Sunday, January 29, 2012

Holy Cow, That's One Gorgeous Pig

To quote E.B. White in Charlotte's Web:
That's some magic pig!

Okay, okay.
E.B. White didn't actually use the word magic.

But that's because he was writing about Wilbur the decidedly unmagical pig.

My pig takes the calories out of chocolate.
That's some magic oinker!

And it can be your magic oinker!

You just need to enter my Valentine's Day contest by naming two famous lovers who have/had a connection with the U.S. and Canada.
(We're celebrating 200 years of peace with the Americans this year, eh?)

You can e-mail me, you can write on my face book wall or you can enter at the end of this blog.

The draw will be on Feb. 7th

Complete rules can be found at the link below.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Families

My great-grandmother, Mary McKay

One day about one hundred years ago an impoverished peddler knocked on my great-grandmother, Mary McKay's door on Ormond Street in Thorold, Ontario.
The McKays were Scottish immigrants who had come to Canada to help build the Trans-Canada Railroad through northern Quebec.  When workers were needed in the Niagara region to work on the Welland Canal they left Quebec and moved to Thorold.

The peddler, Mr. S., was so poor that he kept all of his wares in one paper bag.
My great-grandmother bought a table cloth from that bag because as she told my aunt later,
 "I knew what it was like to have nothing."

She was his first customer.

Mr. S. eventually opened a successful furniture store on Front Street in Thorold and he and Mary McKay  were friends for the rest of their lives.
Mary McKay's grand-daughter, who is my 96 year old aunt, still has a trunk that she bought at his store.

The odd thing about the story is that I have, on occasion, met the great-grand-daughters of Mr. S. even though they grew up many miles away in Toronto.
By co-incidence they are cousins of one of my closest girlhood friends.

I didn't know about the old connection between our families until my friend's father passed away a few weeks ago.
I happened to mention to my aunt that I was going to a funeral and she recognized the name.

My friend asked me to write the story down so that she could send it to her cousins.

So here it is, Wendy - a  charming story, not important to the history of Canada maybe, but certainly one of a million strong threads that weave us all together.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Speak Like a Canuck

I snipped this cartoon right out of face book after my friend Barb in Vancouver posted it .
I hope I don't get arrested.

Anyway this being the year to celebrate 200 years of peace with our

American neighbours I thought I'd mention the one thorn in our otherwise

friendly nternational camaraderie. 

And that is the fact that Americans never let us forget 'our accent' even

though it apparently only occurs when we say one word.

I have a friend who once tried to cross into the U.S. illegally. 

Did the border guards check her licence?

Did they finger print her and run her paw prints through their vast file of known criminals and terrorists?

Did they use the Chinese water torture to force the truth out of her mouth?

No. No. And No.

The cads asked her to pronounce the word 'about'.

That just has to contravene the Geneva Convention!

Anyway, in the spirit of this Bicentennial Celebration of the

War of 1812 and our 200 years of friendship I propose that Americans

quit with the 'about' thing.

In return we promise we will never again invade anything

except your shopping malls.


Don't forget to enter the Magic Pig Wand Contest.
You only need to come up with a pair of famous lovers who have a connection to both the U.S. and Canada. 

The link below will give you all of the rules. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

2nd Annual Magic Pig Wand Contest

As you know Magic Pig Wands take
all of the calories
out of chocolate.

Sadly, due to the evil machinations of fitness clubs all over the world, they disappeared from store shelves some time ago.
You, however may soon be the proud owner of your very own, very unique Pig Wand because

it is time for the
2nd Annual Magic Pig Wand contest.

This is a picture of last year's wand, won by my friend, Lena, from Nanaimo, B.C.

So how can you win this year?
Well, it IS a Valentine's Day contest so of course the theme is
'Famous Lovers'.
Easy peasy, you say?
Romeo loved Juliet, Desi loved Lucy, Oscar wilde loved Lord Alfred Douglas ...

 There is a catch.

You see this year is  the Bicentennial of the
War of 1812.

We're celebrating 200 years of
peace with America.

It is a particularly big celebration here in the Niagara region.

We were occupied by American troops during that war and by the time they went home we were very tired of them stealing our chickens and inviting themselves to supper.

 So in honour of 200 years of peace with America,
(and chicken dinners without unwanted guests),
your famous lovers must have a connection,
 for good or for bad,
with both Canada and the U.S.
1. Laura Secord cannot be used.
2. You can enter on my face book wall or enter at my blog site or you can e-mail me.
3. You can enter anytime between now and Feb. 7/12.
4. You can only enter the contest once.
5. No more than a paragraph explaining your choice of lovers.

6.  The draw will be Wed. Feb. 8.
7.  Anyone, anywhere,  even former winners of my contests, can enter.

So here is the Magic Pig Wand at the beginning.
I'll be posting more pictures and contest news as it develops.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Die Betsy Wetsy, Die

Nude Barbie dolls
Image via Wikipedia

This week the St. Catharines Standard ran an editorial about a Mom whose daughter has cancer.

(Barbie worst role model when battle's life or death, Mon., Jan 12, 2012)

The Mother is putting pressure on Mattel Toy Company to make a bald Barbie.  She figures that it will be a doll with which her daughter will be able to identify.

She has started a face book page and is evidently getting quite a lot of support.

The editor was appalled by the idea.

I was appalled, too.

At first.

Then I remembered the day that I executed Betsy Wetsy.

It happened in my bedroom when I was seven.

 I marched her right up the imaginary scaffold and put the noose around her neck and let her drop.

I can't remember if BW had any last words.

 She dangled and swayed in mid air while I changed roles from cruel executioner to sorrowful family member.

Blumpy, my stuffed elephant, and I sobbed piteously.

 I remember being so satisfied with the performance, that poor Betsy Wetsy was executed several more times that day.

Play is the work that children do to help make sense of their world.

And sometimes the world can be a dark place.

Bald Barbie might not be a bad idea.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Thoughts Jan 15/12

English: Jesus and the Samaritan woman. A mini...
Image via Wikipedia

Tom Harpur, (wrier, columnist), says that it is " an extraordinary idea, when you think about it that Jesus the son of God would die on a Roman cross to save us all from eternal damnation", (meaning it is highly unlikely to have happened the way Christians believe it happened and would church leaders quit harping on the damnation thing).

He suggests that the "Good News" we should be getting from the Gospels is not the fact that Christ died and saved us from damnation but that everyone of us is part of one human family and that we are called to love one and other, love God, love the planet and seek  justice for everyone and everything.

I like it.

A lot.

But  the idea that we have a God who died for us, is a powerful image.

And the same God who defeats death and returns in the spring after sojourning in the underworld is an archetype, not easily expunged from the human psyche.

So why tamper with a good thing?

Well the problem according to Tom Harpur is that the main stream churches are dying.

I can't claim to know anything about it. 

I sporadically go to a non-denominational church just to keep my oar in the water, so to speak, but of course not knowing anything about a subject has never stopped me from commenting before and because we are brainstorming, here's my first suggestion:

The priests and ministers tend to stand between God and Her people.

And because humans need action, we should be able to honour God not just in our hearts but with tangible gifts.

I think the Church should consider going into the business of making burnt offerings.

I don't mean bringing in your first born or your favourite cat.

I mean whatever comes from the earth and is important to you or your neighbourhood.

 I once attended a sacred dance ritual once led by an Ojibway Catholic nun.  We were all, not just the priest or the sister,  allowed to make an offering of sweet grass and tobacco to the Great Spirit.

 It felt good, a direct gift from me to God for no other reason that the fact that She is God and I am Her daughter.

I'll probably win the Tobacco Growers Woman of the year Award for this blog

but anyway 

it's something to ponder this Sunday morning.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Tire Blog

This blog is about tires.

This is not a tire.
This is a garden fairy that got flash frozen in Niagara's first snow fall of the year.

This is not a tire either.
This is Flynn the dog wearing red so I can find her in the snow.

These are tires.
And the fact that they are on the spy car is the reason for the blog.

You see, they are ALL WEATHER tires.
Not All Season tires - ALL WEATHER tires.

Each tire has both winter and summer treads and they are made of a new kind of rubber that 'likes' Canadian summer and winter driving.
They stay on your car all year round.

I decided to try them because I havee no place to store snow tires anymore.
The brand I chose , (Optimo), was the brand that our local Canadian Tire Store carried. 
The only test rating I found was from Germany where they gave them a very good score.
I figured that  if the tires were good enough for the people who invented the Panzer tank they were good enough for me.

Today was one of those sleety, snowy, icy days when the roads are very slippery.
I managed to do some city driving and some highway driving. 

I had great traction.  I was even able to stop easily on a snowy 45% angle slope.
So if you are unable to store your snow tires or you just hate the bother or expense of changing tires every six months, ALL WEATHER tires are an interesting new option.

And that's it.
No more tire blogs.
I promise.

To make up for it here's a cute picture of Flynn sitting in the spy car watching me scrape the ice off the windows.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thank-you Lise St-Denis

Français : Le chef du Nouveau parti démocratiq...
Image via Wikipedia

Early one winter while  was living in the Yukon I found myself in the wrong place at the right time during a social function.

As I exited a washroom stall I came face to face with a burly man who was in the process of exiting the stall next to me.

This was long before unisex washrooms and I was extremely put out that he had so violated my privacy.

Probably looking much like the Butterbrains stick figure I like to draw, I put my hands on my hips and said frostily, "Well! I  hate to tell you, but you are in the wrong washroom!"

He looked at me and replied on his way out the door, "Well I hate to tell YOU, but YOU are in the wrong washroom."

And I was.

Anyway it can happen.

And being in the wrong place at  the right time happened to Lise St-Denis, MP for Saint-Maurice-Champlain this week.

 And she probably hadn't had as much to drink as I'd had.

Like many Quebecers she fell in love with the dying Jack Layton and agreed to let her name stand as an NDP candidate during the last federal elelction.

But Jack has been gone for a few months and NDP policies were not sitting easily on her conscience.

So she opted for our most honourable dishonourable parliamentary practice, she crossed the floor.

To the Liberals.

 My impression about the way this has been handled is that if Bob Rae gets any more laid back he'll be in a coma and the media isn't jumping through hoops about this because they hate to admit the Liberal party isn't as dead as they have been telling us it is.

 And personally I think we should all be happy that Lise Saint-Denis didn't lead twenty disgruntled Quebec MPs across the floor to the  BLOQ.*

*Quebec Separatist party

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back in the Kitchen!

Well it has certainly been awhile since I posted a food blog but this yummy, (and hearty), vegan recipe just cries out to be passed on. 

In found it in the St. Catharines Standard on Wed., Jan. 4. 

It was posted by food editor, Laurie Sadowski, under the subtitle:

Healthy Meals to counteract the holiday season's excess.

 The subtitle I would have used is:

Who the H,E, double hockey sticks  cares if it's healthy?
It's totally delicious! 

And don't think it's wimpy because it's vegan. 

Moroccan chickpeas have attitude!

So for those of you who missed it in the paper, here it is again!
It gets 5 gold stars from me!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions
1 carrot, peeled cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 to 4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt to taste
1 tbsp whole grain flour
1 (14 oz/ 414 ml) organic no salt added can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (28 oz/828 ml) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 red bell pepper cut into bite sized pieces
1 small cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
5 oz/145 g dried apricots
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 to 1 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
Add onion and carrot and cook 5 minutes until carrot pieces begin to soften.
Add ginger and garlic.  
Cook 1 or 2 minutes more until fragrant.
Add the spices.
Sprinkle with sea salt and flour and add chickpeas.
Stir to coat chickpeas, cook about 30 seconds until it smells spicy.
Add the diced tomatoes, water, tomato paste and agave nectar.
Mix well.
Add the red pepper, cauliflower and apricots.
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the zest of lemon and cilantro.
Cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes until thickened.
Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Serve over brown basmati rice.
Serves 4.

*I found several versions of this recipe online, (some included chicken), but none sounded as yummy as this one tastes.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I bumped into an old acquaintance.  He and his wife are still very active in their church. 

I don't mean to imply that they are old when I say they are still very active in their church, I mean that unlike me, they never got fed up and left.

 He invited me to give him a call and join their congregation one Sunday to see what they are all about.

"Well," I said, "I'd love to find a church that is inclusive and progressive."

"Oh yes, we are certainly that!" he said. 

As we were chatting he told me how much better their church had become since they got rid of their last  minister. 

It seems the minister married a secretary.

I was puzzled for a moment.

Then I got it.

"You mean she married another woman!"

"Exactly!" he said.

Maybe it is because I was always too neurotic or self absorbed or insecure to find a husband for myself and I know how lonely being unattached can be,

or maybe it is because I now have two good friends who are lesbians, (The Gay Month of June 6/2/11),  

or maybe it's because a few of my favourite relatives are gay

or maybe it is just the damned injustice of it all,

but I have to tell you, as much as I have a yearning to go back to church and be a part of a spiritual community I won't be calling him.

And I wonder when Christians will actually hear Christ's message.


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Thursday, January 5, 2012

We're Here for You, America!

Thanks to my friend Barb in Vancouver whose facebook posts are so often topics in my blog.
Keep 'em comin', Babs!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Forget Waldo. Where's Satan?

Image via Wikipedia

Religious leaders often tell us that we don't need to look any farther than our own hearts to find God.

But, I've never heard any of them recommend a good place to look for Satan.

I mean if you want to avoid him you should know where he hangs out, right?

Unfortunately  our spiritual shepherds have been reluctant to hand over the GPS.

Luckily, science has stepped into the breach. 

My friends, it turns out that the Prince of Darkness lives in a place that you can't avoid, i.e.,

your brain.


If he had built a little homestead in your mind it would be easy to avoid him. 

But no, His Evil Majesty, had the chutzpah to stake a claim deep in your grey matter.

According to conservation biologist, Michael Soule, in a conversation with journalist  Michelle Nijhuis, (see link below), humans are hard wired to sin.

The proof?

Magnetic resonance and  electroencephalography techniques have been used in the last twenty years to locate the places in our brains that are activated when we 'sin'.

Mr. Soule says that five of the deadly sins, (greed, anger, gluttony, lust, sloth) were all necessary for the early survival of our species. 

It was only with the veneer of civilization, when the survival of the group became important, that our selfish behaviours had to be reined in. 


he warns us that the five, plus the newer sins of envy and pride, are still very much a part of our physiology and it is a constant battle for most of us to manage them.

In fact our self-interest, once necessary for our survival is now destroying the world because it makes us incapable of dealing with big issues like climate change.

Michael Soule is a conservation biologist and a Buddhist.

He feels that people on a spiritual journey are better able to 'moderate' their sinfulness and 'focus on what is needed in the world'.

In other words finding God in our hearts can help us tame the Devil in our brains and maybe save the planet.

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