Monday, 20 November 2017

Thanksgiving Overeating and How to Control It

People often say that they eat way too much on the holidays. After all, there's nothing quite as grand as a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, wouldn't you say? Yum!

But it's easy to get carried away, as in the case of this dinner that registered at a whopping 79,000 calories!

Well, the good folks at Craig's recognize that over eating is an all too common holiday problem. After all, they too enjoy the elegantly spread festive tables as much as we all do; tables filled with turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and sweet yams, rich gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce. And let's not forget the pumpkin pies and fresh whipped cream! Like you and me, they too have been known to over eat a time or two.

So to help us all slow down our calorie intake at holiday dinners, they proudly introduce their Thanksgiving dinner in a can. They're certain that, you not only won't be going back to the trough for seconds, you likely will lose your appetite well before even finishing your first serving.

So go ahead and enjoy your festive family gatherings, and leave it to Craig's to help control the excessive eating and calorie intake.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Photo Source: justNChomes.com

Sunday, 5 November 2017

The Perfect Chili Gets A Facelift

Doesn't that look great?

I've always thought that my homemade chili was already pretty awesome; basically a 50-50 mix of ground beef and ground pork, kidney beans, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno and habanero peppers, and various spices.

And then I saw a video from BBQ Pit Boys where they made a chili with venison loin chunks. It inspired me to try a variant of my already classic recipe. I didn't have any venison, but I did have plenty of lean pork loin. Maybe a substitute was in order.


The meat for the chili consisted of three pork loins (about 4-5 pounds) cut into chunks, eight beer flavoured bratwurst sausages (casings removed), and about half a pound of bacon. These were lightly cooked in the pot first with some Canola cooking oil. Conspicuously absent was the traditional chili mainstay; ground beef.








The fresh veggies that found their way into the chili were: three kinds of sweet peppers, several jalapeno peppers, several mushrooms, and a couple of whole onions.

The spices consisted of: 1/4 chopped whole garlic, 2 tsp black peppercorn, 1 tsp salt (I cut the original recipe's salt in half), 1/2 tsp cumin, 3 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper (twice the original recipe), and 1 tsp oregano. Then came the kidney beans; a chili mainstay. After everything was added to the pot, I added about a litre of beef stock to bring the liquid level to just below the chili level, and then to the whole concoction, I added a can of beer.





A few years ago we gave up on our old propane barbecue and returned to good the old-fashioned charcoal barbecue of yesteryear. That decision has brought no regrets; the flavour difference of the food cooked over charcoal versus propane is incredibly noticeable. The only question is, why did we ever jump on the propane bandwagon in the first place? I'll never go back to propane/gas barbecues! Charcoal is so much better, in my humble opinion.


So here it is, our little charcoal grill preheating in anticipation of the chili that would soon find its way onto her grill.





Would you look at that? It almost looks good enough to eat already! But we need to still let it boil down a bit, stirring occasionally, before delving into this foodie utopian ecstasy experiment.













A little boiling over was no big deal, since we were on an outdoor grill and not a kitchen stove. Still, this begs the question: Which is better; outdoor charcoal grill chili, or inside stove top chili? I would soon have the answer to that important question. Like other dishes I've experimented with, I'd soon discover that chili too, is better on an outside grill than an indoor stove top.

Verdict is in; there is no comparison!





However, before this masterpiece would be complete, we needed still to add the awesomeness of some smoke. For that, I pre-soaked some chunks of rum barrel wood in water for about half an hour, and then added them directly on top of the charcoal. Since I love to use my Bradley Smoker regularly for other dishes, the addition of smoke here seemed quite natural. I wasn't disappointed!





And finally it was time to remove the masterpiece from the grill and to chow down. Dishes were served with white corn chips on the side (see first picture) and some grated habanero cheese was generously sprinkled on top.

Well there you have it; my already perfect homemade chili, gets the perfect facelift.

Chili will never be the same again.

Do you enjoy a good bowl of chili? Well then it may be time to take this foodie classic to the next level and say goodbye to the pseudo-chili of yesteryear.

Lesson: Step out of your foodie comfort zone and experiment; you may be pleasantly surprised at what ends up on the dinner dish. Happy eating. Peace.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

One Day at the White House ...

One day toward the end of Barack Obama's second presidential term, he invited would-be presidential hopeful's, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, to the White House for an afternoon social. While entertaining his guests, they all took a stroll through the White House's beautiful gardens and discussed their visions for the future of America.

Suddenly, as they rounded the south-east corner of the presidential estate, they were all startled to see one of the beautiful shrubs all aflame. A burning bush? on the grounds of the White House of the United States of America? What could this mean?

As the three of them drew closer, they heard a voice which said, "Do not come any closer … Take off your shoes, for the place you are standing s holy ground" (Exodus 3: 5). Obama, Clinton, and Trump quickly removed their shoes and stood barefoot before the Lord God.

Suddenly there was heard a voice from the bush, and God said the each of them, "Before I can grant you each a place at my side, I must ask you about what you have learned and about what you believe in."

God first asks Barack Obama, "What do you believe?"

Obama thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says, "I believe in hard work and in staying true to family and friends. I've been fortunate and blessed, and therefore believe in giving. I always look for ways to try and do right by my countrymen.

God can't help but see the essential goodness of Obama, and offers him a seat to his left.

The God turns to Hillary Clinton and asks her, "What do you believe?"

Hillary replies, " I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. Like Obama, I believe in hard work. I too have been fortunate and blessed, but win or lose, I've always tried to be a true patriot and loyal American."

God is greatly moved by Hillary's high-pitched eloquence, and he offers her a seat to his right.

Finally God turns to Donald Trump and says, "And you, Donald, what do you believe?"

Trump replies, "I believe you're in my seat."

Photo Credit: Spencer Means; Flickr Creative Commons
Story Source: Unknown

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Is the Life We Mock A Mirror of Our Own?

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe both emotions would have been strangely appropriate.

Needing a grandson fix, my wife and I went over to our daughter and son-in-law's place the other day. While there our daughter shared how she went out on an errand earlier in the day and for some reason, needed to turn around. I don't remember exactly why; perhaps she forgot something. Regardless, that's not important.

They live on a narrow street that really allows only for one-way traffic due to parked cars on both sides of the street. U-turns are impossible without first pulling into someone else's driveway, which is what she did. As fast as she did that, and barely before she had the car in reverse, the homeowner of that property came flying out of the house, waving her arms and yelling something about my daughter being on their driveway. My daughter wasn't there for 30-seconds, but that was apparently long enough for this homeowner to become unglued. Later the same day, and once again driving by the same house, two new signs suddenly appeared on the garage doors: "Private Driveway KEEP OFF." I'm sure the neighbours loved the sight of that!

Now I mentioned that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Part of me wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Oh no, someone turned around on her driveway! The world must certainly be coming to an end! Heaven forbid that someone should get their dirty car tires on the otherwise clean concrete of someone else's driveway. Call the police! Call out the National Guard! Declare a state of emergency! My property has been trespassed! Oh, the horrors!

Another part of me wanted to cry. Why? Because some people clearly have no life! Oh, the things we sometimes fuss over! Oh, the pet peeves that so often annoy the h*ll out of many of us! A stranger's car comes a little too close to our little kingdoms! Someone's lack of grammar skills irks us to no end (their, they're, there; learn the difference!) Note to self. I get it when stress comes with the big things in life, but when we lose our sh*t over little insignificant events, well, that's just sad.

As I reflected on this further, I found myself looking deep within my own little idiosyncrasies. Are there relatively minor things that cause me to become easily unglued? Do I have my own little pet peeves? Unfortunately, if I'm honest with myself, the answer has to be, "Yes, there are." Maybe you can relate. Though you and I may not have erected big red-lettered signs on our properties to warn off would-be trespassers, maybe we too have little things that irk the h*ll out of us just the same.

I have a little mat at my back door which really says it all. It simply says: "Go Away." True story; it's actually there. I haven't yelled at anyone lately who came too close (I hope), but maybe I'm no better than the neighbour my daughter encountered that day. Maybe my social skills are also enough to make someone want to both laugh and cry.

The door mat was initially purchased as a joke. But just maybe, there is a measure of truth there somewhere as well. Hmm, I wonder.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

My Twilight Years Rant: Reduced to Four Moods

"The older I get, the less I care what people think of me. Therefore the older I get, the more I enjoy life."


I so love that! Sounds a little harsh, maybe (or a lot harsh perhaps), but truth is truth. I've played the games that people play, and quite frankly, I'm no longer interested in playing them.

At the risk of no doubt offending some of my readers, let me simply say: Shit or get off the pot; say what you mean, and mean what you say, and stop with the riddles already! (You know who you are). I can't read your mind, and quite frankly, I'm no longer interested in trying. If all you're going to do is play mind games with me, then just go away, and while you're at at, "unfriend" me from your social networks. Strange word, that "unfriend," isn't it? Begs the question: Were you really one to begin with, the way you carry on? Did I mention that I don't care anymore? Again, I'm sorry if that offends, but sheesh!

[End of Rant]

I'm actually quite happy to be at this stage of life. Isn't it interesting how peer pressure becomes less and less an issue the older you get? I remember someone once asking George Burns about what was the greatest thing about turning 100-years old. Cigar in hand, he apparently answered, "No peer pressure." With each passing year, as I see more and more people of my generation and my age in the obituary columns, I am also reminded that, I too have fewer and fewer peers to try and live up to. And quite frankly, I find that strangely liberating. (Sorry if that also sounds a little morbid).

So here I sit, in the twilight of my life, and I find that I really do care less about what people think of me. I've done my penance; I've paid my dues; and quite frankly, I no longer care. The world is going to go on with or without my approval, and with or without your approval, so go ahead; knock yourself out with your rants, biases, religion and pet peeves. Fact is, I really no longer care. I'm tired, and as someone has so eloquently said, I now only have four moods left:

1) I'm too old for this shit.
2) I'm too tired for this shit.
3) I'm too sober for this shit.
4) I don't have time for this shit.

Well there you have it. Offended? Oh well, shit happens; I'm not perfect, not by a long shot. But harsh as it may sound, hopefully I spoke truthfully. In the end, maybe that is worth something. Peace?

Photo Source: Unknown

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Little Red Riding Hood: A Politically Correct Rewrite?

There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother's house - not because this was womyn's work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore,  her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.

On the way to Grandma's house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked what was in her basket. She replied, "Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult."

The wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone."

Red Riding Hood said, "I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused  you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."

Red Riding Hood walked along the main path. But, because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought,  the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma's house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma's nightclothes and crawled into bed.

Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and said, "Grandma, I have brought you some fat-free, sodium-free snacks to salute you in your role of a wise and nurturing matriarch."

From the bed, the wolf said softly, "Come closer, child, so that I might see you."

Red Riding Hood said, "Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have!"

"They have seen much, and forgiven much, my dear."

"Grandma, what a big nose you have - only relative, of course, and certainly attractive in its own way."

"It has smelled much, and forgiven much, my dear."

"Grandma, what big teeth you have!"

The wolf said, "I am happy with who I am and what I am," and leaped out of bed. He grabbed Red Riding Hood in his claws, intent on devouring her. Red Riding Hood screamed, not out of alarm at the wolf's apparent tendency toward cross-dressing, but because of his willful invasion of her personal space.

Her screams were heard by a passing woodchopper-person (or log-fuel technician, as he preferred to be called). When he burst into the cottage, he saw the melee and tried to intervene. But as he raised his ax, Red Riding Hood and the wolf both stopped.

"And just what do you think you're doing?" asked Red Riding Hood.

The woodchopper-person blinked and tried to answer, but no words came to him.

"Bursting in here like a Neanderthal, trusting your weapon to do your thinking for you!" she exclaimed. "Sexist! Speciesist! How dare you assume that womyn and wolves can't solve their own problems without a man's help!"

When she heard Red Riding Hood's impassioned speech, Grandma jumped out of the wolf's mouth, seized the woodchopper-person's ax, and cut his head off. After this ordeal, Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the wolf felt a certain commonality of purpose. The decided to set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation, and they lived together in the woods happily ever after.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Story Source: Copied in its entirety from: "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times," by James Finn Garner. A great little book of thirteen chapters, including politically correct rewrites of timeless classics such as, The Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, and others. I highly recommend it. An awesome #1 Bestseller. Check it out.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 6

So, though we have long since stopped attending a traditional institutional church in favour of a more organic form of Christian fellowship, on Easter Sunday of this year my wife was invited by my daughter and son-in-law to join them at their church for Sunday services. (I was invited too, but chose the quiet solitude of an empty house instead).

Having said that, this week my grandson taught my wife a few lessons, and me as well through my wife, since I wasn’t personally there to learn them first hand from my grandson. This was a decision on my part that I have since lamented.

First of all, a caveat is in order. The theme of the Sunday service was one of “New Life.” For those of you not familiar with the true Easter story, I’d suggest you polish up a bit on your Christianity 101 by reading the New Testament account of the first Easter, such as recorded in Matthew chapters 27 and 28.

This Easter Sunday my grandson was just past his 10-week birthday, and he had a huge lesson in store for his Nana, and by extension, Opa. The Easter promise of hope and peace rang out loud and clear throughout the service, as my grandson moved and danced to the lights and music of the event, apparently not wanting to miss anything. As my wife held him, she couldn’t help but also become engrossed in his enthusiastic passion and excitement to be there with the rest of the church community, celebrating Easter. Did he already get the gist of what some have said is the most holy day in the Christian calendar? Maybe he did. After all, as Jesus himself once said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

The lesson our grandson taught us is that we need to celebrate “new life,” not just on Easter Sunday, but every day. For him, everyday is a new day, and every day is a day to smile and bounce around in a joyful expectation, glad to be alive. For those of us who have lived a little longer than my grandson, the same is also still true (or it ought to be). Unfortunately, we too often allow the pressures and stresses of life to keep us from smiling and bouncing around in a joyful and hopeful expectation. Somehow, we have to find a way to get past that lethargy. Everyday is a new day, a day gifted to us from God. How will we respond to it? If you still don’t know, look at a small child; they’ll teach you.

I’m really making a concerted effort this year to especially learn this lesson my grandson taught me, and to look at the world through his eyes. “Look, Opa! See, Nana! Isn’t that awesome? Wow! Wow!

It really does take a grandchild to screw our heads back on straight. Can you see the wonder through their eyes? I hope that you can, or at the very least, that you’re open to learning. Peace and blessings.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Expensive Lawn Art

I think my heart just skipped a couple beats.

I was leafing through a local car and RV dealers flyer/magazine, the kind that are distributed for free at various news stands and other public places, when I saw this picture advertising a "sale price" of $739,650. I couldn't help but wonder what the regular price was. Hmm.

Oh, I'm sure it's very nice (it ought to be for $0.7M), and at that price, I suspect that potential buyers are looking for something more than just a family RV to take them on two or three week's vacation each year. It's probably much more likely that buyers in this kind of market are probably planning on living in it year round.

Still, I look at something like this and all I see is a depreciating asset. Sure, it comes with a 7-year "Coach" warranty, but what's it going to be worth three years down the road, or when that warranty runs out? Does this really make good financial sense?

I suppose if I were retired and had that kind of "disposable" cash lying around (key word being "disposable"), I might look at it too. But even then, I'd probably still choke on a price tag of even only  1/10 of that, because all too often, even when it comes to cheaper and more affordable RV's, it seems to me that they end up sitting abandoned on the end of someone's driveway for most of the year, like the expensive lawn art that they ultimately are. Personally, I can think of other ways to landscape my front yard, but as with all things in life, to each their own.

I guess this post means that I now won't be getting a sales commission check from our local RV dealers this month. Hmm.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit

For those people who know me well, it is no secret that I'm somewhat of a bookworm and have been known to get lost in bookstores, and especially, in used bookstores. There's a plethora of hidden treasures that can be found in those endless stacks of literary genius (and some not so "genius") .

On one such used bookstore adventure, my wife found this little nugget:

The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit: An A to Z Lexicon of Empty, Enraging, and Just Plain Stupid Office Talk.

Now, doesn't that title just jump out at you and make you wonder about the content? It did that to me. In my twisted way of thinking, the title alone justified its purchase. In the introduction, author Lois Beckwith says:

A new era of corporate bullshit is upon us, and it is far more sinister than the words some Bschool grad, crusty veteran, or dot-com kid can dole out. It goes beyond empty phrases like "at the end of the day," "a sense of urgency," and "on the same page" and corrupts words like "lunch," "celebrate," "passion," and "commitment," which take on whole new meanings in this environment.

However, the most dangerous element of corporate bullshit is outside the realm of language altogether. This sickness has placed a stranglehold on our culture of work, affecting how we relate to and treat each other. It enables incompetence, iniquity, and frankly, inhumanity. At this point, language is merely the vehicle through which the bullshit is communicated. (p. 2-3)

Well there you have it; a "lexicon of empty, enraging, and just plain stupid office talk" for that hard-to-shop-for corporate business professional on your shopping list, or just for those looking for a great bathroom* reader. Happy reading.
_______________

*bathroom 1. the place where you go to perform essential bodily functions 2. the first place you are shown as a new employ, by a fellow staffer who is resisting telling you all the reasons it sucks to work there 3. for the cubicle set, the favored place for crying when struck by a particularly rough breakup, unfair retribution/public humiliation from the boss, or the overwhelming sense that your life is shit and you're never going anywhere, ever 4. site of bizarre intragender scolding regarding hygiene [primarily female], found in the form of eight-and-one-half-by-eleven-inch sheets of paper taped to the wall castigating fellow users with statements in the spirit of "Your mother does not work here"; "Learn to love the art of flushing"; "If you sprinkle when you tinkle …"; and "Were you raised in a barn?!" 5. also realm of uncomfortable monitoring/timing when it's okay to do a number two; some employees, most frequently men, will attempt to casually make their way to or from the bathroom with reading material, as if they are not announcing either "I am about to" or "I just did" take a shit; execs tend to relieve themselves with abandon, indicating their place in the social hierarchy, and may even conduct conference calls while on the can, an act that makes those in the bathroom uncomfortable as well as those who are subjected to the sound of flushing in the background during their meeting. 6. may also be the site of repeated encounters with a weird person, whom you get trapped in small talk with, or of a supreme busting in which you are openly bitching/gossiping with a coworker only to have your boss or another senior staffer emerge from a stall. (p. 11-12)

Photo Credit: Frances Ellen; Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 24 March 2017

My Bionic Woman: A New Era of Airline Travel?

So recently my wife suffered a fall at work which ultimately resulted in a broken left hip and a subsequent full hip replacement. The surgery and the follow up physical therapy went well, and she may have already returned to work, had it not been for also being on (an unrelated) wait list for a full right knee replacement.

In her words, "I don't recommend breaking a hip just to get some time off work." Point taken.

Now maybe its my twisted sense of humour, but what I'm curious to see is what's going to happen the next time we have to go through airport security just to board a flight to somewhere.  We already have tickets booked for this coming July, so I guess we'll have to wait and see. Is she going to set off every possible metal detector? Will she have to be padded down and/or strip-searched? It all rather reminds me of the adventures of Jamie Sommers, a young lady who almost dies after a sky diving accident, and is rebuilt by the government to become the Bionic Woman. Much like her former fiancee, Steve Austin, or as he was affectionately known in yesteryear's prime time TV, The Six-Million Dollar Man, she too is rebuilt into some sort of twisted pre-apocalyptic half woman and half machine superhero cyborg.

Well, maybe its not quite like that; there's no doubt that my wife is my superhero, but for altogether different reasons. Still, I am curious about how we're now going to approach airport security, a problem that I'm sure neither the Bionic Woman or the Six-Million Dollar Man ever worried about too much in their much more lackadaisical travel era of the early 1970's. Perhaps its a sign of the times.

Regardless, I'm sure we've now evolved into something more than simply emptying pockets into a plastic tub to be pushed through some airport security's x-ray scanner.

Do check back sometime this autumn after we return home from our next trip for a follow up comment. Maybe my concerns will have been unfounded; and then again, possibly they've been quite justified. Are we facing a new era in airline travel? Time will tell. At the very least, we likely may be facing the possibility of having to allow ourselves a little more time to clear airport security, and when it comes right down to it, I guess that's not all bad considering the potential alternatives. Peace.

Cartoon Sources: Unknown (via Facebook)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 5

So, my grandson taught me another lesson tonight; if his parents and Opa can eat at Boston Pizza, so can he. I didn't know that breast milk was on the menu, but apparently it was available.

It seems, however, that it is expected that nursing mom's cover up when feeding in public. Personally, I'm really not sure what the big deal is with this covering up stuff, and as illustrated by the picture on this post, the idea of "covering up" is apparently subject to interpretation. But Mom being somewhat modest, and not wishing to offend, covered my grandson and his dinner dish behind a blanket. Still, I don't get it; it's not like other customers are going to ask for the same meal my grandson had, and complain when it's not available to them. If nursing isn't the most natural and normal mother and newborn child activity, I don't know what is.

Another lesson my grandson taught me was that, if Mom eats the wrong foods, grandson ultimately also eats the wrong foods. It seems that the pizza Mom had for lunch, didn't agree with my grandson for dinner. It's interesting how that works; spicy lunch for Mom, equals heartburn for grandson. As the old adage suggests, apparently nursing Mom's really are "eating for two."

In our dinner out at BP's, I also learned that, no matter how awesome Opa is, no matter how many funny faces and goo's and gaa's Opa makes, when hic-ups and upset tummy's come about, there are no one's arms quite as comforting as Mom's. A lesson my grandson taught me is, that he sure has an awesome Mom (and his Dad's pretty cool too). For that, I am grateful and blessed.

Well there you have it; two days shy of being seven weeks old, and I already can't believe how rich this little man has made me feel. I'm hard-pressed to think of anything else this old world could possibly offer me that would trump the joy and blessing of being an Opa to this little man. (And if he inherits even only half of his Opa's sense of humour, I will be doubly blessed).

Photo Source: Unknown (via Facebook)
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 4
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 3
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 2
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 1

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

Well, Mr. Trump, I must say, we've been getting all sorts of strange news reports lately concerning some of your trade plans for North America, and more specifically, as they relate to trade relations between Canada and the USA. As much as I'd like to think that those reports are unfounded, I unfortunately have my reservations. Does NAFTA no longer mean anything to you? Are you prepared to scrap that agreement which has been a benefit to both of our nations, not to mention, to Mexico as well?

Please do not take this as a threat, for that is not its intent; we Canadians are much too respectful and prideful of a people to threaten anyone, especially those duly elected to represent their constituents. Let me say simply, Mr. Trump, that you are obviously free to do what you deem right for your nation. Having said that, we Canadians reserve the same right. We will collectively do what's right for our nation as well. You may not notice the difference today or tomorrow, but future reports you receive could very likely be telling you that American products on Canadian store shelves strangely seem to remain there, unpurchased, and ultimately returned to their respective US suppliers, or tossed into the nearest dumpster. Think on that, Mr. Trump. What do you suppose that would say to US businesses who count on their international sales to help to keep them afloat?

And what about the plethora of Canadian snow-birds who have historically and faithfully gone south to some American hot-spot to escape the Canadian winters? Imagine if even only half of them cancelled further winter plans in the USA for other non-American hotspots? It's not beyond the realm of possibility, Mr. President. Suppose more than half of them did? What would that do to the local economies that they typically and historically ventured into? Do you think that the lack of Canadian snow-birds would cause any of them to go out of business, or at the very least, to suffer severe financial loss? I wonder.

So, Mr. Trump, as a proud Canadian, and assuming my fellow Canadians have not yet beaten me to it, let me be the first Canadian blogger to congratulate you on your victory in the US presidential election. May God bless you and have His way with you as you govern the good people of the United States of America. However, I would hope that you do so wisely, for Canadians, although peace-loving and historically non-confrontational in nature, are also a people who also do not easily forget.

To my fellow Canadians, I'd encourage you to seriously consider "Fighting Fire with Fire." Do check out this excellent post and seriously consider where you spend your CANADIAN dollars. There are many other excellent non-American products and services available to us internationally. It may be time that we look more seriously at some of them. It may be time that we all look a little closer to the labels on the products that we purchase and take a moment to say, "Hmm, do I really want to support this economy?"

Something to think about. Peace.

Photo Source: Fighting Fire with Fire.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Memories of Another Wall

And so it begins.

But all humour and jesting aside, does anyone else remember another infamous wall of yesteryear? Many years ago, at the height of the Cold War, I had the privilege of spending many weeks in Europe as a part of a family vacation. I was only eleven years old at the time, but I still to this day have many fond memories of that trip. One part of the trip included passing through that infamous icon of the Cold War, the Berlin wall, through its equally infamous passageway, Checkpoint Charlie, on our way into East Berlin to visit extended family.

Now, with Trump's pledge to erect another wall, this time not through part of Europe but rather through part of the America's, I cannot help but shake my head at the symbolism. Have we not learned anything from the Berlin wall? Has the passage of time clouded our memories? Are we really OK with this? Do we really need another wall? I wonder.

However, there's no real need for me to go on about this; many others have wondered the same thing, including my own father, who wrote,  "The Berlin wall was the symbol of the cold war. What will the symbol of the US President's new wall be?" Great question. So I invite you to click on the link above and ask yourself, If the Berlin wall was the symbol of the Cold War, what will the symbol of Trump's new wall be? Are we really OK with this? Do we really need another wall?

Maybe what we really need instead is bigger tables.

Something to think about. Peace?

For Further Reading: Trump sets terms for nice-looking wall
Photo Source: Unknown (via Facebook)

Monday, 13 March 2017

When All Else Fails, There's Always This ...

So I came home from work today, opening both fridge and pantry, wondering what I should have for supper. As my dear wife has been away recently visiting the kids out of town, well, cooking for one is, quite frankly, a little over rated, if not actually quite boring. Suddenly I had a new appreciation for some seniors who don't tend to eat regular meals, and ultimately move into lodges, if for no other reason than, at least they're regularly eating balanced meals. My wife works in one such lodge, so I get it.

Anyways, after disregarding the temptation to go out or to order in pizza, I decided to make myself a couple of Will's infamous grilled cheese sandwiches; rye bread, Armstrong Old Cheddar cheese (none of that processed pseudo-cheese junk), raw onion, and some pre-cooked bacon slices. A great idea and solution to the hunger pangs that knocked at my belly's door. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens (or often happens), I got distracted mid way through the cooking process (Facebook woes? -sigh), and my poor sandwiches ended up looking like refugees of a forest fire. Now what? There really wasn't a "Plan B."

Still, despite the hunger pangs, it's actually kind of funny how we tend to become like our parents. For the last number of years, my parents have practiced having their big meal at noon, and only something light in the evening, perhaps a few cold cuts or some sliced cheese. To their credit, however, they never had the distraction of Facebook or other social media accounts to spoil their dinner plans.

For people who work out of the home, that is not usually something to be easily done. After all, who has time mid-day for a big meal? And even if you did, being on the company clock usually means that you don't have time for the all-important post-feast nap afterwards. Having said that, I have suggested to my boss that I start an hour earlier and work an hour later each day so that I might be able to have that all important two-hour mid day nap. Though I can't understand why, the idea hasn't been too well received. Pity; in my way of thinking, I'd be much more productive in the afternoon if my nap idea were accepted. I really do believe the Mexicans are on to something with their mid-day siestas.

Having said that, I've somehow made a way for it to work. I typically have a big breakfast, sometimes even a second breakfast mid morning, a slightly smaller lunch, and usually an even smaller grazing-type supper in the evening. If possible, I also avoid too many evening snacks. The idea being that, while the day is young, one can burn far more calories than would be possible by eating a humungous meal at the end of the workday or into the evening.

So, given the cremated remains of some otherwise awesome sandwiches, my supper tonight was a simple bowl of cold cereal. Still, it occurs to me, that this may still be the perfect supper food after all, as opposed to a simply last minute go-to food. After all, who needs a ton of extra calories at the end of the day to leave you feeling bloated and about to pass out, and especially when they're virtually impossible to burn off? Unless you're suffering from anorexia, or some such illness, most of us are probably better without the extra calories late in the day.

So here's to you, waistline; a tasty supper time alternative, at approximately only 350 calories or less. Maybe there's hope for me and my love/hate relationship with the bathroom scale after all.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 4

Well here we are and I’ve now been an Opa for about five weeks. Wow! I still cannot get over the miracle of this child. If you had only known some of the past history of which I’m thinking, you’d know what I mean. But we won’t get into that here. Suffice it to say, God is good, and our family is blessed. Thank you, Jesus.

So this week there are a few lessons my grandson taught me. I had the privilege of having a nice brunch out with my grandson and his parents today. Not content to just let the little fellow sleep on indefinitely in his travel carrier, I unbuckled him and picked him up; this Opa was there for cuddles as much as he was there for the food, and perhaps more so. After all, having already had breakfast, I really didn’t need the food.

What I learned was that I am good at multitasking. I could cradle a sleeping grandson in my left arm all the way through our time in the restaurant while eating my clubhouse sandwich and fries with gravy, drink my coffee, and not even make a mess. And my grandson? Well, though I offered, his Mom said that he wasn’t allowed to have French fries and gravy yet. Oh well, dear boy, I tried.

Another lesson I learned that fell on the heels of the previous lesson in the restaurant today, was that when you’re holding a near newborn, women notice you. Now it’s a good thing that I’m not in the market, so to speak, but if I were, I think I’d be volunteering to take my grandson on public outings more often. Talk about an instant connection with members of the opposite sex! Single men, if you're looking for female companionship, take note!

However, the big lesson that stands out this week concerns something that my grandson and his Opa both seem to have in common these past few weeks; we’ve both been gaining about a pound per week. What I learned, however, was that though his weight gain is applauded, mine is not. Everyone seems to comment about how cute he looks with his little double chin and muffin-like tummy, but nobody seems to have the same appreciation for my double chin and muffin-like tummy (well actually, my tummy looks more like a whole bag full of muffins, but that’s another story). Why do you suppose that is? I guess it’s cute when he does it, but not so much when an old man does likewise.

But seriously, if I could lose weight at the same rate that my grandson gains weight, I’d be OK with that. Now all we have to do is to figure out how I can transfer some of my excess pounds to him. Who knows, if we could do that, it might even save his mom a few extra feedings. Yea, that’s it; let Opa take some of those 3:00am feedings like he did many years ago when his mother was that small. Now if only it was that easy to watch some of those numbers fall off my scale and on to his. Hmm.

Speaking of feeding, this raises another new lesson that my grandson taught me. Apparently the little guy has already figured out how to open mom’s bra. That’s a pretty impressive display of strength for a five-week old little man, or “Man-wich,” as his dad likes to call him. But now it’s time for his Opa to teach him a lesson; that trick will only last so long, dear grandson. Eventually, there comes a time when opening a female’s bra might just as easily earn you a slap. Just saying. I guess the lesson is to know that fine line between it being OK and it no longer being acceptable. Hmm.

Well there you have it; the "Lessons My Grandson Taught Me" this week. I can't wait to see what I might learn next.  


Friday, 3 March 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 3

Well here we are, the one-month birthday of my new grandson. What new lessons has he taught me lately? Well there are a couple more that he taught me since we last talked.

First, there are the 1001 different facial expressions that are a pleasure to see. Some have been serious, some just plain cute, and others downright comical. Oh, to know what he might be thinking through each of them! My daughter has shared some incredibly awesome commentary with the many pictures she’s posted on Tinybeans. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with Tinybeans, it is an excellent non-social media network medium to share those priceless pictures of the early years with your loved ones and friends. Eat your heart out, Facebook). Maybe she’s on to something. After all, who can know a little boy as much as his mother; I love it!

When I think of some of those awesome facial gestures that my grandson makes, especially the more comical ones, I can’t help but think that just maybe he has a little of his Opa in him after all. Like my brothers and my father before me, I’ve been known for being somewhat of a humorist with puns and one-liners being a common part of my repertoire. In other words, I love a good laugh. Maybe my grandson will inherit that trait as well, and perhaps to the chagrin of his parents, be the fourth generation of comics. But then again, who says that the dear boy can’t learn a trait or two from his Opa, even if it is simply the ability to laugh and make others laugh. Note to self: laugh more often, especially in his presence. Maybe my love of humour will somehow rub off.

Another thing my grandson taught me recently is that there are only a few things in life that really matter: eating, burping afterwards, a good poop, and sleeping. Oh, and did I mention that he really likes boobs? As I thought about that, I couldn’t help wonder where we complicated things more than that. Feed me, burp me, change my dirty and wet pants, and let me sleep. And, of course, don’t forget the boobs! (Maybe that last part is just a male thing). Where did we ever lose sight of those priorities? Oh, to be able to turn the clock backwards to those innocent years of long ago. But then again, if I could somehow do that, it would still be a terribly long time until we would meet. Hmm, maybe better scrap that idea.

So, happy one-month birthday, little man. Thanks for rekindling this old man’s formerly cold and dry heart. Thanks for giving me something to smile about again. Perhaps most of all, thanks for making me an Opa, and for maybe being able to pass on that distinctive humorous gene. I love you, dear grandson. Welcome to this old world; may you somehow make it a better place.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 1: Click Here
Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 2: Click Here

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Party On: You Won't Wake Me

I never met the man, but after reading his obituary, I feel sorry that I didn't; I'm sure I would have instantly liked him.

Meet the late Paul Culligan, formerly of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He apparently had a real zest for life and knew how to make people laugh, as evidenced by his obituary.

Oh, and did I mention that he wrote the obituary himself?

That got me thinking that I would love to pre-write my own obituary as well. What would it say? Hmm, that remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain, it would be humorous and witty, in keeping with my repertoire of puns and one-liners. And why not?! If that is how you are known in life, if laughter could often be heard from those around you because of some joke or anecdote that you just told, why should you go out in death any differently?

I also like the idea of a non-traditional funeral service or memorial. Rent a hall or restaurant back room and invite friends and family to come and share a few beers and some pizza, and share stories (or jokes) in memory of you. Take the event out of the pews and make it less a spectator event and more a participatory event. Who knows, I may even have to leave instructions with the funeral director to dress me in my favourite jeans an shirt, put some sunglasses on me, put one last beer in my hand, and sit me in the corner for the event. Here's a party I wouldn't want to miss, and besides, the cremation can always happen later. Or would that be just a little too weird?

Well there you have it. If you could write your own obituary, what would yours say?

Story / Photo Source: CBC News, 2016 July 22

Monday, 20 February 2017

Cure for a Boring Job?

Got a boring job? Rest assured; I'm sure you're not alone. So what are you going to do about it?

Well, as this cartoon seems to suggest, no matter what the job you find yourself in, there is probably some sort of unique and/or creative approach that you can take to make that ho-hum job a little more, well, interesting. So go a-"head" (pun fully intended), get creative. Who knows, you may even "strike" it lucky. But seriously ... oh never mind; nothing serious here.

Cartoon Source: Unknown

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 2

"Elephants and
grandchildren
never forget."
~Andy Rooney

My grandson is now into his second week of life on this rock we call Earth. The cuddles I got yesterday were sweeter than candy and melted this old man’s sometimes cold and hard heart. There really are no words to properly describe that awesome experience of having that little man laying against my chest as he slept. Sure, like everyone else, we had kids before we had grandkids, and they cuddled too. But for some reason that I haven’t figured out yet, it’s different with a grandchild.

I also learned this week that some things simply are more important than others. I guess I always knew that, but it took the birth of a grandson to remind me of it. In my office, just to the top left of my computer monitor, is posted an 8 ½ x 11 picture of my new favourite little man. As the stresses of this week mounted, and sometimes unbearably so, I found myself repeatedly looking at that picture, and don’t ask me how, but every time I did, I almost instantly began to calm down and breathe semi-normally once again.

Sure, work is important, and barring a winning lottery ticket, it will always be there. But a lesson I was reminded of this week is that family is, and must always be, more important than the job. A former priest and friend of mine once told me that he prioritizes everything in his life into five categories, and he adheres to it almost religiously (I know, it sounds almost ironic that a former priest would do something “religiously,” doesn’t it? -LOL). If I remember correctly, he said his list was something like this: (1) Faith in God, (2) His wife, (3) His children/grandchildren, (4) His personal physical and mental health, (5) His career or job. I remember wondering if his employer knew that he put his job in last place in terms of priority. It seems to me that employers usually expect a higher priority for themselves from their employees, despite their “Work/Life Balance” jargon. Hmm.

The more I think about it, the more I agree with that priority list. It’s interesting that it took my young grandson to remind me that many of life’s stressors are perhaps our own fault, and in many ways, they come about because we have a screwed up priority list. Sort out that task list of life back into proper priorities, pick up a sleeping grandson and hold him close, and feel the tension and stress slowly ebb away. There’s something quite therapeutic about cuddling a baby grandson that can be learnt no other way than by hands-on experience. That’s a powerful lesson!

So as I sit here on the eve of yet another workweek, knowing full-well that there is a mountain of paperwork on my desk, and that Monday also commences my 24/7 on-call rotation, which in and of itself can be stressful, I will also remember what my grandson taught me: Properly prioritize everything, and don’t allow anyone or anything to make you so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life. And if he could already talk, I imagine him also saying, “Opa, come back soon for some more cuddles.

Yes, the lesson my grandson taught me is that work will always be there, but if I prioritize it in the wrong category, I just may miss seeing him grow up, and that would be terribly unfortunate for both of us.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Jalapeño Ecstasy

"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat.  The people who give you their food give you their heart."
~Cesar Chavez

Another Super Bowl is upon us, and what would it be without some amazing munchies? Being a self-confessed Foodie, you had to know that I would be up to something. This year, it’s bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeño peppers. Keeping in mind that I never use specific measurements in my cooking, here’s what I did:

PREPARING THE STUFFING

This began with about two pounds of ground chicken. While it browned, I added a whole finely chopped onion. Then came a generous shaking of garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper, and a couple finely chopped habanero peppers. Once the chicken was virtually done, I stirred in a can of tomato soup. I then set it aside.

PREPARING THE PEPPERS

I washed 20 jalapeño peppers, having purchased the largest that I could find. These I sliced in half length ways and scooped out the insides to make 40 boat-shaped halves. The seeds from the peppers I set aside to be used later to spice up the dip.

STUFFING THE PEPPERS

The pepper halves were then stuffed with the chicken mixture. A thin slice of habanero pepper was placed on each stuffed jalapeño, and then the whole thing was wrapped with a slice of bacon, holding it together with a toothpick.

COOKING THE PEPPERS

The stuffed bacon-wrapped peppers were then cooked in the oven on a raised rack to allow the grease to drip away. After turning them about half way through the cooking process to allow them to brown better, the peppers were then basted with some Bulls Eye barbecue sauce.

PREPARING THE DIP

The dip was a blend of Kraft Peppercorn Ranch Dressing, a tub of Philadelphia Jalapeño Cream Cheese, about three heaping teaspoons of Woodman’s Extra Hot Horseradish, and all the seeds from the peppers that I had set aside earlier. I served the dip out in small individual sized dishes to allow double dipping.

And that was about it. Nothing boring about this Super Bowl munchies dish. Now on to the game; Go Falcons!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Lessons My Grandson Taught Me; Part 1

As I sit here on this semi-cold early February evening, my mind is filled with all sorts of memories; mostly good, some not so good, and others, well, let’s just say that the jury is still out on those. Old photographs lay strewn across the dining room table as we reminisce of yesteryears of long ago. A couple old photographs even found themselves shared on Facebook, tagging their unsuspecting victims for all their friends to see, in what I like to think is a parental right to occasionally (lovingly) embarrass one’s children.

What is so special about tonight?

Well, before all is said and done, several lives will be forever changed. Before this night is through, or perhaps sometime tomorrow, my wife and I will be welcoming our first grandchild into life on planet Earth. Wow! As natural as next generations are in the human race, I still cannot believe it! Opa Will; Nana Ginny. Who ever would have thought it? As most of our own siblings and friends have long enjoyed grandparenthood, and some even great-grandparenthood, this joy has always eluded us; that is, until tonight. Yes, I expect our lives from here on forward will be forever changed. And, quite frankly, I look forward to it.

But it’s not all about us; obviously our daughter’s life and our son-in-law’s life will also be forever changed, as they both are about to venture out into parenthood. What a big responsibility is suddenly facing them. As someone once joked, grandparents can always give the child back; parents not so much. Still, I know and have the utmost faith that they will make wonderful parents.

Other lives will also suddenly be changed. Our son and daughter-in-law will suddenly have a nephew (yes, though we have not yet learned his name, we do know that this child soon to enter this world is a boy). How will that change their lives, remains to be seen, but apart from purchasing a few extra birthday and Christmas presents each year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, as this little boy grows, his uncle will occasionally have a new companion at a few Edmonton Oilers and/or Eskimos games. This too carries with it a big responsibility, but also some big-time fun.

I joked with some coworkers that the timing of his birth could not be better. After all, this Sunday coming up is Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m sure that Opa Will would love to share the big game with his new grandson. He may not be ready, however, for the chicken/habanero stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers and dip; standard Super Bowl fare in our house. Oh well, his Dad and Opa will have to look after them for him this year.

So here I sit, jumping every time the phone rings; is he here yet? Though he’s not born yet, he’s already taught me my first lesson: Life is about to drastically change, for all of us. But I don’t bemoan that; rather I’m up for the challenge of doing my part in helping to raise my grandson, and I eagerly look forward to it.

Now, how do those diapers go on again? It’s been a while.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 13 January 2017

Damn it, Morpheus ...

In the movie The Matrix, Morpheus said, "You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe."

In the movie two pills were offered; a blue pill and a red pill. Both were significant from a cultural perspective. Choosing the red pill symbolised your desire to embrace the truth of reality, no matter how painful that truth might be. Conversely, if the blue pill were chosen, it symbolised that you were less interested in the truth, but rather were content to bask away in a blissful ignorance of illusion. All in all, quite the analogy. Will it be the red pill, or the blue pill. Hmm. Which one would you choose?

Along comes this meme, and I couldn't help but chuckle: "Damn it Morpheus, I took the blue pill, and I still woke up at work." In other words, I don't really care about the truth; I'd rather wallow in a carefree illusion of my own pseudo-reality, a faux reality of my own making that life would somehow be better if I didn't have to work. Sigh, sound familiar? Work? Hmm, come on blue pill of lotto winnings! Come on easy street!

Funny? Yes, but just maybe a little too close to reality as well, and by default, home, as yet again, I find myself waking up at work counting the days until I can retire or quit, whichever comes first. But then again, maybe the reason for it all is that someone slipped me the red pill when I wasn't looking, and I only thought I took the blue pill. Maybe a part of me still sees past the pie-in-the-sky blue pill utopia and still has a foot planted firmly on red pill terra firma. Sigh; welcome to the Matrix.