Cannabis is now legal

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Canada today became the first country of the G7 to legalize recreational Cannabis. People have been flocking to government stores to buy their pot. Many well known politicians like former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney are now sitting on Boards of Corporations marketing and selling the stuff. The demands is huge as if it was candy.

Here are the prices per Province in Canada for one gram of the stuff. Notice how progressive Quebec has the cheapest prices.

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Some people describe today as Xmas, New Year’s Eve and Canada Day all wrap into one.

Radio shows on CBC have been playing music connected to the topic and on classical radio mentioning composers who like Francis Poulenc use to smoke it. Now you see Trump was right, Bolsheviks live up North in Canada. LOL!!!!

 

 

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16 October Poll

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Here is a Poll from The Guardian in PEI on the possible results of the Municipal Election in Ward 1 Charlottetown. Voting Day is November 5.

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Have your say in our online poll

Today’s question: Who will win in Ward 1

Laurent Beaulieu  46.15%  

 

Paul Haddad  25%  

 

Alanna Jankov  15.38%  

 

Leo Killorn  9.62%  

 

Ron Dowling  3.85%  

 

Thanksgiving Sunday

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Well yesterday we went to the races at the Charlottetown Drive Park where since 1888 you can see daily harness racing. The race track is only about 5 minutes from our house and PEI is known for its horses and racing. The CDP claims to be the Kentucky of Canada, I suppose that makes us all Colonel’s of the Island Regiment. The food is quite good and so are the desserts. The dining room faces the track so you can have your lunch and a drink and place your bets all at the same time. Each table has a small flat screen TV so you can watch the finish line replay if there is a dispute. It was great fun.

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So today is Thanksgiving and we had a very nice turkey lunch with appropriate vegetables of mash potatoes, steamed carrots in dressing, broiled Brussels Sprouts, no dressing. Will made his famous pumpkin soup to start and a beautiful apple pie for dessert. We had nice wines and champagne to top it all off. He also made corn bread perfectly shaped like a corn on the cob.

Will and I have had these dinners and luncheons with our friends at our home for 40 years. You have to give it to Will he always comes up with new recipes and new ways of presenting things. There was a time he would go into very elaborate dishes and it took days to prepare one meal. Gourmet Magazine was then the guide he followed, then he switched to Cook’s Illustrated. Helen Corbitt the Chef at Nieman Marcus Zodiac room was also a favourite. Now he finds recipes on the Internet and tries them. My job has always been setting the table, polishing the silverware and ironing the table cloth, getting flowers and doing all the food shopping. I use to dread doing food shopping because some recipes called for ingredients found only in great metropolitan centres and not in the town where we lived, in some foreign Capitals we often had to invent on the spur of the moment. Will has cooked for Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, Easter Sunday Lunch and all manner of other occasions like afternoon teas when he would prepare the perfect finger sandwiches in a wide variety that would make your Aunt Hecuba jealous.

We do have our favourite dishes, broiled Brussels Sprouts, Caramelized carrots, Roast Goose. Then the standards like Pumpkin soup or some kind of Summer soups for warm weather. We always invite friends who are alone for any Holiday. Now Will says he would like to try his hand at making Moonshine, which is a great favourite here in the Maritime Provinces. Will asked our guests today if they knew the difference between Whiskey and Moonshine. Whiskey is aged and Moonshine is not.

We are now turning our attention to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day lunch menu.

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Here is Will putting the finishing touch to the mash potatoes which he did in the slow cooker over 4 hours, they were very good and creamy. Our friend and expert turkey carver M.G. helped.

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Thanksgiving Sun Flowers in our Breakfast room.

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The Crows at the Art Gallery by Gerald Beaulieu (no relations) entirely made of tires. They are quite big about 10 feet long by 4 feet wide

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Of course Crows are ubiquitous with Charlottetown, they are everywhere and quite aggressive and territorial.

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This is the view from our friends home in Lower Montague on Cardigan Bay, PEI. In the far distance is the deserted Boughton Island and Nova Scotia.

 

 

 

 

28 Sept.

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Yesterday 28 September I got a call from my cousin Gilbert in Montreal letting me that his mother, my aunt Laurence had died aged 92 after a very long illness. She was the elder sister of my mother and my little sister reminded me that our mother had died 5 years ago on this day.  What a strange coincidence, both died in their sleep after long illnesses. I have two aunts left on my maternal side, one is 93 and the other is 88.

My aunt did not want any funeral service and her ashes are to be buried in the same cemetery in Saint-Laurent beside her son Louis and her ex-husband Jacques. There will be a memorial service some time in the future.

Such news brought back a lot of memories of childhood and it seems almost unbelievable that aunts and uncles all aged and now are gone. In my mind though time passed I never really thought of them as getting old, they seemed frozen in time.

I remember my aunt Laurence coming to visit me in Chicago back in 1994 when I was working at the Canadian Consulate in the Prudential building. But I do not remember much more than us going to a steakhouse for dinner.

Today more of the same, only 38 days left in the campaign. I can’t wait for it to end. I fear the vote will be very split with 4 candidates on the ballot. Two of the Mayoral candidates opened their campaign offices today with sandwiches and cake, photos and a few speeches. The weather is still pleasant for canvassing, some people are interested in the elections other could not care less. Apathy is out there and it is difficult to counter, there is a belief that voting is meaningless. A lot of young people are either mildly amused or indifferent to the elections, I am trying to point out to them the difference they can make by getting involved, not an easy task.

Win or loose, I want to take a vacation afterwards, we are discussing where we might go. Lisbon, Portugal came up as a possibility. Just a week might do a world of good.

Thanksgiving in coming up on 8 October, I think we are doing turkey, no stuffing, some vegetables, a pumpkin soup to start and apple pie for dessert, lots of apples this time of year.

 

 

On a rainy day

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Today was a windy and rainy day typical of Autumn on PEI. I had a few things to do like going to the garage to get my oil changed and get the tire pressure checked. Do a bit of work on the campaign which is drawing to a close but much remains to be done. I found this video on YouTube, recorded by CCTV (Central China TV) it shows the dawn raising of the Chinese flag ceremony of on 1 January 2018 on Gate of Heavenly Peace Square or Tian An Men Square which is more rectangular.

There cannot be a more symbolic square in China, fronted by the outer gates of the Forbidden City with its 3 archways, the central one being higher than the other two and reserved exclusively for the Emperor, on the left side of the square is the National museum whose vocation has been changing in the last 20 years and on the right side the Great Hall of the People used for the Chinese People’s Congress and for State functions. At the Southern end of the square is another gate Qian Men (Front Southern Gate), since 2006 the City of Beijing has re-built completely the area in what it must have been liked 100 years ago under the Imperial regime with traditional architecture, opera theatres and old traditional shops, somewhat like Chinese Disneyland. In the middle of the Square is Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum which is only open a couple of days a year and is in need of restoration as it appears frozen in time since his death in 1976.

Every day the flag is raised on Tiananmen Square but New Year’s Day is seen as auspicious. While serving in China, I got to see quite a few of these ceremonies. The one which remains with me is the day I went to the People’s Congress meeting in the Great Hall of the People. Our Embassy was in the area of Dongzhimen Wai (East Straight Gate) in the Chao Yang district, I remember being taken down the third ring road during the time the People’s Congress was sitting in March. The government of China would invite Embassies to send observers.  All along the way two lanes of the four lane ring road were reserved exclusively for official cars and a police officer in full uniform was posted every 100 meters, you need a lot of manpower to do that. Our car then turned unto the avenue of Eternal Peace which leads to Tiananmen Square. Again an honour guard all along the route over several kilometres. Upon entering the square gigantic displays of flowers, honour guards to direct the official cars to the main door of the Great Hall of the People, large red carpets climbing the stairs.  Once inside all the walls are in white marble but in keeping with the Soviet Style of architecture it is all over sized dwarfing people. The walls also had large tapestry showing scenes of happy workers receiving bouquets of flowers from happy children and peasants. Other tapestries had patriotic scenes or nature scene rendered in socialist realist style, high in colour.

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In the Great Hall itself where the sessions took place thousands of delegates sat in a large theatre facing the stage where the Head of State, Premier and Ministers including other senior officials of the Chinese ruling bureau sat, each with his or her cup of tea, attendants bring tea continuously. On the large balcony above a 100 piece military orchestra would play patriotic music when signalled to do so. We sat at one end of the balcony observing the ritual of voting on laws or listening to speeches. It was all choreographed. The 56 ethnic minorities living in the People’s Republic of China are also represented in the Assembly and each one is made to wear its ethnic costume so as not to confuse them with the dominant Han Chinese delegates in dark business suits.

The day we attended the Congress a law was passed forbidding Taiwan from seceding from the motherland. Another signal that China is serious about its one China policy. I remember watching the vote, it went like this; In favour 2998 and 2 abstentions, I always wondered who abstained. However another vote was on accepting the final report from the Supreme Court of China on its activities for the year. In this case the vote went this way; 2875 in favour, 110 against and 15 abstentions. After each vote the military band would play. It was all very exciting to see.

 

Gâteau Suèdois

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This recipe comes from the Culinary Institute in Charlottetown and is provided by Chef Ilona Daniels. I was thinking of a certain blogger Roijoyeux who prepares cakes every Sunday for his friend Tauche and spouse.

Swedish Princess Cake

Recipe Adapted by Chelsea Willis

Vanilla custard

2 cups whole milk

2 Tbsp vanilla

6 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

In a pot over medium heat, heat the milk with the vanilla until it simmers. Turn off heat and let it sit. Mix egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Slowly pour milk into the bowl, stirring constantly. Return to the pot and whisk 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat, until very thick. Add butter and stir until melted. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Sponge Cake

4 eggs

¾ cup cornstarch

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp almond extract (optional)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a greased 9-inch springform pan. In a bowl, beat eggs and ¾ cup sugar until very thick and pale, about 5-7 minutes. Add almond extract. Add flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder to egg and sugar mixture then fold to combine. Stir in melted butter just to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden. Let cool completely and turn onto rack.

Chelsea Willis creates some layers with sponge cake, pastry cream and jam. Time and focus are key in making a Swedish Princess Cake.
Chelsea Willis creates some layers with sponge cake, pastry cream and jam. Time and focus are key in making a Swedish Princess Cake.

TO ASSEMBLE YOU’LL NEED:

1 batch of vanilla custard

1 batch of sponge cake

4 Tbsp of your preferred jam

1 pound of fondant

2 ½ cups of heavy cream

2 Tbsp sugar

Green gel food coloring

When the cake is completely cooled, use a serrated knife to carefully slice it into 3 even layers. Divide the jam evenly between the first two layers, spreading a thin layer over the top. Next, add the sugar to the heavy cream and whip until it holds stiff peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the pastry cream, reserving the other half. Evenly divide the pastry-whipped cream mixture between the first two layers, spreading it carefully over the jam layer.

Stack the first two layers and then top with remaining cake slice. Use a spatula to shape the remaining whipped cream into a dome shape on top of the cake, then set the whole thing in the fridge for an hour to set. While the cake is chilling, knead your fondant until pliable. Add a small amount of green gel food coloring and knead until it reaches a light lime colour. Place it between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 16-inch diameter circle, large enough to cover the cake.

Take the cake out of the fridge and gently drape the fondant over the cake. Shape and smooth the fondant around the cake to get a clean appearance, then trim the edges and tuck them neatly under the cake. Decorate with a pink fondant rose on top or a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Nova Scotia

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We went on a short trip, 4 days, to the province next door to PEI, Nova Scotia. A long time ago prior to 1740 it was known as Acadie and populated by French settlers who developed a dyke system for farming on the Bay of Fundy.

We first travelled from our home going East towards Wood Island to catch the ferry which crosses over to Caribou in Nova Scotia a 90 minute trip. The ferry service accommodates both big trucks, buses and cars. Once in Caribou we drove towards Halifax, the capital of the province which is about 90 minutes away. We rented an Air B&B by the Citadel and the architectural wonder new Library on Morris street. A very nice apartment with a nautical theme in the original design, this being an older well preserved building. By walking down hill you arrive in the Port of Halifax where Pier 21, the Canadian Museum dedicated to immigration and many other attractions are located including a larger than life statue to Sir Samuel Cunard, a native son and founder of the famous Cunard Shipping Line.

Halifax has many beautiful colonial stone buildings, old churches and museums. Founded in 1749 and replacing the original capital of Port Royal on the Bay of Fundy. It has a population of half a million people, lots of very good restaurants and bars where drinks mixology is the craze with very good barmen competing on who is the best. I often wonder how they remember all the complex drink recipes and it is great to watch them in action.

We had great weather and being in September the tourists crowds were less numerous despite the fact that 3 cruise ships were in town, it is a big enough city you can find oasis of calm. Halifax has always been an important sea port and a busy one.

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The 78th Highland Regiment of the Halifax Citadel. Their bonnets are made of bird feathers unlike the Grenadier guards whose Busby were made of black bear skins.

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The famous Bluenose II featured on our 10 cent coin in Halifax harbour.

We saw the Bluenose II in port, a beautiful sight and you can sail on her with her crew twice a day. I don’t know if there is something more Canadian than this ship.

We also in Halifax had some great meals and cocktails, mixology is all the rage now. We went to a new bar called Kismet on Agricola street. The four of us ordered from their cocktails menus drinks and then watch the barman create them, it was fascinating. Kismet Bar also has a wonderful kitchen and the food was excellent.

Then we travelled by car to Annapolis Royal formerly Port-Royal under the French Regime and the original Capital of Acadie today Nova Scotia. The drive through the countryside is very nice, green and full of beautiful sights.

Port-Royal was founded by the French envoy and explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur des Mons and Samuel de Champlain in 1604.

Champlain declared that the site was “the most suitable and pleasant for a settlement that we had seen.” They called the spot Port-Royal, in recognition of the French king Henri IV who had granted de Mons a monopoly on the area’s fur trade, and it became the first European settlement north of Florida.

Under the direction of Jean de Biencourt, who led the expedition after de Mons returned to France,  Port-Royal was built in the summer of 1605, resembling the fortified farm hamlets that could be seen in 1600s France.

We visited Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal first established in 1629 by the British and Scots colonists. The region reverted to French control in the 1630s and Charles de Menou d’Aulnay began work on the first of four forts on the same site, then known as Port Royal. In 1702, the French began construction of the current Vauban fortifications that we see today. During Queen Anne’s War, the fort fell to British and New England troops after a week-long in 1710 which marked the British conquest of Acadia. A British governor and garrison replaced the French at the fort renaming the Port Royal settlement Annapolis Royal in honour of Queen Anne. With the Treaty of Utrecht three years later, the British gained full control of mainland Nova Scotia and kept Annapolis Royal as the capital until the founding of Halifax in 1749. We had a nice time visiting the area though the sky was cloudy and rainy. Upon leaving we stopped at a distillery named STILL FIRED on Highway 8, sampled some of the goods and it was delightful. The owners suggested we stop at Blomidon Wineries in Canning near Wolfville and so we did.

The weather was stormy but the clouds were moving fast and it rained intermittently, when we arrived at Blomidon   https://blomidonwine.ca we visited the shop and had a great lunch of Charcuterie and cheeses with the wines on offer. It was great fun and we bought a few bottles.

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The wines were very pleasing, a red, a rosé and a white.

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We arrived in Wolfville on the Bay of Fundy and stayed at a wonderful Bed & Breakfast, the former home of a high society family of the area. Wolfville is a University town, Acadia University established in 1838 has about 4000 students, the town is quite pleasant surrounded by wineries and historical sites including Grand Pré, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wolfville is on the shores of the Bay of Fundy and you can see the dramatic tides coming and going, impressive. Grand Pré is the site of an Acadian (French) settlement and where a peaceful people were violently and forcibly removed by British troops in an act of ethnic cleansing in July 1755 ordered by British Governor Charles Lawrence. Some 10,000 people were deported and lost all their private property and belongings. Grand Pré is also the site of the romantic novel Evangeline by Longfellow, a beautiful park, a memorial church and a museum helps visitors relive the life of the area. A cross marks the site where families were separated before being forced on board leaky boats, some 3000 died at sea.

Grand Pré is also an area where you can see the agricultural efforts of the Acadians to reclaim salty marshland from the sea for cultivation. A very ingenious system requiring a lot of work over a large area. It is well worth the visit.

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Grand Pré, the park which was formerly the cemetery of the French settlement

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High tide on the Bay of Fundy, at low tide the water disappears and a depression of 40 feet red mud is created.

Here is a map of the area where the Mi’ kmaq have lived for the last 15,000 years. Today the Maritime provinces, part of the Gaspé péninsula in Quebec and Newfoundland.

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On the last day we made our way back to Caribou to catch the ferry back to PEI and we arrived back on the Island around 6pm and made our way to Point Prim to have dinner at the Chowder House which closes for the Season on 30 September. It is one of our favourite spot to have dinner facing the Strait of Northumberland, great food.

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The view from the Chowder House at Point Prim with the setting sun.

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Here is a cruise ship exiting the Harbour of Charlottetown and making its way into the Strait going to Cape Breton. Such a dramatic view.

September 1

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This is the long Labour Day Weekend, the tourism season is drawing to a close, though the cruise ships are still coming until end October and more tourist restaurants are staying open until either Thanksgiving weekend on 8 October some until mid-December.

We certainly did not have the crowds of last year for the 150th Anniversary of Confederation and I was happy that the numbers were more manageable. Charlottetown is a small capital of 36,000. people and when a cruise ship disgorges 1000+ passengers you really feel it. The weather also was far more humid and well above normal range for the Summer at 35C usually the temperatures are more around 25C in the day time and around 18C at night. So this Summer climate change was very apparent and many felt it was a bit weird, get use to it people this is the future. Some days in fact it was too hot to go to the beach and even the sea water bath water warmish.

There are 65 days left before the Municipal election and I can’t wait for the campaigning to end. At the moment things remain very fluid, tonight one candidate withdrew and another one came into the race. Just in my Ward 1 we are 4 candidates for Councillor. In the other 9 Wards there is either the incumbent or one challenger or no one. Ward 1 attracts a lot of attention because it is the original footprint of the City, the old downtown with all the attractions and activity. It is also a very mix neighbourhood in terms of population. Lots of businesses, government offices, historical sites and the harbour.

We have been promised or I should say the predictions are for a warm Winter, last year we got a lot of rain instead of snow and it made for a miserable gray Winter, more like Northern Europe.

What is nice about this time of the year is the harvest of vegetables and potatoes, prices tend to be good.

Now this coming week we will find out about the results of the NAFTA negotiations with Washington DC. Now that Trump has said he is not negotiating in good faith and does not care if Canada does not accept his terms, many Canadians are starting to think that maybe we should pull out of NAFTA. There was life before this trade agreement and as our Prime Minister said ”better to say no to a bad deal than having to live with it”.

I am afraid that after all the insults of the past year from Trump many Canadians including myself will never be able to see the USA in a favourable light again. It appears that Trump believes that the USA can live without Canada, well let him believe that, eventually he will find out it’s not that simple.

 

Berlin City Palace tour

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This past weekend in Berlin a special opening tour of the City Palace for curious Berliners. This project is nearing completion after 18 years of preparation and work. The former City Palace of the Kings of Prussia and Emperors of Germany was very badly damaged in 1944. After the war the old Palace was now in Communist East Berlin, like most of all the great buildings of the German Capital. The Communist leadership decided in the 1950’s to destroy what was left, despite the fact the could have restored it. Since there had been a palace on the site for 500 years, the population was not happy with this decision. For decades the area the size of 3 football fields was a parking lot and parade ground for East German troops.

After German re-unification in 1989, the idea of re-building the City Palace was put forward and the plan was approved by the Federal Government of Germany, the City of Berlin and the State of Brandenburg. The financing budgeted at 800 million Euros is shared amongst levels of government and the public donations of 105 million Euros to re-build the South, North and Western facade in the Baroque style of the 18th century. The Eastern facade is modern as will be the interior. The old rooms of the palace will not be re-built as they are now dedicated to show the collections of diverse cultures, there will be a restaurant on the roof, lecture halls, a library and concert hall.

By re-building the City Palace it completes the architectural ensemble of the heart of the City as envisioned by Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786). Because they are Baroque facades on three sides, every element had to be carved by hand and in some cases gilded. The gilded balcony railings and many roof statues still have to be installed and the great dome and lantern need to be completed as is the landscaping.

The opening of the Humboldt Forum as the City Palace is now called is scheduled for Summer 2019. Situated next to the Lutheran Cathedral of Berlin and Imperial Mausoleum to the Hohenzollern Family and all the museums containing the wonderful collections, Unter den Linden avenue, and all the other palaces and university of the city is will certainly be a magnet.