Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review - People of the Deer

I have wanted to read some Farley Mowat books for awhile and finally got around to my first one last month when I read And No Birds Sang. It was excellent and made me hunger to read another, which I just did with People of the Deer.

In 1886, the Ihalmiut of northern Canada numbered 7,000 souls; by 1946, when 25-year-old Farley Mowat travelled to the Arctic, their population had dwindled to only 40. Living among them, he observed the millennia-old migration of the caribou and endured the bleak winters, food shortages and continual, devastating intrusions of interlopers bent on exploiting the Arctic. In this seminal book, Mowat details a genocide wrought by misunderstanding and neglect. Debated long after its publication, this powerful story of the Ihalmiut continues to haunt the Canadian conscience.

This is a very powerful and extremely depressing story about the extinction brought on to a race of people by, of course, the white man. Mowat does a great job in telling the Ihalmiut story. He did not just observe them but took the time to learn their language, at least a small portion of it, as they did not speak English, and lived among them. Learning a little of their language allowed him to hear the Ihalmiut's story of the good times, when the deer (caribou) numbered in the thousands.

Mowat was very thorough in telling the story of their destruction, how the white man came and set up trading posts to trade food, guns and ammo for white fox pelts. This first contact, of course, brought disease to the people. When the price of fox furs fell, the trading posts just closed up shop. The people would go hungry and the disease could take a better hold of them.

The caribou, their main source of food and fuel, started to fade in numbers. He watched as the people he had grown so fond of died off.

This was Farley Mowat's first book and is extraordinary. Mowat not only tells us of the problems the people face through missionaries, the Canadian government and even the RCMP, but offers solutions at the end. You can sense Mowat's inner anger seething all the way through the book.

He made another trip to visit the Ihalmuit in 1958 where he apparently follows up on what happened to those first people he met. I'm not sure if I'm up for that one but do want to read more stories by him. I'll be looking for a happier story, though.

People of the Deer is really a must read for any Canadian.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Play - Freda and Jem's Best of the Week

Tonight Teena and I went to a play at Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a theater that has been open since 1979, but I have never seen a play in. That was going to change tonight.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre creates vital Canadian theatre by developing and presenting voices that question sexual and cultural norms. Built on the political and social principles of queer liberation, Buddies supports artists and works that reflect and advance these values. As the world’s longest-running and largest queer theatre, Buddies is uniquely positioned to develop, promote, and preserve stories and perspectives that are challenging and alternative.

Tonight we saw Freda and Jem's Best of the Week.

Freda and Jem are two women who fell in love, had kids, and built a family together. When they decide to split up, their family discovers that their love for each other doesn’t have to end at divorce – but it will have to change. A heartwarming story about family making and family breaking.

This was a powerful, intense, well written play. There were no weak performances by any of the actors, which could have easily have happened in a play with this much emotion attached. I like how the story was not only about Freda and Jem breaking up, but also how their break-up affected the kids. I found the son's story especially touching. Note, this was a very happy family before all the relationship problems started between the two parents.

There were very well done flashbacks to happier times, which in some plays can be confusing but not here.
Lorraine Segato, co-founder of Parachute Club provided the live music and was excellent.

I really enjoyed the play and would recommend it.

Before hand we had supper at Dukes Refresher in the Yonge and College area. They had an excellent selection of craft beer and we were served one of the biggest pieces of chicken you have ever seen. Teena wrote a complete review with pictures about it, and yes, I would go back in a second.

All in all it was a great night!

Beer of the Week - Oast House Biere de Garde plus the Niagara Oast House Brewery Tour

One great thing about Niagara-on-the-Lake is that you are in the middle of wine country and there are all kinds of wine tours and tastings available. Last Sunday on our way home from a weekend stay at the Olde Angel Inn Teena and I stopped in for a tour, only ours was at a craft brewery, Niagara Oast House Brewers.


Oscar was our guide. He was fun and informative.

My first question was "what is an oast house?" Oscar took us over to painting of an old European oast house which was used for drying hops. I never knew that.

Niagara Oast House Brewers have been around for a couple of years and during the time we were there lots of people were stopping in to buy beer.

The inside of the brew house.


This weeks Beer of the Week is the barrel aged Oast House Biere de Garde, "beers for keeping". This is a French-style farmhouse ale that has a long conditioning period to bring out a delicate but clean malty character with no hop bitterness

And the beer?

This beer is fermented in a barrel, then bottle conditioned by adding some yeast to the beer as it is bottled to go through a secondary fermentation in the bottle as it ages. As a result, the cork came off with a loud pop when I gave it just a quarter turn. That was fun. The secondary fermentation makes for a lively beer and causes a large head when poured, no matter how carefully. The fluffy, creamy, slightly brownish head, determinedly stayed for a long while.

I can smell the malt along with some other aromas, a bit of wine perhaps?

It was not as sweet as I thought it would be when I read about the absence of any hop bitterness. In fact, the Beire de Garde comes in a little on the sour side. This is a multi-layered, complex tasting beer. I taste wine and a little cherry. The beer finishes with a nice bit of sourness, which I find refreshing.

Although I love my hoppy beers, I am really enjoying this. It is a great sipping beer, which I would really enjoy on a cool evening. This is not the last Beir de Garde I will have.

I left the brewery with a couple of Country Ales, a two pack which contained a Saison and this Bier de Garde, plus a bottle of Pickled Hop Shoots, which are very tasty.

Of course, when you're visiting a brewery in wine country, there are wine orchards surrounding the building, so why not get a picture taken by the vines? Niagara Oast House Brewers is on the Niagara Stone road on the way into Niagara-on-the-Lake and definitely worth a stop.

Beer of the Week Stats 

Beers Profiled 252 
Breweries 225 
Countries 46

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Final Jays Game of the Year and It's a Loss

Today the Toronto Blue Jays had a 4:07pm start against the Seattle Mariners.

As I work downtown and get off work at 4:00pm (I did leave earlier today, though), I decided to head down to watch them play. I don't think I have ever posted a shot of The Audience  on the west side of the stadium. here it is

17,173 fans were down at the game and I had a seat in the first row in right field!

It turns out there is a problem with the first row in right field. For one, the sun was in my face for the first three or four innings making it hard to take a good picture.  Plus foul balls coming my way were extremely hard to see. The second is that first base coaches and umpires kept getting in the way of the batter, making seeing and taking pictures difficult. I learned how to work around that, though.


The walk up music for each Blue Jay as they come up to bat.

Pillar makes a fly ball out.

Double E, Edwin Encarnacion, gets a sacrifice RBI with this swing. 

Adam Lind records an out at first.

Dustin McGowan.

 Brandon Morrow. My son, Ken, likes him as they are both diabetic.

I moved up to a higher seat and thought there might be a hit to Kawasaki so I was focused on him. There was a popcorn vendor at the bottom and I knew he would get in the way. You just know these things. Sure enough, the bat cracked with a hit, and the popcorn guy walked in front of me. I held off on taking the shot, leaned forward and managed to get this shot just as he was getting up to throw, he made the out.

Idiot popcorn guy!

I had 50/50 tickets but did  not come home with $4,293.

Canadian Dalton Pompey, from just outside of Toronto.

There's something about the name Jones on the back of a uniform that I like.

Although the Jays had a two run lead and managed to tie the game in the fifth, they were pretty quiet for the last four inning. Both managers used lots of pitchers. Toronto used six pitchers and Seattle used nine. I thought Gibbons pulled starter Norris way too soon. Norris had thrown 59 pitches and in the fourth gave up a bunt single, got a ground out and then gave up a walk. He had one out and would be looking for the double play. Instead Gibbons pulled him, put in Redmond, who then proceeded to give up an RBI single and a home room and suddenly Toronto had lost their two to nothing lead.

I'm not a big fan of Gibbons.

I have been tracking the Jays game that I have attended since 2006. Teena thinks this is a little anal of me. This loss bring this year's record to 3-4, my first losing season with the Jays since 2008! My record since I started doing this is now 52-27.

Next year, goes the lament. Next year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My September Beer of the Month Delivery

Today I received my September Beer of the Month delivery. Back in March, Teena bought this membership for me for my birthday and I have appreciated and enjoyed every delivery! This month's has a surprise!

Usually I receive two different beers from two different breweries of three bottles each. This month there were three breweries with four bottles each of one brand. From Black Oak Brewery in Etobicoke I received four Oaktoberfest Marzen style beers;  from a brewery I know nothing about, Strathroy Brewing, I received four 1812 Independence pale Ales; and finally from south of where my folks live, four Harvest Gold Pale Ales from Barley Days Brewery.

It's going to be a very fun month!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blue Jays Win Big but Now Eliminated from the Playoff Hunt

Tonight my friend, Roger, and I headed down to the Dome to see the Seattle Mariners take on the Toronto Blue Jays.

It is the last week of the season so playoff hopes were still alive ... somewhat. If the Jays lost or Kansas City Royals won, we (Jays) were out. Seattle started the game game two games back with six games left so their chances were not great.

Seattle had their ace Felix Hernandez, 14-5, on the mound tonight.

We had our ace R.A. Dickey, 13-12, going against him.


The walk-up music (when the Blue Jays batters come up to the plate, these songs play):

Jose Bautista, top shot, stroked a double and scored in the first to take the lead for the Jays. There was a scare in the third when Seattle scored two runs and Felix Hernandez known for shutting down teams in this situation.

No worries.

The Jays scored seven in the bottom of the fifth and never looked back.

We noticed that a couple of girls had come up to the seat in front of us. Sure enough the fellow was to be a part of the between inning contests with a Tim Horton's promotion.


You can tell by my friend, Roger's reaction behind him, that he won!

In the fifth inning when Seattle's pitcher Hernandez was falling apart, this fan was all over him. Obviously a Edwin Encarnacion fan, he was delighted to see not only Seattle give up seven runs in the inning but Encarnacion stroke his 34th home run of the year in the next inning.


In the end, the Jays won, but  Kansas City won to eliminate them from the playoffs. That was inevitable. The best part is that we put Seattle out of the wildcard playoff hunt by five games with just five to go.

I hope we can be spoilers and knock them out. In any case, it was a very fun night!