Corrie Street 30 Oct 2016

Grand Tour

The Grand Tour of Europe, the trip Ken Barlow has yearned to do. He’s going to do it. A long ago rite of passage for young men and women of the upper class. A past and a social stratum in which he ken-in-dining-room before Grand Tourwould have fit so well, despite his working class ideology.

Ken started the week helping Tracy in the florist shop. Helping her right out of a large order of corsages for a school prom. Tracy was furious. But Ken didn’t care. He hoped he had made the customer think about the Americanization of British culture. No, she’d just ordered her corsages from another florist, Tracy told him. No matter, Ken said. Proms and Thanksgiving dinners celebrated by people with no US connections! Taking a stand against importing traditions, that’s what matters.

Having done his bit for Old Blighty, he took to looking at travel websites. The Grand Tour excursion package, that’s what he needs. With Amy’s encouragement, he decided that he could do it. So he would. Tracy had another fit. How would she manage without him? Like other people do, he told her, by doing it yourself.

peter-turns-from-kenThe night before he leaves, Peter comes home. Although glad to see him, Ken is suspicious. What does he want, what is he running away from? Peter tells him a smooth story but Ken doesn’t buy it.

The household settles in for the night. Ken has to be at the airport in the early morning for his flight to Italy. Then Peter calls someone and goes out. When he gets back, Ken is up. He is waiting for his taxi and waiting for Peter.

ken-with-peter-watchingWhere has he been? What is he doing? What kind of trouble is he in? Just a job interview, Peter tells his father. When will you stop lying, Ken shouts. When were you ever around to know what I was doing, Peter shouts back. And he starts playing that old record again, as Ken says.

ken-clutches-railingA knock at the door. Going to open it, Ken collapses. Heart attack or stroke. No flight to Italy now, no Grand Tour.

I wondered if trip plans and especially Peter’s return meant William Roache was leaving Coronation Street for good. And I don’t know. Ken’s collapse completely shocked and surprised me. I am so glad that I did not stumble on any hints about this.

If I were to give any predictions about next week, it’s that Tracy will be as upset about the money as she is about her father, assuming Ken’s ticket is non-refundable. Peter too. I hope I’m being too harsh.peter-clutches-ken

In Ken’s honour, here are links to Grand Tour books. One is by Sister Wendy, whose short videos on art can be caught at the end of PBS programmes if you’re lucky.

Secret Path

Chanie Wenjack died October 23rd 1966. He was twelve. He and two other boys ran away from their residential school, taking a Chanie Wenjack the secret path jeff-lemire-cbcsecret path north into the bush. They wanted to go home.

The other boys succeeded. They found their uncle’s cabin and stayed with him. Chanie’s home, however, was much farther away. He didn’t know where exactly, so he left on his own to continue walking until he found it.

But he didn’t. Chanie died of exposure following the train track he hoped would take him home. He did get home, in the end. Indian Affairs sent his body by train and then plane home to Ogoki Post, 600 km north of the residential school he attended in Kenora, Ontario.

fort_albany_residential_school_students-c1945-edmund-metatawabin-coll-u-of-algoma
Fort Albany residential school, ca 1945, Edmund Metatawabin Collection, University of Algoma

Chanie, or Charlie as they called him at the school, was Ojibwe. He is one of thousands of First Nations children who died at residential schools in Canada. Families of  the dead and survivors have told their stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Lonely Death of Charlie Wenjack

Chanie Wenjack’s story was told at the time of his death. A 1967 article in Maclean’s paints a bleak picture of a boy’s unnecessary death and of unwanted institutional life. Author Ian Adams:

“The jury found that ‘the Indian education system causes tremendous emotional adjustment problems.’… But the most poignant suggestion was the one that reflected their own bewilderment: ‘A study be made of the present Indian education and philosophy. Is it right?'”

1948-letter-bc-teachers-federation-project-of-the-heart
Christmas Vacation letter to parents 1948, Kamloops Indian Residential School. Click for larger view.

50 years on, Chanie Wenjack’s story is getting new tellings. Gord Downie, of The Tragically Hip, and graphic novelist Jeff Lemire tell it in song and pictures. The Secret Path is a elegy, and eulogy, for Chanie and all the children forced into residential schools. Joseph Boyden published a novella, Wenjack, imagining the final days of a too short life.

project-of-heart-bc-residential-schools
“This powerful graffiti message by an anonymous artist was painted on all of the doors of St. Michael’s Residential School before its demolition in 2015.”

For over a century, government and churches took children way from their families, and their languages and their identities. Many also  were abused sexually and psychologically. For all, however, the direct or indirect assumption that their First Nations cultures were not good enough was abuse. It probably takes as long to rebuild a culture as it does to kill one. So it’s going to take a long time to recover.

The photos of the door and the letter are from Project of Heart: Illuminating the hidden history of Indian Residential Schools in BC (BC Teachers Federation pdf).

Corrie Street 23 Oct 2016

Dance Instructor

norris-tells-freddie-much-betterNorris Cole, Ballroom Dance Instructor is back. And it is so nice to see him. On Monday, amid the stories of angst and intrigue, deceit and vengefulness, he was a small oasis of civility. Also a harking back to bittersweet memories of Roy and Haley and the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool.

Three years ago, Roy wanted to give Hayley an item on her bucket norris dance instructor with freddielist – dancing at the Tower Ballroom. Hayley had taken dance lessons and could dance beautifully. But Roy could not. Norris therefore offered Roy his services as dance instructor. Norris has hidden talents, one of which is experience in competitive ballroom dancing. So he became the fairy godmother for a magical time for Hayley and Roy on the dance floor.

begin-spinAnd now, he’s doing the same, I hope, for Freddie and Audrey. Freddie thinks he has the moves – and he probably did during the nights of the Zambezi nightclub. But ballroom dancing? Not his thing then, and a lot of time has passed since his dancing days.

But Audrey has said she’d like him to take her dancing. So he must freddie-spins-outsharpen up his moves. At the garage, Luke helps him out. They think they are doing quite well. Until Norris happens along and tells them just how atrocious they both are.

tyrone-luke-and-norris-shockedSo he takes over. With his instruction, Freddie gets the hang of it. Until they attempt a spin, and off Freddie goes across the floor. Right over a tool box. He breaks his wrist.

Dance plans obviously are on hold until his arm heals. He passes on Audrey’s offer to stay with her, opting instead to stay with Tyrone freddie-on-floorand Fiz. But I hope the dancing storyline doesn’t end there. I hope we get to see Freddie and Audrey out on the tiles.

The Dog Park

old road going into dog parkWent to the dog park yesterday with the boys. It was a mauzy day, light rain and cool. I figured nobody would be there, and I was right. It was beautiful.

Charlie and Leo trotted along, happy to sniff at stuff. Another dog and his person joined us. Dogs sniffed each other, then went back to whatever else they were sniffing.

A young dog came careening around the path to the meadow, ran around like a whirlwind trying to get the others to play. No luck with these three, so tore off up the hill looking for somebody more fun. I hope more dogs came, willing to play with him.

steps in path from meadow in dog parkWe went up the steep hill, muddy and slippery. But I could make it up fast enough to keep an eye on the dogs, thanks to the steps that Albert built into the slope. Back up at the top, I looked around. I felt proud of our little dog park.

Just two years ago, it wasn’t like this. Oh, it was just as pretty. But it wasn’t fenced, there were no picnic tables or bag dispensers or garbage containers. No steps, no trails cleared through the hillside. It was a wooded ravine with a meadow by the creek. Not many people went there. Now, it’s often very crowded with people and dogs. I wonder what the deer and neighbourhood cats who had it all to themselves for so long think about it. But sometimes, like yesterday, it’s the same as when I first went there with a dog years ago. Except now I don’t have to remember my own poop bags.

The STDOA made this park

The STDOA did this – got a fenced dog park in our city. I was one of the founders of the group, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I no longer go to the ravine park very often, though. My dogs are too anti-social for large group activities. But I love seeing social dogs chase each other and wrestle, having so much fun. Pups on their first visit, intimidated at first then realizing they can act as wild as they want and tumbling around with other dogs. It’s lovely to watch.

sign for dog park meeting Oct 16 2 pmBut the steps and bag dispensers didn’t get there by themselves. Volunteers built the steps and keep the park clean of litter and dog poop. The STDOA raises money for poop bags and dispensers and for building and maintenance materials. The STDOA needs your input and participation. Money and energy – that’s what’s needed to keep the Lions Club Dog Park running and get another one in a different part of town.

In Memory of Forte, Dog Park Dog

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Oct. 13, 2011. For Forte, one of the original STDOA and dog park dogs. Forte passed away this week at a good old age, surrounded by his family.

forte-may-2016
Forte waking from a nap, May 2016

An All Breed Canine Rescue dog, Forte was at first fearful and mistrustful due to abuse he had suffered. But he lucked into the best home he could have asked for. His people lucked into the best dog too. Forte became a foster dad in turn to many more pups and adult dogs who joined his household as ABCR fosters. He will be missed.

Corrie Street 16 Oct 2016

Celebrity

Funny how the timing of fiction sometimes perfectly matches reality. Celebrity – its connotations and effects – has been all over the news celebrity pic tim-takes-selfie-with-tommythe past week. And then, on our Canadian screens on Friday, it comes to Coronation Street.

Steve, Tim and Tyrone nearly swoon when they meet Weatherfield County footballer Tommy Orpington at the Rovers. He is there to meet with Michelle about his wedding. They happen to be there when he walks through from the back.

play-sheet-by-tim“Happen to be there,” after spending the day planning how to do that, by accident. Tim even worked out a play sheet on where to stand so that they would accidentally bump into him.

Their mouths hang open when they see him. They can barely reply when he says hello and introduces himself. Then they follow him like ducklings, eyes like huge saucers. He takes it in stride, he’s used to it.tim-steve-and-tommy

Probably the actors knew how to do the look of starstruck fans because they would see it on the faces of people who meet them in real life. The only thing that struck me as unrealistic was that everybody else in the bar wasn’t crowded around Tommy too or at least gawking more openly.

As for Michelle, Fiz and Audrey staying back from the cluster of men tyrone-leaps-from-the-tablearound Tommy, yes, I can see that. Michelle is trying to be professional in her business dealings with him. And although she’s not likely to say it, she believes fawning attention should be on her. Fiz appears to be struggling to deal with the fact that Tyrone slipped his leash. Instead of choosing to sit with her sipping his drink and discussing whatever, he took off like a shot to meet his hero. And Audrey? She’s just sitting back, enjoying the scenery, I think.women-watch-huddle-around-tommy

I googled Tommy Orpington to see if he is a real soccer player. He’s not. He’s actor Matt Milburn, formerly of Emmerdale. I’m surprised they didn’t get a real footballer to make a guest appearance. tyrone-stares-at-tommyCelebrity cameos work well for the celebrity and the show, usually. They can come back to bite you if you don’t watch yourself. Donald Trump and Billy Bush found that out last week.

Still, the fictional star footballer Tommy Orpington has made me a fan of the fictional Weatherfield County team.

hilda-coronationstreet-wikia-com_wiki_muralIn sad real life, Jean Alexander died Friday at the age of 90. She was for many years the incomparable Hilda Ogden. The rollers in her hair and the flying ducks on the “muriel” on her wall will never be forgotten. (A Guardian tribute)

In sad Corrie life, I was wrong last week about Maria’s reaction to Ozzy’s death. She and all did it beautifully. We will miss you, Ozzy,

Apple Jelly

Making apple jelly is like making any other fruit jelly except you don’t need to add pectin. Apples have loads of pectin. When I started making jams and jellies and was much more conscientious about not apples-photo-d-stewartadding additives, I added a few apples to any fruit for the pectin. Then I got lazy and started using commercial pectin.

But in this year’s apple jelly making, I found a recipe that reminded me that you don’t need to add pectin to pectin-filled apples. And it’s easy. Basically, just add sugar and lemon juice to the apple juice and boil until it gels. (My notes are added.)

Apple Jelly (Mick Telkamp, HGTV)

Yield: About 6 half-pints (I got 4)

5 pounds apples (about 16 cups chopped)
6 cups water (to extract 5 cups apple juice)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups sugar (I used 3 cups)

apples-cooking-photo-d-stewartWash and chop apples into small pieces, including skin and cores, and place in a large pot.

Add 6 cups of water to the pot and bring to boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes until apples are soft.

Pour into jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl to separate juice. Allow to drain without pressing or forcing juice from the apples for the clearest jelly. (Leave several hours or overnight)

apple-jelly-froth-photo-d-stewartCombine 5 cups apple juice, lemon juice and sugar in a pot and bring to boil over high heat.

Continue to boil until a temperature of 220 degrees F is reached. (25-30 mins)

Test jelly by dipping in a cold spoon. If the jelly drips from the gel-test-photo-d-stewartspoon in a sheet, jelly is ready. If not, allow to cook a little longer and test again. (Watch it and you’ll see the colour deepen. Also when stirring, the resistance on the spoon increases slightly.)

Once the jelly thickens, transfer it into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.

Cap with lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes to seal.

Apple jelly will store in a cool location up to a year without loss of texture or flavor.apple jelly photo d stewart

Lessons learned

A couple of lessons I learned in my first two times using this recipe. First, when you’re near the gelling point, check it every minute or so. I let it cook another five minutes after seeing it was almost gelling. Too long. I got one jar of jelly solid enough to make gummy bears.

Second, keep stirring. And use a pot with high sides. In my second batch, I left it unattended for a minute too long. I had it in a Dutch oven that I thought was plenty big enough. And it was – as long as I kept stirring the froth down. But left alone, it started frothing higher and higher. I couldn’t get it stirred down fast enough. So, a huge mess on the stove.

Learn from my mistakes and you’ll have delicious jelly, easily made.

See also my making apple juice. It’s exactly the same except you don’t gel the juice.

Corrie Street 9 Oct 2016

Ozzy and Maria

caz-enters-doorwayWhen Caz came in to give Maria bad news on Friday, my heart sank. I guessed what it was, and I had an idea how it would be received. Ozzy was sick, and Maria would make it all about herself. Caz’s words confirmed the first. The second by Samia Ghadie’s superb facial expressions.

Through her eyes you could see the hamster running around the wheel that is Maria’s brain. But Ozzy is my last connection with Liam. Oh, aside from my son. What will I do??? Why did Liam die??? And leave me all alone??? Aside from the dog and the kid, of course.

maria-says-whatIf it goes the way it looks like it will, Monday’s episode will be heart-rending. For Ozzy, and for Kirk. You know that he truly loves Ozzy. Dealing with Maria will be painful for us all – characters and audience, well, me at least. I want to see Ozzy mourned, not a loss for Maria. If I’m right about Maria, it will be herself that she’ll be crying over. And Kirk will have to take time from his own grief to tend to her.

kirk-carries-ozzyThe best thing for Kirk about Maria being his sister, I think, has been Ozzy and little Liam. He always takes care of them both when Maria is off in self-absorption of some kind. And he has fun with them – fun for them and for himself.

Maria’s loyalties

Maria does always take Kirk in when he needs shelter, but a lot of eye-rolling is involved. Like now, she wants desperately for him to patch things up with Beth. I suppose that is because she cares about maria-in-shockhim and his happiness as she says. But the added benefit is that it would get him out of her house.

Right now, her allocation of space and time for others is being spent on Caz. Homeless, messed-up Caz is her pet project, and will continue to be until Maria is bored by it, can’t handle it, or finds a new project. Then Caz will get the boot. Time’s up, you’re sorted, see you later.

I hoped that Ozzy would live forever or just disappear from our maria-looks-at-ozzyscreens never to return and never to be explained. The prospect of dealing with his death is even worse because he’s  Maria’s dog. Because that means dealing with Maria as well as with the tragic loss of a lovely dog.

Burdock Dog

Leo covered in burdockThis is Leo after he walked for just a second into a patch of burdock. The burs didn’t just stick to his hair, they burrowed right in his face, chest and ears.  I picked off as many as I could right away. Before I did, his ears were stuck to the top of his head.

Having a poodle, I can easily believe the commercial with the man saying he came up with the idea for velcro thanks to his sheepdog who liked to run through the woods.

If you get a Poodle, get used to dealing with burs and plant life of all kinds embedded in his or her hair.  Even Charlie, with long silky hair, attracts burs like a magnet.  They’re a bit easier to brush out because his hair is less dense than Poodle hair.

Burdock Removal

trimming Leo's ear after bur removalBest tip for dealing with your fine-haired dog:  cultivate a groomer as your new best friend so you can call them when you have a grooming emergency.  Last night, trying to get the mess out of Leo’s ears and head, I fervently wished my nieces who are groomers in Red Deer lived nearer me.

But I persevered with brush and scissors and finally Leo returned to normal appearance, albeit with shorter ears.  He had a row of burs firmly wound around the bottom of one ear.  There was no choice but to carefully cut off burs and hair.  Then I had to trim the other ear so it matched.

Leo brushed and ear length evenedI find a small slicker brush the best.  But even that can’t get into full burs knotted into hair.*  I carefully cut into the centre of those with blunt-nosed scissors.  Cut with the hair, not across it.  That opens up the bur so it will more easily brush out but avoids cut lines.  Use a comb to take the accumulated bur bits and hair out of the brush.  With a poodle, when most of the burs are out, brush backwards to get the small bits out and fluff the hair up.

I have been told baby oil on the bur softens it and makes it easy to brush out.  I tried it with my German Shepherd and found it no easier and just made his hair and my hands greasy.

After Burdock

Even after the burs are gone, I brush and brush to get every trace out.  If I don’t, and if they can, the dogs will lick at the irritating bit trying to dog brushes, scissors and combget rid of it.  In doing that, they can lick right down to the skin and cause hot spots of inflamed skin.  Gold Bond medicated powder is a godsend, especially for Leo.  His pouffy hair makes it difficult to put ointment directly on the skin.  The powder goes through the hair to the skin and dries it up.  He doesn’t like the taste so doesn’t lick it a lot.  Their groomer at Pampered Pooch in St. Thomas told me to try it when Leo had a really bad spot that we feared would need veterinary attention.  Within a week, it was better.

Best Tool Ever

*Since I first posted this (Jan. 7/12 St. Thomas Dog Blog), I’ve dog-hair-rakefound the best tool ever. A hair rake for double-coated dogs breaks up a burdock and pulls it out of dogs’ hair and horses’ manes and tails easily.

Corrie Street Oct. 2/16

In All His Glory

He had me fooled. But I’m enjoying seeing the real Todd back. I liked the nice Todd too, the Todd who cared about his family and wanted todd-says-billy-has-himto be a good boyfriend to the Vicar. I felt good about Todd turning over a new leaf or returning to his original leaf – the nice, bright and conscientious boy he was before he went to that London.

But he’s not. It turns out it was Todd who “complained” to the Bishop about said Vicar and boyfriend cohabiting. He did it with Billy’s best interests in mind, so he says and Billy believes. Make Billy think about the restrictions that he was living with in order to be part of a billy-says-todd-made-him-doubtchurch that would not fully accept him.

Billy ends it. He tells Todd “I always thought your lack of empathy was a defence mechanism. But this is the real you, the real Todd in all his glory.”

Sooo, that’s the end of Todd and Billy. But not the end of Billy having the scales lifted from his eyes. He tells Sean that, despite how it was done, he is questioning his vocation.

The Real Todd

Todd is genuinely upset that he couldn’t keep the good person up front in his psyche and actions. He wishes he were the person Billy the real todd in all his glorythought he was or could be. But, if you are bad, you might as well be full-bore bad.

He joins forces with Phelan. He has tried to convince his mother that Phelan is scamming her and Jason and anyone in Weatherfield foolish enough to buy into their flat conversion. She tells him that he is being vindictive and hateful and just wants to ruin her happiness.

Before everything comes undone with Billy, he got Phelan to admit todd-realizes-billy-is-leaving-himwhat he was doing. Yes, it’s a scam, don’t tell your mother. Phelan has some sort of plan to shut him up and calls him to meet at the building site. Phelan’s partner Vinnie has a simpler plan. He brings his toolbox to the site. Shut Todd up permanently.

On his way there, Todd meets Billy, finds out Billy knows about the phony complaint call, and whatever Todd had planned for the meeting changes. He’s in, he tells them. He stipulates his conditions, billy-walks-away-from-toddto protect Eileen and Jason. Phelan and Vinnie, gobsmacked, agree. It’s a partnership where all three partners would be advised to sleep with one eye open. But especially Phelan and Vinnie because, if I were a betting person, my money would be on Todd.