WestJet does Christmas right

by DaniGirl on December 9, 2013 · 1 comment

in Canadianisms, Happy holidays

I kept seeing this pop up in my social media feeds today. It finally popped up often enough (it takes a LOT of recommendations to get me to watch a video!) that I clicked on the link, and I am so glad I did.

Do you have five minutes to invest in the most heartwarming video of the season? Spend it here:

Isn’t it delightful? I cried the first time I watched it and cried again when I showed it to Beloved. A nice, happy sort of cry. And WestJet says “If our Christmas Miracle video on YouTube reaches 200,000 views, WestJet will donate flights to a family in need, so they can be together for the holidays.”

They’re just over 50,000 views as I share this. Add your clicks, you’ll be glad you did!

(Not a sponsored post!)

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I have two blog posts I’ve been noodling away at in stolen moments this week, one on skating lessons and one on Instagram. So it makes perfect sense that I drop everything and write a post about Alice Munro, right?

Well, it does because I just heard the lovely news that she has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is first Canadian-based writer to win the world’s most prestigious literary prize. Remember when I used to blog about books? I’ve been pining for those days lately, and when one of my lifetime idols wins the Nobel freakin’ Prize, that’s defintely worth blogging about!

I’m sure it speaks to my rather scattered sensibilities and curiousities when I tell you that the three most influential authors in my life (so far) have been Alice Munro, Stephen King and Douglas Coupland. I “discovered” Alice Munro way back in my teen angst years, and gobbled up everything she had written to date. I was entranced in large part because many of her novels and stories are set not just in Canada but in the part of the country where I grew up (in London, Ontario). I recognized the sleepy villages, the rolling farms, the verdant fields, even when she didn’t call them by name.

But on a deeper level, she also wrote about the experience of being a woman in terms to which I could strongly relate. Her characters are quirky and thoughtful, leading ordinary lives that occasionally break open to reveal the extraordinariness woven into the fabric of all of us, just below the surface. It was through Alice Munro that I learned to be open to and observe and love the beauty in minutaie.

It was also in reading Alice Munro that I learned about magic realism, a style I have come to love over the years. Once upon a time when I wanted to be a writer (that would be for most of the first three or four decades of my life!), I imagined that if I were to write stories they would be short stories in the style of Alice Munro – spare of superflous words, but with resonating insight into the human experience. And perhaps that’s why it’s best that I have turned in recent years to telling stories more with photographs than words – because perhaps emulating the best in her genre is a goal too lofty even for the pathologically enthusiastic. And I dont’ think I could ever restrain my innate verbosity.

When I went back to school in my mid-20s, I took as many courses in Canadian literature as I could. (Turns out that’s three, if you’re just doing an undergraduate degree.) I wish I still had a copy of what I remember to be my very favourite academic paper ever, an essay I wrote called “Pearls of Existence” and it compared the way Douglas Coupland and Alice Munro reflect the transformative experience of growing up through the lens of minutaie and everyday experiences. I loved writing that paper, and I got a (very rare indeed!) A+ on it.

I absolutely love this quote that the Globe and Mail picked up and included in the article I linked above. I think it captures exactly what I love most about the work of Alice Munro. In the author’s own words:

“I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way — what happens to somebody — but I want that ‘what happens’ to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing — not the ‘what happens’ but the way everything happens. These long short story fictions do that best, for me.”

Are you a fan of Alice Munro, too? Which stories or novels did you love – or not love?

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Fare thee well, Commander Hadfield

by DaniGirl on May 14, 2013 · 1 comment

in Canadianisms

Since I blogged about my delight in following Canadian astronaut and ISS commander Chris Hadfield back in January when he was kibitzing with Captain Kirk, it seems only natural that I’d share this with you, too. Best music video EVER!!

How could I not adore Commander Hadfield and what he has done during this mission? He’s at the intersection of everything I love: photography, social media, space, wicked fun science, razor sharp wit, a strong sense of play and an aw-shucks Canadian pride. Plus William Shatner and David Bowie on the side.

Thanks, Commander, for 144 days of wonder. Your mission has been a gift to all of us.

(Also, that’s two YouTube videos I’ve shared in a week. What is happening to me????)

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Oh Tim Hortons, how you vex me

by DaniGirl on January 16, 2012 · 5 comments

in Canadianisms

I am crazy busy this week. I don’t have time for Internet drama (but oh, there is drama) and I don’t have time for the forecasted 30+ cm of snow between now and Friday (seriously!) and I really don’t have time to talk at any length about coffee. But as we discussed on Twitter this weekend, it’s a simple fact of life: coffee sometimes trumps all.

I just got a press release from Tim Hortons. I am still not sure I’ve forgiven them for their Christmas cup faux pas, but I wanted to put this out there for your opinion. Apparently, they’ve broadened their coffee cup line so that starting next Monday a small is now an extra-small, a large is now a medium and an extra-large is four ounces bigger than it used to be.

From the press release:

Tim Hortons announced it will be brewing its biggest cup yet, with this month’s introduction of a brand new extra large cup. Beginning January 23rd, the new cup will offer coffee lovers across Canada a premium quality, extra large coffee at a value price. To accommodate the brand new cup, the names of the other hot cup sizes have shifted: the original small is now extra small, the medium is now small and so forth. The change in names of the hot cup sizes will apply to all hot beverages – guests will still receive the same amount of coffee for the same price, only the name of the size has changed.

I’m happy that they didn’t drop the small entirely, as since my last post on the subject of Tim’s cup sizes (hey, what can I say, I’m obsessed) I’ve grown kind of fond of the kiddie-size small — soon to be known as the extra-small. But do we really need to buy our in coffee 2/3 of a litre containers? I’m a hard-core coffee drinker and even I’m not sure I’d have many occasions to order THAT much coffee at a time.

63:365 Please play again

What say ye, bloggy peeps? Do you need your entire daily recommended dose of caffeine in one 24-ounce hit, or is there such a thing as too big a cup of coffee?


An open letter to Tim Hortons

by DaniGirl on December 23, 2011 · 8 comments

in Canadianisms

Dear Tim Hortons,

You know I love you. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly keep you in hockey pucks with my 2XL a day habit. In the battle for coffee drinkers that divides Canada into tribes like the Hatfields and McCoys, I have long sworn allegiance to you. I have been known to say that Starbucks coffee is overpriced and way too strong and just a smidge on the pretentious side, and I can never remember what I’m supposed to call an extra-large. Any coffee shop that requires a lexicon to order is probably not for me.


I have a confession to make. Much as it hurts my patriotic soul to say this, I think maybe Starbucks has won a space in my heart. It started many years ago when I needed a drive-thru on a Christmas Day in 2006, and Starbucks was there for me. I’ve started popping in to Starbucks more and more through the years. Granted, their coffee is still not my cup of, erm, coffee, but I do have a fondness for a venti green tea in the afternoon. And when a Starbucks barista found my wayward iPhone and kept it safe for me at the counter earlier this month, I felt my allegiance sway.

You know what finally sealed the deal for me, though? You just don’t mess with my Christmas traditions. Tim Hortons, where is the holiday coffee cup? Yes, you now sell ornaments and double-double chocolates and the ubiquitous $2 latté — but when you dumped the annual blue holiday cup to instead advertise said new lattés? You lost me.

I’ll stick with my morning XL from Timmies, but not with the same deep affection I’ve always felt. It’s a matter of convenience rather than loyalty now. There’s a new spot in my heart for coffee, and it’s got Starbucks written all over it.



Supersizing Timmy

by DaniGirl on August 28, 2011 · 14 comments

in Canadianisms

Did you hear the latest? Starting tomorrow at select Tim Hortons locations in Kingston and Sudbury, the small coffee size will no longer be available, the medium and large will become the small (10 oz) and medium (14 oz) respectively, and the new extra large will be a whopping 24 oz — that outsizes Starbucks’ Venti by four ounces.

That’s more than 2/3 of a litre of coffee, folks, and the entirety of the daily recommended caffeine intake.

I have mixed feelings about this. I’ve always found the small size a bit of an anachronism, and Beloved and I refer to it as the “kiddie size”. On the other hand, I’ve got a 2XL a day habit, and I do love my coffee. There is no doubt in my mind that I have a bona fide addiction to coffee. In fact, it will be a conscious decision on my part to not supersize my XL with three milks, and to resist the the temptation to wring a few more milligrams of caffeine into my system.

63:365 Please play again

Apparently this brings the Canadian Tim Horton’s coffee sizes into alignment with the larger sizes south of the border in the United States. Nothing against my American cousins, but in the age of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and all the general movement toward more reasonable portion sizes and an appreciation of restraint over gluttony, is this a smart move on the part of Tim Horton’s?

Do we really need to supersize our coffees? And more importantly, will I be able to resist the siren song of four more ounces?


A Canadian Autumnal Debate: To rake or not to rake?

29 October 2010 Canadianisms

When I mentioned to a few friends in an e-mail conversation that the 16 mature trees on our property were kicking my ass this fall, and that I’d filled more than 20 bags without managing to conquer even the half way point, one of the women who has been living a rural life for as […]

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Canada Reads 2011

28 October 2010 Books

Back in the day, I used to blog a lot about books. Way way back in the day, I used to consider myself somewhat of a fan, if not an authority, on Canadian Literature. So when I heard that CBC Radio was compiling a list of the Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade, […]

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Nova Scotia road trip playlist

20 June 2010 Canadianisms

I tweeted the other day that I was having fun sorting through iTunes to make a Nova Scotia road trip playlist, and Susan asked me if I’d blog my playlist. Sure, why not? Except, now that I have a second to do it, iTunes is being persnickety and I can’t get it to open. So […]

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After the gold medal hockey game, I didn’t think I could be more proud as a Canadian

12 March 2010 Canadianisms

And then I watched this video. Doesn’t it make your heart soar?

12 comments Read the full article →