Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

Growing up in Canada, Fourth of July was significant in our house only in that it was my grandmother’s birthday. July 4th was Independence Day, after all, for the United States of America, not the Canadian provinces. We do, however, celebrate Canada Day on July 1st in much the similar way. It’s a time for Canadians to celebrate their history, achievements, and culture. Since it began in 1867, nearly a hundred years after the U.S. claimed independence, I have a feeling perhaps we looked across the border and saw all the Americans having a helluva party and decided to join in. I’m just sayin. There is no doubt we Canadians enjoy a good party.

In Halifax on Canada Day, just like here, we packed a picnic, grabbed a blanket, and headed for a fireworks display. Often our venue of choice was the Waegwoltic Club, or “The Wag” as we referred to it back then. The name, so I’m told, is derived from a Mi’ kmaw word loosely translated to mean “end of water”. The Mi’kmaw were the dominant tribe in the Maritime provinces. The Wag was, and still is, located on the Northwest Arm of the Halifax harbor a fork which defines the western side of the Halifax Peninsula. My grandparents always held a membership at the club, and as their progeny I reaped the benefits of this membership during my childhood. In the summer months my grandmother would walk me to the bus stop around the corner with a friend or two in tow. When the bus arrived, we would excitedly pile on,locate a seat, and ride the bus to our final stop just outside the gates of The Wag. Many times she would have packed me a picnic lunch which I would eat at one of the many picnic tables provided, but sometimes I was given money to eat at the snack bar in the main clubhouse or to get an ice cream. Thinking of this now, it strikes me how kids don’t have these kind of adventures anymore. Nobody seemed to worry back then about us being abducted, least of all us. It’s not, I’m sure, that there weren’t plenty of bad people to go around in those days, I just think it was there wasn’t as efficient a transport of information such as the Internet to tell us about it, or perhaps times were simply different. In either case, I loved those days of freedom right down to pulling the cord and waiting for the bus doors to release us for a day of swimming and boating on the Arm.

“The Wag”

The Wag was my families usual spot to spend Canada Day. Sitting high on a hill on a blanket laid out on the grass, I would watch in fascination as the fireworks exploded in vivid splashes across the dark sky over our heads. The most impressive display of fireworks I ever witnessed was not above the Atlantic, however, but rather right here in Northern California. When they were youngsters my second husband and I took our three children (two mine, one his) to an Oakland A’s baseball game to celebrate the Fourth. Being California, there was no weather other than good weather to deal with, so the day was perfectly constructed for spending the afternoon outside. The stadium, near the San Francisco Bay, got a welcome ocean breeze to keep the temperature down, so even though we sat high in the more exposed nosebleed seats, we were not uncomfortable. The game was really secondary to everything else going on around us. Though it had been a long day, the children, having had their fill of typical baseball fare, were still wired for sound and raring to go. Between the hot dogs, peanuts and nachos their little stomachs must have been lined with cast iron to still be asking for ice cream when the vendor went by our aisle just before the fireworks began. As night fell, with the game decided, the festivities centered around the holiday began to ramp up. When the show began, we were so far off the ground as the fireworks exploded over our heads it felt almost as if we were part of the blast. For the youngest member of our group, my stepdaughter only “free” as she liked to pronounce with three chubby fingers extended, this was a bit too much. Was it not for the loud bursts overhead, the scream that emanated from that child’s mouth after the first rocket went up, most likely could have been picked up by spy cams in the Kremlin. OMG. In the end we watched the show fading out of view out of the back window of the car exiting the stadium parking lot with two sulking older children and and one sniffling little one. The price of parenthood. Sigh.

This year, though we’re now fully vaccinated and able to mingle with others, we decided to stay home. We binge watched “The Virgin River” series on Neflix most of the day in between filling our faces with leftovers from a dinner party we hosted on Friday night for several friends. There is something absolutely freeing about doing nothing. I didn’t bother to get dressed any further than the boxer shorts and tee shirt I was wearing when I rolled out of bed. My hair, though having had a good brushing along with my teeth (but not with the same utensil) when I first got up, was then left to fend for itself the rest of the day. Generally, I was a lazy no good layabout for the next twelve hours after rising. Loved it. Thankfully, we don’t live in a neighborhood, like many in the area, where people were up at three in the morning setting off fireworks. It’s not just how annoying that is to the people around them, but animals are traumatized by fireworks. My girlfriend’s schnauzer used to live in the cupboard under the sink when the Fourth of July rolled around. They had to medicate him. I love fireworks myself, but when we’re sitting on a tinder box like we are at the moment on the west coast, activities involving fire don’t make me comfortable. Fire crews responded to 1500 calls over the weekend. Wow. They had a busy couple of days.

Seems we are all “busy” all the time. When my kids call, they generally begin the conversation with “Mom, I’m really busy so I have about fifteen minutes before”….. a) a meeting, b) I arrive at whatever destination I am headed to, or c) I am tired of talking and just want to drive along in silence for a few minutes before the fun begins again once I arrive where I am going. Trying to book a weekend with my children is like trying to get reservations at Yosemite for Memorial Day weekend. Calendars are researched, children’s schedules are consulted, it is a major undertaking of epic proportions.

I’m guilty of “doing” constantly myself. Truly, I can’t remember the last time I spent a day pursuing not one thing above and beyond sloth. Doing so Sunday left me with the most peaceful feeling in my head. It felt as if everything I’d been worried about over the past few weeks had either faded considerably or even disappeared all together. I must remember to add to my calendar “Day off” from time to time and honor the writing. I think women suffer more than men from this. Now, now, if you’re male don’t get all upset by this. Statistics indicate women have much to be responsible for. I told a friend the other day it still amazes me I have been married four times and cannot ever remember seeing one of my husbands holding a toilet brush. More is expected of us, and for the most part we are up to the task. As I’ve mentioned before, though in many houses both parents need to work to keep things going, often women are still doing two more hours of housework a day than men. This is changing certainly, but not at warp speed for sure. A woman put up a post on Facebook a while back that said simply, “Can we all now agree that housework is not gender specific?” I’m in.

At the dinner party Friday night we were discussing how expensive things are getting. It’s hard to imagine my mother’s house when I was in high school, a nice, three bedroom, two bath, tract home in a lovely middle class neighborhood, was purchased for $28,000 and change. To add to the mix, it had a huge Olympic sized pool in the back yard. Today in California at least, you couldn’t purchase shares in a garage for that amount of money. I just filled up half of my tank on Saturday, and with the new gas tax just implemented, the receipt totaled $49.74. Now I have a mid-sized sedan I’m driving around in, so I can only imagine what people with SUV’s or trucks are dishing out. Where is all this tax money going one wonders? They say it is for infrastructure, roads, and bridges, etc. They have been saying that for some time. I went down a road the other day in a local park. The ranger at the gate told us it had a few potholes. A more accurate description would have been it had a few flat spots. Good Lord. My kidneys were up under my left ear lobe by the time we got to the bottom.

Last week when I went to Costco I could not believe how pricey meat has gotten. A package of short ribs was selling for nearly $50. Whoa. I half expected to see a guy in a trenchcoat waiting by the curb as we exited the building selling a little black market beef on the side. Thought of doing it myself. No wonder people aren’t getting enough to eat. I was distressed to hear a news commentator talking about food insecurity in this country. So many little ones going to bed with grumbling stomachs. I have volunteered at the local food bank since I moved to this area. You think your neighborhood is immune to this because there are nice houses and well manicured lawns, but food insecurity is a serious and real problem in the U.S. At any rate, I hope we all do what we can to help when we can. I had to use a food distribution place once while living in Washington. I remember the humiliating feeling of standing in line for a handout, and I also remember how kind the lady handing me the free box of food was, and how relieved I was to have it. I asked what I could do to pay them back, and she said simply “pay it forward”. Words to live by.

Hope you had a safe and sane Fourth and got to hug a few family and friends this year. Something to be doubly thankful for.

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The fourth of July is my grandmother’s birthday.  Although she’s been gone for some years now, my mother and I always celebrate her on this holiday, even if she was Canadian born and bred.

As I’ve said many times before, I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  In my formative years summer was always an event I associated with swimming in the Atlantic, pots of boiling lobster on the beach, and a glorious break from homework and the school room, which at that age I abhorred.  Ahhhhhhh, I loved it.  Double scoopers in Point Pleasant Park the strawberry cream melting over your hand before you could get in your mouth, and exploring what was left of the fortresses and cannons that originally protected that end of the city back in the day when it needed protecting.   I lived with my maternal grandparents and my mother in those days.  My grandmother, although achieving many things in her life, never had a driver’s license, so during the summer months as a youngster I spread out around Halifax with the help of public transportation.

My four best friends as a child were two sets of twins, one identical girls, and the other fraternal, one of each gender.  The Bobsey Twins books ranked among my favorite reading choices back then so possibly this motivated me to seek out two of a kind siblings or maybe being an only child I was intrigued with the idea that they came into the world with a built-in sister or brother, either way we were tight.  My mother and grandmother could never tell the girls apart as physically they were mirror images, but to me one was very much a girly girl, with her sister leaning towards, or fully embracing, being a tomboy.

A different time back then with children less cloistered and life, possibly only in perception, seeming a little more safe during the summer, we took the bus unaccompanied by adults on a fairly regular basis. My grandparents held a membership in the Waegwaltic Club, and during the summer “the Waeg”, as we referred to it was often our last stop along the bus route.  The club was a wonderful place for little people with tennis courts, pools, a boathouse, and a large clubhouse where you could use your change to buy an ice cream or a hot dog.  A canoe was available for our use there and many warm days were spent eating our sandwiches and fruit while rowing along the northwest arm of Halifax.  When I think of it now, we wouldn’t allow our youngsters to enjoy this pleasure today, and perhaps it was dangerous then, but we were taught early on as humans in the maritime provinces to respect and understand the power of the ocean surrounding us, and for us being part of it was just a way of life.  Changing hands at the oars we would row across the arm to The Dingle, which was a tower built in 1912 to commemorate the convening of the first elected assembly in Nova Scotia in the early 1700’s.  That being said, for us it was simply a fabulous stone edifice guarded by huge bronze lions that we loved to explore.

I think of this before the 4th of July every year, as well as my grandmother’s influence on my life.  Although Canadians traditionally do not celebrate July the 4th as it is an American holiday, we do celebrate Canada Day on July 1st in much the same way.  For us it was a picnic on a blanket sitting high on a hill at The Waeg, followed by the excitement of waiting for the sun to sink behind the hills and the fireworks to begin exploding high above our heads.  I can still picture seeing their reflection in the water down below and hearing an occasional sizzle as a hot remnant connected with it.

We all have our traditions that we value.  I share a love of both countries, so find myself embracing those cherished by both.  Have a safe and happy 4th!

Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks with Ranch Dressing

32 chicken drumsticks
1 Tbsp. cracked black pepper
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp. garlic salt (I much prefer Lawry’s)
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2 cans 8 oz. tomato sauce
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 oz. butter, melted
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Dash or two of Tabasco sauce
Olive oil for deep frying
1 Bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (or your favorite)

Skin the chicken and cut of knuckle with heavy kitchen knife. Wash chicken well and dry with paper towels.

Combine black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and paprika. Rub well into each drumstick. Place covered in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Fill a deep heavy-based pan with oil. Heat oil to 180 degrees C. Cook chicken in batches for 2 mins. each batch. Drain on paper towels.

Transfer chicken to glass casserole dish. Combine tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter, sugar, red pepper flakes and Tabasco and mix well. Pour half of sauce over chicken stirring to coat well. Reserve remaining sauce. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat barbecue 1 hr. prior to cooking, oiling grill prior to heating. Cook chicken over hot grill for 20-25 mins. until heated through and juices run clear. Marinate with remaining sauce several times during cooking process. Serve with ranch dressing.

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