Saturday, 24 December 2011

'Twas the night before Christmas

December 24th. The night before Christmas.  I've been to church at St. Mary's,  the little church in Brinsley, a four corners so tiny even people living around here don't know where it is. However this evening, there was a traffic jam with the United Church-goers at the end of the road. Not very often that happens - unless we schedule our bazaars on the same day at the same time!

This year we have had a skiff of snow and it is cold out, but one year, it was so mild the cattle were still in the fields after dark and you could hear them lowing - not mooing, but lowing, just as in the carol! They were noshing on turnips still in the field.
Speaking of which, I am going to have some more tourtiere and maybe some cheese... and if we have any more Lindt orange dark chocolate, yes, some of that... then hang up my stocking. I wonder what Santa/Greg will put in it this year...
I am not sure who besides a select few reads my blog, but in any case, Merry Christmas to you all and a prosperous new year in 2012!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Dispatches from North Middlesex #9

Things are changing in Parkhill. 

On Main St., Kelli’s Family Restaurant has been sold. There is much speculation as to the nature of the new eatery. Rumour has it the owners are from west of here, perhaps from as far away as Chatham – and may be French. The previous owners were Greek, but spanakopita, tzatziki, and other delectables were never on their menu, alas. The signs in the windows now advertise “Want Home Cooking?” We in the low mobility exercise class don’t know if this indicates the new name of the restaurant or the nature of the cuisine. The chef is said to have worked at the casino in Windsor at one time, so we are expecting great things.

The shuttered dinner theatre is in new hands as well. A steak house will rise from its ashes, although I am being metaphorical as, unlike a previous incarnation of Kelli’s, it did not burn down. The marquee has been advertising an ABBA night on May 23 for the past three or four years, so this development is a welcome change.

And wonder of wonders, the Saturday Globe and Mail is now for sale at the gas station downtown; there are only six copies, so it is wise to get there before noon. 

Our little village is expanding its horizons in other ways too. Over at Tim Horton’s, a customer placed an order, then went out to his car and returned with something in his hand, sat down at a table in the corner and appeared to say prayers. At exercise class, we concluded he was probably a Muslim and definitely evidence of our growing cosmopolitanism. In fact, the North Middlesex Christian Ministerial Assn. in which Greg is an active participant, may need to expand (and change its name) if this trend continues.

In the meanwhile, preparations are underway for Christmas. Lest anyone think we are overdoing the cosmopolitan thing, it is still called that here, not Holiday Season. And there is a nativity scene on the piano at the Leisure club. I have been tempted to wish people a Blessed Advent but felt that might be going too far in the other direction. Going to extremes is frowned on around here.

In any event, no sooner were the boulevard gardens and hanging baskets put to bed for the winter, than it was time to decorate Main St. for the Santa Claus parade. The sturdy ladies of the Horticultural Society collected greenery from the woods at someone’s farm outside town. We then decorated the planters at the new parkette across from Kelli’s and hung swags on all the public buildings. Aesthetic ability was welcomed but not necessary (much to my relief, as my offering looked as if Dr Seuss constructed it). 

Being able to saw thick branches and climb ladders in the wind was more a more sought-after skill. As the new president of the Hort said, “If anyone has anything to say about our decorating, they can do it themselves next year.” So far only a couple of bows have been stolen, and nothing has blown away. 

The men attach the wreaths on the lampposts downtown, and this year, sadly, they did a sub-optimal job. They failed to fluff them before hanging them. I have the same problem with my man and our artificial tree: You really do need to stand the little branches up for an effect of fullness. However, those who decorated the pine trees beside the Post Office did a splendid job of stringing the lights – as one of my neighbours said, “They look like proper garlands.”

The Santa Claus parade was a great success again this year. It is always held in late afternoon, while night is falling. Unfortunately, Greg and I were attending (a rather unaccountably well-lit) Advent carol service at the cathedral, so we missed it; as a result, my information is somewhat second-hand. Apparently the pouring rain let up a bit, and the street was lined with spectators.

 I must run now and finish the four mince meat pies I am making for the St. James Christmas bake sale.  The first year I was here I donated two dozen sticky buns. I felt quite proud of myself until I saw the other ladies hauling in stacks and stacks of baked goods. I am still not attempting such a feat, but I am rather pleased with my pastry.

One small serpent in the garden: I always fortify the mincemeat with lots of brandy, but when I looked this morning, we had none left, I suppose after too enthusiastically flaming last year’s plum pudding. I asked Greg if I could use some of his Drambuie or single malt scotch of which there seemed to be a plentiful supply.  For some reason, this otherwise mild-mannered man said, in no uncertain terms, that I could not. Goodness, was he still harbouring hurt feelings about my assessment of his tree fluffing? I hope not. He has agreed to brave the howling wind and the first snowfall to get me some brandy from the liquor store later this morning.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


This Christmas there will be no flames.
We are subdued.
The best we can hope for is a quiet undecorated dinner.
I feel guilty but not remorseful.
I  am puzzled by my failings and
I am not quite sure what to do
with all the ragged pop-up memories.
I can't paste them back together,
but I can't throw away the book either.
So this year everything will be neatly shelved, 
for being tidy keeps serenity intact.
Lorna Harris (December 1, 2011)