13 Jul 2021

Tick Tock Grandfather Clock

Q. Why are they called grandfather clocks? And why do these stately time-keepers haunt so many mystery and horror stories? . A. First: what makes it a ‘grandfather clock?’ Most definitions include four key features: 1) a pendulum, 2) a wooden case, 3) tallness – generally more than 6 feet,

05 Jul 2021

New Beginnings

Q. As we emerge from hiding – some inch by inch, some with rocket boosters – many are thinking about how they might live their lives differently moving forward. As Nina Simone, then Michael Bublé sang: ‘It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life for me…’

28 Jun 2021

Hot Lump In The City

Q. 39° Celsius might be no big deal in your neck of the woods, but in air-conditionless Vancouver, 39°C is record-breaking woe. Ice and shade, please. What are some famous paintings that capture the feeling of being Too Darn Hot? And how about some that capture what we dream about doing

24 Jun 2021

Most Hated Chores

Q. Is there anything more tedious than wiping down groceries? Ok, yes. But..ugh. Lockdown life introduced us to new and perfectly awful household chores to add to the list. As a rule, what type of housework do people despise the most? . A. Earlier this year, YouGov surveyed 1775 US

17 Jun 2021

All Cloaks, Few Daggers

Q. Who knew there were so many words for cloak-like overgarments. What are some lesser-known or historic cloak words? . A. Abolla A thick, woollen cloak worn in Ancient Rome. Artois A loose, long cloak favoured by European women in the 18th Century. Capuchin A cloak with a hood, traditionally

14 Jun 2021

Dali Had An Ocelot

Q. Who are some well-known historic figures with unusual to alarming animal friends? . A. Audrey Hepburn’s Fawn In the 1959 film ‘Green Mansions’, Audrey Hepburn plays Rima, a ‘Bird Girl’ who lives in the forest. Green Mansions was less than a hit, but in the film – and in

09 Jun 2021

Lilibet, Elsa, or Zibby

Q. Congratulations to the Sussexes on the birth of wee Lilibet! Take it from a decidedly non-royal Elizabeth, certain names – especially those that have been around for a while – have an endless roster of commonly used variants (can we still use that word without cringing?) and nicknames. What

31 May 2021

Water Words

Q. What are some lesser known words related to nature wetness, to oceans, lakes, rivers.. . A. Bedewing Wet with dew, or something like it. Bight An open bay or bend in the coastline. Bore A steep wave, such as that caused by two tides coming together. Billabong Australian roots.

26 May 2021

You Eat What With What?

Q. Do you snack on any strange food combinations that would surprise those who don’t know you that well? Would you pair these foods  proudly in a public place, or is this strictly for in-house dining? . A. First things first. We Canadians are clearly not a poll-passionate people. But,

22 May 2021

Barber Surgeons, Bodgers, And Funeral Clowns

Q. What are some striking jobs from days gone by? . A. Barber Surgeon Yes. They did both. A little snip here, a little snip there. Barber surgeons were particularly active with soldiers in the Middle Ages. Some believe that the red and white swirl of the barber’s pole symbolizes