Saturday, November 26, 2005

My Grown Up Christmas List

We now have less than a month until Christmas. When I was a child I could write several pages listing all of the toys, clothes, accessories and trinkets I wanted to unwrap on Christmas morning. Now the things I want can’t be wrapped and put under a Christmas tree.

I know it’s all been said before, and with much more eloquence and impact. But, I want an end to the war in Iraq. But more than just an end to the war, I wish for a peaceful and equitable resolution that dissolves religious intolerance and claims to ethnic superiority.

Take the concept of peace and wrap it around the globe where other nations strut and pose before each other, hurling insults and waving fists at perceived slights and disrespect. The global sand box is getting crowded, but if we learn to play together, we’ll find there’s plenty of fun for everyone. Wrap me up a global hug.

Do you have a “grown up Christmas list”? Click on COMMENTS and tell us about it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Memoirs of a Turkey Queen

My Butterball turkey sits in my kitchen sink awaiting the special touches that will transform it from a naked carcass to our family’s Thanksgiving feast. I remember how surprised my mother was the first time she tasted a turkey I’d cooked. That the turkey was moist and tender and tasted as good as hers amazed her, while also filling her with pride. By that time she was tired of being the turkey queen of the family and anxious to hand me the crown.

I don’t know why she was so surprised at my success in the kitchen. Well, perhaps she recalled my incessant teenage mantra, “I’m not the domestic type” and believed it. She never realized how much I watched her, even thought I wasn’t interested. I was like that then and still am—I absorb things around me without realizing how much is getting in. Like pulling out the giblets from the turkey cavity. I watched her do that and thought, “Ewww, I’ll never do that.” Of course, like everything else to which we’ve sang that refrain, my hand goes into the turkey carcass and pulls out the bag with a flourish.

So in a few minutes I’ll tie on my apron and wave my scepter over the Butterball. I’ll drench it in hope, spice it with joy, and bake it with love. I’ll remember my mom who’s no longer here to share in earthly feasts and thank her for passing me a crown so well appreciated.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Niagara in the Fall

There are places on earth that defy description. Niagara Falls is one of them. Today our group from the 2005 SITE Conference were treated by the Niagara Falls Tourism Visitors and Convention Bureau to a day of wonderous exploration of the Niagara region.

1st photo: Niagara Falls from the air.

We left Toronto about 9:30 a.m. and drove through the splendorous fall landscape to arrive in Niagara about 11 a.m. The Hilton Fallsview hotel treated us to a reception where I got my first imaging view of the falls. The "ahh" effect from Hilton's falls view bar was audible. After a short tour of the Hilton, we moved on to explore the tunnels behind the falls at Journey Behind the Falls. The legendary Maid of the Mist boats had been pulled for the season only last week and we were disappointed to have missed that voyage.

The Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, operated by the Canadian government, hosted us for lunch in grand tradition. Unlike casino resorts in the US, the Fallsview casino is separated from the main entry. You don't have to trudge through the bling and ding of the casino to get anywhere in the resort. Great feature for families bringing children along.

2nd photo: Splendorous fall foilage on the road to Niagara Falls.

Knowing the disappointment of not getting wet on the Maid of the Mist, the Niagara tour directors took us up for a bird's eye view in a ride with Niagara Helicopter Tours. Considering that I am married to a professional helicopter pilot, that I've never before lifted off in a helo is somewhat remarkable. To say I enjoyed the ride is an understatment.

3rd photo: The Niagara falls behind us: Denise Dornfeld, Madelyn Marusa, moi, Charmaine Peterson.

Moving along, our group headed downriver for a fabulous progressive dinner hosted by four of the Niagara winemaking region's most commercial wineries. We enjoyed canapes and sparkling wine at Jackson-Triggs; soup entree with a sparkling brut, a mild white and a fruity rose at Hillebrand Estates Winery; venison tenderloin with Yorkshire pudding and a rich red wine at Peller Estates, and concluded with dessert canapes and sparkling ice wine at Inniskillin. The sparkling ice wine was the most delightful taste of the evening and well-chosen for our international group.

4th photo: The wine aging cellar at Jackson-Triggs winery.

We rolled into our hotel at about 10:30 p.m. A couple of our group headed over to the casino to try their luck in Canadian gaming. That report is still outstanding. My room on the 24th floor of the Sheraton Fallsview hotel is incredible. It's very distracting to have one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world right outside my window. This report may have been more eloquent and descriptive, but like I said earlier--Niagara Falls defies description. You just have to see it for yourself.