Archive for December, 2015

My Blog Results

I was given this blog site as a gift from Meagan.  She knew I had opinions and views that everyone would appreciate.  Heaven knows she heard them around the dinner table at night.

So I shared my insights on life in a public forum.  Not like a facebook, more of an intellectual exercise.

At the end of 2014 I received notice that my blog had been hit on so many times that there was a chance that there might be advertising potential.  Not sure if the money would come to me but maybe my annual fee might be waived.

Unfortunately my 2015 results came in.  While I am getting great response from my family, my decision to make my titles less exciting has hurt my global audience.  Turns out that of the about 70 posts I presented to the world this year, the highest response was to a minor one I did, in I think March, called Ukrainian Specialties.  Apparently I had 1500 hits on that.

I thank my loyal blog fans for their following support and I will try to do better next year.  Maybe a blog on a hike we might do with the kids titled Naked Nymphs on the River, where we go to Nymph falls.




Blaine gave me a Piece D’Art for Christmas.  He had made it himself from welded iron rod and a rock.

Now he referred to it as a Canada Goose but I immediately recognized it as Kevin the Snipe bird from the movie UP.  I think the only reason Blaine did not know this was he had not seen the movie when he created it.  We shall refer to the bird as Kevin.


What do You do with Turkey

It is the third day after Christmas and we decided to do something different with the leftover Turkey.

We made a Japanese soup with Udon noodles, Shiitake mushrooms, ginger, sliced turkey and veggies utilizing the stock that we carefully boiled down from the carcass yesterday.

A little Edamame to start and it was a good light meal to offset all the over indulgence of the last few meals.  Problem with all Japanese meals is that it can be a trifle bland until you add little Korean  hot chili sauce (which I learned in my many trips to Japan is the basic solution that all Japanese families use) .  Pat choose a little Teriyaki.

I am just trying to imagine if Mother had tried this meal on the third day after Christmas for my father when I was a kid.  Who knows he might have liked it but this was just not available.

Tomorrow Kung Pao Turkey for dinner……. That should use it up.

Christmas Mass

Christmas morning was lovely with brilliant sunshine.  A change from the overcast days of rain and a surprise 5 cm of snow that turned to slush that we had experienced over the previous week.

I accompanied my bride to 10:30 mass and wore a suit.  Nobody gets dressed up for church these days and sadly, not even for Christmas… but I remembered when it was a special day and that is what my mother would have wanted me to wear.

The church holds about 800 people and there might have been 900 for the mass.   As I looked around maybe 1% of the men had bothered to put on something special and they were mostly older than I was.  A far larger percentage of the ladies had dressed up and many of the kids (although in Pat’s Parish there are very few little kids)  Still pretty casual for a special day.

We arrived a half hour early to join the choir in carol singing before the mass.  It was pathetic.  The average age of the choir is 75 and while they tried hard they could not fill the church.  I tried my best with my off key singing but noticed that virtually all the 500 people that showed up early were just mouthing the words.  Pat sang next to me (she is good), and I did my best to fill the void.

Granted most of the carols they selected were in the key where the only males that could follow would have been castratos.  (Good King Wenceslas was not a selection)

Still this was a lovely morning and Pat liked to show off her well dressed husband to the many ladies that belong to her CWL, so for her a success.

Christmas Carols

This is the time of year when we hear endless Christmas Carols until we become immune to the words because of repetition.  But there is still one carol that I always stop to enjoy.

From an earlier blog you would realize my favourite carol is Good King Wenceslas.

I have to admit that this was a carol that will always reminds me of the Christmas pageant/recitals at our elementary school.  It just begs for a kid to be the king and a younger kid to be the page.

Unfortunately when I tried out, the only role I got was singing in the group that did We Three Kings (I was gold).  I would have loved to have been be the page but never had the ability to hold pitch, so I was Melchior.

Years later we were singing Christmas carols with the family and all the kids were taking turns while Pat played the piano, when Mother and I sang Good King Wenceslas together unaccompanied.  She told me after that this was also a traditional pageant presentation at the Brora church when she was a kid in the late 20s and early 30s.

The other night I lead a group of women in the singing with all the verses.  It is truly a story song.

Now when I listen to the popular recordings on the radio or in our inventory of Christmas songs I realize that they leave out the ‘bring me flesh verse’ (to make the song fit 3 minutes)  Too bad.


Ginger Bread House

Our golf course does an event every year to raise money for charity.  They invite local companies and artists to make gingerbread houses.  They put them on display inviting bids in the lobby for a couple of weeks culminating in the Crown Isle residents’ party.  Over the years these have grown into very elaborate displays that can draw bids in the hundreds.

I was walking through on the first day picking up my paper when I noticed a delightful presentation based on the movie UP.  I put in a token bid but was quickly outbid.  Then they contacted me to tell me that the people that bid after me did not put in phone numbers or contacts so I was successful.

It is just delightful.  The detail and the imagination I could not hope to do myself.  All made of icing sugar, ginger bread, jelly beans and candy.  The little figure of Carl is proof that it was an artist that did this.  If you look at the front of the house you will even see the garden hose on its candy reel that is an important detail in the movie.

Now sure what we are going to do with it after the holidays but for now it is a key part of our living room Christmas display.


Christmas Music Has gone too far

Everyone knows that if your career has gone down the tube you can give a brief boost by doing a Christmas album.

I mean how bad can it be to have a bunch of chipmunks sell millions of records and Rap groups faking carols.

But the ultimate insult came today as I was driving back from the club this morning and listening to CBC when (I expect in anticipation of the new Star Wars movie) they played a couple of cuts from the album where C3PO and R2D2 sing Christmas Carols………   I am not joking

Gag me with a spoon,

Christmas Carol Group

Have to give you some background….

One of the many groups in our Probus Club ( a group of retired couples) has a sing a long group.  They meet at one of the member’s houses and they sing together from a songlist.  Three of the leaders play guitar and that helps.

Now understand… just short of going to the dentist for root canal… I do not want to join this group.  Apparently 15 – 20 women show up every month and by reports in our regular Probus meetings, they have a great time singing oldies and folk songs (but not a lot of husbands make it).

The December meeting was scheduled for our good friends Harry and Marie’s house.  Lots of pressure on husbands to show up because this would be Christmas Carol session.  The organizer, Rae convinced her husband Howard to show up and he convinced me on the agreement that Harry (the husband of the hostess for the evening) would also make it.  Mary-Kate (or as we call her MK)  said her husband Ross (my golfing buddy) would make it so I said it to the guys  “Lets Do It” because it looks like there will be lots of us.  I mean how bad can be a Christmas Carol evening be?.

So we show up last night and..Howard is there because his wife Rae is the organizer… Ross is there because.. well he just cannot say no to MK   and there is me.  Harry, my buddy whose wife is hosting the party has chosen to fly off to spend a couple of days in Outlook Saskatchewan rather than experience the evening.  All the other guys found something more important to do.

No big problem.  22 women and three of us guys sitting at the back on stools joining in on Christmas Carols.  The three leaders that play guitars picked some typical carols that included traditional and some modern songs that no one knew the words to if you did not have the song sheet in front of you.  They were in a key that none of us guys could reach unless we had been .. well lets say squeezed in the private region.

I tried my best but as I looked over at Howard and Ross I realized they were at best mouthing the words and waiting for the break in the evening where we hoped there would be some wine.  Bad call as there was only tea and cookies.

So we come to the end of the evening and I am stunned.  They did not play Good King Wenceslas even though it was in the play book, which I consider the best Christmas Carol.  The three guitar leaders apparently did not have the printed music for this (although they had printed music for obscure Christmas tunes).  In the end we had ended with We Wish You a Merry Christmas but at the urging of Howard and possibly Ross, I called for an encore of Good King Wenceslas and lead off the group.

Now despite their previous support, Howard and Ross were not that great in joining me but most of the women did.  A rousting version.  Then the party broke up.

As we were gathering our coats and shoes, two ladies came up to me to thank me for leading this particular carol.  One 85 year old told me she sang the page lines at her school recital when she was a little girl and just loved that I had insisted on the song.  I am pretty sure no one in 70 years will say the same thing about some of the new carols we sang last night.

The best part was that as we walked home Pat did not tell me I had gone too bossy and said I had done a good thing.  Marie, our hostess thanked me as well.

Harry,  who ducked the evening, will owe me a good bottle of wine when we have New Year’s eve together.


Little Drummer Boy

As we all understand.  Mary, the mother of Jesus is a Saint.

When I was a kid we knew all the Christmas Carols because we sang them at church and we sang them at school (days before political correctness).  But certain commercial carols came on the radio that we never sang but loved.  Pat loved “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”  then there was the obnoxious kid missing two front teeth, but my personal favourite was “The Little Drummer Boy”

The version by Bing Crosby and David Bowie is a classic.

But as I listen to Christmas Music while working in the shop, I have the opportunity to think of the Lyrics and I have had a revelation.

So there is pregnant Mary riding into Bethlehem on a donkey.

Now I have never ridden a donkey but I did do some bare back on a horse and I can just imagine how uncomfortable this must have been.

Then they arrive and find out that the hotel reservations have been screwed up so she has to give birth in a barn.

Now as all fathers know… their pregnant wives are not at their.. shall we say… social best at this period.

Finally the blessed event, the birth takes place.  From experience I know that once the excitement has gone down the mother just wants some rest.  But of course for Mary this could not happen.  The cattle keep lowing and guests keep showing up.  Granted some with presents but a lot of just gawkers and then there is this spotlight from the sky.

Eventually it finally quiets down, The cattle fall asleep,the Magi head off, the shepherds go back to their flocks and the angels head back to the bar “on high” .  The baby finally sleeps and Mary lies back for rest.

Then along comes a kid with a drum and proceeds to rumpa pum pum and rat a tat tat.

Mary must have been a saint to put up with this.  On the other hand we never hear about the Little drummer boy after that, so who knows?


Pat and I joined our Probus group for our Christmas party at a local spot.  One of the few times a year where you dress up in your fancy clothes and join friends for a great dinner and dancing.  I say few because we are now down to 2-3 nights a year (and this year only one).

This does not mean we lack a social life.  We go to lots of parties,  it is just that the formal dining and dance nights are gone.  And I like dancing.

So there we were at a party with 80 people where we knew the first names of 40 of them and at least recognized the rest which leads to lots of mingling and conversations.  A wonderful evening with a nice local live group that played the oldies.  Not a Justin Bieber song the entire evening.

Everyone was saying how much they were enjoying the event and we should do this more often but who will organize it?   Need to get the grandchildren married so we can attend weddings.