Monday, September 27, 2010

But What Did We Do With the Baby?

This is one last look at my September blogs - with a secret Yukon recipe at the end and it isn't for boiled moose nose.  For that you will have to wait.

Read carefully, your name might be here!

The Union House

Hurray! The locals will be able to go in and buy a beer again. It's being turned into a pizza joint.

Thanks for the info, Kim!

Deconstructing Brian

This was a rant about opinionated journalists. Bloggers are the Internet free spirits - we're allowed to have opinions, (unless you blog in Saudi Arabia).

Journalists are only allowed to have opinions if I agree with them.

You Who? Me Velda

I sure have a lot of relatives. I now have the names and e-mail addresses of 902 people who share my DNA.

This could get out of hand...

Love Story North of Sixty

Best comment went to Lynne M who said she would have had her way with him before she ditched him.

Maybe I left out parts of the story, Lynne.


Grave Faces II

This is the second in a series.

Ghosts Among the Grapes

This one ran in but nobody from Henry of Pelham sent over a free case of wine.

Get Your Burka Ready, Girls

I asked how Iran could possibly be a part of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women (they who are threatening to stone Ashtiani) and was horrified to learn from Doug Jamieson, (aka Geezeronline) that Crazyman Gadhaffi, (remember Lockerbie, Scotland?) was elected to chair the UN's Commission on Human Rights.

Very disturbing.

Big Bad Facebook

Ha ha. After weeks of agonizing over how to stop facebook from posting my blog to my wall instead of letting people use my URL, I finally thought to ask google. In two seconds I had the information I needed.

Pumpkin and Chocolate - Together at last

I was surprised at how many pumpkin and chocolate recipes there are out there. Not that anyone sent me any but they talked about them and how yummy they are. If anyone wants to send me a recipe I will post it.

I'm looking at you Chris and Barb.

Gun Down

It was a squeaker but the registry stays.

For now.

 I doubt if this fight is over.

Down and Out in the Superstore

I am driving and walking much slower after my fall. I also notice the Superstore has moved their displays away from the door and careening customers.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead, Let the Living Play Cricket

I'm so tired of this Liberal government.


Now just because you have read this far,  I'm passing along a special treat. It is a recipe I found in my old files.  It is from a Yukon baby shower I attended. It has the exciting name of "Punch".

Yukon women aren't big on adjectives.

It was a great shower though!

I just can't remember what we did with the baby!


1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 bottle of champagne
1 bottle sparkling white wine
1/2 cup of cointreau
pineapple - crushed and chunks

Now I'm going to catch up on some reading.

See you on Saturday morning!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let the Dead Bury the Dead, Let the Living Play Cricket

Laura Secord warning Lieutenant James Fitzgibb...Image via Wikipedia

To say I was shocked when I read Christina Blizzard's article, "Liberals Balk at 1812 Memorial", Sept. 25/10, St. Catharines Standard, would be an understatement.

In case you didn't get a chance to read it during this busy weekend, she wrote that Paul Miller, MP, Hamilton East & Stoney Creek, asked the Provincial Legislature to consider moving the remains of our soldiers and American soldiers who fell during the 1813 Battle of Stoney Creek. He suggested they be reinterred in a more dignified setting.

Liberal Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan deep sixed the idea.

No money is forthcoming.

Then Ms Blizzard reminded us that this is the same Liberal government that gave a cricket club $1,000,000.


So let's recap what we know.


The Americans invaded on May 27, 1813 and captured Fort George. The British, Canadian Militia and First Nation Warriors retreated to Stoney Creek. The Americans were right behind them. The Battle of Stoney Creek followed on June 6. The Americans were forced to retreat back to Fort George.

Laura Secord took her famous walk through enemy lines a few weeks later On June 22.

The terrible war continued for another year.

The frozen bodies of women and children were found in the snow drifts after the American burned Newark in December of 1813.

We retaliated by burning Buffalo.

Thousands died on Canadian soil at the Battle of Fort Erie in August of 1814.

Those were desperate times  and pivotal in the building of our nation.

The remains of the men who died during the conflict in Stoney Creek are scattered across Battlefield Park. Bone fragments are coming to the surface as the soil erodes.

There is no money to bury them properly.


A cricket club someplace has $1,000,000.


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Down and Out at the Superstore

Yesterday morning I was late for my aerobics class.

I leapt out of bed, wolfed my flax and fibre, fed the patriarch and put the spy car into warp speed. At the gym, which is above the Superstore, I screeched to a stop, jumped out, thundered across the tarmac and entered the building at full throttle.

My mind registered that a young woman was ahead of me, gawking at the early Hallowe'en displays and blocking my way with her grocery cart.

Desperate to make up for lost time, I deked around her.

As I did so, I stepped off the entrance mat and onto the shiny, smooth floor.

Did I mention it was raining and my shoes were wet?

I went into a slow motion, mind boggling free fall, and ended up flat on my back.

A crowd gathered. A crowd of concerned citizens full of sympathy I didn't deserve.

And because I know you are wondering, let me assure you of one thing:

There is absolutely no dignified way for a rain soaked sixty year old lady in spandex shorts to crawl out from under a pile of Wonder Bread.


Time to slow down and smell the autumn flowers.

Wes Crow's Market, 381 Canboro Road, Ridgeville

And enjoy the gathering of the pumpkins.

Wes Crow's Market, 381 Canboro Road, Ridgeville

 And hide out from the 300 billion or so people who witnessed my total humiliation.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gun Down

PEMBROKE PARK, FL - APRIL 09:  A shell casing ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

"Citizens under the age of 18 but over the age of 12 may procure a Minor’s Licence which does not allow them to purchase a firearm but allows them to borrow a firearm unsupervised and purchase ammunition. Children under the age of 12 that are found to need a firearm to hunt or trap may also be awarded the Minor's Licence."

Sounds like a law that may have been in place around the time of Confederation, doesn't it?

It is actually one of the many unpleasant surprises I found when I went wading through Canada's murky present day gun laws this morning. If you ever want a good scare try reading what is allowed and isn't allowed in this nation that has such 'strict' gun control.

I confess that I haven't paid much attention to the Bill C-391 vote set for today. A gun registry is necessary and although I was aware that it was going to be a tight vote, I was sure good sense would triumph.

Then I read the letter to the editor from Karen Vanscoy, Margaret Pinard, Priscilla de Villier and Donna French in the St. Catharines Standard last night. Women who have lost children to acts of violence. Names we all know. Women we have walked with on their terrible journey. They were obviously concerned that the outcome might not be what we all had assumed it would be.

I began to worry that the Bill might pass.

My belief is that guns, long, short, or in between must be registered. No exceptions for farmers, hunters, First Nations people or intruders from the planet Zajeeb X.

Here's hoping our M.P.s do the right thing today.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pumpkin & Chocolate, Together At Last

I don't just like pumpkins. I love pumpkins!
I love big pumpkins, small pumpkins, even the new white pumpkins!

If pumpkins were Liberals I would vote for Dalton McGinty that's how agreeable I find them. Fortunately for me pumpkins don't do politics.

What pumpkins do is feed people.

This is a recipe I got from my fearless friend, Elaine, who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon.

I say fearless because she once came to my house and killed ten bizzillion hornets with a rolled up newspaper. You have to respect a recipe from a woman like that.

Besides, this recipe combines pumpkin and chocolate. 
How sexy is that?

Elaine's Harvest Loaf

Step 1

Combine in the order given:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Step 2

Combine these items separately and stir well:

1 & 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Step 3

Combine steps 1 and 2 and then add 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin

Step 4

Bake at 350 for 1 & 1/2 hours

Step 5

This step is the most important part of the recipe. 
Do not omit it!

 one hour for yourself,
one dog
 one cup of tea
and whatever thriller you are reading at the moment.

Great recipe, eh?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bad Bad Facebook


Roman PolanskiImage via Wikipedia

There is something creepy about The-Entity-That-Is-Facebook.

Recently it snuck into my blog site, grabbed my blog and posted it to my wall before I even decided I was going to post to fb. Okay, I always post to fb, but that doesn't matter.

Computer programmes shouldn't be wandering around the internet thinking things like, "Oh there's another blog by Francie. Won't she be surprised when she wakes up!"

I was surprised. Horribly.

And spooked.

It seems that every few months The-Entity-That-Is-Facebook has taken another liberty.

It's like being on a date with Roman Polanski when you are only 13.

So, keeping Erma Bombeck's advice in mind, i.e., "If you can't be a good example, be a terrible warning." (Thanks, Barb), I decided to take matters into my own hands and walk where no sixty-year old, female non-geek has walked.

Yes folks, I went into the blogsite toolbox.


I fiddled with more things that I didn't understand than Dalton McGinty does just before an election.

So either The-Entity-That-Is-Facebook, will start respecting me and my link or the whole blog site will come crashing around my ears and I will have to pay some grade eight kid to come and fix everything for me.


I hate being the terrible warning.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Get Your Burka Ready, Girls

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations in 2...Image by david_shankbone via Flickr

I'm beginning to suspect that Canadian newspapers have given up on reporting the news and have taken to printing bad jokes instead.

Yesterday the local paper reported that the United Nations has elected Iran, a country in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women who are judged immodest, to its Commission on the Status of Women .

As far as jokes go, it isn't very funny, guys.

I mean, really...

You or I would win the lottery before Iran would be elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.

Rick Mercer would announce that he had actually been born in Buffalo before Iran would be elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.

The Leafs would win the Stanley Cup again before Iran would be elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.

Gilles Duceppe and his hair net would tour another cheese factory before Iran would be elected to the UN's Commission on the Status of Women.

And for sure, Canada would immediately and unconditionally condemn such an outrage!


The UN has some 'splainin' to do.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Ghosts Among the Grapes


Henry of Pelham Family Estate, 1469 Pelham Rd., St. Catharines
905-684-8423 or 1-877-Pelham7.  Open daily.

The grape harvest is celebrated in Niagara during September.

Henry of Pelham is the only winery that has its own graveyard.

I think.

Actually I guess I shouldn't make such a bold statement without knowing the facts. For all I know having a graveyard might be part of the licensing requirement to grow grapes.

Chardonnay grapes like these.

Or these Riesling grapes.

But how many wineries have ghosts?

Rumours that Henry of Pelahm has at least one ghost have been around for years but I found the workers reluctant to talk about it.

I had to badger one of them into admitting that things 'have been seen'.

I suppose the stories make for good  publicity but when you step into the old building it is easy to imagine that it might be haunted.

But for wine lovers the trip to Henry of Pelham's is worth facing an irate 'spirit' or two.

Wine tastings and tours are offered daily in the summer and by appointment in the winter.

If you can squeeze a trip in before Thanksgiving the Coach House Cafe and Cheese Shoppe will be open for lunch!

Just make sure you order Henry of Pelham Chardonnay with your Baco Barrel Smoked Trout with Horse Radish Cream,

or a Sauvignon Blanc with your Spicy Eggplant Capponata,

or a Pinot Noir with your Roasted Niagara Peaches, Prosciutto and Brie Cheese Panini Sandwich.

It's  all so frightfully good!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grave Faces II

Cemeteries are full of whimsy
and hope.


This tiny little fellow is not engaged in angelic work yet. 
He is far too young. 
As I snap his picture I wonder if angels are born or just magically appear.
If they are born, it means that angels ...



I love the look on her face.
It is the look that children get  when they are absorbed by the story they are hearing. 
I imagine that this angel is hearing the life story of the person upon whose tomb she rests.
Must have been a rip snorter of a life!

 Not quite old enough to guard the living or welcome the dead,
this child is engaged in tending the gardens. 
He takes his new responsiblity very seriously
like a child in charge of cleaning the chalk board brushes at school.

A pre-teen! 
 Because of the impish little smile, I keep expecting one eye to pop open
as she checks to see whether her friends have their eyes closed too. 

 I was tempted to put an ipod in the ear of this angel before I took her picture.
She looks lost tin her music like any teenager.

Such a compassionate face. 
 She looks like the kind of girl a teacher would pick to take care of the new kid in the class. 
I imagine this is the angel who greets new arrivals.

I hope she was on duty last week.

As I was leaving the cemetery today a butterfly landed in front of me.

A comforting symbol at the end of a sad week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Love Story From North of Sixty

A photo of a part of the Skagway city in Alaska.Image via Wikipedia

Alaska is a remarkable place. It is full of beautiful snow capped mountains, fresh air, turbulent history and an assortment of the most interesting people you could ever hope to meet. When I was teaching in the Yukon I was so taken with the forty-ninth state that on one of my holidays home to Ontario I told my family that I hoped to find an Alaskan to marry so that I could stay there.

My brother, who'd had a hockey scholarship to a New England college for four years, and was therefore an authority on all things American, snorted and said, "And what are you going to do when he decides that he wants to move back to Muncie, Indiana?"

"Humph!" I said.

A few years later during the early summer I was driving from Whitehorse over the Top of the World Highway to Skagway, Alaska. I was going to take one of the Alaska State ferries down to Vancouver Island.

Much to my surprise, because I was in the middle of nowhere, two big hitchhiking men suddenly appeared in my line of vision.

In the north you do not leave anyone standing on the side of the road.

I stopped.

The younger one got in the back and the older one climbed in beside me. It turned out to be a father and son team from New Jersey who had spent a few weeks together hiking in the Alaskan wilderness.

The father and I talked for hours as we headed into Skagway. We got along so well that I was actually sad to say goodbye to him when I dropped them off downtown and headed to the ferry terminal.

I drove my car onto the ferry, shaking my head at the way things go in my life.

Just before the ferry hove away from the dock I was leaning against the railing, staring at the water feeling sorry for myself when I felt someone come and stand beside me. I looked up into the rugged face of my hitch hiker.

"I should come with you," he said gruffly.

For a second my knees went weak, I swooned and my mind was suddenly full of images of a little house with a white picket fence. I saw dogs, maybe even kids and it was all happening in...

Uh oh.

"No you shouldn't," I said hastily.

I practically pushed him down the gangplank.

"But have a great trip home to Muncie!

...I mean Trenton!"

I waved goodbye and really enjoyed the rest of my trip.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

You Who? Me Velda

Cover of the January 11, 1988, edition of NewsweekImage via Wikipedia

When I was small my mother used to tuck me in at night and say, "Never forget that you are a Highlander."

And because both of my paternal grandparents were also born in Scotland I grew up thinking that I had heather instead of blood in my veins. I didn't know then that my last name was Irish and I probably had more potatoes in my veins than heather.

My mother was so enamoured with her Scottish ancestors that she neglected to tell me about the other half of her family until I was much older. Her father's family was mostly German UEL with a little Iroquois thrown in.

The point is that you might think you know a lot about your family tree but a little research can uncover some big surprises.

I blogged about Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve awhile ago. National Geographic is researching the patterns of human migration. It is called the Genographic Project.

I was so excited about their project that I ordered the kit.*

I received the results yesterday.

I found out that I am descended from a line of women in the 'Velda Clan', or to put it less romantically, I am part of Haplogroup V.

My grandmothers left Africa through the Sinai Peninsula.

Though we are small in number compared to some of the other groups, we do have our own face book page!

Haplogroup V people are found mostly in northern Scandinavia herding reindeer and the Iberian Peninsula drinking wine.

Oh, and one blogs in North Pelham.

No mention of Scotland.

Sorry, Mom.

*Note: If you order the kit, watch the DVD first. I found out that there is a reason they ask for two samples. Teachers are notorious for not following directions and true to my kind I ruined the first sample.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Deconstructing Brian

I love this eye catching headline.

The first sentence is even better. The article isn't just going to be about the left wing, it is going to be about the far left wing! Holy cow there's even a cherry on top for paranoid Canucks who are touchy about being thought of as American puppets: far left wing Americans invading Canada without our knowledge and doing scary things to us.

As I hunkered down with my coffee, a delicious shiver ran up and down my spine. This was going to be a real bodice ripper.

"Those naughty Yankee devils," I thought picturing Fabio's hair blowing in the wind.

I read on.

It got sexier. Far left wing American church groups!

OMG! Christians!

Even Margaret Atwood was up in arms about that!

We have our standards in Canada. We might not mind taking a little heat from pleasant Americans like Ann Coulter, but you peace mongering American church goers get out of our backyard.

Thank heavens we've got people like Brian Lilley to tell us the unbiased facts, Canada.

Note: This fun little read appeared in the St. Catharines Standard on Sept. 2, 2010. Sorry it isn't clear. If you missed it and really feel you want to read it you can google his headline.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Union House

A now-abandoned lock of the Second Welland Can...Image via Wikipedia

Black and empty now, Hallett's Bar has been standing on Merritt Street in my home town of Merritton, Ontario, since 1875.

Hallett's Bar is also known as 'The Union House'. I never knew how it had earned its nickname until last year when my 94 year old aunt told me a little of its history.

When she was a young girl she managed to land a job in one of the factories in town. The working conditions were grim; long hours, low pay, no breaks and a boss who terrified the girls.

Then one year the union came in from Toronto and organized the workers. They got a pay raise, breaks, a real bathroom and the boss was forced to stop his bullying.

Happy ending, right?
A publick notice about the opening of the Firs...

Well sort of.

The new problem was the union meetings.

You see, Merritton was settled by Irish Protestants and Catholics who came to build the first Welland Canal. They had been fighting with each other since before the earth was formed.

 When they first arrived in this area in the early 1800s their battles were murderous and often required intervention by the local militia.

The Toronto Union leaders had no idea of what they had gotten themselves into, because suddenly the descendents of the original Irish workers had a common enemy .

The first rule was that every worker, male or female, had to attend the union meeting. The second, (unofficial), rule was that on the appointed day the men had to get off work, go straight to Hallett's Bar and get drunk first.

Hallett's became a clubhouse for the male workers. Hence the name, 'The Union House'.

Unfortunately, the female workers often got caught in the ensuing mêlée.

Well the factories are all gone now, moved to Mexico I suppose, and the unions are also gone, (but not likely to Mexico), and if you tried to find it on a map, even my old home town of Merritton is gone, swallowed up by St. Catharines.

But 'The Union House' is still there - closed and quiet, a reminder of a time when the labour movement was young and the factories of Southern Ontario kept this country running.

Have a great Labour Day Weekend, everybody!

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