These "Tale Spinner" episodes are brought to you
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Vol. XVIII No. 05
February 5, 2012
IN THIS ISSUE
Betty Audet writes about a game that is not often played these days:
I have not seen a game of croquet played for many years now. It was an early Victorian game for ladies and gentlemen to play on lovely lawns. However, it certainly became the game of the people. We had grandfather´s diary for 1867. There was not a word about Confederation written by this 16-year-old, but there were many entries about croquet, including more than one "played by lamplight."
When I was a child, our big farmhouse had five lawns, one for each child to cut. The most important lawn was the croquet lawn. It was carefully treated each spring to be sure it was flat enough. It was not quite as smooth and well cut as those used by lawn bowlers, but at its best it did come close. It lay on the south side of the house. As there were still old orchard trees along one side and the back, it was important to clear away any fallen bits quite regularly.
The lawn was often used for a game after supper for the family and frequently on Saturday or Sunday. These games usually involved visiting relatives. I had two uncles on my mother´s side who got quite addicted to the games. All through my childhood I can remember their visits and the teams being formed for the afternoon or evening.
The game started in front of the finishing post, called a wicket, and in front of two hoops. One got a bonus shot for each hoop one went through. It was tragedy if you did not shoot straight enough to go through those first three hoops. The bonus shots let you head for the first side hoop. Hit with just the right strength and direction, one might land in position to go through that hoop and then one was away towards the centre. This was real safety and very good for your team for the next person; through on the other team, they not only got the same shots, but if they hit a ball that was positioned for that side hoop, they earned two more shots.
When you hit another´s ball, you could pick yours up and position it the length of one mallet head from the ball you had hit, or you could put it right against that ball. If your ball was in a good position, you could ignore this move. If the other ball was in an excellent position, you could put your ball against it and use the first of your two strokes to knock it out of position. Your foot had to be put on your ball to hold it in place while you bashed the mallet into your ball and the force went through it to move the other ball. I think we called this a "roquet". Occasionally a foot slipped and your ball went out of position too. But the men could move the opponent´s ball across the lawn or almost to the other end. If the ball went off the lawn it was brought back to the point where it had left it. As we got older we became good at this too. This extended the time for the game and sometimes a car was positioned at each end of the croquet lawn so the game could continue to the end.
We had a game after we were married, but our lawn was never really smooth. Sometimes we did play with visiting family.
I printed the above and gave it to Maurice to read. He had not gone far when he remembered playing the game while he was in prison camp. They had found some old mallets in a shed.
I also wanted to say that a croquet mallet with the handle stuffed down the back of a jacket made a great set of rockets for imaginary flying like Buck Rogers.
Stan French writes: Joy Coetzee´s article about South Africa brings back memories. I´ll look forward to more from her.
A girl in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, was one of my first (Anglican Young People´s Association*) pen pals when I was a teen before/during and after WWII.
We kept in touch now and then until about this century - and Cynthia (Wood) Fisher (her husband John died early in retirement) had been in Canada to visit a daughter when there was a course or work in Ottawa, and dear friends of the Fishers lived in Hamilton, but we never met in person. I think her address as a teen was 90 Fordyce Road, Port Elizabeth. Her Mom was still at the earlier address decades later when I tried to track Cynthia to compare our families.
Married, they moved to suit his positions (in publishing?) Eventually they lived in a retirement coastal village. The name escapes me.
We exchanged letters and cards at Christmas when our families were younger, and somewhere here in my stuff I have pictures and letters that show Christmas was much different there. I expect we had little in common except our interest in sharing with a pen pal.
* That´s how I came to find your name in a C.A.R.P. newspaper years ago.
Joy Coetzee sends her promised recipes for
FAVOURITE SOUTH AFRICAN FOODS
10 - 12 servings
1 leg of mutton or 1.5 kg fillet, 1 kg pork, salt and pepper, 2 large onions, 12.5 ml curry powder, 6 ml turmeric, 25 ml sugar, 12,5 ml corn flour, 500 ml vinegar, 125 ml stewed, dried apricots or chutney, a few crushed lemon leaves.
1. Remove the meat from the bone and cut into neat, small pieces.
2. Slice the onion and cover with a little water in a saucepan, boil for about 5 minutes or till swollen and glassy but still firm. Drain off the water, add 25 ml fat or oil, and brown the onions slightly in the fat.
3. Add 250 ml water and simmer the onions till tender.
4. Combine the curry powder, turmeric, corn flour, sugar, 5 ml salt and the vinegar and add to the onions. Stir in the apricots or chutney.
5. Cook for 3 minutes and cool.
6. Add the crushed lemon leaves to the sauce and when cold pour over the meat to cover it well. Leave in the sauce for 2 or 3 days, stirring the mixture every day.
7. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat just before it is to be grilled. Use about 10 ml salt per 500 g meat.
8. Place the meat on thin wooden or wire skewers, using 6 pieces of meat to every skewer and alternating the lean meat with the fat pork. Sprinkle with salt.
9. Grill on a grid over live coals or in a pan.
10. Serve the "sosaties" with well-heated sauce and chutney.
1 kg minced mutton or beef (or left-over cold, roast meat), 2 onions, 1 slice of bread, 250 ml milk, 2 eggs, 12.5 ml curry powder, 18.5 ml sugar, 10 ml salt and 2.5 ml pepper, 6 ml turmeric, 25 ml vinegar or juice of 1 lemon, 6 almonds, quartered, 125 ml seeded raisins, 4 lemon or bay leaves, or grated rind of 1 lemon, 37.5 ml chutney.
1. Remove the dry outer skins of the onions, slice onions thinly and simmer in very little boiling water in a saucepan for 5 minutes or until they appear swollen and glassy. Now chop the onions finely and brown slightly in hot fat.
2. Soak the bread in the milk and then squeeze out the milk again. Crumb the bread.
3. Combine all the ingredients except 1 egg, 125 ml milk and the lemon leaves.
4. Place the mixture in a greased, fireproof baking dish. Roll up the leaves and insert them into the meat in an upright position.
5. Bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours if uncooked meat is used, and for 45 minutes if cooked meat is used.
6. Beat the remaining egg with 125 ml milk and pour this over the meat half an hour before taking it out of the oven.
7. Serve with boiled rice and chutney.
1 to 1.5 kg ribs of mutton chopped in pieces, or 1 kg breast, cut into pieces, 1 kg tomatoes (a small can of tomato paste, mixed with water, may substitute fresh tomatoes), 2 medium onions, sliced, 6 peppercorns, 12.5 ml butter, 12.5 ml flour, salt and pepper to taste, 10 ml sugar, 4 potatoes, sliced.
1. Wipe the meat with a damp cloth.
2. Remove skins from tomatoes. To remove skins, pour boiling water over the tomatoes and leave for 1 to 2 minutes. Take out the tomatoes and plunge them into a basin of cold water. Remove skins with a knife.
3. Brown the onion slices in hot fat in a heavy saucepan.
4. Add the meat and 250 ml hot water.
5. Cover the stew for 2 hours or until tender. After 1 hour, add the tomatoes, potatoes, peppercorns, sugar, salt and pepper.
6. Thicken with a mixture of the melted butter and flour.
7. Serve with boiled rice.
Don Henderson forwards this precious story about a graduate of a
NEWFOUNDLAND CHARM SCHOOL
Two informally-dressed women happened to start up a conversation during an endless wait in Toronto´s Terminal 3 airport.
The first lady was an arrogant Upper Canadian married to a wealthy business man.
The second was a well-mannered elderly woman from Bell Island, Newfoundland.
When the conversation centred on whether they had any children, the Upper Canadian woman started by saying, "When my first child was born, my husband built a beautiful mansion for me."
The lady from Bell Island commented, "Well, isn´t that precious?"
The first woman continued, "When my second child was born, my husband bought me a beautiful Mercedes-Benz."
Again, the lady from Bell Island commented, "Well, isn´t that precious?"
The first woman continued boasting, "Then, when my third child was born, my husband bought me this exquisite diamond bracelet."
Yet again, the Bell Island lady commented, "Well, isn´t that precious?"
The first woman then asked her companion, "What did your husband buy for you when you had your first child?"
"My husband sent me to charm school," declared the Bell Island lady.
"Charm school?" the first woman cried. "Oh, my Lord! What on earth for?"
The elderly Bell Island lady responded, "Well, as an example, instead of saying, ´Who gives a "*%#*@?´, I learned to say, ´Well, isn´t that precious....´"
From Lew´s News:
YOU KNOW YOU´RE GETTING OLD WHEN
You wonder why everyone is starting to mumble.
You finally find something you´ve been looking for for ages, but now you can´t remember why you wanted it.
You can´t finish a conversation because you can´t remember what you were talking about.
Everybody is happy to give you a ride because they don´t want you behind the wheel.
A passing funeral procession pauses to see if you need a lift.
You can remember seeing double-feature movies for a nickel, some with sound.
You stoop to tie your shoes, and wonder what else you can do while you´re down there.
In the morning you hear snap, crackle, and pop, and it´s not your breakfast cereal.
Rafiki forwards a comparison that cuts through all the political doublespeak about
WHY THE U.S. WAS DOWNGRADED
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000
Let´s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it´s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts: $385
Tony Lewis suggests
A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO THE PENSION PROBLEM
Dear Prime Minister,
Please find below our suggestion for fixing the Canadian economy.
Instead of giving billions of dollars to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about ten million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them $2 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire. Ten million job openings - unemployment fixed.
2) They MUST buy a new Canadian car. Ten million cars ordered - car industry fixed.
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage. Housing Crisis fixed.
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university. Crime rate fixed.
5) They MUST buy $100 worth of alcohol/tobacco a week. And there´s your money back in duty/tax etc.
It can´t get any easier than that!
Pat Moore writes: I thought you all would appreciate this superb, evocative, masterfully penned ode to the winter season. So grab a coffee, a comfortable chair, relax, and scroll down to enjoy the warm feelings and pleasure that this wonderful poem will bring...
ODE TO WINTER
A poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre
Marilyn Magid´s examples suggest that it is time to forget frivolous things and get practical:
AMAZINGLY SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES
1. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.
2. Avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.
3. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins. Remember to use a timer.
4. A mousetrap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
5. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxative. Then you´ll be afraid to cough.
6. You need only two tools in life: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn´t move and should, use the WD-40; if it shouldn´t move and does, use the duct tape.
7. If you can´t fix it with a hammer, you´ve got an electrical problem.
Bruce Galway forwards the URL for a video of a cat and dog play- fighting. Wait till you see the cat coming down the hall!:
Carol Hansen sends this link to a video showing scenes from the ´40s:
Carol also recommends this site, which was sent to her by a friend in Nova Scotia, who asked her to vote for LaHave River as her favourite place in Canada:
Catherine Nesbitt suggests this video, which shows a man saying goodbye to the cubs at a lion sanctuary on his last day on the job:
Gerrit deLeeuw forwards the URL for a video of a young man performing incredible acrobatic feats on a slack wire:
Gerrit also sends these 30-second publicity pieces for public transit from Belgium, with the remark that he wishes our transit people had half this imagination:
Pat Moore sends this link to a video of people doing extraordinary things that will either inspire you to get out and emulate them, or to sink down into your chair and think, "No way!":
Hampshire College alum Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and directs IPS´s Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He advocates reverse tax cuts:
To check out the features of the "freedictionary", which changes daily, go to