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Pat Colander's commentary on life as we know it and its aspects that surprise, delight and sometimes frighten us.
A travel section for mature readers exploring places you've always wanted to go and places you need to add to your list.
Find out the latest about must-sees in television, films, and other forms of entertainment not to be missed.
Gain some insight on family and relationships, and the perks and quirks we find living among different generations.
A roundup of technically cool stuff for tablets and smartphones that really works.
A weekly column by Denise DeClue - a semi-retired part-time professional former-screenwriter seasonally living in Beverly Shores.
With soft snowflakes drifting down on the cobblestone streets and the castle-like Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac set high above the dark harbor lit by the gleaming lights of the ferries as they make the early night crossings, Vieux Quebec, the historic portion of Quebec City, with its 17th and 18th century buildings, looks like a scene from a fairy tale.
We follow the winding streets which are crowded despite the frigid weather. Canadians know how to dress for the cold, and the snow, while heavy, is almost immediately cleared from the sidewalks and the streets. And for those who don’t want to walk, there are the eco-buses—electric buses that run about every ten minutes and are free. Dinner is at the cozy Le Conchon Dingue, a cozy warren of rooms near the quay where we feast on seafood pot pie loaded with crab, lobster, shrimp, salmon and sliced potatoes in a cream sauce, chicken Normandy and a killer double chocolate four layer cake with thick vanilla cream.
Using our hotel, Hôtel Loews Le Concorde on Cours du Général-De Montcalm with its magnificent views of Vieux Quebec and the St. Lawrence Seaway as a base over the next few days, we will visit such delights as Le Mache Vieux Port, which translates to The Old Port Market, a big sprawling indoor market next to the magnificent Chateau-style railroad station where a myriad of vendors including artisanal cheese makers, winemakers, farmers, bakers and candy makers sell their wares. Quebec is such a foodie paradise that one vendor offers a variety of eggs such as quail and pheasant and butchers stalls sell foie gras and game pies.
Spoiler Alert: Vegetarians might be upset by this story.
Actually, omnivores and pescatarians might be offended, too. Especially the ones who only consume animals which moo, oink, cluck or swim.
I started thinking about this after visiting a goat farm near Spokane, Washington, where they raise goats for meat to sell in local markets. It's delicious. More on goats, later. But looking around for local goat farmers, I couldn't find many and I started wondering why.
The other day Jim-the-Landlord asked me if I had any stationery. "Not the little thank-you-note kind," he said. "I need to write a letter."
Boy, did he come to the right place. Since forever I have been a big fan of stationery: the higher the rag content, the better. I like the creamy vellum (which isn't really calf skin anymore—I think it's a petroleum product) and envelopes lined with another color paper.
Way before we communicated via the internet, many of us sprayed our own perfume on letters. We adored fountain pens and bottled ink, but bowed to progress when the cartridges came in. Washable blue for school—permanent black for important missives.
Waking up early one Christmas morning and seeing a Nintendo Gameboy is one of the the most clear memories from my youth. It was freeing to know I no longer had to sit, legs crossed, in front of our family's Zenith TV to play Super Mario Brothers. I could play on the bus, the couch and even in the car; my child mind was officially beyond excited.
Portable gaming systems have come a long way since the Nintendo Gameboy, but children who wake to see one of these systems under the tree this Christmas will feel a similar joy without knowing just how far technology has come in the past few decades.
Which is the best system? Let's look at a few.
Maybe I'm just getting old, but I tend to regard any new holiday songs, movies or TV shows with extreme suspicion.
It may be a knee-jerk reaction to the preponderance of unremarkable Christmas pop songs that start bellowing over radio or department store speakers as soon as that last fun-size Snickers bar makes its long descent into a trick or treat bag. It used to be a special thrill to hear the familiar chords of a Christmas carol in a public setting, because it meant that the holidays were imminent, but this year, my first radio encounter with "Jingle Bell Rock" happened while driving home from work on Halloween evening.
Regardless of timing, the sheer volume of seasonal music can be overwhelming too, and the release of a holiday album seems to be a rite of passage required of all artists. One of the latest entries in the parade of holiday CDs actually comes from the wildly popular A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty." The album, "Duck the Halls—A Robertson Family Christmas," features tunes entitled "Camouflage and Christmas Lights," and "Hairy Christmas," in addition to more traditional offerings such as "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger."
Around twenty years ago two tough little old ladies were having dinner and drinks in Crown Point, Indiana, talking about the good old days and the bad old days. "Think how much fun it would be," said one to the other. "You'd get your own director's chair, you'd have dinner every night with movie stars. Just tell 'em your story next time somebody knocks on your door." Former Lake County Sheriff Lillian Holley had been slamming her door on inquisitive faces for 50 years. "Come on, Lillian," said the first lady, "What's up with the Dillinger thing?"
Lillian Holley was 42 years old and sheriff when Public Enemy Number One, John Dillinger, escaped from the "escape proof" jail in Crown Point in 1934. Holley was serving out her husband Roy's second term as sheriff, after he was killed in the line of duty. Five years ago they had moved from Hammond to the sheriff's house, attached to the jail, where more than 100 prisoners could be held. (For 76 years, until 1958, county sheriffs were required by law to live next to the jail.)
It was not a great time for women to be in law enforcement. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover claimed that women were not suitable to work as special agents due to their unpredictable nature. He said that even though women "probably could learn to fire a gun," he could not imagine them "shooting it out with gangsters."
Over the years I forgot how to play.
When I looked up "How to Play" on the Internet, I found "How to Play Poker," "How to Play Candy Crush," "How to Play 'Hotel California' on the Guitar."
That's not what I had in mind.
John Dillinger and I go way back.
When looking for a job in 1970, I was a lot like Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie. A curious gal from a small Midwestern town, I trudged up and down Chicago's Michigan Avenue carrying my newspaper clippings from office to office. I was dressed for success in my smart blue coat, stockings, sensible pumps, and gloves. The only thing I was missing was a pill-box hat. Mostly I think the editors who interviewed me only looked at my legs.
My last appointment that day was at The Chicago Literary Times.
I just can't get it out of my mind: Sounds of the familiar Clip-Clop rounding the bend as the garbage folks approach in a wagon pulled by their friendly, elegant steeds. Just the sound of it makes my whole life seem timeless, part of the long wind of humanity that will continue to blow after I'm gone. No wonder the Amish are Amish.
Turns out there are plenty of horses right here in Northwest Indiana who could do the job. I'm not talking about your Friend Flicka. You need draft horses for this kind of work: big, slow guys who've never run a race in their lives. They pull heavy stuff.
I asked a couple of draft horse aficionados what they thought of the garbage pick-up scheme. "I think it's a great idea," said Pam Worthington, current treasurer of the LaPorte County Draft Horse Association. "It's quiet, it's green, it's fuel efficient."
When I was 16, I was involved in the office education program at my high school. My first office job was in the district office working for the superintendent, district administrators and all of their assistants. I made fast friends with the dozen or so secretaries in the office. All of them were old enough to be my mother. Some were old enough to be my grandmother.
I enjoyed the conversations we’d have and valued the advice they’d give. We’d plan field trips on our days off and go out to dinner as a group. I ended up working in the office after graduation for a dozen more years and these ladies were—and still are—some of my best friends. One of those friends, Jeanette, bought me the jewelry I wore to prom and made my flower girl baskets when I got married.
Another friend, June, stood in as grandma in the hospital after my first and second sons were born when my own mom was recovering from surgery and couldn’t visit. June sat by my side and comforted me as we took turns holding my little guy in the neo-natal unit.