The Holidays are coming…

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For those of you like my friend Dr Spo in Phoenix who wonder if Christmas is near, well after Thanksgiving back on the first Monday in October, we all know there is Halloween but heck it’s time to plan and set dates and menus. Just this past weekend we went to two cocktail parties and two dinner parties. We have already planned our Christmas Eve and Day, menus set etc… For New Year’s Eve 2020 things are in motion and should be well organized fairly soon.

Today Will and I were looking at Nigel Slater’s recipe for Plum Pudding. He is a British Chef and we love his recipes. He writes for the Guardian newspaper in London. So off to the Bulk Barn to buy all the fruits needed for the Plum ”Christmas” Pudding. Buying these ingredients, it really put me into the mood. Next Sunday 24 November is stir up Sunday so time to start the process.

Ingredients

Method

  1. For this recipe you will need two 1.5 litre(2½ pint) plastic pudding basins with lids.

  2. Soak the sultanas, raisins, currants, figs, peel, apricots and cherries in the brandy overnight, giving it a good stir now and again.

  3. The following day, in a large bowl mix the ginger, syrup, apples, orange juice and zest with the eggs, suet, sugar, crumbs and flour.

  4. Stir in the soaked fruit and spice.

  5. Grease the two pudding basins and divide the mix between them. Add coins now if using.

  6. Cut two circles of greaseproof paper to cover the top of the pudding and fold a pleat down the centre to allow pudding to expand.

  7. Put lids on the basins and steam puddings for 3½ hours.

  8. Let puddings cool before removing greaseproof paper and covering tightly with cling film and lid. The puddings can now be stored in a cool, dry place until Christmas.

  9. To reheat, steam pudding for a further 3½ hours, turn out and flame with brandy.

Can’t wait to flame the pudding, such a treat.

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I also added this recipe by Nigel because it is not Christmas without Stilton Cheese. 

 

 

Stilton Cheese for me always brings back wonderful memories of Christmas and stops on the way home in London to shop. The quality and variety on offer in London is truly amazing. In Rome Christmas shopping was wonderful for wines and quality chocolates, cheeses, meats, olives, etc… Munich and Dresden Christmas Markets loads of fun, great food and tons of atmosphere. In Warsaw we had the most beautiful trees and again all the special Christmas food much of it borrowed from Jewish European Cuisine. Copenhagen was also great for Christmas Shopping so many beautiful things in the shops, style and elegance.

Also this year we have decided to return to good old fashion Christmas Cards and mail them with postage stamps to friends. We had been doing a lot of electronic cards in the last 10 years and well it is not the same and we enjoy receiving cards in the mail, it is so much more personal.

Finally today we went to the Pharmacy to get our Free Flu shot. In Canada everyone can, if you want get a free Flu Shot. It takes minutes and that is it, simple, how civilized.

So yesterday I took a little nap on the sofa and my Nicky wanted to snuggle up and he, like all Dachshund loves to squeeze in, so there with his big nose breathing in my face. He is just keeping an eye on me.

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The Cows Ice Cream shop love to sell souvenirs in the form of T-Shirts, Sweaters, caps etc. All of them have a funny saying on them and I saw this one in the window and I thought this is the sort of thing you want for Christmas, you know for that special cousin.

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A little gate

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If you happen to be in Potsdam follow the Schopenhauerstrasse from the city centre, you can walk it in fact and it is well worth it. You will arrive at this gate called Obelisk Hauptallee which gives you the direct entrance into the pleasure gardens of Sans Souci. It is a very vast garden full of statues, grottos, palaces, a Church and Chinoiserie pavilion.

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As you follow this allee look to your right and you will see Sans Souci, if you continue straight on for 2 Km you will arrive at the Neues Palais. Both built by Frederick II the Great, Sans Souci is more like a big mansion, very private, where Frederick only invited those people he really wanted or enjoyed seeing. The Neues Palais or New Palace was for all the Official functions and to house his brothers Henri, William and Ferdinand when they came to Potsdam.  Frederick’s wife Elizabeth Christine of Brunswick lived at Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin which he built for her, she very rarely was invited to come visit Potsdam and even then would be housed in the New Palace or in the City Palace in front of the Church of St-Nicolas.

When you visit Sans Souci, the decor and the layout is very much Frederick’s, it was all about the things he liked most from paintings to books. It is essentially high baroque architecture, he chose the colours, the decor and much of it reflects his taste for the exotic. He lived there with his Whippet dogs. He is buried with them in the front garden of his palace as he wished. After his death in 1786, Sans Souci was closed. His successors and family lived at the Neues Palais or in Berlin at the City Palace until 1918.

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The entire park is for pedestrians, it was also used for horse back riding given its vast space. Enormous renovation and restoration of the park and its buildings has taken place in the last 25 years again in an effort to bring it back to what it was before 1914. I walked it on 3 separate occasions and enjoyed its charm and peaceful beauty. You can easily spend a day or two here.

 

 

 

A new Berlin

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I am writing this today Monday 11 November, Remembrance Day in Canada when we reflect on the Armistice which ended the First World War. Though I am told that the name First World War belongs really to the War of Liberation in Europe against Napoleon, his 12 campaigns or 12 years of War involving all the Empires and Kingdoms in Europe was then considered a World War by Europeans Princes.

Berlin in the 20th century  was then seen as a Capital of the enemy who wanted to dominate the world. Then the Second World War brought more hatred and calamity on us all. Millions perished, countries ravaged and the world ended up divided between the West and the East with in 1961 a Wall dividing not only a city, Berlin but an entire continent, Europe, a Nuclear Arms race and mutual assured destruction was a political doctrine during the Cold War 1946-1989.

Since the reunification of Germany with the fall of the Wall 30 years ago this week, the German Federal Government decided that a new chapter would be written and this one would focus on peace and cooperation at home and in the world. For Berlin, the Capital once again, the Regional Government of Brandenburg and the Municipal City Council Berlin developed a plan to focus on the Age of Enlightenment and its great thinkers and artists and to take a humanist approach. If you visit Berlin you will see it everywhere, a truly progressive city and outlook.

The project of  House of One on PetriPlatz on FisherIsland, the Medieval centre of the original City of Berlin is in step with the new concept or approach in developing Berlin of the 21th Century.

PetriPlatz was the site of the original Church of St-Peter in Berlin centuries ago. It was destroyed in 1944 in Allied bombings and remained a empty piece of land in East Berlin under the GDR Government.

The project is to build as of 2020 a building The House of One uniting all 3 monotheist religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all having the same Abrahamic Foundation.

The “House of One” will comprise a church, a synagogue and a mosque. Three spaces connected to a central communal room.

The initiative became a foundation and the idea became a design. The model for which has already been exhibited internationally in Chicago and Paris – is special. Deep underground it preserves the archaeological remains of Berlin’s history and the various churches that were built, destroyed, rebuilt or bombed here. Above ground, it will rise some 32 metres into the sky, becoming a symbol of a new era.

The planned cost is around 43.5 million euros, donations coming from various countries. This Fall, the German Federal Government promised to contribute ten million euros, if the state of Berlin and individual donations could match that funding. Now the foundation stone is due to be laid on 14 April 2020.

This date was chosen very deliberately. 14 April 1783 saw the premiere of “Nathan the Wise” in Berlin. The great play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) is probably the most important work of classic German-language literature on co-operation between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Lessing uses a “Ring parable” to explain that God loves all three monotheistic religions – and they are therefore duty-bound to be tolerant.

‘Petrikirche was the start of Berlin, which has now grown into a multicultural, multi-faith city. A lot has happened over the centuries, this is a sign of peace and tolerance.’says  the architect Wilfried Kuehn.

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Two concept views of the new building soaring 32 meters or 104 feet. on PetriPlatz, Berlin.

 

 

Roast Beef recipe

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We buy our meat directly from a Farm outside Charlottetown about 20 minutes from us. The quality is very high and the butcher Drake knows his stuff. It is far better than what we use to buy at the grocery store. This month we got a roast beef about 3.5 lbs and last month we also got a roast beef same size. I also got a Veal roast which is my favorite but here in PEI it is very difficult to get, simply not on offer, I am told.

So I am trying this recipe below on the link and it all seems to be going very well, we invited guests for dinner. This being a long weekend, Remembrance Day 11 November, tomorrow will be super quiet and the only ceremony is at the Cenotaph at 11 am.

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roast_beef

The Weather has turned cold around 5 C. which is 40 F. and very windy, a cold Atlantic wind around 40Km per hour, though bright sun shine.

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9 November 1989 in Cairo

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I was living in Cairo back in 1989, it was a very nice posting. Here I am on my terrace of my apartment in Zamalek on the Nile facing the vast metropolis. The view was wonderful. My little Dachshund Bundnie (Arabic for Brown Coffee) she was quite young then. She was born in Cairo and it was love at first sight, I got her when she was 4 weeks old, too early really but she needed a home and she would proceed to live 17 years and travel the world with us.

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On November 9, 1989, I was at the Embassy in Garden City which at the time was near the British Embassy in Cairo. We heard reports of what was going on in Berlin. It was quite a surprise and at first no one really believe it, it was an aberration, how could that be after all those years of Cold War and stand off between the USSR and the USA. Surely we would soon hear that it was just a joke. But no the next day more astonishing news, I remember I wanted to fly to Berlin to see it, but I could not abandon my post. So we all followed (my colleagues and I) the news. Not really knowing what all this would bring, obviously the end was near for the rest of Eastern Europe, communism was on the way out. In December revolution exploded in Romania, on Christmas day Nicola and wife Elena Ceausescu were executed on television after years of terror and ruinous rule. What a year 1989.   My Egyptians friends told me that when in 1952 the army officers with Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the Monarchy in Egypt,  it was far more civilized. King Farouk and his family were given 3 days to pack their bags and sail away on the Royal Yacht from Alexandria. The King and his family were not really Egyptian but from Albanian-Macedonian stock. He died at 45 in Capri of a heart attack.

I would not visit Berlin until 1998 while living in Warsaw. Berlin today is vastly different and a great place to visit or to live.

 

US Pronouncements

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The out going US Ambassador to Canada who got new assignment as US Ambassador to the UN in New-York had this to say about Canadians while she was on posting in Ottawa.

A letter to the Editor of the Ottawa Citizen, a reader answers her.

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Ambassador Kelly Craft also said when asked about Climate change, ignoring consensus among scientists to suggest those who deny man-made global warming have equal credibility. I believed there are “good scientists on both sides” of the climate debate.

Happy to see her at the UN.

Time flies! 80th anniversary of the National Research Council of Canada time signal

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The Official Time Signal is something all Canadians are very familiar with and I really cannot imagine it not being there everyday. It is heard from Sea to shining Sea on the CBC and Radio-Canada. Most of my life I lived in central Canada so we got the Eastern Standard Time Signal but other parts of the country get their own signal which is coordinated to be broadcasted throughout Canada at the same time.

Strangely it is comforting to hear, though it is just that a time signal, beep, beep, beep then silence for 10 seconds a long dash announcing the precise Official time so you can set your watch.

In many cities Police departments and Fire Depts set their clocks to it every day, even in this day and age of computers. Canada is such a big country geographically, second largest after Russia, that we have 6 time zones.

Here in the Maritimes we are on Atlantic Standard time. In 1879 a Canadian, Sir Sanford Fleming brought order to the 100 time zones around the world by proposing a standard approach.

Time signal first heard on the CBC Radio One Network in 1939

November 5, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Research Council of Canada

Today marks the 80th year that Canadians can tune in to the longest-running but shortest-duration broadcast program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio One network. It was on November 5, 1939, that the first time signal from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) was heard on air across the CBC network at exactly 13:00.

A brief history of timekeeping in Canada over the past 96 years

1923: Astronomers at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory created a shortwave time signal radio station.

1929: The regular daytime transmission began in January. In order to cover Canada in its entirety, the station automatically sent its call sign in Morse code once per hour and pulses were coded to identify the time of day.

1938: The CHU call letters were first used for Canadian time transmission on the frequencies 3330 kHz, 7335 (7850 since 2009) kHz and 14670 kHz.

1939: The first time the NRC signal was heard on air across the CBC Radio One network.

1970: CHU was transferred from astronomers to physicists at the NRC, putting the Government of Canada’s largest science and research organization in charge of maintaining Canada’s official time.

2019: Almost 50 years later, the NRC continues to be Canada’s official timekeeper.

Quick facts

  • The NRC has used cesium atomic clocks, the world’s best timekeepers, since the 1950s.
  • The NRC operates a cesium fountain atomic clock where atoms of cesium are first launched with laser beams up and then under the force of gravity fall back down like water in a fountain.
  • The NRC offers authenticated Network Time Protocol which enables all Canadians to synchronize their computer clocks with official time.
  • The CHU station is located 15 km southwest of Ottawa at 45° 17′ 47″ N, 75° 45′ 22″ W.
  • Since 1990, Canada’s official time has been presented by CHU broadcasts through Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and digital voice announcements have been used.
  • The NRC runs two telephone numbers that announce the time of day. These numbers are accessible to the general public in English: (613) 745-1576 and in French: (613) 745-9426.

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CLICK on the link below to hear the announcement on CBC radio:

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1719463205

390 BCE and roof repairs

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What is the link between having your roof repaired and the sack of Rome by the Gauls in 390BCE you might ask. Well a lot I tell you.

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Today the roofing company came to do maintenance work and replace the old roof on our house. Nora our little wire hair Dachshund is a hunting/tracking dog by nature and a guard dog by choice. She guards the house and her excellent sense of hearing and sight allows her to detect anything even if it is 600 feet away, nothing escapes her. She also has a very sharp sense of smell.

So with all the noise of the roofers she was distressed about the noise and all the people, warning us with her sharp high pitch hound bark of impending invaders, doom I tell you.

Nicky our male Dachshund well he just can’t snooze quietly with all this noise and that is annoying, no he won’t bark unless provoked. Nicky is a show dog with a long European pedigree, he is on the catwalk of life, paparazzi, gourmet biscuit for the idle dachshund. Let Nora do all the work I don’t need to get involved. His ancestors are Italian so no doubt they slept when during the night in 390 BCE the Gauls invaded Rome.

It was up to the Sacred Geese of Juno to sound the alarm. Had Nora been there she would have repulsed those uncouth Gauls back and off the Capitoline Hill.

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Nora with her fierce look and Nicky in profile looking noble and aloof. Stranieri lascia Roma says Nora in her best Italian or Latin, Roma externi relinquo!

 

So a new mandate

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Well the National Election is over and Justin Trudeau got a new mandate, despite all the  dirt the so called conservative party and its leader tried to throw at him. The CPC has a unit which works at unearthing anything that could hurt a candidate and then publicize it through right wing affiliated newspapers like The Sun, CTV network and PostMedia including the once reputable Globe & Mail. The negative stories are written for effect and are often inaccurate or right out lies simply repeated. A very disturbing trend but you have to know the background of it, the owners are long time supporters of alt-right conservative policies, some big business interests, some American oil companies, the Trump administration and the Republican party including the one surviving Koch brother. No it is not the Russians in our case but the US Republican party. The Chinese Communist party (Chinese Government) also played a very negative role, given our current dispute with China over the extradition to the USA of the Huawei executive. Two Canadian have been kidnapped by the People’s Police in China and held in secret jails, denied Canadian Embassy Consular services and put under psychological torture for months now. Unfortunately the Canadian Media has all but forgotten about them. The position of the CPC and its Chief Andrew Scheer has been to side with China with the false narrative that this will help resolve the crisis.

So this election confirmed one thing, Canadians are concerned about climate change now seen as a crisis, Canadian want action (84%) and will not vote for a candidate who denies the crisis or has no plans to fight it, as was the case for Andrew Scheer.
Canadians also do not like a candidate who imitates the American fashion of posing as a born again or evangelical Christian, like Andrew Scheer did. Canadians prefer their candidates and party leader to be neutral and quiet on this topic. There were too many stories about Conservative Candidates who came out as being anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ, pro-gun lobby and supporting the NRA, while we get weekly news from the USA of gun violence, something that horrifies most Canadians. Several also were not shy and made hate filled comments and rants against anyone who is not white or christian, thinking that it was ok to do so. Finally Andrew Scheer was the master of avoiding to answer any question on pretty much any topic. He also refused to denounce or remove a candidate who displayed hateful tendencies. Scheer also refused to attend any PRIDE event or parade during the Summer, all other party leaders did and participated. Trudeau was accused by the CPC of being a deviant and corrupt. What was suppose to be an easy victory for the Conservative turnout to be a defeat despite getting more votes and gaining more seats in the House of Commons, though not a majority. But they failed miserably in the two big provinces of Ontario and Quebec and in the Maritimes which holds the bulk of the population in Canada, some 26 million people out of the 38 million. It is well known that if you cannot secure the votes in Ontario especially around Toronto and in Quebec you cannot win an election in Canada.

So since the Liberal party victory on 21 October, Andrew Scheer has felt the heat of this party who is planning to replace him ASAP. No despite Trudeau having a minority government he has a workable minority and does not need to have a coalition with another party like the Green or NDP. The way our Westminster Parliamentary system works, there is a way to govern and you can always find support here and there in the House to pass your bills. No one wants another election for at least another 14 to 24 months for the simple reason there is no money and the Conservatives will be looking for a new leader soon.

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The media also do not help the issue by spreading false concepts borrowed from the USA. Canada is NOT a Republic we are a Kingdom and our Parliamentary system is a copy of Westminster so it is quite different matter.

When the Prime Minister went to see the Governor General Julie Payette to ask she dissolve Parliament as is her role as Head of State, the Prime Minister and the Ministers all remain in Office for the duration of the election. The Prime Minister only  resigns his position after the election if he or she looses the election and IF he or she can no longer hold the Confidence of the House. That is very important to understand, we have had historically cases where the Prime Minister lost an election but stayed in power because he could hold the confidence of the House. Strange but true in Canada, that is our system.

The day after the election the Prime Minister returned to visit the Governor General at Rideau Hall to inform her of what his intentions were for the new Legislative program and priorities. This is largely a courtesy call because the Speech from the Throne (in England it is called the Queen’s Speech) is read by the Head of State in the High Chamber our Senate by the Governor General or the Queen if she is in Ottawa, but it is all written by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The Press got it wrong by talking about Trudeau seeking permission to form a government. What nonsense, he is the PM and remains so, he has a new mandate NOT a term, we don’t have those in Canada. The only thing Trudeau needs is to get the confidence of the House through a formal vote in the House of Commons on the Speech from the Throne or on the Budget bill. Very unlikely that he would not be able to get it under present circumstances. In Canada the role of the Queen or Governor General is to warn on a course of action or counsel the PM, the power to govern rests entirely in the House in Parliament, this is why we have responsible government since 1867. It is quite amazing to see how many journalists and editors get this wrong, watching too much of The West Wing I suppose.

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On November 20 the Prime Minister will announce his new Ministry or Cabinet, a shuffle of portfolio is the big challenge for Trudeau or any Prime Minister because they have to make sure they have all regions of Canada represented in Cabinet and this is tough at the moment with no Liberal Member of Parliament from Alberta or Saskatchewan, pop 5 million total, Trudeau will have to be creative but there are various workable solutions.

So the final result of this election Canadians want modern and progressive governments and NO we are not revisiting the Abortion debate it was settled decades ago, we have rights for all including the LGBTQ and same-sex marriage and Canadians don’t want to deny rights to segment of the population, we also want the right to die which was legislated and gun control including hand guns. It should also be a warning to any new conservative leader at the Federal level not to associate with Neo-Nazi elements and other white supremacist hate groups as Andrew Scheer did thinking that it was a winning card.

I do expect that with the beginning of this new mandate the conservatives and their friends in the right wing press will continue negative attacks against Trudeau but hey that’s life. At least we do not have a Conservative government and that is a blessing. No one wanted the sort of horror show we see in Ontario at the Provincial Level with Doug Ford who emulates Donald Trump his hero or the politics of civil war and hate in Alberta with Jason Kenney. Interestingly the Conservative Premier in Manitoba does not want to associate with Kenney or Ford and the Premier in New Brunswick who is himself in a minority situation is walking back on his own extreme positions which are mostly anti-French in a province considered to be  the heart of French Acadia.