My Vinyl

Leave a comment

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Music has been of great comfort during this Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also led to a lot of going through boxes and collections of things and making some decisions — keep, donate, or toss?

I have written before about my “45” vinyl collection and I think I might be ready to let it go now. From time to time, I pull out the index card in the storage tote to check if I really did buy a certain title or not when different songs or bands come up in conversation. I could probably keep that list. But as I look through my collection of forty-three 45’s, I really don’t think I would ever play many, if not most, of the songs again (on turntable or otherwise). There is a lot of high school in that little tote!

I have two that I think I would listen to again for sure — my first purchase and my last!. I mentioned those two in my first “45” post — From Melanie to Squeeze! But I can find both on YouTube for a good listen or a live performance.

So I may finally weed this old collection down to few and figure out where to donate the rest. Muskrat Love, anyone? Bohemian Rhapsody? Oh, but I do have a stack of Beatles 45’s that I got from older members in my family so maybe I will hang onto those…. Will I get to this same stage of letting go with my “LP” collection?

Do you have a song or two that makes you instantly think of high school? Good or bad, or both? Do you still have the song(s) handy? If so, in what format do you listen to them? Did you ever play the B side of 45’s? Do you have any “45” advice for me?

Ticket in a Teapot

4 Comments

A number of years ago, I bought a cool looking teapot at an estate sale (photo above). I was into collecting unique or antique teapots at the time. When I was about to clean this particular new find, I noticed a piece of paper folded up inside it. Instant curiosity! Of all things, it was an “Irish Sweepstakes” ticket! Date: 1965

Front of ticket
Back of ticket

It didn’t take long for my husband to look up to see if it had been a winner — Nope. I still didn’t toss it though. I came across it again in a recent flurry of going though stuff in the house. I suggested to my husband that we could probably throw it out now. This time he searched eBay — mint condition tickets are up for sale at 20 – 30 dollars. Well, this one is in crisp, mint condition, but who would really want to buy one?

Further reading confirmed that such Irish Sweepstakes draws are no longer being held. They ran from 1939 to 1986. It all started as a good cause to help fund Irish hospitals. I didn’t know that it also involved horse races and it led to illegal ticket purchases in other countries. According to Wikipedia, many tickets did not make it back to the rotating drums in Ireland for the draw! I guess this ticket is one of them? I wonder what the real story is about this ticket tucked into a teapot!

So I guess we are going to hang onto it for a bit longer…

The things I wouldn’t know about if I hadn’t bought a funky teapot 🙂 Do you have story about an unexpected or surprising find? Have you ever found a winning lottery ticket?

Cider Rules

Leave a comment

Another “comfort drink” post for today…

I assume many people enjoy apple cider in the fall — warm or cold. It is delicious either way. But when it comes to warm, mulled apple cider, that is either a Christmas holiday or a cold day in January treat for me.

I prefer to simmer it in a crock pot to avoid boiling it. And it has to be apple cider not clear juice. (If you are wondering about the difference, a good explanation here.) I still use a mulling recipe that my husband and I got while visiting a fruit farm over 30 years ago when we lived in Southwestern Ontario (I remember a nice Christmas gift shop area set up for the season). When we moved back to NW Ontario, it was a bit more difficult to find fresh cider, but we managed to find some in a few local markets before Christmas.

Eventually we strayed from that fresh pressed cider rule. I think it had to do with purchasing a commercial brand apple juice and discovering that it had a similar consistency and flavour as cider. A label did claim that it was “100% fresh pressed”, so I hope that means good apples! That led us to trying it out for the crock pot brew. So after many years, we made the switch! Not to plug the brand, but it has to be Tropicana now… 🙂

We still have the original little recipe card with the farm’s logo (The only other thing I have added to recipe was some ground nutmeg).

We often wondered if the farm that introduced us to apple cider still existed. After some poking around on the internet recently, I was able to learn that the farm is no longer there and the apple orchards are gone. I was able to find the exact location on Google maps. That south part of London is certainly not the rural country area we remember. The original Cornell sign is still visible, but faded. The signs below it advertise different businesses on the site (a fruit stand, at least, and a Greek restaurant). It’s funny what one can come across on the internet in a random search — I found a painting of the farm featured here.

Things have changed, but this recipe lives on with us and will always serve as a nice memory!

A Good Canadian Maple

3 Comments

No, not another post about a tree this time, but one for some good cheer…

A friend of mine was right. I really do like the maple cream liquor that she suggested I try. Sorry, Bailey’s Irish Cream, you’ve been replaced. The label on the bottle of Cabot Trail Maple Cream, further describes it as, “maple syrup cream liquor.” It is made in Quebec, but here is a good article about it from Ottawa Life Magazine. And if you want to know more about and/or travel (someday..) to explore the actual Cabot Trail, a resource from Nova Scotia here.

As the holidays approach, I will be thinking about different ways to use the cream liquor. So far, my husband and I have tried it with and without ice, in coffee, and on ice-cream. Hot chocolate next perhaps.

On what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday recently (Oct. 9), I recalled that his favourite alcoholic drink was a Brandy Alexander and that he had referred to it as “just brandy and milk”. I have never had that drink before, but I thought… hmm.. maple cream instead? I decided to find out what was in a Brandy Alexander for certain, and yes, most recipes list brandy or cognac, milk or cream or “half and half”, and dark creme de cacao. We do have a bit of dark creme de cacao left in a bottle, but it is used sparingly as we can no longer get it at the LCBO. We can still get and also have a bottle of the clear creme de cacao, but it doesn’t seem the same — chocolate should be brown. So, I went for it:

1/2 oz. of brandy, 1/2 oz. of dark creme de cacao, 1 oz. of maple cream.

It would be easy to adjust each of those measurements up or down (and use the white/clear creme de cacao), depending on taste or preference. I have named it a Chocolate Maple Brandy Alexander for our records. I also tried this combination in coffee. All very good — shaken or stirred!

Our favourite antique “leafy” fall glasses

I thought I would share this to my blog, since we can’t have a group of friends over for a cocktail and conversation during this on-going pandemic situation. We can only hope by Christmas, but not counting on it.

Feel free to share a recipe for a comfort drink that you enjoy in the winter or during the holidays. Is there a drink that you enjoy that reminds you of location or destination that you have visited, or hope to soon? Do you have any dark creme de cacao that you could spare me? 🙂

That One Post

Leave a comment

My blog is becoming less and less about education and I have been thinking about starting an alternate blog site. I often wonder about the value of my posts of the past, but they remain as archives for the time being. Visits to my blog are few now, which makes sense given I seldom post now. When I do post, I don’t always share further to social media. There has been some comfort with that — my blog is just my blog, a space of my own, but with an open door. I doubt a podcast would ever suit my needs.

But this was about one post…

From time to time, I check my blog stats and clear out spam comments. There is one post that consistently gets “hits” over the months, and now years, according to my stats. It isn’t a post that gets repeated spam comments either. I don’t have details on where the visits to the post originate, just the “via links to my blog site” information. The post isn’t about parent engagement or EQAO standardized testing, or even music 🙂 It is this one:

Appointed vs. Elected School Boards

I wrote it in 2015.

I did a quick follow up about the Chicago school board that I discussed as an example. A short internet search informed me that the board is still an appointed one, but a new mayor has promised to take action to bring back an elected board.

I will go with the assumption that the debate about the value of “appointed vs. elected” board members comes up a lot and the title of the post gets prompted when searching online for the answer. I suppose it might also be linked somewhere as a resource on the topic. But it is one blog post the lives on, for whatever reason.

Respectfully Opposing

2 Comments

I have a lot of “favourite links” saved and I have been weeding out some from my files. I came across a saved article from 2017 that I thought was relevant to the issues addressed in my/David’s recent post, What David Said.

I Respectfully Disagree: How to Have a Proper Argument

This article suggests possible paths to mutual respect during disagreement or discussing opposing viewpoints. I thought “The 10 Golden Rules of Argument” were good for in-person and to some degree, online dialogue:

  1. Be prepared – Make sure you know the essential points you want to make. Research the facts you need to convince your opponent.
  2. When to argue, when to walk away – Think carefully before you start to argue: is this the time; is this the place?
  3. What you say and how you say it – Spend time thinking about how to present your argument. Body language, choice of words and manner of speaking all affect how your argument will come across.
  4. Listen and listen again – Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Watch their body language, listen for the meaning behind their words.
  5. Excel at responding to arguments – Think carefully about what arguments the other person will listen to. What are their preconceptions? Which kinds of arguments do they find convincing.
  6. Watch out for crafty tricks – Arguments are not always as good as they first appear. Be wary of your opponent’s use of statistics. Keep alert for distraction techniques such as personal attacks and red herrings. Look out for concealed questions and false choices.
  7. Develop the skills of arguing in public – Keep it simple and clear. Be brief and don’t rush.
  8. Be able to argue in writing – Always choose clarity over pomposity. Be short, sharp, and to the point, using language that is easily understood.
  9. Be great at resolving deadlock – Be creative in finding ways out of an argument that’s going nowhere. Is it time to look at the issue from another angle? Are there ways of putting pressure on so that the other person has to agree with you? Is a compromise possible?
  10. Maintain relationships – This is absolutely key. What do you want from this argument? Humiliating, embarrassing or aggravating your opponent might make you feel good at the time, but you might have many lonely days to rue your mistake. Find a result that works for both of you. You need to move forward. Then you will be able to argue another day.

I know it isn’t as easy as some articles and advice can make it seem. Respectful dialogue requires effort and practice. I think it is something we can develop over a lifetime and experiences often teach us — negative and positive ones. Clarity in communication has become even more important with so much dialogue in online spaces now.

When I starting using Twitter about 10 years ago, conversation and debates about issues were frequent in my network. I don’t participate as actively anymore as compared to the past. I seldom post opinions now and I suspect that I am not alone in that. It can be overwhelming and easy to back away from discussions on social media. I often wonder if valuable insights and viewpoints get shut down or not heard at all in the often quick to dismiss or shame on social media? But if we tend to be mostly in ideological filter bubbles on social media platforms, how much does that matter?

I continue to use Twitter as a means of staying informed (Am I just a “lurker” now?). I try to be aware of various perspectives on an issue or event. I find that accessing information on current events through an associated hashtag feed can help reveal opposing viewpoints and the nuances to issues. Just like trying to understand disputes in person, there is often a larger context to many situations that “trend” on Twitter that may need time to consider before a response.

Reading replies to tweets or articles shared is another way to be exposed to different viewpoints or takes on a situation. Sure, that can be painful in ways, but too often I see an opinion responded to with name-calling or calling out, rather than, “Tell me more”, or “Where are you coming from with that?”. Or just leaving it…

Who else is looking forward to a few coffee shop conversations when the pandemic is behind us? 🙂

Another Good Tree Story

Leave a comment

I have read that trees can communicate among themselves, so I hope it is still okay to tell their stories!  (Last year, I wrote a Christmas related one.)

This time, a post about a travelling tree of sorts.  Or maybe just a sentimental tree story…

During the first few years that my husband and I were together, we moved from city to city and also within city a fair bit.  After a first out of town move, we bought a small pine tree for the front yard to help make the place our own.  Even though it was a rented townhouse, it was important at the time for some reason.  I am not absolutely certain why, but we chose a Swiss Stone Pine.

After one year, we moved again to a new city.  We dug up the little pine tree, put it in a pot, and then it went into the car with us for the drive across the province and into another (the rest of our household contents were transported by a moving company).  I don’t recall where we planted the young tree that fall at our newly rented house, but it did survive.  I know this for sure because, once again, we moved to a new city a year later, dug it up, and off into the car again — A little more south this time and back into Ontario.  Once again, I am not sure where in our new yard it got planted, but this time it got to spend some time in the same hole in the ground for 4 years!  Good thing it is a fairly slow growing tree!

We probably shouldn’t have moved the now maturing tree ever again, but… our next move was within the same city and it was the first house we bought, so…. up it came again!  This time, I clearly remember where we planted it in our front yard — and it survived and flourished!  How do I know this?:  Because it is still in that spot!  We did move from that “starter home” after 3 years or so and that time we did part ways with it (sob!).  Besides, we had 2 kids in tow by then 🙂  BUT, we still get to check on it! Just this past summer, we drove by and I snapped a photo! We should try to talk to the owners of the house one day, but I think the house has changed hands a few times now (we notice different cars over the years).  All have left the tree in its place, if you can imagine… 🙂

Just look at this beauty! (It’s not as close to the hydro wires as it looks):

After that drive by, I decided to research Swiss Stone Pine a bit more (the things one has time for during a pandemic!).  Should we get a brand new one for our yard?!  An online site informed me that they were planted around houses and yards in Switzerland as a symbol of good fortune.  Another online source informed that, yes, they are a slow growing species and that they do not transplant well.  Oh! 🙂  Will there come a day that we will discover that it was chopped down? That would be sad for us!

Do you have a favourite tree species?  Do you have it planted in your yard? Is there a tree that represents a symbol of something for you?  A favourite tree as the leaves turn colour in the fall?  Tree stories welcome!

Mask Productions

1 Comment

**Moments after I finished this post today, the Ontario premier issued a mandatory mask order for the entire province.  (I didn’t think there were any regions without one, but I guess we will find out?)

Just some thoughts about masks — then, now, ahead …

I live in a region that has stayed relatively low in risk and cases of the Covid-19 virus so far.  I was a bit surprised that the mask order came for my city before July was through.  Some of the rationale from local health and elected officials included that it would be proactive and help normalize mask wearing before a second wave and the flu season.  There was also the suggestion that it was a good idea given more business openings in Ontario’s Stage 3.  I think there is also hope that mask wearing will reduce or prevent future lockdowns.  It was also done in respect to schools opening in Sept. and to help the reopening proceed for schools.

As October begins, NW Ontario covid-19 cases still remain low.  Mask orders are across the region now, with the Kenora area’s order in effect since the middle of August (regions in Manitoba just started issuing orders in Sept.).  It might be difficult to know for sure how preventative mask wearing has been.  In the spring, we were not advised to wear them.  Here in the north, we got through the “first wave” without a crisis, but it was very scary for a long time for many.  I still wondered about the “buy-in” for masks in our region though, but it seems generally supported now.  The “civilian mask wars” on social media were a bit too much, I thought, and I avoided participating in those “discussions” that started up in the summer.

I am sure mask wearing will be a thing for quite some time ahead — or at least until next spring?  I know this is a good thing to do and something we can do.  I also think it is okay to let someone vent about the discomfort of wearing one without, “Would you rather wear a ventilator?” kind of response.  Not everyone can wear one in temperature controlled settings and some have to wear them for many hours.  Even the local health unit and a mental health service provider advised us to be kind and not question why someone might not be wearing one.

I think I have a good system now for wearing a medical, disposable one or a cloth one, depending on what I am doing.  I still do worry about the volume of the single use ones and where they will end up.  I still get concerned if people are not cleaning and wearing them properly.  And, instead of wearing a mask when one can’t distance, it often seems like some are not distancing as much because they were wearing a mask.  I am not sure if we have to worry about a shortage of masks ahead.  Production of cloth ones have been taken up by many businesses, companies and individuals.  I am still surprised that they have become used to promote businesses, organizations and products!  Maybe I should have seen that coming.

There is so much that we didn’t see coming since the pandemic started.  I hope we can get through this pandemic soon and celebrate the day that all things covid-19 and masks are “behind us”, if they really can be at some point in time!  Staying hopeful.

What David said…

1 Comment

There are many times I want to sit down and write a blog post to help me process and express about the various “sad state of things” in the world today, including what is often happening on social media now.  But then I often don’t get it all down, or I struggle to articulate it, or I just feel powerless to voice anything in the end.  What difference can a blogger or a blog post make? 

Yesterday, as most days, I read David Truss’s daily post to his blog.  David posts on a wide variety of topics and I admire his honest opinions and reflections that he includes in his blog posts.  I sense that it always comes from a place of caring with David too.  I have followed David (@datruss) on Twitter for about a decade now.

David’s post yesterday caught my train of thought.  He also linked a post that he wrote just over a year ago.  I may have missed that post at the time, but such relevance still to the present (although sadly so)!  He articulated what I haven’t been able to lately. 

From today’s post about Rose coloured glasses, David asks:

Rose coloured glasses suggests a positive outlook, what happens when our ‘glasses’, our viewpoint, is biased in a negative way? What if our view prevents us from seeing things that can benefit us?”

From his previous post, Ideas on a Spectrum:

In a civil society, dialogue is the one problem-solving strategy that should be sacred. To do this, free speech is essential. But right now there is a culture of ‘attack the opposition’ that is very scary. This seems to play out at its worst on Twitter:

~ A prominent person tweets something insensitive or careless and they are attacked as if every fibre of their being is evil.

~ A little-followed user tweets something ‘inappropriate’ and suddenly they are famous in the most infamous of ways.

~ A person with an unpopular opinion tweets that opinion and they become ‘memed’ as the poster child for ridicule on the topic.

I appreciate that David offers some thoughtful solutions, as that is the difficult part:

“I don’t pretend to have answers, but I’m pretty sure that two things can move us in the right direction”:

  1. We need to recognize the difference between opposing views shared in discussions and hurtful acts, and treat them differently. When someone does or says something harmful to a person or group of people, legal responses and a judicial process should prevail. When someone says something hurtful (as opposed to hateful/harmful/prejudiced), the response should be dialogue. That dialogue might not bring about any kind of consensus or agreement, but it is what we need to do in a civil society that allows freedom of opinion and speech.
  2. We need to move away from public attacks and shaming as recourse for every wrong-doing. Treating every mis-step and error a person makes as unforgivable is harmful to our society in two ways: First, it does not provide the space for apology, forgiveness, and learning; Secondly, it actually waters down the response when someone does something truly unacceptable and deplorable… if they are treated no worse than someone who mis-spoke and is apologetic. 

And as I write this post, I see that David has posted more on the topic today, and more specifically about social media (Read here). Please read his full posts to appreciate his appeal for a better discourse on social media and for a civil society. As always, I welcome comments or suggestions from readers of this blog, or you can leave David a comment on his posts.

Footage of the Falls: Back Then and Now

4 Comments

Included in my family’s old 16mm film collection that we recently archived and digitized, were a few reels of footage taken around the Thunder Bay area.  Some of my family members took a road trip to Niagara Falls, so there is plenty of footage from that trip and destination.  On the way, there was a stop at Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay, ON.  We edited two 16mm film reels with footage (one in colour and one in black & white) into one of “the falls” and loaded it up to our YouTube channel for this project.  Of course, it is just silent footage from the 1950s, but still pretty cool and it has reached close to 600 views now.  Recently we had a comment on that video on the channel.  Someone with their own channel of travel videos mentioned their recent visit to the falls.  I did what maybe they hoped I would do and scrolled through their uploads from a road trip.  Yup — one of Kakabeka Falls, with sound! 🙂

I thought it would be fun to post the two videos together here.  From back then and now — 70 years apart.

Then (the hotel is no longer there):

Now:

 

It is still better to see and hear the falls directly, of course.  I have camped at the provincial park/campground up the hill from the falls only once.  It was during a trip through Thunder Bay before my husband and I decided to move to the area.  We only had a small tent and we lasted one day after an animal was sniffing and scratching around our tent during the first night.  We still debate it to this day — bear or skunk?  Now I try to visit the falls at least once a year and it never gets old.

Readers, do you have a story or experience to share about “Niagara of the North”?

Older Entries Newer Entries