarged kidney. C. infestation of head lice. D. inflamed gallbladder. Answer: D. Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder. It’s most commonly caused when gallstones—which are found in around 10 per cent of adults—block the gallbladder’s main opening, trapping bile inside. When gallstones cause cholecystitis, the condition usually needs to be treated in hospital, possibly with surgery.


Did you know?

You can choose to stay on the

Original medication you trust and save at each renewal.

Visit PfizerOriginal.ca and

SAVE on your original Pfizer medication*!

1. Visit PfizerOriginal.ca to obtain your free Pfizer Strive card 2. Present the card at the pharmacy and ask for your original Pfizer medication 3. For participating pharmacies, click on the Pharmacy Locator at PfizerOriginal.ca

©2016 Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Quebec, H9J 2M5 ® Pfizer Inc., used under license ® Pfizer Inc., or its affiliates and are used under license by Pfizer Canada Inc.

*Coverage and availability may vary by province. Pfizer Strive is available in all provinces except Quebec

CA0116LI012E

LEARN MORE. Visit PfizerOriginal.ca


HEALTH

Case History BY SY DN E Y LO N E Y ILLUSTRATION BY VICTOR WONG

THE PATIENT: Ted, a public sector worker in his late 40s THE SYMPTOMS: Low-grade fever, persistent cough and fatigue THE DOCTOR: Dr. Neil Shear, head of dermatology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto

FOR THREE WEEKS last February, Ted struggled to banish what he thought was a nasty flu bug. He had a dry cough, a fever of 38 C and a feeling of fatigue that eight hours of sleep—and over-the-counter cold medications—couldn’t fix. Finally fed up with feeling lousy, Ted went to his family doctor, who discovered puzzling sores the size of small warts inside his mouth and nose and referred him to the internal medicine clinic at Sunnybrook hospital, in midtown Toronto. The physician there suspected vasculitis, inflammation in the veins and

!

28

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

arteries that often presents with fatigue, coughing and skin sores. It was now April, three months after Ted started feeling sick, and his health quickly deteriorated: his cough worsened and he was so tired he could barely make it through his workday. He’d also lost his typically healthy appetite and was dropping weight. More troubling: the lesions in his mouth and nose were expanding (some to the size of toonies), and had spread to his throat. Ted was referred to an oral surgeon, who biopsied the lesions in his mouth. The results were read as granulomatous vasculitis, aligning with the internist’s earlier suspicions. This variant typically involves the upper respiratory tract—an X-ray revealed a fuzzy shadow in Ted’s lungs. The disease affects about one in 25,000 people, often in their 40s and 50s, and may lead to heart


disease and kidney damage. While the condition can be very serious, when it’s diagnosed and treated promptly, the current survival rate is about 90 per cent.

“Once you see a condition like this, you don’t forget it,” says Dr. Neil Shear. Unfortunately, two weeks of taking corticosteroids to control inflammation and suppress his immune system didn’t relieve Ted’s symptoms. The lesions had spread to the skin on his arms, legs and torso, and the abscesses in his mouth and throat made it difficult to eat or talk. By this point, it had been almost six months since the onset of his illness, and Ted had lost hope of ever getting better. Because the sores on his body were so disfiguring, he was referred to dermatologist Dr. Neil Shear. Shear took one look at the patient and knew he didn’t have vasculitis. “Once you see a condition like this, you don’t forget it,” he says. What Shear saw was blastomycosis, an airborne fungal infection that originates from mould that grows in damp soil and decomposing leaves. It’s found in the United States and Canada, as well as parts of India and Africa, and affects people (and

animals) who breathe in the spores, though not everyone who’s exposed will develop the infection. Flu-like symptoms typically appear one to three months after a person inhales the fungus. Once the microorganisms enter the lungs, they transform into a yeast that spreads through the bloodstream. “Eventually, the patient would have been on a ventilator and likely would have died,” Shear says. Blastomycosis is uncommon in many regions, and the patient is still unsure where he picked up the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yearly incidence rates in the U.S. are approximately one to two cases for every 100,000 people. Shear says the infection is often misdiagnosed because it so closely resembles the flu. When reviewing biopsy results, it’s helpful to know what to look for, he says. In Ted’s case, the fungal elements were noted but weren’t perceived as being significant. “It can take a little extra detective work.” Fortunately, the condition is treatable. Although Shear performed a second biopsy and fungal culture, he didn’t wait for the results to start a regimen. He promptly prescribed a high dose of antifungal medication two times a day for a month. “After a week, the patient started getting better,” Shear says. Today, Ted has fully recovered. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

29


HEALTH

Two experts offer advice on irritated eyes

Painful Peepers? The optometrist says… Dry eye syndrome can cause the tear-producing glands in the eyelids to malfunction, resulting in soreness. This condition can be triggered by a number of factors, from lack of sleep to poor diet to chronic irritation (often from dust or paint fumes) that damage the delicate glands in the lids. 30

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

Another possible cause of dry eye is an imbalance in the layers of tears. There are three components to tears—water, which hydrates the surface of the cornea; mucus, which provides nutrition to the cornea; and oil, which prevents evaporation. If this mix is disturbed, dry eye will result. Seasonal changes, such as cooler temperatures and dry air

ISTOCKP HOTO

BY A IM É E W I C E


The holistic nutritionist says…

once the furnace turns on, can also lead to irritation. To open blocked glands in the lids and restore the natural balance of your tears, try applying a warm washcloth to closed lids every day for about five minutes. Mild cases of dry eye can also be treated—and greatly relieved—with over-thecounter eye drops and lubricants. But if you have to use those remedies more than four times a day for an extended period of time, it could be a sign your condition is worsening. If you’ve exhausted all the above solutions and are still suffering, it’s time to see your eye doctor to rule out possible diseases and disorders, including arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder) and thyroid afflictions, which may require additional interventions. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem, as severe dry eye can threaten your vision in the long run.

Dry eye syndrome is a common ailment that occurs when tears can’t provide adequate lubrication for the eyes. Environmental conditions, such as arid indoor air, may be a cause, as can other factors, such as poor nutrition, prescription drug side effects and the natural aging process. Diet can play a major role in the treatment and prevention of dry eyes. Foods that are rich in essential fatty acids—such as evening primrose oil, oils made from corn and soybeans, fatty fish (including salmon, sardines and herring) and flaxseed—help restore the eye’s lipid layer and prevent tears from evaporating quickly. Drinking a sufficient amount of water (about eight to 10 glasses a day) is essential, too. Dry eye sufferers can also benefit from a regular glucosamine sulphate

Dr. Harvey Bass is an optometrist in Grand Falls, N.B.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

31


READER’S DIGEST

supplement. For most people, taking 500 milligrams three times a day will help build up the cornea and prevent corneal damage related to dryness, but talk to your doctor or

nutritionist first to ensure this dosage is right for you. To treat an ongoing problem, it’s important to avoid known irritants, such as smoking and staring at computer screens for extended periods (use the 20/20/20 rule: to give your eyes a break, look 20 metres away, out a window or across the room, for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, and blink frequently), and prevent sun damage by wearing sunglasses when outdoors. Getting regular sleep is also key, as it gives your eyes the rest they need and your body a chance to repair and detoxify, which, in turn, helps reduce inflammation. Jennifer Perry is a registered holistic nutritionist in Halifax.

STOP THE PRESSES! The story said, “More than 30,000 pigs were floating down the Dawson River.” What piggery owner Sid Everingham actually said was “30 sows and pigs,” not “30,000.” From Morning Bulletin (Australia)

A headline in the Feb. 5 edition of the Enquirer-Bulletin incorrectly stated “Stolen groceries.” It should have read “Homicide.” From the San Carlos, Calif. Enquirer-Bulletin

The Earth orbits the sun, not the moon. Incorrect information appeared in a story on Page A1 in Wednesday’s Citizen. From The Ottawa Citizen

32

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


Get the Pfizer Original medication you trust with significant savings* now!

1. Visit PfizerOriginal.ca to obtain your free Pfizer Strive card. 2. Present the card at the pharmacy and ask for your original Pfizer medication (Lipitor, Norvasc, Accupril, Accuretic or Caduet) 3. For participating pharmacies, click on the Pharmacy Locator at PfizerOriginal.ca

©2016 Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Quebec, H9J 2M5 ® Pfizer Inc., used under license ® Pfizer Inc., or its affiliates and are used under license by Pfizer Canada Inc.

*Coverage and availability may vary by province. Pfizer Strive is available in all provinces except Quebec

CA0116LI006E

LEARN MORE. Visit PfizerOriginal.ca


FAMILY

Host a gathering that everyone— at any age—will enjoy

All Together Now

BINGO

BY L AUR A G RA N D E

can add undue stress, especially if the guest list involves everyone from toddlers to great-grandparents. According to Tamara Niyazov of the Fab Fete Event Planning Boutique in Thornhill, Ont., the key to choosing the right food and activities is to stay inclusive. Thankfully, it’s not as hard as it sounds. FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Instead of orchestrating an elaborate meal with decorative place settings, keep it simple. “To please all age groups, stick to finger foods,” says Niyazov. Opt for samosas, sliders, mozzarella sticks, bite-sized grilled cheese sandwiches, hummus with veggies and fruit kebabs. They’re easy to eat and they don’t require plates or cutlery—just a quick grab-and-go. Bonus: you’ll avoid a 34

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

massive cleanup and dishwashing session at the end of the party. FUN AND GAMES

Keep the festivities going after mealtime. Make a quick trip to your local thrift shop for some props before the party starts, and encourage guests to dress up for funny photos. To ensure things don’t get unruly, designate one corner of the room for the fashion shoot. Want a fun alternative to the standard ugly sweater contest? “Organize a worst holiday photo contest!” Niyazov suggests. “Plan ahead and have every guest bring a copy of their funniest picture, then call a vote.” Holiday-themed bingo is easy to grasp for youngsters. Or you can conduct a scavenger hunt and assign teams with a variety of ages—just make sure to throw in a couple of easier clues for the little ones.

MASTERFI LE

’TIS THE SEASON for holiday ! parties. Unfortunately, playing host


HELPS TO TEMPORARILY SUPPRESS APPETITE WHEN TAKEN PRIOR TO A MEAL.

Crush Cravings To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label © Procter & Gamble, Inc. 2016


FOOD

What your holiday eating habits say about you

Revealing Refreshments BY K E L S E Y K LOSS

Yes, someone actually studied this. If you munch on a gingerbread man’s noggin before eating the rest of the cookie, you’re likely a naturalborn leader, according to a 2010 analysis by Dr. Alan Hirsch, the neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Start with the legs? You’re sensitive. Creative types gobble the left arm first, while pessimists go for the right. IF YOU: Bake spiced cookies IT MEANS: You probably enjoy new experiences

A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference in 2013 found that people with a taste for adventure—whether it’s watching high-octane movies or exploring new places—are also more likely to have a taste for spice in their food. 36

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

IF YOU: Drink white wine IT MEANS: You probably overpour

White-wine drinkers serve themselves 9.2 per cent more vino than their red-wine-drinking counterparts do, according to a 2014 study out of Iowa State and Cornell universities. (The low colour contrast of white wine in a clear glass can make it difficult to gauge an appropriate level.) IF YOU: Force yourself to eat a dish you don’t like IT MEANS: You’re probably going to start a dinner-table argument

In a 2011 study published in Psychological Science, people who were given a bitter beverage made harsher judgments about individuals in questionable moral situations—like a student stealing a library book—than those who were given a sweet drink or water. So if you want to avoid fighting about politics with your cousin, stop eating foods you know you don’t enjoy.

MASTERFI LE

IF YOU: Devour your gingerbread man head first IT MEANS: You’re probably a leader


1. Odourless, natural formula quickly absorbs into the skin.

2. Natural capsaicin blocks pain at the source and draws nutrients to the affected area.

Glide over arthritis pain this winter. Winter cold can trigger arthritis pain. Made with natural capsaicin extract, Lakota Arthritis Roll-on relieves arthritis pain fast so you can hit your stride all winter long. For reviews and testimonials visit Lakotaherbs.com.

3. Inammation is reduced, increasing joint mobility for greater comfort.


TRAVEL

Skaters hit the ice at Ottawa City Hall Sens Rink of Dreams.

Capital Ideas BY E MILY K E N N E DY

Skating Visitors are often disappointed to learn that due to overly-warm temps, the Rideau Canal may be only partially open (or worse, closed) during their winter visit. Although skating on the canal 38

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

requires just-right weather conditions, the open-air, refrigerated Ottawa City Hall Sens Rink of Dreams, on the banks of the waterway, is usually good to go. Admission is free, but it’s strictly BYOS (bring your own skates).

(RI NK OF DREA MS) OTTAWA TOURI SM

Reasons to love Ottawa in winter


Advertisement

ABOUT BINGE EATING DISORDER IN ADULTS BINGE EATING DISORDER SYMPTOMS In order for a healthcare provider to diagnose an adult with Binge Eating Disorder (BED), all of the following have to occur:

1. Regularly eating far more food than most people would eat in a similar time period under similar circumstances

2. Feeling that eating is out of control during a binge

3. Being very upset by binge eating

And three or more of these: Eating extremely fast

Eating beyond feeling full

Eating large amounts of food when not hungry

Feeling bad about yourself after a binge Eating alone to hide how much you’re eating

Unlike other eating disorders, adults with BED don’t routinely try to “undo” their excessive eating with extreme actions, like purging or overexercising. If these symptoms are present and binge eating takes place at least once a week for 3 months, it may be BED. Most people overeat on occasion. However, BED is more than just overeating and is a real

MEDICAL CONDITION. It is important to understand that having BED is not your choice. “Binge Eating Disorder is something I have, not something I do.” While the exact cause is unknown, chemicals in the brain, family history and certain life experiences may play a role.

If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of BED, a healthcare provider may be able to help.

If you think you might have BED, you are not alone.

Reach out. Ask for help. Start the conversation. CDA/NPRMCDA/NBU/16/0047 August 2016


Dominion Arboretum is one of the city’s lesserknown cold-weather tourist stops. Flanking the west side of Dow’s Lake on the Rideau Canal, it has prime slopes—great for all ages and degrees of yelOttawa City low-belly—once the Woodshop snow falls. Admission and parking are free, and if you don’t have a toboggan (but you do have a few free nights and approximately $400), you can sign up to make your own at the Ottawa City Woodshop, located a short drive away in Little Italy. Now that’s a souvenir!

Ice Fishing You can’t miss Wally, even if you try. The seven-metre-long walleyeshaped ice-fishing hut on the Ottawa River can be spotted from Highway 174, near Petrie Island, a 25-minute drive from downtown. Pony up for one of the rental huts nearby and bring the family along; there’s shinny and an on-ice arcade for the kids. Skiers in Major’s Hill Park next to the Ottawa River.

Cross-Country Skiing The ever-popular Gatineau Park is 20 minutes from Ottawa proper, but for free-of-charge trails in the city, try the Central Experimental Farm (where you can also admire acrobatic snowkiters) or along the Ottawa River. 40

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

(TOBOGGAN ) OTTAWA CITY WOODSH OP; (SKI ERS) OTTAWA TOURI SM ; (WAL LY) DAVE CHAN

Tobogganing


CARAMELIZED FENNEL TARTS Get the Chicken Crescent Wreath recipe inside!

Chicken Crescent Wreath

Dill Vegetable Dip Warm Bacon Cheese Spread

GET THE PARTY STARTED WITH THESE FESTIVE NIBBLES!


Warm Bacon Cheese Spread My friends threaten not to come by unless this dip is on the menu! The rich spread bakes right in the bread bowl and goes well with almost any dipper. —NICOLE MARCOTTE, SMITHERS, BRITISH COLUMBIA PREP: 15 MIN. BAKE: 1 HOUR MAKES: 32 SERVINGS (4 CUPS) round loaf (1 lb/ 500 g) sourdough bread 1 package (8 oz/ 225 g) cream cheese, softened 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) sour cream 2 cups (500 mL) shredded cheddar cheese 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) Worcestershire sauce ¾ lb (375 g) sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/ 2

cup (125 mL) chopped green onions Assorted crackers

1. Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread; carefully hollow out the bottom, leaving a 1-in. (2.54-cm) shell. Cut the removed bread and top of loaf into cubes; set aside. 2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sour cream, cheddar cheese, and Worcestershire sauce until blended; stir in bacon and onions.

1

3. Spoon into bread shell. Wrap in a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 24 in. x 17 in. (61 cm x 43.18 cm)). Bake at 325° F for 1 hour or until heated through. Serve with crackers and reserved bread cubes. NUTRITION FACTS: 2 tbsp (25 mL): 132 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 26 mg cholesterol, 214 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate (1 g sugars, 0 g fibre), 5 g protein.


Caramelized Fennel Tarts Fennel is a favourite of mine, no matter how it’s cooked, but I think it is really amazing sautéed until rich and golden, then baked on delicious puff pastry. —LISA SPEER

PREP: 1 HOUR BAKE: 15 MIN. MAKES: 24 SERVINGS 2

medium fennel bulbs, quartered and thinly sliced 2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp (5 mL) balsamic vinegar 1/ 4 tsp (1 mL) salt 1/ 8 tsp (0.5 mL) pepper 1 package (17.3 oz) frozen puff pastry, thawed 1. In a large skillet, sauté fennel in oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low;

cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in the thyme, vinegar, salt, and pepper. 2. Unfold each puff pastry sheet onto an ungreased baking sheet. Using a knife, score 1 in. from the edges of each pastry. Spread fennel mixture to within 1/2 in. of edges. 3. Bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut each tart into 12 pieces. FREEZE OPTION: Freeze cooled pastries in a freezer container, separating layers with waxed paper. To use, reheat pastries on an ungreased baking sheet in a preheated 400°F oven until crisp and heated through. NUTRITION FACTS: 1 piece: 116 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 102 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate (0 g sugars, 2 g fibre), 2 g protein.


Dill Vegetable Dip A friend gave me this zesty dip recipe many years ago, and now I serve it at our annual holiday open house. To make it mobile, spoon a serving of the dip in the bottom of a disposable cup, then garnish with fresh veggies. —KAREN GARDINER

PREP: 5 MIN. + 30 MIN. CHILLING TIME MAKES: 12 SERVINGS 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream 1/ 2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise

1 2 1 1

tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped onion tsp (10 mL) dried parsley flakes tsp (5 mL) dill weed tsp (5 mL) seasoned salt Assorted fresh vegetables, cut into crudités

1. Combine the first six ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with vegetables. Yield: 1-1/2 cups (375 mL). NUTRITION FACTS: 2 tbsp (25 mL): 107 calories, 11 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 17 mg cholesterol, 187 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 g fibre), 1 g protein.


Chicken Crescent Wreath 1/ 4

cup (50 mL) chopped water chestnuts can (5 oz/150 g) white chicken, drained, or 3 /4 cup (175 mL) cubed cooked chicken tbsp (25 mL) chopped onion

This is an impressive-looking dish that's a snap to prepare. Even when my cooking time is limited, I can still serve this delicious wreath. The red pepper and green broccoli add a festive touch. — MARLENE DENISSEN

2

PREP: 15 MIN. BAKE: 20 MIN. MAKES: 6-8 SERVINGS

1. In small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Arrange banana slices over tart shell bottoms; top with pudding.

2 1 2/ 3 1/ 2 1/ 2

tubes (8 oz (250 g) each) refrigerated crescent rolls cup (250 mL) shredded ColbyMonterey Jack cheese cup (150 mL) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted cup (125 mL) chopped fresh broccoli cup (125 mL) chopped sweet red pepper

1

2. Cover with whipped topping; sprinkle with coconut. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Garnish with additional banana slices if desired. NUTRITION FACTS: 1 piece: 203 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 537 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate (3 g sugars, 1 g fibre), 9 g protein.

Send you!r recipes

CALLING ALL HOME COOKS!

Share your favourite recipes at tasteof home.com/submit


COVER STORY

Three heartwarming tales that demonstrate unexpected gifts may be the ultimate holiday treasure

46

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

47


READER’S DIGEST

Ordinary Magic BY JAM ES M IC H E NE R F R OM R E A DE R ’ S DI GE ST , D E C E M BE R 1 9 67

I spent much time wondering what it would be. The boys I played with had baseball gloves, bicycles and ice skates, and I was so eager to acquire any one of these that I convinced myself my benefactor intended to choose from among them. It would hardly be a baseball glove, I reasoned with myself. A woman like Mrs. Long wouldn’t know much about baseball. Since she was frail, I also ruled out the bicycle—how could she handle such a contraption? On my last Saturday at work, Mrs. Long said, “Now remember, because you’ve been a good boy all summer, at Christmas I’ll have a present waiting. You come to the door and collect it.” These words clinched it. Since she was going to have the present in her house, and since she herself would be handling it, unquestionably she was giving me a pair of ice skates. 48

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

I became so convinced of this that I could imagine myself on the skates. As the cold days of November arrived and the ponds began to freeze over, I decided to try my luck on the slick surface that would be sustaining me and my skates through the winter. “Get away from that ice!” a man shouted. “It’s not strong enough yet.” But soon it would be. As Christmas approached, I struggled to restrain myself from reporting to Mrs. Long and demanding my present. Our family agreed that December 1st was too early for me to do this. “She may not have it wrapped yet,” someone argued, and this made sense. On the 21st of December, a serious cold snap froze all the ponds, so the boys who already had skates were able to use them. My longing to possess mine, even though I could

(BACKGROUN D GLI TTER) RAI NA +WILSON; (ALL OTHER PHOTOS) MASTERFIL E

hen I was nine years old and living in Doylestown, Penn., I used to mow the lawn of Mrs. Long, an elderly woman who lived across from the Presbyterian church. She paid me very little for the chore, as she didn’t have much money. But she did promise me: “When Christmas comes, I shall have a present for you.”


I shook it. Nothing rattled, but I not open the package for a few days, became overpowering. On Decem- thought I did catch a sound of some ber 22nd, I could no longer wait. I sort—a quiet, muffled noise that was marched down the street, presented somehow familiar but unidentifiable. myself at the door of the house where “What is it?” I asked again. “A kind of magic,” Mrs. Long said, I had tended to the lawn all summer, and said, “I’ve come for my present, and that was all. Her words were enough to set my Mrs. Long.” “I’ve been waiting for you,” she mind dancing with new possibilisaid, leading me into her parlour. ties, and by the time I reached home, She sat me in a chair and disappeared I had convinced myself that I held to another room. In a moment, she some great wonder. “She gave me a magician’s set. I’ll stood before me holdturn pitchers of milk ing a package, which rabbits.” under no conceivable ON CHRISTMAS into How long the pascircumstances could MORNING, sage to Christmas was! hold a baseball glove BEFORE THE There were other presor a bicycle or even SUN WAS UP, ents of normal dimena pair of skates. I was I HAD THE sion and weight, but painfully disappointed PARCEL ON MY Mrs. Long’s box dominbut did not show it, because during the KNEES, TEARING ated all, for it had to do AT THE STRING with magic. week, my family had On Christmas mornwarned repeatedly, THAT BOUND IT. ing, before the sun was “Whatever she has for up, I had the parcel on you, take it graciously my knees, tearing at the reused coland say thank you.” What she had was an ordinary oured string that bound it. Soon the parcel about 20-odd centimetres wrapping paper was off, and in my wide, 30 centimetres long and less lap lay a flat box with its top hinged than a centimetre thick. As Mrs. about halfway down. With great excitement, I opened Long held it in her hands, curiosity replaced my initial disappointment, the hinged lid to find inside a and when I lifted it from her, the shimmering pile of 10 flimsy sheets extreme lightness of the gift capti- of black paper, each labelled in vated me. It weighed almost nothing. iridescent letters, “Carbon Paper Regal Premium.” Of the four words “What is it?” I asked. I knew only the second, and what “You’ll see on Christmas Day.” rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

49


50

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


it signified in this context I could could have had, infinitely more significant than a baseball glove or not guess. a pair of skates. It was exactly the “Is it magic?” I asked. Aunt Laura, who taught school, present I needed, and it reached me had the presence of mind to say, “It at precisely the Christmas when I was really is!” She took two pieces of white best able to appreciate it. I have received some pretty thunpaper, placed one of the black sheets from the box between them and, with dering Christmas gifts since then a hard pencil, wrote my name on the but none that ever came close to the upper sheet. Then, removing it and magnificence of this one. The average the Carbon Paper Regal Premium, she present gratifies a temporary yearnhanded me the second sheet, which ing, as the ice skates would have done; the great present her pencil had in no illuminates all the years way touched. that remain. There was my name! IT WAS EXACTLY of Itlifewas not until some It was clean, very dark, THE PRESENT I years later that I realwell-formed and as beautiful as Christmas NEEDED, AND IT ized that the 10 sheets REACHED ME of Carbon Paper Regal Day itself. PRECISELY Premium that Mrs. Long I was enthralled. This WHEN I WAS gave me had cost her was indeed magic of BEST ABLE TO nothing. She had used the greatest dimension. APPRECIATE IT. them for her purposes That a pencil could and would normally write on one piece of have thrown them away, paper and mysteriously record on another was a miracle so except that she had the ingenuity to gratifying to my childish mind. In guess that a boy might profit from a that one moment I understood as present totally outside the realm of his much about printing and the dupli- ordinary experience. I hope this year some boys and cation of words and the fundamental mystery of disseminating ideas as I girls will receive, from thoughtful have learned in the remaining half- adults who really love them, gifts that will jolt them out of all they have century of my life. I wrote and wrote, using up whole known until now. It is such gifts and tablets until I had ground off the last such experiences—usually costing shred of blackness from the 10 sheets little or nothing—that transform a life of carbon paper. It was the most and lend it an impetus that may enchanting present a boy like me continue for decades. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

51


READER’S DIGEST

Special Delivery BY JANE TIC E FR O M T H E V I NYL C A FÉ

n 1984, when she was 26, one of my three sisters, Elizabeth, followed family tradition and took to the road. Having covered most of Europe on a previous adventure, she and a friend headed for India, the first stop on a year-long trip that was to end in England. We’d all lived in England at one point and were in some ways still English to the core—never more so than during the holidays. Christmas in our house was mincemeat pies, fruitcakes of all different weights and colours and, of course, plum pudding, hot and slathered in brandy butter.

52

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


My mother, who lived with me in Victoria, B.C., always began her preparations in early fall, never deviating from the tried-and-true recipes. That year, as a special surprise, Mum decided to make an extra pudding and mail it to Bombay (now Mumbai), where Elizabeth thought she would be for the holidays. Before email and Facebook, the only way longed-for news of home could find you was if you left forwarding addresses. Phone calls were for emergencies. The pudding mix was prepared as always, though to ward off tropical bugs, my mother mixed in a triple dose of brandy. She also used extra wrapping. She doubled the cheesecloth and she doubled the tinfoil. She placed the cake in a sturdy box, wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string and carefully printed the addresses: a return one to Victoria and an outward-bound one for India. Into the mail it went, with crossed fingers and a stunning amount of postage. Elizabeth didn’t get it. Rude words were muttered that Christmas about the efficiency of post offices everywhere. Evil thoughts slipped in of someone in a dead-letter office enjoying a wayward Christmas treat. The new year came, Elizabeth

returned from her travels, and the pudding was forgotten. Then, around November—almost a year later—I looked out the front window to see my mother, a package in her hand, laughing her way up the driveway. The outside wrapper was clean. Two addresses. My mother’s here in Victoria and her sister’s—my beloved aunt Jo’s—in England. Inside was a wonder. The box with the Christmas pudding had followed my sister for a year, every forwarding address clearly written, every missed address carefully crossed out. New Delhi, Kathmandu, Christchurch, Sydney, Darwin, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Honolulu and more, until it had reached England with not an inch of space left. My aunt, intrigued, had rewrapped it and sent it once more on its way, new postage attached. The pudding, though completely desiccated, was still in one piece. My mother, firmly in the generation of waste-not-want-not, tucked the pudding into the cupboard. Christmas was coming around again. And sure enough, on the 25th, she steamed it for an extra-long time, both to rehydrate it and to dispatch anything untoward that might have survived the desiccation. Then she served it, with great flair and fully aflame, to a very skeptical table. It was delicious.

© 2012 BY JANE TICE. “PUDDING IN THE POST,” THE VINYL CAFÉ STORY EXCHANGE (DECEMBER 22, 2012). VINYLCAFE.COM

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

53


READER’S DIGEST

Canned Good BY DAVID WILS O N F R OM T H E U NI T E D C H U RC H O BS E RV E R

y family moved a lot when I was young. No matter the city, no matter the house, there was always one constant: the can. It was just that—a tin can into which we flung loose change after running to the corner store and from which we paid the paper boy. My mother used it for more than six decades. The can was such a fixture in the various places we lived that no one ever gave it a second thought. It was just there. I’d forgotten about it until December 2010, when the subject of the can came up as my mother reminisced about Christmases past. I learned that the can was more than a place to dump pocket change. It held the story of how my parents spent their first Christmas together. They were married in September 1950 and lived in Galt, a small industrial city in southwestern Ontario, where my father worked as a hardware store clerk and my mother was a stenographer in the office of a factory that made precision lathes for heavy industries. They earned very little but were diligently putting aside money to buy their first home. The can, with its slotted lid and green lettering advertising a 54

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

long-forgotten paint company, was part of their savings plan. Despite their modest means, my parents were excited about their first Christmas. My father’s mother, who was prone to mood swings, was less so. She told my father she wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas that year and that the newlyweds could have her tree ornaments. A couple of days before Christmas, my parents brought home a little evergreen in their 1929 Durant. Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, my father went over to my grandmother’s place to pick up the ornaments she had promised. He arrived to discover she’d decided to set up and decorate a tree after all. My father had a stubborn streak. He left his mother’s house more determined than ever that their first Christmas tree would have


decorations. It was getting late, but Woolworth’s was still open. Only one problem: he was flat broke. He went home and told my mother what had happened. They looked at each other. They looked at the can. My father reached for a can opener. My parents eventually bought that first house, and over the years they went on to buy several more. The can, minus its lid, followed them everywhere they went. So did the glass ornaments they bought that first meagre Christmas. Each year, my mother carefully removed them from their tissue-paper wrapping and set

them out on display on a tabletop or in a decorative bowl. Some of them were still in use when she moved into a senior centre in 2015. One of the enduring miracles of this season is that the themes of grace, mercy and love in the story of the first Christmas more than 2,000 years ago still shape holiday tales today. Maybe your family has its own special Christmas story. Maybe it’s still waiting to be told. Whatever it is, cherish it. It may be about something as ordinary as evergreens, ornaments or tin cans, but it means much more.

© 2011 BY DAVID WILSON. THE UNITED CHURCH OBSERVER (DECEMBER 2011). UCOBSERVER.ORG

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

55


HEALTH

Headaches affect half of all adults each year. So why are they so hard to diagnose?

The

Invisible Epidemic BY L I SA B E NDALL ILLUSTRATION BY CARL WIENS

WHEN PHILLIPA RISPIN describes the headaches that have hounded her since adolescence, any listener would cringe in sympathy. “It’s a sharp pain that eventually turns into whole-headed, throbbing misery,” says Rispin, 64, of Montreal. It can knock her flat. In her early 30s, Rispin

spent three days of a Caribbean vacation lying on a couch, in agony. Half of all adults have at least one headache a year. Many people, however, experience them on a weekly— or daily—basis, and with a degree of severity that interferes with work and sabotages social plans. Rispin says, rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

57


READER’S DIGEST

“Before I realized that alcohol triggered my migraines, I’d retreat from dinner parties and wonder, Was it the noise? Was it the company?” While head pain can be a sign of issues such as high blood pressure or a sinus infection, primary headaches are a disorder in and of themselves. Tension headaches, the most common type, affect 70 per cent of us; sufferers complain of a sensation of tightness. Migraines, which are experienced by one in 10 Canadians, are the most likely to send us to a doctor, since the symptoms can be severe. “I’ve had a hard time talking and can feel very slowed down,” says Rispin. Other variants include cluster headaches, which are brief but excruciating and can flare up several times a day, and post-traumatic pains that linger after whiplash or other injuries. The global impact of primary headaches is significant—they may be responsible for one-fifth of missed work worldwide. “It’s resulting in a lot of sick days and ER visits,” says neurologist Elizabeth Leroux, director of the University of Montreal Health Centre’s migraine clinic and author of Migraines: More Than a Headache. In a 2013 study on the global burden of disease conducted by a consortium of international researchers, headache disorders were listed as having the third-highest impact on quality of life out of all medical conditions. 58

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

“It’s very isolating,” says Calgary resident Roberta Rees, 62, who has suffered from migraines her entire life and has missed birthday parties and Christmas dinners—even those she cooked herself. Along with headaches, she endures nausea, vomiting and vision disturbances (15 to 20 per cent of those with migraines are prone to auras, which cause symptoms such as distorted vision, blind spots, numbness and tingling). Rees’s worst moment was being unable to pick her sister up from a chemotherapy treatment. “I felt irresponsible, and like I was somehow weak.” Women are three times as likely as men to have migraines. That’s partly due to hormonal fluctuations, but also because of sex-based structural and functional differences in the brain. A 2010 survey by Headache Network Canada found that 73 per cent of women with migraines experienced a loss of control over their lives; three-quarters of respondents reported feeling a lack of support from others. That’s because headaches are invisible conditions, says Leroux. Rees found it helped to make friends with other people who get migraines, like the young mother on her street. However, many sufferers feel as though their inability to function is somehow their fault. “Women have collapsed in tears in my office because they believe they’re a bad spouse or parent,” says Leroux. “They have a lot of guilt.”


Name That Pain Diagnosing a headache disorder can be perplexing: even two people with the same type may not share identical symptoms. The conditions can also change over a lifetime. (Both Rispin and Rees say their migraines became less severe after menopause.) “Primary headaches aren’t caused by anything you can identify on tests or X-rays. They’re part of a person’s genetics and chemistry,” says Werner Becker, neurologist and founder of the Calgary Headache Assessment and Management Program. As a result, these conditions can easily be misidentified as the wrong headache type (or something else, like sinusitis). It’s estimated that twothirds of migraine patients aren’t diagnosed properly. If you’re plagued by pain, consider going online. In 2013, the International Headache Society published a helpful set of clinical diagnostic criteria for different headache disorders, and it’s accessible to the public. “Patients can become active partners in their care,” says Becker. That was Brent Lucas’s approach. The 54-year-old London, Ont., resident first experienced occasional headaches in his early 20s; in his mid-20s, he began having agonizing episodes several times a day. “It was a knife-like sensation, boring through my eyeball,” he recalls. Lucas put his studies at the University of Windsor

on hold. “I couldn’t make plans.” Doctors were unable to provide him with concrete answers, and medical tests uncovered no clues. In desperation, Lucas travelled to Ann Arbor, Mich., for treatment at the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute, where a multidisciplinary team assessed him and uncovered clues and patterns in several areas. He was found to have chronic cluster headaches, a rare but treatable condition thought to arise from a problem in the hypothalamus, where the biological clock is located, since it often strikes at the same time every day.

WHEN IT COMES TO TREATING HEADACHES, IT MAY TAKE SOME PUZZLE WORK TO TEASE OUT THE BEST APPROACH. Lucas was successfully treated with verapamil, a calcium channel blocker that relaxes artery-wall muscles, which he now takes daily. Soon after his diagnosis, he launched a charitable organization, Help for Headaches, to provide resources—vetted by leading doctors—to other Canadians. “I was aghast that there wasn’t much information for patients,” he says. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

59


READER’S DIGEST

Experiment With Options When it comes to treating headaches, especially migraines, it may take some puzzle work to tease out the best approach. “There is no quick fix,” says Leroux. “Often it’s some combination of things.” Those may include medication for attacks, as well as preventive measures and lifestyle adjustments. Certain dietary supplements may also help prevent headaches. Some people who suffer from migraines, like Rees, have success with magnesium and vitamin B2.

TAKING CODEINE 10 OR MORE DAYS A MONTH FOR A MIGRAINE CAN SET OFF A VICIOUS CYCLE OF REBOUND HEADACHES. Habitually using the wrong drugs to treat your pain can lead to yet another cause of recurrent patterns: medication overuse. With repeated exposure, the brain becomes less responsive to painkillers, while the neural network grows more sensitized to pain as the frequency of headaches increases. Taking codeine 10 or more days a month for a migraine, for example, can set off a vicious cycle of rebound headaches. Before Lucas received his diagnosis, he’d 60

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

been treating his cluster headaches with Tylenol, Advil and Aspirin; over time, those meds led to a chronic condition. Happily, weaning off painkillers often leads to a reduction in headache frequency within three or four weeks. A class of drugs called triptans, when taken early in an attack, are more effective for migraines than off-the-shelf analgesics because they stimulate the brain’s serotonin receptors rather than simply blocking pain. They can “change your life,” says Leroux, adding that there are seven kinds, with slight molecular differences, available. Though these medications have been available since the 1990s, many sufferers don’t use them properly or may feel that prescriptions are too costly. They may also not be safe for people with high blood pressure or vascular diseases. Because people respond differently to these drugs, experts recommend testing various kinds until they find one that works. “I carry mine with me everywhere I go,” says Rispin, who’s used triptans for the past 10 years. Those who suffer from chronic conditions (more than 15 days of headache per month) typically take daily preventive medications. Calcium channel blockers are the go-to prophylactic for cluster headaches, while beta blockers and anticonvulsants can help migraines, as can amitriptyline, an antidepressant that’s also used for tension headaches.


Serendipity has led to exciting discoveries: when women having cosmetic treatments reported a decrease in the frequency of chronic migraines, Botox emerged as a viable treatment. It suppresses the release of certain neurotransmitters, with minimal side effects. “We never expect a cure,” says Leroux. But, she says, even if Botox is only 50 per cent effective, “you might have 20 days of headache per month and drop down to eight or 10.”

Rethink Your Habits Although lifestyle adjustments can dramatically improve headaches, sufferers looking for instant relief may dismiss them. Triggers vary for different people (common ones include alcohol, poor sleep and weather changes), but they can often be minimized. Screens may have an especially powerful effect on migraine sufferers, who are often sensitive to light, says Becker. Rees bought herself a gaming monitor, which doesn’t flicker the way regular models do; some people simply invest in a good filter for their computer screen. Pinpointing triggers can be tricky because, as experts now understand, their effects are cumulative. “They might not cause a headache every time,” says Becker, “but if you have a storm system moving in when you’re premenstrual or unusually fatigued, that might stimulate a migraine.” Over the years, Rispin noticed that red wine

and glaring light were key factors in her headaches. “Fill out a headache diary, look for triggers and work on the ones you can control,” advises Leroux. Currently, international researchers are excited about a new class of medication called CGRP antagonists that can block a molecule involved in transmitting pain signals. In clinical trials, they’ve been very effective against migraines and cause few adverse effects. “I expect they’ll be on the market in two years,” says Becker, who’s been involved in the trials. As we continue to learn more about primary headaches, we can look forward to more promising treatments for this enigmatic condition.

WARNING SIGNS Most of the time, headaches aren’t dangerous. Use the handy acronym SNOOP to identify factors that signal an emergency: S – Sickness/systemic symptoms (you already have a health problem, like cancer) N – Neurological symptoms (e.g., confusion, seeing double, trouble speaking) O – Onset (sudden) O – Older (over 50 with a new headache) P – Progressive (getting worse) P can also stand for previous: is the headache unlike your usual ones?

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

61


FAMILY

Over time, the language that we use to describe disability has changed dramatically. But my relationship with my sister defies labels.

Kiddo

&Me BY LAUREN M C KEO N FR O M H AZ L I T T ILLUSTRATION BY MEREDITH SADLER

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

63


READER’S DIGEST

I WAS NOT prepared for the possibility of my sister. She was born in that in-between time—the days before summer vacation has started and all the possibilities are still alive. I was jealous. It was 1992, and after seven years, 11 months and one day, I had unwillingly ceased to be an only child. On the way to the hospital, I vowed not to hold her. That sentiment stuck. Maybe I would’ve changed my mind if she were soft and sweet, like the babies I’d seen in movies. But instead she was a sound: squalling, with a tiny face wide at the mouth and bunched into wrinkles everywhere else. There’s a picture of me from that day, standing over her, my head topped with a floppy mullet, stomach jutting out. The puzzled look on my face says, Who are you? Or rather: who are you to me? It was a long time before anyone realized there was something different about her. She first had to grow old enough for us to see that she was still crawling while the other toddlers had learned to walk. By the age of three, she said few words, and they were rarely strung together. Our family doctor ordered tests. There were assessments, a word I didn’t quite understand. I didn’t know yet that you could define a person—that you could decide different like her meant broken. After the results were delivered, she became affixed with the label “developmentally handicapped.” 64

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

A diagnosis is meant to provide a reason. It can say, Look, you have cancer. That’s why you’re feeling so unwell. You have this, so you are that. In this way, we neatly slot the world into order. A diagnosis of disability tells the world what a person can and cannot do, how they’ll be loved and how they’ll love in return. From the moment my sister was labelled, people expected it would define us, too. Her and me. When they spoke, they left so much room for the wrong words, such as “caretaker” and “burden” but too little for the right ones, such as “sister” and “friend.” THE WORD “RETARDED” is Latin

in origin. Retardare means “to make slow, delay, keep back or hinder.” The first time it was used in reference to intellectual disability was in 1895. Not yet a pejorative, “mentally retarded” was considered a kinder term, meant to replace previous iterations—“idiot,” “moron” and “imbecile.” By the mid1900s, people with disabilities were divided into three subclasses: educable, trainable and custodial. An educable person could be taught academic subjects, like reading and writing. Trainable meant a person could learn life skills, such as how to brush their teeth. Custodial meant a person required institutionalization. Today’s historical accounts of disability scrub these terms clean with clinical politeness, saying things like,


“A person who was custodial gener- with salty sweat. At home, we never ally received very limited develop- locked the bathroom door again. The next year she joined a small, mental opportunities.” Historians trust we won’t think of the word “cus- specialized class, and by the begintodial” and its split definitions: being ning of Grade 6, Kiddo had enrolled responsible for the care of a child and in an expensive private school for a form of punishment that requires a “special children.” She learned to criminal to spend time in a prison. count to 100, then higher still. During this time, she and I formed They trust we won’t know. I wonder if most people are bliss- our big sister–little sister relationfully oblivious. If that’s why I’m ship, meaning that I thought I knew ever ything and was sometimes the only delighted when Kiddo one in a room who sometimes agreed. In hears the word “retard” the summer, we settled and cringes, goes hot AS KIDS ME into the milieu of 1990s and cold inside, a flickAND KIDDO ering thermostat. If it’s WALKED OUR suburbia: every day we walked our dog, a black because I’m the only DOG, PLAYED Lab named Bruno, then one who’s held their kid BAREFOOT played barefoot tag in sister, tears mapping TAG, SPENT down her face, while HOURS AT THE circles, spent hours at the park behind our she asked about the PARK BEHIND house, sang in a way meaning of the word OUR HOUSE. that was more like those kids called her shouting. We watched in the school hallways, a lot of movies. Kiddo on the street. Me, who couldn’t find a way to nod all those fast-forwarded to the parts she liked and skipped the rest. times she asked if it meant her. One day, the VCR broke. We found dozens of Kiddo’s toys jammed into its I CALL MY sister Kiddo. When I was in Grade 8, she started kindergarten gear-filled depths. Nobody saw her do at my school. The teacher worried it, and none of us could figure out how about Kiddo’s diagnosis, was sure that she managed to avoid getting her hand she’d never count past 10. One day stuck inside. It didn’t matter: the VCR she locked Kiddo in the kindergarten was done. When Kiddo, who by then washroom and forgot about her for favoured watching Teenage Mutant an hour. When they finally went to Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze retrieve her, Kiddo’s shirt was damp on repeat, found out, she mimicked rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

65


READER’S DIGEST

cement blocks and hoeing fields of sweet potatoes without pay. There’s a swimming hole that’s supposed to be idyllic, looking-glass water hemmed in by low trees, but to me it feels eerie. It all does. These places of IN 1914, FACILITIES that housed people with disabilities came together to mandated paradise were prisons. When people ask me what “develform the Committee on Provision for the Feeble-Minded. The committee opmentally handicapped” means, included satellites throughout the I choose my words carefully. I’m a country, staffed with so-called intel- seamstress threading sequins on a bomb. I tell people that ligent men, all banded it means my sister’s under one objective: developmental skills to disseminate knowldon’t always reflect her edge about the menace WHEN KIDDO age, that she writes in of feeble-mindedness AND I PRESS block letters and reads, and establish methods OUR THUMBS but not novels. More for its control. In New TOGETHER Jersey, one committee AND DECLARE, importantly, I try to report summarized the “BEST SISTER,” tell them who she is through stories about “problem” of its “helpIT MEANS IT’S growing up together, less, but dangerous US AGAINST like the time she told class” as such: “They THE WORLD. her teacher, with conmust be prevented from fidence, that all she procreating, for their knew about Jesus was defects are known to be heritable and their numbers tend to that he was dead and it was probably cancer that killed him. multiply.” Like bunnies or mould. Not much time has passed from The solution was to create work colonies in multiple states across the those work camps to now. We think country. Clearing land for farming yes, but a lifetime of conversations purposes, in the committee’s words, tells me no. “does not appeal to the normal citizen, but for the feeble-minded boy- KIDDO AND I do this thing where man, it is a joy.” A joy. we press our thumbs together and Grainy, colourless photos of the declare “best sisters.” It means that colonies show men in high pants it’s us against the world. It means and suspenders clearing roads, laying that I took the day off work to help

Raphael’s most dramatic scene, yelling “Dammit!” at the top of her lungs. My parents were shocked, but I laughed and laughed and laughed.

66

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


her get ready for her prom. It means that when I moved to Yellowknife for a job in 2008, we talked on the phone almost every day for three years. It means I taught her how to make cookies and bagels and pancakes, and she taught me how to five-pin bowl and to not suck so much at Wii. It means that once, she invited her high-school crush over when neither of them knew I was home, and that when he tried to pressure her into watching porn and doing things, I told him off. The next day at school, he said I was terrifying and that he would never again try to make her do something she didn’t want to. Kiddo and I discussed how those things are fun when you’re ready. When she was, we went on double dates and talked about nice guys and jerks and how sometimes you can’t tell who is who. If I could, I would protect my sister from all the awful things in the world, not because she needs it, but because she’s the person I care about most. I can’t describe love; it’s just what happens when you press your thumbs together and say “best sisters,” and all the other moments in between. THE WORD “CAREGIVER” started out as “caretaker”—a term that seems to accept the countless ways that caring can take from a person. I know it’s likely a nod to the idea of “taking care of,” but there’s something to be said for the way the word doesn’t hide.

“Caretaker” was first included in the Oxford English Dictionary in the mid-19th century as “one who takes care of a thing, place or person; one put in charge of anything.” For its part, the word “caregiver” waited a century before making its way into the vernacular, arriving in 1966 via the American book The Meaning of Mental Illness to Caregivers and Mental Health Agents. The definition: “a person, typically either a professional or a close relative, who looks after a child, elderly person, invalid, etc.” “Caregiver” is now ceding to “carer.” I like that word. It gets us closer to the word “care,” the pareddown synonym for all of our closest and best relationships. What people can never understand is that Kiddo takes care of me, too. When I say this, they expect stories of inspiration. I hear things like “She must have taught you to be a better person” or “She must show you how much you have to be grateful for each day.” These comments are meant to be kind, but they aren’t. They reduce her to a person who can only exist as a cosmic life lesson—they rob her of agency, of her purpose, and give those things to me. These comments are just as bad as the ones I get when I tell people we spent the weekend together, like “It must be tough to take care of her” or “What do you even do together for all that time?” I’m tired of spelling out rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

67


READER’S DIGEST

that we’re sisters, so that’s what we did: sister stuff. Does this sound naive to you, this expectation that you’ll understand that my sister is my sister? If I know the person—and often I do—I’ll try to explain. I’ll tell them about how, when I broke my leg, she visited every other weekend with an armful of cheesy movies and climbed into bed next to me, laughing at how dopey I was on painkillers. That every time I’ve had to move apartments, she’s been there with a mop and packing tape. I’ll say that of course she was my maid of honour when I got married in 2011— even though so many people tried to dissuade me, that she walked down the aisle in a bad-ass suit covered in skulls, her hair four inches high in spikes. I’ll tell them how I called her three years later, sobbing, when my husband left me, and she gave me the sagest advice: “You know what, Lauren? A cat is better than a husband.” I STAYED WITH my sister recently, at my mom’s house, where she still lives, while my mom was out of town. It was an epic 10-day girls’ night. She made me dinner when I had to work late. Every few nights, we visited Shoppers Drug Mart, spritzed ourselves with expensive perfume and pretended we were rich before walking a few aisles over and buying

Skittles. At the end of it, she drew a picture of what our apartment might look like if we shared one. She gave me a large room, labelled “room,” and excellent hair, labelled “hair.” There was a time when I thought my sister and I would move in together, that I would take custody of her. I couldn’t stand the thought of her moving into a group home after the horror stories I’d heard about exploitation, violence and abuse. I wanted her with me because she’s my best friend, but also because—let’s just cut through the shame and admit it—I was guilty of ableist thinking, too. I assumed she needed me in a way that she doesn’t. During our 10-day stint together, Kiddo told me she’d discovered the term “special needs.” I’d never heard her say it before. When I asked what she meant, she said that’s what she was, special needs. That some people have Down Syndrome and some have autism and some have other things. That her friends were special needs, too. Then she asked me what my disability was, and what my friends’ disabilities were. When I was unsure of how to answer, reluctant to categorize myself as other than her, she told me it was okay, I probably had autism. Then she asked if I wanted to eat popcorn and watch a movie. She turned on The Sandlot and fast-forwarded to the good parts.

© 2016 BY LAUREN M C KEON. FROM HAZLITT.NET

68

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


@ Work NOT SO SUBTLE

KITCHEN RULES

Adorable idea. Colleagues have been writing names on their food in the office fridge. I am currently eating a yogurt called Debbie. @FUSSYSAFFA

The problem with teaching a man to fish is that eventually someone will microwave that fish in the work break room. @THECATWHISPRER thechive.com

I TEACH AT A UNIVERSITY. During

SELF-PROMOTION INTERVIEWER: What’s your

a test I was administering, I noticed that one of my adult students, who was pregnant, kept rubbing her side. After class I asked if she was feeling okay. “Oh, I’m fine,” she answered. “The baby was pushing his foot against my ribs, and it hurt a little.” I was happy to hear her reply until she continued, “It’s strange. He normally sleeps during your class.”

greatest strength? *45 minutes later* ME: I’m very comfortable with silence. @ROLLININTHESEAT

gcfl.net

The most important part of acting is listening, so always act like you’re listening. STEPHEN COLBERT

THE STAGES OF WORKING FROM HOME:

1) Yay, I get to work from home. 2) It would be nice to talk to people. 3) I hope that pigeon sits in the window today. @MARKAGEE

INDUSTRY ADVICE FROM FAMOUS ACTORS:

Crying scenes are tough. Personally, onions make me cry, so when I have to cry, I think of a dead onion. TOM HANKS

Are you in need of some professional motivation? Send us a work anecdote, and you could receive $50. To submit your stories, see rd.ca/joke.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

69


INSPIRATION

As the flames were being quelled and the ash was settling, Canadians from coast to coast stepped up to help residents rebuild their lives

MISSION

FORT MCMURRAY 70

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


IT WAS THE MIDDLE of the afternoon on May 1, 2016, when patrol choppers swooped in to manage a wildfire in a forested area southwest of Fort McMurray, Alta. But the blaze quickly spread, propelled by gusts of wind, and two months would pass before officials finally deemed the fire “under control.� In that time, flames tore through close to 6,000 square kilometres and displaced more than 88,000 residents. Thanks to the efforts of people across the country, however, there was hope amid the chaos.


READER’S DIGEST

How Edmonton’s oldest mosque became a haven for evacuees

Uzma Afroz will never forget the moment she walked into the mosque. The previous 28 hours had been nightmarish. A teacher’s aide at the Fort McMurray Islamic School, Afroz had been evacuated on a bus with 60 students whose parents were unreachable. Their escape from the wildfires was rerouted multiple times; each attempt was either too dangerous or the intended destination was overcrowded. They eventually headed to Edmonton, 450 kilometres away, where passengers were reunited with their parents at a conference centre. A driver there was going to Al Rashid, the city’s largest mosque, and offered Afroz a lift. The temple had been converted into a shelter for 200 evacuees, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with meals to feed hundreds more drop-in visitors. After the ember-filled skies and crying children, the mosque was a balm: kids played while women chatted. The scent of hot food from Afroz’s native Pakistan supplanted the smell of smoke in her nostrils. “It didn’t look like people coming from a disaster,” recalls Afroz, who’s lived in Canada since 2011. “It felt like home.” This speedy transformation—from temple to shelter, donation centre 72

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

and kitchen in less than a day—was possible because the Muslim community was prepared. Five months earlier, the Edmonton Islamic Relief Centre (EIRC) had organized a campaign to assist thousands of Syrians.

EVERYTHING BUT FUNERALS AND PRAYERS WERE PUT ON HOLD TO ACCOMMODATE THE EVACUEES. In September 2015, Edmonton high-school teacher Hussein Jomaa heard that Canada would be welcoming up to 25,000 refugees by the end of the year. Having emigrated from Lebanon in 2006, he knew Canadian winters could be a shock to people who are used to more temperate climates, so he started collecting coats. Word spread, donations ballooned, and soon Al Rashid Mosque offered him the use of a vacant building. Within a couple of months, the EIRC was born and had amassed enough clothing for 20,000 people—and more. “We had everything, from toothpicks to furniture,” says Jomaa. The centre also had the infrastructure to handle a significant relief effort: moving trucks, a help hotline, $250,000 and lots of muscle. EIRC’s

(PREVIOUS SP READ) THE CANADIAN PRESS/JAS ON F RANSON

TAKING SHELTER AT AL RASHID


(AL RASHID) JASON FRANS ON

(Left to right) Salwa Kadri, Lemis Aldarwish, Danielle McDougall and Hussein Jomaa

2,000 volunteers roughly matched the number of refugees who’d just arrived in Edmonton. When the wildfires displaced 88,000 Albertans, the hotline was ringing again. By midnight on May 3, Al Rashid had welcomed a dozen evacuees. There were just enough supplies for the first wave, who were given prayer carpets and bedding to sleep on, but a shipment of cots sponsored by Islamic Relief Canada arrived in the night, as well as another 50 people. “We realized we had to do more than just open our doors,” says Salwa Kadri, the mosque’s office and program manager. She’s been a congregant of the 78-year-old mosque

for four decades. Back when she joined, Islam was rarely discussed in Canada, let alone cast in a negative light. Sensing discomfort from some of the non-Muslim evacuees, she and Jomaa welcomed them and outlined the mosque activities that might be startling, like the 4 a.m. call to prayer. Everything but funerals and prayers was put on hold to accommodate the Fort McMurray contingent. The mosque offered up its imam’s residence, and worshippers and neighbours invited strangers to stay in spare rooms and basement suites. “It was heartening to be able to work together toward the same goal,” says Danielle McDougall, a resident rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

73


READER’S DIGEST

–Omar Mouallem

OPERATION ANIMAL RESCUE Not all of Fort McMurray’s evacuees were two-legged. At certain airlines, pet-loving officials pledged to shuttle critters out of the danger zone. Given the high number of animals that needed transport, cats, dogs, turtles, hedgehogs and even a snake were permitted to ride alongside their humans in the cabin. Kerri Power, who was flown south to Calgary with her two chihuahuas, says the trip wasn’t as wild as one might expect: “All of the pets were so well-behaved.” 74

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

Meanwhile, livestock were evacuated in trailers or cut loose. When Nadia Crewe, a resident of Andrew, Alta., saw a news report about Fort McMurray, she knew how to help. The 32-year-old opened up her 17-acre property to 12 horses, three cats, four dogs and a turtle—and 21 humans. “I wanted to provide everyone with a familiar environment,” she says. Two of the 12 horses belonged to Crewe’s pal Megan Bastien, who had been forced to leave three others behind. She had inherited the abandoned steeds from her father, who had recently passed away, and was determined to get them back. Three days after the evacuation, Bastien and Crewe returned to Fort McMurray, where an officer arranged for a police escort. The trees on Bastien’s property were burning when they arrived, but her father’s trio was miraculously unharmed. –Megan Jones

Maverick, evacuated on a Canadian North flight

(MAVERICK) HEIDI GIRLING

of Lauderdale, the North Edmonton neighbourhood in which Al Rashid is located. McDougall had been volunteering at a relief centre nearby, and once donations there started to overflow, she offered them to Kadri. Lemis Aldarwish, a 21-year-old student, was one of the 110 volunteers at Al Rashid. She had arrived in Edmonton in 2015, two years after fleeing her farming village in Syria with her family. “The evacuees would tell me the story of how they left their homes, and I knew exactly how that feels,” she says. For a week in May, Aldarwish returned to the mosque every day to cook, sort donations and sit with Syrian refugees. “I was very happy to see people from different religions and countries collaborating, just being human.”


STAND AND DELIVER

Staff at the North on 60

(NORTH ON 60) VALERIE A .; (ALEXAN DER TUCK) DA NI ELLE TUC K

FUEL FROM THE FIRE By the evening of Tuesday, May 3, the mandatory-evacuation order extended to all Fort McMurray residents, and the roads out of town were jammed with traffic. Within 36 hours, exhausted drivers fleeing south on Highway 60 were being offered a welcome gift at the North on 60 Gas Bar and Convenience Store, managed by Valerie A.: a tank of gas, compliments of the Enoch Cree Nation. “There are a fair amount of First Nations folks in the Fort Mac area, but everybody needed help,” says Valerie. “On Thursday morning, I sent Chief Billy Morin a Facebook message asking if I could offer a free fill of gas at the store. He liked the idea and agreed that we should extend the donations until the end of the weekend. We gave out around $8,000 worth of gas; I can’t even tell you how many tanks. I remember one customer coming up and asking if she could hug me. It was so heartwarming.”

As fundraising efforts kicked off across the country, Canadian kids proved you don’t have to be a grownup to make a difference. Car washes, bake sales and lemonade stands seemed to be everywhere, but no stand was as popular as the one run by five-year-old Alexander Tuck in Whitby, Ont. After setting up shop for a single Saturday outside the Thickston shopping plaza, he raised over $2,600 for the Red Cross—with help from his mom, Danielle. “Alexander was quite upset about the fire, about kids losing their toys,” says Tuck. “I was overwhelmed by how many generous people came out to a little boy’s lemonade stand. A few families from Fort McMurray happened to be in town visiting. One woman we met had lost her home. She brought Alexander a teddy bear. There were a lot of tears.” –Katie Hewitt

Alexander Tuck

–Vibhu Gairola rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

75


READER’S DIGEST

PRECIOUS CONNECTIONS When Quinn Lotsberg left for work on May 3, he didn’t know his house was about to be reduced to cinders. A high-school vice-principal, Lotsberg also collects gemstones and precious metals. Once he was permitted to return to his property in mid-June, he donned a haz-mat suit, grabbed a prospector’s pan and began sifting through the wreckage for his modest but much-loved stash. As he searched, word spread through the gemstone community, and Hans Durstling, a venerated gem cutter in Moncton, volunteered to restore any stones Lotsberg found, free of charge. “Quinn sent me a handful of ash with six or seven stones in it,” says Durstling. “Rubies, sapphires, peridots, topazes, garnets and tourmalines that looked like they’d been buried in kitty litter, rained on for a month and then baked in the oven at high heat.” –Sarah Liss 76

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

Bride-to-be Judy Dredge heard the call to evacuate while she was at her job as a bus driver for Sparksman Transportation. She frantically texted a list of must-save wedding items to her fiancé, Paul, whom she was due to marry on August 6. He was able to rescue the dress and the rings, but nothing else. A month later, Dredge asked for help on social media, and hundreds of people, mostly strangers, came forward with offers of a veil and headpiece, bouquets and chair covers, among other things. In early August, as planned, the couple was joined in a ceremony in Black Duck Cove, N.L.—where Paul’s 96-yearold grandmother is based—in front of 200 guests. “The wedding was everything I had dreamed of. It meant even more after experiencing the loss of our home,” says Dredge. At their reception, the happy couple raised $500 for Fort McMurray’s first responders. –Katie Hewitt

(GEMS ) HANS DURSTLI NG; (THE D RE D G E S) JU DY D RE D G E

SAVING THE DATE


Stacey O’Malley (left) and Amber Mitchener

(QUILTERS) IA N PATTERSON

THE BLANKET EFFECT If a quilt is a handmade hug, Fort McMurray residents are feeling the love—from around the world. When Stacey O’Malley put out a call online for quilt blocks featuring a maple leaf design in white, blue, red, green and gold—the colours of Alberta’s flag—she was looking to comfort those who had lost their homes. The 33-year-old had moved to Ottawa from Edmonton in 2015 and knows many people with loved ones in Fort McMurray. O’Malley had hoped to amass 100 blocks from contributors—enough material to make 10 quilts—but nearly 2,000 arrived from across

Canada and the United States, as well as England, Japan, Scotland and Australia. Within a month, she had enlisted the help of the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild, a social quilting group, and by the end of October, the Ottawans had sent 70 quilts to the western province. Creating a single quilt made up of 24 to 42 blocks can take 15 to 30 hours, depending on the design. The majority of the work involved in making the 70 covers was done over two days in July and August, when roughly 40 guild members and 30 other volunteers participated in sewins. “There was lots of talking, laughing and snacking,” says 35-year-old rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

77


READER’S DIGEST

Amber Mitchener, the president of Ottawa Modern.

THE FACEBOOK GROUP QUILTS FOR FORT MCMURRAY WANTS EACH OF THE 88,000 EVACUEES TO BE GIFTED A COVER. The group used almost all of the donated blocks, even when benefactors got creative with the guidelines and sent in maple leaves sewn from cloth patterned with Scottie dogs and kilted girls. Reaching out to businesses at home and abroad—donors included Cotton Mill Threadworks in Dundas, Ont., and an Italian thread manufacturer named Aurifil—further sustained the drive. Ottawa Modern shipped its completed creations to the United Way,

one of the main distributors on the ground in Alberta, along with the Salvation Army. By the beginning of October, says Russell Thomas, director of communications and community impact for the United Way of Fort McMurray, more than 330 quilts had already been handed out—just in time for the reliably early western winter. The first batch went to staffers of non-profit organizations who’d lost their homes in the blaze, as well as firefighters and other first responders, but the Facebook group Quilts for Fort McMurray is lobbying for each of the area’s 88,000 evacuees to be gifted a cover. Local guilds, like the one in Ottawa, are the key to meeting that ambitious goal. “Modern quilters place emphasis on the utility aspect of quilting,” says O’Malley. “We want them to be used, cuddled, loved, washed and reused— not saved as an heirloom.” –Chris Lackner

THIS WAY OUT In June, the United Kingdom voted for “Brexit” (“British exit”)— that is, they chose to leave the European Union. Here are potential handles for other countries, should they opt for a similar path: ■ Czechout

■ AufWiederSpain

■ Scootland

■ Farewales

■ Boltswana

■ Fleeji

humorlabs.com

78

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


ANNOUNCEMENT

SWEEPSTAKES

AND YOU! Marisa Orsini, Administrator, Sweepstakes and Contests

Let’s clear the air. As the spokesperson for Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes, I’m asked repeatedly if our Sweepstakes is real. That’s understandable, given the problems some people have had with fly-by-night operators. We’re different from the other guys. We’ve been in the business of making dreams happen since 1962. Here’s why: • We NEVER ask you for money to enter or to receive your prize • We NEVER require you to buy anything to enter • We DON’T have prizes drawn on a U.S. bank • We NEVER contact prize winners by phone • We ALWAYS give away every penny, guaranteed

WANT MORE ANSWERS? Visit us and get all the facts fast at readersdigest.ca/sweepstakes


HEART

How my part-time job helped me find the words to express love, grief and everything in between

Flower Shop

Lessons BY ALIS H A GO RD ER F R OM TH E N E W YO R K T I ME S

80

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


O

N MY FIRST DAY OF WORK at the flower shop, I showed up in sandals. The second day, realizing I needed something with a closed toe, I wore my nice oxfords. The third day, having learned that less fancy would be best, I debuted a pair of red hightop Converse sneakers I’d bought specifically for the job. The clean white toes of my Chuck Taylors perfectly reflected my newness at the Portland, Ore., shop—how long it took me to put together bouquets, how I struggled to fold paper around loose stems in a way that was pretty, or at least presentable.

“It’s like swaddling a baby,” someone told me in an effort to be helpful, but I’d never done that either. My dream of working in a flower shop had its roots in my grandmother’s Redding, Calif., garden, always in bloom, where I made bouquets with whatever I could get my hands on. But that experience in no way prepared me for the number of buckets I would have to clean or the way dirt would wedge itself permanently under my fingernails. Mostly, though, I wasn’t prepared for the people, from the man who handed out three flowers to three strangers every Tuesday to the Thanksgiving guest who sent an arrangement to his hosts after accidentally walking off with one of their silver dinner knives. Their stories wove their way into mine and stuck with me long after I locked up for the night. I always enjoyed reading the messages that went along with each 82

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

bouquet. Most were what you would expect, plenty of “I Love You” and “Get Well Soon.” We got so many “Happy Birthday,” “Happy Anniversary,” and “Thinking of You” requests that phone messages were written in shorthand: H.B., H.A., T.O.Y. But others had more flair, like “Farewell to your old breasts and hello to the new Megan.” Once I took a phone order for a dozen yellow roses and a card that read, “Sorry I’m an idiot.” “Is that it?” I asked. “‘From Your Duck,’” he added. “‘Duck,’ like the animal?” “Yeah.” I would scoff at messages that seemed too sugary, trite or boring, and it disheartened me when customers asked what their sympathy cards should say. But I understood that finding the right words can be a monumental task and that sometimes those words just happen

PHOTOGRA PHY BY DAN SAELI NGER, (PROP STY LIST) DOM INI QUE BAYN ES, ( HAIR AND MAK E U P) AMY G IL L E SPIE FOR R OST E R R E PS

READER’S DIGEST


to be the same ones everyone else is using. About six months into the job, I came across a message that struck me for its honesty: “Cards and flowers seem so lame when someone dies, but we are thinking of you and want you to know.” I thought about that note a lot. When I was 18, my boyfriend of two years hanged himself from the rafters of his garage. He was the first boy I kissed, the first I loved, the last person I talked to at night and the first person

By the time I started at the flower shop almost four years later, I had shed some of my cynicism and bitterness. I no longer wore his T-shirts to bed and had given up on finding answers to impossible questions, most of which were versions of the relentless “What could I have done?” There was always something, but at the same time, absolutely nothing, and I had learned to live with that. I had moved away and finished school and loved someone else. I was more open to people’s pain and

PEOPLE BUY FLOWERS WHEN THEY’RE IN LOVE, IN TROUBLE, DRUNK, EXCITED— AND SOMETIMES FOR NO REASON AT ALL. I talked to in the morning, until one sunny day in November when I woke up to a call from his mother. People sent cards. I don’t remember what they wrote, but what mattered was the gesture. Maybe they said, “With our deepest sympathies” or “We’re so sorry for your loss.” For me, it came down to one word: gone. After he died, I thought of his death as something that had happened to me, an act committed specifically with me in mind because of something I had or had not done, and it took me years to break free of this habit.

also their happiness, two states of being that used to equally irritate me: the pain because it hit too close to home and the happiness because it seemed so far away. I became more interested in other people’s stories, and the more I was confronted with life in all its beauty and ugliness, the more I felt a softening in myself. I have sold flowers to single men and women; to a colour-blind father shopping with his precocious daughters; to new parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles; to engaged twentysomethings and rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

83


READER’S DIGEST

couples celebrating 50 years. I’ve given flowers to homeless men who have, in turn, given them to pretty girls in summer dresses. Once I presented a Cherry Brandy rose to Extremo the Clown—a red-foamnosed character who drove the Never Never Van around the streets of Portland while blasting music and waving a monkey puppet out the window. People buy flowers when they’re in love, in trouble, drunk, devastated, excited—and sometimes for no obvious reason at all.

Six months later, he came back. Again, I pointed out the most fragrant flowers, watching as he buried his nose in the blooms and listening as he told me about his wife, now pregnant. At first, I was blown away by the ease and regularity with which I was invited into customers’ lives, but it quickly became the norm. “What’s this for?” I would ask, because it was my job. “Anniversary.” “Birthday.” “Just because.” But then sometimes “This might be too much information, but

I WAS BLOWN AWAY BY THE EASE AND REGULARITY WITH WHICH I WAS INVITED INTO CUSTOMERS’ LIVES. ONLY OCCASIONALLY WOULD I

get to see how the story played out. I helped a young man buy flowers for a woman he was seeing, and he told me that he would soon be proposing to her on a trip overseas they were taking together. I remember him because he came in looking for the most fragrant flowers—stock, stargazers, tuberose. I spent 15 minutes with him, walking around, taking whiffs of each flower. It was the first time I’d smelled a flower all day, even though I’d been working for hours. 84

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

I’m dating my ex-wife.” And just like that, I would find myself in the middle of a discussion about what that’s like, to date one’s former spouse. I took notes on these conversations, snapped photos of card messages and told my favourite shop stories to co-workers, family and friends, but still so much has gotten away. Details escape me, and sometimes it seems as if the harder I try to hold onto them, the blurrier they become. That used to drive me crazy. Shame on me, I thought, to gather so many stories only to let them go


like water through cupped palms. But the beauty, I learned, was that there would always be more, and that made the losing more okay. Why do we send flowers? To make up for what is intangible? Those feelings we can’t present as a gift to our loved ones? And why is it that the placeholders we choose—the dozen red roses, the fragrant white lilies, the long-stemmed French tulips—are so fleeting? Hold onto them for too long and you end up with a mess of petals, pollen and foul-smelling water. After my boyfriend’s death, I tried to find closure. I wrote letters and set them on fire. I went to a therapist, and then to another. I went to yoga and tried meditation. I moved to Colorado, then Oregon. I went so many places and carried him along with me to each of them. I have done so much holding.

There’s a picture I took of him just days before I left for college, two months before he died. His face is turned away, hidden from the camera, but I like to think he’s smiling. I remember the song we were listening to, the chatter of frogs through the screen door, my bare feet on wood. Precious moments made all the more precious by the fact that they have already come and gone. Now I measure months by what’s in season: sunflowers in July, dahlias in August, rose hips and maple in October, pine in December, hyacinth in March, crowd-pleasing peonies in May. A favourite of mine is tulip magnolia, the way the buds erupt into blooms and the blooms into a litter of colour on lawns, all in a matter of weeks while it’s snowing cherry blossoms. How startlingly beautiful impermanence can be.

THE NEW YORK TIMES (NOVEMBER 15, 2015). COPYRIGHT © 2015 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES CO., NYTIMES.COM

WHY DO WE CALL IT... ■ A “BUCK”? Because in the 1700s, trappers could sell a

single buckskin for one dollar. ■ THE “FUZZ”? Because police in London, U.K., once wore

fuzzy helmets. ■ THE “LIMELIGHT”? Because theatre spotlights used to

burn lime to create light. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

85


TRAVEL

Exploring the California coast with an old-school map and room to roam

A FIELD GUIDE TO

GETTING

LOST BY PAS H A M ALLA FR O M T H E WAL RU S ILLUSTRATIONS BY TOM FROESE

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

87


READER’S DIGEST

n a flight from Toronto to San Francisco last August, I kept looking up from my book to monitor the animation showing our progress on the seat back in front of me. Moments later, in an uncanny conflation of worlds real and imagined, I found myself reading about that same experience. “No invention has been more contrary to the spirit of cartography than these airplane maps,” writes Valeria Luiselli in her 2013 compilation of essays, Sidewalks. “A map is a spatial abstraction; the imposition of a temporal dimension—whether in the form of a chronometer or a miniature plane that advances in a straight line across space—is in contradiction to its very purpose.” This passage resonated with the plans my partner, Vanessa, and I had made for our California holiday: a two-week road trip that would begin in the Bay Area, trace the coast down to Big Sur, then zip back up through Napa Valley and the redwoods before heading north into Oregon. At home in Toronto, booking campsites and bed and breakfasts online, Vanessa had mentioned that, years ago, her family had blazed a similar trail using something called a TripTik Travel Planner. I’d never heard of such a thing, as my own family vacations had tended to

O

88

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

involve rented cottages (fun) and culturally edifying visits to India (less so). TripTik, she explained, is a service provided to members of the Canadian Automobile Association. Back in the late 1980s, when Vanessa was a kid, her dad would head to the local CAA outlet with a holiday plan, and an agent would plot a route for him in highlighter on a series of coilbound maps. The TripTik was supplemented with relevant TourBooks, which detailed regional attractions, accommodations and restaurants along the way. I was intrigued: like many quintessentially Canadian experiences that often elude the kids of South Asian immigrants (hockey, sloppy joes, sunburns), this seemed like something I might reclaim now, as an adult. One of the great ironies of the coast around Silicon Valley is that it hosts a number of wireless dead zones. So, faced with the prospect of being technologically marooned, we decided not just to TripTik our route but to forgo satellite navigation entirely—no GPS, no Google Maps, no smartphones. Maybe freeing ourselves from virtual mediation would foster a more engaged travel experience; maybe it would be inconvenient and irritating. But for the sake of nostalgia, both real (hers) and invented (mine), we thought we’d give it a shot.


IN THE EARLY 20TH century, as

the automobile began populating the public imagination and the roadways of North America, drivers formed regional motor clubs to lobby for their own interests. In 1902, nine independent chapters in the United States banded together to create the American Automobile Association. Eleven years later, an equivalent federation was established north of the border, officially becoming the Canadian Automobile Association on March 8, 1916.

package for us. “Picture a snow-clad mountainside,” instructed the authors of the Northern California TourBook. “A man and a woman in ski gear swoosh down an alpine slope. Cut to a sun-washed beach hours later. The same twosome strolls along the shore, water lapping at their feet. Then, at a swank urban bistro that evening, they sit across from each other savouring a sumptuous dinner.” (Yes! Swoosh! This would soon be us!) The TripTik seemed dubious: its coils were flimsy plastic, its paper

NOW THAT MAPPING INCLUDES ANOTHER DIMENSION, IT’S NO LONGER A GUIDE SO MUCH AS A PROJECT OF PERFECTION. A centur y later, C AA counts roughly 6.2 million members. After almost 70 years of guiding intrepid Canadians around the continent, the association stopped handing out its hand-drawn offerings last year. Instead, it now directs road trippers to their online TripTik Travel Planner, accessed by about a million people annually. So our trip to California, we like to think, was guided by one of the last handmade TripTiks ever. Although CAA was phasing out the service, the Brantford, Ont., store agreed to put together a paper

only a grade or two thicker than newsprint, and our route, drawn by hand in green marker, wobbled from one section to the next. I was uncomfortably reminded that travel used to be a voyage into the unknown. There’s been a huge ontological leap from poorly folded road maps stuffed into gloveboxes to the immersive environments of Google Earth and dashboard navigation that responds to traffic and weather in real time. Now that cartography includes another dimension, mapping is no longer a guide so much as a project rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

89


READER’S DIGEST

of perfection: the best route, available immediately, updated live as you drive it. That we were heading to another country without that sort of guidance felt as foolhardy as it did liberating. What if we drove off the page? OUR FIRST HUMAN interaction in America was at a San Francisco airport rental-car desk. For 45 minutes, the man behind the counter performed a bewildering dance of legalese and bogus charges, including a $150 pass to traverse California’s

stunning coastline, bordered by Carmel in the north and San Simeon in the south, from which the Santa Lucia Mountains heave inland. We stayed that first night at a semirustic, cripplingly expensive resort nestled in the woods off the highway; like many American restaurants, the affiliated “roadhouse” seemed to assert its patriotism via portion size. TripTik aside, on our daily excursions up and down the coast, we were often so flabbergasted by the views that we overshot exits and

WHEN I TRAVEL, I REQUIRE AN ANCHOR. THE TRIPTIK STARTED TO SERVE AS SORT OF A CULTURAL TOUCHSTONE. toll roads. But, helpfully, our TripTik informed us that we would need to pay a total of only US$6 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge before flying back to Canada. Salesman thwarted, we got our car and hit the road. The CAA TourBook’s alliterative claim that the SR 1 highway “snakes along ... in a seemingly endless series of sinuous S-curves” didn’t prepare us for the jaw-dropping beauty around almost every twist and turn. And though our TripTik identified it as a single location, Big Sur actually encompasses a broad swath of 90

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

missed turns. There were limits to its purview as well: a few days in, heading back inland, we trawled every inch of the numbingly nondescript city of Gilroy in a panicked attempt to buy Vanessa a rain jacket (never worn). And in Ashland, Oregon, we wandered the downtown for 40 minutes before locating the Shakespeare Festival, where we had tickets to see Pericles—a play, it so happens, about being cast adrift and succumbing to chance. Once, we even got lost in time. Having successfully TripTik’d our


way to Shelter Cove, which marks the southerly start of the portentously named Lost Coast Trail, we thought we’d do a portion of it as a day hike. Since the route skirts the ocean for 40 kilometres, much of it is passable only at low tide and requires strict adherence to tide charts unless you wish to be swept out to sea. Comparing the map and a newly acquired chart, we figured we had a couple of hours to get out to a point about six kilometres down the trail before the surf came in and we’d have to turn back. A spot on the horizon seemed to correspond to this marker, so we set out for it with one eye on the ocean and the other on our watches. The walk, over loose stone and wet sand, was gruelling, especially with our matching his-and-hers bum knees (MCL and ACL tears, respectively). On and on we trudged, and that little promontory grew no closer. An hour passed, then another. We stopped for water; we hurried past a bear and her cubs lumbering around in the trees up the bank. And still our goal seemed unreachable. Then Vanessa looked back. “Um,” she said, “do you think maybe we’ve already passed it?” She seemed to be right: a couple kilometres back, the waves were hungrily “lapping,” as per our TourBook, at a jut of rocks that resembled the one on our map with remarkable precision and over


READER’S DIGEST

which we’d scampered an hour or so prior. After wading back to the trailhead and retreating in drenched shame to our hotel room, we realized that if we’d gone any further, our only option would have been to bivouac up into the woods, where that bear and her cubs had lain in wait. IT CAN BE KIND of nice to get lost—

for a little while. “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark,” writes Rebecca Solnit in her 2005 book, A Field Guide to Getting

to expect around the next corner. When I kept comparing a hike in the Redwood National Park to the Green Gardens walk in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, Vanessa remarked on this constant need for analogues. It seems a human enough tendency to comprehend through association, but I have to confess: the unfamiliar makes me anxious until I’ve slotted it into some pre-existing category of understanding. So when I travel, I require an anchor. And though the TripTik was

YOU HAVE TO TRUST YOURSELF— ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF BEYOND THE MAP’S PAGES. Lost. “Getting lost is not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.” In these wired times, that seems easier said than done. You’re often just a couple of clicks away from rescue, be it in the form of social media’s salve for loneliness or an escape route plotted on your phone. The thing is, I don’t actually need to lose my way to feel lost. I’m disoriented any time I don’t know what 92

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

just a few sheets of paper, it started to serve as a sort of cultural touchstone. CAA has always struck me as one of those intrinsically nationalistic organizations, akin to Canada Post, the CBC or the CFL. The TripTik became my link to home. OUR TRIPTIK WASN’T just a guide to our vacation; it provided a vacation in itself. Travelling a route sketched for us by human hands, liberated from technology’s mediating influence, I experienced less a personal emancipation than a reversion to my


more basic instincts. A paper map has edges; a virtual map sprawls limitlessly over the surface of the globe. The spatial limitations of the TripTik created a sense of finitude and constraint; you have to trust yourself a little more, especially when you find yourself beyond its pages. We’d booked our final night in California at a lodge on the Russian River, planning to go out for a nice meal and relax before a leisurely drive back to San Francisco the next day. After we checked in, Vanessa fired up her phone to prepay our toll across the Golden Gate Bridge and asked me the date. “September 8,” I said with confidence. “And we fly out September 9 at five in the morning.” With dawning horror, she looked

from me to her phone and back. “That’s in 10 hours!” There’s a special kind of ineptitude that treads the line between adventure and annoyance. I won’t claim to have been happy about racing down Highway 101 at 2 a.m. to catch our flight home. Nor would I suggest that a mobile device, programmed with some sort of alert or alarm, would have entirely prevented such a thing. Those were a silent, tense few hours in the car, each of us blaming ourselves and each other equally. But by the time we got to the airport, our moods had lightened. “Well, we made it,” said Vanessa, and kissed me on the cheek. I smiled, kissed her back. We had, indeed. This, too, had already become just another story.

© 2016 BY PASHA MALLA. FROM THE WALRUS (JULY/AUGUST 2016). THEWALRUS.CA

ADVICE ON LIFE We’re all so busy chasing the extraordinary that we forget to stop and be grateful for the ordinary. BRENÉ BROWN, professor

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes conditions perfect. ALAN COHEN, writer

Meet hate with love. Meet darkness with light. Meet fear with senseless, relentless, extravagant love. GLENNON DOYLE MELTON, writer

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

93


As Kids See It

“If owls are so wise, why are they always eating mice instead of pizza?”

My three-year-old brother, Frankie, had a very bad cold. My mom said, “Frankie, your nose is running.” He looked up at her, confused, then pointed at his face and said, “No, it’s not! It’s right here.” SHIRLEY CROSSLEY, Ne w R o s s , N. S .

ARE YOU SURE?

Once, my young nephew told my sister-in-law that he remembered what it was like when he was in her tummy. He said, “It was scary in there. There were bats.” reddit.com 94

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

LIKE FATHER, LIKE… ME TO MY SON: You remind me

a lot of me. SON: That’s just mean. @JIMGAFFIGAN

NICE TRY

My six-year-old daughter recently forgot to ask us to sign one of her tests from school. She’s a good student and didn’t want to get in trouble. Panicking, she tried to fake my signature. In the top left corner of her test sheet she wrote: “Mom.” reddit.com

LEN CHAPM AN

GOT YOUR NOSE


TEACHER TALES

I work at a daycare. The kids there are constantly putting their left shoes on their right feet and vice versa. The other day, one boy did just that. “You’ve got your shoes on the wrong feet!” I told him. He looked at me, bewildered, and replied, “But I don’t have any other feet!” While I was pregnant, many of my kindergarten students would excitedly ask when the baby was coming. One of them, however, seemed quite concerned. One day she pulled me aside and whispered, “What if it hatches in class?” reddit.com CONFLICT RESOLUTION

My five-year-old daughter and her friend just ended an argument by deciding they would “have a piece of cheese and calm down.” @MOMPSYCHOLOGIST

I TOOK MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD

nephew out to lunch and ordered spicy chicken wings. He kept insisting on trying one, despite my warnings that he wouldn’t like them because they were too hot. Eventually I gave in and let him have a tiny piece. As expected, he hated it. Once he got over the taste, my nephew looked at me, wounded, and said, “Next time, blow on it!” reddit.com

AND ONE FOR THE KIDS Q: What did the duck say when he bought lipstick? A: Put it on my bill. laughfactory.com

STRATEGIC THINKING

By the time she reached 18 months old, it was clear that my daughter was smart. One evening I was watching TV and was engrossed. Feeling ignored, my daughter toddled over and suddenly turned the television off. “Well,” I exclaimed, “it must be bedtime!” She stopped mid-stride, thought for a second, then turned the television back on. WENDY PURVES, Toronto RECENTLY, I HAD a talk with my

eldest son about the birds and the bees. Not long after that, I caught him teasing his younger brother, saying: “You don’t even know how babies are made.” Not wanting to admit ignorance, my youngest insisted he did know. When his brother challenged him to explain, he simply said: “It’s a long and complicated process.” reddit.com Do you know the next big thinker? Share their insights with us! A funny kid story could earn you $50. For details on how to submit an anecdote, see page 11 or visit rd.ca/joke.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

95


MEMOIR

For Alison Pick, a conversation overheard at Christmas became the key to uncovering her Jewish identity

The

Chosen Path FROM TA B LET

96

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


Clockwise, from left: Alison Pick with her paternal grandfather, Gumper, in 1979; Granny and Gumper cutting a rug in the 1960s; the extended Pick family in 1976; a young Pick with her father’s parents in 1979. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

97


I GREW UP IN A Christian family. As a small girl in Kitchener in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I loved to go into the church basement and make crosses out of Popsicle sticks and glue. I loved to hear my father sing in the pew beside me, loud and off-key. I especially loved Christmas. It wasn’t just the presents under the tree—I thrilled to the ceremonial side of the season: the molten glow of fairy lights under a soft dusting of snow; the voices of the carollers who came to our front door. On Christmas Eve we went to midnight mass, hours later than I was usually allowed to stay up. In the morning I raced to the window to see my mother’s parents teetering up our walk, their arms overburdened with packages. Less frequently, my father’s parents came. They spoke in thick European accents, and we treated them like royalty, bringing them breakfast in bed and tiptoeing around the house while they slept. They loved seeing my sister and me, but I knew they didn’t love Christmas. I couldn’t imagine why. IRONICALLY, I FIRST stumbled upon our family secret at Christmas. I was 10 or 11 years old, and we were celebrating with Dad’s family that year. My Auntie Sheila was speaking to my mother about a couple they both knew, the husband Jewish, the wife a gentile. 98

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

I was cruising a plate of Black Magic chocolates, trying to guess which one would have a pink centre. Above me, I heard Auntie Sheila say, “So, their daughter isn’t Jewish. Because Judaism always comes from the mother.” I bit into a chocolate and screwed up my face: marzipan. Mum: “So, our girls aren’t…?” “Our girls aren’t Jewish, either,” Auntie Sheila said. “Family secret or no family secret.” “Even though their fathers….” “Right. Because we aren’t,” my aunt said. I remember this moment like they show it in cartoons, a little light bulb appearing in the air above my head. When Auntie Sheila said “our girls,” she was talking about my cousins and my sister. And me. I put my half-eaten marzipan back on the plate. MY FATHER, WHO loves to sing hymns at church, found out he is Jewish by accident in his early 20s. He was touring Europe in the mid-1960s with some college friends; at the cemetery in Prague, the tour guide pulled him aside. “Don’t you know that Pick is a Jewish name?” he asked. “I’m not Jewish,” Dad said. The other man shrugged. “Your name is.” Back home in Canada, it took Dad years to work up the nerve to ask

PREVIOUS SP READ: (ALISON AN D GUMP ER; GUMP ER, GRAN NY, AN D ALI SON) THOMAS PICK ; AL L PHOTOS COU RTE SY OF AL ISON PICK

READER’S DIGEST


whether what the guide said was skeletons piled up in the mass graves true. When he finally approached his seemed abstract. I don’t remember the precise mother in the kitchen, she got a look in her eye—part fear, part relief—and moment I came to understand the called upstairs to my grandfather: truth. Dad’s parents were Jewish, which meant Dad himself was, too. “He knows!” There was a single conversation. My grandmother’s parents died in Dad’s parents told him about their concentration camps. They had exit relatives who died in Auschwitz and visas and all the paperwork required about their decision to renounce to leave Czechoslovakia, but they their past. Decades went by before loved their homeland passionately and refused to believe anyone in our family they were in danger spoke of it again. until it was too late. I try to imagine this My g r a n d p a re n t s re v e l at i o n , w hat i t WE WERE escaped and came to would be like to spend FORBIDDEN Canada, where they your whole life thinkTO DISCUSS ing you were one thing, THAT PART OF saw a club that had a sign on the door: No only to find out you’re OUR PAST. Jews Allowed. They had something else entirely. NATURALLY, That everything you THAT MADE IT never practised their least that’s the thought you knew— ALL THE MORE faith—at story I always heard— your church, your COMPELLING. and so renouncing it school, the food your was easy. They didn’t family ate—was a fabimagine that, 70 years rication. Implicit in this charade, unspoken and therefore all later, their granddaughter would feel the more terrible, was the knowledge compelled to reconnect with her— that the truth had killed your family. their—own buried history. IN HIGH SCHOOL, we studied the Holocaust. I sat in a dark room that smelled of peanut butter and gym shoes while the footage of the liberation of Auschwitz flickered on a screen in front of me. I was horrified, of course, but my own connection was still murky. The image of the

IN UNIVERSITY, I studied psychology. It wasn’t until the final year of my undergraduate degree, when I took a creative writing class as a lark, that I understood what I would do with my life. I wrote poems about my broken heart, about nature, about fruit. Still, rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

99


READER’S DIGEST

I knew instinctively that this wasn’t fasted on Yom Kippur, the Jewish really what I wanted to write. Over day of atonement, for her entire life. the years, I’d learned more about my grandmother and her life after the IN 2008, MY fiancé, Degan, and I Holocaust, and those were the stories moved from St. John’s, N.L., where that came tugging at me in the early we’d lived since 2001, to Toronto, the morning hours. city with the biggest Jewish population There was only one problem: we in Canada. The previous year, motivwere still forbidden from discussing ated in part by the stories I’d learned this part of our past. Naturally, that about my grandparents, I’d started just made it more compelling. I wrote working on a book that was rooted in those poems, and they my own family history. made their way into my That process deepened first book, published in my emotional connec2003. My grandmother tion to my heritage, and I’D ALWAYS had passed away sevI decided to sign up for ASSUMED eral years earlier and JUDAISM WAS a basic six-week course didn’t get to read it. on Judaism. Doing JewTHE SAME AS In the years that folish, it was called. It was CHRISTIANITY: lowed her death, the there I made a discovery THAT I COULD atmosphere in our famthat changed my life. RECLAIM IT ily changed dramatiDuring the evening WHEN I cally. I was especially of our second class, WANTED. surprised by the change the teacher wrote a in my father. He seemed, question in bold black if not eager, then at least marker on the dr ynewly open to discussing our history. erase board at the front of the room: I learned more about the people my “WHAT IS JUDAISM?” ancestors had been. I learned that We were silent, eight or 10 stranalthough my grandmother’s family gers avoiding each other’s eyes. really had been secular, my grandA tall woman put up her hand. “It’s father’s family had been observant. a religion.” Ruzenka, my grandfather’s mother, “Like any other?” who escaped the Nazis but died “It’s harder to join.” before I was born, continued to “And why is it harder to join?” the practise in secret. While her son and teacher asked. grandchildren pretended to be Chris“The Jews are the chosen people. tian, she lit candles for Shabbat and You can’t choose to be chosen.” 100

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


The conversation quickly pro- thunderbolts, of door-to-door salesgressed to conversion, which was, men peddling salvation and of I learned, the reason everyone else women with their eyes rolled back in was there. To officially become their heads. I hedge: “At least, I’d like to explore Jewish under the auspices of the progressive-leaning Reform Rabbis my options.” The rabbi smiles. “Do you have of Greater Toronto, you have to take a year-long, intensive tutorial called a husband?” “A fiancé.” the Jewish Information Course (JIC). “And he’s Jewish? Not Jewish?” To take that course, you must be “Not Jewish,” I say. sponsored by a rabbi. Our class was A little frown wrinfull of engaged coukles her forehead. “And ples—one partner Jewhow does he feel about ish, the other hoping to all this?” sign up before they got CONVERSION “He’s supportive,” hitched—whose rabFEELS I say. Which he is. bis had suggested they PERFECTLY “ N o B e i t D i n …” take Doing Jewish first, RIGHT. IT she stops, realizing I as a trial run. ISN’T JUST don’t know the term. We went around the ABOUT GOD; A Hebrew phrase that table and introduced IT’S ABOUT means, literally, “house ourselves properly. The HISTORY AND of judgment,” it refers other students talked FAMILY. to a panel of three rababout their desire to bis. “No Beit Din here become Jewish. And in Toronto would agree what about me? I had always assumed Judaism was the to create an intermarriage.” “I’m not married,” I remind her. same as Christianity: welcoming “No,” she replies, “but you will be.” of anyone, arms open, that I could I pause, not understanding. Then it reclaim it when I wanted, like a lost dawns on me. “I can’t convert unless suitcase at an airport security desk. Degan does, too?” “Right,” Rabbi Klein exhales. She’s I DECIDE TO go talk with a rabbi, relieved that I’ve finally figured it Rachel Klein. “I think I want to convert,” I hear out. “We want to make sure you are on the same path. Together.” myself say. Degan and I end up enrolling in I pause. Is this true? The word “conversion” makes me think of the JIC, and we enjoy it. We plan for rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

101


READER’S DIGEST

our wedding and get married, and soon I am pregnant. I want, more than anything, for my daughter to be born a Jew. Then one day I get a phone call from Rabbi Klein. As long as a rabbi advocates on my behalf, I can convert. I go in front of the Beit Din, which is easier than I’d imagined. They ask four or five questions and give me the stamp of approval. The only thing that remains is to immerse in the mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath. By now I am seven months pregnant. The morning of the mikveh, I feel the baby moving around like a Mexican jumping bean. I review the blessings I will need to recite. I set to work taking off my toenail polish, which proves to be a big task as I lean over my even bigger belly. But the Torah is clear: the body must be completely unadorned. When we arrive at the mikveh, Degan kisses me goodbye; he will be waiting in the small adjacent room. I take a slow breath and look at myself in the changing-room mirror, thinking of my great-grandmother Ruzenka, fasting quietly, secretly on Yom Kippur. I think of my grandparents and the weight they must have lived with. I know I’ll miss certain things about Christianity. I wonder how the holidays will look, how I will balance Hanukkah with the Christmas festivities that are still important to 102

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

Pick’s daughter’s middle name honours the girl’s great-great-grandmother.

my parents. I worry I’m making a decision that will set me apart from them. Today, though, I feel ready and excited. Conversion, I have come to feel, is what is required for me to step fully into the empty spaces where my father’s ancestors were erased. It would at one point have seemed excessive, but now it feels perfectly right. It isn’t just about God, it’s about history and family. Rabbi Klein shows me into the pool. I’ve been picturing something exotic, made from shimmering green tiles, perhaps canopied by lush, tangled vines, but this looks more like a large square whirlpool at a health club. Nevertheless, I take my first steps in; the water feels silky and warm. It rises up over me. Once I am standing up to my shoulders, the rabbi begins to speak.


The water in the mikveh, she says, is fitting for this particular day. For me. The flow of a river, continuity, my father’s family far behind me and the life growing within my belly, flowing forward to the future. As though she, too, can hear the rabbi’s words, my daughter turns a somersault. From the outside I look still, but inside me everything is moving. Rabbi Klein reads a beautiful passage from the Hebrew Bible, then it’s time for the dunks. She tells me to spread my fingers and toes so the water will touch every part of me. I’ve heard so much about immersion having to be “kosher,” about not a strand of hair being allowed on the surface, about dunks being annulled because a big toe touched the bottom, but Rabbi Klein is very casual. “Make sure you are immersed,” she says, “but don’t stay under too long!” The first two times I’m under, though, I want to remain there as long as I can, to make the moment count. I churn my arms. I picture the

baby inside me, fully formed. When I finally come up, the rabbi recites the blessing concerning immersion. I repeat it back. Then it is time for the third and final dunk. When I emerge from the bath I will be a Jew. ON AUGUST 23, 2009, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She weighed seven pounds, two ounces and was pink-cheeked, wide-eyed and alert. In Jewish tradition, we gave her a middle name that honours her greatgreat grandmother Ruzenka, who, against all odds, practised her Judaism all her life. I haven’t yet told my daughter about the Holocaust. She knows only the joy of singing—loud and off-key, like my father—at the children’s service at synagogue. And when she covers her small eyes as we light the candles on Friday night, I think of Ruzenka, the secret lodged within her, and of the bridge we have slowly, painstakingly built from trauma and grief back to new life.

© 2013 BY ALISON PICK. TABLET MAGAZINE (DECEMBER 2013), TABLETMAG.COM

STARCH SUPPORTER I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them. NORA EPHRON, from Heartburn

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

103


(FOOD STY LIN G) LUCIE RICHARD; (PROP STY LING) CT P ROPS

FOOD


Holidays—especially the meals—are a ton of work. And they’re totally worth it.

Why

Tradition Matters BY BO NNY RE IC H E RT FRO M BEST H EA LTH PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES TSE

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

105


READER’S DIGEST

I REMEMBER SHREDDING potatoes with my grandmother, her strong but gnarled hands creating a massive pile of raw strands with a box grater before I could make it through a single spud. I remember the warmth of those hands on mine, showing me the best method, covering my vulnerable knuckles to protect them from scrapes.

IN LATE FEBRUARY OR EARLY MARCH, HAMENTASHEN ARE TRADED, HOARDED AND SAVOURED— UNTIL THEY’RE GONE. Lacy-crisp and golden, potato latkes are a Hanukkah staple that, like many Jewish holiday foods, are eaten to recall a time of struggle that turned out well—against all odds. In this case, children learn that when the heroic Maccabees rededicated their temple after it was defiled in a battle over religious freedom, they found only enough oil to light the candelabra for a single day. Miraculously, this small ration lasted eight times as long as anticipated, creating the foundation for a holiday that takes place over a week and a day and celebrates light, warmth and deep-fried delicacies. 106

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

All three of my kids have tried their hands at shredding on the box grater, but I usually use a food processor. While latkes require a lot of effort, I would never purchase them. Storebought ones don’t taste right—and besides, the house wouldn’t be filled with the wonderful aroma that signifies Hanukkah. I’m not sure if this commitment makes me a martyr. What I do know is that I love to offer my family meaningful food experiences—and if that means grating and frying and flipping for hours, that’s what I’m going to do. For me, Hanukkah is just one of many special days throughout the year where I have an opportunity to mark the holiday—and connect with my Jewish heritage—through food.

Celebrating Purim In late winter comes the 24 hours of Purim, when we pay homage to brave Queen Esther of ancient Persia, who saved the Jews from a villain named Haman. Purim is a fun and raucous holiday where kids dress up in costumes and generally make lots of noise. Even my baby, Maya, is now 14, so it’s been a while since my children were young enough to get dolled up and drag me to synagogue, but I still make hamentashen, the triangular Purim cookies, which symbolize the three-sided hat Haman was said to wear. My grandmother filled them with prunes, my mother with ground


LACY POTATO LATKES WITH SMOKED SALMON Makes 8 servings 5 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried 2 large eggs 1 small onion, peeled, halved and grated on fine setting of box grater 1/4

cup (50 mL) flour

1/2

to 1 tsp (2 to 5 mL) salt, to taste Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4

cup (50 mL) vegetable oil

Using a food processor, shred unpeeled potatoes. Remove shredding blade and insert knife blade into processor bowl. Pulse for a few seconds to chop potato shreds slightly. Do not overprocess—the potatoes should still be very coarse. Transfer to a large bowl, discarding any liquid or thick starch from the bottom of the processor bowl. Add eggs, onion, flour, salt and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When a drop of

poppy seeds, and my sisters and I with combinations of dried cherries, apricots and lemon peel. Really, what we put inside doesn’t matter; the dominant flavour is my grandmother’s singularly excellent dough recipe, which we all share. In late February or early March, hamentashen find their way into breakfasts, lunch boxes, desserts and midnight snacks. They’re traded,

batter sizzles on contact, the oil is the right temperature. Spoon out batter into pancakes, about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Cook until brown around edges before flipping and cooking on second side until golden brown. Remove to paper towel–lined plate. Continue working in batches, adding oil to pan as needed until all batter is used. Serve latkes immediately with sour cream, smoked salmon and maybe a bit of whitefish caviar, or cool and reheat right before serving on a baking sheet in a 350 F (180 C) oven for 20 minutes.

hoarded, coveted and savoured— until they’re gone.

Passover Rituals Passover, which coincides with the arrival of spring—usually in early April—centres around the retelling of the exodus-from-Egypt story over huge meals called Seders, which are a major ordeal to put together. The Seders of my childhood were robust rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

107


DEMITASSE CHICKEN SOUP WITH DILL AND PARSNIPS Makes 8 to 10 servings 4 lb (2 kg) bone-in chicken legs, skin removed 12 cups (3 L) cold water 1 large yellow onion, peeled 4 stalks celery, divided 4 carrots, divided 1 tsp (5 mL) peppercorns, cracked 1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 mL) salt 2 parsnips, sliced 1/2

cup (125 mL) chopped fresh dill

Rinse chicken and place in a large, deep saucepan. Add cold water and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Add onion, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots and peppercorns. Reduce heat and simmer, using a spoon or ladle to skim foam that rises to the surface. Stir in 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Simmer stock, uncovered, for 2 hours, occasionally skimming fat and foam that collect on top. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken and vegetables to a cheeseclothlined strainer set over a

large bowl. Pour stock through strainer, allowing it to drain but not pressing down on the solids as this can make the broth cloudy. Reserve chicken for another use; discard cheesecloth and vegetables. Return stock to saucepan. Skim any remaining fat. Slice or dice remaining celery and carrots and add to broth, along with parsnips. Bring back to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Add fresh dill and additional salt, to taste.


and exciting, with my mom and my grandmother working side by side to prepare the dozen or so customary symbolic dishes. My aunts, uncles and cousins always came, the snow outside our Edmonton home melted, and everything smelled like springtime. As a young mother, I was far too intimidated to host a Seder myself. My dining room wasn’t big enough, the kids were too little, and how would I ever make all those dishes? I accepted every invitation to go out until one year, finding myself in culinary school and out of excuses, I realized it was time.

PASSOVER—THE HOLIDAY I WAS AFRAID TO TAKE ON—HAS BECOME ONE OF OUR MOST GRATIFYING TEAM EFFORTS. I put everyone to work. My sons swept the porch and brought up the card tables, my husband moved the sofa and shopped for flowers, and my daughter chopped apples for charoset and scrubbed potatoes to soak in salt water. I sat at my desk and tried to consider the old traditions in a new way. How could I reimagine chicken soup? Instead of eggs and

parsley, what could I serve to symbolize renewal and spring? The answers—and innovations— have taken shape over many seasons. One year, I served chicken soup in demitasse cups with mini-matzo balls and sliced parsnips. Another time, I decided that rhubarb was the quintessential Passover food and wove it into both a side dish and a piquant dessert. I reworked heavy gefilte fish into lemony and light dumplings and tweaked my mother’s Cornish hen recipe to incorporate handfuls of fresh herbs instead of a sweet, sticky sauce. Now, I’m thrilled to have my parents, my sisters and their partners and my nieces and nephews around our table, and I’ve been bowled over by my kids. The holiday I was afraid to take on has become one of our most gratifying team efforts.

Rosh Hashanah Sweets In fall, we come to the most important of holidays for the Jewish community. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur comprise the Jewish New Year, a time of celebration and reflection. On Rosh Hashanah, my family follows two mornings of synagogue services with long, luxurious lunches. We might have brisket or chicken or even filet mignon, salads with dates or pomegranates, potatoes, barley or rice. But there are always apples and honey to signify a sweet new year—either rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

109


PLUM WALNUT TART Makes 8 servings 1/2

cup (125 mL) finely chopped walnuts 1 cup (250 mL) sugar 1 tbsp (15 mL) flour 1 pkg high-quality allbutter puff pastry, defrosted but cold 4 cups (1 L) pitted and sliced Italian plums or prunes 1 tbsp (15 mL) cold butter, cut into small pieces 2 tbsp (30 mL) apple jelly, melted

Preheat oven according to package directions. Combine walnuts, sugar and flour in a small bowl; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to a thickness of about a third of an inch. (If box contains 2 packages of pastry, reserve second package for later use.) Carefully transfer dough to a nonstick or buttered and floured tart pan 11 or 12 inches (28 to 30 cm) in diameter. Fit in carefully

and trim excess dough. Scatter walnut mixture over dough, then lay plums overtop. Dot with pieces of butter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until fruit is tender and pastry is golden brown and slightly puffed. Brush with melted apple jelly and serve warm or cool.


on their own or baked into cakes. At my table, there are also plum desserts such as puddings and tarts.

AT THE END OF THE LONG DAY, WE BREAK THE YOM KIPPUR FAST, AND IT’S OUR TRADITION TO INVITE EVERYONE WE CAN FIND.

Yom Kippur Fast And finally, solemn Yom Kippur, the day reserved for atoning for a year’s worth of sins. We fast to signify our remorse and, when I was younger, I’d dread it all year long. Not anymore. Yom Kippur has become an important time of taking stock for me and, if I’ve managed to impart anything, for my kids as well. We go to synagogue, rest and take walks. What did

we do over the year that we’re proud of? What could we have done better? How did we grow? At the end of the long day, we formally break the fast, and it has become our tradition to invite everyone we can find. We make vegetable soups, mushroom strudel and homemade pizzas. I serve big baked pastas, roasted fish, salads and tons of wine. If it’s a warm evening, people take their plates onto the back deck, and the children play outside until late. We’re celebrating everything: our delicious food, our comfortable home, our connection to the seasons and our connection to one another. I try to talk to the kids about gratitude, but I’m not sure they hear me over earbuds and Snapchat. After going without food for a day and then having more than enough, the message finally sticks: we are lucky for all we have—and it tastes so good.

OH, BABY ■ I can’t find my kid’s birth certificate, but I apparently saved one for every Build-a-Bear we own in a special file because I’m insane. ■ Four-year-old said he went potty, and I asked if it was Number 1 or 2. He said Number 7, and now I’m terrified to go into the bathroom. From The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

111


DEPARTMENT OF WIT

My catastrophic 12 days of Christmas

The

DIRTY DOZEN BY COLIN NISSAN FR O M Mc SW E E NE Y’S ILLUSTRATION BY KYLE METCALF

DAY 1: On the first day of Christmas,

DAYS 3 AND 4: On the third and

my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Such a thoughtful gift; she knows how much I love fruit. She also knows my building’s pretty strict about pets, so the bird threw me a bit. But he is a cute little guy.

fourth days of Christmas, she gave me three French hens and four calling birds. Funny, I don’t remember telling her my dream was to one day open a chapter of the Audubon Society. You know what would have been nice? Some birdseed. I’m out of saltines, and things are starting to get weird in here.

DAY 2: On the second day of Christ-

mas, my true love gave to me, two turtledoves. Wow, she’s really into the avian theme this year. I guess I’ll just put them in the kitchen with the partridge and the pear tree, which suddenly seems a lot bigger than it did yesterday. 112

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

DAY 5: On the fifth day of Christmas, she gave me five golden rings. Now that’s a nice gift. DAY 6: Six geese-a-laying. That’s so strange because I was just telling


someone I could use some MORE @#$%*& BIRDS. Do you have any idea how much poop these geese generate in a day? Literally pounds. And all six of them have been a-laying since they got here. There are no fewer than 75 enormous eggs in my apartment. I just tried to make an omelette out of one of them and almost ralphed. Very gamy. DAY 7: Guess what I signed for this morning when the UPS guy rang my doorbell? Seven swans-a-swimming. So…no more baths for me? These are terrible, confusing gifts. Oh, and guess what swans don’t get along with? Geese, turtledoves, French hens, calling birds and partridges. Glad she did her homework there.

of stuff, but in a nutshell, it was about excessive dancing, illegal livestock, unnatural amounts of bird feces and me not living here anymore. Big day. DAY 10: Ten lords-a-bloody-leaping!

Yes, they are. Ten leotard-clad jerks are jumping around my apartment screaming “Wheeeeee!” every time their feet leave the ground! Why is she doing this to me? I loved her so much, and she destroyed everything. Tensions in here have escalated—the maids and dancers have laid territorial claims to opposite corners of the apartment. They are not the same civilized ladies who arrived here a short time ago. They harbour darkness now. One of them stole my golden rings.

DAY 9: Big day today. Not only did I

DAYS 11 AND 12: These final days have come and gone in a fog. I remember drummers, pipers; lots of them. I haven’t slept or washed my body in quite some time. Food is scarce and the fighting fierce. I captured a lord today! Snatched him right out of the air. Now he doesn’t leap anymore— that’s what you do when you want to send a message. This is my castle! Do you all hear me? Do you see what I am capable of? No more eye contact with the king—do you understand?

receive the unexpected gift of nine ladies dancing, I also got a nice note from my landlord. He covered all kinds

Now, one of you fetch me a pear. The king needs something sweet.

DAY 8: I’d like to give her the bene-

fit of the doubt in case she ordered eight maids-a-milking online and there was some confusion. But just to clarify, there are eight middleaged women wearing bonnets in my studio apartment right now. And they each brought a cow. Judging by the size of their suitcases, they aren’t leaving anytime soon.

© 2009 BY COLIN NISSAN. McSWEENEY’S (DECEMBER 2009), MCSWEENEYS.NET

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

113


Making gratitude an everyday habit can change your life

The

Power of

Thank You BY SY DNEY LO NEY ILLUSTRATION BY DAVE MURRAY


LIFE LESSON

WHEN AMY PAULSON was growing up in Phoenix, Ariz., people would often stop her on the street with her mom and dad to remark on how lucky she was that her family had adopted her. (Paulson, now based in San Francisco, was abandoned in a police station in Seoul when she was a day old and spent her first three months in an orphanage.) “I always thought, Why should I be more thankful to my parents than the next person?” she says. In 2011, however, Paulson reconnected with her birth mother in South Korea, her adoptive mom by her side. “My Korean mother took my American mother’s hands in hers and said, ‘Thank you.’ After that, my whole world changed,” Paulson says. At the time, she was working in the e-commerce sector and struggling with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. Reconnecting with her birth family, however, made her feel like the luckiest person in the world— and she wanted to actively share her good fortune. That year, she quit her

job and co-founded the Global Gratitude Alliance, which partners with grassroots organizations to create community-led solutions for social and economic change. Since then, a reflexive sense of thankfulness has become Paulson’s frame of reference for work, relationships and daily life in general. That all-encompassing approach can make you happier and healthier, says Louisa Jewell, founder and president of the Toronto-based Canadian Positive Psychology Association, a nonprofit dedicated to well-being. Some call it “spontaneous” gratitude, others describe it as “casual”; either way, it’s more than an occasional feeling of appreciation when something goes right. This attitude, says Jewell, “can become a lens through which you see the world, which is different than just saying thank you to someone.”

RETHINK YOUR WORLD VIEW “When something bad happens,” says Jewell, “I try to be appreciative that rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

115


READER’S DIGEST

things aren’t worse.” This attitude came in handy seven years ago, when her daughter, then eight, was being bullied at school. On the way to meet with teachers, Jewell mentally ran through all the things she was grateful for—that the school cared, that her child was resilient, that she was able to help the girl get through the ordeal. “I felt calm and relaxed going into the meeting, rather than being an upset, stressed-out crazy mom.”

PAUSING TO TAKE STOCK PROLONGS YOUR HAPPINESS, EVEN AFTER THE INITIAL THRILL WEARS OFF. It takes practise to connect with those feelings under duress, Jewell admits. In her work, she introduces people to the idea of spontaneous gratitude by getting them to jot down three things they’re looking forward to each morning or three things they’re thankful for each night. It may sound hokey, but in fact, there’s a scientific basis to that approach. In March 2016, researchers at Indiana University found that people still felt thankful a few weeks after completing short writing tasks on the subject; months later, they 116

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

showed more gratitude-related brain activity. Repetition is key, Jewell says. “Practising creates new neur al pathways until it becomes easier, almost habitual.”

APPRECIATE THE LITTLE THINGS For Jewell, a trip to a part of Nepal where nobody had easy access to water—clean or otherwise—gave her a new appreciation for hot showers in the morning. That principle can be applied elsewhere. Human beings are always looking for novelty, she says, and when we get something we really want—a car, a house, a delicious new gelato flavour—we enjoy it, but only until our pleasure spikes and our appreciation for that new thing wanes. (A famous 1978 study conducted by researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois and the University of Massachusetts found that even after winning the lottery, subjects eventually returned to their baseline of happiness.) But according to a 2007 report from the University of California, Riverside, channelling gratitude can combat that sense of deflation. Pausing to take stock prolongs your happiness, Jewell says, even after the initial thrill wears off. Paulson relied on an app to remind her to find something to give thanks for every day. “That helped change my outlook,” she says. “Watching the


sun create an interesting shadow, for instance—there’s joy in that, even if it’s only for a second.” Giving back can bolster those feelings. “Volunteering to help someone less fortunate changes your perspective,” says Jewell, who’s experienced that first-hand through her own work at a Toronto women’s shelter. “It shifts your focus onto other people and away from your own problems, and it can keep you in a space of gratitude.” Paulson likes to make donations on behalf of someone who’s had a positive impact on her life. “I find it meaningful to put their name on a little tag, but I don’t always tell the person I’ve done it.”

she weaned herself off the drugs (in consultation with her doctors) several months after she returned from Korea. “It’s nearly impossible to sink into the abyss of depression while being present and grateful for my connection with others and the world around me.”

MAKE SIGNIFICANT CONNECTIONS

Those positive effects inspired Paulson to share the experience with others. Through a partnership with a home for orphaned children in Nepal, the Global Gratitude Alliance provided teachers with trauma-healing workshops that concluded with a ritual of giving thanks. The participants used those techniques to help their community after last year’s devastating earthquake and have imparted a philosophy of paying it forward to their students. Children from the school recently visited a local eldercare home to build relationships with the residents there. “Gratitude creates a cycle of giving and receiving,” Paulson says.

Being thankful can also strengthen your relationships with the people already in your life. Janice Kaplan, the New York City–based author of 2015’s The Gratitude Diaries, began by observing and acknowledging a small thing about her husband: she thanked him for doing all the driving after a particularly arduous road trip. That simple act, she says, helped connect them. “I think of it as simply appreciating people. It’s something we don’t do enough of, and it makes all the difference.” For Paulson, the attitude shift helped her overcome health issues: after 10 years on antidepressants,

IN NEPAL, TEACHERS WHO TOOK TRAUMAHEALING WORKSHOPS SHARED A PHILOSOPHY OF PAYING IT FORWARD WITH STUDENTS.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

117


HEALTH

Snoring is a fact of life for one-third of Canadian couples. Here’s what causes the disturbance, how to fix it and when you might need to discuss it with your doctor.

Bedroom

Rumb le s BY L I SA KADANE FR O M BE ST H E ALT H

118

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


ISTOCKP HOTO


READER’S DIGEST

MY HUSBAND’S SNORING has been known to startle him out of a deep sleep on nights when he’s had a few too many drinks with his buddies. More often, the bed-shaking vibration rouses me and I nudge him, ever so gently (okay, sometimes it’s a shove), so he rolls onto his side and resumes a blessedly silent intake of breath.

Our solution is to plan ahead: I tell him to sleep in the basement if he’s going to stay out late. And in case he forgets the basement plan, I increase my chances of getting a good night’s sleep by jamming in foam earplugs. Sexy, it isn’t. But for us, snoring is a fact of life—as it is for more than one-third of Canadian couples—so we do what we can to minimize its impact. The Canadian Sleep Review 2016, conducted by a division of Angus Reid, polled adults across the country on their sleep habits and found that 67 per cent of Canadians wish they could get better-quality sleep most nights. Silencing the log sawing would help. “Snoring is an extremely common problem,” says Brian Rotenberg, an associate professor in the department of otolaryngology and director of the sleep surgery program at Western University, in London, Ont. “About half of adult men and about one-third of adult women snore at night, and the condition ranges in severity from just a little rumble to a freight train coming down the tracks.” Even gentle snoring can disrupt slumber and lead to chronic sleep 120

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

deprivation for both snorers and their significant others. In fact, the bed partner of a snuffling sleeper can lose up to one hour of shut-eye each night from being woken by noise, a side effect known as spousal arousal syndrome.

POP CULTURE HAS MADE SNORING A RUNNING GAG, BUT IT CAN HAVE SERIOUS RAMIFICATIONS FOR REAL-LIFE COUPLES. “Snoring can lead to significant disruptions in relationships and intimacy, so it’s a concern, especially when it’s disrupting a partner’s sleep,” says Anu Tandon, an assistant professor in the department of respiratory and sleep medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. Pop culture has long played up snoring as a kind of running gag that tests a couple’s commitment, but it can have more serious ramifications in real life.


WHAT CAUSES SNORING?

WHAT MAKES SNORING WORSE?

When we sleep, our muscles relax. This happens in the throat, too, which narrows and becomes floppy. When snorers inhale, their uvulas and the walls of their throats begin to vibrate, which is what leads to that snoring noise—the narrower the throat passage, the louder the sound. Due to physiology, more men snore than women. A larger number of men are overweight or obese, which is the top cause of snoring because extra weight exerts more pressure on the upper airway. Making matters worse: men usually have wider necks than women, and that girth weighs down on their throats during sleep. They also tend to have longer palates and larger noses; together, the long palate deepens the sound of snoring, and the nose amplifies it. So, yes, men are also louder snorers than women. But women shouldn’t gloat about their good fortune just yet. As they move into menopause, their likelihood of developing snoring increases. “Pre-menopause, it has been shown that the hormones estrogen and progesterone can actually protect your airway,” says Tandon. “Those levels change after menopause, so men will still have more sleep apnea and snore more than women, but the gap shrinks.”

It’s not my imagination: those extra alcoholic beverages do aggravate my husband’s snoring. In fact, depressants—from scotch to sleep aids to certain prescription pills—promote snoring because they further relax muscles in the upper airway. Another culprit is weight gain, which can turn a quiet sleeper into a bona fide log sawer. This is why doctors routinely suggest that overweight snorers drop the extra kilos to reduce the rumbling—or even eliminate it altogether.

TRUE SNORERS— AND THOSE WITH APNEA—WILL SNORE NO MATTER WHAT POSITION THEY SLEEP IN. Back sleeping can also worsen nocturnal snorts because this position causes the tongue and palate to fall back, creating a blockage in the airway. Some people find relief by taping a tennis ball to their back to prevent them from rolling into that position while they sleep, but Rotenberg notes that true snorers— and those with sleep apnea—will snore no matter what their position. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

121


READER’S DIGEST

WHEN IS IT A HEALTH PROBLEM? Snoring can be a symptom of a very serious health condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is when the airway closes during sleep and breathing arrests for several seconds, or even minutes, before starting again (a stoppage of breathing for a minimum of 10 seconds is considered abnormal).

DOCTORS ARE NOW STARTING TO LOOK AT NON-APNEA SNORING AS A HEALTH PROBLEM. Between 20 and 25 per cent of snorers may have a degree of sleep apnea. Typically, someone with obstructive apnea will present with more symptoms than just snoring, says Tandon. The hallmark signs of OSA are choking or gasping during sleep—often noted by the bed partner—and regular snoring that suddenly stops and is followed by a gasp or sharp intake of breath moments later. Other signs include morning headaches and constant daytime fatigue. “Sleep apnea should be investigated and treated because of its associated risks,” says Rotenberg. 122

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

People with OSA are more likely to have a heart attack because of the stress placed on the heart from lower oxygen levels and the disruption in breathing. OSA sufferers also have a greater risk of developing hypertension, because poor oxygenation causes the body to release the stress hormone epinephrine, which shrinks blood vessels. The first stop is the family physician, who will order a sleep study to be conducted at a clinic or at home. This process screens for apnea by tracking sleep, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels through the night. If the condition is present, expect a referral to a respirologist or surgeon for treatment. Doctors are also starting to look at non-apnea snoring as a health problem. There’s emerging evidence that vibrations from snoring can be a cause of carotid artery blockage in the neck. “It’s causing micro-trauma in the arteries,” says Rotenberg. “It’s shaking them so much that they get cracks and become scarred, so sleep apnea in itself can be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. When you think about what’s happening physiologically, it’s downright scary.”

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS? If someone’s snoring is caused by OSA, treatments may include


lifestyle modifications in combination with therapies like a custom dental appliance, which pulls the jaw forward to open the airway, or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which delivers pressurized air to the throat via a mask and hose to keep the airway open during sleep. A sleep specialist or respirologist may recommend a CPAP as a treatment option after sleep apnea has been diagnosed. Unfortunately, because the device can be uncomfortable to wear, fewer than half of people will continue to use it after it has been prescribed, says Rotenberg.

Surgery is a possibility if there is a contributing structural problem, such as large tonsils, a deviated septum or sleep apnea. Less invasive treatment options include lifestyle changes such as side sleeping, curbing alcohol consumption and avoiding sleep aids. For the bed partner, earplugs can make a big difference. While Rotenberg says that drugstore remedies, like nasal strips, aren’t proven, hopefully I can continue to count on my foam earplugs for a sound defence. Either that or I’m going to tape a tennis ball to my husband’s back when he comes home from a night of carousing.

A GREAT LINE IS GOOD FOR... CHIDING: To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. OSCAR WILDE

CRITIQUING: He has Van Gogh’s ear for music. BILLY WILDER, director

PRAISING AND INSULTING: She loves nature in spite of what it did to her. BETTE MIDLER

PIETY: Want to know what God thinks of money? Look at the people he gave it to. DOROTHY PARKER

SUMMING UP THE WORLD: Karaoke is the great equalizer. AISHA TYLER, talk-show host

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

123


ISTOC KPHOTO/M ASTERFILE


HEART

After his wife discovers a desperate plea addressed to the North Pole, Steve Albini joins her on a 20-year quest to support families in their community

Santa’s Helpers FR O M T H E H U FFI N GTO N P OST

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

125


READER’S DIGEST

TWENTY YEARS AGO in Chicago,

my wife, Heather Whinna, stopped by the post office on the way home. There, she found bins full of letters addressed to Santa Claus, left out for people to read and answer. Curious, she looked at a few and couldn’t believe what she saw. These weren’t requests for toys or a new bike; mostly, they were desperate, detailed pleas from heads of households asking for help. Families let down by the remnants of a social safety net, people suffering sickness, poverty and exploitation. These letter writers were so far out on a limb that they swallowed what pride they had left, took pen in hand and documented everything that had failed them, everything that had been stolen, everything that had hurt them and made them feel fear and shame. They described anguish over their children’s lack of basic necessities, such as food, clothing and school supplies. They described homes they could barely afford to stay in. They described relationships racked by abuse, legal worries, disease and addiction. They addressed their problems to Santa Claus at the North Pole and sent them by mail into the vacuum of humanity that had left them hopeless. It seemed impossible that so many people were suffering so close to home, yet there the letters were. Heather took one of them. When I 126

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

read it myself, the realization that there were thousands of these notes changed something in me. Together, Heather and I assembled a hat box-sized parcel: some clothes, some items mentioned in the letter, some money. On Christmas morning, we drove, unannounced, to one of the addresses, found the letter writer and gave her the package. We did the same for a couple of other families over the next few Christmases, using a fresh batch of notes each time.

MEETING THE LETTER WRITERS WHERE THEY RESIDED MADE ME WANT TO CONTINUE THE TRADITION, TO FIND MORE OF THEM. HEATHER WORKS AT the Second City theatre in Chicago, and around the same time she first discovered the letters, her colleague Andy Cobb produced a marathon 24-hour improv show to raise money for a homeless shelter. Then, in December 2002, Andy and Heather combined their efforts and arranged a separate fullday show, Letters to Santa, The Second City That Never Sleeps, to raise money for the missive writers. The show turned our Christmas morning deliveries into an all-day affair.


Meeting letter writers where they resided made me want to continue the tradition, to find more of them. The places they had to live in barely qualified as enclosed spaces, much less domiciles. Broken or missing windows were patched with tape and newspaper. Wind and snow blew in through gaps in walls and doors. A house suitable for a couple of people could be divided into as many as eight tiny spaces, each holding a family. These people were abused on all fronts. Recent immigrants suffered indignities just to arrive in the United States. Once they did, they were exploited by employers and slumlords. These families knew to be afraid of authorities, of gangs, of what might happen to the children who stayed home alone when they went to work. They feared for their families back home, frightened they might fall out of touch with kids they had to leave behind. They worried that, for the most capricious of reasons, they might lose the tenuous hold they had on a potential life here. LETTERS TO SANTA, The Second City That Never Sleeps has become an annual show. The performers, who remain onstage for the entire 24-hour production, work for free. Some buy themselves a ticket to the event and donate more through auctions. Shortly after the show was

established, singer Jeff Tweedy joined the effort, playing during musical interludes and selling private concerts. The Second City solicits donations from its nightly audiences and matches the amount received. Letters to Santa has raised enough to change the trajectory of dozens of Chicago’s poorest families, and over time, we’ve distributed more than $1 million directly into their hands. Families have been able to move into better housing, solve health crises, relocate and reunite members and otherwise stabilize precarious lives.

THE EXTENT OF POVERTY IN CHICAGO MAKES IT INEVITABLE THAT WE ARE MISSING CALLS FOR HELP FROM SOME FAMILIES. The post office no longer allows full access to letters addressed to Santa. There’s now a preposterous official system, whereby volunteers are given a letter with a code number. Participants return a parcel to the post office, where officials try to mail it to the recipient. Most of the places we go to on Christmas don’t have secure mail delivery and certainly don’t have anybody willing to come to the door to receive a parcel. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

127


READER’S DIGEST

Since this policy change, we’ve used non-governmental aid agencies to help us find families in need. The extent of poverty in the city makes it inevitable that we’re missing some families who are outside the reach of aid organizations, probably still addressing their need and fear to Santa Claus at the North Pole.

LILA, OUR FRIENDS’ DAUGHTER, TAGS ALONG EACH YEAR. SHE’S SPENT NEARLY EVERY CHRISTMAS IN A VAN WITH US. We visit families on Christmas Day because people will be home. Those who are employed will have that day

off; if a family is scattered, the holiday brings them together. We go with a small group of friends—sometimes Jeff Tweedy, his wife, Sue Miller, and their boys, Spencer and Sam— and always make a point of having someone who can speak Spanish to help convince people that we mean no harm. In the last few years, Portlandia co-creator Fred Armisen has come along in that role. Tim Midyett and Vickie Hunter, actors from the Second City show, often tag along with their daughter, Lila. Lila is 12 now and has spent nearly every December 25th of her life in a van with us, delivering gifts to people she’s never met. It’s pretty much the only type of Christmas she’s ever known. As for me, I haven’t had a conventional Christmas morning in 20 years. I haven’t missed it.

© 2015, STEVE ALBINI. FROM “WHY I HAVEN’T HAD A CONVENTIONAL CHRISTMAS IN 20 YEARS,” HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

COMEDIANS-IN-CHIEF My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now that when people wave at me, they use all their fingers. JIMMY CARTER

No matter how much cats fight, there will always be kittens. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

128

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


Laughter THE BEST MEDICINE

THE BEST JOKE I EVER TOLD BY DANIEL WOODROW I wish my cellphone was made out of whatever my TV remote is, because I’ve dropped it countless times, and it’s still mint condition. Find Woodrow on Instagram @mrwoodrow.

IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME APOLLO: I’ll be the god of the sun! HERMES: Okay, I’ll take light— APOLLO: I’m also light. ARTEMIS: I’ll take music! APOLLO: No, I’m also music. That’s

me too.

@CAROUSELMOUSE

One day my husband asked me if I remembered the name of the god of love. “Eros,” I told him. “No, not Eros,” he said. “The one who shoots the Eros.” VIRGINIA ANDERSON, S a r n i a , O n t .

ORIGIN STORY GOD *giggling*: They are gonna be

so tiny. ANGEL *writing*: Ants…tiny…

got it. GOD *suddenly tearing up*: But, OMG,

so strong.

@IAMSPACEGIRL

REALITY CHECK

WHAT IF…

The person who named walkietalkies named everything? ■ Socks would be feetie-heaties. ■ Forks would be stabbie-grabbies. ■ Wigs would be hairy-wearies. ■ Microwaves would be heatie-eaties. reddit.com

Thank you, fantasy football draft, for letting me know that even in my fantasies, I’m bad at sports. C o m e d i a n JIMMY FALLON

Send us your original jokes! You could earn $50 and be featured in the magazine. See page 11 or rd.ca/joke for details.

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

129


READER’S DIGEST

132

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

On the corner is a string trio busking. Then there’s my theatre, my hotel, my millinery and my restaurant. The latter was my first piece. I was in Grade 9, and it was a gift from my mother. A little further on is my butcher. Next is my fire hall, my school and my post office: public monies at work. At the far end is my department store. And sitting in its display window is—brace yourself—a miniature miniature Christmas village. Once the buildings are in place, I link my 18 adapters into one long chain of power strips. Then I take a breath and look at my dark city. It’s so close to being alive.

OUR APARTMENT IS A MUSEUM EXHIBIT ON THE LENGTHS TO WHICH MY GENERATION MUST GO TO STAY DEBT-FREE. FROM THE APARTMENT I live in with my wife, Litia, in East Vancouver, it’s a 45-minute bus ride to Christmas Traditions, the nearest pop-up holiday shop. As I ride the bus, I mentally scroll through the things we can cut to save money. I like to think of our one-bedroom basement apartment as a museum exhibit on the lengths to which my

PHOTOGRA PHY BY COLI N WAY

I CAN’T REMEMBER not wanting a miniature Christmas village. It’s like how I can’t recall when I first realized I have bad posture: some things you never come to discover about yourself but rather just accept as fact. I moved out of my parents’ house at 17 to attend university, but my heart has never left—not out of some romantic notion of honouring my roots, but because the idea of renting an apartment with enough room to store my Christmas village borders on lunacy. So here I am at 25, visiting Calgary from my home in Vancouver, hauling a line of boxes from my parents’ basement into their dining room. Once I’ve moved them all into place, I begin. I move west to east, starting with my six middle-class houses, each about 25 centimetres from base to roof, placed near my church. Then there is my park, which includes a hockey rink and two dozen towering conifers, the tallest stretching a formidable half-metre or so. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the deer. To make your way downtown, you’ll have to traverse the Kemick Canal, either over the Voltaire Viaduct, stony and austere, or the Pont de la Paix, wooden and ornate. Once you’re downtown, the street lights will guide you. You’ll see my gift shop and my bank, and Sovereignty Street, bustling with shoppers.


generation must go to stay debt-free. I’ve rescued our plates from alleyways; our cutlery comes from the spillover sections of Salvation Army drop boxes. My wife doesn’t realize I’ve been selling articles of her clothing online for the past three years. “Where’d that striped top go?” she asked once. I feigned ignorance and then inconspicuously checked our Kijiji account to make sure I’d deleted the ad. I got $23 for it. By the time I arrive at my bus stop, I’ve settled on cutting out grapefruit, coffee cream and the land line. I don’t have a cellphone (too pricey for my strict budget), but I can use Litia’s to make my fortnightly call home to Calgary. (Friends know to call her if they’re looking to track me down.) I arrive 20 minutes before the Christmas store opens, which gives me time to pace the windows and vow to not spend more than $20— plus tax, of course. LITIA FOUND OUT about the village on the night she first met my family. My parents were in Vancouver for my brother’s birthday, and we all met downtown for dinner. Upon introduction, my mother—seeing her greatest chance of having grandchildren appear in front of her—began to talk. “I’m sure you must love to read,” she told Litia. “Richard also loves to read. When he was small, we would

go to the library, but he only ever wanted teeny little books.” “Pardon me?” Litia said. “We’d wander the aisles,” my mother continued, “and I’d ask him if this one or that one was small enough, and he’d scream, ‘No, they need to be teeny little books!’” I sat there, debating whether or not it would be possible to slit my wrists with the teeny little cheese knife. But my mother was not done. “It must be why he loves that village,” she said. “What village?” Litia asked. “Richard has a Christmas village,” my mother said, and then she began to explain. While I listened to her confuse my post office and library and gloss over my recreation area, I became convinced that there was only a teeny little chance that Litia would ever speak to me again. TIME PASSES, AND Christmas Traditions opens. Every holiday store is laid out the same, with the villages set up at the back. Here, bathed in the dim lighting, the display holds the forbidden grace of a tabernacle. An elderly woman walks up beside me. Her snow-white hair is freshly permed, and two gold chains hang around her neck. She is eyeing the gin distillery. As I pretend to study a picnic table, I watch her. I want to see her reaction to the item’s three-figure price tag. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

133


READER’S DIGEST

Balanced on the church roof, Batman maintains order in the tiny town.

I’ve yearned for that piece for years, but I can’t get a distillery until I get a police station, and I can’t get a police station until I get a city hall. Instead, there’s a Batman tree ornament atop the church spire. For now, vigilante justice is all my village needs. The woman’s hands shake slightly as she places the distillery in her basket. She doesn’t bother checking the price. Back on the bus, I lovingly place my new $29 juniper tree on the seat beside me. THERE ARE THREE tenets behind any proper Christmas village: scale, functionality and style. The first can be upheld by simply not switching between manufacturers willy-nilly. Functionality requires a more seasoned eye. “What kind of town has this many pharmacies?” I once asked my friend’s mother, who had recently begun her own collection. (Truth be told, she could get away with the three pharmacies in her 134

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

stash—especially since one was very clearly labelled an apothecary.) When it comes to style, there are many different ones to choose from, including Disney, Rudolph and A Christmas Carol. These are referred to as sets because there is a finite number of pieces you can acquire. But in the land of Christmas villages, what separates the kids from the grown-ups is moving from the structure of the set to the chaos of the classic. Classic villages are defined not by theme but by era—Victorian, 1950s America, modern. Such villages have no structure and can sprawl forever. I’ve settled on the Victorian era because it’s the classiest, boasting taverns with names like the Smoking Bishop and even an ornament shop called Lily Bros. Gazing Balls. But there’s a downside to collecting this era: cost. A top-end Victorian building will run you $100 to $200, and inhabitants are priced between $20 and $50. WHEN DECEMBER DESCENDS,

Christmas stores welcome their seasonal shoppers. The village section loses its monastic silence as collectors’ loved ones stumble around, haplessly buying the wrong pieces. But a year or two ago, in a Christmas miracle, Litia got it right. When I began to unwrap the 10-centimetre town clock, I welled


up. It was something that I didn’t even know I needed, powerful and understated. What the sun is to the earth, the clock is to my village. I want to give Litia everything in the solar system, but the only life I can offer her now is one barely worth having—hard and rigid, delicate and inflexible. I SHOULD ADMIT that mine is not the largest village in the world. Not even close. Ninety-year-old Milt Hildebrandt from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, is famous for a superstate that slinks through fully two rooms of his bungalow. It is an 1,100-piece collection, many times larger than my own. But I once took solace in the belief that, at least in Canada, I was a big fish in a small polyresin duck pond. That changed in March 2015, when a major Christmas village brand posted a photo on its Facebook page of a deceptively modest 10-piece set. The buildings are spaced out, the streets peppered with people. There is a pastry store; there’s also a jeweller. There is a portrait painter on the corner and a wooden fence that encircles a merry-go-round. The caption beneath the photo sent shivers down my spine: it explained that the builder of the village was a Canadian 14-year-old.

When I was his age, my set had only seven pieces. This kid had just a handful of buildings last year, but you can tell he’s got big city plans. If he develops his village at the rate I expect, he will surely overtake me by his 25th birthday. If I had the courage to reach out to him, what would I say? I would say that, for the rest of his life, people will tell him a miniature Christmas village is a childish thing. But I would also tell him that people who say this have no appreciation for the finer things, the small flourishes of beauty—and that, when you get down to it, they know nothing about the fragility of the human heart. MY BROTHER, MY parents and Litia are all drinking eggnog at the kitchen counter, and I am alone in the dining room. The stereo switches CDs and “Carol of the Bells” comes on, building to its climax. The plug enters the socket, and suddenly I am bathed in light as power surges into my streets, the banks of lampposts like an airstrip guiding me home. My villagers’ houses are consumed by radiance. My theatre, my hotel, my millinery—all of it shines with a light so bright, it is pure colour. Here I am, surrounded by my city and its inhabitants, feeling like a god. And I bless them, every one.

© 2015 BY RICHARD KELLY KEMICK. THE WALRUS (DECEMBER 2015). THEWALRUS.CA

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

135


The Nagaur fort comprises temples, courtyards and palaces.


TRAVEL

In India’s Rajasthan region, onetime royal families are inviting travellers to share in the high life

BEHIND THE

PALACE DOORS BY LISA ABE ND FR O M A FA R

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

137


READER’S DIGEST

T

he Maharaja of Jodhpur has kept me waiting. Fifteen minutes have passed since our appointed meeting time in Umaid Bhawan, his sandstone palace. With its elaborate dome rising above the city of Jodhpur, in northwest India’s Rajasthan region, it looks like the country’s version of Sacré-Coeur. The office where I wait is panelled in dark wood, its furniture about 70 years out of date. A man whose job seems to be shuffling papers, one sheet at a time, nods a greeting. A matronly secretary steps out to offer me tea. I decline, but she returns 10 minutes later to offer again. This time, I accept. Later, the man shuffles by again with another page and glances at the skin of milk forming in my cup. “Your tea is getting cold, madam,” he says. A fan clicks overhead. At precisely one hour past our appointed time, the secretary returns. It’s just that His Highness is so busy, you see. The Maharaja of Jodhpur has stood me up. I can’t quite say I’m surprised. The maharaja is merely acting like a monarch. That, after all, is what the maharajas once were: kings of the many small states that made up India. Even after Britain colonized the subcontinent, many of the royals retained their lands and influence in exchange for collaborating with the imperial 138

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

government. Independence, in 1947, and the democracy that ensued were supposed to turn these former royals into ordinary citizens. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. New laws may have diminished the riches of India’s royal families, but the vestiges of generations of privilege and authority remain. That’s especially true in Rajasthan, where princely culture survived the longest and the land is dotted with palaces that are still occupied by families with regal roots. I wanted to understand the role of these families in present-day India and see how they navigate modern life while still embodying the old system, so I set out to traverse the region. It’s not hard to find these erstwhile monarchs—in an effort to hold on to their palaces, many have turned them into hotels. TEN DAYS BEFORE MY botched meeting with the Maharaja of Jodhpur, I explained my mission to Sayar Singh, the man in a starched blue shirt charged with driving me around Rajasthan. He betrayed no emotion, but I interpreted his lack of response as mild disapproval. Or maybe that was my anxiety: I was uncomfortable with the idea of having a driver. Uncomfortable, that is, until we pulled into the melee of cars, motorbikes, trucks, buses, goats, pedestrians, camel carts and dogs on the highway in Rajasthan. It took us seven bone-rattling hours, but we finally turned the car


JOÃ O CA NZI ANI

sharply into the hushed driveway of our first stop: Raj Niwas, in the district of Dholpur. The palace was a veritable museum, a preserve of anglophiliac nostalgia complete with a liveried doorman. The furniture was dark and heavily carved, the worn carpets were silk, and every inch of the walls that wasn’t adorned with Ionic columns was hung with paintings of regal men in turbans. Built in 1876 by a family that had been given Dholpur as a fiefdom, Raj Niwas was developed to house Britain’s Prince Albert on his first visit to India. His hosts wanted him to feel at home, which is why they designed the parlour ceiling to match the one at Buck- At the Suján Rajmahal Palace, successive maharajas chose this space as a bedroom. ingham Palace. “Everyone who has a structure Dushyant wasn’t sentimental for like this wants to preserve it,” said Dushyant Singh, the estate’s current the past. He had grown up in the owner. “That wouldn’t have been palace—room No. 6 was his childhood bedroom—but he professed possible without tourism.” A stocky, fast-talking man in his 40s, no discomfort at having strangers in Dushyant is, in his own words, “a hotel his home. In fact, he had built a resprofessional.” But he’s also the scion of taurant and modern cabanas in the the local ruling family, the son of Raj- palace garden in order to increase asthan’s chief minister and a politician the number of guests the hotel could himself—a characteristic that became accommodate. Confident, with at increasingly obvious as he began to ex- least one eye firmly on the bottom tol Dholpur’s attractions. “We’re con- line, Dushyant didn’t act like royalty; venient to Delhi and to the Taj Mahal,” he acted like a venture capitalist. he said. “But we have excellent wildlife close by. Guests come here for a MY NEXT STOP, Prithvi Vilas, was quiet spot to relax. Have you seen our located seven hours away and was reviews on TripAdvisor?” more homestay than hotel. Maharaj rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

139


Rana Chandrajit Singh and his wife, Ira—he looking like Clark Kent, she resplendent in an emerald-green sari—waited in the doorway to greet me with a necklace of marigolds and a glass of juice. They graciously showed me my room, an enormous chamber containing a rose petal– filled bathtub, then invited me for gin and tonics in a faded sitting room that looked like it was sinking beneath the weight of its Edwardian furniture and gilt-edged family photos. Every few minutes, a member of the serving staff in a paramilitary uniform brought us snacks. Chandrajit, a.k.a. the Maharaja of Jhalawar, showed me around. Leopards, tigers, gazelles, a boar—all skinned, stuffed and looking quite displeased—filled the hallways. I counted 10 complete porcelain tea sets in the dining room. In the living room, Chandrajit picked up a silver inkwell, strangely shaped. “This is from my grandfather’s favourite polo pony,” he said. “When it died, he had its hoof plated.” In most homes, an ink-bearing, silver-plated hoof would be the pièce de résistance of knick-knacks. But Chandrajit had one more thing to show me. He motioned to a corner Opposite: (Clockwise) A groundskeeper at Suján Rajmahal; rich colours in a palace bedroom; a woman sweeping at Amber Fort near Jaipur; the lush grounds of the Raj Niwas Palace Hotel.

table topped with a black-and-white photograph of a man with an aquiline nose. Something about the man looked familiar, so I walked over to read the inscription. “To my good friend,” it read. “With warm regards, Benito Mussolini.” The family left politics when, in 1967, Chandrajit’s grandfather died young of a heart attack induced, they believe, by the stress of it all. But the royal scion exercises power in other ways, helping a teacher find a position in town, say, or aiding a couple whose marriage has gone sour. This is how it used to be, the maharaja handling matters large and small for his people. Some residents “miss the earlier times,” Chandrajit said, “when there was a ruler to hear the problems of the public.” Signs of those earlier times still filled Prithvi Vilas. Shelves of books, trunks crammed with photographs, cupboards packed with several generations’ worth of linens: the past encroached like kudzu swallowing a tree. But in the morning, when it came time to leave, Ira pulled me onto the sofa and whipped out her iPad. She swiped briskly through a series of photographs of modern rooms, all clean lines and sleek furniture. “It’s our apartment in Delhi,” she whispered urgently, as if trying to convince me—or herself—that she and her husband really were of this age. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

141


READER’S DIGEST

AS SAYAR AND I CONTINUED driving Ranvas. My residual annoyance at through towns, villages and desert, we being ditched faded as I walked talked about the Maharaja of Jodhpur. through an archway adorned with Actually, the man I’d failed to meet marvellous frescoes and into the was all anybody in Rajasthan seemed uninhabited part of the palace. Make that palaces. Ranvas is actuto discuss, because his son’s wife had recently given birth to a baby boy. In ally a 38-acre complex, part hotel and 2005, the son had suffered a brain part museum, where guests can book injury in a polo accident and had yet to a stay at one of 10 havelis (or manfully recover, so the birth represented sions) which, in another time, would not only a near-miraculous continu- have housed a queen. Each haveli has three to five rooms. ation of the family line The museum includes but also triumph over the evocatively named tragedy. “He doesn’t Palace of Mirrors and have any authority, RANVAS Palace of Lanterns, the does he?” I asked. “I NAGAUR IS latter of which houses mean, he’s not the maRIFE WITH upwards of 500 oil haraja anymore. Why KEYHOLE does everyone treat him ARCHES, INLAID lamps. During the day, the museum complex like he’s still a king?” A FLOORS AND is open to the paying smile played across FINE, HANDpublic, but after 5 p.m., Sayar’s lips. “Heredity, PAINTED only hotel guests are madam,” he said. “Here, FRESCOES. allowed on the premheredity is stronger than ises. Having arrived any constitution.” during the scorching The nearly two kilometres of ramparts we passed as we off-season, with the exception of a entered Ranvas Nagaur, a palatial guide, I had the place to myself. The fort, which has roots as far hotel within a fortress, imparted a degree of grandeur I hadn’t encoun- back as the fourth century, was one of tered yet. A gracious manager showed northern India’s first Muslim strongme around, and we popped into a holds, but it’s rife with the keyhole ground-floor room. It held three beds arches and inlaid floors that characdone up in red brocade and a flat- terize Mughal architecture. My guide screen TV. “This is where the maha- pointed to an especially fine fresco of raja stays,” the manager said. There he girls dancing in the monsoon rain. was again: the Maharaja of Jodhpur. “Muslim artisans painted the geoHis hotel company owns and runs metric designs and Hindu ones the 142

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca


figures,” he said. “Everybody did what they were best at.” He took me up to the roof, where the sun was carmine over the town below and the sandstone ramparts glowed hypnotically. The guide interrupted my reverie. “And to think, this would have been lost without the Maharaja of Jodhpur.” DESPITE HIS STERN demeanour, even Sayar seemed pleased with our last stop. Located on a rural road surrounded by fields outside of Jaipur, The Farm is not a palace at all. The young couple who own it, Surya and Ritu Singh, belong to the noble class. Surya’s father’s estate was submerged, literally, when the state built a hydroelectric dam nearby. His father saved all the furniture he could, put it in storage and bought a piece of land with the compensation he received. Surya and Ritu feel an attachment and responsibility to their heritage, but they’re also artists (they build installations using reclaimed scrap material) who embrace the creative power of change. And so they took that land, built cottages for guests and furnished them with pieces the elder Singh had saved. At The Farm, an old wagon has become a settee in the poolside dining area, and it isn’t uncommon to see a Dodge steering wheel functioning as a towel rack in your room.

There are wedding albums filled with family photos in the downstairs library, but they’re one of the few signs of the past left intact; everything else has been reimagined. “Some friends who own palaces, they can’t keep them up; they’re crumbling,” said Surya. “We get to start from scratch and put the puzzle back together the way we want.” Ritu and Surya are in their 30s, and in addition to The Farm, they run an experimental restaurant called Wolf in Jaipur. There, local chefs moonlight alongside the resident chef week to week to create innovative menus. “We know plenty of people who are still stuck in the past,” Ritu says. “They believe the Raj will come back. Even women I went to school with, the ones who were well-educated and wore jeans, they come back, put on their chiffon saris and become the maharaja’s wife. Times have to change; it’s important to speak to your culture, but you should also make use of the education you’ve been provided with.” But change never happens in a straight line. Democracy and modernday consumer capitalism were everywhere in India, except where they weren’t. Privilege and effort, heredity and ability, past and future were entangled in ways I couldn’t begin to understand. All I’d seen in those lovely estates was a glimpse of the knot.

© 2016 BY LISA ABEND. “IN RAJASTHAN’S PALACES-TURNED-HOTELS YOU CAN SLEEP LIKE A KING,” AFAR (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2016). AFAR.COM

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

143


EDITORS’ CHOICE

When Isabel Vincent said yes to weekly meals with her friend’s nonagenarian father, she knew he was a great cook. She didn’t know he’d be a great comfort, too.

Soul Food FR O M DI N N E R W I T H E DWA R D ILLUSTRATIONS BY JANICE KUN

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

145


READER’S DIGEST

I

LEARNED ABOUT THE PROMISE Edward made to his dying

wife long before I met him. Valerie, Edward’s daughter and a long-time friend of mine, recounted the story when I saw her a couple of months after her mother’s death. Paula, who was just shy of her 95th birthday and had been drifting in and out of consciousness for days, sat up in bed to address her beloved husband.

“Listen to me, Eddie,” Paula said quietly. “You can’t come with me now. You must not give up—it would be the end of our little family.” Paula knew Edward had already decided he wanted to die rather than face life without her. That was wrong, she said; Paula encouraged him to keep on living. Once she’d said her piece, she serenaded the man she had been married to for 69 years, softly making her way through Cole Porter’s “All of You.” She died 24 hours later. It was early October 2009. Struggling with his grief in the weeks after Paula’s death, Edward found it almost impossible to keep going. He sat alone in their apartment on Roosevelt Island, across the river from Manhattan, at the table that had been the scene of many animated dinners. Eventually, Edward checked himself into the hospital, where doctors performed a battery of tests. They couldn’t find anything physically wrong with the 89-year-old and would be sending him home the next day. 146

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

“I’m afraid he’s giving up,” said Valerie. It was Christmas Eve, and we had planned to meet for dinner, so she suggested a bistro around the corner from the hospital. We picked at our food and both of us cried. It was the day before what would have been Paula’s birthday, and Valerie was still mourning her loss. Now she was also deeply worried about her father. I’m not sure why I broke down when Valerie described Paula’s serenade. I had never met Edward and, though it was a poignant scene, I can’t help but think that it was also a stark reminder of my own unhappiness. At 44, I had recently moved my family to New York, where I had landed a job as a newspaper reporter, and I’d be spending Christmas in the newsroom. My marriage was unravelling and I was more than a little concerned about the impact it would have on my nine-year-old daughter, Hannah. When I brought up my predicament, Valerie suggested I have dinner with Edward.


We lived near one another, and besides, “he’s a great cook,” Valerie said through tears, perhaps hoping I’d volunteer to look in on Edward after she returned home to Canada later that month. Her sister, Laura, lived in Greece. I don’t know if the temptation of a good meal did it for me, or if I was just so lonely that even the prospect of spending time with a depressed nonagenarian seemed appealing. On the evening of our first dinner a couple of months later, I knocked quietly, then rang the doorbell. Within moments, a tall, elderly gentleman abruptly opened the door, took my hand and kissed me on both cheeks. “Darling!” he said. “I’ve been expecting you.” IN THE BEGINNING, I would invariably arrive at Edward’s apartment with a bottle of wine. “No need to bring anything,” he said, although I often ignored the advice. Whenever I did happen to bring wine, Edward would write my name on the label, tucking it into his makeshift cellar in the hall closet. By the time I got there, he had already chosen his wines carefully for the meal and would save my offering for a more appropriate pairing. Edward was neither a snob nor an insufferable foodie. He just liked to do things properly, and he cared deeply about cooking. Raised

in genteel poverty in the South, Edward knew how to be resourceful. He loved to shop at specialty food stores but happily made do at his local supermarket.

EDWARD WAS TEACHING ME THE ART OF PATIENCE, THE LUXURY OF TAKING TIME TO THINK THROUGH EVERYTHING. The steaks Edward grilled in a hot cast iron pan for one of our first dinners came from the meat fridge at the grocery store. They’d been marinating in balsamic vinegar before he seared them to perfection, laying them out on plates he had warmed in the oven. The fatty juices from the steak bled across the white porcelain, mingling with the small mound of new potatoes he had boiled in their skins and topped with a dab of butter and chopped parsley. Then Edward swirled a velvety brown sauce on the meat before bringing the plates to the table. The steaks were perfectly tender and tasted as though they could have come from the best butcher in Manhattan. The sauce was buttery and rich. When I asked him how he had made it, he launched into a long rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

147


explanation about the demi-glace that was the basis for most of his sauces. “Demi-glace is a long process,” Edward said, pulling from the refrigerator a small container that held the thick brown sauce made by simmering roasted veal bones and vegetables. “You can’t just wish it there. It cooks and cooks for days, becoming more and more concentrated.” Edward taught me how to make sublime roast chicken using only a paper bag and a handful of herbs, and how to create the perfect pastry; he instructed me to sprinkle balsamic vinegar on pasta to allow the sauce to cling. But from the beginning of our relationship, I knew his culinary tips were about more than just the preparation of food. He was teaching me the art of patience, the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything I did. Once, when I asked him for a lesson in deboning a chicken in order to make a galantine (in which the chicken is stuffed, poached, then served cold in aspic), what Edward imparted was far weightier than the butchery of poultry. He explained that when cooking, you need to understand all the basic steps and you can’t take shortcuts without jeopardizing the end result. In hindsight, I realize he was forcing me to deconstruct my own life, to cut it back to the bone and examine the entrails, no matter how messy that proved to be.

ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, I showed up at Edward’s apartment with a pound of raw squid from my favourite fish market in Newark, N.J. We both knew it was a pretext to visit him, and the tears started soon after I crossed the threshold. He didn’t seem surprised. “I wish there was something I could do to help you, darling,” he said. “But if I interfere, it will just be worse for you.”

UPON MY RETURN HOME, MY HUSBAND AND I BEGAN ARGUING. THAT’S WHEN I ESCAPED TO EDWARD’S WITH MY SQUID. My husband and I were fighting, and in order to avoid further confrontation, I had headed out to the Portuguese neighbourhood in Newark where I regularly bought salted cod and olive oil—foods from my parents’ home country that made me feel grounded. Wandering supermarket aisles sampling olives and goat cheeses and buying chorizo improved my mood, but I knew I couldn’t stay away forever. When I returned home, the fighting started again. That’s when I escaped to Edward’s with my squid. rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

149


READER’S DIGEST

Edward took the molluscs and stashed them in his refrigerator. Then he walked over to the hutch in his living room and divided the last of his Kentucky bourbon stash evenly between two glasses. I inhaled the soothing liquid heat and everything came pouring out of me. I told Edward about the horrible arguments, dishes crashing on the floor, a family dinner that became so nasty that my daughter left the table in tears to hide in her room.

“MY WIFE MELTED MY HEART,” EDWARD SAID, HIS EYES SHINY WITH TEARS. “PARADISE WAS ME AND PAULA.” I spent a lot of time crying my way through the bourbon, sounding incoherent even to myself. Edward listened. Eventually, it was time for me to go. Even in my leave-taking, though, there was something comforting: after the drama, Edward would be there. As he escorted me to the elevator, holding the door open with his cane, he said, “Let’s have dinner soon, okay?” Edward rarely offered me specific marriage advice, never interfered. On occasion, he would sigh and shake 150

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

his head. “It’s a bloody shame,” he would say, knowing I was the only one who could solve my problems. AFTER A HARD day’s work at the newspaper, it was heartening to know that at least once a week Edward and dinner would be waiting for me. Now, whenever I describe my time on Roosevelt Island, I refer to it as the worst period of my life. But I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that it was also the best time. Because of Edward. One night when I arrived for dinner, he was preparing oysters Rockefeller. “What’s the occasion?” I asked as he arranged the bivalves on a baking dish and topped them with a mixture of spinach and bread crumbs sautéed in butter and Pernod. “Do we need one?” he replied. “Paula and I never needed an occasion,” he continued. “We never gave each other presents, either, because every day we spent together was a gift.” At first, Edward and Paula might have seemed an unlikely match. He was a Southern boy and she was an urbane Jewish girl from Philadelphia, five years his senior. But, as Edward remembered his first glimpse of Paula, they connected immediately when they met in 1940 at a Greenwich Village theatre, both of them aspiring actors. “She melted my heart,” Edward said, his eyes growing shiny with tears. “Paradise was me and Paula.”


As we sat down to eat the oysters, I moved the bottle of wine and reached over the breadbasket to squeeze his hand. Edward was preoccupied with defining love. Every day over breakfast, he went through a few pages of the dictionary, working alphabetically, searching for words that added to his compendium of love. He began with “admiring,” moved on to “adoring,” and the last time I’d checked, he hadn’t progressed much beyond the c’s—“caring” and “cherished.” “You make a mistake if you don’t try to figure out love,” he said to me as he served that night’s dessert, a boldly tangy lemon tart. “If you give yourself to someone without understanding it, you are only asking to be a slave.” A few days later, I found a fourpage letter in my mailbox. “What is love? Like the majority of us you struggle to supply an answer, for the very simple reason that we seldom attempt to define it, even less to comprehend it,” Edward wrote. “Love is being, not belonging. Giving and receiving, not possessing.” WE NEVER MADE it to dessert the night Edward collapsed. We had just finished our salads, after the crab cakes, and anticipating our next course, Edward began to explain how he had prepared the prune tart. The secret, he said, was soaking the fruit in Earl Grey tea for at least an hour before baking.

“That’s how you get that thick, sweet black syrup,” he explained. “Just soak them before you—” But he began to tremble, and his words came out in a slur before he could guide me through the rest of the recipe. Then Edward lurched forward in his chair. I rushed to help him, and he seemed to will himself back to an upright position. Closing his eyes, he steadied himself and slowly rose from his chair, leaning on his cane. He headed to the bathroom, leaving me in his living room wondering if he was ever going to be all right again. I called to him to ask if he was okay, and he said he would be back momentarily.

I WAS WORRIED EDWARD WOULD SHUN ME IF I TOLD HIS DAUGHTERS ABOUT HIS NEARFAINTING EPISODE. When he limped back into the kitchen, I was filling the sink with soapy water. He stood, leaning on his cane, in bare feet, wearing a threadbare nightshirt. “Don’t tell Valerie,” he said in what seemed to me a desperate whisper. “And don’t tell Laura.” It was the only time in the two years that we had known each other rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

151


READER’S DIGEST

that I betrayed him. It did cross my mind that he might never speak to me again when he found out that I had told his daughters about his near-fainting episode. For months after that, I spoke to Edward only briefly—even after he actually did faint some weeks later and hurt himself so badly he couldn’t get out of bed for over a month.

WHEN HE WAS WELL ENOUGH TO COOK AGAIN, EDWARD, SOON TO BE 93, BEGAN TO INVITE ME TO DINNER. We had few conversations during Edward’s mysterious illness; he didn’t have the energy to say much. I longed to help him, but there seemed so little I could do. And then one night, when I was having trouble remembering one of his recipes, I called him. “Remind me how you made that Grand Marnier soufflé?” I said. I hoped that talking about food might heal him. I started calling more regularly. When he was sleeping, I would leave messages on his answering machine—questions about some dilemma that only he could resolve. 152

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

“Edward, I forgot the trick you taught me with the french fries. Could you call me back?” “What’s the name of that restaurant in Chinatown where you get your duck?” I like to think my culinary quandaries improved his mood, at least. “Your phone call today about my recovery’s progress is much appreciated,” he wrote to me when he was starting to feel better, “even though its status quo was not what I should have enjoyed relating to you. But at my age there are no quick fixes to equal the speed in which calamity can leave one disabled. But you allowed me, in your excitement about rendezvousing with soufflés soon, to forget, if all too briefly, my pain.” When he was well enough to cook again, Edward, soon to be 93, began to invite me to dinner. IT WAS TO be a triumphant feast— the dinner Edward would prepare for neighbours and friends to signal that he was back. He asked me to be his sous-chef. I was eager to see Edward in his element. But a few days before the big event, I was rearranging the furniture in my apartment overlooking Central Park—my husband and I had finally separated three months earlier—and pushed one of my bulky bookcases. I didn’t think much of the slight pain I felt in my back. Less


READER’S DIGEST

than 24 hours later, though, I could barely get out of bed. After several days of swallowing painkillers and affixing sticky pain patches to the inflamed spot on my back, I was feeling only slightly better. I called Edward to tell him the bad news: I was going to miss his comeback dinner. “I’m so sorry you won’t be able to make it, darling,” he said. I asked him what he was cooking. Prime rib with steamed haricots verts and potatoes au jus would be the main course. He was also serving martinis and goat cheese canapés with sundried tomatoes before the meal and a Grand Marnier soufflé with hints of orange zest and topped with fresh cream for dessert. But Edward was most excited about the soup course he was planning. “I was so looking forward to having you try my cauliflower soup,” he told me on the phone. Cauliflower soup? “Yes, with truffle oil and reconstituted dried mushrooms.” The idea of cauliflower soup with truffle oil sounded simply too delicious, so I asked Edward to give me the recipe right there and then. I don’t know why I felt compelled to make that soup, but after I wrote down Edward’s instructions, I put on my clothes with great difficulty, popped a few painkillers and headed out to buy the ingredients. 154

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

I spent the evening cooking. Like Edward, I now had to grip the counters when I moved and stand carefully on the stepstool to fetch ingredients from the cupboards. Maybe it was the medication finally kicking in, but when I later ate with my daughter and her friend, I felt no pain. The soup, with the musky richness of the truffle oil and the porcini mushrooms, made me feel better.

EDWARD TOLD ME WE HAD A SPECIAL CONNECTION BECAUSE WE HAD MET WHEN WE WERE BOTH VULNERABLE. Truthfully, it would take a few more weeks for the healing to be complete. During that time, I became acutely aware that I had no one to count on in a time of crisis. Who would be there for me in the way that Paula and Edward had taken care of each other? “I know how limited I am in many activities I once did earlier in my life easily and without thought,” Edward had written to me during his illness. “And it leaves me feeling defenceless.” I thought of Edward, who had to face the pain of aging alone. It was all a part of what he liked to call a normal life.


had gone off well, he “People are far too said, and he had missed obsessed with seeking me. He also told me we experience and feel that if had a special connection they are not living on the because we had come razor’s edge, they are not together when we were alive,” Edward had once both vulnerable. told me. “It’s because they That night, I sat down can’t deal with normal to write my own letter to life. They need to climb Edward. I told him I had Mount Everest instead.” never been incapacitated I had once been one like this, and how I was of those people whom suddenly feeling middleE d w a rd w a s t a l k i n g aged and alone. I told about. I had lived on EDITORS’ him that he had saved the razor’s edge. As a CHOICE my life and that he would reporter, I had travelled to cover war in Africa and drug traf- be with me forever. The response was swift. Edward fickers in South America. I thought the experience was more valid than called me right after he read my letter. “You saved your own life,” he said. the daily grind, but Edward knew better. He knew that paradise was not a “You think about this in time and you place—it was the people in your life. will come to see the truth of what I’m When I was finally feeling better, saying. You were giving as well as I called Edward and let him know receiving.” And then his voice caught, about the miracle of the soup cure. and he said he needed to go. “You He wasn’t surprised. His dinner party touched an old man’s heart.” FROM DINNER WITH EDWARD: A STORY OF AN UNEXPECTED FRIENDSHIP BY ISABEL VINCENT. © 2016. USED WITH PERMISSION FROM ALGONQUIN BOOKS.

THE MEETINGSPEAK-TO-ENGLISH TRANSLATOR ■ “This wasn’t on my calendar” = I deleted this from my calendar. ■ “Duly noted” = I’ve already forgotten about it. ■ “That said” = We’re still not changing anything. ■ “Let’s get some data on that” = I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. SARAH COOPER, From 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

155


FOOD STYLE HOME WELLNESS IN THE AFTERNOON

NEW DAYTIME SHOW

WEEKDAYS

2 2:30 NT


GET SMART! 13 Things You Should Know About

Energy Conservation BY A N D R E A B E N N E T T

ISTOCKP HOTO

1

Heat your house judiciously. Nancy Clark of Hydro One in Ontario suggests starting with benchmark temperatures of 21 C when you’re home, 16 C when you’re out and 18 C when you’re sleeping. From there you can fine-tune based on what’s comfortable for your family. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you’ll save about 5 per cent on heating costs.

3

2

4

Be patient. On a cold winter day, don’t set your thermostat higher than you want the temperature to be

in order to warm your home faster. It won’t hasten the process, and it’ll keep the heater running longer. To make your house feel warmer during cooler months, Clark suggests maintaining a humidity level of 30 to 40 per cent—moist air retains heat better than dry air. If your home is arid, use an energyefficient humidifier.

Become a ceiling fan, er…fan. To save on heating bills, “have fans spin clockwise at a low speed ➸ rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

157


READER’S DIGEST

to circulate warm air downward in the winter,” Clark says. In the summer, turn up the thermostat by a degree or two and switch to counterclockwise to whisk hot air up.

5

The average household contains about 25 electronic devices drawing phantom power, says Clark. To save time and energy, plug multiple gadgets (like computers, printers and cellphone chargers) into one power bar that you can switch off when you’re not using it.

6

In the summertime, move lighting, electronics and other heatemitting objects away from your thermostat—they’ll artificially raise the temperature and make your cooling system work double time to catch up.

7

Got a beer fridge chugging along in your basement? Maurice Nelischer, director of sustainability at the University of Guelph, suggests saying one last cheers before recycling it. Old refrigerators can use three times as much energy as newer ones; ditching yours could save you about $300 a year.

8

Clean out your fridge and freezer regularly—if they’re overstuffed, they won’t circulate air properly, leading to uneven temperatures and an overworked compressor. You can

158

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

also extend the life of your fridge— and make it more energy efficient— by replacing the gaskets when they get old and weak.

9

Let hot foods cool to room temperature before putting them in the fridge. Hot food will raise the temperature inside the fridge and cause it to increase its efforts to cool things down again.

10

A little research goes a long way. Check out your local power company’s conservation incentive program—you may qualify for a furnace replacement grant, coupons for LED bulbs and more.

11

Zap your snacks. Make small meals and heat leftovers in the toaster oven or microwave instead of your oven—you’ll use up to 75 per cent less energy.

12

Dust off those clothes pegs. Electrical dryers account for about six per cent of an average home’s energy bills. By contrast, line-drying your clothes can save you up to $100 per year.

13

Drive to a full-time job? See if your company will let you telecommute once a week. If you spend an hour or more commuting each day, working from home could save you over $150 a year in fuel costs.


That’s Outrageous! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? BY GRAE M E BAYLISS

TWICE IS NICE

When Bruce Magistro won $1 million playing scratch cards in 2012, the victory was bittersweet. The Long Island, N.Y., construction worker’s wife was battling cancer, and he spent most of the money on medical bills. Then, in March 2016, Magistro won another cool million. Yolanda Vega, the state lottery employee who handed him his first cheque, said she’d had a good feeling about Magistro: “He was positive and outgoing. I knew he’d win again.” Still, his streak likely had more to do with perseverance than his sunny disposition—Magistro sometimes buys more than $100 worth of scratch cards at once.

PIERRE LORAN GER

BIG FIND

At first, nothing seemed unusual about the wallet Kevin Miller found in a parking lot near his home in Florida. He simply reported it to the authorities. Then he counted the money inside—$3,400—and called right back. Miller was worried the

cash was stolen, or that the cops would think he’d stolen it. Thankfully there was nothing nefarious about the wayward funds, and the wallet was returned to the woman who’d lost it. Miller’s actions didn’t go unrewarded: the sheriff’s office has nominated him for a citizen’s award. THE CAT CAME BACK

Eleven years ago, Henry McCrea’s cat, Misty, escaped from his home in Portland, Ore. When she didn’t return, McCrea figured the goldeneyed feline had been eaten by a coyote. But in July, the prodigal critter was found and delivered safely to a local animal shelter. Thanks to a microchip implanted in Misty’s back, that shelter was able to reunite the animal with her owner. McCrea’s stepmom, Meredyth Warren, told a local news crew that the pudgy cat had clearly managed to fend for herself during her decade-plus away from home: “You can tell she hasn’t missed a lot of meals.” rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

159


MORE GREAT READS THIS MONTH

Rd.ca/connect H E A LT H

5 Ways to Cut Down on Calories Over the Holidays RD CLASSIC

’Tis the Season for Hilarious Stories Readers share their funniest memories of the most wonderful time of the year

/r e a d e r s d i g e s t c a n a d a @readersdigestca /r d c a n a d a /r e a d e r s d i g e s t c a Newsletter

Canada’s 10 Best Christmas Cities Where to find the top trees, lights and holiday cheer

160

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

ISTOCKP HOTO

T R AV E L


Brainteasers

(X M ARKS THE S POT, ODD ONE OUT) MARCEL DAN ESI ; (GOT YOUR N UMBE R) DARRE N RIG BY

Challenge yourself by solving these puzzles and mind stretchers, then check your answers on page 164.

X MARKS THE SPOT

ODD ONE OUT (Easy)

(Moderately difficult)

Which figure does not belong in the set?

Identify which of the numbers in the grid below is X if: ■ Three cells away from X is a number that is three times X. ■ Two cells away from X is a number that is twice X. ■ Three cells away from X is a number that is equal to X plus four. ■ Three cells away from X is a number that is equal to five times X plus two. Cell distances can either be counted horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

2

8

10

13

5

11

3

23

6

7

16

21

20

19

30

18

25

27

28

29

1

9

4

14

17

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

GOT YOUR NUMBER (Difficult)

What number belongs on the blank card?

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

161


READER’S DIGEST

COLLAPSING BRIDGE (Moderately difficult)

6

8

7

5

7

8

7

4

Sir Kaspahad, knight of Chessylvania, rides up to the bridge in the diagram. He starts on the lowermost square and moves as a chess knight does: jumping two squares in any row or column and one to the side. After his first move, the parts of the bridge marked “1” fall away; then, after his second move, the “2” parts fall and so on. How can he safely cross the bridge to the square marked F? 1-2-3 GO AGAIN

(Moderately difficult)

6

4 7

3

4

2

3

Find a way to draw a continuous loop that follows each line segment once and only once. You must trace segments in numerical order; that is, “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3…” As you move along, every corner and every intersection you pass is the beginning of a new segment. It’s okay for one part of your solution to meet or cross another at the intersections. 3

4

3

4

2

2

1

3

3

1

2

2

1

3

2

3

1 1

2

1 3

1 2

3

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

1 3

2

1

162

2

3

(COLLAPS ING BRI DGE) DA RREN RIGBY; (1-2-3 GO AGAI N) RODERIC K KI MBAL L OF PATHPU ZZL E S.COM

F


Trivia Quiz BY PAUL PAQ UET

1. In 2014, Thailand banned a three-

7. What thundering Norse god rode

finger salute that protesters had borrowed from what blockbuster book and movie franchise?

in a chariot pulled by magic goats?

2. This stomach-churning disease

is deadly and contagious, yet most cases can be cured with oral rehydration salts. What is it? 3. Which tiny mountain country

declared war on Germany in 1914, even though its army consisted of just 10 part-time soldiers? 4. The word “evolution” does not appear in the original text of what 1859 masterpiece of science? 5. What Mongolian conqueror’s

final resting place is unknown, even though over 28,000 volunteers scoured satellite images for signs of his tomb?

8. Which African nation lost its

coastline when Eritrea gained independence in 1993? 9. Who’s the most valuable actress of all time, as measured by adding up the box-office earnings of all the movies in which she’s appeared? 10. In 1812, Napoleon invaded

which country, only to be turned back by winter weather? 11. Which country called the 2014

film The Interview “an act of war”? 12. In 1986, Steve Wozniak finally

completed a degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences, after having already co-founded which tech company?

6. Which country’s 15. In which country did Indiana Jones find the lost Ark of the Covenant?

14. Do ticks fly?

ANSWERS: 1. The Hunger Games. 2. Cholera. 3. Andorra. 4. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. 5. Genghis Khan. 6. Australia. 7. Thor. 8. Ethiopia. 9. Scarlett Johansson. 10. Russia. 11. North Korea. 12. Apple. 13. Denmark, where 47 per cent of households consist of one person. 14. No, but they can climb up onto plants. 15. Egypt.

ISTOCKP HOTO

Northern Territory actually contains its geographic centre?

13. Which country has the highest proportion of solo households?

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

163


Sudoku

Brainteasers: Answers (from page 161)

BY I A N R IENS C H E

X MARKS THE SPOT 3.

4 5

8 5

1 9 3 1

5 8 2 3 4

5 6 2 7

8 5 1 5

2 3 7 1

TO SOLVE THIS PUZZLE…

You have to put a number from 1 to 9 in each square so that:

rd.ca

8 7 9 3 1 2 5 4 6

|

2 3 1 4 6 5 8 7 9

12 • 2016

4 5 6 9 7 8 3 2 1

|

5 2 4 6 3 9 1 8 7

164

1 8 7 5 2 4 9 6 3

■ each of the 3 x 3 boxes has all nine numerals, none repeated.

9 6 3 1 8 7 4 5 2

any of them;

7 4 2 8 9 3 6 1 5

(1-9) without repeating

7 4 6 4 7 3 4 2 3 4 3 3 4 2 1

GOT YOUR NUMBER 3. The number on each card is half of the number on the previous card when read upside down. (291 is half of 582, 81 is half of 162 and so on.)

S

1-2-3 GO AGAIN 6 9 5 2 4 1 7 3 8

contains all nine numerals

SOLUTION 3 1 8 7 5 6 2 9 4

■ every horizontal row and vertical column

F 6 8 7 5 7 8

3 2

1

1

2

2 3

3

3

1

2

1

2

3 2

1

1

3

2 1

2 3

1 3

(S UDOKU) S UDOKUPUZZLER.COM

7 9 1 4

COLLAPSING BRIDGE

ODD ONE OUT G. In a triangle, the heart lies inside the circle and the crescent lies outside of it. In a square, the reverse occurs.


Word Power One of English’s more entertaining features is its bevy of colourful collective nouns. See if you can pick a pack of correct definitions for groups of people, animals and objects from this confusion of clues. BY GEO RGE M URRAY

1. smack—

6. bed— A: kittens. B: volcanoes. C: mussels.

11. fleet—

A: hockey players. B: jellyfish. C: stooges. 2. business—

7. shrewdness—

12. murmuration—

A: birds. B: balls. C: ferrets.

A: poets. B: liars. C: apes.

A: heartbeats. B: starlings. C: gossips.

3. bank—

A: clouds. B: alligators. C: owls.

8. pod— A: redheads. B: whales. C: Martians.

A: records. B: islands. C: flies.

4. copse—

9. coterie—

14. cabal—

A: trees. B: cattle. C: flags.

A: bicycles. B: boutiques. C: close friends.

A: conspirators. B: witches. C: monks.

5. clutch— A: wrestlers. B: acorns. C: eggs.

10. raft—

15. hand— A: bananas. B: sticks. C: gloves.

A: canes. B: comets. C: ducks on water.

A: foxes. B: ships. C: asteroids.

13. archipelago—

rd.ca

|

12 • 2016

|

165


READER’S DIGEST

Answers 1. smack—B: group of jellyfish;

9. coterie—C: close friends; as,

as, Jeff spotted a smack of bobbing jellyfish and quickly swam away.

Ever since college, Safia had maintained the same coterie.

2. business—C: ferrets; as,

A business of ferrets escaped from a cage and tore through the pet shop.

10. raft—C: ducks on water; as,

Luiza stopped paddling momentarily to watch a raft of ducks go by.

clouds hung over the shore like a white duvet.

11. fleet—B: ships; as, The navy fleet conducted combat exercises off the West Coast last week.

4. copse—A: trees; as, The maple

12. murmuration—B: starlings; as,

copse behind Ilya’s house had begun to turn red and yellow.

A murmuration of starlings twisted through the sky like black smoke.

3. bank—A: clouds; as, A bank of

5. clutch—C: eggs; as, Mo’s Rhode Island Red hens reliably produced a good clutch every laying season. 6. bed—C: mussels; as, Tara found a mussel bed and began digging, thinking of the steamer pot waiting at home.

13. archipelago—B: islands; as, Wei’s goal was to sail through the Mergui Archipelago in Burma to study the plant life. 14. cabal—A: conspirators; as,

7. shrewdness—C: apes; as,

In The X-Files, Mulder and Scully always seem to be up against a cabal of government agents.

Upon returning home from her family reunion, Nellie quipped that she could have spent a more civilized weekend with a shrewdness of apes.

15. hand—A: bananas; as, Rupert had a habit of lifting each hand of bananas at the supermarket to check for bruises underneath.

8. pod—B: whales; as, Oli cried out, first in delight and then in fear, as a pod of humpbacks surfaced near his kayak. 166

|

12 • 2016

|

rd.ca

VOCABULARY RATINGS

7–10: fair 11–12: good 13–15: excellent


3WAYS TO SHOP

IN-STORE

ONLINE

PHONE

REDEEM THE BELOW COUPOUN FOR $5 OFF

FOR 10% OFF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE, USE DISCOUNT CODE : RD1216

FOR 10% OFF YOUR ENTIRE PURCHASE, CALL

WWW.VIVISCAL.CA

1-800-208-6185

IN THE HAIR REGROWTH SECTION

Exclusive In-store Coupon Expires 12/31/2017

$5.00 OFF

on (1) Viviscal Extra Strength or (1) Viviscal Man

FOR OVER 25 YEARS, WITH JUST TWO PILLS A DAY WE’VE HELPED MILLIONS OF WOMEN AND MEN ACHIEVE THE THICKER, FULLER LOOKING HAIR THEY *187-107*

DESERVE IN AS LITTLE AS 3 MONTHS.

VIVISCAL IS AVAILABLE IN THE HAIR REGROWTH SECTION AT LEADING RETAILERS.

VIVISCAL IS AVAILABLE IN THE HAIR REGROWTH SECTION AT:

SELECT STORES

* #1 in the US based on IRI data for 52 weeks ending June 12, 2016.


Quotes BY C H RISTINA PALASS IO

All your songs are like your kids. You don’t really play favourites. When it’s finished, you send it out into the world.

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED BY PEOPLE AND BY BEHAVIOUR. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME JUST STARING , WATCHING PEOPLE ON THE STREET. E M I LY VA N C A M P

SY LVIA T YSO N

I’ve always believed that the canoe is so important that there would be no Canadian history [without it]—no canoe, no Canada. ROY M G R E G O R AC

I love being a Member of Parliament. I don’t love politics. I don’t love being the leader of the Green Party. It’s not really something I’d recommend to a good friend. It’s not fun. E LIZ A B E TH M AY

IF YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU’RE AMAZING AND IN CONTROL, HAVE SOME CHILDREN. S E Á N CU LLE N

MY MOM IS MY EVERYTHING. WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH, SHE IS ALWAYS ONLY A PHONE CALL AWAY. SHE HELPS ME GET OVER THE HUMP. I WISH I COULD BE WITH HER ALL THE TIME. ANDRE DE GRASSE

PHOTOS: (VANCAMP) DISNEY/ABC TELEVISION GROUP/BOB DAMICO; (CULLEN) DIAMONDFIELD ENTERTAINMENT; (D E GRASSE) COC/CLAUS ANDERSEN. QUOTES: (TYSON) MACLEAN’S (JUNE 29, 2014); (VANCAMP) SHARP (MAY 2016); (M A C GREGOR) CBC RADIO’S THE NEXT CHAPTER (OCT. 26, 2015); (MAY) THE GLOBE AND MAIL (AUG. 6, 2016); (CULLEN) TWITTER (JUNE 21, 2016); (D E GRASSE) THE GLOBE AND MAIL (JULY 20, 2016).


1. Take 2 capsules of Lakota Joint Care Formula every morning with breakfast.

2. Natural source pain relievers, such as White Willow Bark, target and relieve tough joint pain.

Pain relief for moving mountains. Based on traditional medicine and made with natural ingredients, Lakota Joint Care Formula is natural pain relief that works. For reviews and testimonials visit Lakotaherbs.com.

3. Boswellia and Devil’s Claw reduce inammation, while Lumanite rebuilds joints, increasing comfort and mobility.



▼Reader's Digest - Magic Of Holidays