Updated: For all of Obi-Wan’s friends

Every visitor to our home know what many people in western Mississauga also know: that our eldest cat, Obi-Wan, is a special member of the family. He has been on our Christmas cards since 2004, and local Mississauga residents have seen him at the Streetsville Santa Claus Parade every year for the past nine years. Obi-Wan is now past 15½ years old. Obi-Wan was diagnosed with progressive kidney failure in April. Much to the pleasant surprise of his vet, he has done very well for the past three months, and remains in good health. He is eating and looking after himself. However, Obi-Wan is not likely to be with us too much longer.

Obi-Wan in his basket

Obi-Wan’s favourite place to take a nap is in his basket at home in the hallway near the kitchen.

Every animal that sheds its instinctive reserve and embraces a human being, loving and being loved, is a special animal. One like Obi-Wan, who worked at being a good communicator, who learned most standard dog tricks, who loved learning things, and who loved being with people transcends the special to the unique. He’s gone with Bob to community events, rode with us in the last nine consecutive Streetsville Santa Claus Parades, attended the Streetsville Bread and Honey Festival, visited many seniors’ residences, been picked up, handled and patted by hundreds of kids, been photographed countless times.

Obi-Wan has been part of our public face even as he’s brought Bob and I so much joy and companionship at home. Obi-Wan has survived a bad reaction to vaccines years ago. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007; and has made the journey of being a managed diabetic with us. He knows how to tell us when his blood sugar is high or low. Obi-Wan has never been a problem measuring his blood glucose or administering insulin. He has survived pancreas and liver infections.

Obi-Wan spent two days in April with his vet trying to flush out his kidneys. His vet has done everything she can. Obi-Wan has had good months in May and June, with a strong appetite, regular strolls in the yard, and comes up and down the stairs twice by himself. Obi-Wan’s friends, and those who admire him, can visit his Facebook Page. We will continue to update this post as things change.

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Easter Snow

So much for Easter brunch outside

Bob went outside on Good Friday, and spent a few hours bringing out the patio furniture in soft and balmy (for April in Ontario) weather. He raked up the entire back yard and uncovered the lawn ornaments, which we cover with plastic wrap each autumn. We were hoping for an Easter Sunday brunch on the patio in moderate weather. This happens about a third of the time in southern Ontario. Not this year, though. Overnight on Saturday, it began to snow, and by Easter morning, the patio was covered with a fresh layer of white stuff. Click any of the photos below to see them as a slide show.

And so the reluctant spring after the unending winter continues, with forecast temperatures below normal well into May. Nonetheless, we pass along our warm wishes for a Happy Easter to one and all among friends and family. Once the weather warms up, it is a quick conversion to the summer routine. Come see us.

Try a comment! Submit a recipe…

Our registered users can write comments on this web site. Your User Name is a combination of your first and last names, like this: OliveSeepersaud. Your password was sent to you when you were first signed up. If you don’t have the e-mail from me, just click here to send me a request to change your password, and the web site will send you a new one. Whenever you log in, you can change the password yourself. I don’t know what your original password was.

And don’t forget to submit your family recipes. Just print out one that’s in this web site for a general format of how to do it. You can e-mail your recipe to me, and we’ll do the formatting niceties here. A good-quality picture would also be helpful. Have a great spring, and a Happy Easter.

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Snow storm

How is the weather where you are?

Ontario got its first major snowfall of the 2014-15 winter on Groundhog Day, the day halfway between the start of winter and the start of spring. As the hokey commercial legend goes, if the fabled groundhog (Ontario’s is named Wiarton Willie after the rural place where the mid-winter drink-up is held) sees his shadow, the rodent goes back into his hole, and we have another six weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, the region ought to be for a mild late winter and/or an early spring. It’s for people who also believe in the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy.

Snowstorm aftermath

This is after we had shoveled the snow and cleared the driveway and walk after the first big snowstorm of 2015.

After a dry, but frigid January, a storm formed over Missouri, and blew into Ontario from the U.S. Midwest, starting late Sunday night. With 30 to 40 cm of snow and high winds, we awoke to drifting snow. There was no way to get out of our street, even after one had shoveled the driveway. Bob called his staff and told them not to risk the roads and to work from home. This they did with alacrity.

The cats took a look outside, and decided a nap was better than a morning promenade in the snow. Once it stopped snowing, we had our own driveway to clear. I was on the phone with some clients getting ready for my seminar this week, so Bob went out to begin the winter snow storage project. A native Montrealer, Bob knows not only how to shovel snow with the minimum effort, but where to put it so that he builds a windbreak to both protect the plants and keep blowing snow away from the walk and driveway. As well, he planned out the snowbanks so that if we get a lot more snow, we won’t exhaust the places to put it when we shovel.

Bebe and Andrea

This is more like what cats like to do when the snow is falling and the wind is howling outside. Bebe comes for a cuddle with her Mummy each evening while we watch TV.

For all the family in Guyana, this all happened as the mercury plunged to -15°C (which is pretty much where it was for most of January). The wind eased off, and the sun came out as we cleared the driveway and the walk in front. The snow was light and powdery, which meant that heaving it wasn’t like throwing the heavy, wet sloppy snow we get later in February and March. We had it all done within two hours, and got our workout too.

To put the snow and the cold into a different perspective, a Canadian winter means that all the creepy, crawly and slithery creatures that make life interesting in hot and humid Guyana can never survive spring, autumn or winter in Canada. So it’s not all bad with a Canadian winter. It has a cleansing effect.

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Family Cookbook

Preserving the family culinary memory

Shaaron and Patricia were chatting at Auntie Ione’s party tonight at Lisa and Shamir’s. They felt we should have a family cookbook. Little did they realize that we already have exactly that. And it is on this website! Click here to see for yourself.

Three sisters

The family got together at Lisa and Shamir’s house to celebrate Auntie Ione’s birthday on January 24th, 2015. Here are the three sisters with an iPad showing how technology spans eras.

Now the challenge is on! Who will submit the next recipe? Click the menu above and try one or two of our recipes. Then submit one of your own. Don’t worry about formatting it. Bob will take care of it for you.

If you have forgotten your password to log in, which you must do before you can post something, it’s not a big problem. Just e-mail me, and either Bob or I will reset your password, and the website software (WordPress) will e-mail it to you. You can then log in and change that password if you wish.

Everyone liked the honeyed spiced chicken tagine I brought along to the party, and Lisa did her usual magic with a spread to remember. Let’s start with just one each of the dishes we all shared for Auntie Ione’s party, and expand the Recipes page with some more dishes for our friends and family worldwide to try and enjoy.

Posted in Andrea

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas from Mississauga

Christmas morning present-opening

Zach, Gramma and Andrea (and Indiana Jones in the background if you look hard enough) just starting to open their presents on Christmas morning at Larisa Grove in Mississauga, December 25, 2014.

The wonderful thing about hosting friends and family is not having to travel, and putting on one’s very best for people we care about, and even a few who just need a place to be on Christmas. The other side of that, of course, is that Bob and I work like galley servants for several days leading up to, and through Boxing Day. You’re always cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, taking something out, putting something away, and also trying to make it look effortless while engaging in chatter with the guests. Other than all that, it’s a piece of cake!

Our favourite FM station, Classical FM 96.3 in Toronto (you can click the link to get it on the Internet live in Guyana and the USA) plays non-stop, commercial-free music all of Christmas Day every year, as well as an annual all-request Valentine’s Day music lineup.

Zach and Nick came over on Christmas Eve for dinner: a seafood medley Mediterranean-style, along with salad and a host of appetizers, including bagels and lox with cream cheese, and desserts. This morning, Zach came back for breakfast: ham and eggs and lots of other good stuff. Throughout the day, we are opening our presents as our guests arrive.

If you’re on the web site distribution list, add your comments about where you are, who you’re with and what you are doing. It’s is a blustery and cool winter morning, without snow, in Ontario. We had high winds and some pouring rain last night. Global warming is very real. It should be cold and snowy here.

Warm wishes from the whole family: me, Bob, Obi-Wan and Bebe plus Mom, Zach and Nick to one and all. After the Christmas festivities, we are free to visit, and welcome visitors ourselves. See you…

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New Members

Family members can post content

Congratulations to Marisa and Shawn on their gorgeous wedding in Ocho Rios! How could you ask for a more perfect evening? We are going to go through our photos and post a collection of people’s thoughts here. Welcome also to Ivor and Serene Seepersaud, and to Donna Karran to the Seepersaud family web site. You can create your own stories if you wish, and perhaps you ought to give it a try.

We can do this posting because Jamaican weather chose Monday afternoon to pour rain and crash thunder in Ocho Rios. We almost chose to go to Dunn’s River Falls, which would have meant climbing Jamaica’s signature attraction (see the 1962 film Dr. No) in a thunderstorm. No thanks. Marisa made the right call.

Whether you are a Seepersaud, a Latchmansingh, a Ramroop, a Riwanna, a Narsing or a Sewnauth, you can use this site in ways Facebook just won’t let you do. This is done with an open-source piece of web software called WordPress. WordPress is estimated to power about one-sixth of all the sites on the Internet today.

I am aware of what Bob calls a folder permission issue when people try to register for the web site. It happends when you use the Captcha feature. Bob says we can resolve this easily with our web hoster, and he has done it with his MPP web site, but one ‘benefit’ of the issue if that it completely blocks computers in Russia, Poland and other strange corners of the world from being able to create phony accounts, and that makes this site completely secure for this unplanned reason.

Posted in Andrea

Summer 2014

The Larisa Grove back yard in full bloom

It was a very hectic spring at our home. On May 1, the Ontario government tabled its 2014-15 Budget, and on May 2, one of the opposition parties said they would not support it. The Opposition Party, the Conservatives, didn’t support any government bill, so that meant that a vote on the Budget would result in the fall of the government. This was not unexpected. On Friday May 2nd, the Premier called an election for June 12th, and we were off and running!

I managed the phone room for Bob, who did in five to seven days what took that many weeks to do at the last election in 2011: getting the campaign office; installing the wiring; getting the phones hooked up; bringing in the photocopier and the computers and making everything work; getting nominated; organizing the managers and the campaign team. And all that is before we took our message to the streets.

Bob ran against the same six-time loser of a candidate that he has run against twice before — and now three times. Bob is three of her six election losses!

Garden Arbour August 2014

Our new, custom-built garden arbour. The metal frame was assembled from a kit from the nursery, and Bob built the base from spare wood we had on hand in the shed.

It was pretty obvious from the very outset that the government had wind in its sails. The opposition, in an absolutely inexplicable mind-cramp of a decision, announced that if elected, they would fire 100,000 people in the public sector. To start with the entire Ontario Public Service is only about 64,000 people, which meant they proposed cutting off funding to police; schools; hospitals; mental health; cities and the like. That went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

To those of us working the phones, we knew instantly that Bob was going to win in our riding. He cleaned up in the various debates, and the month-long campaign went very smoothly. In retrospect, it now seems so quick. In the end, the Liberals were re-elected with a slim majority, and Bob won one of the largest victories in Ontario. We polled more votes than ever before; earned our highest-ever share of the popular vote, and thrashed our opponents by our largest-ever margin of victory.

The gazebo in summer, 2014

The last time visitors to this web site saw our gazebo, it was covered in winter ice. This is the gazebo as it is meant to be, where our friends come to chat and enjoy summer evenings in Mississauga.

I returned to my EduNational business in mid-June, and Bob hit the road to do his normal June round of graduations; picnics; barbecues; annual meetings; more graduations and other pre-summer events. Then it was Canada Day (July 1st), when elected members go like the clergy does at Christmas. The day after, it was off to the Legislature to elect the Speaker. The day after that was the government’s Speech from the Throne. The following week was debate on the Speech from the Throne. Then the Ontario Budget that set up the election was re-introduced, and Bob, as Chief Government Whip (as of March of this year) had to coordinate the government’s response. Two weeks, the government’s majority passed the Budget and just like that, summer started for Bob. He basically slept for the better part of two days.

A good time to visit us, and enjoy the back yard ambience

Irish shamrocks in our garden.

Our summer garden gives rise to wonderful indoor plants when fall and winter come. In particular, these authentic Irish shamrocks thrive outdoors from late may to mid-September, and make great take-home items for your living room when the cold weather returns.

Even though we normally start our summer in early July, August is nice here too. The weather actually wasn’t all that cooperative in July, but the forecast for August is great. Posted here are some photos of our back yard oasis and garden in full bloom. It really does look terrific this year with all the rain we have had.

I had wanted an arbour to allow my kiwi plants to climb and bear fruit. While Bob was at Queen’s Park working on the Budget, I asked a guy to come in and quote me a price. He wanted $3,000 to build an arbour. Neither of us felt the project was worth that amount of money. We went to the nursery, where I had seen some nice arbours in kits, and we bought one for about $300. Bob used up some spare wood we had in the shed, and built exactly the kind of base we needed to plant the kiwis at each side of the arbour. Today, after building it all by hand, and staining it against the elements, we did some digging in the garden and installed it. We re-used every bit of dirt we dug up. Even the nails in the arbour base were all recycled. And it looks just like what I had wanted, giving us a place for the pagoda that also serves to anchor the whole thing against the wind when it blows.

Side yars at Larisa Grove

With the July wet weather, the garden and the yard are home to thriving plants, and very happy cats. Our hedge, planted several years ago, now gives us a great deal of privacy and seclusion.

We have a great kitchen garden every year. We can harvest garlic; chives; dill; thyme; basil; oregano; rosemary; green onions; cucumbers; tomatoes; beans and hopefully some eggplant. We also have a nasturtium plant. You would recognize its leaves and flowers (all edible) on ritzy salads in high-end, avante-garde restaurants. Visitors for dinner are certain to have some ingredients picked moments before use. The hedge now gives us a great deal of privacy, and the trees are adding to the feeling of living in our private oasis. This year, we were joined by a family of squatters: raccoons who were looking for a home, and decided to rip out on of our roof vents and move in. It took a visit from the pest control outfit to remove them (safely and alive), and to repair the roof to keep them from destroying any more vents. The cats would watch for them through the screen door at night. Bebe would start to hiss when she saw them. We would turn on the patio light, and there would be mom and three or four of her young. They were not at all shy around humans, which is the main reason our cats are ushered inside at dusk. Obi-Wan has already had two skunk encounters.

Larisa Grove outdoor dining room on the patio.

Our outdoor dining room at Larisa Grove is intended to have a tropical look, with its potted plants and summer time setting. Dressed up for dinner, and candlelit at dusk, it is a great place to enjoy a summer evening with us.

One of the more idyllic settings for dinner in Mississauga (if we do say so ourselves) is on our back patio, especially when it is set up for an evening soiree with candles, and we do the full treatment for dinner. Bob has almost finished the weather vane, which will be installed this month. Aside from seating six, we sometimes bring out the kitchen table, and can serve 14 to 16 comfortably out on the patio. On occasion, when it’s looked like rain, we use Bob’s canopy, and have a candle-lit dinner in the rain under its roof. The cats keep any wandering field mice honest. This year, some of our guests who enjoy their own culinary adventures, may head home with some of our designer garlic. We have three varieties harvested this year: music; Mennonite; and Red Russian.

The cats, whom everyone always asks about, are both fine. Bebe turned nine in April, and Obi-Wan will be 15 in September. Obi-Wan enjoys his naps much more as he ages, but he is a healthy cat whose diabetes remains under control. Bebe has become a very affectionate grown-up girl cat who loves cuddling, and often sleeps on our bed all night. We hope everyone has a pleasant summer. Remember, if you enjoyed this post, you can write a comment below. We wish more of our friends would do just that. Click Reply, and add a thought or two.

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Tired of Winter

Want to trade humidity for cold?

Winter in Canada began with an ice storm in December, and has just not let up at all! While we did not lose our electricity in the ice storm, this unremitting cold is ensuring that we suffer in a uniquely Canadian winter fashion.

Aside from Bob fighting off a head cold, on Friday, the blower motor in the furnace had a bearing fail. Following a grinding sound, the furnace just shut off. Needless to say, our service guy did not have that exact Lennox motor on hand. As one may expect, there is no way of getting one before Monday. And so, the house just got colder and colder.

Oh, did we mention that for more than two months, the temperature has stayed below freezing, and a mass of frigid Arctic air has gripped eastern Canada for most of that time, going nowhere in a hurry. The masses of January and February snow have frozen and compacted into everybody’s lawn-glaciers, and we are way behind in the annual thaw.

So we have the electric heaters, and the gas fireplace doing their best to replace the central heating and keep the house above freezing at the coldest time of the year. Outside, it is about -15 degrees Celsius, with the wind-chill equivalent being in the -20 to -30 range.

The cats have developed an affinity to the fireplace, and we are wearing our windbreakers in a house that is between 10 and 15 degrees, depending on the room you are in. For all of you in Florida and Guyana, before you complain about heat and humidity, you might want to try a month of winter in Canada. If there is just one saving grace about this extended period of Canadian cold, it is that the creepy crawlies that live in tropical climates cannot survive even one Canadian winter. We hope to see our family in Canada once the weather warms up. You might want to skip the Toronto area until Easter.

Spring and summer simply cannot come a moment too soon for all of us heat-starved Canadians. Post a comment below.

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