Fearsome Beard posts daily about beards and for Halloween we thought we would give him a run for his money with Bolchevik beards or a la Rasputine. http://fearsomebeard.wordpress.com
A story written by my better half, he is talented and that is why I married him, my little Bluebeard.
I know that is a scary story by itself. But hey it’s Halloween, LOL!!!
Click on the link below, great story.
Source: Even the Devil Wouldn’t Take Him
Casserole Season, it looks like the cold weather brings back the psychological yearnings for the casserole or soups or other comfort foods. I am sure our resident Jungian psychiatrist will be able to comment as to why we fall into that pattern, Dr. Spo Any comments?
All recipes is a site I follow and from time to time I love to try some of their recipes. Now I do not like the word or expression ”Comfort food” it has for me a very negative connotation, something to do with processed, starchy, un-healthy. Comfort food should be banned as a term. But then again I do not like wholesome or nutritious either as terms for food because it is use in the publicity for Old Folks Home. I over analyze food wording and its significance in our North American Society. Never mind that, it is just me and my rational French mind. Let’s just say the food was delicious, pleasant, satisfying.
Here is a casserole I thought would be good.
1 (16 ounce) package rigatoni pasta, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, salt and pepper to taste, 1 (26 ounce) jar tomato sauce with mushrooms or if you prefer a béchamel sauce with mushroom, 2 cups broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped, 1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella cheese preferably the better quality soft mozzarella, shredded. 1 cup shredded white aged Cheddar cheese.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook rigatoni pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain, and set aside.
Heat a table spoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook in the skillet until no longer pink and juices run clear. After it is cooked you will want to chop it up in smaller bites.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter a 10 inch casserole dish.
In the prepared casserole dish, mix the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, tomato or béchamel sauce, broccoli rabe, and mozzarella cheese. Top with Cheddar cheese.
Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly brown.
Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
P.S. if you do not like Brocoli Rabe you can substitute for Spinach leaves wash them well pat them dry and trim and chop them. Here is the dish with a white sauce, my own preference.
I know people reading this blog will be shocked and may fall off their chairs, I assume no responsibilities if you do. When we returned to Ottawa in 2011, I was looking for bargains, Ottawa like many other Capitals is an expensive city for no reasons except that people can pay high prices. So I started going to Costco every 3 months to buy cleaning and paper products and some food items like cheese and peanut butter. I am an old pensioner and need to watch expenses. Which by the way reminds me that today I was walking down Elgin street, I passed in front of our pharmacy and saw a Walker with wheels, the sort you push in front of you, the price only $289.00 plus tax. This is nuts, absolutely nuts and unreasonable. I would be willing to pay $80. dollars tops, but luckily I do not need one.
To get back to Costco, in Ottawa the outlets are on the fringe of the City, but unfortunately have insufficient parking which I find strange given the large crowds and the fact that no public transit comes close to the store. Today was quiet being a mid week day with lots of easy parking, the joy of being retired. When you get in the store they give you a flyer with the specials of the week and they need to see your membership card. The flyer is in my opinion a waste of time and the membership card thingy is a tad silly since you cannot buy anything if you are not a member. Maybe it is to prevent silly people from coming, buying stuff and then discovering at the cashier station that they do not have their card with them.
The store is huge with mountains of stuff to buy, most in large, very large quantities, even a family of 8 people would be hard pressed to consume all of that unless you have a large freezer in the basement, the one where you can stuff a relative who annoys you or maybe such quantities are for people who give parties and need to buy 50 Salmon filets or giant Bday cakes for a group of 40 people. I never buy meat at Costco or any of the prepared foods. Cheese, yes because the price is far more reasonable than the Grocery stores in town. I just imagine that with such amounts of pre-package foods a lot of it is thrown out. I know what I need to buy and simply pass on the rest.
Olive oil is one item, they have a lot of variety, most of it is from Tunisia, Turkey or Spain. You have to read the label carefully if you want Italian Olive Oil, often it may look Italian but it is only package in Italy. Same with coffee beans, large bags of beans but coffee does not keep well and freshness is hard to keep, it will often go stale within a couple of weeks, unless you drink massive amounts which is not good for you. So I buy only small vacuum packed beans which will last me two weeks at most. Again the attraction is low prices, but that does not mean quality, so you are just wasting your money thinking you got a bargain. At Xmas time they will have boxes of fancy chocolates or large jars of nuts, cashews, brazil, macadamia, etc. again check the expiration date often it is just about to expire and has been sitting in a warehouse in all kinds of temperature for months, excess production that needs to be sold, no bargain there at all.
I also dislike all the tasting stations they have, I just find that a tad unsanitary and it is the sort of food loaded with salt and sugar, processed etc.. but so cheap to buy which is the selling point of course. Today it was processed bacon, smelled nice but I would not touch it, it just does not look Kosher.
Roaming the aisles with the giant cart is somewhat like the movie the Living Dead. You see people with glazed looks, kids are upset or tired and wonder what are they doing is such a dingy warehouse, everyone looks confused. The conversations are funny, some people will buy on impulse, oh that looks good, let’s buy some, what is it? Oh I don’t know but it looks good. Right now is Winter Tire Season sales, the prices are not competitive and I find that buying tires in any Season is a fools game.
I was in and out of Costco today in 25 minutes. However there is a new development at Costco here in Canada. It use to be that they had boxes to box up all those smaller items so it is easier to carry. Well now they don’t, you figure it out, which I find very cheeky of them. How are you suppose to carry all this stuff if they do not offer boxes. You bring your own or you bring big bags? Poor service but this is so typical of Canada. If you ever shop in the USA anywhere, my experience has been to be bowled over by the service I just can’t believe how good it is compared to Canada where service is usually crap. I cannot see Costco in the USA pulling the stunt of saying to customers, bring your own bags or boxes.
In other news our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family are moving into Rideau Cottage on the grounds of the Residence of the Governor General, Rideau Hall. The cottage has 32 rooms, it was built in 1867 and completely re-furbished two years ago. It is in a secluded area of the giant park surrounding the Residence of the GG, not accessible to the public. Usually Rideau Cottage is the home of the Secretary of the Governor General. In this case he had to move out, there is another house on the grounds and Rideau Hall has 45 bedrooms and lots of other rooms so am sure the Secretary is not on the street. First time ever that a Prime Minister lives on the grounds of Rideau Hall, a case of force majeure since the Official Residence 24 Sussex Drive is finally being fixed up.
Rideau Cottage c.1867 on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
For some years now we listen to international radio broadcast on the internet. When we live in Italy it was RAI the Italian radio and television broadcaster. In Beijing I use to listen to NHK the Japanese national broadcaster, ok it was all in Japanese but I just loved the way they read the news, it was so relaxing no matter what the disaster.
At the moment it’s MDR (MITTELDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK), they have a great selection of classical music and concerts and news of course all in German. When I listen to it, it is usually during the night in Germany due to the time difference +7 hours with Canada. It maintains the illusion that we are in Europe.
Tomorrow at the National Gallery the Claude Monet show opens. It is all about bridges, a bridge to modernity, young Monet paintings before he was known or truly appreciated. The National Gallery has 9 Monet and for this exhibit other paintings featuring bridges painted either when he was in living in London or Paris after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 or elsewhere will be featured. Truly modern paintings when you look at the Academic and romantic style of the time, including the Pre-Raphaelites. http://www.gallery.ca
The National Gallery is having a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the moment built around a recent gift by Dr. Lanigan of Saskatoon who all his life collected their work.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (later known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member “brotherhood”.
The group’s intention was to reform art by rejecting what it considered the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite”. In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called “Sir Sloshua”. To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, “sloshy” meant “anything lax or scamped in the process of painting … and hence … any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind”. In contrast, the brotherhood wanted a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of 14th century Italian art. The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English artist whose influences were driven by his religious background.
Well it is now Official our lease ends on 31 July 2016 and we must move. Our landlord has told us that he is selling the condo. We have been here for almost 5 years and enjoyed the area. So the wheels are in motion and more announcements to come.
As for our little Hounds Nick and Nora, well on Wednesday they are starting another 8 week session of training. It will be a bit of a shock for them, so used they are to lounging. Dachshunds are a difficult breed to train because they are very independently minded and very intelligent.
Nicola di Capena or Nicky for his friends
Well since it is the Halloween week I choose this painting by Ferdinand Knab of an abandoned garden with an elaborate fence. Looks appropriate in keeping with spooky things.
Recently I started two books, one was given to me by someone who came in for an interview at the Museum it is entitled Alone in Berlin, by German writer Hans Fallada (nom de plume) whose real name was Rudolf Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen (1893-1947). He was the greatest writer of the XXth century. Fallada suggests that morality under the Nazi Dictatorship was not measured by the size of the struggle; it mattered only that one did not capitulate…the very act of writing Alone in Berlin – to say nothing of the stunning political clout of the novel itself – implies that for Fallada, the artist’s true role under fascism was chiefly one of bearing witness.
The story starts in an apartment building in central Berlin where several families live. All have different economic conditions, a retired senior Judge, an old Jewess, a worker and his wife, a Nazi party family with sons in the SS, a shifty alcoholic and his prostitute wife and their 5 kids. Tragedy strikes when the worker Quangel and his wife learn by official letter of the death of their son Otto, a soldier in the German Army invading France, this death will make of them resisters, the book is dark and full of anguish and fear. The Quangel write postcards denouncing the Fuhrer and leave them around Berlin. The Gestapo and the SS embark on a hunt to find whoever is responsible and it is a game of Cat and Mouse. The reader understands that many Germans resisted the Nazi, hated them but given the politics of fear and the Police State with the constant threat of the Concentration Camp for anyone resisting or criticizing the Fuhrer, people kept their heads low. Fallada who lived through it all also explains how the Nazi regime financed itself through extortion of the public in general and Party members.
Primo Levi called this book ”the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis. I have read other books about German resistance and living conditions during the Nazi dictatorship, it has been 75 years now and more biographies and diaries are coming out, it was not a black and white picture many shades of grey and complex reality. The picture is one of a society in turmoil and we have to ask ourselves what would we do if we lived in such atmosphere where the police can arbitrarily arrest you, beat you up, kill you or send you to a concentration camp. Where the wrong word can mean a death sentence, where no one can be trusted, where no one will be foolish enough to come to your defence.
A few years ago I read two biographies entitled Purgatory of Fools and Berlin Diaries 1940-45, it was the stories of two sisters of Russian-German origin, Marie Princess Vassilchikov and Tatiana Princess Metternich. Both worked at the German Foreign Ministry as secretaries and were implicated in the attempt on Hitler’s life in 1944. They miraculously survived the war. However they do give a gripping account of the horrors under the Nazis.
The other book is about Joseph Stalin, who was not Russian but Georgian who becomes the all powerful dictator of Soviet Russia under the Bolcheviks. Entitled Stalin, the Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It gives a psychological picture of the man and his family and entourage. It also re-establishes in reality what actually happened from 1917 onwards, removing all the romantic nonsense about the Revolution or that it was done for the people. What we see is how the people, the peasants, millions of people were starved, put to death, a country destroyed by fanaticism similar to what we see with the Taliban today. It was not the overthrow of the Tsar or the old Aristocratic Regime that was achieved, since the regime stop to exist in February 1917 by the sudden abdication of Nicholas II forced out by his cousins, a surprise to all including the Bolcheviks. No it was the fanatical pursuit of an inhumane ideology ”Bolchevism” to create the new man, a robot basically who only thought in terms of means of production, devoid of any human feelings described as Bourgeois sentimentality.
The author Montefiore gives us a detailed psychological portrait of the people in Stalin’s entourage, few actual Russians, many were Jews who occupied top positions around him, their families, the children, their lack of education, their poverty and in the case of the Jewish colleagues the oppression they felt in Russian society. Even after the so called Revolution, Bolchevik Jews could not be promoted to senior positions because they were considered non-Russian, though non-Jews like the Armenians, Ukrainians, Abkazians, our other Ethnic groups could. Stalin will eventually get rid of all of them in his purges.
Montefiore did meticulous research much through interviews of the children now aged, and newly opened Kremlin State Archives , diaries and personal journals of who they were. We see Lenin the petit bourgeois, from a small noble family whose father was a Tsarist bureaucrat, Lenin who was absolutely convinced that in 1919 the world was going to fall into an orgy of blood and revolution, who believed that the people were with him, totally delusional. When he realized that nothing of the sort was happening, he turned to absolute violence against the very people he claimed to be wanting to free. As he said quote Change will come through total terror. Something Mao in China and Pol Pot in Cambodia years later will copy.
Trotsky the Jewish intellectual despised by all for his grandeur and aloofness, forced into exile and later assassinated in Mexico City on Stalin’s orders.
Stalin the Georgian street urchin, low birth and next to no education raised in a violent family background dominated by superstition and blood feud typical of the Mountains he came from, ready to kill for any reason. Stalin’s second wife Nadya, an unstable self-centred egoistical schizophrenic who after a party in 1932 will go to her bedroom in the Kremlin palace and shoot herself. Followed by the horrible vengeance of Stalin on his own family and all his close friends who he will blame for her death. Stalin himself is paranoid and violent, though highly intelligent and manipulative, always suspicious and ready to believe in conspiracy against him. A man who has no scrupules about exterminating, his own word, millions of innocent people simply because they do not fit into Bolchevik ideology. The mass starvation in the Ukraine where 10 million peasant died to satisfy the Five Year Plan for grain export to the rest of the Soviet Empire. The life of luxury on special trains taking the entourage and their families on vacation in the Crimea or to Sochi, the lavish banquets and constant drinking binges while the whole country is in flames gripped by a Civil War and then the purges 1936 of entire families, the old revolutionaries Stalin came to despise and fear, they knew too much. What the author shows us is that the entourage of Stalin who were rough necks of low birth and little education enabled him to become the Boss. He dominated them with his quick grasp of events. But also Stalin’s children how they did not fare very well, his first son Yakov from his first marriage, died during the Second World War a prisoner of the Germans in 1943, Stalin refused to save him for political reasons. He second son Vasily who will become a general in the Soviet Air Force drank himself to death unable to cope with such a father. Svetlana his daughter will fare a little better, but just, she will escape to the West and finally return to Russia to a life of oblivion, the crimes of her dead father followed her everywhere. The only one who appears to have done relatively well is Artyom his adoptive son who became a general and wrote two books about his adoptive father Stalin. He died in Moscow in 1981.
Lenin and others had no plan for the new promised Proletarian society, Bolchevism led to a dead end and Communism and Karl Marx mere shiny objects of little meaning used to retain absolute power over the masses. Stalin with the help of people like Beria, Molotov and others developed a State Secret Police to maintain a system of constant terror, creating the infamous Gulag. Even during the Second World War which again caught the Bolcheviks by surprised, so certain they were of their pact with Hitler to divide the world, Stalin would spy on his own troops at the Front and shoot here and there soldiers on the mere suspicion that they might not be faithful to him. He signed order 270 condemning as traitor any Soviet soldier who surrendered to the enemy or was made a POW. Some 28 years in power and the total destruction of a society is the legacy of Stalin and his henchmen.
Stalin lived like a Tsar using Palaces and Dachas surrounding himself and his cronies with opulent luxury while the people had nothing. A sad commentary on a revolution that was not and almost 70 years of rule by one ideology. It explains a lot about Russia today and the many problems it faces. If you love history this is a great book.
Well after the Election results of Monday and our new Government much has happened. The former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has disappeared, only to surface momentarily on 22 October for an Official ceremony at the National War Memorial presided by the Governor General as Commander in Chief in memory of the assassination of Caporal Nathan Cirillo last year while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It turns out that this tragic incident could have been prevented had the numerous budget cuts ordered by Harper had not gone ahead. The New Prime Minister Designate Justin Trudeau was also present at the ceremony. The other Political Party chief Thomas Mulcair is totally absent since election night. No one seems to know where he is.
Rideau Hall the Official Residence of the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa.
Trudeau will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister on Wednesday 4 November at Rideau Hall, the Residence of H.E. the Governor General and will then present his new Cabinet. Trudeau has also said that he is not moving into the Official Residence of the Prime Minister at 24 Sussex Drive. The National Capital Commission has advised that the 35 room mansion needs a total refit and major work must be done. This recommendation had been made in 2008 but Harper chose to ignore it. The house sits on a cliff high above the Ottawa river, needs about $10 million dollars worth of restoration and reconstruction. Nothing has been done since 1949, problems of asbestos and mildew, 65 year old electrical and plumbing needing a major retrofit, no A/C and poor heating. It is likely that the work will require two years, so Trudeau and his family will live somewhere else for the time being.
It was also announced that the National Census will be restored, data on the country is now more than 9 years old and is severely hampering the work of the government in terms of planning and public policy work. The National Census was abolished by Harper stating it was according to him a waste of time. Only Third World Countries have no population census, Canada was until Harper came along a shining example to follow on how to develop National Statistics. It is hoped that we can regain that reputation, it is not impossible, 2016 is the year of the Census.
Many pet projects of Harper have also been abandoned such as the Monument to the Victims of Communism which was to be built next to the Supreme Court and dwarf the building. The project is ugly, has a Stalinist quality about it and immensely costly, it has been criticized by scores of architects, urban planners, the Mayor of Ottawa our new Member of Parliament and other politicians as being inappropriate for the Parliamentary Precinct. Another project which has quietly disappeared was the Holocaust Memorial, fund raising has stalled and donors are not coming forward, even the Jewish community is not for it. It too may never be built, many critics had said that given the horrors of Fascism in Europe it would be more appropriate to make it a memorial to all victims not just one group.
Trudeau has also said that he will be amending scores of Legislations passed by Harper and his regime. Other Laws will be abolished out right. He also announced that he will see what we can do to allow into Canada 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year. That is a very tall order and I am not certain it can be done, for one there is insufficient manpower to do the work and the logistics alone are enormous. But Trudeau wants to respect our International commitments.
On the environment front, Trudeau has announced a new direction and the White House and the European Union is pleased that Canada is now coming back to its old role in terms of commitment to green emission. The Paris Conference will be a good chance to see this new direction and Trudeau invited all Parties in Parliament to participate and come along to the Conference.
All this is good news and there is more, a shower of good news this week. Now we will have to watch who is in the new Cabinet on November 4 and when the Speech from the Throne will take place which will announce the new agenda of the Prime Minister and his government.
Reading the paper today I discovered some interesting facts. Again our Riding of Ottawa Centre had the highest turnout of voters in Canada, 82% of all eligible voters went to the Polls. We also had 2 weeks ago the largest turn out of Advance voting during the Thanksgiving Weekend.
In Prince Edward Island some 77% of eligible voters exercised their franchise. The population of this Island Province is only 140,000 persons. They elected all Liberals Members of Parliament, defeating the one Conservative candidate the incumbent Gail Shea.
Unfortunately Quebec had a low voter turn out and they are the same people who scream bloody murder about everything, so why is it they don’t vote in larger numbers?
26.4 million Canadians were eligible to cast a ballot and 68% did, the best showing in 20 years.
65,000 polling stations and 105,140 ballot boxes, in 338 ridings. The largest riding is Nunavut (our land in the Innu language) 2.1 million Sq. Km. in the Far North. There are 72,747 people per riding on average. There are 230,000 electoral workers to help with the process.
The papers also had a profile of both Father and son, Pierre and Justin. The Father Pierre (1919-2000) who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1982 had a Law degree from the University of Montreal, Masters in Political Economy from Harvard and a Doctorate from the London School of Economics. He was a black belt in Judo. The first thing he did when elected to Office was to launch a major reform of the Criminal Code in Canada introducing very liberal reforms which shocked many at the time. One of his most famous quotes was ”The government has no place in the bedrooms of the Nation”. Before becoming a Liberal he had been a Marxist and a member of the NDP.
The son Justin on the other hand has a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from McGill University and a Bachelor in Education from the University of British Columbia. Favourite sport Boxing and he is very good at it. He worked as a High School teacher before entering politics. He speaks well in public and gave a famous eulogy at his father’s National State funeral in 2000 which had quite a few people in tears. He is married to Sophie Grégoire and they have 3 kids.
Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau at 10 Downing Street with Justin as a kid, meeting Margaret Thatcher, PM of Britain.
Already today Justin surprised quite a few people in Ottawa, he gave a Press Conference at the National Press Building. Harper did that the last time in 2008. He then went to walk on Parliament Hill across the street, no cohort of body guards. Again people were stunned to see him, this is so unusual, so informal, given Harper’s style which was so controlled and choreographed at all times. His father Pierre did the same thing all the time in Ottawa and elsewhere. Canadians like that approach a lot.
These are two great photos. It shows the change, if a picture is worth a thousand words.
Our new Prime Minister designate, Justin Trudeau, in a metro station (subway) in Montréal this morning, as he walks through and stops to say hello and a selfie. Notice the lack of bodyguards, there is one just off camera. What a change with Harper who had 200 surrounding him at all times.