I seldom go into our lovely village of Ladner without checking out our local Thrift Shop.  Today was a Paris day.  I found this marvelous cookie jar.   The Arc de Triomphe, iconic of all French monuments.  I loved the shape of the cookie jar.  Its heavy lid.  Its whimsical designs.  Truly this was a cookie jar for all things French.

Sablés aux noisettes

Tuiles aux amandes

Sablés artésiens

It’s a very large cook jar.

Generous you might say.

It could be filled with pithiviers.

biscuits à la cullère

or that exquisite soft French cookie that launched a thousand memories … madeleines.

And then the icing on the cookie.  I found Ludwig Bemelmans Madeline book.  I’ll read it while the  madeleines  are baking.

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines

lived twelve little girls in twelve straight lines.”

Brave little Madeline and her Paris adventures.   A book of a thousand childhood memories.  How lovely to revisit her and nibble a madeleine.

It’s been a Paris kind of day.





I was six years old when the kitten, Minnie Jones,  became part of my life.  He grew into a hulking, frost bitten eared, battle-weary tom cat. A cat so loving, so docile I could dress him in discarded baby clothes and wheel him in the annual pet parade.

But,  this tale is about his name-sake, Minnie Jones.  Most small towns like Prince Albert have their local characters and she was ours.  As long as I could remember I would hear stories about Minnie Jones.   I was too young to appreciate the stories but I loved the way her name rolled off my tongue.  Minnie Jones.

She always seemed to be wearing the same clothes.  A black coat with a moth-eaten fur collar.  A slouchy black hat adorned with a faded velvet rose.  She wore the hat pulled low over her face.  Her cheeks were heavily rouged.  Her enormous dark eyes kohl lined. Black stockings covered her legs.

Minnie Jones was always accompanied by a child’s red wagon.  Most times it was pulled by a large dog.  Minnie Jones lived at the edge of town on a small acreage.  She kept chickens and goats.   Her trips into town were foraging expeditions.  She dumpster-dived  in the most genteel manner.  The staff at the local Safeway Grocery store would put aside items for her,  everything from fruits and vegetables to the soft paper that wrapped fragile items.

The war ended and brand-new cars were finally available.  Minnie Jones walked into a car show-room admiring the shiny automobiles.  The veteran salesmen would have nothing to do with her and sent the newest staff member to get rid of the town’s character. The story goes Minnie Jones asked the price of the cars,  said she would take two and pulled the cash from her battered purse.  Minnie Jones was starting something Prince Albert did not have.  A taxi business.


There may still be a few people left who remember the person, Minnie Jones.  Their memories may be different then mine, but they must remember these are the memories of a very young girl absolutely besotted with the exotic creature called Minnie Jones.


I grew up in an old and elegant town on the edge of the Great Northern Forest.  Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was built by “second sons” and adventurers from Britain.

On the hill they created a world of magnificent homes with ballrooms, sterling silver chandeliers,  porte-cocheres for waiting carriages, and red clay tennis courts.

On the flat up from the river on Central Avenue they built a Gothic City Hall, an impressive Post Office, and crowned the top of the avenue with the stern Court House; infamous for the place they hung Louis Riel.

One side of the City Hall the street had watering troughs for horses.  The taps were lion’s heads verdigris with age, water trickling from their gaping mouths into deep troughs.  On a hot summer day we would plunge our arms into the cooling water.  Each side of the trough large iron rings were imbedded in the concrete curbs.    Teamsters would water their horses then tie the reins to the rings.

On the other side of our City Hall magic happened.  Every summer Sunday night the local city band resplendent in red and gold uniforms played, and we sang and waltzed and marched to the music.

Sunday night band concert was a traditional family outing.  The shiny Black Beast of a car, complete with tasselled blinds and flower holders,  carried my two sisters, myself, and Scamp the family dog, down town.

At the foot of Central Avenue the Fire Hall stood guard.

First stop on Central Avenue,  McConnell’s; part cigar store, part magazines and newspapers, and most important part ice cream parlor.It was a long, narrow store with creaking wood floors and the heady aroma of cigars and newsprint.  At the back of the store you could sit on wire ice-cream chairs at small round marble tables, and have fountain drinks and ice cream.  On Sunday night the big treat was  ice cream cones. We had an ice box at home , kept cool with a block of ice cut from the river.  Keeping ice cream in it was out of the question.     We would stroll down Central Avenue excited about the band concert,  and trying to make our ice cream cones last as long as possible.  I always had cherry custard. It’s still my favorite.

As the shadows lengthened our band concert under the stars would come to an end.  The band would play God Save the King.  We would stand very still and very straight.  The men would take their hats off.  Then reluctantly and slowly we would make our way back to the Black Beast of a car, humming the music and taking the magic of the band concert with us.


Chocolate Easter Eggs

In a basket.

Nestled in green cellophane grass.

White gloves ready for church.

I put on my new hat.

Pale yellow straw rimmed round with blue ribbon.

Shiny, shiny licorice black  Mary Jane’s.

Wiggle my toes.

Crisp organdy shirt waist.

Pleated skirt.

I dance and twirl  before the reflection in  the mirror.

The image smiles back.

Just one bite of my chocolate rabbit.

Perhaps a nibble on the ear.

The bells of St. Alban’s peal out in joy.

I’m off to church.


(memories of Easter 1943)