guard your pet rabbits!!!

Hi all:

Warning/Attention/Achtung: there will be no photos in this post.  Nothing cute (or otherwise) ahead to look at except for my prose (which, unfortunately, is not even purple).  

 I return after a long time away to provide a cautionary message – should you own a pet rabbit, take precautions to make sure s/he keeps safe.

Why? … you might ask?  The answer: because when I went to my local large chain grocery store (I won’t identify the shop except to say that the name starts with S and ends with y…) this afternoon, I was shocked and horrified to see that they had two rabbits (fur and skin off and splayed out in a plastic container) for sale… for $23 and $24 respectively.

All this to say that my shock and horror was not at the fact that S***y’s were selling butchered bunnies.  I was, however, astonished at the price.

Rabbit, when I was growing up in the wilds of Kingston, Ontario, was cheap ethnic food (just ask my mother about having to cook and eat “lagos (rabbit) me (with)  skorthalia(walnut garlic sauce) ” – a dish that my father remembered fondly from “the Greece” and that his mother used to cook.  When his mother actually came to stay with us in Kingston and cooked this dish, it wasn’t quite how he remembered it – I think we can all relate to childhood favourites which don’t taste as we remember them once we are adults.

But I digress. When I first moved to Toronto as a student, I did buy rabbit and cook it for myself.  Why?  Because it was cheaper than chicken, and (I was told) healthier.

I had moved away from my rabbit years for some time,.  So, right now I can’t understand why anyone would pay $23-$24 for a bunch of rabbit meat on the bone which weighs less than a whole chicken (which, even at an organic shop, would cost less that $15).

Why am I ranting about this issue?  I’m not sure.  I suspect that I’ve found myself at the end of the “cheap meats are no longer cheap” road, and that I’m frustrated by that.  I mean… flank steak, brisket, pork shoulder… all of the cheap cuts that my mother (and many other people’s mothers and grandmothers) relied on are now more expensive than the “choicer” (and leaner) cuts.

As an example, last week at the same store where I saw the rabbit today, I bought two kilos of pork tenderloin for under $10.  Yet, a rabbit (which was just about 1 kilo) cost $24.

So, does this mean that the wealthier amongst us are eating the cheaper meats, while the poorer are eating the “better” meats? This is really the only conclusion I can draw, especially when I see what some Toronto restaurants are charging for serving organ meats.

More power to those restaurants, I have to say…they have hit a niche market.  And if the consumers are really that stupid… I’m planning to set up a business where I make traditional greek tripe soup (it’s called patsa, but I’ve got to find a better name for it… hey, how about “menudo???”) and sell it for $7-8 per bowl.

I also make a lot of other good soups for which I’d be happy to charge $7-8 per bowl.  Anyone have a name for my business?   I like “Souper Trouper”…  but people who are not ABBA fanatics might not get the reference.

Really, I’m just trying to avoid bad Bugs Bunny jokes.  However, with the appropriate high-end and monied sponsor, I’d be happy to develop a very lovely rabbit soup (without walnut paste, and with lots and lots of carrots).

Wishing you all the best,

Kristina

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Toula

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I am not a big fan of Christmas.  This may be in part because I’m scarred by the memory of having a nameday (it’s a grik thing) fall on Christmas Day – which meant I got stiffed for presents and mentions that all the other grik kids got. I guess this is because I happened to be named after (Jesus) Christ.

But, in fact, I was named after my father’s mother, Kristina “Toula” Brou(haha).  So, at this time of year I do always think about her, and thought I would share some memories of her.

(Lest you ask how “Kristina” gets morphed into “Toula”, I don’t really know.  My best explanation – the griks, rather than shortening names as diminutives tend to lengthen them.  As a child I was called “Kristinaki” or “Kristinoula”.  Somehow, the “noula” got morphed into “Toula” at some point.)

My yiayia (grandmother) Toula never actually met her father.  He had emigrated to the United States after her older brother was born, and came back for one visit at which point Toula was conceived.  As far as I know, he did not return to Greece after that, although he sent money and other things and as far as anyone in the village was concerned, he and his wife were still married.  It’s my understanding that Toula had the opportunity to meet her father but chose not to.

Toula’s maternal family were olive growers and produced olive oil.   As a result of this, a marriage was arranged between her and my grandfather, Vasili Brou(haha).  This is their engagement photo:

Despite the fact that their marriage was an arranged one, they truly loved one another – I observed this myself as a child and many others have spoken about this.  Although I do not support arranged marriages on principle, I’m glad that this one worked out for Toula.

The house where Toula lived with her husband and family was actually occupied by the Nazis in 1941 or so as it was a big house – and I suspect the familiar connection to lots of olive oil had something to do with it.  So, for about 3 years, Toula cooked and cleaned for the Germans.  This bothered her a great deal although luckily nothing bad happened to her as a result.

So… in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this… let me fast forward a few decades.

I best got to know my yiayia Toula when she came to stay here in Canada for several months after her husband had died.  My memories from that time period:

– she was what I consider to be a master lacemaker and knitter.  I asked her to teach me how to do some things then.  Her response: “I’m not going to teach you because you are going to become educated and go on to better things.  This kind of thing is for village women and housewives.”  As a result, I got stubborn, and – when she left for Greece again – taught myself how to knit.  I do find it sad that she discounted her craft so… and wish she had lived long enough for me to show her that professional women can also do crafts.

– at the time she was here, Terry Fox was running for cancer and they were documenting his run every night on the evening news.  She would sit in front of the news, not understanding English –  but cry when she saw Terry Fox running “oh the poor boy, I’m praying for you.” And I imagine she was.  When she heard he had died, she was apparently completely devastated.

– she did not know how to use an oven because where she lived at the time, people did not have ovens and took their casseroles down to a local “fourno” or oven to be baked for a small price. This created some issues for my mother when she was recovering from a very bad reaction to wisdom tooth extraction and Toula kept bringing a roast into her bedroom saying “is it done yet???”

– when I was in Greece in 1982, I had a bad accident (I managed to walk through a patio door at my aunt’s place, and then fall on the glass).  Being 12 years old at the time, my biggest problem (after being taken to the local hospital and having two gaping wounds sewn up without anaesthetic!) was that I could not go to the beach for at least a week after.  However, Yiayia Toula cried and prayed over me for weeks.  At the time I thought this was irritating.  Now, I think it was – at worst, quaint – at best, a sign of love and who knows, perhaps it helped me heal!

Yiayia Toula died some time back and had suffered from Alzheimers beforehand.  In addition to her wedding ring (which I was given as her namesake, and which I wear on the thumb of my right hand), I keep in my house another memento of her: this greeting card that she sent me for Christmas one year:

Since I moved here to Toronto, this has been one of the icons I have in my house – hung on the east wall as per the tradition.  This icon is currently in my bedroom.

My favourite part of seeing this every day, however, is knowing what was inside the greeting card (which was sent in the late 80s). Words of encouragement and love, signed with this inscription: “I kiss you on the eyes a thousand times.  Your grandmother, Kristina Brou(haha)”.

This is how she signed every letter she ever wrote to any member of my family here (replace “grandmother” with “mother”).  I always thought this was quite a cute usage, and get a smile every day when I wake up and see this icon on my wall.

So, hronia polla, yiayia (happy nameday) – and I’m thinking about you.

http://bespokebybrouhaha.com/2008/04/18/a-snapshot-of-brouhaha-history/

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,

Brouhaha

I’m still here…

… and sorry for being out of touch. I’ve also been knitting again (and even did a PayDay run to the LYS after months away!) but the kitties have hidden my camera. The kitties have also done their best to stop me from knitting by slurping up yarn as if it were spaghetti, by the way…

When I find my camera again (or when I figure out how to download the photos from my new iPhone to my computer, whichever comes first!, I will post photos of my newest creations, for what they are worth.

In other news: I’m preparing for Hallowe’en and will certainly have to come up with a decent costume or funny post or both before that point. And on that topic, one photo to offer you from the Globe and Mail:
Pumpkin_patch_gi_285341gm-e

I’m also frustrated with our current government/s and railing against them – there is lots of talk in our province these days about profligate government waste, calls for public enquiries, etc… but that’s nothing new (neither my frustration nor the waste, sadly enough).

I end this brief post with a tribute to JJ, who says “If yer not gonnae put a photo of me, lassie, at least put somethin’ Scottish”. I observe his wish half way, as the actor depicted in the photo below is actually no’ Scottish, but English:

Eddie_Izzard_203848gm-e

Cheers and see you soon!

kb

Oops

Those few readers still left will remember my glowing descriptions of my newish twins, formerly known as Fric and Frac and now known as Cleo and Patch:

IMG_3517

So, before I make my embarrassing admission, here is a photo of Cleo:

IMG_3526

…and here is a photo of Patch:

IMG_3519

(And please don’t ask why the rocking chair is stocked with books.  That is just the Brouhaha way, really.)

So, what is the embarrassing admission?  Well… we thought that Cleo and Patch were both girl cats.  However, today when I took them to the vet for their first shots, I learned that Patch is, in fact, a boy.

To be fair to myself, I had questions about this issue a couple of weeks back when Patch waved (then hers/now his) backside in front of me and … ahem… well.  I spoke with JJ and JJ said “Dinna be ridiculous, they are both gerrrrrles”.  The high irony: when C & P first arrived and we thought they were both girls, JJ kept calling Patch “him”.  I kept correcting him, and he learned to say “her”.  Now he has to relearn the whole situation.  Oh well.

Funnily enough, when I look back on my past blog posts, I did identify Cleo by gender, but not Patch.  So, perhaps Patch is a boygirl. 🙂

Anyway, although the vet told me this mistake gets made all the time (and although I spoke with the person who gave us the kitties and she said she’d thought she’d given us two girls!), I still feel @@&!*@(#&*(!&@#*(@& stupid.  I suspect, however, the kitties themselves don’t worry as long as they get fed and catered to.

The problem is more in my head, really.  I have to shift from “guid girls” to “guid girl and boy” – and so does JJ.  But really, why should it matter?  The problem, really, is only in my brain.  I imagine the kitties do not have the same gender hangups as we humans do… they just live out their situation.  As should we all.

Anyway, here is my latest video of Patch being a wee bugger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFtKo8DCn0A

And here is another photo of the pair of them, just because they are so bloody cute:

IMG_3495I wish that everyone got along so well, really.

Happy August.  🙂

kb

Tessie

yiayia_3

This was the first photo we could find of my grandmother (yiayia) Tessie after she died on 24 April 2009.  I’m not certain how old she was at that point, but she was 92 when she died – a ripe old age. 

Her full first name was Anastasia, but she was known as Tessie.  She was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1916 but was sent to school without speaking any English.  This must have been hard for her, especially in small-town Ontario.  

This is the first photo that we have of her whole family:

yiayia_2

… and this might give you a sense of how she grew up.  She actually wanted more than anything to become a teacher, but in her time and day she was not allowed to go to teachers’ college by her parents.  So, she got married instead… and raised three children who all became teachers.  

Also, as a married woman, she became a leader in the Greek Community in Kingston, Ontario – not only did she help the women in her Greek-Canadian community, but many of the Greek-Canadians currently in Kingston were allowed to stay in her house, rent free, for a few months until they got on their feet.  She and her husband helped them find jobs and places in the community.  

I only really learned (or rather, only really appreciated) the full extent of Tessie’s contributions to the Greek community in my hometown after she died.  To me growing up, she was a beloved grandmother but also sometimes a pain in the @$$… I joked about her perusing all the flyers and driving all over Kingston for deals on food.   I brought high school friends over to her house to go through her cupboards and joke about the past due dates on food… (yiayia was, to be fair, a bit of a hoarder.  Probably for good past reason, but I didn’t get it then).  

As a teenager (and before call waiting and all that jazz) I was also not all that happy that she would phone and keep my mother on the line for an hour at a time – cutting off my quality time with my friends on the phone!! Her big thing when she used to call (and this was well before the days of mobile phones) was whenever someone (my mother or I) picked up the phone she would say “you’re home, eh?” LIKE… where else would we be?!?!?!  Big laughs and jokes about this phraseology in the house at the time. 

As I grew older, I started to appreciate yiayia’s qualities – especially the fact that she read the papers (Toronto and Kingston) every day and could quote you line and verse where she had read something.  This in her mid to late 80s, when she was still going to the pool to swim!  And she was still doing the daily crosswords in the paper (something which I can’t accomplish today!)

Unfortunately for us and for yiayia, she developed Alzheimers and had to leave her house for a care home – Trillium Lodge in Kingston, where she was cared for very, very well.   She lived a few comfortable years there, and now she is no longer with us.  

I don’t have any more recent photos of yiayia than the above in computer format, but if you’re interested in seeing my favourite photo, just scroll to the end of the video below.  It’s at 8 minutes 5 seconds in the video.  (The video, by the way, was made by the Robert Reid Funeral Home in Kingston ON. http://www.reidfuneralhome.com/ They selected the music.   I put into order the majority of the photos and also provided the captions).  Perhaps if you have some time, you can look at the video as well.  It is, I think, a chronicle of a live well lived).  

Na pas to kalo, yiayia! (all the best to you, grandmother!).

the puir little rich girrrl

I read some very sad news yesterday in the Toronto Star.  Apparently the Queen …

queen

… is in need of some money! 

(Kind of ironic given that her picture is on so much of it, no?

money

But, alas, already I digress.  Back to the main rant programme.)

In fact, according to the article, puir wee Lizzie had to dip into her very own bank account to the tune of $11.5 million last year. 

piggy bank

The $15 million provided to her and her family by the UK government to pay expenses didn’t quite cut it, apparently.

Now, this begs the question (yea, it begs a LOT of questions for me): where did the £££ in Lizzie’s wee piggy bank come from anyway? 

…the Queen took $11.5 million over the past year from her own state-funded reserve account [emphasis added]…

You guessed it – the good old taxpayer (plus probably a few hundred thousand serfs, seven or eight hundred years ago)! 

paul

But seriously, I really should show some compassion.  I mean, if Lizzie needs to keep hitting the piggy bank at the rate of $11.5 million a year, apparently she will be out of money by 2012!  (Never mind that if I were to hit my piggy bank at the same rate, I’d be broke by… um… well, less time than it took me to type this sentence, really.)

Besides, her house…

buckingham_palace_1

… or, rather, her houses…

windsor-castle

… are falling apart and need millions of dollars in work.

Hey!  That gives me an idea!  The Queen should phone up Mike Holmes!

experts-holmes

I bet, given her dire plight, that he’d do repair work at Buckingham and Windsor Palaces for cost. 

Another fundraising idea for the Queen: apparently she spent three quarters of a million dollars this year relaunching her website.   It shouldn’t cost all that much more to stick a PayPal button up there and ask for donations!  Hell, I’d even shoot her $10 just for the pleasure of sending in that donation receipt to Revenue Canada…

Then again, maybe I wouldn’t.   I mean, take a look at some of the ways they’ve been spending their money!

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall spent £33,400 on a private jet to visit the Bushmills whiskey distillery and other engagements in Northern Ireland; the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent £14,515 to travel one way from Euston to Liverpool on the royal train – a journey that costs £74 first class when booked in advance on Virgin Trains; and Prince Andrew spent £55,269 on a one-way flight from London to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to co-chair the World Economic Forum.

I mean, really.  You’d think they could afford a couple or three cars to drive around, no?

Oh – I forgot, they’re broke. 

queen_cash_story_682905c

Heartbreaking, isn’t it?  The more I think about it, the sadder I get.  So, I’ve gone around the office and taken a collection.  However, this is all that my hard-hearted colleagues would come up with:

pennies_spare_change

I guess every little bit counts.

JJ, being a proud Jimmy   wee guy from Glesga  Scot, did not wish to contribute any cash to the Lizzie Fund.  This was his reaction when I asked.

hallowe'en 063

Marginally better, mind you, than his reaction to reading the article about Lizzie’s plight in the first place.  The only publically printable words I could glean were:  cold day, Hell, inbred wankers, and Sassenachs.

When he calmed down, he did, however, have a couple of useful suggestions for Lizzie:

Sell the bloody palace to that al Fayed bloke – him who bought Harrrrrrods.  Or tha’ Gates computer guy wanker in America.  Ah reckon one a them wuid snap it up in no time.  Also, did ye know that if ye catch a sturgeon in the UK the Queen has first dibs on it??  Mebbe she should just start keepin them and set up a stall at the fish market. 

(Lest you think the sturgeon crack is a bit out there… (a) it’s true; and (b) we were watching Iron Chef America: Battle Sturgeon at the time.) 

Anyway, I’m now off to consult eBay to see if I can pick up any discount tiaras   check the Landlord and Tenant Board Dockets to see if Liz Windsor or Philip Mountbatten are scheduled for eviction hearings today  do some work. 

Cheers,

Kristina