Got up this morning early around 8:30am which is early for me. Got the table organized for our Christmas Lunch, silverware and fine china. Will got the turkey in the oven and the Plum Pudding steaming for 2 hours. His Brandy Butter for the pudding was very good.
It was a pleasant lunch with the usual Xmas Crackers and funny hats, little bags of gifts and other nice items. I always shop for luxury items to give out at lunch, nothing extravagant but simply nice. The French service of Radio-Canada did an outstanding job with their music programme this year, very well structured featuring all manners of old 17th and 18th century French Christmas music, many sung in Church for centuries and I know the words by heart they are so familiar, they also had modern Quebec music for the season which is always nice to hear. They also do not have any news bulletin, so no news of fresh disaster.
It is a lot of work to prepare such a meal and Will went all out as he usually does, he frets a lot about the quality of what he serves and no one is ever disappointed.
We now have turkey left over enough to make some sandwiches and a pie. Half a Plum pudding which no doubt will be eaten tomorrow Boxing Day. But that is about it, so no great bother.
Again a sunny day today and not as cold, the wind died down, which is a relief. The City is very quiet due to restrictions and I am happy about it, it’s nice to have peace and quiet for once.
No not the country but the bird, just 3 years ago you could buy a bird for about $20. which would get you a 12 lbs turkey. Today we bought a small turkey 10 lbs. for $35. Anything larger, the price jumps and it is around $55 to $60. dollars. Frankly I am not in love with turkey and would be happy with other meat or seafood. But the prices are out of control, even for chicken which was the cheap meat. Now pork is still relatively cheap but not everyone wants nor can eat pork. Because I shop often in a week, I notice the price jump from day to day and despite the fact that we are constantly told that supply chain problems around the world creates inflation etc, I am not really buying it. There is gouging and now that we approach the date of the big day, prices are likely to start falling. They have on Wreaths and other natural decorations, they probably will on other items, they did last year.
We returned today to the Vet to consult about Nicky and his left eye condition and what can be done to alleviate the situation. The Vet gave us the information and based on the specialist report what can be done to help Nicky. It still looks like his eye sight problem is manageable. I will take him tomorrow for a small intervention to relieve the pressure on his eye. This cataract problem is frequent in older dogs and ulcers can form which makes things worse and are painful. So we will see.
Other news, not much, I do not think we will have a white Christmas, the weather is way to warm and even the seawater in the Gulf is not at Winter cold temperature. You still have politicians who will tell you they do not understand what is going on, like the Governor of Kentucky. I suppose someone will have to explain it to him.
We are having weird weather, it is as predicted by the Weather service, the Maritimes will have a period of very warm and mild weather from September until Early December and that is what happened. In the last 72 hours the weather has become much colder but again we do have days like today of 14C and nights of -5C, no snow yet and but lots of intense rain, strong winds and low clouds. The winds today stopped the ferry service between Nova Scotia and the Western tip of PEI. The surf is rough under a bright blue sky.
Tomorrow I travelled to Kensington which by Island standard is very far away, don’t laugh, it’s 40 minutes away. Both Nicky and Nora are getting groomed for Santa. Probably will have lunch in town and then return to Ch’Town. Tomorrow night we are told that we might get snow, will see, the weather guy Jay Scotland is not known for his accuracy. Can’t blame the guy, Climate change has screwed up everything.
My Xmas cards are mostly done and in the mail, it is a bit of a chore each year, I also send electronic cards to people far away. This weekend we should start the decorations. On Thursday it’s Will’s Birthday, it is a big surprise, not giving away no details here. We also have the Dinner Party at the Club and then the New Year’s Eve party also at the Club. So we are busy, which is good.
The Holiday Season Music is not too bad in stores, many don’t have any. Though I like 2 songs in particular, Mariah Carey, All I want for Christmas is you, this version was recorded as a spoof on a Royal Navy War Ship, the HMS Ocean, quite funny in a very British way. The other is from a group at Oxford University called Out of the Blue, Merry Christmas Everybody. Both can be found on You Tube.
St-Nicholas day was yesterday, let’s hope we get into more of the Holiday Spirit in the next week.
It seems that the Holiday Season is the season for Sweets of all kinds. You receive them as gifts, you make some to give as a gift or for dessert or to offer to people visiting. Here at our house we have little bags of goodies, full of chocolates and other sweets we give out to guests. Then there are the cakes and pastries, here have another one, but I already had 3, it does not matter who is counting anyway it’s the Holidays.
We have enough sweets to last us until at least Valentines day. It is almost as if because it is the end of the year over eating is a way of saying, you know what, I made it through another year, I deserve a reward especially after 2020!
A few years ago when I worked on the painting exhibit by Canadian War Artists at the Canadian War Museum, I discovered a collection of Canadian paintings numbering about 1000, by Canadian men who had enlisted for the 1914-1918 conflict. Their job was to document the horrors of the battlefield for posterity. These fellows were in many cases painters, 6 of them would go on after the war to form the celebrated Canadian Group of Seven. One of those men was A.Y. Jackson. His paintings of battlefield and ravaged landscape where presented juxtaposed to those of another famous artists Otto Dix who fought against him in the trenches on the German Side. Both men knew each other and respected each others work, lived long lives but unfortunately never met. Otto Dix in Germany created the movement called New Objectivity in painting with his harshly realistic paintings. He quickly fell afoul of the Nazi regime in 1933 and was declared degenerate by their ideological standards. He stayed in Germany but was under house arrest and narrowly avoided the concentration camps.
The group of seven during the years 1919-1933 were painting Canadian Wilderness Landscapes, a first since no one before them had done it. It was new and exciting in the Canadian Art World. What many people do not know is that Max Aitken Lord Beaverbrook not only financed the work of Canadian War Artists but took care of collecting the works. Today this war art collection is mostly in the vaults of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Some pieces are seen from time to time by the public. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton houses the Art collection of Max Aitken, and it is impressive. He had the money and influence to acquire great art and the gallery is celebrated for its works of art. It is currently closed for an expansion project until 2022.
I was looking at yet another architectural project in Berlin. A city that has experienced a renaissance since 1989 with the fall of the Wall. This one is the building of a Museum to Exile, dedicated to all the people forced out in the period 1933-1940 by the policies of the Nazi Regime. Artists, opposition politicians, scientists, academics, musicians, basically anyone who was targeted and told to get out before it was too late.
The new museum to be built with an opening date of 2025 will be located in what use to be the Official Train Station of the German State, Anhalter Bahnhof. All important arrivals and departures from Berlin took place at this train station, the Kaiser used the Anhalter Bahnhof for this purpose and then it was used by the Nazi Regime for welcoming friendly Heads of Government like Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini on his visit to Berlin in 1938. Between 1933 and 1940 it became also the train station used by people forced out, going into exile because they fell afoul of the Nazi Regime, thousands left for other countries in Europe through this station.
What is left today of this once large train station in central Berlin.
The station has stood as a ruin for more than 70 years, everything else that was once part of this great building a field of ruin and open land. It is not clear why only the portico survived, but part of the Communist ideology wanted such vestiges to teach people a lesson and East Berlin was until 1990 strewn with such ruins. East Germany occupied by the Russians was full of historical and cultural sites, left mostly abandoned. Cities like Leipzing where J.S.Bach lived and worked suffered greatly at the hands of the East German government who demolished many historical sites they did not like, Dresden and Potsdam are another example of cities re-built to fit the new ideology. What was East Berlin was full of monuments to the past and it too got the bulldozer treatment. On the other hand Nazi building like the Air Ministry of Herman Goering unscathed by the war were re-used and housed Communist party functionaries and Soviet agents. This building today still stands and houses the German Government Social Services dept. it resembles in its design two buildings in Ottawa on Wellington Street, the West and East Memorial Buildings.
The Danish architectural firm of Dorte Mandrup in Copenhagen is now tasked with building the structure that will house the Exil museum, which aims to portray the history of German exile during the Nazi era. It is estimated that half a million people fled Nazi persecution.
The Anhalter Bahnhof station in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district was one of the most important long-distance train stations in Berlin during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic.
After the rise of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in the spring of 1933, many people left the city using this station. People like Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Klaus Mann, Lotte Laserstein, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Gropius, Billy Wilder.
From 1942, the Nazis used the station to deport Jews to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Many of those emigrants were not allowed to work in their new host countries, or banned from practicing their actual professions. In addition to losing their homes, friends and family, they also lost their cultural and professional identity this way. Many became destitute, and were greeted by rejection and animosity in their new homes.
The construction of the museum will largely be financed by private donations, with costs being estimated to run up to €25 to 30 million ($30 to 35 million).
The New Exil Museum in Berlin, schedule to open in 2025.
Recently a good friend and blogger asked me about food for the Holidays, what type of food did you have as a child for Christmas etc… So I told him, he was a little taken aback, suffice to say that I and my siblings did not have your conventional upbringing especially when it comes to food and drinks. So no it was not turkey and mash potato with gravy and green peas or ham or whatever is usually served in most households. Wine was also served on a regular basis to adults until I was old enough to have a glass. Cocktails and bubbly made their appearance as a matter of fact at the table. My father always chose the wines, he liked Montrachet.
During my professional life in the many countries we lived in, the menu varied a great deal, various cultures have various fare. In many countries, lamb is a regular staple with chicken a close second, pork is not available and beef is usually served stewed not as a steak. Same with vegetables, in some places root vegetables or squash of all kinds or potatoes are abundant, rice is a side dish with all dishes. So you have to get use to different culinary traditions. Per example in Greece, they will served grilled tomatoes, rice and french fries all together with lamb or fish. In many countries butter is replaced by Ghee butter which is highly saturated in fat but gives the most wonderful taste to food. Also the concept of dieting, allergies or vegetarianism or not eating meat or certain foods is totally unknown and people will enquire about your health, because such condition is associated with the sick and the dying.
So through the years we have modified our Holiday menu to a point where the conventional is not the first thing that comes to mind. This also includes desserts and any sweet. In one country candied whole fruits was a delight to behold, in others it was honey and nut pastries in phylo dough, in others it was rich cakes and specialty chocolates of the finest ingredients made in small batches.
The country I enjoyed the most for wines was Italy, every Italian region has vineyards and all produce regional wines, the volcanic soil of Italy and Sicily produces great wines, red of course but for the last 150 years white wines. Going to the wine merchant was a delight, you could always pair wines with your meal and given the reasonable prices buying several cases for Xmas was a given. One year I found a champagne I truly loved, Jacquesson from France, an exceptional Champagne. If you come across that name, you should get a bottle.
This year will be a quiet Xmas at home, Charlottetown is very quiet and it is pleasant. Christmas Eve I think 3 people are coming over for drinks. Christmas Day we are 7 for Lunch at home. Everything for the meal has been bought including the wines so I do not have to do any more grocery shopping.
While shopping for Chestnuts, I discovered that you cannot find it here anywhere because it is simply something Islanders do not know. A strange thing, but its like veal, you cannot find it, no one carries it. Why? It does not appear that there is any reason. I finally did find chestnuts and beautiful ones at GLOBAL MARKET on St-Peter’s road at Mount Edward. It is an Asian/African grocery store and they carry the most incredible array of goods, most Islanders have never heard of most of it. I was very happy, it’s the second time Global Market has saved my bacon, Mr Will has a knack for asking for the most obscure ingredients at the last minute. In the case of the chestnuts, he is making Chestnut Ice Cream.
Best Wishes to all of you for a Happy Christmas!
A picture of Nora and Nick, the Official Xmas Dachshunds.
Today I got a hair cut from Jared who is probably one of the best barbers in Charlottetown. I use to go to a traditional barber, old school type who is very popular with politicians and regular guys. His shop is very well known and he is a very pleasant fellow. However it was not exactly what I was looking for and noticed his staff were indifferent in general unless you were a local celebrity or somebody’s cousin. I got to know my current barber Jared through the gang of Receiver Coffee Co. a local coffee shop which caters to a more cosmopolitan crowd and has a progressive outlook on life. In fact when we first arrived in PEI almost 5 years ago, we went to have coffee at Receiver which had just opened as a new business. From that point we met other people and Jared was part of that group. Though at the time he was a photographer and his work caught my eye. He has a real talent for composition and light and his work is dramatic and beautiful. He then branched out into cutting hair but decided that he should go study in London UK for it at one of the more famous schools. His girlfriend is also a photographer and does art photography, she has a lot of talent.
We also have as of January a new family doctor. Our current doctor who is on maternity leave called to ask if we would consider going to his new practice which is half of her old practice in the same office. We know the new doctor and he is very nice and has a professional and easy manner with people, so we agreed to switch. You have to know that in PEI not everyone has a family doctor, in fact some 5600 have no family doctor and have to go either to a community clinic or the hospital for care, so we are privileged. This is a new factor in Canada with one generation of medical doctors retiring and insufficient numbers coming on stream.
I noticed today that we have been receiving Xmas cards in the mail but the stamps are not cancelled. I know that the volumes of mail in Canada are very high, delivery right now is 7 days a week. Maybe they are just pushing it through and making sure it gets delivered. That is ok because some people re-used uncancelled stamps and sent cards to people.
Well we are almost finished with the Xmas decorations, just a few small details to attend to now, can do this tomorrow. Now we are waiting for the Friday conference by our Chief Medical Officer for PEI, Dr Morrison and the Premier Dennis King to tell us if some of the lockdown will be lifted. Looks like it might, no new cases and everything looks pretty calm now and also vaccination has started on PEI so it’s all good news. Heather Arsenault a front line worker at a seniors home was the first to get the Pfizer shot. Fingers crossed it all works out. At any rate we have plans to either be quiet for Xmas at home or maybe invite a few close personal friends over. It’s all up in the air…
Every year I get to put the Star on our tree, an old tradition, it is the original star of 1979, always the same which has been carefully preserved through all the years.
Monday today some good news, first at the dentist, got x-rays and a good cleaning, I do this twice a year. My dentist told me I had perfect teeth and nothing to report. It has been like this for years and it always makes me happy to hear it. The second piece of good news was the start of the vaccination program in Canada. Everyone I spoke too wants the vaccine as soon as possible. Can’t wait attitude, it is almost as being liberated. It is very encouraging. By Friday on PEI there will be more people vaccinated than any people who got sick, again good news. The Prime Minister also announced that Canada will receive doses of the vaccine Moderna. So as it stands now all Canadians can be inoculated in a matter of a few months.
I also followed distractedly what was going on in the USA with the Great Electors voting to confirm Joe Biden as the winner of the national election in the USA and the next president. I also listened to the speech this evening by Joe Biden and found in it, the words and thoughts of past presidents, dignified, honourable, with empathy for people and a call to unity to all citizens. This is what a president does. In his speech the old America I knew came back. So happy to hear such words after four years of buffoonery.
After the dentist I came home and started to decorate the tree, which we will finish decorating tomorrow. It’s a big job, though the tree is only 7 feet tall. Like every year we said again, we need a second tree and given our very high ceiling it could be an 11 foot one.
The weather this week in the Maritimes is like living in Northern Europe, grey, foggy, low ceiling, clouds and wet and mild. Last night I walked Nicky around 10:30pm, the streets are dead quiet, no cars, no one anywhere. There was no wind and it was 45F, this is NOT normal we are in mid-December. There is snow in central Canada, Ottawa, Montreal, etc. not here. We have been promised a big storm, really, it is so mild it is impossible that we will get any snow at all.
Which reminds me of this little ditty, which is so very true of PEI.
Will it rain? Will it snow? I live in Prince Edward Island. I do not know!
Living here 5 years now I have come accustomed to the weather changing rapidly within 15 minutes on some days. Being an Island on the sea makes us susceptible to the prevailing winds much more so than people living inland. You would not want to be the Weather guy in PEI, it is a thankless job and more often than not you will be wrong.
Today we got some wet snow, well more rain than snow which melted away in the still balmy weather we are having. I went shopping for gifts for our Xmas Luncheon guests. We always have a little bag with nice things for them to take home. Now I suppose we will be allowed to have this Luncheon but I am waiting like everyone else in PEI to see what the Government of PEI will tell us on 21 December but we keep our fingers crossed. Of course today the absolutely wonderful news was that the Pfizer Vaccine had been approved by Health Canada and now the first shipment will arrive on Friday from Puurs, Belgium where Pfizer is located. The Canadian Army is in charge of distribution to the 14 centres in the country. Canada being a huge country geographically and this type of logistics is something the armed forces can handle well. It will be the oldest people first and front line workers and then in sequence of decreasing age, I should be in the third cohort by April 2021.
I have faith that all will go well and I am thankful our Canadian Government did what had to be done. There are more than enough doses to go around all Canadians several times, Canada is very well prepared. Meaning that 2021 should be the year of renewal and a return to normal. I am grateful for that.
So today I went shopping for a calendar for 2021 and for small gifts for our guests and bought all manner of nice things for them. I also got the new book of Barack H. Obama, I had heard a lot of good about it and it does look like an interesting read.
Today is Will’s Birthday and we are celebrating quietly at home. Next year is a big year and a big party so this is why putting Covid out of your lives is so important. We shall overcome!
As of tomorrow we will start with decorations it takes usually about 4 to 5 days to do it all. I do hope that we will be allowed to have a few people over on 24 and 25 Dec. Right now it is völling verboten!!! We are hopeful that the Health Dept of PEI who evaluates these things will see enough changes and no new cases appear, it has been 2 days now with nothing new. I was angry like many others when it was revealed that the 15 yr old student who started the current alert, finally confessed that he had forgotten to mention to the nurses that he had travelled and partied off Island, now we know where he got it from. On the other hand the 20 to 29 yr old are getting tested in record numbers, they have taken the call of the Premier to heart.
Friday night we went to our Club and we were surprised with a cake for Will’s bday and for our friend Maureen. No candles but a happy atmosphere all around. Afterwards we went to the Theatre at the Confederation Centre, the auditorium can hold 1300 people however at the moment only 300 can enter, everyone must wear a mask during the entire performance, which I found difficult for 90 minutes and was glad to get out afterwards. I don’t think I could do a 3 to 6 hour flight on a plane.
We saw a radio adaptation of the play it’s a wonderful life. The setting on stage is exactly like a radio studio with a man who does all the sound effects, an announcer and players saying their lines speaking into radio microphones, it feels like you are at home listening to a radio play.
Everyone I am sure has seen the movie It’s a wonderful life with Jimmy Stewart, a classic at this time of the year. It worked very well and it was really entertaining. I saw the movie maybe some 30 years ago and I know the story line but had forgotten some details.
The weather continues to be unseasonably warm and Spring like but on the way home there was a strong wind coming from the river and rushing up Queen street. The air smelled of salty sea air, after all the entrance to the sea is just in front of the city harbour. I love that smell of the sea, it is fresh and powerful all at once.
Today it rained all day and it was grey and miserable, stayed home mostly and put my computer in order by doing a back up and getting rid of malware etc. It took about 3 hours to do, I had done nothing since 2017. I also increased the font size so it is easier to read. Now I have to tackle the photos I have, I think I have something in the neighbourhood of 20k, I know it’s crazy.
Had to go to the grocery store today and I chose a bad time, late afternoon on a Saturday is zoo time, people walking around like zombies, disoriented, bad drivers on the road and the rain did not help much. A lot of our traffic here is made up of giant SUV driven by elderly small ladies who can barely see above the steering wheel and big trucks like the F150 driven aggressively by middle age men, not to mention all the people who are looking at their phone while driving. So you have to be on your guard.
I also got a poinsettia with pink flowers so it is starting to look like Christmas. Probably by end of next week we will start on the tree and other decorations.
Again I am suppose to be retired and have nothing to do. Well not so.
This week was Nora’s appointment for her teeth cleaning at the Vet. We have a very good Vet Dr Condon who is also with the Veterinary school of University of PEI. He is considered the best when it comes to dentistry. Nora who is 12 years old and weighs 13.5 lbs needed her teeth cleaned, in the process 5 small teeth had to be extracted. Poor dear, it had to be done and she will feel much better says the Vet.
Today was Winter tire change, so off I went to the garage for the switch and while there had a general check, I was told that the brake system had to be cleaned and was shown how dirty they were, some kind of gunk had built up and I had noticed they were not responding as well. This is the time to get this done before Winter storms strike. I was one of two clients at the dealership. It all went pretty quickly and was out of there in 2 hours. I also discovered that the dealership now belongs to a big corporation which owns all car dealerships in Atlantic Canada, that is used cars and new cars. Not crazy about that idea, we had a similar system in Ottawa where one family owned most dealerships and the service was terrible including a constant rotation of staff.
We are approaching mid-November and the weather is still mild and well above the seasonal normal temperature by about 9 degrees. This is climate change in action, though I do not mind not having the frigid weather.
We are trying out a new cleaning lady and hoping it works out. She came last week and she is coming again tomorrow. I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Well we are now as of this writing some 50 days from Xmas and 55 days from the end of 2020. We are already planning small parties and thinking of what to ask for presents. Time to think of cards to be sent and what to serve for Christmas day lunch, perhaps Roast Beef this year. The Plum pudding is soaking in brandy and we have also our home made fruit cake which is always so good. I am also getting a German Stollen, a Dresden recipe made by a friend from Dresden using his mother’s recipe.
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