Posted in General, winter

Notes on a Nova Scotia Winter

I do dislike shovelling and haven’t had to shovel for the past twenty or so years, so this is the way I get our driveway done. Monty does a good job.IMG_20180123_1245279

However, I still have to de-snow the cars and the main back deck so I can refill my four bird feeders.

Later, same day….
……I didn’t have to de-snow both cars, since the temperature rose during the day and overnight to 9C, the rain pelted and the wind howled, leaving the parking lot – and our driveway – like this….

And the temperature is still a balmy 7.5C.

The only loss: I had to pay Monty for something nature did a few hours later!

Nova Scotia weather can range from cold and stormy to warm-ish to beautiful. The other

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day, for instance, it was so lovely outdoors I got a Keurig Timmy Horton’s black decaf and sat out in the Birdcage sipping it. (Most of you know that the Birdcage is a sheltered part of a deck, straight off the dining room.) I was enthralled with the activity at my bird feeders: Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Junkos, the occasional Blue Jay, and, while I didn’t see Mr. & Mrs. Pheasant then, I saw them the next morning on our main deck (photo), scrummaging around under one of the feeders on which some of the little birds were tossing feed over the side to the patiently waiting birds below.

And it sure wasn’t long before Noisy found me. All during summer every year (because we are here at home every summer) we have a number of lovelyIMG_20180121_1517442 little red squirrels coming up to the Birdcage, along with my preferred Chipmunks. The chippies hibernate and we don’t see them until Spring. But three of the squirrels apparently stay awake and stay close by: Noisy, because he chatters and tries to drive off any other squirrels with his chattering; One-eye, because he has been around for at least three years with only one eye – how he survives jumping from branch to branch, I have no idea; and Anonym, because we haven’t named him anything else and he lives way over through the trees in our neighbour’s property. As I said, it didn’t take Noisy long to find me…..and when I wondered over to the feeder deck, there, lo and behold were One-eye and Anonym, both waiting for me to feed them by hand. It was a wonderful nature-filled afternoon and one in which definitely to thank God for all the blessings of this life.

But the day was not finished: the sunset was just splendid. Indeed another blessing!

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Two weeks ago, I had to report for my 6-week Pacemaker check. Since I had had no more dizzy or fainting events, I thought it was doing well. Apparently, it was and is: I was told it was brilliant. Or did she mean I was brilliant? I don’t know. She also told me that the battery was good for another seven years. If I get a new battery then, I can make the century easily.

Have I ever published a Scribblings or a post in this Blog without mentiimg_20171217_1905307.jpgoning food? No!

So, how about My Beloved’s delicious lamb stew with cabbage and potatoes waiting to be mashed into it – yes, of course with their skins on. And a glass of Merlot to pair with it.

What did you think? That I should have cleaned off the rim of the dish? Hm! How right you are! Rotten photographer, but joyously satisfied diner.

And how does one finish off with dessert, but with a wonderful wild blueberry and apple crumble. Oh, yes, yummy! And I intentionally leave you with a large photo of it. Tip to make the crumble really crisp and chewy: add crystalised ginger.IMG_20171217_1932558

Until next time, blessings on you and all whom you love!

Posted in Dining, General, humour

It’s winter, but…….

Sure, just a couple of days ago it was above freezing.
Now it is -4C and going down tonight to -11C.

And, call me a liar, I said there was no snow.
Now there is.

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The sun was shining brilliantly, so I cleared the snow off the decks – no worries, it was light fluffy stuff and I just pushed it over the sides of the decks, so no lifting – and I felt wonderful. It was exciting to be back in snowland after so many years away from it.

Even better was the fact that I could watch all my friends: Mr & Mrs Blue Jay and a few others, the Black-capped Chickadees, the Dark-eyed Junkos and even a remaining pair of Goldfinches, which I did not expect to see. And from time to time, they all came to one or other of my four feeders. Additionally, the two regular red friendly squirrels came as soon as I started to refill one of the feeders. One is Noisy, because he is noisy, and One-eye, because he has only one eye. He’s my favourite and has been around for at least three years, feeding from our hands every summer, so I imagine he is very pleased to see we are vacationing at home this winter. How he manages to survive, jumping from branch to branch, never falling, with only one eye, is a wonder of nature.

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The last time I was able to watch my feeders during winter, some twenty years ago, there were never any Goldfinches around at Christmas. However, I now see that they are quite common at Christmas and I am very happy. No global warming? Ha! Their colouring, however, is very dull with no yellow on the male at all, just the olive-greeny shade. There are actually two in the next picture, one on each side of the feeder.

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Now I have to admit that, aside from having to get rid of a little bit of snow, winter can be quite pleasant. My Beloved and I live in our house with five acres, basically unable to see our neighbours through the forest of trees, able to view the Atlantic Ocean in St. Margaret’s Bay from 100 metres up above, occasionally watching the lobster boats when lobster is in season as now, or the sailboats in the spring through autumn, being able to feed and talk to our avian and mammalian friends, with a feeling, even in winter, that all’s right with God’s world and we are blessed to be able to live and share in it.

Now, what’s for dinner, just to underline that all’s right with God’s world, particularly in this house at our feeding time at our feeder? First, a wonderful, flavourful beef stew, filled with carrots, cabbage, onion, herbs, garlic (how can you eat without that), with potatoes to mash into it and a glass of wine to accompany it.

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But, delicious as that was, I did not finish it – it’s now leftovers for Tuesday’s dinner, for we have to be out early on Tuesday for carols at a Seniors’ home followed by choir practice at our church. And I had to leave room for dessert. Simply had to.

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Oh, a so scrumptious apple and wild blueberry crumble. The apples were from our own tree; the blueberries had been handpicked by someone and frozen by My Beloved. And she has a secret for the crumble, which I shall share with you: mix in some crystallized ginger – what a difference it makes.

As I wrote above, It’s winter, but…. how could such a wonderful day; singing joyful songs in church for the 3rd Sunday in Advent; a gorgeous afternoon out on the deck with my little friends; and a superb home-cooked meal be surpassed?

On Facebook, my nom-de-plume is Nuntius Muse.

Until the muse catches hold of me again, it will be from time to time.

 

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.