Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Survived Another Christmas...

Well, I have survived yet another Christmas.

For many, it has been a rough year economically and that meant cutting back on Christmas celebrations. Not an easy thing to do in the season of giving. Our hearts and minds say we want to give to others and spend time with the people who are important to us, but our finances say that may not be possible. It really is a balancing act at holiday time.

I don't do much on Christmas anymore. I do, however do a fair bit of socializing beforehand. I try to spend some time with the people in my life - family and friends - and share some of my baking with them.

It has been close to 20 years since I actually went home for Christmas. We almost always had our gathering on Boxing Day. I think the first year I missed was in the late 1980's. I remember the weather was a bit warmer than normal and it was quite icy. Travel wasn't advised in some areas. The bus depot was about a 20 minute walk from my apartment and I recall nearly falling a couple of times as I hauled my suitcase and gift bag along the slippery sidewalk. I bought my ticket and sat waiting for departure time. I heard several travelers talking about the road conditions and even a couple of drivers saying they wished they didn't have to drive. Granted it may have been because it was Christmas, but it didn't make me feel confidant about the trip. I went to a pay phone and called home collect to see what the weather was like. I was assured that as long as drivers took things slow it would be okay, but I just wasn't feeling that great about the adventure so I cancelled my trip home and got a voucher to reuse my ticket at a later date. My brother offered to come in and pick me up but having him drive an hour each way just seemed too much to ask and I still would have been stressed about the road conditions.

That was my first Christmas alone. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. Yes, I missed the family and the big meal but I wasn't dealing with my stomach in knots over the weather and safety!

The year I lost most of my sight, 1990, I was home a few days before Christmas but came back to the city for Christmas as I just wasn't emotionally or physically ready to deal with a crowd - even if we were all related. I'd only been out of the hospital about three weeks and really wasn't seeing much of anything - nor was I navigating well outside of my apartment block. That was tough, but I went to the dinner in the building and spent time with some friends which made it easier.

I went out the following year, but the commotion and non stop sounds was a bit more than I could deal with. Another factor was that so much stuff is moved around to make room for the holidays and I wasn't able to help with any of the prep as nothing was marked for me to see or use. It was more frustrating than relaxing or enjoyable. I've only gone out to a family Christmas gathering once since then and that was the year my dad died. He died in November 2003 and my sister had a gathering at her home the first weekend of December. It was a lot more somber than usual of course, but it was good to see everyone and spend some time together.

It's not that I don't like Christmas or that I want to be alone on Christmas. It's not that I don't like my family or the Christmas gatherings - I do! They are a great bunch - well at least our immediate family is! I also love all the food and traditions. I just hate the commotion. I find it really hard to visit with anyone when there is so much going on. There never really seems to be enough time to spend with each person that you want to or you get stuck in conversations you'd rather not!

Over the years, being alone at Christmas has been a mixed bag of emotions. It can be peaceful yet painful. It can be lonely but relaxing. It can be stress free with no travel yet sometimes I still miss the family banter and camaraderie. I miss watching the kids open their gifts and the card and gift game our family played for years.

So how do I spend my Christmas?
- I make sure I have various non-Christmas things I can do if I get that lonely feeling. Things like books, non-holiday movies or PC games. One year I even sorted receipts!
- I choose the music - mostly non-traditional Christmas stuff that is a little (or a lot) off the beaten path. The less traditional, the less apt I am to get sentimental.
- The menu and meal times are up to me. I don't have to fight with anyone over who wants white or dark meat (I do a turkey breast and dressing in the oven!) or what type of salads to do (NO tomato aspic!). I try to make something special without going overboard.

This year was pretty good - although I have had better. The emotions were a bit more raw, but that could well have been menopause! I read, played PC games, did some online shopping and ate lots of good food. I did however forgot to take the turkey breast out of the freezer until noon on Christmas so had to adjust coking time for supper. I made Turkey Breast, Mom's Dressing and a baked potato in the oven and steamed broccoli in the microwave. Had some Terry's Dark Chocolate orange for dessert! Washed it all down with sparkling white grape juice. It was delicious!

All in all, it was a pretty good day. The weather wasn't great for travelling and I was glad I didn't have to be out on the roads. I kept thinking about the family and friends that I knew were travelling - and hoping that they were all safe and sound. (As far as I know they all are!)

I'm thankful to have the family and friends that I do. They don't push me to do things I'm not comfortable with or make me feel guilty for not participating in family traditions. I'm thankful for the time I do spend with each and every one of them and how much they have brought to my life.

As for next Christmas? Well, who knows? I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

dn

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Remembering Glenn Miller


"On December 15, 1944, Miller was to fly from the United Kingdom to Paris, France, to play for the soldiers who had recently liberated Paris. His plane (a single-engined UC-64 Norseman, USAAF serial 44-70285) departed from RAF Twinwood Farm in Clapham, Bedfordshire and disappeared while flying over the English Channel. No trace of the aircrew, passengers or plane has ever been found. Miller's status is missing in action." - Wikipedia

Glenn Miller was a true talent and has left us an incredible legacy of timeless classics.

The following video is from the movie "Sun Valley Serenade" (1941), The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs one of their alltime biggest hits - "In The Mood"



A photo tribute to Glenn Miller, while "Moonlight Serenade" plays.


dn

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thanks George!


"You've been given a great gift George. The chance to see what the world would be like without you."
- Clarence Odbody ASC (Angel Second Class)

I've always loved "It's A Wonderful Life" and actually rewatched the movie a few days ago. We've all seen it dozens of times over the years and probably shed a tear or two every time when we are reminded just how important George Bailey was to every person in his life. Sure, the Frank Capra classic can be a little schmaltzy and overly simplistic in its tale, but that is what makes it so interesting and watchable.

Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" lays out a similar scenario with Ebenezer Scrooge being shown how his life has impacted others through the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Scrooge and Bailey were polar opposites, but both men see how they have lived and how they can live a more rewarding and appreciative life in their day to day actions as ordinary people through their respective journeys with otherworldly spirits.

There have been countless remakes of these scenarios - some better than others - but it always gets me misty eyed and wondering how my world would be depicted. I'm not fishing for compliments nor am I depressed or anything like that. It is just one of those "What if...." questions that go through my mind from time to time.

If we are completely honest, we have all pondered that question at some point. Come on, we have all had those moments when we have wondered if we have ever made a difference or if we would ever be missed when we are gone. We may have even wished we'd never been born.

I firmly believe that we meet and cross paths with specific people for a reason that may or may not be obvious to us or them. We may be affected immediately or much further down the road in our journeys.

I find it fascinating the way each person has such unknown impact on the people around them. We can't all literally save a life such as doctors, fire fighters or police do, but yet we each have the ability to "change" others lives by the way we live ours.

It is pretty easy to see the impact that others have had on our lives, but we often never know the true impact we have had on theirs.

If any of us WERE ever granted that "gift", I think it is safe to say that we would be rather shocked at just how profound our presence has been. It isn't always the big things that leave an impact. It is, more often than not, the little everyday things that leave the lasting impression.

Unfortunately, most of us don't get to know how we have impacted others. Our impact is often only felt or expressed after we are gone.

It is pretty hard for most of us to really say what others have meant to us. We don't tend to tell each other the good stuff about each other. It can be awkward to express how we really feel - and sometimes even more awkward to hear. Being told that you have made a difference can be a bit daunting. We want to do the "aw, shucks -me?" routine.

We also tend to assume that the other person KNOWS that they are important to us and are loved - but that isn't always true. Sometimes we need to be reminded.

To be honest here, I've shed quite a few tears as I've been thinking about and writing this post. I keep thinking about all the "George Bailey's" in my life and how lonely and sad my world would be without them. Would I even still be here without them and how would that have effected the people I have touched? I'm not good at telling people how I really feel and tend to avoid or change the subject when conversations get sentimental. Mostly 'cause I'm a bit of a sap for sentiment and don't like to let people see me cry - even the good tears. Most of us don't like being that vulnerable.

So here is my idea. If you are anything like me, but still want to tell others how important they are to you - then send them a link to this post and say something like:

"I wanted to share this with the wonderful people in my life and say thank you for being one of my George Bailey's!"

dn

Watch "it's A Wonderful Life" (1946)
To hear the 1947 Lux Radio Theatre production of "It's A Wonderful Life" (1:00:47), click here, then click on the mp3 link near the top of the page. You can also right click the mp3 link and hit "save target as" to download the 10.4mb audio file to your computer.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A New View

Google Street View has just put Winnipeg on the map. We are just the latest in line to have our city on visual display for the world to see.

Earlier this spring, the Google vehicles that are equipped with special cameras that allow 360 degree shots, cruised through the city for several weeks.

Why they came in spring was beyond most of us living here as Winnipeg is not exactly at its most picturesque at that time of year. Snowbanks, melting snow, puddles and leafless trees abound. It just looks dull to even a seasoned Winnipegger.

We knew they were planning on coming at some point, we just hoped that it would be a little later in spring - like once the last remnants of winter had been cleared away.

The Google crew was actually here for several weeks though, so some parts of the city were rather well "greened" by the time they got shot. Pity the poor folks who were shot in the first couple of weeks!

I went looking for several addresses, just to see what was there and how user friendly the Street View system is. The system isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Once you type in your address or cross streets, the regular map comes up and you then drag "pegman" - the little yellow guy who sits above the zoom toolbar in the Google maps window - to that location to get the street view.

The main problem that I found, was that pegman seems to drop at least 1/2 block from where you want him. If you aren't familiar with the area, know the street number, or the colour/shape of the building you are wanting, then you are pretty much screwed! It does say "address is approximate" but it can be very frustrating trying to get the exact address in view. Depending on the view, street numbers can be covered by trees, lattice work, poles or other objects. Some buildings don't seem to have visible numbers at all.

One building I went looking for, was only found because I knew the shape and colour. Another one, I found purely by luck after clicking on several other buildings on the same street. I had hit it earlier but the first view obliterated the number so I didn't know I'd found what I wanted until much later when another view of the same building came up.

Another problem that I found was the extreme variations in the scenery due to the shooting schedule. When you start looking at various areas of the city, it is rather odd to see snow in some sections (mostly the south end) and leafy green trees in others. At one point, I found an address on a main drag that was rather bizarre. The first shot was leafless, but when I double clicked for a closer view, I got a different angle with leafy trees. Another angle was also leafy, but shot at a different time of day. My guess is that the vehicle went through all the main thoroughfares first then went back to get the secondary and side streets thus creating the differences.

I checked out the route from downtown to a business in the south end of town and the pics literally went from leafy green to winter as I headed south on the virtual route. And here I thought that things got colder as you headed north not south!! LOL!

License plates and peoples faces are blurred, but if you know what someone's vehicle looks like or the way certain people stand or something specific they wear/carry, then it could be pretty easy to be recognized.

There has been repeated concern by privacy advocates around the world that this whole system is an invasion of privacy. I see their point, but given the flaws in this system, most people aren't going to have the patience to play with pegman to find what they are looking for.

This could have been a brilliant system - and may be someday - if Google could actually have the address automatically match the exact picture rather than playing a virtual version of "pin the tail on the donkey"!.

An improved system could be a great boon to the local transit system if the street view could be matched with telebus numbers so transit riders could see where specific stops are. Is the stop before or after the intersection? When I get off the bus what direction do I go? Where is the nearest set of lights or cross walk?

As it is, the Google Street View is well intentioned but greatly flawed. If you can follow directions or read a road map, then do yourself a favour and skip the Google street view. You'll get to your destination a lot faster without this virtual tool.

dn

Thursday, December 3, 2009

dn's Double Chocolate Almond Shortbread

Have you started Christmas baking yet? Or are you looking for something new and mouthwatering to bake for the holiday season? Today, I'd like to share one of my favourites!

This recipe is a combination of a whipped shortbread recipe that I have made since childhood and a recipe that I found in a "Kraft What's Cooking" magazine a few years ago. This is a hybrid of those two recipes that I have created and been making for the last few years. It has gotten rave reviews from all who have tried it.

Hope you enjoy it!

dn's Double Chocolate Almond Shortbread

2 cups block margarine (NOT butter), softened
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I generally use Fry's but if you use a higher grade cocoa powder you may want to add a Tablespoon less cocoa or a 1/4 cup more icing sugar to offset the bitterness of the cocoa powder)
8 one ounce squares bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped toasted almonds (Place almonds on microwave safe dish and roast on high power for about 5 minutes, stirring every minutes until desired doneness. Cool to room temp before adding to dough)
Optional garnishes, red cherry pieces, almond pieces or chocolate pieces

Mix flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and cocoa powder together. Cut in margarine. Combine on low speed for a minute or so then gradually increase the speed to medium (about 4 or 5 with Kitchenaid stand mixer). Continue mixing until dough resembles whipped cream. This will take about 10 minutes or so with a Kitchenaid stand mixer or about 15 to 20 minutes with a high quality hand mixer. (Note - if using a hand mixer you may need to stop mixing every few minutes to rest the motor or you may burn it out!)
Turn speed down to low and mix in the chopped chocolate and toasted almonds. Mix in evenly.
Transfer the dough to a 2 quart dish and cover with plastic wrap. Chill dough for one to two hours.
Shape into small balls and place on parchment paper lined pans. (If you try shaping the dough straight out of mixer it is to soft to work with. The dough may be a bit crumbly while cold but the warmth of your hands will quickly warm the dough to be able to shape into small balls.) Flatten slightly and place your choice of garnish in the center of each cookie. (Note: A cookie press does not work well with this recipe due to the chocolate pieces and almonds. Rolling the dough out and cutting with a cookie cutter can overwork the dough and make it even more crumbly. It also looses the "melt in your mouth" quality when baked.)
Bake in 325 F oven for 11 - 12 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Let cool for 1 - 2 minutes then carefully transfer the cookies to paper towel covered wired racks to finish cooling.
To freeze: Layer the cookies between paper towels and store in freezer safe container in freezer for up to six months.
Makes about 10 dozen "melt-in-your-mouth" cookies!
Enjoy!
dn

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter is still coming.....

Contrary to the way things have looked lately, winter has NOT been canceled! We did get some snow yesterday. Not much, but it did turn the ground white. It was actually kind of pretty.

The weather reports are saying that we could have a "significant snow event" within the next few days. Not a blizzard, mind you, just enough to make things even more white and a bit messy till we get used to that white stuff on the ground again.

Whoopee.

Normally we have snow on the ground long before now. Often before Halloween, but this year is a bit different.

This has been such a weird year for weather. We had a ridiculously cold winter then a belated cool spring. Our summer was cool and rainy. In fact the first nine months of this year were below normal.

Then came a beautiful, warm September with temps we should have been getting a month earlier. It was fabulous! Even October was - for the most part - warmer than usual.

Okay, we did have that brief little snow cover over the Thanksgiving weekend. It didn't last more than a couple of days though. Thank goodness!!



Even November has been warmer than normal. A friend was even golfing last weekend. They didn't remember being out this late in the year before - at least not in this prairie berg!

We have been lulled into a false sense of everlasting fall. This certainly isn't the first year that snow has been late in arriving. It was mid December in 1971 before we got any snow that stayed.

Then came the last few days as the temps slowly slipped closer to the seasonal norms of -6C/21.2F for highs and -15C/5F for lows.

I've been wearing a light quilted jacket and light gloves for the last few weeks. I wore long johns for the first time last Wednesday morning. It was only about -8C but a cold north wind and I knew I'd be outside for awhile - both walking and waiting at bus stops. We had gotten a bit of rain overnight and in some areas that had left little patches of, or a light dusting of the white stuff on the ground. It was just enough to remind us that winter would be coming at any moment and to get us prepared for that time. It was also just enough to make patches of sidewalks, streets and parking lots slippery under foot. I wore my duck boots as they have a better grip than my runners and they are lined so they would keep my feet warmer.

I guess I have also been in some form of denial as I still hadn't packed away my summer jackets. I had moved most of my summer clothing to the back of the closet and put the warmer stuff up front back in mid October, but that was as far as I got. I finally packed the last of the summer wear away and pulled out all of my winter outerwear on Friday but haven't worn any of it it yet. I'm just getting prepared for the inevitable.

Some people are having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit without any snow on the ground. They can't seem to separate the two. For them, if there isn't any snow, then how could Christmas possibly be less than four weeks away?

That wasn't an issue for me - I go by the calendar not the weather. My shopping is all done and wrapped. The cards are done and the baking is about 75% done. If I had the freezer space, it WOULD be done as well. I even have my decorations all up. I always put them up around US Thanksgiving.

The winter enthusiasts are chomping at the bit to get out the skis, snowshoes, skates, toboggans, snowmobiles and other wintertime toys and paraphernalia.

Me? Well, I've really enjoyed this seasonal delay. No heavy coats or bulky boots. No snowbanks, icy sidewalks or frozen appendages.

If it were up to me, it would snow on Christmas Eve and then melt on January 2 - but for some reason, Mother Nature doesn't give me a say in the matter.

Oh well, it has been nice while it lasted.....

dn

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Santa.....

Dear Santa;

How are you? How is Mrs. Clause, the elves and the reindeer? I'm sure you must be really busy getting ready for Christmas. Hard to believe that it is almost here again. Where does the time go? Hope the downturn in the economy hasn't hit you to hard.

It's been a busy year here. I've been busy writing the blog, reconnecting with some old friends, baking and other day to day activities.

Over the summer, I did some volunteer work for a radio announcer friend on my favourite nostalgia station - CJNU. I found sound effects, old radio commercials, trivia and humour for his Cruisin' Sunday Afternoon show. It was a lot of fun and the info I found was greatly appreciated. My announcer pal even referred to me on air as his "Production Assistant - dn"! Cool, huh?

New windows were installed in the building which I'm not liking much but I'm trying to get used to them. New boilers were also installed, so there were a few days of no heat and little hot water but at least it wasn't really cold out.

My big gift this year was a new camera. It is an early Christmas present from my mom. I haven't had a camera in years so is taking a bit of getting used to, but it is already a great addition to my electronic toys and will be very useful for me - both for personal and for adding pics to the blog or emails.

I have been a very good girl this year... Well at least I have tried to be. I haven't deliberately tried to hurt anyone and if I have made anyone cry, I think (hope?) it was with laughter not anger.

I have tried to be nice to all but there were those few drivers that insist on pulling into my crosswalk while I had the right of way and the drivers who drove through puddles while I was standing at the bus stop or corner.... I would have gotten a license plate so you could put the drivers on your naughty list but you know I can't see that well. Yes, I know it's not nice to tell on others but they were breaking traffic laws so ....

Okay, I haven't been perfect, but I have shared my knowledge - granted it wasn't always asked for. I mean, let's be honest here - some people need a bit of advice or even a reality check from time to time, right?

I think I've been a good neighbour and friend. I was going to provide references, but the people I asked said things like; "What's in it for me?" or "Is there free baking involved if I say nice things about you?" One of my email buddies said that she would vouch for me, but then again she only knows what I have told her so....

Oh my, let's try this again. I'm no where near perfect, but I do try and this isn't exactly all my fault! Let me try and explain.

Life isn't exactly easy though when you can't see everything and your body isn't as young as it used to be! My world of late seems to be ruled by the current clarity of the corneas and the ever so charming effects of menopause. (Yippee!!!) The hot flashes are insane. I'm either too hot or too cold. They interrupt my day and wake me up in the night - usually just after I've fallen asleep or in the middle of a really good dream. The night sweats, insomnia and the nightly calls from Mother Nature tag team for a restless night which makes it harder to be my usual self during the day. The mood swings are also a bit dicey at times, but I try to avoid being around people when I know my emotions are on hair trigger. It's safer that way as I really don't want to hurt anyone.

Wow, this really isn't going the way I thought it would.

So let's cut to the chase. Here's the deal. The Christmas baking is well under way and your usual goodies are almost ready. And no, this isn't a bribe to get back on the nice list! I'm sure I haven't been nearly as naughty as some.

Okay, I'll quit while I'm still slightly ahead.

I'll try and do better next year! I Promise!!

My wish list isn't terribly long this year. I'll send that to you privately. Most of the items on it is practical stuff for me and my home. Sure there are a few "extras" like DVD's, camera accessories and chocolate BUT I certainly don't expect to get everything! I'm not greedy and I'd be more than happy with just a few of the things I've listed. I'll let you and your helpers decide what you think I need or deserve.

If you could, I hope that you can help keep my family and friends safe, healthy and happy. They mean the world to me!

Thank You!!!

Please take care of yourself and say hi to everyone at the North Pole!

Love, dn

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A "Tweet" Birthday!

67 years ago today - November 21, 1942 one of the most beloved cartoon characters in history made their screen debut.

An unnamed, featherless, pink, baby bird was featured in the Warner Brother's animated short called "A Tale of Two Kitties" . Babbit and Catstello, a pair of hungry cats determined to get the little birdy, are based on the comedic duo of Abbot and Costello who were big stars at the time.

Like almost all the Warner cartoons, there are numerous references to topical subjects of the day. This one featured one of the cats flying with artificial wings, comparing themselves to a "Spitfire" war plane. Near the end, the bird yells "Turn out the lights!" which is a direct reference to air raid precautions.

There is also a comment on the Hays office which was the main bureau in charge of censorship at the time. Catsello is on top of a ladder trying to reach the bird. Babbit is holding the ladder and yelling "Give me the bird. Give me the bird!". Catsello turns to the audience and in his Brooklyn accent says: "If da Hays Office would only let me... I'd give him 'da boid' all right!". The "bird" or in this case the "boid" is a common euphemism for "the finger" This is not exactly appropriate for children's cartoons, but such comments and references were always thrown in to keep the adults amused while the kids just enjoyed the on screen visual antics.


In "Birdy and the Beast", (August 19, 1944) the little featherless bird was given a name in the opening credits - Tweety.

The baby bird was also featherless and nameless in his third short - "A Gruesome Twosome" (June 9, 1945) which featured a Jimmy Durante like cat.

The fourth cartoon that featured Tweety had a number of firsts. It was his first one with feathers. This was also Tweety's first pairing with Sylvester who was called Thomas in this short. It was called "Tweety Pie" and released on May 3, 1947. This was also the first time that animator Friz Freleng - who created Sylvester in 1945 - worked with Tweety since Clampett had left the studio in 1946

Like so many of the characters that Mel Blanc voiced, Tweety was well known for his speech impediment that made an s sound more like a t. The phrase "Sweetie pie" came out more as "Tweetie Pie". In Putty Tat Trouble, he begins the cartoon singing a song about himself, "I'm a tweet wittow biwd in a diwded cage; Tweety'th my name but I don't know my age..." (Translation: "I'm a sweet little bird in a gilded cage...") Aside from this speech challenge, Tweety's voice (and a fair amount of his attitude) is similar to that of Bugs Bunny, rendered as a child (in The Old Grey Hare, Bugs' infant voice was very similar to Tweety's normal voice), which was achieved by speeding up Mel Blanc's voice.

Over the years, there has been much speculation as to Tweety's gender and species. Many have believed that Tweety was female, but numerous comic books created by Warner staffers have always had the character as a boy. Tweety himself confirmed this during the WB's cartoon series "Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries". His species was always left somewhat generic in the early years - even saying that he may be a rare one of a kind. In later years, he has been referred to as a "canary". In the theme song lyrics to "Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries", Sylvester sings:
"Someday I'll eat that darn canary
And then I'll be happy yes sirree..."


Mysteries aired for 5 seasons on the WB from the fall of 1195 to spring of 2001 and had 53 episodes.

The character of Tweety was first drawn and created by Warner brother's animator Bob Clampett, who later stated that the idea for the bird was loosely based on his own naked baby picture! As long as Tweety is a happy little bird in his cage or a nest, he is quite content. BUT if he is threatened or pursued by a cat - one in particular - then look out. The sweet little bird can turn up with some nasty tricks of his own and is not above kicking an opponent when he is down!

Throughout his career, Tweety has made countless appearances in Warner Brother cartoons, specials and even had a small part in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988).

Tweety's Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies and filmography
A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)
Birdy and the Beast (1944)
A Gruesome Twosome (1945)
Tweetie Pie (1947)
I Taw a Putty Tat (1948)
Bad Ol' Putty Tat (1949)
Home Tweet Home (1950)
All Abir-r-r-d! (1950)
Canary Row (1950)
Putty Tat Trouble (1951)
Room and Bird (1951)
Tweety's S.O.S. (1951)
Tweet Tweet Tweety (1951)
Gift Wrapped (1952)
Ain't She Tweet (1952)
Bird in a Guilty Cage (1952)
Snow Business (1953)
Fowl Weather (1953)
Tom Tom Tomcat (1953)
A Street Cat Named Sylvester (1953)
Catty Cornered (1953)
Dog Pounded (1954)
No Barking (1954) - in a cameo appearance
Muzzle Tough (1954)
Satan's Waitin' (1954)
Sandy Claws (1955)
Tweety's Circus (1955)
Red Riding Hoodwinked (1955)
Heir Conditioned (1955) - in a cameo appearance
Tweet and Sour (1956)
Tree Cornered Tweety (1956)
Tugboat Granny (1956)
Tweet Zoo (1957)
Tweety and the Beanstalk (1957)
Birds Anonymous (1957)
Greedy For Tweety (1957)
A Pizza Tweety Pie (1958)
A Bird in a Bonnet (1958)
Trick or Tweet (1959)
Tweet and Lovely (1959)
Tweet Dreams (1959)
Hyde and Go Tweet (1960)
Trip For Tat (1960)
Rebel Without Claws (1961)
The Last Hungry Cat (1961)
The Jet Cage (1962)
Hawaiian Aye Aye (1964)
Carrotblanca (1995), voiced by Bob Bergen
Space Jam (1996) movie
Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003) movie
Museum Scream (2004), voiced by Billy West
Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006)

Have a Happy Birthday Tweety and thank you for 67 years of great entertainment!

dn

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shutterbug

I got my first camera when I was 13. My grandma gave me one of those Brownie cameras that were so popular at the time. It wasn't a fancy model - just a basic beginner camera. It was a light green colour - sort of a mint green shade.

I don't recall asking for one, but it was a birthday present so I said thank you and that I looked forward to trying it.

Having my picture taken was never something that I enjoyed. In fact I still hate it - but being behind the camera and deciding what to photograph was kind of fun.

Several people tried to teach me how to get the film in and out, but I just couldn't get it. I enjoyed taking the pictures, I just couldn't load or unload the film. This got to be very frustrating and inconvenient, so I pretty much stopped taking pics after a year or two.

That probably would have been the end of it, but then I received a Kodak 126 Instamatic camera. It was so simple. You just dropped in the cartridge. Even I could do that! The flash was a cube shape with four flashes/cube. The camera was a breeze to use as it was straight point and shoot.

I took a lot of pics with that 126. The quality wasn't great but I enjoyed the experience of being behind the lens and capturing candid shots and shots of my surroundings.

By the time I graduated high school in 1976, I had moved on to the 110 camera. It was the newest craze. Very compact and the pictures were 3"x5" rather than the old 3"x3" of the 126 and the brownie.

During the summer of 1977, a friend offered to teach me how to use a 35mm camera. He actually became a professional photographer a few years later. He lent me one of his cameras - nothing fancy - just a basic beginners model. I really did try, but I just couldn't get the thing to focus or understand the settings. I went back to my 110. At least with it, I had a good idea what I was doing and knew most of the pics would turn out!

Over the next 20 some years, I went through three 110 cameras and countless films! The first one got to be rather expensive with buying all the flashes so I got one with a built in flash AND a telephoto lens! That was quite a big deal in those days. I wore the second one out and bought my third one in the mid 1980's.

I wasn't taking as many photos by then, but I still enjoyed having it. After loosing so much of my sight in 1990, I more or less quit taking pics. The last 110 wasn't working that well anyway and I'd pretty much lost interest in photography.

I did buy a few disposable cameras in the next few years, but those were getting expensive - both to buy and develop. It could take me months to fill even one film and I really wasn't willing to spend money to buy a real camera.

By 2000, 110's and even the disposables were quickly becoming obsolete. The digital camera was becoming the new standard. They were rather expensive and I certainly couldn't afford one. Nor did I see the point of getting one when I didn't have a computer. I also wasn't sure that with my sight, I'd even be able to use one.

In the last few years, the prices have really come down and the quality of the pics has improved a lot. The size of the LCD screen had also increased.

A few months ago, I decided to see if maybe - just maybe - there was one out there that I could actually use.

I researched online and in print on the various types of digital cameras and the features. I was able to eliminate a large amount just by the size of the screen. I knew I would need a 3" to have any chance of seeing any amount of detail.

There were still a lot of options out there, so I emailed and talked with several friends who owned digital cameras. Their levels of expertise and their camera experiences varied greatly, but their input helped me narrow down my choices even more.

After a little more online research, I hit the stores. Prices varied greatly. but they were all pretty basic and simple to use. It was actually pretty easy to eliminate a lot of cameras once I had them in my hands.

Most people can SEE the various dials and controls on the back of a camera, but for someone like me, I have to rely more on how tactile the camera is. Anything that was a touch pad was out as well as very small dials/buttons.

This may sound strange, but I also had to take the colour into consideration. Many of the models out there are silver or a bright colour. For me that is very distracting. The colours or the shininess of a silver can create a glare that visually, I can't see past.

The camera I choose isn't top quality, but it has a large 3" LCD screen. The camera itself is black, but the dials and buttons are a muted silver tone. The menu options that appear on the screen are large enough for me to see with my reading glasses on. In fact, I often take the pictures with my reading glasses on so that I get a better idea if I'm capturing what I want to capture.

I've only had it a couple of months, but I love it! Once I load the photos onto the computer, I can see the pics in full screen on my 19" monitor. For me, it is amazing to finally see even a portion of what sighted people see without a visual aid.

My photography skills are pretty rusty, but they are improving! I've been taking pics of all kinds of things: the things I bake; objects in and around my home; the beautiful autumn scenery and the faces of the wonderful people in my life. I love the fact that I'm not wasting film and that I can quickly delete anything I don't like. I can crop and adjust any photo.

Hopefully, I will have sight for many years, but I want to take pictures of the people and things I love while I still can. Having those pics lets me see detail that I could never see on my own - and that is something I will always treasure.



dn

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pains For Panes - Part Two

Continued from November 10.

Well, as usual, the weather did not cooperate, so my windows weren't done until the following Tuesday. I spent Monday afternoon and evening doing the last of the prep.

Sleep was restless on Monday night. I was wondering if I'd remembered everything. Wondering what mess I would come home to in the afternoon. Wondering how I would manage to spend the day out of my castle. It is one thing to leave your home by choice, but quite another to be forced out for even a few hours for work you don't even want. I got maybe four hours of disjointed sleep and got up at 6:00 to do the final prep and be ready to leave at 8:00.

The workers were here shortly after 8 and I was told that they should be done early afternoon as they were only doing two suites that day. I could come home around 1 or 2.

I caught a bus and headed to a mall about 20 minutes away. I got there around 9:00 and over the next three hours, I did some shopping for Christmas as well as a bit of window shopping for my Christmas wish list and a little shopping for myself. I had packed a lunch, but really wasn't hungry so I left the mall about noon and headed for another store to explore closer to home.

After almost four hours out, my eyes, mind and body were totally exhausted. I was functioning on little sleep and frankly my senses were a little stressed with having to concentrate on my surroundings for such a long period without a real break so I found a nice place to sit for awhile and collect my thoughts, rest my eyes and weary body before going home. I really needed a nap, but no such luck. I still really wasn't hungry either.

I came home about 1:30 to discover that the work was far from done. It had been one of those days for the workers and they were behind. They agreed to let me stay if I stayed away from the windows. No problem, as I was way to tired to move any more than I absolutely had to! I sat on a chair in the kitchen, ate my lunch and read the paper and my mail while they worked.

They were more or less done by about 4 - except for the caulking which was finally finished around 6.

Luckily, there was little wind that day so the dust was minimal. Aside from removing the plastic and moving things back, all I had to do cleaning wise was wash the floor and a little dusting. I only did a bit Tuesday night and finished the rest on Wednesday. The curtain rods had to be re-hung and the drapes washed, but that would get done in a few days.

It was over. My lovely old sliders were gone and the new ones were in.


So why am I so against these new ones when they are more energy efficient and still offer the same gorgeous view?

Well, these new ones are the crank style that swing out only a few meager inches. Mine open to the northwest - which is still nice - but they only open about 5 to 6 inches! That is barely enough to catch a breeze!

This building does not have air conditioning, which means that come summer and the inevitable heat that goes with the summer, those of us without window air conditioners are going to suffocate even with portable fans! The new windows do include a removable panel at the bottom so that a window AC unit can be installed for the season, but at this point, tenants are responsible for providing there own units. Hopefully that will change down the road - before I have to buy my own!

It has only been a few days, but these new windows are going to take some getting used to. I like being able to open my windows wide and enjoying the fresh air - even on a crisp winter night if the wind isn't from the north. I can't do that anymore. The summer breezes can be lovely and refreshing on a warm day or evening but that isn't going to happen anymore either - unless the breeze is from the northwest.

I'll miss my old windows.

Progress - what a pane!

dn

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pains For Panes - Part One

I've been dreading this day for months.

It's not like I didn't know it was coming. I've known about it for well over a year - I was just really hoping that it wouldn't happen. That it was a bad dream.

The building I live in is about 35 years old and needed new windows. The old ones were not energy efficient and many were warped and poor sealing though I should say that mine weren't too bad. The matter went before the board of directors a couple of years ago and they were waiting for funding. The funding came through about a year ago. The search was on for a design that would work with the existing exterior window opening.

I'm not on the board, but I had talked to people who were and so had a bit of a heads up as to what was coming down the road.

Intellectually, I understand why they chose what they did, I just don't like it - period!

I've lived here for 16 years and one of the things that attracted me to this building was the huge open windows. They were the old sliding glass panels that have been so popular for so many years. You can slide the glass panels so there is cross ventilation if it is raining or too windy to be wide open. Either way, you almost always get lots of fresh air.

The bedroom window was approximately 44" long by 38" wide. The screen, about 44" long by 19" wide.

The living room window was huge! Each panel - including the screen - was about 45" long and 38" wide. Below that was a metal bar/frame, about 7" deep and ran the entire width of the window. Below that, a solid glass panel that was 14" by 75" wide.

Sliding glass windows are still available, but because this is a high rise, it is now against code to install this type of window.

Why, you ask? Because over the years, there have been various incidents across the country of small children climbing up on furniture and leaning against the screens which then gives way causing the child to fall and be severely injured or worse. Yes, this is tragic, but I still don't like this code being shoved on us due to carelessness or negligence of supervising adults.

The work on the windows started earlier this summer on the south side of the building. There were many delays due to weather and product shipment problems, so the installation - which was to be done by November 1 - just started on the north side of the building in October.

I was really hoping that this would be delayed till spring, but the notice was slipped under my door on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, that sometime in the next week, they would be on my floor. There was also a brief list of preparation instructions.

- Remove all drapes/blinds.
- Clear the area by the windows and an additional 2.5 feet for the construction area.
- Remove any fragile objects and cover anything that can not be just dusted off after as there will be dust due to removal and installation.
- Tenants are required to leave the premises for the duration of their window installation due to risk of injury while window is being removed/installed.

Oh, joy! It will take me a day to move and cover everything. Then I will have to be out for the whole day (approximately 8 - 3:30 for the installation. Then I get to come home, clean and reassemble my apartment. That will take another day if all goes well.

I spoke with the supervisor and learned that my suite was slated for Friday - if the weather cooperated. I decided to start pulling things apart gradually so that I would not be overwhelmed the day before. I started moving things Tuesday afternoon.

I knew that they provided some coverings, but given my sight, I wanted to avoid dealing with as much dust in cleanup as possible. That meant covering most things in plastic ahead of time. I bought a box of large clear garbage bags and split several open along the sides and then taped them together with masking tape for larger areas and just draped some over other things.

This paneful tale will be continued on November 14.

dn

Friday, November 6, 2009

dn's Family Favourite Sweet And Sour Ribs

When you mention "Sweet And Sour Sauce", most people think of Chinese food. The fragrant aroma and bright red colour that adorns ribs, shrimp, chicken or to spoon over rice or to dip deep fried wontons in. The flavour is sweet yet sour and oh, so mouth wateringly delicious that you really do want to lick your fingers to get every drop!

There are lots of recipes out there for this fave, but this is the simplest and best that I have ever tasted! It has only four ingredients that are staples in almost every pantry and can be made in a matter of minutes by even a novice cook.

This is a recipe that has been a favourite in our family as far back as I can remember! Not just for its fabulous taste, but for its simplicity.

dn's Family Favourite Sweet And Sour Ribs

1 1/2 - 2 lbs pork spare ribs
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder

Preheat oven to 350F.

Trim excess fat off of ribs and cut in 2 inch strips. Place in single layer in a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with Pam (or equivalent). Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan (a quarter cup should do most pans). Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over ribs. Cover and bake for about 40 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Remove cover and bake 15 minutes then turn ribs and bake another 10 minutes.
Pour sauce over ribs and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until sauce is hot and bubbling.

Serve with rice and a green vegetable or salad.

Serves 4.

Notes:
This sauce is also great over rice, chicken, shrimp or to use as a hot dipping sauce.

For a hot dipping sauce, prepare the four sauce ingredients as above, then heat over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally till hot and bubbling.

If you don't want to deal with bones, you could cut boneless pork chops or chicken breasts into strips (a la chicken fingers) and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes depending on size/thickness before adding the sauce and heating through.

You could also pan fry the meat or shrimp and add the sauce just before serving. Heat till sauce bubbles and serve.

If I am using the oven to prepare the meat and sauce, I generally bake brown rice in the oven at the same time.

This recipe is easily multiplied or divided depending on servings. The "1/2 cup" version above is for 4 servings. It may sound like a lot of sauce for 4 BUT trust me, your family and guests will be lapping up every last drop!!

Enjoy!

dn

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sitting In Limbo

Do you ever feel like you are living in limbo? You know what needs to be done but for any number of reasons you can't do it - yet?

I've been living in limbo a lot lately. There are lots of things I need to do, but plenty of reasons why I can't do them right now.

This isn't procrastination - there are real reasons for the delays.

I have a stack of old paid bills and receipts that need to be sorted. I used to be really good at sorting things the minute I got them, but the last year or two, this skill has all but disappeared. They are all in the same place, but they aren't divided into categories. Part of it is that I am sometimes in a hurry and sometimes my corneas are acting up and it is hard for me to see faint ink or smaller print on the papers with any degree of clarity. It won't take that long to do it - maybe an hour or so - but when the corneas are reasonably clear there always seems to be more important stuff to attend to first. There are, of course, many other tasks that will require the use of reasonably clear corneas to accomplish, but they are even further down the priority list. It never ends.

My energy level can fluctuate almost as much as our Manitoba weather, so I have to prioritize the jobs that need more physical stamina like laundry, cleaning and running errands. I try not to do heavy physical tasks more than three days in a row as my body will revolt if it is pushed too hard. If that happens, I move even further into limbo.....

If I'm lucky, I can coordinate errands on a good weather day and indoor activities on a not so good weather day. Unfortunately, that doesn't always work.

Sometimes, things just have to wait for a better day.

By this time of year, I usually have all my major non perishable supplies for the winter in my cupboards and the vast majority of my baking supplies ready to go for Christmas. That is actually pretty much on schedule this year.

If things are going well and I have the freezer space, I have even started the Christmas baking by November 1. I have started it this year, but I can't do a whole lot more until I have more freezer space. I won't have more freezer space until I eat some of the stuff that is already in there and that takes time. I could store some in the fridge, but it will stay fresher longer in the freezer and even the fridge has a limit to what it can hold.

It's a vicious circle and I still sometimes question how I got myself into this annual marathon of massive holiday baking madness. Part of me wants to quit, but I know how much people look forward to the annual delivery from the "Chocolate Santa" and if I did quit, then I'd have to come up with other ideas for Christmas presents - assuming that the recipients would still be speaking to me if I did quit supplying them with chocolate goodies! I do enjoy the baking when I am not rushed, BUT - well you know - sometimes I get stuck in limbo....

It takes me about a month or so to do all the holiday baking, but I can't really start handing out goody bags till the first week of December or so.

So the clock ticks, the days flow by and no baking gets done. I have mini bouts of panic wondering if this will be the year I don't get it all done.

There is another piece to this equation, and that is that the building that I live in, is going through some renovations. New boilers are being installed so there may be slight disruptions in water or heat in the next month. They are being really great about telling us in advance whenever possible, but it can still throw a wrench in my plans at times.

Other work is also being done that will require workers to have access to a tenants apartment for a day. I'll write about that work after mine is done as THAT, is a story unto itself. That should be soon, but there are also a number of variables in their schedule so again I am in limbo....

This is fun, isn't it?

I want to sort papers, but the corneas won't behave.
I want to do household stuff, but the energy isn't there.
I want to do Christmas baking, but the space isn't available and the energy is limited.
I have to be able to adjust my schedule at a days notice to allow workers in.

Why can't my eyes and my energy coordinate their schedules with the weather and the jobs that need to be done? It would be nice of them to work together, but alas, that is not my life.

So, here I am, sitting in limbo - hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.


dn

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Humour!

Halloween is this Saturday, so here is a little Halloween humour to get you in the mood!


What do skeletons say before they begin dining?
Bone appetite!
When does a ghost have breakfast?
In the moaning.
What do goblins and ghosts drink when they're hot and thirsty on Halloween?
Ghoul-aid, Apple Spider and Bloody Marys.!!!
Where does Count Dracula usually eat his lunch?
At the casketeria.
What tops off a ghost's ice cream sundae?
Whipped scream.
What's a ghosts favorite desert?
BOO-berry pie with "I Scream!"
What is a vampires favorite holiday?
Fangsgiving
What do you call a witch who lives at the beach?
A sand-witch.
Where did the goblin throw the football?
Over the ghoul line.
Why was the monster athlete so happy?
He won a ghoul medal at the Olympics.
What is the favorite food of mathematicians?
Pumpkin Pi
What kind of makeup do ghosts wear?
Mas-scare-a.
Who was the most famous ghost detective?
Sherlock Moans.
Who was the most famous witch detective?
Warlock Holmes
Who was the most famous skeleton detective?
Sherlock Bones.
Who was the most famous French skeleton?
Napoleon bone-apart
What do you call a little monsters parents
Mummy and deady
What do you call two witches living together?
Broommates.
Why don't witches like to ride their brooms when they're angry?
They're afraid of flying off the handle!
Where do mummies go for a swim?
To the dead sea.
What is Transylvania?
Dracula's terror tory
Where does Dracula water ski?
On Lake Erie
Which building does Dracula visit in New York?
The Vampire State Building.
Where do most werewolves live?
In HOWLlywood, California.
Where do most goblins live?
in North and South Scarolina.
Where does a ghost refuel his porche?
At a ghastly station.
Why doesn't anybody like Dracula?
He has a bat temper.
Why did Dracula go to the dentist?
He had a fang-ache.
Why are vampires like false teeth?
They all come out at night.
Who does Dracula get letters from?
His fang club.
Where do ghosts mail their letters?
At the ghost office.
Why don't mummies take vacations?
They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.
How do you mend a broken Jack-o-lantern?
With a pumpkin patch.












Want to have a little Halloween game fun? Check out "Trick, Tac, Toe" or "Halloween Bowling Cats"!


dn

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It'll Be Here Before You Know It!

Have you looked at the calendar lately? if you haven't take a look at the date at the top of this post.

Yup, It's October 25. So what you say? So that means that it is EXACTLY two months till Christmas!

Depending on the type of person you are, you could be doing one of several things:
- partially or completely finished your Christmas shopping.
Bravo!
- writing up your Christmas wish list.
nice start!
- trying to figure out how to get back on Santa's "nice" list after the last few months of "naughty"!
OH OH!! Good luck with that!!
- wondering where the time went and why you didn't realize it was that late already.
yes time does fly and so do Santa's reindeer!
- shaking your head wondering how I could bring up Christmas before Halloween.
I do it because I can!!
- in complete denial.
No, not the river in Egypt!

Come on people! Work with me here! I'm giving you lots of notice and most of you are just nodding your head and saying "I'll get to it soon....." Soon becomes later and the next thing you know, you are running around half crazed the week before Christmas saying "Why didn't I listen to dn when I had the chance?"

Okay, maybe not quite those words, but you aren't in the holiday mood yet, or there isn't snow on the ground yet, or whatever your excuse is. Well, you can spin it anyway you want it, but the clock is ticking and you have just under 9 weeks to get it all done.

My mom has always joked that if she'd known Christmas was coming, she'd have been ready sooner! Yeah, HELLO - it's the same day every year!

I know, with the way this last year has gone for many, the last thing they want to think about is preparing for the holidays. It can be overwhelming and a huge hit to the budget, but if you start doing a little bit now, it won't be so rushed or as expensive later.

Hate me if you must, but I started Christmas shopping in September. Not a lot, but a couple of things caught my attention and I knew that they would be perfect for certain people. As many of you know, I do a lot of baking to give for Christmas gifts. That takes a lot of time and planning. I keep a master list of supplies and watch for things going on sale as early as September. Every year, my sister takes me to Costco to do a major grocery shop and I pick up a few of my baking supplies while I'm at it. We usually go in late October or early November, but we went early this year - the end of September. We also stopped at Morden's Of Winnipeg so that I could get all my chocolate for the various goodies I make as gifts. With the exception of a few things, all the baking supplies are now in my pantry, fridge and freezer.

I actually started baking on Friday. Made the first two of four "Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake". They were later cut, packaged, labeled and frozen so that they are ready when I start assembling "Goody Bags" in mid to late November.

I'll start making the chocolates and the shortbread in the next week or so.

If things go well, I'm also hoping to make a few other Christmas presents this year, but will see how my schedule fills out. If that doesn't work, I do have a backup plan and ideas for gifts I can purchase at the Annual Christmas Craft Sale here November 19 - 22 or at some local stores.

Barring the unforeseen, I should have the all the non-edible gifts bought/made by November 30 and wrapped by the first weekend of December. The baking should be finished by no later than December 15. If I had more fridge and freezer space, I could have it done even sooner!

Yes, Christmas preparations can be a lot of work, but if you start early and get organized it can be a lot more enjoyable come the festive season. If you do as much as you can ahead of time, then you can avoid the crowds, the impulse buying, over spending and those last minute trips for more supplies and gifts. You can sit back and relax with friends and even family as you enjoy the holidays.

So, what are you waiting for? Start making that list! Start shopping! Do some holiday baking! Put the outdoor decorations up before it gets too cold! Come on - the clock is ticking and it'll be Christmas before you know it!

dn