a picture speaks 1000 words…

… but of course I have a few more to add.

Looks like the Toronto Police Services have been privatised recently…

"Mr. Police Officer, does this mean my Air Miles card is acceptable ID?"

Spotted at the corner of King and Peter this morning. This morning, there are more cops than real people down here.


As you can gather, I must be really peeved in order to be jolted out of my blog apathy!

Roll on, G-20…right out of town, preferably.

Disgruntledly yours,



election day!

For some reason, as the 15th election day in the last two years (just kidding – but it feels as though we’re going to vote once a month up here) dawned, I started getting anxiety attacks about ignoring my Super 10 stash.

Don’t let the cheery colours fool you – the yarn itself looks very forlorn.

All my fault, I know – especially since I haven’t had it living in the best of conditions:

Too busy to knit?!?  you frown, questioning my sanity.  In fact, I haven’t even been out shopping for yarn in the past… um… since the early summer!

To be fair to myself, I’ve been busy with a number of things, including trying to start up an award-winning foodie company.

Actually, I’m just kidding about that.  But don’t you love this lovely flavoured olive oil I made this weekend while at my mother’s?  She gave me some fresh rosemary, and I just couldn’t resist:

It tastes as good as it looks, too – I couldn’t wait the two or three weeks for it to infuse, so I did a quickie hot infusion instead.

I’ve also been clearing out the deep freezer and the (rather appalling) vegetable (hah!) crisper by making chicken/pork/chorizo stock:

… and even more stock – duck this time.  Fancy sounding, I know – but the duck, an impulse buy while doing some “shopping while hungry” at Loblaws (an ill-advised move):

And, of course, some more infused oil – using dried mint, which had, until recently, been growing until recently in my mother’s garden:

But the fear dread abject stupidity inevitability of another Conservative government…

(led by our Fearmongeringless Dictator Prime Minister, pictured here with yet another of his hapless – and choiceless – victims – and since when do you read to cats anyway?!?!?!)

…has caused me to break out into a perpetual cold sweat.  Which, in turn, has caused me to start knitting again!

For now, no lacy fripperies for me, though.  My goal is to get through all of the Super 10 stash pictured at the top of this post by 28 November, our moving date – making log-cabin blankies.

(Originally, I had thought about trying my hand at a fabulous mitered-square blanket, as inspired by Amy’s fantastic work-in-progress.  But hell.  I’m just too lazy.)

Think I’ll manage?

At the very least, it will give me something simple to do during the five or so hours tonight while we’re crying in our beers hurling the vegetables which were too rotten to put into the stockpot at the television watching the election returns.

Now, off to exercise my patriotic duty at the polls (and, in case you’re wondering why I’m posting at 1 in the afternoon, I always feel that election day is worth a day off and a few pints – in memory of the days when they still closed the bars on Election Day, if for no other reason.)

Happy Tuesday!

an open letter to Maple Leaf Foods and Michael McCain

For those of you who do not live near me and have not been subjected to seeing the man’s face on your television screens about 25 times a night or reading his open letters in all the newspapers, Michael McCain (no relation to the guy south of the border who is running for president, as far as I know) is the President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods.  As such, he is currently busy dodging flak dealing with the fact that several people have died eating meat from the Maple Leaf factory which had been tainted with listeriosis.

Dear Maple Leaf:

I do hope the families who have lost people find your recent messaging about the bacteria crisis which arose at your plant 97B comforting. For my part, I find Mr. McCain’s “heartfelt” expressions of sympathy combined with legal @$$-covering to be disingeneous and… well, rather annoying. A prime example of this new “we’re a corporation but we still care about YOU” trend.


Given all of the talk in the media that it’s going to cost Maple Leaf at least $20million in reimbursements for product recall and God knows what else hush money for relatives of those who died eating some precooked pot roast other expenses related to this crisis, I was flabbergasted to see on CTV News last evening that experts predict there will be no long-lasting damage to you at Maple Leaf – partly, apparently, because of your crisis-management skills.

Colour me stupid, but I really don’t begin to understand how the world of high finance works. However, I do understand that most Canadians will not be buying anything made by Maple Leaf any time soon because of fears (whether justified or not) of contamination – and so it didn’t make sense to me that Maple Leaf would not take a hit.

Until, that is, I had a look at your website (http://www.mapleleaf.ca/Aboutus/default.aspx) and learned that you have some other holdings.   And – lo and behold! – one of those holdings is J.M. Schneider’s Foods!

If I sound catty, it’s because I detest all those Schneider’s Ads featuring an actor playing long-dead Old Man Schneider yakking on about how really Schneider’s is just like a family business, bla bla bla. However, I had also assumed that Schneider’s was actually your biggest competitor – given that they seem to sell the identical line of meats, bacon, frozen foods, etc. to you guys.  (Oh – and it was also interesting to learn that you own Dempster’s breads – so you’ve really got the baloney sandwich market covered here in Canada, eh?)

But instead, I guess that many of those people who want cold cuts but do not want to buy from Maple Leaf any more will end up changing to Schneider’s instead – especially in smaller centres where they lack the choice of goods that I enjoy here in Toronto.

So – and again, I’m rather daft about things financial – it seems to me that you might well end up with more money in your collective pockets as a result of this food scare at Maple Leaf.  But then again, I’m no economist. 

I am, however, someone with a relatively high bullshit meter.   So, phrases like the following, which I read in Mr. McCain’s open letter to the world his customers this morning, make me see red:

This is the toughest situation we’ve faced in 100 years as a company.  We know this has shaken your confidence in us.  I commit to you that our actions are guided by putting your interests first.

As long as “your interests” involve tossing out everything in the deep freeze from Maple Leaf and replacing it with Schneider’s, I guess, eh?

Well, my interest now officially include never buying anything produced by your various outfits again, quite frankly – not because of the bacteria but because I find your approach to the situation rather cynical and calculated.  This might mean I never get to eat cold cuts or bacon again, given that you seem to control the supply. Given my addiction to fondness for bacon in large quantities, this will be not be easy. But I will survive, I’m sure.

And, I would suggest that you, Mr. McCain, amend your little “open letter” to make the link between you and Schneiders a tad more clear. Something like “Our biggest competitor, whom we own, will be happy to take care of your ongoing food needs” would suffice.

Yours very truly,

Kristina M. Brouhaha


A WEE DISCLAIMER: although those of you who read this blog regularly have gathered (I hope!) that I don’t really talk about intensely personal stuff here. However, in the past couple of weeks I’ve been quite occupied with settling the affairs of my father, who is currently in acute care a couple of hours north of here suffering from Alzheimer’s. So I hope you’ll bear with me for a bit of a personal story – it will be long and photo intensive, and I hope it’s not too maudlin.

I was too young at the time to remember the day that this photograph of me and my father was taken. However, the other day when cleaning out my father’s apartment in Kingston, I came across a bunch of stuff that helped me remember his story.

My father’s name is Theodosios B. Brousalis. In English, they call him “Ted”. I’ve never quite been sure why, except that in the days he came to Canada it was not a good idea to have an ethnic first name.

He arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1960 from Greece on a boat called the Queen Frederica:

His passage cost $285.30 US and the boat took 14 or 15 days to arrive here. He had no real plan about what to do when he got to Canada. By that point, he had served in the Air Force in Greece and then worked as a cigarette delivery person for some years. He hadn’t done very well in school, probably because he was a smartass who didn’t take direction well. The Air Force experience didn’t really change this, either.

So, he decided to leave Greece. His original plan was to join his mother’s father in Alton, Illinois to get work there. (Ted had never actually met his grandfather, who had left the village when Ted’s mother, Kristina – yes, I’m named after her – was still in the womb. The grandfather came back once more to Greece, impregnated the grandmother once more and then went back to Alton, Illinois, never to return to Greece).

However, in order to get to the US, it was easiest to come to Canada first and apply from here at that point. So Ted came here on a landed immigrant permit having promised to marry someone here – this was something that had been set up as a sham for him to get here in the first place.

However, once Ted got here, he decided he liked Canada. I’m not sure why as he had a bunch of crap jobs in his first few years here. He ended up in Montreal working in a nylon factory for 50 cents an hour – the factory was hot and the workers had to buy water from the boss to keep going.

He then ended up in Kingston, Ontario – where I grew up – when he was offered a job with some friends from his hometown. He had to teach himself English and in this regard went to night school while working six or seven days a week as a dishwasher.

From there, he ended up in the restaurant and bar industry. At the time he came to Kingston, there was no liquor service in Ontario. The photo above with the snappy red jacket is the first photo taken of anyone in the place he worked serving liquor when they made that legal. He was always very proud of that (people who wanted to serve liquor had to take a two week course) and still had the snazzy red jacket hung up in his apartment.

After that, he bought his first business with a partner. It was a burger and snack shop .

Ted introduced the souvlaki to Kingston. At the time, Kingston was a very “English” town. Ted said this to me in 1986 when I interviewed him about his life for a high school project:

I think this… this mixture of multi-nationalities has created some culture in Canada, which no other… not too many other countries have. If is wasn’t for this mixture…well, the first I came here in Kingston, in the restaurants, you could only eat… hot beef, one type of steak, club sandwich, liver… it was limited, the menus in the restaurant… and all these people they came from overseas, and they just brought some of the ideas here which they adapted and started working, and that’s why you have such veriety here… I don’t think you can go too many places in the whole world where you can find this… like, you go to Greece and that’s all you find, some Greek food… everything, and you go to China, you find Chinese food… here, name it, you… whatever type of food you want, you can eat, specially in the big centres…

When I was growing up, Ted was a very hard worker. I didn’t see all that much of him, and usually he was either asleep…

… or handing out rules. Some of the Greek father rules and superstitions can be quite strange, as you will know if you have ever watched “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Ted could have played the lead role in that movie quite easily. Ted also had weird beliefs, such as that white vinegar on french fries would give you leukemia.

But I digress. Ted ended up having some other restaurants which were successful for quite a long time.

He and his business partner then ended up falling on hard times due to the recession and other problems, and lost everything.

However, Ted ended up working as an upholsterer and refinisher after that:

He was still working until a couple of years ago, at which point his health started to go downhill.

This is the most recent photograph that I have of Ted, taken in December of 2007:

There will probably be no more photos taken of Ted – at least not by me. At present, he is not looking all that well and his brain is about 20 years in the past, the best we can tell. Before he went to hospital he was not eating or cooking for himself and lost a lot of weight. This makes me quite sad as one of the good things I remember about him while he was living alone is that he loved to cook big meals for people.

AN ASIDE: Like me, Ted liked to experiment with cooking techniques. These either worked out brilliantly or not at all. I remember one Christmas some years back when he had me and my brother over and had decided it would be a good idea to try to cook a 15 pound turkey in a paper bag. This theory originated from a cooking method called “kleftiko” that some Greeks use for lamb chops. It originates from when some Greeks a long time ago were hiding either from the Turks or some other invaders in the hills and buried meat in the ground in paper over coals and cooked it that way to avoid detection. It works very well with lamb chops, but not at all well with turkey. The bag caught fire after two hours in the oven. I forget what we ended up eating, but it wasn’t turkey!

Because I won’t be taking any more photos of Ted, I will leave you with the best photo I ever took of him:

This photo was taken in 1996 in the apartment I lived in during law school. Ted was just leaving on his way back to Kingston from Toronto and had asked for some coffee. I had no coffee mugs in the place and gave him the coffee in the beer stein you see him holding. So, I got a little speech about my hostessing abilities. However, he then asked me to take the photo of him with the coffee in the beer stein and told me he was pretending that I’d actually served him Guinness before letting him make the three hour drive back to Kingston. He then said:

I would have thought that if you only have beer mugs that you would actually have some beer to give an old man before sending him back on a long trip. But no. I guess you drank all your beer even though you knew your baba was coming to visit. Next time, have some beer here for me, plis. And – (raising the coffee/beer mug) yassou! (cheers in Greek).

Yassou, Ted. And I hope that wherever you are living right now in your mind, you’re happy.

when did they change the rules of the road, anyway?!?

During my wee hiatus from the blog last week in which I had to deal with some family issues going on well north of the city, I was forced to drive more in one weekend than in the 15 years preceding it.

Perhaps I’m just naive, but what is happening on the roadways these days made me feel somewhat like this:

Now, given that I don’t drive all that frequently (perhaps once every two months!) and that until four years ago I had not driven at all since I moved to Toronto, I started to think that perhaps the rules of the road have changed since I took my driver’s test some four score and seven 20 plus years ago.

So, I decided to check out this handy Ministry of Transport reference guide which I read back in 1986 and then threw out:

However, I must say that the MTO guide did not really describe what I’ve seen happening on the roads of late.  So, I’ve begun to think that there must be another Driver’s Handbook out there – probably titled “Wankers of the World Unite” or something along those lines!

Anyway, the apparent new Rules of the Road raise some questions for stupid little me:

  • why do the car makers continue to put turn signals in cars if no one actually has to use them?!

This one I actually find very confusing because they actually have these digital signs on the 401 now which flash such useful information as “Don’t drink and drive”, “Follow Ye Not Too Closely” and… my favourite … “Use appropriate signals when changing lanes”.  I actually drove right underneath the latter sign about 30 seconds before being cut off by a bastard driver who – of course – had not used the signals.  To cut him some slack, though, JJ told me that I had missed the part on that sign which read “…except for the guy in the white hatchback”. 

  • when did they start letting you make a left hand turn from the right hand lane on a red light?


  • are there unwritten rules as to which people/vehicles those signs which say “Turn ye not left here between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.” do not apply to?  If so, where do I register?


  • where the posted speed limit is 100 km/h and I’m in the slow lane on the 400 highway and doing 120 just to keep up with the Joneses, why do the people behind me think that I should actually be doing 150 km/h and honk at me and give me the finger then zoom past?
  • is it actually now legal to drive while doing your makeup, consulting your GPS system and talking on your handheld mobile phone?
  • is there some new rule that says you have to let in those people who speed to the front of the merging lane when the traffic is backed up and then try to butt in?

And, one last but very important question indeed:

  • when in God’s name are ye gonnae learrrrn how to parallel park, lassie?!?!? 



Vote Brouhaha 2008!

Well, I’ve been trying for a couple of years now to become rich and famous. However, the knitting blog/foodie/rant thing is not leading to the big cash grab that I had hoped.

So, I’m going to take another tack. I’ve decided to run for President of the United States.

That’s right.

“President Brouhaha” has a nice ring to it, no? (I actually prefer “The Right Honourable Brouhaha” but I figure the perqs and benefits are better with the top gig south of the border).

And I think JJ would make a stunning First Man, don’t you?

Besides, if Paris Hilton can do it… so can I!!!

I mean, what does SHE…

…have that I don’t have to electrify an entire nation?

Yeah yeah yeah… huge breasts, blonde hair, and billions of dollars. Not to mention a folding lawn lounger. I know, I know. But surely that kind of thing is passe, no?!?

And besides, anyone can become a blonde:

Hey, do you think Paris was born with that colour of hair? Come on. If you’re that gullible, can I count on your vote in November? Because I’m, like, you know, ready to lead too, eh?!

Oh, that reminds me. Oops. I forgot that I’m not an American citizen -so I guess I can’t run for prez after all.

So much for that bright idea. I guess it’s back to the day job now.

Happy Thursday!

an apology from our Prime Minister

Hello all: I should note that the subject line is rather misleading as this post will actually not contain any direct wording from our greatly esteemed PM, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper is the guy on the right, in case you had a problem figuring it out.

WARNING/ATTENTION/ACHTUNG: this post will contain a political rant which might offend some Canajan readers, and which will probably make no sense to readers from other countries.  You may, accordingly, wish to skip to the (blurry) photos at the end.  Consider yourselves warned.

Mr. Harper has, however, spent lots of time in recent months apologising to all and sundry for stuff which happened away back before he was born.  Most recently (and in fact, he managed to pull off this one on a long weekend when people aren’t typically paying all that much attention), he apologised for an incident that took place in 1914 – 376 Sikh and other people from the Indian south continent came into Vancouver on a boat and were not let in to Canada.  Many were murdered upon their return to Calcutta, after spending two months on a dock in the Vancouver harbour.

Now, it’s not for me to say that the Canadian government shouldn’t apologise for that, really.  But, in fact, the community he tried to apologise to has rejected the apology, saying it should come from the House of Commons rather than from Mr. King Stephen Harper trying to gain favour in their community when he shows up for a festival.

And, frankly, I don’t know if these apologies matter whether they come from the legislature or not.  However, it seems that he should have figured this out by now because he’s already issued apologies to the First Nations (without offering up any cash to back it up.

He’s also apologised to the Chinese-Canadian community for a head tax imposed on newcomers between 1885 and 1923 – and offered compensation to those who actually paid the tax, or their children.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t most people that got penalised under this old system be dead now?  And I’ve had at least one client who tried to negotiate the compensation scheme and was told “without original documents, you get nothing.

Now, I think that Mr. Harper is actually quite shrewd (or rather, that his advisors are geniuses) by hitting on a great way to deflect from what’s going on now – just apologise for what has happened in the past.  I mean, we are a nation of people who are socialised to say “sorry” if someone else bumps into you on the street.  And – they say “sorry” too and everyone moves on.

So, the apology as a political concept makes a lot of sense… and hey, the guy is apologising for stuff which happened well before he was even born!  How Canadian… and how dishonest.

Why dishonest?  Because this party is doing a whole hell of a lot of stuff right now that someone fifty years down the road will no doubt be apologising for.  Stuff such as decimating our health care system, reducing public pension entitlements for those who have paid in for 40 years or more, and so forth.

But hey, someone’s sorry – so that must count.  But you don’t see him shedding any tears either:

So, Mr. Harper, thank you for apologising, and I’m sorry too.  In fact, I’m sorry that you’re not offering some of my homemade preserves to those who have been wronged in years past, such as my tomato jam:

… or my jalapeno/green bell pepper jelly:

So, Mr. Harper, should you read this, have my people call my people and we’ll set up a proper “apology basket” for you to give to everyone who has been historically wronged.  JJ is, after all, retired, and has lots of time to can produce.

Happy Tuesday!

generosity and the grammar of beer

The two topics addressed in my subject line today, by the way, are meant to be read separately. I just thought it was too anal-retentive-lawyer-lingo-like of me to put (a); (b) in the subject line.

WARNING/AVERTISSEMENT/ACHTUNG! Today’s post is excessively verbose, even by my wordy standards. Don’t say I didnae warn ye.

Today was my last official day at my legal research workplace. I would have been a bit sad to leave but they’re finding they can’t get rid of me that easily – I’m going in tomorrow to excavate clean out my office. I’m only moving one floor up in the same building (we Legal Aid types can be fairly incestuous) and the person who will be using my office won’t be starting until mid-August, so had no real incentive to put the full push on for today. Also, I have to go back next week Tuesday for my official going away pizza lunch.

So, I was well surprised to get this lovely gift today:

This lovely bunch of sunflowers was presented to me by the reception/support staff J. and L. I hadn’t expected this at all and was almost moved to tears quite chuffed – particularly when they told me they had picked sunflowers because it was something different and I’m a weirdo they thought I would prefer that. I believe they will miss me because I was by far the noisiest person in an otherwise very quiet office sent them lots of Email jokes, bitched at them about consulted them on important issues, and brought in snack food.

J. runs the office lottery pool, and has also kindly granted me a dispensation to keep playing with the research office team (only after I whined at length that if they won next week when I’d kicked in my $2 a week for the past year and a half, I would sue).

Anyway, please accept my thanks, J. and L. (as I was too verklempt frazzled to tell you properly yesterday). And I thank you for providing a very friendly presence in the office (it’s so nice to come into work and have friendly people say “hey and how are you”) – and, more importantly, for providing that invisible and seamless support and help that is really so invaluable but which is probably not always recognised just because you’re so good at your jobs. You’ve made my work life a lot easier during my time at the research office, and I thank you for that.

Sniff. Sob.

Where was I?

Oh yes, generosity. This very hectic week was also greatly improved when I received a swap package from Clarabelle. Unfortunately, because J. and L. have not committed to running my life in addition to making my work life smoother, I can’t show you my own photos right now. However, she sent me a 1200 yd merino laceweight skein of yarn from the Natural Dye Studio and the colourway looks something like this:

She also enclosed these brilliant UK sweeties:

.. and the UK version of Skittles (one of my favourites – and she didn’t even know that!):

Clarabelle has also mentioned that my recent obsession about preserving food has inspired her to make some jam. Huzzah! So, now I’m mulling over whether I can make jam out of these stems I had to cut off from the sunflowers from J. and L. to make them fit into my vase:

Sunflower stem jelly, anyone? No? Hey – suspend your disbelief… and there is a long weekend coming up for me after all. This coming Monday is “Simcoe Day” – the Toronto excuse for “you need a long weekend in August”. And so we do. The fact that the holiday is called after a long-dead white settler guy shouldn’t really matter.

However, I’ve often wondered why they don’t just call these summer long weekend Mondays “Beer Day”, being in Canada and all. This trend has already started here by the way… the long weekend organised around “Victoria Day” after this person who was born on 24 May:

… has morphed into a whole weekend which many of us Canajans affectionately refer to as the “May Twofer Weekend”.

Huh?!? you people not lucky enough to be living in Canada are saying? Herein starts the grammar lesson.

Well, not quite yet. The necessity of the grammar lesson was brought home to me when, on the way home from my “last day at the research office” dinner, I told JJ that I wanted to deke into the LCBO to buy a six of beer. He started to laugh at me but I was too busy deking into the LCBO to investigate the cause of the laughter until he drove up in his chariot to carry me home with my six-pack.

He then telt me “Well, lassie, ye’re always so big on the grrrrammar, yet ye’re saying “a six of beer” and that makes no grrramatical sense”.

And (as almost always), he is right. It doesnae make any grammatical sense… unless yer Canajan, apparently. Since he has been some 18 years in Canada, it is surely not the first time that JJ has heard reference to “a six/twelve/twentyfour/2-4/twofer” of beer, and I of course reminded him of this. He said (and I quote):

Weeeeeeellllll, that still doesnae mek it right, hen.

Sigh. But of course it is right, in the Canajan context. We buy so much beer, what does it matter if we say the word “pack” after the quantity?!? Our dialect has evolved so that we can avoid this unnecessary verbiage. And, by the way, JJ well knows this – he was just being difficult.

Anyone here ever had to learn how to decline nouns in Latin/Ancient Greek/other foreign language lessons where the language distinguishes the noun ending depending upon how you’re using the noun? If you didn’t, you might as well skip this part of the rant. I, as a young lassie, had to attend Greek School where we were forced to learn this stuff by rote – but it’s not a concept that applies to the English language.

This is the updated version of the book of my nightmares when my parents forced me to go to Greek School instead of letting me attend Brownies.  Now older and wiser, I'm (somewhat) grateful... but anyway.

This is the updated version of the book of my nightmares when my parents forced me to go to Greek School instead of letting me attend Brownies. Now older and wiser, I'm (somewhat) grateful... but anyway.

So, let me try an example from Greek school. Under the direction of teachers who had been kicked out of Greece because they were too cruel to stay there and ended up coming to Kingston, Ontario with the sole purpose of whacking kids with a ruler Kirie Yiorgho, Kirie Pavlo and Kirie Kosta (“Kirie” meaning “Master”), we’d have to recite this sort of thing over and over (and over) again, using the ever popular noun naftees (sailor):

SINGULAR NOMINATIVE: o naftees (“the sailor went out into the boat and sailed it”)

SINGULAR GERUNDIVE: tou naftees (“the boat belonging to the sailor got stolen”)

SINGULAR DATIVE: tou naftee (“I’m giving the boat to the sailor“)


PLURAL NOMINATIVE: ee naftess (“the sailors went out into the boat and sailed it”)

PLURAL GERUNDIVE: tou nafton (“the boat belonging to the sailors got stolen”)

PLURAL DATIVE: tou naftes (“I’m giving the boat to the sailors“)


(I’m still trying to figure out, by the way, why in a Greek school in Kingston, Ontario we had to keep going on about sailors and the other Greek textbook favourite, the soldier [stratiotis]. I’m also trying to figure out why I decided to blog about this because now it’s all ringing in my head. Oh, and by the way, it’s even more complicated in Ancient Greek – as every idiot Greek Canadian like me who managed to get into a university where they offered Ancient Greek and signed up in the first year thinking “Bird course!”… WRONG. But that is perhaps another topic for another blog post… then again, maybe NOT).

Anyway, if you’re still with me, here is my rendition of the noun declension for “beer” in Modern Canajan:

SIX PACK: a six of beer

12 PACK: a 12 of beer (NEVER “a dozen beer”)

CASE OF 24 BEER: a 2-4; a twenty-four; a twofer ** please note the omission of “of beer”

There are also strange variations on the theme as one local beer company insists on packing its beer in nine and eighteen bottle packs, just to be perverse different. I’m not sure of the grammatical implications of that, but I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and please note: in Canajan, the plural of “beer” is … “beer”. NOT “beers”. If ever you are in Canada and you say “I had too many beers last night”, you will be instantly identified as Murcan. It’s easier if you’re from the UK because then Canajans can talk the common language of “pints”. The ordinary English grammar rules apply to the term “pint”, as far as I’m aware.

Oh, did I ever happen to mention that my undergraduate degree is in linguistics? Probably I had managed to avoid that admission, as that should be enough to drive even my very staunchest readers away. Sigh. Too late now!

Anyway, on that note, happy weekend to all… and I hope you enjoy it with whatever beverage you choose, but preferably beer (plural).



I’m in arrears of rent!!!

Hey, I was out having a fun time with the Tenant Advocates yesterday evening…

…when I came home last evening to this dire message from my landlord:

Auggggh!!! I’m in arrears!!! Will they file to evict me?

Hmm… I’ve just spoken with my new in-house counsel, Gabriel.

He advised that it wouldn’t be worth their while to file to evict me, as it would cost them $150.00.

As prudent counsel, however, he did also advise that if they should file to evict me I should bring up the fact that I overpaid the previous month according to their ledger:

Gabriel did advise that, if the worst happens and they file to evict me, I can claim this $0.68 overpayment as part of a relief from forfeiture eviction (sorry – I happen to like the old language “relief from forfeiture” as it really brings home the feudal aspect of the whole thing… but I’m a bit old school that way) argument before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

However, I decided to do the wise thing and just rectify the situation by payment.

This is only because I don’t know that the Board would accept the “I’m maths challenged” argument, especially when landlord/tenant is my chosen field of legal practice.

However, I’m just a bit pissed off right now – I figure it cost the landlord more than than the $8.86 outstanding to have their staff person print this off and have another staff member hand-deliver it to my door fourteen days later. But this is why the landlords keep making money and fools like me keep paying them rent, I suppose.

Now, if I wanted some real drama, I’d skip Gabriel’s opinion and get my real legal team onto it:

It’s actually such a big legal team that they don’t all fit in one photo! Check it out!

(You will recognise JJ in front. He is the honourary security person. We need him around because people like this start creating commotions in the street by nearly running over a cyclist, then getting out of his car and nearly decking the cyclist, then when someone like me intervenes and says she’s calling the cops, gets out and calls the cops himself, parks his car in one lane on a major thoroughfare in the city at rush hour, then gets laughed at by the cops when they finally show up:

Need I say more, really?)

Anyway, even more members of my legal team:

…and still more again:

… and our glorious mascot, who is a(n) (in)famous actress and has actually been on TV!!!

So, who needs to fear The Landlord when you have all these people on your team?!?

Stay tuned… because if I ever face an eviction hearing for non-payment of rent for $8.68 outstanding, I will be calling in the media.

(And, by the way, it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. I’ve seen many clients with an eviction order for non-payment where the eviction order says the landlord owes THEM several hundred dollars. Such is the beauty of the landlord/tenant law in Ontario.)

But enough shop talk!

A very happy Tuesday to you all.



food – a suicide mission?

This morning, whilst at the Fresh and Wild(ly Expensive) Shop getting my bagel (the cheapest thing in the place!) I spotted a new hot sauce:

In case you can’t read the printing on the label, it’s called Blair’s Death Rain Nitro. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me the concepts of “food” and “nitro” don’t really mesh.

But there’s more! If you want to buy the stuff off their website, you have to read this disclaimer first!

Product Disclaimer

Purchaser of this product hereby acknowledges the intense heat factor of this product and the element of danger if misused. This product is over 100 time hotter than a jalapeno pepper and is a complex blend of fresh peppers and extracts. This product is not a sauce but a food additive and should be used as such only. Furthermore, it should be clearly understood that this is used strictly at the purchaser’s risk.

Purchaser hereby releases Blair’s Sauces and Snacks from all liability, indemnifies and holds harmless Blair’s Sauces and Snacks with respect to any claims of damages or injuries resulting from the use, consumption, ingestion, and/or contact with respect to this product.

Now, ordinarily I would chalk this up to American protectionism against increasing numbers of frivolous lawsuits, or to marketing hype. However, with this Blair’s stuff I actually believe that it could harm you. This is the “heat meter” for this product:

I had seen this guy Blair on the Food Network one time when he won the “Hottest Sauce of the Year” Contest. This contest involved a bunch of masochists misguided gourmands people going and sampling many, many excruciatingly hot chilies, sauces, etc and deciding which one caused the most pain.

Shortly thereafter, they began carrying some of his potato chip line up here. Now, as you all know I am a chip monster. I saw a bag marked “mild” and thought that I should be able to handle those as I do like hot food and I have no taste buds left from all my smoking, anyway.

Well, it is the first time in recorded history that I could not finish a bag of chips. Seriously. These ones nearly killed me – and that was the “mild” version!!

This, perhaps, is not surprising when you note that most of the food products on Blair’s website come with descriptions like this:

This is Mad…Blair has made his Mega Death Sauce in a Dry form. This 1.5 oz Shaker Bottle is Full of Hell…Pure Extract has been Sprayed on Habanero Powder …Feel Alive and Good luck! [emphasis added]

I don’t think I’ve ever been told “Good Luck” before eating something – one should think it wouldn’t be necessary. But, apparently not when it comes to “extreme food”.

So, I ask you – what is this fixation with “extreme” food, anyway? Does everything have to be a contest? Millions throughout the world don’t have enough to eat – but we have so much that we can choose to render it inedible by sprinkling the equivalent of a five alarm fire onto it, then eating it anyway to prove how macho we are?!

That’s enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth, I tell you.

Now, the closest I get to lusting after “extreme food” is drooling over photos of food that looks extremely good. Take, for example, my version of ladenia – Greek pizza:

If you want the recipe, it’s available here at Peter’s blog. I cheated and used store-bought pizza dough, though – so easy! And not a Scoville unit to be found!

And if, like me, you’re into salivating over photos of fabulous food, in addition to Peter’s blog, check out Greek Food Recipes and Reflections by Sam. Both guys are greek-canadian like me, by the way, and they may just be the only two Greek men in the world who like cooking! Where were they, I ask you, before I decided never, ever, ever to marry a Greek guy?!?!? Why did I make that decision again, exactly?

Oh, yeah.

Happy Thursday and don’t let your tongue get burned off. You need it to talk, after all!