And The Winner

..of the Great Root Beer Taste Test is…

Not this one:

Dang that root beer.

 

This one was ‘butterscotch’ root beer. It tasted just like it sounds; sickly. Dang it, that root beer was almost nasty. These are the varieties I sampled; all new to me:

Fitz’s and Faygo were both extremely pleasing, Stewart’s was pleasant enough and Route 66 and Frosty were so-so. In the end the winner came down to having all natural ingredients and being made from cane sugar.Traditional root beer is made from sassafras bark or sarsaparilla root; the label didn’t specify from whence came it’s flavouring agent but it sure was tasty.  Drum roll please. And the winner of the best tasting root beer in my neighbourhood goes to:

Fitz’s is mighty fine.

 

But I may want to rethink that. I just read on Wikipedia that natural sassafras has been banned by the FDA because it contains safrole which  is carcinogenic. Whaaat? Suck all the fun out of root beer now, why don’t ya. Oh. You can get safrole-free sassafras extract. Sounds like a lot of trouble when you can use fake root beer flavouring. And who is to say that the fake stuff isn’t carcinogenic. Have they looked? What the heck; I’ll take a Fitz’s and take the risk.

Judy Parsons 2019

Email comments to jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com

And the Winner is..

…or In Praise of the Small but Mighty

And the winner of the news story of the week which brought a joyous tear to my eye is: SeaLeon found after being MIA for months. In second place was a story which brought me a few of those little emotional chest quakes: a young lad has the presence of mind to grab a snow-fence and, with the help of some other bystanders, improvise a fireman’s net to save a young fellow who was dangling from a ski lift. Way to go boys for keeping that poor young fellow out of a body cast. In third place comes the father-daughter duo who rowed across the Atlantic in 91 days. Ah, Dad, I wish you were still here; it might have given us ideas.

SeaLeon – a 1.8 meter sea-going autonomous sailboat from Halifax, NS.

For those few of you not following the Microtransat Challenge, Sealeon didn’t win.  You can find out more about the race by visiting the website via this link: The Microtransat Challenge. I have been following the race by checking SeaLeon’s position online after she was launched from Cape Breton Island on July 30, 2018. Every day I checked for updates. It was going well until late August when she went way off course but then she miraculously turned back and was doing quite well until she disappeared altogether after doing a large loop-dee-do on Oct. 14 . I was saddened then, and continued to check periodically but she never returned so I sang taps in my head and lowered an imaginary flag to half-mast and gave over to the fact that she was lying with the Titanic, the Willing Lass, and the Bismarck, at the bottom of the sea. Imagine my delight when I read yesterday that she been found, tattered but still afloat, banging up against the shore somewhere near Cork, Ireland. (Get it, Cork? A substance that bobs and floats?)

Go to the Mircotransat link above to view and enlarge the map.

Why am I so interested in the SeaLeon? (Which I miss-read as SeaLion for a few weeks) I dunno. Perhaps because I have a bit of the geek gene. I always loved hanging about with geeks although I am pretty quick to tune out once they break into Geek-speak. The idea of a totally autonomous boat, one that used solar power to drive its electronics and adjust its sails, rocked my socks. Perhaps it had to do with the cross-Atlantic challenge. Being from Newfoundland I have seen and read of all manner of small vessels setting out to make the trip across the open ocean. Many of them succeeded. I even had a bit of that bug myself. Twenty years ago I had the grand idea of one day sailing my sailboat solo, first to Newfoundland, then the following year on to Cork, Ireland. From there I planned to take her to her original launch point: Loch Goil in Scotland. That place also generated her original name – Lochgoil. (Try saying that three times over the VHF radio and being understood) In the meantime I had to work on my sailing skills, try and accumulate some resources so that I could leave work, and raise my children. The first two didn’t pan out and long before the kids were close to fleeing the nest the boat began to become more than a handful. When repairs demanded more than my finances or my know-how could offer, I sold the boat and got on with other things. I haven’t set a sail since.

And along comes SeaLeon. She didn’t win but by Jove she made it across the North Atlantic briny deep with her hull intact. Now dear readers, don’t get your drawers in a knot, I’m not inspired enough to revisit those lofty goals of twenty years ago. But now, thanks to SeaLeon and the mighty North Atlantic currents, instead of saying “I never made it to Cork” I can say “I might have made it to Cork.” That said, I do have a ten foot sailboat in incubation. Maybe when I name her I will call her Miss Medway or Medway Girl; that way her name will always lead me back to home port instead of oceans away.

You know what I liked the most about this story? Look closely at the tracking map. SeaLeon’s yellow route line managed to draw out a pretty decent rendition of a sea lion before she disappeared from the chart.

Sea Lion

In the end, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you stay in the game. Congratulations to the folks at Dalhousie Engineering. I hope to see you on the water again next year.

Thanks to the sites who posted the original photos and maps – I borrowed them without asking.

Judy Parsons 2019

Don’t bother with the comment box; it’s broken. Email any comments to JGParsons@Judypstickletrunk.com

What Am I Reading Now?

…or There’s Always a Lot More to a Story

It’s been a little while since I finished reading “We All Expected to Die.” I read it in lieu of doing my annual Boxing Day puzzle this year and although I smoked right through it at the time, I had to let it percolate a little before I wrote anything about it. This is not a book review. I don’t feel qualified to review such an academic work. As well, I am biased, having a personal connection with the author. On the other hand, I’d like to have an answer prepared in case someone asks me “What did you think of Anne Budgell’s latest book?” So here’s my humble impression…

Anne starts her book by giving us not just a comprehensive introduction to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 but also by giving us details of what each chapter will contain, and an idea of how the story has been researched and explained thus far. In essence she puts everything in context before she starts so it is clear from the outset that this is a not just about the effect of the flu on the Inuit, but about a global view of the epidemic. So also are we well prepared to find that, as good a hook as the title may be, this is not a ‘story’ in the traditional style of story-telling. She did not hand-pick the juicy bits to entertain us or work to develop a story to its climax. Instead, she gathered all of the information available and presented a well researched documentation of all things relating to the Spanish flu in Labrador. Her tack in this book is not sensationalist. The introduction contained one line which reassured of this and told me that this tale would be told with sensitivity as well as with accuracy: “I hope the descendants of survivors understand that by checking their ancestors’ stories, I intend no disrespect.” It also has the effect of shutting down any argument from people who have issues with someone else telling a story which they think should be told by the people to whom it happened. This shouldn’t be up for debate anyhow especially as Anne has solid roots in Labrador. As always, Anne works very hard to ensure that her intent is not misunderstood.

Years ago when The Dictionary of Newfoundland English was published, instead of marvelling at the work, all my father had to say about it was (and he did this with a broad proud grin) “I found a mistake on page _.” Were he alive today, and reading this book I think he would be confounded, for there is little likelihood of any errors or omissions here. We know this because Anne explains in great detail how this story has already been documented and how it evolved. If there is a stone unturned in her research it must certainly be of the most obscure and subterranean kind.

“We All Expected To Die” is a thorough documentary which speaks to her background as a journalist and radio host. In her writing she does not speculate, but rather interprets the facts. Neither she doesn’t leave it to you to have to read the bibliography for support; she presents the support for statements as they are presented. She follows the records to give us an overview of the population at the time, the effects of shipping and of the great war on that population, and on the people who actually kept the records. None of this will come as a surprise to you as you read, for Anne outlines all of this in the introduction. This of course, makes for dense reading for the casual reader. It also makes me think that Anne would have made an excellent lawyer. (That, dear readers, is pure speculation on my part) Anyhow, what we learn from this thorough presentation of facts is that if the story was very grim, very grim, the response to epidemic was even more so.

Because this is an academic work I cannot complain about what isn’t in it. I went into this book knowing some about the culture and the environment of Labrador, of the Moravian and Grenfell missions, and of the effects of resettlement on the Labrador Inuit. I also have a personal connection with that part of the world; my father and his father were both floaters (seasonal fisherman) on that area of the coast. I too know what it is like to be waiting for the spring pack-ice to go out so that I could catch the steamer. What would interest me most in reading for pleasure would be the stories behind the individuals involved, the descriptive details that make me feel as if I am there on the spot shivering with the cold, smelling the decay, feeling the shock and despair. I would want to sit by the fire and smell the food cooking; hear the plink of the axe as it cleaved a frozen junk of wood. This book does not do that because it is a retelling of the truth and I appreciate that for as much as I want to experience the whole story, I don’t want anyone to make it up. Anne’s recounting of the details of the Inuit’s experience is the culmination of what must have been exhausting research. The stories are told as the people who experienced told them. I suspect those people often told just the bits they knew people wanted to hear and didn’t focus on the little individual miseries as much as on the great dramas. And, like those Grandpappies who fought in the trenches, they might need some fierce coaxing to talk about the thing at all because they really had little interest in reliving the horror of it. The Inuit, in their pragmatic and gentle way, have moved on. (I apologize if I am both speculating and stereotyping here)

We are told in the book that “How flu reached Labrador and who was infected is a multi-faceted story” and I appreciate that Anne took the time to study each facet and collate the findings into a well ordered chronology of events. If it seems repetitive at times it is because she has taken the information she has gleaned from her research and presented it from many angles. She doesn’t just want us to be informed, she wishes us to understand, just in case we haven’t figured it out for ourselves.

So what did I think of Anne Budgell’s latest book? I thought it was a grand piece of writing and a valuable addition to the annals of Labrador history.  I left this book with the understanding that yes, the devastation of the Labrador Inuit community was a tragedy which may or may not have been able to have been prevented, but what was just a big a tragedy was the establishment’s response to the crisis in their inability to think outside the box, literally the pine box. What are we to learn from this work? That we need to spend less time blaming and more time problem solving. Thank you Anne for taking the time to write it. I hope it becomes the accompanying textbook for a university level course on the history of Labrador.

We All Expected to Die is available from https://www.hss.mun.ca/iserbooks.

© Judy Parsons 2019 (excepting the book cover which I borrowed from Iserbooks.

Christmas, Day Twelve – Part 1

…or On the Last Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: a free pass to the 12th day of Christmas Beachfest.

Down at Seaside Villa:

Tamara: Judith, I just love your new dress. Did you get it just for the Beachfest?
Judith: Oh this old thing? I’ve had it forever.

Tamara: Is that Nellie May’s mousse cake? It looks divine but I hear she has weevils. I won’t eat a thing that comes out of Nellie May’s kitchen.
Sandra: We’d better tuck into these desserts if we want to get any before the kids see it.
Judith: Where are the kids anyway? The concert’s about to start.
Tamara: There’s a play over at the children’s stage. I told Brenda to bring them over by the band when it’s finished.

Brenda: He’ll shoot his eye out!

Kenneth: Welcome to the 12th Day of Christmas Festival – we’re the Cave Dwellers and we’re here to shut down Christmas with a few good tunes.

Kenneth: I’d like to dedicate this next song to the one I love….
Marvin (to self) : Let it be me. Please let it be me.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

© Judy Parsons 2019

Click on any picture for a larger view.

Christmas, Day Twelve – Part 2

…or On the Last Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: a free pass to the 12th Day of Christmas Barbecue and Bash.

Over at the Trailer Park:

Lannie: Check. Check one two. ♫ La La de Da ♪♪ Can I get a little more monitor there, Dave.

Lannie: And can somebody clear those durned penguins off away from the stage.
Kenny: They ain’t penguins. They’re Flamingos.
Lannie: Can somebody clear those durned flamingos away from the stage.

Shelly: Twelfth Day would be a heck of a lot more fun……

…..If you didn’ have ta line up fer everything.

Randy: Here little Sis, go buy yourself a hot dog. I’m making a killing on these kebabs.

Kola: They’re not really made from dogs are they?
Andrew: Naw, they’re made from oinker’s lips and snouts.

Hot Dog: I dunno why I’m called a hot dog little buddy, but you’d be a hot dog too if you had to spend all day in a big foam suit in the Florida sun.

Alfredo: Come on, I dare you to try one. I hear they’re very tasty.
Alphonso: No no, I’m a prosciutto man myself.

Lannie: Welcome folks, we’re The Man Land Band and we’re here to help you celebrate the twelfth day of Christmas. Take it away Garry…

 

 

Shelly: Can I have your autograph, siiiigh.

Candy: Hey, Grandma can we get a manatee to keep Kola company? Grandma?

Joodles: You ain’t woman enough to take my man!

Joodles: Well I’m ready for the last day of Christmas to be over and done. It was goin’ a’rigth til that Shelly turned up. I’m not too worried about her tho; she’s so dumb she couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the instructions was written on the heel.
Lannie: Hey girl, we forgot to drop off Garry.
Joodles: Garry? But he’s not in the back. ANYBODY BACK THERE SEEN GARRY?

Kenny: In a gadda da vida honey……

And that’s the twelve days of Christmas chronicles from down south. Happy New Year.

© Judy Parsons

Click on any pic for a larger view. Email comments to jgparsons@judypstickletrunk.com

 

Christmas, Day Eleven

…or On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: A Scolding.

Over at the Trailer Park:

Joodles: All ready to hit the stage tomorrow? You’re not wearin’ that are ya?

Lannie: Why? Nobody’s gonna see it behind my gee-tar.

Joodles: Lannie, it’s got a conglomeration of stains that could be anything from drool to chili-con-carne.

Joodles: Hold the fort, I’m goin’ shopping.

Meanwhile down at Seaside Villa:

Joodles: You all set for your gig tomorrow, dear?

Lancelot: Sure am. Just going to spit shine these boots and I’ll be all set.

Joodles: But you’re not wearing that outfit, correct? Do a pirouette for me please and thanks.

Joodles: There’s a hole in the elbow of your shirt, the collar is hanging by a thread and there’s a stain on the back of your pants that looks like something it probably isn’t.
Lancelot: But it’s my lucky shirt. I wear it for all my gigs.

Lancelot: Besides, no disrespect dearest,  but your attire is less than impeccable. There’s a soot stain on your bosom.


Judith: Oh my heavens. How long have I been going around like this? Why didn’t you tell me? I’m going shopping!

© Judy Parsons 2019

 

Christmas, Day Ten

..or On the Tenth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: ingenious grandchildren.

Over at the Trailer Park:

Lannie: Come on kids, it’s time go set up the gear for the Seaside Festival.

Randy: Okay but first you got to come with us. We drank so much Cola yesterday that we couldn’t sleep so we stayed up all night.
Candy: You gotta see what we made!

Candy: It’s a wind-powered merry-go-round.

Randy: Whistle up some wind dudes.

Lannie, Joodles, Garry and Kenny: Ooooh, aaaaah.

Meanwhile over at Seaside Villa:

Lawrence: Grandpa, you can’t go until you see what we made last night.
Lancelot: Last night?
Lawrence: Yeah, after you were all gone to bed. Brenda gave us so much Cola we couldn’t sleep.
Lancelot: All right but we can’t be too long. We’ve got to go set up the gear for the concert tomorrow.
Marilyn: I’ll go get Grandma.

Lawrence: It’s a wind-powered marry-go-round.
Marilyn: And, it has solar back-up.

Lancelot: Well isn’t that remarkable.
Joodles: Oh, I’m weak in the knees thinking about those two little children using power tools.
Kenneth: Steady there, Judith.
Lancelot: Well dear, they have to learn. They still have all their fingers and neither put their eyes out. And what an accomplishment.


Lawrence: Do us the honour, Marilyn.

Lancelot, Judith, Kenneth and Douglas: Oooooh. Aaaaah.

And back a the Park:

Joodles: Hey, where’s this little dog come from?
Candy: His name’s Kola and Grampa said we could keep him.
Joodles: Your mother might have somethin’ to say about that.

Stay tuned….

© Judy Parsons 2019

Christmas, Day Nine

…or On the Ninth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me: a new guitar.

Down at Seaside Villa:

Lancelot: So here’s the deal-e-o my little chicklets; Grandpa has to rehearse with The Cave Dwellers so I want you to listen to everything Brenda tells you, okay?
Lawrence and Marilyn: Yes, Grandpa.
Lawrence: Can we use your tools, Grandpa?
Lancelot: Sure just wear the eye goggles and don’t tell Grandma.

Brenda: Okay here’s the deal. If you don’t bother me you can have all the pop you can drink. Understood?

Lancelot: What do you think; should we open with some Eagles or plow right into Wild Thing?

Marvin: I’m thinking Wild Thing, then Sweet Home Alabama then maybe some Jimmy Buffet.
Lancelot: Sounds good. Why don’t you take it away Kenneth…

Kenneth: ♫ It’s another Tequila sunrise….. ♪♪♪

Judith: Aaugh.

Meanwhile over at the Trailer Park

Lannie: OK kids, here’s the deal. I’ve got to practice for a gig with The Man Land Band so I need you to fend fer yerselves. Help yourself to the soda pop and if you stay away from Grandma I’ll buy you a puppy.
Randy: Can we use your tools?
Lannie: Sure, but only the power tools, the others are too hard to sharpen.

Lannie: A’right boys, why don’t we open it up with “No Trash in My Trailer”, then “Hell Yeah, I like Beer” and “Maybe “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” if you can remember the words to that one Garry. In the key of G…

Candy: I think we should call our new pup Kola.
Randy: Sure whatever you like. Now help me cart this over to the shed and we can come back for another load.


Joodles: False advertising I thinks – the box said these were noise cancelling headphones.

© Judy Parsons 2019.

Christmas, Day Eight

…or On the Eighth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: a hangover.

Down at Seaside Villa

Joodles: You’d better get up, dear.
Lancelot: No, you get up.
Joodles: No, you get up. There’s a ton to do and you promised to take the grandchildren tomorrow.

Lancelot: No, that’s next week. Ooooh my head.
Joodles: No, that’s tomorrow.
Lancelot: Where can I find Babysitter Brenda’s phone number?
Joodles: I don’t know dear, why don’t you get up and look.
Lancelot: No, you get up.

Meanwhile over at the Trailer Park:

Joodles: Lannie wake up, it’s almost four o’clock.
Lannie: Wah? Whoa, where am I?

Joodles: You’d better get crackin’. You got the Grandkids comin’ to hang out tomorrow.
Lannie: Whaaa – naw, can’t be. I got the guys comin’ over to practice. Y’all sure about that?
Joodles: Sure as eggs is eggs. Now excuse me, I gotta yodel some groceries here.

Lannie: Just ten more minutes.

© Judy Parsons 2019

Christmas, Day Seven

….or On the Seventh Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: a Beverage Dispensary.

 

Down at Seaside Villa, out back in the man cave:

Kenneth: Hey there Lan, I heard you made a fabulous bar out of the new man-cave.
Lancelot: Sure did Kenneth, sure did.
Kenneth: Give it a proper name?

Lancelot: Sure did, my good buddy. I call it The Milky Way. Seemed like a good name for a bar. Can I get you something to drink? The shine is a bit fresh but I’ve got lots of beer.
Kenneth: I could take a beer.
Lancelot: What’s your fancy? I’ve got Shakesbeer, (that’s a classic), Hair of the Dog (that one will cure whatever ales you, heh, heh), Beer and Roses (Judith likes that one) and A Brewed Awakening.

Kenneth: What’s this rig for?
Lancelot: Pole dancing. It doesn’t get much use these days, I had to give it up when I got my new hip.

And over at the Trailer Park, out back:

Kenny: Hey Lanny, I heard you made somethin’ first class outa yer man cave.
Lannie: Sure did, Kenny, sure did.

Kenny: Watcha gonna call the place?

Lannie: The Kit Kat Lounge. Seems like a good name fer a bar. What can I gitcha? The shine is a bit harsh yet but I got beer in the cooler. Lemmi look. There’s Sudz, Beer Belly (that’s a stout), BYO Beer, and Adam’s Ale (that’s a bitter).

Lannie: Stick around and there might be entertainment later. What time you gonna start the bowl dancin’ Joodles?
Joodles: Wine o’clock.

Meanwhile back at Seaside Villa, main house: 

Firefighter Dave: Someone called in a fat fire?

Judith: Oh my heavens, thank God you’re here. The stove must have gotten too hot.

Joodles: I jsut can’t imagine why I didn’t notice. Can I get you something to drink? I’m afraid I only have half a bottle of Veni Vidi Vino left but I can open the Drinkerbelle.
Firefighter Dave: No thank you Ma’am, I’m on duty but I’ll take a glass of soda pop if you’re offering.


Judith: Well, you didn’t save my bacon but you did save the house. I can’t thank you enough.
Firefighter Dave: No need to thank me; that’s just what we do Ma’am, that’s just what we do.

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone, PLAY SAFE.

© Judy Parsons 2018