A Cup of Darjeeling

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With characteristic brightness frequently likened to newly minted coins, fragrant aromas, and sophisticated, complex flavours — delicate, even flowery (more stem than petal, as one expert blender put it), with hints of apricots and peaches, muscat grapes, and tasty nuts — it’s the world’s premium tea, the “champagne of tea.”… Darjeeling tea is often sold not just by single estate like wines, but also by flush, or harvesting season, a term nearly exclusive to tea from the far northeast of India… While Darjeeling tea’s unique … click below for more ↓

Musings on Reading the Bard Over a Year

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Wonderful thing, the internet. You can type “complete works reading list Shakespeare” into a search engine and come up with dozens of lists with a recommended order for reading The Bard’s plays and poems over the period of a year. And none of them the same or seemingly made with the same logic. But, it seems, many have taken up the challenge. In almost no time, I had several lists to examine (here’s a PDF I made of the first few I discovered and collated) … click below for more ↓

Musings on Housework

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Susan lugged the laundry hampers down to the lavandería we often used in Zihuatanejo when we vacationed there; a small shop on the sidestreet where laundresses would weigh the hampers, quote a price, and a time to come back to collect the cleaned clothes. The relentless Mexican sun made the streets and sidewalks an oven as she walked back to the house where we stayed. She wondered if it was too early to open a cold beer. Meanwhile, I walked through the tall grasses on … click below for more ↓

Musings on Art and Taste

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Many years ago, I had a lengthy correspondence with a friend in another part of Canada about what constitutes art. His basic argument was that art was not neutral or generic, but was the final product of high achievement: real art was “good” art. That is, art was defined by recognized masters and their works. Mona Lisa was art, Picasso was art, Monet was art — solely because they hung in galleries. It took cultural recognition or at least acceptance to make the change from … click below for more ↓

The Cancer Diaries, Part 28

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This month marks a year since my biopsy that indicated I had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. It’s been quite a year for me, easily the most stressful and challenging of my life. The challenges of dealing with cancer were compounded by the pandemic that spawned lockdowns and restrictive access protocols that soon became a regular part of my and everyone else’s life. This anniversary is not a celebration, simply a recognition, although Susan and I have raised a glass to my having survived. … click below for more ↓

Musings on Downsizing Shakespeare

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While downsizing my library earlier this spring (25-30 boxes of books already removed from the shelves and some titles still left to cull), I had to think about what books to keep. This was tough for me, what with my passion for books and reading, parting with any book, especially one I’ve had for decades, can be like losing a child or a pet.  But I persevered with my purge (with Susan making sure I did…). I looked at every shelf to first decide which … click below for more ↓

The Cancer Diaries, Part 27

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I didn’t really expect the hormones to be so disruptive of my daily activities, but there are times when the “hot flashes” interrupt everything. They tire me out, sometimes making even simple tasks a chore, making my breathing more difficult. And, of course, they wake me at random times during the night, during which I throw off the bedcovers as I toss and turn until I cool down again. And along with the covers any cat or dog who was sleeping against me. Then I … click below for more ↓

The COVID-19 Vaccination Screw Up

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For a long time during this pandemic, Susan and I were in the “not eligible” age bracket for the COVID-19 vaccination (65-79 years old) here in Ontario. Why our age group was left out I have never been able to uncover. Maybe some politicians felt we were more expendable than other groups. But late last week, the provincial government finally announced it had expanded eligibility to our group. Whoopee! So we immediately went online to book a slot. The Ontario government site, however, directed us … click below for more ↓

Musings on Computer Gaming, Storytelling, and Seniors

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Every day, for an hour or two, I kill demons. Or I build houses and shopping malls. Sometimes I command armies in battle. Or fly an airplane into a foreign airport. I might manage a hospital, build a settlement on Mars, lead a band of survivors after a nuclear holocaust, hunt Nazis as a sniper in WWII, drive a tank onto the sands at Omaha Beach, move Roman legions around the Mediterranean, build an empire, sail with a fleet of starships into the vastness of … click below for more ↓

Musings on Downsizing, No. 2

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In the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, there’s a memorable, somewhat spooky scene towards the end where astronaut Dave is pulling the chips from the memory banks of HAL, the ship’s AI computer. HAL begs Dave to stop while his memories recede: Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave…Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. … click below for more ↓

Musings on Downsizing, No. 1

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Downsizing seems to be all the rage among people our age. It’s so popular, it might be classified as a sport or a game for seniors. Assuming someone could codify the rules, that is. I’ve been told it’s all over the TV, too, but since we haven’t had cable for a decade or more, I am only going on hearsay for that. But the topic shows up now and then on the front cover of grocery-store checkout magazines, (along with headlines about glitterati of whom … click below for more ↓

Musings on Pizza No. 2

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Pizza was one of those things I thought about when my hot flashes from my ongoing hormone treatment awoke me in the middle of the night this past week. Several times, in fact. As I tossed and turned I thought about my pizza-making process as I recently described here and wondered. I had received some comments about it, too, which prompted my continued meditations on pizza. I’ve been making pizza that way for years with only minor changes or alterations in the steps, but I … click below for more ↓

The Cancer Diaries, Part 26

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Cancer changes everything — and nothing at all. Rabbi Skillman That’s a profound comment, coming from a TV character. The “rabbi” in question is a fictional patient in hospital, played by George Wyner in the TV series, New Amsterdam (Season 1 Episode 8). He is talking to the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Max Goodwin (played by Ryan Eggold).  Cancer — its diagnosis, treatment, and impact on people — plays a pivotal role in the series, and offers some food for thought for viewers. This episode … click below for more ↓

Musings on Making Pasta, No. 5

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I was back at making pasta this week, trying a slightly different recipe, and working on honing my skills with the pasta machine. As well, I  was hoping to get my recently-acquired mafaldine cutter attachment operating correctly (you might recall reading about the problems I had with it clogging in the previous post on pasta making). My usual mix for pasta dough is a ratio of about two-to-one tipo 00 flour to semolina. Thinking about that, I wondered if the gluten in the lower-protein tipo … click below for more ↓

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