News and Views from the world wanderings of Pj Kwong.  Finally!  A place for all of the things I write and think about!

Posted By SkatingPj






Pj's Not Only Skating Blog has been re-located to:


Thanks for all your support everyone!!



Posted By SkatingPj

My house is quiet and I find myself on the couch in my family room with my two dogs; laptop on my lap.  For a person who is comfortable among people, if you don't know me well, you might find it suprising that I enjoy my own company. In fact, when I am trying to wrestle words or ideas into some kind of creative order - I prefer it. 

The program on the TV in the background is on the newly launched OWN network and is Oprah Winfrey's story in her own words.  Oprah and I have a funny connection. Her show is as old as my second child and there were plenty of times when getting to her 4pm time slot meant that I was closing in on making it through another exhausting day of motherhood. I have written pieces about how "My Life Is Better Than Oprah's" talking about experiences like going to the Olympics and my rink-side seat that she wouldn't have been able to buy regardless of how much money she has. I have talked about knowing my best friend Debbie for over 40 years which would trump her friendhsip with Gayle any day. I do go on don't I?? :)

Today there are nuggets that have come out of her program that have made me stop and think. The primary one being about identifying your purpose, if not, you run the risk of just wandering through your life.  I think I have it figured out: I like to think I am a storyteller. You as the reader, get to choose what you want to keep and what you want to reject. It's not up to me to do anything except tell you the story.

I am smiling  because today I reached a goal: over one hundred thousands fingers from different places around the world have clicked on this blog to check out the stories I have been telling. I am surprised. I am delighted. I am humbled. 

Aside from 100,000 hits in just over a year, my other goal was to try and tell stories you might not otherwise know. One of those stories was the one from last week about the project in the slums of Nairobi. I am doing what I can to support them and wanted to know how you were helping make things better in your part of the world. Thank you to Twitter pals Made_in_Canada3 who thinks that they will also donate a lesson fee to charity, Swetarijoshu who was grateful to still have Japan relief efforts front and center and LyricoM whoi is going to donate their Worlds ticket refund to Japanese relief. On my blog, click on the 3 comments that were left from people who must know they are making a difference. 'Thank yous' as well to my email pals who shared their stories.

I am always saying to the young people who surround me on and off the ice that the choices in their lives are theirs. If you let someone else determine what you are going to do and be, then you also let them determine the outcomes in your life.

A very long time ago, a trusted "friend" said to me: "What could you ever write that anyone would want to read?" Fortunately, she said it in a strange Turkish (maybe Shwabish??)  dialect that I couldn't fully understand (or myabe I just had my fingers in my ears??) Secondly, it never occurred to me to think about any readers - I was simply and joyfully focused on the writing. That said - I cannot thank you enough for making this dream come true.


Next up - more skating stories :)


Don't forget if you can help Japanese relief efforts here are a couple of places to start: and




Posted By SkatingPj

On Tuesday, it was Games Day at the rink for the children in group lessons who are at the learn to skate stage. One of the children in one of my groups is a tiny, delicate, little girl who love, love, LOVES her pink skating dress and matching gloves. Her name is Clara and she reminds me of Cindy-Loo Hoo from the Grinch Christmas debacle and even I have to bend way down to hear her through her hockey mask. Not surprisingly, as we were setting things up, it was bedlam with kids tearing around at ( their) top speed. It can be a bit overwhelming if you have a delicate constitution. Clara skated over to me and said "" I bent down and as I did, her wee face crumpled and she started to cry. This was the kind of pitiful, silent yet stoic sob that let you know that Clara had been carrying some enormous weight on her tiny shoulders. I asked her what the matter was with the appropriate degree of concern. Sniffling, she said: "My tummy hurts." I asked her if she wanted to skate with me for a bit until she felt better. "Yes please." We skated for a minute or so, hand in hand and she elaborated about the situation (I had thought that it was simply a case of being overwhelmed by all of the chaos and often sore tummies are kid code for HELP!) Clara said: "At school, they said that there were Stomach Flies going around and I really don't want to catch a Stomach Fly."  Eeeeuuuw. Who would? A tummy bug by any other name...stomach fly...somehow sounds more icky! Skating hand in hand, it was clear to Clara those damn flies wouldn't be able to catch us!

My daughter Caroline is a Cub leader and 2 weeks ago they went on her favourite field trip - to the police station. To say that the kids, who are 8-ish years old, are excited doesn't begin to cover it. The police officer who talks to the kids is beyond cool as he shows them his handcuffs and even puts them on one of the leaders or a parents to squeals of delight. There were a couple of interesting exchanges - namely when the officer asked if any of the children could say what a stranger was? Colin, a sober and serious little guy put up his hand and said: "A stranger is someone who kills animals." Whaaaaat?  I think it's time to turn off the cable Scream channel and start talking as a family. Then there was the hyper but genius Edson who is that kid in every group who is always shooting his hand into the air with an accompanying "Oooh, ooh, ooh" sound. He wanted to share the following with the officer: "Don't you think it's ironic that police officers are supposed to help people but sometimes they end up killing people. Ironic eh?". The officer, bless him, said "huh." and left it at that. This same officer though shared the following story with Caroline: he had heard about a group of children who had gone to visit a police Headquarters somewhere and were stopped in fron ot the Top 10 Most Wanted poster. After some discussion about these ne'er do wells, one little fella put up his hand and asked the officer: "Why didn't you just keep them when you took their picture?"  Good question when you put it that way.

Laughter is indeed the best medicine.


I liked this book: Taking The Ice - you will too!

Posted By SkatingPj

My son Peter and I went out in our east end Toronto neighbourhood a few evenings ago, in search of something sweet to eat after dinner.  I am telling a tiny white lie because we weren't really "searching";  we knew exactly what we were after.

My best friend of over 40 years and I have an ongoing argument about the benefits of living in an urban vs suburban neighbourhood.  I have lived in both but chose to raise my children in a city neighbourhood.  She chose to raise her family in a satellite community west of Toronto and maintains vehemently that life there is exactly the same.  She is, of course, bonkers (for many more reasons than just this) - and I will tell you why.

You have to understand, she was a national figure skating champion, so is VERY competitive by nature.  Sadly,  she has forgotten the old adage - the pen is mightier than the sword (or skateblade) - so without her own website, guess who's gonna win this round???

She lives in a beautiful place with lots of green space, manicured lawns and great places to go for a stroll or a picnic.  As you may or may not know, I love to walk and I go for a walk almost every day.  What drives me crazy is that in suburban Toronto, you can go for a walk but  often you have no place to walk to.  I like having a destination when I go out and about:)

Our destination last week was to ESTIA CAFE on Kingston Road near our house and a piece of yummy baklava.  My son Peter turned 19 in May and during his Springtime neighbourhood wanderings he had gone in to Estia and had struck up a conversation with Dennis the Mad Greek who is the owner.  Peter subsequently took me there and then took his grandmother there and paid each time.  Dennis has baklava and great coffee along with lots of other choices in his cafe and has created a comfortable place to go for a "sit and a sip" and watch the world go by.  He had promised Peter that he would have baklava on hand for his birthday.  It didn't happen so when I went in for coffee with a friend one morning last week, Dennis  told me to tell Peter to come in and have a piece on the house to make up for it.  It was well worth the wait!

In case you are wondering, there is a Starbucks in my neighborhood, which is fine, but when I can support local businesses I do and am happy to do so especially when the product  and experience is superior.

Other food places that get honourable mention in my neck of the woods are:  The Sushi Hut (ask for May) just east of Vic Park, The Green Dragon  (best sweet potato fries and dip ever!),  The Feathers (especially if you like English pub fare and scotch) and King's Diner (ask for Crystal who makes my favourite feta and cheddar omelette to order!)...they are all located on Kingston Road from just east of Vic Park to the first 3 blocks after, heading west and are all on the north side...)

Eating local has been a family tradition since my kids were little and we used to go to Kan Cooks It - where owners Kenny and Gwai tended to spoil their favourite "regulars".  Extra fortune cookies all around for the Kwong kids and a lifetime of memories of Kenny giving you what he thought you should  be having which was never necessarily what you ordered.  We still chuckle as a family remembering Kenny and Gwai and miss their  little diner.

I don't care what she says, my BFF cannot go for a walk from her suburban house and top the destinations I can find from my city house. 

Posted By SkatingPj

Slam Planting?  The term I use to describe my annual foray (or descent as I like to say) into the world of gardening.

As we have already established:  I am a city girl.  What you may not know is that I am a city girl who loves the great indoors.  I especially love the indoors in the summer when it is hot outside.  I HATE the heat.  It may be that from a lifetime of being in a rink I am not used to it, regardless, the outdoors is best enjoyed in October.

It has been a sweltering couple of weeks in Toronto and I was able to finally take advantage of the cool temperatures over the last few days in order to get my (Spring) planting done.

I am fortunate in that my planting is restricted to a few pots and containers here and there and the rest of my gardening is dedicated to strategically placed pine bark chips.  (I sometimes go bananas and also buy cocoa shells but only because they smell delicious and are also already dead - no additional responsibility or guilt)

My first step is to wait for the prices to drop significantly at the local plant buying place.  Once that happens, usually the last week of June, I head out - armed with about 20 bucks.  Once at the plant buying place I walk around aimlessly for a while looking for some kind of inspiration.  I will be honest:  this is usually price-driven but occasionally, and this was one of those years, if I have been in a supermarket checkout for too long looking at magazines, I might go with a "colour scheme".  I put "colour scheme" in   " marks because if you were to drive by my house it isn't much of a scheme at all.  

I was going for a English Country Garden kind of look in my 5 pots and one hanging basket, but I got distracted.  I saw a rack of plants that had me at "CLEARANCE" - my  kind of flowers!    I bought some pink ones, some red ones and a couple that look sort of like lettuce and because I really wanted the colours to "pop"  I bought some white ones too!  (As an aside - I really hate the term "pop" - especially when it refers to anything decorative.  I used it here because I wanted to be able to convey my total lack of gardening enthusiasm - an annoying term for an annoying pursuit I say)

Does it really matter what kind of plants I bought?  Not to me.  They aren't going to be around long enough for me to become attached much less be on a first name basis.

I do my best but, in the case of gardening, it isn't anywhere near good enough.  I do have to say I have made progress though - the plants have made it to their final resting place in my front yard. There are some years I forget the flat in the back of the car or under the porch. This year, they have also made it through their first three days!  I may be on a roll. 

In case you thought I was a complete Neanderthal, (no offence to the Geico Insurance guys)  I did leave the little tags planted beside the flowers  that come with the plants. This will remind me and everyone else that I actually "planted" this year.  I also left the tags French language side out - to show my continental sensibility.

How much longer til Fall?!?



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