Diana 1961-1997

Twenty years ago today Diana, Princess of Wales died at the age of 36. She was the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer and 15 times great-granddaughter of King Henry VII. She was the ex-wife of Prince Charles, also 15x-great-grandchild of Henry VII.

Diana’s line comes from Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VII. Charles traces his ancestry from Henry VII’s heir, Henry VIII. Her family therefore is nobility while his is royalty. Her sons, however, are royals and direct heirs to the British throne.

Spencer Family Tree – from Edward IV to Diana

Diana Spencer family tree
Diana Spencer family tree – click for larger view

18th century Lady Diana Spencer

Duchess_of_Marlboro_with_Lady_Diana_Spencer-Maria-Verelst-wikipedia
Lady Diana Spencer and grandmother Duchess of Marlborough

A several times great-aunt, and name-sake, of Diana’s almost took the same path from nobility to royalty. (See her highlighted in chart.) That earlier Lady Diana Spencer‘s grandmother tried to arrange her marriage to Frederick, heir apparent of George II. But he married Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. Frederick died before his father and his son became the next king, George III.

Frederick_Lewis_Prince_of_Wales_by_Philip_Mercier-wikipedia
Frederick, Prince of Wales

While Frederick was Prince of Wales, his grandfather George I created the title of Duke of Edinburgh for him. His son inherited the title but it “merged into the Crown” when he became king in 1760.

Two more times the title was created and died out before King George VI re-created it for Philip Mountbatten in 1947. In order for it to pass to Prince Philip’s youngest son Edward, as planned, instead of to eldest son Charles, as it would through rules of primogeniture, it will likely have to officially end and be re-created once more.

So had history played out differently, another Lady Diana Spencer would have been in line to be Queen. But ‘our’ Lady Diana is the only Spencer who actually married into the top echelon of the Royals. The People’s Princess, PM Tony Blair called her, “queen of people’s hearts,” she hoped to be. A fairy tale princess she certainly was.

Corrie Street 27 Aug. 2017

Car Trunk

michelle locked in car trunkTry as I might, nothing the rest of the week dislodged the sight of Michelle locked in the trunk of a car. Not that I liked seeing her held captive. You would be horrified for anyone bound and gagged and locked in a car trunk. It was more my thoughts about story and screen time while watching those scenes that stuck with me .

First: Oh no, poor Michelle! Then: hmm, will this last a while? Will she be off screen during most of it? When a character goes to prison, either because the actor is leaving or taking a break, we see a few prison scenes with them. Then they’re gone. Maybe actor Kym Marsh is taking a break. So Michelle will stay in that trunk for awhile and we won’t see her. That could work.michelle's car in parking garage

Just as I thought that, a Helpful Hannah came along and popped the trunk. Close it, lady, and walk away! But no, Michelle is front and centre on the screen again, snivelling and wanting revenge. Rich will pay for this! Oh thank you, Robert for pounding him to a pulp. You are my hero after all!

But it seems someone else wants revenge – Will. He is her high school boyfriend with whom she sort of had an affair last year. Now he is back and dating Maria. He’s also acting as other male protector of Michelle. If he had a moustache, he’d be twirling the ends evilly. It’s all a bit contrived, I think. But I can’t even work up any real outrage about such contrivances, just that the storyline exists at all.woman-opens-trunk

I guess we’ll find out why Will is doing this. Maybe because she dumped him years ago or last year or didn’t rekindle things when she saw him a few months ago. Or maybe it’s revenge for that almost fling of theirs costing him his planned marriage to whatever the name of that awful fiancée was.

It’s a story of High Drama. Because we haven’t had any of that in, what, a month or so? But it involves characters with whom it’s difficult to empathize. Michelle – is Michelle. Crossed arms, superior attitude and constant carping. Robert – does anyone really care? Will – why? Maria – the interesting story involving her is the one with michelle-savedAiden. With that one, I’m waiting with bated breath to see them both brought down. Her involvement in this storyline just adds to the ‘oh lordy, please make it stop’ response.

Fingers crossed, Robert and Michelle will go to Brighton as he suggested Friday. It’s not a car trunk but could do the trick. Oh please, stay a while.

Dill Pickles

I’ve always liked dill pickles, but I didn’t like homemade ones. They handwritten dill pickles recipe photo d stewartjust didn’t have the crunch that Bick’s and any store-bought ones had. Then I tried dills that Helen Erskine made. She and her husband Sam were my parents’ neighbours and friends in Belmont. I guess my shock showed because Helen asked me ‘what is it, dear?’ It’s good, that’s what it is!

So good that even though I was a teenager and had never canned pickles in my life, nor had any intention of doing so, I wrote down her recipe. Miraculously, I never lost that scrap of paper.

It was a long time before I started making pickles. Even longer before I felt confident to try dill pickles. I didn’t want to ruin my memory of Mrs. Erskine’s perfect pickles. I saw, when actually using the recipe, that there were key things that I had not written down. But I figured them out. So below is my amended recipe.

Helen Erskine’s Award-Worthy Dill Pickles

4 qts (8 lbs / 3.6 kg) pickling cucumbers
1 pint (2 cups / 480 ml) white vinegar
3 qts (12 cups / 2.85 ltrs) water
1/2 cup (120 ml / 113 g) coarse salt
sprigs and heads of dill – a couple per jar
garlic cloves – one large for each jar

cucumbers-garlic-dill-photo-d-stewart1. Wash cucumbers well. Remove any stems without cutting into the cucumber itself.

2. Sterilize 6-7 clean quart/litre jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Put snap lids in the canner (or in a separate small pan of boiling water) for the last five minutes.

3. Start preparing the pickle brine (#4). As it heats, your jars should be done. So you can begin packing the clean jars with dill and cucumbers (#5).

4. Put water, vinegar and garlic in large stainless steel or enamel pot and bring to a boil. Add salt. Bring to a rolling boil. (You can instead put a garlic clove in each jar. If you don’t like garlic dill pickles, just leave it out.)

filling-jars-photo-d-stewart5. When jars are sterilized, remove one (carefully, with jar tongs). Put a couple sprigs of dill in it, then pack cucumbers in tightly but without crushing them. Repeat with remaining jars.

6. Scoop the garlic out of the brine and discard. Then ladle brine into the jars. A jar funnel helps keep the rim of your jars clean. Fill to 1/4″ from the top of the jar. Wipe rim with a clean wet cloth and put snap lid and screw cap on. Repeat until all the brine is in all the jars of cucumbers.

You can either a) pack all the jars with cucumbers then fill and cap or b) pack, fill and cap one jar then another. With the batch pictured here, I did (b).

With luck, your amounts of cucumbers and brine will match. If not, you’ve either got cucumbers left over for something else or brine you can keep if you’re going to do more pickling soon. If I need a little more brine to fill a jar, I quickly heat up a small amount of vinegar, water and salt. Then I mark that jar with a different coloured cap or make a small scratch on the lid. When I label them, I mark it as ‘use first’.

jars-in-canner-photo-d-stewart7. Make sure the screw caps are finger tight and put the jars back in the canner. Bring the water back to the boil. The water should come about one inch over the top of your jars. Let them boil for 10 minutes.

8. Carefully remove and put on a rack to cool. You’ll hear the snap lids pop soon. That tells you your seal is good. (On my handwritten recipe, shown here, overflowing the jar with brine and turning upside down is what you do with the old style glass lid sealing jars, not the metal snap lids.)

dill-pickles-photo-d-stewart9. When they’ve cooled, take the screw lids off.  Wipe the jars, especially around the top, with warm wet cloth or paper towel. You can put the rings back on, or not as long as the seal is good. Date them and put in a dark, cool place for 6 weeks.

Corrie Street 20 Aug. 2017

Romeo in Overalls

Yes, Dev can be a buffoon. But love and loyalty run deep in him. Erica dev calls kevin romeo in overallsand her Romeo in overalls, his friend Kevin, hurt him to the quick.

Dev can be full of himself and neglectful of others. His image of himself often doesn’t match the reality. Insecurity? I think so. But it doesn’t take much for him to realize that his self-absorption is hurting others. Maybe he doesn’t know how to handle it but he does know how to acknowledge it. And he tries to make amends.

Erica has been dissatisfied with him and their life for a while – too settled, too ‘ok’. Tending the counter in a backstreet shop isn’t for her. Being taken for granted. Like Dev, she wants to shine, be the star of the show.

So she sought a new stage to showcase her awesomeness – Kevin Webster. You may well ask, why him? He was around and was readily available. That’s the only reason I can think of.

Kevin was dissatisfied with his home and love life because Anna is still dealing with physical and psychological trauma. In short, he ain’t getting none, physically or emotionally. So his eye started roving, dev says mary cannot believe erica caresand there was Erica. Looking good, wanting him and not backward about coming forward.

But when it came to crunch time – a rendezvous in a hotel – a phone call from Anna caused Kevin to go home. Nothing happened with Erica. But the intent had been there. Anna found out and pretty much took the thought for the deed. But she forgave him.

That left Dev being the only one in the dark. Erica was going to end it with him this week. Probably not tell him about Kevin, only that it dev-puts-hands-over-facewasn’t working. Then he got a buyer for the gym, which gave him the cash. He could build a new empire. Expand the kebab shop business, and put her in charge. No, never mind, she had nothing to tell him, everything’s fine. Business expansion? Sounds great.

Then Mary overheard enough to figure out what had happened with Erica and Kevin. She told Dev. He was devastated. But he also saw quickly that she would have been willing to stay with him and be happy as long as she was benefiting from his business plans. And he saw that she had been quite willing to sell Kevin out for those plans. dev-gets-up-to-leaveHis gym buyer is the same guy that had talked to Kevin about buying the garage. That conflict between business and friendship bothered Dev. But not Erica. Kevin might be her Romeo in overalls but, as she said, “all’s fair in love and property sales.” Dev didn’t know then how much of her truth she was speaking.

David Duke and Donald Trump

David Duke said “we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” during the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville VA on Saturday. David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, using the president’s name as justification – that’s ballsy, I thought.David Duke praises Trump cnn

My husband said Trump’s brand is his name, and nothing is more important to him than his brand. Trump Tower, Trump Water, Trump Steaks, Trump University. Donald Trump emblazons everything he does with his name. Looking at it that way, Duke’s statement is even ballsier!

So I thought Donald Trump would unleash his full fury on David Duke personally and, by extension, all the white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Klan members at the rally and in the United States.crowd with torches around robert e lee statue

But he didn’t. Trump did not thunder about his name being taken in vain. Instead, In a mealy-mouthed ‘everybody is responsible, therefore nobody is responsible’ type of statement, he let the white supremacist organizations off the hook. He said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Omit those last three words, and it’s a vague decrying of violence and racism. But at least it doesn’t imply that blame should not be placed on torch-carrying, Swastika flag-waving racists.

Given his history with David Duke and white supremacists, it particularly behoved the president to speak out loud and clearly against domestic terrorism that is inspired by racism. The virulently racist factions of the far right supported his candidacy and still support him.

In turn, they see the lack of specificity in his statement as support of them. “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us”, tweeted the neo-Nazi The Daily Stormer.

Other brands distance themselves

detroit-red-wings-fb-12-aug-17On Saturday, David Duke linked the Trump brand to organized American white supremacists. On that same day, other brands distanced themselves immediately from any implied association with the groups rallying in Charlottesville. The Detroit Red Wings, the NHL, Tiki Brand. Even webhost GoDaddy told The Daily Stormer to move its website to another provider.

Finally on Monday, Trump spoke again. About two minutes, with the first minute devoted to how great he has been for the US economy. Then he did name “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups” as repugnant. Such as it is, it’s about time!

marchers with confederate and nazi flags jkrowling-twitter-12-aug-2017The groups that were at the Virginia rally are terrifying. Seeing the Nazi flag on parade in an American city is spine-chilling. As Republican Senator for Utah Orrin Hatch tweeted, “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

The Confederate flag, representative of America’s Civil War, a division between North and South over the socio-economic institution of slavery. The Ku Klux Klan, no longer wearing white robes and pointy hats, but still carrying fiery torches.hoods-on-hoods-on-same-shit fb meme

The Klan is a home-grown American terrorist organization. It predates Hitler’s Nazi Party by half a century, based on the same kind of racist ideology. Astoundingly, it is still alive and well in the US. And they see President Trump as their man. Surely not good for the Trump brand.

The mother of the kid who drove into the crowd and killed Heather Heyer and injured many others said that she thought her son was going to an event that “had something to do with Trump”. That’s maybe the most telling statement of all.

Corrie Street 13 Aug. 2017

New Landlady

putting coin in tampon machineThe closing scene Tuesday: Toyah putting a coin in the tampon dispenser in the ladies’ room of the Rovers. Crying.

That morning, Peter and Toyah started work as publicans. Toyah’s name over the door, landlady of the Rovers Return. Arms around each other, they look up at the sign with pride. And hope – Toyah’s taking a pregnancy test next day and she has “a really good feeling.” Later on, she gets her answer in the bathroom. A dream fulfilled, a dream shattered.

toyah-takes-box-from-dispenserMonday and Tuesday’s episodes were perfect. A new era for the Rovers began and history was remembered. The kind of episode that former writer and keeper of Street history Darin Little did so well. Writers Mark Wadlow and Damon Alexis-Rochefort did an equally fine job.

Monday, Liz lets her heartbreak show in the back room of the pub. She is leaving her home and her job – her profession. But, front of the house, she wears a happy face. At the leaving party, in front of the punters and new owners, she graciously wishes them well. Toyah pays tribute to past landladies: Annie Walker, Bet Lynch, Vera Duckworth and the landlady she learned from – Liz McDonald.

Next day, in the factory, they talk about the party and the changing of the guard at the Rovers. Another owner, Fred Elliot, is remembered. I say, Fred Elliot is remembered.sign landlady Toyal Laverne Battersby

Peter and Toyah, that morning, savour the start of a new life. Who’da thunk it, that when she moved to the street all those years ago that she’d end up landlady of the pub. Don’t tell Les, Peter cautions her, he’d drink us dry in a week. Ha! Nice to hear Toyah’s dad mentioned.

Peter and Toyah happy about new businessA tiny moment of happiness, then the start of pressure building. Leanne needs a place to live immediately. So Peter says she, Simon and the baby can move in upstairs. Nice gesture, but it means he and Toyah won’t have even one day to enjoy their new space alone.

Peter’s alcoholism has been the focus for fears about their ownership of the bar. But there are less obvious elephants in the room. Toyah’s desperation about having a baby is a big one.toyah-cries-in-bathroom

There are also smaller ones. “A stroppy teenager, screaming baby” and sister and ex sharing your living space. Sean determined to show that he’s “the glue that holds the place together.” Unbridled enthusiasm can cause as much friction as no enthusiasm sometimes. I think the odds on whether Peter or Toyah cracks first have just shortened.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and butter pickles you buy in the store are thinly sliced bread and butter pickles photo d stewartrounds of cucumber only. But most of the recipes for them include sliced onion and sometimes chopped green pepper. I like them the way they come from the store, but I like making my own. So I adapted a good recipe I found online. I make them exactly as below, except I leave out the onion and increase the cucumber. It makes about 6 pint jars.

Recipe (Diana Rattray, thespruce.com)

  • Four Five lbs pickling cucumbers
  • 1 large onion, quartered, sliced abt. 1/4″ thickness
  • 1/3 cup kosher (coarse) salt
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes – optional

slicing-cucumber-photo-d-stewartWash cucumbers and cut off ends. Slice crosswise into 1/8″ slices. Toss in a large bowl with salt and onion; cover with 4-6 cups of ice cubes. Cover and let stand 4 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Boiling water bath:  Wash jars thoroughly and heat water in a small saucepan; put the lids in the saucepan and bring almost to the boil; lower heat to very low to keep the lids hot.

Making pickles: Drain cucumbers in a large colander and rinse with cold water.

pickles-in-pot-photo-d-stewartIn a large, nonreactive [stainless steel, glass, enamel] pot over medium heat, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the drained cucumbers and bring to a boil.

With a slotted spoon, loosely pack the pickles into prepared jars. Ladle the liquid into jars, dividing evenly. With a clean damp cloth, wipe away any drips around the rims of the jars, and then cover with 2-piece jar lid and screw ring. A lid lifter comes in handy to get the bottling-pickles-photo-d-stewartflat lids out of the water, or you could use tongs. Adjust the screw on rings firmly but do not over-tighten.

Place filled jars in the prepared boiling water bath, adding more hot water as needed to bring the water up to about 1 inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes.

Lift the jars out of the water and place on a rack to cool. For best flavor development, store the pickles in a cool, dark place for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

A mandolin slicer (second pic) is great for cutting cucumbers.  My hints & hacks page has more on this wonderful tool. For these pickles, you can use small and large cukes. I’ve used regular field cucumbers and they worked fine. If you like long slices rather than rounds, cut the cukes lengthwise.

Corrie Street 6 Aug. 2017

The Receipt

Brian has added another string to his bow, another arrow to his quiver. He is now a Litter Enforcement Officer. Hands on, not just behind a desk, that’s our Brian. He snags a receipt dropped on the brian-grabs-box-with-grabberstreet. Hmm, peruses its details – a salt and pepper mill.

Later, at Roy’s Rolls and needing sustenance, he spies on the counter a box for a salt and pepper mill. Aha! That’s Roy caught redhanded. Roy is grateful that Brian found the receipt he lost. He needs it for his VAT records. But Brian is having none of the accidental loss story. It was littering and there’s a fine for that. Oh, and I’ll have a butterfly bun when you’re ready.

brian refuses to hand over receiptBrian is such a silly, silly man. Roy is as far from silly as is possible to be. The two of them together are silliness gold. This little scene brings out the best in them, I think, both in the moment and in the character of them both.

To be in conflict with Roy Cropper over littering is the most absurd thing imaginable. The man sweeps and washes his front step and pavement and probably would like to clean all the way down the street. Because of his obsessive tendencies and his principles, he is the last man on earth who would litter.

brian-writes-out-fine But the rules are the rules, says Brian. He is probably so pleased to actually have the chance to fill out one of his forms in his little fine book that he doesn’t even attempt to actually think about what he’s doing, and to whom he’s doing it.

Aside from his personal stake as Roy’s tenant, there is also simply the fact of Roy. Kirk and Chesney point that out to Brian. It’s Roy, the neatest man in Weatherfield!kirk-and-ches-watch-brian-and-roy

I’ve liked this story since it started. A roving Brian, armed with megaphone, a grabber and the authority to issue fines. All his Christmases have come at once. I especially like the grabber. It is not an efficient picker-upper of litter. It doesn’t have the fine control needed for thin items like paper. A stick with a pointed metal end is what street and park cleaning crews actually use. Much easier and more efficient.

A grabber is used by elderly or injured people for objects too high to reach without climbing or too low if you can’t bend over. I like to and-a-butterfly-bunthink that Brian’s tool of his trade came from a city council official who had one unused at home. With it and a megaphone that every council office would have in its storage closet, it’s an inexpensive way of keeping Brian, the Tsar/Czar of Recycling out of the office and away from employees who are actually trying to work.

(The 2018 Coronation Street Calendar is out! Amazon link is below and in sidebar.)

Diseases of Friend and Foe

(From Aug. 5, 2011 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog)

When Waterworks Wally got his shots last week, his vet tested him for diseases I’d rarely heard of in cats. He was tested for FIV (cat HIV) and feline leukemia (FeLV).

The doctor said FIV is “a disease of foes,” transmitted by Cats lying on settee, peacefully - no diseasesblood exchange usually through fighting. Leukemia (FELV) is “a disease of friends,” transmitted by saliva shared by grooming another cat or eating from the same bowl.

Without knowing Wally’s history, the chance that he might have either disease was too great. If positive, special care would have to be taken if he were around other cats and the vaccines he would be given would be “dead” instead of “live.” That’s if it was so far progressed that euthanasia was the only humane option. Both diseases are incurable.

Two cats tested for diseases

FIV and FeLV were on our minds right then. Earlier in the day, my husband took a feral cat to the vet to be fixed and vaccinated. There are many dumped and wild cats living around his shop. This year a male and female have been living in the yard.  Kittens too, we suspect, half-grown by now.  They evaded the live trap for a long time, but the male finally was caught.

Feral cat in VirginiaA dumped house cat becomes wild fast enough if he or she is to survive, and, if not fixed, produces kittens born feral. Within a year, those kittens are producing another generation of feral cats and on it goes. TNR, “trap, neuter and return,” is a humane way of controlling the wild cat population by stopping that cycle.

When the vet saw our wild cat’s battle scars, he tested for FIV and FeLV. Very positive for FIV. He didn’t have long to live but he’d pass the disease on in a feral cat colony. So wild cat went to kitty heaven, balls intact.

Wally was negative, thank goodness. Maybe, as someone told me, I am being “holier than thou” in assuming he was dumped. If thinking that abandoning a creature is a despicable and cowardly act, then I guess I am. If Wally is just lost and not found yet, I only want to reunite him with his person and commiserate on the panic you feel when your pet is missing.

So many cats

But I see that feral cat who had to die due to a preventable disease. I see a pound full of unclaimed cats. A small town with two large cat shelters  – overflowing with cats. I see dog rescue people exhausted by trying to look after dogs people leave tied to doorways, or to wander in the woods or be hit by cars. Volunteers Kitten climbing bars of cage in shelterstretched to their physical and emotional limits tending animals and raising money for kibble and vet bills.

Trying to keep up with the mess left by people who let their cats have litter after litter because “the kids like kittens.” The people who think it’s unmanly for a dog to be neutered. The ones who figure selling pups on Kijiji is fast, easy money.

I had told the vet tech that Wally couldn’t have been wandering long because he had no fleas. She said, “That feral tom Jim brought in this morning? He didn’t have fleas either.” He was only about a year old, they thought. Scars of many fights and a fatal disease. Probably never knew the shelter of a building. But he didn’t have fleas. Poor kitty.

See comments below. Wally never was claimed so he’s still with us.