New is not necessarily better

Remember Easy Bake ovens?


New is not necessarily better

The original toy used an ordinary incandescent light bulb as a heat source. Betty Crocker, the company behind the cake mixes sold for the toy, had flavors like German Chocolate to Rainbow Chip even back in the day.

My daughter begged for one when she was about seven and played with hers–unsupervised, yes, unsupervised for what harm could a light bulb do?–for hours on end, generously sharing her goodies with the family.

My granddaughter also dreamed of owning an Easy Bake Oven so of course indulging grandparents bought her one for her birthday–a rather cumbersome affair that looks nothing like an oven.

New is not necessarily better

Unfortunately, this model is electric, must be plugged in and warmed up for 20 minutes. The baker has to slide the pan into a slot, ensure that it is centered and wait 9 minutes while the cake or cookies bake, push the tray a little further along into the cooling area and then engage in the delicate maneuver of removing the bake goods from the slot on the other side of the oven.

Now, my granddaughter is bright, but this cannot be accomplished on her own. With the amount of supervision required we might as well bake a “real” cake.

Give me the good old oven any day.


Now, to handle the media….

Facebook, The New York Times, Twitter, CNN, MSN, magazine, gossip rags, blogs … really, what is one to believe?

Now, to handle the media....

Meditation and yoga to help kids? You hit the share button. Then someone comments, “Who are the behavioral specialists and who pays them? This seems like it would take some extra funding. They do this in Baltimore in a underprivileged neighborhood? Really?

Mind moves to, “All schools should do this, if it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

4Ocean–two young guys trying to do their bit by cleaning up garbage from beaches. Awesome! Let’s send a donation. Then someone claims it’s all a scam. You do some digging. Scam. Scam. Scam. But wait, the BBB says they are legit. But, is the BBB site you’re looking at legit?

Mind moves to, “How can I help, if it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

Headlines scream from the magazine rack. Brad and Jennifer reuniting now that they’re both single. Not a chance, screams the next.

Mind moves to, “Ooh, how romantic! If it’s true.”

Now, to handle the media....

Twins? Wait a minute. The palace always makes formal announcements. Not a family member herself.

Mind moves to, “Gotta be fake, but … perhaps best to wait and see.

So do we give up? Stop reading the news? Research endlessly before we decide to believe? Go with our gut? Or, move to a desert island?


Emeril Lagasse is alive and well – in Mexico

Remember these?

Emeril Lagasse is alive and well - in Mexico

BAM! Let’s knock it up a notch.

Emeril Lagasse is alive and well - in Mexico

Rich vanilla ice cream with Frutas Tropicales is my favorite although you may like to try some of the other flavors.




Happy New Year!

May 2018 be filled with the good things of life.

Happy New Year


Once again we’re at the Christmas Tree Festival in Victoria, BC and we say:

Merry Christmas !

from the book club.

Merry Christmas - Feliz Navidad


Feliz Navidad !

from Mexico.

Merry Christmas - Feliz Navidad

Wishing everyone a wonderful Holiday Season.


























Uzo and I discuss the flood that forced him out of his house. I sympathize with his predicament and comment that I have some understanding of living in rough conditions.

When I was a child we lived on a farm in Saskatchewan—no electricity and no running water. In the warm weather my dad lowered pails with butter and cream and milk down the well to just above water level and that acted as a fridge, but no freezer of course so vegetables, fruits, meat and chicken had to be canned.

Our house was very small – 2 rooms and we had to fight the cold in winter. Water came from a well and my mother melted snow in big pots on the stove to do laundry and wash dishes and bath us. If she hung clothes on the line to dry on a not quite so cold day, she warned us not to go near them as they could freeze and would break if we touched them.

How do you explain a Canadian winter to your Nigerian friend?

I send him a couple of pictures explaining that in the first picture you see my sister and me. The building behind us is the barn. It was much bigger than our house. In the second picture you can see the ice that has formed on the horses’ nose. His breath has frozen from the cold. My dad pumped water from the well for the horses into a big water trough. In the winter the water in the trough froze and he had to chop a hole in it so that the horses and cattle could drink.

I comment that when our Malian friend came to visit one winter, he spent the whole time on the floor in front of our fireplace.

Uzo replies,

LOL! I probably would have done the same thing—add as much logs as I can to the fire. And yes, I think I remember Raymond. You mentioned him in your book, Mali to Mexico and Points in Between, right?  So, do you guys drink more tea/coffee (depending on the consumer’s preference) during winter?

I tell him that I don’t drink either and I don’t think people drink more, but they do add hot chocolate when it’s cold.

You gave a vivid description of what winter feels like. I used to think it’s a little easier for white people to move about during this time of the year considering the texture of their hair, but it appears I am wrong. 

Our hair does nothing to protect us from the cold and we need to wear many layers of clothing in the worst of winter. We live in Victoria now and don’t usually get any snow at all and it’s not very cold here especially compared to the prairies where we used to live.

Is it okay to skate on the ice?

Yes. In fact we did that with our children when they were little and we went to the Rocky Mountains. The ice was several feet thick and clear so we could see through it to the water below. Also there was a stream near our house and one winter it froze before the snow started so we could skate on it. Sometimes people go out on thin ice and do fall through.

 Is there any place in Canada that is mostly cold like Alaska? 

Up north for sure – don’t forget Canada extends to the Arctic.

Now I’m having second thoughts about walking on snow, LOL.

I think you would enjoy the experience—once!!




The things we take for granted

“I can relate with your excitement as a child when you and the rest of your family moved to Edmonton—and my goodness, your story gave me a good laugh,” Uzo writes. (I was 9 when we moved and I had told Uzo that I was so fascinated with the flush toilet that I got up several times to use it until my mother finally told me to get back to bed and stay there.)

“The day I left Mambilla plateau,” he adds, “I was so eager to browse the Internet, to watch TV, and to enjoy other modern conveniences. That night in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba, I couldn’t sleep; even as an adult, I was so excited about just everything. Everything looked new. I remember I did stare at the bulb in my room from time to time, praying it stayed that way—that it continued to shine its yellow light (the country’s electricity generation has barely improved since then).”

How lucky we are to have power we can count on.


Who knew the munchkin’s field trip to the dump would be so interesting?

I’m the designated driver for the munchkin’s school field trips. Some are more interesting than others, but who knew the trip to Hartland Landfill would be so fascinating?

Who knew the munchkin's field trip to the dump would be so interesting?

The site is huge with a gas-to-electricity plant, a recycling and salvage area, a yard waste area….

We tour the 400 acre site by bus and our guide explains that there are 82 categories for recycling – bikes are sent to be refurbished and given to charity – that the solar panels spotted by the kids are used to create electricity to run the water testing stations.

When we reach the “garbage” area, the kids (grades 3 and 4) are most impressed with the piles of mattresses and the huge compactor and the fact that 3 hawks help to keep birds away so that they don’t get sick from picking at the garbage.

Who knew the munchkin's field trip to the dump would be so interesting?

Google satellite view

The technology of the “dump,” as we called it when we were kids, is impressive. Significant measures are in place to reduce the impact of waste on the environment and the site creates enough electricity to power 1,200 houses.

Eventually, likely by 2049, this landfill will have reached it’s limit and will be re-purposed.

After the tour the kids participate in an activity bound to capture their attention. The guide dumps a garbage can of party left-overs on the table. Soiled paper napkins, paper plates, plastic cutlery, juice boxes, etc. She challenges the kids to work in groups to find ways to plan a party reducing the garbage and keeping the budget under $40.

Armed with a grocery store flyer and the list of items for a party of 10 kids they set to work. The groups list the things they can use from home: cloth napkins, metal forks and spoons, glasses and a cloth tablecloth and then “buy” the food.

Every group comes in under budget (the highest at $30.20) and with 11 to 12 garbage points. The original party left-overs clocked in at $64 and 49 garbage points.

On the way home, Grandpa, who didn’t bring his water bottle along, says he wants to stop and buy a bottle of water.

The munchkin reacts: “Seriously! After what you just saw?”

Grandpa waits until we get home to have a drink.




We need a temperature test before marriage


He owns dozens of heavy sweaters and jackets. I have one that hangs in the closet.

He wears jeans, long johns, boots, a sweater, a jacket, a hat, and gloves. I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and runners. We look unbelievably incongruous walking side by side.

He turns the heat up. I turn it down.

He turns on the gas fireplace. I turn it off.

He piles on extra blankets. I drag in the fan and set it up on my side of the bed.

He wants to cuddle. I can’t take the heat.

We knew none of this before we got married. Really, there has to be a better way.


Do we really need k?

Do we really need k?

Playing word games in my head trying to combat insomnia brought me to the realization that “k” is a pretty useless letter.

I mean, how many 2 letter words can you make with it? Kf isn’t a word. Kh isn’t a word. Kn isn’t a word. I get nowhere trying to sleep with k. M on the other hand? Ma, me, my and assorted abbreviations—ml, mc, md, MP, Mr., MS, m…zzzzzzzzz.

This observation got me to thinking about k words. We can neel on our nees without the k. We can nit without the k. We can cut with a nife just as well as a knife.

And then there’s the question of words like cat. Why not kat (after all it’s kitten not citten)? Or why circus and not cirkus? Try explaining those anomalies to an English as a Second Language learner.

What about the ck blend, you ask. Let’s go for the soft and hard c instead. French has delightful little accent marks to guide pronunciation. We could adopt some for ourselves. Quick becomes quiç or qui¢ or quiċ. Knack becomes naċ. The possibilities are endless.

As for my cousin Kirk … I’m sure he has a middle name.