Friday, 31 May 2013

Tour of the Neighbourhood-War of 1812 Weekend May 31-June 2

Battlefield House

Big weekend in Stoney Creek with the anniversary of the battle of Stoney Creek.

Come out for the parade to Smith's Knoll, wander through the Camps and talk to the  "troops".  These guys take their reenactment seriously.

Rain or shine.
For all the details...


Battlefield Monument


Thursday, 23 May 2013

First long weekend of the Summer? Not quite.

 The long and cow-pat strewn road back into the work week after a Victoria Day weekend(it’s now Thursday and I'm still collecting my thoughts); difficult to get the right balance of anti-histamines, cocktails and wine.  Benadryl-man’s great undoing. I envy those that can isolate their allergies to one week and suitably medicate themselves. Naturally, it’s been a banner week for Rob Ford Watch.  I’m not convinced about the Crack use.  (And why are we so enthusiastic about handing over 200K to known drug dealers?)  While Ford’s actions speak volumes, it strikes me that he would be more incapacitated than he already is if he’s added Crack to his food and liquor mix.  Remembering Dave Chappelle’s Rick James. “Cocaine is a helluva drug.”  Brilliant.

Friday saw the last hurrah of The Widget Maker.  A little Dutch Courage as matrimonial bliss awaits.  I’m fascinated by wedding plans.  In this case, the entire entourage is heading to the other side of the country to witness the exchange of vows.  The labour and cost seem so unnecessary. I stand by Mae West-I'm not ready for an institution, either.

We should work but one day a week and take the other six to enjoy the glory that is nature. (Thoreau)

A three day weekend and yet another call for its rechristening; CBC suggesting Stompin’ Tom Day. If you have not already done so, please try Mrs. Brown with Dame Dench.  Another side of Queen Vic.  I like the idea that she and Albert were so in love that she had no choice but to go into deep mourning. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the first long weekend of the summer, but the last long weekend of spring.  Letters to the Editor flood in year after year with reminders that it is in fact June 21 when summer begins.  This comes in handy later on when we need to remind ourselves that summer is still going, even at Labour Day.  It’s not all doom and gloom.  If only we could get Canada Day fixed on the calendar as the first Monday of July.  Who amongst us has not despaired at having the day off Thursday only to return to work on the Friday?  Surely we could get a petition going?  The fireworks began Friday and carried through ‘til Monday night. Please explain the decision to light fireworks mid morning. 

Slavery did not end in this country, it just got called something else-employment.

Soaked up a little culture on the Saturday. The Pater had prepared an exotic chicken dish and I was duly impressed with the effort.  Stuffed to the gills there was nothing left to do in the late hours but immerse myself in a little cable TV.  The Widget Maker was stunned to learn that I don’t have cable.  How am I coping?  We’ve been down the NO CABLE TV route before and we are approaching the second anniversary in August.  I live to tell the tale.  However, I did enjoy trawling through the channels.  Mary & Max, an exquisite claymation from Australia voiced by Toni Collete and Philip Seymour Hoffman amongst others.  Very nicely done and great to hear Bach’s Zadok the Priest popping up out of the middle of nowhere.  Sean Penn in The Assassination of Richard Nixon. A palatable SNL with Tracy Morgan’s Al Sharpton. Finished off with The Office.  Not as difficult to watch as the original; you don’t squirm in quite the same way.  And the usual wee hour mix of people hawking anything from hair removal to hair replacement.

You should never weigh more than your refrigerator.

Sunday Brunch as a matter of course.  Apparently our early ancestors scavenged for human brains.  They enjoyed tapping into a random skull for this delicacy.  I prefer eggs and sausage myself.  If you like Bread and Butter pudding try this BRUNCH IDEA .  Nice leisurely start to Sunday.  David Sedaris weekend on CBC; excellent comedy.  Colm Torbin to be added to the reading list.  I could listen to this man speak all day.  He reminisced about picnics at the seaside when he was a boy and how he always waited for the silence in conversations because he knew that, after ward, the adults would say something unexpected and very interesting.

Burned off the calories on the Waterfront Trail.   More about this in future Tour of the Neighbourhood posts.  Still not convinced Hamilton has anything to offer?  Perhaps the upcoming posts will change your mind.  Must check in on progress with the Chippewa Trail.  I managed a couple of hours and like most walking, kept in mind that you can travel any distance, but, can you make it back that same distance?  Always happy to oblige when asked to take someone’s photo.  Curious specimen at the end of the pier.  Someone sporting a horse’s head stood on the wall with his right hand raised in a sort of Power to the People salute. There was a small pleasure craft on the open waters but no one else to appreciate this equine figure.

Holiday Monday.  Someone chose early morning to start a woodworking project and the sound of hammer strike continued for several hours.  Temperatures soared to 30C and the masses rejoiced.  It was now or never to get the front garden finished.  Transplanted some perennials and spent several dollars at the garden centre.  Pleased with the finished product. (Remember it's in its infancy.)  One must have patience with the daffodils as it takes an eon for the leaves to die off.
Someone asked if gardening was my hobby.  Well it’s one hobby, it’s exercise(more than most people realize) and it does wonders for the brain.  How do you feel when you’re in your garden or surrounded by plants or indeed, reading a gardening book?  I’ve listened to people get quite choked up when describing the emotions they go through looking out onto their garden. 
Then I thought of the rabbit or as has recently come to light, three rabbits.  One can’t be very old-more field mouse then anything.  They love to eat.  And frolic.  Today though, they were in deep cover in my as-yet-to be cut lawn.  And eating weeds; getting down a large dandelion stalk in about three seconds. New leporine Olympic challenge-dandelion/daffodil/tulip triathlon.


And so life comes slowly back into focus and we return to the alarm clock.  How long does that first day back feel?  I dosed with copious amounts of black tea.  Coffee could be dangerous on Day 1.  Nil discussion on the weekend.  Everyone keeping a low profile and already looking ahead to the next long weekend.  A little humour on Day 2. Q with Conrad Black.  Was Ghomeshi up to the challenge?  How would I prepare for a Black interview?  Keep your Roget’s with you at all times.  Black does not believe the PM’s Chief of Staff did anything wrong.  He was just being a nice guy. It’s Amiel that I have issues with.  Her articles for Macleans rub me the wrong way but I’m compelled somehow to read them.  All the while muttering, “Right-winged, over-privileged cow!” 


Memories are not solace.
On a more Everyman level, I tuned in to the Bosma memorial. I thought family and friends did a fine job. What else is going on under our noses?  The minister acknowledged the ten year captivity and escape of the three young women and the over six hundred native women unaccounted for in this country.  We now have a second man in custody.  How long before the full story is revealed?  We’ve had to wait four years for a verdict in the Mason murder.  Does having faith in the afterlife mean you accept that this death is God’s will? Or does it merely provide you with comfort that your family member is with God?  Do you still seek your own brand of justice?


Back to Black who so very discreetly suggested that Mr. Ford not try quite so hard to bring attention to himself.  Will Flight of the Eagle find its way on to my reading list?  Pleased to report that the Trollope is going well.  Nothing like a Christmas story in May.  I’m told the MFK Fisher is in and I’ll be picking it up later this week. 

Oh look at that, Friday already. 

Until next time.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Defending Brunch

Do I really need to defend my decision to spend four hours on brunch?  Was it four or eight or eighteen?  Regardless, one should never have to justify taking a leisurely meal.  And I think last Sunday went rather well.
I unearthed last August's BAN BRUNCH (BANBRUNCHBLOG) by Alexander Nazaryan in which he calls for an end to brunch.  Mr. Nazaryan speaks specifically of the Sunday Brunch that takes place outside the home.  Nazaryan feels that we, humankind, could be so much more if we could just stop eating and drinking for nigh on four hours on a Sunday afternoon.  There was a call for a rational mind to reconsider brunch’s place in society.

I firmly believe in brunch (and leisurely breakfasts).  This afternoon delight can take place in your own home, too.  We have observed several versions of brunch.  Xmas, Easter, the Saturday leisurely paced/sausage laced.  The menu is not important.  We have run the gamut from the ubiquitous Eggs Benedict to Kedgeree to the Full Monty.

For your next brunch menu, please see BRUNCH 

Nazaryan’s argument is that our time could be better spent enlightening ourselves and others; better spent exercising the little grey cells, n’est pas?  I would counter that Brunch allows precisely this and that we are better off from having spent a few hours in conversation, observation or quiet contemplation.

Brunch may be the best thing you've eaten all week.  It may be the only time you've allowed yourself to ingest properly all week. Are you a ten-minuter? Do you balance the juice and toast on the bathroom vanity?  The soap and shaving foam adding another layer of taste? Do you swig coffee on the way to work?

Do you read the newspaper or scan? (Do people still read newspapers? I'm the only one in my neighbourhood.) Do you listen to your morning show? Really listen?  Do you stop to look out of the window? Do you linger at the window?  Try brunch.  It goes well with all of the above.  Do you share your thoughts with other beings? Conversation can be challenging when you are running around looking for that matching sock.
Ultimately, I don’t care what others bring to the brunch table, food or conversation wise.  The rush of the work week may mean you’ve exhausted your conversations cards.  David MacFarlane, who has been mentioned in these pages before, suggested doing just one thing at a time and eating may be that one thing.  Do you think you can?   Don't consider what you could/should be doing.  Focus on this one thing. Can you allow yourself a guilt free meal?

What is the gain from Sunday's brunch?   I learned to cook something new. I've expanded my culinary horizons. I supported the local economy. I educated the staff at the local LCBO on where to find product on their store shelves. No, the product line has not been discontinued. If you have yet to introduce yourself to Niagara wines, now is the time.  Apparently the Chinese love Ice Wine.  But, please don't buy the knock off; it contains glycol. Shudder. I learned how birds defend themselves against one another.  I got caught up on family matters, the state of European football, gardening tips.  I listened to The Sunday Edition in its entirety. People watching? Of course.  I felt good because I had managed to cut the grass and the neighbours just don't quite seem able to manage it. The whole experience was a great start to the day.

"So what?" you ask.

Brunch results in a healthy mindset.  A healthy mind results in a healthy body thus a more productive member of society. Psychology 101. The more productive you are, the less guilt about taking time out to eat, the more you can indulge in brunch! 

Lessons that could be applied in the workplace, no?  But, that’s another post.


Friday, 3 May 2013

Ah, Spring

You can stop all the bitching and moaning now.  Please don't start again when the humidity kicks in.

Today is our second full day without the furnace.  Windows open;  23C  Woo hoo!
So much easier to get out of bed when there is light, warmth and the prospect of warmth and sun at 6, 7 and 8 PM.

Tour of the garden in the early evening.  The ginger lives!  Now some of you got excited about The Leafs making the playoffs but the reappearance of the Wild Ginger trumps all that.  The plant was on life support late last summer and I thought the experiment was over.  Of course, the rabbit has been treating it as an appetizer to the tulip course.

Should I pull the dandelions?  I eat the leaves in salads but would I eat them out of my garden?  There is a couple down the street that can be found regularly pulling plants out of the ditches for their supper table.

Surveyed the lawn.  "What lawn?" I hear you ask.  Ok, it's maybe one third crab grass, one third clover and one third yet-to-be identified plants (which do look rather attractive, though).  Fiddleheads, Aquilegia, Periwinkle (spent quite a while watching a bee feasting on the pollen), Black Eyed Susan, Lamb's Ears, Foxgloves (such an elegant flower), Peonies, Maltese Cross and St. John's Wort all showing signs of life.

I wrote some time back about how we Ontarions get excited about plant life after Winter's long embrace. 

However, I'm not so keen on the neighbour's Invasives tunnelling through four feet of earth to pop up in my garden. A Chameleon may look attractive but any plant capable of bursting through asphalt needs to be banished.  The tendrils  make it a touch challenging to eradicate. On the other side of the fence, the Wisteria has been left to do as it pleases and is in the process of murdering its fourth tree.

Something very refined about a tulip just before it's ready to bloom.

Someone asked, "Have we had enough of Daffodils, yet?"  I would argue no.  Look at the structure next time you're up close and personal with one. We have about a week and a half left of daffodil season.

Bird Song. Is there anything better? I can even tolerate the doves cooing now.

Robins.  It always seems to me that they know you're watching and they give you that knowing glance.  Maybe I'm reading too much into this.  My knowledge of birds ends with what's around me: sparrows, starlings, cardinals, jays, finches and orioles.

We've had a butterfly in the garden. Just the one but it was a welcome sight.

Favourite time of day for birds is early evening which reminds me of the UK after a little rain when the birds start up again before nightfall. People call it an excuse but there is a reason to leave the garden cleanup for a few weeks more. Birds are nest building and those leftovers from last summer provide the raw materials. So don't be too hasty to spit and polish the beds. I don't like a bed that looks too sterile.

And so, it is time to get the mower out.  Seven years and going strong with my reel mower.  You will not convince me to go gas.  Do you realize you're cutting it at least twice as much as I am mine?

My only regret is that we have such a short spring.  From a financial perspective, we never get our money's worth out of the clothes.  There just isn't time before we're perspiring heavily into something that's not breathing.  Neighbours emerge from their homes looking pasty after nearly seven months of indoor living and they return to their air conditioned environment soon after.  There is noise in heat that you don't get in Spring.

Important to stop and smell the proverbials.  Get out into your garden, your balcony or visit someone else's garden and watch the ever maturing delights.