Saturday 31 December 2016

Wednesday 28 December 2016

The Matzo Ball That Ate Winnipeg

Since it's Hanukkah all this week -- Best Wishes to all who celebrate! -- I thought I'd tell you about the time I attempted to make matzo balls in Winnipeg about 35 years ago. MY WORST COOKING DISASTER EVER!

When I started university, I discovered the joy of eating matzo balls in chicken soup at a local Jewish deli which, alas, subsequently went out of business. (You can read my tribute to that beloved deli here, if you want). Anyway, being in serious matzo ball withdrawal, I decided to try making my own.

How hard could it BE? (said the Anglo-Saxon Gentile)

So I purchased a package of matzo ball mix from the grocery store and read the VERY minimalistic "how to" instructions on the back. I mixed the matzo meal with some oil and eggs as directed and brought my biggest pot of water to a boil. Then I formed the dough into balls.

Hmm, how BIG should I make them? The package provided no insight. Since the large matzo balls I'd eaten at the deli were about the size of the ones in the above photo, I made six similarly large matzo balls and put them all in the pot of boiling water.

Now, this is where being a Shiksa proved to be my undoing. I was, in fact, ignorant of a KEY PIECE of cultural knowledge. I'd never actually SEEN anyone make matzo balls before, of course. So HOW was I supposed to know that they SWELL UP LIKE A SONOVABITCH during the cooking process?

My back was to the stove when I heard this odd glub, glub, glub sound. I'll remember that sound as long as I live. It haunts me to this day.

"Slowly I turned . . ."

. . . and saw ONE HUGE, FUSED-TOGETHER, POSITIVELY MUTANT MATZO BALL in the process of RISING UP, UP, UP out of the pot and SPILLING OVER the sides!

Sort of like this, ONLY WORSE --

What an unholy MESS it made! I cleaned matzo dough off my stove for DAYS afterwards.

And on top of everything else, I STILL had no matzo balls for my soup! It just added insult to injury.

Sunday 25 December 2016

O Holy Night

One of my favourite renditions of this beautiful carol. I hope you will have time during this busy day to pause, listen and contemplate.

Merry Christmas to All Who Celebrate!

Saturday 24 December 2016

It's Christmas Eve!

And we all know what that means, don't we! Yes, time for some Egg Nog 'n Rum, my traditional tipple every year on this date.

Since it's only once a year, I'd better make it worthwhile, LOL!

I'm in deep denial, of course.

What can I say? Except . . .

Stole that last meme from Mistress Maddie, of course!

Anyway, here's some more denial . . .

But really, don't worry, I only ever actually have two drinks on Christmas Eve. That's about all the eggnog and rum I can tolerate, quite frankly. I'm not a big fan of either of those ingredients, individually or together, on any other occasion.

Besides, I can't afford to be hungover tomorrow. My Rare One and I are hosting a traditional turkey dinner for a bunch of friends so I've got to be upright and functional! But if something DOES go wrong, I have the perfect excuse, eh?

Just as a side note, the last time I did actually get blasted, I was drinking Black Russians. Good Lord, those things are strong. Well, at least in the size I make them. Oh, and I had some Daiquiris too in Maui. I forgot about those. Not a blackout situation, I swear!

[P.S. -- Don't believe my bullshit, folks. In reality, I'm practically a teetotaller].

Friday 23 December 2016

The Versatile Blogger Award

Last week, Captain Kirt of To Baldly Go . . . honoured me with this Versatile Blogger Award, the sweetie! He said some awfully nice things about me too, viz., "Debra blogs about life in Canada, she's genuine and a joy to read." Oh, you're making me blush! Thanks so much!

Captain Kirt is a talented cartoonist and illustrates his blog with his own work. He's got a charming style and produces such great toons! Here's two perfect examples showing The Captain engaged in a couple of his favourite recreational activities --

Now I'm supposed to tell you seven facts about myself, but here's the only one that counts today. I love quality cartooning! Always have, always will. I've been an avid fan of many cartoonists over the years, both mainstream and underground. I adore practically all cartooning styles and subject areas -- political, satirical, daily life, feminist, lesbigay, superheroes, just plain crazy, anything! Hell, I even love Garfield!

And I admire anyone who has the talent to produce their own cartoons. That's why I'm going to nominate for this award all my other favourite bloggers who habitually illustrate their blogs with their own cartooning work! Like Captain Kirt's, their cartoons bring joy to my life! If you don't already know their blogs, please check them out!

1. Bryan and Brandon at A Beer for the Shower

2. Gia at Mayor Gia

3. Cheryl at The Art of Being Conflicted

4. Ivy at The Happy Whisk

Thursday 22 December 2016

My Kinda Guy

Now, I enjoy watching a good hockey fight as much as the next Canadian, but this one is EPIC! Marcus Foligno of the Buffalo Sabres graphically demonstrated the other night that violence ISN'T everything!

To quote the incredulous announcers:

"That's a Pantene Pro-V commercial!"

"Who fixes their hair in a fight?"

Hey, he's entitled, you jerks! Look at that sexy hair! Rowrrrr!

Monday 19 December 2016

Everyone Loves Winter in Multicultural Canada

So for the past couple of weeks, all of Canada has either been frozen under a nasty Polar Vortex or else got hit with blizzards and snowstorms. Yes, EVEN Vancouver!

But the Maritime Bhangra Group from Nova Scotia shows us all how to embrace snow and winter JOYFULLY -- in the true Canadian way!

Bhangra is a traditional Punjabi dance style from India. Doesn't it look like FUN? The moves are sort of like a cross between Bollywood and hip hop.

The Maritime Bhangra Group film their dances in many beautiful locations in and around Halifax, Nova Scotia, such as Point Pleasant Park, Citadel Hill and Peggy's Cove. So they're good ambassadors for their home province too. Plus they use their dancing to raise donations for the ALS Society of Canada (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

I just LOVE these guys!

If you want to see more of their videos, click here.

Friday 16 December 2016

Anything to Declare?

Returning home from the United States after our recent holiday, we had to go through Canada Customs at Vancouver. When you are out of the country for more than 7 days, you can bring back $800 worth of purchases without paying any Canadian duty or taxes on them.

While on the airplane, I dutifully filled out my declaration paperwork in preparation for landing. I had $800 worth of purchases, if I didn't declare my new tattoo. If I declared it, it would put me at $1100 and I'd have to pay on the excess. Being scrupulously honest (of course!), I declared it.

So in Vancouver I was shunted off to a special line for miscreants who had exceeded their purchase allowances. I had to deal with a (*gulp*) Customs Officer. There she sat in uniform, in a booth behind glass, giving me the evil eye. And she was such a cutie! She reminded me of the adorably chubby RCMP Constable with the baby bear in that viral internet photo of a few years ago --

I probably had the same hangdog look on my face as the baby bear.

"What kinds of purchases did you make in the United States?" She looked up from my paperwork.

"Well, you know," I gestured vaguely in the air, "touristy stuff."

"Like what?" Officer Cutie demanded.

"Oh, knick-knacks, cards, t-shirts, that kind of thing." I was jet-lagged and couldn't for the life of me remember what I had bought.

"I find it very hard to believe that anyone could spend $1100 dollars on items like that." Her voice was frosty and her evil eye grew more accusatory.

"Really?" I was gobsmacked. I thought I had, in fact, shown great shopping restraint while I was in Maui.

Then I remembered what I had been so careful to bring along in my purse.

"Here's an itemized list of all my purchases, with receipts attached, if you want to look at it," I said and handed it to her.

I've always been an organized, OCD kinda gal. I caught Officer Cutie off-guard with my meticulous list, I just know it. She was much friendlier after that.

She read it and said, "Tattoo?"

"Yes, that's what puts me over the limit."

"I've never had anyone declare a tattoo before."

"Well," I said helpfully, "I know that when you go to the States and pay for services like dental work or auto repairs, you have to declare it at the border."

"Yes, or if you get prescription glasses or a boob job," she agreed.

"So I figured I'd better declare my tattoo," I chirped.

Officer Cutie paused.

"I think it's arguable that, unlike those other examples, tattooing does not constitute a service resulting in an enhancement or an improvement, as the legislation requires in order for it to be a declarable item," she said.

It was my turn to pause.

"Well, yes, I suppose you could be right," I reluctantly conceded, remembering how not everyone thinks well of tattoos.

"I'm removing it from your list as a non-declarable item. Now you do not exceed the allowable purchase limit, so no taxes or duty are payable."

She stamped my form and gave me a sweet smile.

I'd like to tell you that I blew her a kiss and said "Thanks, Officer Cutie!" but of course I did nothing of the kind. I just high-tailed it out of there before she changed her mind.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Kwitcherbitchin -- Xmas Edition

Christmas is not the wonderful holiday it USED to be back in the day. The world has CHANGED.

Now people just want to BITCH about everything.

Kwitcherbitchin about inclusivity! Sheesh!

Christmas has ALWAYS been inclusive of a whole bunch of other holiday traditions.

People get bent out of shape by EVERY LITTLE THING, it seems.

Just ENJOY the holiday and try not to be SELFISH or GREEDY.

Everyone is so SOUR these days, no wonder THIS is now the best selling candy cane flavour!

Let's do BETTER, people!

Monday 12 December 2016

Ka-CHING-le Bells

But SOMETIMES a store really DOES help spread the Christmas spirit! Take a look at this delightful short video filmed before a surprised but appreciative audience of shoppers in a German supermarket!

Thanks to Leeanna of Can We Have a New Witch, Ours Melted, on whose blog I first saw this.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Hymns Old and New -- Anthem

I've been a huge Leonard Cohen fan since I was a teenager in the early 1970s, so I was very sad to learn of his death last month at 82 years old. Apart from being an amazing Canadian poet-singer-songwriter, his spiritual search and questioning always drew me to his music. He had no illusions about the nature of love, spirituality or the world, yet dedicated his passion and heartbreak to all three.

I consider his song Anthem to be a modern hymn in every sense of the word. It is his profound meditation on the Divine and the human spiritual journey.

The birds, they sing
At the break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be.

Yeah, the wars
They will be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold and bought again
The dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
The signs were sent:
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah, the widowhood of every government
Signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places say their prayers out loud
But they've summoned, they've summoned up a thundercloud
They're gonna hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
You won't have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
That's how the light gets in
That's how the light gets in.

I love every aspect of these lyrics but two images in particular resonate deep within me. First, the very Jungian concept that it is through our imperfections and repressed selves (our shadows) that wholeness and healing (formerly known as salvation and redemption) are achieved. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. Human perfectability is a harmful lie and there's no point in expecting this or holding anyone to that unrealistic standard. Everyone and everything is flawed by its very nature.

And the second image strikes me to the core as well -- every heart, every heart to love will come, but like a refugee. I think the word "love" as used here is code for "the Divine." This image expresses a great and profound truth about the spiritual journey. People sometimes naively think the spiritual journey is all about hearts, flowers and blissful insights but in reality, it's an arduous, devastating and often perilous experience. By the time you arrive at the end of your search, you are indeed like a refugee -- battered, bruised, a survivor of the immense pain and suffering of life but also so very grateful to be safe at last, at long last, in a new home. The spiritual journey is not for the faint of heart.

Thank you, Leonard Cohen. May you rest in peace, your long journey done.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Hipster Nativity

Last Christmas, I featured a blog post about Hipster Santa (see here) but this year EVERYBODY'S getting in on the act! Look who's just received an "Instagram-worthy makeover" according to the Modern Nativity website --

YES! Finally, a nativity scene for the 21st century! Hey, check out the SOLAR PANELS on that stable roof, all you energy consumption criminals who still rely on oil, gas or coal!

No need for Renaissance masters to paint the Holy Family's portraits anymore -- Mary and Joseph can take their OWN selfies now, thank you very much. All while wearing the latest styles. And I have it on good authority that Joseph is sporting a MAN BUN too. But jeez, isn't "duck face" over YET?

Behold the Three Wisemen with their "tricked out segways" -- camels are SO yesterday -- and their cool hipster outfits! Doesn't EVERYONE do their Christmas shopping online at now? I know I do. And finally, as the website says: "It’s crazy to think that the Wisemen followed a star in the sky to find Jesus, rather than using Google Maps, but who are we to judge?"

Even the Little Shepherd Boy is now a COOL TEENAGE DUDE uploading the whole scene onto Instagram with his phone. His flock has been updated too and consists of a 100% organic milk cow eating gluten-free feed and a sheep in a FUGLY Christmas sweater.

I notice that the only character who DIDN'T receive a hipster makeover is Baby Jesus. I guess the manufacturers of this nativity set thought that might be a bit TOO controversial, so they didn't cross that line. But really -- why should HE be left out of the FUN? Give that kid a onesie with some crazy pop culture reference on it!

But if you'd prefer, there are CHRISTIAN onesies on the market too. Here's a couple that would be JUST PERFECT for Baby Jesus --

Friday 2 December 2016

Yeah, Yeah, Deck the Effin' Halls

Well, here we are in December and I have absolutely NO Christmas Spirit.


It's not that I'm depressed or anything, although I do admittedly have a wee touch of perfectly understandable post-holiday blahs. For whatever reason (and I'm not saying it's that goddamn Trump), I just don't have my jingle on for Christmas 2016. Even listening to all of my most beloved Christmas carols failed to kick-start my ho-ho-ho!

So unless things change and soon, it looks like this year I'm doomed to be the bastard love child of an unholy three-way between Scrooge, Grumpy Cat and the Grinch. *shudder*

You have been forewarned.

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Thank You, Donald Trump!

The man hasn't even been inaugurated yet as president and already he's scored A Yuge Win for the Blogosphere for which I am profoundly grateful. He has single-handedly inspired Anne Johnson to revive her blog, The Gods Are Bored, which she had discontinued a year ago!

The Gods Are Bored is the very first blog that I ever read back in the mists of time about 10 or 11 years ago when I scarcely even knew what a "blog" was. I was immediately captivated by Anne's delightful tales concerning (among other things) bored pagan deities with far too little to occupy their time in this modern world, her family and job, Decibel the parrot, her obsession with upholstery, a mysterious poet friend named The Monkey Man, her Druid circle and her passionate environmental and other causes.

Anne honours the Sacred Thunderbird and enthusiastically serves as a local vulture festival's mascot each year. Here she is in action!

Her passion for fun, play and dress-up also extends to being a member of the Two Street Stompers mummers group every year in Philadelphia's New Years Day Mummers Parade.

She's in this photo somewhere!

Anne is deeply committed to human rights and equality. She is not going to sit by idly or silently as everything that has been achieved in the USA to date comes under attack. So she has revived her blog as a chronicle of her upcoming efforts. I encourage you all to check out The Gods Are Bored and follow along for the ride!

[All images blatantly stolen from The Gods Are Bored blog]

Monday 28 November 2016

Oh, Did I Not Mention My New Tattoo?

Ooops, I did it again! Yes, I got another tat while I was in Maui!

[Photo by My Rare One,
who still does not really like tattoos at all
but who continues to adjust]

While my first tat was positively packed with personal and spiritual significance, this tattoo, by comparison, is purely decorative and maybe even kinda frivolous. Hell, it's basically one step up from a rainbow unicorn, isn't it?

But who cares, I just lurves it cuz it's purty!

And actually, it does have some symbolism too. Apart from reminding me of beautiful Maui, I had the plumeria flowers inked in purple / mauve / lavender, the traditional coded colour that represents our lesbigay community.

Okay, kids, true confession time now. Getting the second tattoo did hurt much more than the first one. I had to clench my teeth a few times during the tattooing process, I admit it. But even so, the discomfort was still NOTHING compared to the severe menstrual pain which at one time in my life I had to endure on a monthly basis:

Let me conclude with some rhetorical questions, if I may.

Is it wrong of me to yank My Rare One's chain by telling her that this tat is simply the first in what will ultimately be a Full Sleeve? Hahahahahahahaha! Or am I not really kidding?