Category Archives: Something I have to share

A Eulogy for Grandma

We had a very different Christmas this year and I haven’t been able to post anything, despite having read many books. I’ll try to post on those later. The reason is that my mother’s mother, my Grandma Sugiyama, passed away on Christmas Eve. She had a fall on the 20th of December that fractured her pelvis and back, and she was in hospital. During the night on the 23rd of December she suffered a stroke that left her non-responsive on the 24th, and that afternoon she died. We were all saddened by her departure, yet relieved that she would not suffer. I’ve been in a bit of a shocked state because I think I believed she was eternal, even though she was 94 and getting frailer each time I saw her. She had dementia and wasn’t really enjoying life. She couldn’t read, couldn’t even enjoy a TV show because her short-term memory didn’t allow her to retain a plot line. My grief for her – really for myself – is making me so tired. We held the funeral yesterday and I gave the eulogy. I thought I’d share it here for those friends whom I haven’t managed to tell. I couldn’t tell anyone – not at Christmas. But this is my news, and my eulogy for my Grandma. I’ve edited it a bit because I wrote it to read out:

My grandmother, Susan Sugiyama, was a woman I would like to honor today with my memories of her. I was lucky enough to be the only grandchild with whom she had a close relationship. I was the eldest, born at least 7 years before the next grandchild, so I commanded her attention, plus she was a fairly young grandmother with lots of energy for a young child. By the time my sister Erin and our cousins Christa and Michael came along, she was older and had suffered the loss of my gentle grandfather, Hideo Sugiyama. She looked after me a lot when I was young and my mother was establishing her career; I have very fond memories of the time I spent with her. With me, she was always kind and patient. She had a sense of the ridiculous and was always ready to laugh over anything silly.

A lot of the Japanese culture that I retain, as a fourth-generation Japanese Canadian, came from her. She taught me a Japanese children’s song; although I couldn’t understand the words, I loved singing with her. She kept ikura, which is salmon roe, in Imperial margarine tubs and made me special meals. She also boiled shiitake mushrooms which doesn’t smell good to kids and to this day I can’t eat shiitake. (You take the good, you take the bad.) She took me to church with her, to the Japanese United Church on Victoria Drive, where I met other children with similar backgrounds, and ate homemade udon noodles at the church bazaars. On New Year’s Day she would make a special meal for everyone, with futomaki and the inevitable chow mein that is de rigeur at every Japanese Canadian family meal.

When I was 9 our family took a trip to Hawaii and Grandma came along. We shared a hotel room, and as we both got up early, we walked the beach at Waikiki every morning and then Grandma took me to a cafe for breakfast, a different one every day. To this day, coconut syrup and guava juice means Waikiki Breakfast with Grandma.   I was reading Anne of Green Gables for the first time, and Grandma allowed me to chatter to her nonstop about this landmark book which she hadn’t read. She fixed my hair with gentle hands. Even though she was not physically demonstrative, we shared hugs and held hands when we walked around Honolulu. I believe that I enjoyed a tenderness from her that her own daughters perhaps did not get; she was  dedicated to protecting them, and her war experiences made her fierce in her protectiveness.

My grandmother was shaped by her historical context. In 1915, her mother came to Canada as a picture bride. Grandma was born in 1919, in Steveston. She grew up in Deep Bay, on Vancouver Island, where her father was a fisherman, ranging as far as the Alaskan Panhandle on his small boat. There was no high school in Deep Bay, so Grandma finished school at 13 and began to help her family on the fishing boat, in the cannery, and also working berry picking and farming. As a young woman, she came to Vancouver, to attend sewing school.

Then the war. With the outbreak of war with Japan, like others in the Japanese Canadian community she was sent with her father, her mother and her younger brother Sid, to a prison camp for the duration of the war. In Grandma’s case, this was Lillooet. They did manage to avoid the holding pens of the Exhibition grounds where so many were forced to live in horse stalls; on arrival they lost themselves in the crowds and fled to Steveston where they took refuge with their friends the Arakis before the inevitable removal by train to the interior.

Life in internment camp was very hard; the sense of being shamed, set apart and treated unfairly was, I think, almost worse. The blow to Grandma’s sense of self-worth was hard to recover from. After all, she and her community had been unfairly victimized for nothing more than their ethnicity. It’s difficult today to fully comprehend the pain of this experience, and how it affected our community. In many ways the community was destroyed; we dispersed to all parts of Canada, many reluctant to return to the coast where they felt betrayed by their neighbours. Individually, people suffered immensely. My grandmother spent one winter living on potatoes, taking shelter in a tent. Her family was drastically set back by the confiscation of all their property. The Japanese expression “shoganai” means something like “it can’t be helped”; it’s a verbal shrug and is often invoked to describe a traditional resignation and acceptance of fate, an attitude in Japanese culture which allowed them to move on with their lives.

I didn’t hear my grandmother say “shoganai.” She didn’t speak of the internment at all to me. That tells me the depths of her distress about her experience. I think it was a chapter of her life that she wanted to forget and erase as much as possible.

I think that she became a fighter, for herself and for her family. From Lillooet she moved with her family to Kamloops, where she met my grandfather, and they married in 1944. My aunt Judy was born in Kamloops, my mother in Revelstoke, and my aunt Esther in Vernon, and the family made its way back to Vancouver in 1950, when the Canadian government allowed Japanese Canadians back to the coast, four years after the end of the war. They had to start from scratch; my mother remembers a cabin with dirt floors. Grandma and Grandpa set up a corner store in east Vancouver, which they kept open long hours. They worked hard and their daughters had good educations. They stayed in business until 1973, when Grandpa’s health forced his retirement. He died in 1977 of a respiratory disease, shortly after the birth of my sister Erin. After grandpa died, Grandma began to travel and explore the world. She traveled Europe, South East Asia and Japan, and made many trips to the U.S. also.

Grandma was an expert seamstress and sewed clothing for her family. She loved nice shoes and clothes and was always well turned out. She taught her daughters to dress nicely and I think I can attribute some of my dress sense to my put-together grandmother. She cultivated refinement in her surroundings and her person. She was an expert in Japanese flower arranging and traveled with a bolt cutter and hatchet which she used to glean good specimens for her arrangements. I think that it would have been easy to sink into depression after the internment, or to be consumed with resentment and bitterness. But Grandma, who I never heard say shoganai, nevertheless lived shoganai, working hard to move on with her life and to leave the past behind. Her life was not easy and I think to be a mother fighting for your family’s survival is difficult for your immediate relationships;  but even after all that hardship and strife, there was enough softness left inside to give to her granddaughter.

So to me, she was an indulgent and fond grandmother. I never heard a word of bitterness or complaint from her. She showed me much love and kindness. She showed me patience. She taught me how to wash rice for cooking; she told me that every grain lost was a day lost from my life! Well, she lived 94 years so you know Grandma didn’t waste rice.

As Grandma lost her memory these last few years, she often mistook my daughter Mio for me; it took her a while sometimes to connect the adult I am now with the child she used to take care of. These memories of our time together I hope she retained. I certainly will. But if she lost them, then I can only hope that she lost, too, the bitter memories of wartime and the hard years of struggle afterwards.

Our last conversation was about Japan. We visited her in hospital and I showed her pictures of my family’s trip there in October and she reminisced about her last trip. I can’t say for sure what her memory and consciousness were allowing her to experience, but I’d like to think that we made one last connection before she left us. She had developed a tendency to remember and talk in loops of repeating information, but we were kind of on the same track. A few days later, her daughters were with her when she passed; I hope she felt their presence, their love and loyalty to her. I hope we always remember her strength and fortitude, her love of beauty and her keen aesthetic sense, her kindness and love for her family. As a beneficiary of that love and of Grandma’s legacy, I am grateful.

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Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

I read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen a few years ago; it was so inspiring that I thought about donating money to Mortensen’s cause: that of building schools in areas of Pakistan that are under Taliban rule. I didn’t get around to actually donating money, and now I’m glad I didn’t.

Jon Krakauer, however, did. He send the Central Asian Institute, Mortensen’s non-profit organization, $55,000. But he got to know some members of the board of directors of the institute and heard some disturbing things. Being a journalist (he wrote Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, among other books), he started investigating Mortenson and his organization and this book is the result.

I’m sad to say that according to Three Cups of Deceit, Krakauer researched all of Mortensen’s claims that he presented in his book and in his follow up book, Stones for Schools, and discovered that they’re all pretty much bogus. Here are a few highlights:

1) Mortenson claimed to have summited a “half-dozen” peaks in the Himalayas before attempting K2. He didn’t. He summited one, which is considered a tourist or “beginner” peak.

2) Mortenson claimed to have been ill and nursed by health in a village called Khorje; he says that he showed his gratitude by sticking around, healing a few villagers (he’s a nurse) and left promising to come back and build a school. Not! According to his climbing partner, they came down the mountain by jeep, straight to Skardu, then visited a village home of one of their guides and Mortenson promised them a school. Then he broke this promise and built the school in another village, Khorje, which is why he decided to make Khorje his original village in his book, even though he only visited Khorje a year later.

3) Mortensen claims to have been kidnapped for eight days by the Taliban. Actually, he met an Afghani, got friendly, and was hosted by him and his family in their village. These people are very hurt to find out how he portrayed them, and how he twisted this story to make himself a victim and hero.

That’s just for starters, although my favourite one is his claim to have visited Mother Teresa in 2000, holding her hand while she lay in bed. That is totally amazing, as she died in 1997. Krakauer likens Mortenson’s literary lies to James Frey’s mendacity in his “memoir” but points out that Frey didn’t solicit millions of dollars from gullible donors to enrich himself.

Then there are the financial shenanigans. Here are some highlights:

1) The royalties of Mortensen’s books go to Mortensen and his ghost writer, not to the Institute.

2) The Institute pays for all the advertising (in expensive publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times) and promotion of Mortensen’s book.

3) Mortensen bought thousands of copies of his own book in order to boost his ranking on the best-seller lists, and also for the royalties. He doesn’t buy the book wholesale from the publisher; he buys them for full price from retailers like Amazon because this is how you boost your sales numbers and get lots of royalties. The Institute pays for these books. Mortensen gives them away at his talks.

4) Mortenson gives talks – for $30,000+ a pop, with another $3,000 for travel expenses, even though the Institute pays for his expenses. And we’re not talking about a seat in coach. We’re talking about chartered flights and luxury hotels. Mortensen charters helicopters and jets to fly himself and his entourage around. Nice!

So if you’ve donated money to Mortenson’s Central Asian Institute (the board of directors kept on quitting because of the lack of transparency in his financial dealings so now it’s down to Mortenson and two flunkeys) then you’ve paid for Mortensen to promote himself and line his pockets.

The schools? Well, Mortenson did build a few. Not as many as he’s claimed to, and certainly not personally, but a few. Unfortunately, he didn’t maintain them nor did he staff them so they are empty buildings. He doesn’t bother going to make sure that his entire raison d’être, his justification for all the fund-raising, the project that has launched him into international fame, major fortune, and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize! is actually happening. He’s too busy flying around in helicopters to the Telluride Film Festival and figuring out more ways to fiddle the books.

This is what happens when you start a cult of personality. According to those who’ve worked with him, Mortenson seems to feel that since he’s the reason money comes in, he’s entitled to help himself. Direct quote from Mortenson in an interview with Outside magazine: “I’m really the only reason CAI can exist right now.” He gloats about the tearful standing ovations he gets when he appears at speaking engagements, about how there are so many people who adore him and want to see him that he fills stadiums and has to be broadcasted on a JumboTron. Real modest.

There was an investigation by 60 Minutes about this and there are various stories on the web. I think it’s very telling that Mortenson refused to meet with Krakauer for a taped interview, and that he insulates himself with people so that he is very difficult to contact. Like Chairman Mao (when he was alive, durr)! Because the investigative journalist is Krakauer, I’m inclined to believe him and not Mortenson who has been pretty thoroughly discredited. Shame on him, and shame on us for allowing him to build such a cult of personality and using poor people in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a pretext and stepping-stone to personal enrichment.

If you haven’t read anything that made your eyes roll up to heaven lately, this is a good one.

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Neighbours and megawatt security lights; an email story

My sister sent me this via Pinterest:

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/18wBPC/:umyFCKH9:SD!4iH4b/tehnikonline.ro/2012/05/21/must-read-this-troll/

It’s classic. Thought I’d share.

New post coming soon….

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Piano lessons begin; Tiger Mom trims her whiskers

We began private lessons for my 6-year-old last week. Last year she did Group Piano which was fun (due to the fact that we did them with my girlfriend and her daughter; my friend and I texted and giggled silently through the class – hey, it kept me sane) but when the option came to have private lessons right away instead of going through Group Piano Year 2, I jumped at it like an Olympian gymnast. I’d already had two years of Group Piano with Daughter #1; it was like Groundhog Day doing it all over again.

One of the highlights of Group Piano last year was observing one of the mothers and her son. She was clearly fiercely committed to his being excellent at piano, and he was clearly determined to switch to hockey. She would grab his fingers and force them onto the right notes. He would slouch and fart and wriggle on the bench. She was very tightly wound (indicator: perfect hair) but her son had an untucked look that said, “I’d rather be rolling around in the grass.”  It was a recipe for disaster. They would hit each other! In class! It was extremely entertaining. I don’t know what home life looked like, but they made Group Piano for me.

Needless to say, they were Asian. As was 98% of the class, including me and my friend. OK, 97.5% because I’m only half.

It was particularly interesting to me because I’d read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (in one day on vacation) and it screwed me up for the entire year. I started the year with two kids in piano. The older one was starting private lessons and the younger one was starting Group Piano. The demographic at the music school we attend is about 98% Asian. All I could think was:

  1. The piano teachers tend to cut the bottom 20% of their students.
  2. The tiger mothers are driving their kids like mules.

Ergo, if I don’t act like a tiger mother my kids are going to be fired!

I talked to everyone who would listen. I asked the piano teacher, the director of the music school, all of my friends (god love them), and my mom. The music teachers said things like, Don’t worry, it all levels out by the time they’re in Grade 7. OK, but what if they get fired before then because even though they’re progressing normally for a 6-year-old, they can’t compete with a kid who’s being browbeaten into performing and has no social life?

Some of the parents at the music school would claim that their kids just practiced on their own, they loved the piano, and they themselves never made them practice, etc. This is just out of the blue; I didn’t even ask. I would watch their kids racing up and down the halls like monkeys with ADD and think, Right, sure.

But maybe Amy Chua and her ilk had something going on here. Let’s face it, it’s a tough, competitive world.

I started standing over my older daughter, who was 7 at the time. I play the piano, so it was frustrating to watch her make mistakes. I’d try to explain that when you make a mistake you have to focus on it, break it down, and go over and over it until you create muscle memory. Maybe that was too much for a 7-year-old. She would balk, I’d get angry, she’d cry and need to hug, I’d be frantic because we’d be running out of time, and my husband would come out of his office and look at me like, What the hell is going on?

All I wanted was for her to learn how to work hard, fix mistakes, and get to the point where she loves the sounds she makes with the piano. Perseverance is one of the most important lessons you can learn in life, right? But I’m not a good teacher. I’m impatient, I say stupid things like What’s hard about this? and I think I expect results too quickly.

It wasn’t good for our relationship. We both dreaded piano practice. But I was spurred on by the knowledge that the competition was fierce. And she was progressing. She found satisfaction in lessons that went well. I tried backing off and found that without my help, she didn’t perform as well in lessons and the teacher would make her repeat songs that she should have finished in one week.

What to do? I talked to one friend, who has two sets of children, one by her first husband and one by her second. She told me that, being Korean, she and her husband worked very hard on the first two kids. Homework, music – they were hard-core. The kids had to be in private schools, they had to be at the top of their classes, they had to excel in language and also in music. But she said that when these two got to university age, they wanted to do it by themselves – and couldn’t. They had become so accustomed to being externally motivated that they were unable to be self-starting. And music? They don’t touch their instruments now.

Her advice: Enjoy your kids. Let them fall on their faces when they’re little, so that they figure it out for themselves when the stakes aren’t so high.

(The irony is that she’s married to a music teacher and their kids are taking intensive music lessons.)

It was comforting advice, and wise. On the one hand, I agree with Amy Chua that our job as parents is to prepare our children for the world. So they need discipline, manners, and a good work ethic. Asian thinking is that confidence comes from mastering something you thought you couldn’t do. I agree with this. I think it’s wrong to praise children for doing…nothing. Self-esteem shouldn’t come from false praise. It should come from actual effort and accomplishment. And when the kids work they need to learn to self-motivate. There’s no point if it’s the parent’s energy being channelled into the child, like a puppeteer with a marionette. When that energy is removed, the puppet sags on its strings. So they need to learn a work ethic and the earlier the better. On the other hand, I believe in balance. Life should be a mix of work and play.

Not according to Amy Chua, though.

Chua’s book disturbed me on so many levels. Is it just me, or is it sort of abusive to stand over a kid and deny them bathroom breaks to make them practice music? She’s clearly a driven person with energy to spare, but what those girls’ lives must have been like I shudder to think. When her older daughter played at Carnegie Hall (in a minor auditorium, which Chua resented), it was clear that the triumph was Chua’s. She’s the one who rented a room in a hotel to host a reception. You can just see her standing there accepting the congratulations. And rightly so; it was her victory, after all.

When her younger daughter, aged 13, hacked off her own hair in protest, didn’t Chua think, Whoa? That’s a serious sign that something’s wrong. She’s lucky they don’t have eating disorders, that they’re not cutting themselves. Well, maybe they are self-destructing; she certainly wouldn’t admit it.

I Googled her book when I got back and found videos of interviews that she’d done when the book came out. She was clearly defensive. Joy Behar in particular was quite hard on her. Chua tried to say that the book was supposed to be funny. Funny? Witty and clever, yes. Funny, not so much. She kept insisting that she wasn’t back-pedalling, but she clearly was back-pedalling in the face of serious criticism. She said, in her defence, that she asked her daughters if they approved of the way they’d been brought up, if they would bring up their kids the same way. She claimed that they said Yes and Yes. That is desperate. I think there’s a little Stockholm Syndrome going on there, what do you think? They’re teenagers, they’re clearly enthralled and totally controlled by their mother. Let’s ask when they’re 40. I bet we’ll hear a different story then.

I was deeply touched and affected by Emily J.’s blog post about being raised by a tiger mother. (It inspired this blog post.) Her story reveals the dark side of ambitious parenting, and her point is that at this extreme, it’s not about the kids, it’s always about the parent, the parent’s ego, the parent’s need for praise and approval. Cases like this go beyond dysfunction, beyond ambition. I think Emily J.’s mother suffered from a kind of pathology and it is to Emily’s credit that she is aware of her mother’s mistakes and is not about to repeat them.

So, what did I do? With all this contradictory influence and evidence churning around in my head, I raced around getting the kids to their lessons, fretted about homework and piano, and eventually got so sick that I popped a rib from coughing. My doctor told me to reduce my activity, and after some consideration I decided to let my older daughter quit piano and we cut down on ballet too, so that I was at the music school twice a week instead of three times. It wasn’t an easy decision; I felt like I was throwing in the towel. Failure! And of course both her piano teacher and her group teacher said that she had talent and should continue. Now they tell me. But our relationship improved and we all lightened up a bit. My younger daughter seemed to be thriving on her group lessons and we didn’t clash over practising so we kept going.

I wish my decision hadn’t been prompted by my own sickness and my doctor’s advice, but my older daughter is now taking martial arts and drawing, and is really excited by that. I ask her once in a while if she’d like to go back to piano but so far, she’s not interested. My younger daughter is doing well with her piano lessons and practices without being told. I do help but I’m not allowed to shout “B! B!”; I’m only allowed to make a sound in my throat when she makes a mistake, and it’s not usually necessary. She self-starts and self-corrects. It’s a relief.

So…even though I think that we do have to put some energy into guiding our kids into learning about the value of hard work, sometimes you can’t force a kid into an activity they’re not interested in investing their own energy into. Yes, it took me over a year to figure this out. The main block was the fact that given the choice, kids would rather play than work; Amy Chua made this point many times. But I don’t think the only options are either slaving away at an instrument with no playmates or fun, or a life wasted on Facebook. The girls seem genuinely involved in their activities and don’t need coercion to work independently at improving their abilities. We’re working on a happy medium here. I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, “Can we have a duh for Lea?”

As I write my daughter is practicing piano – on her own. I’m just going to remind her to curve her fingers.

(It took me over a week to write this post – isn’t the beginning of the year the craziest time?)

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I love this post – I’m always irritated by misspelling, incorrect usage, and malapropisms. These keep cropping up in published works, by reputable publishing houses, too. I assume the editors are well-paid, why are they using spellcheck instead of actually editing? “Peddling” instead of “pedaling” when we’re discussing cycling, not sales! Oh, those homonyms. They are spellcheck’s kryptonite.

The Asian calligraphy tattoos – these are pretty, but are the equivalent of the unintentionally hilarious Japanese t-shirt that has sayings in English like, “The secret to happiness is having your own nut sack,” but without the advantage of being removable. You would think a good rule of thumb would be to actually know what it is you are writing on your body. One of my sister’s boyfriends had Japanese kanji up and down one arm. He thought he knew what they meant but he wasn’t sure which character meant what. Permanent body art that he doesn’t even understand? My husband reads kanji and had to tell him what each character meant. He should have told him that it read, “Learn to read Japanese!”

One of my favourite websites: Engrish.com

Blurt

A recent news story of a misspelled tattoo got me to thinking about an old money-making idea. I went back, did some editing and brought it back.

I have a franchise business plan that will make me obscenely wealthy. Even if it only makes me fabulously well off, it will pay off in enough laughs to make it worth while.

My new business will be a proofreading service for dumb people. Why? Because dumb people insist on using words.

Every day, dumb people get tattoos, make signs and deliver messages with words that they are not qualified to use. By putting a proofreader in places where dumb people might use words, I will be ready to help protect them from themselves (and rake in the bucks).

IPY

Here is how the business, called I Proof You (IPY) will work. Let’s imagine that there is an I Proof You franchise in…

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I love my camera; thoughts on portraiture; oh, and Blueberry Scones

Looking like a dork but having great fun!

 

I am loving having a good camera! It’s been a real revelation – I thought I was incapable of taking good pictures but it turns out that with a good camera and some lenses just about anybody’s in business! It is not that hard; the camera does a lot for you. I am following some photographer’s blogs and found some good articles on Pinterest although I have to admit that a lot of the instructions totally whiz over my head. But I’m learning and really enjoying the process. My favourite thing is taking portraits. It’s funny; I’ve had quite a few professional photographs taken but I like very few of them. It drives me crazy to have no direction and then see the proofs and I look like an idiot or like Karla Homolka and about 500 lbs in every one of the pictures. I’ve been taking pictures of friends and we’ve discovered that if you take quite a few, let the subject have a look, then keep taking more, then look, that you eventually find out the best expressions, the best poses, to make your subject look awesome. I discovered that one friend gets tension lines around her nose and mouth if she’s standing, but her face is totally smooth and goddess-like if she’s sitting. Go figure! Thank god for digital photography because we take so many pictures with this learning process, but it’s worth it. So I am driven to take good pictures of people to prove that we are all beautiful, it’s all about lighting and angles and sitting vs. standing and not blinking all the time. Easy-peasy. Plus, with online editing sites like PicMonkey you can make regular people look like movie stars and nice-looking people look like gods.

Food, as it happens, is super-easy to photograph. All you need is a 50mm lens. Check out the Blueberry Scones:

Scones don’t blink.

How easy is that?

Blueberry Scones

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, very cold, in pieces
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk (or milk soured with 1 T. vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (it’s debatable which are easier to work with; fresh don’t bleed into your dough, frozen don’t get crushed when you knead, even ever so lightly)
  • 1 T. milk plus coarse sugar for sprinkling

Oven: 450F

1 half-sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon rind. Cut in the butter (I give it a quick whiz in the food processor then dump it out into a mixing bowl) until it’s crumbly. Pour in the buttermilk  and give a quick stir or two, then add the blueberries and carefully stir until it’s all combined. There will be quite a bit of dry mixture but don’t worry; it will come together. Tip it out onto a floured countertop and sort of squeeze it together, gathering up the dry bits and very gently kneading until it holds together. Shape into a round about 1 1/2 inches thick and cut into 8 wedges, or divide into two and make two rounds, cutting into 6 wedges each for mini-scones. Gently move to the parchment/Silpat-lined baking tray. Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with some coarse sugar (regular sugar is also fine). Bake about 12-15 minutes depending on whether you made mini or regular scones. When they’re done they should have a nice browned look. Let cool just a few minutes before serving because they are awesome warm with a bit of butter or some jam, or honey, or agave syrup.

You can also skip the sprinkling of sugar and instead, let cool, then drizzle with a thin icing made of icing sugar and lemon juice for an even prettier look that doesn’t require any condiment whatsoever.

You can also put an egg or egg yolk (I had some left from the pavlova) into the bottom of the measuring cup before you add your buttermilk for extra richness and tenderness.

 

 

 

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Best Olympic Commentary

This is my favorite Olympic commentary, it made my day:  An Irish commentator just totally winging it! If all sports commentary were like this I’d watch a lot more sports. I actually thought it was real until Justin clued me in. Still. I’d love to hear this guy do colour on a hockey game.

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