Saturday, July 31, 2010

In the Berry Patch


The Berry Patch is in Ridgeville, 398 Canboro Road between Fonthill and Fenwick.

 Enter through the open doors on the left.  Inside you will find a small gift shop and the reservations desk.

(Yes you need reservations.  905-892-4209.)

Although the restaurant is set back from the road, it isn't likely that you will miss the homemade sign that sits out in front.

There is no indoor seating at the Berry Patch.  Everyone is seated on the big veranda.  The tables are always set with fresh flowers and sprigs of other growing things.

Asparagus and fresh Lake Ontario lobster crepes! 

A leisurely, yummy summer lunch in the heart of Niagara!

Homemade vegetable soup, salad, crepes, cheese scones.

But this is the real reason I go to the Berry Patch! 
Those scones are warm! 
Note the two kinds of jam and the whipped cream! 

They specialize in desserts that are made with Niagara fruits and berries.

Life doesn't get any better than this!
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P.S.  Just kidding about the lobster.

P.P.S. They're from Lake Erie.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Porn in North Pelham

The people who run Blogger, (the site where I post m y blog), have introduced a new 'statistics' tab.

I'm forever checking it because I can see where people are when they are reading my blog. (I mean the country they are in, not the room in the house). If someone reads my blog in a certain country, the bloggerfolk shade it green for me. The more people who read it, the darker green that country appears on a map of the world on my screen.

We aren't talking big numbers but I do have more hits coming to my site from the US than from Canada. I figured that most were likely ex pat Canadians. I pictured them drinking whiskey in seedy hotel rooms and weeping with homesickness as they read my poignant tales of life in the old sod. In my mind each one looked terribly handsome, sort of like a down-at-the-heel, young Burton Cummings.

Occasionally I get one or two hits from the UK. Naturally the 'stats' tab came out after I dissed the Queen a few times. It hadn't occurred to me that Blogger was international.

I've also had hits to my blog from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Japan, even one from Latvia.

Last week I had one from Brazil and in my head young Burton Cummings morphed into Antonio Banderas for some inexplicable reason. (I do know Antonio Banderas is from Spain not Portugal.)

Anyway, I was feeling quite good about things until I noticed one of the referring sites to my blog was  International shoppers at are being sent to MY blog by mistake?

And I thought all of those countries were shaded because I could work an adjective.


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

High Flyers

Last April was cold, wet and stormy. The purple martin house that stood on this property for thirty years came crashing to the ground during a particularly violent storm. Unfortuanately one bird was caught inside the house and died.  (Catastrophes in North Pelham 5/14/10)

The other seven birds seemed to be in shock and stood on the ground staring at the house for hours. They didin't even react when I approached them. It was terribly sad. They stayed around the site for several days but by the time the weather had cleared and the brand new bird house was up they seemed to have disappeared.

I was worried they wouldn't be back.

But this photo was taken this week. I counted over twenty of the cocky little guys swooping and buzzing around the bird house. They are having the time of their lives, chirping loudly to each other, terrorizing the cats and gobbling up all of our mosquitoes. (I've read that scientists say they don't eat as many mosquitoes as people think they do, but I can tell you - they eat enough.)

In the late afternoon they take off for Lake Ontario where they have their big feed high above the water and then at dusk they get back in time to dive bomb the cats, Squeaker, Bonny, Claude and Martha Stewart as they head out on evening mouse patrol.

Martins are a type of swallow. They winter in South America. The males are black with a purplish sheen while the females are lighter. They are a clear marker of the changing of the seasons and that is probably why I like them so much. I await their arrival anxiously in the spring and I'm always saddened to see them leave in the fall.

But in between their arrival and departure, during these hot, muggy summer nights, they are a source of endless joy.

Francie's Instructions for the Care and Raising of your Martin House

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Niagara Wines vs Toronto Whines

Here I am auditioning for the "Shake Off the City" campaign. 
This is how real Niagarans drink wine in vineyards.

David threw a stone and hurt Goliath's feelings.

That seems to be the upshot of this whole Toronto/Niagara advertising war kerfuffle.

I mean really.

George Smitherman, Toronto mayoralty candidate makes a personal trip to the Niagara Parks Commission chairman to deliver a letter complaining about an ad campaign? Surely there were more important issues in Toronto. Smitherman should win the contest for sniffing out the best photo ops not the job as the mayor of the largest city in Canada.

The television commercials, called "Shake Off the City", were intended to bring more Torontonians (and their money), to Niagara. The ones I saw were inoffensive. A young couple being splashed by a car in the big city, confronting a wall of graffiti, having a bike wheel stolen, etc. The camera would then quickly cut to a scene of one of the fun things they could be doing in Niagara instead.

Now, I must say, it really depends on your definition of fun. The first one I saw showed a young couple sitting at a small table in the middle of a vineyard that looked as if it had been vacuumed, drinking Niagara wine.  It was the middle of a hot, sunny day. My reaction was a headache and nausea.

What kind of an imbecile would come here for the humidity, the ticks, heatstroke and a hangover?

But never mind. I read in the St. Catharines Standard last night that ticket sales have gone up by 40% for Niagara attractions. But not because of the ad campaign.  It was because of all the complaining and whining that the Toronto media and politicians did.

"We couldn't afford to buy this (kind of publicity)," was the comment from the Parks Commission.

Throw that stone a little harder next time, David. Niagara could sure use another economic boost.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Location! Locaton! Location!

Paradise in Pelham! Private acreage, pond.

Watch for cats from this quiet, safe and serene setting.

Open concept. Hardwood floors and so much more.

Get up close and personal with  this gorgeous home 
in Niagara's wine country.  Located in the quaint hamlet of North Pelham.
Contemporary interior design. Neutral decor.

Fun fixer-upper. Stunning panoramic views

of the Niagara Escarpment. Backyard has southern exposure

and unlimited swarms of flying insects. Lots of character.

Nothing to do but move in! Cute and cozy

with very functional main room. Backs onto

healthy Linden tree. Private entry.

Not a fly by. Must be seen. Near barn,

open rolling landscape. Enjoy the privacy of this 4 season

property. Colourful. Mounted on cat-proof metal pole.

One of a kind! Luxurious! Spacious! Move in condition.

Well maintained by previous owner. Close to grasslands.

Easy access to bug supply. Immediate possession.

Absolutely No Disappointments Here! 10 sq inch floor with

front fly out. Main floor, open, bright, high ceiling

room for growing family . Unlimited fledgling fly space.

Add your personal touch to this dignified home

with attractive floor plan.  Ammenities inclue faux chimney

abd fortified pole mount.  Single bluebird moms welcome.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adam and Eve Redux

So God created humans in His own image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

Adam and Eve by Peter Paul RubensImage via Wikipedia

According to geneticist, Spencer Wells, there really was an Adam and an Eve. They are known in his circles, as Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve .

Evidently every man on earth is descended from a fellow who lived in Africa 60,000 years ago. The reason Spencer Wells and his fellow geneticists know this is because every man passes Y chromosomal DNA from father to son.

Something called Mitochondrial DNA is passed from a mother to her male and female children so the female evolutionary chain can be traced as well. Every human is descended from a woman who also lived in Africa.

I was astounded by this information. A little disappointed that Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve probably weren't a couple but, jeesh, who could complain? At last I had the answer to the question that plagued my Sunday School years: Who did the children of Adam and Eve marry if they were the first humans?

The answer?

Well there were lots of other people around in those days - well maybe not lots, but enough to provide mates for the first family. But those poor souls, well, their family lines died out over the years. Only Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve's DNA survived.

So if you are living somewhere on planet Earth reading this today, then you are a descendant of Adam and Eve and you are my cousin!

But it's okay. You don't need to send me a wedding invitation.

No. Really.

It's okay.

More information can about this fascinating project can be found at WWW.NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM/GENOGRAPHIC

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Monday, July 19, 2010

It Just Isn't Canadian

duck, duck,Image by nosha via Flickr

A Canadian has always been a person who agreed with the opinion of the last person with whom she or he spoke. That gave rise to our well-deserved reputation as being a particularly polite group of people. Everybody liked us. If we had personal opinions, we kept them to ourselves until the rest of the world went home.

That isn't to say there weren't Canadians with opinions. That's why God gave us Rick Mercer and Christie Blatchford, after all.

The problem is, thanks to easy access to facebook, twitter and blogger, every single Canadian  has an opinion on everything now. Which might be okay except we don't agree on anything and nobody knows how to compromise because most of us have never had opinions before.

Take the outpouring of vitriolic comments about the G20 fiasco in Toronto. Like a dog with a bone, we just keep shaking it. But we aren't getting anywhere. Nothing new is being said. Not one mind is being changed. It just goes on and on.

I tell you, this business of having opinions, well, it just isn't Canadian.

I think we should quit talking about it, let the civilian-led police inquiry happen and then see where we are.

That's my opinion.

Not that I expect anyone to agree.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Morning

I take a lot of comfort in the bible stories that I learned as a child but I no longer go to church. I am  interested in Creation Spirituality. With apologies to those who have a deeper understanding of its precepts, here is my understanding of the four paths:

Via Positiva

Finding God in nature and in people and in what people create.

Falling in love with a robin's song or Beethoven's Sonata,

the Inuit igloo or Christopher Wren's cathedral.

It is being in awe of being here.

Via Negativa

Finding God in the darkest shadows.

Finding the murderer, the rapist, the terrorist, the sexist, the molester,

the racist, the lesbian, the gay man, the straight person, the fascist,

 the police officer who threatens arrest for blowing bubbles,

within ourselves.

Facing the pain and darkness and then letting go.

Via Creativa

The third path comes out of the first two paths.

We create from our experiences with the light and with the dark.

We are all called by God to be artists,

to trust enough to give birth to our own words and images.

Write. Paint. Speak. Dance. Act. Sing.

Via Transformativa

The last path is about balance.

The struggle for balance in the world is the struggle for justice.

It isn't about righteousness, it is about homeostasis and the universe.

The sharing of food, medicine and health care,

the quest for clean air and water, education

and respect for people, animals and the earth.

This path brings people together to give thanks for being

and being together in the struggle.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Welcoming the Second Sister

In the early days of the earth, Corn was so pleased to be able to feed the people that she asked the Great Spirit if there was anything else she could do to help humanity.

The Great Spirit considered her request and eventually formed a beautiful doll out of the husks of the corm plant and gave it to the Iroquois children. The doll's face was so lovely that as the children passed her from village to village, all of the people commented on her beauty.

Eventually the doll became very vain.

The Creator is not pleased by vanity and told her to be more humble. The doll agreed to try, but one day when she was walking by a river she saw her own reflection and stopped to admire herself.

In anger the Great spirit sent a screech owl down to earth and the owl swooped into the river and stole the doll's reflection away. The doll was never again able to see her own face.

To remind their children to think of spiritual and community values, rather than of themselves, Iroquois corn husk dolls continue to be made without faces.

The Second Sister

The second sister, Corn, arrived in Niagara this week and the corn is particularly tasty
but while I was reading various versions of the corn husk doll legend
I came across this sobering Iroquois prophesy.
Very disquieting when you consider the terrible oil spill off the coast of 'turtle island',(North America).
 Something to keep in mind as we enjoy the corn harvest this year.

Tears ran down the old, old, woman's cheeks, for she could see far into the future.

'Corn is sacred, everything that grows is sacred,' she said.
'But I warn you, there will come a time when the sons of your sons will forget this. Then hunger and sorrow will return to the world.'
She shook her head. 'It will not end until - unless - their grandchildren learn once more this lesson - the only lesson that is worth remembering: how to love and respect the Earth.'

---Iroquois Indian legend

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Spy

I don't know why CSIS isn't pounding on my door begging me to work for them.

Who is better equipped to be a spy than a middle-aged woman in a non-descript car? I tell you, I could drive right into Stephen Harper's bedroom and have my way with him and the Mounties would never find me.

I know the visual on that one isn't pretty but I'm trying to make the point that If CSIS is hiring, then I'm their woman.

The spy car is so non-descript that even I can't find it.

I managed to prove that yesterday, (again), when I went to the gym. My gym is on the second floor of the Superstore. The Superstore, in case you haven't been to it, is the huge grocery/department store that has shopping carts the size of hospital beds.

Anyway, after my class had finished and I had managed to find the door, I made my way into the Manitoba sized parking lot.

As I started walking down a row of cars I began to notice that the parking lot was full of cars identical to mine. And horrors! Most of the people in the vast parking lot searching for their vehicles were middle aged women who looked just like me! We all had our car finder beepers going and the place sounded like a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote impersonator convention.

All I could think about were those penguins in Antarctica. All the birds are identical, but parents and offspring still manage to find each other in the middle of a snowstorm at a bizzillion degrees below zero.

Unfortunately GM hasn't made that skill a component of their vehicles and until they do I think somebody should invent a device that, when pressed, causes a personal flag to be raised over your car.

Or better yet, every car should be sold with a chauffeur and free valet parking.

Better make your offer quick, CSIS, with all these great ideas GM is gonna want me bad.

Here I am in my clever cat disguise,
demonstrating a get-away-quick spy manoeuvre.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcoming the First Sister

The earth began when Sky Woman peered through a hole in the heavens. She was pregnant and lost her balance and fell through the hole to the water below.

The animals saw her coming.

They quickly took the soil from the bottom of the sea and piled it onto the back of a giant turtle so that Sky Woman would have a soft landing.

Today we call this Turtle Island, 'North America'.

After Sky Woman landed she gave birth to a daughter.

When her daughter grew up she fell in love with the West Wind and became pregnant by him. She died while giving birth to twin boys.

Sky Woman mourned for her daughter and then buried her in the earth on Turtle Island.

Out of her grave grew three sacred plants—
corn, beans, and squash.

These plants, known as
the Three Sisters,

are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, and provided food for her people, the Iroquois, and later, for all of humanity.


The First Sister

These beans are from the garden that belongs to my brother, Mark.

He doesn't use chemicals so all I needed to do was rinse them when I got home.

I steamed them and added butter,

and a little wild rice, and a little salad and a little cold smoked salmon.



Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Stoning of Ashtiani

When I was a small girl I was quite sure that if I ever found myself living in ancient, biblical times and was in danger of being stoned, I would save myself by running away.

No one ever explained the finer points of stoning to me - likely because no one knew.

You see, there is no running away. The sinner is first trapped by being buried up to the neck in dirt. The executioners then throw rocks at the condemned person's head until her brains are splattered across the ground.

The reason I know these details is because during this past week I read three articles about an Iranian woman named Ashtiani who is going to be executed by stoning sometime in the near future for the 'crime' of adultery. Ashtiani has already been lashed ninety-nine times. Ashtiani has a seventeen year old son.

There is no proof of her 'crime'.

What can you and I do about it? We can tell her story.

Theo, St. Catharines Standard, Thurs. July 8, 2010 said he would like to see her face on more t-shirts than Che Guevara. He said if a 'fraction of the energy evinced by those who showed up at the G20 in Toronto to protest the evils of globalization...were instead directed toward... not hitting women with rocks until they die, we'd be getting somewhere."

A good man protects women and children. These are not good men.

I have always supported the fact that our troops are in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban women and girls have no rights to education or health care and are vulnerable to the same insane justice system that Ashtiani faces.

We can't turn away now.

Note: I have just read that 14 hours ago Iran reported from its London embassy that Ashtiani will not be stoned to death. She may be hanged instead. This was not reported inside of Iran where 15 other people await death by stoning.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Doing the Right Thing

Toronto Police ServiceImage via Wikipedia

At one point last Sunday night I was trying to ease the spy car out of the parking lot and onto Clifton Hill. But thousands of people were in Niagara Falls - it was the American 4th of July holiday weekend. I watched the two young police officers who were working hard to direct road and foot traffic safely out of the congested area. Both were dressed in black and they weren't that easy to pick out of the crowd. I became a bit alarmed for their safety.

When I was finally able to squeeze into the street, I rolled my window down and told them that they needed to put their vests on.

They both frowned and eyed me with suspician.

Finally - probably after running my face through his mental photo gallery of known sixty year old female, Caucasian, Canadian terrorists, one said, "We already have them on, Ma'm." (Or, 'mom', hard to tell with all the street noise.)

By that time though, I was through the intersection and there was no going back to tell them that I meant orange traffic safety vests not the Kevlar bullet proof vests.

Sometimes, it seems that the public's communication with the police is like that. Messages get crossed or misunderstood.

Sometimes lines get drawn in the sand.

The Toronto Police Service Board's decision to hold a civilian led inquiry into the G20 events has done a lot to ease the tension.

Wise move.

And the right thing to do.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Party Like It's 1812

Popular Clifton Hill at nightImage via Wikipedia

Not long ago I read an interesting comment about the war with the Taliban. It was written by an American. He asked why his country hadn't learned from its experiences in Canada and Viet Nam that an enemy cannot be defeated in 'his' own country.


It took me a minute. And I live in the part of the country that was occupied by American forces 200 years ago. A part of the country that is already gearing up for a big bicentennial celebration of the start of the War of 1812.

The other shoe fell yesterday when I was in Niagara Falls, Ontario with some friends from the Yukon who were passing through on their way to a hiking holiday in Iceland.

The night was sweltering, the crowds were enormous and as we shuffled down Clifton Hill looking like the throng of brain-fried zombies in Stephen King's 'Cell', my friends, Chris and Gary, commented about how much the place looked like an American theme park.

Later over ice cream, Gary, who is from Virginia but has lived in Canada for many years said he thinks that Canadians are going to be going to be disappointed. He thinks that because of all of the financial cutbacks in the US and, (mainly), because the War of 1812 wasn't a glorious victory for the Americans there isn't likely going to be much celebrating going on south of the border in 2012.

I sat there and looked look around at Planet Hollywood, McDonald's, Starbucks, Movieland, Marineland, Ripley's Believe it or Not, etc., etc.,


Americans, I think, need to redefine 'glorious victory'.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Depends on our Police

Of all the comments and questions I heard about the G20 Summit the only one that I spent much time wondering about was when a friend asked me whether I thought the police officers were wearing Depends.

I remembered watching the news clips that showed them arriving by the bus load in Toronto. Dark clad, unsmiling people turning away from the cameras, bending down to pick up their kits then heading into the hotel. I imagined the frightening items that were in those kits - batons, guns, tear gas, gas masks, pepper spray, shields, helmets.

The idea that a package of adult diapers might have been tucked inside each kit never crossed my mind.

But somehow, as funny as the question was, it did something for me. It humanized the police officers who were charged with keeping the peace for those two days in Toronto.

I didn't like what I saw in Toronto - especially that scene at Queen and Spadina.

I didn't like the way the 'temporary' law came into being.

I do believe we need to have an inquiry into the events.

I do not, however, believe that in Canada the police are the enemy.

I think we need to keep that in mind.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Third Day

God said, "Let the earth produce vegetation:

seed bearing plants and fruit trees on earth
bearing fruit with their seed inside

each corresponding to its own species."
And so it was.

The earth produced vegetation:
the various kinds of seed-bearing plants

and the fruit trees with seed inside,
each corresponding to its own species.

God saw that it was good.

Evening came and morning came:

the third day.

Genesis 1:11-13

Steve Bauer Trail, Fonthill, Ontario
June 28, 2010