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 

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 

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


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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


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.

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.





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Remembrance Day – Why I am proud to be Canadian


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.

Posted in humor, humour

Why don’t I post more frequently?

I have ideas. I enjoy writing. I can write.
So, why don’t I write more frequently?

They say you must write about things you know. And that makes sense. So what do I know?

I know our business of Risk Management Consulting – but no ordinary, sensible lay person wants to read about that.
I know the English language.
I know German, French and some Spanish. And a smattering of Latin.
I know the foods My Beloved and I cook or eat dining out.
I know quite a lot about music, particularly classical and church.
There may be one or two other subjects about which I have good knowledge, but I can’t think of one of them at the moment.

I could write post after post on one or other of those subjects, so why don’t I?

Because, when I sit down at the computer, I get involved in something else, such as, first and foremost, reading, answering, even deleting some without reading, many of the fifty or so emails I receive every day. After all that energy has been expended, I need a coffee, so I get up and switch on the Keurig, only to find it needs more water. So, after filling it, waiting for it to get hot enough, selecting which sort of coffee I want, only then do I return to the computer and search for some food recipe I have seen on a food TV channel. Or maybe look at the weather forecast. Or look up on Google maps a town I had heard about on the news.

By then, I realise it’s time for lunch. And after lunch, I must take my nap. My Beloved likes to watch one of the food channels, which she does. But, oh no, when I awake from my nap, she is into her nap and I dare not push the footrest on the La-Z-Boy down for fear of waking her. Perfect husband I am.

It is now mid-afternoon and we have to think about either getting dinner (usually) or getting ready to go out to dinner. But, first, I must check to see if there are any more emails to read, answer or delete. And, of course, there are, so that takes more time.

By this time, somewhere in the world, and certainly in our part, the sun has gone over the yardarm, so I pour our drinks. White for her; red for me. Unless it’s a hot summer day, when it is likely a Spritzer for her; a Gin and Tonic for me.

And now it depends on who is cooking. Usually, My Beloved cooks; if we are barbecuing, it is I who cooks. Sometimes we sous chef for one another, but not generally. We like to do our own thing. But the other’s duties are to set the table and clear the dishes away after the meal. Seems to work in our house.

After dinner, we find we return to our respective La-Z-Boys to watch – or take another nap – some idiotic program on TV. What else has there been to watch over the past two years except the well-documented truly idiotic exhibition of how Americans elect their President? Well, recently, that has been (almost) usurped by the equally American sport of baseball and whether a team which hasn’t won the World Series since 1908 and a team which hasn’t won the World Series since 1948, is going to win. The one which hadn’t won since 1908 won. And everyone, it seems, was happy. Even the other team.

But, did I say World Series? The only place baseball is played is in America with some fringe players in Japan. Oh, some say that is the world. Certainly one of the candidates for Presidential election this year believes so.

Soon it becomes ten o’clock. We watch the CBC National, or part of it, and then retire to bed.

That’s why I don’t post more frequently.














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I like dining……more gourmet than gourmand

I like dining in. I like dining out. I like dining.

The word I have used above is “dining”. It doesn’t say food; it doesn’t say snacking. While I like food, I am not much of a snacker and my food has to be delivered in relatively civilised and refined places. I am not one who will buy a hamburger at a food truck and eat it standing on the street. I am one who might buy a hamburger in a well-known chain of restaurants and sit down and eat it there. My preference, however, is to enter a restaurant with or without a reservation and be seated by the maitre d’ in order that I can then “dine” well.

Or, I do not have to ‘dine’ in a restaurant, as it could equally be in a home, could be ours, could be someone else’s, and dine on well-prepared food. Food that has been chosen by someone and prepared by someone for the relaxation and refreshment of others.

I like to think of myself as a gourmet rather than a gourmand. Perhaps a number of decades ago I might not have minded the moniker of gourmand, but not in recent decades. The difference is that I no longer eat when I am full, see food and continue to eat, as is the habit of a gourmand. Gourmet, epicure, gastronome, bon vivant might more appropriately be applied to me, although bon vivant sometimes includes one who enjoys parties. That’s not really me, although once I am there at a party, I seem to enjoy myself. It’s the getting there that is ofttimes a challenge.

Let me provide an example of fine dining I recently enjoyed very much.

It has been a few years since we last dined at Gio, in Halifax, so we thought it was about time that we returned there. A daughter and her 11-year old son were staying with us, My Beloved and I were all going to the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo and Gio, being a short walk from the BNS Centre, was a good choice.

IMG_20150702_170201Christy, who took our phoned reservation, was at the reception desk when we arrived. She very cheerfully greeted us and proved to be a delight throughout the entire two hours of dining. She was very knowledgeable about the menu items and the wines.

After preliminary drinks of Kir Royale for our daughter, Pinot Grigio for My Beloved, a sort of Virgin Singapore Sling concocted by the barman for our grandson and a bottle of 2012 Cotes du Roussillon VillagesIMG_20150702_170219_hdr – a Grenache, Syrah, Carignan blend – by Carmel & Joseph for me, although I, of course, shared it with the ladies after they finished their preliminary drinks, we looked around. Everything impressed. The ambiance was attractive and totally different from that which we remembered several years ago. And now splendid! Bright, cheerful and well-spaced tables, although we were seated at a booth at a large window. And beautiful lights.

IMG_20150702_173412_hdrWhile we were waiting for the drinks, Christy brought us an amuse bouche, cucumber tomato gazpacho with arugula pesto in IMG_20150702_174747_hdra bowl.

As appetisers, our daughter chose the poutine with polenta fries. She found the poutine gravy and cheese tasty, but the polenta fries disappointed: nice and crisp on the outside, but as soon as they were touched by fork or mouth, they crumbled under the crust. She assigned an A for trying, but a C for result. We all sampled the fries and agreed with her summation.

IMG_20150702_174718_hdrOur grandson and My Beloved chose the seafood chowder and declared it was full of different seafood, including several mussels. And was deliciously creamy. It was definitely not a stand-up-your-spoon-in-it sort of chowder.IMG_20150702_174656_hdr

I elected to sample the catfish tostada, which was pan-fried catfish on toast with refried beans, guacamole, jalapeno crema, and a grilled lime on the side. I thought I had made the best choice, but that’s only my opinion.

15 - 16Christy was at all times attentive to our needs and brought us some focaccia bread for dipping with some olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. The bread was excellent and obviously homemade.15 - 24 (1)

Following the plates being cleared, Christy appeared with yet more complimentary items, three for the adults and one for our grandson. They comprised a very tasty little shotglass of sorbet to clear the palate and the grandson downed his as if it were a shot!

15 - 26The menu is very extensive, the Chef being innovative and adventurous, and it had taken us all a little while to decide on our mains courses. However, our daughter chose the Beef, seared tenderloin  and tempura cheek, with pancetta-stuffed roesti potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and sauce chasseur. Although it was all very tasty, she said she just couldn’t get enough of the potatoes.The tenderloin was tender, and just cooked and rare – just as requested! Our daughter prefers her Brussels sautéed: however, these were steamed.

Our grandson and I both ordered the Elk, which came having just been seared, leaving it IMG_20150702_181907_hdrtrue blue on the inside and double-wrapped on the outside with bacon. It was exquisitely tender, tasty and not at all gamy. The accompaniments were beet and Beemster (a cheese) pierogi, lemon and caraway crème fraiche, cabbage, elk sausage (small pieces in addition to the tenderloin), oyster mushrooms and sauce soubise (a sort of onion sauce based on Bechemel). Everrything made my mouth water for more.

15 - 30My Beloved chose another appetiser as her main, the Wild Boar, cornmeal crusted tenderloin, with corn relish, blue cheese egg yolk and apple walnut butter. She declared it to be very good.

Christy again appeared with some complimentary extras comprising a pineapple-orange soda soufflé for each of us. Wonderful server and wonderful service.15 - 31

IMG_20150702_185146_hdrThe grandson had to have some dessert, of course, and selected an ice cream concoction with wafers and seven or eight miniatures of the soufflé.

It was a superb dinner, made all the better an experience, as our daughter treated us to this feast fit for a Gourmet.
Posted in humor, humour

Air conditioning is the cause of divorces

In most homes in Nova Scotia,there is no air conditioning. After all, how many days in the year does it get above freezing?

But they have heaters, maybe forced air, which could be fueled by oil, gas or electricity. Or, maybe the home may be heated by electric baseboard heaters.. And a few unfortunate homes may have only wood fired stoves.

But few indeed would have air conditioning. Anyway hot air rises and cold air sinks, so our floor vents and baseboard heaters would have to work mighty hard to get cold air up to the ceiling. Oh, if you are rich enough, you would have air conditioning, but only for status. No real Nova Scotian would admit to wanting air conditioning for the two days in the year when the temperature rises above “pleasantly bearable”.

But things are different in Palm Springs, California, where we spend our winters to get away from the ceaseless cold and damp. Yes, here the outlet for the air conditioning is in the ceiling for the reasons I said above: cold air sinks.

But My Beloved does not like air conditioning, so we wrestle at night in the bed – no, we are not experimenting 50 Shades of – but what to do with the duvet. I throw it off: she pulls it back. We get down to some nights when even she throws the duvet off, but then we are left with a sheet and a blanket. I throw the blanket off: she pulls it up around her neck. I throw the sheet off: she complains I’ve left her shoulder out in the cold. Those are the nights when My Beloved wants the doors to the patio to be open, leaving just the screen doors closed to stop those marauding insects and creepy crawlies and to let in the desert night air. Which, I admit, is frequently cool.

But for the past February and March, the day temperature has been high twenties and now in the upper thirties – Celsius. Or, in other terms, approaching triple digit, as the meteorologists here say, Fs. And that’s when the desert nights stay much warmer, I would love to have the air con on, but…. Yes, you know, don’t you? If we have the air con on, then the doors must be closed and My Beloved ends up with a stuffed up nose: if we leave the air con off, then I am throwing the remaining sheet off.

If we were not so compatible and so much in love, we would be looking for a divorce lawyer. I would venture to say that the air con manufacturers are in the marriage business selling recycled wedding gowns. Some university should award a huge grant for some professor to write a paper and a study on the marital stress caused by air conditioning in the USA and resulting divorce rate. Isn’t that what many of these university studies are? Professors getting grants to study common sense issues and proving something the communi hominum. or we average Joes, believed all along. We wouldn’t need that study in Nova Scotia for aforementioned reasons that nobody has air conditioning.

Quod erat demonstratum, the divorce rate in Nova Scotia is mightily lower than that in the USA and air con is the reason for the higher divorce rate in the USA..