I think I am now fully in that category that angry Woke types love to refer to. I laugh because they too will join that Club sooner than they think.
Yesterday was my birthday celebration, it was quiet at home with Will and the old puppies Nick and Nora.
Very nice dinner of PEI Mussels and Salmon filet with grilled vegetables. Dessert was Poached Bosc Pears in Sicilian Red Wine and some hand made chocolates. The poached pears in wine we discovered in Rome, it is a favourite in Italy.
The gifts were what I wanted from Truefitt and Hill of St. James’s Street, London, purveyor of gentleman’s hairdressing products and Perfumery since 1805. Their first client was King George III and Admiral Nelson, they pride themselves on serving the aristocracy to this day. They have a Sandalwood fragrance that I love. All arrives in a beautiful box very nicely wrapped in silk paper.
Some beautiful flowers from Will and lots of good wishes. No cakes this year or so I thought, on Saturday we had a Birthday celebration for one very active member, his children had organized the party, lots of good food and a cake, some 80 guests, a great orchestra to play great music. The Birthday song was sang and then his son who had arranged for the food, most of it he cooked, says to the assembled crowd that it was also my Birthday and produces another cake and the group sang to me. Well it was very lovely and the weather and sunshine streaming into the house made it all perfect.
And now I am off to get my discount and play the victim if I do not get what I want for the camera of the 6 o’clock news.
I was watching a short clip about Paris in 1957, I was 1 year old then. The little clip was in black and white, a street scene near the Pantheon. I looked at it several times and thought, none of this exist anymore. The Paris of 1957 is gone, so is the Paris of 1989. Paris today is unrecognizable from what most people think the city is like, since the image we have is of a Paris of the movies which is not reality. I first visited Paris in 1969 and again a second time in 1989, more recently a few years ago. Can’t say I like it much, I found it dirty and sad looking, France in the last few years is a country in serious social turmoil.
But the little film about Paris in 1957 is a metaphor for time passing, for how things, life and myself have changed. I am now clearly in the last chapter of my life, still in good health, but my interests and priorities are elsewhere.Yes looking at this little film made me nostalgic for a time when life was very different, no computers, no internet, no social platform. A calmer life, where education was valued, nothing had to be immediate. It was not perfect but different. My memories are of a different places, a sometime happy place, exotic places where I lived, now belonging to the past, that seems so far away to me.
This year will be a quiet Birthday, am not sure what it will be, probably just me and Will. I was born in Spring and in early evening as my Mom use to say. She use to believe this had some kind of astrological significance, like messages in reading tea leafs. I always found that fun, there was mystery to it all but it was rarely accurate.
I remember that day, Tuesday 4 September 1962, my brown leather school bag was new and had that very nice smell of leather. Mom took this picture in front of our house and then sent me off down the street to school 2 blocs away. So many decades have past since that day. You could say I am all grown up now.
Looking back it has not been a bad life at all. You could say I have been very fortunate, health wise, work wise and in my relationship of 44 yrs. Life is such an unpredictable affair at the best of time. So Birthday is an opportunity to be thankful.
Well yesterday I drove to Kensington some 45 minutes from Charlottetown down HWY 2, the wind was high and snow drifted across the highway but the sun was shining over a bright blue end of Winter sky. The country side is quite picturesque. Nick and Nora were snoozing on the back seat of the car wrapped in their blankets. They were going to the groomers who live on a farm. After leaving them, I went to Kensington and then to Summerside which is just about 5 minutes away and I like to have a coffee at Samuel’s, they truly serve a wonderful coffee, rich and flavourful and I had their raspberry jam cheese pie, again wonderful dessert.
Around the countryside of PEI there are lots of place where home made desserts, pies, breads and jams are always available, you could say it is a culture of the home made. It is very good and so much more pleasant than the usual factory made dessert.
So in about 8 days we go back to Summer time and that makes a big difference. This weekend the Canada Games are ending and we will have fireworks tonight at 8pm on the cruise ship docks about 500 feet from our house.
Today I went to the Vet to get some food for Nora and the place was busy with humans and their pets. It is quite amusing to see the interaction and how pets are far more than that to us humans. We talk to them and comfort them at the Vet and no one thinks you are crazy. The Vet and staff do the same thing. I wonder what the various pets make of all this.
My Bialetti Coffee maker and what I have discovered thanks to Matteo D’Ottavio on YouTube. I have learned quite a bit from him on how to take care of my Moka. You would think that after 40 years using one I would know. There were somethings I did not know. Life is a learning experience. I now clean my Moka with white vinegar and water, the boiling effect on the stove gets rid of the excess coffee oil and other residue. I also only put the heat on medium low or low. In the past I always used high heat and Matteo shows how that is a mistake, a Moka is not an espresso machine. I am happy with the results now and enjoy my coffee even more in the Morning.
Tea not all the same around the world and how people drink it. I remember that depending on the geographic location of the country where you are having your tea and also on the capacity to pay for packages of tea, the quality is vastly different. In Egypt where tea is a all day drink served in small glasses, it was mostly stems and very bitter, to tone down the taste half of the glass was filled with white sugar. I simply brought high quality variety of boxes of tea from the UK or Canada. I also gave boxes as gifts to staff at work and they marvelled at how nice it was, for them it was a luxury. In China, in Beijing, I discovered the tea market which was a gigantic modern warehouse with all manners of tea merchants and tea furniture and exquisite porcelain tea services. I would go there with Chinese friends who knew the culture and the many varieties and which tea pots to use, glass or porcelain. I do prefer loose leaf tea and I really do not like the cheap brands sachet powder teas or orange pekoe tea.
So last night the Premier announced that he was calling for an election on April 3. It was no surprise but the media took it as if we were going for a picnik and it was going to be so much fun. The issue is healthcare which is a disaster and wait times now are year long. Of course Conservative Premiers like ours are calling for privatization American style. The only problem, the majority of people have no money to be able to pay for private care and have no memory of Canada before 1965 when you had to pay for any and all medical services. The other issue is housing construction, there is very little of it going on. The population is growing rapidly each year, in fact little PEI has the highest population growth in Canada. The situation is beyond the crisis point. For our size we would need 1800 units per year just to stem the crisis, not resolve it and that is not happening.
The Official Opposition in the Legislature is the Green Party, they have not been very effective and the Liberal Party is no where to be seen. So it looks likely that the Conservatives of Mr King will get reelected.
Morning routine, well you know a lot of influencers always have a morning routine, well so do Nick and Nora as the No1 influencer in Charlottetown. Look at those pictures, this is their routine, as I sip my Espresso surrounded by two Dachshunds snoozing/snoring away in their blankets, it is a must, they are so Zen. Of course they insist it has to be this way, the whining alone forces you to do as they wish.
Here is Nicky in a deep sleep after his walk and breakfast, time to enjoy a morning snooze. But I have to be sitting next to him, otherwise the routine is disrupted and that is not acceptable for a dachshund.
Nora snoozing and dreaming, her little paws twitching and she huffs and puffs at imaginary figures in her dreams.
A quiet day it is, it started to snow around 8am this morning, no wind, just gently falling flakes of snow, sort of dancing around and covering the green fields with just enough snow to make it look like Christmas day.
My best wishes to all of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope this to be a good happy day today with your friends and family. If you are on your own, enjoy the Peace of the day.
So this Christmas meal will be very different for us this year, no one has been invited and it is only Will and I at the table. Will of course is restricted to his special hospital diet, he insisted in preparing a festive meal for me, with a Cornish Hen with an apple stuffing and a glaze. Vegetable roasted and of course the Rum butter sauce for our plum pudding from our friend in Vancouver, Ginny. We have our Christmas crackers and the festive silverware and champagne. I will start the meal with some good Smoked salmon with capers and onions.
Nicky and Nora those little sweet dachshunds have given me a gift certificate from Amazon. They are elderly now but remain the best little companions.
Watched the message from St-George’s Chapel of HM the King, what a beautiful message, so well done and addressing the King’s message of interfaith dialogue. The King wants to be the Defender of ALL Faiths not just the Anglican Faith. To do so, Parliament will have to pass a Law to allow him to do so. There is apparently no time now before Coronation Day when HM will take the Oath to change that detail, will see if the Prime Minister will move on it quickly.
This week we invited friends to visit Will for coffee, we certainly have the cakes and cookies all home made to pass around. We also have Geld which I buy for Hanukkah and give away. I always buy too much Geld.
Some pictures of Dec 25 in Charlottetown. It really taking me many days to write this one. We are now the 27 Dec.
Do you see the nose, Yes this is Nicky all wrapped up in his blanket and snoozing away on the sofa. He prefers it if I come and sit by him, then he snuggles right up to me and sleeps profoundly. Let sleeping dogs lie, goes the old saying.
A more simple table setting this Christmas for dinner, dinner for one and Will already had his special medical dinner. He made me dinner, starting with smoked Salmon and capers, then vegetables and roasted Cornish hen and of course flaming plum pudding for dessert. A beautiful brandy fuelled blue light, so festive. The best part WILL was able to eat some without difficulty, now that is a big step, a first in 6 months.
Christmas Morning finally some snow, just a bit but nice enough in the quiet streets and with some sunshine.
Now onwards to the New Year Festivities which will be calm and quiet also.
The storm announced yesterday turned out to be largely a non-event. High winds, no ferry crossings, bridge to the mainland closed, but that was it. We are without snow, all green everywhere so this is Christmas in PEI.
The city is quiet tonight, because of the storm of yesterday, no one could leave the Island, no flights and bridge closed. Moral of this story, just stay home for the holidays.
So tonight we are quiet at home, the wind is still strong and it is cool. In the city there are not many displays of lights on private homes, this is more a suburb and rural area thing. We are not having company or dinner parties, but this week people will come to have coffee and cake every day starting with Boxing Day.
As for New Year’s Eve and Day, well will see, no plans yet.
I only hope that 2023 will be a better year than the past 3 years. I would love to travel a little bit even if it is not far.
Winter scene in a Quebec village by Clarence A. Gagnon.
Living on an island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence means that the weather can change in a blink of an eye, as they say here, if you do not like the current weather just wait 10 minutes it will change.
Today around 2pm the wind picked up and sleet and snow started falling, then the wind picked up some more and became nasty North Eastern. So it is not so much snowing now as very high winds. The streets are deserted and many businesses closed at 3pm. Schools were closed all day and tomorrow will be the same. The majority of kids live on farms on frozen mud roads and it is too dangerous to drive school buses on such roads in very high windy conditions. That is Winter in PEI, not as charming as Summer.
Had a tea and cake with friends this afternoon at the home of another friend on Sydney street just a block from where I live, the house is known as the Music Teachers House circa 1860 at one point the Presbyterian Church next door use to house its music director in that house. The church was pulled down a long time ago and moved one block to a far larger stone building. The land was bought by the Catholic Church for a community centre in that ugly 1950 architecture. The house remained on a street full of similar houses now all attached to a luxury hotel, The Great George. A beautiful house with a very nice garden. Was pushed home by the wind at my back.
Walk the dogs tonight just around the house, the wind is strong, the streets are totally deserted and the city plows have started to clean streets which they will do all night due to the drifting snow. I do like the quiet of Winter in the city, no traffic and little noise.
The rest of the week will be quiet, Friday is the Xmas party called Winter’s Light with dinner and show. Should be loads of fun. A slow end to the year. A strange year again, since March 2020 nothing has been like it has ever been before and there is no end in sight it seems. I am focusing now on Will’s health and hoping for a full recovery by end March, fingers crossed.
So we had a quiet Anniversary and it was nice, the weather was cold -2 C but sunny.
However today, I was sad and frustrated that given that we now have to wait 12 weeks for a final pronouncement on Will’s cancer treatment, I find all of it confusing. We have been told that you have to wait, it takes time, it is not resolved over night. My argument is “they send men to the moon, so why not?” does not work at all in this case. I just want him to get better.
So Will and I talked today and we very much think alike on this situation and we spoke of our fears and the uncertain future, but then again we do not know the future.
today was a busy day, both with meeting at the Club on Membership and then about the Library in the afternoon. In the evening I was doing a talk on the Canadian Foreign Service and what it is like to serve in it for 35 years. The crowd loved it, had a few good laughs, so it went well.
Today is blustery and very windy and it drizzles which makes things miserable and the city is doing its Santa’s parade which means they get all the Fire Trucks out and blast the sirens for 2 hours. At first I thought there was a major fire and then remembered this was the City’s idea of fun for the Santa’s parade. Huge traffic everywhere because many major arteries were closed. Thank god for climate change they still don’t get it on PEI.
Well today we have our friend come over to do the routine with Nick and Nora. Nick’s eyes are no better and the Vet tells me he is nearly completely blind, I know I can see it when we go for walks, it is very slow. Also I seems more hard of hearing now and today his stomach was badly upset, he ate nothing at all, just water. He will be 14 in February and he feels his age. All he wants to do is sleep snuggled against me. But even is breathing some nights is ragged and he has an irregular heartbeat. I feel bad about it, there is not much that can be done but he is as comfortable as possible.
Nora well she just goes on like a little engine, but she is more stubborn now than ever. You cannot make her do anything and she knows she can get away with it, Nora wants, Nora gets.
This Tuesday morning I drive to Halifax with the oriental carpets for cleaning and I come back Wednesday, a very easy drive. What I did not know is that Nova Scotia was an Island at one time and is now tied to the mainland by dykes built by the Acadians in the 17th century. The main Trans-Canada HWY and the railroad passes over the dykes. With climate change in 50 years time the Bay of Funday water and tides will submerge the dykes according to studies. I won’t be around to see it.
Today 23 November is our 44th Anniversary, we have been together all these years. Difficult to think back so far, a lifetime really. A life spent around the world. Our first meeting was supposed to be more a social call and here we are. What a wonderful life, can’t imagine it any different.
This week I was reading various blogs I follow and bloggers tell of their lives and ask questions.
I am not a native English speaker and the english I learned was mostly on the street or reading or watching television. So sometimes I am still baffled after 60 years of speaking English by some terms or expressions.
This week Mitchell was mentioning the word Hamburger, how to say it, is it hamburg or hamburger. I hear both every day, however if I go to the store to buy meat I always think in French and it would be Boeuf Haché, I can never think of the term ground beef. So in conversation at home I would say I am buying hamburger meat meaning boeuf haché. Now if I speak of what you eat of the BBQ I would say a Hamburger, to me that is the dish. By the way there is no French word for hamburger.
Now the other one was about Barbeque here is another one, to me the barbeque is both the machine and the way to cook. In Canada the most famous Barbeque place is St-Hubert founded by a couple some 80 years ago, it was and still is a roast chicken restaurant and it is so famous that in Quebec it has entered the everyday language.
The signs also for the restaurant say BBQ and for many this is a French expression. It means all manner of things roasted on your Barbeque at home or in a restaurant. In Montreal there is another famous restaurant called Laurier BBQ and chicken is their dish. They closed during Covid but now is re-opened as a take out counter.
So for me BBQ or in writing barbeque is the same thing. Now yesterday I notice that in Europe Corned Beef is also presented as BBQ Corn Beef, though it has no corn and is not barbeque either but boiled in a sealed container.
This week is also American Thanksgiving and the famous or infamous as you like it, turkey meal with far too much decadent food, I do not believe the Pilgrims or Puritans would have approved. In terms of grocery shopping these days, I try to go early in the day and avoid after 2pm shopping on weekdays especially Friday it becomes a little crowded. Morning is the elderly and decrepit crowd and it is slow. I also find that Tuesday or Wednesday shopping is best in terms of variety. We have cooked a few turkeys in our time, however I find that the Butterball brand is the best and all we do is to keep a keen eye on the bird to avoid any dry bits. If I buy one I will wait until just a few days before the event, the price drops dramatically. We also cook it in a bag which is a sous vide technique and it gives a very juicy bird. However this year we will most probably keep it simple, which is fine. We even have a smaller 3 foot tree for Xmas a far cry from our days with the 9 foot tree. and other smaller trees and the 12 poinsettia, garlands of green etc. The point of such holiday is to be with the one you love and not alone. People who care about you in a meaningful way.
This week is also on Wednesday 23 November our 44th Anniversary. What are we planning well nothing this year but it is a lifetime, I suppose this makes us an old couple with a lifetime of memories.
A few years ago I was in London and was told about the Wallace Collection at Hertford House, Manchester Square, London. The house is a beautiful building and was the principal house of the family of the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the likely illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Lady Wallace, Sir Richard’s widow, in 1897.
The collections are superb and shows the knowledge of the four Marquesses and Sir Richard in acquiring the objects. What I really like seeing was the wonderful original furniture from the Palace of Versailles. In 1792, the revolutionary government sold the contents of Versailles to whoever was interested in buying the contents of the Palace. The agents of the Marquess of Hertford bought the finer pieces for little money at the time. There is such a great collection of furniture, paintings and other personal objects belonging to King Louis XIV, his grandson Louis XV and King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette. I found I enjoyed seeing it all at Hertford House because there was no crowds and they are displayed in such a way as to really enjoy them.
There was on amusing note on all these French treasures, the original bill of sale given to the agents, if you read the text it says that the furniture, paintings, objects come from the estate of the Widow Capet, meaning Marie-Antoinette. When the sale took place King Louis XVI was dead and the Queen was in jail waiting for her execution.
If you are in London, do go and see the Wallace Collection it is well worth it.
My other recommendation for a London visit is the house of artist and painter Frederic Lord Leighton who is buried in Saint-Paul. His home in London’s Holland Park was formerly also his studio, known as an enthusiastic orientalist he lived from 1830-96. The house is a treasure trove of antique ceramic tiles and melodramatic Victorian painting. He was a favourite of Queen Victoria.
He was a life long bachelor and led a secret life despite being very much a public figure. The photos below shows the entrance and the Arab Hall. It was built specifically in this style to show the enormous collection of tiles of Lord Leighton. It is a very peaceful house full of beauty despite the decor the rooms are comfortable.
The second floor has a different decor as seen in the silk room. The most austere room is his bedroom which is plain in the extreme with a single bed, a small table and a chair. A beautiful garden at the back of the house and you can visit his studio in the attic where he work with natural light coming from the giant window, it is arranged as if he just stepped out for a moment.
London is full of such gems most tourists do not know about. It is worth going to them instead of flocking to the usual tourist trap sites. Even if you go only for shopping there are lots of very nice shops with specialty quality items, skip Harrod’s.
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