Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenged

1) Agoraphobia – I heard the bells on Christmas day, but wouldn’t
leave my house.

2) Amnesia – I don’t know if I’ll be home for Christmas

3) Attention Deficit disorder – Silent Night, Holy..oooh, look at the pretty lights…can I have some chocolate? Why is France so far away?

4) Borderline Personality Disorder – Thoughts of roasting on an open fire

5) Dementia – I think I’ll be home for Christmas

6) Manic – deck the halls and walls and house and lawn and streets and stores and office and town and car and buses and trucks and trees and fire hydrants and…

7) Schizophrenia – Do you hear what I hear?

8) Multiple Personality disorder – We three kings disoriented are.

9) Narcissistic – hark the herald angels sing about me

10) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle…

11) Oppositional Defiant Disorder – I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus so I burned down the House

12) Paranoid – Santa Claus is Coming to Town to get me

13) Personality Disorder – You better watch out, I’m gonna cry, I’m gonna pout, maybe I’ll tell you why

14) Senile dementia – walking in a winter wonderland miles from my house in slippers and a robe

15) Social Anxiety Disorder – Have yourself a merry little Christmas while I sit here and hyperventilate

Monday, December 7, 2009

The sounds of Christmas

There are a lot of Christmas songs which have been done and redone by various artists over the years. Some renditions are a lot of fun, some are very powerful, others are just plain unbearable.

In the very powerful category we have Mahalia Jackson singing, well, anything. Her version of Oh Holy Night brings tears to my eyes. It is a song I will forever associate with my Dad- he plays it over and over every Christmas, and he loves her version the best.

I found a copy of it on Youtube, but the video isn't the best, but the song is worth it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

All things Christmas

Holy crap it is December! Although you would never know it from the weather. We haven't seen a flake yet and that is fine with me for now. Not only because it means I don't have to shovel it but because with Don driving to work and back on the 401 each day, it is one less thing I have to worry about. I will be a little sad though if we don't have a little of the white stuff for Christmas.

Christmas. GAWD! I am so far from being ready. This year it seems everyone around me is super early this year, they are already done, and I have yet to buy wrapping paper. All these early finishers seem so bloody intent on letting everyone know they are all done. In the clear. Sitting back with a pitying eye for those of us who are lagging. Yesterday I wished them all crotch lice for Christmas. Not exactly a festive message I know. But the pressure is getting to me.

I have been busy with work, a little personal crisis here at home (our daycare provider had a family crisis and suddenly could no longer watch Wilson so we were scrambling for a few days); throw a broken foot in the mix and you have a few of the reasons why I am so behind. More importantly though, I haven't really been in the mood. It might be the lack of snow. It might be because I am homesick. Or maybe I am just tired. I do know I need to get it in gear though. I have a little guy who deserves a little Christmas magic.

Anyway, I figure the only way I am going to get through the season is do do things in baby steps, and I need to get into the spirit of things. So this morning I brought in some pottery as a present to the family our class adopted for Christmas - I am taking care of the gifts for the mom and my students are providing the gifts for the kids. That felt pretty good.

I think tonight I might try a little Christmas baking- that might be something I can do with the little guy and it will make us both happy. The Toronto Star has a little Cookie Advent Calender. Every day you can open a recipe for cookie you may want to make for the holidays. Check it out, you might discover a new family favourite.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Special Potatoes

Continuing on with the "Cooking a Turkey Dinner" blog series, today's entry is a very non-low-fat tasty version of mashed potatoes. What is great about this recipe is that you can make it a day ahead and put the whole deal in the oven to warm through about 30-40 minutes before your big Turkey dinner is served. This gives you more time to spend with your family, guests, or that nice bottle of Shiraz you have been saving.

You will need the following ingredients:

5 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
1/4 cup butter (I prefer butter)
less than 1/4 cup cream ( I use 5%)
1 teaspoon onion powder (this is optional, but it adds a lovely taste.
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cook potatoes as usual in salted water until tender. Drain. Now some people swear you get lighter fluffier potatoes if you push them through potato ricer. I have no such device- so I simply smash the heck out of them with my masher.

I have a lot of aggression that needs to be worked out people. Potatoes don't bruise.

2. Add cream cheese in pieces. Add next 7 ingredients. Go easy adding the cream. This will thin out your potatoes a little. It is a "to taste" ingredient really- you could omit it all together if the potatoes are wet enough for you.

Now beat the mixture like it owes you money.

3. Now taste it. What does it need? Salt? A little more cream? Pepper? When you have adjusted the seasonings, empty it into a casserole dish.

4. Place dabs of butter here and there over the top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika if you want a garnish or a little color. I never bother though.

You can stop here, if you are making this ahead of time- put it in the fridge and take it out about 30- 40 minutes before you need to serve the meal. However, if you are rearing to go now, cover the casserole dish and place in a 350 F oven until heated through (around 30 minutes).

Sooooo good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sarah Palin meets Marg Delahunty

This week on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mary Walsh's character, Marg Delahunty, travelled to Ohio and confronted Sarah Palin at a book signing. I would have preferred her Warrior Princess character had challenged Alaskan Freakshow, however, this encounter was funny in "Oh-my-God-she-is-actually-serious" kind of way.

I am not sure what terrifies me more: the fact this woman may actually have another shot at running one of the largest most powerful countries in the world, or that she honestly didn't know the Mary Walsh was absolutely provoking her for the inane and horrifyingly earnest response she gave.

"Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'll take ‘Huge Blunders' for $200, Alex

I saw this article/podcast in the Globe and Mail this morning and it really got me thinking about a few incidents in my life where describing myself as a Newfoundander did not exactly put me at an advantage. I often wondered about how the situation would have played out had I kept my place of origin out of the picture. The best example I can think of is a decorating show my husband and I appeared on. That story will have to wait for another day, because it is one that requires booze to tell. Lots of it.

The writer of the globe story, Trevor Janes, appeared on Jeopardy awhile back. He has lived and worked in Ottawa for the past 20 years but is originally from the Rock. However, while filling out the contestant information sheet for the show he wrote down that he was from Ottawa. He explains: "Besides being a mild-mannered software developer, I'm also a giant, gushing Jeopardy! fanboy, and I knew that Alex Trebek had once lived in Ottawa. Hoping to share a brief connection with a famous person I admired, I wrote Ottawa as my place of origin. I figured that back in Newfoundland, my parents and relatives wouldn't mind, and nobody else who was watching would even know. We taped the show and I began the two-month wait for the broadcast."

Not surprisingly, months later as people from home watched the show, expecting to see the home boy represent, some were surprised and perhaps hurt to learn he did not say he was from the Rock. Mr. Janes takes great pains in his story to apologize for that error in judgement, and I have to admire him for that. It is an interesting read, and some of the reader comments are quite telling. They range from the usual "Just another Dumb Newf" rants from some knuckle dragging dingbats, to the reassuring "Don't sweat it" comments. I thought about weighing in and then decided to do that here instead.

I wonder, has being from Newfoundland ever held you back in anyway? Affected people's perceptions of you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turnip Puff

Here is the first in the "Cooking a Turkey Dinner" series. Turnip Puff.

Most people don't get excited when you tell them turnip is on the menu. I realize it is not every one's favourite root vegetable, but it can be quite tasty believe it or not.

In Newfoundland, what we call turnip, mainlanders call rutabaga. It has a waxy purplish outer skin, yellow flesh inside, and it is a bitch to cut up. Cut it you must. Cut away the waxy skin, and dice up the turnip. You will need a larger size turnip for this recipe ( or two smaller ones I guess), enough to get about 5 to 6 cups of cubed turnip. For you visual learners out there, no smaller than a softball folks, bigger is better.

Bigger is always better. Ahem.

Once you have the turnip peeled, rinsed and cubed , put it in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until fork tender. Drain and mash. Let it sit while you get the rest of your ingredients together.

2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar,
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper and 1 pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup finely crushed crackers
2 tablespoons butter

Add butter and eggs and beat well. (If you are worried about creating a large meal all in one day, you can stop here with this recipe, cover it, put it in the fridge and finish it the next day. Otherwise, as you were).

Next, in a little mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, seasoning and nutmeg. Crush into turnip mixture until mixed through. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle your crushed cracker crumbs on top. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until the crumb topping turns light brown.

It is the best way to eat turnip!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Conan O'Brien Screeched In

Many of you have heard of the Newfoundland tradition of "Screeching" people in: meaning to make one an honorary Newfoundlander. Perhaps a few of you have even been screeched in yourself. There is a pretty specific ritual that is performed each time, it may vary somewhat from community to community, but real screech ins all take place on the Rock. It doesn't count otherwise. Also a shot of Newfoundland Screech is required. There will be a few Newfoundland sayings to repeat, a few questions to be answered, perhaps a jig to be danced, and you have to kiss a cod. It is possible the screechee will have to complete all these tasks while they are wearing a sou’wester. It is silly. It is embarrassing. But it is a lot of fun.

The liquor helps.

If you want hint of how the ceremony might play out you can look at this video of Natasha Henstridge screeching in Conan O'Brien. While she doesn't get the ceremony anywhere close to correct, it is a funny little bit, and it is great to see her bring up her Newfoundland roots. However there were a few things she mentioned I was not aware of, and I was wondering if any Newfoundlanders out there in the void might be able to enlighten me. Natasha says that Newfoundlanders do this for luck, for wedding anniversaries and such. Indeed the reason she says she has chosen to screech Conan in is for luck on the birth of his first child. Pardon?

Can anyone confirm or deny this? I never heard of us doing this to our own for luck, or celebration? Have you? I thought this was something we did for tourists- make them feel welcome and make them laugh a little. What say you folks? Have you ever heard of this?

Have a look at the clip though, it will put a smile on your face.

Thanks to my cousin Ron for showing me this, I am sure I would have missed it otherwise.

Cooking a turkey Dinner...in parts.

A friend of mine asked for my help recently, she wanted to know how to cook a turkey dinner. She is not much of a cook- more of a baker, and she is a vegetarian as well. So cooking a bird was not something she knew, and the side dishes were also a mystery for the most part. However, she was going to host Thanksgiving at her home this year, and that meant she was on bird duty. So I gave her the few tips I could, I am by no means an expert, and recipes to some of our favourite"Sunday Dinner" dishes we used to eat a lot back home.

Her dinner was a success, her kids even enjoyed the turnip dish I suggested, a minor miracle apparently. So I figured I could slowly post a few of those recipes here, complete with pictures.
Just keep in mind this is not going to be some fancy schmancy production, just some down home cooking. Cooking anyone can do, and everyone will enjoy.

Tomorrow, I will post the recipe for the first of our side dishes: Turnip Puff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Take time to remember

It is the least we can do.

In this video, Canada's troops get recognized at BC place for their dedication and sacrifice at the November 6 2009 game.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Falling

I am a little bit of a klutz. I don’t really require anything to trip up in; I have been known to fall over nothing, heck, I have even fallen up the stairs (on more than one occasion). Some people can sing, others can dance or swallow light bulbs; this is my talent.

I remember one Christmas going out to Sears with my mom to help load up the car with some of her catalogue purchases, the most important one was my brother’s Christmas gift, a DVD player. It wasn’t that she bought a lot, but she had some bigger boxes coming and needed the extra pair of hands, plus we had to get groceries on the way back.

We loaded the van without incident or injury and arrived back at the house safely, even though a pretty good winter’s storm had picked up while we were shopping. Unloading the van in the white of a storm was a bit messy and you would think that if a person was going to fall this would be the time they would do it- but not me.

We were almost finished when my brother came home. He helped us bring in the last of the groceries in the back of the van, but thankfully did not see the boxes in the front. Mom, worried he might see his gift, told him to go inside and start putting the groceries away. There was a problem with that plan though, part of the kitchen is open to the foyer, and if Cas was in the wrong spot at the wrong time he would see his Christmas gift. As far as my mom was concerned that would completely ruin Christmas.

So mom handed me the DVD player and she grabbed the rest of the stuff. She ordered me to hang back a bit until she gave the signal for me to move out. On my tip toes behind her, bundled in a large marshmallow like winter jacket with my hood pulled down tight; I waited stealthily at the end of the walkway in the blowing snow with the player in my arms. She was inside now, I could hear her talking. Then her hand jutted out the front door, one quick ‘come in’ gesture. I was ready.

I made it across the icy walkway and up the steps and to the threshold, and then I was airborne.

You know the old Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons where the poor Coyote always ends up getting the utter and complete crap kicked out of him? Where at least once, every show, he ends up falling from some great height and landing with a puff of smoke and an ACME anvil on top of his head? At the beginning of every fall though, he has that moment where he pauses mid air and looks at the camera as if to say: “I am so screwed” and then plummets to the bottom of the canyon. Got that visual?

I am not sure exactly how I achieved the height I did, or why I was perfectly horizontal when I got there, but I do know there was a fraction of a second where I paused mid flight and looked at mom with that “I am so screwed” look on my face and then I landed in the middle of the foyer with a groan and a thud.

There I was, flat on my face and splayed out on the ceramic tile. However, my arms were miraculously straight up over my head with the DVD player held in them still. Somehow I had not dropped it, landed on it, or let it hit the ground.

I believe my first words were: “Did I break it?”

Mom did a quick check to see if I was ok and then wrenched the player from my outstretched hands leapt over my prostrate figure and vaulted over the stairs with the gift before Cas could come out to see what was wrong. She is pretty nimble.

When she came back down she helped me up, and then started laughing. It was quite the fall to witness but once she knew I was ok, and that the gift was safely stashed away, she was free to laugh. She had a hard time stopping.

Most of my falls have this effect on other people. There is a story Don tells about one of my more memorable flights into painland that makes people cry laughing- especially when he does a step by step re-enactment.

The reason I bring this up is because I had actually been doing ok for awhile I hadn't had any major story worthy falls in quite sometime. It was enough of a break in routine that Don actually commented on the fact I had been fall free for months.

I think that is what did it actually. The cruel bastard jinxed me.

Considering the number and severity of falls I have had over the years it was a lucky and remarkable thing that I never broke anything. Well that situation has been remedied my friends.

Two Saturdays ago I had a fall and fractured my foot. I am currently in an annoying aircast. I wish I could tell you how exactly I fell this time but the truth is I have no idea how it happened. I was walking back to the car and all of a sudden the pavement was rushing toward me at an alarming rate and then I saw sky.

In the process I rolled an ankle fracturing my right foot, and landed on my left knee followed closely my left arm and then the back of my head. The story of my experience at the clinic will have to be for another day because that one is a long one. And right now, I haven’t got time for the pain.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oink Oink

If this H1N1 flu pandemic is a test case for the way the Canadian government and health agencies will respond to a super bug pandemic then it looks like we are totally screwed.

It is not like this “second wave” of Swine flu just crept up on us. It cannot be said that we did not know it was coming, and yet, it seems officials are running around in a blue ass panic.

The roll out of the vaccine is too little, and far too late. Small makeshift clinics set up in old fitness sites (as is the case with Whitby anyway), 5 to 8 hour long line ups in the cold and wet (that sounds smart) and inconvenient clinic times for most working people, make this whole vaccination plan seem like someone hastily drew it up with red crayon in a tree house over recess time.

Today’s news did little to make the situation any better. I can only imagine what this will do to the current line-ups.

According to the Globe and Mail, Ontario will no longer give out H1N1 flu shots to the general public because of a shortage of the vaccine- high risk candidates only. The CBC is reporting that Provinces get less H1N1 vaccine next week because the producers can’t make it fast enough.

“The problem is the maker has a single production line but had to stop producing adjuvanted vaccines to make the unadjuvanted type. Adjuvants are used to boost effectiveness, but can have unwanted side-effects in some cases.”

Mmm. really? So I should hold out for the side effect free Non-Adjuvant version?

The hope now is to get the vaccines all in for everyone who wants one before Christmas.

Merry Christmas Canada, here is a vaccine you needed in September! Oh, you don’t need it now? You are immune? You already had the flu?

I am sure there is some country we can regift it to.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For Wicket

The first year we moved to Ontario , we lived in a very small Junior one bedroom apartment on Jarvis Street in Toronto. It was cramped and noisy, and all kinds of interesting characters came out to play at night…well mostly at night. I was missing home pretty bad- everything here seemed so crazy to me, the speed of life, the insanity of some of my neighbors, and the lack of community. I was having trouble adjusting to life in the big smoke. Even though I had Don, I was lonely.

Shortly after the New Year, I got a really bad flu, and I was home for days. It was January 8th and bitterly cold. I remember crawling back into bed that afternoon, Don tucked me in set a glass of juice on the side table and told me he was going to the store to pick up a few things. I promptly passed out in a Tylenol Cold induced haze.

I woke up to the sound of Don unlocking the apartment door. He had a kind of grin on his face that made me worry; I was about to ask him what the heck he had been up to when he produced a cage from behind his back. Inside there was a little black and white fur ball we named Wicket. This little kitten was to be my birthday gift- even though Don is allergic to cats, indeed Don never really liked cats. As Don was handing the little kitten over to me he made sure I was clear on one condition: “The cat cannot be allowed in our room. That has to be a cat hair free zone; I need to be able to sleep”. That sounded reasonable so I agreed.

The first night Wicket cried and cried and cried to be let in our room. It was a long night.

The second night, Don said: “Maybe he is lonely, let’s let the cat in the room but not on the bed. He can never get on the bed.” That sounded reasonable so I agreed.

It wasn’t long that night before the cat scaled the bedclothes and crawled on top of the bed. Purring the whole time. Don would pick the cat up and put him back down each time until he finally gave up. Wicket was both persistent and smart. Those first few nights Wicket wisely slept at the foot of the bed. But as days and weeks past, he slowly moved up to sleep at our knees, then cuddled into the small of our backs, and finally we woke up one morning to find Wicket between us, with his head on the pillow and his body tucked under the sheets. He was smart I tell ya. Strangely, Don was not suffering any allergic reactions.

This cat did not know he was a cat. He was part dog I am sure, perhaps that is why Don did not have any allergies to Wicket. Our cat would fetch. If you threw a stuffed toy, he would run after it, pick it up in his teeth and strut back to you like a lion on the Serengeti. When he reached your feet, he would drop his kill at your feet and step back proudly, waiting for you to pet him and toss it again. He could do this forever.

If Wicket found something interesting or when he really wanted your attention, he would stand up on his two hind legs hold his paws up like a Prairie Dog and sway back and forth like a cobra. He could hold this stance for a long time, and it unnerved many a guest to the apartment. Also, he did not meow- he trilled. It was the oddest little noise.

When we moved into our new home in Whitby we noticed more of Wicket’s interesting little quirks. Wicket loved all dogs, was not afraid to run up to the biggest of them on days he escaped outdoors, sniff them, walk along side them. Try to talk to them. Most dogs shied away from him at first, but warmed up to him before long. Cats however, were a different issue. If a cat came to our door, or to our back patio Wicket turned into a feral little creature. His eyes would get black and wide, he would puff up to twice his size and make this woofing sound, sometimes even throwing himself at the door in a desperate attempt to get at the cat on the other side. It was scary to watch Wicket go bye-bye.

While Wicket fiercely guarded the house from other cats he was very welcoming to other visitors. If you knocked on our door Wicket would be there to great you and once you were in the house you were going to be cuddled. He insisted. He would see you out too- walk you to the porch and all.

Because we bought a new house, and because we bought one from Liza homes, that first year we had a steady stream of contractors come in to repair or redo things around the house. Wicket was an indoor cat- so we had it on our standing orders that if a contractor came to our house; they were not to let the cat out. One day I happened to be at home when one of the contractors came by to fix the leaking bathtub upstairs. Wicket watched the guy the whole time, and when he was ready to leave followed him downstairs. The man came and spoke to me about the repairs, and commented on how friendly Wicket was: “He sat there the whole time” He said. “He purred all the time, and just sat at my feet”. He looked down at Wicket who was circling his legs while he spoke, and petted him. Then he gathered his stuff and headed for the door. I was making supper so I figured he could see himself out. A few moments later I realized that the contractor was still there; he had opened the door and closed it several times, but had not left. I peaked out, my hands full of dough. The contractor looked at me, a little chagrined he said: “The cat won’t let me out”

Then I saw the light bulb over his head. He started laughing.

This is the House!” he said. His face red, tears streaming down his face”. This is the house they were talking about!

By this point I was curious and laughing myself, the guy was just howling and it was kind of infectious. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

Kirk was here last week fixing your ceiling I think, and he had to call the guys from the site to come let him out. He saw the order not to let the cat out, but the cat would not leave his feet long enough to let him open the door and squeeze out. We asked him why he didn’t just pick the cat up, step out and then toss him back in, and he said the cat was not normal. He would not pick him up.”

Apparently Kirk was teased mercilessly about having to be rescued from a cat, and the story had made the rounds.

As Wicket got older he started to get a series of bladder infections which caused him to pee in places he should not. Antibiotics and special food only kept him clear for so long. The poor guy had all the fur licked off his paws and his belly was raw from licking. A few weeks ago we noticed a furball on the top of his head. We let it go, because Wicket usually works those out himself. But he hadn’t, and he wasn’t himself. His infection was back we thought at first. When Don tried to cut the furball off himself we discovered a lot more was going on.

Wicket was put down two weeks ago now. I still find myself listening for the sound of his paws patter across the floor at night and waiting for him to hop up on the bed. Don has to stop him self from making sure all the toilet seats are up and clean (Wicket would only drink out of the toilet). I have a cold now, and I miss how Wicket seemed to know I was sick, he would stay near me all day, and sit on my feet to keep them warm.

I will never have another pet. Telling the vet it was ok to put Wicket down was very difficult. Saying goodbye to Wicket hurt. But boy am I grateful I had that little furball in my life. I know some people will laugh at this and wonder why someone would get so upset over a cat- but the thing is he wasn’t just a cat to me; he was a member of the family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Communication Breakdown

Our little guy has a bit of a speech delay. At a year old he began getting ear infections and they never went away. He lived on various forms of penicillin. Both ears were constantly infected, and my little guy spent much of his days isolating himself. Wil became very withdrawn and stopped responding to his name. Worse, my quiet little guy was becoming increasingly frustrated by is lack of ability to communicate.

When we finally got him into an ENT we discovered that he had no movement in his ear drums, which meant he could hear very little, if at all. He had to have surgery to stop the infections. Thankfully, he has not had an infection since the surgery, and his hearing has improved a great deal. His speech is coming along, but slower than we would like. At three years old, there is still a lot of gibberish, but he is putting sentences together, and seems to be understanding a lot more than he did even a month ago. More importantly, he is trying to make connections between the words he knows and the ideas he is trying to express.

The other night at the dinner table he passed gas. I looked at him expectantly, he knows he must say excuse me when he coughs or burps and I had assumed we covered the emissions from his bottom as well. He looked back at me, knowing I wanted something from him, but clearly unsure what that something was. So he said:

“I burp in my bum”. His face serious; searching mine. I tried not to laugh.
“No buddy that is a fart. Say excuse me.”
“Scuse me.”

Now I am sure someone is going to tell me I should not have taught him the word fart, I should have used the phrase “passed gas”. And I am not sure why I used the f word. All I know is, it is much better than “I burp in my bum”.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christmas on Thanksgiving

As many of you know, I live far away from my family. We are all spread out, with the bulk of the clan living in different parts of Newfoundland, and everyone else is spread out all over Canada. The only relatives I have here in Ontario are my Uncle Brendan and his family in Oshawa, and my sister Serena in Kingston. It makes holiday times kind of lonely. While all family gatherings that I miss are difficult, missing Christmas in Newfoundland damn near kills me. I spend much of the holiday in a bit of a funk, prone to spontaneous bouts of weeping. Even Christmas commercials get to me.

You may be wondering why I am talking about Christmas so early this year, and the answer is that I had my Christmas this past Thanksgiving weekend. The plan was that my parents were going to fly up and my sister was going to drive in from Kingston to spend the long holiday weekend together. I was really looking forward to the holiday- even if only half my family could come.

However, my mom is a bit of a sleeveen. Unbeknownst to me, she had arranged for the entire family to be together. Mom, Dad and my brother Cas all flew in to Toronto together, and my little sister Cassandra flew in the next day. It was the first time we were all together in 3 years. It was wonderful.

We spent the time playing cards, spoiling my son Wilson (he is the only grandchild), laughing and teasing each other, and eating. We were all together, enjoying each other, we were busy making memories; in short, it was Christmas for me. Who knows, maybe, with a little luck, we can make this a new tradition for the family.

Thanks Mom, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Newfoundland Marshmallow Cookies

Here are two of my favorite cookies from Newfoundland. It has been a while since I had any of these delights, and I got a hankering for the chocolate version of the recipe last night. I didn't make any though, because I just went down a size in pants and have no desire to start filling out the older bigger pants again, and neither my husband nor my son likes marshmallows. So had I made them, I would have had to eat the whole pan. That would not have ended well.

I thought I might work the craving out of my system by sharing the recipe with all you special folk. These are quick, easy to make, and freeze well.

Chocolate Marshmallow Roll

1 cup semisweet Chocolate Chips
2 tbsp Butter or margarine

1 egg beaten
1 cup Icing sugar
2 1/2 cups of small colored marshmallows
1/4 cups maraschino cherries, chopped
1/2 cups chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Coconut for coating

Instructions: Melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat until soft. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Add beaten egg, icing sugar,marshmallows, well drained cherries & walnuts and combine. I like to do this next step on waxed paper. Sprinkle some coconut over the waxed paper and fold the mixture onto it. Using the paper form the mixture into a roll. Tossing a little more coconut on it to ensure the outside of the roll is well coated. Roll up the cookies in the wax paper (it should look like a little chocolaty coconutty tube of gooey goodness). Chill well before attempting to slice. I sometimes toss it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before slicing as it is much easier to cut. It makes a really pretty cookie.

This next version of the cookie is also tasty. I cannot decide which is best!

Here is the recipe:

Graham Marshmallow
3 cups mini marshmallows (coloured or plain)
2 cups of graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup maraschino cherries cut up
15oz can Eagle Brand milk
1 tsp vanilla
Few grains salt
2 1/2 cups coconut

Instructions: This one is even easier to make than the first recipe. All you have to do is blend marshmallows, condensed milk, salt, graham crumbs, vanilla and cherries together. Then, line an 8x8 inch pan with half of the coconut and spread marshmallow mixture on top and press firmly.
Sprinkle remaining coconut on top and press down gently. Refrigerate for 24 hours before cutting in squares.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Too much!

Last week the Work Fairy shat out a large steaming dump on my desk and at the same time I had the perfect storm of school activities land on my head. Seriously, I have not had much time to do anything other than work, and it is beginning to get to me. I am starting to get that bug eyed look. People in my life are taking on a vague hazy sheen. I seem to be forgetting where I am from one moment to the next. I don’t remember the drive in to work. I just seemed to arrive here.

Last week, the one and only time I made it to the gym ended in embarrassment. It was a minor miracle I found the time to haul my ass there, remember my gym bag and shoes. I did manage to forget my MP3 player, but hey, you can’t win them all. I changed and locked up my gear in the locker room, and got on the treadmill. I was mentally congratulating myself on my dedication, my perseverance, my inner drive…and yet, something was not quite right.

I tried to ignore it. Tried to focus again on how good I was being. I mean here I was, at the gym, I had made it a priority! Even though I still had mounds of marking, that Grad was looming in three days, that we still didn’t have the rental chairs, that I had a SAT meeting, a CLIP meeting and a Staff meeting to prepare for, that I had yet to find a babysitter for Wilson for Grad night- I still made time for exercise. I was moving at a pretty good pace too- considering I had all this on my mind.

But hey, I missed that music in the background. Music keep me on pace normally and it distracted me from the fact I was exercising. Yeah, I wish I had that MP3 player. It seemed awful important to my workout now that I had forgotten it. Suddenly I found that I could not stop thinking about it- why the heck was that bothering me so much?

Well because I don’t use a combination lock. I use one of those little gold locks. You know the kind with a key. And do you want to know something else? I keep that little key tied to the wire on the earphones of my MP3 player.

The player that was left at home.

I had to go to the gym office, and explain to them what happened, and have them cut the lock. It was so embarrassing. But that is the way my mind has been working of late. Which is to say, it has not been working well at all!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Time sings the praises of the Rock

Time Magazine did a little piece on Newfoundand yesterday, and I thought you all might like to check it out. The article described the Rock's as: "astonishingly photogenic. Its blend of rugged landscapes (icebergs, mountains, forests, fjords, beaches and coastal trails) make it a playground for nature fiends. You don't have to be Grizzly Adams to enjoy a break there though: culture and revelry are on hand at the convivial capital, St. John's." It then went on to outline five of the Islands attractions. Check it out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tom Brokaw researching Gander 9/11

Tom Brokaw has been in Gander interviewing residents of Gander and nearby communities about their profound display of generosity and trust during the Sept. 11 attacks. It is funny, but during a time when people were the most afraid, the most paranoid and uncertain, Brokaw says Newfoundander's were telling strangers: "That's my house, it's open and there's lots of towels in the bathroom, you can go take a shower, I won't be home, but it's fine. And by the way, the fridge is full."

We are a fine crew I tell ya. A fine crew.


Edited to add:

I notice this particular post is getting a lot of hits. I am not sure why exactly. Just wanted to say:
A) Thanks for the visit!
B) There is a little bit of an update to this post here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

It has been a busy time!

I have some good news to share: Hubby got a job! Wahoo! He started on September 3rd, and really enjoys it so far. The only problem with the new job is that it is in North Toronto, so unless he wants to spend 3 hours of his day on the Go train and GO bus system, he has to drive. So we had to buy a second car- something we never planned on, or even wanted to do, but hey, he got a job! I am not going to complain.

I always try to buy local where I can, and a big purchase like a car is no exception. We wanted to try and buy domestic as we did with our first car, and later the van we traded her in for. But for this new purchase we had two main concerns: safety and fuel economy. Don needed a car that can take the daily commute to the Big Smoke, won’t cost us a kidney in gas and won’t fold up like a beer can smashed on a frosh’s forehead when involved in a collision. So naturally we asked people we knew making the daily commute what they would suggest and we did a little research on the topic. I have to admit, very few North American cars made anyone’s list. Still, we wanted to try.

We did not have time to go back and forth with all the dealerships we planned to visit, so we gave them all the same spiel, and it went a little something like this: “We are buying a vehicle this week; we will be test driving for the next two days, and making a purchase on Monday. So give us your best deal- with any bells and whistles you care to throw in NOW, because the only dealership getting a repeat visit is the one we wish to buy from.”

We had to cross Pontiac off our list completely- they are not being made anymore after this year and resale value will be affected by that. We crossed Chrysler off our list because we had a horrible experience with our Neon. So the Cobalt was the North American car in our price range to test out. We selected a 2009, figuring we would get a better deal on last year’s model. It was a cute little car with just the basic options. With our down payment, we could have bought the car for $315 a month. Not bad. The test drive did not blow us away, but it had enough pick-up for what Don needs. This combined with a recommendation from a friend stating how much she liked hers and good gas mileage made it a contender.

On a whim we tried a Kia Forte which turned out to be a tinny little ride. It had all the creature comforts added, and it was a 2010. It came in at $368 a month which was a little more than we wanted to spend. And while this car boasts great gas mileage it is a new model and no one really could recommend it. Best we could get from people on the Kia cars was: “They have come a long way”. Not exactly a rousing endorsement.

Next up was the Honda Civic. This one we were a little excited about, because it made almost all the professional lists for good commuter cars, and several friends said they were reliable vehicles. However, a lot of thugs and “gangsta” wannabes think so too- as it is one of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada. Our test drive went well, but it was odd to have the dealer in the car with us. Not many features added to the base model and it was a 2009 it came in at $335 a month.

After that we went to Mazda. I have to admit, I am partial to Mazda products. My parents flipped their MPV with my little sister and her friend inside. The van was totaled as it flipped over an embankment about 7 times before landing on its wheels, every window was blown out, but all occupants safe and relatively unhurt inside. Then there was my other sister, who was rear-ended on the highway in the Mazda Protégé, again, that car was totaled, but both my sister and her friend suffered minor injuries. So I had this in mind when we test drove the Mazda 3. Don loved the sporty feel of the car, and I was comfortable in it. The only problem is it is a little short on space in the backseat. That little car was also a 2010, and came in at $319 a month, well equipped.

Our last car was the Toyota Corolla, a great ride, but not a lot of extras on the base model. However, the gas mileage was excellent. It came in at $330 a month. We had been told great things by family and friends about Toyota, we knew it could handle the pounding of the commute and has great resale value.

Since Kia was out of price range, and was an untested car, and Cobalt and Civic were all last year’s models at this year’s prices (What the hell is up with THAT?) we narrowed it down to the Toyota and Mazda vehicles. We could not decide. So we called our insurance agent to find out which vehicle would be cheaper to insure and the answer was the Corolla. So that is what we bought.

It helps too, that the Corollas are made in Ontario. And it was a great bonus to find out, since we bought at the end of the month, and picked up the car two days later, we were entitled to the discount for September which lowered our monthly costs by about 10 bucks. So if you are planning on buying a car, do it at the end of the month!

Of course all the Dealerships we visited are calling us now, saying they can work out a better deal. I had the pleasure of telling one of them they missed the boat big time- we already bought with someone who gave us the deal we wanted, when we asked for it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blueberry Grunt

My Grandma used to make this dessert at the end of every summer after filling buckets and buckets with blueberries she and Granddad picked. There is nothing quite as sweet and fresh as blueberries from Newfoundland. This dessert doesn't exactly have the most appetizing name, but top it with some vanilla ice cream and drizzle of a blueberry wine reduction and you have a dessert fit for royalty.
What you need:
1 quart blueberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour, all purpose
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
2/3 cup milk

Heat blueberries, water and sugar slowly until blueberries begin to soften; then bring to a boil. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes. As it simmers make the dumplings.

Dumplings: Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and add enough milk to make a soft dough.

Once the dumplings are mixed, drop dumpling dough by the tablespoonful onto hot berry mixture. You should have anywhere from 8 to 10dumplings. Cover tightly and cook 15 minutes without raising lid. Dumplings will double in size and will make funny noises in the pot- hence the name.

Serve hot, spooning some of the blueberry mixture over dumplings, and top with cream. Tasty!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Social Media

It is amazing to think of the changes we have seen in the way we live, work and connect with media. Gone are the days when the newspaper and your local news cast were your most often chosen forms of information. The newspaper is terminally ill and may soon be going the way of cave drawings- where perhaps the writing on the wall may also warn of television's possible demise.

Simply migrating those two sources of information and entertainment to the Internet has not saved them, but it has put them on life support. The interactivity the Internet provides has given them a chance to push on through to the next technical leap- but only if they can let go of old ideas, and get ahead of the new ones.

I thought this video was neat because it shows just what kind of an all consuming monster this "New Social Media" is, how fast it is spreading and becoming a part of our daily life. From Blogs, and Facebook to HULU and YouTube, and the way it reaches us in our cars, on our phones, on the internet, and at the office. We are connected to everyone, all the time, everywhere.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Royal St. John’s Regatta

Though people will argue that the Regatta started much earlier, the earliest documented mention of a rowing competition dates back to 12 August 1816. According to the Royal St. John's Regatta website: ”the first 30 to 40 years of Regatta history the races often took one, two, even three days to complete. Some challenges were for sailing while others were for racing. Crews and boats had to be classified or matched so that all challenges could be met. Sailing matches were initially held in the Harbour with rowing matches reserved for Quidi Vidi.” As years passed and the harbour became too busy to hold the event and the races moved to Quidi Vidi for good.

I have a special interest in the race this year because I know one of the people racing in it. Angela Antle, Host of The Weekend Arts Magazine, is one of six talented and busy woman to form a team for this year’s event. They all work full time and have families to raise so finding time to exercise can be about as difficult as nuclear physics. However, each of the women made a commitment to themselves and to each other to start a rowing team, and as Angela put it: “...we carved out a little bit of time for ourselves and no one died or got a divorce...yet.”

Most were newbies to the sport and the team goes by the moniker “The Unfit Mothers”. Angela explains: “We're all out of shape...in fact...we didn't want to row with anyone in shape!” But they did have one person with experiece to mentor the crew. Jackie Cains is the Cox. She rowed since she was 15 and agreed to take the team on; getting up with them to row at 6:30am every day for 13 weeks on a VOLUNTEER basis. Angela jokes: “She is 5 ft nothing and she gets in and stands over us with her mug of Tim's tea and says "OK ladies...get in time, Give me 10 good ones, C'mon I know you can do it...slow down number 2!" Also on the team is Victoria King who as the team’s "stroke" she sets the pace. Clara McCue who Angela describes as “very strong” remarked to Angela once that rowing is “great because the exercise is a consequence of the activity ...not the focus...there's so much technique going on you don't even realize you're working hard”. Artist and teacher Elayne Greeley manages to keep the team laughing and focused. Dr. Joy Tilley is also a member of the team who says she's NEVER had so much fun getting exercise. Finally, there is Debbie Hynes who is a secret weapon for the team.

This group of women are determined ladies to be sure. They improved their times by one whole minute from St. John's Day to Time Trials and are the only team that didn't get a sponsor. The ladies split the $800 rowing fees and their own t-shirts printed: “ …because we didn't want to lose our name and have to be the shopper drug mart team or whatever...and the fees themselves were cheaper than weight watchers or a gym fees for the summer!”

Ladies I shall be thinking of you all on the 5th. Race hard.

May the wind be at your back.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One day down

I don't know what made me say yes, but when Sherri asked me if I wanted to do the learn to run program with her, yes is what I said. She did the program last year, and because last winter was crazy with snow and ice, and because she is crazy and has three young kids who all participate in activities while she works full time, she did not run much over the winter and wanted to start it up again.

Anyway, when she brought it up I said yes, because in my heart I am a hopeful gal. I try to suppress it- but sometimes it gets the better of me. I was a little worried though. I am so out of shape. Well I guess a circle is a shape but not the kind of shape that looks good in a bathing suit. If summer ever comes to Ontario again, I may actually have to get in a bathing suit, so, I figure I have to do something about the circular nature of my being. I know it is going to be a painful process, and I am worried that I am not doing it with someone who is at my level. Sherri has done this before, even ran in a 5K race, three kids and all.

So it was with some trepidation that I showed up at her house yesterday evening to have our first "Learn to Run" session. Over a series of weeks, we will meet 3 times each week, and gradually increase the amount of actually running (or in my case s slllllloooooooow jog, then crawling and by the end of it almost slithering) each week.

Last night Sherri explained that we would walk for 2 minutes then jog for one, and we would repeat that cycle 10 times. I looked at her like she was on crack- that seems like a whole lot of jogging for a 5000 pound whale to do on her first night out of the aquarium. All Sherri said was: "We will work through it".

Ok. I thought to myself. Wondering if I should give her the number to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans so she could call them to haul my carcass off the road when we were done.

Before I knew it we were off, and the first few repetitions were ok. Not easy for me, but I could do it. I was breathing like an old man in a lingerie shop but I was doing it.

When we got to the 5th repetition of our 2 minute walk 1 minute jog, I began to notice that the 2 minutes seemed infinitely shorter than the 1 minute jog interval. That one minute was getting longer and longer and I am not even jogging fast. There was a baby learning to crawl on their front lawn as we jogged past, and the infant made it to the light pole at the end of their property before I did.

The 6th repetition was pretty painful. My legs were starting to feel it, and my breathing was gone to hell. I am sure there were points where I wasn't breathing anymore. Didn't really care to either. At around the 8th interval, I was praying for death and looking for a truck to jump in front of, but Sherri's neighborhood is pretty quiet. So I kept going. I wondered how much pounding my legs could take before they just said "Screw this" and fell off.

The last interval was difficult, I was really lagging by this point. Time was going backwards, and my tongue felt like a furry pillow with cat hair all over it. I was hot, I was sweaty, my legs were on fire, but I was done with day 1 of the Learn to Jog Program.

I was pretty proud of myself.

I woke up this morning in complete agony- but still pretty pleased I had done it.

We do it all again on Thursday night. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Made in Sweden

Some time next week, Don’s mom, his Granny, his sister, her husband and their twins will become coming to visit for a few days. Naturally, the first question I had is, where the hell is everyone going to sleep?

We have a spare room furnished with a double bed which will help but is nowhere near enough sleeping gear.

We had a blowup mattress until a few months back when our cat peed on it. That animal has no idea how close he is to becoming a lovely side order of Chicken Chow Meow. I tried to salvage it, I really did, because at the time my sister Serena and my Mom were coming for a visit, and I needed the extra bed. So I scrubbed the bejesus out of the air mattress; I even let it sit in cleaner for a couple of days before blowing the sucker up again, and it seemed to be fine. I set it up for my sister in our home office, dressed the bed and fluffed the pillows, I even laid a mint on the turned down bed sheets. Serena was snug as a bug on a rug when I said good-night to her. She woke up around 2 am on the floor, the air mattress a flaccid pancake beneath her . Cat must have done more than pee on the mattress.

Which brings us back today’s problem: sleeping arrangements.

I spent the better part of yesterday going from furniture store to furniture store looking at futons- too big for this room, sofa beds- too expensive and some new fangled doohickeys called Klick Klacks.

You see when a mommy futon and a daddy sofa bed have strong loving feelings towards each other, they get married and have a Klick Klack. It is an ugly child, most often sporting “Baby Ka-ka Beige” coloured micro-suede and it makes a funny clicking sound when you move it.

But there was one place left for me to look for something different: Ikea.

My sister-in-law Sherri and I got up this morning and made the trek out to Vaughan and had a look at what the Swedes had to offer. Honestly, they export more that just good hockey players. That warehouse off the side of the 407 is a veritable hockey arena of goods. However it is the oddest shopping experience I have ever had. Like rats in a lab maze looking for cheese, you thread your way around the showrooms, write down the items you want: then go to the warehouse at the end of the maze and pick up your cheese…er..boxed items.

I always looked at the Ikea catalogue when visiting Sherri. I marveled at the time how nice things looked and how reasonably priced things seemed. Now that I am no longer an Ikea virgin, I understand those prices.

You do all the work.

From shearing the lamb for the textiles and sanding down the 2X4 for the sofa then schelping the items off the aisles and into your van- it’s all you baby.

You, an Allen Key, and stick men diagrams.

It was those stick men diagrams that really got to me. No written direction whatsoever. They are kind enough to show you little detailed line drawings of all the items in the box, but they are a little vague on all the piecing them all together details. Each page of the 10 pages of "instructions” shows two men completing one step of the process. Step 1 seemed clear enough, until Don and I completed step 1, and realized it was backwards. Steps 2 through 4 were somewhat clear and we managed to get through them will minimal blood shed. I lost a toe, but I have spares.

Steps 5 onward have a place reserved for them in Dante’s Inferno.

Seriously, we could not figure out what in the name of holy hell the stick men were doing. There are all kinds of arrows that zoom out to close ups of the screws, but no indication of what to do when and what part these screws really belong to. Worse still, in step 5 I can’t tell if Stickman 1 is trying to align Stickman 2’s back or if this is a picture of said stickman at the local Rub and Tug. They do look noticeably happier and loose in step 7.

Anyhow, 2 ½ hours and a call to the divorce lawyer later, the Lycksele sofabed thingie is complete. I am happy it is done, I think it will serve us well, but this rat won’t be going back into the Ikea maze again any time soon. I have had my fill of stickmen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


For the longest time I had my life planned out. I was going to be a Marine Biologist when I grew up: move to Vancouver, work at the aquarium and swim with the Orcas. However, I also had thoughts of becoming a puppeteer (and work with Jim Hensen), an environmental lawyer, and an anthropologist but none of those flights of fancy came to fruition either. The marine biologist dream lasted the longest though, from about the age of 9 to 16, and it is the one I still think about often. The one I always wonder about. Especially when I see videos like this:

Absolutely stunning.

It was shot at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. The main tank called the ‘Kuroshio Sea’ holds 7,500-cubic meters of water. Whale sharks and manta rays are kept amongst many other fish species in the main tank

Friday, July 17, 2009

I like to move it move it

About four years ago I got really serious about getting healthier. I had the time, had a little disposable income and I really wanted to make a change. I signed up with Executive Fitness & Wellness in Toronto, under the care of personal trainer Domenic Mirabelli and nutritionist Angela Carte. They were great! My progress was very slow, but I lost weight, got stronger and felt wonderful. I even started jogging, which for me was nothing short of a miracle. Ever see a mountain move? That is me jogging.

The funny thing is that while I hated cardio, I really enjoyed lifting weights. I discovered that was so much stronger than I thought I was.

And then I got pregnant, and it all went to hell.

Since having Iron Will, a couple of things happened. Disposable income? Gone. Free time? A memory. And when I do get the free time where the hell do I get the energy?

However I do want to get healthier, I would like to get that sense of strength and wellness back. I know it will take twice as long as last time, and it will be twice as hard but I do want to do it.

One of the things that helped with cardio was my cheap little MP3 player. I normally listen to classic rock. I don’t like a lot of the new crap that is out there, and country music? I would rather floss my teeth with my own spine than listen to that twangy caterwauling. But for some reason, when it comes to music to work out to, I could stomach some poppy tunes, and even techno. If I got the right songs on there, I could walk faster. And here is where you come in. I need new workout music!

The songs I used to have lost their punch for me, I need some new suggestions. Right now the only songs I am going to keep are: “Twilight Zone, Radar Love, and the Vampires Bar Dance Club song from the movie Blade (weird choice I know, but that song really got me going!). I need new suggestions.

What do you listen to when you are working out? What songs really get your blood pumping? What do you have on your IPod or MP3?

Friday, July 10, 2009

How cool is this?

Anyone remember Mr. Mugs?

I never really liked the Mr Mugs stories when I was in school, because I found them too boring. There was little story and zero character development (yeah, I was a geek, but then, I was a kid who read). But there was this one Mr Mugs adventure I really liked. I think it was called Mr Mugs Goes to the Moon, or some such inventive and creative title *ahem*. Anyway, it focused on space exploration and the future. Even the cheesy drawings of Mr Mugs in his space suit didn't turn me off. I was fascinated by it, I loved all the possibilities it postulated. It presented a positive version of the future, and made it seem like when I grew up, this was how life would be.

As I got older I continued to be drawn to science fiction, and fantasy. My parents gave me the book the Hobbit when I was about 7, and that pretty much sealed the deal. When my dad introduced me to Star Trek, I was convinced that when I grew up, we zip to the moon just like people hop on a plane today, and I couldn't wait to go.

Even today when I see movies, I marvel at future technologies and wonder, when will we have something like that?

Don't laugh.

Your cell phone is very much like those old communicators from Star Trek. Skype much? Jules Verne predicted this video chatting technology in his novel In The Year 2889, which was published in 1889. Michael Crichton’s 1972 thriller The Terminal Man: the implants in the main character's brain were not unlike implants later developed to help deaf people hear and blind people see. Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451″ predicted that large home theater mounted on your wall in 1953.

And now XBox is building on predictions made by authors like Tad Williams, and Phillip K. Dick with it latest generation console. It makes the interactivity of the Wii look a little like Pong. The possibilities for future applications are exciting, and a little scary. Either way, I think I am going to want one.

Take a look.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Williams willing to risk Gros Morne's UNESCO status

Williams willing to risk Gros Morne's UNESCO status.

No, no need to read that a second time. Trust me, your read it correctly the first time around.

Dan has another grand plan.

He wants to build 40-meter high transmission towers through Gros Morne to bring power from the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project to the island. A move that could cost Gros Morne its designation as a World Heritage Site, and more importantly, forever alter its face. Adding a scar of progress and power strewn across the stunning landscape that is Gros Morne.

Going around the park adds, according to the Premier, $100 million to the cost of the project.

So, we bull doze our way through the park with the Transmission lines, or we take the long way around it with a higher price tag. Well open your wallet Danny, because defacing that beautiful landmark is not going to happen.

If we must look at this in terms of dollars and cents we need to ask: How much money does Gros Morne bring to the province? How will this kind of development affect that? And let us look long term here while we are at it please. Because this kind of mistake will cost us way more than $100 million; it will cost us more than just money.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making nice with an old friend

Tequila and I had a parting of ways over ten years ago. It was nasty. It was an out and out brawl.

It resulted in me hugging the toilet bowl for about four hours, all the while reciting: "Never again, just let me make it through the night, and I promise never to drink tequila again".

I kept my promise...until a few months ago. My friends Marie, Leah and I went to a local Mexican restaurant, and Margaritas were on the menu. And I was thirsty. So very thirsty. I ordered something I had not had before, a Golden Grand Margarita, and it was fabulous. Tangy, and fresh. I stopped myself at two.

So yes, we are on speaking terms again. We keep our visits short, and sweet. No shots mind you- never going back there again. We don't want to overdo it. We are just taking things slow- nice and easy over ice. With lime and Grand Marnier...Come on, you didn't think I was drinking that ready made slushy crap now did you? You know me better than that.

Come on, have one with me won't you?

Golden Grand Margarita

•1 1/2 oz Gold Tequila
•1/2 oz Grand Marnier
•1/2 oz lime juice
•3 oz sour mix
•dash of orange juice (optional)
•lime wedge for garnish
•course salt for rimming glass (optional)

Now I just pour it all over ice, and enjoy...

methinks there might have to be a part two to this post...maybe a demonstration? Mmmmm?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You gotta be happy

I needed a pick me up today. Buddywasiname and the Other Fellas gave me a laugh and I hope it does the same for you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Newfoundland Sayings

I haven't added to my list of Newfoundlandisms in awhile now. So here is one for June 2009:

If I 'ad a face da likes o'yers, me son, I'd walk back'rds

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Becoming a Dad

We never really planned for our little guy. Neither of us wanted kids. The plan was to go it without children, and since I had been told I would likely have trouble conceiving we really hadn’t given it much thought.

Until I projectile vomited in the wastebasket at work one cold January morning, after what I thought was an extended bout of the stomach flu; then, suddenly, frighteningly, being pregnant was all I did think about.

When I finally peed on the stick and it came up with the “You’re knocked up” symbol, I could hardly believe it. I was terrified, scared, and nervous. I did not want this! I did not plan for this! Cripes I was plastered over Christmas, what if I pickled the baby already? All of the changes and challenges lay open before me, and I was very unsure of my ability to meet them.

I yelled out to Don, who was downstairs, oblivious to the fact I was even testing for pregnancy, when he came upstairs I handed him the stick. Hoping he would tell me I read it wrong. I hadn’t.
I will never forget the look on his face, and I know I can’t describe it. He was happy. He was trying to hide it but he was happy. And I was somehow comforted by that.

I was at the three month mark when I suffered a subchorionic hemorrhage. Don was at work when it happened. There was so much blood, and a great deal of it appeared to be tissue, I was convinced that the baby was gone. All I could see in my mind was Don’s face, when I told him I was pregnant, and I could not get the image out of my head.

A friend came to rush me to the hospital, I called Don at work, and said there had been an accident and asked him to meet me at the hospital. I didn’t know what was going on, but I did not want to have to explain it all over the phone.

I was in an observation room when Don arrived, waiting to be examined. He open the curtain, worried, wondering what he would find, and I blurted out: ”I think I lost the baby. I am so sorry, I lost the baby”. His face broke. There is no other way to describe it. I killed something in him with those words. I could see it.

It was hours more before I was examined, and hours again before I got an ultrasound to see what was going on. When the Doctor confirmed I was still pregnant I could hardly believe him. They told me my odds of carrying to term were 50/50, put me on bed rest and sent me home.

Somehow we made it through, and we are both overjoyed we did. Our son makes us both better people, he has given us more than we can ever hope to give him. He made my husband a father, and what an exceptional father he is. Don and Wil have an incredible bond. It started the moment my husband found out I was expecting: a bond that was sealed between them the moment Don held Wil in his arms.

Happy Father’s Day Don. We never do things the easy way do we?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Flash: Premier Williams is Three Years Old.

Jezus does this man ever have the ability to miss the point? This childish outburst is embarrassing. What is next Danny, you going to stamp your feet and hold your breath until your lips turn blue? If only. I have had about all I can take from this bloated windbag.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photo Album

Photo Album

The album crackles as I open the pages.
Glossies, time machines for the nostalgic,
transport me

Here is a picture of Brendan and I
we’re hanging moons for the camera.
Catherine, arms spread wide, body tilted to the left,
Big grin, bright eyes…”TA DAAAAAA!”
She seems to say.

And there is a shot of Meme under the Christmas tree,
she is dressed in a fuzzy red housecoat.
I laugh now because I know years ahead
the only thing to change about Meme
is the colour of the housecoat.

A fading photograph
of four pleasant babies in their Sunday Best.
Ron, Cas, Terry and Tony,
members all of the balding “BIG 6”;
And this one, its a favourite of mine.
It captured almost everyone, even Billy, Chris and Phillip,
They are all squeezed one atop the other,
squat together on Grandma’s couch
I can hear laughter, squeals of pain,
and “Hurry up and take the picture”
Mom took that one.

This is everything I know about family.

And here, a picture of Grandma
dancing like a leprechaun in the backyard.
Under the summer sun.
Smiling a silly grin that says she is up to no good.
There is one of Granddad and Grandma
in bed, posing coquettishly.
Grammy is raising a glass of wine to the camera.
I wonder if that is the homemade Rhubarb Wine?
She gave me a glass of that stuff one Christmas:
“This will set you on your ear,” she said.
It did.

This one is of Granddad and I dancing at my wedding.
He is telling me not to cry,
leading me smoothly across the floor.

This last one is where it all started,
a black and white photo,
Grandma and Granddad on their honeymoon.
They stand together beside a car,
Granddad is holding her tight,
smiling in a way that seems to say:
I hold the world in my arms.

This is everything I know about love.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another hurdle

Screening interview: pass

Panel Interview: pass

Technical test: pass

Phone advanced technical interview with the company's DBA: complete. Not sure of results yet.

Interview with VP of Company: Not offered yet, but it is on the menu if above went ok

Is it me or is this whole process a bit over the top?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dealing with idiots

I have learned to handle all kinds of different people, but I have to admit, there are a few I just can't deal with.

Now, if I was a proctologist, I might be able to manage.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Give me heaven, or give me hell.

But don't stick me somewhere in between waiting.

I hate waiting.

The interview steeple chase

It has been a busy week for my job searching husband.

After about two solid weeks of searching, cold calling, submitting, begging and pleading, the phone calls have finally started to come in.

On Monday he got an interview with a company for a a DBA position in Toronto. He got all dressed up, prepared himself for the uncomfortable onslaught of questioning and judgment that is the interview process, and headed on down to the big smoke.

He made it through that process with flying colors.

On Wednesday he moved on the the next step in the hiring process, and met with a panel of people he would be working with to see if he would fit in. Of course there was be the usual plethora of technical questions.

He nailed that.

They told him they were very impressed with his interview, and thought he would be a good fit personally in their organization. But, he has few more hurdles to jump yet.

The next step is to write a technical exam. If he does well with that, he needs to meet with the Vice President of the company.

I am not sure what the heck they would have him do after that meeting; a little tête-à-tête with Billy Gates perhaps? Organ donation? What?

The problem is that the technical test is supposed to be administered sometime today, and will be timed, but they haven't told him when it is coming, and he has another interview today for a local job. He has to go to that.

The local job is not exactly what he wants, the pay will be a lot less, and is more of a Web Manager role than strictly DBA, but it is local. He is almost afraid that they will offer it to him today, before he has a chance to complete the interview steeple chase for the Toronto job has been completed. What happens if they offer him the Web job on the spot? Or later today? What does he say without pissing off potential employers?

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Starting over

I know I haven’t been posting much.

We have had a lot going on, and much of it has come to a head in recent months. Those of you who follow the blog (even now it amazes me that I have any readers left) know that last year Don made the difficult decision to leave a company he was happy with, to work at a place that was closer to home, and seemed to have more opportunity for him to grow professionally. He made the decision to leave, and in a lot of ways it was good for us.

He was home more. Not having to take the Go Train into Toronto every morning and night was amazingly good for us as a family, and when you have a young child nothing is more important the time you have to spend with them. We were able to move to a less congested town and buy a nicer home. And Don was able to get his hands into the guts of SQL Server in a way he had not been able to before.

But most importantly he was here. He was in town. He could take his son to the park while I made dinner. He came with me to send him off to daycare, and was with me to pick him up. There were no cold winter evenings bundled in the van with a baby, waiting for the GO train to decide to arrive. It was such a blessing to have that time as a family, to have that kind of access to Don.

However the new job had a very small work force, and specialized software they created. Time lines were tight, stress level was high, and the recession has hit them hard. They laid of one worker in January and cut Don’s hours in April. After they lost two contracts in May, they told Don they would now have only contract work for him. The company now has four full time employees, and like Don, faces an uncertain future.

So he has been looking for work, and it has been slow going. Not many people are hiring these days, and every time I turn on the news or open the paper I learn about even more layoffs, bankruptcies and closures.

A friend of mine works for RBC, and has told me that a few times now people have come into the bank with their house keys and left, not realizing that some banks are willing to work with their clients. It is hard times all around I guess. It is hard not to feel helpless. Hopeless.

Don has had a few leads, but nothing firm yet. We have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that if he does find something soon, he will be once again doing that horribly unreliable, uncomfortable and uncompromising GO train travel again and missing out on a lot of family time. I will go back to feeling a little like a single parent again.

But at least we had this year together; it was all worth it for that.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I know the reviews are good, but...

I am a little worried about this Star Trek reboot.

I loved the original series. Those characters are very dear to me. I worry this is going to be a Fast and Furious in Space. And if it turns out that is what it is, I will be quite sad about that. Roddenberry wanted to create a show that was more than just special effects, and funny looking aliens. He created a show that had a social conscience which looked at the issues of the day, within the context of the future. I hope that intent is not lost with this film.

Having said all that, I did laugh my ass off at this Onion offering:

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

Gun incident on Torbay Road, Newfoundland

Can some on explain this to me? Or will I file this under WTF?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Green House for Shaun Majumder

I remember the first time I saw Shaun on Just for Laughs, he made me laugh so hard my sides ached. I had his routine on my PVR for months before I would let Don delete it. His delivery is so causal and conversational it is like having a few drinks with an old friend.

The Burlington Newfoundland native has had a variety of roles starting with YTV's CLIPS. His stand up routines lead him to become a popular host for the Comedy Festival Just For Laughs, a recurring role on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and Cedric the Entertainer Presents. All that exposure, helped propel the comedian to the big screen with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

The Newfoundland funny man has another project in the works, and he needs your help to get it off the ground. Shaun wants to create a reality show called Shaun Majumder's Green Home. While it is not my favourite television genre ( OK, I admit it, I despise so called Reality TV), I do think this show is a good idea. Mostly because of the concept and principles behind it. The show would chronicle what it would take to build an environmentally green home. There is a rumor that at the end of the show, and the home's completion, that someone would actually win the final product.

They plan to build the home in Shaun's hometown, providing employment and exposure for the community. It also builds awareness of environmental issues, not only in Newfoundland, but for Canada as a whole. We need to be more proactive with environmental issues. Indeed, a recent report by Toronto's Corporate Knights magazine graded all the provinces on their eco-performance: the highest score, a measly 69%, went to BC, and Newfoundland ranked only slightly higher than the lowest ranked province; P.E.I.

So let's get behind this idea! Help throw your support to Shaun, and petition the CBC to back this proactive and innovative project. You can petition the cbc at this website, and you can join the Facebook devoted to the cause as well.

Pass it on!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Newfoundland's Doyle and Pinsent land Ridley Scott film!

Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea has landed a part in the Ridley Scott Robin Hood remake, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. He will play the part of Celtic musician "Alan O'Dayle" in Robin Hood's gang. Gordon Pinsent (my home town's favourite son) will also star in the film.

Good on ya b'yes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Way to go Mark Critch!

This Hour has 22 Minutes had a great response to the nutbars hosting Fox News: "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld," who took turns trashing Canada and its military on March 17. These drooling morons took it upon themselves to insult our entire country; to offend soldiers fighting alongside their own countrymen; and to disgust families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan, all this on the very day we lost four more Canadian soldiers in a war we didn't start.

You know the b'yes on 22 Minutes just couldn't let that go without a few fighting words of their own. Well done Mark. Well done.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jon Stewart- My Hero

Jim Cramer - skewered.

It is so good to see someone really asking the tough questions, and trying to make people accountable. I wish I could embed the video, but I can't find one that stays up for long. I can only link to the Comedy network site:


There are three parts, and each will be separated by commercials.