It Matters

eugenemccarthy
Senator Eugene McCarthy

In 1968, I was twenty-one, at that time the legal age to vote. It was my first chance to vote for President and I was completely in favor of Senator McCarthy who wanted to bring an end to the war raging in Viet Nam. The draft was in effect, and classmates would be serving in the Army after college graduation. I already knew girls who had lost boy friends in the war.

Hubert Humphrey got the Democratic nomination that year and ran against Richard Nixon. I believed that there was no difference between the two candidates and sat out the chance to vote.

I was wrong. I should have voted for Humphrey. Nixon was a disaster and ended up resigning.

History seems to be repeating itself as young voters see no difference between the candidates. Those who supported Bernie Sanders talk about sitting out the election. They should not. There is a clear and dangerous difference this election, and I urge people to vote. I was there and I didn’t. I hope this generation is more discerning than I was.

“Turkey” Pot Pie

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As I wrote yesterday, when my parents went out we either had fish sticks or turkey pot pies for dinner. If my mother was feeling especially generous, we had Swanson pot pie. This was the gourmet version. I don’t know how much turkey they actually put in the pot pie these days, but in the 1950’s the meat represented by the four visible chunks in the photo would have been it. The potatoes, far from resembling their photographed  natural selves, were little mushy white innocuous lumps.

Unfortunately, my mother usually bought the Safeway store brand frozen pot pie. They were still labeled “turkey,” but you would be hard pressed to find any in the soupy interior. These pot pies had a bitter aftertaste that I can still recall as I write this. We ate them of course. In those days no child was ever asked what she wanted for dinner. Adults would have been astonished at the thought that the children might refuse whatever was offered. We all were taught to join the “clean plate club,” and we were honestly reminded of the starving children in China. Why China I don’t know, since some kids were warned about starving children in Africa. Maybe because we were on the West Coast.

My siblings and I secretly murmured to each other that we would be glad to ship the pot pies overseas!

 

Fish and Chips?

fish-sticks

When my parents went out for the evening, they left us with a baby sitter and one of two dinners. Fish sticks or turkey pot pies. I have recently understood that these were trends in food in the mid 1950’s. Fish sticks were the first taste of fish I ever had as a child. We ate deep fried shrimp at the Chinese restaurant, but had no other sea food except those frozen sticks.

The important thing to do with fish sticks was to cover them with ketchup or tartar sauce. I suppose that was because they had no taste at all on their own! They were frozen and reheated in the oven on a cookie sheet until “done.” They were not particularly crunchy, nor were they at all “fishy,” a selling point I presume. But we gobbled them down. Four for each of the four of us. With Ore-Ida frozen french fries to go along. They didn’t taste like anything either, so we coated them with ketchup too.

The fish and chips we ate in Ingonish, Nova Scotia were wonderful. They had nothing in common with the fish and chips of my childhood. Only the name.

Lack-a-Moose

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West coast Cape Breton

Secretly, I have been on a stealth campaign to spot a moose for a number of years. I have passed hundreds of moose warning signs in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec. Nary a moose. But here in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the ranger assured me that “of course” I would see a moose. They even feature moose on the promotional brochure. A moose in broad daylight, refuting the idea that they only show up in early morning and early evening.

I really tried all day to see a moose. No go. I did see a dead whale on the beach. And we saw moose poop, evidence that there must at some point have been a moose at that spot. They say that there are 5000 moose on Cape Breton. I saw moose t-shirts, moose mugs, moose signs, moose paintings and moose candy. Maybe that is what they are counting!

Next year in Newfoundland? They are supposed to have 150,000.

Thanks to Mary Ann

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We explored part of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park today, enjoying Mary Ann Falls(chutes en  Francais.) Cape Breton reminds me very much of the Oregon of my childhood: edged by the ocean, full of streams, rocks and forests, with very few people wherever we go. Smoked salmon last night as an appetizer making me realize how often I had  eaten Nova Scotian smoked salmon without thinking about where it originated.

The people we meet in Canada are quite perturbed by the possibility of a Trump victory in November. One joked that they will have to build a wall and make us pay for it. Another said it would matter much less if it was any other country. It is sobering to realize how many lives are affected around the world by our national politics. I know that theoretically,of course, but is is reinforced hearing from the Canadians.

May we approach our election with the solemnity it deserves, rather than seeing it as an episode of “America’s Got Talent.”

Welcome Surprise

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The empty spot on this plate held a scallop which I promptly ate before writing. We arrived after a five hour drive north from Halifax at Ingonish on Cape Breton. And the welcome was a plate of warm bacon wrapped scallops. I am not a fan of bacon, so I stripped my little mollusk and downed it. Perfectly cooked, though not seared.

The Cabot Trail is as beautiful as promised with steep cliffs looking out over the Atlantic. We drove by Smoky Mountain on the way. Of course I had to start singing “on top of Old Smoky” which somewhat reduced the fear of falling off the road into the ocean.

Victory!

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At last, scallops. Prepared perfectly, seared and not overdone. We are heading north to Cape Breton today, where I am less sure to find scallops and may have to return to haddock. We ate in Gio in Halifax. We were to be amidst 30 eye doctors in a noisy setting, but they were all late, and we had the restaurant virtually to ourselves.

Halifax is very walkable, with a large public garden and very polite people. No one jay walks and bicyclists stop at red lights. It takes some getting used to!