Saturday, December 11, 2010

A life interrupted

So all last week I tried to write a blog and I just couldn't do it.  I just couldn't get the words out.  Its not that I had writer's block, its just that every time I sat down to write...I don't know...it's like I had the words there, but they didn't seem relevant.  They seemed frivolous compared to the rest of my life.  You see, last week my Dad was dying of liver Cancer and on Tuesday, December 7th, he died.  I debated whether or not I should post that unfinished entry and then I decided to because it is unfinished and stops just before you get to the really good part, just like the life of my Dad.
Me & my Dad at his 70th birthday 

When I think about this blog, I used to be really proud of it because I thought that it showed what a healthy, diverse, and full life I was trying to lead.  Trying.  That is the key word here.  I started this blog over a year ago to motivate me, to keep me accountable in terms of how much I run, how much I read, and what I eat and cook and eat.  For a long time, I was really proud that these are three of the things I love the most; I even made them my twitter name! But now I know that instead of trying to prove to others what a great life I am living, I should just live it and invite others to join me in it.  That is how my Dad lived.

One thing I am really proud of is that a lot of my interests are a direct result of life with my Dad.  You see, he was a jogger in his heyday, was an amazing cook and huge foodie, had an amazing eye for art, both as a collector and creator, and most of all, lived life for every second of his 70 years.  And when we were with him, he made sure we shared these experiences with him.  Even though my Dad was a little frugal (Ok. super-cheap) he did believe in spending money on things of value so my Dad never took us to libraries, he took us to bookstores because he understood how valuable it was to own a book.  In fact, he took me to my first author reading, The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn, a book I still read to my grade 7 class.  Since then, I have been passionate about collecting books, especially signed Canadian books.  

My Dad introduced me the world of art, taking me to my first art exhibit (outside of school field trips).  We went to the Degas exhibit at the National Gallery in Ottawa where we not only saw the exhibit, but he also arranged for a behind-the-scenes tour of the art that was not on exhibit. This experience led me to pursue art history in university and even though it is not the most lucrative profession, my Dad encouraged me to pursue my passion.  In fact, the only career advice he ever gave me was to not get a desk job because if I am sitting all day, I will get a big ass.  And it's true!

So in between all this book-signing and art-viewing was the food.  Life with my Dad meant there was never any room to be a picky eater.  Instead of the Kraft dinner and chicken fingers, we were served papardelle with tomato sauce and fresh herbs grown on his balcony and grilled chicken with a grainy mustard and beer marinade. Of course, if we didn't like the dinner, he would make us a pb & j sandwich, the bread being a dense pumpernickel, the pb being fresh ground almond butter, and the j being orange marmalade one of his dental patients made for him.  So are you starting to see how I became a foodie?

He encouraged my budding interest in food by buying me cookbooks as birthday presents, a tradition he has continued with my son, the budding foodie.  For Billy's birthday last month, even though my Dad was so sick, he went out and got my son a copy of 3 Chefs, personalized and signed by all three chefs.  And a couple days before he was diagnosed, we walked from his house in Toronto's annex to Mistura, where we had the most amazing meal ever.  He would highly recommend the CARCIOFINI FRITTI 
(Lightly Coated Crispy Artichokes on a Spiced Puttanesca Sauce & Parmigiano), a dish he called the best appetizer he ever had.   On the flip side, two weeks later when he  knew he had less than two months left, instead of another fancy restaurant, he navigated us to an unnamed hole-in-the-wall Churrasco Chicken joint where he patiently waited in the car for an hour while they prepared the chicken (they had sold out by the time he got there but knew it was worth waiting for a new batch). He had second helpings...at at time when his appetite was supposed to be diminishing.

Dr. Arthur Herbert Rubinoff (aka.  Grandpa Treats) 1940-2010
This was my dad. Well...at least a very small part of him.  But he was a very modest and humble man (and one who ALWAYS spoke his mind) so if I go on any longer, he would tell me to zip it, not only because he is becoming embarrassed that I am talking too much about him, but more so that I am just talking too much.  So I am going to end here with a picture of my Dad getting a temporary tattoo. I got tattoos at times in my life when there was something really remarkable that I wanted to remember.  And my Dad definitely is something remarkable to remember.  


  1. Oh. Yes. All of it. You're relationship with Daddy was so special. You shared his life by joining in on his.

  2. So beautifully said Cayla! Linda xoxo

  3. cousin sharon from DetroitDecember 11, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    Cayla, I was very moved by your blog. You were so very lucky to have had such a wonderful relationship with your dad and one that you will remember forever. Like my dad, yours was also taken much too soon, but he will remain in your heart forever. Sincere condolences are sent by me to you, and your family. Take care. xox

  4. I have never been a blogger....and enter here because somehow I bumped into you site
    your writing about you and your dad is a gift.....
    more than you degree in education and your 6 courses the lesson in your writing is that you are passionate,living and writing from your heart.That is the gift to your children at home and at school....
    I would always ask my kids...are you having fun at school
    I would figure out if they were excited to go back...
    that was the measure for me of the quality of education......
    its hard work to engage kids like that all day
    how they felt was worth more to me than all the bits and pieces of the curriculum
    I am sure your students are engaged!!!!
    I might actually disagree with some of your thoughts!!...but in the end you and your blog are a gift
    the world would be a safer place if we were all living and communicating from our hearts
    so sorry about your dad.... he sounds like he was a great man
    keep on writing