dimanche 31 mai 2009

the perils of blogging

Well the first annual international Aunty Day has come and gone. The whole family was there and the Aunties were duly honored...and thouroughly enjoyed it. Of course the whole thing was to be a surprise.
However, yesterday my beloved daughters went to a lady friend of theirs. Now Sylvie is fond of the Internet and blogging in particular. Proud of their father they told Sylvie about my blog...so Sylvie promptly found it and the secret also. They told us only when the whole thing was over. The surprise was ours.
Morality: don't put a secret on your blog.

samedi 30 mai 2009

Auntie Day

Tomorrow, the Costopoulos family launches a new tradition: Aunts Day. Henceforth the last Sunday in May will be Aunt Day. We have Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents Day and all manners of Days...but no one has thought about aunts. Yet when I look at my spinster daughters doting over their nephew and niece, the love and devotion they have for those kids, I say it is high time to do something to honor that aspect of familyhood. So tomorrow we wil have the Aunts Special Dinner, Alexis (13) will produce a special card for the occasion, Arianne (3) will be , hopefully, on her best behaviour and mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law will pitch toghether to get them the DVDs of a TV series they loved. Which one? My son is on it so I can't tell at this very moment. Pass the word around, spinster aunties are af orgotten and neglected part of our society. Let's right the wrong.

mardi 26 mai 2009

Où allons-nous?

J'ai beaucoup réfléchi ces derniers jours. Chaque printemps ramène les mêmes préoccupations: la fête de la reine vs la fête des Patriotes, la Fête nationale, autrefois la St-Jean-Baptiste, vs la Fête du Canada, les manifestations souverainistes vs les professions de foi envers le Canada. La défense de la langue française vs les revendications légitimes des québécois de langue anglaise.
À l'instar des plantes qui bourgeonnent, nos vieilles querelles ressurgissent et, comme l'herbe-à-poux et l'herbe-à-puce, viennent nous empoisonner la vie.
Pourquoi, habitants d'un pays envié partout dans le monde, devons-nous tout faire pour nous rendre la vie désagréable? Au cours des dernières 6 années nous avons réussi à détruire l'image de travailleur pour la paix que nous avions chèrement acquis à travers les missions de gardien de la paix de nos soldats et de ressource fiables de médiation par les prises de positions de notre gouvernement minoritaire conservateur.
Nous n'avons jamais été un pays totalement uni...mais nous avons toujours trouvé un compromis permettant de passer au travers des crises. Pourquoi cela devient-il si difficile maintenant?
Anybody out there with a suitable answer?

vendredi 22 mai 2009


Rosaria tagged me today. Reminds me of my youth: tag, you're it.
So six unimportant things which make me happy:
1) Chatting with my grandson;
2) The smile, not frequent, of my granddaughter;
3) A black-headed grosbeak couple at my backyard feeder;
4) A ride in my beloved Laurentian Hills, we call them mountains but the Rockies' folks figure it's a gross exaggeration;
5) Meeting old friends;
6) Crossword puzzles.

Six blogs to play along:
1) The Commentator;
2) Marc-Aurele;
3) Neil McKenty;
4) Tony Kondaks;
5) Chimera;
6) Barbara.
Hope I did it right.

jeudi 21 mai 2009


This morning I felt nobody was reading this blog. Tonight, I have three members. Of course, from the onset, Rosaria was kind enough to comment on my bread making; it helped a lot. Then The Commentator wrote: "A face to the man", so he had been on the blog.
I must admit that I am still testing the ground. I have many ideas about which I would like to write or comment, problem is organizing them...and documenting them. One that I have been toying with: how canada went from peace keeper to warmonger? Lestr B. Pearson then our foreign affairs minister won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1957, for inventing the U.N. Peacekeepers. Then we went into Afghanistan under a U.N. mandate...but stayed under NATO and became an occupation force disguised as a nation building mission???
Well I'll keep working on it. (To be continued...I hope)

mardi 19 mai 2009


I just got back from a trip, with a small group of M.I.L.R. people, to le Musée ferroviaire canadien in Delson, about 35 minutes from Lomgueuil. We had lunch, visited the old streetcars and locomotives and shared fond memories. All very friendly and hearth warming.
As I opened my computer, I surveyed the blogs I follow and had an added pleasure. I saw that a blogger friend who recently got the news that her husband came up with type 2 diabetes and she could be next, had seemingly come out of the gloom and was back to her former warm and charming self.
Sickness is not the enemy, our attitude towards it is. François Rabelais, a 15th century french doctor, treated his patients through laughter, he even wrote books to make them laugh because he felt morale was the main remedy and laughing helped it.
So keep smiling and your health will not deteriorate...so fast.

dimanche 17 mai 2009


Have noticed how the older you grow the lower are the floors?


Demain, 18 mai, les canadiens jouissent d'un congé férié. Tout le Canada sera en congé...mais pas le même congé partout. Outside Québec, it's the official Queen's birthday (Victoria that is). In Québec, some will celebrate Victoria Day, some will celebrate Dollard des Ormeaux (He fought against the Iroquois and reportedly saved Montreal, although this has since been put in doubt), others will celebrate Les Patriotes. Voici quelques années, un gouvernement du Parti Québécois a proclamé le troisième lundi de mai Fête des Patriotes, en mémoire des combattants de la Rébellion de 1837. Cette année-là les colonies de l'Amérique du Nord Britannique sont en effervescence. De L'Ontario à l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard on s'agite pour obtenir le gouvernement responsable. Les maritimes opteront pour la voie parlementaire et diplomatique...avec un certain succès.
Ontario and Québec were then ruled by two powerful cliques grouped around the Governors and the big merchants who were quite satisfied with things as they were. Those wishing for change had no ways of making their points as the Maritimers had...so they became more aggressive. In Ontario William Lyon-Mackenzie and a ragged troop took arms and shots were fired around a York tavern where they had congregated to oppose the Army. Mackenzie fled to Buffalo where he proclaimed the Autonomous State of Upper Canada. He was promptly arrested and jailed by the USAers`for breaching their neutrality.
Au Québec, les Fils de la Liberté s'opposèrent à la clique du Château de Ramezay dont la composition était assez proche de celle du Family Compact ontarien. Les Papineau, Callaghan et Nelson galvanisèrent la population et l'affrontement devint inévitable. Papineau ne voulait pas de confrontation armée, les frères Nelson et l'Irlandais Callaghan étaient plus belliqueux. Ce sont eux qui prirent les armes suivis par ceux qui devaient devenir "les Patriotes" suite à la récupération de l'évènement par le mouvement souverainiste du Parti et du Bloc Québécois. Un des frères Nelson, suite à la défaite des armes, se réfugia au Vermont, avec 300 hommes, d'où, à l'instar de Mackenzie, il proclama l'État Souverain du bas-Canada. Il fut promptement arrêté et jeté en prison...pour importation illégale darmes
So tomorrow we all have a day off, well not really since us retirees do not have days off anymore.
However that day has been stripped of it's festive attire and become, in Québec at least just another occasion for politicking. .

jeudi 14 mai 2009

We almost saw the tulips.

Yesterday was a gloriously sunny and warm spring day. The early sun shone on my backyard neighbours' trees. A very tall one was all red blossoms while a shorter one was shocking pink. The third one, the shortest, was all white blossoms. Today is grey, 46 kilometers an hour winds from the south and a storm seems to be brewing. All the red blossoms are gone and tender green leaves have sprung. The shocking pink is darker and the white ones are less numerous. Before lunch we had to run after our sundeck chairs blown away by the wind.
But let's get back to yesterday. We had our monthly brunch scheduled in St-Jérôme, 60 kilometers and 5 bridges away. The usual merry bunch was there and we chatted our heads off. Two, man and wife, were freshly back from Guatemala where they had spent the last 4 months as lay missionaries. Another was back, 3 weeks ago, from Mexico where he had spent the winter. That 3 weeks delay allowed us all to shake hands with him.
After lunch the wife and I made up our mind to go Ottawa, another 2 hours drive, to see the annual tulip festival, the 57th. During the last war (39-45) that is, a Dutch princess was born there to the Dutch queen then a war refugee in Canada. Our goverment decreed that the hospital room where the birth would take place would be ceded to Holland for the duration of the birth so that the baby would be Dutch. The Dutch have kept a soft spot in their hearts for Canada and Canadians because of that and our participation in the liberation of Holland from Nazi occupation. As a token of gratitude Holland, in 1946, sent thousands of tulip bulbs to flower Parliament Hill and the surroundings. Over time the Tulips spread all over Ottawa and now, each first two weeks of May, a Tulip Festival is held.
So off we went. We traveled over the back roads, much nicer than the highways, and more relaxing. Those roads move up and down along ridges and valleys, quaint little villages and summer resorts. We stopped, for some leg stretching, in Montebello. This is where my 78 years opted to manifest themselves. When I got out of the car I could barely walk straigth. Had a police officer been there he would have submitted me to a breathalyser test. After much wobbling I managed to walk reasonably well...but the wife ordered us back to base. We were about an hour away from Ottawa. Suddenly I was to tired to argue. So back we came. Well today is a grey day...but I walk straight, or mostly, and I should be chipper by tomorrow. No Tulip Festival for us this year.

lundi 11 mai 2009

Where is the North?

When I was a child and a teen, Québec was a simpler place. You were white, save if you were a porter at one of our train or bus stations or a chinese restaurant or laundry operator. You were Catholic or Protestant, French or English speaking. Well there were some in betweens, like me for instance. For us, the going could be tough...but if you had some resiliency you could soldier on and even make a place for yourself. You knew the Union nationale blue (Québec name for the conservative religious right--most Québecers), or Liberal red (the bad anticlerical left, a discredited minority that went out only in daytime). The Bishops and priests at election time warned us that the sky was blue but hell was red.
Then came 1960. The so-called Quiet Revolution saw the dreaded Liberals elected to form the next government. Things began changing. Electricity was nationalized. Schools, hospitals and social services were nationalized. Then immigrants started pouring in and the churches emptied although the two are not linked. Everything went very fast...and suddenly the Separatists came out of the woodwork and, in 1972 we had a Péquiste government.
T'was then that things got blurred. You had politicians switching sides and allegiance, people calling themselves Catholic or Protestant and not worshipping anymore. The head of the federal Conservative became the Liberal Prime Minister. The former president of the Liberal Youths became head of the A.D.Q. (Conservative party in disguise). A Liberal Minister created the Parti Québécois, and a Federal Conservative Minister created the Bloc Québécois...of Socialist leaning.
Then we had two referenda on sovereignty with questions so obscure that only a theologian could make heads or tails of them, and both with rather inconclusive results. We are still wondering who really won the last one.
These days no one really seems to know who is who and where all that will lead us. Got any idea where the North is?

dimanche 10 mai 2009

Les temps changent, Oh Yeah!

Le calme est revenu. Mon fils et sa petite famille (comme disent mes filles) sont repartis. Le tourbillon Ariane s'active maintenant dans la voiture de ses parents et Alexis se désespère de devoir attendre d'arriver chez lui pour manger son Jell'O citron.
Le repas fut une oeuvre collective: mes filles ont préparé le gâteau aux carottes que leur mère aime tant, ma femme a dégourdi les homards et j'ai cuit, au BBQ les médaillons de boeuf.
While barbecuing I was thinking of man in the kitchen. My grandmother and my mother-in=law could not bear to have a man in their kitchen; my mother did not want a kitchen, period; my wife enjoys my help and would be much mortified if I did not participate. My daughters can't even begin to imagine that I would not cook the meats.
On this mothers' Day, I figure many fathers have donned an apron and done the dishes and most people will say: "No big deal".
Oui, les temps ont bien changé...et c'est très bien ainsi.

samedi 9 mai 2009

Poor mixer

Would you believe it? I am a Sunbeam mixer killer. Two weeks ago at the McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement Odette spoke of a recipe book based on la Comtesse de Ségur née Rostopchine's children books. Since the good Comtesse peopled my lonely sickly child's days, I was curious about those recipes so I went to la Grande Bibliothèque du Québec in Montreal and got the book.
I got hung on a bread recepi. Mind you I never baked bread in all of my 78 years but I very foolishly went on. The first try did not rise and could have been used to stone somebody. The second try got a little better and was, at least, edible. The third try is the best. My raisin bread is light and fluffy, a nice golden color and very tasty.
Alas! I added the raisins at the wrong moment...and some gears broke. We now have a very good raisin bread...but no more mixer.


Depuis un certain temps, des amis "bloggers" me disent de commencer. à mon tout, un blog. Bon bien, me voici! je me joins à la communauté bloggante.
À bientôt,
Paul Costopoulos