Thank you for all of the well wishes and I apologize for the lack of updates!
The husband's surgery was quite a bit more extensive than what it was originally thought to be. It turns out that the military doctor who did the initial surgery five years ago was a "hack", so it was not just a matter of repair, but a matter of undoing what had originally been done. The patient is still in quite a bit of pain but he is doing better and can now get around on his own. He has surgery again next week.
In the meantime, things have been exciting here. The eggs in our BBQ have all hatched and we can now hear the little birds chirping away. I will try to get some photos of them when they are big enough to make their debut! I am not exactly sure what kind of birds they are. The adults are about the size of a robin but black, with a yellow beak, and bright orange feet. Any ideas? They are probably something very common, especially in the midwest.
The husband is having surgery (x2) and the mother in law is in town.
Canadian Expatriates should be back to business in a few days.
In the meantime, The Expat Blog will host a "Carnival of Trackbacks". If you have a post that you would like to share, whether it is something that you have written or something that you have seen on another blog, feel free to trackback to it or add the url to the comments section of this post.
Questioning Canada's Constitutional Monarchy by Expat
As residents and protocol offices in Saskatchewan and Alberta are making eleventh hour preparations in anxious anticipation of the Queen's visit, it is becoming clear just how little the Queen, as head of state, is really involved in matters Canadian, particularly when those matters are political.
While Paul Martin's minority government clings to power and sits on the absolute brink of destruction, the Queen will be touring the two prairie provinces as they gear up to celebrate the centennial anniversary of their inauguration. The Queen does not intend to get involved in Canada's current political conflict, but rather stick to her itinerary.
It is hardly surprising that the Queen is reluctant to get involved with the situation. Afterall, the Canadian Constitution greatly limits her role when it comes to politics. For all intensive purposes, the Queen is considered to be little more than a figurehead leader, yet Canadians spend ridiculous amounts of money each year to keep her representatives, the Lieutenant Governors and the Governor General, living in style as they fulfill their role of also being "above politics".
According to John Aimers, dominion chair of the Monarchist League of Canada, "The monarchy represents the things that Canadian's agree about - it's a unifying principle - and partisan political politics, which is a necessary part of our system, represents the things we disagree about. I think it's good to have the two appear together as it seems will happen. Then Canadians can see both the formal and the raucous parts of our constitution working together and working well."
Perhaps, or does the Queen's visit at such a time of turbulence lead to questions as to the relevance of the monarchy's role in Canada and highlight the fact that although the monarchy "represents the things that Canadians agree about", the role of the monarchy itself is one of those points of Canadian dissention?
As I walked up the driveway to our house, I could hear our four birds happily singing away in the bird room, but something was out of place. There was another little voice that was calling along with them.
I walked up to our front porch and saw a fledgling robin sitting on the edge of my flower box. He looked out of proportion, with a large fluffy body, long skinny legs, gargantuan yellow beak, and tiny head. He was calling out for his mother and our birds were answering back.
I searched the sky for his parents, wondering how someone so little could be sitting on my porch all alone. He did not even know enough to be afraid of me when I first approached to see what was making the noise. I saw a bird circling the sky about half a block away, frantically calling. I wondered if that was the poor baby's mother.
All night the little bird slept on the edge of my flower box, balancing on one leg with his little feathered head tucked beneath his wing. All night I slept lightly, rising to check on him. A thunderstorm warning had been issued. I prayed that there would be no storm, that there would be no rain. I prayed that the baby bird would be safe.
Up at 5 am, I went to check on the baby. He had jumped from one side of the flower box to the other. He was crying out in hunger. Where were his parents? I was looking up the phone numbers for wildlife refuges and bird sanctuaries in our area when the chirping stopped. Concerned I went to check on him. He was gone. Not sure whether to be relieved or not, I went to the dogs' room to peer out the window. There was the little robin hip hopping across our yard and into the street. A blue truck sped past my window. Please keep him safe, I prayed.
Afraid to look, but knowing I had to, I searched the road for the little baby. He was not there. He had made it safely to the other side of the yard. He was now hip hopping across the neighbours' yard and hip hopped up the ten steps to the neighbours porch. He was safe, at least for now.
Two robins flew past and landed on the porch next door. I watched as the red breasted male flew off of the porch and into the other neighbours' yard. He was looking for the baby. He was going in the wrong direction. He then hip hopped, chirping, across the yard, back into the original yard. He must have heard the baby's cries because he hip hopped up the ten steps to the neighbour's porch then hovered above the baby's head, madly flapping his wings. The baby was in trouble. The female robin heard the racquet and came over to do the same thing. She first hovered above the baby, furiously flapping her wings, and then hovered over the male, wings madly flapping. Dad was in trouble too.
The family of robins, reunited after a long cold night, hip hopped to the side of the house and away from view.
"You realize that you are crazy when it comes to birds," said my husband.
I was silent, acting like it was normal to have a blackbird nesting in our BBQ.
One can only surmise that the security of this blog has been breached and that there is a spy amongst us gathering information on all things Canadian. As such, Canadian Expatriates is now going into lockdown. This is a temporary measure until the borders of this blog can be fortified with roving bands of vicious beavers and Canucks can, once again, speak freely of attaining world domination.
Dated, confusing, and boring. Those are the words that critics are using to describe Canada's Food Guide, a resource which has been used to define healthy eating in Canada for the last six decades. In response, Health Canada is holding meetings across the country, asking Canadians for input into the updated guide. One of the major goals is to have the new guide reflect Canada's cultural mosaic.
We at Canadian Expatriates feel bound by civic duty to provide some input into the new Guide. Exactly what food would reflect this "cultural mosaic" that Health Canada refers to? Why, Tim Hortons, of course. It is a main staple of every Canadian's diet, but it is already featured on the guide to healthy eating. You will find the doughnut representing Tim Hortons above the loaf of bread and under the upside down chocolate éclair. (Thanks to The Maple Lounge for revealing that doughnuts are healthy!)
Poutine is another food which should see its way into the new multicultural guide. Sure, some refer to the tastey dish as a "heart attack on a plate" but does that really matter? It is not like your diet of chocolate éclairs and Timbits are doing your cholesterol levels any favours either. Besides, if the new food guide is to truly represent all of Canada, it must include the tastes of French Canada (well, until Quebec separates anyway) and what better food would act as a culinary ambassador than poutine québécoise?
To be fair to the Acadians and to New Brunswick, poutine râpée should also be included in the new guide. According to Wikipedia, this dish consists of "a ball of grated and mashed potato, salted, filled with pork in the centre, and boiled. The result is a moist greyish ball about the size of a baseball. It is commonly eaten with salt and pepper or brown sugar." Not exactly appetizing, but it does lend itself well to Health Canada's multicultural mission!
Canada's Food Guide just would not be Canadian if we did not include the quintessential tastes of Canada: Mr.Big, Coffee Crisp, Smarties, Crispy Crunch, Old Dutch Chips, and Good Host Iced Tea. To honour Winnipeg, the Slurpee consumption capital of the world, we will include Coke Slurpees as Manitoba's contribution to the guide.
We should also be sure to include the culinary delicacies of all of the provinces and territories so that the guide can claim to be a true representation of our proud nation. Prairie Oysters will do a fine job of representing Alberta's beef industry, Ogopogo steaks and weed will offer a taste of British Columbia, and Saskatoon pie will be included on behalf of the Skatchers. Ontario's contribution to the guide shall be Beaver Tails (not the rodent variety), and Newfoundland will quench our thirst with some Screech.
It really does not matter what is chosen to represent Prince Edward Island as long as Anne of Green Gables is featured prominently on the packaging for marketing purposes. Nova Scotia will be represented by the McLobster and the Yukon will contribute the Sourtoe Cocktail (better stock up on those petrified toes to make sure there is enough to go around!). The residents of Nunavut have graciously donated seal flippers which were soaked in blubber until the fur was easily removed (a real northern delicacy) and the North West Territories will provide Canadians with maktaaq, a high calorie snack of raw whale skin.
Oh yes, I see good things in the future for this new Food Guide.
1. Iced tea in Canada and iced tea in the States are two completely different animals. Canucks tend to drink very sweet iced teas that come from either a powder or a syrup; whereas, Yanks go for the real deal brewed from tea bags (and heavily sweetened in the South).
2. Canadians raised on five pin bowling really suck when it comes to ten pin.
3. Although Yanks may call Canabuck "Monopoly money", the colourful bills do serve a purpose. It is much easier to sort through a stack of coloured bills at the cash register than it is to sort through a fistful of all green bills.
4. The American media hates Canada, which isn't really surprising considering that the media hates everything and constantly takes that angle when reporting. Everything becomes a smear campaign - not even Paula Abdul is safe.
6. Speaking of chocolate, chips, and pop, they are so much cheaper Stateside! (Again, fight against that coin folks!)
7. American drivers definitely "drive it like they own it" and do not stop for pedestrians.
8. Mountain Dew in the States contains caffeine (hooray!) and also has a plethora of not so tastey offspring - Diet Mountain Dew, Code Red (cherry), Diet Code Red, Limewire (orange), Pitch Black (grape), Baja Blast (lime), and Electrocution (wild berry).
The list, broken by down by decade, is as follows:
1950's - 1970's Do you Eat the Red Ones Last? (1967) Smarties, Nestle Canada Inc., Ogilvy and Mather Mona Lisa (1973) Caramilk, Cadbury Chocolate Canada Inc., Scali McCabe Sloves Milk Moustache (1974) Ontario Milk Marketing Board, Ogilvy and Mather The Road (1975) A&W Food Services of Canada, The Woodall Workshop
1980's Atlas Ketchup (1980) H.J. Heinz Co., Vickers and Benson It Tastes Awful. And It Works (1985) W.K. Buckley Ltd., Ambrose Carr DeForest & Linton
1990's Bike Story (1990) Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., Doner Schur Peppler Stuck (1996) Fruit of the Loom, Leo Burnett
2000's The Rant (2001) Molson Canada, Bensimon Byrne DArcy Dog Tired (2003) Pinesol, Palmer Jarvis DDB
You stand in "line-ups" or "queues" at the movies, not lines. You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk". You understand the sentence, "Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled my bowl of poutine!" You eat chocolate bars instead of candy bars. You drink pop, not soda.
You had a PM who wasn't fluent in either of the official languages. You know what it means to be 'on the pogey'. You know that a mickey and 2-4's mean "Party at the camp, eh?!" You can drink legally while still a teen in some provinces. You talk about the weather with strangers and friends alike.
You don't know or care about the fuss with Cuba, it's just a cheap place to travel with very good cigars (and no Americans!). When there is a social problem, you turn to your government to fix it, instead of telling them to stay out of it. You're not sure if the leader of your nation has EVER had sex and you don't WANT to know if he has! You get milk in bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs. Pike is a type of fish, not some part of a highway.
You drive on a highway, not a freeway. You know what a Robertson screwdriver is. You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers. You know that Mounties "don't always look like that." You dismiss all beers under 6% as "for children and the elderly."
You know that the Friendly Giant isn't a vegetable product line. You know that Casey and Finnegan are not a Celtic musical group. You drive with your headlights on during the day (since 1989, all new cars have been fitted with "daytime running lights"). You participated in "Participaction." You have an Inuit carving by your bedside with the rationale, "What's good enough protection for the Prime Minister is good enough for me."
You wonder why there isn't a 5 dollar coin yet. Like any international assasin/terrorist/spy in the world, you possess a Canadian Passport. You use a red pen on your non-Canadian textbooks and fill in the missing 'u's from labor, honor, color. etc. You know the French equivalents of "free", "prize", and "no sugar added", thanks to your extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging. You are excited whenever an American TV show mentions Canada.
You can do all the hand actions to Sharon, Lois and Bram's "Skin-a-ma-rinky-dinky-doo" opus. You can eat more than one maple sugar candy without feeling nauseous. You were mad at the CBC when "The Beachcombers" was cancelled. You know who "Relic" is/was. You know what a touque is and you own one and often wear it.
You have heard of and have some cherished momento of Bob and Doug McKenzie. You still sing the "Great White North" theme song with pride. You know Toronto is NOT a province. You never miss "Coach's Corner" during Hockey Night in Canada. Back bacon and Kraft Dinner are two of your favourite food groups.
Your car has a cord and plug sticking out of the grill. You only know three spices: salt, pepper and ketchup. You design your Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. The mosquitoes have landing lights. You have more kilometres on your snow blower than your car.
You have 10 favourite recipes for moose meat. Canadian Tire Store on any Saturday is busier than most toy stores at Christmas. You live in a house that has no front step, yet the door is one meter above the ground. You've taken your kids trick-or-treating in a blizzard. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled in with frozen snow and slush.
You think sexy lingerie is tube-socks and a flannel nightie with only 8 buttons. You owe more money on your snowmobile than your car. The local paper covers national and international headlines on 2 pages, but requires 6 pages for hockey. At least twice a year, the kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant. The most effective mosquito repellent is a shotgun.
Your snowblower gets stuck on the roof. You think the start of deer season is a national holiday. You head South to go to your cottage. You frequently clean grease off your barbecue so the bears won't prowl on your deck. You know which leaves make good toilet paper now that there are no more dollar bills.
The major parish fund-raiser isn't bingo, it's sausage making. You find -40C a little chilly. The trunk of your car doubles as a portable deep freeze. You attend a formal event in your best clothes, your finest jewellery and your Sorels. You can play road hockey on skates.
You know 4 seasons: Winter, Still Winter, almost Winter and Construction. The municipality buys a Zamboni before a bus. You understand the Labatt Blue commercials. You perk-up when you hear the theme from "Hockey Night in Canada". You pronounce the last letter of the alphabet "zed" instead of "zee." You end some sentences with "eh" ... eh?
I can't take credit for the list, as it was sent to me as an email forward. If anyone knows who the original author is, please let me know and I will attribute the list to them.
Expat Talkback: What else should be included in the list?
Today's noble mission will be to compile a list of those wrecks.
Let's begin with the CBC's foray into late night television. Friday Night with Ralph Benmergui was designed to be the Canadian answer to American late night shows like The Tonight Show and Letterman. Unfortunately, the show was terrible. After only a year on the air, it was pulled off. The show was such an embarrassment to the CBC that it is not even listed in their archives.
Canada's next attempt at late night TV came in the form of Open Mike with Mike Bullard. Despite being terribly unfunny, the show stayed on the air for a remarkable 7 years and when Bullard's contract with CTV expired, he was picked up by Global only to have his show cancelled shortly thereafter due to low ratings. Highlights of the show include the game "Who the Hell Do You Think You Are, You Drunken Bastard" which was filmed in a bar. The name of a celebrity would be taped on the head of each contestant and Bullard would give three clues to aid the contestants in guessing who that celebrity was. Another game that was frequently played on the show was "The Canadian Quiz" in which Bullard would ask his guests three questions about Canada. Prizes for the game were sponsored by Canadian Tire.
The Trouble with Tracy was a short lived series which aired from 1971 to 1972. It was based on a 1930s American radio show called Easy Aces. The radio show had been funny, but a low budget television show based on forty year old radio scripts did not translate into good TV. To cut down on the costs of production, the show was filmed with only one set and only one camera. The Trouble with Tracy is considered to be one of the worst examples of Canadian televison and is mainly remembered by the kids who watched the program after school, including The Bare Naked Ladies who wrote a song entitled, The Trouble with Tracy.
Rideau Hall was a more recent flop, having aired in 2002, with a one hour pilot and six half hour episodes. The premise was that a fading disco queen was appointed to the position of Governor General by a sleazy Prime Minister who wanted to sever Canada's remaining ties to the British monarchy. Every week the Governor General would find herself in a new scandal, not of her doing, which would turn out in her favour by the end of the episode. Although the idea of the show had potential, the cast was terribly bland and the comedy was anything but funny.
Jonathan Torrens met with great success on the teen consumer watch program, Street Cents, but his foray into the world of teen talkshows was met with mixed reviews. Some of his topics were somewhat questionable, as were many of his guests. I particularly remember him interviewing a couple who were on his show simply because they "like to sniff each other's farts". (I am not making that up. I swear that you can not make that up!) The highest rated episode of Jonovision's five season run was a Degrassi Junior High reunion special.
More to come...
Expat Talkback: Can you think of any other bad Canadian television programs to add to the list?
There is a definite lesson in this story: if you are going to expose yourself, be prepared to have your booty critiqued by observers.
When asked about the incident, a woman named Vicki replied, ""I saw his ass and it wasn't cute. He should have done some bodybuilding or something. If they are going to give some excitement at least make it well worth looking at."