Posted in Uncategorized

Minus Temperatures Not Welcome

I know when I see -3C (yes, below freezing) on the dashboard of Lava for the first time in around twenty years that I am no longer away from Nova Scotia and in Palm Springs, California for the winter. Lava dashboard -3C - IMG_20171215_1232295

Yes, although forty or fifty years ago I might have enjoyed the prairie minus thirties or forties, that was when we were raising five kids and it was fun taking them tobogganing or watching them play hockey outdoors while our feet froze. Today is different. There are no kids around to raise. But one is coming with a grandkid and a dog from Atlanta to spend Christmas and New Year with us. It will be fun – but mostly indoors or simple walks.

I am too old to enjoy shovelling snow and scraping car windows – not that I have had to as yet – but my friends here say that I will have to ere winter is out. And, from past Nova Scotia experience, I remember that snow does eventually arrive here, even though one memory is of mowing the grass on the day of Christmas Eve. However, maybe I will not have to do much, as the fellow who ploughs our driveway has agreed to come after he has finished ploughing all of his clients and shovel the front deck and around the cars.

Having said I do not look forward to shovelling snow, I went for a walk yesterday at Peggy’s Cove. Some of you have been there in summer, a few may have been there in winter, but few have been there as I was yesterday with a a howling wind, -3C with a wind chill of -10C, crashing waves on the rocks, BUT blue sky. It was magnificent!

The following is a slide show and 6 pics will rotate:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now, many of you who have received my Scribblings over nearly 20 years, will expect to see something about food, so let’s see what we can do. Which would you prefer of the following two meals:

Stand-up-spoon pea soup with fresh out-of-the-oven bread (mmmmm!) and butter!IMG_20171111_1819294

OR:

Hospital dinner the night before having a pacemaker inserted –
(cold beef sandwich with egg salad sandwich, apple sauce, a cookie, a banana and tea – OK, they did provide this as a special as the real dinner time was long past).IMG_20171115_1224460

All right, you don’t have to answer that question and it’s time for another home-made dinner of hake and spinach salad, which sounds and smells good to me.

I hope you enjoyed reading and looking at this. See you in another post soon.

By the way, if you want to see me on Facebook, I am going by the nom-de-plume of Nuntius Muse.

Posted in Dining, General, humor, humour

You know it’s summer when….

You know it’s summer when….

  • you have experienced a daughter and grandson staying with you for six weeks,
  • a couple of friends from Atlanta arrive during that period of time
  • and your son, his wife and two teens arrive arrive towards the end of that time and overlap completely.
  • Then there is a gap of about four days before another couple arrive.
  • Towards the end of August another grandson and his girlfriend arrive for eleven days.

The firt listed event is still on-going.
The last three mentioned have not yet happened – but will. Very soon.

Wow! It’s go, go, go! Being entertained and entertaining. Which, in normal times is just routine, but My Beloved has been debilitated by some freak twist of her back, which jerked the hip around, which jerked the knee around. The daughter who brought the grandson also has back, hip and IT band problems.

Darned good job I’m healthy!Someone has to keep the flag flying.

Oh, but despite the physical infirmaties, we all seem to have been having a great time. Daughter and grandson have been helping out with many of the gardening chores, such as planting bedding plants and trimming hedges. Our guests from Atlanta felled trees, trimmed them and cut some up for firewood, thereby allowing us a better view of the bay and the islands. And also fixed a troublesome pond pump and electrical connection with the house. We thought. But now it seems we may have a leak in the liner, for the sum of the water circulating and evaporating is greater than the sum of the water entering through a float valve. Hmm!

But, of course, there is always dining with family and friends. Just a week or so ago, we dined with two other couples at the house of one of them and enjoyed a fine meal, but, more importantly, we enjoyed each other’s company and socialising.

And a couple of days ago, the friends from Atlanta, our daughter and grandson, My Beloved and I took two cars to the Rope Loft restaurant in Chester – three boys in one and three girls in the other –  and spent a lovely evening on the deck. And since I am frequently told by some of my readers that you all enjoy reading about our dining adventures, here’s what happened at the Rope Loft.

Six of us descended on the restaurant just after 5pm on a Friday afternoon when the harbour was filled with boats and the streets laden with cars. However, one of our number jumped out and enquired whether there was a waiting time for a table and quickly returned with the thumbs up. They could accommodate us immediately.


We were seated on the top deck with a perfect view of the harbour and able to watch the Tancook Ferry come in and out. Our server, Heather, was fun all evening and I’m sure one of our number (one of the four from Atlanta and we will call him our host, for he insisted on paying the bill at the end of the evening) gave her a good tip at the end of a lovely 2-hour meal. It was two hours because we enjoyed eating and drinking slowly and Heather never made us feel at all rushed. BTW there were a few tables available, anyway!!

We started with drinks, one spicy Virgin Mary for a grandson and one similar one for his grandfather, since he was one of the drivers of the two cars. As it turned out, our host had recently experienced our famous Keith’s IPA and he had fallen in love with it, so he started with one of those. His lovely wife and our daughter and mother of our grandson both had double vodkas with juice of a lime and lots of ice; a concoction daughter has been using of late.  My Beloved had a Bulwark Cider, which is on tap. We also ordered a litre of the Nova Scotia Jost’s red wine for four of us to share.
Oh…………and subsequently, another half-litre.
And I started on the litre. You can’t let red wine sit too long or the fruit flies will drink it all. That’s my story and I’ll stick with it.


We also ordered three orders of garlic cheese toast, which, when they came, were very quickly devoured as they were so scrumptious. (The pic is of one order.)

 

 

As main courses, our host ordered a dozen raw oysters, but three of those somehow fell into my daughter’s plate and another three into mine. To make up for his losses, he he also ordered the Friday special 6-oz tenderloin. While he and we all said the oysters were small, but very tasty, I did not here any particular comment about his tenderloin, so I suppose it passed the test.


Our grandson had an appetiser of smoked salmon pate comprising smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and shallots all freshly blended on slices of fresh baguette. As a main, he had a burger stuffed with onion, tomato, bacon and Cheddar cheese with fries (he asked for no lettuce – he’s no vegan), which he avariciously inhaled, although grandmother said he had to eat it all or there would be no dessert. Which he did.

His mother had the peel and eat shrimp  – declared by her to be ‘fantastic’; the flavour and blend of the garlicky and spicy sweet roasted red pepper sauce were outstanding.


Our host’s wife had the fish cakes, which she found bland, but after adding Tabasco, she quite enjoyed them. Homemade baked beans came with them but she donated them to her spouse.

My Beloved had the 1-lb bowl of mussels – an eternal and world-wide favourite of hers, having eaten them in New Zealand, Chile, and various countries in Europe –  and, although on the small side, she said they were very good, but the excellent broth, which had a touch of lemon and garlic in white wine, was delicious.
Of course, white wine falls into the eternal and world-wide favourite category, too.
Along with red wine.

My choice for main course was the fried clams and chips. These were not on the menu but Heather told us they were available. I had been seeking a menu with these for a month or more. However, I found the batter was heavy on the clams; but the accompanying creamy garlic dipping sauce made they  very palatable. The chips were crisp and some of the best I have tasted. I am sure they double-fried them.

Our grandson had earned his dessert, so he chose the coconut cream pie. Apparently, after we all had tasted and agreed with his estimation that it was supremely tasty, he was was not left with much of it; so another had to be ordered, so we could all have another taste and leave two-thirds of it for him.

 

All-in-all, a thoroughly fine summer evening under the evening sun with a delightful setting and atmosphere on the wharf where casual or sailing garb is de rigueur. How enjoyable it is to have food and drink with one’s family and friends. What pleasures we can have in simple meals with those we love!

Posted in humor, humour

Downsizing

Are you in the process of downsizing?

Have you already downsized?

If you answered ‘yes’ to either of those questions, then you know what My Beloved and I face. Even though we have no definite plans nor date nor where we will be going, we still should be preparing – if only to save our progeny from having to clear out the house were we both to depart this earth suddenly.

On second thoughts, they would do a much superior cleaning out than I anticipate I will be allowed to achieve. (Do we have a hoarder in the house?)

As of yesterday, I now know what perils and surprises await me. We were looking for some Double AA batteries, which have always been stored in the kitchen in the drawer with a zebra as a handle. However, when we looked in it, we had to rummage through all sorts of  things: wrapping paper, paper bags, scissors, church envelopes, old warranties on kitchen appliances, some of which we haven’t had in this house and dating from when we lived in Winnipeg prior to 1974, sales rebate certificates, dog vaccination certificates and licenses, along with many other items, some of which had deteriorated so badly they collapsed as we took hold of them, and, yes, batteries of all sorts, but no Double AAs. There were Triple AAAs, a D, a C and a couple of those funny circular ones, 2025s.

Well, I did need one of those 2025s for the key to one of our cars, but it didn’t work. Why not? Was it dead? No. On comparing it with that in My Beloved’s key for the same car, it should have been a 2035, not 2025. Who’d-a-known-it?

The drawer was so full that we could not open it fully until we had removed some of the pieces of whatevers. And then, after removing what we thought was everything, we were still unable to remove the drawer to clean it until we had successfully removed a plastic bag, which had been forced over the back of the drawer.

One of the faded and distraught warranties was for a toaster oven, an item which, we seem to remember, we donated to our son, a poor law student – and he’s been a lawyer for something over twenty years now. I think he thought it was a microwave!

Another of the warranties was for a vacuum cleaner purchased from Simpsons-Sears. You Canadian oldies may recall that the Hudson’s Bay Company bought the Simpsons part of the company from Sears and that was in 1978. No, we do not still have the vacuum cleaner.

In the photo above, can be seen a dog vaccination certificate from 1988 for Bear. We haven’t had a dog in years – unfortunately, because we love them – because we have been travelling too much and it would be irresponsible to have a dog. Until we move into the downsized apartment, at least. Also in the photo is an “No Expiry Date” for Purina dog food and a pile of some of the contents of the drawer; I wonder if we gave it to a friend who has a dog, whether it could be redeemed.

When I think of all the drawers in the house and then all the boxes and trunks in the basement and the boxes up in our bedroom loft, which came with us in a move from Montreal in 1986, I have to ask myself, how will we ever rid ourselves of these wonderful and prized, but useless, possessions?

There is one bright side to this post: we have one very neat drawer  with a zebra handle in the kitchen.

 

Posted in humor, humour

Father’s Day?

So today is Father’s Day. 18th June 2017.

Big deal!

Or so the media and the big-box stores would have you believe. 
As for me, I don't consider it a BIG DEAL. I have always told 
our five children that fathers don't matter as much as mothers.
After all, who brought you into the world? Not father.
Who hugged and bonded with you first? Not father.
Who fed you first? Not father.
To whom did you run when hurt first? Likely not father.

So, despite - so some say - someone called Sonora Smart Dodd,
an American born in 1882, raised after the death of her mother by her 
father, started a Father's Day in 1910, we fathers pale in significance to 
mothers. 

Of our five children, some seem to have listened to their Father's
preaching: the middle, trying to make herself the Unfavourite, one 
texted me early this morning; the second, trying to make herself the 
Favourite emailed a card with the heading UNFather's Day; and I haven't 
heard from the other three. I am certain I will not hear from the 
eldest until tomorrow.

Nevertheless, My Beloved is making a special effort to assuage me of
self-pity by cooking me her delicious and my favourite barbecued back 
ribs, along with hash brown potatoes and peas, followed by rhubarb crumble.
Of course, there will be plenty of red wine for me to drown my sorrows in. 
And I just might have a brandy to top me off before retiring to bed 
in a state of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

But when tomorrow comes, I will rejoice in the knowledge that I may be the 
only father in the world who is happy he was was not celebrated by his 
progeny (save one trying hard to be the Favourite and another trying 
hard to be the Unfavourite) and is happy that three listened to their 
father. 

And next Mother's Day, we will truly celebrate their mother, My Beloved, 
the truly important one of the family.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Why five-year olds are smarter than I

Do you remember when we used to telephone a friend or a business colleague?

That’s if you had a phone. We were fortunate to have one – they were hard to obtain just after the World War II. But, as my Dad was involved with a number of activities such as being secretary of the chess league, secretary of the Lay Readers’ Association, substitute organist at our church, Image result for telephones of the fortiesbesides being a school teacher, he was able to get one. None of my friends’ parents had phones. Even my dear Beryl’s parents, whose father was a principal in a school, had no phone. This was 1946 and just after World War II in England. Beryl tells me that her parents did not get a phone until after she had gone to university. Wow! Doesn’t that seem unreal? My grandkids just cannot understand a world in which there were no telephones.

What it meant in reality for me was that if I wanted to go out and play with one of my friends, I had two options: get on my bike and go to see if he was home; or, stay at home and wait to see if he was going to come and visit me. So, we used to pre-plan and arrange when we were going to play, where we were going to play, at his house or mine, or whether we would get a group of us together to play soccer or cricket, depending on the season. Later, when we were teens, during summer, at almost any time, we could go to the church tennis courts and find someone to play.

And we used to write letters longhand, or cursive, as it is called today. Something which schools are now abandoning. I had a toy typewriterImage result for toy typewriters of the forties which had a rotating centrepiece, made of lead on which the letters of the alphabet were set; lower case on the upper row and upper case on the lower row. You rotated the wheel to the desired letter, then struck a key (note the two keys, one on each side of the wheel) which launched the wheel forward to strike the carbon ribbon. The letter was then imprinted on a sheet of paper you had inserted on a roller. The keys shown in the picture were fake and merely made it look like a typewriter. I got pretty speedy at whipping the wheel around to the correct place and wrote letters to aunts, grandparents – and my parents.

I first was introduced to the beginnings of modern communication technology in 1956 when Beryl and I immigrated to Moose Jaw, Canada. My first job immediately on arriving, found for me by a friend, was as newscaster from 6pm until midnight on “CHAB Moose Jaw, 800 on your dial.” In those days, as newscaster, you were also the news editor and I would have to review the teletype (TTY) or Telex machines

Early Telex Machine

to see what news Associate Press, Reuters or Canadian Press had sent out and, if any of significance, cut it out of the paper  roll and clip it together with other snippets, (the origins of cut and paste), which I would then go to the microphone every half hour and read. It was also my job to insert local news on the AP or CP machines, each having its own network requiring a different TTY.

It was not until several years later, after Beryl and I had moved to Winnipeg,  that I found myself writing editorial satirical verse for the Winnipeg Free Press, that I bought a typewriter for myself. I believe it cost twelve dollars.

After moving to Montreal in 1974, we bought one of the original Atari gaming computers. It had PacMan and other games, including one simulating star wars-type planes battling each other.  Our children loved it. I loved it.

In 1978, I parted ways from my employer: Beryl and I incorporated Melanber Inc. as an independent Risk Management consulting firm and we very soon realised we

Typeball

needed a good typewriter. So we bought a Royal. It really wasn’t so different from my toy typewriter: instead of a rotating wheel, it had a rotating and pivoting typeball. However, there were a number of different balls, quickly and easily exchangeable, allowing you to use different fonts within the same document. Another innovation, pioneered by the IBM Selectric, I believe, was that the paper stayed still and the ball moved across the paper. And, of course, the machine was powered by electricity, so it was really pretty fast at typing.

Xerox 820.jpg
Xerox 820-II with a printer in background

Two years later saw us spending an enormous sum, close to ten thousand dollars for a newly introduced Xerox 820-II computer and daisy wheel printer.  From the picture alongside, note that  beneath the monitor is a box with two slots: one for the Operating System, which was a brilliant one, far better than Windows, called CPM (Control Program/Monitors and later “Control Program for Microcomputers”), and the other slot for Wordstar, a word processing program, or Supercalc. a forerunner of programs like Excel. Many a night, Beryl stayed up printing a 50-page report. When I may have typed a word in, say, italics, a code would stop the printer, the daisy wheel would have to be changed and then changed back again after printing the one word to the original font.

In those days, we knew a lot about computers and programs. Things began to change.

Image result for pic of shoe phone
The shoe phone

The world started to change: computers became faster and able to manage data much more efficiently. And then came the mobile phone. While the TV series, Get Smart, popularised the shoe phone, the Germans produced mobile phones for the use of its rail and mail service and offered first class passengers mobile phone service in the mid-1920s. During WWII, the military used mobile phones and some American cars were installed with mobile phones in the 1940s, but these were bulky and the network could hold only three or so conversations simultaneously.

Motorola produced the first popular and more user-friendly mobile phone in 1973, but it weighed 1.1kg and was 23cms long. Hardly a truly mobile phone. But look where phones have come since then.

Today, the smartphone is a mini-computer and, while I have been able to master some of the apps which are on my phone, I have to call one of our grandchildren to find out how to work Twitter and how to use hashtags. I had no clue. Just watch how a 5-year old manages a small handheld video game. There is no way I can use one. I have absolutely no idea of how video games work. Mind you, I really have no interest in them since my Atari became dinosauric in technology criteria. It’s still in our basement, so maybe I should go and bring it up and see if I have progressed or regressed. I think I know which it would be!

And that 5-year old will still be smarter than I.

Posted in Uncategorized

Best of Times with Friends

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

“Life can be enjoyed at many times in many ways, but, to me, the best time in which to enjoy life is dining with friends.” – Me

My Beloved and I just held a lovely dinner party. We love to entertain, but there is also joy in the preparation: the planning of a dinner party; whom to invite; which days can all come; who doesn’t like or cannot eat what; choosing what nibblies for their arrival; what courses to offer; what wines to offer; what party favours to give them as they leave;  and yes, even joy in cleaning up afterwards with My Beloved.

The mixture of guests has to be planned with knowledge of each one’s personality. Consider the style of humour of each. One given to racy jokes cannot be mixed with another who is more conservative. If one is garrulous, will others be able to opine? Maybe one who becomes more and more verbose as more and more wine is consumed should not be invited. We didn’t have to disinvite anyone!

So, after changing the date and bringing it forward, all our chosen guests managed to be free on the same, but different Saturday from the one first chosen. How fortunate was that! We chose three couples, so we were eight in all, but My Beloved and I were the only ones who knew them all. No couple knew any of the other guests, yet it worked out as we had planned and hoped so very well. Everyone contributed to the evening’s conversations, which, while some of it may not have been sparkling, none  was jejune, yet nor was it esoteric and, to add to the entertainment value, there was much mirth.

My Beloved and I worked together on the menu, but she, and she alone rules her kitchen at such times, prepared the entire meal from nibblies to dessert; my sole contributions being mashing the potatoes and coming up with and preparing the party favours. Oh, and making of the wine. I suppose that counts a little toward the success. Although, with today’s safety consciousness, people do not drink as they used to when we were wild sixty years ago. I could make a really entertaining From time to time... on that subject.

One other small contribution I claim was to ensure that a roaring fire was going in the fireplace by the time the first couple arrived. If I say that one good lady hogged it warming her back to it for some minutes on arrival, despite the fact that the temperature was well above freezing, I say it only because I recognise a fellow hogger. I love to stand in front of a fire with my back to it – in fact, frequently, after getting up of a morning, I stand with my back to our en suite French windows letting the sun play warmth on me before getting into the shower. No, you don’t want even to imagine such a scene.

img_20161112_1809338Nibblies comprised an assortment of nuts, barbecued and others, a cheese ball and crackers, and peppery pâté on cucumber slices. Some drank white, some red wine, one chose a beer, and one chose not to drink any alcohol, just iced water from our well.. There was some ‘getting-to-know-you’ conversation and some surprise chuckles before we were called to the dinner table.

No nonsense about where to sit around our dinner table: you sit where you find your nameplate, having been carefully chosen by your host and hostess. And, hey! they all got along with no food fights. No throwing of the soup or the bowls. But what was the soup? Butternut squash and apple soup. Mmmm! Rather tasty.

img_20161112_1922340
They’re not smiling as they wanted to get back to their main course – or was it their discourse?

The main course followed, consisting of pork tenderloin with pear and cranberry sauce, carrots, peas and mashed potatoes. I must admit that in enjoying the food and conversation so much, I almost let the fire go out. Ah, but the Boy Scout in me returned in time to save the fire.

Nobody seemed to complain about the dessert, a luscious dark chocolate mousse. Oh, I have a sister-in-law who cannot stand chocolate, but she is the only person in the whole world I know who does not like chocolate. Her loss!

Coffees and teas and more water all round before one couple had to leave. Usually, that is the sign for others to leave, but not that evening. We sat around discussing the planet’s problems, from ecological to political to social. I cannot be sure we solved any of them, but we had a good time and laughs trying to do so.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end and, after giving the departing guests their individual favours of spicy hermit bars in neat little party bags, My Beloved and I cleared the table, save for some cups which would not fit into the dishwasher, and packed the mashed potatoes and tenderloin left overs away, set the dishwasher going and sat down with a glass of wine each. And, I let the fire dwindle to a nice glow.

Our friends are all so nice; we love them all. They are such gracious and loving people. As I said at the beginning of this essay, the best way to enjoy life is dining with friends. We thank God for them.

Then, feeling very satisfied, we went to bed the next day – yes, after midnight.

I can tell you, I did not get up a few hours later and stand with my back to the sun, as it was a foggy morning, so you don’t have to imagine anything unappealing.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Remembrance Day – Why I am proud to be Canadian

images.jpg

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is reserved in 52 nations of the Commonwealth, mostly territories of the former British Empire, as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day.

And here in Canada, all Government offices, most businesses, all the large stores, virtually all enterprises except some restaurants and pharmacies are closed today. This is what makes me so proud to be Canadian, that much of the country shuts down to honour the Canadians who died in, and the veterans of, the Great War 1914-1918, Second World War 1939-1945, Korean War 1950-1953, Persian Gulf War 1990-1991, Afghanistan War 2001-2014 and the many UN Peacekeeping missions. And honour them we do.

Thousands turn out for services at the local cenotaph or legion and, in Ottawa, tens of thousands attended the National War Memorial service where dignitaries laid wreaths, followed by other organisations and, of course, the Silver Cross Mother. The Silver Cross Mother is chosen by the Canadian Legion from the ranks of grieving women who lost a child serving in the Canadian Forces.  This year she is Colleen Fitzpatrick of Prince George, BC. Her son was wounded badly in Afghanistan when stepping on a roadside IED. He died back home in Edmonton, Alberta, two weeks later.

Commentators are saying this year that, as they have been watching the Ottawa ceremony over the past two decades, the interest and crowds are getting larger and younger, with many of the millennials attending. If this is so, then Canada has much of which to be proud.

Were I a cynic, I would say that all the businesses shut down just to make a long weekend: that is false, however, for in other years when Remembrance Day does not fall on a Friday or Monday, the same stepping back from day-to-day business in order to revere and honour those who sacrificed themselves and the veterans who served their country is shown.

Which is why I am so proud to be a Canadian.