Visibility right now at 2pm on Saturday is very low, the storm is in its snow phase and high winds, tonight we get freezing rain and high winds, oh joy!
So I am looking at the internet and the sites I follow regularly, currently new photos of Potsdam old market area built up around 1669 and the St-Nicholas Church built in 1830. All these buildings were very badly damaged by Soviet artillery at the end of the Second World War. Most lay in ruins until 1990 and I remember visiting Potsdam in 1998 the area was desolate despite being the centre of the city under Communist East German rule who had no interest in any of that part of German history. Since 2000 major renovations and rebuilding has been under way. Potsdam was the un-official Capital of the Kingdom of Prussia and Berlin the ceremonial capital. In Potsdam you will find the royal park with many palaces including Sans-Souci built in 1745. It will take you more than a day to visit the park.
This weekend a major storm is coming, snow, sleet, freezing rain and winds in the 100Km per hour. Oh Joy! I have my storm chips and we will stay home. This is the third storm in 3 weeks, I hate that mix of snow and freezing rain with high winds. This means the sea bridge will be closed and food trucks will not be able to cross from the mainland, some shortages will follow in grocery stores. However there is no shortages whatsoever in what we can buy despite reports of shortages, I have not seen any, unless you mean that not being able to buy my favourite brand of potato chips is a horror.
In Ottawa the self-styled Freedom Convoy, described by the Media as a group of Grifters has arrived from across Canada, lots of crazies in that group. It all started in Vancouver and these transport trucks made a caravan heading for Ottawa. The Prime Minister has denounced them as a fringe element. Their demand, lifting of the Vaccination Mandate so they can criss-cross the USA/Canada border without any vaccination. They only forget to mention that the Biden Administration imposed such a mandate on Canadian truckers coming to the USA some time ago. We in Canada have the same policy for US truckers. The Trucking association has denounced this protest group saying that they hurt the industry. In Canada 90% of truckers are vaccinated, this group is a right wing nutjob who watch FOX News and the Reuben Report, listen to Theo Fleury former hockey player and support Trump, despite being Canadians. They also want to kill the Prime Minister who they describe as a Tyrant and a Communist, topple the government and install a government of truckers and others malcontents, they are white supremacists, anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, photos show also some flying the Confederate Flag, what does that have to do with Canada? Most are very naive and misinformed living on a diet of conspiracy stories on the margins of society. They oppose the vaccine because again conspiracy stories ever more ludicrous and delusional. A pole taken today shows that 98.7% of those protesters are in Ottawa because they hate the Prime Minister and the famous vaccine mandate is lost in the mist.
Currently Ottawa with the Pandemic is pretty quiet, no one works downtown in Federal Government Buildings, public servants work from home, Parliament buildings which is their destination, is closed for 10 years for a major renovation, and Parliament itself will only return to work next week but mostly by ZOOM. The Prime Minister is not in town but in the region at another official residence, neither is most politicians. Police have closed the gates around Parliament, they have a heavy presence, reinforced by the RCMP and the Parliament Security Police. Also at the moment and for the next few days the weather is in the -31 C. so freezing cold with high winds. Parliament’s Sargent at Arms who is responsible for the protection of Members of Parliament and Senators told them that their private homes in Ottawa might be targeted by Protesters. Some protesters were calling for a January 6 style event, the police has been very firm that no such thing will be tolerated and not to try. As long as it remains peaceful and no one is hurt all will be well. The police so far is in contact with the 8 organizing truck groups but they have not been able to reach the 3 main extremist leaders who are promising trouble. However the police know who they are and are looking for them. On Saturday morning about 80 trucks lined Wellington Street in front of Parliament a far cry from the tens of thousands promised by the protesters.
Some Media outlets in the USA affiliated to FOX and other right wing media spoke of 50,000 trucks some said 1 million people were coming to Ottawa. Others mentioned that the truck convoy was so large it was probably the largest in the world, really? One reporter pointed out that given that the Capital Ottawa has a limited number of hotel rooms, if a million person show up, that would mean 125 persons per hotel room. We shall see what Saturday brings, like most people in Canada, I am very tired after 25 months of this bunch of idiot anti-vaxers. The Prime Minister in this situation has nothing to loose, he has the majority of Canadian supporting his vaccination mandate policy. The Opposition Conservative and their Leader Erin O’Toole is weak and he is trying to curry favour with this group and has met with them in a photo-op. While other members of his own party are plotting against his leadership, presenting themselves more to the right than he is and also offering smiles and coffee to these Covidiots. The mandate and lockdown the truckers protest against is a Provincial/Municipal Matter it really has nothing to do with the Government of Canada. But amid the confusion forgetting that we do not live in the USA and we are not a republic and our system of government is vastly different from our neighbour to the south, this poor souls seem to think they are heroes of democracy they are trying to overthrow.
We had such a demonstration 2 years ago about Alberta and the Oil Industry, when the price of oil was very low and jobs were lost in the Western oil patch due to low demand. The number of protesters who came to Ottawa to denounce the tyrant Trudeau and the Federal Government was not large and the whole thing fizzled like a wet petard. This may very well be the same thing.
Strange how no one mentions responsibility to society and public health, it’s always about Me,Me,Me. Someone should tell the truckers, hey honey it’s not about you!
What a strange title, well it is about things I have been watching lately on YouTube.
The first one is a silent series of walks in the centre of the Canadian Capital Ottawa and the on-going construction of the Light Train System in the city and its suburbs. Phase II will be completed by 2024 and it is well under way. Phase One called the O train, O being short of Ottawa, how original had a bad start with numerous failures and a serious lost of credibility with the public. The problems have been resolved it appears but it took 2 years to fix.
This system is ambitious, and means that tunnels, bridges, new roads and redesigning access in various neighbourhoods was complicated. Ottawa is built on a huge swamp and the soil is sandy/clay. Only Parliament Hill is actual solid rock.
Watching the construction I sort of loss my bearings despite having leaved on and off in Ottawa for 40 years. In one case a shopping mall was demolished to make way for a station and new roads. In another case an entire scenic road had to be moved several meters North and a several meter long tunnel dug for the train to pass. The LRT will connect the Airport with the rest of the transit system and will allow 80% of the population to walk to a station to board a train. So it is a great good in many ways. Ottawa had a decent transit system in the 1930 to 1960 when City Hall decided that cars should dominate the road way and got rid of the whole system, keeping only bus routes that were slow and inconvenient. This new system is built to reduce car traffic and facilitate movement within the city and suburb in a matter of minutes. Each station will have all manners of convenience attached to them attracting housing and condo living.
Since 1966 Montreal has a great Metro (subway) system running on tires instead of rail. Now this system is getting a major upgrade which will an integration of trains with the Metro system taking people from the far suburbs into the city centre. Montreal will also have the deepest station by the Université de Montréal at a depth of 300 feet below ground built in solid rock. The old train tunnel built 100 years ago under the Mount Royal which divides the City in two between the North and South is being rebuilt another feat of engineering. The main goal is to make it as easy as possible for all to use it and connect directly with the place they want to go to.
You can follow all these developments on YouTube including the ones about the new Pont Champlain and the demolition of the old one next to it again a marvel of engineering. This bridge is the gateway to trade in the USA, 26 million motor vehicle pass on it and connect directly to the USA Border.
Will blogged a few weeks ago about short Iranian Films he found on YouTube. There is a whole series of them and they are quite beautiful, some are silent, some have sound and the language is Farsi with subtitles in English. Iran or Persia is a land of poetry and its culture is ancient. I often think of my time in Tehran at the Embassy replacing a colleague who had gone on leave. Iran is a surprising country and its people are very civilized. I wished I had to opportunity of being posted to Tehran but with the revolution in 1979 and then our closing and reopening of our Embassy a few years later and closing again in 2014, the opportunity never presented itself. The films made by Mohammad Reza Kheradmandan, born in Shiraz, a young film maker. Many of his films have won international awards and they are quite beautiful. It shows an Iran never presented by the Western Media. It is a more sensitive look at life in Iran, showing a great deal of humanity.
Lately we have been watching on Will’s laptop on Prime the comedy The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The setting is the West side of New-York city in 1958-60. The story of a young woman Miriam Maisel (Midge) to her friends and her family, her father a professor at Columbia and her mother a Jewish matron. The setting being the late 1950’s all the context is very faithful to that era, so you have to remember or know what it was like then, the segregation between Jews and Gentiles, the Beatnik movement which will turn into the Hippie movement later, women questioning their role in society, a world still dominated by Father’s knows best and rigid conservative norms. All that is about to change and this is the background in which the actors evolve. It is jarring looking at it today in 2022 some 63 years later. Midge is 26 years old she would be 89 today, her too kids in their mid 60’s.
The inspiration for the show is Joan Rivers. Like Midge, Joan got her comedy career started in the 1950s at the Gaslight Cafe. Rivers is also a Jew and a New Yorker, two identities of Midge.
The music of the show is wonderful and so appropriate to the settings, the costumes are the best quality and very much of the time and all the scenery including the story line in Paris are actually Paris, no backdrop in a studio. It must have been an expensive production. Three seasons have been done and apparently a fourth is coming in February. I liked the part where they all go each Summer to the Catskills to an all Jewish resort called Steiner, not unlike Grossinger’s or the Concord, so popular then but gone now. The show reminds me a lot of the life then when I was growing up and how that world no longer exist. Midge works at the cosmetic counter of B. Altman in NYC, a now defunct big department store which catered to the luxury market when she is not doing a comedy act in N.Y. night clubs many of which were significant in their days with people like Lenny Bruce.
There are a lot of laughs but also some passages which remind you of what life was like and the focus on the hetero model, family, kids, social standing. Looking at it now, it all seems so strange and distant.
We are in mid-January and typically the weather is very cold. I had my booster shot 3 days ago and all is well, no after effects. So now I am all boosted and frankly Covid is no longer my priority. I lived in too many countries where many awful diseases where endemic and my vaccinations protected me. So time to move along.
The weather has been cold, frigid, the Hillsborough river is now frozen. We are in a lockdown but the number of sick people has been dropping every day. Yes those who are sick are unvaccinated and maybe you will think me callous or unfeeling but I really do not care about them, it has been 2 years, plenty of time to do the right thing. Everyday we have 100 + spot for vaccination available on PEI so if you want a shot it is very easy to get and takes about 6 minutes. Someone I know yesterday was shopping and stopped at the Pharmacy enquired about a vaccine and got it on the spot. Could it be easier?
I have joined those who are fully vaccinated and feel they should be allowed to go about their lives and not have to worry about the Covidiots who sit there and complain.
So we are more or less confined to our homes, though you can shop for groceries and pick up at the restaurant, but that is not civilized living. On the other hand we have had some pretty marvellous meals at home thanks to Will.
I was thinking this week, that if one day I was to travel again I would love to return to Granada to see the Alhambra palace and the gardens again. What a stunning place it was, and to think it was built 1000 years ago, a marvel. Portugal would be another place I would like to visit again. We had a very nice visit to Lisbon a few years ago. Then Sicily, such an ancient place, beautiful Marsala, Trapani, Monreale, Ragusa, Catania on the slope of Mount Etna. The food in Sicily is a completely different cuisine from Italy, due to centuries of Spanish, Normand and Arab influences. The wines are also of great quality with all that volcanic soil.
I would like a month long trip, not a week or a few days, which is good if you are young and must get back. On the other hand I have cooled to cruises, the food is usually just ok despite what you are told, the rooms on board are nice but I never found them as comfortable as an hotel room. Frankly the crowds on ships despite being on smaller ships get to me. I think that I would like some really good food and service, something you do not come across much these days despite high prices. However if one travels now there are all these tests and complications mass confusion at the airport, not to mention the crazy travellers.
Well on 1 February we will see if the sanctions come off and if life returns to a more normal pace, let’s hope so.
But then Blinken meets Lavrov to talk about the Ukraine, what they are really talking about is not so much a possible invasion as let’s not use any nuclear weapons, negotiating a complicated ballet. Would be inexcusable to blow up the planet over the Ukraine. If there is an invasion by Russia, the only likely response will be severe or more severe economic sanctions. Europe may not follow because their economy would suffer, China will help Russia in any way they can, Iran also will be part of the underhanded help. I love to listen to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, so calm and worldly, he knows his stuff and will not be perturbed, Blinken looks unsure and nervous.
As for Canada in all this, well our Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, a nice person and well educated but way over her head. Canada can do nothing in this conflict we are irrelevant, even with our gift of $120 million to help Ukraine, chump change really. Our Armed forces leadership has been decapitated with a series of well timed alleged sexual peccadillos. Our army is short 12,000 men, ill equipped, no air force to speak of and no navy, all this due to decades of cut backs on military spending. So I so not think that Russia is too worried about us.
How many days til Spring? 58 Days! Seems like an eternity.
For the last 2 years PEI had avoided Covid19 and the worst of the pandemic, we had some cases but overall it was as if the pandemic had forgotten about the Island. With the New Year 2022, suddenly cases are surging, from a handful to suddenly hundreds of cases, the 2 first death and some 8 hospitalizations. You might say only 8 people in hospital that is nothing, however we only have a total of 20 ICU beds.
What has caused this upsurge? During the Christmas Holiday everybody was travelling around the world or elsewhere in Canada. They had to travel, to see family they don’t really like or because of mental health, which has become a new separate pandemic. It use to be peanut allergy now it’s mental health.
Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer for PEI announced that all restaurants, bars and gyms would close for 2 weeks at midnight. Guess what, the announcement came in the afternoon and last night restaurants and bars were packed to the gills. It would appear that we are dealing with a society full of indulged, selfish, spoiled brats who are unable to think like adults. On the radio, Matt Rainnie who has the popular late afternoon show Mainstreet on CBC, was going on about how times were tough and could people call in to suggest happy songs to get us through these tough times. I sent a message to Matt asking if he was serious, I can think of much worse times in the last 100 years, World Wars, Great depression, Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam war, economic crisis. Now we may get a war in Europe between NATO, Ukraine against Russia, with the possible threat of nuclear war, which would be curtains for all of us.
The weather here is definitely cold -29C today, bone chilling at least it is sunny and the city has started to clean the streets from last Friday’s storm. I also got my booster shot yesterday at the pharmacy, took all of 4 minutes. No reaction so far and things are fine.
I did do a bit of grocery shopping also on Monday, I had a bit of a shock as I entered the store, the display on the right which is all fruits, salads, vegetables, the shelves were completely bare, nothing at all. On the left side the shelves were full of breads, biscuits, cakes, package cheese, deli counter offerings etc. In Winter if the bridge to the mainland is closed for a day or two, suddenly we have shortages in the grocery stores. The bridge was close on Friday/Saturday/Sunday the winds over the Strait were so high at 130Km per hour at one point, no one can cross the 12 Km over the sea far too dangerous. At some point the bridge is 300 feet above the water to allow for large ship to sail under it. Before 1997 when the bridge did not exist, shortages of food on the Island were frequent, but people had farms and gardens so amply supply for meat, eggs, cheese and potatoes not to mention other dry goods. But it was a more simple time.
On Monday night we also had a power outage for about 90 minutes, which is rare for us. Luckily this happened after 08:30pm. This is why we always have candles around the house just in case all Winter long. It was dark but only in the old downtown area by the river where we live. There was an aura in the distance in newer parts of the City, across the river in South Port lights were on. We simply went to bed early, the dogs did right away, it’s dark, we sleep. However this darkness was peaceful and relaxing the neighbourhood looked different, quiet.
I heard a good joke the other day, For 5000 years man ate bread, suddenly in just the last 10 years we are all Gluten intolerant. Yep that explains a lot about today’s world.
Well this is what you can expect after a big storm, the skies are clear and it is bring sunshine on brighter white snow, blinding really. It is still very cold but the wind died down.
It is suppose to snow again tomorrow, will see. I am also getting my booster shot in 2 days. I reconfirmed with the pharmacy just to make sure it is on.
For his Birthday Will got a bottle of Pastis made by Henri Bardouin in Provence. Pastis is a drink found in most mediterranean countries under various names, it is basically 65 herbs mixed with Anise. You served one ounce for 5 ounces of water. Pour the pastis first into a empty glass, then add the water and you can add one ice cube. It is important to remember to add the water after you poured the Pastis not before. It turns milky white as it mixes with the water and ice. It is an excellent aperitif and is good with any kind of hors d’oeuvres, like olives, peanuts, or an oriental Mezzeh. I first had the drink in Egypt, usually you will drink one Pastis before dinner, it is usually served with tons of finger foods, the trick is to remember that you will have a full dinner after this drink, so do not eat too much.
So many times in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria or Jordan, I would see Westerners eats all the hors d’oeuvres or Mezzeh and have 2 or 3 drinks of Pastis only to discover at their horror that dinner which was usually lavish 6 course meal follow. The reason why many did this was that they did not understand the Aperitif culture and the need for the host to show off generosity of food prior to the dinner and then to serve an even more elaborate dinner. Also drinks and mezzeh was never served before 8pm and dinner around 10pm. This is the tradition in the Mediterranean region from Spain to Syria. In Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt dinner at 11pm was common, especially at receptions for special occasions. Your hosts are so wealthy that they do not understand the notion of having to work the next morning, there is no point in trying to explain it.
The first sip of that drink reminded me of my days in Cairo, the Consul Pasha days. What a wonderful time that was.
In 2015 the Winter in PEI did not start before mid-January, there was no snow, nothing, very quiet weather wise and then all of a sudden every 4 to 7 days a major snowstorm and it lasted for 2 who months. There was so much snow that no one knew what to do with it and life became difficult for many. The City had no where to put it, people could not get out of their homes, some people lost their homes to house fires simply because the Fire Dept could not get to them, blocked by giant snow banks. Here is an archival picture of what it was like. People were in shock, yes we are Canadians but there is a limit to everything, the cold also was intense. We missed it all by arriving in May 2016.
Hopefully this year 2022 will not be a repeat but we have had 2 major snow storms in 7 days. The City has had little time to clean up after the first storm. We also have now Omicron and 2 people died last night in hospital, the first of this pandemic. People are scared and concerned.
Needless to say, tonight the storm is over but the streets remain unplowed and the sidewalks well they disappeared under 4 feet of snow. It is very heavy snow, very compact and it is about -28C right now. So walking the dogs is short and sweet, they do not want to be outside.
While this was happening Will was making meat pies aka Tourtière, small ones for 2 so we can have them for dinner. Tomorrow he is making his lasagna with béchamel sauce. He already made his meat sauce. For the pie crust he uses a little vodka, it makes it more flakey.
With the Winter weather and all the Omicron talk, we like many people are staying home. We also are doing a lot of home cooked meals. Will follows this channel on YouTube called
Glen and Friends, he is a fellow who lives in Ontario and from his converted garage brings up all manner of recipes. But Will also has a lot of recipes which are his standards and we use them for dinner parties. One was Chicken Marbella, which was always well received and it is easy to make. Another is a pasta dish with a dill cream smoke salmon sauce served with Papardelle noodles. He has also made blueberry and lemon bread and various sweets during Christmas. His Salisburry steaks with mushroom sauce was very good. He also made wonderful meatballs from a recipe a friend used and it was another great success.
Tonight we are doing Halibut which is one of my favourite fish and is only fished are very define periods of the year, it is also a low fat fish of the family of the flounder. I do prefer Halibut to Haddock or Cod. Eaten fresh, the meat has a clean taste and requires little seasoning. Halibut is noted for its dense and firm texture. We have another recipe for fish tonight.
So today Will is getting is booster shot and I am getting mine next week. After that we should be good to go, as they say. I was discussing with a fellow member of the Club this pandemic and he said to me, why do I need to know that we have in PEI or Canada so many new cases each day or how many end up in hospital ,how does that affect me. This person is fully vaccinated and boosted. I also feel the same way about it, it’s needless information, I am fully aware that this is serious and I do what is necessary, beyond that, it is out of my hands.
I have here with me my Vaccination booklet, which shows all the vaccinations I received for various endemic diseases to places on Earth I travelled to for my work. The Medical staff always told us what precautions to take and also that the vaccines usually protected you up to 80% the rest well is up to luck. Never had any problems with getting vaccinated, I did not want to get any of those diseases, which were often long term and fatal. However my understanding was and still is, life goes on. You have a job to do or you need to be somewhere and you are careful, so that is life. No one told me my life would be disease free or that I would live to be 100 + which I do not want to do anyway. So after the booster, we will look at things very differently and take the attitude I took when in an Endemic region of the World that Life Goes On.
I always jokingly say that we are the Key West of Canada, balmy weather, great beaches and good seafood. Until 7 January 2022 that we true, not a speck of snow and Spring like weather. Then Mother Nature struck, the photos below illustrate what happened, I park outside my car was buried in snow, luckily the snow cleaning service came with 2 tractors and cleared it all for me. Our house door was frozen shut and we could not open it, we had to use the emergency back staircase to get out. That too has been cleaned, though the streets are a mess and the sidewalks disappeared, so you have to walk in the street for now. It will probably take 3 days to dig out of this Winter Wonderland.
Luckily for us we have no were to go and no reason to leave the house. Nora loves the snow because she eats it, Nicky does not care for it much and the wind scares him. Walking them is a problem, when you legs are 3 inches and there is 2 feet of snow.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown