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Out of Heartbreak, Some Hope

 

Celebrity and philanthropist Jenny Jones loved her sister. And her sister, Liz Rankin, loved My Sisters’ Place.

So it was appropriate that when her sister died, Jones decided to donate $50,000 to the London women’s shelter. And it was appropriate the donation be announced among dozens of women there Wednesday.

This plaque will hang at My Sister’s Place in appreciation of a $50,000 donation from Jenny Jones in memory of her sister, Liz Rankin. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)

“It was very close to her, what they do here,” said Andrea VanderWeide, who’s Rankin’s daughter and Jones’s niece. “My mom had mentioned to my aunt many times that this was a charity that meant something to her. My aunt is pretty shook up. She wanted to honour my mom’s memory.”

The Jones family grew up in London, with the matriarch the original Sophie of Sophie’s Gown Shoppe, where growing up, Jenny and her sister, Liz, would pose in the windows as models and help with the sewing. Jenny Jones became a household name, hosting her own talk show from 1990 to 2003, and a generous, behind-the- scenes contributor to many causes.

Liz Rankin became a loyal employee at Drewlo Holdings in London, retiring only a few years ago. She died suddenly May 7, 2017, at 73. “My mom was a strong, independent woman,” VanderWeide said. “If there is anything that stands out about my mom, in the memory of anyone who ever met her, it would be her desire to help. She knows somewhere that she is still helping.”

Not long after Rankin’s death, My Sisters’ Place received a phone call from someone who said she was Jenny Jones, director Susan Macphail recalled. “I said, is that the Jenny Jones? She called because she had just suffered a heartbreak. Her beloved sister had passed away.” Jones spoke about her love of her sister and her support of women helping women, Macphail said. Jones wasn’t able to attend Wednesday’s announcement.

The shelter decided to put the money toward several women’s empowerment programs, including a theatre group, financial literacy sessions, peer support and self-compassion groups, which don’t have regular funding.

“It’s always bittersweet when we receive a gift that is in memory of someone,” said Beth Mitchell, chief executive of Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, which operates My Sisters’ Place. “We know it represents a loss for the family and the community. On the other hand, we hope that this legacy brings some comfort. Certainly, for us it brings us much joy and we know it will be used well.”

Two women who use My Sisters’ Place spoke Wednesday about the impact of the organization on their lives. “Before I found My Sisters’ Place, I was homeless, addicted and suffering from severe mental health issues,” Beth said. “With the help of My Sisters’ Place, I am housed, happily married, no longer addicted and my mental health is in check.”

Just coming each day and seeing women who want to help changes lives, Patricia said. “It gives us a sense of hope, coming in and seeing friends and people just gathered around.”

Remembering My Sister

My sister, Liz, passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We were just two years apart and she was living a full and happy life, still in the town where we both grew up, London, Ontario. She had two daughters, who both lived close by and she shared her home with her dog, Zoey. Two grandchildren were also a part of her life, Taelor, who also lived in London and Bradon in Alberta. Liz and I shared a love of cooking and often exchanged recipe notes over the phone.

She came to visit often with her daughters and she loved going to the Grove. I will think of her every time I go there, especially to the candy store where she could always find her favorite Necco Wafers. Her last visit to L.A. was last October, when she and the girls went to experience the Universal Citywalk Halloween Horror Nights. They said it was the best time they ever had. A few months before that I saw her in London at the opening of the new playground I donated to Springbank Park in London. It was the same place where she and I used to play as children. I’m so glad she got to share that experience with me. Here she was at Springbank Park last June. I wish I could see her again. She left so quickly and sooner than any of us imagined.

Rest In Peace, my beloved sister.

1944-2017

Happy Mother’s Day

00390028My mother’s  name was Sophie. She was a pretty woman who liked music, played the guitar, and had a big collection of albums. Her favorite singer was Jerry Vale.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

Me: Rattlesnakes… Her: Robins

I am reposting these photos from my sister in Canada that I started back in April because she just sent some new amazing pictures. I just found my second baby rattlesnake in the backyard and she has a family of robins in her kitchen window! If this is a bit of sibling rivalry… she wins. 🙂

(april 11th) Something really amazing happened at my sister Liz’s house in Canada. They had very cold weather this spring and I got this email from her on April 10th: The robins have been back for quite a while, but frost doesnt do anything for worms. But the birds are persistent. I was on the phone when I noticed a head bobbing on my kitchen window ledge. I always open my window in the spring and summer, even fall. But this year…not yet. Well, robins have started building a nest right where I open the window. Not over to the side, but right at the bottom right corner, over my sink where I am every day. When I start opening the window screen, I will be watching the blue eggs and then little chicks. If they dont move on, Ill take pics while the whole process is taking place. Like you did with the hummingbirds.” The next day, she sent me her first picture…

April 11th


April 16th

“She’s baaack! She was gone for days. I thought she flew the coop. She’s skittish…”

April 17th

“Oowee mama! Now we’re talkin’ Not a lot of time between launch and landing, so far. I always thought it took longer to lay an egg.”

Needless to day, I’ll be sharing whatever photos she send me here. What a show we’re going to have! Thanks, Liz, for sharing!

May 1st “So teeny.”

May 5th “A little hungry.”

May 8th

“How did this happen??? There are FOUR, as of a minute ago. Where has it been hiding? Check out my next photo.”

May 8th

May 9th

“What a difference a day makes, only 4 little birdies. (Guess that tune.) I’m afraid they are gonna fall out.”


May 12th

“It is SO cold and there’s no room at the inn!  When they hear me coming, they all crouch down, so you should see them when they’re all trying out their wings. There are faces and eyes and definitely a pecking order!”

May 13th

“That big one on the right is one of the babies! I think it’s leaving.”

May 15th

“I need a shrink!! What do I do now? One by one they flew the coop, big and strong and healthy. I wish I could have put tags on them because I’ll always be wondering……are you one of Harriet’s kids?”

So far… 785 tomatoes!

My sister was here for the weekend and we had fun, fun, fun. We hung out, shopped, watched the hummingbirds, did jigsaw puzzles, went to my favorite restaurants (mostly small family places), and picked tomatoes. We had to… my plant is out of control! Three weeks ago it was 14 feet long. Now it’s over 25 feet and taller than I am! And I didn’t even plant it. It just showed up. It’s so heavy it just lays on top of itself and I prop it up with fencing and tie it up where I can without breaking it. It’s like a mass of giant spaghetti. So far, we’ve picked 785 tomatoes and it’s not even making a dent. That’s 40 to 50 huge cherry tomatoes a day!!  It will easily produce 2,000 tomatoes or more. Sis says I should inform the horticultural society about this freakish plant.

We pick every other day, wash & drain them and so far, I’ve given tomatoes to our housekeeper, our assistant, the gardener, the pool guy, the critter guy, Denis’s niece & nephew, two friends, we keep a bowl for snacking all day long and I’ve made two pots of awesome tomato sauce, not to mention salads. These tomatoes are super sweet but the best part is… the mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, tomato-eating squirrel is gone. Gee, I hope he didn’t choke on one of my peaches… because I’m only trained in CPR (Catapulting Pesky Rodents).

Happy Father’s Day

Here’s a picture of my dad who inspired me with his great cooking. He was definitely the number one cook in the family. In this photo, I had just surprised him with his own personalized apron and he loved it! He died at 73 and never got to see me make it in television or as a cookbook author. I know he would have been proud of me.

A date for Roula

One of my favorite shows of all time was back in 1994 when I set my stepmom, Roula, up on a date. She was married to my father and after he passed away, I convinced her to appear on the show so I could set her up on a date.

I just came across a copy of the show and put an edited version here on the website. It was so much fun!

Roula has since married her second husband, Victor, who unfortunately passed away in 2010.

She is still just as vibrant and beautiful today as she was then.

Click here for the video.

Happy Easter

One of my favorite Polish traditions is the decorating of beautiful Easter eggs (pisanki). Some are real eggs and some, like this photo, are made of wood. I remember coloring eggs when I was a kid but they never looked like this. We just boiled eggs with onion skins and they turned red. I think we were poor and I didn’t know it.

I want to hide some eggs again this year but Denis won’t look for them. Maybe if I hide one under the remote control…

So who knows me best? I guess it’s Larry.

1) All of the jobs are right

2) Cooking for sure

3) Denis and I are together 27 years

4) I drive a 2003 Lexus LS430 (with very low mileage)

5) Opposum was right. But Larry, how did you know about the Dodge Dakota?

“Another Fine Mess”

Here’s a Christmas present I gave Denis who is a big Laurel & Hardy Fan. “Another Fine Mess” is one of their short comedy features. Denis does Oliver Hardy impressions all the time just to make me laugh. Merry Christmas from us both.  Jenny

A military wedding

This is a picture of my parents at their military wedding in 1942. They both served in the Polish army during World War Two. I would like  to acknowledge all veterans on this day and to say thank you for your service.