Corrie Street Oct. 26/14

A Day in a Life

mr-mrs-r-cropperA year ago, Roy was in Blackpool with Hayley. This year, the hotel sends a cheery notice addressed to them both, offering a discount should they return. A lot can change in a year, as Roy says.

Putting the hotel’s unwanted solicitation out of his mind, he plans this year’s trip to Blackpool – to scatter Hayley’s ashes. He asks Tyrone and Fiz to accompany him. Why, I don’t know. Roy has unending patience if he could tolerate Fiz’s fussing, flapping and incessant talking.

roy-wading-in-sea a day in blackpool

Should have brought the kids

She and Tyrone had not brought the girls, something Fiz regretted as she looked at the lovely, and very cold, sea. Why she’d think this would be an appropriate day for an outing for kids, I don’t know. However, I don’t think the presence of two small children could have been more distracting than Fiz even if they tried.

In a Fizless moment, Roy and Tyrone watched an elderly couple come near on the beach. The old roy-watches-old-couplelady nattered at the man about being careful to not hurt himself as he tried to unfold a chair. Roy stepped up and asked if he could help. He unfolded one and Tyrone the other. Then they went on their way, leaving the couple bickering in the way that couples who have been together a long lifetime do. Roy saw what could have been, I suppose, what he and Hayley would have been doing years hence, if only.

fiz-tyrone-and-roy-blackpoolFiz, with a tray of teas, caught up with them and launched into her story about the lineup at the tea stand. She continued yammering about how fast Roy was walking, she couldn’t keep up, was going to spill the tea. Tyrone took the tray from her, thanks be to Jesus, so she had one less thing to yap about.

Ashes are all he has

roy-says-he-will-not-scatter-ashesRoy sat on a bench and, once Fiz shut up, told them that, despite Hayley’s wishes, he was not going to scatter her ashes. They may not be her, but they were all he had left and he was keeping them.

Back at home, after a truly difficult day at the seaside, Roy discovers his café and flat had been burgled. Maybe a group of nasty teenage boys who have been hanging around harassing him? His photo albums and model roy-and-anna-in-wrecked-flattrains were trashed, everything scattered and destroyed. He put Hayley’s ashes back in the cabinet and went downstairs. Despite a new lock, he reinforced the door with furniture.

Corrie Street Oct. 19/14

The Wedding Planner

Sinead should go into partnership in Michelle’s wedding planning business. But her all-the-celebs sinead as wedding plannerresources of imagination, ingenuity and tact would probably be all used up on managing Michelle. Maybe better Sinead just take over the business.

On Friday, realizing that the dream wedding was making life nightmarish for Beth and Kirk, Sinead and Ches took over the planning. First they had to sell the clients on their ideas. “Upcycling” and “shabby chic” may be synonyms for “on the cheap” as Beth suspects, so persuading her that it is the way table-settingto go is the first challenge. Forget the affordability, go for it being fashionable.

First show a merchandise sample, which she does with the fabric-covered jam jars holding fresh flowers. Then pull out the big names. Jennifer Lopez, Kate Winslet and, the Holy Grail of tackiness, Kim Kardashian. How boring and old-school is Tracy Barlow being, splashing the money around on a “traditional” wedding! That makes Beth look at the jam jar and bulletin board in a different light. If “vintage” is good enough for the Kardashians, with all their money and lack of taste, it’s good enough for Beth.

michelle-and-wedding-plan-bookMichelle should have been there, taking notes. This is how you can be a wedding planner for all people and all budgets. From the outset, Michelle knew Beth and Kirk’s budget constraints. So she crossed her arms, looked down her nose and said they couldn’t afford her services. She then proceeded to book the outrageously expensive place and accoutrements that Beth wanted.

michelle-not-pleasedShe spent a lot of time and effort, as she pointed out ungraciously when they told her they were cancelling the wedding she had planned. My husband defended Michelle, saying she’s making mistakes common to anyone starting a business. Doing too much without verifying that the money, and commitment, to pay for it are there. Not knowing how to redirect an obstinate client’s wishes to what is more realistic and probably more like what they want.

what-do-you-reckonSinead figured it out pretty quickly. Yes, she has the advantage of knowing Beth. But I would think a major part of a wedding planner’s job is to get to know the clients well. Beth and Kirk are not exactly strangers to Michelle. However, she has not shown the creative imagination or psychological insight needed to think of how to make their dream wedding come true, on their real-life budget. Sinead beth-agreeshas, and has shown the diplomatic skills needed to make her plans become the bride’s dream.

And in case you need to see the jelly wobble cooking lesson from Deirdre again, including slo-mo and the popping light bulb, here it is from Youtube:

Corrie Street Oct. 12/14

When I’m Cleaning Widows

maddie-with-flyersI am liking the story of Tim’s problem with reading. It is fitting, and nice, that it is Maddie who has recognized his difficulties. It was Tim who, early on, recognized good qualities in her and shielded her as best he could from the wrath of Sally. Now she is doing the same for him. And, as she did, he is resisting her efforts.

I read an objection to this storyline (sorry, can’t find it now).  Tim made contact with Faye through Facebook. If he can’t read, how dirty-widows pamphlet for cleaning windowscould that happen? Fair point. But he can read a bit. He got the word “ref” when Sally pointed to a newspaper headline. Before he lived with Sally, he lived alone. There is no reason he would not be able to make some use of Facebook. He would have had the time to decipher words, even compose messages, with nobody around to question why it was taking him so long. Online posting is hardly the bastion of correct grammar.

He told Maddie that the letters look all “jumbled”. I wonder if the issue is dyslexia rather plenty-of-thingsthan not having learned to read. Whatever the problem is, he has developed coping strategies. It is someone like Maddie, attuned to survival without the correct tools, who recognizes his techniques.

For example, in Dev’s shop, when he hands Sally’s shopping list to Sophie saying “you know where everything is,” Sophie thinks he’s just being lazy or chauvinistic. Sophie has seen and heard all you-learn-new-waysthe same interactions with Tim and Sally that Maddie has, but she doesn’t pick up the cues of what they might mean. Sophie did not have problems in school and, for all her concern for social issues, she really doesn’t know much about society outside her own little street. Maddie does, and she saw right away that something more might be going on with Tim and his reluctance for paperwork.

It was his advertising flyer that put the cat amongst the pigeons. Of course, “dirty what-did-you-saymaddie-and-tim-watch-sally-on-phonewidows” was a mistake that the printer ought to have caught. But mistakes happen. My husband remembers hearing about an error made in a Canadian town’s commemorative pin. Flags – he’s not sure of the number, maybe seven – and the town’s motto, “Under 7 flags”, were on the pins.  But the printer omitted the ‘l’ in ‘flags’, No one noticed until after the pins had been handed out. Oops.

Here is George Formby’s 1936 song When I’m Cleaning Windows.

Cigar 1990-2014

Champion racehorse Cigar 2007 at Kentucky Horse ParkThe news from the Kentucky Horse Park that Cigar died Tuesday Oct. 7 made me look through photos I have of him.

After retiring in 1999, he lived in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park. I met him there in December 2007. He was in his stall, watching a stablehand clean it. But when he saw he had visitors, well, over he came. Then seeing my camera, he posed.  According to the woman looking after him, he loved putting on a show for the punters.  Outside in the paddock, he’d run and roll for the crowd standing along his fence.  Inside his stall, he’d do what he did with me, come right up and strike poses for as long as a camera clicked.

Cigar died during surgery to relieve his pain from osteoarthritis in his neck and spine. He was 24 years old. In his career, he earned nearly $10 million and 19 of his 33 starts. He tied the 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation’s record of 16 consecutive wins.

His maternal grandsire was the 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. His paternal great-grandsire was the great Northern Dancer. Twice voted Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male and inducted racehorse Cigar with stall door open Dec. 2007into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame, he lived up to the standards of his predecessors.

He thrilled racing fans at the track and, in retirement, he thrilled many more by giving of himself so cheerfully.  You were a gentleman, Cigar, and you will be missed.

He is buried at the Memorial Walk of Champions near his barn and the Horse Park says there will be a public memorial service at a later date.

Corrie Street Oct. 5/14

Hurting

Eccles-runs-to-KenTwo weeks of episodes, two scenes. Both make you ask, ‘WTF are you doing?’ Tuesday, Eccles is safe from Amy. Thursday, Tim, Andrea and Neil are not safe from Neil.

Amy finally confesses that she set up Eccles because she felt ignored. She’s got reason to feel hurt. Her whole family, even her simon-with-ecclesbabysitters, have devoted all their attention to Simon. But her way of getting back was to endanger Eccles first by letting her off leash on the street and then by accusing her of biting. Amy is old enough to know that means a death sentence for a dog, and she heard her mother say it often enough. It didn’t seem to bother Amy at all.

The protective dognapping found out, Eccles came home and the whole family asked why. Ken asked Amy for the truth. She stuck to her lie. He asked ken-asks-amy-for-truth amy has hurt feelingsagain. Finally she said Eccles had not touched her. Simon was getting all the attention, she said, and she wanted some.

The Barlows need to do a lot of talking to sort this out. I was glad to see Amy go over and pet Eccles. Eccles will forgive her, as will Ken, Deirdre and Simon. But they should never take their eyes off Amy when she is within spitting distance of the dog.

neil-climbs-ladderThursday, someone else who needs watching. Neil has overheard Lloyd talking to Michelle about weddings, as in one for him and Andrea. Standing outside the Rovers, upset about what he heard, he sees Tim on Sally’s roof fixing the antennae. He also sees the long extension ladder and he gets an idea for a big, dramatic gesture. He takes the ladder and climbs to the roof of andrea-climbs-to-roofthe Rovers where he stays.

Tim is stranded and Liz wants Neil down so won’t allow the ladder to be taken back to him. When Andrea arrives, she climbs up to reason with Neil. She stand on the top of the ladder. Of course, it falls and she is left hanging from the eavestrough and it soon starts coming loose.

andrea-hangs-off-roofA funny scene, I thought, especially with the ongoing discussion of what started it all: the tv signal out when Sally wanted to watch a new period drama that got 5 stars in the Gazette, with that girl in it, you know, the one who’s in everything, with all the hair.

Neil is losing his grip, mentally if not physically. And Amy bears watching in case of further sociopathy. Maybe they could get group rates at a good therapist before they hurt anyone else.

The Acadians: Review

Bill Smallwood takes a complicated period of history and makes it more complicated – Smallwood-Acadiansand that’s good. The Acadians, the first novel in his Abuse of Power series starts in 1749 with the British looking for a site to build a fort in Nova Scotia. They choose a harbour they rename Halifax. It ends in 1757 with British soldiers and sailors choosing tracts of “unoccupied” Nova Scotia land to homestead. The Acadians have been deported and the Mi’kmaq are being ‘cleared’ off their lands. The French have been driven back, and Nova Scotia is open for British business.

The facts of it: war between the French and British for control of North America, deportation of long-time Acadian settlers to France and the future United States, and war with and suppression of First Nations. We know these things from living in the Maritimes or reading history. By situating the facts in a story, Smallwood brings them to life and explains the intricacies of ‘who’, ‘when’ and ‘why’.

Deportation_Grand-Pré-wikicommons
Deportation at Grand Pré 1755, by George Craig 1893

Connecting the dots of history

I have read a lot about the colonization of North America and the history of the Mi’kmaq and Acadians. I have been to Halifax many times and traveled around Nova Scotia. So I thought I had a fairly good understanding of the history and geography of the region. But this book made so many things click into place for me. Instead of a spreadsheet of facts, the story gave me a flow of events, places and reasons. The dots were connected.

Deportation_of_Acadians_order 1755 Grand Pre,_painting_by_Chas Wm Jefferys 1923
Col. Winslow reads Order of expulsion, Grand Pré 1755, by C. W. Jefferys 1923

The main character in The Acadians is William Gray who was in real life a clerk to Governor Cornwallis. Smallwood promotes him to British Navy Lieutenant in order to permit him to travel to the extent he does and be privy to the discussions that he is. But it is not only from his perspective that we look. We get to know all the players involved; British, colonial American, French, Acadian and Mi’kmaq. Fear and confusion, bravery and avarice – we see the emotions and actions of all sides. Only the Mi’kmaq remain relatively unknown to us, and I’m sure that is remedied in later volumes.

Smallwood lets history shape story

It is history that shaped Smallwood’s story and character rather than the other way around. Most of his characters are real people. Events are based on letters, logs and other documentation of the time. When he creates or alters events or characters, he explains why and gives what is actually known in notes. So you can become involved in the story and also keep track of the real events. He references his sources and changes in chapter endnotes.

Citadel Hill Fort-photo-D-Stewart
Fort at Citadel Hill, Halifax, today

My only quibble is that footnotes would save having to flick to the end of the chapter each time. You can, of course, ignore the notes but they contain archival sources as well as additional bits of information, quotes from letters and official records as well as the points at which history and this story deviate. That, I found, adds to the story.

The Acadians, 1749-1757 is the first of seven in the Abuse of Power series: The Colonials and the Acadians, 1757-1761; Crooked Paths, 1755-1862; The Planters, 1761-1921; Expulsion and Survival, 1758-1902; Rebels, Royalists and Railroaders, 1841-1910, and Lives of Courage. You can read more at Mr. Smallwood’s publisher Borealis.

Sadly, Mr. Smallwood passed away on May 7, 2019. Here is his obituary. The 8th, and final, book in his series is published.

DIY Kraft Dinner

kd with elbow macaroniKD – Kraft Dinner – is the ultimate comfort food/fast food, especially for Canadians (says Wikipedia) who have grown up on it since it came on the market in the 1930s. A lot of people take pride in “doctoring” it, using it as the base for their culinary skills. But for me, it’s best just as it comes out of the box, with ketchup on top.

Macaroni variations

But Kraft changed the macaroni from the regular elbow type to thin tubes. To me, two kinds of macaronithey always seem overcooked and they have no texture, no body. It’s like eating orange pablum. KD became a constant disappointment to me, despite always being hopeful that a new type they brought out would be how I remember it. (KD macaroni left in photo, elbow macaroni right)

Kraft Dinner boxes Then, in Bulk Barn one day, passing the bin of bright orange cheese sauce powder, I had a thrilling thought. Maybe I could make my own.

I had recently read that Kraft Dinner was born when, in 1937, a Kraft salesman put a rubber band around a packet of grated cheese and a box of macaroni and sold them together as an instant meal. Why couldn’t I reverse engineer his steps? Treating what’s in the KD box as separate components lets me pick the macaroni I want.

Bulk Barn Instructions

Bulk Barn cheese powderBulk Barn has instructions for its Macaroni and Cheese Sauce Mix #252 beside the bin. The amounts of cheese powder and macaroni called for is exactly the same as what is in a box of KD. You make it exactly the same way. And it tastes exactly the same, only with nice fat elbow macaroni. You can, of course, use any pasta you wish.

  • 1 ½ cups (170 g) Dry Pasta
  • 4 tbsp (30 g) Macaroni & Cheese Sauce Mix
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) Butter or Margarine
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) Milk
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Combine remaining ingredients and add to cooked pasta
Amazon link for Jamie Oliver Comfort Food
Click for Amazon

Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Comfort Food shows you how you can make tastier and healthier versions of your favourite foods. He probably has a delicious mac and cheese. I too have my favourite recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. But when you want Kraft Dinner, that’s what you want. Bulk Barn allows me to make it look and taste the way it does in my memory.