Easter 2018

Hot cross buns at Easter

Cooking

Today, we are making some chocolate cupcakes for our family Easter 2018 weekend.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns, baked fresh from original ingredients in our kitchen for Easter. Yummy.

Our 2018 Easter weekend is the last island of quiet before we get cranked up for the 2018 Ontario election. It is going to be a hectic few months until the late spring election date. Mom came over to spend the weekend with us at the house.

We made hot cross buns, a traditional English favourite, from basic ingredients, and they turned out great. Our Good Friday dinner on one of the final remaining fast days of the Christian calendar was a simple, but nourishing clam chowder.

Our winter started out cold and snowy, and seems to have ended more in a whimper than with a Canadian March’s frequent bang. It’s common to get about a sixth of the winter snow in March, with winter often going out by dumping a severe blizzard on us. Indeed, that happened to much of the U.S. eastern seaboard, and the Atlantic provinces, but it missed southern Ontario. Our March was cold and dry, but otherwise uneventful.

Business in Guyana

Just as Mom was returning from Guyana, I was on my way there. In fact, Bob drove us to the airport; we hauled our stuff into the terminal; found Mom returning from Guyana; and we checked in then literally boarded the very same Caribbean Airlines flight for the trip out, connecting via Port of Spain in Trinidad. Bob took Mom home.

We were in Guyana from Sunday to Friday, and did four intensive days of client interviews at the Grand Coastal Hotel in Georgetown for my immigration consulting business. Our appointment schedule was completely full, in fact, oversubscribed. Those few people who chose not to show up for their appointments with us were immediately replaced by prospective clients on our ‘standby’ list. We met some very nice, extremely capable people in 2018. I have lots of work to do to look after them now.

We are hoping to visit other places in the Caribbean in the near future. There is certainly no end of interest.

Family news

Merlin turned 15 years old at the end of January. Bebe was 13 years old on Easter Sunday. Zach celebrated his 40th birthday in January, and Nick was 39 in October. Bob and I will answer if asked, but won’t start the discussion. Everybody is in good health. Merlin recovered nicely from his aural hematoma in his left ear. This meant his ear swelled up with a big bubble of blood that the vet had to drain. He had about 15 stitches to have removed a few at a time, and wore a plastic cone for a few weeks.

Zachary had an article published in Reef Hobbyist Magazine, (Q4 – 2017 issue) featuring some of his excellent underwater photography. You can read it on-line.

Bob was on the ice as a goaltender quite regularly during the winter, and had some good games, considering that most of the people with whom he plays are now about half his age. One day, he held the other team off the scoresheet for the first 40 minutes of the game, finally allowing just two goals in a nice win for his side. I’ve learned that laundry cycles in hockey households are governed by the time of the weekly game. After he comes back from the game, we need to do a load of white stuff, and a load of towels. That keeps our household’s goalie going to games to get into equipment that is always warm, clean and dry.

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Christmas 2017

Bob’s Christmas message from us all

Merry Christmas to all our friends, neighbours and family, and a Happy New Year!

Christmas card from Bob and Andrea

Our Christmas card photo was taken in October in our gazebo in the back yard. The photo was just in time. The next day, bad weather closed in on Mississauga for about a week.

Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations all through 2017 were lots of fun. Our yard had its best year ever. With my new immigration consulting firm, Upper Canada Immigration, I made my first overseas business trip, to a familiar destination: Guyana. It worked out well. With some targeted pre-trip marketing, and follow-up afterward, I am still reaping the benefits of that trip.

Bob was the more frequent traveler in 2017. He was on the road regularly for the Ontario Ministry of Energy, and as Ontario’s member of the Energy Subcommittee of the Council of State Governments, made three trips to the USA this year. In Iowa in the summer, Bob contributed to two comprehensive state-provincial policy resolutions: one in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and one in support of open trade in energy. He was in Manhattan and in Nevada in December to continue that work among the provinces and states as Ontario’s delegate.

A cold, white 2017 Christmas

Home on a wintery evening

Lit up by a silvery half-moon, and the street lights, our Mississauga home was truly snowed in for two days until the region’s snow removal service caught up with us.

Folks in Guyana have no frame of reference for what a serious snowstorm means in Canada. It’s more than buying a coat and gloves! Bob will tell about growing up in Quebec, saying that for a while in the 1960 and early 1970s, the snow descended almost annually around Christmas. That’s not the case here in southern Ontario, where we are at the same latitude as northern California.

Nonetheless, our 2017 Christmas Eve dawned cold and dry, with weather warnings of what was to come. By late afternoon, it was like flipping on the snow switch, and down it came. From bare grass, our driveway snowbanks grew to chest-high as we shoveled the driveway four times in three days. By Christmas Day, there was no point in trying to visit us, as nothing short of a four-wheel-drive SUV with winter tires could make its way onto the street, let alone navigate snow that left cars just spinning their tires, and going nowhere.

A white Christmas may evoke idyllic Bing Crosby-type images, but the practical side is that you’re literally snowed into your house. Anticipating that, we had all the Christmas shopping done, but you still have deal with the snow, which means clearing the walk and driveway. Of course, just after clearing the Christmas Day snow, the plow passed late in the evening, which meant going out on Boxing Day to remove the hard-packed snow the plow leaves across one’s driveway after it has cleared the street. We were running out of places to put the snow as we shoveled it. Bob hauled a lot of it across the street, and raised the height of the snowbanks along the median between the road and the sidewalk. Then, of course, it got cold, down to -19°C at night.

The cats, of course, miss going outside. The snow on the patio was more than knee-deep, far deeper than either cat is high. Bob tries to keep a ‘cat run’ clear to let the cats get some fresh air outside. After clearing up the packed snow the plow left, he went outside to clear a cat path for Merlin and Bebe to go for their back yard stroll.

Our very public cat

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Our cat, Merlin was the toast of Mississauga with his many public appearances throughout the year. See his Canada Day public appearances on Merlin’s Facebook Page. He and Bob walked in the Mississauga Santa Claus Parade in December. Merlin was invited by name to appear both at Mississauga Celebration Square, and at Toronto City Hall. Our warmest wishes! Merlin loves his walks in the park, and enjoys the attention he always gets being among a crowd of people.

Our little Bébé cat is more of a stay-at-home girl. Before we adopted Merlin, she stepped into the very public role of the late Obi-Wan during the autumn of 2015, and performed well. But Bébé was clearly a reluctant performer, as her picture on our Christmas card shows.

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Thanksgiving 2017

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

The end-of-summer harvest of our agricultural past is now the quickening pace of life after a languid summer. In this, Canada’s 150th year as a nation, there is a lot to be thankful for.

This October weekend, Bob and I have used our Facebook sites and other electronic networks to wish our personal and professional friends a very Happy Thanksgiving. In Canada, Thanksgiving is the second Monday of October, about seven weeks earlier than in the USA.

This 2017 year, in Ontario, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, in which Ontario was one of the four founding provinces. The other three are Quebec; New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Our cool and wet 2017 Ontario spring has yielded to a summer that stretched a few extra weeks into October.

Our tropical plants remain outside at least three weeks later than most years. The remnants of Hurricane Nate shed its remaining moisture in a pre-dawn, warm, wet, shower to keep the garden mostly green at a time when the leaves are going golden most years. Warm wishes to all the Seepersaud family and allied relatives, wherever you are.

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Canada Day 2017

Bob’s Canada Day Message

Saturday July 1 is the day Canada turns 150 years young. Ontario was one of the ‘original four’ provinces of Canada, along with Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island was very close to joining Canada in 1867, but wanted more time to talk about it. Prince Edward Islanders valued dialogue and discussion as much then as Canadians do now. PEI finally joined Canada in 1873. Manitoba had joined Canada in 1870.

British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, with the promise of a railway to link the east with the Pacific coast. With the Canadian Pacific Railway in service, and settlers populating the prairies (then called “Rupert’s Land”). Saskatchewan and Alberta completed the Atlantic to Pacific provincial lineup in 1905.

Happy Canada Day to all our family, friends and relatives in Canada, in Guyana and throughout the world.

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Merry Christmas 2016

Bob’s 2016 Christmas Message

Bob and I extend our warm greetings for a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary year of Canadian Confederation. We look forward to the celebrations in Ontario, one of the four original provinces when Canada gained independence from Britain.

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Remembrance Day 2016

Bob’s annual message

Each year, Bob records his Remembrance Day message for broadcast within the community. It is used on the local cable channel and in other places. Here is his 2016 message.

Hello Merlin

Our effervescent Merlin

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The year 2016 has brought with it a new direction for me. In June, I completed the lengthy process to qualify as an Immigration Consultant. The year also came with an unexpected surprise: a second cat. His name is Merlin.

Kidney failure claimed our beloved Obi-Wan in late July of 2015. Bob and I and Obi-Wan’s furry fellow house cat Bebe, missed Obi-Wan terribly, though we were not ready for another animal. Last December, one of Bob’s friends from the USA offered us a cat from a Michigan shelter where his wife volunteered part-time, and my sister Donna offered us her own cat, which she could not take on her next diplomatic posting.

Then one Friday in late February, Bob stopped at our favourite pet shop to get some food for Bebe. At the shop, they have an arrangement with a cat rescue agency called Ninth Life Cat Rescue. They accept cat litters, arrange for people to foster expecting females, and place both kittens and also older cats given up for one reason or another by their owners.

One such cat, named Merlin, was at the shop on that day. Bob asked what the story was on Merlin. Merlin had been raised and owned by a lady, now elderly, who was slipping into dementia, and was struggling to remember to look after Merlin. Just past his 13th birthday, Merlin needed a new home. Bob picked him up, and something magic happened to both of them.

Bob had never in his life brought home an animal. He signed Merlin out to be a ‘foster cat.’ Bebe has taken her time adjusting to Merlin, but Bob and I fell in love with Merlin instantly. Merlin and Bob have a strong bond reminiscent of the friendship Bob and Obi-Wan shared. About two weeks after Merlin came into our home, we brought him to our vet for a thorough check-up, including blood and urine samples. Merlin passed with no issues. Bob signed the adoption papers that day, and Merlin became ours.

Merlin even has his own Facebook Page. Be sure to Like Merlin.

Merlin has taken to his public duties like a duck to water, going with Bob to the International Children’s Day festival in Toronto, where he sat on the podium as Bob spoke; making two appearances on Canada Day; helping Scouts in their annual tree planting; and hanging out with seniors in Mississauga.

Merlin is a smart cat. He’s learned to shake hands, and walks well on his leash. And he is a very handsome boy with piercing blue-grey eyes. Merlin is no live-and-let-live cat. He wants to be where his people are, and be part of whatever his people may be doing. Merlin loves his back yard, and a snooze in the gazebo is his idea of how to spend a summer afternoon. We think Merlin is onto something.

In the first week of his July vacation after Canada Day, Bob needed to relax and let go of the day-to-day need to stay focused and pent-up in his MPP job. He tends to stretch out in the gazebo in that first vacation week, and go through a book or two. Merlin can be found just beneath Bob’s seat in the gazebo. Bebe is indifferent to going for a walk around the block, but Merlin follows Bob right to the door. In his harness walking with Bob, Merlin now walks on the sidewalk. He follows Bob much like a dog. From time to time, Merlin likes to be picked up during his walk. He is always picked up when it is time to cross the street, and sits at the edge of the street. Merlin enjoys his trips to the park.

As we commemorate Obi-Wan’s life a year after his July 2015 passing, Bob and I are convinced that from the hereafter, our late cat not only pulled some strings to offer us this exceptional animal, but seemed to breathe a bit of himself into Merlin. Our big, white, handsome cat, Merlin, is one of the best things to happen to us during the year 2016.

We hope many of our friends will be able to visit, say hello to, and shake hands with Merlin.

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Canada Day 2016

Canada Day Greetings

Here are Bob’s Canada Day greetings to our western Mississauga neighbourhoods of Lisgar, Meadowvale and Streetsville, and also to our friends and family all across the world. July 1 is Canada Day, the day in 1867 that Canada became a nation. Next year, in 2017, Canada will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Bob and I hope our friends and family all enjoy their summer.

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