Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good bye First Avenue bridge . . .

These photos were taken August 9th from the Dollarama parking lot.

These photos were taken August 17 from the BFM parking lot.

This photo was taken August 21 from the centre of First Avenue looking north.

These photos were taken August 29th

These photos were taken from the BFM lot on September 27th.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Review: A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya

Reading this book was a real shock, forcing me to rethink my position on the role of the UN in Afghanistan.  Do I believe everything this brave woman has written?  I'm not so sure.  BUT . . . I do believe what she has to say about the conditions in Afghanistan.

The short history is that first the West aided the Taliban in Afghanistan to push out the Russians.  Then they aided the Northern Alliance warlords against the Taliban.  Now the UN-backed "democratic" government of Afghanistan is legitimizing the power of the Northern Alliance by seating them in the new government.  When Joya spoke out against these warlords she was removed from her democratically-earned seat in the government and is spending the rest of her life back in a burqua, not because of her religion, because it is the only way to protect herself from assassination.  She has had to return to living underground and under a false name, something she is used to since her time teaching women in illegal schools during the reign of the Taliban.

The biggest shock for me is the treatment of women and children in Afghanistan.  I always argued for UN involvement in Afghanistan because it would lead to the end of terrorists' and warlords' power in the country and to protect and improve the lot of women and children.  From what I've read in Joya's book and what I have since read from other sources, this isn't happening.  The warlords have the power and women and children have none. 

Joya's book is compelling and heart-breaking and shocking.  Her writing style resembles a person giving an impassioned speech that lasts for a very long time.  She often repeats herself.  She is dogmatic. 

Was this book a good read?  As far as style, no.  Because it gives insight into the life of the Afghan people, yes.

Philadelphia 3-Step Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

2 pkg. (250 g each) Philadelphia Brick Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
2 eggs
1 9 inch prepared graham pie crust
4 Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate squares, chopped
1 tsp oil
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter.  Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake for 30 minutes or until centre of cake is firm, let cool thoroughly.

Melt chocolate and oil over hot water or in microwave on medium power for 1-2 minutes.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour chocolate over cheesecake; spread evenly.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

I found this recipe on the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website.  The filling is FABULOUS!!!  I think I would have put less chocolate on or used a different kind of chocolate because the chocolate topping was hard and difficult to break through.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The First Step: An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas for sale NOW

The First Step:  An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas

If you would prefer to receive this book as a paperback or download (rather than ebook) just click on this link . . . Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.
The First Step:  An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas
Ebook, EPUB for Adobe Digital Editions Format
One of the few business sectors constantly expanding is the small home-based business. The most difficult decision a person interested in becoming self-employed must make is what business will be the best fit for them and their family. This book offers 100s of helpful suggestions and some advice to help you make your decision.                                           

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"The Help" -- book and movie

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is #40 on the list of 300 Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once.

Image result for the help book

When I first began seeing the advertisements for the movie The Help I was tempted to find and read the book first.  The scenes that flashed across the television screen were so funny and surprising and I just knew I would love it.

A few days later I saw the book in Shoppers Drug Mart.  I picked it up.  I put it down again.  I picked it up and put it down a few more times before deciding to leave it on the shelf.  I checked at the local library and they had one copy of the book and a huge waiting list to borrow it.  The next day I went back and bought it at the drug store.

Here's what it says on the back of the book:

Aibileen Clark is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, raising her seventeenth white child.  She's always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer bite back.  Her friend Minny Jackson has certainly never held her tongue, or held on to a job for very long, but now she's working for a newcomer with secrets that leave her speechless.  And white socialite Skeeter Phelan has just returned from college with ambition and a degree but, to her mother's lament, no husband.  Normally Skeeter would find solace in Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, but Constantine has inexplicably disappeared.
Together, these seemingly different women join to work on a project that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town--to write, in secret, a tell-all book about what it's really like to work as a black maid in the white homes of the South.  Despite the terrible risks they will have to take, and the sometimes humorous boundaries they will have to cross, these three women unite with one intention:  hope for a better day.

So I opened the book and started reading and I was enjoying it.  I wasn't sure it was as good as I had been hoping but I read on.  Next thing I knew, it was hours later and I was hungry and thirsty.  I made myself a sandwich and a cup of tea and curled back up in my chair to continue reading.  It took me 9 hours to read the book.  Yes, I read it in one day.  I was tired and hungry but I had to keep reading.  It was like I had no choice.  I wanted to know what would happen next.  I wanted to solve the mysteries. 

Kathryn Stockett has a marvellous way of telling a story.  What I enjoyed the most is the gradual manner in which you came to know the characters.  There were surprises in every chapter.  I would get an impression of a character and then learn something new which changed the way I perceived them, especially Minnie and Constantine.  Boy, was I surprised by a few things about the two of them.

Tuesday is cheap night at the movies so I went with Mom, Connie and Charlotte to see The Help movie.  Krista and John were there too but in the back rows somewhere probably smooching since they are still very much newlyweds.

Guess what?  The movie was good.  Not quite as good as the book, of course.  But it was very good.  I would definitely go to see it again on another cheap night at the movie theatre.  The script writers managed to pick out quite a few of the best bits of the book and put them in the movie.  I'm not sure I'm happy with the way they changed the Constantine story line.  But for the most part it was very well done.  My other pet peeve was Skeeter's hair do.  It just didn't seem right.  It looked far too fake. 

See the movie and read the book.  You will enjoy them both so much.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Paper Piecings . . . Including back to school . . .

These, and many more, paper piecings will be available for sale
at the Salvation Army Crop in St. Thomas
Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

Mao's Last Dancer is a really good read in my opinion.  It was very fascinating to peek into the Chinese culture and into the development of Li as a ballet dancer.  His rags-to-riches story is incredibly uplifting.

I had great pause to consider the reality of nationalism.  We are indoctrinated early in life to see our own nation as The Best Nation in the world.  Of course, we all know that Canada IS the best nation in the world, right?  But in countries we see as not-so-great like China (pollution, overpopulation, poverty and so on), the people like Li who are born and raised in them feel the same way about their nation as we feel about Canada.  It is very startling to realize the whole world doesn't revolve around us (Canadacentrism?).  I found this also in Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Grab Mao's Last Dancer for a quick and inspiring read.