The winter weather has officially upgraded from being ridiculous to being absurd in the extreme. My dog is begging to go out, but both the patio door and the front door are frozen shut, and while I can get out from the back door, that leads me into huge snow banks blocking the back gate. So no walk for him today, and I hope I don't need to get out. Following yesterday's frozen pipe episode, this makes me tired of January. And it's only -24 today, so not even bad weather after the -36 on Tuesday. I am stuck indoors watching Miss Marple on netflix for the rest of the day, I guess.
It looks like a whole year passed without my making a blog entry. Shocking. I lost two people close to me in 2012 - my mother-in-law, Janet Gunn, and my brother, Alan Adamson. I have been living under the cloud of those griefs for months. So the year was not great. But lots of fun things happened too, which I only started remembering as my sense of loss has subsided.
Friends Bjorn and Ellen visited Sudbury from Norway for three months and we had a lot of adventures with them. John and I even went to Costa Rica with them. We lounged in a resort, toured lagoons full of monkeys and crocodiles, and visited the Cloud Forest, and went ziplining.
I went to the Jane Austen Ball with my daughter and we danced the evening away with officers in red coats.
Dan returned from his travels in Asia, and he and I took a road trip together to the Maritimes, but neither of us took any photos. John and I attended my eldest nephew's wedding, which was grand fun, but we took no photos.
I also went to Italy and Oslo with John. Work for John, play for me.
I made another birthday cake for Margaret Atwood, but as it was soon after my brother's death, I did it in a state of shock, and it was not so ornamented. I have no photos of it yet, as it wasn't on my camera. Maybe next year.
My daughter graduated with a M.A.in Economics from U of T,and we attended the ceremony, beaming from ear to ear.
And I had all my family home with me for Christmas, so I was a spoiled woman in 2012, as always, in spite of the losses.
I finally received my list of books for 2012 - 2013- I missed the meeting to choose them. I have left the ISBNs off the table because I don't think they are helpful. Everyone seems to read different versions - hardcovers, softcovers, Kindle, Kobo, etc. The links will take you to Indigo books, but we don't care where you get your book.
These are the books we chose for the 2012-2013 season
Here is the birthday cake that I made for Ms Atwood and that was served last night at the post-dinner party at The Living with Lakes Centre. I am still trying to get a hold of a photo with Ms Atwood and the cake in it. The ones we took were too dark (candlelight) to make out the people. Turns out Ms Atwood used to decorate cakes herself for her family and got a kick out of my cake.
It was a Maple cake with Scotch-Maple Icing, decorated as a Northern Autumn forest. Bulrushes border a pond with mushrooms, and dragonflies, and a pathway leads downhill through fallen, fall-coloured leaves, crabapples and berries , pinecones, more mushrooms and dragonflies. The mushrooms were meringue and very edible. The cake tasted good too.
Today is Margaret Atwood's birthday. She is celebrating her birthday, as she has done several times, with friends and fans in Sudbury. Her birthday bash here will be a fundraiser for student bursaries at Laurentian University. All of us involved with students here are very grateful to Ms Atwood for taking part in this, and the citizens of Sudbury are very keen to take part in her birthday celebrations whenever she arrives - with music, art, drama or whatever. This year I get to take part in a material way.
After the main event, she is going to a private birthday party for a few students (representatives of the students the fundraiser will support) and close friends. I have been invited to make this private birthday cake. (I will be posting a photo of it but not until after this evening's party.) I feel as happy as the company that made the birthday cake for the royal wedding this year, though my cake is not as elaborate or as big. But I am sure it will taste better, because my cakes taste great.
The theme is the Northern Ontario forest, and I hope she will be delighted by it. I don't actually care if people eat my cakes - I can't really eat much cake anymore because I am too fat, so I understand when people don't want to eat much cake. And they always get eaten by somebody either at the party or the next day. But I want my cake recipients to laugh or gasp when they see it - to be charmed. So I hope this one works. I think it's as cute as a bunny.
I have been very busy making sugar decorations for a while, some of which worked, some of which ended up in the garbage. I have mainly made it a fall theme, but I am never perfectly literal in my cakes, so there will be some summer touches, as an homage to her father, whose work meant that she lived in Northern Ontario for a lot of her groping up time, particularly in the summers. And of course, there is some good scotch to flavour one of the icings.
So Ms Atwood, I offer my cake to you in hopes that you will remember always what you love about Northern Ontario and to thank you for supporting Laurentian University students by sharing your birthday with us. And have a happy birthday!
I am feeling sorry for the NDP today. As the official opposition they have to bitch and whine about whatever the government is doing. And today the government is doing something really good - introducing a pension plan - the pooled registered pension plan, or PRPP - for people who work for companies too small to have their own pension plan, or for self-employed workers. Since most of my working years have been with small companies without pension plans, or as a self-employed worker, I would have liked this policy in place back when I was working full-time. It's too late for me but it will help the next generation and they need all the help they can get. My current pension plan is hoping my husband (who has a publically-funded pension plan, and will have a reasonable pension) doesn't leave me.
But today on the news I have to watch the NDP trying to pick apart the policy. Their main argument seems to be that the government should continue to prop up the pension plans we already know are unsustainable. And continue to put the load on our children to pay for our pensions, when our children's generation is too small to do this and raise their own families too.
Why we think the government should adopt environmentally sustainable policies but economically unsustainable ones escapes me. I think we can demand and pay for sustainability in both spheres and, in fact, cannot have sustainability in any other way.
So our pension plans have to be sustainable too. That means no more building pension plans that can't pay out. And it means telling citizens clearly that the bulk of their pensions will have to be paid for by their own efforts, so start planning in their first years of working. Since it's very hard to save money that is in your hand, the best way is a pension plan that slips the money into reliable savings before you even see it.
The other objection the NDP is making is that someone other than the pensioners and the government will profit from these private pensions plans. Notably the banks. Get over it! People whose jobs involve handling, maximizing, and transferring money need to be paid too. If money is invested, you are paying someone to invest it. And if it is not invested you are losing the value of your money to inflation. Economics 101. Banks currently make loads of money off my RRSP and they would make less off of an PRPP.
I know the real concern of the NDP is not about the workers that will benefit immediately from this plan. It's because they suspect that once these plans are in place, the government will divert all pension savings to this kind of plan - getting rid of the Canada Pension Plan altogether. And the NDP prefers guaranteed benefits, which are predictable but expensive. Well, we all do, but we are clearly having trouble paying for this kind of plan. Well, those are concerns, but not ones that need keep us fro helping people today - like self-employed workers - who have no plans now. So today I am sorry for, but also proud of the NDP today. Doing their job faithfully, complaining about government policy even when they sound particularly silly complaining about this particular policy.