Sunday, June 29, 2008

Canadian, eh?

Hey, it's almost Canada Day, eh? That means it's time to brush up on all things Canadian. So here's a refresher/primer course in Canadianisms.

Canuck; a Canadian
Canucklehead; someone who is a fan of the Vancouver Canuck's hockey team
eh? Pronounced "a" as in "say" a very popular term which means "don't you agree?" Can be used:
-At the end of a question: So when'r you goin to class eh?
-At the end of a statement: I heard John was goin out with Mary eh?
It sounds like a question, but it's not.
double-double; two cream and two sugar in your coffee
hoser; stereotypical Canadian male
Loonie; Canadian 1$ coin
Lotus Land; British Columbia (when it is not raining).
Mickey; 13 ounce bottle of liquor
Nanaimo bars; pretty much the same as "New York Slice" but we made 'em first!
Pop; Or soft drink, but not soda. If you ask for soda you may get carbonated water, or soda water.
Poutine; is a cholesterol-rich Canadian "delicacy" consisting of French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.
Runners; Or running shoes, called tennis shoes in The States.
Screech; a nice (?) little distilled drink ....!(from Newfoundland)
The Rock; Newfoundland.
Timbits; donut holes from Timmies
Timmies; Tim Hortons Coffee Shops
Toonie; Canadian 2$ coin, ''Give me a couple toonies and a loonie for this five dollar bill.''
Two-four; Case of beer that has twenty-four bottles.
Tuque; In Canada, a tuque is a knitted woolen cap. It rhymes with kook.
Zed ;The letter after Y

Canadians Spelling (USA spelling in brackets); colour (color), endeavour (endeavor), favour (favor), flavour (flavor), honour (honor), humour (humor), litre (liter), metre (meter), etc.

Some famous Canadian advertising slogans;
"Always got time for Tim Hortons." (Donuts)"
At Speedy you're a somebody." (Mufflers)
"Ever been to sea, Billy?" (Cap'n Highliner foods)
"Only in Canada? Pity." (Red Rose tea)
"The Champagne of Ginger Ale." (Canada Dry)
"Where you give like Santa and save like Scrooge." (Canadian Tire)
"I am Canadian!" (Molson's Canadian Beer)
"Rrroll up the rrrim to win!" (Tim Hortons)

You know you're Canadian if :
-You know that a mickey and 2-4's mean "Party at the camp, eh?!"
-Pike is a type of fish, not some part of a highway.
-You drive on a highway, not a freeway.
-You know that the Friendly Giant isn't a vegetable product line.
-You know that Casey and Finnegan are not a Celtic musical group.
-If you live in some of the colder Canadian provinces, your car has a cord and plug sticking out of the grill ... it's a block heater for those sub-zero (in Celsius) days.
-You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
-The mosquitoes have landing lights.
-Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled in with frozen snow and slush.
-You find -40C a little chilly.
-The trunk of your car doubles as a portable deep freeze.
-You know 4 seasons: Winter, Still Winter, almost Winter and Construction.

Canadian inventions: Henry Woodward invented an electric light bulb in 1874 and sold the patent to Thomas Edison! Here are a few more Canadian inventions; Lacrosse. Hockey, Basketball, the jolly jumper, duct tape, insulin, walkie talkies, roller skates, Superman, air-conditioned vehicles, acrylics, standard time (and daylight saving time), the paint-roller, the radio compass, snowmobiles, jet skis, improved zippers, and the handles on cardboard beer cases, etc.,etc., etc. (there are thousands more!)

Interesting reading on Canadianisms;

Because I'm from Manitoba and live in Winnipeg, I thought I'd include a bit of local speak;
Nip; hamburger from Sal's
Sal's; Salisbury House Restaurants
Sev; 7-11
Social; a gathering of friends/family to dance/party/drink and raise money for an engaged couple or a charitable event
Winterpeg; Winnipeg in winter
So, there you have it, Canadianisms, eh!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Questions about Canada

In the days leading up to Canada Day (July 1), I thought I would share some of my favourite Canadiana style humour. This is from an email, that I received several months ago.

Because Everyone In Canada Lives In An Igloo.

Now that Vancouver has won the chance to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, these are some questions people from all over the world are asking. Believe it or not these questions about Canada were posted on an International Tourism Website. Obviously the answers are a joke; but the questions were really asked!

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (England)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto-can I follow the Railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only Four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it's true wha t they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATM's (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (England)
A: What, did your last slave die?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your North ... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (England)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is... oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gathers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. (USA )
A: It's called a Moose. They are tall and very violent, eating the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What are you doing to celebrate Canada Day?

Canada Day is fast approaching. July 1 in case you forgot! Have you made any plans yet? A picnic and fireworks? Family gathering? Bar-b-que with friends? A neighbourhood street festival or a concert?

Well those could be fun, but then again why not try something new and a little bit unique like a New Year's Eve Party. Yes you read that right - I said New Year's Eve Party!! No, I have not lost my mind or my calendar. This was a tradition that my parents and a number of other couples started back in 1974. Allow me to explain.

Living on the prairies means having cold winters. Cold winters means extra clothing and warming up the car before you go anywhere. It's hard to dress appropriately for a New Years Eve party or any other winter party when you have layers of clothing to keep warm on the journey to and from. Every year, my parents and their friends would gather at someones home (usually ours) for a house party or for drinks then head off to a local dance to ring in the new year.

Well, the party to ring in 1974 was at our home and started like may other parties. Good friends, food, drinks, music and humour. At some point after midnight the conversation turned to the weather and how silly it was to have New Year's Eve parties when it was so cold as no one wanted to go out and warm up the cars to go home. Someone said: "Why can't we celebrate it in summer and have a bar-b-que?" Another person said; "Hey, why not have it on Canada Day!" Everyone thought this was a great plan, so mom grabbed paper and a pen and wrote a proclamation that from that time on, all New Year's Eve parties were to be held on July 1. All twenty people in attendance signed the paper that night and again at the First Annual New Year's Eve/Canada Day Party on July 1, 1974!

As we had a large yard, patio and a covered area on the other side of the garage for picnics, the parties were usually at our place. Mom would make buns and a large cole slaw. Each couple brought their lawn chairs, meat to bar-b-que, a side dish or dessert and beverage of choice. Dad set up a bar on top of the freezer in the garage and covered the counter-top with plastic to use as a buffet table. If the weather really wasn't co-operating we moved the two big picnic tables into the garage. We usually borrowed an additional bar-b-que to accommodated all the steaks, ribs and whatever else was cooked.

The guests would start arriving by 3:00 or so. In the early years they played softball or Frisbee, but this later switched to horse shoes, lawn darts and croquette as they aged. The grills weren't usually started until at least six and it was sometimes 8:00 before they got eating. Short of using the bathroom or needing something in the kitchen, the house was off limits as this was a summer party! The evenings could get quite cool sometimes, so they usually ended up moving the party into the garage at some point. A few years they were all wearing jackets and had a heater on in the garage. After supper the entertainment was usually charades or card games with old time music playing in the background.

A little before midnight, all glasses would be filled, toasts would be made and at the stroke of midnight they would kiss and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at the top of their voices!

These "New Year's Eve" parties were a LOT of fun. The parties were held either June 30 or July 1 and there was usually 12 to 20 people in attendance. As years passed, spouses died, illnesses or other obligations changed the guest list, but widows and widowers were always included and other couples joined in the fun.

This tradition continued for about 25 years. They didn't really want to quit, but numbers were dwindling and they just couldn't party that late anymore. It was a lot of fun while it lasted and there are many great memories of those parties and the cast of characters that attended.

So if you haven't made plans yet, why not try something new and invite your friends to a "New Year's Eve/Canada Day Party?

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
And here's a hand, my trusty friend And gie's a hand o' thine
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

Have a Happy New Year/Canada Day!!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stormy Weather

Living on the prairies means you can't always predict the weather. The last couple of weeks our weather has changed dramatically on some days. Sun, rain, sun, rain and sun all on the same day. It hasn't really been warm yet, but there have also been four or five tornado sightings - which is a bit unusual for cooler weather and this time of year.

A nice gentle rain with a little thunder in the distance or sheet lightening is not a big deal and can actually be rather enjoyable, but then there are the storms that make you cringe just seeing the clouds roll in. You know they have the potential for major damage. Someones home and livelihood can be wiped out in a matter of minutes.

Manitoba is quite a bit further north than Tornado Alley in the USA, but we still get several funnel clouds every year. There are usually about a dozen or so touchdowns - mostly in remote areas with little damage - but sometimes we aren't that lucky.

One year ago today, there was an F3 tornado that caused major damage in and near Elie, Manitoba (40km/25miles west of Winnipeg). No one was injured or killed, but there was over 1 million dollars in damages. There was an F2 tornado that struck at a camp ground at Gull Lake north of Winnipeg on August 4, 2006. One woman was killed.

I've never been an adrenalin junkie, so I've never understood the fascination of chasing tornadoes or even taking pictures/videos of them. Every time a tornado is sighted there are dozens of photos/videos sent to the local media. When the Elie tornado hit last yer, there was even a photo in the paper of a child standing in the forefront smiling at the camera as the person took the picture! What are these people thinking? You grab your kids and head for cover, not pose for a photo op! Tornado's can move very quickly and unpredictably. Standing with the camera for that perfect shot is just asking for trouble.

I have a friend on line who lives in the heart of Tornado Alley. She and her family have already spent several hours in their shelter this year. I have another friend in Minnesota. A tornado hit just three blocks from her home in late May. That twister killed a toddler, injured several and destroyed a number of homes. That was a little too close to home for my friend.

I hate these late spring and summer storms. You never know what can develop. When I was younger and still living on my parents farm, there were a couple of really bad electrical storms. One was when I was little and the other was in the early 80's sometime. It had been a very hot day - perfect conditions for T-storms and it hit just after dark and lasted off and on for several hours. I remember the thunder was so loud and so close that it shook the whole house. I've heard that kind of thunder described as the angels bowling - the REALLY loud ones are a strike! When we heard loud noises like that in our home, we always said "Now that will jar your preserves!" The brightness of the lightening and the volume of the Thunder was terrifying!! I jumped every time it boomed and even screamed a couple of times! I'll admit it, I was a wimp! I pulled the drapes, turned on the lights and put music on with the headphones. The lights flickered a lot and I could still hear the "thunder boomers". Needless to say I didn't get any sleep that night!

People, who weren't raised here on the prairies often ask how we can put up with such long cold winters. They want to know why we stay in such a changeable and often frigid climate. The answer is easy. We love the changing of the seasons. We get the full beauty of all four seasons - each one unique in its own way. Yes the weather can be challenging, but it can also be quite wonderful. We don't have to worry about earthquakes or hurricanes - just an occasional blizzard, Thunder storm or Tornado. Small stuff in the grand scheme of Mother Nature's possibilities.

I still hate electrical storms!! They scare the bejeebers out of me! I only remember a couple of times that we had to take cover with a tornado watch but luckily nothing ever came of them. I'll take a good old prairie blizzard over those any day!!


Friday, June 20, 2008


Summer officially begins tonight at 6:59PM CDT.

In Winnipeg, the sun will rise at 05:19 and set at 21:41. That is 16 hours and 22 minutes of daylight. This amount increases to 17 hours and 50 minutes if you calculate in the twilight hours of dawn (04:35) and dusk (22:25). This is the longest day of the year. After this, we start decreasing daylight and working our way to the winter solstice!

Here in southern Manitoba, we would normally be well into our summer like temperatures by now, but this has been an unusually cool spring. Until the last few days, the average daytime temp. has been several degrees below the normal of 22-23C. (71.6-73.4F)

I'm not complaining though, as I actually like these cooler conditions. I'm one of those people who wilts in the heat. The cooler temps. at night are ideal for sleeping. I also find the brightness of the sun hard on my eyes - even with proper eye protection. I'm the Grinch that prefers the cloud cover!

Most people love the summer and all the activities that go with it. Kids and teachers have been counting the days until school is out. Parents are counting the days till the little darlings are back in school! A lot of people take at least a portion of their holidays in the summer so that they can enjoy summertime activities such as camping, gardening, sports and the wide variety of festivals, fairs and celebrations that are coming up in the coming weeks.

One thing that I am looking forward to this summer, is a new addition to the activities in this area of the city. Starting on Thursday, June 26 and running through September, there will be a farmers market in my neighbourhood! It has been several years since there was any real attempt at a farmers market in this area, so I'm hoping for success. I've told you about my lack of gardening skills, so it will be wonderful to buy locally grown produce and other products from the various vendors!

There are others in the city - one downtown and one very large and popular one in St. Norbert, but they are difficult for me to access - especially the one in St. Norbert as it is about 1/2 mile from the nearest bus stop! There are also numerous roadside markets along various highways in the province. All with a wide variety of produce and locally made products.

For the most part, I will probably spend at least part of the summer trying to stay cool in an apartment that has no air conditioning! Our summers are short and there are usually only a few days that get REALLY hot (30C/86F) which can be a problem especially if you add in the humidex (humidity) factor. Those hot humid days also create havoc with my corneas - it is like looking through a fog!

So no matter what your plans, don't forget a hat, the sun screen, mosquito spray and a bottle of water - it will make the outdoor activities a lot more enjoyable!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Detective dn is on the case!

Have you ever wanted to be a detective? Solve mysteries, free the innocent and convict the guilty?

I always loved mysteries in fiction, radio,TV and movies - as long as there wasn't a lot of violence involved. I started reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon when I was a kid. I've read most of the Agatha Christie mysteries as well as books by many other mystery writers.

I love listening to the old radio mysteries of shows like; The Thin Man, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Boston Blackie, Simon Templar (aka The Saint), The Shadow and many others.

Perry Mason (portrayed by Raymond Burr) was the first mystery type show I remember watched even though it was a cross between legal and mystery, I enjoyed seeing how his main detective Paul Drake helped him find the real culprit in all those cases.

Peter Falk as Columbo is still one of my all time favourites. He never looked that intimidating to the criminal but they would come to hate seeing that man with the cigar in the rumpled trench coat! He always manged to sniff out who did it even if he couldn't prove it till the end. Speaking of Peter Falk and detectives, he was great as Lou Peckinpaugh in "The Cheap Detective" (1978)!

Angela Lansburry as Jessica (J. B.) Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote was another one of those detectives that trusted her instincts and followed the clues to the truth. Sure she was a mystery writer, but who would think that she could actually solve mysteries as well. Not the criminals - they thought she was just another senior.

On Diagnosis Murder, Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan was just another doctor right? Wrong, he had a nose for mysteries and solving crimes just like his son Detective Steve Sloan, the cop (played by his real life son, Barry). They were an unbeatable team.

These authors and characters all made it look easy and fun. Sure there was danger, and there were close calls but they always got the bad guys. I knew visually, I could never be a detective, but it was fun to play armchair detective as I read, listened and watched.

My mom and I played detective a few times. She worked at the local high school while I was a student. When we got home in the late afternoon we weren't always sure if dad would be there. Sometimes he would leave us a note but not always. Sometimes he helped my brother run the various pieces of farm equipment in the field. Dad also loved to fish and golf from late spring through fall. In the winter he would go ice fishing or just visit neighbours.

When we pulled in the garage, we didn't always look to see if the golf clubs or the fishing rod and tackle box were gone. If dad wasn't in the house or yard, then mom would check the closet to see what he was wearing. Did he shower and shave? If his old lunchbox was gone we could generally tell what he had made to eat while he was fishing or in the field. We had one of those old fashioned phone index books that you pushed a toggle down to the first letter of the last name, then popped it open to see all the names that started with that letter. From that we could tell who he was most likely with and what he was doing. The first few times we did this dad was a little surprised that we'd figured out EXACTLY where he was, who he was with and what he was doing but he was never angry. He thought it was kind of sweet and funny that we checked up on him!

Okay, so I'm not a detective, but maybe I was in a previous life or will be in the next. If I've learned anything about being an armchair detective over the years, it is to be observant. Not just what you see, but also what you hear, smell, taste and feel. It's funny, the little things that you notice and make mental notes of. You don't always realize that you are doing it, but those "notes" may come in handy someday. You have to trust your instincts. If you think something isn't quite right or seems out of place check it out or contact the appropriate authorities. You might not have a badge or a P.I. license, but you just might solve a mystery!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Father's have changed a lot over the last few decades. Classic radio shows such as "Father Knows Best" and "Ozzie and Harriot" depicted dads as the strong hard working man who always knew the best way to handle every situation. They occasionally made errors but overall they were the perceived head of the household and ultimate disciplinarian (with a little gentle prodding from their loving wife!)

Television shows such as "Leave It To Beaver", "Make Room For Daddy" and "My Three Sons" continued this tradition. For many men these fathers were their image of what fatherhood was all about. They went to work while the wife stayed home and looked after the house and children. When they got home from a "hard' day at work, their dinner would be waiting, they'd spend a little time with the kids and sometimes have to follow up on mom's proverbial "wait till your father gets home".

In the 1960's and 1970's that image of fatherhood pretty much went the way of the dodo bird. Fathers were becoming much more hands on. They were in the delivery room, changing diapers, getting up in the night with the kids and generally becoming much more useful.

Father's Day has actually been around for 100 years. The first US celebration of the day was in Washington state on June 19, 1908 and in Fairmont West Virginia on July 5, 1908. The Washington celebration is believed to have been inspired by the daughter of a Civil War vet, who was a single father raising six children on his own. The West Virginia celebration was believed to have been a recognition of fatherhood and in particular a tribute to the many fathers who were among 361 miners killed in a nearby mining accident the previous December.

The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in more than 45 countries around the world including the USA and Canada. More than 30 other countries also celebrate a version of Father's Day at some point during the year.

Germany doesn't actually have a specific celebration of the day, but they do have something similar that I'm sure most men would approve of. It is called "Mannertag" or "Men's Day" and is celebrated on Ascension Day which is the Thursday, forty days after Easter. In a tradition called "Herrentag", a males-only group go on a hiking tour pulling one or more small wood wagons (by man power) loaded with local wine, beer, meats, vegetables, eggs etc.

Here in Manitoba Father's Day is the annual running of the Manitoba Marathon. This year is the 30Th Anniversary of the race and organizers are expecting 14,000 runners to take part in the full, half and relay marathons. The money raised through pledges and donations goes to LACE IT UP a charity for Manitobans living with an intellectual disability.

Father's Day doesn't get nearly the attention that Mother's Day does, nor do people spend as much on dear ol' dad. So whether you get dad clothes, sports equipment, tools, electronics or just a card - make sure you tell the fathers in your life how much you love and appreciate them.

Happy Father's Day!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Do you know what day this is?

Are you feeling a little aprehensive today? Are you wondering if it is safe to even get out of bed? If you are, then you may be suffering from paraskevidekariaphobia.

"Paraskevidekatriaphobia," (also spelled "Paraskavedekatriaphobia"), is an irrational fear of Friday the 13Th. It is estimated that approximately 8% of the US population still fear this old superstition.

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13.
Triskaidekamania, is an excessive enthusiasm for the number 13.

In 1993, the British Medical Journal, published a paper titled; "Is Friday the 13Th bad for your health?" The paper looked at traffic patterns/accidents and related hospital visits over a period of a few years, for Friday the 6Th vs. Friday the 13Th. It found that more people drove on the 6Th than the 13Th, but there were more vehicle accidents resulting in trips to the hospital on the 13Th.

Most cities have no 13Th Street or 13Th Avenue. Some cities don't even use the 13 in their street numbers. Few buildings have a 13Th floor. Well it may have been bad luck for some addresses, but 1313 Mockingbird Lane turned out to be the perfect address for "The Munsters" !

13 people gathered in one spot or for a dinner is seen as bad luck. The Last Supper was attended by 13 people; Jesus and his 12 disciples. Judas was the 13Th guest to arrive. Then there is the Norse myth about 12 gods having a party at Valhalla. The mischievous Loki showed up as the uninvited 13Th guest and tricked Hod (blind god of darkness) into killing Baldur (the god of joy and gladness).

There is also a superstition that if your name has 13 letters, you will have the devil's luck. Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Theodore Bundy all had 13 letters in their names. I'm not buying this one as I have several friends and relatives whose first and last name add up to 13 letters. They are some of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and there is not a criminal among them!

So is the number 13 or Friday the 13Th cursed or is it just the nature of human psychology and superstitious beliefs?

For the average person, I doubt that most people think about it that much anymore. They get so wrapped up in their day to day life that unless there is a conscience reference to the actual date, they don't connect their luck unless it is particularly good or bad.

Ancient Egyptians saw 13 as lucky. They believed that there were 12 stages to spiritual ascension in this life and the 13Th was eternal life. 13 therefore symbolized a physical death. This belief was later seen as a fear of death rather than a reverence for the afterlife.
Twelve year olds eagerly anticipate turning 13 and officially becoming a teenager which is the gateway to new freedoms and eventually adulthood.. It is also the age that a Jewish boy is Bar Mitzvah. Girls may also celebrate Bat Mitzvah at age 12 or 13.
Some famous sports figures have worn the number 13 and it hasn't exact;y hurt their careers: Alex Rodriquez (baseball); Dan Marino (football); Wilt Chamberlin (basketball); and Steve Nash (hockey).
"Friday the thirteenth is also considered the unluckiest of days in many other superstitions, unless you were born on Friday the thirteenth -- in which case it is your lucky day." (quoted from The old poem "Mondays Child" also says that "Fridays child is loving and giving".

I've never been overly superstitious. Some people just seem to be naturally luckier than others. I've tended to have fairly good luck with the number 13, so I'm just going to take the day as it comes.

Interesting reading;

Good Luck!!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jollygood Squares

Yesterday I told you that there is only one jello recipe that I still make. This is a simple, light, cool and refreshing dessert recipe to make. I particularly like it in the summer when there is an abundance of fresh local fruits and berries to serve on top of it. You can find this great recipe on page 159 of "Crazy Plates" by Janet & Greta Podleski.
At the bottom of this post I'll fill you in on my variations.
Jollygood Squares

Light and lemony, no-bake cheesecake squares

Our prayers have been answered! God save our gracious Queen's leftovers. Send us victorious, happy, and glorious lemon squares.

1 pkg (3 oz) lemon-flavoured jelly powder
1 cup boiling water
1-1/2 cups crushed, low-fat graham crackers
3 tbsp light butter or margarine, melted
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
8 oz light cream cheese1 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups light frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a small bowl, dissolve jelly powder in boiling water. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, but not set (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare crust. In a small bowl, combine graham crumbs, melted butter, and brown sugar. Stir well using a fork. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Press crumb mixture evenly over bottom of pan. Refrigerate while you make filling.

To prepare filling, beat together cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla on high speed of electric mixer. Beat until smooth. Add thickened jelly and beat on medium speed until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.
Pour lemon mixture over prepared crust and spread evenly to edges of pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours, until set. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 24 squares

Hint: This dessert looks and tastes great when served with fresh berries or a spoonful of blueberry or cherry pie filling on top of each square.

What's in it for you? Per square: 133 calories, 4.5 g fat,2.8 g saturated fat, 1.9 g protein,21.8 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber,3.3 mg cholesterol, 122.6 mg sodium,% calories from fat: 30.


My variation #1:
Add these additional amounts to crust (totals in brackets)
1/4 cup of graham crumbs (1 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
1 Tbsp margarine (1/4cup total)
Mix as above, but reserve 1/2 cup to sprinkle over the top of the lemon mixture before chilling. Serve with fresh fruit on top.

My Variation #2:
Instead of graham crumbs use 1 3/4 cup Oreo crumbs with the 1/4 cup almonds and 1/4 cup margarine.

My variation #3:
Use either crust version and switch the jello flavour to strawberry, but don't omit the lemon juice and zest if you switch. You could also place fresh sliced strawberries on top before chilling.

If you use any of my variations, then the "per square" values listed above, will obviously increase, but just remember all things in moderation.



Monday, June 9, 2008

Kitchen Confessions

When someone is labeled as a good cook or baker, it is often assumed that they can therefore do ANYTHING in the kitchen. They can take any ingredients or recipes and make it into something that is a visual work of art and a sensation for the taste buds. They know how to use all the spices, condiments, substitutes and all the various kitchen gadgets and appliances. Nothing ever goes wrong - right? WRONG!!

I enjoy cooking and baking. I always have. I started helping my mom and my grandma when I was quite young. One of the first "jobs" I had was to put the paper baking cups in muffin cups. I gradually learned to mix ingredients and also to measure and read recipes. Some recipes are much easier than others. Muffins and biscuits were two of the first things I learned to make. If you over mix either you can use them as balls and hockey pucks.

I used to help my mom make layer cakes. I think I was about 11 or 12 the first time I tried to make one on my own. My brother and I were making supper for mom for her birthday. He made the meal and I was to make the cake and icing. I mixed up the batter and poured it in the pans and put them in the oven to bake. They looked really good when I took them out of the oven. I let them cool on racks while I made the icing and set the table. When the cakes were cool, I went to take them out of the pans which is when I realized there was a problem. I had greased the pans lightly as for a basic cake but the easiest way to remove cakes in "one piece" to make a layer cake is to line the pans with waxed paper. Oh what a mess! The cakes that had risen so beautifully had fallen apart! I was devastated. With a little help from the icing and my brother, we managed to turn it into a semi-presentable cake that we called "the snowball"! It still tasted great and of course mom loved it! I've never forgotten to line a pan since!

One of the things that I never really got the hang of making was pastry. I did it a few times in my teens and early 20's, but I just never have much luck. I've tried several prize winning recipes but it's either tough or falls apart. Luckily, I'm not a big fan of pies, but if I do get that urge, I'll be using Tender Flake frozen crusts.

Gravies and creamy sauces are another one of my weak spots. Any time I try to make a "rue" (flour and water/milk paste), it and the sauce always turn out lumpy, pasty or burnt. Thank goodness for powdered gravy mixes and canned cream soups. I'm slightly more successful with corn starch but just barely.

How do you feel about Jello? If you like it, then I hope you know how to make it! I often had trouble getting all the gelatin crystals dissolved, as I just couldn't see them. Working with unflavoured gelatin is even more of a nightmare. I ate jello when I was younger, but pretty much quit after three weeks in the hospital after my detached retina in 1990. In the last few years, there has only been one recipe that I've had any luck with, that I still like. That is a recipe that I make a couple of times every summer called "Jollygood Squares" (I'll post that recipe tomorrow!)

Don't even consider asking me to do anything that involves a candy thermometer, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker or beating egg whites to any state of firmness or lightness. It just isn't going to happen in my kitchen!

Do you like marshmallows and all those squares and desserts that are made with them? For some reason, I also have trouble with marshmallows. I used to love roasted marshmallows but couldn't do them myself if my life depended on it! I enjoy rice krispie squares every once in awhile, but every time I try to make them, I burn the marshmallow mixture or they turn out really sticky or hard as a rock! You have no idea how happy I was when Kellogg's started making their rice krispie squares and their chocolate rice krispie squares in individual packages!

When I was working at summer camp, I was co-head cook for a week. I was generally more comfortable as an assistant cook but was pressed into duty when someone was unable to work that particular week. I never liked Porridge, nor had I ever made it, but it was on the menu for one morning and I quickly asked the water/oats proportions. Well it looked okay, no lumps so I set the pot on the counter and started serving. Within minutes every table was asking for the salt shaker, which I thought was odd as nothing on the menu would need salt. I asked what they wanted it for and was surprised to learn that I was supposed to have added a little salt to the porridge as it was cooking! Who knew? Not me!

I know where my kitchen strengths are and I try to stick to them. I've also been brave and tried making a few things I never thought I could such as sweet pickle relish and mango chutney. I found simple recipes with ingredients that I liked. The hardest part was the "hot water bath" that you give the filled jars to make sure they are properly sealed! I've had lots of kitchen "disasters", but I keep going. They've rarely been so bad that I've actually had to throw the food out.

The trick to looking like a kitchen goddess/god is to know your strength's and stick to them. Yes, you should try and figure out how to work with basic ingredients and recipes but if you are still making yourself and your family/friends suffer through your failed attempts, then take a little help from a mix or a friend. If at all possible avoid the recipes and ingredients that you don't have much luck with - at least when you are having company!


Saturday, June 7, 2008


It's the first Saturday of June and that means that wedding "season" is in full swing! Not that weddings don't happen at other times of the year - they do - just not as frequently as they do in the summer. Luckily I haven't been invited to any weddings over the last few years. The majority of my friends have either been there, done that or not crazy enough to do that again!

My dad (who was happily married to my mom for 59 1/2 years) used to joke that the only difference between a wedding and a funeral was that you could smell the flowers at a wedding!

Weddings have become more and more elaborate over the years, not to mention ridiculously expensive! I didn't actually research the cost, but I have heard that it can be in the tens of thousands for an average wedding! But these days who can tell what an average wedding is? Weddings run the gamut from the old fashioned church nuptials, reception and dance to a vacation wedding where you and a few dozen of your nearest/dearest fly somewhere warm/exotic to tie the knot. Then there are the vows that are exchanged on beaches, on mountains, under water or sporting events.

Brides (and some grooms) go crazy with the planning and match and engrave everything. Couples used to just give their guests a wrapped piece of cake as a thank you gift for coming. Now some are actually providing swag bags! I've even heard of couples who are choreographing their first dance a la "Dancing With The Stars"

Wedding gifts are often a nightmare. Every etiquette expert says asking for money as a gift is TACKY, but the reality is that most couples already have most of the things they need. So a "Presentation" or "Gift Registry" is a great way to avoid receiving the four toasters, hideous vase, gaudy throw cushion or the linens that don't match your bed/bath decor. Then there is the old tradition of the couple selecting china, stemware and flatware patterns so that people can buy them as wedding/shower gifts. I remember my grandmother trying to get me to choose a china pattern when I was in my mid teens so that I could start a "Hope Chest" or as I called it, "My Hopeless Chest". I've never understood the concept of spending a fortune on table ware that you only use a few times a year. You want an 8 place setting? No problem. There is nothing wrong with having a couple of sets of Corelle, a flatware set and glass sets from Wal Mart or some other discount dealer - and by the way that will only set you back a couple hundred not a couple thousand!

Bridal parties can be a mine field. Do you really want to have ALL those people standing up there in hideously matching outfits that will never be worn again? Guest lists are another area of contention. This is the bride and grooms - not the parents. Do you really need to include your parents friends from work that you've never met or the third cousin you haven't seen since you were seven? Nope!


I've gone on record in earlier posts, that I have no desire to get married. Like many women, I recall conversations with my gal pals about their dream weddings. I'd politely listen as they described in detail what they wanted. Some had thought out every little detail. But what if the guy you marry doesn't agree? "Oh he will, or we'll figure it out." They'd ask me what I'd want and even when I said I wouldn't marry, they'd insist "what if?"

Okay so IF I ever planned my wedding, the first thing I'd need is a living, breathing single, sucker. Sorry I meant to write "groom". I'd want a small intimate ceremony in the autumn at sunset. I look better in dim light! One hundred guests maximum, fifty or less, even better. If you have the service in autumn at sunset then it is an evening wedding, so you can get away with a light buffet or even better a dessert buffet rather than a sit down meal. We could dance in the moonlight, which is even better so I'd look great! Rather than a band or DJ, we'd pick the music list and load it on an mp3 player and let it play while we mingled. That way there would be no Polka's, Conga Lines, Macarena, Chicken Dance or anything else we didn't like! Smart, huh? No videos but a few brief select pictures. I have a great recipe for a chocolate cherry, almond fruit cake that could easily be made into a simple wedding cake. The wedding party (bride, groom, best man, and maid of honour) would be in simple casual attire with corsage's and boutonniere's. No fancy white dress or monkey suits allowed!

Brides and grooms need to keep it simple and remember that this is only ONE day of what will hopefully be a lifetime commitment. There is no need to go in debt to start your life together. Do what you can afford and concentrate on your relationship and your future.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

E-mail Etiquette

One of the things I love about having a computer is getting e-mail from my friends BUT it also has a downside in that not everyone plays nice when it comes to forwarding e-mail. So today I thought I would share a little info on e-mail etiquette,

When you forward an e-mail PLEASE use BCC, clean out old addresses at the top, the advertising and the avg/norton alerts at the bottom. You say you don't know how? Well if a visually impaired non techy like me can do it then so can you!

BCC: In Outlook Express you will find the BCC and CC options by clicking "View" in the toolbar at the top of the e-mail page. The drop down box will have a line that says "all headers" click that and like magic the BCC and CC appear. In Hotmail the option is at the top and a little to the right. When you use BCC there is NO need to enter ANY names in the "to" box. All the addressees can be added to the BCC line and your recipients will see "undisclosed recipient" in the "to" line of their message. Unless this is a business related message that you are sending then there is no need for me or anyone else to know who else got this message! Various e-mail programs have their settings in different places but there is usually a "settings" format that allows customizing.

Clean out old addresses! I've gotten some e-mails that have had as many as 75 old addresses from 6 or 7 people who have forwarded without cleaning out that info. When you forward a message you can edit and delete almost anything. Scroll to the bottom of the old addresses. While holding the cursor down, drag it over the old addresses to the top. Then right click over the darkened area and hit delete. IF the delete option is greyed out - and sometimes it is - just go back to the bottom of the addresses and hold your finger on the backspace key until you reach the top. It make take a few seconds but it is worth it to future recipients.

Advertising: E-mail's almost always come with advertising at the bottom. These can and should be cleaned out in the same way that you clean out old addresses. The ones that include animated pictures of cats, elephants etc. can usually be removed by dragging the cursor over the full line then right click and hit "cut". OR you can sometimes remove the image if the images are listed at the top of the e-mail as in hotmail program.

AVG/Norton Security notices: These are cleared exactly the same way as above. Sometimes they are found as an attached text file. Just right click the text file and hit "remove" or delete.

Removing these annoying items can greatly redice the size of the e-mail. I recently received two emails that came in at 161kb and 57kb. After I cleaned them up, they went out at 97kb and 6.5kb! If the average one page text document is about 4kb, then that is equivelent to 16 and 12 1/2 pages of JUNK! Not all computers or internet connections are fast. I have an older PC and DSL connection. Cleaning up the e-mails makes everything move faster.

Do you have problems sending and receiving pictures in emails? In Outlook Express go to Tools - Options - Send. Near the bottom you will find "send messages" with several options. Does the HTML box have a check in it? Check it if it doesn't, then open the "HTML Settings" tab to the right. In the box that opens you will find a setting that says "Send pictures with messages" Put a check in the corresponding box and then hit OKAY to close the "HTML Settings" box. Click the "APPLY" tab if it is not greyed out. If it is greyed out then hit "OKAY"

While you are in the send dialogue box, you should also go into "Plain Text Settings" and uncheck the Indent Text box to avoid those nasty >>>(greater than symbols) in sending emails. Click OKAY in Plain Text Settings box then hit APPLY - OKAY on options box.

Now for receiving pictures in messages; Click on Tools - Options - Security.
Look at the line underneath Download images; "Block images and other content in HTML e-mail" The box should NOT have a check in it. If it does then uncheck it. Click APPLY (if it is greyed out just click OKAY). This should allow the vast amount of pictures to be sent and received.

These may be common sense solutions to some of you, but you'd be surprised how many people don't understand the problem or know how to remove or fix these simple issues.

Coloured text and fancy fonts are also an issue for many, but especially for those of us who are visually impaired. Black on plain white/cream background is by far the easiest and least strenuous on the eyes. Pink, red, yellow, orange, green, grey, purple, blue and their various shades should be avoided. I prefer e-mail in "rich text" and the fonts that I find easiest to read are: "Lucida Sans Unicode"; "Times New Roman" and "Arial". You can change fonts in the toolbar under "format". I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here - I'm all for creativity - I'm just being honest and telling you what is the easiest for most to read.

You should also be aware that anyone using a voice activated system to read their e-mail has to put up with the voice reading ALL those old addresses and greater than symbols. The systems can't skip to the text. They also inform the listener every time that a different font or text colour is used. It can take 10 minutes to read a message that would have taken three minutes had it been cleaned up. I know that not everyone knows or sends e-mails to a blind person but the fact is that you don't know WHO is sending your address(es) on to other people. If someone was so inclined, they could also take all those old addresses and have you and all of the others on dozens of junk mail lists within minutes.

There is one more thing that I'd like to talk about and that is e-mail content. Know the person that you are forwarding to. If they aren't into a subject don't waste their time with your likes and beliefs. Case in point; I am an agnostic, pacifist living in Canada. Therefor anything to do with religion (aside from humour), any branch of the military, guns, USA Patriotism or who to vote for/against in the November election are of ABSOLUTELY NO interest to me and will AUTOMATICALLY be deleted! I don't appreciate or tolerate anything that is racist, bigoted or propaganda of religious, political or social issues in nature. I break most chain letters and often remove the part about how many people to forward it to before I send it on. The sentimental/pull at the heart strings type generally get deleted as well.

So what does that leave you ask? LOTS! There is all kinds of humour and interesting info out there. So please keep the e-mails coming. Just remember to clean them up and think before you send them to everyone on your list.

Please feel free to send this page to anyone you may think could use the info. Send it BCC even if it is only to one person - they won't know!

Thanks for reading and hopefully learning something! My eyes and I appreciate it!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

CJNU and the CRTC

Three months ago, on March 2, 2008, I wrote a post about my favourite radio station - CJNU. They are currently broadcasting on behalf of "Habitat for Humanity", but they are also facing the possibility of loosing their spot on the FM radio dial within the next six months or so.

The CRTC is meeting in Winnipeg Tuesday and Wednesday (June 3 and 4) at The Fort Garry Hotel, to hear licencing applications on behalf of four groups. There are only two viable spots left on the FM dial (104.7FM and 106.3FM). 104.7FM is the one that is used 28 days/month by CJNU. As this is not a full time or full power station it could loose the position to one of the applications. CJNU has filed an intervention and also plans to present its position at the hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The hearings are open to the public. You can view the intervention document by going to; and clicking on the CRTC.PDF file.

Some may well ask why CJNU did not file for one of the full time licenses. Well as long time listeners of nostalgia radio well remember, a previous incarnation (CKVN)of the station did file and was granted a license in 2002. More than 100 listeners (including myself) attended the hearings. Well over 2,000 of us loyal listeners wrote letters of support on behalf of the station in the months leading up to the hearings. The new station was known as CHNR and went on air full time late that year, but was unable to make a full time go of it and eventually ended up selling the station to a larger company that changed the format.

That was a very sad day for the many longtime fans. A year or so later the seeds were planted for the creation of a co-operative owned nostalgia station. This station hit the air about 18 months ago and has been on the air at 104.7FM for the 28days/month format ever since - with sponsors lined up into 2009.

By the time the co-op learned that the CRTC was calling for applications, they didn't feel they had time to take it to the general membership and put together a solid proposal. Also several members were justifiably skittish about going through the process again. We love our nostalgia but - once bitten, twice shy.

Saturday's Winnipeg Free Press featured an excellent article by columnist Morley Walker, called; "Just give 'em their Benny Goodman...they don't want trouble".
You can find the article at; Mr. Walker makes a great point in that 20% of the population of this city that are considered to be seniors, but that for the most part are rather set in their ways and therefor not advertised friendly. He also points out a possible solution:

"The CRTC has set aside Wednesday for another matter. It has called on the carpet the principals of 107.9 FM, the hip-hop playing educational station Flava-FM, who are accused of several misdemeanours. Licensed in 2004, they haven't been on the air since last year.

A solution that has occurred to several people is for the CRTC to allot 107.9 to one of the new applicants, or perhaps even to CJNU."

For the record, I am 50 and started listening to nostalgia in my late 30's when the format first hit the city. I fell in love with this music and would be heartbroken to loose this station. Yes, I have many Cd's and a lot of music on my PC and mp3 player, but I love hearing the announcers talk about the artists, hearing the tidbits of history and trivia about the artists and the times. There is no where else that I can hear such variety and consistently be introduced to old classics that are new to me. My musical tastes have been greatly expanded and truly enriched by this little station of 45 watts and its rotating cast of dedicated announcers, technicians and volunteers. As someone who is legally blind, I love listening to radio classics which are often referred to as "theater for the mind"!

The youngest announcer, Scott Best is only 18 but he knows his nostalgia music and he is just one of the many talented voices of the station. Most of the fan base may be old enough to be his grandparents but there is a definite revival of the older music thanks to the talents of crooner, Michael Bublé, Rod Stewart's collections songs from the American Songbook and other talented artists. This station fills a niche in the radio market in Winnipeg. We aren't asking for a lot, just give us our Nostalgia Radio....PLEASE!!!


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Game Shows

Game shows have always been popular. They started on radio and continued on television. Some were corny and even tacky or in poor taste, but there are some that were just plain fun, interesting, informative and challenging. It didn't really matter to the audience if you were playing for a years supply of Rice-A-Roni or a pen set or $1,000,000.00 as long as they were entertained.

When I was a kid in the 60's, I recall that there were a lot of game shows. "The Newlyweds", "The Dating Game", "Let's Make A Deal", "Truth of Consequences" (forerunner to "The Price Is Right"), and "Queen For A Day" to name a few. They were okay, I guess, but I liked the games that required a little brain power rather than just luck or answering a silly dating or marriage question about your partner.

Over the years, there have been may games that have tried and failed, Some reality games have succeeded, but I consider that a different genre and the subject for a future post. In my opinion, there has only been one new original game show in the last 20 years or so that has really been a success and that was "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" with Regis Philbin as the host. It was innovative and captured the attention of millions of people - until ABC began airing it several times a week and pretty much made us sick of it.

Personally, I have four all time favourite game shows. They are/were; "Definition"; "Jeopardy"; "Pyramid" and "Password".

"Definition" aired on the CTV network from 1974 to 1989 and was one of the longest running game shows in Canada. The first season was hosted by Bob McLean and Jim Perry was the announcer. From the second season on, Jim Perry took over as host and Dave Devall was the announcer. It was a twist on the classic game of "Hangman". Two teams of two players - a contestant and a celebrity - would take turns trying to solve a phrase, with a "pun" as the clue. The first player on a team would give a letter away that they hoped was not in the phrase and the second player would take a letter they hoped was in the phrase. Best 2/3 won the game. A bonus round saw a phrase slowly being revealed alphabetically and a decrease in dollar value for each letter revealed. The show was on the low end of the prize lists with small appliances, knife sets and desk sets as typical gifts. The annual tournament of champions offered slightly better prizes. Personally, I loved the puns and the play on words that many of the phrases had. My mom and I used to keep a paper and pen handy to write down some of the better "Definitions"! You can check out a couple of old clips of the show at;

"Jeopardy" is the classic game that was created by Merv Griffin in the 1960's - he even wrote the final jeopardy music. It is a game of answers and questions that makes you think! As with most game shows it is much harder than it looks as you must be fast on the buzzer and possess a seemingly endless array of knowledge on a wide range of topics. Art Flemming hosted from 1964-1975 and 78/79. The show was revived in 1984 with Alex Trebek as the host and it has remained as one of the most popular game shows of all time. I am always amazed when I somehow know the question to an answer in a category that I thought I knew little or nothing about!

"Pyramid" has been on air in various incarnations from 1973 through 1988, 1991, and 2002-2004 with ultimate prize values/game ranging from $10,000.00 to $100,000.00. Hosts have included Bill Cullen, John Davidson, Donny Osmond and most famously Dick Clark. The object of the game was to get your partner to say a series of words within a certain topic in a limited time frame. Depending on the game version, this ranged from 7 words in 30 seconds to 6 words in 20 seconds. The best score after three rounds went on to play the pyramid where you had to get your partner to say six topics/phrases within one minute to win the value of the pyramid. The subjects of the categories often resulted in humorous answers. This game required you to listen carefully and think fast.

"Password" was created by Bob Stewart and hosted by Allen Ludden. The show ran for 1,555 episodes (in daytime and for a time in a prime time version) from 1961 through 1967. Another 1,099 shows were done from 1971-75. Other hosts included; Bill Cullen, Bert Cony and Tom Kennedy. There was a celebrity and a contestant on each of two teams. The object was to get your partner to say the "password" within 5 seconds by giving a one word clue. Play moved between the two teams until the word was guessed or 10 clues given. Points were awarded based on number of clues given. One clue =10 points, 2 clues = 9 points, etc. A game was 25 points and the opportunity to play a lightening round where one player would have to guess five passwords in 60 seconds to win a larger cash prize.

Tonight, CBS is launching a weekly, hour long version of "Password", called "Million Dollar Password" hosted by Regis Philbin. I've seen a couple of previews and read a couple of articles and I think this looks like a promising viewing pleasure for the summer months.

Let the game begin!