Friday, February 25, 2011

February - a Month to Die For

"February is a suitable month for dying..."

- Anna Quindlen, One True Thing

I knew that one of his dogs had died when I saw this old fellow on the trail a few days ago.

In the past he has  always been accompanied by an Irish wolfhound
 and the whippet you see in the picture.

For some reason the male wolfhound at about 200 pounds and my dog Flynn,
a 15 pound alpha female, hated each other on sight.

Anyway, I told him how sorry I was and he nodded sadly.

"But we just bought a twelve week old Irish wolfhound puppy!
He's already 48 pounds," he said proudly.

Flynn didn't take this news well.

"There seems to be so much more winter than we need this year."

- Kathleen Norris

The thing about February is that everything isn't always what it seems.

It looks as if this young fellow, who was kind enough to stop and pat Flynn, might be one snow block short of an igloo the way he's rolling a bicycle down a snowy path.

The truth is that the roads were absolutely clear and dry that day.
 Perfect for biking if you were dressed for it.

He was likely just taking a short cut home from school.

And anyone who wears a bright red toque and pats my dog is okay in my books.

"Late February,

and the air's so balmy snowdrops and crocuses
might be fooled into early blooming.

Then, the inevitable blizzard will come,
blighting our harbingers of spring..."

- Gail Mazur

Yesterday I was given this bundle of unusual black pussywillows
 that had been found down by Lake Ontario .

It was a beautiful day. 
The first day I had been able to wear shoes rather than boots in months.

Today a February winter storm rages outside my window.

"Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours.""

- Robert Byrne

 And geese are Niagara's way of saying "Up yours" to winter.

They V up in the fall and look like they are going someplace,

flapping and honking across the evening sky.

But they never really leave.

 It is all for show.

They know we like to see them do it I guess.

Mid February Flynn and I spotted this flock happily paddling around in the Welland Canal.

"Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?"

- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

February is also the month that
 the independent Rhino candidate from North Pelham
took over my facebook wall for a day.

She promised to open all of the community schools that have been closed in Niagara.
She will fund these schools with the money she gets from shutting down

the Board of Education.
She promised to take all of the calories out of chocolate cake


to make up for all of those years when women didn't have the vote,
she believes that women should be able to vote twice.

I don't know about you,



(the only candidate who looks like a cabinet minister),

has my vote.

I mean votes.

Hang on everybody, it is the last week of February and we're almost there!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DSBN Academy - the Last Post

Unlike previous Titanic films, Cameron's retel...Image via Wikipedia

Well it is all over but the crying as they say.

The vote is in.

DSBN Academy is a go for this September.

According to reports ninety families expressed an interest in the school.

I don't blame them. If I was in a similar circumstance I would be moving heaven and earth right now to ensure that my child has a spot in the school.

The same way I would have fought to the death to get a seat for my child on a Titanic lifeboat.

But the problem is that not every child can get into this school with its two meals a day, tutoring and mentoring.

It is an American concept that doesn't sit comfortably with Canadians who generally prefer to embrace what is best for the group. We have in the past been willing to accept a few less perks so that everyone stands on a level playing field.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the Board can accommodate every child who wishes to attend DSBN Academy.

But I still don't like it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Distinctly Anglais

Ballot for the Green party of Quebec during th...Image via Wikipedia

Whenever I hear the words 'Quebec' and 'distinct' in the same sentence I get cranky.

So I wasn't too happy to open an e-mail from my chosen political party this week informing me that Party Leader Elizabeth May is thrilled that the Quebec Green Party is now a 'distinct' wing and will organize things its own way.

She calls it 'grassroots democracy'.

I call it divisive.

And par for the course.

But I'm not as upset about it as I used to be.

Technology has brought English Canada together in a way that we couldn't have imagined when the FLQ first struck terror into our hearts forty years ago.

Face book and twitter have shrunk the country to the size of our computer monitors and the coverage of the Olympics opened a floodgate of love-of-country that most of us had never experienced.

Who knew the passion that lies beneath our reserved exteriors, eh?

Les Anglais have also seen the power of the Internet this past month in the middle east.

We now know that millions of people can be informed and united for a single cause -

people who are separated from each other geographically.

For the first time it is possible to imagine the country surviving and flourishing without Quebec.

I don't advocate separation and  I suppose it is too much to ask one politician to draw

 a line in the sand, but I can tell you one thing:

I'll be sleeping easier during the next referendum.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, February 20, 2011

DSBN Again

I wasn't going to say another word about the DSBN Academy but then I read the article, "Where Was Debate?" in Saturday's St. Catharines Standard.

"We thought people would be more willing to help children in need."  Board Chairman Kevin Maves.

"I don't think anyone would have predicted the amount of negativity that came from trying to help some kids ..."  Trustee Dalton Clark


After countless radio talk shows, news paper articles and letters to the editor these guys still don't get it.

But worse than that, they see themselves as misunderstood heroes, the shocked public as the Evil Empire.

I doubt that we will ever get the truth of what happened.

It doesn't look as if anyone is going to change his or her story about how this whole idea came to fruition, and personally I don't care at this point.

It is time to move on.

As a taxpayer and whole hearted supporter/believer in the public school system I think the board should postpone the opening of the DSBN Academy for a year while other possibilities are investigated.

And get a grip, Mr. Board Chairman.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Liver Discomfort

Mia FarrowCover of Mia Farrow

Had lunch at the 'Loon' in Pelham this week with a few old friends.

It was the first time I'd been in since they reopened after a few renovations earlier this winter.

Rest assured it is still as homey as ever, the staff is as friendly and the lunches are as filling.

The problem is that they've changed their menu.

They have 'Liver and Onions' listed under 'Comfort Foods'.


Since when, I ask you, has liver been a comfort food?

Peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, pizza, pancakes and maple syrup, cheese cake and chocolate bars - these are Canadian comfort foods.

Liver is something you eat when you are seven years old because your parents make you eat it - for the iron.

Personally I'd rather chew the fender of the spy car.

I tell you there is something diabolical about a society that considers eating liver a comfort.

For example I suspect the next Conservative Party attack ad will tell us:

He Came Back For Your Liver!

And remember Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby?

How comfortable did she look with her insatiable craving to devour raw liver after having been impregnated by Satan himself?

Anyway, I cook liver because I am my elderly father's caregiver and he loves the stuff.

But I just can't figure out why it is called 'liver'.

 Because, truthfully, there is nothing deader looking than that particular organ when it is oozing and clotting in your frying pan.


On the other hand I guess I should be thankful that he doesn't yearn for the famous old Scottish comfort food so beloved by my grandmother McPherson.

It was called 'Potted Head'.

And don't ask.

You don't want to know.

It makles liver look,


comforting ...
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 12, 2011

That Tastes Souper!

H1N1 flu was not particularly harmful to humans, but boy, it sure decimated the doctor's office magazine population.

Post swine flu, my own doctor's office is as small and bare as Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

And efforts to repopulate the area have met with little success.

I mention this because today's post is a recipe and I found it in an old Chatelaine Magazine, you guessed it, lying around my doctor's office.

I mourn the end of an era
 and dedicate this post
 to the memory of all magazines that have been sent to the recycling plant
 rather than being allowed to live out their days
 in a warm doctor's office somewhere.




8 tomatoes
1 sweet onion
2 hot Italian sausages (omit if you are a herbivore, it still tastes great)
1 head of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
10 oz can of chicken broth (herbivores use veggie broth)
sprig of fresh thyme or basil (like you are going to spend 5 bucks on a bunch of fresh thyme so you can use one sprig, eh?)


- preheat oven to 450
- have your oven racks in the top and bottom third of your oven
- cut tomatoes and onions into wedges
- slice sausages into quarters
- slice of the top of the garlic and discard the loose skins
- tumble the vegetables, garlic and sausage into two large rimmed baking dishes
- drizzle with oil and sprinkle with dried seasonings

roast 40 - 50 minutes (until veggies are lightly charred)

stir and rotate about half way through

- Put tomatoes and onions in a food processor, squeeze in garlic and discard the skin

- put a little broth in the baking dish and scrape up the brown bits, put them in the food processor
- pour the tomato mixture into a sauce pan and add the remaining broth
- bring to a boil

 - slice the sausages and scatter on top of the soup
- gobble it up


This recipe makes about 4 bowls of soup.  I kept my snarky comments to a minimum and tried to post the recipe just the way it appeared in the magazine.

I bought all of the ingedients, except the garlic at Rick's Country Deli on Quaker Road in Pelham.

*My name for the soup. I have no idea what Chatelaine called it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

1 Winner, 3 Runners Up


Well here I am back at Sweet Thoughts for the draw.

Bobbi is about to draw the name of the winner of the box of choolates!

I can't look.

Too scary.

And here is the winner's name!

Okay, well here is the letter 'n' which is the last letter of the winner's first name.

Remind me to take a phpotography course someday soon.

Anyway, congratulations


Maggie and Pierre Trudeau were the lovers she suggested.


But Wait
there's more!

I'm actually going to have three runners up.

They won't get a box of chocolates,
 but thy'll get a little chocolate something from Sweet Thoughts,
just because I was surprised by the research they did,
 and because I learned something from each!

Barb wrote:

 "David Thompson and Charlotte Small ... I will make this short ... ~ David was born in London 1770 and was an apprentice for the Hudson's Bay Co. at age 14 ...

During his explorations he met and married Charlotte Small (of cree descant).  She travelled with him during his explorations and bore him 13 children ...

David died Feb 3rd and Charlotte 3 months later ... They are buried side by side in Montreal's Mount Royal Cemetery .... ~

David is begrudgingly known as the world's greatest land geographer ... due to the fact that the Hudson' Bay Co. refused to give him credit for his work when he left them to work for the North Bay Co."

Kara wrote:
It would only seem fitting for my entry to your contest to be " true blue" therefore I am submitting the amazing couple - Sir Winston and Clementine Churchill.

As we are all ...aware of Churchill's political legacy, the love story between him and Clementine, who he referred to in private as Clemmie, is just as memorialized in history as his career. As the saying goes, behind every strong man is a stronger woman, Clementine was the backbone of Winston's personal and political life.

While he was off traveling and strategizing about war, she did tireless charity work surrounding it's effects.

They shared a mutual love for Canada, and both travelled to our great country for various speaking engagements. In 1958 Churchill became the first person to be offered the Freedom of the City of Toronto by Mayor Nathan Phillip. A statue of Winston Churchill currently stands right by Toronto City Hall.

They shared a full and amazing life together.

"My darling, I feel there is no room for anyone but you in my heart, you fill every corner" Letter from Clementine to Winston, August 1908

Isabel wrote:

 "Oh, gosh! I thought I missed the deadline. . . and the chocolate! Francie, my choice is William Hamilton Merritt and the love of his life, Catherine Rodman Prendergast.
Because he was a dashing Dragoon, a self-proclaimed visionary and frantic entrepreneur and she put up with him for nearly 50 years of marriage! Hamilton and his dear Catherine wrote long, lovely, rather formal yet sweet love letters. The first exchange I've seen was during the War of 1812 when they were very young (in their teens at the outbreak of the war) and on opposite sides. The romance continued through his time as a prisoner of war and their long marriage.

An old-fashioned love, and terribly romantic I think.

They were born about a month apart in 1793 and died within 6 months of each other in 1862.
I'm a sucker for love letters. "


And I'm a sucker for Canadian stories.

Thnks Isabel, thanks, Kara, thanks Barb, thanks Susan and

Thanks to everybody who entered.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taking Back the Board of Education

DSBN Insignia - Animated VariantImage via Wikipedia

While everyone is watching the not-a-hockey game today, I think I'll sneak in another blog about the DSBN Academy.

When I posted 'Hungry for an Education' on January 27th I didn't know how anyone else felt about the fact that the District School Board of Niagara announced, out of the blue, that this September they will be opening a school for 'impoverished', (the Board's word), high school students.

Well, let me clarify. The new school is for some impoverished students.

Which ones?

The smart ones.

Oops, I have to factor that down farther, don't I?

Smart and lucky impoverished children.

They will need to win a lottery to gain admittance.

The idea depressed me.

I suspected that I was just another left wing baby boomer whose time to change the world had passed.

I was just about to climb onto my ice floe when I noticed that the Region of Niagara is reeling.

The DSBN Academy is not sitting well with quite a few people.

Consequently, I read Kalvin Reid's editorial "It's Time For a Popular Uprising", St. Catharines Standard, 2011/02/05 with great interest.

After his interview with former trustee, Larry Lemelin, Mr. Reid said "... taxpayers have to harness what they are feeling ... to take back the school board."

If the people are to take back the Board of Education, the people need to be told how to do it.

How can working people with families get out into the community and into the schools?

Telling them to get off the couch, Mr. Lemelin, is insulting.

Journalists have done their part. They've led us to the water.

 Now we need a leader with sensitivity and courage to show us how to drink.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Old Age is Fatal

Medieval leper bell at the museum Ribes Viking...Image via Wikipedia

I was at the doctor's office this week for my annual check-up.

I didn't have any big problems, just a series of little things that I was wondering about.

Okay. Okay.

I was sure I had the symptoms of three different fatal diseases.

Anyway, the conversation went more or less like this:

"So Frances, what scary little changes have you noticed this year?"

"Well, Doctor, I've been getting cramps in the insteps of my feet occasionally ..."

"Very common," she said.

" And I have a weird ache in my back ..."


I pointed to my lower right side.

"Pulled muscle."

"I have an unusual patch of rough skin on my stomach."

She looked at it.

"That ? That's a ... (insert long incomprehensible medical term)."

"Leprosy!" I thought, lying there on the examining table picturing myself walking through the mall ringing a bell and shouting 'leper', while crowds of people backed away from me in horror.

She happened to glance at my terror stricken face.

"Also known as an Old Age Spot," she said with a wicked grin.


I hate medical humour.

Enhanced by Zemanta