What do you love about your city?

June 27, 2018
by Lindsay
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A love letter to picnicking on CBC: July 2nd!

It’s no secret that I love picnicking. I LOVE PICNICKING! I love picnicking so much, I picnic in the winter because I can’t wait until summer. 2018 has been the most picnic-filled year I’ve ever had, what with the two or three, sometimes even 4 picnics I had a day in Buenos Aires. Just the other day before losing our reliable childcare for most of the summer, I took myself on a picnic crawl the other day – three hours and four picnics. It was positively glorious.

AND, I’m thrilled to be chatting about picnicking on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on July 2nd! Listen in (and I’ll post a link afterwards in case you’re sleeping in…)

The TRIED TESTED AND TRUE LZV SUMMER PICNIC TIPS:
1). Low-stress.
No need for an elaborate wicker basket. Or even elaborate plans. It’s just food outside. I have a picnic blanket packed in an old tote bag at the front door at all times and all I have to do is throw in some food. Boom, insta-picnic.

2). Food
Chips = key. Cheese and crackers. Olives and pickles. Some charcuterie (that’s the fancy way of throwing in the leftover salami). Snacky food, and food you can eat sans utensils are my favourite (like empanandas and sandwiches!) Anything that doesn’t need to be warmed up/eaten cold is perfect.

AND DESSERT! I’m a big fan of making little individual crumble in tiny mason jars. They’re so easy to make – fruit in the bottom, some crumble topping on top and pop ’em in the oven, then put the lids on and they’re picnic ready! Pro-tip: I keep some crumble topping in a container in the fridge for instant crumble making the minute some delicious fruit comes along!) Rhubarb and strawberry for now, but soon peach and plum, and cherry, then apple…!

3). Drinks
I pack beverages in mason jars wrapped in tea towels. The lid keeps everything from spilling, the jar is a perfect drinking vessel and the tea towel makes wiping up sticky hands/inevitable messes easy peasy. This summer, my go-to beverage is Smitten Kitchen’s cucumber lemonade. It pairs delightfully with gin, but is also delicious sans gin!

4). Location location location.
I’ve had memorable picnics on the side of a highway. I’ve had glorious picnics on cliffs overlooking oceans, on the sides of mountains, next to polluted rivers, in a friend’s backyard. I say any place outside, picnic table or blanket, or just the grass, counts as a picnic.

Happy picnicking!!!

June 26, 2018
by Lindsay
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My annual love letter to swimming

It’s my very favourite time of year OUTDOOR SWIMMING SEASON!

Last year’s first swim of the season was a wretched disappointment (I’m still not over it!), but this year was a big weekend long turquoise love letter at Sunnyside Pool. Twas positively glorious (you can read my love letter here!)

Writer (and swimmer!) Kerry Clare sums up the joy of public pools perfectly: “I love public pools, where everybody just shows up on hot days. I love all the bodies, the splashing, the obnoxious people, the towels spread out on the deck, the way the water cools you down just like that, and how my children have turned into little fish. The swimming pool is everything I love about living the city.” (You can read the full post here – it’s wonderful and full of all things summery!)

AND, because swimming is my favourite thing to do, I also ended up going for a dip in Lake Ontario this week. I didn’t really mean to, but the pool was closed (and I always forget to check!), but I had my brand new suit and towel, so for the first time since 2010, I hopped in the lake at Sunnyside Beach! It was chilly but lovely, and I screamed at a very big fish, and the lifeguard escorted me with a rowboat and I felt like Marilyn Bell, sans pablum and eels.

Oh swimming, you have my whole heart! (I’ll be adding to my pile of swim love letters here all summer!)

April 12, 2018
by Lindsay
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A 32-day love letter to Buenos Aires

Leaving wintery Toronto for summery Buenos Aires might have been the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. My fella and I took our kids – 3 and just about turning 1 – to Argentina for a full month and picnicked in the park and drank jarritos at the café on the corner every single morning and ate so much of the most delicious steak. It was a 32-day-long love letter.

BA is a truly wonderful city. There are incredible, extraordinary art galleries, palaces THAT YOU CAN SWIM IN, statues to letter carriers outside of old post offices that are now cultural centres, gold (!) street lamps and palm trees and patios and parks.

OH, the PARKS! They are the parks of Jane Jacobs‘ dreams – multi-use parks filled with every kind of person – elderly folks, babies, families, teenagers hanging and drinking maté, kids learning to ride their bikes, epic soccer games, all of it. Our flat was right near Plaza Vicente Lopez and we had lunch and happy hour at that park almost every day for the full month. One day, I even picnicked four times. It was positively glorious and I will dream about that park until my last breath.

I wrote love letters to rivers and the Atlantic Ocean in Carilo and wrote more than one love letter to The Recoleta Cultural Centre – it had the most incredible courtyards – one with a fountain the 3-year-old LOVED running in and out of, and another with chairs set under orange trees. They repainted the entire facade of the building with EVERY new show (!) and the first show we saw was aptly titled Amor de Verano – Summer of Love.

There were interactive galleries and spaces to read and work and places to sit under fruit trees, AND some of the most joy-filled art I’ve ever seen. I LOVED Sebastien Curi‘s huge colourful murals, every single one of them. They filled my whole heart.

I am back now, and desperate for warm air and parks and long summer days. But I found crocuses today, and biked with my kiddos in the late afternoon sun. And soon, there will be (warm!) picnics!

April 8, 2018
by Lindsay
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Dear Atlantic Ocean…

I love swimming (I know, I know, no surprise!), and so, when I went to Argentina with my little family, in the middle of (their) summer, I wrote a whole bunch of love letters. One to a pool in a beautiful palace, one to the world’s widest river, where I went for a swim in Uruguay, and another to the Atlantic Ocean.

To get to the ocean, we had to drive for 5 hours past fields and fields of cows – it felt like we were in the middle of Saskatchewan, with the odd roadside parilla and queso-selling farm stand.  The ocean seemed impossible far away. But we kept on and drove through a thick pine forest. It felt like those cottage roads, where the sun is suddenly filtered through trees, dappling the dirt road. We drove until the dirt road gave way to sand and there we were, at our hotel for the weekend. The air went from smelling like pine to smelling like salt.

“You have to be patient, Mommy,” my 3-year-old kept insisting as my fella and the hotel employee traded Google translated sentences.

The sun was already on its way down and I was grateful I had packed a bag with just bathing suits and towels. We grabbed the key to our room and grabbed the bag and headed for the beach, just steps from our door.

The Atlantic was loud and much rougher than I had imagined. This was not a swimming ocean. In true LZV form, I got in to my knees, the undertow pulling at my legs, and bailed. I took a break, watched the wind whip my baby’s wispy hair, and then went back in and dove through the waves. The water was warm, the air was cold and it was perfect.

That night, we walked home from dinner along the sandy road, and down to the beach. We held our babies under the Milky Way and listened to the crashing waves and showed the kids Mars, and marvelled at this glorious life we’ve made, our great luck, our great fortune.

Usually driving for five hours for a 36-hour visit with 2 small kids doesn’t add up, but when you add in the ocean and a bajillion stars and sand castles and pockets filled with shells, it is more than worth it (even when you get lost on the way home and the 5h drive takes 7h and all you have to eat are tubes of no-name Pringles).

More from that glorious trip to the ocean over on Swimming Holes We Have Known

 

 

April 3, 2018
by Lindsay
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Great news: A new year of Writing The City workshop!

I received the wonderful news that I received funding from the Ontario Arts Council for the second year of my place-based creative writing workshop, Writing The City. And this year, I’ll be offering it at Parkdale Library AND Annette St. Library. I’m so thrilled and grateful.

And if you’d like to read the work we created last fall, there are two copies of the Writing The City anthology available at Parkdale Library in the local history section (ask at the desk to see it!)

Writing The City is funded and supported by:

April 2, 2018
by Lindsay
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Histoire d’Amour on stage

Photo: Joseph Michael Photography

I’m so excited that Sylvie Bouchard and Bouchard Dances are remounting Histoire d’Amour, an evening-length dance-theatre trio based on an undying quest for love and a need to understand its meaning. I worked on writing and editing the text and it is such a wonderful show. Go see if it you can!

April 4-7, 2018Harbourfront Centre
8:00pm general public (April 5-7)
12:30pm matinées for school (April 5-6)