20 Below: The Public Library

It has been one year since Nonno, my grandfather, passed away after living a very long and healthy life. One of Nonno’s favourite things to do was to go the library (St. Clair branch) to pick up the latest issues of Oggi and Gente. He always spoke so proudly of the librarians who helped him and of the things he got to read for free.

Today I’m encouraging you all to get a library card (or renew yours), to visit the library, to take a child to the library, and/or to donate $20 (or more) to your local public library.

membership to your local public library, free

It makes me so angry when I learn about libraries shutting down, denied funding, and being inaccessible. This is one resource that I don’t think we can afford to lose.

To donate:

London Public Library

Toronto Public Library

Kingston Frontenac Public Library

New York Public Library

Please leave direct links to your local public library in the comments section. Thank you.

Personal: Remembering Zia Rose

Just over a month ago, my Zia Rose‘s three year battle with breast cancer came to a very sad end. Since her passing, I’ve been attempting to write a post in her honour and, even though I write every day for the blog and for my day job, it has been so tough to find the words to really capture my aunt’s fun-loving spirit, generous nature, and incredible strength. I have written and rewritten this post numerous times and nothing, and I mean nothing, has seemed right.

I finally decided that since five is a favourite number around here on Fridays, I would share with you five happy memories I have of my amazing aunt.

Zia Rose’s hot chocolate was the best around. I’m not exactly sure what made it so good but when I was young, my sister and I used to go over to her and my uncle’s house and we would sit up against the kitchen counter and watch her make us hot chocolate. After a visit there we’d go home and rave to our mom about Zia Rose’s hot chocolate. This hot chocolate routine always put a smile on my face.

***

When we, her nieces, were young, before she had children of her own, Zia Rose used to treat us to something special on our birthdays. She would either come up with the idea or she’d ask us what we wanted to do to celebrate our special day. For my 9th or 10th birthday, my treat, it was decided, was to spend a day with Zia Rose at Sherway Gardens. There, I’d be able to pick out a present. I remember walking around the mall with her and not knowing what to buy at all. I also wasn’t used to having free reign of the mall! I remember we went into Jacob – one of the most coveted stores at the time – and I tried on some blue dresses and skirts. After thinking long and hard about which item of clothing I wanted for my birthday gift, I settled on a blue skirt. At the time I wore a blue & white uniform to school and I remember being so excited that I was going to have a piece of Jacob clothing to wear to school every day! Zia Rose asked me several times if I was sure that what I wanted for my birthday was a sensible blue skirt and I reassured her that it was the skirt of my dreams! When Zia Rose dropped me off at home, I remember her telling my mom that I was such a practical little girl. Ha ha ha. I can bet my mom doesn’t remember this but the memory is so clear in my own head.

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One of Zia Rose’s favourite questions was: How old do I look? The correct response: Not a day over 21 Zia Rose. No other answer would do. Ever. For as long as I can remember.

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When I graduated from university Zia Rose generously gave me a gift. She was so excited and eager for me to open the box. I wish I had the moment on video – I was in complete amazement when I saw what was inside – my very first Burberry tote. I’m pretty sure I jumped around my parents’ family room shrieking with happiness. I think of Zia Rose every time I use that purse. I love it for so many reasons. Zia Rose could never hide the joy she felt when someone else opened a present from her and I think her honest excitement is rare to find.

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Zia Rose had the most beautiful voice. She could sing like it was nobody’s business. Christmas Eve at her place always included karaoke. Well – the machine was there. The people were there. But what usually ended up happening was that Zia Rose had control of the microphone all night long. Yes, sure, it was family karaoke, but really, it was Zia Rose Live In Concert. The rest of us could be back-up dancers but that’s about all she’d allow. Ha ha ha. It makes me laugh so hard. If I even tried to sing, I’d hear, Oh Jo, no!!! Zia Rose did approve of my brother-in-law’s singing, however, and they’d perform a few duets in between courses. Oh my goodness – remembering Zia Rose’s energy and excitement about singing just puts a big smile on my face.

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There are so many more stories I could share but these are some of my most vivid. They also all remind me of Zia Rose’s generous and kind heart.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It means a lot to me and I know it also means a lot to the rest of my family.

Music: The Rose

Long before YouTube was ever invented, Zia Rose, my aunt, recorded her version of Bette Midler’s The Rose on a cassette tape. I must have first heard her sing it when I was around 9 or 10 years old. It was so beautiful and it gave me chills. I remember that the cassette got passed around between different families so we could all have a chance to listen to it and I remember full family discussions about “the tape”. When I was learning to play the piano the sheet music for The Rose somehow wound up in our house and I always thought about it as Zia Rose’s song.

I am so extremely sad to share that Zia Rose passed away early this morning and while I’m not ready to write about it, I am happy to share this memory. I can hear her singing and I hope I never stop.

Some say love it is a river
that drowns the tender reed
Some say love it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed

Some say love it is a hunger
an endless aching need
I say love it is a flower
and you it’s only seed

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance
It’s the one who won’t be taken
who cannot seem to give
and the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been too long
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun’s love
in the spring
becomes the rose

Today, I would love it if you could read these lyrics or listen to Bette Midler’s version. When I eventually get a hold of the tape (surely it’s my turn) I will convert it do a digital file and upload it for everyone to hear.

Celebration: The Versatile Blogger Award

This past weekend Tina of The Enchanted Home awarded me the versatile blogger award! Oh happy day!

The deal is to write 7 things about myself and to then pass on the award to 15 other bloggers.

Seven things about Jordana:

1. This past September I began an introductory Spanish course. Me gusta mucho la clase de español.

2. I love dark chocolate – especially Villars which I have yet to find in Toronto or London.

3. My mom came across the name Jordana in the movie The Pirate with Anne Archer (I’ve never seen the movie). The book of the same name (which I have now read and is on my bookshelf) is by Harold Robbins.

4. I love writing hand-written letters on pretty stationery (often it’s black & white but I do have colourful stationery too!).

5. I’ve only been to three provinces in Canada (Ontario, Quebec & New Brunswick). I really wish flights within Canada were cheaper.

6. I hate pineapple.

7. I love (really, really love) Nutella.

And now I’d like to pass on the award to 15 bloggers who are new to me, who I ready daily, who I’ve met in the  past or who I would like to get to know. In alphabetical order…

8 foot 6
AKA Design
Coriander Girl
Crazy Sweet Life
Eat Live Shop
Eclectic A
Haute Pink Pretty
Interior Groupie
Just a Smidgen
La La Lovely
Little Bits of Lovely
Little Green Notebook
Moth Design
Tea for Joy
What Wilson Wants

Thanks again Tina for giving White Cabana this award!

p.s. If you haven’t checked out what Tina’s been up to – you must – her dream home/castle is unbelievable!

Vacation Update: NYC

Well – my three week mini tour of the USA is now over. After Chicago and Florida, I headed to Manhattan to spend time with my family. My nephews kept me thoroughly entertained and in between naps (theirs and mine), I experienced some of what the city has to offer.

window display at ABC Carpet & Home

dinner whites at Fishs Eddy

dinner whites at Fishs Eddy

glazed hands at Fishs Eddy

lion’s head bowls, Fishs Eddy

wall art, The City Bakery

muffin tin art, ‘wichcraft

my nephews with Alphie at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan

It’s always sad when vacations come to an end, isn’t it? These past three weeks were full of laughter, delicious meals and quality relaxation time. I’m so thankful that I had this amazing travel opportunity. And yes, I’m already eager to go on another travel adventure!

Photos by Jordana.

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