Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween - a day that millions of kids of all ages look froward to. A day to dress up as someone or something else and go out and have a little fun and collect some candy.

Here in Manitoba, you never know what the weather is going to be like around Halloween, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that there will be snow falling or already on the ground. That means that if you are going door to door for trick or treating, that your costume will have to fit over your parka. That kind of limits a lot of costumes but you can also get more creative on some ideas for the bigger than life characters.

I don't remember most of my costumes as a kid, but I do remember two. One year I dressed as a black cat. I wore all black my mom made a tail to attach to my pants. I had a black sweater with a hood that we attached ears to and painted whiskers on my cheeks. Another year, I did pretty much the same costume, except that mom used old hangers that she reshaped into wings and covered with black fabric. I was a bat!

We would drive in to town after an early supper and go trick or treating along a few select streets such as where my grandparents or my aunt and uncle lived. There were a couple of streets in our town that EVERYBODY went to as they were considered to be the more wealthy residents and therefore gave out better treats.

Even back in the 60's and 70's, our parents still went through our bags after to make sure that none of the stuff had been tampered with. Mom always made applesauce with apples. We kids would sort through the various goodies we'd received and also take stuff to school the next day to trade for treats we really wanted. I don't know why, but I always liked the "Rockets" candies. Of course, I loved chocolate back then too, but nothing with caramel in it! If I could, I traded all gum, caramels, licorice and those little candies that were wrapped in white paper decorated with little orange pumpkins.

When I was a first year student in Bible school, several of us decided to dress up for the whole day. We went from breakfast through evening snack in our costumes. I dressed up as a little old lady. I had a dress that my grandma had made for the Manitoba centennial celebrations a few years older. It was a flour length dress that you wore a crinoline under and even used hook and eyes for all the closures up the back. I wore an old shawl, pulled my hair back in a bun with a head scarf and walked with a diamond willow cane that my dad had made a few years earlier. I also wore my glasses down on my nose, walked slowly and slightly hunched over! It was actually a lot of fun.

A few years later, one of my girlfriends and I decided to recreate our own version of the day. We spent a day baking and decorating Halloween cookies. On Halloween, we dressed up in full costumes, face paint and wigs and went out with her sister and her little girl to trick or treat. We also took packages of cookies with us to hand out at homes of our friends and family - if they could guess who we were! We stumped a couple of people, but it was a lot of fun.

One of the apartment blocks that I lived in, here in Winnipeg, had several socials every year - including a costume party for Halloween. I dressed up as a vampire. My mom had sown a long black cape that was lined in red satin and had a matching red cummerbund. I wore black pants, a white shirt, slicked back my hair and painted my face white with blood red lips and droplets of blood running down my chin! I think that was probably my all time favourite costume - it certainly got the most interesting reactions!

My parents and their friends had their own way of celebrating. One couple would dress up and drive to a neighbour/friends home early in the evening. Once invited in, they were offered "refreshments" and the host couple was then expected to dress up and travel with the first couple to another home. This continued late into the night and there were often eight or ten couples by the end of the night. At some point in the evening, they would all go to a local restaurant and a bar just for the reactions. They usually capped off the night at some unsuspecting friends home in the wee hours of the morning where the last host was expected to prepare breakfast for the revellers! I've seen pictures and heard a lot of storied from those parties. Some of the costumes were well thought out and ready for whenever the party arrived at their home and some were thrown together at the last minute. Either way, those evenings were anything but boring!

One story that I remember hearing was of a couple who had been out earlier and missed the first "call", so the party went back about 3 or 4 in the morning, let themselves in with the hidden spare key and started preparing breakfast. The couple, sleeping very soundly, upstairs woke to the smell of bacon, eggs, coffee, toast and about a dozen wildly dressed people around the kitchen table!!

So whether you are handing out goodies at your door, escorting little one around or having a little more adult party fun, please be safe - this is a night for good hearted fun!

Happy Halloween!!!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Loaf/Muffins

Halloween is only a couple of days away. Have you carved a pumpkin or are you wondering what to make with the pumpkins or squash that you've grown, bought or been given?

I take full advantage of the fall harvest of squash. I buy mostly butternut squash, as they have a very thin skin, little waste in the pulp and are very flavourful for baking and eating as a vegetable. Just before our Canadian Thanksgiving, I found assorted squash on for 67 cents/pound. I bought two good sized ones that weighed 8 1/4 pounds in total. After I pealed, seeded and cubed them (about 1 inch cubes), I put them, some water and a bit of salt in the dutch oven, covered it with the lid, and brought it to a boil, then simmered on medium until the squash was tender - about 15-20 minutes. I carefully drained the squash, then used the potato masher to mash the squash into an even texture. Once it cooled, I measured 1/2 cup portions into zippered snack bags and flattened. I froze them flat on a cookie sheet and then transferred them to a zippered freezer bag for longer freezer storage. From those two squash, I got twenty 1/2 cup portions. That is a lot of Delicious veggie servings and baking quantities at the ready. It worked out to about 27.5 cents/package. Economical and tasty!

I love squash as a vegetable with just a bit of margarine, salt and pepper - but I also enjoy my muffins or a loaf. So here is a recipe that I have modified from "Company's Coming - Muffins and More"

Pumpkin Muffins/Loaf

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked and mashed pumpkin or squash
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Combine the cream cheese, margarine and sugar. Cream until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended. Mix in the pumpkin or squash.

In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour over batter all at once and mix just till evenly but completely moistened.

Loaf: Spoon batter evenly into a well greased 9"x5"x3" loaf pan and bake at 350F oven for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick test is clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.
Muffins: Divide batter evenly among 18-20 muffin cups lined with paper cups. Bake at 350F oven for about 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Turn each muffin so that it is sitting at an angle in the muffin pan cups to allow for even cooling.

Both of these versions are very tasty and freeze well. The loaf is somewhat dense and a bit heavier than the muffins as it does not have the expansion room that the muffins do as they are baking.

Hope you enjoy!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Computer Advise.....‏

I got the following e-mail about a month ago and thought it was quite amusing - hope you enjoy!


Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0 .

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5 , and then installed undesirable programs such as NASCAR 6.0 , NFL 5.1 and Golf Clubs 4.1 .

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs at all, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do now?



First, keep in mind,
· Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while
· Husband 1.0 is an Operating System.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.HTML and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5 .

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.

Please note that Beer 6.1 is a malicious program that will download the software, Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0 .

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.

You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Cooking 3.0 and Hot Lingerie 7.7.

Good Luck From,
Tech Support



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake

Two months from today is Christmas. Doesn't seem possible, but it is that close - so it is time to start the Christmas baking!

I'm going on record here and say that the following recipe is the ONLY fruitcake that I have EVER liked!! I'm not a fan of candied peels and dried fruits - except raisins - and the combinations of flavours in any other fruitcake that I've ever tried have never appealed to me. I've tried lots over the years but generally can tell by the "fruit" ingredients if it is worth tasting.

This recipe was in The Winnipeg Free Press almost 19 years ago in November 1989. I made it every year for about 15 years. I haven't made it for the last few years, as I've had less time and storage space but it is a fabulously Delicious recipe with the perfect combination of fruits, nuts and chocolate! It takes a bit of time but the preparation is actually very simple.


1pound/454 grams halved glace red cherries
1pound/454 grams dark raisins.
1/2 pound/225 grams slivered almonds
2 cups all purpose flour
3 one ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter or block margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Kirsch or cherry brandy

The day before you make the cake; wash the cherries and raisins and allow to dry between two tea towels overnight. Washing and drying the fruit, removes all the gooey syrup from the cherries and any grit/sand from the raisins. Prepare the brown paper strips to line the pans. To do this cut a strip of paper that is wide enough to just cover the bottom of the pan and long enough to reach up the sides at either end and about 1-2 inches above the top of the pan on both ends. Then cut a piece that is long enough to cover the bottom of the pan and wide enough to reach up the sides of the pan and 1-2 inches above the top on either side. You will need four of each size.

Making the cake; Preheat the oven to 275F. Line two loaf pans with two layers of greased brown paper. (lay the strips on a cookie sheet and spray/brush with cooking oil. Alternate the layers in the pan - 1 lengthwise - 1 wide and repeat. It will make removing the cakes and storing much easier!)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherries, raisins, almonds and 1/2 cup of the flour. Stir till fruit and nuts are all lightly coated.

Break up the chocolate and place in small bowl. Microwave on medium power, stirring after 1 minute, then after every 30 seconds until melted. set aside.

Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually add sugar beating thoroughly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add slightly cooled chocolate and vanilla and mix.

Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Add about 1/3 of the flour mix to the butter mixture and stir; then add about 1/2 the Kirsch to the mixture and stir to combine. Repeat the flour step, then the rest of the Kirsch, then the last of the flour.

Gradually add the fruit mixture to the rest of the batter and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine. The mixture should resemble muffin batter at this point. If it is to thin you may need to add a little more flour - about 1/4 cup at a time until proper consistency. If it is too stiff, add about a Tablespoon of Kirsch at a time.

Carefully spoon batter into prepared pans and spread batter evenly in both. Make sure that the paper stays up the sides the batter does not get between the layers. Place a shallow pan of water on the lower oven rack. Bake cakes in 275F oven for about 2 1/2 hours, covering the tops loosely with foil halfway through to prevent drying out.

Test cakes before removing from oven using the clean toothpick method. When done, cool completely in pans on wire racks - this will take several hours. Carefully lift the cakes out of the pans using the paper as lifters. Remove the outer layer of paper.

Paint the top of the cakes with more Kirsch (about 2 teaspoons/cake. Wrap the edges of the paper over the top then wrap each cake in plastic wrap. Place each cake in a plastic bag, secured with twist tie, and store in a cool dark place. (I kept mine in the fridge.)

Repaint the top of each cake with the Kirsch, once a week for 3 to 4 weeks.

Gift and serve as desired. Keeps indefinitely in the freezer.

NOTE: This recipe can be doubled and baked in set of three standard Christmas pans baking as follows; Small pan - 2 1/2 hours; Medium - 3 hours; Large - 3 1/2 hours. As with above, cover each loosely with foil about halfway through to prevent drying out. The three pan method could also be used to make a wedding cake.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Learning to use a new PC

I had never touched a computer until June of 2006. I went to the downtown library and asked the library techs in the special needs section to show me how to use a mouse on one of the large 19" monitors. I had him log on to a site I wanted to explore and then I'd look at various pages within the site. I went back about every two weeks all summer and got pretty good at finding my way around a couple of sites. I even got them to show me a couple of basic key strokes so that I could find more specific info faster on those sites.

In September of 2006, I put the word out that I was looking for an old keyboard so that I could learn a little more about where keys were. I was never great with typing in the first place - in fact, I'm rather pathetic at it. I hadn't touched a typewriter since about 1984 and I've only gotten worse!

As it happened, a friend of a friend was upgrading and had been unsure of what to do with the old one. It was offered to me, for free, on condition of anonymity. Being an honest soul, I knew that my friend would not lead me astray so I accepted. All I had to supply, was the speakers, mouse pad and surge protector.

I got the computer in mid October, 2006. My friend delivered it, set it up and spent an hour or so customizing it for my sight and showing me some basic things.

Two years ago today, I got connected to the Internet.

My first computer was a mix of brands and had a big old 19" monitor, Windows XP pro (sp2) with a 256 ram and 20 gig hard drive. I was careful of what I downloaded and managed to avoid any viruses, but by earlier this year, I had outgrown my first computer and it was time to upgrade. I did a lot of research and asked a number of people about various brands and systems. I learned that Dell is either loved or hated - mostly hated. I learned that HP and Compaq were pretty much liked by all. A couple wanted me to go to Mac, but since I learned on Windows, that is where I felt more comfortable. I knew I would have to give up XP and learn the justifiably despised Vista, but I thought I could deal with that.

So, I looked around and finally settled on an HP Pavilion Desktop with a 24" wide screen monitor, 4 gig ram and a 640 gig hard drive. I was going from an old beater to a Cadillac.
I was trying to explain to my non tech 83 year old mom why I needed to upgrade and how much better this new one would be. She really didn't get it until I used this analogy; You're trying to prepare a full course meal with a hot plate, and an ice pack in a cooler. With the new one, you are cooking on a 6 burner stove, 2 ovens, grill top, exhaust fan, full size fridge and freezer!
The light bulb went on and she understood what I wanted and why!

Well, the new PC arrived on the 12th and was actually pretty easy to set up. Customizing the accessibility's was a pain in the ass - I've had to reset it several times already as it doesn't seem to remember what I want from one day to the next. I don't think this computer likes me - actually the feeling is mutual.

It's big, fast and sleek but the white on black keyboard is hard to see and VERY sensitive to touch. The mouse on the other hand is lazy and doesn't want to go where I want it to. I can't seem to get the cursor to go larger, so with a 24" monitor, I am forever playing "Where's Waldo?" (aka where is that damn cursor!) My old mouse was a laser one with the little side saddle buttons for going forward and back on web pages. When I disconnected the old PC, the connector on the mouse somehow got bent - I got a new connector put on, but it still wouldn't work.

I wasn't able to upload any of my files to the new PC either, but in hindsight, I guess that is a good thing though, as the Cadillac is going back as soon as I get it packed up for shipping. As of yesterday, the beater up and running again. I'm back into XP for a little while and all my games, music and files are at my disposal! Good thing too - I was getting way to good at Hearts!

I think I'll go for a mid range model this time. In fact I already have my eye on another model with a little less features - 19" LCD monitor, 3 gig ram and 320 gig hard drive. I've already bought a new laser mouse and keyboard since the new one is also white on black. It goes on sale through my Internet provider on November first, with delivery within 7 business days.
If I could afford it, I'd buy Windows XP (I know of a couple stores/sites that I can still get it.) and install that instead of Vista. The problem is that XP sells for about $260.00 and I would have to have a tech install it to do it properly - which would be another $80-100.00! I guess I'll be dealing with Vista until the next version of Windows comes out sometime in 2010. From all accounts it is rumoured to be as good as XP was.

Note to mom: The computer that I am looking at now is pretty much like a basic 4 burner stove with one oven and a decent sized fridge/freezer!

I've come a long way in two years, but this is obviously a work in progress, so I will let you know down the road how this is going. Wish me luck, 'cause after the last two weeks, I think I'm going to need it!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthday's - Part 2

I've had a lot of B-days from hell. I've been storm stayed at least twice, sick with colds, flu or other maladies. I've been dumped twice and stood up at least twice.

Being a farm kid with a B-day in the winter months (that narrows it down to somewhere between late October to early April in these parts!), meant being at the mercy of the weather in planning any gathering. They could be canceled at the last minute. I didn't have a lot of friends as a kid. I do remember a party when I was around 11 or 12 that was a disaster. One girl could only come if her little sister (a brat) came too. Another girl got bronchitis because we played outside. She NEVER let me forget that she got so sick because of my party! My brother had given me a magic kit and he was trying to show us some of the tricks. I inadvertently gave out how two of the tricks were done!

Turning 16 was no fun as I couldn't see well enough to get a license and 18 was a bore as I didn't start drinking till my late 20's. Leading up to 30 was emotionally hard as I was leaving my religious beliefs around the same time. My thirtieth started out to be a good day but I ended up getting into a nasty argument with a good friend.

Then there was the guy who thought that B-days were family celebrations, so he refused to take me out that day. He also left at 11:00PM on New Year's Eve! Yup, he was a winner!!

There were a couple of years in my early thirties that I actually did go out to party, although the person I went out with made me decide almost everything we did - he paid for dinner, drinks etc, but wanted me to make all the decisions.

One year, one of my girlfriends "kidnapped" me for the evening and took me out for Chinese food. She drove down back lanes so I wouldn't know where we were going. We almost got stuck in a snow bank. Later that night we went shopping and when we got back to the car, she realized she had locked the keys inside. My friend wouldn't call her husband as he didn't like me and would have made things even worse! We called my landlord (who was half sloshed) and he got it open with a hanger.

Another time, a guy said he'd take me out for drinks as he was off work that night, then changed his mind when he got a "better" offer. So he went to work, called me and said he had to fill in and close for someone who was sick. He was sorry but would pick me up about 10 and we'd still go out. He called about 9:30 to say his car wouldn't start and he had to cancel. I was a bit suspicious, but though it was possible - until the next day when I ran into a friend of his who told me about a great party the night before!! I wasn't a happy camper and I let him know it!

That was just over 15 years ago and it was also pretty much the end of even trying to do anything on that day. I still made myself a special meal for a few years but now it is pretty much like any other day. I've pretty much trained family and friends to ignore the day. My mom calls the day before or the day after and I still get a couple of funny cards but that is about it. Other than medical or legal forms I don't tell anyone my birth date.

I turned 50 on my last birthday. One of my friends referred to me as an old fossil (even though she is 9 years older and turned 60 this year! Another friend - who had access to my medical info and didn't know the history - teasingly made fun of my advanced age and made a few smart remarks about my Astrological and Chinese zodiac signs.

It was actually kind of sweet that they even remembered and said something, but it still felt weird and a bit awkward. If there had been more people and greetings like that in my life then maybe I'd feel differently about birthdays now. I've never liked being the center of attention or anything sappy/sentimental in cards. (If you have to be sappy - put it in your own words!) I think there have just been too many crappy days along the way to try and erase and start embracing the day.

I know, never say never - and I won't, but I just don't know that I am capable of having a good B-day. IF I ever did try again, it would have to be kept very simple, low key and light - no big gatherings or big surprises. There is a good possibility that I could have a meltdown due to post traumatic "too many b-day celebrations gone bad" stress disorder. That's a tall order to ask of even the closest of friends.

So, please don't take it personally that I don't want to acknowledge the day. Like I said, I'll help others celebrate their day, just don't ask me to celebrate mine. Been there - done that!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Birthday's - Part 1

We either love them or we hate them, but we all have them.

Most people tend to keep their B-days low key with a small get-together of friends or family. A few gifts and a cake for dessert. Others take it a little more seriously. I know of one person whose whole family gets into the act for every B-day. They have what they call the birthday octave - 8 days of get-togethers. That way the person can have special gatherings with all the important people in their lives over a few days.

I recently saw a segment on TV about a woman who spent $12,000.00 on her daughters FIRST birthday! She invited all the relatives, neighbours and friends. There were clowns, face painting, petting zoo, fire trucks and one of those blown up bouncy things that kids love to play in. The kid is only one and won't remember a thing about it but they took lots of pictures and everybody else had fun!

Well for that much money I should hope they had fun! That is more money than I get in a whole year!! The question is, how are they possibly going to top themselves and is the kid going to expect such extravagances every year? Talk about unrealistic expectation!

The young look forward to B-days, not just for the presents, but also for the new freedoms and experiences that each year brings. 13 is a biggie as it is the beginning of the teens and being a young adult. 16 usually brings the freedom to get a drivers licence. At 18 you get the right to vote. Depending on where you live you get the legal right to drink somewhere between 18 and 21. After that the big ones are 25, 30, 40 etc.

For many people 39 is a biggie - as it the end of the thirties and the beginning of what many consider to be middle age. Some quit counting after 39 and instead say their age is "39 and holding", "Plenty-nine" or the anniversary of their 39th Birthday!

Fifty can be terrifying - after all that means you've been kicking around for half a century. 100 years ago that was considered to be quite old and nearing the end of life. Today some people live to be over a hundred!

I've never really understood the fascination with celebrating birthdays - especially the people that think that because they love B-days everyone else does too. Then they get really offended when you don't share their enthusiasm. People really need to listen to other people and even ask how they feel about those kind of occasions and how the person really wants to recognize the day - if they want to at all.

This is how I see it; If you knew someone was Jewish or Muslim and therefore did not celebrate Christmas, would you deliberately send a Christmas card or call to wish them a "Merry Christmas"? No, because that would be inappropriate and imposing your values/beliefs on them. Well the same applies to B-days. If the person chooses to keep it low key or ignore it - then respect that choice. Not everyone wants a party - especially a surprise one.

Same goes for cards. Not everyone likes sappy/sentimental cards. If you aren't sure try and find something very simple. If the person has a sense of humour find a funny card. Personally I can find something appropriate for almost anyone within the "Hallmark Shoebox Collection". If you still feel like being sentimental - then do us all a favour and write it from the heart - don't hide behind someone else's sentiments.

For the record, I've never been a big fan of birthdays - well at least of my birthdays! I'll gladly help my friends and family celebrate their special day, I'm just not crazy about mine. It's not that I haven't tried to celebrate it - I have - but they all pretty much turn out to be days I'd rather forget. I generally have pretty decent luck - except for the anniversary of the day I was born!

Earlier this year a number of friends on the Y&R Wiki were sharing birth dates. They weren't too happy that I wouldn't share mine, but when I explained my B-day luck they pretty much backed off - although they did say that this would be different. Maybe it would, but I've been hurt too many times to even think about going there.

You think I'm joking about bad luck on my B-day? I'll share some of those "fun" birthday memories tomorrow....


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Acceptance in the 21st Century

Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. We've gone from seeing only white men on TV to seeing people of every race and religion - and most people accept that as the new norm and are happy with the results as it is a more realistic reflection of the diverse society in which we live. We have come a long way, but there is still a segment of the population that is not always getting positive press/reviews and that is the gay community.

There has been a lot of buzz lately on The Y&R Wiki and other message boards, about the possibility of one of the teen characters being gay. Some posters are appalled at the thought and have said they will quit watching if that happens. I feel badly that so many people are so closed minded to the realities of society in the 21st century. Patty, who is one of my friends on the Wiki put it in perspective beautifully;

"You know, I remember a time when people said they would quit watching a soap or a TV program if people of color were on. I remember when people said women couldn't be newscasters, do political commentary or be sportscasters. I remember a time when there were no Asian faces on TV, period. Hispanics were cast as buffoons or bandits. Liz Taylor rightly said that if it were not for gays, there would be no Hollywood. What would you think if you knew that most of the men you idolize on soaps were gay? Remember Rock Hudson? It's just a thought. Just my 2 cents."

Bravo!! I was thinking the very same thing!! Besides Rock Hudson, the names Tab Hunter and Richard Chamberlain also come to mind as two screen icons who have come out in recent years. Celebrities of all types still fear loosing their career, fans and a media backlash for coming out and admitting their orientation.

People seem to be somewhat more accepting of gay people in the 21st century, but no one seems to get off without a rough ride in the media and by the everyday people they encounter. In many parts of the world it is illegal to be gay. In many countries that claim that gay activity is not illegal, they still run the risk of loosing careers, accommodations, medical assistance, family and friends.

Even more tragically some are killed for being gay. It was ten years ago this month, that the world was shocked to learn of the horrific and brutal beating of the University of Wyoming in Laramie student Matthew Shepherd. Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 he was beaten and left to die. He died in hospital on October 12, 1998. He was only 21. Sadly, he isn't the only gay person to die a violent death but his death did open a lot of eyes to the hatred and cruelty that still exists within so many people in our supposedly enlightened society.

I've always considered myself a bit of a loner and an outsider as I was never part of the in crowd. Some of the most loving, compassionate and accepting people I have ever met have been part of the gay community. I honestly believe that I would not be here today if I had not met some of the gay people that have been part of my life. They have gotten me through some of the darkest days of my life and stood by my side when others couldn't/wouldn't understand what I was going through when I was loosing my sight and dealing with other parts of my life.

I'm actually a little surprised that Y&R hasn't already done a gay S/L since the show has been a ground breaker for so many other topics over the years. They have featured S/L's on spousal abuse, alcoholism, 2 AIDS stories (first a white woman and later a black woman), date rape and other hot topics.

I think it is high time that we see a gay character and relationship on the show. It is not like the S/L is unheard of since other soaps ("All My Children" and "As The World Turns") and many prime time dramas like "ER" and comedies such as "Will & Grace" have featured gay characters in credible careers and relationships to broadcasting success and high ratings.

Patty was right that years ago we never saw minorities on TV unless there was a crime involved. Now thanks to courageous performers, writers, studios and networks who have bucked those established norms and knocked them into obscurity, we are seeing a wide variety of minorities, religions and assorted nuclear families on the small screen and the silver screen. The more we are expose to the realities of everyday life, the sooner we will all realize that there is nothing abnormal about a gay lifestyle.

There was an interesting article on gay soap actors and gay roles on soaps on last week. They talked about why it is so difficult for actors to come out and why the networks and studios are hesitant to do a gay S/L. The article also stated the obvious:

"(Roger) Newcomb adds that coming out could even save lives. Alarmingly, gay-teen suicides are still on the rise.

He points out, “The more visibility the gay community gets from out-and-proud celebrities, the better off we all are. Like it or not, actors are role models for many and their stories can help people of all ages deal with their own sexuality in sometimes less-than-accepting environments.”

You can read the entire article at;

To those who say no way will they continue to watch a show, we will miss you but there are millions of others who will tune in.

I find it interesting that some say no to gay s/l but have no problem tuning in to see alcoholism, drug abuse, physical abuse, gratuitous violence, adultery, murder, blackmail and other s/l, yet draw the line at a love story because of gender. Viewers have demanded to see ethnic minorities and even interracial relationships. You've accepted all that and can't deal with a couple of the same gender for religious or other reasons? Interesting moral compass!

This is the 21st century, not the 1950's, 60's or even the 70's!

Open your hearts and minds. Odds are you already know several people who are gay, but they are not telling you because they know you will turn your back on them or try to shove your values at them rather than excepting them for who they are - human beings who are deserving of the same rights, privileges and loving relationships that every other human being is entitled to!



Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, is Thanskgiving here in Canada. It is always celebrated on the second Monday in October. Last year, I wrote a special e-mail to all of my Canadian friends to wish them a Happy Thanskgiving, and I thought that I would share that with you today.

OOOHHH!!! Just in time for the holidays -
a new cookbook from ACME Inc.;
"101 Ways To Prepare Your Favourite Bird"

This looks like fun. Let's see what looks good;

"Daffy a la orange"
"Daffy Soup"
Elmer or Sam may like those."Foghorn a'la King"
"Foghorn Stew"
Henry will want those.
"Road Runner Chilli".... no.
"Road Runner Stir Fry"
I'll pass those on to Wile E.

Aha! Here we go;

" Diced Tweety, Vegetables and Almonds";
"Hawaiian Tweety";
"Lemon Tweety";
"Roast Tweety with Dressing";
"Thai Tweety";
"Tweety Cacciatore";
"Tweety Coq Au Vin";
"Tweety Cordon Bleu";
"Tweety Kiev";
"Tweety Lasagne";
"Tweety with Mango Curry Sauce"......

YUM - they all sound so mouth watering!

"Oh Tweety, would you like to join me for Thanksgiving? I've got some new recipes I'd like to try out on you!

Now where could that bird have disappeared to?
Thufferin' Thuccotash! Oh well,
I guess I can always take the turkey
out of the freezer - IF I have to!"

Anyways, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and to say thank
you for being part of the fabric of my life. Thank you for being my friend! :)

May you always have love, peace, health, laughter and happiness in your life.

Love, Sylvester


A note from Tweety:
"Dat ol' putty tat would
never eat me! 'cause I'm much too wuvable
and would weally miss pwaying with me!.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

John Denver

"Music is far more than just entertainment, It's a tool for coping." - John Denver

"My purpose in performing, is too communicate the joy I experience in living." - John Denver

Eleven years ago today, John Denver died as the result of an accident. He was piloting an experimental light aircraft, when it crashed off the coast of California. He was 53.

John Denver was born "Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr." on December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. The family moved frequently around the south and southwestern U.S. as his father was an Air Force officer and flight instructor. He was given his grandmother's guitar when he was 11 and later took lessons and joined a boys choir. At age 20, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of a music career. His friends urged him to change his last name so that it would be easier to find a recording contract. He chose the name Denver after the Colorado city and the state in which he had spent part of his youth.

He beat out 250 other hopefuls to become the lead singer for The Mitchell Trio (formerly The Chad Mitchell Trio) in 1963. During his stint with the group, he honed his vocal talents and songwriting skills - even composing the song "Leaving On A Jet Plane" for folk group Peter. Paul and Mary. After the group disbanded, he launched a solo career.

By his third album in 1970, he had developed a strong passion for environmental and humanitarian causes. He was one of the first performers to share his environmental message. His lyrics and performances reflected his beliefs.

Over his more than 30 year career, he toured extensively in North America as well as Europe, the former USSR and China. He recorded over 30 albums and earned 14 Gold and 8 Platinum albums in the USA and numerous more in other countries throughout the world. John also earned many musical awards and humanitarian honours.

He guest starred on numerous music and variety shows (including The Muppets) and even tried his hand at acting. In 1977, he co-starred with George Burns in "Oh, God!". A TV movie, called "The Christmas Gift" was released in 1986.

John inherited his fathers love of planes and was licensed to fly small planes up to Learjet's. Flying made him feel free. He also loved fly fishing, hiking, golfing and numerous other outdoor activities.

I remember hearing the news that John Denver had died. I was stunned and deeply saddened. I had sung many of his songs when I was younger. I had several of his recordings and even had a John Denver song book. I never got to see him in concert, but I saw many of his TV concerts and specials. During the summer of 1976, I spent a week at a Christian music seminar and camp in Estes Park Colorado. I vividly remember the beauty of the mountains and singing John Denver songs to myself as I went for daily walks.

It wasn't always cool to be a John Denver fan, but millions of us were and still are. His legacy of more than 300 songs of pop, folk, country and ballads makes it really hard to pick a favourite. His lyrics spoke to the heart of the listener. His melodies and strong tenor voice brought his words to life and echo in our memories. Every song takes you to a different place in your life.

How can you possibly narrow it down to one or two favourites, when there are classics like: "Annie's Song"; "Aspenglow"; "Back Home Again"; "Calypso"; "Fly Away"; "Follow Me"; "For Baby (For Bobbie)"; "Goodbye Again"; "Grandma's Feather Bed"; "I'm Sorry"; "Leaving On A Jet Plane"; "Like A Sad Song"; "Perhaps Love"; "Poems, Prayers and Promises"; "Rhymes and Reasons"; "Rocky Mountain High"; "Sunshine on My Shoulders"; "Sweet Surrender"; "Take Me Home Country Roads"; "Thank God I'm a Country Boy"; "This Old Guitar"; and countless others?

I certainly can't pick just one, which is why I have all of these and a few more on my mp3!

John Denver was a singer, instrumentalist, composer, record producer, actor, pilot, sportsman, enviormentalist, humanitarian, social and political activist, husband and father. You can read even more about this gifted man by following any of these links;

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming Monday, October 13.

I've never been a big fan of pastry, but I do like a tasty pumpkin dessert at Thanksgiving. I found the original recipe for this fabulous dessert several years ago in The Winnipeg Free Press. This is so much easier and faster than making pastry!Like most of my recipes, I've done a little tweaking to the ingredients over the years but it is basically the same and is always a hit when I serve it!

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Crust Ingredients:1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin or squash
1 (12oz/398ml) can evaporated milk or coconut milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all crust ingredients in small bowl. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine all filling ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until smooth; pour over crust. Continue baking 20 minutes.

Stir together topping ingredients in small bowl; sprinkle over filling. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely. Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream, if desired.


Note: You really CAN'T tell the difference between squash and pumpkin once all the other ingredients are added. Also, coconut milk is a similar thickness to evaporated milk and half the price! It also makes the dessert more tolerable for anyone who is lactose intolerant. You will find it in the Asian food section of most major grocery stores.

Optional: I have also added a 1/3 cup of finely chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate to the topping mix just to give a hint of chocolate to this fantastic dessert!

I serve this warm, with whipped topping or my homemade ice cream (vanilla or pumpkin)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


One week from today on October 14, Canadians go to the poles to elect a new government.

Four weeks from today, on November 4, our neighbours to the south in the USA will go to the poles to elect a new president and numerous other lower political offices.
So which election is more interesting? DUH! The USA of course.

Here in Canada, the election rhetoric can get pretty strong but it doesn't tend to get as nasty as the USA does with name calling and in your face attack ads.

Technically speaking we, here in Canada weren't actually supposed to be going to the poles again until Monday, October 19, 2009. This date was established after the passing of the "Fixed Election Dates Bill" on May 3, 2006. It stated that a general election will be held on the third Monday of October every four years after the election day of the last general election unless the government has lost a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Prior to this bill, a general election had to be called at least every five years, but was at the discretion of the Prime Minister or a non-confidence vote. There are four main reasons for fixed elections: 1) Fairness to all parties; 2) Predictability; 3) Improved policy planning; 4) Higher voter turnout.

Well there was no non-confidence vote, but Prime Minister Harper has decided that we need an election anyway. He has been leading a minority government for three years and I assume he thinks he can win a majority or at least hold on to his minority or why else would he waste our time and millions of dollars on an election?

There are five main parties in Canada, but only two have ever earned enough seats to actually rule (liberals and conservatives). The other three have often held the deciding votes on many legislative actions and have had a hand in bringing down minority governments.

Regardless of which party you vote for, the federal election is bound to be a bit of a yawner, as it just doesn't have the pizazz of the USA campaigns.

The US election in November is going to be ground breaking no matter which party wins. If the Republicans win, then there will be the first female Vice President in US history. If the Democrats win, then there will be the first African American President in US history. Many voters are torn on voting for a woman or a black man. Many women are feeling the pull of voting for a woman. Many black people are feeling pulled to vote for a black man. Sadly, there are those who are still living in the past and can't tolerate the thought of either in office.

I can understand the pull. In the early 1990's, Winnipeg was electing a new mayor and one of the leaders in that race was a woman who did go on to become the cities first female mayor. I spoke with several women who felt they should vote for her out of solidarity for women, yet they had no clue where she stood on any political issues!! Excuse me?? That is nuts!! Voting for the same gender or race is not using your democratic rights to there full advantage. You have to know who and what you are voting for!
For generations, in the USA and Canada, only white men had the right to vote. Women and minorities fought and campaigned long and hard to win the right for all adults to vote regardless of gender, race or religion. They did that so that the most qualified people could govern and help establish the laws of the land. I strongly believe that they would tell us to look at the policies of the candidates rather than the gender or race.

Whomever you or I vote for, it is a personal choice that must be based on which candidate/party best represents your political beliefs. Anything less than that is a wasted vote.

Politics and Politicians are the butt of countless jokes and I could easily have gone that way with this post, as I have told my fair share of political jokes and forwarded lots of e-mails with that type of humour. However, I still believe in the democratic right to cast my vote and have a say in what happens in my country.

Millions of people across the world are fighting for the opportunity to have a say in how there country is run. They are envious of the fact that we have that right and are also appalled at how much voter apathy exists in the democratic countries of the world. I also feel that if you choose not to vote, then you have absolutely no right to complain about anything the government does until you get off your ass and vote at the next available opportunity!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Donkey

Today, I'd like to share one of my all time favourite stories that I got in an e-mail. It's an oldie - but a goodie!!

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well.

He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries - most never happen.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Enough of that crap!
The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.


When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two Recipes for Apple Crisp!!

Wondering what to do with all those apples that are ripe for the picking? How about a good old fashioned Apple Crisp recipe? Better yet, how about two recipes for Apple Crisp?

We had an apple tree on the farm. I don't recall the type of apple that it was, but they were tart as all get out! The only way we'd eat them, is if mom made something out of them like apple crisp, apple sauce or cake, muffins some other kind of goodies!
Apple Crisp was always our favourite and mom often made a double recipe of the topping, so that she could stick one in the fridge for later use. So, first up is my moms recipe and then a version that I have adapted from that recipe...

8-9 medium apples
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup block margarine

Combine flour and sugar, then cut in margarine, mixing until it resembles fine crumbs. Set aside. Generously grease a 9"x13" baking dish or spray with cooking spray. Wash, peel, and core the apples. Slice thinly into pan and spread evenly. (Note: if you are using very tart apples, you may wish to sprinkle the apples with 1/4 cup of white sugar and stir to coat.). Spread topping loosely, but evenly over top of the apples. Bake in 400F oven for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.

This is wonderful served warm with a big dollop of whipped cream on top!

Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate leftovers. Warm individual servings in microwave for about 1 minute on medium power or serve cold!



8-9 medium apples
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup block margarine
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Combine flours, sugar, oats and bran then cut in margarine and peanut butter mixing until it resembles fine crumbs. Set aside. Generously grease a 9"x13" baking dish or spray with cooking spray. Wash, peel and core the apples. Thinly slice into the baking dish spreading evenly. (Note; if you are using very tart apples, you may wish to sprinkle with 1/4 cup white sugar and stir to coat.) Spread topping loosely, but evenly over the apples and bake in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.

This is delicious served warm with a scoop of ice cream!!

Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate leftovers. Warm individual servings on medium power in microwave for about 1 minute or serve cold!

I love both these recipes and make them often over the fall and winter months! Hope you enjoy!!