It seems hard to believe but it has been two months since I last wrote about one of my favourite things – the Foodie Pen Pal program. I came home one horrible rainy day to discover the hiatus was over. Because there, like a bit of sunshine, was a package from my new Pen Pal, Mo. Happy day! As you all know, to me one of the most exciting things about being a foodie pen pal is the opportunity to meet other like minded people. Mo is no exception. I’ve been having a great time reading through her blog, Not a Coupon Queen, and I’m sure you will too. Make sure you check it out.
Let me first say that I am not Scottish by birth.
But I grew up with all things Scottish so I think that through osmosis I have absorbed some Scottish blood. I must have. Otherwise why would the sound of the bagpipes make me happy and the sight of men in kilts make me swoon? There is no other explanation. I don’t listen to the pipes often (or hang out with men in kilts for that matter) but to keep a little Scottish in my life I have adopted the annual tradition of a Burns dinner.
I spent most of my formative years thinking Robbie Burns day was just another night as my friends and I, performed the requisite highland dances at events and watched our parents drink, laugh and let loose. But as I grow older I have been able to look back and realize what great moments those were. I now realize that traditional or not, what a Robbie Burns day dinner has to offer is poetry, food, music and friends. Like all great meals it is a chance to gather and share. Last year I hosted my first annual Robbie Burns dinner. Just a small group of people but with lots of laughs, music, and good food. By purists standards probably not traditionally acceptable, but for my gang, just what the scotsman ordered.
It is said that friends are the family you choose. If that is the case I have a wonderful family indeed. In my everyday life I have amazing friends, many of whom I have written about and alluded to on my blog. But every couple of years I have the good fortune to usher in the New Year with another group of friends. A crazy, talented, beautiful gang of people affectionately know as my Paddy Family.
As with most things in life, I met that group of people through a funny, serendipitious chain of events. Over 10 years ago I was working at an arts organization and met a man who introduced me to The Paddy Crean workshop. The Paddy Crean is a week long international workshop that celebrates sword fighting, stage combat, historical martial arts, stunt performers, actors and educators and is held at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Since I was living in Calgary at the time I thought “why not?”, and I went. And from that very first moment so many years ago when I stood in a dance studio surrounded by sword fighters and questioned my sanity (and which end of the sword to hold) I began meeting people who would forever change my life.