Peppered

That’s it. Doing the vegan thing. I declared with great conviction not so long ago.

It was far easier than I thought it would be, especially with all of the fabulous cookbooks available. Deliciously Ella, Oh-She-Glows, The Kind Diet and Fuss-free Vegan are my favourites so far. In addition to myriad vegetable and grain dishes, I’ve learned how to make plant-based mozzarella, parmesan, brownies, crackers, mayo and a whole lot more.

It definitely helps that I like to cook and couldn’t wait to try new recipes. When I saw one for jalapeno poppers with vegan mozzarella and rice-paper bacon, I dove right in. They were terrifically yummy, but in my haste, I neglected one tiny little detail: food-preparation gloves.

Now, I’d chopped the occasional hot pepper for batches of chili on numerous occasions, but what I hadn’t done was split and scrape the seeds out of a whole baking sheet full of jalapeno peppers all at once. Those of you who’ve experienced “pepper hands” can guess what came next. For those who haven’t, here is my cautionary tale…

At first, there was some minor tingling as I worked away – not dissimilar to the mild sting of lemon or lime juice on slightly chapped skin. I rinsed my hands regularly and kept going, popping the poppers into the oven to bake. As they bubbled and browned most beautifully, the sting started to increase. I washed my hands thoroughly again and looked up ways to alleviate the pain. The two recommendations? Wash your hands with soap and water and/or soak in milk.

The first provided relief for about twenty seconds only. And the sting was growing worse. If you’ve ever burnt your finger on a hot pan or cookie sheet, imagine that seared-flesh feeling on the full length of every single finger and both thumbs. That’s what a major case of “pepper hands” feels like!

So, with a woebegone vegan apology to dairy cows everywhere, I poured a generous bowlful and submerged my fiery fingers, fully expecting the sting to subside in a few minutes. In the lovely cool of the milk bath, the sting disappeared. I figured all was well, and removed my hands. The pain returned, increasing to something pretty much akin to excruciating. I poured a fresh bowl of milk and continued the process until eight hours and three litres later, during which time, I momentarily contemplated a trip to the ER.

I felt equally guilty for both wasting the milk and for my gratitude that others in the house hadn’t yet joined me in my no-holds-barred plant-based diet, else there would’ve been no milk on hand…or rather, hands.

Favourite Toronto Architecture 

There are many splendid architectural creations in Toronto. Here is a small sample of some of my favourites…I think it’s clear that I’m a proud University of Toronto alumna!

Graphic Arts Building

Toronto Old City Hall Clock Tower

University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College, Elmsley Lane

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University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College

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Whitney Block, Government of Ontario Building

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Lieutenant Governor’s Suite

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King Street East

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King Street East

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Whitney Block, Government of Ontario Building

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Hart House, University of Toronto

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“Provence in Toronto” as I call it (Yonge Street near Rosedale Subway Station)

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Bank of Montreal Building

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Toronto Harbour, as seen from the Centre Island Ferry

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Riverdale Farm

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Trinity College, University of Toronto

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St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

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Trinity College, University of Toronto

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Trinity College, University of Toronto

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Trinity College, University of Toronto

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Trinity College Courtyard, University of Toronto

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Hart House, University of Toronto

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Bennett Gates to Philosopher’s Walk, University of Toronto

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Cloisters, University of Toronto

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“The Three Graces” by Gerald Gladstone, 1971 (in front of Macdonald Block and part of the Government of Ontario Art Collection)

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Royal Ontario Museum

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King Edward VII statue in Queen’s Park

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Ontario Legislative Building

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Toronto Old City Hall

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Ontario Heritage Centre, Adelaide Street

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Rosewater Room facade

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

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King Street East

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University College, University of Toronto

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Philosopher’s Walk, University of Toronto

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University College, University of Toronto

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Ballroom ceiling, Fairmont Royal York Hotel

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St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

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The Royal Conservatory of Music Castle in silhouette

Dior enchants at the ROM

An extraordinary exhibition. Hard not to fall in love in the presence of such beauty…

“As a rule, I would say use jewellery generously to get the most out of it.” (Christian Dior, 1954)

Punctuation is not a crime

Why, suddenly, do people hate the comma? Did one go astray, leaving someone candidly exposed? Did an em-dash make someone choke on an appositive? Did an apostrophe try to possess the wrong thing?

Fear not, punctuation marks, I will defend you. You are full of character. You accentuate. You applaud! You provide context.

Where would we be without you? ‎Lost, confused, disorganized, and a bit troubled, I reckon. Let’s take a look, shall we?

“I like eating, the smell of summer rain, and my pets.”

Without the commas: “I like eating the smell of summer rain and my pets.”

I beg your pardon?

The semi-colon need not perplex; rather, it gives pause. It aids contemplation. We don’t pause enough in our rapid world. Thank you, semicolon, for reminding us to breathe.

Colons create drama and suspense: they are the orchestra leaders of the English language. When you see one, you know something big is coming next, like a crescendo of fact or a list of reasons.

And there’s the em-dash, that lively and vibrant storyteller, giving us hints and peeks, like an actor turning to the camera and winking. Some people dislike them—thinking them vain or disruptive, perhaps—but I think they’re dandy, like a conspiratorial sideways glance.

Exclamation marks have never been more popular, often used in an attempt to be heard over the din of voluminous content that saturates our existence. But even they are losing their spark due to overuse. We might as well just go back to the period.

People. Like. To. Use. Periods. Like. This. For. Emphasis. Such a method works well on occasion, particularly for irony. Periods cut to the chase and draw conclusions. They pace our words and clarify meaning.

It’s the lowly comma, sadly, that appears to be most at risk of an untimely death. I, for one, still love what it can do.