I readily admit to being a luddite. This article was complete and I don't know which button(s) I pressed and it disappeared and to my chagrin I am now unable to locate it!! Well, here goes again - there are several reasons for my absence from this space; a good one which was ill health the past year and some not so good, beginning with sloth! But things are looking good and the health is on the up and up which is great.

This trip to Barcelona, to celebrate my younger son's graduation is now coming to a close and has been quite wonderful and rejuvenating. It has been spent mostly eating and relaxing. We did make some new friends too, which is always nice. Remember it is very hot and humid in August.

First the eating; there were two standouts in Barcelona and only because we actually ate there. August is a month when locals usually take vacation and sometimes for the entire month. So first was Cal Pep and anyone with even the least interest in food who has been here will know about this place in Placa de les Olles. It is an institution. As with most restaurants it is best to go with seafood and here the menu changes daily because they cook fresh and local and can't guarantee you will get a dish you may have had before. Without doubt I had the very best tortilla ever. It melted in my mouth. I did try to go again but they are now sadly closed until September. The other was Bar Mut (www.barmut.com). It was to celebrate a friend's birthday, we let the kitchen do its thing here. We had delicious beef medallions with foie gras, octupus, squid, clams by the dozens, mussels, monkfish and lobster. All with their house white wine. All very happy campers indeed. I don't recall the dessert!

Unfortunatey El Laurel was closed, as was Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria - more about this further - but Universal at the other end of the market was wonderful. Again, go with seafood and house wine or beer. The preparation is almost without exception simple; flash frying or grilling then drizzled with virgin olive oil and malden salt. Don't forget to order pimientos de Padron - local fresh green peppers, deep fried and generously sprinkled with sea salt. Another option is to pick up a cone of jamon (ham) Iberico with a glass of your choice of freshly sqeezed juice. You will find a selection of simple orange to great mixes of pineapple and watermelon among several. Or buy the ham and Manchego (or Manxego in Catalan) cheese to snack at home. The melons are in season and excellent of course. The market is wonderful for anything related to food; produce, meat, seafood, utensils, cheese, oil - you name it. Also check out the the Mercat de Santa Catalina in El Born.

We were in Sitges for a couple of days relaxation and beach. Here we were lucky to get to two local Catalan restaurants; Zodiaco and Restaurante Galicia. The latter also delivers very good pizza; we saw them on their scooters going back and forth and my son had the pizza. Not exactly deep dish but with a htick crust. Zodiaco has been in the family for about 25 years, the senora is on the floor and her husband and son man the excellent kitchen. Let her suggest your dishes, you won't be disappointed.

Last but definitely not least is the little sandwich place in Placa de St Jaume called Conesa; get a botifarra (blanco or negro) with queso (cheese) and either a small bottle of wine or beer and you will leave very satisfied. All for under 5 Euros! Then head over for either a helado (ice cream) on Carrer de Llibreteria; Conesa is closer to the square and Ice Cream place (can't recall the name!) further along the street. Or just head to Xurreria on Banys Nous for xurros (churros). They make fresh batches all through the day!

Saving the sightseeing for the next blog.

This is the second time I was an understudy. The first was for Rice Boy and didn't get on stage at all. And recently I was understudy for My Granny, the Goldfish. Granny in both cases, except for the latter I was hired specifically to do three nights! The actor they had for the role was offered a recording with Dave Brubeck, clearly an honour and chance of a lifetime so she was released.

Am glad in rectrospect that I accepted, though at the beginning of the process I was questioning my sanity. It was a wonderful opportunity but was also the lead with reams of text! To top it all there were exactly 6 days of rehearsal with dress and tech the afternoon of. As I said during the process I was very overwhelmed, but am so very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful director Rosemary Dunsmore and a very supportive and accepting cast not to mention crew. First of all much of the credit goes to my director who had (I felt) implicit faith that I could pull it off, gave me permission to make the role my own and despite my feeling lack of depth for the character gave me some excellent pointers to ground my performance. I actually enjoyed being on stage and performing on the last evening. Guess it showed, we got two curtain calls and a standing ovation - our first I understand from the cast! So feel very pleased and gratified.

Unfortunately I did not post or advertise this as widely as I would have liked because to be honest wasn't certain of the outcome. But the pure adrenalin rush from working hard and getting it on its feet was worthwhile. So all in all an excellent experience and the reason there was no divan this past Saturday, March 31st.

Looking forward to welcoming and hosting you at a divan in the near future.

This is the end of the Labour Day weekend, and after the lovely hot summer we have experienced this feels positively chilly - 15C! However each season offers up it's own special charms and of course downfalls. Here;s hoping for a long, colourful and warm fall.

Of all the summers that I remember so far, seems to me I spent a lot of it sitting out on my porch watching the world go by, drinking tea (and other libations) and reading duing this one. Finally finished StoryWallah which is short stories by writers from the Indian diaspora and edited by Shyam Selvadurai. It was a most rewarding book, and made me remember how much I like short stories. So then I got the Granta Book of the Irish Short Story edited by Anne Enright, which was wonderful specially in the breadth of the stories, and included stories by the usual suspects; including but not limited to Neil Jordan, Colm Toibin and Roddy Doyle.

The two that made the most impact on me are well-known and I should have read them earlier but for some reason never did or didn't finish. They are All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I am not exaggerating too much when I say that I was hard pressed to put them down once I started. In short they were both compelling reads.

I was struck by the simple but absolutely pitch perfect writing in All the Pretty Horses, I particularly remember McCarthy's description of the ring left on the table from a very hot, just made cup of coffee at El Jefe's hacienda. And equally Salman Rushdie was able to capture the Indian temprament, the particular nuance of language and the feeling of the times so beautifully and perfectly. Completely deserves the Booker of Bookers. Both these books stayed with me long after having finished them.

Now reading Thomas Pynchon's tome Against the Day; proving to be a bit of a slog at well over 1,000 pages. Also reading Bossypants by Tina Fey - nice foil; fun read. Looking forward to more this fall and winter.

Yikes, just realised it has been far too long since I last 'blogged'. Must admit this way of communicating still baffles me a little. Something between diary and platform for information, a little personal and mostly (I think) business related. So I must admit the last year has been very trying and challenging with several health issues to deal with; nothing dire but just requiring more than the usual amount of diligence with daily habits and medication. It was a new situtation, and I am happy to report that this should be resolved favourably for the most part, I hope by early April.

What the break from pushing too hard gave me, was time to 'idle' and it was a boon. Reading was what I did a lot, strolling too; to call what I did even a walk would be pushing the meaning of the word! My little neck of the woods in Toronto (Cabbagetown) is a bit of a gem with some lovely nooks and crannies which were delightful to come upon, and sometimes, during a walk relatively later in the day. One neighbour found my friend and me trying to peer through some slats, came out and let us take a good look at her wonderful, private space well hidden on one of the lanes in this neighbourhood. A beautiful, little garden.

Another wonderful event was that I got a part in a play written by a Canadian playwright Radha Menon, and called The Washing Machine. I had had the opportunity to do a workshop of it earlier in 2010 so was delighted to be part of the somewhat (Radha did have to do some editing to fit the time constraints of the Festival) complete production. Getting to sink one's teeth into a full part, in depth was great; tiring but immensely satisfying too. I had the pleasure of working with some amazing and generous actors. And I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the others involved - director, assistant director, costume and set designer, producer and light designer who were all fantastic.

During this 'break' from the regular scheduling of divans I read some terrific books; The Tiger's Wife, The Sisters Brothers, Half Blood Blues, the fantastically written and Booker winner Sense of an Ending, Irene Sabatini's The Boy Next Door, Tell it to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami - both extremely poignant and different to what I expected. Am still soldierng through Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon; boy it is quite a tome and very diffcult to define for me; part western, multi generational saga, story, and over 1100 pages!! Which makes the other two books sitting on my bedside table; IQ84 and The Infinite Jest more intimidating to crack! But am so enjoying the time to ponder and read at leisure.

In New York and New Jersey until Wednesday. Drove both ways and still can't figure out how I completely missed the news about the snow, I-90 closing, lake effect snow etc in Buffalo last week on Wednesday night into Thursday when I left a sunny TO! Well suffice it to say that until the nice Immigration Officer at the Queenston/Lewiston bridge advised me to fill my tank before venturing anywhere I was none the wiser!

That is the first thing I did and it was a confusing time because people weren't exactly sure what was happening. What I don't understand is why Buffalo is almost invariably caught unaware with the snow in the winter. The city hasn't moved in at least 100 years to my knowledge and so subject to pretty much the same or very similar weather conditions. Why can they not handle the snow and get enough equipment or whatever it takes. Be that as it may, the most helpful lady Gretchen at the front desk of the Allbright Knox Gallery (not sure how I landed up there but got off the highway and there I was at the entrance like a homing pigeon!) went on her computer, gave me a map, highligted an alternate route away from the closed section of I-90, got me some advance weather info and sent me off. Thank you Gretchen because that was the only glitch to the drive. Well, besides going over the NJ Turnpike 3 times because of construction and bad signage.

Finally arrived in Brooklyn to the lovely Ms. M's house. Wine and Thai food was the perfect antidote. The next day was marvellous with gallery hopping in Chelsea even if very cold - brrr.

I could write a whole article just on Anselm Kiefer at the Gagosian Gallery - it was sublime. Landscapes that have been restructured, very, very beautiful despite the subject matter. Show is titled Next Year in Jerusalem. The meat-locker installation with hung pictures/prints is haunting. Each installation is in it's own glass box which would seem constricting, which it is and also not! You can see the other installations in their own boxes which makes the entiire exhibition compelling and "distanced" at the same time. Absolutely made that whole day worthwhile; it was frigid and windy. Everyone should see this. Another good show was Francesco Clemente at Mary Boone in Manhattan; we couldn't get in to see the installation at her location in Chelsea. Also caught Nigel Nolan's installation at NP contemporary before it came down that weekend.

Last few days spent with family cocooning and feasting! Return drive was 8 1/2 hours despite the snow showers in PA. NY was clear this time around but it was bitterly cold throughout. Guess that is what winter is about; some Indian food would do wonders! Come and visit Ronica's Divan soon.