Kevin Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk, and Ray Johnson recognized for their contribution to Canadian music, culture and comedy.
Wendy Rose reviews the duo's latest album That Was You and Me.
A strange, true ghost story from NL's northern peninsula.
Turn leftover sauce into an easy, cheesy treat.
New music talk with Wendy RoseLong-time folk/pop music fans, especially those on the west coast of Newfoundland, may be fortunate enough to remember Andrew James OâBrien and Catherine Allan from a previous band, Andrew James OâBrien and The Searchers.As Fortunate Ones, Andrew and Catherine released their debut album, The Bliss, in 2015, followed by a Christmas-themed EP All Will Be Well in 2016, and Hold Fast in 2018. With more than a decade of musical collaboration and many years as a romantic couple, itâs unsurprising that this duo can write wonderfully deep and meaningful love songs. On 2022âs That Was You and Me, the adoration comes through the speakers and into your ears.The album kicks off with âDay to Day,â the first single from the album released in June 2022. Soft acoustic guitar leads us into the picture Andrew paints with his lyrics about waking up and starting the day - one of those days where you seem to get lost in the monotony. âYou ask me how the day has been, when the alarm clock gets me up again,â he sings, the chorus echoing sentiments of finding âmeaning in the day to day.ââHeavy Heartâ is a light pop song, with fun percussion keeping your toes tapping and light keys creating a dreamy vibe. âI can hear it in your breath, I can feel it when we kiss, itâs a heaviness, but you can trust in this,â Andrew sings in between choruses.âClarityâ is sung almost entirely by Catherine, with just a touch of backing vocals at points. This song reminds me of Norah Jonesâ âTragedyâ - in part because of the emotion both singers push into that one word in their respective songs.The ideals behind âDay to Dayâ bleed through in âItâs Worth It (For Leo)â - again about how just getting through some days is difficult, but even just one perfect little moment amongst the all the chaos can make life worth living. âYou pass through the day in your own kind of way, and you hope at the end of your time you can say it was worth it,â Andrew sings in the opening verse. âItâll be worth it,â he repeats throughout the song.Soft, slow and poignant, âYouâre Still Hereâ grabs you by the heartstrings and starts pulling hard, while simultaneously lifting your spirits. The songâs title repeats in the chorus - a reminder that âEvery moment you had, both the good and the bad, are just a part of your story, my dear,â Catherine sings.The next track, â85,â features light guitar, light plinky piano and swelling synths. The choruses feature echoing vocal harmonies, which fade beautifully from left to right in headphones.In âA Thousand Tiny Ways,â the pair trade off singing lyrics on each verse, creating a beautiful back-and-forth banter that tell a deeper story when they reach the chorus and harmonize. âA heartâs a Milky Way in a heavy hand, and when both of ours collided I knew we would withstand, the thousand tiny ways to break a heart,â they sing together.âAnchorâ is up next, the longest track on the record at just over four-and-a-half minutes. While the album version is more instrumentally complex, the music video by Duncan DeYoung offers a soft acoustic performance of this love song. The video was filmed in rural Newfoundland in the house where Fortunate Ones wrote and recorded this album in the summer of 2020.The album finishes with the title track, âThat Was You and Me.â This beautiful song takes the listener through a year of emotions, changing with each passing season. One verse seems to directly reference Andrew and Catherineâs pandemic summer, alone together in English Harbour, Trinity Bay, writing and recording. âWe spent that summer in a reverie, in an old clapboard house on a hill by the sea, the closest weâll come to what people call free, that was you and me,â they sing, repeating âThatâs like you and meâ as the track fades out.Whenever I finish writing my review of an album, I tend to poke around the internet to see if Anthony (Tony) Ploughman, music connoisseur and the longtime face of Fredâs Records, has written his own review about it. In this magical way that he has, Tony manages to perfectly sum up this album in one sentence, describing it as a âcohesive collection of poignant songs revolving around themes of isolation, introspection, re-evaluation of âlifeâs prioritiesâ and that which matters most simply at the end of the day.âDespite writing this nearly 800-word review about Fortunate Onesâ That Was You and Me, that one sentence from Tony really says it all. I guess I really couldnât have said it better myself.Q&A with the ArtistsWendy Rose: The songs we hear on That Was You and Me were created during a pandemic summer, writing and recording songs in a saltbox house near the ocean. How did that creative process differ from the writing and recording process of your previous albums?Catherine Allan: â¦For this album, we had more time to develop the songs and really live inside of them. We were initially supposed to record in May of 2020, but for obvious reasons that was pushed until the fall when we felt it safe to travel. That allowed us more time with our producer, Joshua Van Tassel, to do pre-production work and really hash out the songs before we got into the studio. We recorded demos ourselves at home and in English Harbour, Trinity Bay, and sent files back and forth to Josh, which was a first for us!WR: That Was You and Me is certainly a labour of love, as are all of your wonderful works, but the creation of this record has not been without its challenges. Andrew, a recent health issue temporarily impacted your ability to guitar. How did you overcome that challenge - mentally, emotionally and physically?Andrew James OâBrien: In 2019, I had a tumour removed from a finger on my left hand and the surgery left me unable to play guitar for several months. This period of time was one of significant change for us as a band. We were parting ways with our longtime manager and were suffering from some significant burnout from years of touring. I was exhausted and feeling a sense of professional aimlessness; so in some ways, the surgery was the universeâs way of getting me to slow down, take some time away and refocus my energy. I was feeling uninspired, creatively drained and my love of music as a job was as low as it had ever been, so I took a job working at The Inn by Mallard Cottage. Going to a day job, making coffee, greeting guests and housekeeping gave me something else to put my time and energy into, a new sense of purpose and a welcome break from my career. Eventually, I found that ideas for new songs were starting to percolate, something that hadnât happened for a couple years at that point. I would spend the early morning shifts at Mallard quietly playing guitar, writing many of the songs that would become That Was You and Me, all the while making sure not to wake the guests around me. In hindsight, the injury and my subsequent time at Mallard gave me the space and time to fall back in love with songwriting after years of feeling disassociated and creatively empty.WR: In the fall of 2022, Fortunate Ones embarked on a lengthy Canadian tour, starting at home in Newfoundland and ending in British Columbia. What kind of feedback have you been hearing from audiences across the country - new fans and longtime listeners - about That Was You and Me?CA: Itâs a bit tricky introducing folks to new songs! Fans have their own favourites from our catalogue, and it might take some time for them to get to know our new songs as well. That being said, the feedback has been so kind and uplifting. It does feel like this album is a creative and musical step forward, and is so special to us. It feels like it tells a complete story, and I think fans can feel that.WR: Later this year, youâre taking your act on the road - well, more like on the water - in France with Alan Doyle. This sounds like such a unique opportunity. How did this interesting tour come about?CA: The net that Alan casts is wide! Heâs like Santa! Weâve been lucky to experience so much of his magic in bringing people together. We started working officially with Alanâs manager, Louis Thomas, in the fall of 2020, but our history with Alan and his team goes back to 2011. Alan has been so generous to us over the years, from taking us on tour with GBS in our early days, extensive touring through the US and Canada, co-writing, giving us invaluable career advice and being a great friend. Weâve been fortunate to be on his list of folks to call when cool opportunities present themselves, and the river cruise this fall is no exception. France is very special to me since living there and working at Beaumont-Hamel in 2010, I canât wait to go back and chante some chansons en franÃ§ais!WR: For us local land-dwellers, where can Newfoundland and Labrador audiences catch you in 2023?AJO: Plans are in the works. Youâll have to keep your ears peeled. More info soon!
By Janice Stuckless, Editor-in-chiefItâs not every day that you find yourself in the front row of history. But thatâs where I was, and it was amazing.I believe I was in Grade 7 of J.M. Olds Collegiate in Twillingate. The whole school had assembled in the gym for a concert. Our class being the youngest, as I remember it, we got to sit up front. On stage was this group of musicians, whose leader was the most comical person Iâd ever seen - from his rubber-faced expressions, to his wild body movements and his exaggerated impersonations, he had us all in the knots. Their music was traditional, but their act was anything but. Before that day and in all the years since, Iâve seen nothing to match the all-round entertainment of a Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers show.That was the early â80s and we may have been one of their first gigs (fitting, perhaps, as two band members were teachers). Kevin Blackmore (Buddy), Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson (the Other Fellers) have since toured the country, recorded 10 albums and several DVDs, won multiple industry awards and put their stamp on Newfoundland and Labrador culture. As much as our culture influenced them, they have surely contributed to it.Over the years, Downhome proudly maintained close ties with the bâys (we published their tour dates and they gave us a shoutout from the stage). One time we did a campaign together with Purity Products. Inside a box of their crackers youâd find a picture of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers as the âthree wise crackersâ with a subscription offer to Downhome.After decades of memorable, incomparable performances, I can safely say the whole province congratulates Kevin, Wayne and Ray for being among the latest recipients of the Order of Canada, for their contribution to the entire nation. We often have good cause to complain about Ottawa, but they certainly got this one right.
By Kim PloughmanThe folklore around the French Shore is a colourful one, but one story is especially riveting. It involves a skipper, his worried wife, a sea trunk, a mystifying visitation and a riveting wake. In his 1986 book, Sea Stories from Newfoundland, Michael Harrington shares this strange story, which is still talked about today in Conche. The French Shore was an area of coastal Newfoundland and Labrador where French fishermen were granted seasonal fishing rights by Britain from 1713 to 1904. During this time, Conche, on the eastern side of the Great Northern Peninsula, became a thriving French fishing station. English settlers were often hired as âguardiansâ to protect their premises when the fishermen returned to France in the winter. In the late 1800s, brothers John and Ned, descendants of English guardians, were business partners. Ned went to sea as skipper of their fishing schooner, Elsie, while John took care of the business on land.On Christmas Eve, 1871, the Elsie was placed in quarters against âthe long winter seize,â Harrington wrote, meaning she was stripped of canvas and fittings. That same day, Conche was visited by a huge patch of seals. The folks put out all their seal nets and hauled in more than 1,000 seals. As Harrington explained, âfor the people of Conche, it was a welcome Christmas box.âSkipper Ned brought home his sea chest from the schooner while the rest of the men were off sealing. He and his wife looked over the important effects and papers in the trunk, but were soon called away by Christmas festivities.On March 10, 1872, the Elsie was outfitted to set sail on the first sealing trip of the season. Nedâs chest was taken aboard and stowed under his bunk. A week later, the Elsie had âstruck the fat.â In just seven days, the crew had over 6,000 seal pelts stowed away. They could head for home - if the vessel wasnât jammed in heavy ice about 70 miles from Conche.As he laid in his bunk that night, things started to get a little strange for Ned. First, he heard the distinct sound on the stairway of âlike the rustle of silk and satin.â A woman then entered his cabin - to his shock and dismay, it was his wife, Ellen. With a look of concern, Ellen knelt down and hauled the sea chest from under the bunk and opened it. As Ned watched, she took out each article and placed it all back, then exited up the stairs. Ned was devastated - he took the apparition to mean his dear wife had passed away.Back in Conche, Ellen Dower, 42 at the time, had worked herself up over the legal papers she and her husband had looked at on Christmas Eve. She didnât know if her husband had these with him or if they were missing. As several weeks passed, her anxiety increased and she became ill from the stress. As her daughter read to her one evening, Ellen appeared to fall asleep. When her daughter couldnât wake her, she called for help. Neighbours arrived to find Ellenâs skin had a deathly pallor and they could find no pulse. This story was also featured in the book, Ghost Stories of Newfoundland, by Edward Butts, who commented on the wake. âThe whole community went into mourning. Ellen Dower had been loved and respected by everyone because of her gentle nature and acts of charity.â Everyone remarked on the peaceful look as she lay in her coffin. âIt was as though she were awake and the hands of death had not touched her.âThen something strange occurred on day two of her wake. Ellenâs cheeks flushed red and her cold, clammy body became warm with life. She let out a sigh, opened her eyes and uttered, âOh, I am so tired. I have been far. I have been with Ned.âShe recounted how she had travelled out to the ice and then âout on the bosom of the Atlantic,â Harrington describes. âPushed on by some invisible power, I continued on the long, the pathless, the dreary road,â until she reached the schooner. She climbed up and went aboard.Meanwhile, back on the Elsie, the men had heard of Skipper Nedâs eerie visitation. They all prayed for wind to set the schooner free so they could be home for the funeral. Less than 24 hours later, their prayers were answered and the Elsie sailed into Conche within a day. The crew, especially the captain, rejoiced when they tied up to the wharf and learned that Ellen Dower was, in fact, alive and well. The Conche cemetery records that Ellen Dower, âBeloved Wife of Edward Dower,â died on November 28, 1883, at the age of 52. Ned passed away on December 7, 1896. According to Harrington, the tale âremains to the day, one of the most compelling among the true tales of Newfoundland.â And as Butt explains, âPart of the storyâs appeal is that besides being a ghost story, it is a tale of undying love.â
As hard as it might be to believe, there are folks who despise leftovers. The recipes in the March 2023 issue of Downhome, though, take leftovers to a new level. Everyone will be saving their âcouldensâ (as in âcouldnât eat it allâ) for another day. Here's one to try.Grilled Cheesy Sloppy Joes2 cups leftover bolognese sauce (pasta sauce with meat)1/4 cup bell peppers, diced2 slices mozzarella or Monterey Jack slices (or your favourite cheese)4 thick slices bread (eg. Texas toast)ButterAdd leftover bolognese sauce and diced bell peppers to a pot. Slowly reheat the sauce and let it simmer until peppers have softened.Butter both sides of the bread slices and fry in a hot pan, flipping them once, until both sides are golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat.Lay one slice of bread on a plate. Top with a thick layer of sauce, then a slice of cheese, and put a second slice of bread on top. Press down lightly for a moment to help melt cheese. Repeat for second sandwich. Serve hot.Makes 2 servings.
By Kim PloughmanA legislative change in late 2022 to the Wildlife Act means that fresh moose meat can finally be distributed through food banks. Patrons who normally wouldnât get a share of their favourite wild game can now âget me moose, bây,â or even caribou or rabbit. The groundbreaking policy change in Newfoundland and Labrador follows a hard-fought battle leading to a two-year pilot project distributing raw meat. And with the rapid rise in food bank usage, the timing couldn't be better.As with any policy change, the effort evolved from a vision and a desire, and then heaps of advocacy, persistence and even nagging. Barry Fordham has been gaming for this change for over a decade. This passionate hunter has always shared his wild harvest with family and friends, but for a long time it was illegal to gift any wild meat to a third party. He and his daughter Chloe (now 24, but 10 at the time) were inspired by programs in the United States and in Nova Scotia that allowed such gifting of wild game and they both asked, âWhy not in Newfoundland and Labrador?â So began Barryâs advocacy work, going through a long string of ministers. âThey all liked the idea, but no movement took place on their part. They were more worried about liability than food security,â says Barry, adding he wasnât easily deterred. âI wouldnât take no for an answer.â A petition was also launched by a supporting group, Social Justice Co-op, to put pressure on for the change. A big milestone came in 2020, when Barry and Debbie Wiseman of Social Justice Co-op kickstarted a group called Sharing the Harvest NL, to boost their moose campaign. Lucas Roberts from The Newfoundland Outdoor Heritage Coalition joined as director.By then, government flicked the green light by permitting a pilot project. Special permits were granted to registered food banks that allowed them to accept and distribute donations of wild meat. The meat was required to be processed by a government-licensed meat processing facility, or they could simply donate it to Sharing the Harvest NL. More than 400 packages of moose meat were distributed that first year, despite a late start. Donations of large freezers by the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association allowed food banks in Gander, Deer Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay to participate.Barry is proud to share that it was his son, Shane, only 17 at the time, who donated the first moose under the pilot project. Incidentally, that was in part made possible because Barry had lobbied for lowering the big game hunting age from 18 to 16 (from 16 to 12 for small game), which was made official in 2017. Sharing the HarvestOne of the food banks benefitting from the new source of protein is Bridges to Hope, which has been helping stem hunger for more than 30 years in St. Johnâs. For its executive director, Jody Williams, it has been a game changer. To begin with, he points out that it is a nutritious and organic protein source, and âthe clients love it!â Fresh protein of any kind is not normally available at food banks, given the cost. The wild game meat comes in ground form, which makes it easy turn it into a nutritious meal, such shepherdâs pie or spaghetti. âFor many of our seniors, itâs also a comfort food, as it is a traditional meal they remember from years gone by,â Jody adds.A 2021 report on food insecurity in Newfoundland and Labrador revealed that 17.9 per cent of provincial households (over 90,000 residents) struggle to afford food. Not surprising to Jody is that the data also shows that most people dealing with food insecurity are working adults and their families. He laments that in the six years he has been with the organization, he has seen the demographics change, especially recently with the âinsaneâ price of food and gas, he says. âWe have had to open at least one night a week, Wednesday, just to meet the demand of those getting off work and needing help.âHe continues, âThere is certainly a public health crisis across the country when it comes to food.â Over at Connections for Seniors, also in St. Johnâs, executive director Mohamed Abdallah is also thankful for the sharing of the wild meat. âItâs something that will provide a big dose of benefit, especially access to good quality, healthy and clean meat,â he says, adding, âIt will certainly lift some of the burdensâ against the high costs of food. âA lot of people appreciate these donations.âBarry says it gives him a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment knowing the value of the program to charitable organizations and their clients. âNot to mention, when I go to the food banks to make a delivery, I always get goosebumps to provide this special treat.â Describing himself as âbusier than a feller with three wood stoves going,â Barry and others have been hustling so food banks can have all kinds of country food, including caribou, rabbits, blueberries, partridgeberries and capelin. âI also like how these foods take time to prepare and, likely, families will all sit at the table, providing precious bonding time.âThe final word goes to Jody at Bridges to Hope, who reminds us that with donations on the decline, and usage on the rise, in this struggling economy, food banks can use all they help they can get (monetary or wild game). With community support they can continue to assist families struggling with food insecurity and malnutrition, while also providing them hope and dignity. Editor's note: In the print version of the February 2023 magazine, Barry was incorrectly referred to as Boyd throughout the article. Downhome sincerely regrets the error.
Julie Brocklehurst crochets cosy works of art from her home in Logy Bay.By Nicola Ryan Do you remember your grandmotherâs house? I remember my nannyâs living room in her Southern Shore home - the cluttered china cabinet, the television with the rabbit ears, and the armchair (its side pocket stuffed with knitting supplies and half-finished slippers) draped with one of those blankets crocheted in a rainbow of colours. You know the ones. Theyâre as familiar as a loaf of homemade bread, and seeing one today would likely fill you with sentimentality or wistfulness for those days gone by.Well, they say everything old is new again and the proof is in the pudding for Julie Brocklehurst. She is the designer and maker behind Logy Made, the brand thatâs creating granny square blankets and crocheted pieces inspired by traditional styles but perfectly at home in modern spaces. When I catch up with Julie, sheâs at home in Logy Bay where she lives with her husband Andrew and their two children. She tells me the inspiration behind her creations started with her nanny, Olive.âI remember my grandmother trying to teach me to crochet when I was really little. She crocheted and made granny square blankets and lots of little doilies and tablecloths and that kind of stuff. I think I was interested at the time because I always wanted to be involved in whatever she was doing, but it certainly didnât stick. I havenât been crocheting ever since,â she laughs. âShe died several years ago, but every time Iâm working on a blanket, I feel like I can feel her. I know that sounds like a line, but itâs really something. And I kind of wish she was still here to see what Iâm doing because it wasnât until after she passed away that I took it up again.âJulie makes her blankets with mindfulness and love, patiently crocheting each colourful square. âI do the squares first,â she explains. âEach square is done separately and then I join them afterwards. Thatâs the way, I think, that they were always made. I certainly didnât invent anything, but Iâm just so happy to carry on an old tradition.â While the blankets are made in the traditional style, the beautiful colourways Julie chooses makes them feel modern. We crack up laughing when I recall the traditional blankets being mostly black- âand orange!â Julie says, finishing my thought. âWhether it was the â60s or â70s, maybe thatâs just what was in at the time and what was available.âToday, Julie likes to shop locally for yarn when she can, mentioning she likes to pop into Cast On Cast Off or order from local small-batch yarn dyers. She tries to avoid using 100 per cent wool as it tends to be itchy, and opts instead for soft and comfortable blends of fine wool and nylon or cashmere. Her blankets are incredible combinations of hues inspired by the familiar landscapes of our province - the bright burgundy of fresh partridgeberries, the golden yellow of sunrays crowning pine clad hills, the silvery greys and blues like the clouds of stormy skies.âMaybe Iâm just good at colours,â Julie says, playing down her artistic talent. âSometimes theyâre more carefully thought out, but sometimes itâs just pretty random. Sometimes Iâm making a square with, say, four different colours and I think âoh god, that doesnât go,â but it looks so good when itâs finished and theyâre all put together and thereâs no rhyme and reason to it. Theyâre my favourite.âJulie mainly creates customer orders. âMostly commissions are from individuals looking for something that would remind them of something that they had years and years ago. I get lots from people that are from Newfoundland but now live away, and they want something to remind them of home. As Iâm making them, it helps to know who theyâre for. Thereâs always a story, and each one is special.â Some of Julieâs favourite creations were the most meaningful, including one made from squares that a grandmother had started but didnât get to finish, or a new blanket made from yarn found in a late motherâs possessions. âHonestly, itâs hard to part with them,â she says. âI spend so much time on each one and then I have to hand them over. Itâs hard to let them go, but thatâs just part of it, I guess.âJulieâs beautiful artworks can also be found displayed at B&Bs and heritage homes around the province, and they are sold in a selection of boutiques and gift shops. Last summer Julie was invited to showcase her work at the Festival of Quilts - a celebration of handmade tradition and cultural creativity that toured Bay de Verde, Red Head Cove and Grates Cove, where quilts were displayed in churches and halls and on clotheslines. You may have also spotted her works as yarn bombs - pop-up artworks adorning rocks at Middle Cove Beach or Quidi Vidi by the artisan studio.Through her work with the blankets, Julie has been able to appreciate the practice of slow living, taking a calmer and more balanced approach to life. âBeing intentional with my time allows me to curate a meaningful and conscious lifestyle thatâs in line with what I value most,â she says. âIâm really happy with the way things are going. It does bring me a lot of joy, and since COVID this has become my full-time work. For me, that allows me to be able to stay home with my children, which is the most important thing. Our children have medical issues, so itâs really important to me to have that sense of comfort at home. We spend most of our time at home, and we try to provide a safe and loving space. I think my blankets contribute to that.â As for the blankets that now adorn couches all across Newfoundland and Labrador and farther afield, Julie hopes theyâll be cherished as much as those old time originals. âMy hope is that theyâll become almost like an heirloom piece,â she says. âThat theyâll be passed down then through generations in the same way that Iâve got my grandmotherâs blanket. I hope that my blankets are around for generations to come. Imagine! Itâs a crazy thought, but itâs kind of nice.
What OddsBy Paul WarfordâThe haircut might be overboard,â I think to myself as my barber gestures to the empty seat heâs swiping clean with a fresh white towel. But no, I needed a haircut anyway and this is as good a day as any to get it done. âDonât read too much into it,â I tell myself as he asks me what style Iâd like. I eye my visage in the spotless mirror as he pumps the chair to a comfortable height, never taking his eyes from the World Cup match happening on the screen bolted to the back wall of 1949, my go-to stop for curly-hair trimmings. I do need a cut, thatâs true, but deep down I know why Iâm getting it done today: I have a date tonight. Now, Iâm not the sort to kiss and tell - particularly in print - but seeingâs how Valentineâs Day is around the corner and I do, in fact, find myself in the throes of âthe dating scene,â I thought perhaps Iâd speak the language of love this month. Not that love has much to do with dating, mind you. Frankly, there are more appropriate emotions to cite when it comes to the practice, and none of them are ostensibly pleasant. Words like âanxietyâ and âdoubtâ more immediately come to mind, but Iâm learning that thatâs part of the fun. And fun is the name of the game, here. When we were all young, jubilant and working part-time jobs whilst attending post-secondary schools dating was a giddy thrill, and so it should remain. Between work deadlines and making appointments to get your winter tires installed, it can be tricky to find the excitement in the day-to-day (even if you know itâs there). So, a little excitement can be a nice thing.As such, Iâm here to tell you that it is indeed fun to be dating again after so much time âoff the market,â but I canât help wondering if the lines astride my eyes betray the age of this roustabout bachelor. I mean, we have to address the elephant in the room: Iâm 40 years old. As a matter of fact, Iâll be the big four-one before you all enjoy your romantic candlelit dinners because my birthday is in early February. I suppose my initial apprehensions about returning to the fray were age-related. Is dating still going to be fun, functioning as it does now via smartphones rather than struck conversations in line at the butcher shop? No oneâs getting together in line at the butcherâs anymore, Iâm sorry to say. Instead, attraction is communicated via messages plied with twiddling thumbs, sent in an instant to be read, processed and replied to. The first steps of flirtation are often done through the same movements you might make to order a rug to your door from Amazon. Apps are specially designed for this sort of thing, and you browse photos of potential partners before âswipingâ your verdict on them as though youâre a roman emperor. A âmatchâ means you can message one another and this is how it works. The practice is as bizarre as it sounds, but is it such a far cry from a published personal ad in a 1960s newspaper? Perhaps not. My age definitely makes me feel much like the mangy coonhound yawning contentment on the sunporch, an old dog learning new tricks. Yet, Iâm often mistaken for being younger than I am, as much as a decade less in years than my driverâs licence will tell you. Though I make a point to appreciate this common misconception of my features, it almost works against me in this brave new world. If I meet a charming 29-year old on some Internet avenue, Iâm quickly forced to point out that Iâve never watched PokÃ©mon and didnât have an iPad in Kindergarten. âIâm older than I lookâ is not necessarily the most alluring thing to say, but honesty is still the best policy. Iâm not about to lie a decade off my life for the sake of a sitdown cup of coffee with a stranger. Besides, what if we hit it off, what then? âOh, before we go bowling, thereâs something I should tell youâ¦âSo here I am, a baby of 1982 trying to strike flames among sparks using a rectangle of glass that houses a snake-like maze of gold and copper and zinc, rather than a match or flint. And I can do that: learn, adapt, try. Iâd like to think the uncertainty and effort are worth it because the checkered flag is a smiling couple raising wine glasses while smiling, which I hope will be the case for you and your special someone this year. Happy Valentineâs Day, everybody.
Where does the saying "batten down the hatches" come from? By Linda BrowneItâs February here in Newfoundland and Labrador, which means itâs time to pull up your woolly socks, cozy up with your loved one in the depths of winter, and start âbattening down the hatchesâ because thereâs bound to be a winter storm on the way soon. Itâs a phrase that youâve probably used hundreds of times when talking about preparing for bad weather or, in a more figurative sense, bracing yourself for trouble (e.g., âI forgot to give the missus a Valentineâs Day card - better batten down the hatches!â). Havenât you ever been curious about where this saying comes from? For this one, we must turn our attention to the sea. In his book Hair of the Dog to Paint the Town Red, which looks at the origins of some 400 popular sayings and phrases, Andrew Thompson explains the nautical roots of the term, which dates back to the early 1800s.âMost sailing ships at the time had cargo holds that opened to the deck via hatches, sometimes called hatchways,â he writes, which were ânormally left open or simply covered with a grate that allowed for ventilation.â With rough seas or bad weather on the horizon, he continues, âthe shipâs captain would call to batten down the hatches to protect the cargo and prevent the hold from getting filled with rain or seawater. The hatches would be covered with canvas tarpaulins that would be held down with strips of wood, known as battens, to stop them from blowing off.â The earliest reference to this phrase appears to come from William Falconerâs An Universal Dictionary of the Marine from 1769, where he references âBattens of the hatches,â which are "nailed along the edges of tarpaulings, which are pieces of tarred canvas, of sufficient breadth and length to cover the hatches at sea.âPatricia OâConner and Stewart Kellerman of the âGrammarphobiaâ blog note that the phrase started to be used in a figurative sense in the mid-20th century. They reference an article about hurricane forecasts published in New York in 1955, in the Bulletin of the General Contractors Association, as an early example.Speaking of the word âhatch,â the duo also mention âthat nautical meaning, used figuratively, gave us the 20th-century drinking expression âdown the hatchâ (that is, down the throat).â A word to the wise: If you ever find yourself having to âbatten down the hatchesâ as you sail on choppy seas, and youâre already prone to turning green, going âdown the hatchâ in this way is something you might want to avoid.